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All comments by Craig Zastera
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Yeah, but if you win, payoffs from lobbyists will recoup your investment and then some.
Nov. 19, 2018
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OP doesn't even state whether the 2 response was GF or not.

If it is, then 4 must surely be a splinter. If not, OP definitely should say so, as splinter is almost universal interpretation in 2/1 GF methods.

I've never played 2/1 as not GF, so not quite sure what is “standard” then. Surely, a 3 rebid by responder would be GF in such methods, so the jump to 4 might still be a splinter.
Nov. 19, 2018
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Yes, sorry. But this doesn't alter my point too much.
A PH TO double should have ideal shape, so four s is still very likely (but I'll admit not quite as certain as it would be if the double had come after (1) response).
Nov. 19, 2018
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If the opponent's allow, 2 would be passed out.

If the opponents compete further, the hand over the (1NT) opener would probably re-compete to 3.

On the actual deal, I'm not sure what would have happened. They surely won't compete further in s (only a 7 card fit), but responder might have tried (3) in pass-out seat with his:
42-QT863-87-AQT6

I already addressed the point you raise. There is ambiguity about strength. At matchpoints, just go with the percentages and assume we are competing for the partscore unless you have a really clear action. Sometimes perhaps we play 2 and make 4. But that must be better than allowing them to play (2) not vulnerable.

Very different at IMPs where getting to games is paramount and fighting hard for small partscore swings (e.g. -100 instead of -110) is relatively unimportant.
Nov. 19, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 19, 2018
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Why not?
Nov. 19, 2018
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13 tops and 13 bottoms would suggest to me that you are playing matchpoints correctly. Now just try to get to 16 tops and 10 bottoms and you might win.

The goal is to achieve 65%-70% to win the event. That is rarely accomplished by playing “down the middle.”

Of course, if this is the first round of a multi-day event and you are just trying to qualify, then “down the middle” is more reasonable.
Nov. 19, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 19, 2018
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Well, I will now reveal the full deal (tah dah).

First, I'll say that this is not a deal that I played.
It is, in fact, the other side of a deal posted a couple of weeks ago by Eric Sieg. When I answered his problem, I did not know what the other hands were.

But I happened to run across the hand record recently as this deal was played at our local bridge club (on a day I was not in attendance).

Anyway, Eric's problem, from the other side of the table
gave this hand:

:AQ96 : J92 : JT52 : K3

and asked what you do in balancing chair (matchpoints, VUL vs. not) after:
RHO you LHO pard
1NT P 2H P
P ??
(1N = 10-13; 2 = natural, to play)

My answer to this was “PASS.” That was the choice of 80% of the 41 respondents. 15% chose “DOUBLE” and 5% “2”.

When I later discovered the full deal, my view was that the hand posted in this problem) should have bid 2 directly over (2).
My view is that (2) is known to be terminal, so this hand could be considered to be in “virtual balancing position.”

I view this as somewhat analagous to “OBAR BIDS” situation where the shapely hand balances in direct seat, assuming partner will have HCP values but likely not a shape that can find a balancing call (double or a suit balance).

The actual auction here is in one way even more conducive to this treatment in that we *know* that (2) is going to be passed out. In the “usual” OBAR BIDS situations, the auction is typically (1X)-(2X)-??, so direct hand doesn't know that opener is not really strong, hence the “OBAR BIDS” psuedo-balance is perhaps riskier.

On the other hand, on this (OP) auction, we don't know for sure that they have a true “fit” in s–it might be only 7 cards.

As you can see, on the actual deal, we have a 9 card fit and can in fact make 2.

Meanwhile, the opponents can make (3) and (3). In practice, Eric and partner passed the deal out and were -170 when they made 10 tricks.

Now I'll readily admit that this is a hard problem from both sides. The long hand has very weak s and (slightly) fewer HCPs, while the balancing position hand does not have good shape for a balancing double (or 2).

The vast majority of BW voters picked PASS for both partners.

Nevertheless, I think that if anyone should bid, it is the partner with the 5 card suit. Just an example of it being good to compete in s over their s whenever it is at all reasonable. Here, partner is marked with values, and it is not too hard to envision that he might not have the shape needed to compete in pass out seat.

A possible downside of the direct 2 is that partner may not realize we are “pre-balancing” and think he should raise as a game-invite. But that same objection applies to “OBAR BID” auctions too–partner can't be sure whether the direct bid is a “pre-balance” or shows real (“normal overcall”) values.
The idea, at matchpoints, is to assume we are just competing, which will usually be right.

