Author Topic: 2020 December - MASTER SOLVER'S CLUB  (Read 2803 times)

jcreech

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Re: 2020 December - MASTER SOLVER'S CLUB
« Reply #45 on: November 14, 2020, 02:15:46 AM »
Wow, those of you who hate lead problems! Wait til you see what's coming in January. The panel must have heard your
love of lead problems.

!S 10 looked pretty reasonable to me - at worst the auction suggests I am hitting partner's 4-bagger, and it could be a better suit than that.  It may require an 8 count invitation and a 16 count acceptance, but I cannot say that this is my final answer, just my rise to the challenge before the new MSC thread has been started.
A stairway to nowhere is better than no stairway at all.  -Kehlog Albran

jcreech

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Re: 2020 December - MASTER SOLVER'S CLUB
« Reply #46 on: November 19, 2020, 05:26:37 PM »
DECEMBER MSC SUMMARY (Part 1)– Danny Kleinman, Director

A handful of the panel's comments:

Problem A: 4NT

The nature of Problem A is whether to bid or not.  There was no question that everyone was at least tempted to bid, but if you did bid, how would you proceed, what would the bid mean, and would it be something that would confuse partner?  JCreech describes the conundrum as follows:  “I would like to bid more, but in what direction.  Is 4 !H an improvement?  What does 4 !D say?  My second choice is 4NT, hopefully asking do you have what we need to make slam?  But of course, partner won't know unless peaking in my hand.  To move or not to move is a pure guess.”  There was a clear distinction between the panelists and the solvers (both IAC and BW).  Panelists were somewhat more aggressive than solvers; 75% of the panelists made some move over 3NT compared to roughly 50% of the solvers.


Before getting into the “serious” answers, there was spillover from the U.S. Election as Todd threatened legal action due to the patent disregard of his choice for a bid!  Masse24 wrote “I am giving notice that I fully intend to contest these answers and will be filing suit in the appropriate court.   I believe there was widespread fraud. I mean, c'mon . . . how can you not see the brilliance of my 4 !D choice on PROBLEM A?”  So what was the nature of this brilliance?  Here is his argument:  “First, we need to determine if we want to go on, or to pass and go quietly. Is it close? Yes. It’s IMPs not Matchpoints, which steers me towards making another call. 4NT seems a reasonable way to show extras and invite. Partner has ostensibly denied having three hearts since he did not support. But maybe partner has two? Since he already denied having three, if I allow him to show two (say, with Qx or Jx?) I must leave him the room to do so. Bidding 4 !C would, in my opinion, show a two-suited hand with extras. But what about 4 !D?  It surely shows extras. If partner also has extras, he can move accordingly. With a minimum—and unwilling to show decent two-card support of hearts, his 4NT should be regressive.”   Unfortunately, 4 !D was well down the list when an aggressive approach was selected, but he was not alone among the BW panel.  Nick L’Ecuyer:  “Four diamonds.  Probably should show a slam-try with extra heart length.  I would like my suit to be stronger, but this is all I have.  Still, four hearts might play much better than three notrump facing a hand that could not make a negative double, as a spade lead worries me,”  Kevin Bathurst:  “Four diamonds.  Showing a heart hand that is worth a slam-try.  I’ll pass four hearts or four notrump.”  Doub and Wildavsky:  “Four diamonds.  Partner has a wide range and need not hold a secure spade stopper.  We’ll pass four hearts or four notrump and consider other less-likely possibilities when they arise.”

The top choice was to bid 4NT.  About 25% of the IAC solvers and half of the BW panelists made this selection.  Nonetheless, the moderator has a caution for using 4NT.  Danny Kleinman:  “Fortunately, we are bidding with an expert North.  Try  it (4NT) with any but one or two partners from your local bridge club, and you will get a Blackwood reply even in the absence of suit agreement.”  DickHy justified his choice as a recollection from past MSC problems:  “4N.  Wasn’t there a problem like this some time ago?  I’m not (quite) geekish enough to keep records of the MSC hands and I can’t seem to find past contests.  If memory is accurate, the same “pass or 4N” debate uncovered the panel’s preference for 4N.  But, my memory …”  While BluBayou views it as a MOR bid :  “I propose this middle-of-the-road hand for pard's 3NT response to go with my xx, AKxxxx, Ax,  KQx....... Axx,  ?x, Kxx, AJxxx.   Even this "non-stretchy" minimum has 10 off the top, so it seems raising to 4NT is safe enough. and as he may have some goodie like a major-suit queen, then slam could come home if only hearts come home with one looser.    There are stretchy 3NT bids that will bite the dust if hearts split lousy and there is no fast 10th trick, but I am leaning heavy toward giving partner a bump.”  From the BW panel, Eric Kokish selects “Four notrump.  Four diamonds would cater best to hearts and level bu suggest shortness, four notrump is what’s left.  A fancy four clubs might strike gold, but if we belong in clubs we might get there after four notrump.”   Marty Bergen hopes for a 5 !C response:  “Four notrump.  Preserving all options.  I hope partner will bid five clubs, because: !S Axx !H Qx !D Kx !C A109xxx will produce seven clubs.”  Phillip Alder shows a simple soul:  “Four notrump.  I think taking 12 tricks more likely than taking only nine.”

