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All comments by Craig Zastera
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Well, in support of Bob's view, when this auction actually occurred at our club duplicate, my RHO was the spade bidder.
My hand was:
KT8x-Qx-KQx-QJxx
My partner (the balancing doubler) held:
x-Axx-Axx-KT9xxx
Over 2S, I tried 2NT even though I knew there were several possible interpretations for this call other than “natural, invitational” which is obviously the one best suited to my actual hand.

To my astonishment, my partner actually interpreted my 2NT as natural, but unfortunately he elected to pass.
As you can see, we are cold for 10 tricks in NT. My result of +180 scored very poorly.
My partner apologized and said he should have raised to 3NT.
Actually, that doesn't seem all that obvious to me. I
find his choice of balancing action more questionable–I would prefer 2C (and then over my RHO's 2S, there are similar issues as to what my 2NT or double should mean).

My RHO's hand was: AQ9xxxx-Kx-xx-Ax

If I had been sure that “double” would be interpreted as penalties, I would have chosen that (with best defense, 2SX can be beaten 2 tricks for +500–still not as good as bidding our vulnerable game). My partner would *not* have thought double was for penalties.

It does seem to me that playing both 2NT as natural and double as penalties is overkill–one or the other of these is probably reasonable to handle good hands with spades, but the other should then probably be used for something else.
July 14, 2016
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I like to play that competitive 2NT bids are “Lebensohl” (in some contexts, called “Good/Bad 2NT”–same thing) whenever that makes any sense. To paraphrase the Cohen/Berkowicz rule about how to recongize a possible Kickback call, “if it could be Lebensohl, it is Lebensohl”.
Here, it seems to me that it makes some sense for West to wish to be able to differentiate between a second diamond bid based on very long diamonds but minimum strength (for his previous overcall), vs. a hand that has maximum high card strength in order to leave his partner better placed in the event of further competition.
Thus, playing straight Lebensohl (there is some case for reversing the meanings of 2NT and 3D), 2NT here would show a hand that wants to compete in diamonds but with minimum high card strength. Conversely, 3D would show a stronger hand.

I see from the voting that this (Lebensohl or reverse Lebensohl) does not seem to be a very popular interpretation. I was similarly surprised by the voting in a problem I posed recently where the bidding went:
(1S)-P-(P)-DBL-(2S)-???
I asked what DOUBLE and 2NT now over RHO's 2S rebid should mean.
I expected “Lebensohl” to be the popular choice for 2NT as it seems both very useful to me and also
because this auction is analagous to others where many/most play Lebensohl (e.g. (1S)-DBL-(2S)-2NT or
(2S)-P-(P)-DBL-(P)-2NT). To my surprise, those choosing Lebensohl interpretation were in a distinct minority.
July 14, 2016
Craig Zastera edited this comment July 14, 2016
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I opened 1D and am pleased to see I'm in the slight majority.
But the other day when I chose 1H with xx-AKQx-KQxxx-xx, this seemed to be considered heresy. Is the difference because the latter hand is 2=2 in the short suits instead of 1=3?
Or is the missing Jack in the 4 card suit the issue?
Would more people approve of a 1H opening with
x-AKQJ-KQxxx-xxx (yes, playing “5 card majors”)?
July 13, 2016
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Wow! I'm stunned at the vote. I picked 3S, but I thought the decision extremely close between Pass, 3S, and 3NT.
Guess I was wrong.
July 13, 2016
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4NT–natural and slam invitational, of course.
July 12, 2016
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North's 2C is supposed to show 5=5 or better majors (Michaels, just as if 2C directly over 1C).
But the North hand you show is an obvious DBL over 1NT. This is take-out of clubs, just as if directly over 1C.
July 12, 2016
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the 3S FSJ absolutely guarantees at least 5 spades. Officially, the suit should be headed by 2/3 top honors, but obviously some “cheating” occurred here. The club length might be only 4 (very strong), but will usually be 5 also.
The strength (as I play) for 3S FSJ is unlimited, although if opener rebids 4C that is passable.
Some might play that a jump to 4S (1C-(2H)-4S) is also FSJ but stronger than 3S. That would put an upper limit on 3S strength. But I play the jump to 4S as “just spades”, so the 3S FSJ is unlimited.
July 12, 2016
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I've done a lot of simulations that suggest that many people “upgrade” too freely. That is, it take a lot of “non-HCP features” to justify adding a full point to a hand's valuation.
That said, this hand has the required “a lot”. Those two major suit 10's are huge. This hand is easily “worth” 18 points.
July 12, 2016
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I like Gregory's forcing pass suggestion if you're confident that pass would be fording here. If partner doubles, you could pull to 6S as a grand slam try, hoping to emphasize your really great spades. Still probably won't work, though, due to partner's guilt over his sub-standard spades.

