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All comments by Bill Rawlings
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I like this a lot, but doesn't tell me what suit is short. I'll give some thought to it. Thanks for your input.
Sept. 1
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Henry: Good point. In hand 1 if you had the K of hearts rather than the K of spades, would you still splinter?
S-Axxxx
H-K
D-KJ
C-Axxx
15

S-QJxx
H-xxx
D-AQ
C-Kxxx
12 = 27
Sept. 1
Bill Rawlings edited this comment Sept. 1
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Marty
I think you miss the point. Many hands having 25 or more HCP can make a slam. The Average is 28. But most people don’t look for these slams because the odds of making a slam with 25 or 26 are negative and the current methods require risking a sure game to look for a low probability slam.

2/1 TAB or almost any other method can find the easy slams (28+ HCP), 2/1TAB allows you so safely explore the low probability slams without risking the near certain game. Since virtually no low HCP slam can be made without a strong trump suit, it is essential to look there first. If you don’t have it you probably don’t have a slam. If you do have strong trump suit you still can’t make a slam if your opponents slap down and A and K on the opening leads, so next you look for controls. Neither of these guarantee a slam, but lack of strong trumps and missing 1st and 2nd round controls can certainly tell you don’t have a slam. With 2/1TAB and early evaluation of the trump suit, you may start control search at 3NT which means you clear 1st round controls before reaching game level. Being able to ask for 3 levels of control will also make finding grand slams much easier (and safer).

Just out of curiosity, when is last time you looked for a slam with 27HCP? My partner and I do it every time. Also, just as an aside, I do not have a lot of bad experience going down at 5, using 2/1 tab we can safely stop at 4.
Aug. 31
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Squandered space? Hmmm, I wonder. All Ace asking bids reserve at least four spaces for the responder. For example, when you bid 4NT, your responder my answer 5C, 5D, 5H or 5S sometimes more space is required when information about the Q is required. It’s true that 2/1 Tab reserves 6 spots for the response, but when the response is weak no more than 3 of them are used, all at the 2 level, allowing the partnership to immediately begin the search for No-Trump.

The six spaces reserved for a 2/1 TAB response is offset by identifying the trump fit in the first round where std 2/1 requires two rounds of bidding to verify a trump fit. Even worse, in std 2/1 using RKC or 1430 puts the bidding beyond a point where you may simply pass at 4M or where a No-Trump alternative may be considered. I consider this is a major weakness caused by delaying the trump suit evaluation to the end of a slam try. Let’s look at what might be a typical Std 2/1 auction with 24-26 HCP, an 8-card fit and no interference:

Std 2/1 auction:
RHO Opener LHO Responder
1H Pass 2C
Pass ? Pass 2H

I claim no particular expertise at Std 2/1 so maybe you can help me out. The first line is pretty clear, Opener has at least 5 Hearts and the Responder has at least 12 Points and at least 3 Diamonds. Do you think that 2C, or 2D by Responder guarantees or even implies more than a 3-card suit? If so, what do you do with a square opening hand minimum values and 5-card major that that doesn’t have a playable lower ranking suit?

Max Hardy says the Opener has the following 2nd round rebids available:
2D: Could be only 3D.
2S: If the opening was Hearts, 2S shows shape but is not a reverse.
2H: If the opening was Spades, 2H is required when holding 4H.
2N: Shows a balanced hand, stoppers in both unbid suits and 12-15 or 18 or more HCP.
3N: Shows 15-18 HCP
3C: Shows at least 4C or 3C with a High Honor and at least 14HCP.
3X: Jump in a new suit to make a splinter raise of Responder’s suit, Opener shows 4 cards.
Minimum Rebid of opener’s suit adds no new information, is Opener’s default bid when nothing else when nothing else applies.

None of the minor bids above would give me the confidence to know that this hand should be played in a minor. The second round of bidding is responder’s first opportunity to show trump agreement.

In 2/1TAB, trump agreement can be shown in Responder’s 1st bid. An Opener’s rebid with a weak trump suit will be 2H,2S or 2NT. When the Trump suit is missing several top honors, the bidding may immediately shift to controls to test No-Trump or play for part-score. At this point the Std 2/1 Partnership does not even realize that they may have a weak 8-card fit. (Advantage 1)

In Std 2/1, I assume the third round of bidding is a continuation of a search for a fit or is control bidding if a fit has been confirmed. Direct control bids allow the defense to determine your weakness, which of course becomes their strength. If neither Clubs nor Diamonds guarantees a playable suit in the second round of bidding; would you rebid a minor to show a playable suit?

