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All comments by Craig Zastera
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Frances,
On your latter problem, I bid 4, even though only four card suit because of 19 HCPs.
Obviously, for any set of methods, one can construct hands that are difficult to bid (that's why they have Master Solver's Club), and you have done a good job of that.

But I still think the importance of telling your partner unambiously that you have 3 card support for his suit (and extra values) merits using the (support) double for that purpose and maybe struggling a bit with some other hand types.
Often, letting partner know about your support will be sufficient for him to know what to do. But if your “double” is ambiguous about your length in his suit (I'm assuming that with your methods you will sometimes, perhaps often, have three cards in his suit), you will often just be creating a headache for him.
Dec. 21, 2017
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Well, I just did a 5000 deal simulation with this hand opposite random 16-17 HCP balanced hands with 4-5 hearts.
I found that 4 made (double dummy) on only 2195 (43.9%) of them.
This suggests that plans that involve Stayman followed by raising 2M are not best.

I will do some more simulations to attempt to choose between PASSing 1NT vs. Stayman followed by passing 2M or converting 2 to 2NT.
Dec. 20, 2017
Craig Zastera edited this comment Dec. 20, 2017
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Frances,
Tough problem.
I can't double as I play that as 3 card spade support and extras. Here, I'm lacking the former for sure.
Choices therefore are PASS, 4, and 4.
It would be nice to have 5 clubs for 4 (although I don't think that is guaranteed). I might bid 4 with four with a stronger hand.

But this hand has just a bit too much offensive shape and strength for me to like pass, so I believe I'd go with 4.
Dec. 20, 2017
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When agreeing “support doubles”, agreeing how high they apply is an integral part of the agreement (just as when agreeing responsive or negative doubles).

So when I agree support doubles, my preference is “through three of the suit below responder's with the proviso that doubles that require us to play at least 3 of responder's suit show extra high card values.”

I do think that the most common agreement is that they apply only through *2* of the suit below responder's, but then I wonder what the double is supposed to mean if it comes a level higher? Agreeing that it shows extras with three card support seems much better than no agreement.
Dec. 20, 2017
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This is a clear-cut case for Lebensohol.
Opener has more than a minimum and might have a very strong hand. Responder can have quite a decent hand and not be able to bid directly over (2) (since 3m would be a GF as most play).
Thus, it is imperative over opener's re-opening double for responder to have a way to differentiate between hands where game might be in the picture vs. those on which he has a poor hand, hence Lebensohl (aka “good/bad”).

“Scrambling” only applies in auctions where it is clear that we are merely competing for a part-score (perhaps even going down for hopefully less than we get by defending) where it is critical to scramble into our best fit when its location is not clear.
But on the given auction, game is still very much a possibility for the opening side, so responder needs to be able to indicate when he has values without bidding beyond the 3 level.
Dec. 20, 2017
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I think support doubles are very useful at the *three level* with the proviso (of course) that such SDs promise at least the *high card strength* of a raise to the 3 level, but with only 3 card support.
Dec. 20, 2017
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I think that some form of “non-serious” or “serious” 3NT is almost essential in a 2/1 GF system. Otherwise, there is too much uncertainty about each partner's strength, making accurate slam bidding almost impossible.
One needs tools to limit strength and conversely to show extras. Particularly when most (natural) rebids can be made with minimum values or with considerable extras, it is necessary to have tools to express “degree of slam interest”.
Dec. 19, 2017
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While I certainly agree that consistency among system parts is critical, I do not agree that playing that rebidding 2M is the “catchall” requires playing that 1-2m-2 shows extras.
“Catchall” simply refers to “the set of hands that don't qualify for any other more specialized rebid.”

So I can consistently play that 1-2m-2 is the “catchall” while simultaneously playing that 1-2m-2 show 4(+) spades but does not promise (or deny) any extra values.
That is simply saying that 1 opening hands that also contain 4+ spades (with more hearts than spades) have a more specialized rebid (namely, 2) defined in the system regardless of the strength of the hand, so that hands with such shapes do not qualify for the “catch-all” rebid.

Another way to say this is that 1-2m-2 *denies* holding 4+ spades. Or, to be practical, one might say “tends to deny” to allow rebidding 2 with, e.g. xxxx-AKQJxx-x-xx
after 1-2 if the partnership prefers to allow exceptions for such extreme examples.
Dec. 19, 2017
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(a) I never said that partner's spades “could be as weak as KQx”. In fact, I explicitly said he could have stiff ace or even a void.

