Bridge: 2021 MSC Discussion

This got me 0 points. Ouch. Is this RKCB inducing? And that was a terrible idea? Or was this not even the right interpretation?

The April contest (deadline Mar 10 9AM, I expect to submit Mar 8 or 9). Note that the deadline for May and later contests will be moved 10 days earlier).

mscproblemset202104.pdf (117.4 KB)

I’ll guess it would be RKCB (perhaps the magazine will address that point when this month’s issue comes out.) I suspect almost everyone thought it was way too optimistic. You’re in slam if he has one key card, and chances of making that on a spade lead are very low. Even without a spade lead, it’s very optimistic for a favorable vulnerability preempt.

Not impossibly optimistic: 1 expert and 4% of the solvers chose to jump to 6C, which got 60 points. No expert and 1% of the solvers bid 4NT, for 0 points. How can that be, when both the 4NT bidders and 6C bidders are in 6C opposite 1 (or 2) key cards, while the 4NT bidders at least can stop at 5C opposite 0 key cards? The answer (I suspect), is that 6C is more likely to make if bid directly. With an immediate 6C, opening leader just has to guess what to lead. After a 5 diamond response to 4NT and his partner does not double 5D , opening leader knows his partner does not want to encourage a diamond lead, increasing the chances of a spade lead. (That argument would be even stronger if the trumps were Ax. Here partner may have trouble reaching his hand to pull trumps even if he escapes the spade lead.)

Interesting breakdown. Thank you. Seems at the least not a 60 point difference in score, but alas.

April guesses:

A 3NT. I have the stopper and probably won’t have another chance to show it at the 3 level. We might be a point light, but not much more…partner is not supposed to be doubling 3 clubs on air.

B Pass. Partner created a force, and I have no idea what strain we belong in, and I don’t want to make a slam try with no aces and having bid a ten-high suit. We might belong in 3NT or 5 or 6 clubs or diamonds. But we aren’t getting to 3NT unless I give partner a chance to bid it.

C 3NT Hamman’s rule. Partner doesn’t always have four spades and they often break badly on this auction when he does. 3S (not 4S) is a close second choice and would certainly be my bid if the hand were any weaker.

D Pass. One spade is probably a good contract for us. If LHO bids two hearts, I may have to decide what to do, but if he does anything else, that’s probably very good for our side, so let’s give him a chance.

E 5NT. Four hearts isn’t enough. Five hearts might be misinterpreted. For five diamonds he might think I have first round control So what’s left?

F Yes|5D. I hate problems where the only question is what partner’s bid meant. It’s clearly not RKC since there’s no trump agreement in sight He did pass over 2H, so it seems unlikely it could be Blackwood, either. The question is whether this is a 5C bid with a stopper (in which case I should either pass or bid 5C) or asking me to pick a minor. The latter interpretation seems likelier.

As for whether I agree with the double, yes. What else was I supposed to do last round? 3S would be non-forcing and 4D or 4S would be too unilateral. If double were not cooperative-takeout, I guess I would have bid 4D, but glad not to have to.

G. 3D. Normally I’d make the fake jump shift in the cheaper three-card suit, but here I’ll choose the one I know partner will be hesitant about if he has support. I’ll also be focusing partner on the correct suits for evaluating 3NT (which I will pass) vs 3S (over which I will bid 4S).

H HA. It’s IMPs. Partner can’t have quite enough in spades to make the S7 a likely way to defeat the contract. Hearts are the most likely set off the top. And, if they aren’t, declarer may misplace the HQ after this lead.

A: 3NT. We have a stop in opponents suit, and a balanced hand. Hard for me to conceive of an alternative. Are we better off in 3H? Seems marginal at best, given the extra points we can get.

B: Pass. Considered Pass, 4c and 4d. We don’t have a stopper in spades, so 3NT would be out of the question, I would think. 4c shows a second suit. 4d shows secondary diamond support (hopefully). But given that we are relatively week in the range, don’t have a stopper in spades, can’t show additional heart strength, I think we pass. P’s bid was forcing, but with an overcall, I think we can pass and let him decide if he wants to try 3NT, 4H, 5D, or defense.

