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All comments by Craig Zastera
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I answered “5”, but I really mean “5+” as I think he could have 6 weakish s. 5 is the minimum number I think he could have.
July 27, 2018
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Because I have a two-suiter in the reds.

One could actually make a case that this 4 (after rebidding 3) should be 6 key-card ask for both red suits, but I didn't want to go there.
July 27, 2018
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The 4 jump cannot be natural since 3 would be 100% game forcing (and natural).

With a bad hand (less than GF) and support, responder would bid 2NT Lebensohl and then correct 3 to 3.
Note:
opener does not HAVE to bid 3 over this Lebensohl 2NT
if he has either 19+ HCPs or 6+ s and very short s.

If he bids 3 instead, that is passable and shows
6+ s and very short s.

If he has enough to GF over a minimum response, he bids
anything higher than 3.
July 27, 2018
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Whether a competitive 2NT should be “scrambling” or “good/bad” in various specific auctions is an unresolvable controversy.

In my partnerships, we favor the “good/bad” interpretation whenever it seems that game might still be possible our way
(which is most of the time, I think).

We have specifically agreed that “good/bad” can still apply when responder has not taken a call, particularly in situations where he could still have fair values with no good way to show them. This OP auction is, I think, an example of such, since without a stopper or 4+ s, responder might have as much as, say, 6-8 points with no good call available over the 1 overcall.

As I said earlier, though, in situations like this the “threshhold” for a “good” 3 level bid vs. a “bad” 2NT is higher than it would be in auctions where responder has promised some values (e.g. with a negative double).

So in this auction type, even a “bad” 2NT (planning to compete to 3m) ought to show something close to a 3m jump rebid in an uncontested auction, while a “good” 3m should show 18-19+ or the equivalent in playing strength.

In this exact OP auction, I think the alternate interpretation you suggest (6 s and 4 s or some such) has some merit as it could be critical to find the right minor at the 3 level when responder is e.g. 3=3=5=2.

However, as Leonard suggested, had the opening bid been 1, the case for “6=4 minors” would be much weaker.

Anyway, with all the possible meanings for competitive 2NT, if the agreements get too esoteric, madness may ensue.
So we stick to “Good/bad”, unless the answer to the question “does it seem that game could still be possible our way” is a definite “No.” Only in that case do we allow the 2NT to be scrambling.
July 27, 2018
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Well, I am happy to report that today before the start of the morning club game at ESBC I casually asked my regular partner (who is not a BW reader):

“What do you think this sequence shows:
1-2-3-3-3NT-4 ???”

With scarcely a pause for thought, he replied:
“Has to be Kickback for s.”

“Right”, I said happily.

“What else could it be?”, he said, “if you had s, you would have bid them the previous round.”

“Of course”, I said. “Sorry to bother you with such an obvious question.”
July 27, 2018
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Michael,
There are degrees of goodness.

“Good/Bad” 2NT (by opener) still applies on auctions like this even though responder has passed over the (1) overcall.

However, I will agree that the minimum required for “good” in a situation where partner is expected to be fairly weak should be higher than in situations where partner has shown some values (e.g. he made a negative double) and, correspondingly, what is needed for opener to bid again at all when partner is likely weak (as here) is higher (in terms of either HCPs strength, playing strength, or both) is also higher.

With that in mind, perhaps the actual South hand should be content with a “bad” 2NT, planning just to compete to 3, even with 16 HCPs. Probably a “good” 3 here should show more, i.e. enough to think that game might still be possible even though responder could not find a call over the (1) overcall.
July 26, 2018
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Oh, I see. Sorry.
July 26, 2018
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That could work, but gives up on other meanings for 4NT that could be useful in some auctions, e.g. 1-2-2N-4N or 1-2-3N-4N, etc.

Not saying your suggestion is no good. I'm only saying that
Kickback partnerships must discuss these things.

A default Kickback agreement that I believe Larry Cohen advocated (and I think played) was that “if it could be Kickback, then it is Kickback”, i.e. deciding all ambiguous, undiscussed cases in favor of Kickback whenever that was a possible interpretation.

One possible problem with your idea is that I currently do not use 4NT as a keycard ask except in s in any auction.
This would then have to be an exception.

That is not fatal–I've encountered other auctions (hard to define just what they are, but they do occur)–where the auction is beyond the Kickback bid (typically in a minor) when I first realize that keycard ask would be useful.

In such cases, it might be good to have 4NT defined as a fallback keycard ask. Haven't done that because it is hard to define exactly what the auction has to look like in order for this “fallback keycard asking” 4NT to apply.
July 26, 2018
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You need Kickback because you need to find out about the K and/or Q. So you need to ask for keycards in s.

One possible agreement (different from above) would be:
* If responder makes a 2/1 and then AT HIS NEXT TURN
* makes the Kickback call in his suit, then his bid
* is Kickback.

With this agreement, 1-2-any-4 would be Kickback for s.
But that agreement makes it impossible to show, say, a “picture bid” raise with s (or whatever other natural definition you might want to assign to such a delayed 4).

So the other way to get to bid Kickback for s after partner's 1 opening would be to start with 2 and then not show support at your second turn either.
But this could run afoul of auctions where partner shows 6+ s, whence you might reasonably want to bid 4 natural with a doubleton, e.g. 1-2-2-any-3-4 (natural?)
July 26, 2018
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So my comments below were meant to complement your logic by suggesting a possible meaning for partner's sequence.

