Gazzilli: An Exploration
(Page of 3)

I continue my series discussing 6-card - Gazzilli.

Part 1, which explains why you might play it, is here. This first article is summarized:

• 1M - 1NT - 2 = 6-card major minimum, or any 17+ HCP
• 1M - 1NT - 2M = 5-card major and 4+ clubs, replacement bid
• 1M - 1NT - 2 - 2 = game force opposite 17+.

Part 2, which starts to explain how you might play it, is here. I provided the common sequences where either opener does not have the 17+ strong option, or responder disappoints with weakness.

In this article, I explain third round continuations after a positive Gazzilli sequence. I will then discuss Gazzilli after 1 - 1. Separately, I'm willing to discuss Gazzilli after an unbalanced diamond opening, but it's of a slightly different flavor, and the target audience is likely to shrink dramatically.

After positive Gazzilli sequence: 1M - 1NT - 2 - 2

Opener announces strength with any call other than 2M:

• 2OM = 3+ in the other major: next step asks
• 2NT = 5+ major and 4-card minor: next step (3) asks
• 3m = 5/5
• 3M = natural
• 3NT = to play *

* I write this as to play, but it could specify 5332 with two cards in the other major if you choose. However that blabbers quite a lot of information. Partner will never correct 3NT in this situation, so I think you should just bid it on any hand that wants to play in 3NT opposite 8+ HCP, and forgo unnecessary leakage.

Observe that as before, the existence of the 2NT bid to cover side four-card minors means that the direct (well direct after the positive Gazzilli 2 - 2) 3m shows 5/5. There is some potential overlap (e.g. say you hold 5-3-1-4 shape: this contains both 3-cards in the other major, as well as 5-4 shape).

My own conclusion is that it's probably better to show your full shape (which is possible after a 2OM start) whenever possible. Partner is better placed to judge. On occasion you might be able to get to 3NT where your "stopper" is three-low opposite three-low (I have a recent CTC deal in mind).

In any case, the follow-ups after the asking 1M - 1NT; 2 - 2; 2NT (5+M + 4m) are step-wise:

• 5M + 4
• 5M + 4
• 6M + 4
• 6M + 4

This differs from the 1M - 1NT - 2NT sequence in two respects: 1) there is no spade-heart option; and 2) we are in a force, so step bids make more sense than "revolving natural".

One principle of good bidding is to use cheap (forcing) bids to contain multiple options, e.g the Gazzilli 2 bid. Another foundation of good constructive bidding is to be able to either ask/relay or tell.

After a 1 opening bid, the 2OM bid (2 in this case) showing 3+ hearts helps us get to possible 5-3 heart fits, while providing a granular approach to opener's possible shapes.

After a 1 opening bid, standard bidders perhaps will not appreciate quite as much gain (1 - 1NT almost denies four spades unless responder has a limit raise in hearts, which he doesn't at 1 - 1NT - 2 - 2 <-- didn't jump to 3). Even so, as pointed in Part 2, 1 - 1NT - 2 now promises 6+ hearts, which is quite a useful gain. You still manage to describe shape more accurately on your strong hands.

Clearly, Gazzilli is a real boon if you like Flannery since 1 - 1NT will much more often contain 4 (even 5) spades.

I'm fairly sure the 2OM bids are fairly "standard" (whatever that means): I first learned of them through some old notes on Gazzilli by Justin Lall (I think from BBO forums). The natural-ish followups I learned from Jay Barron (less artificiality, better description).

After 1

1 - 1NT; 2 - 2; 2 (3+ spades), responder has these options:

• 3m = 5+
• (3 = Hx, choice of game?)
• 3NT = balanced 11-12

* For Flannery players

In practice, responder usually bids 2NT to let opener describe. But sometimes, responder has stuff to say. Therefore I prefer the 3m bids to be forward going. Since opener is unlimited, this is also responder's chance to exhibit the balanced limit option with 3NT.

I haven't ever bid 3 here, but I suppose you could define is as showing Hx and a choice-of-game in a minimum hand. Responder isn't interested in asking (telling the opponents information about opener's hand), and only wants to consider 4-versus-3NT as the final contract.