As to Brad's example hand (missing CA)–no, that hand would not be a FSJ IMO. An FSJ is supposed to show values concentrated in the two suits. His example has poor holdings in both black suits with a lot outside (DKQ). With that hand, I'd just start with a forcing, natural 2S.
July 12, 2016
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This was my partner's hand. He also rather unimaginatively bid 6S.

Some credit to those who bid 6H (and probably 5NT too) for at least recognizing the grand slam potential here. I think 5NT is slightly better than 6H provided those who chose it plan to remove 6C to 6S. This must suggest grand slam interest with first round control of both red suits, which makes it preferable to 6H which might lead partner to think he needs first round diamond control to bid beyond 6S.

But the problem with 5N or 6H as grand slam tries is that you know already that partner won't be able to accept!! Normally, a 4 level FSJ is supposed to show a suit of 5+ cards headed by 2/3 top honors. Here, since you are looking at the S:AK, you know partner doesn't have that. Why did he bid 3S then? He must have *6* spades to the QJ *and* exceptionally good clubs, probably 5.
But he won't accept a mere grand slam try, because he will imagine that you have only one top spade honor (expecting him to have the other two).

Thus, I think you must be just a little bit courageous here and bid the grand yourself. I suppose this is not a 100% sure thing, as partner might conceivably hold
QJxxxx-void-Kx-AQxxx, but he is much more likely to hold something like QJxxxx-x-xx-AKQx where 7NT is cold or, my actual hand:
QJxxxx-xx-void-AKxxx.
where 7S and 7NT are 89% contracts–only an offside 3-0 club break can beat either (which did not occur).
July 12, 2016
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it's matchpoints so let's try for a top by passing. At IMPs, I'd choose the prosaic 2D.
July 12, 2016
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This is an obvious (take-out) double of 1S.
July 12, 2016
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Choices are 1H planning to rebid 2D or 1D planning to rebid 2D as the hand is not strong enough for 1D then 2H and opening 1NT would be sick. I've had good luck opening the strong 4 card major on hands like this (despite playing "5 card majors).
July 12, 2016
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I don't like the 4H bid. Why not make the cheaper and more descriptive 4C call? Then, if partner continues with 4D, you can bid 4H, etc.
But perhaps you are one of those old-fashioned types who thinks you need to bid first round controls before 2nd? In that case, 5C now would seem obvious.
July 12, 2016
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I don't play WJS in comp (prefer fit showing jumps), but if I did I don't think this hand is “right” for one (would want more body in the heart suit and not the side DA).
On this exact auction (and 1C-(2D)), I play “negative free bids”. Don't use them on any other auctions, but have found them to be very helpful in this one (two) case.
Case in point–a NFB 2H would be perfect here.

Failing that, I suppose the “book” action is to make a negative double and bid hearts next time. But that course is so prone to disaster (e.g. partner bids 3S), that I prefer to lie a little about strength and bid a (one round force) 2H.
Can't I count an extra point or two for the 6th heart?
July 11, 2016
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5NT–pick a slam (in an unbid suit :-) ).
July 11, 2016
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I think 4D should still be a transfer. Over 1NT, I've always played that Texas is on when possible, even if not a jump, and that has worked well.
Here, might even be reasonable to play that 4C is
a transfer to diamonds.
Double is take-out and substitutes for Stayman.

If I were too worried partner might think double was for penalties (or convert it to such), 4S here would be reasonable. This hand might even produce slam opposite the right hand (e.g. xxx-KQxx-AQx-AKx and that's only 18), so forcing to the 5 level doesn't seem too risky.
July 11, 2016
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I knew a lot of beginners were confused by this auction type, but I didn't know it was as bad as the comments here seem to indicate. The jump to 4 of partner's major is semi-preemptive, *not* a (near) minimum opening bid. It is only slightly different (in that it has a slightly wider range) from what a jump to 4M would be without the interference.

