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All comments by Craig Zastera
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I think this is just unlucky.
While I won't go so far as to say partner has too much for his raise to 3, he certainly has an absolute max.

Suppose his hand were instead: xx-AQJx-AKxx-KJx.
That is a fine, sound raise to 3 (not at all scraping the bottom), yet 4 has zero play opposite your hand.

The problem is that there is just not enough bidding space for accurate bidding. If partner is going to worry too much about your having near zero for your forced 2 advance, he is going to miss a lot of games when he passes or raises only to 3 and you have something.

The raise to 3 should ideally show around 17-18 “support points”, so that if you are at the top of your bid (7-8 points), you bid game.

Here, he has 20 support points, which is quite a bit above the expected 17-18.

You have 6 “points” (counting 1 extra for the 5th ). So you are a bit thin to raise 3 to 4, but close. In a sense, you actually have 7 “support points” because the doubleton turns out to be valuable. But normally, advancer doesn't count anything for a doubleton in the suit partner doubled, because it is expected that doubler will have two or fewer cards in that suit.
Here, that proved to be incorrect which also contributed to missing a cold game.

So, in my view, you have a max pass of 3 and partner is a bit too heavy for 3 (although that choice could be the winner if he catches you with “nothing”).
Sept. 1, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Sept. 1, 2018
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Best way to start with a problem like this is to run simulations consistent with the bidding and South hand.

The constraints are pretty well-defined. Could do even better if East's (favorable vul) pre-empting style had been specified.

Anyway, I assumed East has 7 s to the QJ, QJT, or QT with no more than 9 HCPs.

Partner can have a balanced hand of up to 11 HCPs or most any hand up to 9 points (but I eliminated weak 2s or higher pre-emptive openers). I disallowed 10-11 HCP hands that count to 13 or more “Goren points” (3/2/1 for void/stiff/doubleton) under the assumption that partner might have opened those.

I did a 2000 deal simulation with above assumptions.

3NT made slightly more often than 4–58% vs. 54%

However, variance in 3NT was huge. Sometimes as few as 2 tricks are available in NT, and sometimes up to 13.
3NT made fewer than 7 tricks on 18% of the deals, while 3 made fewer than 7 tricks on only 3% of the deals.

This variance resulted in 3NT and 4 being virtual ties at IMPs: NV, 3N beat out 4 by 178 IMPs, while VUL 4 beat 3NT by 22 IMPs (remember, this is over 2000 deals).

If this were matchpoints, 3NT would prevail over 4 with about 57% (BAM scoring).

Just the above would suggest (VUL at IMPs), it is a virtual toss-up between 4 vs. 3NT.

However, the added flexibility of 3, I think, makes that call the winner. By bidding 3, we will sometimes play in 3 (when partner is weak with modest s) and sometimes in 4 (when partner has a decent combination of support and values).

This flexibility should push the 3 overcall into the lead.
We will often reach 4 when it is a good contract and often stop in 3 when 4 would be too high.

Contrast this with 3NT which will almost always end the auction (for better or worse).
Sept. 1, 2018
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Anyone who opens 1NT with this hand should not be allowed to write “15-17” on their card.
Sept. 1, 2018
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Surprised I'm not the only one who prefers 1.
I just can't bring myself to suppress a powerful suit like this.

But seriously, at matchpoints there is a significant risk that the obvious 1NT will miss a 4=4 major suit fit when partner is not strong enough to Stayman.

After 1-1M, I am content with a raise to 2M with this 7 loser hand. If partner instead responds 1NT, I will pass.
Sept. 1, 2018
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To me, the interesting questions are whether to play in s or NT and how high.

I'm assuming methods where we can get to 4 or 5 declared by the strong side.

A simulation shows that s is much superior to NT both at matchpoints or IMPs and at the partscore or game level.

4 beats out 2NT handily at all forms of the game.
5 beats out 3NT also handily at all forms of the game.