The most popular answer for IAC was Pass.  Nearly half of the solvers and 25% of the panelists went this direction. The moderator phrased the argument well:  In light of West’s preemption, most likely on a highly-distributional hand, this is not a time to go looking for a slam in a  six-two heart fit or a five-three club fit.  Game in notrump should be able to withstand bad splits in either of those suits.”   I like BluBayou’s initial response (even though he changed his mind later):  “Give partner some leeway--pass.”  In a similar vein, panelist David Berkowitz says “Pass.  I won’t punish partner by bidding more, and it’s possible that hearts won’t split well.”  WackoJack, however, just didn’t think the hearts were quite good enough to move:  “Pass  I have a trick better than a minimum 1 !H opener.  However, finding extras with partner looks very uncertain particularly because of the lack of stuffing in the heart suit.  For the same reason I do not want to convert to 4  !H.”  BW  panelist  Robb Gordon emphasizes the uncertainty that 4NT brings:  “Pass.  It could be right to bid four notrump, but what does partner need to accept?  I think his expected range for three notrump is about 13-15 HCP.  So (a) does North accept with the top of the range, and punt when he is in the middle?  Or (b) must he be beyond that range to bid again?  If (a), then even five notrump could fail when partner is short in hearts or the suits break badly.  I’m also concerned about spades.”

There were a smattering of other moves made by IAC players, but none were reticent, so similarly minded experts from the BW panel were consulted.  Paul Ivaska:  “Four hearts.  The only threat to three notrump comes from the spade suit – can the opponents run it?  East is almost certain to have only one diamond, and he probably won’t lead it.  Instead, he’ll try to beat the contract by leading spades.  Most of the time he will fail, but occasionally he’ll succeed.  In contrast, the main threat to four hearts is a five-zero trump break.  A successful spade attack is more likely than a fatal heart split.”  Carl Hudecek:  “Four clubs.  Partner will usually have at least five clubs and no more than three=two in the majors, so six clubs should hinge on no more than the two missing kings and reasonable splits.”  Jeff Rubens:  “Four clubs.  A bubbling cauldron of mysteries.  I think it is better than 50-50 that we can make six clubs, but how will we know when to bid it?  And do I want to guard against East’s diamond lead or West’s spade lead?  If I don’t keep slam in the picture, should I pick three notrump or four hearts?”

Problem B: Double

On Problem B, you hold 19 HCPs, with 2-2-5-4 shape.  The five card suit is headed by the AJ while the suit the opponents opened in front of you is your Qx.  No good options!  It is clear you need to take some action, but what?  The IAC solvers were nearly evenly split between the top two scoring choices.

Slightly more went with the top choice of double, which almost 65% of the panelists also selected.  WackoJack worried about a premature end to the auction:  “I double. I cannot risk bidding 2  !D with 19HCP.  Give partner  !S Qxxx  !H Jxx,  !D Kxx,  !C Jxx and 3N is a good bet and no way would partner take action over 2  !D.”  While DickHy is planning how the auction will continue after he doubles “OK, the Q of hearts may quickly be relegated to making tarts, but she could be of some use, and a double shows the strength.  If partner bids 2H or 1S, I will bid 3D.  If partner bids 2m, I can bid 2H.”  Most panelists gave the call little thought. For example, Zia:  “Double.  Mundane springs to mind.”  Others gave passing recognition to the next round is when the problems emerge such as Kevin Bathurst writes “Double.  I can’t imagine starting with anything else.  What to do next may not be so obvious.”  While some clearly recognize the flaw with double, but come to terms with the choice.  Philip Alder:  “Double.  Supposedly, ace-king-doubleton is as good as three low and surely with:  !S xxx !H Qx !D AKJx !C AKQx, we would all double.”  While Bart Bramley says, “Double. Scary, but so is anything else.  Over a one-spade advance, I’ll bid two diamonds, so partner will bid two spades  only with at least five.  Double followed by a simple new-suit bid shows tolerance for other strains, particularly unbid majors.  With a massive one-suiter, I would double, then jump in my suit.”

All, save one, of the rest of IAC solvers overcalled 2 !D, which was the third highest score.  BluBayou simplifies the problem: “Overcall 2D, then double any expected rebid--if any, is my only plan, but it sure ain't pretty. … 17 pts can overcall 2 of a minor--ignoring the heart queen.”  While Masse24 frets over his rebid: “2 Diamonds That’s a sketchy diamond suit, so I hesitate to double with the intention of bidding diamonds at some higher level. What--the 3-level? Even higher should responder support hearts with a preemptive jump?  I’m not going to be a bean-counter and double first merely because the book says to do so with these values.”  And JCreech essentially crosses his fingers: “2 !D - I am not going to encourage partner bidding spades, and I am not going to overstate the strength of my diamond suit.  I will start with the overcall, and hope I get a chance to further describe my hand.”  BW panelist Bob Boudreau chooses “Two diamonds.  I don’t like doubling with only two top spades, especially if they must be used to ruff hearts.”  The big question raised about making the overcall is the fear of missing something better.  The moderator addressed that question:  “But isn’t this hand too strong for a simple overcall … as many believe and BWS notes explicitly: ‘The normal simple-overcall maximum is 18 HCP’?  No.  Point-count ranges are appropriate for notrump bids with balanced and semi-balanced hands, but not for overcalls, where the relevant question is:  ‘Will I fear missing a good game if everybody passes?’  The answer with this hand is no.  Our 19 4-3-2-1- points combined with the points that East needs for his opening bid leaves little remaining for North and West, and North needs nearly all of that strength for game to be good. … Compared to missing game, I fear more that two diamonds will go down …”

