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All comments by Craig Zastera
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But responder's 2NT is very narrowly defined in strength and fairly narrowly defined in shapes. Thus, opener is in a good position to place the contract. Therefore, his 3 should be an offer to play, saying he doesn't fancy 2NT nor have the values to raise to game.
28 minutes ago
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Leonard,
OK, I did a DealMaster Pro simulation for this problem.
Constraints were:
West: given hand

South: 18-19 HCP balanced, 2-3 spades, 4-5 diamonds
OR
18-19 HCP 1=4=4=4 or 1=4=5=3 or 1=3=5=4 w/
stiff SA, SK, or SQ

North: 6-11 HCPs with 4 spades, fewer than 4 hearts,
fewer than 5 diamonds, no more than 6 clubs

Sure, you can quibble about some of the details of these constraints, but they seem to be more or less appropriate.
If North had 5+ spades and/or 4+ hearts, he would presumably have checked for a major fit. With 5+ diamonds, he might have shown that fit. Maybe I should have allowed some 17 HCP hands for South with 1=4=5=3 or 1=3=5=4 shape, but such hands might have bid differently (e.g. reverse to 2 or rebid 2 or 3).

I generated 9999 deals matching above constraints and
played them double dummy in 3NT by South.

Since this is an IMP problem, I was only interested in those deals where 3NT is beatable. There were 2350 of those.
Considering only those 2350 deals, the number of deals where each of West's 13 possible leads would succeed was:
HK/Q: 1912
C3 : 937
C5 : 936
S9 : 893
H3 : 888
D3/2: 871
D7 : 866
SJ : 855
S2 : 850
C9 : 836
CJ : 736
6 hours ago
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Well, there was a “right” answer to this problem on the actual deal, but the poll certainly does not support that this lead is “findable” single dummy.

Opener's hand was:
AKQxxx-AKQxx-A-x
Dummy was:
J9xx-xx-JTxx-Jxx

So the winning lead is a club (holding declarer to 6).
On any other lead, declarer draws trumps, pitches dummy's clubs on his hearts and ruffs his club to make all 13 tricks.

IMO, the choice is between the minors (I surely don't understand all the votes for a spade lead).
At the table, I (not the opening leader) thought that a club was percentage, but perhaps I was resulting.
At least my partner led a diamond.
11 hours ago
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I didn't realize that this question was about which heart honor to lead. I chose HK (rather than HQ) because I thought that was the “standard” card to lead from this holding.

Personally, I play Rusinow, so HQ (2nd from touching honors) would be the choice in my partnerships. We use the King lead (vs. NT) to ask partner to unblock an honor, or give count if he lacks one. The lead of an ace is supposed to ask partner for “attitude” and would be the typical choice from e.g. AKx(x).

However, recently I've been considering the suggestion that vs. NT, Rusinow leaders should only lead the Rusinow “2nd highest from touching honors” when the suit is 4+ cards in length. From 3 card holdings (and doubletons) headed by two touching honors (or 3), according to this view one reverts to “standard” and leads the top honor.
The idea is to avoid setting up a long card in declarer's hand when both defender's have honor strength but not much length in the suit.
I do not yet have enough experience to evaluate the merits of this “Rusinow only from 4+ card suits” variation.
The obvious problem, of course, is how is partner to know if one is leading a Rusinow “2nd” from a 4+ card suit or a top honor from a 3 (or 2) card suit. It seems to me like this ambiguity could sometimes prove troublesome.
Of course, the same kind of ambiguity exists if one leads top from two touching honors doubleton (standard amongst Rusinow players), but somehow this does not seem to often prove problematic in practice.
Sept. 24
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I have been told by a knowledgable director that there is no requirement to use the exact ACBL convention card format in ACBL events. He said it is fine to modify/enhance/enlarge etc. the ACBL card in order to make it more suitable to describing your agreements. He said that all that is required is that the location of your descriptions of particular classes of agreements more or less follow the ordering on the ACBL card so that an opponent should be able to find what he is looking for relatively easily based on familiarity with where info is located on a standard ACBL card.
I have modified the standard ACBL card considerably (while following its general sequence of lay-out) in order to better describe my agreements, and have never gotten any complaints about it, other than perhaps the tiny font size I've found necessary in order to fit as much pertinent information as possible. Probably I should provide a magnifying glass as a courtesy :-).
Sept. 24
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Invitations are most efficient when they are accepted about 50% of the time.
If they are nearly always accepted (“accept unless terrible”) or rarely accepted (pass unless tip-top), they cannot gain very much vs. just bashing game (instead of “accept unless terrible” invite) or just passing without inviting (instead of “pass unless tip-top”) because there will be relatively few deals where the invitee's choice results in a different contract from what would have been reached had inviter simply decided “game or part-score” himself. And even on those deals, taking the “invite” route will only sometimes result in a better final contract than a direct decision, and further the invitation may sometimes give useful information to the defenders.

So, invite range should be set so that expectation is about a 50% acceptance rate.