I think for most partnerships would limit the control bidding to 4S to leave room for 4NT to start RKC.
1430/RKC mixes the AK of trump with the other aces, when your partner responds, you may still not have a clear understanding of his/her trump strength, 2/1TAB always separated Trumps from side suits. (Advantage 2).

Conversely same hand with 2/1 TAB:
RHO Opener LHO Responder
1H Pass 2D (TAB)
Pass 3H (KQ) Pass 3NT (Asks for 1st round controls)

By this point in time 2/1TAB verified a fit, shown GF values and located all of the top honors in the trump suit. 3NT is a 2/1TAB Control Asking Bid (CAB).

3NT will not be confused with an offer to lay NT, since responder would have shown a control rather than asking if responder had determined that the Trump suit was too weak for 4M. The trump suit has already been accounted for so it is not considered in the Control Asking sequence. Leaving only three suits to deal with (Advantage 2-segregation of trump and Non trump controls).

The CAB responses are quite simple:
1. 4C shows 1 or 3 first round controls.
(A first-round control can show Aces and voids or Aces only: Partnership choice Advantage 3)
2. 4D shows one control,
3. Return to trumps shows no 1st round controls.
(The bidding of controls by numbers rather than strain denies valuable information to the defenders-Advantage 4)
CAB also has a safe method for determining whether the Opener meant 1 or 3 when he/she bid 4C and for asking for specific suit controls if that is critical. MY Next post will be Control Asking Bids (CAB)

By the time 2/1 TAB bidders reach the 4M they have indicated a fit, located all of the top honors in trumps and determined the number of the 1st round controls held by the partnership. They are ready to ask for 2nd round controls or sign off in game at the 4 level. Conversely Std 2/1, at the same point on the bidding ladder, is ready for 1430/RKC.

What 2/1 TAB bidders have gained is more security regarding their weakness(no direct control bids) and the complete elimination of RKC, allowing 4NT to be used to ask for 2nd round controls (Kings and singletons) and 5NT (Queens and doubletons) with the ability to stop at a safe level in the event of a negative response. (Advantage 5).
Std 2/1 does not evaluate the Trump strength until the end of the process, this will occasionally end up with the partnerships playing a 4-level hand at the 5 level. 2/1 Tab however, because it evaluates trumps first and starts controls at only 3NT, always has a safe place to stop (Advantage 5).

In Std 2/1 according to Max Hardy the Opener has 11 possible rebids after a 1M opening. 2/1TAB has only 6 possible re-bids, all of which describe the same characteristic, making it easier to learn and remember (Advantage 6).

My conclusion:

By the time the bidding reaches 4 NT the 2/1 TAB declarer partnership has much more information and their opponents, the defenders, have much less. A partnership playing 2/1 TAB, will quickly recognize limitations in their Trumps suit and may choose to stop at 3M, 3NT or 4M. Std 2/1 with the same hand will not realize they have a trump problem until they have bid 4N, locking them into 5M.

I appreciate you input and if I am wrong about how you would handle the Std 2/1 bid I would be willing to reconsider the merits of Std 2/1.
Aug. 31
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I love Klinger, I'll definitely check it out, thanks for the input. See my comments to Max above, no point in repeating them, but there is a lot of sentiment for shape.
Aug. 28
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It seems fairly easy to get to high HCP slams, all you are really doing is looking to see if there is a reason not to go. Low HCP slams run a greater risk of giving up a game while chasing a slam. Certainly, if you are going to lose the first two tricks there is no reason to explore further, a slam won't make if properly defended.

However, most people who have responded have clearly indicated a preference for exploring shape first. I think that takes too much space to allow for proper checking controls and trump strength, but I could certainly be wrong. I am definitely in the minority.

