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All comments by Craig Zastera
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A related issue is when opponents open 1NT with a point count that is outside of the range stated on their card. I think this ought to be treated as at least as serious an infraction as opening 1NT with a singleton (but I think it is not).

I am in no way trying to limit an opponent's right to “upgrade” a hand (however unjustified I might think said upgrade is), but if they are prone to doing so, that ought to be clearly stated on their card. To me, if the card says “15-17” that should be what it means. If the partnership upgrades 14s regularly, then the card should say something like (14)15-17. And if questioned as to what their criteria is for upgrading a below range hand, they ought to be able to describe those requirements clearly.
Sept. 9, 2017
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Michael,
Although I still think the North hand is too weak for any bid over opener's 2 rebid (which I do not believe implies any extra values–just 6+ spades), I do like your suggestion that *if* North were going to bid again over 2, then 2NT (natural, invitational) would perhaps be a better choice than 3 to cater to hands like KQxxxx-x-Axx-Axx opposite (where 3NT is good while 4 is not).
Sept. 9, 2017
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Around the Seattle area where many people play this, it is referred to as “MSI” which might stand for “Major Suit Inquiry” or maybe “Modified Stayman Inquiry.”
I left out some details, e.g.:
* over a 3 (5 spades) reply, responder's 4 agrees
spades and shows slam interest

* over a 3 (4 hearts) reply, if responder has slam
interest in hearts, he starts with 3 (relay to 3NT),
then pulls (to 4m cue-bid or to 4 or to 4 Kickback)
(over 3, if responder continues with 4m directly, that
is natural and forcing, not interested in playing hearts)

* over a 3NT (5 hearts) reply, 4 is natural and forcing
while 4 shows diamonds (5+) and is forcing
(because 4 is used to agree hearts)

You may have noticed that in this scheme, opener always plays the hand in whatever major is selected.
Sept. 9, 2017
Craig Zastera edited this comment Sept. 9, 2017
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Well, the numbers are what they are.
Remember that 15 HCP hands constitute about 43% of all 15-17 HCP balanced hands opposite a 9 count (and 17 HCP hands are about 23%), so it doesn't seem that surprising that the average goes up only 5% or so.
Also, the first simulation allowed *all* balanced shapes (I was investigating whether this responding hand should bid game or just invite), whereas this latter simulation only included opposite hands with four spades (i.e. the 3NT make percentage for 15 HCP hands with four spades might be different than for all 15 HCP balanced hands).
Sept. 9, 2017
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Here are the results of a 5000 deal simulation which attempts to answer the question of whether responder should Stayman with this hand.
The opposite hand was constrained to be 15-17 HCP balanced hand with exactly four spades.

Double Dummy Results:
3NT makes: 3121 (62.42%)
4S makes: 2217 (44.34%)

Matchpoint analysis:
3NT beats 4S on 2522 deals
4S beats 3N on 1537 deals
3NT ties 4S on 941 deals
matchpoint conclusion:
don't Stayman as 3NT beats 4S with 59.85% (BAM score)
and that's not even considering the extra info
that Stayman gives to the opponents for nothing
when no spade fit exists.

IMPs analysis:
3NT beat 4S by 8738 IMPs NV and 10,921 IMPs VUL
IMPs conclusion:
Don't Stayman at IMPs either.
Sept. 9, 2017
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This is a somewhat less than maximally vexing example of a common problem type.
To illustrate, there are *2* problems in this month's Bridge World Master Solvers' Club that are similar (but harder):
Problem “C” : IMPs, VUL vs not
you hold: QT-KT754-AK-A763
(2S)- ??

Problem “F” : IMPs, VUL vs not
you hold: K96-KJ842-AKT4-Q
(2S)-P-(3S)-???

I don't have experience with the super-light openers you describe, but playing “normal” opening requirements, your problem seems like an only slightly uncomfortable 2NT overcall to me. But perhaps the probabilities shift when partner opens “many 10s and most 11s”.

Still, VUL at IMPs means to me “don't miss any games”, so I think passing this 16 count is too conservative.
Sept. 9, 2017
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I just completed a 5000 deal simulation where opener is constrained to have exactly 15 HCPs (and fewer than 5 spades).
These are the hands with which he would presumably decline a NT game invite.

I found that (double dummy), 3NT made on 57.48% of the deals.

Single dummy, 3NT contracts typically give declarer a small
advantage vs. double dummy, so the real life “make” percentage for 3NT opposite 15 HCP balanced hands is probably more like 60%.

So clearly, this responding hand should commit to
game.

