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All comments by Andy Hung
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South definitely undercooked here. Our 2S followed by 3S is consistent with a 4432 with six points. The 3D bid must promise extra values, so now South knows of the double fit and should jump to 4S (you can even toy around with 3H “last train” but I think South's hand is too good to not bid game).

Actually what am I talking about - I think South is closer to a slam try! If North's K was K: Axx x Axxx AKxxx, 6C is such a good contract. The problem is, we need North to have the K, not the K, and it might be difficult to diagnose that. At first I thought South can jump to 4 as a Blumer bid (reverse splinter, showing no wasted values) but this sounds like we're playing in clubs and I might want to play in 4S instead of 5C. But would I have bid 2S with a hand that prefers clubs? Maybe 4414? Or maybe South should bid 3H followed by 4H? That might sound like 3H was checking for half-stopper, and 4H now as a choice of games with 4423. Hm, interesting.
May 23, 2019
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It was definitely a well timed hand for the 2S gadget.
There's no way West can pass with that hand - imagine North jumping to 4m/5m as pass/correct. It's just unlucky, and I wouldn't spend much energy on thinking the hypothetical scenario if West decides to mastermind with a ‘pass’.

One other thing you might consider however is to double with West's hand. That way, you can expect North to try to find partner's minor, and as West you might be able to later make a takeout double and get spades into the picture too.
May 23, 2019
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I think a new suit as natural is too rare to worry about, and especially when 2S can be wide ranging, it's important to have 2NT as good hand inquiry.

Also when East passed, it's less reason to worry about trying to “go positive to bid our own suit”. If you have clubs, you can still have the agreement to bid 3C as P/C, and when partner bids 3D, bid 4C as natural.

Having said that:
(1) It's a different story if East doubles. Should discuss what Pass/XX is. I still like 3C/4C/5C as P/C to keep it simple/consistent.

(2) Also discuss what if East bids 4S. Now there's more of a case for 4NT to be ‘bid your minor’ (or a slam try in hearts) and 5m as natural.
May 23, 2019
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Feels right to ruff a club first to gauge the situation in clubs before deciding I think.
May 23, 2019
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Rule #1: If you don't know what partner's bid means, and it looks ambiguosly forcing, do not pass.

I do understand the stressful situations when we have to try and decipher and undiscussed bid(s). I would be thinking “what is 4” first. Well, partner probably won't have a single-suited hand as she would have bid that suit. So probably she has a two-suited hand or a three-suited hand.
What is 4NT? Not sure. What is 5NT? Not sure, but 5NT doesn't ‘feel’ like it's a quantitative raise to slam? With most slam auctions, 5NT is often pick a slam, so if partner has a 2 or 3-suited hand, that's what it seems like it is. Given my heart length and South's 3H preempt, partner is likely to be short in hearts.
Trust partner's bidding. She opened 2, then 4, then 5NT. She must have a seriously good hand!
May 23, 2019
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On a diamond lead with dummy's Q winning, it feels to me that it's probably better to run the 10 instead of a heart? Playing a heart risks the J losing to the Q, and when they knock out our A, we now play three rounds of spades, say West wins and plays a heart, now we have to guess to play the K or 9.

Also when East leads from a likely 5-card diamond suit, maybe West has slightly better odds to hold four spades, so we can even take a double finesse in spades (so win Q, 10 covered we win, A, spade to 9, K then give up a spade).
May 23, 2019
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It is definitely challenging for EW if North's hand is able to open 2NT for the minors, but I think you'd be “giving up” to the 2NT convention if EW's partnership cannot double the 2NT opening to show values? Otherwise this puts a heap amount of pressure on West if South can jump to 4m or 5m, you could be defending against 5m with a combined 25+ count.
May 23, 2019
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There's definitely lots of things you can do. Here's something that I came up with (and is something similar-ish to what I play):

1-2
2-
….2=Asking
….2=45+
….2NT=(5)6+ 3(4)+
….3=6+ good clubs, didn't want to ask with 2
….3=4+6+ good suits
….3M=?
….3NT=4333 Choice of games

1-2
2-2

2=4m <16 (can be 5044) (I presume 16+ hands would bid 1-2-3x?)
2NT=6+ <16
3=5 <16
3=5 <16
3=?
3=Weak NT (13+/14 that accepted with 2) prefers responder to play
3NT=Weak NT prefers to play

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

3=4
3=4
3=5044 (I presume 54(40) would start with 1-2-2)

1-2
2-2
2NT-3 (ask)

3=No shortage (ie. 6322)
3=Low shortage (ie. 6331)
3=Middle shortage (ie. 6313)
3NT=High shortage (ie. 6133)

For 1 openings, you can play essentially the same thing as above (I assume after 1-2; 2-? Responder jumps to 4 with just INV hand?), except there's the addition of the 45(40) hands:

