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All comments by Craig Zastera
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Well, a double finesse in s give you a 24% chance. Of course, if that comes off you will feel bad for not being in 7NT.

Did you know that a Texas Transfer followed by a new suit at the 5 level is an “Exclusion” key card ask?

So one *might* have bid this hand:
1N 4
4 5 (Exclusion keycard ask)
6 6
Jan. 21
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My support for (some) NF 4m bids does not include cases where a natural “for play” 3NT is removed to 4m.

I do like some 2/1 (“GF”) auctions to be allowed to die in 4m when (a) 3NT is known to be unplayable due to an unstopped suit (b) there is no playable major suit fit © both hands are minimum.

I think this view is quite reasonable because otherwise the requirements for making a 2/1 response are simply too high.

You make your “GF” 2/1 in good faith on some 12-13 point hand without a good fit for opener's suit, and eventually the auction develops in such a way that the “bad news” summarized by my three conditions above is revealed.

Do we have to “die” by our “2/1 GF” credo by bidding a hopeless 5m with inadequate material?
Or can we be practical and occasionally stop in 4m even after a “2/1 GF” response where we might still salvage a plus score?
Jan. 21
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Why can't partner have something like:
AKQT9xx-Kx-xx-Kx ??

In that case 7 makes if either rounded suit Q comes down in 3 rounds *or* if K is onside.

7NT requires a rounded suit queen to drop in two rounds or the finesse, so not nearly as good.

This is of course not an endorsement of partner's bidding.
Certainly with the hand I show, I would wonder why he might not have used some of the bidding room between 2 and 7 to find out possibly relevent info.
Jan. 21
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What you learn is whether partner can accept a slam try in s. Up to this point in the auction, you have not made a call suggesting slam interest, and you certainly haven't shown your semi-solid suit.

So a forcing 4 here is much better than a quantitative 4NT as 4 is not only a slam try, but also shows an important feature of your hand and points to a slam in a strain other than NT.
Jan. 21
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Removing a voluntarily bid natural “for play” 3NT to 4m is forcing and slammish.
Jan. 21
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In my partnerships we used to have a Kickback “rule” that there was no auction where two different bids would both be Kickback (but for two different suits).

That is, with this agreement, for any auction there was at most *one* suit in which a bid of 4 of the strain immediately above would be Kickback.

What John proposes here is the opposite–auctions with two suits where bidding four of the strain above either would be Kickback for that suit.

I'm not saying my proposed “rule” is better, but it did seem to help in avoiding “Kickback Konfusion” and I can't recall it ever causing problems.

But John's idea might be fine for more adventurous partnerships as it could potentially allow key-card asks wherever the replies would be more useful.
Jan. 21
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I think removing 3NT to 4 is better than to 4.

The problem with 4 is that it is passable–not clearly a slam try as might just be big shape with minimal HCPs.

But removing 3NT to 4 is clearly 100% forcing and a slam try.
Jan. 21
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As long as 2NT by South is regarded as invitational rather than “corrective”, 2NT is enough.

North has about as big a passed hand as possible and will have an easy raise to 3NT (sadly, probably garnering no more matchpoints than 2NT).
Jan. 21
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Even if you reach 3NT (making 3), you will lose to the field in 4 (making).
Jan. 21
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Assuming fit jumps, I like 4–a GF fit jump as described
in Robson & Segal “Partnership bidding at Bridge.”:

“Time to extract a few ‘rules’ to cover auctions where partner has overcalled and RHO passes:
….
(2) All non-game jumps into new suits show fits (as well as a jump to 4♥ opposite a 1♠ overcall, or to 5♣ opposite a diamond overcall).”

I'm not sure if R/S say explicitly, but I think this 4 FJ is passable.
Jan. 20
Craig Zastera edited this comment Jan. 20
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2NT scrambling (i.e. pick a minor here).
Jan. 20
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I don't think a 3 “criss-cross” game invitational raise is sound with only four s.

Can't opener have a 4=4=3=2 minimum (i.e. a weak NT)?

Given your methods, I think 1 is the best shot.
I suppose the “orthodox” bid would be 1NT.
Jan. 20
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Yes, “Kickback” is a key-card ask using 4 of the strain directly above the agreed trump suit (so 4NT is the key-card ask only when s are trump).

The advantage is that all four replies can be made without going beyond 5 of the trump suit. Over such replies, 5 of the “Kickback” suit is a specific king ask (leaving room for any/all specific kings to be shown without going beyond 6 of the trump suit).

After step 1 or step 2 replies to Kickback, cheapest bid is the “queen ask”, although there are a couple of quirks to that when using Kickback (particularly at matchpoints):
1. When s are trump, and the reply to 4 Kickback is
4, asker (particularly at matchpoints) might want
to play 4NT when 2+ keycards are missing.
In this case, one can agree that 4NT is natural, for
play, while 5 can be the “queen ask.”

2. When s are trump, and the reply to 4 Kickback is
4, there is a real problem. Is 4NT the “queen ask”
or is it “to play” as in 1??
Each partnership must decide. At IMPs, probably
should be the queen ask (can play 5 if necessary).
But at matchpoints, it is debatable whether it is
better to have 4N queen ask, or better to be able
to play 4NT in a failed slam try auction in s.

