Bridge: 2021 MSC Discussion

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator         P    3C    2C   Dbl    3D    1S     P    HA
SW                    5H    3D    2H    2S     P    1S    2H    CA
ST                    5D    3D    2H    2S    3D    1S    2H    S4
BTDT                   P     P    3H   Dbl    5C    1S   Dbl    HA
veni vidi vici        5H    3C    2C    2S    3D    1S    2H    HA
Abstract Actuary      5D    2N    2H   Dbl    5C    1S    2H    CA

Leading                           2H    ??    3D    1S    2H    HA

We had a leader on D, but it’s now tied again.

Re: Presumably, but not necessarily. It does seems certain enough that had the opponents been silent, you would have shown no aces, he would have signed off in 5H. But does it further follow that you should surely make 5H? What some of us fear is that partner has a weaker hand, with no possible hope of making 5H, but expecting the opponents could surely make a game, that 5H doubled would be a good save, and that 4NT would make it harder for them to figure out what to do. Still, if he has that, our hand doesn’t look like a good candidate to stop their game, and 5H doubled should be a good save.

If partner purely wanted to sacrifice with 5H, I would think he would jump straight there, rather than bid 4NT. It gives the opponents less room to communicate. So I assign some level of slam aspirations to partner. Though him passing 5C certainly adds a wrinkle.

Re: BUT there are two further considerations (at least). Partner may have been anxious to sacrifice over their 4S contract, but now that they have bid 5C maybe we have a chance to set that? Or he may have been afraid they could make 6C or even 7C, and is overjoyed that they have stopped in 5? In which case he will not be happy when you push them to slam.

I thought a lot about passing or doubling (inferring that partner thinks we can set 5C). But if he thinks we can set it, why not double it? And you mention, our hand is near worthless against 5C, so feel it’s not our place to make that decision.

Re: In my personal choices, I decided to treat it as if he wasn’t sure we could make 5H and was consulting me on whether we should play 5H or defend. I have very little confidence in that being right, and if this ends up tied, I’m going to go with the alternative. (Sweet Tooth’s vote is clearly AGAINST passing, but I might go with P anyway, depending on what else happens. I think Sweet Tooth is suggesting that perhaps our side should bid 6H anyway, which I think is surely the wrong thing for us to do. Or perhaps he is suggesting that if they bid 6C over our side’s 5H, partner should lead a diamond. He can’t think there’s any chance partner will think diamonds is our best trump suit.)

Ultimately your call. I know my 5D bid was intended to give partner more information and choose between 5H or beyond. 5H was the spirit of my choice, and I was trying to be a little cute, I guess. So feels like 4 of us feel we shouldn’t pass, if that helps compartmentalize the decision. That said, my level of experience and skill may warrant some serious discounting.

On D, admittedly, I had forgotten about Michael’s. That may be the better bid. What exactly does it mean opposite a 1 spade open? 5+H and 5+D? And 12+ or 15+ points? If it indicates 5+H and at least 12+ points, then that seems like the better option.

Here are the complete System notes for BWS2017, the system used for these problems. They are quite complete, but not always as complete as we might want. For this auction it has

So normally 5+ hearts and 5+ of either minor, very rarely with only 4 of the minor. I think fewer than 12 points is OK, but would expect at least 7 or 8 HCP in the long suits (so at least 10 total points, and if only 10 likely to include some 10’s and 9’s in the long suits.

A reason for bidding 2H now (not necessarily a good reason) is that if we start with 2S and partner bids 3H, we won’t know whether to bid 4.

A very important principle in competitive bidding (but perhaps not relevant here) is the forcing pass. It’s most clearly relevant when we are vulnerable and they are not. Suppose we’ve bid 4S on an auction where we clearly have most of the strength, and opponents sacrifice in 5H. There should be no possibility that we’ll let them play it undoubled, even if once in a blue moon they would make it. So our choice is really: should we try for 5S, with +650 if it makes, or settle for a penalty that may well be only +100 or +300? The way good players try to solve that is that the first partner doubles with a clear preference for defending (either because his hand is especially good for defense, or he has nothing not already promised in favor of spades). Or, rarely, he bids 5S himself, if he thinks that’s best pretty much whatever his partner has. Or, he can pass, just saying “I don’t know whether it’s better to try 5S or double them, so you decide. But don’t pass.”

That’s the basic idea of forcing passes, and they’re most important at unfavorable vul since that’s when opps are most likely to sacrifice. But they apply at any vul. Even favorable, where we might prefer to try for +450 rather than collect as little as 200.

