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All comments by Craig Zastera
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I do not believe it is “standard” that Lebensohl followed by a cue-bid shows four cards in the unbid major WITH a stopper in opener's (weak 2) suit.

In the article “Lebensohl over Weak 2-Bids” from Karen Walker's bridge library
(http://kwbridge.com/leb.htm) it states:

"LHO Partner RHO You
2 DBL Pass 2NT
Pass 3 Pass 3 or 3NT

* Lebensohl, then a cuebid (3H) = 4 cards in
other major, but NO stopper in the opponent's suit.

* Lebensohl, then 3NT = 4 cards in other major
WITH a stopper."
So apparently it is common to play the OP sequence as denying a stopper in opener's suit (but showing 4 in the OM).

It seems to me E/W did everything they could to inform the opponents. West said “undiscussed”, while East prefaced his (correct) “guess” as to what West's sequence might show by saying “he wasn't sure”, indicating also that they had no agreement that he was aware of.
May 17
Craig Zastera edited this comment May 17
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auction (1) is a game invitational sequence.
auction (2) is a slam try, pure hand, sets s trump.

a related auction would be 1-1-1-2(GF)-any-minimum
this would be GF but suggest a less pure hand, probably less slam interest, possibly interest in other strain(s).
May 16
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I used to argue that way too, but I'm not sure it is entirely correct.

The problem with the argument is that you may not know which of the alternatives is true. Is 5 going down? Maybe, but you are not sure. Will 5 go down more than 5 making costs? Probably not, but perhaps we are not sure.

So I think that it is possible that even if one or the other of doubling 5 *or* bidding 5 will produce a better score for our side than passing out 5, the fact that we cannot determine which can be justification for not doing either (i.e. doubling 5 or bidding 5).
May 16
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Assuming Michaels, I would never overcall 1 (or 2).
So this is just a decision between 2 vs. PASS.

Perhaps my intuitions are warped from mainly playing matchpoints, but 2 seems right to me (more confident at matchpoints though).

Of course, real partnerships should have clear agreements about minimum strength required for 2-suited overcalls at various vulnerabilities and forms of scoring.

If this one doesn't violate those agreements (too weak?), then 2. I like the “purity” of the hand (all values in the long suits, and very nice spots).
May 16
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Jeff,
I agree that it is quite reasonable to play FP after our opening bid and LR+ *at the 5 level* (i.e. opponents have bid at the 5 level).

Somewhat less reasonable (although not crazy, particularly in a non-Precision context) to play FP in same auction type when the opponents are only at the 4 level.

I also agree with whoever said that “LR+” type agreements in competition are NOT best. It is much better to try to structure agreements so as to differentiate LR from GF raises immediately.
May 16
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In order to pursue a quantitative approach to answering this problem, it is first necessary to know the minimum requirements for partner’s sequence (i.e. T.O double followed by his 2 rebid).
Otherwise, any claim about what South should do (Pass, 3, 4) has no basis.

Obviously, partnerships may vary somewhat in their minimum requirements for North’s actions, but fortunately “Bridge World Standard” defines these quite closely. I will use their definitions, which represent mainstream US expert consensus, in my analysis.
BWS says the following:

“AKQTx-AKx-Qxxx-x is slightly too strong for a
1 overcall of (1) with neither side vul.”
Modifying that example to fit the OP problem here, I got the following two possible “minimal” hands for North’s sequence:
(a) AKQTx-x-AKx-Qxxx
(b) AKQTx-x-Kxxx-AQx

Performing a 1000 deal simulation for each of these hands opposite the OP South hand with constraints added to match the E/W bidding gave:
on (a) 4N made on 50% of the deals
on (b) 4N made on 60% of the deals

These results are both well above the minimum required “make percentage” for 4 to justify South’s simply raising to game (4).
The OP conditions are VUL and IMPs, so a 40% “make %age” would be plenty to justify such a game raise if these North example hands actually represent “minimums” for North’s bidding.

BWS goes on to say the following:

“The normal simple overcall maximum is 18 HCP with
5-3-3-2 distribution, or the equivalent after
trading off high cards for shape.”
I attempted to translate that statement into specific minimum requirements for “double then 2” for various likely possible shapes by adding 1 point to the simple overcall maximum and adjusting for better shapes.
My “minimum strength” estimates are:

(a) 19 HCPs with 5=2=3=3
(b) 18 HCPs with 5=2=4=2, 5=2=2=4, 5=1=4=3,
or 5=1=3=4
(c) 17 HCPs with 6=2=3=2, 6=2=2=3, or 6=1=3=3 shapes
I then performed 1000 deal simulations for each of the above categories with these “minimum” HCP requirements, and also (for each category) with *1 fewer* HCP, and counted how often 4N made in each simulation.

