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All comments by Craig Zastera
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I don't think you can make 11 tricks (DD or any other way) on a lead.
July 31, 2018
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I don't see special circumstances here mitigating against their finding a penalty double of our 3 when it is right.

In fact, the way I play (and this is not too uncommon), the ostensibly “weak” (2) jump opposite a passed partner can deliver a better hand than one might envision, particularly as (if) advancer has a (perhaps modified) Ogust 2NT available for when he has a decent hand with a fit.

Thus, even the (2) bidder might find a double of 3 when he has max HCPs and defensive orientation.
July 31, 2018
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Very true. And no one can say that your choice (or 3) won't be the winner.

But a big problem I see with a 3m (either one) balance is that such a call doesn't promise much.
This would be even more true at matchpoints than IMPs, and more true at different vulnerabilities (OPer has set up the problem conditions to make the liklihood of a very weak 3m balance as low as possible).

But even under OP conditions, a balancing 3m can be based on a decent long suit and a side card. Certainly it does not promise even sound opening bid strength (although it surely could deliver that much).

Thus, the 3m balance here suffers from two problems:
*partner will not be confident that your hand is anywhere
near as strong as it is, hence may pass when game is on.

*you may pick the “wrong” suit when we can do much
better in the other minor, yet partner passes your call.

At least 4 or 4N (whichever fits the system) offers the advantages of describing a minor 2-suiter, so that we will get to the “right” one when it matters.

And, it indicates a pretty strong hand (which this one is), so that we will reach 5m (or even 6m).

Even if 3NT makes (and I think there are more ways 5m can make with 3N failing than the other way around, e.g. give
pard: xxxx-xxx-xx-KQ8x), since we are playing IMPs it will be OK to be in the minor suit game.
July 31, 2018
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Excellent, Richard–a specific agreement about the distinction so that the “two-tier” method may actually lead to better decisions.

So the OP hand is an “excellent” 5 loser hand (excellent becuase if has aces and kings *and* the suit has the powerful JT9 to back up the ace without reducing the hand's loser count).
In fact, using “New losing trick count”, this hand has only 4.5 *and* a “plus value” for the good secondaries).

So it would seem that it easily qualifies for 4NT using your criteria without even taking balancing position into account.
July 31, 2018
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I'm not so sure about the “getting doubled is rare.”

At my local club, and even in sectionals/regionals, I would agree.

But one of the biggest differences I've noticed when playing in national pairs events (not that I've played in so many) is that the opponents are *astonishingly* (to me until I started to expect it) ready to double us in part-scores (particulary at the 3 level in comp as in OP) when our side is vulnerable.

For awhile, I was taking what seemed like totally routine pushes to the 3 level VUL, only to get doubled for -200, whereas at “the club” this never would have happened and we'd reel in our nice result for -100.

I think that the stronger players realize that (at matchoints), they are not risking much by doubling our competition to 3 over their happily bid 2 because -140 was not going to be worth much to them anyway, whereas a +200 will be a near top.
July 31, 2018
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The compelling reason is the 5 card major.

I always find it uncomfortable to open 1NT with a 5 card major because the risk of missing a superior fit in that major is very real and occurs relatively often.

That does not mean I never open 1NT with a 5CM.
With only 15 HCPs I do so often as “least of evils”. However, I might still open 1 if I have 3=5 majors and will be content to raise a 1 response to 2.

With 16, rarely with 5 s, more often with 5 s, because after 1M-1N, 2m on three is expected, but after 1-1 it is not.

With 17, least often of all for either major–if I can convince myself that 1-1-2NT won't be much of an overbid, I go with 1 instead of 1NT.

I try to decide on a case by case basis by thinking about how badly placed I will be if I open 1M and partner makes the most awkward response (for me).

But my bias is always in favor of 1M unless I am convinced that is likely to cause more problems than risking 1NT with my 5 card major.

