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All comments by Craig Zastera
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After 1H-2C-2D-2H, both hands are still essentially unlimited. Even if opener is minimum, responder is still unlimited, so it would be inappropriate for opener to waste two potentially valuable levels of bidding by jumping to 4H.
If having two minimum hands exchanging information “for the opponents' benefit” bothers you, you can solve this problem by playing non-serious (or serious) *2NT*. That way if opener is minimum but has a control or two, he can bid a non-serious 2NT. If responder is also minimal, *he* can then jump to 4H with the knowledge that there is no slam.
One could even (probably better) use *2S* (the cheapest bid after suit agreement) as the “non-serious” artificial bid (with 2NT then becoming a spade cue-bid–serious if bid by opener).
One could go even further by defining opener's raise to 3H
(1H-2C-2D-2H-3H) as the weakest possible action, showing a truly rock bottom minimum opener with non-slammish values.
Thus, in this scheme, after 1H-2C-2D-2H:

* 2S: artificial “non-serious”. A relatively
minimum opener, but values that can support
slam investigation if responder is strong

Over opener's “non-serious” 2S, responder
can sign off (4H) or continue with a cue-bid
(2N=spade cue) if he has the extra values
to pursue slam opposite opener's “good”
minimum.

* 2N: spade cue-bid showing “serious” slam interest

* 3C/3D: serious, showing control in bid suit,
denying control in any skipped suit

* 3H: worst possible hand for slam. Still leaves
a level of bidding below 4H if responder is
very strong and wants to pursue slam.
July 10, 2016
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But we're not playing a “relay system” where one hand asks all the questions and the other hand describes. It is not important that *I* have more information–only that one of us does. Thus, 3NT as described by many (extra values, etc.), *gives* rather specific information to partner about our hand. He can then use that to decide his next action–perhaps bidding a suit in which he is interested in slam.
If you advocate instead opener's bidding 2NT all the time over 2S to “save room”, he is not giving any information about his hand–simply making a meaningless “Relay” to request more info about partner's hand.
July 9, 2016
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I don't think 4H here normally shows a 19+ HCP hand. Typically it shows a good, *shapely* hand, but not with overwhelming HCP strength.
Something like xx-AKxx-AKJxxx-x or even
xx-KQxxx-AKJTxx-void
With 19+ HCPs and 4 card heart support, would probably start with a GF cue-bid (2S), then raise hearts.
July 9, 2016
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I think your “4-7 HCPs with a stiff or void” is a bit too restrictive.
But the important point is that the jump to 4M after the 3C overcall is “more or less” the same as the jump to 4M without the interference. Certainly, this bid should “always” be fewer than 10 HCPs.
The idea is as follows (after the 3C overcall):
* 3M: constructive, non-forcing, ranging from a good
constructive raise up through a minimum LR
Some hands that would raise to 2M without interference
are too weak for 3M over 3C, but some stronger 2M
raises are acceptable.
Some hands that would make a limit raise without
interference are too good for 3M over 3C, but some
minimal LR hands without interference are OK for 3M
over 3C.
* 4M: unambigously pre-emptive. Usually 5 trump,
exceptionally 4 with good shape.
Limited to fewer than 10 HCPs. Could be much less,
particularly at favorable vul.

If you have a raise of partner's “M” that is *too strong for 3M* (over their (3C), then you should *cue-bid* 4C.
That is 4M does NOT show a hand too strong for 3M but not strong enough to cue-bid. The next strength range after 3M is the cue-bid (4C in your example). 4M is not part of the raise strength “heirarchy”–it is just pre-emptive.

This very important principle is discussed at great length in Andrew Robson's book “Partnership Bidding At Bridge” (highly recommended!).
For reasons that escape me, I've noticed that surpisingly many (American) players seem to think that the competitive jump raise to 4M is simply mid-way in strength between the competitive 3M raise and the cue-bid. It is not clear to me what these players do when they hold a pre-emptive raise to the four level–I suspect they bid 4M with those hands too, leaving partner poorly positioned to know what to do when 4th hand bid 5C–is he very strong, bidding to make (partner's 4M was pre-emptive) or is 4th hand sacrificing (partner's 4M was based on game going high card values)? No way to know if responder's competitive 4M is ill-defined. The solution is to insist that the competitive raise to 4M be pre-emptive. Strong hands cue-bid.
July 9, 2016
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Yes, I open 1M very light in 3rd chair (with stipulation that light 1H must be able to pass 1S response–i.e. promises tolerance, usually 3+ cards).

No need for PH to make an immediate jump shift with support for 3/4 hand opener's 1M opening (which could be quite light).

First, if opener rebids 2D (artificial) over Drury, I have a structure whereby responder can show all “fit jump” type hands as well as all hands with stiff or void, and all other Drury hand types.

Second, even if opener rebids 2M over Drury (denying a real opening bid), responder with a nice “fit jump” hand can if he believes game is still possible despite partner's “non opener” choose to show his suit over 2M. Also, with a really good “splinter” type hand (including 4+ card support), responder again may choose to show this even over opener's 2M (denying a real opener) rebid.

Thus, except for P-1H-2S (immediate fit jump), I have no need to use PH jump shifts to show fits for opener's suit.
Thus, these bids can be devoted to other purposes (e.g. good extreme 2-suiters not suitable for initial opening bid).

There is really no PH that should be “forcing to game” opposite partner's 3rd chair 1M opening–that is just not possible. Even with a really nice (but less than opening bid) “fit jump” type hand, there is no guarantee that game will be there–opener can be both very light and not fitting responder's long side suit.
July 8, 2016
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I chose the first option, but strongly considered the 2nd (with S:KJ) as my minimum Drury. I certainly wouldn't consider going any lighter than the first choice.
I think the criteria for opener's 2D vs. 2M as 2M denying a hand I would have opened in 1st or 2nd chair is about right. But then, I'm a “sound” opener in 1st/2nd chair (no worse than “suggestion of 22”).
Also, even if opener rebids 2M denying a sound 1/2 seat opener, responder with a “super” hand is allowed to bid again. The only justifications for this are:
(a) a “fit jump” type hand with a really good 5+
card side suit
Kxxx-AQJxx-x-xxx
would justify 3H after P-1S-2C-2S
as 4S is good opposite, e.g. AQxxx-Kx-xxxx-xx
Note: I start with Drury, not a PH fit showing
JS into hearts.

(b) 4+ trump support with a stiff/void and a max
passed hand, e. QTxxx-x-AJTx-Kxx
Offers good play for game opposite
KJxxx-xxxx-Kx-Qx
I show this hand type by relaying (e.g. 2N)
over opener's 2M (P-1S-2C-2S-2N).
This works when opener's suit is hearts (use 2S
relay) because with a “fit jump” with good
spades, over a 3rd seat 1H I jump to 2S
immediately (passable). This works because I
require that a “light” 3rd seat 1H opener promises
spade tolerance (e.g. Kxx-KQJx-xxx-xxx).
July 8, 2016
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If one were to bid 5D here, I think it would be 100% clear that this must show both red suits (5=5 or better, 5=6 likely)and no tolerance for clubs as there is no hand with just diamonds that would pass initially and now pull at the 5 level.
That is not to say I would choose this, but it could easily be right. Partner might have something like
x-Kx-Kxx-AKJxxxx where 5D would likely make but 5C not.
Of course, he could also have A-xx-x-AKQxxxxxx and be unimpressed with your clever “2-way shot” 5D call.
July 8, 2016
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Ugh! 10AM starting time is reason enough for me not to attend a tournament.
July 8, 2016
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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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