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All comments by Craig Zastera
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But bidding 3 on this auction is a sign-off, not just giving partner some option. Still could be the winning decision, of course, but it strikes me as a trifle too conservative compared to 3NT (my choice) or even passing 2NT (which might beat 3 120 or 150 to 110 or 130).
6 hours ago
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If 2NT is the normal contract and a the normal lead, then if the stiff K is with West, the overtricks cost by starting s with the Q will indeed be meaningless.

At other tables, with the same lead but no lead out of turn by RHO, declarer will win the T, cross to the Q and take a finesse as his best chance to score 8 tricks.
When that loses to LHO's (stiff) K, those declarers will (likely) be down in 2NT when the defense cashes (at least) 5 s to go with their K.

But because we have the penalty card, we can lose trick 2 to LHO's stiff K and require him to return a . Thus, we score 8 tricks and beat all those in 2NT with a lead.

Now if stiff K is with RHO, it is a bit different.
Now, others will score *9* tricks (4 s, 4 s, 1 ), while we will score only *8*. But had we started s with the A, we'd actually score *10* tricks–two very meaningful extra tricks in that case.

But we must balance this against the much more likely case where LHO has :Kxx. If we start with A, RHO will be able to shed his penalty card on the second round of s and we will be defeated.

But if we start with Q, likely LHO will win and we make our contract on the forced return. If the Q si allowed to hold the trick (unlikely), then we can decide how to continue.
6 hours ago
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Not on this deal.
12 hours ago
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I question whether this hand should bid game even if partner “super-accepts” a transfer.

I looked at 1000 deals where partner had 14 HCPs and 4 or 5 s. This represents less than 4% of all deals where partner has an 11-14 HCP balanced hand, so surely even a conservative “super-accepter” would do so with these hands.

On those 1000 deals, 4 made on only 388.
3 made on 841 deals.

So, particularly since this is a matchpoint problem, I do not think this hand should venture 4 even after a “super-accept.”
12 hours ago
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They will not have to lead a if East is able to discard her penalty card on a (which is a drawback of starting with A instead of Q).
13 hours ago
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With no agreements about what double means, why risk it with such a marginal hand?

This would be a more interesting problem with clear agreement about what double would be.
14 hours ago
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Then I get to judge what to do.

LOTT would support 4 as a likely cheap save if I decide they can probably make 4. For example, if pard has :AKxxx, a stiff and little else we'd be -2 in 4 while they would be making at least 4.

But there are many things that can happen over 2 other than your scenario.
14 hours ago
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You can use XX to get out in either minor with a hopeless hand (relays to 2, then pass or correct to 2 to play).

Alternativey, you can use XX as specifically a transfer with 2 a transfer. That way, you “right-side” 2 of either minor with strong hand declaring and stronger defender on lead.
14 hours ago
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Not clear what tactics are best here.

Since we have the boss suit (it would be different if our big fit was in s rather than s), I'm thinking that “going slow” with a mere 2 is likely to allow us to get a better sense of the lay-out on this deal than if I made some higher pre-emptive bid immediately (e.g. 4 or 3 or 3 “mixed raise”).
I see little reason to leap to 4 and perhaps go down a trick (or 2) needlessly when we could have bought the contract at a lower level and they do not have a game.
16 hours ago
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I'm OK with 2NT opener, but surely all will admit that a strong 6 card suit is a very unusual feature for such an opening.

Therefore, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to complete an excellent desciption of my unusual 2NT opener by rebidding 4 (forcing) now.

I do think it is silly not to have an agreement about partner's double of (3). I believe the clear majority of good players treat this as negative (yes, promises four s), so I will assume that, although I do not think playing it as “cards” primarily for penalty is crazy.
16 hours ago
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The reason for “over-riding” it is that they might well make 2X.