Strength of the major suit and the overall “NT” vs. “suit” orientation of the hand are relevent also.
July 31, 2018
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David,
I have the same agreements as you and am also not sure it is best (I'm not sure I've ever had a hand where I wanted to jump to Blackwood over an opponent's weak 2).

The “two-tier” minors structure, though, requires clear partnership agreement as to exactly the distinction between 4M vs. 4N, i.e. where is the “dividing line”, or playing it is worse than useless.

Also, do the exact strength defintions and distinctions change for direct 4M/4N vs. balancing?
July 31, 2018
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I picked 3 like most others, but not because I'm looking for 3NT. I'm thinking slam might be in the cards.
My other considerations were big bids like 5NT, but thought starting with 3, planning on some minor suit follow-up to show my slam interest would be more prudent.

Shouldn't partner be (at least) 5=6 in the minors here?
If so, x-x-KJxxx-AKxxxx makes slam good enough, and he could have more.
July 31, 2018
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Well, contrary to the majority, I'm pretty comfortable with thinking this hand is strong enough to be showing both suits (rather than say a mere 3 balance).

But I guess I don't need to portray it as a “rock crusher with strong slam interest”, so using your treatments I would settle for 4NT
July 31, 2018
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I do not see that your first example hand is weaker than the OP hand.
July 30, 2018
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Agree. I made no comments on that post, yet found reading others' comments generally interesting.

I don't get the worry about “good use of this site.”
There seems to be plenty of space for any and all discussion topics.
Those that don't find a particular topic or discussion interesting can just skip to another.
July 30, 2018
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One could always claim that Lebensohl gives up the natural meaning of 2N even in the most obvious cases, e.g. advancing partner's double of a weak 2M or over their (2M) overcall of partner's 1NT.

But few make that argument as the benefits of Lebensohl (aka “good/bad 2NT”) in distinguishing two strength ranges are so overwhelming compared to the value of a natural 2NT.

In the current case:
(a) East is a passed hand
(b) the opponents have bid and raised s
© partner (West) has not volunteered NT
(d) if East had invitational values and s doubl
stopped, he could double (2).

Sure, you could probably construct some 11 count with specifically :AQ (doubleton), where doubling them at the 2 level doesn't appeal and you would prefer a natural 2NT.

But experience has shown that 2NT in competition as natural and for play is so rare while the need for an extra competitive bid (for various purposes) is so acute that natural 2NT in competition is all but extinct.

The usual alternative for a competitive 2NT is as some sort of a “scrambling” bid, possibly to offer a choice of minors with a 2 card length discrepency.

But in this OP auction, that alternative is unlikely to impossible given East's 1 response, while (as the OP deal shows strikingly) the value of having a way for East
to indicate the reason for his 3 level competition (shape or strength) is undeniable.
July 30, 2018
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I think the answer is “yes”, although few around here play that 1NT response is passable.
July 30, 2018
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Bob,
Happy to hear you agree with at least some of my comments.

Hard to understand your dislike for “G/B 2NT” in this auction. What do you think 2NT by East over (2) ought to mean?
I find “natural and game invitational” to be so unlikely to be useful as to be bizarre.

But perhaps there is some alternative to both “G/B” and “natural” that you think is superior?
July 30, 2018
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2N “minors” can be of the “OBAR BIDS” variety.

That is, partner with shape and modest values may be making the same call he would have made in balancing seat had (2) been passed around to him. So his bid can be based on the assumption that he is competing for the partscore to cover the (common) case where you have some HCPs but no shape and would thus find it hard to balance if (2) were to come around to you.

Thus, it is important to know partnership agreements.
If the partnership plays that this direct 2NT shows a seriously strong (offensive) hand, then the decision of what to do over (4) might be different.

My assumption is that particularly in “junior” bridge (about which I am certainly no expert), the 2NT call is likely to be of the “OBAR BIDS” variety.
Although the same (possibly erroneous) “juniors” reasoning might lead one to speculate that it is RHO's (4) call that might be based on light values and big shape.
July 30, 2018
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If the partnership does not have an explicit way to distinguish good vs. bad hands in competitive auctions, then they have various options:
(1) bid only with the good hands. Forgo bidding with
inadaquate HCPs even with good shape

(2) bid only with the light, shapely “competitive” hands.
Stronger hands (even with big shape) must double, but
that call hides the good shape.