5 beats 4 narrowly at matchpoints (it would be the other way around if the weak hand had to play the contract), but by good margins at IMPs.

Between the also rans, 2N vs. 3N, 2N is considerably better at matchpoints, while 3N squeeks out a narrow win at IMPs not vul and a clear win VUL.
Aug. 30, 2018
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I make this as between 3 and 4.

4 emphasizes the lack of a control and minimum nature of the hand. Also good to discourage with a stiff in partner's suit.

But 4 takes up a lot of room just to send a “negative” message, so I'm not a fan of using that call frequently.

So I decided to go with the more “neutral” 3: “partner, what do you have in mind.” If partner does anything other than a “serious slam interest” cue-bid, I'm out (in 4).

I hate 3 unless the partnership had a firm agreement that opener is supposed to use the “space” between 2 and 3 to bid out his pattern ALWAYS regardless of honor distribution and hand strength.
(i.e. 2N with 5=2=4=2, 3 with 5=1=4=3, 3 with 5=x=5=y, 3 with 5=3=4=1 and 3 with 6=x=4=y)
Aug. 30, 2018
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Tempting to stretch to 2 so as to avoid playing in a 4-3 fit.

But one has to draw the (lower) line somewhere for minimum for a cue-bid even when trying to find best fit.
This one seems like it would be going a bit too low since after cue-bid, we would have to play at least 3 or 4m which could be too high.
Aug. 30, 2018
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The important question here is whether you play “Good/Bad 2N” by opener on this auction (you should, IMO).

If you do, opener's 3 rebid here over (2) shows a “good” hand, which is what you have. So if your partner passes (3), you probably should respect that.

Of course, if your 3 is “ambiguous” (i.e. might be just a minimum opener with long s or could be something like what you've got or even better), then you have to guess.

The kicker is the possibility of a fit. Of course, if partner had some values and four s and knew your 3 showed a “Good” hand, he probably would have doubled (3), which I would regard as “co-operative take-out” AKA “cards” or “DSI”.
Aug. 30, 2018
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If I had that hand, I'd just bid 3NT over 3 as responder. 3NT is (slightly) better from responder's side anyway.
Aug. 30, 2018
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This North hand is marginal (at best) for a 1 overcall directly over their (1). I guess it depends on partnership style.
My style would be to wait for a slightly better hand than this 5332 7 count so that our constructive bidding will not suffer from partner never knowing if I have anything when I overcall.
I think if you even changed the Q to the K I would go ahead and overcall 1 NV at matchpoints (but I'd need those nice 10s even then).

Also important to know if partner could have bid an immediate 3 to show both majors (presumably 5=5 or better).
If so, he is only 5=4 or 6=4 for his actual sequence.

So 5=4=1=3 seems likely, perhaps KQTxx-KQxx-x-Kxx at best.
That gives our side a play for 4, but it's far from cold and this is matchpoints.
Aug. 30, 2018
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Why would we be in a force?
If RHO had passed 2, we could bid 2NT or 3 and neither of those would be forcing, so it is difficult to see why RHO's (3) raise should suddenly force us to bid higher.
Aug. 30, 2018
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On that construction, any return at all will (can) suffice to defeat 4 (although if you cash A, you must then switch to a ).
Aug. 30, 2018
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3 is a strong suggestion that 3NT may not be the right contract. If I bid it anyway, I better have great s.
Aug. 30, 2018
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In my world, 3 here 100% guarantees at least 5 s.
Aug. 30, 2018
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Perhaps.
Maybe partner instead has Axxx-KQTxx-xxx-x.
With that hand, 4 makes 84% of the time while 3NT comes in on only 7% of the deals (!)

But that is not really my point.
The choice to rebid 3 here (not that I feel strongly that another call is better) suffers the “pang” of suppressing a pretty strong orientation. Most hands that rebid 3 on this auction will not be nearly this oriented–few will have 3 card support, not to mention the side small singleton.

But we can only describe so much about our hands with each bid, and 3 does a reasonable job of describing our very strong 6 card suit and modest extra HCP values.