(b)All a “McCabe raise” means the way we play the convention is “I am making a raise to 3 with diamond support lacking the DA, DK, or DQ (hence Jxx or weaker). Furthermore, if you wind up on lead and your diamond suit is not good enough to lead knowing I have no high honor, then I would suggest a <X*> lead.” (with “X” being either
the suit bid or the one above depending on whether regular McCabe or transfer McCabe is agreed).

Suggesting a lead in a particular non-diamond suit does not even imply that that suit is responder's longest.
For example, with something like:
AQT-Jxxx-xxx-xxx
it would be absolutely clear to make a McCabe raise showing preference for a *spade* lead rather than for a heart lead despite holding longer hearts than spades.

This was all clearly explained at the table during the auction. It is clear from West's choice of a 3 cue-bid (looking for a 4-4 spade fit) that he understood my explanation and realized that his side could have a spade fit and it would behoove him to check for one (Otherwise, he would just have bid 3NT or perhaps 2NT Lebensohl followed by 3NT if they play that way).
Whether or not East understood my explanation is unclear as his Pass of 3X rather than bidding 3 seems to me like a really poor choice if he understood my explanation.

© what I believed during the bidding (that we play transfer McCabe) and what I believe during the play (seeing dummy, thinking about declarer's bidding, etc.) need not be the same.
I explained what I believed our agreements were during the auction. I did not say “might be regular McCabe” because this possibility did not occur to me (why should it?).
Am I supposed to state anytime I explain a conventional agreement “of course, partner might have forgotten our methods, so his bid might mean something else”?

When I shifted to the heart, I considered a spade lead (low, not the spade ace) as an alternative but decided on a heart instead. Perhaps you consider this a dumb decision, but it is certainly a legal one. At that point, I was (for the first time) unsure as to whether partner's 2 bid had been intended to show spade value(s) or heart value(s). That uncertainty was based on the appearance of dummy, and I believe I have every right to decide either way as I see fit based on authorized information (all that I have available to me). My choice could easily have been wrong (e.g. partner has S:KJT and perhaps only HK), in which case I would have had egg on my face. But either way I am not doing anything illegal or unethical–just making my best guess as to what the winning play is based on legal information.
Dec. 14, 2017
Craig Zastera edited this comment Dec. 14, 2017
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First, whether or not my trick 2 shift to a heart (rather than, say, underleading my SA) is a good play or a poor one, it is certainly entirely *legal* as I (North) am not in possession of any UI as it was I who gave the perhaps incorrect explanation of my partner's 2 bid (so my partner has UI, but I don't).
So I am legally free to shift to a heart for any reason, even ones involving considerations of the possibility that my partner may have (mistakenly in my view) intended his 2 to show values in hearts rather than spades.

What I actually knew at the table was that partner must have at least 7 HCPs (just add up the points around the table) of which at most 4 of these could be in spades (and none in clubs or diamonds). Thus, he is marked with *at least* the HK and quite possibly the HA. For example, he might have
held: KT9-Axxx-xxx-xxx (in which case he might well insert the S9 if I led a low spade after which 3NT will make).
Dec. 14, 2017
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Personally, I play different methods in uncontested auctions when the bidding starts 1M-2M vs. 1x-1M-2M because of the frequency of opener's raising with three card support in the latter (thus “spiral”, etc.).

However, in competitive auctions where an 8+ card major suit fit is known to exist (e.g. 1m-(1)-1-(P)-2 where 1 promises 5+), I *do* play the same methods (multi-way game tries) that I use in uncontested auctions that start 1M-2M
Dec. 14, 2017
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Hands with a 5 card major and a 6 card minor of borderline GF HCP strength opposite a strong 1NT are hard to bid with most common bidding structures.
It would be nice to be able to, say, transfer to the minor and then bid 3M, but most play this as showing shortness in the major.
I have had several hands like this in tournaments. I remember once removing my partner's 3NT with the thought “a 6-5 hand is not meant to play in 3NT.” My thinking turned out to be wrong that time as 3NT was the only makeable game.

But I surely do not think removing 3NT is weird or bizarre with the given hand. Maybe it isn't best (perhaps should try some simulations), but it seems far from crazy to me.
Personally, I don't see the point of removing to *5C* though.
However, I might consider removing to *4C* and hope partner would work out that I was 5=6 (with 6 hearts, probably would remove to 4).

