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All comments by Craig Zastera
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Michael,
I would have a choice between passing (2), or making a penalty oriented double, or bidding 2, which would have to show four only s and, therefore also s, else I would have overcalled 1 in the first place, which, BTW, is another possible option with hands similar to the ones you suggest, but perhaps with slightly better four card suits (all those “x”s in your examples).
Sept. 12, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Sept. 12, 2018
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If opener raised his partner's suit (e.g. (1)-(1)-(2)), then I could double (2) showing a TO double of s.

But if opener rebids *his* suit (e.g. (2)), then I believe that a double is a penalty double of s, *not* a TO double of responder's suit (s in this example).
Sept. 12, 2018
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Thanks Patrick.
So it appears that I answered the question you intended.

If East ruffs the 3rd round of s with 9 (or 8 or 7), declarer's best play is probably to pitch a second (he already pitched one on the 2nd round of s).
This will always succeed in making 6 unless East can immediately give his partner a ruff in a major suit (i.e. if West started with a or void and 1+ s).

The alternative is to over-ruff East's . This will certainly succeed also if East started with 2 or 3 s.
And if he started with a stiff (hence 10 major suit cards), over-ruff will succeed on a major suit squeeze against East whenever he holds sole guard of both majors
(which means :QJT9 always *or* any 5+ s and :KQJ9).
Sept. 12, 2018
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all penalty. No double the first time ==> don't have a TO double hand.
Sept. 12, 2018
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Craig,
I do not understand your alleged trump squeeze line.

Neglecting the detail that declarer will have Qx and a at the end (not Ax as you show), I do not see how opponent with K is squeezed.

He just keeps :Kx and whichever red winner he holds (either the long or the K) in the three card ending.
The other defender guards the other red suit.

Your line would work if same defender had K, 5 s, *and* K.
Sept. 12, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Sept. 12, 2018
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I'm not quite sure what scenario you are envisioning.
Presumably you are considering “line 1” with East ruffing the *3rd* round of s with a small . But it is not clear if this is your scenario as you also say “9 stiff” which would suggest East ruffing on *2nd* round of s.

Anyway if E ruffs *3rd* , declarer has two options:
(a) discard a .
This will succeed in making 6 unless West has a
major suit void, and a , and East gives West a ruff.
That is pretty remote, so this is probably best

(b) over-ruff
This will succeed unless East has ruffed with a stiff
small , in which case over-ruffing will likely
fail as it promotes a trick for West.
But even when that happens, there is still a small
chance of success via a major suit squeeze on East
which will succeed whenever East started with 5+ s
(or :QJT9) and :KQJ9x (or any 6).
Sept. 12, 2018
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Can improve the “Range Stayman” structure by not using 2M (here 2) reply as natural (not really too useful unless trying to field psychs).

Once you decide to give up natural 2M replies to RS, there are various schemes you can use to add more definition. For example,
you could use 2 and 2OM to show lower range (11-12)
with and without 4 cards in OM.
2M reply can show middle range (13-14) with 4 cards
in OM, while 2NT shows same strength range with fewer
than 4 cards in OM.
Upper range (15-16) can reply at the 3 level.
Sept. 11, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Sept. 11, 2018
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One could make a case for passing originally instead of making a negative double on this scrawny hand.

But once you've decided to enter the auction (with the negative double), you have to pretend that you have the values promised by that call.

That is, partner has doubled 2 for penalties, and you must live with his decision.

Let's hope the K turns out to be an effective lead for the defense.
Sept. 10, 2018
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If you wouldn't pass with this hand, when would you?
You have a near minimum TO double and have already said that. It was up to partner to make some noise if he was interested in contesting the auction.
Sept. 10, 2018
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I don't think the two are quite the same.
When you open, there is no presumption that partner's hand will be ill-fitting.

But here, partner's 1 opening in our singleton increases the odds of a misfit. If partner has some sort of a minimum black 2-suiter, these two hands will not likely produce a game.

I am not necessarily arguing that a (GF) 2 response if the wrong choice here. Just that it wouldn't be a shock if it resulted in our reaching a no-play game.

But one advantage to starting with 2 is that it will at least allow us to describe our red 2-suiter.
Starting with 1NT, even if that call were 100% forcing, would likely not allow us to describe our 2-suiter with (at least) game invitational strength.
Sept. 10, 2018
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I think he was concerned about the auctions that would go 1-1N-Pass.
This would typically occur if opener is 5(332) with 12-13 HCPs.
Hands with a 4 card suit (or 6 s) would typically rebid after a “semi-forcing” 1NT response.
Sept. 9, 2018
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This is not really a good hand for playing 1-3 as natural, invitational.

I play that method and *might* choose a 3 response as “least of evils”, but I would not be happy with it for two reasons:
(1) the suit is quite weak for 3
(2) more importantly, these invitational jumps are
supposed to be single suiters, hence here we might
miss a vastly superior contract in s.
Say partner has:
Axxxx-x-Kxxxx-Ax

If you respond 3, you will languish there
(probably making 10+ tricks) while 7 is odd-on.
Sept. 9, 2018
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Extremely important IMO whether 1NT is 100% forcing or not.

