Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Craig Zastera
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Bidding 3D over 2S shows a diamond stopper and may be a try for game if partner has hearts stopped (perhaps even a partial). Partner's failure to bid 3NT (heart stopper) or even 3H (partial heart stopper), or 4S (no heart stopper but a 5 card spade suit with more than a dead minimum) says that from partner's point of view, he's got nowhere to go. Since we know if out hand has full GF values (opposite the worst hand partner may have) or was really just a try, it is perfectly reasonable for us to pass partner's 3S “plea for mercy.”
June 29, 2016
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double–take-out asking partner for a 4 card major.
June 28, 2016
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The way I play, there are two unbid suits–hearts and diamonds. That is, unbid by our side. I generally don't differentiate much as to whether the opponents have bid none, one or both (e.g. via a 2-suited call) of these suits.

I avoid “Western cue-bids” except in some specific (rare) circumstances. This is not one of them.

Here, both “unbid” suits can be bid (3D or 3H) without getting beyond 3NT. Thus, for me, 3H shows heart values, possibly looking for a diamond stopper from partner for 3NT, while 3D shows diamond values (stopper(s)), possibly looking for a heart stopper from partner for 3NT.

When partner bids 3S, he is denying any help in hearts (3NT would show a heart stopper, 3H would show a partial stopper).
Further, with 5 spades, no heart stopper, and anything more than a dead minimum, he could have bid 4S.

Thus, I see no reason why partner needs his 3S to be forcing.
*We* have made the strong bid (3D). We know what we have.
If we have enough for game opposite a minimum responding hand, we can bid again. Meanwhile, poor partner over there is doing everything he can to get out. If our hand is not a GF, we can surely heed his warning and pass.
June 28, 2016
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You don't mention the distinction between bidding 2N now (i.e. directly over partner's 1S) vs. 2C-2D then 2NT.
I play that the latter promises 4+ clubs (so can reach 3C when partner is 4=4 in the minors with a minimum–we also generally open 1D with 4=4 minors). This agreement makes 2NT a little easier here as partner knows we have at most 3 clubs.
June 28, 2016
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This is easy with the agreement that 2D after partner's 2C is “equal level conversion” (this is how I play). Without that agreement, this is a much harder problem. The hand is definitely not strong enough to double and then remove 2C to 2D without ELC. Thus, options are Pass, 1NT, 2D, and double (planning to pass 2C). I guess I'd still double (and pass if partner bids 2C).
June 28, 2016
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A fine maximum VUL weak 2H opener. Only slight flaw is the 3 card spade support (2H more ideal if we switch the spades with one of the minors).
I don't open “light”, considering the “suggestion of 22” about the right standard, but I will pass flat or balanced 22 or even 22.5 with a weak Q (Qx) or J (Jx or Jxx).
This hand counts to only 21 (and has a weak J), so clearly too light for 1H.
For me, if a hand has a 6 card suit of appropriate quality for a weak 2 (and H:AJ9874 is fine), then there is no such thing as “too good to open two but not good enough to open one.”–it's either a one bid or a two bid.
June 28, 2016
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Where is RHO's 2C overcall when you need it (so as to give me an easy support double)?
Too strong for 2D. Dislike jumping to 3D with good 3 card heart support, but what can I do? A jump raise to 3H with only 3 card support is almost never right.
Useful to have some sort of conventional agreements about meanings of partner's 3H and 3S continuations on this particular troublesome auction (1D-1M-3D).
June 28, 2016
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No special agreement means double is “values”–can support defense or offense.

A special agreement would be if Pass of 5D was agreed to be *forcing*.
*Then* double would be a vote for defending, while “pass” would express doubt, i.e. inviting overcaller to choose between doubling and bidding on (and if forcing passer later pulled overcaller's double to 5S, *that* would be a slam try).
June 27, 2016
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Your title asks *two* different questions, but your answer choices don't reflect this.
Your weakest actions are immediate bids–e.g. 3S says that you aren't willing to defend 3DX should partner double because your hand is defensively weak, offensively strong, with long spades. Immediate 3H would also be weak , natural and offensive.

If you pass 3D, but then pull partner's double (say to 3S or 3H), that is a *strong* action according to “standard” forcing pass semantics (pass and pull is stronger than the same action taken directly).

This assumes that partner's double of 2NT sets up FP (forcing pass) over advancer's 3m bids. I think that is the normal meaning of doubling unusual 2NT, but I suppose other agreements are possible.

