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All comments by Craig Zastera
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I'm too cowardly to bid 3C at this vulnerability, so 2C for me.
March 23
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The double is take-out and promises extra values. Of course, doubler heard the 1NT advance showing values and something in diamonds, so advancer can “convert” the double if he has a suitable hand (and doubler knows this).
March 20
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Because of my partner's (South's) hesitation before winning the HK, I knew immediatly with 100% certainty that
(a) he had another heart, so they were playing a 4-3
(b) a spade return (low is best but any works) would
defeat the contract.

If he had played low in tempo, if this were presented as a bridge problem, I might well work out the actual situation (because declarer leading H6 at trick 2 from H:AT62 would seem very strange). At the table, who knows if I would take the time to figure this out?

Further, it is logically possible that declarer's hand
might have been:
ATxx-AT62-Kx-ATx (or C:A9x or C:AT9)
in which case only a diamond shift at trick 4 would guarantee
a set (else he sheds a diamond on dummy's 4th club).

Thus, I felt compelled to return my D8 at trick 4 despite knowing that a spade would set the contract.

Declarer's actual hand was ATxx-AT6-KQ-Axxx, so he made 4H.
You might note that 4H is unbeatable if declarer had ducked
the opening lead (but that would fail if spades were 6-1).

Some of you commented that a great player (think Michael Rosenberg) sitting North should be able to return a spade despite partner's hesitation since he would have “figured this out” anyway, but that a lesser North, knowing that he would have or might have failed to infer the 4-3 without partner's hesitation, is ethically obligated to return a diamond (knowing that this will fail) because of partner's hesitation.
This seems wrong to me–how can two different players have different obligations w.r.t U.I. based on their relative abilities? I know that ability confers advantages, but I don't think lesser obligations w.r.t U.I. should be one of them.

There is also the issue that on this hand there is a logical possibility of declarer's holding a hand
(ATxx-AT62-Kx-ATx) where a diamond shift could be right.

This would seem to make the case that North ethically must return a diamond (since it is a true “logical alternative) stronger.
But what if analysis would reveal that leading a spade back could never cost the defense (even when declarer has four hearts) and might be necessary (if they're in a 4-3).

Would it then be OK to return the spade despite partner's helpful hesitation?
I actually think the answer is still ”no“ because without the hesitation, it would require thought (mental effort) to work out that a spade return couldn't cost.
But with the hesitation, it is immediately obvious with virtually no thought at all that a spade return will set the contract (because it promotes a trump for me).
Thus, returning a spade would still be benefitting from ”U.I", and, hence, would be wrong.
March 20
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Congratulations, Cristal.
March 16
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I think it is essential that responder's 2NT be asking opener to pick a minor rather than being natural.
Thus, if responder instead picks a minor himself (e.g. 3C in the example auction), he should be showing 5+. So if opener then removes to 3D, he should be showing extra values (with a minimum 5=5 or better, he'd just bid 3D directly).
March 14
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It seems to me that since RHO's double suggests length (4) and strength in the majors, responder ought to have a pretty decent major if only 4 long to bid it.
Hence, with, e.g. AQJx-xxxx-xxx-xx, I would surely respond 1S after 1C-(DBL) rather than 1H.

But if the two suits were roughly equal or both at least decent (even, e.g. KQJx-QTxx-xxx-xx), I would go with responding 1H just as if RHO had passed.

Thus, on the given example hand, if choosing to bid at all I would surely bid 1H, not 1S.
With a bare 6 count, I think it would be OK to just pass the double, but I don't mind bidding 1H so as to let partner know we have a little something (but this hand would surely be the worst with which I would consider bidding directly).
March 14
Craig Zastera edited this comment March 14
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Must say that I agree with that. If the DQ were the DA, then this might be a UNFV VUL 4D opener.
March 13
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One deal proves nothing, of course. But on this one, our side is cold for 2D …..

but, their side can make 2S.
Partner (north) held:
KJ3-K9843-97-A93
But East held:
Q642-AQT-53-KT42
so probably would have made balancing double over 2D opener,
allowing them to reach 2S with West holding:
A987-752-K86-865

This time, passing the hand out was worth 19 on 25 top.
If allowed to play 2D, would have scored 23.5 for +90.
However, -110 for defending 2S would have been only 10.5
Feb. 17
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Well, sorry to see overwhelming vote for diamond lead (in our methods, low would be the choice if leading a diamond).