The 2D trigger showing both game force values and support could probably be adapted to either check the trump suit or the hand shape. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter and will give it some consideration. I think maybe I should do a poll to see how many players actually look for slams with 26-27 HCP and how they currently check shape after a Std 2/1 response. Thanks for your interest and input.
Aug. 28
Bill Rawlings edited this comment Aug. 28
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20 Years ago many top pros did adopt TAB and even CAB because they were a good idea. Unfortunately, the way they were used in Precision was awkward, sequential and space consuming. But it is interesting how many people recognized the value of such information. 2/1 TAB brings the concepts much closer in and at a much lower level. The concept has the same merit it always had which attracted so much attention 20 years ago. It is the application I have changed to make the concept more user-friendly, we'll see how it works. Thanks for your input.
Aug. 27
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Thanks for your comments I appreciate the input.
Aug. 27
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When the Opener is able to limit his hand and generally describe his shape who else should be Captain other than the Responder, certainly the responder knows much more about the Opener than vice versa, seems to me that is the primary value of Big Club.
Aug. 27
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Thanks for your input. I too, use Precision Today as a primary resource. I don't like the way they handle the TABs and CABS to sequential takes too much bidding space. Using 2D as a trigger helps us conserve space and 3NT as Control asking insures that we will always be in a safe zone. Interesting to hear about your special use of 2D, seems to me to be far more useful than std 2/1. Thanks for your input.
Aug. 27
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Marty
With respect to your other suggestions regarding shape etc, I think they are interesting thoughts and will give them some consideration, but one thing I am pretty sure of is that you can never make a slam if you don't have a pretty good trump suit.
Aug. 27
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Marty
With poor trump quality, we would generally look for NT or stop at three, that's why we check our trump first.
Aug. 27
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Ronald
RCK does give you an evaluation of the trump suit but Key cards can be trumps or non-trumps and you will always end up at the 5 level. That's a pretty tough time to find our you are missing the AKQ of trumps. Checking trumps first quickly alerts you to the need for shifting to NT, quitting below game level or stopping at 4.
Aug. 27
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Craig with std 2/1 if the response of a minor always shows a strong minor you have a good point, but when all you have is a weak minor wouldn't you still bid it to show an opening hand? If this is the case it would seem prudent to me, to verify that my partner had a playable minor before taking hin/her to 5. That would require an extra bid.
2D for us eliminates the need for a 2nd bid to confirm major trump agreement. 2c for us starts a hunt for a fit and may require a second bid by the responder to show a minor control and possibly a 3rd to show a playable suit. If you don't think early recognition of a major helps conserve valuable space and are concerned that you might be missing some strong minors, I would recommend that you continue to play std 2/1 it works for many people. With the hand you have described above I am guessing our bidding would be 1H - 2C
2NT(or 3C) - 3NT. How would you bid it?
Aug. 27
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Sorry, Felix if I said “any players don't even look” I meant many players don't even look. with 26-27 HCP they are afraid to risk a game by bidding 4NT for RKC.
Aug. 27
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We play a big club system so the opening bid is limited to 12-15 and the responder is generally responsible for setting the contract. Even missing 1 top honor I will often check 1st round controls. It takes 30HCP to have the 3 top trumps, 3 Aces and 3 Kings. If we are missing say the ace of trumps that increases the possibility of having all 1st and 2nd r controls. 5HCP in Trump,12 in three aces and 9 more in 3 kings is 26HCP. If I don't like the answer I get when I ask for controls I can always stop at 4 of our major. In addition, we count voids as 1st round controls and singletons as second-round controls. Missing 1 top trump generally would keep us from looking because with a Control Asking Bid of 3NT, the opener's response will always be below 4 of our major. I am working on the post for Control Asking Bids now you will see that we are dealing only with the 3 non-trump suits we ask with 3NT the responses are 4C = 1 or 3 and 4D =2 return to 4Mjr = 0 an generally is a sign-off. We can afford the exploration because we know we will never go beyond our game without positive responses to justify it.
Aug. 27
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Marty
Almost any system finds slams which have a lot of HCP, slams that get overlooked are low HCP slams because all systems put off Trump suit checks until the end and generally use 4N as a trigger, this results in playing at 5 of a major when you trump suit is weak. Shape is important, but if you do not have trump control and first or second-round control of the other suits, you are often down 1 regardless of your shape. Conversely, even if you have a strong trump suit and first-round control of all suits there is no guarantee that is slam is possible without good shape. If you can check one or the other I would opt for checked trumps and 1st round controls- without those things you are bound to go down with only 26-27 HCP. Matter of choice.
Aug. 27
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Steve
Sorry about the problem, don't know what to say, I checked with Bridge Winners, it looks fine to them.
Aug. 27
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Shape is important, but missing top honors in you trump suit is deadly.
Aug. 27
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Felix
We have been using it for about a year and found many slams in the 26-28 range. Many players don't even look in this range because they fear giving up a certain game, using RKC and to end up playing a 5 going down 1. With 2/1 Tab by checking trumps first you can see when NT might be a better game try (i.e. missing top honors in your trump suit) or you can use 3NT to trigger a Control Asking Bid for 1st round controls (my next article). If you don't like the 1st round controls you are still below game level in your major and simply sign off in a game, not at the 5-level but at the 4 level.
Aug. 27
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