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All comments by Craig Zastera
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No, it is more like this:
I suspect that more often than not removing 4 to 4 will improve the contract.

But it takes a lot of guts to actually make that call because if we are wrong, we look like a fool and partner will be seriously annoyed.

After all, he might hold x-AKQxxxxx-KJx-x and was about to make 4 while 5 is too high and 4 is down at least a couple.

Of course, had he held KJx-AKQxxxxx-x-x, 4 would be making while 4 is likely down ( ruff).

And there are many even more likely hands with some help and s that are not quite as good as the above examples where 4 will make and 4 will be down 1 or more because of a loser or two.

So the admiration is for the player who will make the 4 call because he believes it is percentage and not be put off by the fear of humiliation if his choice turns out wrong.
Aug. 11
ATB
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This is yet another “good/bad 2NT” situation for West.
3 (over 2) should be game invitational, hence a better hand than West has.

2NT “G/B” to be followed by a competitive 3 would be a better description of the West hand I think.

Because of the liklihood of further competition from N/S, it might be better in this auction to reverse West's bids so that immediate 3 is the competitive one while 2NT shows game invitational values. Debatable which way is better.

Also, if N/S play “Cappeletti over 1M-X” or some such, I think the South hand is worth a 2 constructive raise of s. The simple raise to 2 after the (DBL) could be a weaker hand.
Aug. 11
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The suit of the opening bid is relevent.

The lower that call (e.g. 1 or 1), the more certain it is that advancer has full values (8-11) for his 1NT advance.

When the double is over 1M, particularly 1, there is more chance that advancer has “stretched” downards and may have less than normal strength for his 1NT.

I think most would allow a stretch down to 6 HCPs with otherwise appropriate hands, and I've seen MSC problems where it appeared that some panelists might go even lower than that.

Thus, I see less reason to pull 1NT to 2m when advancer is likely to have full values.

Also, form of the game must be relevent.
At matchpoints, pulling a natural 1NT into 2m “for play” seems like a dubious strategy.

Perhaps at IMPs where safety (i.e. want to play in the partial most likely to make) is paramount, there is more incentive to considering pulling 1NT.

Finally, it seems that the OP question needs a bit more specification:
If the “pull” is defined as “extras”, does this imply
that it is forcing? Or, perhaps, forcing unless 1NT
bidder is below normal strength expectations?
Or is it “extras but not forcing?”
Aug. 11
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I think that 3 here would show a very strong hand (much stronger than this one).

I *could* bid 2NT (good/bad) here, planning to pass partner's 3 (if he co-operates with that call), but chose to compete with 2 instead.
Aug. 11
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We encountered a somewhat related deal at the club duplicate this morning.

Everyone VUL, my partner held:
7-J63-KT9762-AJ3

In 2nd seat, I opened 1NT (15-17).

As it happens, we have two different specialized ways to issue a game invite with a 6 card minor:
(a) 3:
This is supposed to show a poor 6 card suit
(Axxxxx or Kxxxxx would be ideal) with *one*
outside A or K and nothing else.
The idea is that opener will usually pass unless
he has extremely good s (Axxx, Kxxx, or 2/3 top
honors) and some fast side tricks, in which case
he bids 3NT
With an exceptional hand, he might risk 3NT
with only : AJx or even Axx.

(b) Walsh relay (2 ==> 2-2 ==> 2NT-3)
Start with ostensibly a transfer, then 2
cancels the message and forces 2NT. Then
3 shows a *good* 6 card suit (AQxxxx ideal) and
virtually nothing else.
The idea is opener passes 3 unless he has the
missing high honor and 3 fast tricks on the
side.

A third option partner had available was a 3 transfer response which shows s, weak or GF.
After opener's forced 3, 3M continuation shows shortness.

Also, we have a direct jump to 3NT for play.

Which would you choose?

My partner chose (a). Without the two Jacks, his hand would be virtually the prototype for this sequence.