Partner's hand was:
Q9-AQx-AJ9x-T9xx
while declarer held:
Tx-KT9xxxx-KQx-A
leaving dummy with:
Axxx-xx-Txx-Qxxx

As you can see, diamond lead is only one (other than CK) that allows declarer to make 9 tricks (but 8 are always there).

Bidding was also flawed as our side can make 2S (or 3C from opener's side). Thus, hand with short hearts should probably have competed over 2H (double if take-out, else 2S).

My partner led diamond (2) also.
My view is that one ought to lead from where values are held which will likely combine with partner's (he did rebid 1NT after all), so I would guess between the black suits (either is OK here as it turns out).
Feb. 17
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Playing transfer advances of overcalls, the transfer into overcaller's suit substitutes for the “cue-bid” playing natural advances, except that (with non-forcing natural new suit advances), the cue-bid occassionally shows a strong hand without support, whereas the transfer advance into overcaller's suit always shows a strong (limit raise plus) hand with support. So 10 HCPs would be the typical minimum.

With suitable good hands with support, advancer also has the options of:
(a) making a fit jump in an unbid suit
(b) making a splinter jump in opener's suit

When overcaller's suit is a major, some would also use a 2NT advance to show a 4 card LR+.
Feb. 10
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I don't understand your comment about “no urgency to lead a diamond” (vs. 6S with late knowledge about 2D being Drury).
It seems to me that I have a choice between red suit leads (partner not having doubled the artificial 5C).
The fact that 2D had been Drury has no particular bearing on choice of lead. If partner had the DK, say, he certainly would not have doubled 2D on this basis (i.e. without length in the suit).
A diamond lead seems better, to me, than a heart lead since I can contribute an honor in diamonds which might combine with one in partner's hand to produce a set. For a heart to be right, partner needs more than one honor in that suit.
Jan. 26
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No one asked about the 2D during the auction. I'm guessing that East's jump to 4S over West's 2NT might have “woken up” West that 2D had been 4 card Drury (they clearly *had* that agreement).
It also seems not unlikely to me (but admittedly I'm speculating here) that East might have jumped to 4S (rather than bidding an obviously forcing 3S over West's “slam try” 2NT) just to make sure there was no disaster given that there had been no alert of the Drury call. That is, over 2D Drury, 2NT is a 100% force showing slam interest, hence no need for responder to leap to 4S (especially since they acknowledged they had no agreed distinction between 3S vs. 4S on this Drury auction).
But over a “natural” PH 2D, one might suppose that opener's 2NT would just be natural, invitational but not forcing.
Jan. 26
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I posted this entry to determine whether a significant percentage of respondents as South would have bid 2H over a 4+ card Drury 2D but not over a natural PH 2D.
The results of the poll indicate that this is the case (with a minority that would bid 2H regardless, another minority that would never bid 2H, and a few who would have opened 2H).

This is relevent because of a later director call on this deal. I will describe this in another post together with additional questions about the director's ruling.
For those reading only here, the final contract was 6S by West on the bidding:
E S W N
P P 1S P
2D P 2N P
4S P 4N P
5C P 6S all pass

2D was not alerted, but when the auction had reached 4S, west indicated that 2D had been 4 card Drury. In that context, 2N was described as forcing with slam interest. They were not clear about the difference between East's actual jump to 4S vs. 3S instead. 5C showed one keycard.
The full deal was:
East: KT76-Q8-K53-KT53

me: 3-T762-Q9642-J86 partner: 985-AK543-87-942

West: AQJ42-J9-AJT-AQ7

Against 6S, I found the unfortunate lead of the D2 which both solved declarer's problem in that suit and allowed him the timing to eventually ditch a heart on the 4th round of clubs when that suit behaved for him.

Obviously, the director call involved the claim that had 2D been alerted as 4 card Drury, partner might have bid 2H which would have caused me to lead that suit instead of a diamond with a much better result for the defense.
Jan. 26
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Natural is silly.
The choice is between “Lebensohl” (so as to distinguish two different strength ranges) vs. “scrambling” (so as to get doubler to pick the strain when responder is equal in the minors).

In my view, in most cases where both Lebensohl and “scrambling” seem plausible, Lebensohl is the better choice.
That is because being able to distinguish strength ranges is always going to be useful, whereas the ability to send the “choice of strain” back to the (take-out) doubler is only sometimes going to be useful–often, responder will have only one strain, or, even with two he can just pick one successfully.