(3) make same call (e.g. 3) with either hand type.
Hope that partner can “guess” what is going on
based on his hand and the sound of the auction
(but not your tempo).

If the partnership chooses (3), then opener's balancing “double” should be defined as “DSIP” when he has a hand that needs to know which type (values vs. shape) his partner has.

That is, if the partnership agreements are such that East's 3 bid is allowed on widely disparate hand types, then West needs a way to say “I'm willing to defend 3SX if you've got normal HCP values for your bidding, but want you to pull to 4 if you've bid on big shape and small values.”

So I definitely believe that in a type 3 partnership, West's double of 3 promises support. In effect, that call says:
“partner, I am unwilling to defend 3 undoubled.
Depending on your hand type, I either want to defend
(3X) or compete to 4. You look at your hand and
make the decision.”

I brought up “G/B 2NT” because I think that agreement is a far superior way to resolve “good hand vs. good shape” ambiguities in competitive auctions.
But if the partnership chooses not to adopt that convention *and* they wish to make highly ambiguous competitive bids, then they need some way to untangle that ambiguity.

Allowing East to bid 3 with a 4 count and good shape (as here) or with significantly more HCPs (and perhaps with less shape) *and* defining West's balancing double as unilaterally for penalties makes no sense at all.
July 30, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment July 30, 2018
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Need to know partnership agreements w.r.t meaning of 4 vs. 4NT.
If only one shows minors, I bid that.
If both show minors, I pick the one most consistent with my hand based on agreed distinction.

I picked 4 as in my partnerships only that call shows both minors.
July 30, 2018
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Richard,
Your comment makes no sense to me.

If you play “G/B”, then you can bid again with the East hand to show your long s with “modest” (to be charitable) values.

But if you don't have a mechanism to differetiate a competitive bid made on “shape and a prayer” from hands with actual values, then you must tread carefully, by which I mean you probably have to forgo bidding on the hands lacking high card values.

That you might like to bid on some of these hands (e.g.because of great shape) just means that you probably need to be playing a method that allows you to do so without misleading partner about your high card strength.

On OP deal here, West, perhaps wary about whether his partner actually has the values his bidding suggests, takes the most reasonable action with his excellent (in context) hand by making the most flexible call–a “do something intelligent” double to allow East to clarify his hand.

If East has full (HCP) values for his bidding, he passes the double.
But if he has actually bid on “air” as here, he clarifies by removing to 4.

So I stand by “East, twice over.”
July 30, 2018
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I'd bid 4 if I thought partner would read this as a void (as he probably should–3 with a stiff).

But lacking any well-defined methods, it can hardly hurt to start by doubling 2. The right 11 count gives us a cold slam.
July 29, 2018
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Tough hand as guess-work is required.
My views;
3 is out as I might bid that on a much weaker hand with long s.

3N certainly could be right. But it is a big gamble that
partner has just the right cards for 9 fast tricks as
it seems likely we have only the one stopper.
And there is no reason to assume that my s are even going
to run.

4 I think will make with more combinations of honors from partner than will 3NT. Still, if partner is short in s, we may have an unwelcome loser in that suit.
Another big drawback to 4 is that 4 could easily be the right game when partner has 5+ s and short s. I'd like to find a call that would leave s in the picture.

4 is an interesting call. It gives up on 3N or playing a partscore, but it should get us to the better major suit game.

Finally, my choice, DOUBLE. It wins because of the “F word.”
No, not *that* F word, partner. I meant “flexible.”

It shows a big hand that needs more input from partner to determine where to go. It is certainly not primarily a penalty double, but partner is allowed to leave it in.
If partner pulls to 3, 4.
If partner pulls to 3, 4 (although pass or 3NT could be right).
July 29, 2018
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