No one among the IAC solvers went with the 2nd choice of the panel: 1NT.  Personally, I was surprised at the choice.  The bid has two flaws; the hand has too much strength (19 in HCPs and a five-card suit) and lacks a stopper of substance (Qx) for the opponent’s 5-card or longer opening suit.  Under those circumstances, I tend to look elsewhere for a bid.  What wisdom does the panel shed on this choice?  Kit Woolsey:  “One notrump.  Roughly right on strength, and the opponents probably can’t run hearts.  Doubling one heart with only two spades is out of the question.  A two-diamond overcall looks a lot riskier.”  Ron Smith:  “One notrump.  Try to go plus.”  Eric Kokish:  “One notrump.  Truly ugly, but the extra jack makes up for the lack of a true heart guard and the bid will make it easier to reach a spade contract with confidence.  If North is weak and near-balanced we may belong in clubs as easily as diamonds.  Pass is sensible but anti-field.”

Problem C: 2 !H

This was the most discussed problem on the IAC forum.  With 11 HCPs and a five-card suit headed by the AKQ, it would seem the choices would be between a game force (a slight overbid) or an invitation (right on points, an underbid on trick taking potential). 

When the drum roll ended, the top choice was 2 !H.  A little more than a third of the panel went this direction.  Curls77 was the first to make this selection among the IAC solvers and seemed to feel it was inadequate, saying “wishing I lost connection, 2H.”  However, it was BluBayou who put significant time into this problem.  His analysis, based on 100 simulations, can be summarized as follows:  (1) invitational bids (2NT or 3 !H) are not best because if they are not accepted, a large number of the contracts are in the wrong strain or wrong sided, though when accepted, the strain typically is correct; (2) the 2 !C game force is not best because if there is not a heart fit, 3NT is too often too high; and (3) “(t)he unthinkable underbid of TWO HEARTS took the gold medal,  wiping out half of those minus scores or reducing them , while not missing TOO many games that made when opener had serious extra points. If you cannot bear to rebid 2H with 11+  then game forcing 2C is the way to go,  but I am joining Sanya with  the super-lowball  ‘2 HEARTS’  which ought to suck in the MSC scoring.   This is it for my observations for the month. I worked my butt of and mostly learned just HOW BIG A DRAG those 4 stupid clubs are for declaring notrump with less than 27 points between us.”  Bart Bramley agrees, “Two hearts.  Safe-guarding the plus.  Likely to be better than notrump, especially from my side.  Might also be right at imps, as partner needs quite a good hand for game.”  Eric Kokish:  Two hearts:  Speaks for itself.  It’s a bid that will attract a two-card raise when a game is worth bidding.”  Barnet Shenkin makes an argument for XYZ:  “Two hearts.  Conservative.  I’d rather be playing two clubs as a puppet to two diamonds, so I could follow with a mildly invitational two hearts.”

A little less than a third of the panel went with another “underbid” of 1NT.  One anonymous IAC solver made this choice with no discussion, so we are left with the BW panel for understanding this choice.   Doub and Wildavsky downgrade the hand:  “One notrump.  With club length instead of a stopper and two low in partner’s first suit, we don’t mind downgrading by a point.  In BWS-2017, opener can bid two hearts with a 4=3=5=1 minimum, making one notrump more attractive than it would have been in earlier versions.  Anything else makes turning a plus into a minus too likely.”  Brian Platnick:  “One notrump.  Perhaps wrongsiding notrump, but nothing else is attractive.”  Channeling Jock’s analysis, Marc Jacobus writes:  “One notrump.  The woefully weak clubs deter me from bidding more.”

40% of the IAC solvers were aggressive on this problem and selected 2 !C to put on the game force compared to 21% of the panel.  DickHy draws on BWS to justify his bid: “2C.  Bridge World says, “After a one-level new-suit response and opener's simple new-suit rebid: a fourth-suit bid at the two- or three-level is forcing to game”.  OK, I’m a bit short, but if we play in NT it’s partner’s clubs that need protection – that’s if he’s not got 3c H support.”  Masse24, on the other hand, decides to save space: “2 Clubs  The value bid is 2NT or possibly 3 !H. Both lie, one about stoppers, the other suit length. 2 !C is an overbid but due to the space it saves, is the most flexible. Zia would say, ‘I would open this, what’s the problem?’”  Checking in with Zia, “Two clubs.  What I would bid if my clubs included the jack.”  Nick L’Ecuyer:  “Two clubs.  So what if it’s forcing to game?  That's better than jumping to three hearts, or to two notrump with four low clubs.  I can handle the auction from here.  I will pass North’s two notrump but bid four hearts over two hearts.”