1-2
2-2
2-2NT

3=4
3=4
3=4540 (low)
3=4504 (middle)
3NT=0544 (high)

Some points:
• This would obviously be extra work - especially after the asking bids, you need to know how to set the trump suit
• This assumes 16+ hands would not start with 2. If some 16+ hands go through 2, then this goes out the window
• Lots of variations/additions you can do
• You can do a lot more if you don't have the 3-card limit raise in the 2 bid (so 2 is GF). E.g. if you play Bergen raises where 1M-3=6-9, consider putting in the 3-card limit raise in there (e.g. 1M-3=7-9 4+M or 10-12 3-card limit (then 3 asks), 1M-3=10-12 4+M and 1M-3M=<7, or another variation is 1M-3=7-11 4+M (then 3 asks how good), 1M=3=10-12 3-card limit, 1M-3M=<7).
April 27, 2019
Andy Hung edited this comment April 27, 2019
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I think X should be takeout/responsive when the opponents had opened an artificial bid, because your side hasn't bid a suit yet, and it seems important that the second double is not ‘strictly penalties’. I guess you can play it as penalties, but then there would be a lot of hand types where you will be stuck on (e.g. fourth hand has 44 majors and 9+ points - sure with stronger hand you might cuebid 4m to get partner to choose, but when you're 4432 and balanced, you might not want to commit to 4M when things are breaking badly and give up on the opportunity to penalise them when partner is also balanced).

It's different if the opponents had overcalled a two suited bid, such as 1-(2NT)-X, in this case, you can play next double as penalties. Difference here is that we've already showed a suit (spades), and we could've made a cue raise, or show a heart suit, so it's OK to play next double as penalties.

This might seem like trouble in terms of memory, but maybe you can think of it this way. When the opponents open an artificial bid (2NT minors, or 2D multi, or 2x CRO etc.), first double is points, next one is takeout. But when the opponents overcall an artificial bid (UN2NT, Michaels), you can play first double as points and next double as penalties (takeout is also fine too).
April 27, 2019
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There are times where you can plan for the auction and try to find out information from your partner. However, I think 1M-2 should promise 5+ (or 4+ if you don't like all BAL hands to start with 2). If it can be a three-card suit, I think opener will have a very hard time judging the auction when she has diamond “support”.
I do quite like that the BAL hands start with 2, making the 2 more real. However, I sometimes go a bit too far with this idea (E.g. If I had AKx Qxxxx Kxxx x and partner opens 1, I would probably bid 2!)
April 27, 2019
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As for the X's if they ask for a lead or asking not to lead a specific suit - partnerships should definitely discuss that. Just be a bit careful about making generic rules though…for example, I would not use the low-level auction of 1-(1)-Pass-(2); X as a part of the leading/non-lead rule. I think this X is better played as either takeout of spades, or wants to rebid 2H (it's partnership agreement - I prefer the former where it's T/O).
April 26, 2019
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Nice analysis Jane, distributional deals aren't easy to deal with by either side! However, on the point about whether West should bid 3H or not:

After 1H-(2NT)-P-(3C); I think it's a very hard ask for West to pass. I would also bid 3H - understanding that the heart suit quality is bad, but with a 3730 (club void!), we can still have a game on our side. It's true that East didn't bid over double, but East could easily have a balanced 7-9 count (i.e. 4234) and if I pass, I could be on lead against 3C when 4H might be making! Sure, partner might be a bit weaker than 7-9 points, but 3H down one or two isn't too big of deal.

In fact, by bidding 3H, this actually created IMPs in a different way - it caused N/S to guess incorrectly by bidding up to 5C and East can now double to collect a penalty!
April 26, 2019
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There's actually a gadget you can use here after 1D-1S-3D, but it might not be worth the memory (i.e. 3H shows a C stopper may or may not have H stopper (then 3S after that asks about H stopper), 3S shows 6+S, and 3NT shows H stopper but no C stopper - the logic is that if opener has 3S, she can fake a 2H reverse ).

Disregarding that, I think West's hand should still do something over 3 - perhaps close your eyes and bid 3NT? The Q is a HUGE card, coupled with AQ of clubs, I don't want to miss out on what might be a laydown 9 tricks in 3NT.

Here's an example hand I had in the Rosenblum last year in Orlando playing with Sartaj.
I had: 1096 AQJ5 1072 1084

Partner is dealer at all vul, opens 1 and opp's are silent.
1-1
3-?

I thought my three-card club support was huge, and 3NT could be laydown from partner's side (i.e. Kx xx Ax AKJxxxx). But what could I bid? 3 would be showing 6+ (or 5 decent) hearts and 3x would be showing a stopper. I ended up choosing 3 thinking if we get to 3NT, the opps are more likely going to lead a spade so I didn't want to ‘lie’ about the spade values. This had a nice surprise, as partner now bid 3 showing 3-card heart support. Hoping I bought Kxx with partner, I raised to 4.

