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All comments by Craig Zastera
ATB
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Generally speaking, it is unsound to raise partner's weak 2 to the 3 level without 3 trump. Thus, McCabe, being a raise of partner's suit to the 3 level, should normally deliver 3 trump.

If you want to try it with a doubleton, perhaps it will work out, but it is flying in the face of Law of Total Tricks and, hence, would not be the expected trump holding for a raise to the 3 level.

I do think the use of McCabe on OP hand here is odd with good *4* card trump support and no reason to discourage partner from leading one with *K*xxx. My choice would have been an immediate 4.
Aug. 8, 2018
ATB
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McCabe is exactly a raise to 3 with the additional message that if opening bidder winds up on lead, he should lead a rather than a if he does not have a safe sequence in s.

So, McCabe bid should normally show exactly 3 s (just as a raise to 3 would) and *not* be invitational to game.

Those s are ideally “xxx”, maybe Txx or Jxx.

I think it is even *less* likely for a McCabe bidder to have only a doubleton then for a 3 raise to deliver such.

Although I'm not a fan of raising weak 2s to 3 with a doubleton, one might do it with Ax or Kx, even Qx and an otherwise suitable hand (particularly NV).

But the McCabe bid specifically says “caution: bad s: do not lead without a sequence”, hence making this bid with a (bad) doubleton is very dubious.
Aug. 8, 2018
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Looks textbook for 3 at this vulnerability.
Rule of “2/3/4” suggests we ought to have 7 tricks in hand for a VUL vs. NOT 3 bid.
Just what we have if we assume only 1 trump loser.

At any other vulnerability, 4 of course. At favorable VUL, might even make a case for 5 !
Aug. 8, 2018
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Funny, I think it is close between 1NT and double.

2 suggests a 6 card suit (or at least a 5 carder with better intermediates).

I picked 1NT as that seems like a fine 1 bid description.
Sure it is OK to double with only 3 s, but I don't go out of my way to do so when a more descriptive bid is available.

Also, we play *natural* NF 2 level suit advances, so partner can get out in 2, 2, or 2 with 5.
Aug. 7, 2018
ATB
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It would be nice to find useful meanings for both 3 and DBL by opener (in addition to the “usual” pass with nothing special to say).

It doesn't make too much sense to me for “dbl” to show a defensive hand–opener can't have enough to want to double (3) for penalties and, with a good defensive hand, would not want to “warn off” the opponents from bidding (4).

Thus, I think perhaps both 3 and DBL ought to show species of good/better than expected *offensive* hands.

But the exact distinction is not clear to me.
Perhaps one should show short s (e.g. stiff) while the other should show length with a fitting card.
Aug. 7, 2018
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Well, guess it's time to post the “answer”.

I'm not sure if the winning lead is “figure-out-able”.
I thought maybe it was when I posted the problem, but maybe I was suffering from resultitus.

Anyway:
K: -2
A: -1 if you shift to K. Otherwise, (4) makes 4
3: (4) makes 4
: (4) makes 5

Declarer's hand:
A8-AQJT654-AT2-9
Dummy's hand:
Q96-8-J754-KQT76
Therefore, partner's hand:
KJT7542-932-9-82

K seems appealing as opposed to a since we are not looking for a ruff but partner might be.

Sure, I suppose could be right as partner did bid that suit, so that is where his (few) values likely lie, and we may come to 4 tricks routinely if we don't blow one on the lead.
Not today, though.
Aug. 7, 2018
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To me partner's bidding should show maximum defense, minimum offense, maximum HCP values.
Therefore, he should have:
9-10 HCP
exactly 3 s, probably weak (xxx)
flat shape (4333 ideal–3 s)
value(s) in s:
As little as Ax might be OK, but expect 3.

So lead is easily eliminated.

A lead could be right, but I think the doubleton stands out. Partner likely has values there and we are leading the suit through doubler who likely also has values.
There seems like quite a reasonable chance of getting a ruff.
Aug. 7, 2018
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This type of question can be answered definitively by simulations.

You know your exact hand.

You know East is 15-17 balanced (actually, you didn't say what range their 1NT is, but whatever it is, easy to specify in a simulation). You can even specify criteria about 5 card majors, 6 card minors, whatever.