After 1, and the 2NT ask

The bids make sense with a bit of practice: "as natural as can be".

1 - 1NT; 2 - 2; 2 - 2NT (ask)

• 3 = 3-5-1-4
• 3 = 3-5-4-1
• 3 = 3-6-x-x
• 3 = 4-5-x-x
• 3NT = 3-5-3/2 *

* As discussed above, didn't you bid 3NT to play the previous round?

If you really want, I suppose you could bid at the four-level to show 4-5-4/0 shapes.

As a remark, since there really is some memory load, throughout, there are plenty of opportunities for either hand to bid 3NT to try to play it there. That's what 17+8 bean-counters would get to as a baseline.

You will observe that these suggested sequences are not optimal -- the 4-5-x-x handtype is rather important if responder can have four spades, and probably should be the 3 option (which as always offers a 3 reask), but really at some point the memory cost to gain/frequency is too high. For me, I'm good up to remembering third round sequences, if they're "natural enough".

It's basically the same over spades.

After 1

1 - 1NT; 2 - 2; 2 (3+ hearts), responder's options:

• 2NT = balanced 11-12
• 3m = 5+, denies 4 hearts
• 3 = 5+, agrees hearts
• 3 = Hx, COG
• (3NT = also balanced 11-12)

As a remark, the 2 ask will tend to imply some interest in hearts (and above, the equivalent 2NT ask will imply some interest in playing in spades in a Flannery context).

After 1, and the 2 ask

Because finding a 5-3 (or even 6-3) heart fit is important, after opening 1, opener should take a more scientific bent instead of bashing 3NT on 5-3-3/2 shape (perhaps after all, you opened 1 because you were suit-oriented: AKJxx Axx xx Axx)

1 - 1NT; 2 - 2; 2 - 2 (ask)

• 2NT = 5-4-x-x *
• 3 = 5-3-1-4
• 3 = 5-3-4-1
• 3 = 6-4-x-x
• 3 = 6-3-x-x
• 3NT = 5-3-3/2

* In contrast to the sequence starting with 1, you have this 2NT bid available to take care of the more frequent 5-4 hands. Note that this hand-type is a real bother in standard bidding -- how often do you like bidding a standard 1 - 1NT - 2 with 17 HCP, or jump-shifting on a 4-bagger? I like to use this 2NT as a memory-trigger for the other options.

And that's it!

Gazzilli after 1 - 1

1 - 1NT is limited, while 1 - 1 is not. Moreover, responder has spades, and so emphasis shifts to offering spade support. This impacts my choice of treatments for both opener and responder.

After 1 - 1,

• 2NT = either 6-4 as before, or optional change
• 2 = Gazzilli: 6 hearts minimum, or 17+
• 2 = 4+ limited
• 2 = 5 hearts + 4 clubs, NF
• 3m = 5/5 intermediate
• 3 = 6 hearts, intermediate

Recall that in Part 2, I devoted excessive space discussing the merits of the 6-4 2NT bid after 1M - 1NT - ?. However, when responder has spades, you might want to use the 2NT as a spade raise. Alternatively, you could keep the previous 6-4 type structure.

The traditional 1 - 1 - 3 is somewhat ambiguous because you do not have mini-splinters available here.

One option is to play 2NT in a Gazzilli context as 4-5-3-1 club mini-splinter. This uses the direct raise to 3 as a limited diamond splinter, and for the stronger semi-balanced options to start with 2. In a Flannery context, this is unlikely to be beneficial.

I instead like to use 2NT as the Bridge World Death hand-type: strong 3-card support with 6+ hearts. I prefer to play this as unlimited, but again, you might use this as intermediate (and start with 2 on stronger hands). There are obvious problems if responder is weak and opener starts with 2.

This personal preference for 2NT is a legacy of a pre-Gazzilli structure, which was too useful to give up (or bother changing). Here are my followups:

1 - 1 - 2NT (TBW death hand) - ?

