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Define Your Bids Before I Tell You My Defense
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I play 2 different defenses against a 1NT opening depending on whether it is weak or strong. When I submitted my CC for the last European Championship, P.O. Sundelin insisted we give the exact range on our CC for what we consider weak and what we consider strong. I think this is the wrong approach: opponents shouldn't know what type of defense I am going to make on their opening before they decide to deviate or psych with it.

It is common nowadays to announce a notrump range and then open with less for whatever feature people like, especially in third position and/or favorable vulnerability. What happens then? Am I stuck with the ranges I announced on my CC?  This sounds insane, why should I have to stick with ranges when my opponents aren't going to stick to theirs?

However the only way to circumvent this is to agree with partner before start of the match that against this specific pair in a specific position/vulnerability we make an exception and consider their otherwise strong NT as weak. But how do we announce this agreement? Could we conceal this treatment?

Imagine this situation:

W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
X

 

North: What is double?

East: Penalty.

North: But your CC says you play doubles as *artificial* against 1NT showing 14-16.

East: Yes, but we don't think your 1NT promises 14 HCP in third favorable.

I am not sure if that would be legal or not. But even if it was legal, it could be worse if opponents specifically asked if you consider their 1NT opening as weak or strong. Would you then have to answer with your full agreements and exceptions to those agreements?

If your opponents know you consider their 1NT opening weak, they might decide not to deviate/psyche as much, but are they entitled to know? This creates a circular problem: if they know you consider their 1NT opening weak, they will not deviate as much, and then we might want to use the strong notrump defense, and this goes on and on.

Whatever you do, it is clear you cannot lie to your opponents, if they ask what you play you have to answer, I guess you could play some games and unless they specifically ask if you consider their NT weak or strong you just point to your agreements, but this is not something desirable.

I think the rules should allow my side to agree which 1NT openings I consider strong or weak with my partner, but opponents shouldn't know beforehand. You can open with whatever you want, and you will know that we might play defense A or B (or even more), but not which.

Multiple defenses can also help against preempts. Looking at a few hands from the last European Championship where our opponents preempted not vulnerable in third position, it is apparent that playing penalty doubles+forcing pass in this position was a clear winner over classic take-out double methods. Don't get me wrong, I think it is nuts to play that method, especially if the opponents know you do. However I think that just having that method in your arsenal, written up, and opponents not knowing if it applies or not against them would make your life easier, even if you agreed to never ever use it against anyone no matter what, if it would help to scare them a bit.

There is a problem however to having various methods available. If 2 methods can be active, but which one applies is "hidden", some shady players could get the advantage of both, using one and then making partner aware which one it is through illegal communication.

Actually this may have already happened, here is one example from the 2010 European Championships:

West
6
AQ764
K96432
9
East
AKQ74
5
A875
KQ3
W
N
E
S
4
P
P
X
P
P
P

A Norwegian player opened 4 as South, and then Wladow, sitting East, reopened the bidding with double. What was the double? it was optional according to the CC. Elinescu passed the optional double.

This shows that "optional" doubles, in the wrong hands, can be abused.  For these pairs, optional stands for: we use the method we want now

I don't know how to resolve this problem, but I thought I should bring it up so that all aspects of this issue can be discussed.

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