But a very clear factor is “has the auction shown that we have most of the strength, so we expected to make the contract we had bid, and we expect they cannot make their contract”? procrastinator and BTDT think “of course not”, and they have a very good point. So then the idea of “captaincy” comes in, with the idea that if partner knows more about my hand than I know about partner’s, partner should decide what to do over 5C. Lots of merit to saying that applies here, that partner decided to defend 5C so we should not override that choice.

He may well be right. I feel sure that a fair number of the expert panelists will pass. Maybe a fair number will bid. I feel sure that Pass will get a good score, even if not the top score. Bidding might get the top score, but if not the top score maybe not a good score, especially if we guess wrong what bid to make.

Thanks. Those notes are helpful to have. Given that, I would bid Michael’s. Seems like the perfect description.

Double leaves more space (similar to your comment about 2H), but doesn’t describe our hand as well.

I didn’t have the words for it, but I took his bid as a near-forcing pass. He is in first position, we are in last position, so he passes to indicate he is on the bottom end of his range, and leave it to us with how to respond (pass, double or overbid). But the idea of captaincy is also salient. He knows way more about our hand than we do about his.

Here is what I submitted for us on all of them.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator         P    3C    2C   Dbl    3D    1S     P    HA
SW                    5H    3D    2H    2S     P    1S    2H    CA
ST                    5D    3D    2H    2S    3D    1S    2H    S4
BTDT                   P     P    3H   Dbl    5C    1S   Dbl    HA
veni vidi vici        5H    3C    2C    2S    3D    1S    2H    HA
Phileas Fogg                                                      
Abstract Actuary      5D    2N    2H   Dbl    5C    1S    2H    CA
Submitted              P    3C    2H    2S    3D    1S    2H    HA

(I had originally written that the scores were up but wrong. No, my mistake. The March problems had been posted, which normally means the results would be up, but the latest results posted were still the January problem results.)

                  A          B        C        D            E        F        G        H        Total
procrastinator    P      100 3C   80  2C   50  Dbl      70  3D   90  1S   100 P    40  HA   100 630  
SW                5H     40  3D   100 2H   100 2S       100 P    40  1S   100 2H   100 CA   60  640  
ST                5D     90  3D       2H   100 2S       100 3D   90  1S   100 2H   100 S4   10  590  
BTDT              P      100 P    30  3H   60  Dbl      70  5C   50  1S   100 Dbl  70  HA   100 580  
veni vidi vici    5H     40  3C   80  2C   50  2S       100 3D   90  1S   100 2H   100 HA   100 660  
Abstract Actuary  5D     90  2N   40  2H   100 Dbl      70  5C   50  1S   100 2H   100 CA   60  610  
Submitted         P      100 3C   80  2H   100 2S       100 3D   90  1S   100 2H   100 HA   100 770  

                  P      100 3D   100 2H   100 2S       100 3NT  100 1S   100 2H   100 HA   100   
                  5D     90  3C   80  3H   60  Dbl      70  3D   90           Dbl  70  CA   60       
                  5H     40  2N   40  2C   50               5C   50           P    40  S4   10       
                             P    30                        P    40                                  

A first ever? The Submitted score more than 100 points above any individual. Submitted’s 770 was tied for 5-8 on the magazine’s monthly honor roll. Congratulations to VVV for our best individual score of 660.

The March problems are attached, as are screen shots of them. (Deadline Feb 10 9AM, but entry Feb 8 or Feb 9 is likely.)

mscproblemset202103.pdf (114.4 KB)

If you use the screen shots, be sure to keep track of which problem is which. For example, the first screen shot is A & E, not A & B.

A: 2S. Partner has double strength (looks like 4+ D,H,S and 10+ HCP). But West has opening strength and East has enough to say to put in his own bid. So I’m inferring that partner’s holdings are not extremely strong. That said, if partner has at least 4 hearts, and at least 10 HCP, we should be able to make game in hearts. Thus, I am recommending 2S to force game, then rebidding hearts when I can. I wouldn’t want to bid 2H, and have all pass. I also thought about me doubling. Does it show 8+ points and length in the two unbid suits? I considered Double, 2H, 4D, 4H, 5D.

B. Pass. First instinct is pass. We have support in clubs and values there, but almost nothing else to add to the conversation. He didn’t have 2C opening strength, therefore I don’t think we have enough for game. So I stay silent now, and if opponents get competitive I can jump back in later. But we are vulnerable, too. Also considered a preemptive 5C.