I absolutely do not think removal of 3NT to clubs can be ascribed to the UI. If anything, I think the UI that opener doesn't really have a 1NT opening might argue in favor of leaving 3NT in (because opener perhaps has length in both the other two suits, maybe 4=5 or some such).
Dec. 14, 2017
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as the hand diagram in original post shows, partner held 5 hearts–AQT93. And yes, if we were playing “transfer McCabe” as I believe(d) we were, his proper call would have been “redouble” to show a raise to 3 with a preference for a heart lead if my diamond holding is not a strong honor sequence. Such a redouble would not promise (nor deny) length in hearts, merely a holding consistent with suggesting that a lead of that suit would be preferable to a diamond lead in the event that my diamond holding was not solid.
Dec. 14, 2017
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but west's 3 cue-bid can only be an attempt to find a spade fit as he could simply double 2 with hearts. It is clear that West understood my explanation that (my) partner's bid did not imply spade *length* and, hence, bid so as to discover if his side had a spade fit.
Dec. 13, 2017
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Transfer advances solve some of these problems. In given auction, 2 would be a strong club raise.
But since TAs start with the cue-bid, it doesn't answer whether a new suit advance below the cue-bid is forcing or not (e.g. (1)-1-(P)-1 or (1)-2-(P)-2).
Choosing to play these as forcing (by UPH) is probably best (and part of original TA structure), but could be played as NF when 3rd hand does something other than pass.
Dec. 13, 2017
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I think you are referring to “Lawrence” as he described it in “2/1 Game Force Workbook” many years ago wherein a 2/1 followed by a same suit rebid when opener had made a minimum rebid (his own suit or a lower one) was *not* GF–used for invitational hands with a 6+ card suit.
But Lawrence *long ago* converted to using 3 level jump shifts (e.g. 1M-3m or 1-3, even 1-3 I think) as natural and invitational so that 2 over 1 responses could be played as GF.
Dec. 12, 2017
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My leads vs. NT improved immediately and dramatically after I had thoroughly read (virtually memorized) their book on leads vs. NT. Then, after nagging my partner long enough that he finally read it too, I immediately noticed a dramatic improvement in his leads even though he didn't tell me he had (finally) read the book.
So I too rate this as one of the greatest *practical* bridge books of all time in terms of how much understanding and adopting its recommendations will improve your leads vs. NT.

Their book on leads vs. suit contracts, while useful, I have not found to have had nearly as profound an effect on improving my leads vs. suit contracts. So I rate it a worth-while read but not nearly as valuable as the NT effort.
Dec. 12, 2017
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I also originally answered “often 5 but not a terrible suit” because I thought/think that with a terrible suit there will usually be an alternative rebid (probably 2NT).
But since I play that 2NT promises stoppers in the unbid suits, it is possible to construct hands where I would rebid my major even with a terrible 5 card suit, e.g.:
xxxxx-KQ-xxx-AKJ
after 1-2.
So I changed my answer to “even a terrible suit”
Dec. 12, 2017
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One might consider why PH West chose to advance with a 3 cue-bid. Clearly, the only explanation is that he is looking for a 4-4 major suit (hence, since he is 4=3=3=3, spade) fit.
Otherwise, given that he judged his hand good enough to force to game (which the 3 cue bid surely does), he would have just bid 3NT.
I believe the reason West (correctly in my view) chose to explore for a possible spade fit with 3 rather than just bidding 3NT was that my at the table explanation of my partner's 2 bid emphasized that his bid did not promise length in spades, but rather only suggested a spade lead in the event I was on lead vs. a suit contract.

The problem with the E/W auction was East's failure to make his normal 3 reply to his partner's cue-bid (I wonder what he would have bid if I had passed West's 3 rather than doubling it?). By passing my double, he suggested to West
that he held 3=3=1=6 (or possibly 3=3=2=5 if West isn't willing to credit our side with a guaranteed 9 card diamond fit in light of 3rd seat weak 2).

Although I don't know East's intentions, I would speculate that he intended to start with 3 cue bid, and then over the likely 3 reply by partner, to continue with 3NT, thus implying four spades as well as diamond stopper(s) and offering partner a choice of game.
If West had simply shown his four card spade suit while denying four hearts by bidding 3, East would have to raise to 4 (in that case, he couldn't show the diamond stopper as that would suggest to West that East held four *hearts* and a diamond stopper without four spades).

So the misinformation of my explanation was not really the cause of E/W bad results. Rather, it was East's poor choice to pass my double of the 3 cue-bid instead of making his normal 3 reply.
Dec. 11, 2017
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Aviv,
What you describe may be one way of playing McCabe, but it is not ours. In theory, partner could even be *void* in spades and show a raise to 3 with a preference for a spade lead via either 2 (ordinary McCabe) or 2 (transfer McCabe).
True, a void would be unusual, but something like AQ (tight) would not be.
Dec. 11, 2017
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