Personally, I hate “semi-forcing”, and this OP hand is an example of why–the hands where opener will PASS a “semi-forcing” 1NT (balanced 12-13 HCPs) are exactly the ones where we have a decent fit in one or both red suits and, therefore, we do not want him to pass.

On this hand, if he passed 1NT with minimum 5+-5 in the blacks, that might be OK (but probably some suit contract *still* would be preferable), but of course he will not pass with that hand type.

So if 1NT were 100% forcing, I would not make a GF 2/1 response with this hand.

But if 1NT is not 100% forcing, I'm guessing (not sure as I don't play “semi-forcing” 1NT), that it is better to gamble with a GF 2 response.
Sept. 9, 2018
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I strongly prefer making WJO whenever possible to show my suit length more accurately.

But OP here specifies VUL vs. NOT, and I do not consider this hand good enough for 2 as this vulnerabilty because the suit is so “holey.” Imagine what might happen if all or most of those missing s were behind you.

So 2 with this hand at any other vulnerability, but 1 at unfavorable.
I play transfer advances, so partner would show s via 2.
Unclear if I should accept (which just means I would have passed a constructive, NF 2) or rebid 2 instead.
If I accept, partner will return to 2 with a decent doubleton and 10 or so points.
Sept. 9, 2018
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Partner might prefer 2 to double with e.g. 5=4=1=3 because he would fear double might suggest 5=3=1=4 (possible responder reasoning: “if you'd had four s, you could have just rebid 2, so double suggests 5=3=1=4”).

If responder doubles now, why won't partner think this is more penalty oriented (after all, *he* has short s) rather than a competitive “grope” with mediocre support for both his suits plus s as a dark-horse strain?

Partner is still there to re-open (most likely with a double) if we pass (3) around to him, which seems like the best option to me (think about LOTT).

When he does that, we will still have a difficult strain decision, but better to be choosing one in response to his request than volunteering one on our own in direct seat.
Sept. 9, 2018
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Once you have decided that you are strong enough to balance (as opposed to passing the deal out in (1m)), then if you have appropriate distribution for a Michaels cue-bid, that is the call you should choose.

Whether the minimum strength required for a Michaels cue-bid in balancing seat should be higher than what would be required in direct seat is a different issue.

For me, I don't make MCBs in direct seat on garbage, and I do not think I would require much, if any, more to make one in balancing seat.
Sept. 9, 2018
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The 3 splinter seems obvious, with but one worry–sometimes partner, for his 2 response doesn't have real s–he might have a balanced GF hand, perhaps with 3 card support.

That is OK. We still splinter with 3. But if partner next bids 3, that is natural and sets s as trump.
Sept. 8, 2018
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This was a real-world problem.

My partner led a low with this hand, which I was *sure* was a poor choice on the given auction.

It is fairly easy to simulate this problem as opener's hand is extremely well defined, and the set of hands for which responder would bid Puppet Stayman and subside in 3NT is also fairly easy to characterize.

I did such a simulation (5000 deals). The frequency results for how often each card in this hand was a “best lead” (best lead means defense can still take maximum possible number of defensive tricks after starting with this lead) were as follows:

A: 3046 5: 3567 3/2: 3572
8: 3653 4/2: 3661
K: 1366 8: 2577 5/4/2: 2708
6: 3033

The above is for matchpoints (actual case).
In case anyone is interested in IMP lead frequencies for this hand (where only beating the contract matters), here they are for the same 5000 deals (3NT beatable on 914 of them):

A: 441 5: 461 3/2: 464
8: 490 4/2: 490
K: 197 8: 358 5/4/2: 385
6: 262

On the actual deal, leader's partner held:
KQJT8-976-6-J432
while declarer had:
964-AKQ-Q3-AKQT7
and dummy:
7-JT53-AJT97-985
So, on real-deal only a lead (any) defeats 3NT.
On any other lead, declarer can make 12 tricks (and surely will after a lead).

BTW, in case anyone looks at the above figures and wonders how there can be a difference between 5 vs. 3/2 lead, here is one deal where 3/2 can defeat 3NT but 5 cannot:
West: K9-QT53-T63-J942
East: Q87-AJ7-AQJ-AQ73
North: JT64-K96-97-KT85
South: A532-842-K8542-6

The other deals with similar result were interestingly different, but I will not reproduce them here.
Sept. 6, 2018
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Nothing could be less unilateral than responder's “bypassing” game after:
(a) she has initiated slam probe via 4 splinter
(b) *we* have co-operated with partner's try by
cue-biding s (while denying control)

So what would be “unilateral” would be for *us*, having described our values, control, slam interest, and lack of control, to continue above 4 when partner has explicitly told us not to.
Sept. 6, 2018
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My point was that partner's 4 on this auction 100% denies a control, so there is no need for us to bid again regardles of whether or not the 5 level might be safe.

If partner had a control, it was his responsibility to bid something other than 4 over our slam co-operative 4.
Sept. 6, 2018
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