C. 3S. Considered pass (turn into penalty double), 3S, 4S, 3NT. Unclear to me what each of those means/requires. Hoping 3s shows preference / support for spades, but fear that it does not show enough strength. 3NT or 4S are tempting to show I think we can make game (and have a club stopper). 3S is conservative, the other two feel aggressive.

D. Pass. Maybe this is too conservative, but feels like 2c or 2d is a shot in the dark and could be worse, and it’s unlikely we have game.

E. 4H. If I’m reading the BW site notes correctly, it implies partner has the majors? In which case I bid 4h? Admittedly, I’m not positive the way to interpret my partner’s bid or my responses here.

F. No / 5S. Again, I’m really not certain how to interpret things here. The double implies “let’s play spades or clubs?”, and a lot of strength. I probably would have bid 4D in the moment, so maybe I should say “no”. Regarding next steps, I’m not sure how to interpret 4NT. Could be blackwood for spades, quantitative invite to 6NT with D stopper, or blackwood for clubs, if I’m misinterpreting what cooperative takeout means. My response has different meaning depending on what 4NT is supposed to mean. I think I bid 5s.

G. 3D. Seems to clearly be either 3D or 3S. 3D shows another control for no trump and a second suit. Even though three cards, they are important ones.

H. 7S. What am I missing here. Heart lead could cost you a trick or even two. The other two suits could also cost a trick. Also, we know East doesn’t have 4 spades, and we have 2, so chance we find partners longest/strongest suit with the spade lead. Am I supposed to lead the 7 or the 5? Don’t want to lose points for that, which seems like a non-decision. 7 seems better as it’s less likely to be my 4th from longest and strongest suit.

A. P. Hoping for a plus score when we don’t have a game. That’s a very narrow target to be sure, but is anything else besides 3NT remotely reasonable?
B. P. Nothing looks good. If I were going to bid, it would be 4C. Or is double now the best way to suggest really weak hearts?
C. 4S. I’m missing why this one is a problem.
D. 2D. Initial thought was to pass, but decided it was better to show the diamonds now in case partner can raise.
E. 4H. Enough
F. y; 5D. Yes, because the alternatives are even worse. 6 may be making, but I’ll stick with 5 and hope to make it.
G. 3S. Don’t like it with such a weak suit, with 2NT with a stiff heart Q is no thing of beauty. I’ll avoid the 3D possibility (which would be better than 3C).
H. Spade 7. Only other possibility is a club, but with declarer having no 4-card major, he’ll often have 4 clubs.

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
SW                     P     P    4S    2D    4H Y; 5D    3S    S7
veni vidi vici        3N     P    3N     P    5N Y; 5D    3D    HA
Abstract Actuary      3N     P    3S     P    4H N; 5S    3D    S7

Leading                      P                                    

I can make a case for passing on A-E.

A) Pass
B) Pass
C) 4S
D) Pass
E) Redouble
F) Yes; 5D
G) 3D
H) Heart 4

A) 3NT - a bit tempting to pass, but hopefully can hold up twice in clubs and keep danger hand off lead.
B) Pass. Tough. Partner could be 3244 with xxx in spades, and want to play clubs, or could be say 2263 and want to play diamonds, so I will pass and await developments.
C) 3NT
D) Pass. With Qx in spades, not particularly tempted to move out of spades.
E) 5H. Considered 6H, 5D, and 5NT. No idea what is best.
F) Yes, 6D.
G) How many times are they going to poll this hand? I would bid 3S at the table, but I have learned over the years that 2m scores better, so I will go with 2D.
H) Spade 7

