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All comments by Craig Zastera
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Why?
I agree that the 2NT bid is bizarre, hence I would not consider it.

But presuming that 2NT is supposed to ask for a side A or K as OP stated, then if opener has such, why wouldn't he show it? Presumably, his partner is interested in playing at least game if opener has said side card.

Thus, I think there is no inference whatsoever that North has length (much less 5) in s. Just the A.
Nov. 7, 2018
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I doubt if many would respond 1 with that (I wouldn't).

You could change it to Qxxx-K-JTxxx-xxx to overcome that objection.

In that case, responder would be likely to pass a 2 rebid with 4 a reasonable contract (although it is certainly not a lock).
So what?
He would also pass 3 or 3 I suspect.
Not clear what he would do over a 3 (overbid) jump shift.
Perhaps 3, as I would regard 4 as showing slam interest, hence not appropriate.
Nov. 7, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 7, 2018
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I like the idea of winning (K) and shifting, but it is not clear to me why shift is best.

Not saying I think is wrong, just that I can imagine either a or a being right and I do not see a way to know which shift is best.

I expect partner to have about 13 HCPs, hence 12 or so outside s, likely scattered.

One example to show that a return doesn't have to be right:
Give partner: JTxx-KTxx-KT-AQx (certainly a possible hand)
Now after J-Q-K-x at trick 1, the defense can hold declarer to 4 tricks *if South returns any card EXCEPT A *.

Or, an example where the defense can score *10* tricks vs. 1NT, but only if South switches to specifically a after winning K:
North holds: JT-K9xx-AQx-KJxx

Don't want to suggest a shift is never good.
For example, if partner has: Jx-KQT9x-KQxx-Kx,
then after winning 1st , a shift is necessary to beat 1NT.
Of course, partner probably wouldn't have led J from that hand.

A more plausible example where a shift is good is when partner has:
JTx-QTx-KQxx-AJx
Now, after winning 1st , a is the only shift to beat declarer 3 tricks
(although it would be OK to continue A before shifting to *IF* partner drops his T under the A).

To support the idea of a trick 2 *shift* rather than a continuation, give partner:
Jx-AQTx-T8xx-AJx
Here, after winning K at trick 1, *any* shift will defeat 1NT but any continuation will allow declarer to make 1NT.
Nov. 7, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 7, 2018
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Several comments here:

1. My example, possibly too extreme for some, was just meant
to show that it is within reason *both* for our side to
have a cold game (3NT in my example, 5 possible with
some other plausible examples) *AND* for (2X) to be
makeable their way (I set it up so they could actually
make an *overtrick*).

But all that is not necessary for it to be right to
“pull” (2X).

First, if they can make it, it is always right to pull.
Since they have a known 8 card fit and clearly some
values, while we have the minimum possible defense and
more length than promised, that possibility is
not so remote (IMO).

Second, even if we can defeat (2X), this may not be
a great result if we can make a game. With a strong
7 card suit and a stiff in theirs, and partner showing
a strong hand (10+ HCPs minimum), game for us is not
unlikely.

Thus, in my view, passing (2X) is staking the entire
board on a pretty big parlay–that they are going down
*and* that we have no game.

Bidding 3, on the other hand, virtually guarantees
that this deal won't be a disaster (matchpoint-wise)
for us while offereing chances of leading to a great
result.

2. Unlike some, I do not think that our 2 rebid over
RHO's free (1) means we have a super minimum hand
with very long s and no defense.

With 2, we are just seizing a convenient opportunity
to make a descriptive rebid (6+ decent s) while
giving up nothing much, since most openers with long
s would be unlikely to want to defend a freely bid
doubled 1 level contract.

3. I don't think responder's double of (2) is a
unilateral penalty double such that he expects opener
to pass nearly all the time.

Of course, it is a “penalty double” in the sense that
I expect 4 decent s and is suggesting the possibility
of defense.

But how else can responder show a hand with s well
stopped (but a NT problem in a red suit) so that our
side might intelligently pursue game investigation
with the auction still conveniently low?

Partner knows that we know that they have an 8 card
fit, so his double is more “descriptive” and
supplements his earlier XX (10+ HCPs) with the
additional info that he has 4 decent s (e.g. double
stopper for NT, possibly/likely A if we want to
pursue a high contract).

If we remove to 3, he will likely pass with a dead
minimum and no help, else show a red suit stopper
at the 3 level if he has enough to think 3NT or
5 still be possible now that he has learned that
we have *7* s.

4. So, I think the worst that can happen if we bid 3
is that we score 110 or 130 for an averagish board
when we might have gotten 200 in (2X).

I find this more appealing than staking the entire
board on the chances that defending (2X) is the
winning parlay for us.
Nov. 7, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 7, 2018
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It just means that partner should recognize that 2 rebid is compatible with:
(a) a hand with 6 s, strength for 3 but suit
not good enough for that jump rebid

(b) a hand with (perhaps good) 3 card support and the
strength for a 3 jump rebid (i.e. “BW death hand”)

Thus, he should select a rebid with awareness of these possible hand types.

In practice, this means that he should not pass 2 with a hand that would wish to be elsewhere opposite one of the above.

