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All comments by Craig Zastera
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The question is, when making a negative doubble, is it better to have several cards in *their* suit and (perhaps) extreme shortness in partner's suit, **or** is it better to have a couple of cards in partner's suit and extreme shortness in their suit?
Even if we might make a negative double with either with hands where no alternative seems palatable, every partnership should have an understanding for cases where potential doubler has borderline strength whether some moderate length/strength in *their* suit (to better support a possible penalty pass by partner with no more attractive alternative) is a “plus” factor that would tip the balance towards doubling, or whether some “tolerance” for partner's suit (to better support partner having to rebid his suit on a 5 bagger with no better choice) is the “plus” factor.

From years of reading Bridge World, I believe their traditional position is that negative double is better with some defense (i.e. something in their suit) to support a possible penalty pass rather than extreme shortness in their suit together with some tolerance for partner. I do not know whether this orientation is still in vogue.
Oct. 23, 2017
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I don't know, Dave. I know a lot of good players, and as far as I can tell they play 2NT on this auction type (without the redouble) as “good/bad” (aka Lebensohl):
(1S)-DBL-(2S)-2N/3m
Obviously, if advancer has a terrible hand, he can just pass.
But that does not obviate the value of G/B. An immediate 3m can show ~ 9-11 (support points), while 2N can suggest
around ~ 6-8 (or you can adjust these ranges slightly according to partnership preference).

The point is, the ability for advancer to show two strength ranges without going beyond 3m can be quite valuable as doubler might have quite a good hand (or not), so game is still in the picture.

Whether G/B is more or less useful than “scrambling” 2NT on this auction is debatable (as on many other auctions).
Advancer does have “double” (responsive) available if he wants to get partner's input in a choice of strain situation. Given that, I think that the G/B use or 2NT is probably the better choice.
Oct. 22, 2017
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My agreements are:
1M (P) 1N(F) (2X)
DBL
and
1M (P) 1N(F) (2X)
P (P) DBL

are both *take-out* (but may be converted, of course).
But:
1m (P) 1N(NF) (2X)
DBL
is penalty.
I suppose
1m (P) 1N(NF) (2X)
P P DBL
is penaltyish also, but within the parameters of responder having denied a 4 card major and more than 10 HCPs.
Oct. 16, 2017
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Without your redouble, most people would play that LHO's 3 shows values (else 2NT Lebensohl). Does that still apply after your redouble? I'd sure want to know, but there is no mention in the OP.

Anyway, I would think that the logical meaning of your re-double is that you are not willing to defend an undoubled contract. That is, your XX means either we defend a doubled contract or else compete to 3, and you would like partner to make the decision based on his hand.

Partner knows this, yet he passed 3. This must be forcing, and he is telling you that he is neutral w.r.t defending 3CX or competing to 3. Annoying, perhaps (as your re-double was trying to get him to make this decision), but we must assume that he is doing the best he can by sending the decision back to you, saying that his hand, within the parameters of his original single raise, is about right down the middle w.r.t. defending 3CX or competing to 3.
I'd therefore expect three spades and probably three clubs too, and maybe 7-8 HCPs.

Thus, it would seem very weird for you to pass this out in 3C after having made an earlier call which explicitly says that this is not what you want. But I suppose no one can make you honor the logic of your previous action.
Oct. 16, 2017
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Richard,
I agree that *if* my partner is going to bid over my 4, that 5 is the best choice. I'm not terribly critical of my partner's actual pass though as I might have had weaker hearts.
Oct. 16, 2017
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Well, I did play the hand after the given auction, and I did drop the doubleton HQ in my LHO's hand.

It seems to me that this play is not anti-percentage. LHO led the S9. Now this doesn't have to be a singleton, but it seemed liked a reasonable possibility.

So I went up SA and played HK and a H to my HA.
If LHO has led a stiff spade and if he has 6 diamonds for his 2 opening, then LHO started with 1 spade and 6 diamonds while RHO started with 4 spades and 3 diamonds.
Thus, both defenders started with the same number of (spades + diamonds), hence have the same number of “vacant spaces” for (clubs + hearts).

After my RHO follows low to the 2nd round of hearts, he actually has one fewer “vacant space” than LHO, so it is slightly odds on to play for the drop in hearts.
Even if LHO has led S9 from a *doubleton*, the odds in the heart suit for finesse vs. drop are exactly 50-50 (assuming LHO has 6 diamonds).