This still does not address the issue of who stretches VUL at IMPs where game chances even below 40% will show a long run profit. My view is that the *inviter* should do the stretching, i.e. invite with some marginal hands that would not invite a matchpoints. The invitee then uses usual criteria in determining whether to accept.
When potential inviter has a very solid invite, when VUL at IMPs he simply bids game himself instead.

Further, the above assumes that the invitee will be in a good position to evaluate his hand. That is, either inviter is just looking for a general “max” hand in overall strength, *or* the invitation is of a specific type (e.g. help suit or short suit), so that invitee will be able to make an intelligent decision by looking at his holding(s) in the relevent suit(s).

When potential inviter has big undisclosed shape which might yield a lot of tricks if partner has the right fit, but there is no descriptive way for inviter to let his partner know which particular high cards (or shape) will be the key, at IMPs he is probably better off to just optimistically bash the game.
Sept. 23
Craig Zastera edited this comment Sept. 23
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I believe that it is *our* side that is playing Precision.
Your comment sounds like you think East's 1 opener was Precision. I believe that is not the case. Of course, over a Precision 1 by East, I would certainly act with this South hand.
Sept. 23
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A useful convention, fairly popular I think, is to differentiate “forcing, choice of game” 3 2nd rebids from “help, please let me out in 3” garbage hand with long hearts type as follows:
(a) with one (say the 3 sign-off type), bid 3
(b) with the other (say game choice between 4 and 3N),
rebid a forcing, artificial 3 relay to 3,
then 3 over partner's 3.

This convention is often used over forcing 1NT responses in auctions like:
(a) 1M-1N-2M-2N-then <3M signoff or 3 relay to 3, then 3M>

(b) 1-1N-2-2N-then:
3: weak 5+=5, pass or correct to 3
3 relay to 3, then 3, GF with 5+=5 majors,
choice of game
but clearly can be applied to other auctions where responder
has shown bid an invitational 2NT after opener has shown one major with 6+, or both majors.
Sept. 21
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I believe “Ingberman” uses the cheapest unbid strain as the (usually) weak relay, whereas “Lebensohl” uses 2NT.
The difference only occurs on auctions 1-1M-2, where with Ingberman, 2OM is the artificial, usually weak relay, whereas with Lebensohl 2NT would serve that purpose.
On all other reverse auctions, 2NT would serve the WR purpose in both methods.

Of course, in either method, opener is not required to accept the relay. If he holds full GF values (say 19+ HCPs), he can refuse the relay to make another descriptive bid. In some partnerships, on auctions that start 1-1-2-2NT-??, opener with extremely short clubs may choose to rebid 3 instead of 3 without promising GF values (sort of like “equal level conversion”).
Sept. 17
Craig Zastera edited this comment Sept. 17
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2 here is “Ingberman”. Usually, it is a prelude to attempting to sign off over a minimum reverse.
But it has a couple of stronger meanings:
1. if followed by 3NT, shows ~12-14 relatively balanced
(with stopper(s) in 4th suit).
Contrast this with immediate 3NT which is ~9-11
(that leaves 2NT over 2 showing about 8, NF.
2. if followed by 3, GF with 5 (or 6) spades
with suit quality not appropriate for 3 right over
2
Sept. 15
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Should be a good hand with both minors. This is much better than defining it as RKCB because you have no other way to show the good minor 2-suiter.
If you have a good (slammish) hand with support for partner's spades, you can bid either:
(a) 5
This is an unambiguous slam try in spades and should
(probably)promise a heart control.
Opener may reply 5, natural, non-forcing, slam
discouraging.
Otherwise, opener replies keycards (5N .. 6)

(b) 5
This is a slam try without a heart control.
Opener's replies:
Pass: no heart control either
5N : guarded heart King
6/6: ace in bid suit + 1st round heart control
6: first round heart control, no minor ace
6: 2nd round (stiff) heart control
Sept. 14
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As someone with little experience playing big club, I am curious as to whether East's pass is forcing and (whether or not it is) what implications it might carry differentiating it from “double” or 1NT ?

It would seem to me that since our side can never play a contract lower than 1 (if even that?) after we open 1, logically, West must be in a force here.
Besides, since he's shown 0-4 already, he has a “max” for his previous bidding *and* our side must have at least half the deck (probably more), which further argues against considering passing this out in 1.

Now that I've figured out that I'm not going to pass, the question is what action to take. 1NT without any semblance of a stopper in their suit doesn't appeal. 1 on T9xx doesn't seem very descriptive.
That leaves the ubiquitous DSI double. That must mean I've got a few points and no clear alternative appealing action.
Now all partner has to do is follow instructions and “Do Something Intelligent.”
Sept. 13
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no–simulation included only balanced 1nt openers, which I think is still the norm.
Sept. 12
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I consider my pass here “not close.”
Sept. 11
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Jordan,
After 2NT-3-3, responder with four hearts knows that no heart fit (8+ cards) can exist.
If that responder has four spades also (i.e. 4=4 majors), there is still the possibility of a spade fit, so he continues with 3 (the “spade length inquiry”). Opener replies 3 with exactly three spades, 3NT with exactly two spades, and makes a 4 level cue-bid with four spades.
Over that responder can continue according to his strength
He would also make the 3 “spade length inquiry” with 5=4 majors and now would want to play spades when opener showed three as well as four. If a spade fit is discover, responder with slam aspirations bids on (cue-bids, RKCB, even splinter jumps are available).

