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All comments by Craig Zastera
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A 3NT rebid is supposed to show exactly a stiff in partner's suit. It also suggests a more solid suit than these s.
Aug. 27, 2018
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Surprised by all the votes for 3.

I consider this hand significantly too good for that NF call.
Aug. 27, 2018
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I find it hard to believe anyone could misconstrue a double of (4) in the midst of our cue-bidding auction.

You can think of it as a “stolen bid” double if you like.

Had East passed North's 4 control bid, South would have bid 4. Since he had already splintered in s, that call would obviously have shown a void (or possibly stiff A).

When East “stole” South's 4 void/stiff A control bid, South replaces it with a double showing the same holdings.

What else could this double possibly mean in this context?
Aug. 27, 2018
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If you play “XYZ” and, as responder, would like to suggest playing in 2, you bid 2 over partner's 1. This is intended as a relay to 2, which you intend to pass.

If opener has a hand with which he would not want to be passed out in 2, over responder's 2 (intended) relay, opener makes a descriptive bid higher than 2.
Aug. 26, 2018
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I really need to check *5* boxes but software wouldn't let me.
All the offered options are true except “after 2, a jump to 4 is to play.”

Both a 1 and a 2 rebid by opener are natural. The difference is that 2 is game forcing while 1 (while rarely passed) is technically not even forcing 1 round.

Playing “XYZ”, 2 is XYZ, hence an artificial GF.

Playing “XYZ”, a jump to 3 by responder (over 1) is GF, natural and slammish.
Aug. 26, 2018
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Although I mostly agree with Martin (certainly with the part about South's pass of (4) guaranteeing control), it is not quite as clear that the blame goes 100% to North as Martin suggests (and as I first thought).

The problem with excoriating North alone here is that he does not know about South's VOID. Had South had a mere stiff , slam would not be so good.

So South might have been able to do more to clarify his void. Possibilities include:
(a) jumping to 4 rather than 3
But this suffers from the fact that it forces
to 4, which might be a bit of an overbid with
his 13 count. Further, perhaps the 4 jump would
just be a splinter with GF strength rather than
promising a void.

(b) DOUBLE (4) rather than his actual choice of a
slam positive PASS. This is the one I like.
This double must show FIRST ROUND control as
well as a control. I hope no one would think
this is a penalty double in the middle of a slam
probe by someone who has already shown shortness.

© try 5 over partner's 4. But this seems
excessive to me with soft s and only 2nd round
control in a hand which has already mostly bid
it's values.

So, South gets some blame for missing his chance for a “perfect call” of a DOUBLE of (4) to show the void as well as a control.
Aug. 26, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Aug. 26, 2018
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Neither.

1 is semi-artificial, forcing, and shows a NT type hand without a stopper of indeterminate strength.
If opener has a stopper, he bids 1NT (with a minimum range hand). Then, responder passes or raises to 2NT or to 3NT depending on his strength. If opener lacks a stopper, he makes the most natural non-NT rebid.

2 is natural and GF and says that responder has (at least) four s with longer s (5+) and game forcing values.

“XYZ” applies on this auction, so responder has 2 available as a (intended) relay to 2; 2 as GF and saying nothing additional about s; 2 as a 3 card invitational raise (this is a standard Walsh sequence); 3 is GF with 4 s and longer s.

1N/2N/3N are natural promising a stopper.

With invitational strength and four card support, responder would invoke 2 relay to 2, then 2.

With invitational strength, four s and longer s, responder would bid 2 relay to 2, then 2.

To (attempt to) sign off in 2, 2 then pass opener's 2 (with a big and or very shapely hand, opener is not required to accept the relay to 2).

To attempt to sign off in 3, 2 -> 2, then 3 to play.