I do agree that 2 rebid is not going to solve all of opener's problems with actual OP hand here, even opposite a properly “woke” partner.

That is because OP hand is *both* (a) and (b) above.
On the hoped for next round of bidding, he may still have to make a difficult decision between showing his 6 s vs. showing is good 3 card support.

However, he may get some guidance from partner:

2 over 2 will suggest a doubleton and perhaps push him towards raising that suit. He would probably also make that choice if responder rebids 2NT (leaving room for responder to bid 3 next time over 3).

2 will suggest at least 5 s, making a raise easy.

If responder raises s, that likely suggests a stiff , and opener will have to decide between 3 vs. 3.
Nov. 7, 2018
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Not quite sure what you expect him to have for double?
Surely on the bidding he cannot have more than four s, and I have given him pretty good ones.

3NT might well make even if he lacks the K–use his major suit entries to finesse s, likely winning.
Nov. 7, 2018
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I'm sure some of you passers will provide consistent hands for the other players where your choice works great (I've no doubt that you can do it).

But I'll provide this possible lay-out in defense of my 3 choice:

………….. North: AJ98-A765-872-K6

West: Q432-KQ43-AQ53-3 …… East: K765-JT8-JT9-T98

…………… South: T-92-K64-AQJ7542

After I “pull” partner's double to 3, he continues with 3 and I bid 3NT, passed out.

You may notice that on this lay-out 3NT is cold (from either the North or South sides), while they can make 3 from either the West or East sides.
Nov. 7, 2018
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Partner has a maximum strength overcall with exactly 5 , at most 1 , and at least 4-3 (either way) in the reds.
5-3-1-4 is probably his single most likely shape, perhaps something like:
AJ9xx-AQx-x-KQxx
although this would be a max (i.e. he might have a point or three less in high cards).
Nov. 7, 2018
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I'll try again. Biggest problem is that South can come to 7 tricks in s in a variety of ways, so I'm just trying to pick one that is easy to describe and hard to doubt.

So, following your suggested defense:
1. K 1 trick for defense
2. K 2 tricks for defense
3. A 3 tricks for defense
4. low , ruffed by East, over-ruffed by South
Defense: 3; Offense: 1
5. A Defense: 3; Offense: 2
6. K Defense: 3; Offense: 3
7. from dummy, ruffed by South Def: 3; Offense: 4

At this point, it should be obvious that South can win
3 more tricks (hence 7 total) by now leading anything
from his hand other than the A.

Let's say he leads a low (towards dummy's :T9).

Surely West can't duck, else that would be 5th trick for
declarer, and he can follow with a ruff for 6, after which he'll probably still be able to get the A for 7.

8. So, instead, West wins his J. Now, score is 4-4.

What can West do now?

K would obviously fail as that gives South 3 more
tricks.

A low fails as dummy would win that and then ruff
a in declarer's hand for 6 tricks with the A yet
to come.

So suppose West exits a (high) .
Declarer ruffs that for his 5th trick (D: 4; O: 5).
So declarer is down to :AQ and : T8.
He now just exits with a .

If West ruffs, he will be endplayed and have to lead a
or a into declarer's :AQ.
So, instead, West pitches his (last) allowing East
to win his Q.

East has only s left in the 3 card ending, while West has only s.
So East leads a (say the A), South pitches his last (good) , and West ruffs “perforce.”

Now, West is endplayed in the 2-card ending and has to lead away from his :Kx into declarer's :AQ, bringing declarer's trick total to 7.

OK?
Nov. 6, 2018
ATB
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I agree “Mostly East” because starting with double is surely better than a (strictly limited) 3 overcall. His support is adequate and sometimes should be trump.

West gets a tiny bit of blame as I think that with 5 strong s, 3 card support and a ruffing value (and nothing wasted in s) it is not ridiculous to suggest he might try 3.

On the other hand, passing 3 is not ridiculous either (just conservative).
Nov. 6, 2018
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Way wrong.
South can make at least 7 tricks in s against any defense.

Against the defense you suggest:
over-ruff the low at trick 4.

Now declarer can make 7 tricks in various ways.

Here's one:
A, K
ruff a (or a ) to hand.
at this point, declarer can either:
(a) lead a (not the ace)
or
(b) continue s

Either way, West will eventually be endplayed and have to lead into declarer's s. Declarer will come to 7 tricks easily. Many variations with same result.
Nov. 6, 2018
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I'm wondering if my choice (3) was well-reasoned or more knee-jerk.

I did a simulation for this hand opposite 7 HCP balanced hands with no 8+ card major fit.

It will probably surprise no one (even me) to find that this hand actually plays better than an average balanced 18 HCP hand in 3NT opposite such dummys.

The average balanced 18 opposite 7 makes 3NT 55.6% of the time (17 HCP balanced make 3NT 36.4% while 19s make it 74.2%).

This hand opposite balanced 7 counts makes 3NT 58%.

So if this hand definitely has the strength for a 2NT rebid, seems to have adequate stoppers and a shape such that we won't be embarrassed if partner wants to insist on s (or even s), then what is the advantage of choosing 3 instead?

