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All comments by Craig Zastera
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I don't understand why opening 1 and rebidding 2NT should increase the number of opponents.

It is a simple matter of hand evaluation.

If you think this hand is worth 15-17 HCP, then open 1NT.

But if you think (as I do) that it is worth 18-19, then open 1 and rebid 2NT.

If your evaluation is correct, then partner should be more likely to do the right thing than he would had you misrepresented your hand's strength.
15 hours ago
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I just don't consider this hand good enough to reverse.
For me, an absolute minimum reverse with 4=5 shape would be 16 HCPs essentially all concentrated in the two suits:
xx-AKQx-AKxxx-xx
would be dead minimum.
As you can see, OP hand falls well short of that.

After opening 1NT with this hand, I would not be accepting any game invites.
20 hours ago
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As a guy who really hates “funny” 1NT openers ….

I open 1NT anyway on this problem hand (while holding my nose).

It's just not good enough for a 1 then 2 reverse.
And 1 then 2 doesn't appeal.

The case for opening 1 is that if it is your birthday and parnter responds 1, you will have a nice descriptive raise to 3. Still, my partners are seldom so co-operative.
23 hours ago
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Various simulations one might do to try to shed light on this problem.

But we all know that the North hand is an obvious raise of a 2NT opener.

So I tried the following:
East: 5-6 s with 9+ HCPs (how light might he open in 3rd seat VUL?).

South: actual hand
North: 0-5 HCPs with 4-5 s, fewer s, and < 4 s.
(I figured with 6+ HCPs, even a chicken North would screw up his courage and raise to 3NT if South doubles and then bids only 2NT over North's 2).

The question the above is trying to answer is whether South should “upgrade” based on his great s and gamble a 3NT rebid (after doubling) rather than just bidding a systemically correct 2NT.

Here is the frequency chart for tricks in NT by South:
< 7: 9.7%
7: 15.3%
8: 33.8%
9: 26.0%
10: 13.7%
11: 1.5%

So 3NT makes only 41.2% of the time.
To me, that suggests that South is correct to double and then rebid (only) 2NT, at least at matchpoints.
I suspect that at IMPs, both N and S might have been more aggressive.

So if there is any blame, I believe it is North's for failing to raise to 3NT with a hand that would obviously have done so over a 2NT opener.

Still, at matchpoints there is a case for “going low” on marginal game hands. And admittedly the “expected value” for South's sequence is slightly lower than for a 2NT opener as 19 HCPs is included in this one whereas the 2NT openers start with 20.
Feb. 16
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Just not quite good enough for a double of (1).

If you reversed my majors and they had opened (1), then I would squeek out a TO double.
Feb. 16
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2 is GF while 2NT most definitely is NF.

I think the choice is between 2 and 3NT. I'm not quite sure what I will gain by bidding 2, so I just bid a simple 3NT.

If I played a “light opening” style (I do not), then 2NT might be reasonable.
Feb. 16
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Well, this is either 1NT or 1 then 2NT.
I did a simulation–1000 deals with opposite hand always a balanced hand with 7 HCPs (could have a 5 card major).

From my database of average performance for balanced
hands opposite balanced hands, no 8+ card major fit,
I know that:
17 HCP balanced opposite 7 HCP balanced
makes 3NT: 36.43%

18 HCP balanced opposite 7 HCP balanced:
makes 3NT: 55.56%

19 HCP balanced opposite 7 HCP balanced:
makes 3NT: 74.14%

THIS OP HAND, opposite random balanced 7 HCP hands:
makes 3NT: 57.6%

So that suggests this hand is easily the equivalent of an average balanced 18 HCP hand (even a tad better).
Put me down for 1 then 2NT.
Feb. 16
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You will find an extensive discussion of “LackWood” in Fred Gitelman's series of articles “Improving 2/1”. This 3-part series can be found in various places on the Internet.
For example:
http://www.bridgeguys.com/pdf/GitelmanImprove21.pdf

The stuff on “Last Train” and “LackWood” is in part 2, but if you haven't read these articles before, there is much of value in all of it.
Feb. 12
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I get tired of the criticisms of accurate bidding on the basis of “information leakage.”

I am sure there are situations where an opaque bid may gain through a poor opening lead (or even an error in later defense).

But in general good bidding is about describing your hand in sufficient detail (when possible) to allow the partnership to reach superior contracts not found by the “field” which tends to bid much more crudely (i.e. just take a shot at the most likely contract and don't worry about it when you miss the target).

Here, opener has marginal strength to accept the invite and an obvious undisclosed feature which may be extremely relevent to finding the best final contract (stiff ).

That feature can be revealed via 3. This choice is “multi-dimensional” as it allows for several possible final contracts, both games and partscores, in various strains.