I agree that responder cannot bid this way with 3+ card support (must show that support earlier).

And I also agree that it makes no sense for responder to be pulling 3NT to 4 naturally with a doubleton .

Didn't Sherlock Holmes say something along the lines of “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”?
July 26, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment July 26, 2018
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Well, sometimes you cannot get an “unambiguously agreed suit.”

So the question is:
If partner opens 1 and you have a GF, slam interest hand with self sufficient s that just wants to ask for key-cards in s, how do you do it in a partnership that plays “Kickback”?

While thinking about that, here is a possible (suggested) 2/1 GF bidding guideline which I find quite reasonable:

>>> If partner opens 1M, and we have a GF hand with 3+
>>> card support for partner's major, we must show that
>>> support at either our first our second turn.

>>> If we fail to do that, we do not have 3+ card support.

Now while that is not quite enough to determine that responder's 4 on the OP auction cannot be natural (but with only a doubleton by the above principle), I find
it hard to justify pulling partner's 3NT to 4 on a doubleton when partner has done nothing to suggest he has more than 5 s and has both bid s (the only suit where responder might be short) and said he wants to play 3NT.
July 26, 2018
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Assuming your partnership plays Kickback, how should responder have bid with:
x-AQJT9x-KQJTx-x ?
July 26, 2018
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4=4=1=5 hands are hard to bid regardless of methods :-)
July 26, 2018
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4NT undoubled -1 is a fine sacrifice vs. South's cold 4.

E/W limits vs. best defense are 7 tricks in NT and 8 in either major.

Seriously, how did 4N -1 score?

If I had held each of these hands, the bidding would have been:
3-4-all pass.
Perhaps -2 for a worse result than OP, and at best -1 to tie.
July 26, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment July 26, 2018
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Wow–with *that* South hand, I'd be bidding 3 “good” over East's 2. I guess it doesn't pay to try to figure out what the opponents' hands are.
July 26, 2018
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I think if 1-2 is played as GF, then responder with a four card major, 5+ , and GF values should definitely start with 2. This establishes a GF so later bidding will be more relaxed.

When the opening bid is 1, I prefer a 2 response even with four s and only four s when I have solid GF strength in order to establish the game force immediately.
Auctions that start 1-1 can turn awkward when responder
has GF values and the final strain is unclear.

I don't extend that idea to responding 2 over a 1 opening with a four card major and only a *four* card suit with GF values, but maybe I should.

More 2/1 stylistic differences arise after 1-2 as to how opener should continue.

Some believe that 2M rebid by opener should promise 4 in the major *and* 5+ s.

Others would generally rebid 2 whenever they hold 5+ s and wait for responder to show a four card major over that.

Another point of disagreement is whether a 2NT rebid by opener denies a four card major. Personally, I tend to choose this rebid even with 4=4=3=2 or 4=4=4=1 shape, as well as with 4=3=4=2 and 3=4=4=2, but rarely with a hand containing 5 s, which would typically rebid 2 but might exceptionally try 2NT with 3=3=5=2, strong holdings in both majors, and very weak s.
July 26, 2018
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Well, there is no telling how opponents might bid, particularly in a club game.

I certainly would not produce the given auction as either North or South. With the North hand I would have responded 1NT, while with the South hand I would have bid 2NT (Good/Bad) over (2) in order to compete to 3.

I will note that on your construction, South makes 3 (4 if A not led) and even 3, while E/W make 2 (but only if West picks up the trump).
July 25, 2018
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Seems unlikely to me that South with a pretty decent hand would have passed out 2 with a stiff .
July 25, 2018
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I agree with the point about the 4m jumps being natural (and slammish) *IF* you have some short-suit showing mechanism available at a lower level (otherwise, they are splinters).

A good example is auctions that start 1M-2M.

In some methods, including mine, some mechanism for making “short suit” tries is available. We use the cheapest bid as a relay showing a SS try in an unspecified suit.

While these “tries” are usually *game* tries, they can be slam tries.

Therefore, 4m jumps–1M-2M-4m–should be defined as natural, long suit slam tries (generally at least 5=5).

But when the auction has gone 1m-1M-2M, it is likely that opener does not have a low level SS try mechanism available because most play “spiral” or some similar mechanism to inquire about 3 vs. 4 card trump support and hand strength.

In that case, one loses the natural, slammish 4m jump rebids and reverts to the catch-all rule that suit jumps are splinters when a lower bid in the same suit would have been forcing.
July 25, 2018
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It seems to me that if your system is such that 3 promises some hand (e.g. more values) that you don't have, you should not have bid 3.

Partner is entitled to assume that your hand is among those consistent with your previous bidding according to your agreed methods.

I'm not commenting as to whether or not 3 is a good “tactical” call with your hand.

But I am saying that if you think it is, then your system ought not define this call as *guaranteeing* a better hand.

And, conversely, if your methods unequivocally define this 3 as promising more values than you have, then you simply have to forgo that call this time and perhaps discuss changing your systemic definition of what such a call promises to allow for a “light tactical bid.”

If you have somehow made a bid for which you know you don't have the minimum values partner has a right to expect, then there is really no solution to your present dilemma.

You can't tell whether partner's double is so solid that (3X) is down despite your lack of values, or whether he has based his double on the assumption that you have what you've promised.

So either action (passing partner's double or pulling to 4) is just a guess.
I guessed to pull, but I think the real answer is to make sure your calls don't grossly violate any explicit systemic agreements.
July 25, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment July 25, 2018
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