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All comments by Craig Zastera
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What possible blame could there be for staying out of a poor game?

I did a *double dummy* simulation of the E-W hands vs. random distributions of the N-S cards (1000 deals) and found that 4 made only 40% of the time!!

And I think it is fairly clear that real life declarer is likely to fall considerably short of double dummy play as he has guesses to make in both black suits, not to mention that double dummy declarer will duck out a doubleton offside K which would be unlikely in real life.
May 13
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Don't play gambling 3NT any more, but if I did this would seem to be an ideal hand for it, so I voted 7NT.

Between 2 and 3, I like 2. 3 needs an outside high card control or 2 (xx-Ax-AKQxxx-Kxx seems to me like “typical” for this 3).
May 12
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I'm not sure why all the criticism of North's 3 rather than 4. He has no idea his partner has 6 s, so 3 seems reasonable. If I were going to bid beyond 3, though, I would surely bid 4 (has to be fit-showing), not 4.

If anything, I would be critical of South for failing to jump to 2 (instead of 1) in order to show his 6 bagger.
Some sympathy since his s are weak and he has four s as well. Still, I am a big believer in striving to distinguish suit length (2 with 6 vs. 1 with 5) whenever possible (of course, it is not always possible).

I do agree that it is illogicial for North to choose 3 the first time and then bid 4 unilaterally next time. His second call seems to suggest he thinks it is right to compete to the 4 level without any additional input from partner. In that case, he *should* have make a 4 level call the first time.
May 12
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You are right–South's 3 is far, far less bad than North's 6NT.
But since I think 2 with South's hand is clear unless partnership has some special agreement about 3 jump, I can't let South off the hook entirely since his hand is just not a 3 jump IMO.
Hard to assign percentages–maybe 85% North and 15% South?
May 12
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West has a routine 3 over South's 3.

A little blame to system too as a 2 response in competition absolutely should not be defined as game forcing.

Playing 2 as not game forcing but usually promising 10 HCPs, I would still stretch and bid 2 with the East hand because all his points are “working.”
May 12
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Wow!
I almost never pick “equal blame” on these kinds of problems, but here both 3 and 6NT are *so* bad.
I am sympathetic to “light” jump rebids with solid suits, but this one with only a couple of Qs outside is going too far I think (despite the absolutely solid 7 bagger).

I do think North's jump to 6NT is worse than South's jump to 3, but no choice for “more North than South, but both bad” is given. Perhaps there is a typo in choice 4 because saying “Mostly North” but then adding “the jump to 6NT was reasonable” seems contradictory to me.
May 12
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Well, I bid 4NT with this hand and thought it obvious that it must be natural–I must have a way to show a hand where I have most of my values in s and only a doubleton (or, perish the though, a stiff) heart. I might even have :AKQJx.

But my partner thought 4NT was a cue-bid in support of a slam (4 by me would have been Kickback, presumably, although I find it odd for balanced hand to be asking).

For some unknown reason, he continued with 5. The opponents asked, and I replied “obviously, a void.”
I then bid what I hoped would be the 5th and final NT.

No such luck, as over that partner bid 6.

Now, I was able to bid the 6th and final NT.

Opening lead was a and partner hit with:
KTxx-KQJxxx-x-Q9 (!!!???)

We have multiple methods for showing 4=6 and 6=4 major
responding hands, game invites, game forces, and slam tries.
We use “delayed Texas” (1N-2-2-4/4) to show
GF without slam interest (4=6 / 6=4 majors)
But we also have 2 level Smolen:
1N-2-2-2
(4+ s, 5s, longer s at least game invitational)
If partner continues with 2NT (or 3NT) over this (fewer
than three s, 2N with min, 3NT with max),
now 4 (super delayed Texas) shows 4=6 majors with at
least a slam invite. 3 (over 2NT) would be just a
game invitational 4=6.

In my view, partner's actual hand is not worth a slam try,
so I would have chosen 2 followed by 4 (delayed Texas)
over 2NT to show 4=6 majors GF.

Anyway, the opening lead was a . I won K in hand and played a to dummy's Q and RHO's A. Back came another . Then, after cashing 3rd and running the s, someone forgot to keep four s, so 12 tricks rolled in (I'd like to be able to tell you that LHO was squeezed with the A and 4+ s, but that was not the case–LHO had the A, of course, but RHO had :AT8xxx).

The Deep Finesse results show that NT always makes 11 tricks while s can be held to 10 ( ruff). So I am not too sympathetic to the view that the only bid opener can make that isn't a slam try in s is 4.
May 12
Craig Zastera edited this comment May 12
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me too. Follows the principle that higher bids should be more specific. Here, with both majors, use 4 but with less specified hand ( plus a major) use 4.
May 12
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I would not open 3 with two aces (and I think that is a common agreement). Thus, in the unlikely case of holding A, opener surely would not have the A too.
May 12
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To some extent it is relevent how good a hand partner expects for your “Leaping Michaels”. In another BW problem, many were choosing this call with something like
:AKxxx & : KTxxxx.
If that is all partner expects, perhaps we need to make a slam try with this monster.