Sure, I suppose if partner just continues with 3NT, then we may have been better off just bidding it ourselves (or passing 2NT). But I think that often enough the 3 continuation will allow us to explore sucessfully other possibilities that will not be found by many others.

Of course, these alleged benefits are very dependent on trusting your partner's judgment in using the extra information intelligently. I suspect that some who fail to pursue the “3rd path” do so out of fear that partner will not be up to the challenge of using the info to make a better partnership decision than we might “guess” on our own.
Feb. 12
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I definitely would have bid at least 6 the first time.
Feb. 12
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I too think the North hand is a marginal opener.
It does pass the “rule of 22” (barely) but includes weakish holdings in both majors (and no defensive tricks outside the long suit).

Thus, I think there is a lot to be said for passing the North hand.
Feb. 12
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Michael,
I think the points you make are valid which is probably why playing NF new suit advances (or at least some of
them NF) is probably the more common approach now-adays.

But there are advantages in playing them forcing when
(a) advancer is not a PH
and
(b) opening bidder's partner passes partner's overcall

Besides the obvious benefits with a goodish hand that can't be fully described in one bid, there are also the following:
1. new suit jump shift advances can be played as
“fit-showing”.
If the simple new suit advance is NF, then the
new suit jump advance is needed as natural with a
better hand (e.g. “invitational” as in BWS)

Fit showing jumps can be big winners when they
occur, so having them available can sometimes be
very useful.

2. If playing new suit advances as forcing, then the
cue-bid advance can be played as 100% guaranteeing
a good hand WITH A FIT for overcaller's suit.

When new suit advances are NF, the cue-bid becomes
“overworked” as it is then advancer's only forcing
call. Hence, it cannot promise a fit for
overcaller's suit. It may instead be any of a
variety of strong hands that can't afford to make
a NF advance. This makes it much harder for
overcaller to re-bid after the cue-bid because he
literally has no idea what sort of hand (i.e. what
shapes) his partner holds.
Feb. 12
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Steve,
But if you believe this is “so very close” (presumably between PASS and 3NT?), then doesn't that make the “3rd option” the most appealing?

The 3rd option would be 3. This neither commits us to game nor to 2NT while simultaneously bidding out our pattern so that partner might be able to make a good decision.

In my view, this 3 is 100% forcing (could be up to 18 with the actual hand being an absolute minimum for this call) on partner but not 100% forcing to game.

If partner continues with e.g. 3 or 3, we can (and with this hand I think *should*) pass.

If partner has s adequately stopped opposite our announced shortness, he can bid 3NT (even with a minimum for his invite).

If he judges his holding inadequate for 3NT but otherwise thinks he has a max hand, he can try other calls, e.g. 3 or 4 or ..
Feb. 11
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Let's assume we have 4 available as “reverse Baze” to agree s and indicate (some) slam interest but with no shortness.

If partner rebids 4 (artificial “Last Train”), we bid 4 and likely stop there (if partner goes on on his own, see below).

If partner bids 4 over 4, we obviously pass.

If partner bids 4 “Kickback” over 4, then he must have a good slammish hand with a control in all the side suits.
So we tell him about our 1 keycard (and, if he asks, lack of the Q).

If he bids 6 after that, then we know our side is missing at most one of A, K, Q, A, A *and* that partner has either the A or K.

How good is 6N under such conditions?
A 1000 deal simulation had 6N making (only?) 58.3% of the time. Subtract a couple of percent for “real world” declarer play, and we have 6N coming in only in the 56% or so range.
Still, that is marginally good enough to bid.

Our weak holding might cause problems, though.
After 4-4-4, if he lacks control but has a good hand, he might try 5 and we will have to play 5.

Or, if he has the minor suit aces and a control, he might bid Kickback and find we're off 2 keys. Again, we have to play 5.

If we have to play 5, how much risk is there of going down?
I tried a 1000 deal simulation where opener had 16-17 HCPs, both minor aces, but no control.
5 was down on 13.8% of these.

I also tried 1000 deals with North having all side suits controlled but where we are missing 2+ key-cards (including Q as a key). Here, 5N was down 11.7% of the time.

Keeping in mind that the cases where we have to play 5 are relatively uncommon, it appears to me that it might just be justified to try 4, reaching 6 only if partner takes over with key-card and finds our side holding enough despite the occasional 5-1 that will result.
Feb. 11
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I think what I wrote is directly relevent to OP auction.
If West's immediate 2 advance were forcing, then his immediate 3 jump advance would be a fit-jump.

So if he had 6 s and no fit, he would presumably bid 2 whether it were forcing or not (unless his hand was so weak that PASS seemed better than a forcing 2).

