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All comments by Craig Zastera
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See? I told you this hand would be easy to bid if you passed initially :-(.
Larry Cohen often advocates the bidding rule “no new suits at the 4 level.” I wonder how he feels about the 5 level?
July 8, 2016
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Assuming 4D is forcing here, I'd bid that. I'm put off of bidding 4C as that might be construed as a club control (for play in diamonds). 4D is just “waiting” showing continuing slam interest without a club control. I suppose 4C could be justified as showing “A, K, or Q” in partner's suit, but with the agreements you've described, it doesn't sound like there is much reason to suppose partner has real clubs.
July 7, 2016
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Another marginal opener 2-suiter that is best started with a pass. This hand will be easy to bid whether they bid spades (Michaels) or clubs (unusual NT) or both. Meanwhile, if you open you either misdescribe your lengths (by opening 1H) or put yourself in an awkard position w.r.t showing your 2nd suit (by opening 1D) as not strong enough to reverse.
July 7, 2016
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Hi Nicholas,
I play Michaels (and other two-suited bids) as “continuous range.” I find it important to be able to show both suits wholesale when 5=5 or better. The reason why such bids should deliver equal length suits or one longer in the *lower* suit is that partner will (by agreement) always choose the lower suit when he has equal length. So with a 2 suiter that has greater length in the higher suit, it would be normal to start by bidding that suit, then show the lower suit later. I suppose there might be an occassional exception where the 6 card higher suit is *very* weak and the 5 card lower suit is very strong, but that would be a case of choosing to treat the hand as 5=5 because of the extreme strength disparity.
July 7, 2016
Craig Zastera edited this comment July 7, 2016
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Although one must “stretch” in competition, there is a limit.
Had North passed, we would have bid 1S only. This hand is worth maybe 6 points (counting 1 for the 5th spade), so not close to the 9 required for a jump advance (to 2S). So we can hardly now afford to bid 2 levels higher than our hand is worth (by bidding 3S). Partner has heard the auction. If he has any extras, he can double again. But if we bid 3S directly, he will play us for a better hand and likely raise to game unsucessfully.
July 7, 2016
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The jump shows extras but not enough to bid 2NT then 4NT.
So about 16 HCPs. Shape could be 2=2=5=4 with very strong spades (like AQ) and weak hearts (xx) or 3=1=5=4.
July 7, 2016
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I believe that 2NT is supposed to show bad trumps (less than 2/3 top honors). Of course, it seems to me that one could reverse this definition. The point is that 2NT is some sort of a “trump suit” cue-bid.

It also seems to me that it might make sense to reverse the meaning of 2S and 2NT after 2 level *heart* agreement.
When spades are agreed at the two level (e.g. 1S-2C-2D-2S), 2NT is the *cheapest bid* and is used as a trump suit cue-bid. This is excellent as responder gets insight into the combined quality of the trump suit at the lowest possible level.

But when *hearts* are trump (e.g. 1H-2C-2D-2H), opener is supposed to bid 2S with a spade control. Only if he lacks a spade control is he permitted to bid 2NT (or not) to define his trump suit quality. Over opener's 2S (spade control), responder now can bid 2NT (or not) depending on his trump quality. The problem is, it is much less common for responder to hold 2/3 top trump honors (as he likely has only 3 trump), so a 2NT “trump suit cue-bid” with this criteria makes less sense for responder.