In order to avoid “wasted” points in the suit (which might make a minimal hand “too weak” for double then 2), I required:
(a) If North has a doubleton , it shouldn’t be Qx.
(b) If North has a stiff , it shouldn’t be K or Q.

I also disallowed doubleton :AK or :AQ, as such hands *might* rebid in NT rather than in s.

The results of these simulations were:
(a) 4 made 42.3% (28.7% with North = 18 HCPs)
(b) 4 made 52.5% (35.5% with North = 17 HCPs)
© 4 made 48.2% (30.2% with North = 16 HCPs)

These results strongly suggest that if the partnership uses BWS agreements for minimum promised by North’s bidding, then South should definitely raise to 4 with OP hand.

If the partnership’s agreements allow North’s sequence with one “point” fewer than BWS, then a raise to 3 would probably suffice (but not far below 4 when VUL at IMPs).

Of course, if partner is an inveterate “overbidder” who cannot be relied on to hold even the minimums for his bids, then it might be wise for South to settle for an invitational 3.
In such partnerships, these “invites” mean something like “if you actually have the values you have already promised, please raise to game.”
May 16
Craig Zastera edited this comment May 16
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With the agreement that a cue-bid in partner's primary suit (here 5) shows (at least) one of the top *three* honors, I would choose 5 here. That is the agreement I have.

But because I was unsure OPer has that understanding, I opted for 5 instead. Most important point is to show slam interest without a control.
May 16
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Richard,
I think I understand your view (maybe).
It reminds me of an approach advocated by S.J. Simon in an ancient book called “Why You Lose At Bridge”.

In that book, he advocated a sort of “co-operative penalty double” in auctions that started 1M-(2m)-??.

He claimed that playing responder's double to show something like:
(a) 3 trump to an honor
(b) shortness in opener's major
© around 10 HCPs
so that opener could pass for penalties with e.g.:
(a) 3 trump to an honor
(b) ace in his major (and a quick entry elsewhere)
© not enough “extras” to expect game to be cold

was a very profitable style as it frequently resulted in a two or three trick penalty vs. just a partscore for our side: Lead to partner's major suit ace, get a ruff, back to partner's entry, another ruff, and the defense is off to the races.

I recall using that approach “way back when” playing rubber bridge for money, and it did produce some nice penalties once in a while when the stars were in alignment.

Of course, that approach has been long abandoned (if it was ever popular) in favor of “negative doubles” which probably gain a lot more frequently by allowing the opening side to compete successfully.
May 16
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Richard,
I must confess that I don't understand your reasoning for “complementary” doubles.

It seems to me that if “double by opener has been agreed takeout”, then that would imply that when opener has a penalty double (i.e. length/strength in overcaller's suit, perhaps with extra values as well), he will have to pass.

In such cases, responder is likely to be short in overcaller's suit, so his shape will likely be suitable for a takeout double. So when he makes such a T.O double, opener, with the penalty double hand type, simply “passes for penalties.”

Conversely, when opener has a take-out double (i.e. short in overcaller's suit), he doubles (for take-out). Then, if responder has length in overcaller's suit (i.e. a penalty double), he can “pass for penalties”.

So it seems to me that playing “double” as take-out by both opener and responder allows for (or at least gives a chance for) catching overcaller when either opener or responder has length in overcaller's suit.

Of course, playing TO doubles will not succeed in achieving successful penalty doubles as often as playing doubles as “for penalties” by both opener and responder.
May 16
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I think it is inconsistent to open 3 and bid 3 now.

So *if* I had opened 3, I would remain consistent with my attempt to pre-empt the opponents and hope they have erred.

However, I would not open 3 with this hand, certainly not in 2nd seat, because there is too much chance that we might belong in s. So start with “pass” and hope to glean insight by listening.
May 15
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My rule for doubles by opening side on auctions of the form:
1X-(P)-1NT-(2Z)-DBL or 1X-(P)-1NT-(2Z)-P-(P)-DBL
is:
If “X” is a major, the doubles are for take-out
If “X” is a minor, the doubles are penalty suggestions.