C. 3H. First instinct is 2 hearts. I interpret opener to have a minimum opener with 5+H (likely 5) and some strength in diamonds. Feels like we are close to game strength, but likely don’t have it. Would 3 hearts communicate the doubleton and invitational strength? I feel like I may be making up my own meaning for 3 hearts (secondary support and invitational strength is what I intend). 3C seems too strong to force game.

D. 4NT. Considered leaving the double in, but not vulnerable feels like it won’t be profitable enough. The most straightforward bid seems to be 3NT, but I guess it may be insufficient because we might have slam aspirations. 4NT is said to be natural, and presumably slam invitational. 4S must also indicate a spade stopper and some substantial strength. And I like it because it likely also shows support for any suit.

E. 2S. Can’t leave the double in. Hearts is our longest suit, but we have support for opener’s original major. Seems straightforward.

F. Pass. Feels like this has to be a pass. Tempting to double again and have partner decide if we should defend, go for our own game or sacrifice.

G. 4NT (or whatever would initiate RKCB). If partner has Kc, Qc then we should have a small slam. If he also has the Ah, we likely have a grand slam. With RKCB, I should be able to find all of those out. And if he has neither the Kc or Ah, then he bids 5c (right?), in which case, I pass and we are in 5c.

H. 3h. Has to be the king of diamonds, right? Kc has to be inferior. 9s feels neutral at best. Decent consideration for the 3h because hearts may be distributed 4-4-4-1, and partner may be able to drive out the hearts and have me run away with clubs or diamonds? Okay, maybe I talked myself into the 3h.

A 2H. The opponents have found their spade fit. LHO will probably raise if I cue 2C and partner will pass. That won’t help us find whether partner has hearts. If I cue 2S and get 3S on my left, that’s still a problem, besides which it won’t go that way at other tables (where 2S would be natural). I an bidding 2H now and then diamonds next. That generally shows four hearts and five+ in the minor. With everyone bidding it up, he’ll figure out there are more than five diamonds. With the opponents having a spade fit and a support double being made easy, I have no fear of 2H being passed out.

B 4C. If partner can jump to 3C all on his own, I can raise with this. Minor-suit openings can be quite sound, so he can bid 5C making with the right stuff, and it’s unlikely 4C will be down.

C 3C. I’ll overbid to get to the right game. If partner has clubs stopped, we want to be in 3N from his side. Otherwise, we should be in one of the majors. If I could invite in NT and have it play from partner’s side, and probably would.

D 4NT. Just barely enough. If partner bids 5C next that’s not no aces. It’s suggesting a club slam, and I will raise. If partner invites with 5NT, I will pass. (I will probably also pass 5D and 5H.)

E 2S. Sure, partner might have four hearts. He might have six spades, too. On a bad day, some partners have only two hearts. Even if he has three, I am getting tapped. If I had a slight stronger hand I’d gladly bid hearts (but with a stronger hand I’d have only 2 spades or I would have raised), and if I had 8 points or so I might jump in hearts, but this hand is weak. Also, if I bid 2S now I can comfortably bid 3H next round offering a choice, if the opponents continue to 3D.

F Pass. This isn’t IMPs. When you likely aren’t making anything but might beat their game, you defend.

G Double. I expect to set this, probably 2. Sure, if partner has 7 clubs to the KQJ we might belong in 6 clubs, but that’s against the odds.

H CK. DK is tempting, but I plan to play low later when declarer leads a diamond toward dummy’s ace. Why help set up dummy’s suit?

A. 3D. Because of the vast suit disparity
B. P. The clubs are great, and partner could be quite good, but with absolutely no help outside this is a pass (unless it is a preemptive raise to 4C, not inconceivable since I would surely bid 4C if 3S came back to me, and would be unhappy if I pass and it came back to me at 4S).
C. 2S. At least we won’t be missing a vul game.
D. 4N. Seems about right as a natural call. Only one stopper, but if we have to play this LHO may not have a side entry.
E. 2S. Would have been tempted to bid 2S immediately, but not tempted to bid anything else now.
F. Pass. Certainly not going to bid, and hope any plus score or -620 is good.
G. Double. Conceivably won’t beat it, but the odds are certainly that we will, possibly 2 or 3.
H. Diamond K. In retrospect VVV’s Club K may be better. I’ve seen Jxx in dummy way too often recently, but that’s very unlikely on this auction.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
SW                    3D     P    2S   4NT    2S     P   Dbl    DK
veni vidi vici        2H    4C    3C   4NT    2S     P   Dbl    CK
Abstract Actuary      2S     P    3H   4NT    2S     P   4NT    H3
Leading                                4NT    2S     P            

Only 3 voters so far, but we do agree on 3 of the answers.