Partner had KQJ xxx J AKQxxx and 4 rolled home for a nice 10 IMPs (other table stopped in 3)!
April 26, 2019
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Definitely not an easy auction to deal with. However, I think I would double as North (if that's understood as takeout). With a 5422 shape it's only semi-balanced, and if South is also balanced, there's a chance to take the opponents for a penalty - and if you know me, I hate giving up a chance to take the opponents for a number! Imagine South holding a stronger balanced hand like a 17 count or something - sure, you might be able to make 3NT/4M, but the opponents probably aren't going to enjoy 3CX if they are only in an 8-card fit (sometimes 7!).

If North does double, I think South should probably pass? (If North had a singleton club, probably she would not double for takeout, and choose to bid a major suit or cuebid instead?)
April 26, 2019
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Bidding 2C Majors in the direct seat with 4423 seems a bit too aggressive I think? And when partner's a passed hand, it may direct the opponents to 3NT instead of a potential 4M too. It's different in the passout seat though if it was (1NT)-P-(P), now it's sometimes OK to bid majors with 44.

But anyway disregarding that, you do bring up a good point where pairs fail to discuss what happens when the opp's double 2C(Majors)! I like to play:
XX = Bid your longest major
Pass = Clubs
2D = Diamonds
2M = Preferred major
3C = INV+ in hearts
3D = INV+ in spades
3M = Distributional raise with 4 trumps

I'm not sure which minor I'd show with the East's hand. You did well to choose the right one though - can't argue with success!
April 26, 2019
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Whilst it likely may be a misfit, but with 2-2 in the minors, I don't think it's probably the right time to pass 2NT? Partner could easily be 6-5 in the minors (like here), or sometimes 6-6(!). If partner has six clubs then you'd have found a fit (and can sometimes ruff a diamond in your hand), or sometimes partner has 6D5C and a good hand and may choose to continue with 3D, also finding our fit.

Another thing about passing 2NT is that it also alerts to the opponents about the misfit - so if the opponents do have the balance of power, they may start doubling you. (Not saying bidding 3C will prevent them from doubling you anyway, but by bidding 3C, they may think you have a fit and still compete with 3M or something.)
April 26, 2019
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It's funny how all of our experiences can be different. In the past 5 months or so, I've witnessed at least one hand in each of the Open Playoffs, Canberra, Gold Coast Congress, and Yeh Bros tournaments where there was a potential double digit swing based on whether 1m-(1H)-1S auctions if they showed 4S or 5+S! In a couple of those hands, fourth seat bumped up to 4H and it was vital for opener to know the # of spades and could therefore compete to 4S or not. Luckily, me/my teammates were on the positive side of those IMP swings! I just find this too valuable than having the “0-3 spades” bid, because with those, I can still survive (sometimes pass, sometimes raise 1D to 2D with 3 etc.).

On the other hand, here's a nice tip if anyone faces this situation. If the auction goes (1m)-1H-(X/1S)-? and you have heart support with 12/13/14 points, if your opponents are playing the X or 1S showing 4+S, consider jumping straight to 4H (rather than trying for science with a cue raise)! Let the opponents figure out whether it's right to bid 4S or not, and you can sometimes double them if they guess incorrectly to 4S.
April 26, 2019
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I'm a big proponent to the “any strength” for the two-suited overcalls. Obviously they would depend on vulnerability/suit quality etc. I think it's just too important to get both of your suits across in one bid, as you may never get a chance to bid your second suit if you start with a simple overcall. That is why a lot of top class pairs play some sort of specific two-suited overcalls (e.g. Ghestem) over opponent's 1M opening (I just checked the 2017 Bermuda Bowl Convention Cards, and a lot of them actually do play Ghestem or some variation of it).

Sometimes you can still “get by” with the intermediate hands on some auctions. For example, after (1D)-2NT(H+C)-(Pass)-?, partner can bid 3D as INV+ with heart support, or (1C)-2NT(reds)-(Pass)-? partner can bid 3C as INV+ with heart support. You won't have that option after (1M)-2NT(minors) which may or may not be bad, but I would hate it if I had to overcall 2D and opponents reach 4M or 4oM and now I have to guess whether to bid 5C or not.
April 26, 2019
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Nice hand.

Though I'm not convinced about the non-heart lead when I have five of them headed by the ace, and the opponents haven't bid hearts?
April 25, 2019
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It's always a bit sad when that happens, but definitely keep opening the hand! People like to apply the rule of something in fourth seat, but I use this rule: if it's an opening hand, open it!
April 25, 2019
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