But now we have a chance for a 3rd call. This is our opportunity to refine our description and fill in important secondary feature(s) that we have not yet been able to describe.

So it seems to me that the time has come to reveal our surprise support and ruffing value with 4. 3NT, in my view, would be less descriptive as that would suggest lesser support and better stoppers.
Aug. 30, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Aug. 30, 2018
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me too.
It would never occur to me that XX showed 2nd round control on this auction. I would think that first round control would be a reasonable use for this call, but I'm not sure I would be confident that was how my partner intended it.
Aug. 30, 2018
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Inviting will not “usually get you a bad score when partner declines.”

It will sometimes get you a bad score when partner declines *and* he can't make 2NT.

But inviting will often get you a good score vs. blasting 3NT when partner declines and he can't make 3NT.

And it will also get you a good score vs. passing 1NT when he accepts and makes 3NT.

Also, declining the invite need not occur “more often than not.” How often partner accepts an invite vs. declines is determined by your partnership agreements about how aggressively to invite.

A good agreement is to set this up so that partner will accept approximately 50% of the time. That way, the invitational strategy has maximal utility. If he accepted most of the time or declined most of the time, inviting would be less useful because you could just decide yourself and “usually” wind up in the same place.

In the case of 15-17 1NT openers, this works out roughly to declining with 15 and accepting otherwise, because the 15s occur roughly 50% of the time (exact percentage depends on policies about opening 1NT with 5 card majors and/or with 2=2=(45) shapes).

Whether inviting is the percentage strategy with a specific hand (as in this OP) depends on the probabilities of gaining vs. either of the other two strategies (i.e. passing 1NT or blasting 3NT in this case).

Simulations with this particular hand clearly showed that inviting gained overall at matchpoints relative to either passing 1NT or blasting 3NT.

VUL at IMPs, just bidding 3NT turns out to be the best strategy with this hand.

NV at IMPs it is quite close. If you accept the double dummy results, inviting is slightly still the winner. But it is close enough that real-world declarer advantage might be enough to push blasting 3NT into the lead.
Aug. 30, 2018
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A set of 5000 deal simulations show that:
(a) when opener has a random, balanced 15 HCP hand,
3NT makes on about 39% of the deals
(2NT makes on about 73% of the deals)

(b) when opener has a random, balanced 16 HCP hand,
3NT makes on about 59% of the deals

© when opener has a random, balanced 17 HCP hand,
3NT makes on over 73% of the deals.

Inviting will tell you if partner has 15 HCPs (he passes) or 16-17 HCP (he bids 3NT). And that differences has quite a good chance of reflecting whether 3NT is a good bet or not.
Aug. 30, 2018
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But in Walsh style (which I play), since the 1 response denies a four card major unless opening bid strength, a 2 rebid by responder to show specifically that hand type (5+ s, 4 s, opening values) seems like a reasonable and economical way to show that specific hand. Seems like this leaves plenty of room for any further investigation that might be needed.

With “xyz” added, one can extend Walsh to allow 1 response with 4M & 5+ s with only game invitational values.
With that hand type, after 1-1-1, use 2 ==> 2 then 2 to show 4 s, 5+ s, and specifically invite strength.

With this style, responder's *1* rebid (1-1-1-1) can be reserved for problem hands with fewer than four s.
The meaning we have found useful is that it shows a NT type hand (of various strengths) without a stopper.
Opener can convert to NT (usually 1NT) with a stopper, then responder can pass or raise to 2NT or 3NT depending on how strong he is. So this 1 covers a variety of hands and gets NT right-sided.
Whether this 1 could be extended to include yet other hand types is an issue we haven't explored, probably because the “xyz” structure already gives us so many options that we haven't encountered a need to try to leverage 1 further.
Aug. 29, 2018
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If this hand is a 2 bid in their methods, then partner definitely shouldn't think 4 now shows a high card control in s (rather than an offer to play 4).
Aug. 29, 2018
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