I certainly don't understand the claims that this is a poor slam. It looks to be about 75% to me. All that is necessary is to play *one* of the majors for no losers.
Since each major offers a roughly 50-50 chance for no losers, that means about 75% overall chance of success.

Different people have very different pre-empt philosophies, but I don't think opening 3 with my hand in 2nd seat at unfavorable vulnerability is even a close call. For me, I'm supposed to have about 7 tricks in hand for a 3 opening under these conditions. This hand has nowhere near that (I'd say no more than 5 if that).
Further, this hand would make a dynamite dummy for a spade contract (give partner AKxxxx-x-xxx-xxx and 4 has play) which will be hard to reach after opening 3
Oct. 16, 2017
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Of the 11 times the deal was played in hearts, 12 tricks were made on 9 of them (four pairs in 6, two in 5, five in 4). All the 6 bidders made it.

The deal was played in NT three times. Twice 12 tricks were made (once in 6NT, once in 3NT). Once 8 tricks were made (in 3NT).

The deal was played in 4 once, making 5 (6 can be made).

Once, E/W played 5DX, down 800.

This supports my contention in another reply that real world players rarely finesse missing four to the queen.
Oct. 15, 2017
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OK, I added another option for bidding OK up until North's pass of 4. For those who pick this, it would be nice to hear what action you think North should have taken over 4.
Oct. 15, 2017
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2 cannot be forcing (even though it may well and probably should promise at least normal “reverse” strength) because responder has not shown any values.
Oct. 15, 2017
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This is a very common situation. Often it occurs in the form of deciding whether to finesse or play for the drop of the queen missing four in the suit. Say you have no particular distributional insight to shift the odds (from the apriori 52-48 favoring the drop).
What I have found is that virtually *no one* will take the finesse. So (assuming normal contract, etc.), you will get a virtual top if you finesse and it works, a near zero if it doesn't, and an average if you play for the drop (whether that works or not).
What should you do? Play for the drop since (you believe) that is a *slight* mathematical favorite?

I think it depends on the state of your game and your goals.
If you're trying to win, and it is late in the session, and you feel like you're doing pretty well but likely not (yet) leading the field, then I say you take the (slight) anti-percentage play and “go for” a top which may well catapult you into the lead. If you instead play for the drop, you will likely finish 2nd or 3rd. big deal (unless this is a national event where you may be quite happy to be 2nd or 3rd).

Conversely, if you feel like your game is already excellent (you may well be leading), then your goal is to avoid any disasters. So in that case you play with the field (even in a case where you believe the field play is slightly anti-percentage).
Oct. 15, 2017
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Richard,
In the actual auction, they bid 3H (so my original post was in error).
But I think that the 3H bid makes it even *more* obvious that my 3S must be forcing since (a) I could have just *passed* if I were weak as partner would still have another opportunity and (b) the possible cue-bid option has been removed.

So I think the 3S bid must be forcing whether or not they bid 3H when 3D promises extras, since that would be the
same as the non-competitive case.

If 3D shows a minimum with long diamonds, I *still* think 3S should be forcing as that seems more useful than having a way to play in exactly 3S, but that is perhaps more debatable, particularly at matchpoints.
Oct. 14, 2017
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Well, I find the majority vote very puzzling.
First, consider the uncontested auction:
1 1
3 3
??
I presume that no one would have any doubts that this 3
is 100% forcing. With the given actual hand, there might
be some dispute as to exactly what opener should bid (I
like 4), but it must be clear that he has to bid something.

So now back to the actual auction:
1 (1) 1 2
3 (3) 3 P
?
Assuming that this 3 shows extras (i.e. similar to a jump
rebid of 3), then surely responder's 3 here must also be forcing, no?

Of course, one might opine that opener's competitive 3
here merely shows long diamonds in a minimum hand. In
that case, one might argue that responder's 3 is now not forcing (personally, I think that it should still be forcing
even if 3 doesn't promise extras, since choosing methods
to aim for the tiny target of exactly 3 is not winning bridge).
But I gave opener's actual hand, so it is clear that this
partnership/opener thinks his 3 shows extras, hence again
3 must be forcing.

In actual fact, in my regular partnerships I play good/bad
2NT (i.e. Lebensohl) by opener on this auction, so 3 would promise extras (as this opener has).
However, this day I was playing with a first time partner,
and we had not discussed “good/bad”. So what should I presume about the strength shown by 3 without explicit agreement? I assumed it probably showed extras, but there was room for doubt, particularly since this new partner has just moved here from a remote part of the country (so who knows what is “common” there?).