Here, for example, responder can have a pretty decent hand with no good bit directly over (2H). Similarly, opener may have quite a good hand. So it is very useful for responder to be able to distinguish a 3m reply showing some real values (immediate 3m over the re-opening double) vs. a poor hand just hoping to survive (2NT Lebensohl then pass 3C or correct to 3D) so that games are not missed.
Jan. 12
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Hard to imagine a much more “down the middle” hand for a 3S rebid.
Jan. 9
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Assuming “double” is not defined as a “thrump double”, 4C perhaps seems like the obvious choice.

However, I think this hand has too much slam potential which will be hard to express after 4C.

I'm hoping that partner will read a jump to 5C as a slam try lacking a spade control and not requiring much help in clubs.
That way, we may reach 6C which would be nearly cold even if partner has as little as, say, Ax-xxxx-AQJxx-Jx
Dec. 27, 2016
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Spiral is a not very good convention made “necessary” by the practice of opener raising responder's major frequently with only 3 card support (I'm not criticizing that style–merely observing that it is the only reason spiral is needed).

If opener's raise “always” or nearly always promised 4 card support, it would be a mistake to play “spiral.” Much better would be to play same structure as over 1M-2M. That is, one can play “3-way” or even “4-way” game tries where it is possible to show all of (a) short suit tries, (b) help suit tries, © general strength tries, (d) “trump suit” game tries.

But since most play that 1m-1M-2M raise can frequently be based on only 3 card support, there is the feeling that responder needs a way to determine whether opener has four card or only three card support.

Actually, this need is most acute when responder has *slam aspirations* but only a four card suit–he may not want to launch off into the stratosphere and find out later that the “fit” is only 4-3.

When he has mere *game invitational* strength, he could get along without spiral by rebidding 2NT, natural, game-invitational, and non-forcing. Then, opener could pass with a minimum and three card support, raise to 3NT with a maximum and 3 card support, bid 3M with a minimum and four card support, 4M (or, better, cue-bid above 3M) with a maximum and four card support.

When responder has GF (but no slam interest) with only a four card suit, he can simply rebid 3NT and expect opener to (usually) correct to 4M with four card support.

The problem with “Spiral”, particularly when responder has only game-invitational strength, is that it is a much cruder “game try” than help suit or short suit tries because opener can only indicate min vs. max and 3 card vs. 4 card support. It loses any ability to discern secondary fits (or misfits) as is possible with help suit or short suit tries.

Thus, when responder has a 5+ card major, he should eschew “spiral” in favor of a shape showing game try. This is how all responder's rebids at or below 3M other than the
<2M + 1> “spiral” ask should be defined. Whether to play these as natural (help suit) tries or artificial “short suit” tries is a matter of partnership agreement (I prefer “help suit” with 3M left over as a “general strength” try).

In any case, the price paid for using the “spiral” relay is that then only *1* (other) kind of game try is available, whether help suit or short suit (but not both as is possible after 1M-2M sequences).
Dec. 27, 2016
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Is there a standard defense to opponents' suction over our (strong) 1NT openers?
I've not seen one, and it seems to me to be difficult to devise a satisfactory one because of the uncertainty whether the suction overcall is showing a 1 suiter in the next suit or a two-suiter in the suits below. Perhaps responder needs frequently to pass and await clarification before acting?

In any event, the existence of a well-known effective defensive scheme vs. suction would probably go a long way towards persuading people to allow this convention to be played. No one wants to have to flounder because an unfamiliar method is sprung on them so that they have to improvise a defense without preparation.
Dec. 22, 2016
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If responder had longer diamonds than spades and invitational or GF values, he would respond 1D rather than 1S.

Even playing “Walsh”, with invitational values and, say, 5 diamonds and 4 spades, one starts with 1D planning on using 2-way NMF / XYZ after opener's 1H, 1S, or 1N rebid to show this hand type (i.e. 1C-1D-<1H/1S/1N>-2C-2D-2S, where 2C is a puppet to 2D).

Thus 1C-1S-2C-2D shows some sort of invitational+ hand (often with 5 spades) and does not promise (or deny) diamond length, except that the diamonds cannot be longer than the spades.
Nov. 24, 2016
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It seems to me that you have already given a very close description of your hand–11-14 HCPs, relatively balanced hand with 5 diamonds and a club stopper. Partner has chosen to double 2S. This has to be for penalties since he knows what we have. I don't even see the need to speculate about what is going on, just pick an opening lead.
Nov. 3, 2016
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