Determining whether or not responder should bother to check for a spade fit would require a different simulation, and also, some more info about under what conditions (if any)
opener is allowed to hold *5* spades in the partnership methods.
Sept. 8, 2017
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Although I answered that I play Smolen (2 level) only over 1NT, I actually have a structure over 2NT that gives the benefits of both Puppet Stayman (can check for opener's 5 card major) *and* Smolen (responder can show 5=4 and 4=5 majors). It works as follows:
2N-3:
3 = 5 spades
3N = 5 hearts (then responder's 4D transfers to Hs)
3 = 4 hearts (may have 4 spades too)
then responder's 3 relays to 3NT while
responder's 3NT (and 4NT etc.) show 4 spades

3 = < 5 spades and < 4 hearts
then: responder's 3 asks opener's spade length
replies: 3 = 3; 3N = 2; 4 any = 4
responder's 3 relays to 3NT

If responder is 5=4 or 4=5 in the majors, he finds the fit
immediately if opener replies 3 (5 spades), 3NT (5 hearts)
or 3 (4 hearts).
If opener replies 3, then:
with 5=4: responder bids 3H to see if opener has 3 spades
with 4=5:
responder bids 3NT (or 4NT, etc. if strong enough)
which shows 4=5 by definition.
Sept. 8, 2017
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I think more info may be needed to answer this question.
I think what kind of IMP event it is may be relevent.
In a short match (e.g. Swiss), the overtrick IMP may not matter at all (because the Victory Point result may be unaffected by an extra IMP). Thus, in a Swiss, the argument is stronger for playing to make. In a long match, the “expected value” argument perhaps has more validity.
Sept. 8, 2017
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I like to play that 3 is weak here too (so not appropriate with this hand), but that agreement requires playing either
(a) an original 3 response is game invitational
or
(b) a 2 response followed by a 3 rebid is not GF

otherwise, responder has no way to show all 3 possible
ranges of club single suiters (weak, invitational, GF).
Sept. 8, 2017
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I actually would have bid 3 (natural, invitational) initially. But presumably your methods don't include invitational 3 level jump shifts, so you have to bid strength ambiguous 3 now.
Sept. 7, 2017
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Seems to me that I should be thrilled here that RHO's double has afforded me the opportunity to PASS rather than being forced to choose a call with a hand that really has nothing much more to say. If forced to bid (i.e. if RHO had passed), I would probably choose 2 (which should be agreed as the default with nothing useful to add), not a silly 3 on 7xx.
But with RHO's actual double, PASS seems perfect as it leaves maximum room for partner to show his intentions while simultaneously not sending any additional message which would be a distortion.
With the option of PASS available, 2 now should suggest 6, or at least a very strong 5 card suit (4/5 top honors if only 5).
Sept. 7, 2017
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The answer to this question might depend on whether or not you play BART.
BART allows the generation of many extra sequences that allow responder to make finer strength (and shape) differentiations than he could without BART.
For example,
1-1N-2-2 vs. 1-1N-2-2(BART)-2-2, where one sequence (usually the second but could be reversed) is stronger than the other, e.g. 5-7 vs. 8-10.

So, BART aficionados may like to have opportunities to use their plaything occur as often as possible. This can be achieved by allowing opener to rebid 2 after 1-1NT
with 5=3=3=2 shape as well as 5=3=2=3 (and, of course, other shapes with 4+ clubs).

Is the slight loss of definition about opener's club length worth the gain in more frequent opportunities to use BART?
I certainly don't know.
Personally, I have not found the theoretical benefits of BART to occur often enough in practice to even play the convention in most partnerships (after all, BART does have, at least, the downside of making it impossible to play in 2).
Sept. 6, 2017
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Steve,
While I agree with you that playing “forcing” allows responder to start with 1NT on some (balanced) hands with fully GF values (probably should be some upper limit, though), thereby adding (some) more definition to the GF 2/1 responses, I omitted listing this as a “virtue” of the forcing approach because some may find this usage unappealing. It does have the drawback of further expanding the already wide range of the 1NT response and may leave responder awkwardly placed to find a suitable (forcing) continuation.
So I confined my arguments to extolling the advantages of 1NT forcing even when the partnership opts to limit that response to a maximum of 12 HCPs.

Personally, I allow foricng 1NT on up to soft 13 or even 14
HCPs that will be content to bid 3NT or 4M next time.
But with a goodish, even 4 card, minor suit and “hard” values, I think a 2/1 (in the 4 card suit) is preferable as there might be a slam, perhaps in a 4=4 minor fit which will not be biddable otherwise.

