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All comments by Craig Zastera
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Barry,
When the opponents are playing weak NT openings, many (most I think) play that a double of their Stayman call just shows a good hand (typically, strong enough that it would have doubled the 1NT opening had it been made on doubler's right) and says nothing in particular about doubler's holding.

I know that we play that way.
Should such a double be alerted?
We alert it, although I am far from sure that this alert is required.
I certainly think it is “normal” for a double of a Stayman response to a weak 1NT opening to show “values” (roughly a strong NT) rather than specifically long/strong s, hence an “alert” would presumably not be required under the “highly unusual” rule.

Does anyone play a double of Stayman that way when the 1NT is strong? I'm not aware of that, but I would guess that someone must. And of course there is the issue of where “weak 1NT” ends and “strong 1NT” begins (13-15? 14-16? …) if the meaning of the double of Stayman is different depending on the strength shown by the 1NT opening.
March 10, 2019
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And it is also possible to play “super-Namyats” whereby
2-2-4/4 show “Namyats-like” hands (long strong s/s respectively) in a hand with slightly more playing tricks than a Namyats 4/4 opener (e.g. 9-10 instead of 8-8.5 or some such distinction).
March 10, 2019
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I don't know why Barry was supposed to ask.

If an opponent's call has a highly unusual or unexpected meaning, they are supposed to alert it.

When their call is not alerted, one is supposed to assume that it has a usual or expected meaning.

Often, when I have asked about a call that was not alerted, I get some annoyed reply like “if partner's bid were not …
, then I would have alerted it” implying that it is inappropriate for me to ask about a call that was not alerted–apparently I am supposed to assume the “normal” meaning.

I think that a double of Stayman shows s. One might perhaps question to what degree such a double is just “lead-directing” vs. an invitation for partner to compete in s, but the basic meaning of “length/strength in s” is IMO sufficiently universal that it should be assumed absent an “alert.”
March 10, 2019
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I picked the first option w.r.t your example auction.

But this auction where North has made a direct position TO double originally is different from one like:

(1) Pass (Pass) DBL
(Pass) 1 (Pass) 2
Here, the original TO double is in balancing seat, so requirements shift down slight (vs. same bidding after a direct TO double).
So in my example auction, the balancing double followed by 2 can be made on a slightly weaker hand (but still strong) than would be required for this sequence had the original TO double been directly over their opening bid.
March 9, 2019
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In direct overcall position, the North hand would not be worth doubling first and then showing s. With only a 5 card suit, that sequence should deliver at least 18 HCPs.
So just a maximum 1 overcall in direct position.

But in balancing seat, the requirements for the various actions are adjusted downwards slightly (perhaps 2 points or so).
So in *balancing* seat, I think the North hand is well described by DOUBLE followed by a minimum rebid as OP North did.

So South should expect about 16-17 HCPs with a good 5 card suit. Since his (South's) hand is worth about 10 points in support of s, he has an easy raise to 4.

Over a direct position double, the South hand is probably just worth a 2 jump advance. But even under those conditions, the poorish 4 card suit and unexciting distribution might persuade him to underbid slightly with 1.

But opposite a balancing double (which could be lighter than a direct one), I think it is clear for South to start with the conservative 1 advance.
March 9, 2019
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No one said anything about “holy writ.”

But I will say that in the Robson book I referenced, this use of opener's 2NT as “G/B” after partner's negative double is not a minor point.

The discussion of this auction type goes on for several pages and is, I would say, their prototype example for extending “G/B 2NT” beyond the traditional “Lebensohl” uses (i.e. after our 1NT is overcalled and over our doubles of their weak 2s).

And I am not “conflating” auction types with relevently different considerations.
The two examples I quoted are right out of R-S and they are discussed concurrently with an explicit comment about their being very little difference between the two.
March 8, 2019
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That is a controversial view.

In Andrew Robson's book “Partnership Bidding at Bridge”, he strongly advocates that 2NT after partner (responder) has made a negative double and the auction is at the 2-level when it gets back to opener should be played as good bad.

Typical example auctions that he discusses include:

(a) 1 (1) DBL (2)
???

and
(b) 1 (2) DBL (PASS)
???

In both these prototypical examples, according to Robson:

"A direct bid of 3, 3, or 3 is very invitational,
showing extra values.
With a weaker hand, start with 2NT. Partner will
generally bid 3 or 3, non-forcing.
You will then complete the description of your hand
if appropriate--often by passing"
March 8, 2019
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Funny. If I thought partner's responsive double had a well-defined shape requirement, I would suppose 4=4 majors would be ideal to be sure to play in a 4=4 fit rather than a 4=3.

But I think it might be playable for him to have one 4 card major plus s as long as opener can be expected to bid his 4+ card suits up the line (i.e. don't rebid in s here just because you have 5).

But there is another issue here.

This OP doubler has extra values w.r.t minimum TO double.
Thus, I would want to know if his 2M (e.g. 2) rebid over advancer's “responsive” double is considered forcing?

Obviously, over 2 rebid, if advancer has < 4 s, he will bid something (probably 2 showing the blacks with < 4 s).