Imagine partner with something like:
QJT9-AJ9xx-Txx-x

If LHO has something along the lines of:
AKxxxxx-x-Kxx-Ax

then he will be able to make (2X) while we (East) can make 2NT (but not 3). Hence my solo vote for 2NT.

Since OP specifies IMPs, I think it is too risky to leave the double in for what is unlikely to be more than a 1 trick set when the down-side is they make a “cheap” game. Meanwhile, we surely won't be going down more than a trick in 2NT (or 3?) and might well make one or both of those contracts.
16 hours ago
Craig Zastera edited this comment 16 hours ago
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Agree with those who think 4 was a mistake.

When you bid 4, you make partner captain. He gave his orders–he wants to play 4.

Of course, the problem here is that OP hand is much stronger than necessary for a 4 splinter. That might be done with as few as 16 hard working HCPs and a stiff , perhaps even without the good 5 card suit.

The/a solution is to instead bid 3, “split-range” splinter.
Either just game invitational *OR* too strong for a 4 GF splinter. If partner “declines” the invite (3), with this hand we continue (probably with 4) to show our super-strong splinter *and* the good suit too.
17 hours ago
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This hand is not good enough for any kind of invitational sequence with balanced 11-14 HCPs opposite.

Even if partner had 14 HCPs and 4-5 s (very unlikely, of course), 4 would be less than 38% chance.
Sept. 19
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Yes, as so often happens West has sufficient useless extra values so that he could/should have made a natural 2NT advance (just the “right” methods on this hand) after which 7 might have been reached as you suggest.

But 7 would have been just as cold had West held only:
xx-Kxx-xxxxx-KJx
and almost as good even without the J (actually still 100% if we assume North has 6 s and no voids). But now it is much harder to discover that the partnership has what it needs for a grand slam.
Sept. 19
Craig Zastera edited this comment Sept. 19
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Isn't “Hamman's Law” intended for hands like this one?
Sept. 19
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PLaying Lebensohl, the west hand would be suitable for a value showing 3. The K is not worth full value.

If the West hand were xx-Kxx-KJT8x-KJT, *then* I would agree *that* hand is slightly too strong for 3 even in a Lebensohl context.
Sept. 19
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Pretty good hand for playing jump reverse (3 here) as a “split range splinter”, i.e. either just a game-invitational splinter (around 14 HCPs with four s and a stiff ),
*OR* a “super strong” splinter, i.e. one too strong for a mere GF splinter jump to 4.

Of course, OP hand is, IMO, even more than enough for the “super strong” splinter. So after e.g. 1-1-3-3, I would continue with either 4 (void) or possibly 4.
Sept. 19
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I think this hand should rebid 2. With a void in partner's suit, we can't afford to waste the bidding room with 3.
Sept. 18
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I didn't understand the majority vote for rebidding the s on the problem from the previous round. Now that choice has led to awkwardness in one of several predictable ways.

It seems better to me to admit to our surprisingly good support at our second turn. Finding a playable trump suit earlier often makes the ensuing auction easier as the issue is likely to revolve around finding/avoiding slam.

Further, often on this auction, partner will be very short in s.
He doesn't have to be, but s then jump shift is often at least 5-5, possibly 6-5.
So I think it is likely (not for sure) that we will lose a trick playing in s but not playing in s (because partner has a void or small singleton ).

If partner happens to have secondary support, he can show that easily over 3 (1-1-3-3-3). It is true that sometimes the 3 JS will be (semi) artificial based on a “Bridge World Death Hand” (GF strength with 3 card support for responder's suit). But I think the auction will be smoother on that hand type also if we allow partner to volunteer support at the 3 level.

Now, backed into a corner, I remove 3NT to 4. I'm prepared to explain in the post-mortem (after partner passes with 6 cold) why my sequence must be a slam try and not just a “strain correction” with a minimum responding hand.
Sept. 18
Craig Zastera edited this comment Sept. 18
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I agree that the right question on this problem is “which should I lead?”
Sept. 18
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