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how to avoid a hopeless 3NT contract .... presenting Dickson

Presenting Dickson....How to avoid a 'hopeless' 3 NT ?

by Dick Yuen

first published: April 2016 (ACBL Unit390 Kibitzer)

last update : January 29,2018

________________________________________________________________

you hold  (i)     K J 8       K J     K Q 9 8 7     J 10 9   

             (Ii)   K J 8.       A 9.     K Q 9 8 7     J 10 9

         and open 1D [ with silent opponents ]         partner bids 2NT, showing 11-12 HCP, no 4-card major.         You have a systematic 3NT bid, right ?

         Alas, 3NT goes down 2 !        in (i) losing 4 hearts and 2 aces, on a heart lead.           (ii) on a heart lead, K-heart is offside.

       partner's hand is

                A 7 6               Q 10               J 10 6 5               K Q 8 7

         Clearly, all bids are according to the book, it is nobody's fault.    

     Bad luck ? or Bad system ? Once partner has denied a 4-card major,   the opponent has at worst a 50% chance to find the right lead!

_____________________________________________________________________

Instead of bidding 3NT , do not waste available space ! There is a RISK-FREE way to solicit partner's input to place the final contract.Presenting 'Dickson', an alertable treatment after 1m---2NT.Since 2NT is non-forcing, bidding on promises a full opening value.Dickson derives its concept from Stayman, which has served the bridge players very well. Instead of asking for a 4-card major, Dickson is designed to show partner your doubleton in major (if any), ahead of a 4-card major (if any) at the 3-level. Opener bids 3C/D showing a doubleton in H/S respectively.

This allows partner to discover mirroring doubletons --- the real killer in a 3NT contract. Stopping at 3C/D [worse case scenario is 4-3 fit ]is better than a 'hopeless' 3NT. The extra benefit is finding a 4-3 major suit contract while 3NT is hopeless!

When to use 'Dickson' to show a doubleton in a major ?

The obvious hints are:

(i) The 5+ minor-suit you open is not readily running, missing an honour,

(ii) the total number of aces in opener's hand is less than 2,

(iii) ~1/3 of your HCP are quacks.

(iv) even you have A K doubleton in a major, this Dickson treatment is still useful. After the opening lead, you actually have only one stopper, unless partner has Q-third.

Case in point: what happens when opener has two major doubletons? such as 1D is open with 2-2-5-4 shape & 13+ hcp 

Three choices:(1) bid 3C to show a doubleton heart first, or(2) bid the one doubleton without honor, or(3) bid 4C (if both doubletons are w/o top-3 honour)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Here is the details: 1D -- 2NT , ?

Since opener can pass 2NT with a light opening, so bidding on promises sound opening value.One would usually bid 3NT with a running 5+ diamond suit.If the opponents dare to interfere, all doubles are for penalty! (Except when you are in a keycard asking inquiry)

       ?  Opener bids

(1) 3C --- show exactly 2 hearts[even the doubleton can be A and K ]

(2) 3D --- show exactly 2 spades

(3) 3H --- show 4 hearts, (*2 honors min.)*J-H is not treated as an honor,unless backed up with 10

(4) 3S --- show 4 spades, (*2 honors min.)*J-H is not treated as an honor,unless backed up with 10

NOTE: all these bids (1-4) are invitational (not forcing) , partner picks the final contract, based on the combined assets with this additional information. [ Yes, partner can pass! ]

The main goal is to avoid 'hopeless' 3NT ( or 5D ).The additional benefit is arriving 4-3 major game/partial contract,which is lost by jumping to 3NT directly.

(5) 3NT --- SIGNOFF, pattern 3-3-4-3, 3-3-5-2 or running diamond suit.

The following bids are PICTURE bids, showing opener's specific distribution,another benefit from this 'Dickson' treatment.

(6) 4C --- show 5-5 in the minors;(could be 2254, ~15hcp, no honors in majors)

(7) 4D --- show 6+ card diamond suit, NO other 4 card suite.g. 3-3-6-1, 3-1-6-3, 1-3-6-3, 3-2-7-1, etc.

(8) 4H --- shows 5H and 6D

(9) 4S --- shows 5S and 6D

(10) 4NT --- your favorite RKC in diamond

(11) 5C --- shows 6D and 5C

(12) 5D --- shows 7 card diamond suit, no void/singleton. 2-2-7-2

All the above responses are alertable as they carry specify meaning.