The middle ground did not fare well.  Roughly a fourth of the IAC solvers chose an invitational sequence.  Both bids are flawed, as Todd discussed above, but are they more flawed than the higher scoring choices?  JCreech  makes the argument for “3 !H - To GF or not to GF.  Right now we have a misfit, so I tend to pull in my horns a bit.  Also being NV suggests not pushing hard.  Hearts are where this hand lives, so I will make an invitational jump.  The holding will be good opposite anything other than a void (and even then, the !S Q may provide an entry.”  From the panel, Kit Woolsey also bids “Three heaarts.  Right on the value.  Even a five-one fit may suffice.  Anything else looks distorted.”  While WackoJack thinks of 2NT as being more flexible:  “I am almost sold on Blu's ‘unthinkable’ 2  !H bid from the simulations.  But I have to stick to my original argument as I didn't do the simulations. … I bet on 2NT because we can stop short of game if partner has a minimum and can find a 5-3 heart fit when partner has a bit better than a minimum.”  Robb Gordon agrees with “Two notrump.  The fourth club makes the lack of a stopper less of a drawback.  If partner is short in clubs, he may well show three-card heart support on route to three notrump.”  The moderator also likes the fact that both of these bids allow paths to game in the other strain.


The next part of this recap will be out ASAP.  Hopefully, this will satiate while we start to fret about the next set.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 01:00:39 PM by jcreech »
A stairway to nowhere is better than no stairway at all.  -Kehlog Albran

jcreech

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Re: 2020 December - MASTER SOLVER'S CLUB
« Reply #47 on: November 20, 2020, 12:21:26 AM »
DECEMBER MSC SUMMARY (Part 2)– Danny Kleinman, Director

As we continue through the December contest.

Problem D: Pass

This is a problem that frequently distinguishes between the expert and the non-expert.  An expert, while not always passing, first thinks about passing, where the non-expert will typically think first of bidding as a gut reaction to partner’s takeout double.  Here more than half of the panel does pass, while only 20% of the IAC solvers did likewise. 

Only three of the IAC solvers converted the reopening double to penalty, while more than half of the BW panel did.  BluBayou made a gut-reaction type of decision:  “Leaving in the double of one heart took two seconds,  and we will never look deeper.”  JCreech, though, did dig a bit deeper:  “Pass - Matchpoints is a nasty game.  I am looking at a probable five tricks and they are red.  I am hoping for the magic 200 vs. a partscore or 500 vs. a game situation.  I am close to bidding 1NT to show my heart values that way.”  Irina Levitna and Ron Smith, were identically succinct “Pass.  Let’s go for it.”  Phillip Alder likes the vulnerability, “Pass.  I expect most panelists to bid one notrump, but the form of contest and favorable vulnerability tempt me too much.”   Zia:  “Pass.  The opponents’ spade fit scares me, but I take pleasure in nailing a vulnerable overcall on a thin suit.”  Doub and Wildavsky:  “Pass. The hearts are too strong not to take a shot at plus 200 or more.  Partner will almost surely lead a diamond, a likely good start for us, and our hand rates to be worth at least five tricks on defense.  The only worrisome feature is the low singleton spade, as the opponents have eight spades.”

If you do take out the negative double, what should be the strain?  35% of the panel, half of the BW solvers and 60% of the IAC solvers selected 1NT.  DickHy expresses regret and quotes BWS in his decision to bid “1N.  This feels a bit wimpish but I imagine partner can make a negative double at the 1-level with 6 or 7 HCP.  Bridge World doesn’t say a negative x necessarily shows 4 cards in the missing minor, so 2C has the weakness that it might hit a 3c suit … and the much graver weakness of hiding my H stops.  Bridge World says under negative doubles, “After opener's one-notrump rebid, responder's two-level cue-bid shows invitational-plus strength.  If partner has 10+ HCP he can invite.”  While WackoJack thinks passing the double puts him on the wrong side of the risk/reward calculation:  “1NT  If I were declarer in 1  !H, with a 4-1 fit (against Burns Law)  would I make 7 tricks?  It looks horribly risky for the +200 prize.  I will go for 1NT. True! If partner has a 4144 distribution, then 1N may not score as well as 2  !C or 2 !D.  The upside is that the opps may well compete to 2  !H with their 8 card fit.  Then I wield the axe.  Burn Law states: When you are declarer, the total number of trumps held by your side should be greater than the total number of trumps held by your opponents.”  And Masse24 states it simply, “1NT  WTP? I’m not bold enough to pass.”  The great fear of the panel is that West will run to a better strain.  Carl Hudecek:  One notrump.  I’d be happy defending against hearts but unhappy defending against spades.  If I pass, East-West may find their spade fit.”  Paul Ivaska “One notrump.  … if I pass, West is apt to run, and the opponents are likely to find their eight-card spade fit.  Then we’ll probably wind up declaring our own contract against an effective opening lead followed by accurate defense.”  Bart Bramley bids 1NT more on general principle, “Notrump rather than clubs when it’s matchpoints.  Shape flaws for notrump are more palatable in competition.  I’d pass if desperate for a top, but passing is too risky otherwise.”