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator        3N     P    3N     P    5H Y; 6D    2D    S7
SW                     P     P    4S    2D    4H Y; 5D    3S    S7
BTDT                   P     P    4S     P  Rdbl Y; 5D    3D    H4
veni vidi vici        3N     P    3N     P    5N Y; 5D    3D    HA
Abstract Actuary      3N     P    3S     P    4H N; 5S    3D    S7

Leading               3N     P           P       Y; 5D    3D    S7

Will submit something tomorrow evening

From Sweet Tooth, via e-mail

                       A     B     C     D     E     F     G     H
procrastinator        3N     P    3N     P    5H Y; 6D    2D    S7
SW                     P     P    4S    2D    4H Y; 5D    3S    S7
ST                     P    4C     P     P    6H N; 5S    3S    S7
BTDT                   P     P    4S     P  Rdbl Y; 5D    3D    H4
veni vidi vici        3N     P    3N     P    5N Y; 5D    3D    HA
Abstract Actuary      3N     P    3S     P    4H N; 5S    3D    S7

Leading                      P           P       Y; 5D    3D    S7

I got confused yesterday. But now the statement is accurate. I will submit something tomorrow evening (Mar 9).

After Sweet Tooth created a tie on A, we have fewer agreed upon than we had yesterday. Maybe I’ll hear from NN.

                  A          B        C        D            E        F        G        H        Total
procrastinator    3N     80  P    90  3N   70  P        80  5H   90  Y; 6D70  2D   0   S7   100 580  
SW                P      100 P    90  4S   30  2D       100 4H   50  Y; 5D100 3S   100 S7   100 670  
ST                P      100 4C   100 P    100 P        80  6H   70  N; 5S0   3S   100 S7   100 650  
BTDT              P      100 P    90  4S   30  P        80  Rdbl 0   Y; 5D100 3D   60  H4   50  510  
veni vidi vici    3N     80  P    90  3N   70  P        80  5N   60  Y; 5D100 3D   60  HA   60  600  
Abstract Actuary  3N     80  P    90  3S   80  P        80  4H   50  N; 5S0   3D   60  S7   100 540  
Submitted         P      100 P    90  3N   70  P        80  4H   50  Y; 5D100 3D   60  S7   100 650  

                  P      100 4C   100 P    100 2D       100 P    100 Y; 5D100 3S   100 S7   100   
                  3N     80  P    90  3S   80  P        80  5H   90  Y; 6D70  3D   60  HA   60       
                                      3N   70               6H   70  N; 5S0   2D   0   H4   50       
                                      4S   30               5N   60                                  
                                                            4H   50                                  
                                                            Rdbl 0                                   

Not a good set. My 670 was our best, still 40 below honor roll level.

The May problems. Note accelerated deadline: Submissions must be in by midnight (eastern time) March 31.

mscproblemset202105.pdf (117.8 KB)

May guesses:
A Pass. I hate bidding 4C and end up in 5C when partner can contribute the 10th trick. It’s close though and I might bid 4C at the table.
B 4S or 5C. 4C would be encouraging but not enough so. Currently favoring 4S because of the strong trebleton in hearts.
C 1S. I don’t think this is quite good enough for 3C. With five spades I’d rather bid 1S than 1N. I will have to pass a 2H rebid but can bid 3C to play over a 1N rebid.
D Dbl;3D At the table I bid 3H directly. Since that’s not an option here, I’ll double and then bid 3D.
E Pass. Not a favorite to collect 500, but I only need to collect 500 when 3N makes.
F 2D. I’m allowed to have a max.
G Pass. I might not even double at matchpoints, much less IMPs, and bidding has no appeal.
H HJ Partner rates to be broke, so leading the singleton won’t help. If partner has the HK without the 10 and dummy doesn’t play the ace, this could be bad. Otherwise I have put declarer off the scent in at least one suit, which seems necessary.

Some questions about this month’s problems, if you don’t mind.

Hand A: Here are my interpretations based on my understanding of BWS (weak understanding).
2D: Preempt by opp
3C: Support from partner. Requires at least 5 clubs? Since minor suit opening? Maybe 4. And I would think 6-12 points?
3D: Support for diamonds.

