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All comments by Craig Zastera
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I think 1NT balance over (1M) should go up to 16 HCPs (and play that advancer's 2 is “range Stayman”).

But OP methods limit 1NT to 14, so I can't choose that.
Even if up to 16 is allowed, 1NT balance is not clear cut with both a max in HCPs *and* that stiff J.

But OP agreements make it easier to pick 2 since 1NT would be a distinct underbid in his methods.
2 hours ago
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I picked 3 but was very tempted by 3 (splinter raise of s).

I'm very surprised that 3 hasn't gotten any votes thus far.
The danger of not making the splinter now is that it may be awkward to show this hand later.

Say partner rebids 3NT over our 3. Are we going to pull to 4?? I decided I would do that, but it could easily be wrong.
If we instead make the 3 splinter now, we can be content should partner 3NT.
2 hours ago
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I think the “partner has promised absolutely nothing” is kind of a red herring. The usual guidance in bidding over (their) pre-empts is to “assume” that partner has a “random 7 HCPs” and bid on that basis.

Sure it is *possible* that partner has nothing, but it is also possible that he has 10 HCPs (as on OP deal). The “assume a random 7 count” guide-line strikes a good balance between optimism and pessimism.

South does have the powerful “6-4” shape. Even if his K is “garbage”, game might well make opposite just the Q (to 4 or 5) and the Q–much less than the “assumed” 7 HCPs, albeit “well-chosen” and not random points.
7 hours ago
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I chose 3NT but don't like it because I think this hand is too strong for that.

3NT rebid is not really supposed to be all that strong in HCP. x-Ax-Kxx-AKQxxxx is typical.

With a partner who was clued in to modern scientific bidding, I would probably prefer 2 (fake reverse).
23 hours ago
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It is better to use 4 as the keycard ask in s so that 4 is available as “Reverse Baze”.
Reversing 4 and 4 as I suggest allows opener a step over the Reverse Baze 4 (i.e. 4) to use as “Last Train”.

Using 4 as keycard ask and 4 as the balanced slam invite in s forces opener to choose between 4 (sign-off?) and bidding above 4.

There is no benefit from using 4 as the keycard ask in s (you could even use 4 “Kickback” for that purpose) as the extra bidding room is of little/no importance on hands that are suitable for a key-card ask.
Jan. 20
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Presumably partner's 3 shows extra values, so 3NT seems easy (probably would bid it even without the EV 3 rebid).
Jan. 20
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Strive to make 2 overcalls of their 1 openings whenever possible as it often causes them problems.

Here, 2 seems totally clear (I even thought of 3 which can cause even more problems but rejected it as too dangerous under OP conditions).
Jan. 20
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It is possible (we do it) to have some GF sequences start with 2 (relay to 2). Then, responder's 3rd bids *above* 3 of his original suit can be used to describe various GF hands (we use them for splinters in support of opener's suit(s)).
Jan. 20
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I play XYZ but slightly different variation than OP because we do not use 2NT rebid by responder as a relay to 3.

I'm not saying I think there is necessarily anything wrong with the 2N==>3 approach, just that because we don't play that way I have not given much thought to the implications of that technique and how it might be used to aid in describing various responder hand types when responder chooses to continue over the forced 3 and how it might change the best use for some other sequences.

I do think that as long as responder's jump 3 rebid is defined as GF (and probably slammish) as it is both for OP and in my methods, that sequence should promise 5=5 shape at least. So I picked that choice.

And I definitely do not think 2-2-3 should agree s are trump. If anything, I would NOT expect s to be trump on that sequence. Either s or perhaps NT unless something unexpected later.

Again, I did not vote on the 2N==>3 continuations as I do not have experience with that agreement.
Jan. 20
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I guess it is time to post the “real deal” and our results on this board.
I held this hand and advanced 3 as the majority of you chose. This was passed out. I (easily) made 10 tricks for a 36% board. Here is the full deal:

J9432
Q75
KQ
Q65
Q8 76
AJT9632 4
987 AJT5432
2 K43
AKT5
K8
6
AJT987
After lead to the A and a ruff, I had only the A yet to lose since the black suits behaved.