The other choice for taking out the negative double was to bid 2 !C.  This was the choice of 10% of the panelists, 16% of the BW solvers and 20% of the IAC solvers.  None of the IAC solvers making this choice discussed their reasoning, so we will look to the panelists for those clues.  Kevin Bathurst is tempted to pass, but bids “Two clubs.  The stiff spade and strong hearts suggest passing, but I’m a bit too short of strength outside of hearts to gamble for a top on defense at the one-level.”  While Jeff Rubens has other concerns:  “Two clubs.  Defending might be okay if West sits and partner's spades are strong, but the opponents have a spade fit and we (very likely) have a minor-suit fit, so this is not a good time to game a pass.”

Problem E: 1 !D 

The question in this problem is how best to show your hand.  You can show both suits at once with an unusual 2NT overcall, you can bid out your shape by bidding 1 !H and rebidding diamonds, or you can get you lead director in by bidding diamonds and suppressing the hearts unless partner shows them in some fashion.  In the end, it was a close contest between bidding to show a suit to lead and showing both suits in a single bid.

Half of the panelists and about 40% of BW solvers selected 1 !D.  Only three of the IAC solvers joined in.  KenBerg described his thoughts for bidding 1 !D as “partner is a passed hand, I don't have all that much, I expect the opponents to be the declaring side. If partner is going to be on lead I want a !D lead, not a !H. Well, at least I think I want a !D. Depends a bit.”  Bob Boudreau properly values his heart suit:  “One diamond.  I don’t want partner to lead hearts against West’s spade contract, so I’ll pretend that I have only four.”  While others recognize that the opponents have the master suit.  Billy Eisenberg:  “One diamond.  We’ll be on defense often enough to ignore the fifth heart.”  Jeff Rubens “One diamond.  A pessimistic view of the offensive prospects, but very often we will be outgunned, and matchpoints sometimes pays a lot for any extra trick.”

IAC solvers went with 2NT quite strongly (75%), much more so than the BW panelists (39%) or solvers (45%).  WackoJack puts it simply, “2NT  I cannot see a better bid than the ‘unusual’.”  JCreech adds a little texture to the argument:  “2NT - I am torn between making the lead directing bid of 1 !D or getting both of my suits off my chest right away.  Typically, when I can accurately describe to partner where to find 10 of my cards in one bid, I like to show them.  I am almost too rich to make this bid.”  DickHy used BWS to help justify his answer of “2N.  2N or 1D? How bad will playing in 3Hx be in a xxxxx/xx fit?  Partner will surely choose H when 22 in the red suits.  He is a passed hand, so opponents could well have a vulnerable game.  Then again, perhaps I’m pessimistic; partner is bound to have 3c support for one of my two suits!  Bridge World; The requirements for initial pre-emptive defensive actions (jump overcalls; the weak version of two-suited actions) are possibly light.  So, there’s that excuse for the bar afterwards.  Besides, on the day I overcall 1D, partner will have four hearts and one diamond.”  And always the pragmatist, BluBayou explains that “(t)he selling point for me on Michaels, and unusual notrump is that you can express a hand that, if it were only 5-4 distribution WOULD NOT BE WORTH A BID AT ALL, or would be worth one bid only, leaving one with that left-over feeling later.  That is how I feel about this one.  The 5 child hearts make it ugly, but count me IN.”  Bart Bramley:  “Two notrump.  Show two-suiters if you can, especially when you may shut out spades.  I wouldn’t know which red suit to bid if I had to choose.  Tipping my shape seems less likely to matter than usual, as I have no finessable holdings, and an opposing declarer would probably finesse clubs through North anyway.”  Kit Woolsey:  “Two notrump.  Perfect.  Partner is a passed hand, so we aren’t missing game, and the vulnerability is right.  Anything else would make life too easy for the opponents.”

There is a minority view (2 IAC solvers, 2 BW panelists and 6% of the BW solvers), that want to bid the two red suits in their proper order.  This implies that they feel the hand is worth two bids.  Our IAC solvers were silent on this, so we are forced to the panel for enlightenment, but all we get are jokes.  Robert Wolff:  “One heart.  For lead direction.”  And Arthur Robinson:  “One heart.  Getting ready for fan tan.”

Problem F: 2 !C

Too often in bridge, you find yourself in a position of not having any good bids available, and you are stuck looking for the least lie.  This problem is one of those times, if fact, this is the sort of hand that, given that it is a semi-balanced 12 count, that at the point of rebid I ask myself, why did I open this in the first place.  The answer of course is that you have a good 12 and were hoping to have a better bid from partner.  Carl Hudecek seems to be in this camp:  “Why did my substitute open this garbage in second seat?”