The only other problem with “Kickback” is that sometimes there may be an ambiguity as to whether the bid *is* Kickback or a natural offer to play.
This is most common when s have been bid naturally but s have been bid and raised. Is 4 Kickback or a natural offer to play? Each partnership must agree on various specific auctions when a possibly ambiguous Kickback is or isn't Kickback.
Jan. 20
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I could be convinced that because of the competition, 5 by East would not carry the “normal” meaning of a “free 5M”, i.e. forcing to slam if partner has a control (with the structured responses I outlined above).

However, there is NO WAY I would agree that “partner will pass it with virtually any hand…” as claimed above.

No, even if 5 is not a “slam demand if s controlled”, it is still a bid which can be raised to slam with an appropriate hand opposite. There is no way that it demands a pass with “virtually any hand.”

And the OP West hand is surely such. With that hand, if my partner (East) bid 5, I not only would not PASS, I wouldn't even merely bid 6. No, I would bid 5 to say my hand is good enough for at least 6 *and* I have first round control with interest in a grand.
Jan. 20
Craig Zastera edited this comment Jan. 20
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I “reversed the dummy” (:-)) references. Thanks
Jan. 20
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I'm not sure how you find the K after a 5 Exclusion ask.

Over such a 5, partner will bid 5 since she has no keycards outside s (hopefully, you have the agreement that responses to Exclusion are “3014”, at least in the case where the ask is the step immediately below our trump suit).

Now what? Would 5 be the “queen ask” (obviously with interest in a grand, since that would commit to 6 at least) ?

Or is 5 asking for the K?
I would *guess* that it would be the “queen ask”.
But what are the replies?
6 = no Q? Then I still don't find out about K.
5N = Q + K?
Jan. 20
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Once responder doesn't bid s at his 2nd turn, s are pretty much out of the picture as trump suit, although I do think that if responder bid 4 over opener's 3, that would be natural and passable.

I would never use 4NT as a key-card ask with s trump.
I play “Kickback”, so 4 would be the normal keycard ask in s.

That would apply in OP auction had responder jumped to 4 directly over opener's 3 *or* had responder bid 4 over opener's 3.

On OP auction, I play that 4 by responder over opener's 3 would be forcing with slam interst, but not any kind of key-card ask. This is because I play that opener's immediate raise to 3 shows “extras” and, hence, it is no longer possible to stop in 4.

I can imagine some partnerships that would allow the auction to die in 4 after OP start (no stopper, 4 not playable). In such partnerships, 4 by responder over opener's 3 might be played as NF.

If 4 over 3 is deemed to be forcing, some might define it as “Minorwood”, i.e. a key-card ask in s.

Another possible treatment of a forcing 4 is something called “quantitative keycard”. In that variation, 4 is forcing, shows slam interest, and the replies are:
* 4 = bad hand in context, declining slam invite
(over that, 4 bidder with a really good hand
can continue with cheapest not possibly natural
4M to ask for keycards in s. On OP auction, that
would be 4 as 4 could be natural).

* 4/4/4N/5:
Normal keycard replies but showing a “good” hand in
context (i.e. replier is accepting a slam invite).

So to me, 4NT on OP auction is natural and quantitative. A slam invite but passable.
Jan. 20
Craig Zastera edited this comment Jan. 20
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No one playing any sort of “Walsh” would ever respond 1 with this East hand.

In that style, a 1 response when holding a 4 card major promises *longer s* (hence, 5+) *and* opening bid values.

In some modern variations of Walsh which include “XYZ” methods, it might be permitted to respond 1 to a 1 opener when holding a four card major with only game invitational strength *AND* 5+ diamonds.

But I do not think in Walsh methods one would ever respond 1 with only 4 s when holding a 4 card major even with full GF strength (as in OP).

That is not to say I think a style where one *would* respond 1 with only 4 s and a 4 card major when holding a strong hand is necessarily flawed.

That is “up the line” bidding which I think was once quite popular, particularly in eastern US. Maybe it still is, I don't know, having been on the west coast for 25 years now.

I do remember that long ago when I first learned bridge, “up the line” bidding seemed eminently logical to me as that is the best way to find all 4=4 fits in an orderly way.

I think it requires consideration of the risks of the opponents interfering with the auction to make a good case for “skipping” a 4+ card suit in order to show a major immediately.
Jan. 20
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I find the 6 bid bizarre given the holding.
Better would be *5*. This asks about opener's control (or lack of). Opener should reply as follows:
PASS: no control
5 : 1st round control, not A or A
5N : :Kx(x) i.e. guarded K
6C : 1st round control AND the A
6D : 1st round control AND A (no A)
6H : singleton

This way, 7 could be reached intelligently.
After 5, opener bids 6 (1st round control and A).
Now, 6 by responder would show grand slam interest (in ) but not yet able to bid it.
Opener should be able to bid 7 on the basis primarily of his as yet unshown K (and his great trumps and long strong s don't hurt either, although some of this already suggested by 4 bid).
Jan. 20
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How about:
x-Kxxxx-AQJTxxx-void
Jan. 20
.

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