A solution (with hearts agreed at the 2 level), is to define opener's *2S* as the “trump suit cue-bid” (showing less than 2/3 top heart honors as I recall Rexford's book). If instead opener skips 2S to make a higher cue-bid, he is implying good trump (2/3 tops). With 2S defined this way, 2NT would become a spade cue-bid.
This switch allows opener's cheapest cue-bid to be the “trump suit” cue-bid regardless of whether the agreed major suit is hearts or spades.
July 6, 2016
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My choice was “pass”, and I didn't find it too painful.
Second choice would be 1NT. I play “system off” after our direct 1NT overcall, so partner can play in 2 of either minor with a 5 card suit and a weak hand.
I don't like 2H at all with H:A8xxx. Should be a 6 card suit or a *very strong* 5 bagger with sound opening values.
July 6, 2016
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This is one of the best auction types for 2/1 GF–major suit agreement at the 2 level!! Why on earth would you want to waste two valuable levels of bidding space by jumping to 4H with this hand? The very thought of this turns my stomach.
What you should bid with this hand is 2NT which
(a) denies a spade control and
(b) denies a heart suit headed by 2/3 top honors
while leaving partner all sorts of room to continue to probe for slam if he (a) has spades controlled and (b) has good enough hearts, and © sufficient values. If our descriptive 2NT bid tells him enough to know there is no slam, then *he* can jump to 4H.
July 6, 2016
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or AQJ9x-QJT865-x-x. I suppose I'd have to open this or your newest example. I really hate opening the shorter suit. So the question is whether there is a 5=6 hand that is strong enough that it must be opened but too weak to open in the 6 card suit and reverse into the 5 card suit if necessary.
I think with my example (with H:QJT865), I'd open 1H, and then over partner's inconveninet 1NT, decide whether to rebid 2H or go ahead and bid 2S.
With your example, I guess I'd have to hold my nose and open 1S, planning to rebid 2H (then 3H) as supressing S:AKJTx doesn't feel right.
July 6, 2016
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two-suited bids (e.g. Michaels) suggest either equal length suits or one card longer in the *lower* suit. Thus, this hand with its 6 weakish hearts and 5 strong spades is perfect for such a bid. If the suits were reversed, it would be better to open 1S as Michaels would not suggest 6 spades and 5 hearts.

I hardly think this hand is so strong that in needs to be considered a mandatory opener. If you discount the stiff CJ (likely no better than an “x”), it does not even qualify under the “Suggestion of 22”. So a marginal opener with a shape that will have to be misdescribed in order to open is a good candidate for a “pass.”
July 6, 2016
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Won't this hand be much easier to bid if we start with a pass? It should be easy to show majors later. This approach is particularly good with more length in the lower suit (partner chooses the lower suit when advancing 2-suited bids when he has equal length).
Opening the bidding creates problems since opening 1S (in order to have a convenient heart rebid) distorts the suit lengths while opening 1H will make it awkward to show the spades (although a 5=6 hand can reverse “light”, this hand would be going too far).
Pass now to limit values and then show your majors happily next time around.
July 6, 2016
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I would bid 4H (spades and a minor, 5+-5+ strong) over 3H.
July 5, 2016
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This is an important question. Here are possible answers:
1. “one 8+ card fit is enough”
That is, once partner bids 3H, we assume hearts are
trump.
So 3S next is a cue-bid (A, K, or Q, not
a small singleton or a void).
3NT is “serious” or “non-serious” for hearts,
whichever you play.
Or, some play “serious 3S” (or “non-serious 3S”) when
hearts are trump, in which case 3N is spade cue-bid.

No easy way to get back to spades except possibly
bidding spades later at a very high level (e.g. 6S).

Particularly true if partnership plays “kickback”, in
which case 4S is Kickback (for hearts).

2. Responder may have bid 2H always with the intention
of going back to spades. He merely wanted to show
a possible trick source with his good 5 card heart
suit first. He may even have *4* spades–it is
often important to show a strong side suit first
rather than starting with “Jacoby 2NT” (or the like)
or a splinter raise because if opener has the
missing honor in the side suit, that suit will
produce a lot of tricks in a spade slam.

If partership subscribes to this philosophy, then
after 1S-2H-3H:
*3S is natural, promising 3+ spades and sets
spades as trumps.
* 3N is a spade cue-bid (A, K,or Q) with
hearts agreed trump
* there is no “serious” or “non-serious” bid
available–just have to muddle through with
cue-bidding.
* 4S is a natural “picture jump” promising
good spades (at least 3, often 4), good
hearts, no minor suit control
* To bid Kickback for hearts, must first
temporize with a cue-bid (establishing hearts
as trump), then 4S Kickback.
* Alternatively, 4NT can be used as “6 keycard”
ask with both major kings counted as keys.

Which is better? I like “2.” since I find picture bid jumps useful, and also I like to have “prepared” sequences where I start with a 2/1 to show a good suit, and then show support for partner's suit next round. I don't want
partner's (perhaps) inconvenient raise to short-circuit my plans.
For this reason, I also define responder's delayed new suit jumps as splinters in support of opener's first suit,
e.g. 1S-2D-2H-*4C* is a splinter in support of spades (just as it would have been had opener rebid 2S or 2N).