With the given hand, I see no reason why you should not be “happy to defend” 3DX should partner double, hence I picked the third choice.
But if your evaluation of this hand is different than mine, i.e. you are not willing to defend 3DX, then you should bid 3S immediately.
June 27, 2016
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Need an agreement. Does Smolen still apply? If it does (and I think it should), bid 3H. A double here would be take-out (partner's pass has not denied a 4 card major as he does not know that we don't have some garbage hand with short clubs).
I abstain since this is just a matter of knowing your methods.
June 27, 2016
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I'm passing 5H, but will bid 7D if my LHO bid 6H. Hence, voted for 7NT.
June 27, 2016
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Am I willing to defend 3DX if partner doubles?
If yes, then I should pass. If no, then I should bid (3S) now.
My view is that partner can't have more than 2 spades and may well have fewer. My hand is well suited for defense (compare with, say, spades like KQJxxxx) as I have SA, trump A, and a likely entry in HK.
So it seems clear to pass, particularly with the opponents vul, since we may well not have a game (if we do, partner should know it), so +200 could be a top.
So pass seems clear.
June 27, 2016
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Assuming I had no way to show a “super-strong” splinter (if my shortness were in hearts, 1D-1S-3H would include this possibility in my methods), I think this hand merits another call. Slam is cold opposite, say, Axxxx-xxx-Jx-xxx and partner could hardly have been expected to do other than rebid 4S with this.
Having splintered, 4NT now would be Exclusion, so that is out. So the choice is between 5D and 5H. I think 5D is better to emphasize the strong diamonds. Partner will know that we couldn't be making a second (and above game) slam try without a heart control on this auction. If partner continues with 5S, I pass. If he bids 5H (last trainish), I bid slam.
June 27, 2016
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I assume that partner's double shows convertible values.
Had partner passed, that would not have been forcing.
Thus, bidding 5S here is not any kind of violation–partner has invited me to choose between defending 5DX and bidding on. With a hand skewed way to the offensive extreme for my previous bid, choosing 5S rather than defending seems obvious.
June 27, 2016
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Yes, the 2 level Smolen I describe has game invitational
options.
One hand that I did a lot of simulations on (it was used in an article by Karen Walker in the ACBL Bulletin) was
KTxx-K9xxxx-x-xx (lower spots forgotten)
This hand proved ideal for 2 level Smolen. But, perhaps surprisingly, the simulation suggested that when opener showed a fit for one of the majors (4+ spades or 3+ hearts), it was actually percentage to just bid game in the major. But after 1N-2C-2D-2S-2N, it was best to continue invitational transfer (3D -> 3H). This lets opener know that responder is 4=6 invitational. Usually he will pass (he has already shown a minimum with <4S and <3H), but
occassionally the detailed knowledge of responder's hand
might enable him to push on to game (e.g. QJx-AQ-xxxx-AQxx).

My original reply was mainly meant just to support the idea that it is usually right to explore for a 4-4 fit when holding 6-4 majors rather than just committing to play in the 6 card suit, with the exceptions being when the four card major is very weak.
June 24, 2016
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Not true. Something like AQxx-AQx-xxx-xxx opposite makes game good and that is only 12 HCPs. The real value of game invite sequences with 2-suiters is with hands in this strength range where the location of opener's honor strength (rather than its sheer quantity) is critical.
So having shape specific invites for these hand types is a big winner.
Conversely, game invitations that are purely “quantitative” with balanced hands (e.g. 3=2=4=4 8 or 9 count) are the least valuable as opener will largely just be guessing–responder could do almost as well with these kinds of hands by simply making the decision between passing 1NT and jumping to 3NT himself.
June 24, 2016
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I was interested to note in the current Bridge World that they seem to use 1N-2C-2D-4C to show 4=6 major and 1N-2C-2D-4D to show 6=4 majors. Sort of “delayed South African Texas”.
I'd never seen that variant before. They don't say (that I could find) what they use 1N-2C-2D-4H for.

But there is another wrinkle that I play. Using Smolen at the 2 level (much more powerful than 3 level Smolen), it
is possible to have 3 levels of Texas:
1. 1N-4D/4H ordinary Texas with 6+ H/S
2. 1N-2C-2D-4D/4H delayed Texas 4=6 and 6=4 GF
3. 1N-2C-2D-2H-2N/3N-4H (6=4 slam interest)
and
2N-2C-2D-2S-2N/3N-4D (4=6 slam interest)

With 2 level Smolen, responders 2H/2S after
opener's 2D reply to Stayman promises at least
game invitational strength (can be GF or more)
with at least 5 cards in the unbid major and
at least four cards in the bid major (can have
more length in either but 2S always promises
longer hearts).
Opener's NT replies deny 3 cards in responder's
known 5 card major (2N=min, 3N=max).
If responder continues with 4D or 4H
(super delayed Texas), he shows slam try strength
with 6 cards in the major delay transferred into.

Using 2 level Smolen, it is also possible to show
5=5 majors in game invitational, GF, and slam try strengths.

Note than when playing 2 level Smolen, the
traditional 3 level Smolen sequences (1N-2C-2D-3M)
are freed up for alternative uses. I use these
to show a stiff in the bid major with exactly
four cards in the other major and GF strength.
June 24, 2016
Craig Zastera edited this comment June 24, 2016
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I have done some simulations on this question. The result was that it is right to start with Stayman (looking for a possible 4-4 fit) unless the 4 card suit is much weaker than the 6 card suit. With something like Kxxx-Kxxxxx-x-xx (i.e. equal strength suits) it is clear to start with Stayman.
June 24, 2016
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It is clear-cut that it is right for East to play his jack from Jxx (or ten from Txx) on the second round. This virtually assures that South will finesse the Q and fail.

The only interesting question is what South should do when East follows low twice. If East is an expert, continue with original plans and finesse the queen. But if East is average, judging that giving up on his holding Kxx (the only holding where he must play low twice) in favor of rising with the Ace, thus presuming he has erred by playing “x, x” from Jxx or Txx (hence, twice as likely as Kxx apriori) has appeal.
June 23, 2016
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Certainly if CJ were changed to CQ I'd *have* to open this hand (1C).
June 23, 2016
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