Would double by me be for takeout, or interpreted as penalty? My instinct is penalty because everyone has bid.

Hand B:
Similar. I assume 2S is preempt by opps. Double is negative double? Implying just hearts? So exactly 4 hearts, 10+ points?

On problem D, we are picking between a-d? And if we pick d, have to pick a follow up action? But if we pick a-c, no follow up decision?

On E: they mention cooperative takeout. The site defines it as:
cooperative-takeout : Suggests that partner take out with normal distribution for the earlier auction, pass only with strong defensive orientation.

Still not sure I understand. Takeout of just spades in this case? How is that different than a normal “takeout double”?

Yes, 2D definitely preemptive.
3C: surely at least 4. I couldn’t find any definite requirements for a negative double here, which would influence what partner might have. Unlikely he has less than 8 points, including distribution. But surely not more than 12, including distribution.

Who knows? I couldn’t find it in the system notes. When both sides have indicated a fit, it would be unusual to have a pure penalty double, where partner is supposed to pass almost regardless of his hand. I suspect double would show extra values, so that we don’t want to let them steal the hand in 3D undoubled.

Yes, 2S is a preempt. Yes, double is negative, saying nothing about suits other than hearts. So usually exactly 4 hearts and something resembling 10 points including distribution or more. Or maybe 9 or even 8, but usually 10. Could also be more than 4 hearts, even 6 hearts in a hand hoping to get out at 3 hearts.


On E: they mention cooperative takeout. The site defines it as:
cooperative-takeout : Suggests that partner take out with normal distribution for the earlier auction, pass only with strong defensive orientation.

Still not sure I understand. Takeout of just spades in this case? How is that different than a normal “takeout double”?

(only semi-serious) It lets partner more readily (compared to a normal takeout double) blame you if you take it out when leaving it in would be better?

MSC problems are not supposed to be easy, and the experts will not all agree on the best answer or even about what partner should have. The main thing here is that he should have extra values, unwilling to left the opponents play 3S undoubled. Some may think he is likely to have 4 hearts, hoping you’ll bid 4 hearts. Others will think he will consider you having 4 hearts extremely unlikely, because you would have made a negative double instead of bidding 1NT if you had 4 hearts. (On this actual hand, you surely aren’t going to take the double out to 4 hearts on a doubleton.)

Thanks. Helpful. So cooperative takeout implies a little more optionality (and therefore responsibility) of responder?

A: 3S. Considered 4C, 5C and double. I think 3S shows a secondary suit, that you could reach game at a lower level than clubs. It also allows partner to bid 3NT if he has a diamond stopper.

B: 5C. I don’t love anything here. I considered 3NT, 4H. For 3NT diamonds could be an issue, though with partner’s points and opps spade strength, slightly less risk there. Ultimately I like our chances better in 5C. Supplemental hearts, hopefully partner has enough clubs to trump my spade losers.

C. 1S. Another tough one. One reason I like 1S best is it gives us the most bidding space to find a fit in spades or clubs, or confirm we can play 3NT.

D. 2NT. Considered Pass/2NT or 3NT, but the notes say 2NT is natural but a little hesitant about no trump (since I don’t have hearts fully stopped).

E. 4C. Considered 3NT. Really don’t have any support for any other suits. 3NT is risky, and in matchpoints, feels like 4C making is worth more.

F. 2C. Next choice 3D, but I think we are too strong to make a preemptive bid. 2C shows our suit, and we can raise diamonds to 3D after we learn more from partner. Might let us discover a 3NT game or more.

G. Pass. You have weak support for partners suit. No defense for opps suits for NT, and 4C feels aggressive, especially vulnerable.

H. C5. Has to be the 5 of clubs, right? If the missing key card is the Ace of clubs, the contract is almost surely set. I get that you may have your own trick with the Q of spades, and there is a missing key card, as well, but that queen may not become good, and the Ac is as likely the missing key card as any other.