My hand was AKTT9x-x-xx-Txxx. So I rebid 3 thinking this was the perfect “hedge” for my uncertainty about how
good a hand partner was showing. Surely, if he was showing extras, he would treat my 3 as forcing.
And if he wasn't showing extras, he might still think 3 is forcing, but if he didn't and passed 3, I would have no reason to think we needed to be higher.

But this partner passed my 3 even though he believed he
was showing extras with his 3, so I languished in a partscore with 11 tricks cold (even with the diamond hook offside as my RHO had S:Jx so there was no trump loser).
Oct. 13, 2017
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I believe when slam is possible, one should strive to let partner in on the secret. Thus, for me, passing 3NT or “correcting” to 4 are out.
4 seems like the most descriptive way to suggest slam possibilities. Maybe partner has x-AKxxxx-QJxx-Ax.
Or Jx-AKxxxx-Qx-Axx. Or …
If partner bids 4NT (natural, regressive), I will give up.
If he bids 4, I'll make another try (4N RKCB? 5?).
Oct. 12, 2017
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Since partner is likely to have a stiff spade, prospects for slam must be good (e.g. x-Axxx-Kxxx-Kxxx). Still, just leaping to 6 (tempting) is probably too aggressive.
Depending on methods, I would cue-bid a red suit. Probably 4 if this isn't Kickback in our methods (if it is, then 4 instead). If, over 4, partner (as is likely) cue-bids 4, then our 5 should indicate desire to be in slam if partner has a spade control.
Oct. 12, 2017
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I don't see what is wrong with 1-1-2 ….
In fact, I was once told by a very good player (grand life master) that that sequence is the *only* reverse sequence in which it is permissible for opener not to have 5+ cards in his first bid suit. That is, 1m-1-2 would promise 5+ in opener's minor (but maybe not always 4+ hearts).
After 1-1-2, I don't see why we would miss a heart fit. If responder has four hearts, he can continue with 2 and opener can raise to 3.
If responder instead rebids 2NT (or 2), opener can show his hearts (or bid NT if he prefers).

I'm not a fan of the 2NT rebid with a small singleton spade.
Oct. 11, 2017
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Clearly forcing, but I think it might be possible to stop in 4m, e.g. 1-(DBL)-RDBL-(2)-P-(P)3-P-4-all pass.
That implies that opener would have to jump to 5 if he has a little extra (beyond a minimum opening).
Oct. 11, 2017
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I don't think 2 by south should be construed as four spades and a longer minor unless the partnership has that agreement.
Otherwise, just spades with a hand not good enough for a direct 1 overcall.
I don't have a problem with the four spades and a longer minor agreement, just stating that I would never think this is what that bid showed without such an agreement.

On actual problem, I think South's balancing double at matchpoints is fine. North shouldn't even consider leaving it in.
He does have a tough choice between 2 and 2NT (pick a minor).
On this deal, either is OK (makes 2 or 3).

I would have bid 3 directly over the double with the West hand.
Oct. 11, 2017
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I would not open this hand, so perhaps I should have abstained (but I voted for PASS).
Oct. 9, 2017
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Chosen sequence seems right opposite 14-16 1NT (opposite 15-17, I think it right to commit to game).
I did a simulation (double dummy play) of this hand opposite various minimum (14 HCP) 1NT openers with 3+ spades.

I got the following results:
any 14 balanced with 3 spades: 4 makes 32.2%
14 bal. w/ 3 spades & weak doubleton: 4 makes 43.7%
14 balanced with 4 spades: 4 makes 34.5%

Assuming partner would do more than merely remove 2NT to
3 if his hand were any better than these (e.g. he could bid 3m to show 3+ spades and doubt about game/no game), the
above results suggest that the given hand should PASS 3
under the given conditions.
Vul at IMPs, it might be marginally good enough to risk 4.
Oct. 8, 2017
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Without the mini-splinter, South would be worth 3.
With the highly convenient 2 available as a (later) invitational splinter with short clubs, that sequence is obvious with this hand (don't see how it could be much more ideal).
If South's minors were reversed, after 1-1, a jump rebid of 3 to show an invitational splinter would be clear-cut using ordinary methods (jump reverse is split range splinter).
When the stiff can't be shown via a jump reverse (as here), standard methods are deficient, so have to settle for a shape ambiguous 3. This hand is surely too good for a mere single raise to 2.
Oct. 8, 2017
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