But I play that these 4 level Leaping Michaels bids are supposed to promise very strong hands–especially since, for me, it is not even possible to stop in 4. Thus, this hand is only a bit more than my partner will expect.

Further, isn't it likely that partner has at least four s (no raise from LHO), possibly more?

Imagine poor partner with something like Axxxx-xx-xx-xxxx and perhaps the merits of PASS will be more appealing.
May 12
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Pretty easy problem to simulate.
I tried a 1000 deal one with partner having 18-19 HCPs,
balanced, 4-5 diamonds, 2-3 spades.
I eliminated 19 HCP hands with 3 strong spades and a weak
doubleton (Jx or weaker) because I believe such hands would/should reverse or jump shift and then show s at the 3rd turn.

Anyway, 3NT made only 45% of the time and 4 only 30%.
So except VUL at IMPs, bidding game is out.

Very close at matchpoints between 2NT (which made 78% of the time) vs. 3 (which made only 66%, but 3 outscores 2NT when both make on the head).
2NT eked out a narrow victory with:
3 beating 2NT on 464 deals
3 ties 2NT on 60 deals
2NT beating 3 on 476 deals

This is so close that I'm not at all confident that the
difference is statistically significant with only a 1000
deal simulation, so full credit for either passing 2NT or Wolffing into 3.
May 12
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We play that 4 shows s and a major (at least 5-5) and is forcing. Advancer's 4 over this asks for the major.
We use intervenor's jump to 4 to show both majors (at least 5-5).
No mention is made that any conventional tool is availalble to show & a major here.
If it were, I'd still be reluctant to trot it out (especially if we can't play in 4 as in my methods) because one has to draw the line (for minimum strength promised) somewhere, and I feel like this one is a tad below that line. Tempting, though.
May 12
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I don't play double here as take-out and don't even think it makes much sense to do so.
My agreements are:
(a) after 1M-1N(F)-(2X)-?
DBL is take-out & if opener passes,
re-opening DBL by responder is also take-out
but
(b) after 1m-1N-(2X)-?
DBL is penalty (but responder may remove with
4+ card support for opener's minor)

I think this makes sense because when responder bids
1NT over a 1m opening, he has denied 4+ cards in both
majors (and if opening is 1, probably in s too).
Also, responder's strength is sharply limited.
Thus, penalty double makes sense.

But after 1M-1N-(2X), responder may be stonger (perhaps
as much as 11 or 12 HCPs), *and* responder may have
length in any suit lower than opener's (which, in the
case of 1 opening means *any* suit).
Thus, take-out double makes sense (because responder will
have suit(s) to take-out to.
May 12
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Has to be support and something in s.
I suppose C!A or C!K is possible, except the problem is that with one of those cards, the s shouldn't be headed by the ace for the 3 opening.
Thus, the likely interpretation is stiff with 3 card heart support and probably A (because partner is likely to be short in s), e.g. xx-Qxx-AJTxxxx-x would be ideal.
May 12
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But this is one of them.
May 11
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But if responder had wanted to bring NT into the picture as a possible final strain, he should have bid 2NT over 2 instead of 2.
Over such a 2NT, opener can still show doubleton support by bidding 3.
So when responder instead bids 2, he is announcing primary interest in playing in that strain if opener can offer secondary support. When opener does that, s are agreed. At some point in GF, possible slam, auctions, one has to quit exploring strain and get on with exploring slam.
May 11
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Good problem.
I play 2/1 GF with *non-serious* 3NT which I think is slightly preferable to “serious 3NT” because the “serious” version leads to making a cue-bid with no real slam interest. This gives info away for no purpose when partner has less than serious slam interest himself.

Playing “non-serious”, with a decent minimum (slammish cards but not significant extra values–kind of like OP hand), one just bids 3NT, giving away no info, and await a cue-bid from partner when he has “serious” values (or, he can just raise to game with less).

But I have another problem with your auction–that is responder's 2nd round *jump* to 3. You say this shows “extras” (and, presumably, 3+ card support).
I don't play the jump this way. My view is that, in general, with some non-specific “good” hand with support, it is much better for responder to just agree at a low level with 2.
This frees up an entire level of bidding between 2 and 3 which can be extremely useful *if the partnership has good agreements*.
Exactly how the space between 2 and 3 is best used is debatable and requires partnership discussion.

