The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A source of high amusement for bridge players is the bidding panel, in which a moderator poses bidding questions to a group of players, and then publishes the assorted bids along with his own and the bidders' commentary. The sine qua non of bidding panels is the Bridge World's Master Solvers Club. A panel of some 30 experts submits eight answers to a rotating director, who scores the solutions on a scale of 10 to 100.

Bridge World subscribers can submit answers too, and the highest scoring amateurs are listed in a page-long honor roll in each magazine. If a solver manages to score 800, he is added to the expert panel for one issue.

My high score in the MSC has been 750. When I read the January 2006 issue, I was surprised to find that I had gotten each of the first six answers correct. Could it be that the Master Solvers Club would have to accept my answers for one tarnished month? How many Home Star Runner references could I work into eight problems? But alas, I scored 70 and 80 on the last two problems.

Rereading the December issue I found that the MSC was in no danger anyway; panellists who score 800 will now receive valuable prizes (as in bridge books). Now that my hopes of joining the panel are completely crushed, there's nothing for me to do but blog my own MSC submissions.

A-like this:

A. SKJ93 HKQ7 DJ984 CK7

Matchpoints, both vul:

1H Double 3H ?

FLOYD MCWILLIAMS: Double. A penalty pass is extremely improbable (and if it happens, spades were probably breaking 4-1). Partner will probably bid 4C, over which I will bid 4S, showing a flexible hand. 3N is appealing, but I have no aces and may need to lose the lead twice.

B. S- HQT952 DAKQ87643 C-

1H 2C ?

Note for non-subscribers: This is not a typical MSC problem.

5N. If Al Roth were still on the panel he would abstain. This big blast should be Grand Slam Force, not pick a slam -- I wouldn't use up so much bidding space if I needed partner's input for strain.

C. SQ75 HAK86 DKJ3 CJ96

1S Pass ?

(Note that 1N is semi-forcing, 2N is a strong raise, 3N is a semi-preemptive raise).

2H. This is less of a distortion than 2C on jack-third. If partner raises hearts it's painless to return to spades.

D. ST42 HKQJ8 DT CA8543

Imps, N-S vul:

1D 1H ?

a: Pass, then specify rebid after partner's reopening double
b: Double (showing 4 spades), then specify rebid after partner's 1S bid
c: 1N
d: 2C (forcing to 2D)
e: 2N
f: Other

c. Maximum for 1N, but 2C then 2N is an overbid with a misfit for partner's suit (not to mention that I may not get a chance to rebid 2N). Pass is absurd -- I don't want to defend on the one level with four trumps -- and double is not much better.


IMPs, N-S vul:

Pass Pass 1H Double
2H 2S Pass ?

3H. What else? I'm certainly not bidding a four-card suit at the three level, and I'm not raising spades when I can cuebid to suggest a strong hand with no direction.

F. SJ3 H652 DAT3 CKT742

Imps, none vul.


Pass 3H Pass 4H
Pass Pass 4S Double

Pass. Partner had a spade preempt and couldn't bid over 3H; now he's saving.


1H Pass 3H Pass
4H Pass Pass 4S
Double ?

I still pass. First of all, I think partner has spades only; with spades and another suit he should have done something over 3H so he could get a second bid in. Secondly, even if partner does have a second suit to bid like this, there's no reason to believe that 5D would be much better than 4S. (And finally, if we do go for a big number it will encourage partner to play with someone else.)

G. ST7642 H9 DT CAQ8653

Matchpoints, N-S vul.

1C Double ?

5C. I talked myself out of 1S. RHO appears to be very short in clubs, which increases the odds that he will have four spades.

H. SAT9 HT9862 D7 CQ864

IMPs, Opponents bid:

1D 1S
3S 4N
5H (two keycards, no SQ) 5S

You lead?

D7. RHO passed because he was off two keycards or the ace and queen of trumps. If partner has a side ace, I will get a ruff either immediately or when I win my ace of trumps. If not, we may get three trump tricks -- though I admit that my lead may scare declarer into playing me for the trump ace.



I've never gotten an 800, but I have scored a 720. Average somewhere in the low 600s.

PROBLEM A: 3NT. Appealing. Partner has the aces.

PROBLEM B: 5NT. Grand-slam force.

PROBLEM C: 2C. Don't bid hearts with only four of them. Clubs are never real.

PROBLEM D: (a); P. If LHO doesn't want to raise hearts, and partner wants to double, this will teach them not to overcall in our auctions.

PROBLEM E: 3H. Directionless cuebids always get a good score in the MSC.

PROBLEM F: P; P. Same reasoning as you. Partner has spades only, in each auction, and you have a better hand than he might expect in support.

PROBLEM G: 1S. I show my five spades first, then will support clubs vigorously. Will help partner make decisions over the opponent's red-suit bids.


By Anonymous Joel, at 7:16 AM  

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