Responder's jumps to 3 and 3 (over 1) are natural and GF.
Aug. 26, 2018
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No, if we can't play 3NT we can (and usually will) stop in 4.
Aug. 26, 2018
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East has shown no values at all–just a long suit.
He certainly has not shown a “positive response.”
East has enough to try for slam *without* his partner initiating with a slam try–i.e. if West had just bid 4 directly over (4). Once West chooses the stronger sequence, this hand is a “no brainer” for East.
Aug. 25, 2018
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Why not 4 directly over 2?
Because maybe West feared that would be interpreted as just invitational (to game) in s.

Referring to a related recent post, I argued (essentially) that a jump to 4 by West here should not be so interpreted, because such a hand ought to explore for 3NT and then (if no 3NT), bid a passable but invitational 4.
That other post concerned an auction where our side had opened rather than overcalled, which may or may not justify a different interpretation.

But if same reasoning applies here, then 4 right over 2 would be the slam try, whereas 3 then 4 might be just looking for game.

But here, West got a little “lucky” since East bid 3NT over 3. So now, West's removal to 4 can hardly be interpreted as anything but slam interest.
In that case, I think East, with solid s just has to trust his partner and drive to slam.
Aug. 25, 2018
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As long as East recognizes that West's sequence is an unambiguous slam try in s, which I think should be obvious to anyone beyond the beginner level, I do not see how West's bidding could be criticized as it has shown a better than minimum 2 opener with support and slam interest.

I might amend my proposed continuations after 4-5 though. At that point, West might just bid 6 rather than continuing with 5. 5 is probably OK, but a bit murky as it might suggest 1st round control and grand slam interest.

If West did choose 5 / 5, East should probably continue with 6 to indicates his absolute control of that suit.
In that event, West would probably still be OK by “signing off” in 6, but I think this adds needless complexity.
Once East encourages West's slam try with 5, I think West has enough to just bid the slam and little reason for further “fooling around” with 5. My original thinking was that 5 allowed stopping at 5 when East lacked the Q, but that message is probably too subtle to be reliably received.
Aug. 25, 2018
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East is clearly the culprit here.

In an obvious (even to the janitor) forcing pass situation, West issued an unmistakable “pass and pull” slam try in s with the added virtue of keeping the auction low to best facilitate “investigation” below 5.

East has plenty to move over a slam invite–his partner has shown a GF opening bid with support AND MORE– West could have just bid 4 over (4) and even that probably should have been enough for East to take another call as his hand certainly has slam potential opposite any 2 opener with support.

But West did more than that–*he* issued an explicit slam try in s. West has now done his part as he doesn't have much more than a minimum 2 opener with support, yet he chose a stronger move towards slam than just bidding 4.

So East should just cue-bid 5. Then, over West's ensuing 5, East jumps to 6 (his 5 denied a control).

Might West have bid differently?
I think a “B” player might have simply chosen 4NT. Of course that call is clearly inferior to actual West's elegant “Pass and Pull” slam try.

4NT suffers from several problems:
(a) not obviously a key card ask
It could be natural.
But of course, for “B” players, 4NT is always a
keycard ask.

(b) In a better partnership that normally uses
“Kickback”, if West bids 4NT, East would first
have to reason (correctly) that 4 by West
can't be Kickback for s here as that call
needs to be natural. He would then have to
further reason that 4NT is intended as “substitute”
key-card ask in s. Plausible, but not obvious as
*that* call might be needed as natural too.

© West is not really in a position to take control
with a 4NT key-card ask even if he believes (hopes)
that East will interpret it that way.
If the partnership plays 3014 responses (as they
probably do if they normally use “Kickback”), then
a 5 reply (1) would not allow West to find out
whether East also holds the critical Q.

Of course, if they have considered the issue of
sometimes needing to use 4NT as Kickback for s
(which they likely haven't), then they might also
have figured out they should switch to “1430” replies
in such cases.

Could West have made some alternative slam try other than his actual “pass and pull to 4” ?

I suppose he might have passed and then pulled to 5 to explicitly indicate control of that suit.

But that seems “murky” and therefore inferior to his actual choice. Would 5 promise 1st round control? Does it suggest interest in 7? What does it say about his control (or lack of) in the suit he skipped (s)??