______________________________________________________________________

(1) Responses after 3C ( opener shows doubleton heart, can be A+K )

(1a) pass --- must be having mirroring doubleton in heart,rest peacefully in 4-4/5-3 club fit (or better), while not enough controls (A & K, not total HCP) for 5C game

(1b) 3D --- signoff, better diamond than club.not enough controls (A & K, not total HCP) for 5D game

(1c) 3H --- show one and half stopper with 3 hearts e.g. AJx , and promise a filler (A/K/Q) in diamond, forcing,

invite partner to 3NT with help in Heart, or bid 3S to show A/K-spade , or retreat to 4C ( weakest bid )[responder can correct to 4D as signoff]

(1d) 3S --- show 2 heart stoppers, worry about spade,promise a filler (A/K/Q) in diamond, forcing,

invite opener to bid 3NT with spade stopper( K or better), or bid 4C to retreat ( weaker bid)[responder can correct to 4D as signoff

(1e) 3NT --- signoff

(1f) 4C --- shows 5 or more club suit, invite to game 5C/5D

(1g) 4D --- shows 4+ diamonds

note : responder cannot bid past 4D !

----------------------------------------------------------------------

-(2) Responses after 3D ( opener shows doubleton spade, can be A+K )

(2a) pass --- must be having mirroring doubleton in spade,rest peacefully in 4-4 diamond fit or better, while not enough controls (A & K, not total HCP) for 5D game

(2b) 3H --- show 2 spade stoppers, worry about heart,promise a filler (A/K/Q) in diamond, forcing,

invite opener to bid 3NT with heart stopper, orbid 4C to retreat[responder can correct to 4D for signoff]

(2c) 3S --- show one and half stopper with 3 spades, e.g. AJx, +promise a filler (A/K/Q) in diamond, forcing,

invite to 3NT with help in Spade, orretreat to 4C ( weaker bid)[responder can correct to 4D for signoff]

(2d) 3NT --- signoff

(2e) 4C --- shows 5 or more club suit, invite to game 5C/5D

(2f) 4D --- shows 4+ diamonds

note : responder cannot bid past 4D !

----------------------------------------------------------------------

-(3) Responses after 3H ( opener shows 4 card heart )

(3a) pass --- play 4-3 H partial, best when there is no game

(3b) 3S --- show A-spade and max. 2NT hand with 1 diamond honor (A/K/Q),weak heart, 100% forcing, last train to 3NT

         [ opener bids 3NT ,or retreat to 4C with 3 or more club4D with 2 or less club;responder pass 4C or correct to 4D as signoff ]

(3c) 3NT --- signoff ( 2 solid spade stoppers, and help to run diamond )

(3d) 4C --- show 5 card suit, non-forcing, invite to game 5C

(3e) 4D --- show diamond preference, non-forcing, invite to game 5D

(3f) 4H -- signoff, play 4-3 heart game

(3g) 4S --- no such animal, a blackout bid

(3h) 4NT --- NOT ace-asking! game forcing to 5C/D Show 3-2-3-5 (max.2nt response), ask opener to pick 5C/D

       note: 4NT ace-asking ie reserved for opener's use ONLY

(3i) 5C --- signoff, with 2 diamonds

(3j) 5D --- signoff, play at least 4-4/5-4 diamond game (seldom)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

(4) Responses after 3S ( opener shows a 4 card spade )

(4a) pass --- play 4-3 S partial, best when there is no game

(4b) 3NT --- signoff ( 2 heart stoppers, and help to run Diamond )

(4c) 4C --- show 5 card suit, non-forcing, invite to 5C

(4d) 4D --- show diamond preference, non-forcing, invite to 5D

(4e) 4H --- no such animal, a blackout bid

(4f) 4S -- signoff, play 4-3 spade game.

(4g) 4NT --- NOT ace-asking! game forcing to 5C/D Show 2-3-3-5 (max.2nt response) , ask opener to pick 5C/D

        note: 4NT ace-asking ie reserved for opener's use ONLY

(4h) 5C --- signoff, with 2 diamonds

(4i) 5D --- signoff, play at least 4-4/5-4 diamond game (seldom).

________________________________________________________________________

_Responses after (6)&(7) 4C/4D responses: go natural, pass or bid game

after(8)-(9): go natural, as opener's shape is clearly defined.

after (11)-(12): no room for more inquiry, opener decides the FINAL contract.

_________________________________________________________________________

_Using the given hands (i) & (ii) as example, the auction becomes

1D -- 2NT

3C* -- 3D *alert showing doubleton heart

pass           Hopeless 3NT avoided using Dickson

___________________________________________________________________________

More example:you hold    

       (iii)     S- A Q 8 7    H- K J    D- K J 9 8   C- 10 9 7    

        (iv)   S- A Q 8 7.   H- A 9.  D- K J 9 8 7. C- 10 9

partner's hand is:    S- K 8 6. H- Q 10. D- Q 10 8 6.  C- K Q 8 6

the auction becomes

1D -- 2NT, 3S -- PASS/4S      since 3NT is out, 3/4-S is the best bet

====================================================================

The Dickson treatment can be applied to this sequence 1C -- 2NT, ??