So on the actual problem, I chose 3NT, intended as a cue-bid of a spade honor (A, K, or Q) with hearts confirmed as trump (3S, for me, would be natural and set spades as trump).
July 5, 2016
Craig Zastera edited this comment July 5, 2016
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yes
July 4, 2016
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4D assuming Namyats is part of system.
July 4, 2016
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I would have opened this hand 2C
July 4, 2016
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4H is not “fast arrival”–it is a “picture bid” showing good hearts (at least 3 , perhaps 4), good diamonds, and no black suit control. I'm not used to partner's 2H promising 6–I play it as “catch-all”. So I would probably not raise hearts here at all as 3H strongly suggests 3 card support. I would probably choose between 2N (not great without a spade stopper) and 3C (probably my choice). But with 2H promising 6, I suppose 3H is best.
July 2, 2016
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Oren,
But it's not just double dummy defense I'm using (obviously better than “real” defense), but also double dummy declarer play (again, obviously better than “real” declarer play).
so these two tend to offset each other.
There have been studies done comparing double dummy play (declarer and defenders) with “real world” play/defense. The results are that the higher the level of the contract, the more double dummy results tend to over-estimate declarer's performance (on average over many deals). So, for slams, “double dummy” analysis tends to show slams making more often than they will in real life. Conversely, for partscores, real life declarers tend to do better (again, on average) than double dummy results suggest.
It turns out that for game contracts like 3NT, the average double dummy results tend to be quite close to the real world single dummy results (again, on average over many deals).

Personally, without the 10s, I would act as the double dummy simulation results suggest and merely invite game. But maybe you play the hands better than I do and/or intimidate your opponents into defending poorly more than I do. So, as they say “your mileage may vary.”
July 2, 2016
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Richard,
I made no stipulation regarding 10s (or lower spots), so they will occur with their “natural” frequency. The software permits controlling spot cards down to the 8 if desired. For the purposes of the question I was trying to answer, it matters little exactly what requirements I put on the opposite hands, as long as I use the same ones when comparing “random” balanced 17 counts and random balanced 18 counts with the specific hand under investigation in this post. The goal is only to see if there is justification for “downgrading” this hand and treating it as a 17 count (so as to open a 15-17 1NT with it). The simulations showed that this hand actually performs slightly better than an average 18 count, so that “downgrading” is not justified.
This (simulations using large numbers of random deals) is a far more accurate way to evaluate and compare bridge hands than any “point count” method, however sophisticated. Those methods are merely attempts to estimate the mean value of a hand over a large number of deals. Doing simulations is the “real deal”.

Notice that for the type of question I'm answering here, any possible discrepency between “double dummy” analysis vs. actual play (single dummy) is also irrelevent because I'm not looking for absolute make percentages–only relative performance between the test hand and “average” hands of different specific strengths.

I excluded 8 card major suit fits because I was only trying to see how this hand compared to random 17 and 18 point hands for purposes of playing NT. I was not trying to answer the question as to whether this hand would play better in a 4-4 spade fit or in 3NT when partner (also) has a 4=3=3=3 hand. Most players do not Stayman when 4333 (this view is supported by simulations BTW).

But if you would like to know how this specific hand plays in 3NT vs. 4S when the opposite hand has exactly 7 HCPs and is 4=3=3=3, I did another 1000 deal simulation to attempt to answer that question. Note, though, that if you open 1NT, this issue is moot as partner will simply pass with such hands. And if you open 1C and rebid 3S over partner's 1S, he can still offer 3NT as a contract (assuming you don't play such a 3NT conventionally), an
offer you would surely accept with this hand.

Results of 1000 deal simulation of K964-K93-AQJ-KQ4 opposite random 4=3=3=3 7 counts in 3NT and 4S:

Played by strong hand Played by weak hand
3NT 466 / 1000 408 / 1000
4S 189 / 1000 174 / 1000

So, clearly 3NT is far superior to 4S when opposite hand is also 4=3=3=3. Note also, though, that a 4=3=3=3 7 count opposite performs rather worse in 3NT than an “average balanced 7 count with no 8 card major suit fit.”
July 2, 2016
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