However, IMHO, the two extra Jacks are critical, and I believe make the hand too strong for this sequence.
The idea of (a) is to find the occasional “light” game with 9 fast tricks that other pairs will miss. It is not
to avoid games that everyone else will likely bid.

My hand was:
AQ6-AQ875-Q85-Q7
This is an obvious pass of 3 as I don't have good enough s to run the suit.

Even though s split 4-0 (the four in front of partner's length), the deal can make 12 tricks in NT from my side or 12 in s from either side (quite a bit of luck in the other suits–K onside, :KT42 in front of my s (the K was offside though).

My opinion was that partner should probably just raise directly to 3NT, although 3-3-3 might be a winner if it uncovers fatal weakness. On this deal, I would have an easy 3!N with s double stopped.

Notice also that we have 5-3 fit too which might have been reachable if my s weren't so good. s makes 10 tricks from my side or 11 from partner's with double dummy play.

I did some 5000 deal simulations of my partner's hand opposite 15-17 NT hands.
3NT made 65% of the time opposite 15-17.
Opposite just 15, it made 55%.
Two factors are interesting about this:
with balanced hands, each extra HCP typically
raises the probability of making 3NT about 20% when
the partnership is in the borderline game strength
range.
But here, difference between 15 vs. full 15-17 range
was only 10%.

Also, opposite the 15s, when 3NT could be beaten, on
*OVER HALF* of those deals, only *1 suit* would succeed
for the opening lead. This means that in real life 3NT will probably make significantly more than the double dummy 55% because leader is not going to find the killing lead anywhere near all the time.

Perhaps a lesson here:
* When you have a fancy toy that most won't, take
care to use it only when it is likely to gain.
Here, the 3 “bad suit invite” toy kept us out
of a good 3NT that most will just “shoot out” with
a 3NT jump.
Aug. 11
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How come OP doesn't reveal the actual deal?
Aug. 10
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I think XX is pretty clear as to shape.
You are offering s, so must have 5 since he has denied 3.
If you had 5-5 majors, you would bid 2 now.
Aug. 10
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I would not describe 2 as an “underbid” in any sense.

A 2 rebid can be any strength that is not good enough to game force. This hand certainly is not a GF, hence 2 seems fine to me. Even with the decent 3 card support for partner, the hand is *still* not worth a game force (partner might have :xxxx and a 6 count).
Aug. 10
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Does it?
I think I'd be inclined to bid 1NT (over (1)) if I had length/strength and appropriate values rather than passing and hoping the auction somehow developed in a way to allow me to show a penalty double of s.

Why doesn't it make sense for the double of (2) to be more oriented towards defending the contract they are in (2) rather than one they are not in?
Aug. 10
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I think that in order to play that 1m-3m shows a hand too weak for 3NT opposite 18-19 balanced you have to have a way to show a “constructive raise”, i.e. less than an inverted raise, but enough to be willing to play 3NT if pard has that 18-19 HCP balanced hand.

Without that, just play that 1m-3m promises enough that 3NT won't be embarrassing opposite 18-19 and give up on the complete garbage pre-emptive raise (I guess 1m-4m could show something like that with 6+ in the minor).

We use 1m-2 as “Two way” bid:
(a) a strong (natural) Soloway style jump shift
or
(b) a constructive (5 card) raise of opener's minor

This way, 1m-3m can be, as you say, “very weak–don't bid 3NT with 18-19 balanced.”

Over the two-way 2, opener bids 2NT inquiry. Then:
* 3m (opener's minor) is NF showing the constructive raise
* all other bids show a “Solway style” strong jump
shift, e.g.:
3: solid suit with extras
4: solid suit, minimum (i.e. one side control card)
3om/3: shortness in bid suit, 4+ card support
for opener's minor, good 5-6 card suit.
3N: 16-17 HCPs, natural with 5-6 strong s,
stopper's in unbid suits, etc.
4N: 18-19 HCPs, natural, semi-bal,5-6 strong s.
(like 3NT but next strength range up).