(simply interchanging diamond and club).

There are three more cases where Dickson can be deployed.

______________________________________________________________

(I) Dickson can be extended to cover 1NT (15-17 hcp) opening.

1NT -- 2C, 2D --            2D denies a 4-card major

you hold a 4-card major and a doubleton in the other major, w/ ~10hcp,naturally you deploy 2C-stayman after partner's 1NT,opener's 2D dampen your spirit a bit.

Responder has 2 options:(1) ASK , (2) SHOW:

TIPS: As a responder,you ASK if you have a doubleton major with honor (Q+),and you SHOW if you have a worthless doubleton, as ASK yields more info.

           ??

  Your 2NT is non-forcing, invite to 3NT,while       

           2H is a continuation of a garbage stayman with a weak hand  of both majors, trying to play at 2 of a major.       

                 [opener can pass 2H, or correct to 2S ]

          2S* can then be employed as Dickson-ASK !         

                  Dickson is a tool to avoid a hopeless 3NT,  or to reach 3NT with more confidence.

-------------------------------------------------------------

       (1) 2S* --> ASK opener to describe major suits holding 

     ?   Opener bids

    2NT     show 3-3 M w/o any honor-M

   3C      show doubleton heart

   3D      show doubleton spade

   3H**   show 3-3 M w/ H-honor(s) & no S-honor

   3S**. show 3-3 M w/ S-honor(s) & no H-honor

  3NT**   show 3-3 M w/ H & S honors      ** opener has already denied any 4-card major,     

     the drawback of 'ASK' is half of the time exceeds 3-minor level

  (2) responder can SHOW     

           -- ??        

              3C    show doubleton heart   

              3D    show doubleton spade  

              3H    show 5S-4H, Smolen style ,game forcing  

              3S    show 4S-5H, Smolen style ,game forcing  

             3NT    show 4S-4H

opener is the captain in this case

-----------------------------------------------------------

-Let us examine the details:

(1-a) 1NT -- 2C ,

          2D -- 2S        

         3C -- ??    3C shows doubleton heart  

                 pass      with club & mirroring doubleton heart  

                  3D       with 4-D & mirroring doubleton heart, non-forcing 

                 3H         show 5S-4H, Smolen style, game forcing 

                 3S    last train to 3NT---                      [opener can decide 3NT or retreat to 4C,       responder has option to correct to 4D ]    

               3NT    signoff, no worry in heart

(1-b) 1NT -- 2C    

         2D -- 2S   

         3D -- ??    3D shows doubleton spade 

               pass with diamond & mirroring doubleton spade

                3H     last train to 3NT---                       [opener can decide 3NT or retreat to 4C,       responder has option to correct to 4D ]

                3S    show 4S-5H, Smolen style, game forcing 

               3NT    signoff, no worry in spade

                 4C     show 5+C, non-forcing

(1-c) 1NT -- 2C

        2D-- 2S

        3H-- ??       3H shows 3-3M w/ H honor(s)

              pass     with 4H, no Spade stopper & no game

              3S.      non-forcing, promise 4-3 spade fit, last train to 3NT

              4H.      5-3 fit game found

              4S       5-3 fit game found

             3NT.     Signoff,   No worry in spade

              4C.       show 5-card suit, invite to 5C, non-forcing

             4D.        show 5-card suit, invite to 5D, non-forcing

(1-d) 1NT -- 2C

          2D-- 2S

         3S-- ??      3S shows 3-3M w/ S honor(s)

               pass.       with 4S, no heart stopper & no game

             4S/3NT.        signoff

               4C.        show 5-card suit, invite to 5C, non-forcing

              4D.       show 5-card suit, invite to 5D, non-forcing

              4H.        signoff [cannot right side Heart contract here ]

(1-e) 1NT -- 2C

         2D-- 2S

        3NT-- ??       3NT shows 3-3M w/ S & H honor(s)

                pass

                 4C.      show 5-card suit, invite to 5C, non-forcing

                4D.       Show 5-card suit, invite to 5D, non-forcing

           4H/4S signoff [cannot right side heart contract here ,pick 5-3 fit M-game instead of 3NT ]

-----------------------------------------------------------

-(2-a) 1NT -- 2C

          2D-- 2H garbage stayman, scrambling to 2M

           ?