Sure, it is possible that with some such hands he would *rather* be playing that 2 was non-forcing, but the dilemma of how to play new-suit advances of overcalls is well known, as is the fact that there is no solution that works well all of the time (I like transfer advances with new suits *below* the cue-bid forcing, so on OP auction with a suit this would be no different for advancer than just playing “new suit advances forcing”).
Feb. 11
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Mike,
I think you've got this exactly backwards.

Playing the 2 advance as forcing is actually a boon here because in that case a jump-shift advance to 3 is 100% unambiguosly a “fit jump.”

It is those who play that 2 advance as NF who (probably) cannot afford to define the 3 jump as a (very useful) fit jump because in that style 3 is probably needed as natural and invitational (or perhaps some play it as natural and forcing).

In fact, the ability to play jump-shift advances as “fit-jumps” is quite possibly the single most important argument in favor of playing “forcing” new suit advances of overcalls.

When advancer is a passed hand and (probably) when opener's partner does something other than pass, it is still likely best to play 3-level new suit advances as “fit-showing”.

BTW, as I mentioned in a recent post on another thread, quoting at length from Robson/Segal, when 3rd hand *raises* opener's 1 of a suit to 2 of the same suit with partner having overcalled (at 1 or 2 level, non-jump) in between, advancer's 3-level new suit (non-jump) should probably be fit-showing whether or not he is a passed hand.

And when partner's overcall has been at the 2-level (i.e. non-jump in a suit lower ranking than opener's), then advancer's 3-level new suit non-jump advance should also be fit-showing if responder has made a “negative double” as well as when he has raised opener (again, even if advancer is not a PH).
Feb. 11
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6 is poor.

After they take their A at trick 1 (I think a lead will be obvious on any reasonable auction), to make 6 you need to bring in the suit without loss.

The percentage play in the suit is a 1st round finesse against East's hoped for Q.

This will succeed (only) when East has Q, Qx, or Qxx.
The combined probability for one of these favorable lies of the suit is 36.74%.

Of course, you could alternatively bang down AK. That would succeed if Q is stiff or doubleton in either hand.
But the combined probabilities for one of those is only 32.78%, so that line gives even a poorer chance.
Feb. 11
Craig Zastera edited this comment Feb. 11
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If you want 3 here to be natural (6 s, etc.), then I think you would need to define 3 as a strong game invite.

That is probably not unreasonable since if advancer had s he could have advanced 2 instead of 1NT originally.

I do think it is important for advancer to have some way to show a fit with a hand too good for a mere raise to 3 but not quite enough for 4. This is because there is quite a bit of ambiguity w.r.t. strength both for overcaller's 1 then 2 rebid and for advancer's initial 1NT advance.

IMO having a strong invite available here is more important than having a natural 3, so without discussion I would not take 3 here as natural. But using 3 for the invite seems like a good idea if the partnership has actually discussed such things.
Feb. 11
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Just as “2/1 game force” does not have to be played as 100% GF in all auctions (i.e. it is perfectly reasonable to have auctions that can stop at 4m), so here it is not necessary to play that 1NT-3/3 has to be 100% GF in all cases.

Opener's first responsibility is to bid 3NT if he has sufficient stopper(s) in responder's short suit to expect 3NT to be good opposite minimum responder (say 10 HCPs).

But once opener decides that 3NT is not his call, he doesn't have to default to 4m on all hands.

Since there is quite a bit of ambiguity about responder's strength, opener, when not bidding 3NT, should attempt to differentiate minimum hands (say 15 with some wasted in the major) from really nice hands for play in the minor suit.

With that thought in mind, we could define opener's 4 and 4 rebids as suggesting play in that suit (so 3NT is out) but with just a minimum hand and/or not particularly great for the minor.

After such a rebid, responder (who, because he is looking at his hand should have a pretty good idea whether his 3M response was dead minimum or if he has “extras” such that even slam might be in the picture) is allowed to PASS 4m with a minimum hand.

But when opener, still with a hand not suitable for 3NT, has a nice hand for play in a minor such that he doesn't want to allow the responder the option of quitting at 4m, he can choose some call that is neither 3NT nor 4m.

Each partnership can decide the exact definitions for all opener's rebids that are not 3NT nor 4m.
There is certainly room for creative definitions for all of 4, 4, 4NT, 5, and 5 as well as 3 after 1N-3 to increase the partnership's chances of finding the right strain and level.
Feb. 11
Craig Zastera edited this comment Feb. 11
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I think East's 1 and West's 1NT were both fine (even if West had had a natural 2NT available).

East's 2 was clear-cut.

But now I think West erred with 3. His hand is too good for this. He would raise to 3 with almost any hand with 4 card support (and strong enough for his previous 1NT).

Thus, his choices are between 4 or 3. I actually slightly prefer the latter.
When East continues with 3NT, West now removes to 4.
Feb. 11
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