A gold star to Patrick Laborde for correctly diagnosing that 3NT is the “rock star” contract which would have yielded 100% of the matchpoints when 11 tricks roll in.

No pair in our club played NT, but four out of eight did reach 4 (all making).
We were the only pair in 3.
Two of the other three pairs played 4S (one making 6 to tie us at +170, the other -1), while the final pair defended 4XE and beat it one trick (E/W can always make 9 tricks in s or 8 in s).

I did consider my choice quite close between 3 and 4. If partner's double had been in direct seat, I think I would have gone with 4, but on actual auction I thought I should allow for a “lighter” balancing double.

I didn't give much consideration to 3NT.
When I first saw dummy, I thought partner should have raised me to 4, but I reconsidered because his :Kx looks likely to be “wastepaper”.

Partner thought he had done well to double rather than balancing with 4 which he had strongly considered.
It is true that his double could prove awkward if I advance in s–I suppose he would have to “correct” 4 to 5 (on actual deal, s can be held to 9 tricks, so a 4 balance would not have worked well).
Jan. 20
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I really do not think the argument for 2NT rebid by opener as “natural” is very persuasive.

Particularly if it can show “any strength”, because in that case it will always result in playing 2NT. That just cannot be as likely to be the winning result as the flexible benefits made possible by a “scrambling 2NT” which opens up the possibility of reaching various alternative contracts.

At least if 2NT rebid were defined as natural and a maximum hand, that would allow responder occasionally (when he held a good 8 or 9 HCPs) to raise to 3NT, hence would sometimes (not often) allow a good game to be found that might be missed otherwise.
Jan. 20
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Doubling first has several advantages:
1. Opener may be able to pass for penalties.
Even on the actual OP hand that turns out to be
the winning decision, although I do not really
expect OP opener to find the “penalty pass” with
only :QTx. Still, they cannot make 2, while
opener's side cannot make any contract higher than
2.

2. 2NT Lebensohl followed by 3 really ought to be
a 6 card suit, or at least a very chunky 5-bagger,
particularly when VUL. Otherwise, we are in
serious danger of bidding beyond our LOTT level and
risking a disaster.

3. If opener has 4 or 5 s, the negative double will
find a contract either because opener bids 3
over the double (generally with 5) or because he
bids a scrambling 2NT and responder “guesses” to
remove to 3 rather than 3 (not a clear-cut
choice, but a possibility).

4. Even if responder doubles and then removes 2NT or
3 to 3, we reach the same contract we would have
if responder started with 2NT Lebensohl, but we
have allowed for other possibilities (defending 2X
or playing in 3).
Jan. 20
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The negative double is *always* less than a GF hand.

In fact, I would prefer it to be less than a game-invitational hand (i.e. just competitive values), but I am not sure that can be achieved.

But why would one ever make a negative double with a GF hand?

With a 4 card (unbid) major and GF strength, responder just cue-bids (either directly or after Lebensohl 2NT, depending on whether or not he has a stopper in their suit).

With a 5 card major and GF values, responder uses “transfer Lebensohl” to transfer to his 5 card suit. Then, if opener accepts the transfer (which means he declines an invite), responder continues to game (generally 3NT, which opener will correct to 4M with 3+ card support).

And with a 6 card major, Texas transfers are available.

So a negative double is never stronger than game-invitational strength, and with only an invite will not have a 5+ card suit.
Jan. 20
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So both 3NT and 4 are makeable on actual deal (but both seem to require some kind of squeeze with winning play in 4 play a bit trickier I think).
How can E/W go wrong?
Jan. 19
Craig Zastera edited this comment Jan. 19
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I do believe that it is clear in our agreements (because we follow the methods from Robson's book unless we've agreed to a specific exception, and Robson explicitly cites our exact OP auction as a case where 2NT is “scrambling) that 2NT by opener would be ”scrambling“.