The panel’s choice (40%) was to rebid the beefy club suit, though it was slightly less a favorite with solvers (33% IAC, 34% BW).  The lie, of course, is that there are only five in the suit.  DickHy thinks rebidding the clubs is more descriptive:  “2C.  1N shows the HCP, but 2C shows the hand.  Partner could well be starting a Walsh-like/invitational + sequence and then the choice doesn’t matter too much (if at all).  If he’s weak with say 3343 then 2C looks a better spot to play than 1N.  One problem might be if he is weak with long diamonds – say 3361 or 3352.  Then he will bid 2D over 1N which looks safer than 2C with such hands, but maybe not 2D over 2C.  Still, I’m the weak one in the partnership, so 2C it is.”  While WackoJack is relying a bit more on his gut feeling:  “2  !C  I think I just prefer this to 2  !D.  After all partner may have 3343 distribution. 2 !C leaves no doubt that this is at least a good 5 card suit.”   Nick L’Ecuyer:  “Two clubs.  Looks like a six-card suit.  My other choice is one heart, but my partners tend to raise when I bid a three card suit.”  David Berkowitz:  “Two clubs.  Against my religion to rebid a five-bagger, but these clubs really look like six, don’t they?”  Some want to rebid the clubs to right-side the contract.  Joel Wooldridge:  “Two clubs.  Normally, I’d rebid one notrump with this shape, but there are two low spades and two perfectly playable minors.  Rather than wrongside three notrump (an important consideration at imps), I’ll settle for a minor-suit contract when partner can’t bid again.  Clubs rather than diamonds because I want to portray the excellent quality of the suit right away.”

A close second choice was 1NT.  36% of the panel selected to show their shape, despite a spade stopper made of air.  This was also the plurality choice of the BW solvers (42%), though it was a lesser choice for the IAC solvers (only 2).  However, the only IAC comment was a disappointing one from Masse24:   “Another WTP?”    While Todd is right that it describes the hand, the auction points to weakness in the majors, and not only are the spades a doubleton, but there is nothing there to help bolster partner’s holding.  The only plus is that the opponents are not biding the suit, so there is some hope for a 4-4.  Ron Smith:  “One notrump.  Balanced minimum.  No reason to be scared.”  Irina Levitina:  “One notrump.  Says more about my hand than any other bid.”  Bart Bramley:  “One notrump.  When I have a balanced minimum, I show it as soon as possible.  Anything else would be a distortion.  Yes, I would have raised hearts, but diamonds are a different animal.”

The favorite (53%) for the IAC solvers was 2 !D, and a distant third with BW (panel, 21%; solvers, 16%).  The lie here is that you are promising four-card support for partner’s suit.  KenBerg writes “2 !D seems right. Of course agreements matter, and agreements vary. Here is from BWS 2017 ‘In response to one club, with four of a major and four-plus diamonds, responder bids: one of the major with four diamonds, one diamond with invitational-plus values (otherwise one of the major) with five diamonds, one diamond with six diamonds.’  So can responder have only four diamonds? Well, yes, but not often. With four diamonds he would skip over !D to bid a major if he had a major so if he has four diamonds he does not have a major. He is also very unlikely to be 3=3=4=3, with that holding it seems he would bid some number of NT, although perhaps there are hands where he would not. The most likely case where he holds four !D is when he also holds four !C.  That's one too few !C to bid either 2 !C or 3 !C, although there could be the occasional game forcing holding where he would bid 2 !C on a four card holding, showing strength, planning to clarify shape later. So it seems that very very often he will be holding five !D for his 1 !D call.  And, when I raise !D, he will expect me to be holding five !C.   It seems to me that after 1 !C - 1 !D - 2 !D we are in a good position to end up in NT when we belong there, and in a minor when we do not belong in NT. It could go wrong, but I think it's odds on. Often with these MSC hands we have to go with the least bad choice. But here, it seems to me that 2 !D is not bad at all.”  Similarly, JCreech argued for “2 !D - Usually I like to show my shape and rebid 1NT, and would have over 1 !H or 1 !S.  So what is different with 1 !D?  I think it is that neither of us is showing a major and I only have one stop for both suits.  Also, when partner responds 1 !D over 1 !C, there tends to be either five diamonds or a club fit.  Unless partner intends to reverse into a major, I want to steer clear of NT at this point.” 

Problem G: 3 !C

On Problem G, the BW panel essentially said “what’s the problem?” as 75% of them proceeded to cue-bid 3 !C; 40% of the solvers (both IAC and BW) followed suit.  BluBayou says succinctly “Cue-bid-- Encourage partner in whichever suit he wants to be encouraged in.  Who has a plan ‘B’?”  JCreech seems a little less certain with his bid of “3 !C -  This feels a bit like a stretch, but what a fit for partner's responsive double suits!  Not certain what my cue-bid shows except that my hand improved with what partner had to say.  Now it is time to listen.”  WackoJack is cautiously optimistic with his 3 !C bid “I have 14 HCP with 6 card  !H suit.  Partner has  !S and  !D with I think 10+ HCP.  So is this enough to try 3  !C?  Or try the low road and make the conservative 2  !H rebid?  I will try the aggressive 3  !C.  We can still stop short of game if partner bids 3  !D with no   !C stop.”  While Masse24 is almost gleeful with his “3 !C  Tag, you’re it, partner! When all else fails, leave partner with the nasty decisions.”  Zia describes his choice of 3 !C as “(a) great hand if we have a fit.”  Brian Platnick echos:  “Three clubs.  I have a good hand with doubt about strain.”  Or more explicitly by Nick L’Ecuyer:  “Three clubs.  I want to reach game, but I don’t know in which of three available suits.  Partner’s next bid will tell me.”  Phillip Adler, though selects 3 !C under duress and wants to know “Why don’t the rules permit me to redouble for takeout?”