• 3 = agrees hearts, GF (lower flag)
• 3 = agrees spades, GF (higher flag)
• 3M = to play (opener can bid game with extra strength)
• 3NT = minimum semi-balanced
• 4L = splinter for spades (including 4!)
• 4 = minimum semi-balanced

I'm sure you can come up with a better structure. A fair chunk of this is redundant, but that's because I play a similar structure over 1m - 1M - 2NT. In a Flannery context, 1 - 1 - 2NT has already found an 8-card fit.

I'm not fond of fast-arrival type bids, but opener is assumed to be ~16+, and so responder's 3NT and 4 are descriptive minimum game-forces (he didn't try to sign off in 3 or 3).

Responder's rebid

This is the main change, and as usual, I will try to point out possibly troublesome areas. Since 1M - 1NT was limited, we could afford to use weak get-out bids after a Gazzilli 2. 1 - 1 is unlimited, and I prefer to cater to our stronger hands.

1 - 1; 2 - ?

• 2 = 8+ HCP, most invites, including the 3-card limit raise in hearts
• 2 = weak preference
• 2 = weak to play
• 2NT = GF balanced
• 3 = GF natural *
• 3 = GF natural *
• 3 = GF natural **
• 3 = GF natural

Since responder can discover more information by bidding 2, the game forces should be positive hands. However there is room for debate over:

* 3 or 3 maybe should be weak-to-play (responder is dealt a weak 4-1-2/6, say, and didn't bid 1NT over 1). It's not so much of a problem when opener has the minimum 6-card heart suit hand (2 will be OK), but when responder's weak, there's more room for opener to be strong. Not having a weak signoff might result in a silly 5-1 fit, when opener lets the 2 weak preference go despite holding some 17-count.

A reasonable alternative is to play the 2NT as an artificial weak relay (to play in 3, or 3), which opener can bypass with strong hearts. In practice, I've not had this problem (I play Flannery and the 4-6/4-7 hands start with 1NT), but I can see it being a problem for others (also if you play Gazzilli after 1 - 1M, this is a genuine problem when responder is weak with a 4cM and long clubs).

** The standard sequence 1 - 1; 2m - 3 is fraught with peril (is that invitational? forcing?), but Gazzilli helps. Here, the direct 3 here is game-forcing: it's up to you whether you would want to bid 3 here on the limit-raise hand (you're going to game opposite a 6-card minimum, or 17+) or reserve this 3 to be serious. After a limited 1 - 1; 2 - ?, responder is also better placed to just blast 4 on many hands (a standard 1 - 1 - 2 - 3 sequence is well up there on my list masochistic bridge actions).

After any game-forcing bid, opener's first priority is to limit his hand if he holds the minimum heart option (bid 3, or make a simple raise to game). It's highly embarrassing if responder makes a slam-positive game-force, and opener forgets to show his 17+ hand.

Opener's rebid

If responder is weak, opener continues naturally (as after 1M - 1NT - 2 - weak). A jump to 3 is strongly invitational even opposite a weak hand.

1 - 1; 2 - 2; ?

Opener also proceeds as before:

• 2 = minimum hand with 6 hearts
• 2 = exactly 3 *; 2NT asks (similar shape showing responses, 3 = 3-6-2-2 unsuitable for 1 - 1 - 2NT, 3 redundant)
• 2NT = 5+ hearts + 4-card minor; 3 asks
• 3m = 5/5
• 3 = natural
• 3 = power-based 4-card raise (usually 4-5-2-2 at this point)

* There's some redundancy now, and you don't need to play this 2 as 3+. As ever, responder does not need to ask: he can agree spades with 3, or bid naturally otherwise.

Responder's rebid when opener is minimum

If opener limits his hand with 2, the auction is similar to a standard 1 - 1 - 2 - ? sequence, except not really. Responder had the opportunity to make a clear game force earlier, and so you can adapt this section. For simplicity,

1 - 1; 2 - 2; 2 - ?

• 2 = still to play (but with 8+ HCP)
• 2NT / 3 / 3 = natural invite
• 3 / 3 = F1 *
• 3NT / 4 = to play

* third suit-forcing.