Some use 2NT as a trump cue-bid (either showing or denying 2 of the 3 top trump honors). Skipping 2NT to make a 3-level cue-bid would then deny the trump holding shown by 2NT.

Another way is to use 2NT as “non-serious” (or serious if that is your preference), i.e. the same as 3NT but a whole level lower. Then, 3 level cue-bids instead of 2NT would be serious (or frivolous).

A third way is to just agree to use the 3 level to bid out extra shape, if any. With no extra shape feature to show, just raise 2 to 3 and let the auction continue as it would after 3 level GF major suit agreement.

Anyway, I believe an intelligent use of the bidding space between 2 and 3 will in general be more beneficial to accurate bidding than using the jump to 3 just to show amorphous “extras” with little specific definition.

What would I use this jump to 3 for then?
Two choices:
(a) “picture bid” jump–good s (quite possibly 4)
and good s with NO CONTROL and probably
(by agreement) no high honor in s either.
or
(b) a splinter raise of s with a stiff
This is not a bad treatment as slam might
depend on the nature of opener's s–
Axxxx would be good for a heart slam,
KJxxx not so much.
This treatment doesn't entirely lose the “picture
bid jump” as the jump to 4 could be used for
that.

But given your treatment of the 3 jump as “extras”, I'm
wondering if Serious (or non-Serious) 3NT is really needed any more on this auction. Presumably, responder's 3 jump has already indicated that he has slam interest, so shouldn't opener just co-operate with a cue-bid rather than
wasting time with 3NT??

For example, consider the actual OP opener. This is a
wonderful hand for slam on the given auction–
* partner's raise means he likely fills in our broken suit
* We have the nice :Kxx to fill in responder's suit
* The A opposite partner's likely shortness
* a stiff to control the unbid suit

Given that we have only 11 HCPs, I do not believe our
hand could be any better for slam.
Do I really have to mark time with 3NT here just to avoid denigrating my hand with a “non-serious” 4?
That just seems wrong to me, so I'm bidding 4 because I can't wait to get on with moving towards slam and want to show my likely very useful K.
May 10
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I play “frivolous 3NT.”

But I had trouble picking any of your options because of the “if at all possible” in the first one.

However, I do believe that in your given auction Frivolous should apply to responder's 3NT.

My argument is that responder invoked 4SF, and then indicated (via 2) that his hand type was “long s.” The 4SF was necessary to establish a GF. His next bid indicates his hand type–here, long s–6+ or the equivalent. Otherwise, he could have instead rebid 2NT or 3, or 3.

When opener then raised to 3, that ostensibly agrees s trump, i.e. at least a 6-2 fit. So normal “frivolous” rules should apply because we have an 8+ card major suit fit and are in a GF auction with both partners essentially unlimited.

So I picked the first option, although I don't like the “at all possible” in describing the 8+ card fit. On the given auction, I think an 8+ card fit is essentially established–that is a lot stronger than just “if at all possible.”
May 10
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Amazing that no one has commented on our initial PASS.
I'm a “sound initial action” guy and even I would strongly consider opening this hand (actually, I think I *would* have opened it).

So now you have a hand that is completely off the charts strong given your initial pass. And *5* card support for partner's suit. And a void in their suit.
So how can I do other than cue-bid 4? Even with that highly unusual (for a PH) strength and fit showing call, partner probably won't imagine we have this much.

I don't like (negative) double at all. At this level, it is *common* for opener to pass this when he doesn't have an obvious alternative (e.g. 3 with four). My hand is much more offensive than defensive, and I am much more interested in reaching a *slam* then in worrying about finding a spade fit. Negative doubles tend to deny primary support for partner's suit, so partner is likely to misjudge.
Besides, partner can still bid 4 over 4 with 4.

Give partner some mundane minimum hand like Kxx-xxx-KQxxx-Ax and 6 is cold. Will he ever envision slam opposite a PH if we do less than cue-bid 4 now? No.
Even after the cue-bid, reaching 6 will require great imagination on his part.
May 9
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I'm not a strong er, so have little experience in this situation.
Fortunately, this is matchpoints.
So I ask myself “do I expect to get a good result defending (2) against non-vul opponents after RHO has shown a minor 2-suiter voluntarily knowing his LHO has 16+”?

I think the answer is “unlikely.”. Therefore, I will balance as I feel I have little to lose from a matchpoint perspective.

“Double” comes to mind as an attempt to bring both majors into the picture, but I reject that because I don't want to give partner the chance to pass (2X) with not a hint of a defensive trick in my hand. Besides, if he has 3=3 majors he will pick s and that will be wrong.

So I'm fairly comfortable with 2–stir the pot and see what happens.
If it were IMPs, I'd pass–I have a 1 count and the opponents have stopped in 2–I'm content!
May 9
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