Author Topic: Master Solvers Club, posts up to June 2019  (Read 56248 times)

Masse24

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 573
  • Karma: +11/-4
    • View Profile
Master Solvers Club, posts up to June 2019
« on: June 09, 2018, 06:39:57 PM »
I recently (two years ago) started subscribing to The Bridge World, the world's leading bridge magazine.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of my subscription is the monthly MASTER SOLVERS CLUB. The Bridge World's MASTER SOLVERS CLUB is the world's longest-running and most popular bridge feature. New problems in bidding and sometimes play are presented each month. The great thing about the MASTER SOLVERS CLUB is that it does not require a subscription to enter. The contest is free and is open to all.

Each month there are eight new problems that require careful consideration. Usually they are extremely difficult bidding problems and you, the bidder, are asked to find the best, most descriptive bid. The highest scoring bid is very often doubling, cue-bidding, or bidding a three card suit.

Recently, I started a back-and-forth e-mail exchange of MSC ideas with two other IAC members. While I have done well on my own, twice making the "Honor Roll," I find the "discussion" stimulating. By starting this thread, I thought we might expand the "discussion" to others who might also enjoy the difficulty of the problems, but especially the discussion!

The link to the MSC problems is here:  https://www.bridgeworld.com/indexphp.php?page=/pages/msc/mastersolversmainpage.html

The deadline for replies is the 10th of each month at 9:00 a.m. EST.

Unfortunately, that is in just a few hours, so we will not see much participation due to time constraints. But maybe going forward we could generate a monthly discussion?

P.S. The reason I put this post in the 2/1 folder is that the MSC uses Bridge World Standard, a basic 2/1 system often used as a beginning template of agreements by experts. On most problems, the system used does not necessarily come into play. The problems are generally bidding judgement problems with more than one (sometimes several) viable answer.

P.P.S. I have not yet submitted my July answers, but I intend to do so later tonight. I'll post my thoughts on this month's problems soon.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 02:40:12 PM by Curls77 »
“Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.” Abraham Lincoln

Masse24

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 573
  • Karma: +11/-4
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2018, 07:18:36 PM »
My initial thoughts:

A: 3 !D. That !D King should fill out the six-card suit in partner’s hand nicely. If this were IMPs, 3NT would be automatic. But playing MPs, I’ll settle for the invite. I also want to right side NT (should partner continue) for the presumed heart lead. Second choice, 3NT.

B: X. Get the !S in. Possibly important in the part-score battle that may ensue ( !S is the boss suit!). I can support clubs later.

C: 2 !D or X (I haven't decided yet). This is a coin flip in my mind.

D: 2 !C. Another tough one. 2 !H or 2 !S are also appealing.

E: 3NT. This one seemed clear to me, which concerns me. They always throw a wrench in the works with some bizarre preferred bid. 3 !H (shaping out) is a possibility, introducing the idea of playing in a Moysian? What am I missing?

F: 3NT. Not clear on this at all. 4 !S also comes to mind. And Pass was my initial first thought, so that too must be given consideration. Partner is huge with spades and has refused our Leb 2NT. Bidding game here is a strong contender. We’re playing IMPs, and we’re vulnerable. I think I’m going to pick a game bid. But which one?

G: 3 !C. Shows my values, and because I did not double to show four !H, and did not bid 2NT to show a flat 11 with !S stopped, 3 !C should show  !D tolerance, yes? 2NT is a bid I strongly considered, but ultimately rejected. Though I have the !S Ace (yes, it’s a stopper), I want more to be in No trump. Importantly, if partner has a !S honor (Q-third?) then I want the lead coming to him, not thru him. If he has the values, possibly long diamonds, and a  !S stopper, I’m hoping he will bid 3-no-trump.

H: !S J. Also tempting is the  !H T.

Not yet submitted. A couple of choices are still marinating.  ;)

« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 07:49:55 PM by Masse24 »
“Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.” Abraham Lincoln

kenberg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1160
  • Karma: +13/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2018, 01:29:36 AM »
A:  2NT  Maybe pessimistic but that's my call.