A. 5D. It feels like bidding room would be more useful for the opps than for our partnership. I would want to bid on over 4S, so might as well bid 5D now to put maximum pressure.
B. 4C. Trying to imagine hands partner would bid like this, and he has many clubs. If he also has a good hand, game is in the picture. If he meant it as semi-preemptive, I will help in the preempt - I have no defense.
C. 3S. At first I was just going to bid 2S, but Kx KQJxx Axxx xx is pretty much lay down for 11 tricks, and partner is certainly not moving over 2.
D. 3NT. Second choice: 3NT. I don’t get this problem
E. 2S Tough problem, but I would not have had it, as I would have bid 2S last round. Could be convinced 2H is better, but given our hand, seems likely partner has a moose, and perhaps not a classic shape, so want to show the spade support.
F. Double. An ace and a king for defense and happy if partner bids. -620 probably an average minus, so not risking too much.
G. Double. Close between this and 5C. Vul would bid 6C, but opposite a NV preempt, may not be wise.
H. Club king. A bit tempted by a heart, but just seems too likely to pickle partner’s heart holding.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator        5D    4C    3S   3NT    2S   Dbl   Dbl    CK
SW                    3D     P    2S   4NT    2S     P   Dbl    DK
ST                    3D     P    3C   4NT    2S   4NT    3S    CK
veni vidi vici        2H    4C    3C   4NT    2S     P   Dbl    CK
Abstract Actuary      2S     P    3H   4NT    2S     P   4NT    H3

Leading                      P         4NT    2S     P   Dbl    CK

Up to leaders on 6 of 8, with 4 different choices among 5 voters on each of the other two.

Amusing that on D I could not even imagine what else I was supposed to do, yet you all voted for the same call, different from mine.

On A I bid two levels higher than anybody else, guess a bit off center this month.

If it helps, both of those (5D on A and 3NT on D) were actions I considered.

A) 3D
B) Pass
C) 3C
D) Pass
E) 2S
F) Dbl
G) 5C
H) Club K

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator        5D    4C    3S   3NT    2S   Dbl   Dbl    CK
SW                    3D     P    2S   4NT    2S     P   Dbl    DK
ST                    3D     P    3C   4NT    2S   4NT    3S    CK
BTDT                  3D     P    3C     P    2D   Dbl    5C    CK
veni vidi vici        2H    4C    3C   4NT    2S     P   Dbl    CK
Abstract Actuary      2S     P    3H   4NT    2S     P   4NT    H3

Leading               3D     P    3C   4NT    2S     P   Dbl    CK

We now have a leader on all 8, and most of them look OK. Personally, I still think C is too much, but it could easily be best and the alternatives aren’t great either. Two days before I submit.

Yes, a bit off center, but in the right direction.

                  A          B        C        D            E        F        G        H        Total
procrastinator    5D     80  4C   100 3S   80  3NT      90  2S   100 Dbl  100 Dbl  100 CK   100 750  
SW                3D     40  P    50  2S   70  4NT      100 2S   100 P    90  Dbl  100 DK   70  620  
ST                3D     40  P        3C   90  4NT      100 2S   100 4NT  0   3S   70  CK   100 500  
BTDT              3D     40  P    50  3C   90  P        70  2S   100 Dbl  100 5C   70  CK   100 620  
veni vidi vici    2H     0   4C   100 3C   90  4NT      100 2S   100 P    90  Dbl  100 CK   100 680  
Abstract Actuary  2S     90  P    50  3H   60  4NT      100 2S   100 P    90  4NT  0   H3   80  570  
Submitted         3D     40  P    50  3C   90  4NT      100 2S   100 P    90  Dbl  100 CK   100 670  

                  2C     100 4C   100 2NT  100 4NT      100 2S   100 Dbl  100 Dbl  100 CK   100   
                  2S     90  P    50  3C   90  3NT      90           P    90  3S   70  H3   80       
                  5D     80           3S   80  P        70           4NT  0   5C   70  DK   70       
                  3D     40           2S   70                                 4NT  0                 
                  2H     0            3H   60                                                        

procrastinator’ 750 would have tied for 8-13 on the honor roll. None of the rest of us were close.

(Or can I claim close: a college roommate, from 50 years ago, got a 720, the minimum score to make the honor roll. Seems sort of close. I have played a few ACBL events with him in the past few years, while in person bridge existed.)