An alternative approach with GF balanced hands after partner opens 1M is to play *2NT* response as natural and GF (13-15 or 18-19). But that gives up on using 2NT as a GF 4+ card raise, a problem for me since I use responder's 3 level jump shifts as “natural, invitational” (hence, e.g. 1S-3C not available as an alternative GF raise).
Sept. 5, 2017
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There is nothing wrong with fit-jumps that force to game. In fact, I might even claim that those are the most common kind, e.g. 1-(2)-4 is a GF fit jump.
Sept. 5, 2017
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Playing 1NT forcing is really analagous to many popular conventions which sacrifice the ability to play in one particular (lower) contract in order to generate many more sequences to more accurately choose among other contracts.
Examples of similar conventions:
1. BART
give up possiblity of playing in 2D after
1-1N-2-2(F)
in order to more accurately investigate other
strains
2. Lebensohl (aka “good/bad”) 2NT
give up ability to play in 2NT in many competitive
auctions in order to differentiate two strength
ranges for more accurate game vs. partscore bidding
3. Stayman
give up ability to play in precisely 2 after
partner's 1NT opening in order to generate many
sequences to investigate other strains and levels.
4. Jacoby transfers
As in (3), give up ability to play in 2 in favor
of a richer bidding palette.

Forcing 1NT is really analagous to the above. We are sacrificing the ability to play in one specific contract (1NT) in order to create a much richer bidding structure allowing investigation of many strains and levels.

Particularly in conjunction with 2/1 GF where responder is forced to bid 1NT on many (often far from balanced) hands that have less than GF strength, giving up opener's option to unilateraly “guess” that 1NT is the best final contract (with insufficient justification since he knows little about responder's shape) is a small price to pay for creating a structure that allows many alternative (and likely superior) contracts to be explored.

Playing invitational 3 level jump shift responses takes *some* of the pressure off of the 1NT response, but those bids still leave many weaker 1-suiters and 2 suiters to start with the 1NT response which will benefit from its being forcing, not to mention allowing for more specificity with some below GF 3 card raise hand types.
Sept. 1, 2017
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I don't understand the recent surge in popularity for playing 1NT response as only “semi-forcing” by an UPH responder when playing 5 card majors and 2/1 game forcing.

One of the big advantages of 1N *forcing* is that responder can start with this call when holding very unbalanced less than GF (or less than game invitational in some cases) hands and thereafter be able to play a partscore in his long suit.

Strangely, the hands on which advocates of playing 1NT response as only semi-forcing will pass the 1NT response–12-13 HCP balanced hands–are exactly the ones which will make the most suitable dummys in 2, 2 (or 2 after a 1 opening) when responder has a weak hand with a long suit.

Playing 1NT as forcing also allows for responder's 2-step sequences to show “3 card limit raises” and to differentiate semi-constructive single raises (1M-2M) from really weak raises
(1M-1N-2x-2M)–additional benefits not available to those who play “semi-forcing.”

Also, opener can often utilize the 1NT forcing response to generate “3-step” auctions to describe otherwise awkward hand types. For example, hands with the strength for a 3M jump rebid containing a 6 card major not good enough for a 3M jump rebid (e.g. ATxxxx-Kx-Ax-AJx which be described via, 1S-1N(F)-2C-2S-3S).

Part of the original (K-S) argument for 1NT forcing was the claim that 1NT is rarely the best contract even when responder has only doubleton support for opener's major. The claim is that the 5=2 major suit fit will often play better than 1NT anyway.
Aug. 31, 2017
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I abstained because I wouldn't have doubled originally (hand too weak for a double in the midst of their forcing auction).
But had I doubled, I would now pull partner's double to 4, prepared to be the goat because of my earlier indiscretion. But this is better than allowing them to score a cheap game at IMPs.
I assume that partner's 3 shows around 10-12 “playing points” as his 2NT should be Lebensohl with around 7-9.

If direct doubles with this poor a hand are part of your style and partner is expected to know this, then I suppose one could argue that partner has doubled with his eyes wide open, hence we should not pull if our hand is fully up to partnership expectations.
Aug. 31, 2017
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switching meanings of 4 and 4 may benefit auctions when responder wants to agree spades, but it will be detrimental when responder wants to show clubs because showing them via 4 leaves little room to maneuver below 5. You have to decide whether the trade-off is worthwhile or not (plus the extra memory effort required).
Aug. 26, 2017
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Natural, forcing, 5+ card suit, slam interest, denies 3+ spades. With slam interest in spades, bid 4.
Aug. 25, 2017
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