You can describe all the hand types with which West would bid a direct 3NT–balanced 10-14 with no major. Perhaps 4333 even with a 4 card major. Some hands with 6 of a minor headed by AK. Whatever you think would bid 1N-3N–all are easy to include in a simulation specification.
Maybe some balanced 9 counts with a 5 card minor.

Don't forget partner–he is a passed hand, so no hands suitable for a pre-empt.

Since it is matchpoints, you can also ask the simulator to determine the best lead even when the contract makes.

I tried this with 1000 deals.
3NT made on 891 of them.
At matchpoints, Q is by far the best lead.
Q was best on 748 deals, while 4 was best on only 623.
Even 3 (648) was better than a low .

I repeated the analysis with the same 1000 deals for IMPs (i.e. only interested in hands where 3NT can be beaten).

There were only 109 of these, so if really interested I would do a larger simulation. Might even reduce the upper strength limit for West hands to get a higher percentage where 3NT can be beaten (but must be careful when doing that as it might introduce a bias when a certain lead is best chance to beat 3N even when they have extra HCPs).

Anyway, on this limited sample of 109 deals where 3NT could be beaten, Q was also best (66 deals) followed by 3 (62 deals). 4 was successful on only 49 deals (8: 51 deals).
Aug. 7, 2018
ATB
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I'm simply referring to the common agreement that bidding immediately to the (minimum) contract to which we are forced (by our previous bidding) in a competitive auction is the weakest action.

I commented elsewhere that in this particular auction, there may be good reason to adopt a different agreement (at the cost of perhaps creating excessive complexity by having to remember additional rules).
Aug. 7, 2018
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Passing is unthinkable, particularly at IMPs.

Partner could have up to 18 HCPs and might well have a good hand with 3 s (Bridge World death hand).

I suppose 2 is possible, but that usually shows 6 or at worst 5 with good intermediates.

2NT is not pleasant, but seems like the least bad choice.
Aug. 7, 2018
ATB
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Steve,
In my partnerships, we have a rule similar to what you describe–in a competitive auction bidding to the level to which we are forced immediately is the weakest action. Pass instead would be stronger.

But this auction makes me wonder if that is the best agreement in this case (although without discussion, I think it would have to apply by default).

Here, it is undesirable to bid or double (3) unless it conveys some relatively unusual message which justifies giving the opponents more options than they would have if opener just passed.

So having a “fit” for partner's s along with a stiff and good s would be such a reason–we just might be able to make 4 opposite some hands with which partner would not ordinarily bid it (picture AQTxxxx-x-Qxx-xxx opposite, say, Kxx-xxxx-AKxxx-x which likely will make *5* s).

With a hand like that, opener's bidding 3 over (3) would be justified because of the potential gain (bidding and making an unexpected game).

But most normal 2 openers should just pass in order to minimize the enemy bidding options.

So in this case, I do not think it is best to play that opener's pass over (3) shows a better hand than bidding 3. Pass should just be opener's normal action with nothing unusual to show beyond his original 2 opener.
Aug. 7, 2018
ATB
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With proper agreements, 3 might be good with one fewer (and the golden Q, this good suit, perhaps a third ).

The agreement might be “my hand became offensively significantly better after your 3 McCabe so that, depending on your hand, we might want to compete to 4 (perhaps making).” Sort of a () fit-showing 3.

But actual hand with the doubleton I think is not quite special enough to send a “special” message like this.

Besides, OP said that they had no special agreement about 3, hence bidding it is not a good idea.
Aug. 6, 2018
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If you pass (1) and the bidding continues:
(1NT)-P-(P)-? to you, if your agreements are such that DBL by you now shows a stack with opening values (as is apparently quite common from results of a recent bidding poll I did on that auction), you will be stuck.

Therefore, you might have to anticipate this and make a call directly over (1), whether it be 1 or double.
Aug. 6, 2018
ATB
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Then I think it is a really bad idea to make a bid that can only torture partner into wondering what special hand you are trying to show that is different from what it would have meant had you just passed.

Ideally, the partnership should have a specific agreement about pass vs. 3 vs. double (if that is possible). Then, North can choose the call that best fits his hand.