It also seem likely (from the actual auction) that my partner ”forgot“ that 2NT by him would be scrambling as it is hard to imagine his choosing a 3 rebid while fully cognizant of the option of bidding a ”scrambling“ 2NT.

I'm also not sure why you refer to North hand as an ”ugly“ six-count. To me, it seems like a rather nice 6 count since the 6 HCPs come in the form of two Kings (about the best form for 6 HCPs) *and* the hand has a nice 5 card major *and* the hand has a doubleton with no wasted secondary honors in overcaller's suit.

I would agree that some ”ugly" 6 HCP hands should probably pass over (2) overcall, but OP hand does not seem to me to be one of them.
Jan. 19
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Rafael,
Not entirely clear how complete auction would go playing forcing new suit advances. Still judgment required.
But I think:
(1) 1 (P) 2
(Pass) 3 (P) ??
is pretty clear.

At that point, advancer has a choice between 3 and 3NT
(even 3 would be a possibility I suppose).

I think I would choose 3, although that hides our stopper and makes reaching 3NT unlikely. Over 3, I think overcaller would raise to 4.

But if advancer bids 3NT instead (of 3), that will most likely end the auction, and it is far from clear that 3NT is where we belong with only :Kx stopper as we would need to be able to run 9 tricks without loss after a lead.

In fact, with actual pair of hands, it seems to me that 3NT will not make after a lead as we have only 8 fast tricks (5 s, 1 , 2 s), while defense will be ready to score 4 s and the A. Probably need a minor miracle in the suit (e.g. opening bidder has a stiff honor) to make 3NT.

4 is also far from cold, but may have better play than 3NT.
Actually, neither game seems that great to me, so perhaps stopping in a partial on these cards despite 26 HCPs will not be a disaster.
Jan. 19
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Generally agree with your comment, except that double then convert 3 to 3 sounds more like four s and 5 s (imagine OP hand with red suits reversed).
Particularly given that OP conditions are *matchpoints*, playing in 3 instead of 3 when both make could be a disaster.

There is also the issue of what opener's 3 means.
IMO, it should show 5(+) s, else a “scrambling” 2NT.

Of course, over such a “scrambling” 2NT, OP North (me) would still
have to make a non-trivial (IMO) choice between 3 and 3.
Jan. 19
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I will quote directly from Robson's “Partnership Bidding..”
where he happens to discuss this *exact* auction.

In general, Robson is a “fan” of using 2NT in competitive auctions as “Good/Bad” (aka “lebensohl”) rather than as “scrambling.”

But there are a few specific auction types where he consider it to be so “obvious” that 2NT should be used as “scrambling” that he cites them as exceptions:

“‘SCRAMBLING’
So when is 2NT a ‘scramble’ opposite a
take-out double?
The answer is: when it should be!

Generally, then, 2NT is Lebensohl in
response to a take-out double.
It is always so when your opponents bid
over the double
. . . .
If, however, the enemy has bid to
2/2, your partner makes a take-out
double, and your RHO passes - 2NT is
scrambling in the following, and only
the following three situations:

(a) In strictly protective auctions
. . . .

(b) When you or your partner has bid
1NT
For example:
i. West North East South
-- -- -- 1NT
2 DBL Pass *2NT*

. . . .

In these auctions, one of you has
gone so far towards limiting your
high-card strength by bidding 1NT,
that a Lebensohl 2NT would be redundant.
And it is more efficient to use 2NT
to help find the best strain than
as a natural bid.

(c) When responder to the double has already
had one chance to bid a Lebensohl 2NT“
Jan. 19
Craig Zastera edited this comment Jan. 19
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Surprised that there is so much objection to the double.

Isn't it “normal” to double with a balanced hand with appropriate stoppers that is too strong for a 1NT overcall?
Jan. 19
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The trouble with that seemingly appealing idea is that you now have no way to compete with say a 1=4=4=4 6-7 count.
Just the hand type where competition by our side is likely to be winning action.
Jan. 19
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