B.  X  I have four spades, X says I have four spades.

C.  X I think. I want to get my spades in and I do not want to ignore my diamonds, so it seems right.These snap dragons are often shown as 1 !C - 1 !D - 1 !S - X as a way of showing five hearts and diamond tolerance, when the hand lacks the strength for a 2 !H call. But it seems reasonable to take the same approach here.  If they go on to 2 !H (or 1NT) then we might belong in  !S and we might belong in !D.

D. 2 !S seems clear to me. Partner doubled, I have spades, playing in spades seems likely. Not certain, but surely I should show my spades.

E. 3 !S. I don't have three spades or I would have bid 2 !S over 2 !D. Maybe partner would like to hear about my good two card holding.

F.  4 !S I suppose.
I agree that pass is tempting. And 3NT is also. Perhaps they can take the first six tricks in NT, perhaps they can't. All possible. But I have just a bit, and I think 4 !S is the best shot.


G. 2NT. Second choice is 3NT but that's a bit optimistic.

H. I changed my mind several times on this. I'm leading the !S J. Crazy maybe, but that's my lead.
My thinking, fwiw. Declare is probably planning on running diamonds  and has hopes of scoring other tricks.  So: He might bid 3NT with only Kx in hearts. If he has only 8 tricks then I don't want to give him the 9th. Of course he also might have KJX in hearts and partner perhaps has two and perhaps if I start with a heart declarer still doesn't have 9. It's a bet either way.


I await the wisdom of the Masters.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2018, 02:52:39 PM by kenberg »
Ken

Masse24

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 573
  • Karma: +11/-4
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2018, 03:16:56 AM »
Finally pulled the trigger. My choices:

Your Solutions for the July 2018 Contest
-------------------
PROBLEM A: 3 !D
PROBLEM B: Double
PROBLEM C: 2 !D
PROBLEM D: 2 !C
PROBLEM E: 3 !S
PROBLEM F: 3 Notrump
PROBLEM G: 3 !C
PROBLEM H: !S Jack

Answers are posted promptly--same day--within a few hours of the deadline.
“Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.” Abraham Lincoln

kenberg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1160
  • Karma: +13/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2018, 02:01:34 PM »
I await their thoughts, particularly about the opening lead.  A few more thoughts on the lead.

Anytime dummy shows up with 2+hearts I am unlikely to regret not leading a heart. Say dummy has 2, leaving partner and declarer with a total of 4. If partner has 1 then he will never be able to lead a heart later, while if partner has 2 hearts then declarer has 2, either Kx or KJ so as soon as partner gets in we run the suit.

But of course maybe dummy does have only 1 heart, leaving 5 more with declarer and partner. If so, and ifpartner has 3 then again it was best not to lead the heart. If partner has only 2 then I have to hope that they are Jx.

There is an interesting case when declarer has three hearts to the K. Dummy might have the stiff J. In fact, if we place the heart K with declarer and then stipulate that dummy is to have exactly one of the remaining five hearts then, if we select it randomly, there is a 1 in 5 chance that dummy's stiff is the J.

My first thought was to lead the !H Q.  That would take care of the singleton J in dummy, or, for that matter, of Jx in dummy. What harm could it do? But it could do harm. If declarer holds KJx and I lead the Q, he simply ducks. Even if pard has two hearts he will no longer be able to get back to me if I continue hearts. If I had an outside entry, I think the !H Q would be right. But with my actual holding it is unlikely that declarer will ever have to let me in, so there is a real danger to leading the Q.

The two hands where I think I have a strong chance of being wrong are H, the lead problem, and F, the one with the choice of Pass/3NT/4 !S . It seems any of those choices could be right.

That is not to say that I am confident of my other choices, but I am reasonably confident that they are the choices I would make at the table. With H and F, I can imagine doing different things on different days, varying with my mood. A practical consideration with H is that even if they can run the first six tricks they might not do so. Recently, playing with the bots, my robotic partner, idiot or genius depending on the result, bid 3NT holding Qx as a stopper in a suit bid on his left.  The bot on lead, holding AKJxxx decided to wait for his bot partner to lead through declarer and so led a side suit.  9 tricks, could have been 10, to declarer. That could very well happen here, at least at the table. Kho might hold AQTxxx, his partner Kx. Will Lho lead a small heart? Anyway, there are many ways for 3NT to come in.


I await the judgment of experts. I don't always agree with the judgment of experts but I like to think that I always listen and appreciate it.