On the downside, partner might pass 3 with 3NT decent since 3 rebids sounds a bit weaker than 2NT. Also, 3 rebids are notorious for (often) leading to difficult auctions where it is hard to untangle stoppers and major suit fits.

I think any “upsides” to the 3 rebid would have to involve possibly finding a good contract (perhaps even a slam) that would be missed otherwise.

Give partner, say KQxx-Kxx-Axx-xxx and 6 is just about lay-down. We sure won't get there if I rebid 2NT (partner will almost certainly just raise to 3NT).
But if I rebid 3, *maybe* partner will show enough interest for us to reach 6 (will he?).

Also, partner might have a weaker hand where 5 will make but 3NT probably won't, e.g. KQxx-Kxx-Txx-xxx
Still, it would take some pretty fancy bidding to reach 5 opposite that hand, particularly if we are playing matchpoints where the lure of 3NT is almost irresistable.

The final advantage to 3 rebid is when partner is really weak and chooses to pass us there instead of either passing or gambling a risky boost to 3NT if we rebid 2NT instead.
There are many hands he might hold where this scenario could apply, e.g: Kxxx-Kxx-Txx-xxx where 4 would be easy while even 2NT might fail.

These thoughts suggest to me that perhaps the majority choice of 2NT is the way to go. It might matter if we are talking IMPs or Matchpoints (OP doesn't say).
Nov. 6, 2018
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In my methods, we have “Eisenberg jump shifts” available to distinguish GF hands with 5+=5+ majors from those with only four s and longer s.

Thus, immediate 3 would be GF with 5+ s and 5 s, while 3-3-3 would be GF with only four s.

Nevertheless, even with that tool, I think I would just rebid 2 with this hand as I don't think it is quite strong enough for GF sequence. I want my partners to believe that my GF jump shifts will deliver the goods.
Nov. 6, 2018
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I am way behind the times w.r.t opening off-shape (or off strength) 1NT. In general, I don't like that modern style.

Nevertheless, on *this* hand 1NT seems (to me) so much less bad than the other choices that I expected it to be near unanimous. I'm somewhat surprised to see significant votes otherwise.

Way too many points in the majors for me to like treating this as a minor suit 2-suiter.
Nov. 6, 2018
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I believe the BW Death Hand types have 3 card support for responder's major.
Nov. 6, 2018
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From my simulation database of performance of average balanced hands of various strengths, I find this for
performance in 3NT opposite random balanced 10 HCP hands
with no 8+ card major suit fit:

1. avg 14 HCP: 3N = 39.53%
2. avg 15 HCP: 3N = 58.66%

And how does this OP hand fare in 3NT opposite random balanced 10 HCP hands with no 8+ card major suit fit?
A 1000 deal simulation had
3. this hand: 3N = 51.1%

You will note that this is slightly closer to the performance of an average 15 than to that of an average 14.

So if we are just asking “is this hand strong enough to upgrade to a 15-17 1NT opener?”, my simulation suggests that the answer is “yes, but just barely.”

However, there are tactical considerations on this hand.
With two good four card majors, the risk of missing a superior part-score of 2M when partner has a 4 card major but is not strong enough to bid Stayman over 1NT (but would be able to respond 1M to a 1 opening) is not insignifcant.

This consideration is of particular importance playing matchpoints where making one more trick in a major suit contract might be the whole board even if 1NT makes.

So I would choose 1 on this hand, planing on raising a 1M response to 2M (and passing a 1NT response).
Nov. 5, 2018
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Just requires bridge logic to conclude this must be penalty.

If I had s, I'd bid 2.
If I wanted to compete in a specific minor, I'd bid it.

If I wanted partner to choose a minor, I'd bid 2NT.
This 2NT must be scrambling as G/B doesn't make sense on this auction with both of us having passed before.
Nov. 5, 2018
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In practice, playing the 4=2 fit which terrifies you so does not come to pass very often.

Meanwhile, there are lots of benefits from striving to maintain the integrity of your 1NT rebids (i.e that such sequences deliver a balanced hand).
Nov. 5, 2018
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I believe I would actually open this hand 1, planning to rebid 2. Yes, I play 5 card majors.

If I happened to open 1, I think 2 rebid is better than 1NT.

An important principle in my partnerships is that after a 1NT rebid, responder is supposed to rebid 2 almost always with 5 s and less than invitational values.
And with invitational values, it will be 2–>2-2, so we will still be in s.

This strategy has been a big winner for me (playing mostly matchpoints), and I will bend over backwards not to discourage partner from using this strategy by creating fear I might have a small singleton in his major.
And I won't do it often with a large singleton either, but that is not quite so bad in an emergency.
Nov. 5, 2018
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Why is 3 “the best shot”?

“Never” is a dirty word in bridge, so I'll just say that it would be very, very rare for me to double raise partner with only 3 card support.

Although I don't like 3 ( suit not good enough), I consider that a significantly better choice than 3.

I'm with the “scientific” 2 crowd, while not denying that it doesn't have to work out well. However, partner should be aware of the possibility of 2 on this hand type.
Nov. 5, 2018
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