We happen to complement this treatment by using 1m-2 as
two-way also. Either:
(a) strong natural Soloway style jump shift
or
(b) balanced NT invite (i.e. 11-12 HCPs). no 4 cd Maj.

Over this 2, opener's 2 asks, then:
2N: the balanced NT invite
all others: Soloway JS in s, as above.

Opener doesn't have to make the 2 inquiry. He may instead bid:
2N: natural, NF, thinks 2N may be better from his
side when responder is bal invite
3m (or 3 after 1-2):
natural, NF, for play (or can correct 3 -> 3)
when responder has the bal invite.
If opener bids 2 inquiry, then 3m over 2NT, that is forcing.

This allows us to play 1m-2NT as GF.

One could use the 2 (constructive raise) treatment without using 2 for the NT invites (might prefer to play 1m-2 as 5 s, 4+ Hs with minimum responding values).
Aug. 9
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I admire the guy who bid 4.
Maybe we will meet up at the partnership desk.
Aug. 9
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Bidding 2 directly over (1) would definitely be natural, and, hence, reasonable with this hand.

But, I also play “DONT suit balances over dead (1NT)”.

That means, if (1NT) is passed around to me, 2 level suit bids show that suit and a higher one.

This obviously applies after (1N)-P-(P)-?? (since we play DONT over their strong 1NT). But it also applies on auctions like the one here. It is OK if one of the suits has been bid by the opponents.

So having passed over (1), it would be OK to balance with 2 showing that suit and s. I think there is an inference that my s must be pretty good (as here) to suggest playing in a suit they have bid.
Aug. 9
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This is a standard “Bridge World Death Hand”, near the upper end for that particular problem type.

When possible, a standard “solution” is a (possibly “fake”) reverse, followed by a 3rd bid of partner's suit.

Here, suit arrangement is such that instead of “reversing”, you have to bid s at your second turn.

So the only issue is whether your rebid should be 3, which is 100% game-forcing, or only 2 (which is passable but only rarely passed).

I do not think this hand is good enough to GF, so I choose to rebid 2, then plan to bid s at my next turn (if I have one).
Aug. 9
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Well, the issue I was trying to get at here is:
what bids are available to overcaller when he has a
balanced hand with RHO's suit well stopped that is
TOO STRONG for a direct 2NT overcall.

Perhaps using this actual hand was not the best way to poll that question as some think this hand is appropriate for 2NT.

Personally, I play 2NT overcall as 15-18 (I think that is a common range, BTW), so this hand is definitely too strong for that in my view. But apparently some have a higher upper limit for that call.

But let's suppose you have a balanced NT hand (their suit stopped) that *is* too strong for 2NT. What then?

In particular, I am interested in which of the following two options most people play:
(1) all such hands must start with DOUBLE
vs.
(2) a direct jump to 3NT is part of the structure.

If (2), a secondary question would be just what range the
3NT jump should show. Two possibilities are:
(1) 3N is the next range above 2NT (e.g. 19-20/21).
Stronger (21/22 and up) start with double, then NT.

vs.

(2) The range just above 2NT overcall (say 19-20/21)
DOUBLEs first, then bids NT (but should such
hand “raise” a Lebensohl 2NT advance to 3NT??)

A direct jump to 3NT over (2M) shows the range
above that (e.g. 21/22-24 or so)

I realize that hands with a long running minor suit plus stopper(s) in RHO's suit might also be included among those that jump directly to 3NT.

But does that mean that direct 3NT jump is reserved ONLY for that hand type (long running suit + stopper), or are some (very?) strong balanced hands also included in the direct jump to 3NT?
Aug. 9
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I cannot answer this without knowing more about methods.

First, it is not clear this hand is strong enough to transfer to s and then show shortness with 3. That is 100% GF, often with slam interest in my methods.

Perhaps responder should just bid 3NT directly and hope for the best.

Still, it is close and OP responder's choice of sequence is not crazy. Could hit a home run when s are a fatal weakness for 3NT.