« Last Edit: June 10, 2018, 02:05:53 PM by kenberg »
Ken

Masse24

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 573
  • Karma: +11/-4
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2018, 03:05:32 PM »
Yup, Ken.

The  !H Q was a definite consideration for me too, and could well be the "hero lead" that scores 100. The  !H T was too pedestrian, so will probably not score well. I ended up choosing the  !S J. I feel confident that the  !S will score highly, whereas the  !H Q is a crap shoot.

I went back and forth until the last minute on problems C, D, E, and F. Problem F, I thought, had three viable answers, any of which could be right. A perfect MSC problem!
“Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.” Abraham Lincoln

Masse24

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 573
  • Karma: +11/-4
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2018, 08:45:55 PM »
Three IAC'ers made the MSC "Honor Roll," so not a bad showing! :)

I completely booted question "A," scoring a 50. Unfortunately, to read the expert commentary, we'll need to wait for the August issue of TBW.

What perplexes me is how my answer on "A," which scored the second most expert votes, finished fifth as far as score.

Questions and answers here--with scores: https://www.bridgeworld.com/indexphp.php?page=/pages/msc/mscscoresforlastmonth.html

Ken, we all did well on the lead question, scoring 100.
“Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.” Abraham Lincoln

kenberg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1160
  • Karma: +13/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2018, 10:14:57 PM »
From the "Official Rules and Procedure"

"Each contest is directed by a member of the Bridge World editorial staff. After the contest deadline, the contest's director assigns scores to answers on each problem, giving a highest score of 100 and lower scores generally in multiples of 10. The director does the scoring according to a personal view of the merits of different possibilities but is guided by the votes and comments of a panel of experts. However, the director must award 100 to an action receiving a majority panel vote, at least 10 to any action receiving at least one panel vote, and some score (even if zero) to every legal action."

So this gives the director a fair bit of latitude.

How could you tell who or how many were on the Honor Roll? I looked at an old issue where the HR went down to 720. My score will be 700, so probably I am not on it. But the rules simply stipulate "For each month's contest, the top-scoring solvers are listed in the Honor Roll, which appears in the issue of The Bridge World following the contest discussion. ", with "top-scoring" left undefined.

Anyway, I am completely happy with my score.

On D, upon reflection I agree that both 2 !C and 2 !H are better than 2 !S.  But on C it is less clear to me just why 2 !D is better then X. It's true that AJx is more than just tolerance. And if W declares in some number of NT then I want a diamond lead rather than a spade lead. nonetheless, it could be that we have a double fit in spades and diamonds and if so, it seems like a good idea to discover it.  I will be interested in their thinking.

I hope we keep this going, I don't mind being embarrassed a bit. Or a lot!

I am amazed that the !S J got 20 out of 26 of the panel votes. Congrats to us. I thought of it as my own personal eccentricity.

Ken

Masse24

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 573
  • Karma: +11/-4
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2018, 12:31:55 AM »
Ken, the "Honor Roll" is here: https://www.bridgeworld.com/indexphp.php?page=/pages/msc/mschonorrollforlastmonth.html

I had not read the "Official Rules and Procedures" previously, but did know that the contest director has wide latitude in assigning scores. I had a conversation with Phil Clayton a couple of months ago. We compared bids prior to submitting, and very nearly matched. However, on one problem I suggested a rather . . . "offbeat" solution. He stated that when Kokish is director, some really "messed up" [edited for forum] bids garner points!  ;) So I'm aware of the possibility of slanted results.

I do agree that this is fun!

I've not yet looked at August, but intend to do so in a week or two. What I've been doing is writing down my first guess and maybe a second guess, then waiting a week to revisit with fresh eyes. I always change my mind. Always. Of course, this isn't the way it's done at the table (for most of us), so I know it's not realistic. Still, it's a great mental exercise, and we have true World Class thinking to compare against!

“Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.” Abraham Lincoln

kenberg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1160
  • Karma: +13/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2018, 12:28:17 PM »
Choosing a bid is partly about judgment, partly about agreements. In the contest they stipulate BWS and they mention it in the problems. So in the contest it pretty much comes down to judgment. But I think people could look over the agreements as well. A person might look at the stipulated agreement for the puzzle hand and say "I don't want to play that bid in that way". Fair enough, but it gets the possibility on the table. Often, in IAC and elsewhere, it does not occur to players that while they play something one way, others play it differently.