But if advancer does have four s (say 4=4 majors or 4 s plus s), is he allowed to pass 2 ? If so, then I think bidding 2 with this OP hand is dangerous as game might be missed.

I think best is to agree that after the responsive double, 2M by opener is a 1 round force (so advancer must raise to 3 with 4 s and minimum responsive double).
March 7, 2019
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We use 2 reply to 2 as feature ask with the following replies to right-side NT:
1. 2 = feature in s or s
2. 3 = feature
3. 3 = no feature
4. 3 = solid (AKQxxx) suit
(2NT reply is not used)

Over 2 ( or feature) reply, 2NT asks which.
Then responder replies 3 = feature, 3 = feature)
March 7, 2019
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Interesting and useful info, but OP problem has only a *3 level* overcall (not 4any as in your comments).

My view is that partner's jump to 4NT here is natural and slam invitational.
March 7, 2019
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Seems to me that this is a guess.
Here, because of the competitive auction, you have some extra inferences that partner is not enthusiastic about slam. Perhaps this should be the “tie-breaker” in deciding to “go low” (i.e. pass 5).

This deal is somewhat reminiscent of one I played recently (matchpoints) opposite my partner's 15-17 1NT.

My hand was: AJTxxx-QTxxx-void-xx
No competition from opponents on my deal.

I started with 2 (not clear, but we do have a fancy 2-level Smolen structure if partner responds 2), and partner surprised with 2.

Should I try for slam? We have 3 available to show slam interest in s with shortness somewhere (opener's 3NT would ask for location).

But I just raised to 4.
Naturally, partner held: KQx-AKJx-xxxx-Ax and 7 was cold.
We actually got 69% of the matchpoints for playing in s where 13 tricks are available vs. s where there are “only” 12 (both majors broke 3-1).
Only *one* pair reached any slam (6).
March 7, 2019
Craig Zastera edited this comment March 7, 2019
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I like (and agree with) your example where they have opened 1NT and transferred into s.

It does seem like “common sense” would tell you that 2NT is “scrambling” and not “Good/Bad”, but it is always best to have explicit agreement on as many auction types as possible as there are definitely some that are “gray areas” where it might not be 100% clear by logic alone whether a certain competitive 2NT should be “G/B” or not.

One general area that would be good for discussion is whether a competitive 2NT can be “G/B” if the 2NT bidder's partner has done nothing but pass previously.

My view is that there are such auctions, but it would not be unreasonable to play that the 2NT bidder's partner must have done something to suggest some values in order for “G/B” to apply.
March 7, 2019
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I would say that the default meaning for 2NT in competitive auctions is “Good/Bad.”

So any time that interpretation makes sense, that is what it means.

You can have a specific list of exceptions.
Some might be:

1. (1X)-2Y-(2X)-2NT (Y is lower ranking than X)
Here, 2NT should be a good raise of “Y” because
a cue-bid would take us beyond 3Y.

2. 1M-(2Y)-2NT (or 1-(1)-2NT)
These can be 4+ card LR+ raises by agreement.

3. 1m-(overcall)-2NT. Natural, invitational.

4. Contrast:
4a. 1-(2)-P-(P)-2NT
vs.
4b. 1-(2)-DBL-(P)-2NT

You *might* want 2NT to be natural in 4a but
definitely should be G/B in 4b.

You could make a case for “G/B” in 4a too.
Any call by opener would be a “Good” hand as
responder has promised nothing, but it can still
be useful to play one (say 2NT) as “good” while
3any would be “great” as responder could still have
a fair hand and have passed over (2) (so game could
still be possible if opener is very strong).

In general, when partner has made any sort of “take-out” double (this includes responsive and negative doubles as well as traditional TO doubles of their opening), a non-jump 2NT bid by doubler's partner is to be interpreted as Good/Bad when there is one or more suits he cannot show below the 3 level.

One possible exception cited by Robson is:

5. (1) DBL (2) Pass
(Pass) DBL (Pass) 2NT ??
Robson has a rule about “only one chance to bid G/B 2NT per auction.” Here, since advancer passed over (2) the first time (when his 2NT would have been “Good/Bad”), Robson deems his later 2NT to be just “scrambling” and not Good/Bad.

I think this rule is debatable too as doubler might have a very strong hand (he has doubled twice now).
He might sometimes benefit from knowing if advancer has a little something (say :KTxxx and out) vs. a virtual Yarborough.
Hence, playing even the “delayed” 2NT as “good/bad” to allow advancer to distinguish hands that have a little something but were not strong enough for an immediate “bad 2NT” (which should show, say 6-8 or so) from truly hopeless hands might sometimes help a very strong doubler to decide whether to try game or not.
So, *delayed* 2NT would be “hopeless” while *delayed* 3x (e.g. 3) would show a little something, say 3-5 or so.
March 7, 2019
Craig Zastera edited this comment March 7, 2019
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Seems like a normal dead-minimum 1-level matchpoint overcall to me.

If your partnership style is different so partner will expect more, then pass is certainly OK.
March 6, 2019
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I think this is just a guess. Partnership style has some impact.