There is little consensus among the panelists if some other bid was chosen.  Among the IAC solvers, three went with 2 !H.  Although DickHy was tempted to go in a different direction, he settled on 2 !H:  “What then does partner’s double mean? Bridge World is not much help: Among advancer's actions when responder raises opener: a double is not for penalty (for takeout or showing general values, depending on level).  If partner’s double shows general values, then deflation has set in, ‘cos he’s got only 6 or 7.  I have a choice of bidding one of his suits, with only 3c support, or showing the 6th heart.  Admittedly, the 3 cards in either case are spiffing, but if partner is 4243 and his values are in his long suits, then hearts looks the best spot.  So, I’m tending towards 2H.  3C is exerting a strange pull, however … must find my pills.”  Doub and Wildavsky  bid “Two hearts.  We hold what used to be considered normal values and a sixth heart.  With both opponents bidding, partner rates to be minimum, and we have no clear direction to go in search of game. … One disadvantage of the trend toward lighter overcalls is that a minimum must encompass a wider range.”

Similarly, three IAC solvers chose to bid 2 !S.  Unfortunately, none chose to discuss their reasoning, so we have to rely on the panel for illumination.  The one panelist that made this bid was Kit Woolsey:  “Two spades.  Partner is supposed to have five spades for this double.  He doesn’t expect me to have four, as I didn’t make a takeout double.”  The moderator is defensive about Kit’s claim that the overcall could not have four spades, citing distributional examples that would not be suitable for a takeout double.

The last portion of this recap will be out momentarily.  I used too much material, so we are having the lead problem as its own section.  Todd asked for the segregation (he actually asked that lead problems be banned from MSC) because he hates lead problems so much - lol.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 01:15:09 PM by jcreech »
A stairway to nowhere is better than no stairway at all.  -Kehlog Albran

jcreech

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Re: 2020 December - MASTER SOLVER'S CLUB
« Reply #48 on: November 20, 2020, 12:26:46 AM »
DECEMBER MSC SUMMARY (Part 3)– Danny Kleinman, Director

As we complete the December contest with the lead problem - also known as the Masse24 I HATE LEAD PROBLEMS!!! Problem.

Problem H: !H A

In this month’s problem, the choice was between cashing an ace to see the dummy or trying to build a side-suit trick early.  The top choice was the !H A, which was selected by 42% of the panel, and joined by 32% of the BW solvers.  However, only two IAC solvers joined the party.  BluBayou said “I desperately want to take a peek at dummy,  but  I am leaning to cashing the HEART ace, not the trump ace  to do this.  Perhaps deep heart looser they have will go away if we do not get right after it?  Perhaps  will see exactly WHICH diamond to shift to at trick two? Perhaps i will see no massive club suit in dummy in time to get back on that track?   And of course,  I may be blowing the timing sky-high by helping opps get heart tricks up and running:(   May I join the 'i hate problem H" club?”  In IAC, there is a growing list of solvers who have joined the “I hate lead problems” club.  As you can see, there is a fresh application for membership, but based on Jock’s behavior last month (i.e., he did not avoid the lead on H, and even advanced his lead on G without being asked), he does not seem ready to join the esteemed membership.  Joining him in making this lead, Bart Bramley explains it well:  “Heart ace.  First chance:  Cash three hearts before they get pitched on clubs.  Second chance:  Set up a second heart and hope that’s good enough.  Third chance:  Shift in time.  Cashing the trump ace first loses a tempo and might blow a trick.  Minor-suit leads are shots in the dark.”  Similarly, Irina Levitina, wanting to hold onto trump control, says, “Heart ace.  Dummy is likely to have clubs.  We must try to cash our four tricks while I still have the ace of trumps.”

Second choice also involved cashing an ace, but this time the singleton trump ace.  This was the selection for 28% of the panelists and 22% of the BW solvers, but represented the largest block of IAC solvers.  WackoJack succinctly says “Lead A  !S  Toss a coin.  Let's look at dummy”  DickHy: “Partner’s a passed hand and I don’t think he will have that much.  West could easily have 14 HCP to go with his 4/5 spades.  I’m going to be end-played often, so the temptation is to get rid of the AS and have a look at the world.  Surely that’s not going to cost with 10 or 11 trumps with E and W (and might help if - fingers and toes crossed – partner has Kx in S).  After that I can see what W holds and probably bang out with the JC.”  JCreech: “I don't really have a standout lead to make.  I hate leading my bare trump ace - I would prefer to wait and have it get a chance to pick up something other than air.  But the only other thought I have is the !C J, so maybe it will be better to look a dummy to get an idea of what might be an effective shift.”  Eschewing the tempo issue, Kit Woolsey:  “Spade ace.  I’ll have a better chance to lead the right side suit when I see the dummy.  The lost temp probably won’t matter.  Any other lead would be a blind guess.”  Brian Platnick:  “Spade ace.  After seeing dummy, I will have a better idea what I should have led.”  Carl Hudecek:  “Spade ace.  Before I lose it.”  (Whereupon the moderator tells a story:  “Don’t laugh.  On a freak rubber bridge deal many years ago, my partner Lightner-doubled six spades.  I led from my long weak clubs to give him the ruff he sought with his singleton spade.  Two tricks later, I won my singleton ace of spades, and near the end my partner claimed the heart jack for a second undertrick. … until an alert dummy noticed that he had followed to my spade trick with the six of clubs.”  He proposed naming the cashing of the trump ace a Hudecek Safety Play.)