Of course, on this deal another complicating factor is the vulnerability–unfavorable. So a “balance” (from either side) carries the risk of the dread -200.
Opener won't be able to double 2 (he doesn't know how weak his partner might be), but responder with near maximum values for his (2) sign-off can easily re-open with a double, which might be left in to good effect (for them).
Nov. 19, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 19, 2018
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Being allowed to play at the 2 level with 9 card fit after Jacoby and simple acceptance happens all the time.
Perhaps I don't play in the right games.

But my experience is that gratuitously bidding to the 3 level when you might not have to is often a mistake as it results in -1 when we could have won the auction at the 2 level and made it.

We used to play “1-2-3 STOP” (that is, a raise to 3M after 1M-2M just shows a 6th trump and is not invitational).
We abandoned that for exactly the reasons I cite–too often that just resulted in our playing at the 3 level needlessly and going -1 when we could have played 2M and made it.

As to your second point, sure there are some light shapely responding hands that might pursue game and “get lucky” when opener's cards are in the right place after a “super-accept” based only on 4 trump and not maximum values that would be “afraid of getting too high” if they issued a game try after just a normal acceptance of the Jacoby transfer.

But I think these hands are relatively uncommon. I would rather rely on responder to invite when he thinks he has invitational values. True, more knowledge of opener's long (4 card) trump support might be crucial in some borderline cases, but I think this will be less common than opener's super-accept without maximum HCPs getting us too high for no reason when responder has a weak hand (no game interest).
Nov. 19, 2018
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Thanks for the compliment, but I must agree that actual North hand is not too much like what I envisaged.

I was looking for xx-KJxxxxx-x-QJx.
(this modifcation is more plausible than the one I originally showed with two singletons, yet still makes
4 excellent).

My fantasy hand:
(a) makes 4 an excellent shot
(b) is more consistent with the 2 rebid (only 7 HCPs, with broken suit and misfit).
© perhaps justifies an exotic action to give our side
a chance to find a good game despite having previously tried to play in only 2 and is certainly willing to compete to the 3 level (because of 7 card suit).

The actual hand is significantly different in that it
(a) has a lot more HCPs
(b) does not misfit s
© has a *Really* bad suit with no extra length.

I'm not necessarily saying that “double” is unreasonable with so much extra unexpected HCP strength, but double with actual hand is really not from the same motivation as the example hand I showed.

The actual OP north hand does not really want partner to consider bidding 4. It is actually more of a “co-operative double” where North is willing to hear 3 if South has a partial fit (as he did) or to defend (2X) based on presumed extra N/S HCP strength if South's hand seems to support that.

I actually don't like double too much with the :Qx.
If North wants to bid again, I would think 3, offering a choice of red suit partials, would be better.
Nov. 19, 2018
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A passed hand can only justify a TO double in the middle of their more or less forcing auction when he has perfect shape and a maximum pass. Otherwise, just continue to pass.

So I can't imagine a passed hand making a take-out double after their (1)-(1) with fewer than four s.
Nov. 18, 2018
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I bid 2, pre-emptive.

Partner 100% guarantees four s, so LOTT says we should compete to 2 level.

Partner knows my bid is pre-emptive and not a game try.
I see little point in bidding 1–passing would be better–as that does nothing to obstruct the opponents.
Nov. 18, 2018
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I think jumping in response to a Jacoby transfer just because you have 4 card support is a mistake.

All too often, responder has a terrible hand. Maybe he will need the 9 card fit to even make 8 tricks (or maybe we can't make even 8).

So I just accept Jacoby transfer unless my hand is *so good* that I deem it worth more than 17 points in support of responder's suit. In that case, doing something more than merely accepting the transfer is justified because game may be “on” but responder will not be able to move unless we tell him our hand is *more* than a 1NT opener now that our 9+ card fit has been revealed.

With actual OP hand, I would not consider doing other than just bidding 2. We are flat with 16 HCPs–if we have a game, partner should be inviting or bidding it.
If we have a *slam*, I will have plenty of time to show enthusiasm later.
Nov. 18, 2018
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Well, if partner has something like:
x-KJxxxxx-x-QJxx
he may make 11 tricks in s.

I do not think partner's double is for penalties.
The opponents' bidding indicates at least 8 s, perhaps more.

I notice that I have 3 s, so infer partner has at most 2, hence not likely he is doubling for penalties.

I think he is trying to suggest some sort of really good (i.e. maximum offense) hand for his 2 rebid–perhaps he underbid with broken suit and short s, fearing a misfit.

Now, over (2), he wants to compete further since he has more than previously promised. Instead of just bidding a “wooden” 3, he decides to try to suggest something special so just maybe our side can back into a good game at the 11th hour if I happen to hold some perfecto hand like….. well, like the one I hold.