A couple of examples:

Hand C: 1 !C - (1 !D) - 1H
Fourth hand has five spades.  BWS stipulates in the puzzle that X shows spades plus a diamond tolerance. And, although they do not mention it there, a bid of 1 !S in this auction would show spades and deny a diamond tolerance. Now in the case the spades are five to the T and the diamonds are AJ6 so the majority, 14, of the panelists went with 2 !D, forgetting about spades. I went with the X, as did 7 of the panelists. I accept that 2 !D may well be best. My point, at the moment,  is that the problem also highlights a common but not universal agreement about 1 !S denying diamond tolerance, X showing diamond tolerance, both calls showing spades. Someone looking over this quiz could then ask his/her partner "Pard, do you play it that way?" My understandings that snapdragons are for exactly the following situation. When the auction reaches fourth seat, all three players have bid, They have each bid a suit and nobody has jumped a level. So (Pass) -1 !D - (1 !S )- 2 !C would be an example. Fourth had holds the remaining suit. Then: X shows the fourth suit with tolerance for the overcaller's suit. Bidding the 4th suit shows that suit with little or any tolerance for the overcaller's suit.  If overcaller repeats his suit, he is on his own. Now AJ6 is much more than "tolerance", no doubt this contributed to the choice of the 2 !D bid in the quiz.  Again, my point is that this quiz could bring this possible agreement to the attention of IACers.  The initial pass, before the 1 !C opening, does not affect the meaning here.

Consider Hand D: Pass- 1 !C - X - 1 !H -?
BWS says that X, by the partner of the doubler, is for penalty.  I can tell you from experience that many are surprised by this view, they often would take X to show four spades. So, again, this is an opportunity to ask partner "How do you play X in that sequence?"

When things go wrong, I think that there is seldom  much point in questioning partner's judgment. Much more useful is to see if the partnership is on the same page as to what the bids mean.  On D, if one person is playing that double is a penalty double of 1 !H and the other person is playing that it shows four spades, this will not go well no matter how brilliantly each person follows through on his/her own understanding of the X.  So those things need straightening out. But judgment? My judgment might well be wrong today, but it will probably be wrong tomorrow also. I will not be getting a brain transplant.
 

There are almost infinitely many chances for misunderstanding in bridge, and looking through these quizzes would be a chance to straighten some of them out. A pair could agree to play it as BWS does, or they could agree to play it differently.
Ken

Masse24

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 573
  • Karma: +11/-4
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2018, 02:44:28 PM »
Ken,

As to your examples. From the recent MSC:

Hand C: I was torn between the 2 !D bid and the X. My thought process--right or wrong--was this. Up until the last moment, it was truly a coin flip. The decision for me was that my "values" were in  !D. If partner is overcalling 1 !D, sans the Ace and Jack, what does he have? A six-card suit? 1 !D certainly has no preemptive value. I think a six-card suit is likely. Also, the !S suit, headed by the ten is anemic (do I want a !S lead?). While the double conveys two pieces of information, it is somewhat misleading. It does not convey the strength (or length for that matter) of my !D holding. !D AJx, as you have noted, is more than "tolerance." I believe a common definition of tolerance to be Hx. The immediate raise makes it easier for partner to compete to the three-level if needed.

Hand D: (1 !C) - X - (1 !H) - ? I am aware that penalty is common, and I would consider it to be the "legacy" treatment of this sequence. Not that my bridge experience contains anything resembling a legacy. This is strictly based on my reading. You mention that many take it to show four !S. I, actually, if given the opportunity to discuss it, prefer to play this as a Responsive Double, showing both unbids. (Yes, I know it is not the standard treatment.) This is the LC Standard treatment, and I played it this way with a steady partner several years ago. It makes sense to me. 

As far as questioning partner's judgment, it accomplishes little. Understanding partner's judgment, however, and most importantly partner's style, in a long-term partnership is key to partnership harmony. My tendency is to be rather conservative in my bidding. I am a down-the-middle vanilla bidder. That is not to say I can't pull out the occasional tutti-frutti bid. But I try to make bids that partner will understand. Bids that torture partner are not good for harmony. They're fun, though! A long-term partner of mine was a very aggressive bidder. Very! Matched with my conservative nature, it worked. But I must say playing a grand requiring two finesses and a favorable trump split raised my blood pressure a bit!