The third best score went to the !H  Q.  There was only one IAC solver (who was silent about his reasoning), but 18% of the panel also made this choice.  Joel Wooldridge:  “Heart queen.  I’ll try to score a couple of heart tricks.  I could lead the ace instead, but maybe declarer doesn’t know who has it and will duck dummy’s king.”  Zia:  “Heart queen.  So my friends will all say ‘I told you so!’ when declarer pus up dummy’s king.”

Only five  IAC solvers led non-aces.  Four led the !C J and one led a small diamond.  These were not popular choices with the panel, but 30% of the BW solvers did lead the !C J and 11% led a non-honor diamond.  From the BW panel, Billy Eisenberg incorrectly guessed that “Club jack.  Probably with the majority”  Masse24 was not much more forthcoming “Club Jack.  I have no clue. Zero.  I hate lead problems.”  The moderator, though, gave a reason – it “(r)equires the least from partner (the queen or clubs may suffice).”  The panel was also a disappointment for insight on a diamond lead.  Jeff Rubens:  “Diamond nine.  All four suits are possible (in hearts, my choice would be the queen).”  KenBerg was far more reticent:  “Assuming that we are playing fourth best from strength, I am thinking of leading fifth best, the !D 5.  Pard cannot be holding much and his play will not vary with whether I lead the 5 or the 7. But sometimes it might influence declarer. If he subtracts 5 from 11 he gets 6. If he sees four cards in hand and dummy that are higher than the 5 he will then assume my partner has two of them. Say AQ4 hits the dummy and declarer holds T8. He will assume I hold the K but where is the J?  Under some circumstances  he might think it worth the risk to play low, hoping I also have the J. If I convince declarer that my partner has two cards higher than the 5 he might decide the danger is too high to let the trick ride to his ten.  I doubt, on the auction, that partner has the A. But he might have the Q, he might have a stiff, and at least possibly, I might be able to mislead declarer.  I have not yet decided, as always with lead problems the situation is unclear. But I don't think the !D 5 is crazy.”

I hope you found this worth the extra space devoted to this set of MSC problems.  Good luck on next month's problems.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 01:19:27 PM by jcreech »
A stairway to nowhere is better than no stairway at all.  -Kehlog Albran

Curls77

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Re: 2020 December - MASTER SOLVER'S CLUB
« Reply #49 on: November 20, 2020, 09:05:47 PM »
Curls77 was the first to make this selection among the IAC solvers and seemed to feel it was inadequate, saying “wishing I lost connection, 2H.”  However, it was BluBayou who put significant time into this problem.

Blu and Pat called my attention i was mentioned here, geee!!! I had NO IDEA this gets so nice detailed postmortem, guilty as charged!
Wow, such nice job Jim and Jack, and all that participate explaining ur thoughts :)

If I live long enough. I might get to retire and have time to play for a change and think more of a hand except give it 2 secs of thought which is what happened here  :-[

TY ever so much Jim and Todd, for running this forum event, losers are who do not participate.

blubayou

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Re: 2020 December - MASTER SOLVER'S CLUB
« Reply #50 on: November 21, 2020, 01:20:57 AM »
Glad we put you name in lights, Sanya...You lead the way on a really tough call that was the key to the promised-land  for us,  Though  the magazine's experts suprized us by seeing the virtue  of staying low, in force.   
    No panelist made a case for the auction  [1C] 1!H [2!C] DOUBLE "  showing LONG spades explicitly, though one guy went ASAP to the spade game,   and a million others  expected to get there and claim very soon.    However , my side bet  for a bonus 5 monster points  came to nothing :(
« Last Edit: November 21, 2020, 01:33:53 AM by blubayou »
often it is better to beg forgiveness, than ask permission

jcreech

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Re: 2020 December - MASTER SOLVER'S CLUB
« Reply #51 on: November 21, 2020, 01:47:20 AM »
Although Todd made a big stink about no scoring respect for his 4 !D on problem A, I feel certain that Jock's analysis on Problem C sent him over the edge to insist on a recount.  For Todd abhors real science, using things like random numbers, percentages, calculations and hypothesis testing.  Instead, he favors the "scientific" bidding conventions like XYZ, Serious NT or the Law, espoused by pseudo-scientists such as Larry Cohen.  In response to various set backs, the word is that he has bunkered in his own white house, muttering Waco and that there will be dire consequences if Bridge World does not recognize that his set of answers were worth at least 700 in December.  Most recently, all of the courts of appeal (run by the various national and international bridge organizations) say that his legal actions are without standing and that the Bridge World is a private subscription organization and not bound by their bylaws.  Meanwhile, I have asked YleeXotee to take Todd on as a patient in his professional capacity. :P  (I hope that emoji was for tongue in cheek.)
« Last Edit: November 21, 2020, 02:32:49 AM by jcreech »
A stairway to nowhere is better than no stairway at all.  -Kehlog Albran

Masse24

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Re: 2020 December - MASTER SOLVER'S CLUB
« Reply #52 on: November 21, 2020, 02:39:56 AM »
“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