Second, was opener required to “accept” the transfer with 3? I will assume “yes” as presumably responder has no other way to get out with a weak hand and long s. That is not how *I* play 3 transfer, but I'll assume it is here.

Third, what is opener's 4?
So many possibilities:
(1) agrees s, good hand, control showing cue-bid
even this has “sub-options” depending on OPer's
cue-bidding style.
(2) Kickback for s
(3) Natural, 5 s, holding unsuitable for 3NT
opposite responder's shortness.

Suggesting playing 4 but willing to play 5 if
necessary rather than 3NT.

Without specific agreement, I think (3) makes the most
sense. In that case, responder has perhaps the ideal hand for passing 4 and should expect a great result by passing.
Aug. 9
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Normally, I play that a free 1NT response (as here over (1)) shows 8-10 HCPs.

So I do not think that this hand is a clear 1NT response the first time. However, it is a very “nice” 7 with an ace and a king and some pretty nice spots.

Hence, I do think that “stretching” to bid 1NT at our first turn would be OK, perhaps even best. As it turned out, getting our values across with 1NT last time would have been better.

But I do not think original 1NT is so “clear-cut” as to render the current problem worthless.

Second, I believe that “good/bad 2NT” applies to this situation. Opener could be very strong, and (as we see here) responder's pass over (1) does not mean he is broke.

This hand is clearly “strong” in context, so a “bad” 2NT would not be appropiate. Therefore, if bidding, 3 or 3 showing values would be consistent with this hand's overall strength.

But those choices aren't too attractive with none of the values in either of the minor suits.

“Pass” seems wrong because, having declined to indicate we have anything at all at our last turn, surely now we must try to “make up” for that by admitting we're not broke.

So what is left is “double.” Shows maximum values in context in a hand with defense. Surely partner does not have to leave this in, but he is invited to. He ought to have at least three s for his double, so LOTT suggests we might be OK defending.
Aug. 9
ATB
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It *could* be right to bid to the 3 level with known *8* card fit if you knew that the opponent's had a 9+ card fit somewhere.
That is surely not the case on OP hand, and would be rare in general.

Could happen–maybe 2-(DBL)-? and you have a stiff with a (good?) doubleton .
But in such a case, I'd want to bid 3–not 3 or 3 to make it easier for advancer to show s.
Aug. 8
ATB
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Generally speaking, it is unsound to raise partner's weak 2 to the 3 level without 3 trump. Thus, McCabe, being a raise of partner's suit to the 3 level, should normally deliver 3 trump.

If you want to try it with a doubleton, perhaps it will work out, but it is flying in the face of Law of Total Tricks and, hence, would not be the expected trump holding for a raise to the 3 level.

I do think the use of McCabe on OP hand here is odd with good *4* card trump support and no reason to discourage partner from leading one with *K*xxx. My choice would have been an immediate 4.
Aug. 8
ATB
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McCabe is exactly a raise to 3 with the additional message that if opening bidder winds up on lead, he should lead a rather than a if he does not have a safe sequence in s.

So, McCabe bid should normally show exactly 3 s (just as a raise to 3 would) and *not* be invitational to game.

Those s are ideally “xxx”, maybe Txx or Jxx.

I think it is even *less* likely for a McCabe bidder to have only a doubleton then for a 3 raise to deliver such.

Although I'm not a fan of raising weak 2s to 3 with a doubleton, one might do it with Ax or Kx, even Qx and an otherwise suitable hand (particularly NV).

But the McCabe bid specifically says “caution: bad s: do not lead without a sequence”, hence making this bid with a (bad) doubleton is very dubious.
Aug. 8
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Looks textbook for 3 at this vulnerability.
Rule of “2/3/4” suggests we ought to have 7 tricks in hand for a VUL vs. NOT 3 bid.
Just what we have if we assume only 1 trump loser.

At any other vulnerability, 4 of course. At favorable VUL, might even make a case for 5 !
Aug. 8
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