Is there any logic behind this rule? Yes there is, although I suppose it is not totally clear-cut.

There are a couple of points:
1. 1NT (say forcing) response to 1M covers a wider range
of strengths and shapes than 1NT response to 1m

2. 1NT response to 1m has already denied a biddable holding
in any suit above 1m (which is all suits when m = s)

Because of (2), there is less reason for opener to double for TO since length in the unbid suits has mostly been denied by responder *and* responder's strength is narrowly defined.

I also believe that in all cases, the meaning of “double” should be *the same* for both partners (opener and responder), i.e. either both T.O. or both penalty.
May 15
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I have an extra King above a minimum opener with a stiff in their suit and support for all unbid suits.

Partner could have many hands where we can make something at the 3 level where he had no bid over (1), e.g.:
xxxx-Jxx-AQx-Jxx
where we would likely makes 10 tricks in s.

Furthermore, with a hand type resembling my example, partner may well not have a bid if I pass (2) around to him.
May 15
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moved.
May 15
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(a) would have bid 3 splinter raise of s at my first turn
not 3

(b) it is important to know whether 3 is GF
Different agreements are possible, but you have to know
yours.
Over the Michaels 2, I play:
2: s, game invitational strength
2: s, LR or better
3: natural, GF (stronger than 2)
3: natural, NF (weaker than 2)
3/3: splinter raises for s
3NT: natural

© I would not pass (3). How about 4 now to show
(belatedly) support and shortness.

(d) Since I've been wanting to make a splinter raise for
s since my first turn, can I finally do that now?
I pull partner's double of (3) to 4.
May 15
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For competing to the 3 level to be right, we would need at least an 8 card trump fit.

Presumably, partner doesn't have 4 s or he would have made a negative double.

Thus, a shape that might justify a non-penalty double here would be 3=2=5=3 where an 8 card fit in either minor seems possible.

But with that shape, partner could instead balance with 2NT (TO for minors).

Thus, it would seem that partner's double must be penalties, although it is hard to imagine what hand would make a penalty double of (2) here that couldn't have bid 1NT over East's (1) overcall. Perhaps QJT8-xx-xxxxx-Ax ?
May 14
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I do not think doubling 2 is “close.”

Would you have doubled a (2) opening? Yes.

Would you have doubled if LHO had been dealer and the auction had been (1)-P-(2). Yes.

So I do not see OP auction as substantially different. You have extra values, support for the unbid suits (particularly good support for the unbid major), and a stiff .
Double is clear.
May 14
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I do not believe such a “2-way 3” overcall is playable.

What will you do with OP hand when partner bids 3NT? Whatever you do, it is a blind guess.
May 14
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2 here (a reverse) is most definitely NOT forcing to game (no different from any other reverse).

Since OP hand here is “text-book” for 2 (reverse), the only issue is whether it is right to rebid in a 4 card suit when you know partner cannot have 4 s.

After all, this gives out info about our hand without suggesting a viable new trump suit for our side (I'll discount the possibility that we might want to play s in a 4-3 fit).

My view is that is *is* correct to choose the reverse on a hand this ideal (describes our shape and strength well) even if the chances that we will actually want to *play* in s is low.

The 2 reverse gives partner a good picture of our hand so that the auction is more likely to proceed intelligently.
Perhaps we'll get to bid our fragment later, completing a perfect “picture” for partner (and the opponents).

You need good methods over opener's reverse. Many play that 2NT by responder now would be a “weak relay”, usually showing a hand that wants to sign-off at the 3 level (unless opener has a super-strong reverse with GF values).
With less than a full GF, opener usually “relays” to 3. Then, OP responding hand can correct to 3 for play. 3 seems like a reasonable spot with good chances to make.

With those methods, an immediate 3 by responder over the 2 reverse would be natural and GF, thus requiring a better hand than the OP responding hand here.
May 14
Craig Zastera edited this comment May 14
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But a VUL 3 level overcall suggests a much different hand type–something roughly equivalent to a hand that would have opened 1 and then jump rebid 3 over a 1M response in an uncontested auction.

But OP South hand here is nothing like that. It is more like a pre-emptive 3 (or perhaps 4) opening.

If you make the same call (3) with this hand or with a 16 count with 6 good s, how can partner possibly bid intelligently?
May 14
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The problem with doubling is that partner will think you have at least 10 useful HCPs and bid 4 like a shot with something like:
x-QJxx-KQJx-KQJx
or even less.
May 14
.

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