After 2N-3-3, if responder has four hearts but fewer than four spades, he knows that no major suit fit exsits.
Therefore, he bids 3–a relay to 3NT. Over opener's 3NT, if responder has slam interest, he can raise to 4NT or bid 4 of a minor (natural and forcing), e.g. with 2=4=5=2 or some such.
Sept. 10
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Barry,
I'd be happy to run any simulation you think would be enlightening, but I'm not sure what it is you are asking for that is different from what I did in the simulation referenced above. That one used the actual OP hand from this discussion opposite randomly generated 15-17 HCP balanced hands containing exactly *4 spades*. Since I did not specify number of hearts, this simulation will include openers that are 4=4 in the majors too.
The simulation then compared 3NT vs. 4 (always in a 4=4 fit) and found 3NT to fare considerably better both at matchpoints and IMPs.
If you are looking for something different, please clarify and I will attempt to implement what you desire.

It is true that I omitted opening 1NT hands that contain *5 spades*. I did this for several reasons. Primarily, because partnership requirements as to when a 15-17 1NT opening with 5 spades is permitted vary widely. I could probably adjust the simulation to include any well-specified 5 spade 1NT openers.
In my case, I very rarely will open 1NT with 5 spades. Almost never. This is because playing 2/1, such hands are generally better described by starting with 1. If partner makes a 2/1, a jump to 3NT gives a good description.
If partner starts with 1NT (forcing) and preferences to 2 over opener's 2m rebid, then a 2NT continuation shows 16-17 balanced.
With a boring 5332 15, after 1-1N-2m-2, I would generally just pass.
So that leaves mostly only some 15 HCP hands with 5 *weak* spades (usually not better than JTxxx) as good candidates (in my view) for a 1NT opener with a 5 card spade suit.

But I know that others will open virtually any 5=332 hand with 15-17 with 1NT. No doubt including such a policy would shift the simulation somewhat towards invoking Stayman with the given responding hand, and how much could certainly be quantified with an appropriate simulation. My guess is that it would not be nearly enough to change the qualitative conclusion already reached–that this responding hand is better served by a direct jump to 3NT.
Sept. 10
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Jordan,
You are correct 2N-3-3-3N shows 4=5 majors but is non-forcing. If responder has a stronger hand with 4=5 majors, he can bid 4NT (slam invitational, still not forcing) or 5NT (slam forcing).
Similarly, after 2N-3-3-3N (showing four spades), 3NT is not forcing, so if responder has a stronger hand with four spades he can bid 4NT or 5NT instead.

In a complete system, there should also be agreements for
2N-3-3-<4/4/4>.
I like to use 4 to show 5=5 majors, 4 to show 4=6 and 4 to show 6=4 (but an alternative for the 4m rebids would
be to show 4=5=1=3 and 4=5=3=1 slam tries so 4N would be a 4=5=2=2 slam invite).
If, after 2N-3-3, responder can determine that no major suit fit exists, but he now wants to show a 5+ card minor, he starts by bidding 3 (relay to 3NT), then pulls to 4m, natural and forcing.

In auctions that start 2N-3-3 (four hearts), if responder continues with 4 or 4, those are natural (5+ card suit) and forcing. As stated earlier bidding 3 over 3 is a relay to 3NT. If responder then pulls to 4m, 4, or 4 (Kickback), he is making a slam try in hearts.
Sept. 10
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I thought I was quite clear (apparently not) that I have no desire to limit players' “judgement” in upgrading (or downgrading) hands to a value other than their objective 4-3-2-1 pointcount.
What I said was that players who do this frequently ought to be required to disclose this and not to simply state that their 1NT requirements are “15-17” (or any other range) when in fact they are not. Otherwise, they have what amounts to a private understanding not availble to the opponents.
Sept. 10
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A related issue is when opponents open 1NT with a point count that is outside of the range stated on their card. I think this ought to be treated as at least as serious an infraction as opening 1NT with a singleton (but I think it is not).

I am in no way trying to limit an opponent's right to “upgrade” a hand (however unjustified I might think said upgrade is), but if they are prone to doing so, that ought to be clearly stated on their card. To me, if the card says “15-17” that should be what it means. If the partnership upgrades 14s regularly, then the card should say something like (14)15-17. And if questioned as to what their criteria is for upgrading a below range hand, they ought to be able to describe those requirements clearly.
Sept. 9
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Michael,
Although I still think the North hand is too weak for any bid over opener's 2 rebid (which I do not believe implies any extra values–just 6+ spades), I do like your suggestion that *if* North were going to bid again over 2, then 2NT (natural, invitational) would perhaps be a better choice than 3 to cater to hands like KQxxxx-x-Axx-Axx opposite (where 3NT is good while 4 is not).
Sept. 9
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