So my conclusion is that West chose the best and most elegant slam try call, while East, with plenty to be VERY interested in 6 and NO rational worry that 5 could be too high, didn't bother to make the easy and safe co-operative move of cue-bidding 5.
Aug. 25, 2018
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Obviously forcing.
But why did North bid this way with this hand?

After partner's support double of (1), a splinter jump to 3 describes North's hand perfectly–sets s as trump (hence 5+), a stiff , enough strength to have slam interest. Seems perfect to me.
Aug. 25, 2018
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When our suit is a minor, you distinguish by raising directly to 4m to show slam interest.
If you bid around at the 3 level (including cue) and then bid 4m, it was a failed stopper search.
Aug. 25, 2018
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I'm not sure what extra descriptive text you refer to.

But I could use some extra descriptive text to explain “take-out” because the answer to “take-out to what?” is not at all obvious to me since opener has already described his support (exactly 3) and has opened 1.

So it would be helpful to me to hear what strength and shape(s) you would consider appropriate for your “take-out” interpretation of East's double.
Aug. 25, 2018
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The double of (1) was for take-out.
Presumably, East still has the same hand he held when he doubled the first time, so the second double still shows a take-out oriented hand but with more HCPs then were promised the first time.

It would not make sense for him to be doubling purely for penalties with some 19+ HCP balanced hand with which he had intended to rebid 1NT had his partner's 1 level advance been passed back to him because with such a hand he could not be confident of beating 1NT.

Most likely he would particularly relish a red suit advance from partner, so likely shapes would include 3=4=5=1 or 4=4=4=1.
Aug. 25, 2018
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Makes perfect sense.
Opener can pass, forcing, with a take-out hand.
But when (3) comes around to you, your double just says you've got no better descriptive bid and want to leave partner maximum room to describe his hand.
Aug. 24, 2018
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Contrast OP auction with:
(2)-Pass-(Pass)-DBL
(Pass)-3-(Pass)-4

One of these auctions is a slam try in s, while the other is passable in 4.

Which one is the slam try?

I think that the right agreement (if you have bothered to make one) is that *my* auction is the slam try.

The OP auction should mean that doubler is trying for 3NT by asking if advancer has a stopper. When advancer denies one (I interpret 3 as showing a decent 3 card fragment in case doubler wants to chance 4 in a 4-3), doubler's 4 is passable (but advancer could boost to 5 if he really like his hand).

But without a firm agreement, one might opine that double followed by a *cue-bid* followed by 4 is the stronger (i.e. slam try) auction. It sounds that way without giving it a lot of thought.

The “flaw” in that position, though, is that it seems odd that doubler with just “game try” strength would raise 3 directly to 4 without trying for 3NT.
Aug. 24, 2018
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If partner wanted to hear from me, he would have passed (3) (obviously, such a pass would be forcing). Then, my balancing double would have been take-out.

So partner's double should be penalties.

If I were going to bid here, it would be 3, not 4 which would suggest a much stronger hand.
Aug. 24, 2018
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Whether this is a 1 opener or a 2 opener depends on partnership agreements.
Some play very sound “weak” two bids.
Some play higher requirements when VUL and/or in 2nd chair.

Presumably, OP's partnership has agreements about their criteria for a max “weak” 2 vs. a minimum 1.
So I don't think any criticism of 2 opener is warrented if this hand meets requirements in their style.

That said, this hand counts to 22.5 using HCPs + length of two longest suits + quick tricks. Thus, by “Rule of 22”, this hand merits a 1 opening. It has no real defects, although obviously the hand would be even better if the side suit ace were not singleton (:ATxx would be best).

So I admit that I would have chosen 1 rather than 2, and my style is “sounder” minimum opening requirements than is average nowadays. Still, I would *consider* 2, and if in 2nd chair VUL (where partner would expect a good hand), I might actually choose that call.
Aug. 24, 2018
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