Otherwise, not only is sticking in a gratuitous undefined 3 bid a bad idea because it tortures partner, it is also bad because it gives the opposition several more options which they would not have had had North just passed (3).

If they are a well-tuned partnership, they may be able to use those extra options to good effect.
Aug. 6, 2018
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I don't understand your cute options.
My choice is 3.

Logically, this must show some values and probably a 6 card suit. It is definitely not forcing. But if partner has a great hand for playing s, he is not required to pass.

I think a double here would not be a “maximal overcall game invite.” Rather, it would be a penalty suggestion, but pullable if partner prefers playing s to defending s.
Aug. 6, 2018
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My pass is also influenced by by the fact that we play new suit advances FORCING. This is part of the “transfer advance” structure.

When overcall is in the suit directly above opener's, there actually are no TAs, but new suits below the cue-bid are still played as forcing. The cue-bid is therefore an unambiguous strong raise of overcaller's suit.
Aug. 6, 2018
ATB
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However one feels N/S (mostly South) should judge the relative offensive vs. defensive potential of their hands, South gets all the blame because his bidding is inconsistent.

His “McCabe” 3 suggests a hand that
(a) only wants to compete to 3
and
(b) wants to set up the defense (i.e. a lead) vs.
their 4 level contract.

Had South just bid 4 at his first turn, that would be OK even if it didn't turn out well.

Had South made his “funny” McCabe bid and then elected to defend (4), that would have been OK.

I do think North's 3 bid is goofy too. What is the point of that? Does it have some well-defined meaning in this partnership that this North hand fits perfectly? I doubt it.

The most logical meaning of 3, I suppose, would be to discourage South from bidding any higher (bidding to the level we're forced to immediately in competition is the weakest action).
But:
(a) North has no reason to think South is planning on
bidding 4 anyway (inconsistent with McCabe)
and
(b) Why would North want to send such a message given
he's got good s and a fitting card?
Aug. 6, 2018
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I debated between 6 and 6.

Went with 6 (the honest bid), but perhaps 6 would have been better.

Of course, if we had agreements such that 6 vs. 6 bids here suggested s vs. s respectively, that would certainly tip the balance to 6.

The argument against that interpretation is why not just 5m if that was the message I wanted to send?
Aug. 6, 2018
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I agree with this view.

Don't start out with 1 guaranteeing you will misdescribe your relative suit lengths.

Instead, bid your longest suit first like a normal person and hope the auction develops in a way that allows you to suggest s later.

There is a reasonable chance that you might get to bid some sort of competitive artificial 2NT later.
If not, just rebid your 6 card suit to show a minimum opener with 6 s–still not a lie–and await developments (if any).

I believe that with 5=6 shape a reverse can be made with considerably fewer HCPs than “usual”. But not this few.

If I couldn't stand to open 1, I would much rather pass this hand and back in later (extremely likely I will get a chance to describe my minor 2-suiter later in the auction).

But Leonard has carefully constructed this hand so that an initial PASS is not too appealing even to a “sound initial action” guy like me. So I go with 1.
Aug. 6, 2018
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Jyri,
It sounds like your style is similar to mine.

And I think a fair number of players would take my double on this auction type (where responder's 1NT has been passed around to me) as “penalties.”

But how about when responder raises opener's suit, whether it be a major or a minor–say (1)-P-(2)-P-(P)-DBL ??

Is double now still penalty? I have found by asking that the number of players who think that one is penalties is *MUCH* smaller–most interpret this balancing double after a raise as “take-out” with a hand that was too weak for a direct double of RHO's 1X opening but now in balancing seat wishes to compete.

How about if responder's bid was a *weak* jump raise to 3X:
(1)-P-(3)-P-(P)-DBL ??
Still a “light” Take out?
Or is it now the penalty type–maybe opener has :xxx or even a doubleton.
One could argue that a TO shape hand too light to double (1) originally can't be balancing for TO at the 3 level.

And how about if opener rebids his suit:
(1)-P-(1NT)-P-(2)-DBL ???

I actually think this one is still the “penalty” double hand type (i.e. same hand that would have doubled if opener had passed (1NT)). But I'm not sure support for that view would be as strong when opener rebids his suit.

Interested in everyones' views on these auction types.
Aug. 6, 2018
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