        pass/correct to 2S

(2-b) 1NT -- 2C

         2D-- 2NT non-forcing, invite to 3NT

           ?

      pass/3NT

         3C.       Show 5-card suit,invite to 3NT, help needed in C,non-forcing[reply: pass, or bid 3NT w/ Q+ honour]

         3D        Show 5-card suit,invite to 3NT, help needed in D,non-forcing[reply: pass, or bid 3NT w/ Q+ honor]

(2-c) 1NT -- 2C

          2D-- 3C show doubleton heart

            ?

        pass.        with 4+C, mirroring doubleton heart

          3D.        with 4+D, mirroring doubleton heart

          3H.        Show 5-card C-suit,invite to 3NT, help needed in C.  [reply: 3NT w/ Q+ honor, 4C w/o]

          3S        Show 5-card D-suit,invite to 3NT, help needed in D.  [reply: 3NT w/ Q+ honor, 4D w/o]

          3NT     Signoff

(2-d) 1NT -- 2C

         2D-- 3D     show doubleton spade

          ?

       pass           with 4+D, mirroring doubleton heart

         3H.         Show 5-card C-suit,invite to 3NT, help needed in C. [reply: 3NT w/ Q+ honor, 4C w/o]

         3S          Show 5-card D-suit,invite to 3NT, help needed in D. [reply: 3NT w/ Q+ honor, 4D w/o]

       3NT.         signoff

(2-e) 1NT -- 2C

         2D-- 3H        show 5S-4H, Smolen style, game forcing

         ?

      3NT/4S as requested

         4m.          maximum prime value NT opening,confirm 3-5 spade fit, Q-bid ace w/ slam interest,4D show A-D but deny A-C

(2-f) 1NT -- 2C

          2D-- 3S       show 4S-5H, Smolen style, game forcing

           ?

       3NT/4H as requested

          4m.       maximum prime value NT opening,confirm 3-5 heart fit, Q-bid ace w/ slam interest, 4D show A-D but deny A-C

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Let us try these examples:

e.g.1.   Opener: S-AJx H-xx D-AJxx C-KQJX

           Responder: S-Q87  H-xx  D-KQXx  C-Axxx

 Auction: 1NT--2C, 2D--2S (activate Dickson-ask), 3C--pass (no H-stopper)

e.g.2. Opener:    S-Axx   H-Ax   D-Axxx.  C-KJxx  

        Responder:  S-987. H-Qx. D-KQXx.  C-Axxx

   Auction: 1NT--2C,  2D-- 2S (activate Dickson-ask), 3C-- 3S (last train to 3NT, must have an H-honour)

               3NT is a worthy gamble with Ax (but not with Kx),or retreat to 4C

e.g.3. Opener:  S-KJx. H- Ax   D-Axxx.  C- KJxx

       Responder:  S-987  H-Qx. D- KQXx. C-Axxx

    Auction:   1NT--2C, 2D-- 2S (activate Dickson-ask),3C--  3S  (show Hx in H, last train to 3NT),  4C--pass.   as 3NT is not as good a gamble

e.g.4.  Opener:   S-AJx. H-xx. D-AJxx  C-KQJx

         Responder:  S-Q87. h-xx.  D-KQXx. C-Axxx

      Auction:  1NT--2C, 2D-- 3C  (show doubleton heart),  pass.        heart weakness exposed

e.g.5.  Opener:   S- Axx  H-Ax  D-Axxx. c-KJxx     

       responder:  S-Q87. H-xx. D-KQXx. C-Axxx

   Auction:    1NT--2C,  2D--3C.   (3C show doubleton heart), pass.     single H-stopper is never enough

=======================================================================

(II) Dickson can also be extended to cover 1m--3NT sequence:Since 3NT is already game, carrying on shows SLAM interest.

(II-1): 1C --- 3NT 13-15 HCP, no 4-card major?pass --- signoff

All other bids show SLAM interest

   4C--- shows weak doubleton heart

   4D--- shows weak doubleton spade

   4H--- shows 4-card heart suit , Hhxx or better,must have a weakness in D/S

   4S--- shows 4-card spade suit , Hhxx or bettermust have a weakness in D/H

  4NT--- DKC* for D & C (7 steps response)

  5C/D --- 6+card suit

*DKC --Dicks Keycard asking, a combination of exclusion B/W & Roman Keycards

    There are 4 keycards ( A & K ),& 2 Qs in the two known/implied suits.