But it is *matchpoints* which argues for conservatism rather than bidding a light, speculative game. 3 +1 may score well even if 10 tricks are cold.
So perhaps at matchpoints, 3 is better.
But 4 for sure at IMPs.
And I'm not passing (2X) at any form of scoring.
Nov. 18, 2018
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Tom,
Wouldn't you just bid 3NT with the hand you show?

Presumably, your plan was 2NT then 3NT to show a stopper with values for 3NT and no interest in other contract(s).

So why wouldn't you just continue with your plan which has not been usurped by their (3) bid?

But if you had a GF hand that had bid 2NT in order to follow with 3 to show a stopper and four to offer partner a choice of games, the only way you can complete that message now is by doubling (3).
Nov. 18, 2018
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Your example is a legitimate (albeit dead minimum) double of (3).
But that doesn't change the fact that North has the values to jump to 5. It just means that sometimes when the opponents pre-empt away 3 levels of our bidding room, we reach an unmakeable contract. Hell, sometimes that happens when the opponents don't bid at all.
Nov. 18, 2018
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Although this grand slam should be pretty easy to bid using ordinary RKCB, using “Kickback” makes it even easier.

After 1N-2-2-3-3, there is no reason not to play that a jump to 4 is Kickback for s (you could even consider using it as “6 keycard ask” including the Kings in both of responder's suits).

Anyway, after 4 Kickback just for s and 5 reply (2 keys and the Q), responder now has 5 to ask for specific kings.

Opener replies 5NT to show the K (and he could have another). Now opener continues with 6 to ask about the K.
You can have fancy agreements about how opener shows that he has it (most any bid above 6 will do). Say you play that 6NT shows he has the K too.

Now responder has discovered every high card in opener's hand and can easily bid 7, or even try 7NT (which would be even easier if opener could make a 7 reply to 6 to show the K with 3+ length).
Nov. 17, 2018
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John,
I gave this a “like” as I mostly agree with your sentiments *at matchpoints*. I certainly think it is often right to compete with 4 HCPs opposite partner's ~16 when they have stopped at the 2 level.

The worst thing about this North hand, though, (even at matchpoints) is that the shape is not quite right for the (take-out) double. The small doubleton is fine. But I think a “light” competitive double like this really ought to deliver 4 cards in both unbid suits, else you're really not offering partner much of a choice.
Nov. 17, 2018
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As I implied earlier, I believe I would have bid 3NT with the South hand.

But I would certainly have considered DOUBLE and do not consider that an outlandish choice by any means. This hand does have all the requirements for a TO double.

I also suggested that if either of the minor suit spot cards were changed to the corresponding spot, I most likely would prefer DOUBLE over 3NT (although 3NT would still be a logical alternative I think).

One can hardly claim this is a “routine” 3NT overcall with one thin stopper that cannot be held up even one round *and* no source of tricks.

On the other hand, counting points for advancing a TO double of s, the North hand is worth about 12 and all are “working hard” and with a 6 card suit to obviate any worries about partner not having adequate support.

In my view, this hand is not “close” at all between 4 vs. 5. It is plenty for 5 and I might even entertain a fleeting worry about missing a slam.

But with, e.g. x-Kxxx-AQxx-AKxx, I can hope that partner might find a boost to 6 over a 5 jump advance.
Nov. 17, 2018
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Sure, a GF 3 rebid is just another way to gamble. It does take up a lot of room making it harder to continue probing.
Partner might well bid 3NT with 5 s (of course, that might well be right).

Another alternative that no one mentioned that I think is not much worse than the others would be *3*.

That is just about right on strength (top of range in strength possibly compensated for by one too few s) and does not deny the possibility of 3 s or suggest a stopper.

Sure, you are supposed to have 6+ s, but
(a) these 5 are quite strong
(b) 3 or 2 (or 3) also lie about a suit length
© 2NT lies about stopper (and hides support)

So all in all, I Think 3 is a plausible rebid.
Nov. 17, 2018
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OP doesn't say if this is IMPs or matchpoints.

I think it makes a big difference:
* at IMPs, North's double is totally insane

* at matchpoints, insane competitive bids in partscore
auctions may sometimes be necessary.

North's double (if matchpoints) would be significantly better if he were 4=4 in s and s–the two unbid suits.

Here offering s as a possible trump suit when already bid by the opponents is not likely to be a winner.

In theory (LOTT), if N/S have an 8 card fit, it should be correct to compete 3 over 2. With both rounded suits, such an 8 card fit on this auction is much more likely.

Here, North got lucky in that his side actually has an 8 card fit.

I think South should bid 3 rather than risking a disaster defending (2X), particularly with the opponents NV where even +100 may not be good enough.
Nov. 16, 2018
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