Anyway, it will be fun to read the thinking of the panel in a month or so.
“Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.” Abraham Lincoln

yleexotee

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 69
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2018, 09:05:49 PM »
I missed even July! shoot.

I am filling out some answers for the August MSC (july 10th deadline)

yleexotee

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 69
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2018, 06:54:54 AM »
Todd, you will be happy to know that we agree on only 2 answers so far. I went ahead and submitted mine, because I like to answer them without extensive analysis as I would on the table. In other words, I only give myself as much time as I would take at the table. Then I think I might resubmit an additional answer set after I've given it a thought to see how that differs. I find that its instructive to myself to do it that way. I'll post my answers when I get a chance to write out my thinking.

Masse24

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 573
  • Karma: +11/-4
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2018, 12:42:58 PM »
Todd, you will be happy to know that we agree on only 2 answers so far.

Joe, please let me know on which two answers we match. I must change those answers at once!  ;)
“Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.” Abraham Lincoln

kenberg

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1160
  • Karma: +13/-5
    • View Profile
Re: Master Solvers Club
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2018, 01:18:28 PM »
I'm working on it, but i am stuck with the first one.
An observation on problem A:
Tpdd notes "Plus, in this auction, Leaping Michaels should apply"
I wasn't sure so I checked BWS.

I first found, under special situation defenses, Against a natural preempt:

(c) A strength-showing jump in a new suit is natural, except when the jump is to four of a minor, which is forcing and shows that minor and the unbid major.

But this auction did not start with a pereempt.

Later, under "actions in the sandwich position"

When the opponents raise a one-bid to two, there are no special system agreements other than those listed here:
(a) a cue-bid shows majors over a minor, unbid major plus unspecified minor over a major;

So, if I understand correctly, BWS plays (2 !S) - 4 !D  as hearts and diamonds but after (1 !S) - Pass - (2 !S) then 2 !S shows hearts and a minor. Presumably jumping to 4 !D is natural.

Of course a pair need not play BWS but one thing this thread can do is to prompt partners to discuss whether they do or do not play Leaping Michaels in this position. I am sure there are arguments for and against, so it's just a matter of choosing. Or, in the case of a BWS quiz, accepting whatever BWS says, as long as  it is clear.


Back to problem A.
With the right cards in partner's hand we might make 6 !H, otoh with bad luck we could go down in 4 !H.  Moreover, I have no idea how many tricks they can take playing in spades or maybe clubs. It's tempting to go with the old joke: "What do you call a seven card suit?"  "Trump".

How about 4 !H : At the table, I often, maybe too often, take the view that it is impossible to discover all that I need to know so I will simply take an action that has a decent chance of being right.
But before doing that, I need to ask myself what I will do next, assuming there is a next.
Lho bids 4 !S, passed back to me. I bid 5 !D? I think I must.
Lho bids 4 !S, partner doubles, passed back to me. I pull? Yes, again I think I must. I hope pard did not mull the X so long that I am forbidden to pull.
Lho doubles, partner passes, Rho pulls the double to 4 !S. I dunno, probably I sit for this.

I could try a risk 3 !H. Risky because chances are good that I will make 4. But with this much shape they will (famous last words) probably contest with 3 !S. Then I bid 4 !D, after which I can let partner make all further choices.

3 !H seems to risky, 5 !H seems to unilateral, 3 !S doesn't do justice to the fact that the hearts are so much better than the diamonds.

So at the table I am pretty sure that I would just bid 4 !H and I am thinking of sticking with that for the contest as well.

Joe: I like to acknowledge what I believe I would have done at the table, but I see this quiz format as a chance to think through whether I really, upon reflection, think my initial instincts are good.  In hand A I would be unsure at the table but probably bid 4 !H, and after thinking about it I am still unsure but probably I will still bid 4 !H.

I'll move on to B this afternoon.

This can all be time consuming so it has been years since I have done quizzes like this. But I do think that they are useful, and I especially like having the interchange of thoughts.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 01:23:45 PM by kenberg »
Ken