The response is in 7 steps:

  step1-- 1 keycard, 0-1 Q

  step2-- 1 keycard, 2 Qs

  step3--  2 keycardS, no Q

  step4 -- 2 keycardS , 1 Q

  step5--  2 keycards , 2 Qs

  step6--  3 keycards, no Q

  step7-- 3 key cards,  1-2 Qs

Note : it is almost impossible for either partner not having 1 keycard!

In case of interfernce, double/redouble is step-1, pass is step-2, next available bid is step-3, etc.

.--------------------------------------------------------------

-More details:

(II-1a) 1C--3NT      13-15 HCP, no 4-card major

           4C--??          recap: 4C show weak doubleton heart

                  4D.        show 4D-4C

                  4H.        show 5-card diamond

                  4S.        show 6+card diamond

                4NT.          to play, promising 2+ stoppers in heart

                  5C.        signoff, 4-card club e.g. 3-3-3-4

-------------------------------------------------------------

(II-1b) 1C--3NT     13-15 HCP, no 4-card major

            4D--??       recap: 4D show weak doubleton spade

                  4H.     show 5-card diamond

                  4S.      show 6+card diamond

                4NT.        to play, promising 2+ stoppers in spade

                  5C.       signoff, 4-card club e.g. 3-3-4-3/ 4D-4C

--------------------------------------------------------------

(II-1c) 1C--3NT         13-15 HCP, no 4-card major

           4H--??           recap: 4H show Hhxx-heart

                pass          willing to play 4-3 H game

                 4NT.          to play, promising 2+ stoppers in spade

                  5C.           signoff, 3+club

                   5D.          signoff, 5+diamond

                   4S           show max. 15 hcp hxx-heart, & A-Swith 3+club, or 5+diamond

                   5H.           show max. 15 hcp hxx-heart, no A-Swith 3+club, or 5+diamond

--------------------------------------------------------------

(II-1d) 1C--3NT            13-15 HCP, no 4-card major

           4S--??             recap: 4S show Hhxx-spade

                  pass         willing to play 4-3 S game

                  4NT.           to play, promising 2+ stoppers in heart

                   5C.          signoff, 3+club

                   5D.          signoff, 5+diamond

                    5H          show max. 15 hcp hxx-spade, & A-Hwith 3+club, or 5+diamond

                   5S.           show max. 15 hcp hxx-heart, no A-Hwith 3+club, or 5+diamond

-------------------------------------------------------------

(II-1e) 1C--3NT           13-15 HCP, no 4-card major

          5C--??            recap: 5C show 6+club

                 pass/6C.      Q-bid Ace up the line, must reach 5NT/6C

--------------------------------------------------------------

(II-1f) 1C--3NT           13-15 HCP, no 4-card major

          5D--??            recap: 5D show 6C-5D

                Pass/6m

______________________________________________________________________

(II-2): 1D --- 3NT        13-15 HCP, no 4-card major

              ?         Follow  (II-1) above, interchange C & D.

===========================================================================

(III) opener responder comment

           1C--- 1D~       Versatile-1D

         2NT---              shows 18-19 HCP, no 4-card major

                        ?? Dickson can be deployed here.    ~Versatile 1D : promises 6+ hcp 4-card diamond,no 4-card major

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Try this example: Partner opens 1C, & you hold  S-AQ2. H-98. D-10 987  C-K543

your agreement: 1NT after 1C to show 8-10 HCP, no 4-card major.Even though 1NT fits perfectly with your holding, please do respond 1D instead of 1 NT,as Versatile 1D can right-side the potential no-trump contract!

In the example follows, 6NT is cold if declared by opener with 2-1 club split, while 3NT by you is at the mercy of the opening lead and lie of the heart spots ....

opener's hand is:   S-K3. H-K3. D-AKQ. C-A 10 9876

yes, 6C by opener is cold as well with 2-1 club split,but it is inferior in scoring.

suggested auction:

partner you

 1C-- 1D

 2NT-- 3C* * 3C shows weak doubleton heart

 3D-- 3S      3S cue-bid

 4C-- 4S~ ~forward going, club support implied

 4NT-- 5H 2 keycards w/ club as trump

 6 NT.   Pass.    ~responder cannot have real spade suit here,in theory it should show K-spade, the opener knows it must be the Q-spade and club support.

when opener rebids 2 NT showing 18-19 hcp ( & no 4-card major)you can deploy Dickson* by bidding 3C to show your doubleton heart.

Opener becomes the captain and decides how to proceed.

as compared with:    1C -- 1NT, 2NT -- 3C, 3D -- 3S, 4C -- 4S, 4NT-- 5H, 6Creaching 6C is the best this route can offer,as NT contract is wrong-sided!

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