Since we are at “favorable”, partner need have only 7 “sure tricks” for 5 to be consistent with “Rule of 2/3/4”.

So my chicken guess is to settle for 5 rather than “guess” we have a slam.
March 6, 2019
Craig Zastera edited this comment March 6, 2019
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Not enough playing strength (i.e. suit it too weak internally) for a 2nd chair unfavorable weak 2.

This is the worst seat and vulnerability for pre-empting.
Hence, I require near “perfecto” when opening a weak 2 (or 3 level pre-empt) under these conditions.
This hand is definitely not that.
March 6, 2019
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I also play what you call “mixed” signals, i.e. “upside-down” attitude but “standard” count.

But I can't for the life of me understand why others think this is “mixed” and/or a bit weird and/or “harder” to remember.

By my lights, ATTITUDE signals and COUNT signals are completely unrelated. So the protocol chosen for one type of signal (say “upside down” for attitude) seems to me to be logically unrelated to the protocol chosen for the other type of signal (say “standard” count).

After all, referring to HL = encouraging for attitude and HL = even for count as “standard” signals is merely a reference to historical usage.
There is no logical connection between that particular choice of protocols for these two unrelated types of signals.

One could just as logically choose any of the four possible combinations:
1. HL = encourage if attitude; even if count (“standard”)
2. HL = encourage if attitude; odd if count (weird)
3. HL = discourage if attitude; even if count (“mixed”)
4. HL = discourage if attitude; odd if count (“UDCA”)

So if a partnership decides that HL = discourage works better for ATTITUDE signals, they should consider which protocol they prefer for their COUNT signals independently.

Their choice of “UD” for their attitude signals does not constrain their choice of COUNT signal protocol in any way.

Regardless of which protocol is chosen for each, the partnership still needs to know whether a signal in a particular situation is COUNT or ATTITUDE in order for information to be communicated usefully.

Sure, there may be cases where one combination of protocols for ATTITUDE and COUNT might result in the same card being chosen regardless of which meaning applies. But that would just be a “happy accident.”
There could be other situations where a different protocol choice would lead to a “happy accident” where uncertainty whether signal is ATTITUDE vs. COUNT would be harmless with the same card being correct for either.

In my partnerships, the answer to the question of “what should 3rd hand play from a doubleton?” when partner leads the king (from AK, Rusinow style) is easy:
* 3rd hand's play is ATTITUDE, not COUNT
(except for special case where leader + dummy known
to hold 9+ cards combined in the suit).

So if 3rd hand wants the suit continued (say he wants
to ruff the 3rd round), he plays LOW
(“upside down attitude”).

But if he wants partner to shift to a different suit,
he plays HIGH (still upside down attitude).

* In the case where leader + dummy known to have 9+
cards in the suit combined, we have AGREED that 3rd
hand signals COUNT. Since we happen to play “standard
count”, that means high from two, low from three.
(ear wiggle with a stiff).
If we had agreed “UDC”, we could still have the count agreement,
but the protcol would be the opposite.

Still necessary to know what type of signal we are making.
March 5, 2019
Craig Zastera edited this comment March 5, 2019
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I agree that this is more than just a double squeeze.

I would use the term “compound squeeze”, although this one is a bit different from standard textbook examples.

After a lead from East, won by North, a returned by North, won by West, and a second , won by North, EAST is squeezed in three suits on partner's return.

If he parts with a , declarer just establishes dummy by playing on s first, ruffing the 3rd round. Then finesse, ruff, A, ruff (with A), ruff to dummy to pull the last trump with J and claim.

If East instead discards a on the second , declarer has 12 tricks via 5 s, 2 ruffs, *3* H, and 2 s (with the finesse late):
ruff, A, ruff, K, ruff (establishing dummy's 4th ), A, finesse, good to pitch last from hand, claim.

Finally, if East pitches a ** (his likely choice as he strives to maintain length parity with dummy in s and s), this leaves only WEST to protect the 4th round of that suit.
This will eventually expose him (WEST) to a black suit squeeze, while East is squeezed in the round suits (so a double squeeze ending):
ruff, A, ruff (isolating guard with West),
K, ruff (isolating guard with East).
Now, A drawing West's last trump and forcing a discard from East (he must keep Q) while pitching a from dummy.
Finally, North's last completes the double squeeze:
* East must pitch another to keep his guard
* Dummy pitches , and West must keep A to
guard that suit, hence he too must reduce to two s.
* finesse, then dummy's s run.

Some of the above might possibly be simplified if declarer takes a finesse at trick 2 and *then* plays the from dummy. Assume West rises and returns another .

Now, the case where East discards a proceeds slightly more smoothly than above–North basically just ruffs out two s as in the other variants.
March 5, 2019
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1NT has no appeal for me at all.

But I'll admit that I “want” to open 1 with this hand, but would struggle to resist that temptation for sake of partnership peace (we play 5 card majors).
March 4, 2019
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While I think 3 is “acceptable” in that partner will expect exactly *2* s (can't start with 1NT with 3 s when it is only *semi* forcing) for that call, I think 3NT is quite a bit more descriptive given the strong (for NT play) red suit holdings.
March 4, 2019
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