If responder has support in a hand too strong for a 3M raise, then he must cue-bid (or make a fit jump in an unbid suit).
A jump to 4M is NOT stronger than 3M–it is a different kind of hand (semi-preemptive).

To underscore this, I will quote a little text and a couple of examples from Robeson's “Partnership Bidding At Bridge” where he analyzes precisely the auction under discussion here (i.e. 1S-(3C)-?):

“.. you must not be lazy. With a reasonable
(high-card) raise to four-major, you must not
jump to game, which shows a semi-preemptive
hand with a high ODR (Offense to Defense Ratio).
Such carelessness will not only result in your
missing the occasional slam, but also in partner
overcompeting the hand when the enemy bid again.
Instead, you must cue-bid. You do not
necessarily show any slam interest, though
you do set up a forcing pass if relevant.”

Then, he gives these three examples of a raise to 3S, the
first two being described as minimum, the last as maximum:
(a) QT64-A53-JT64-53
(b) KJ6-A753-JT64-73
© Q642-KQ53-K6-753

Then he gives an example of a minimum *4C* (cue) bid:
(d) Q964-AQ53-K6-753

About hand (d), Robson says:
“With hand (d) you are too strong for 3S and must
bid 4C.”

Notice, that hand (d), his minimum cue-bid example, is only incrementally stronger than hand ©, his maximum
single raise example. This brings home the point that a jump to 4S does *not* show a hand just a bit too strong for 3S–those are shown by cue-bidding 4C. The jump to 4S is reserved for “semi-premptive” hands–long spades (ideally 5, but 4 will do in a pinch), good shape
(high “ODR”) and limited high cards (surely less than 10, perhaps much less).
July 11, 2016
Craig Zastera edited this comment July 11, 2016
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If partner had any interest in a grand slam, he should have done something over 4S other than jumping to 6S. So many calls he might have made to hint at grand slam ambitions, e.g. 5D. The majestic leap to 6S is more of a “gambling” kind of bid suggesting “hope” that it might make rather than confidence. It surely does not invite bidding on.

Besides that, here we have the wrong kind of hearts (no ace) and no diamond control.
July 11, 2016
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I am not a fan of responsive doubles after partner overcalls (they are fine when he has doubled). The biggest reason I don't like them is that partners, IMO, abuse the treatment.
When partner overcalls, the assumption is that he has a single suited hand. Sure, sometimes an overcall is made with another 4 card suit, but that is the exception. Thus, I believe that a proper responsive double after partner overcalls, particularly when he has to go to the 3 level for either suit, should deliver 5=5 shape. This is simply a matter of LOTT. Partner may well not even have 3 cards in either unbid suit, but it is surely folly to use a method that requires him to have more than 3 cards to be sound.
Thus, even with 5=5, I am not likely to find better than an 8 card fit–surely the minimum standard for a 3 level contract.

As to strength (HCPs), this depends on whether partner's overcall was at the 1 level or 2 level. If at the one level, I think the RD ought to deliver 10 HCPs or so as a minimum.
After a 2 level overcall, since partner is expected to have a stronger hand, I suppose 8 or even a great 7 is ok *with the 5-5 shape*.

The comments about advancer's holding in partner's suit providing a good escape when he doesn't fancy either of my suits is dubious. One could make a good case that it is better for advancer to have a couple of cards in *their* suit with shortness in partner's suit so as to better support a PASS by partner when he doesn't fit either of advancer's suits. In any case, unless you have some agreement about the RD promising tolerance for overcaller's suit (which I doubt many have), he won't know whether to sit the double or to run back to his suit.

Of course, my strict shape requirements (5=5) for RDs after partner overcalls means that appropriate hands don't come up that often. True–but that isn't a good reason to use the convention with inadequate shape where a poor result is all too likely.

Actually, there is a useful alternative to playing RDs after partner overcalls–that is the “cue-bid” double. On the given auction, for example, having double available to show a “good (invitational) club raise”, so that 3C can be defined as just competitive is quite useful. Without this double, advancer needs to commit to a higher level (by cue-bidding 3S) in order to show a good raise.
July 10, 2016
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