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All comments by Craig Zastera
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My opinion is that “spiral” is really only important when responder has *slam try* strength but only a 4 card major.

Now, after 1m-1M-2M-, you don't want to head off towards slam without being sure you actually have an 8 card fit.

If we are only thinking about *game try* strength, it seems to me that natural methods are fine–probably better than “spiral.” With “natural”, responder can bid 2NT to show a balanced invite with only a 4 card suit and play there when opener is also balanced with only 3 card support and a minimum hand. Or, responder can make a natural “help suit” try, including 3m (opener's minor).
May 19
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To follow up on the two simulations I reported above, I did a third with Leonard's “best” hand given great spots:
KJT-QJ-AT98-AKT9
This hand on a similar 1000 deal simulation now produced:
3NT made of 596 deals
May 19
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To follow up on my previous post with some facts, I took Leonard's “worst” 18 HCP hand above (KQx-QJx-KQJ-KJxx) and replaced his “x”s with some great spots to produce:
KQT-QJT-KQJ-KJT9 (“bad” hand with great spots)

I then took his “best” 18HCP hand above (KJx-QJ-Axxx-AKxx) and replaced the “x”s with some terrible spots to produce:
KJ2-QJ-A432-AK32 (“good” hand with terrible spots)

I then ran a 1000 deal simulation for each of these hands with random 7 HCP balanced hands opposite (no 8+ card major suit fits).
Here are the results:
KQT-QJT-KQJ-KJT9: 3NT made on 555 deals
KJ2-QJ-A432-AK32: 3NT made on 336 deals (!)

I hope that these two results will convince you that *spot cards* are crucial in any “upgrade” or “downgrade” decision.
May 19
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The most important single factor in deciding whether to upgrade or downgrade a balanced hand from the range suggested by its 4-3-2-1 HCP count is *spot cards*.
If the hand has an unusual number of 10s and 9s, particularly in suits combined with higher honor(s), the hand is likely to be worth a 1 point upgrade.

Conversely, if the hand is devoid of high spot cards (and, obviously, 10s are more significant than 9s, which in turn are more important than 8s, etc.), it is likely to merit a downgrade.

You might think possession of a 5 card suit is a big upgrade.
It is not. It is at best a *small* upgrade (because a long suit implies weakness elsewhere).

Also, you might think 4333 shape is bad. I have found using simuations that for NT purposes, it is not so bad to be 4333.

A third factor, also not as important for NT purposes, is whether your high cards are mostly Aces and Kings, or mostly queens and jacks. Conventional wisdom is that As and Ks are “undervalued.” This is much less true for balanced hands when the target contract is NT.

That is why it is kind of too bad that OPs example hands all include nothing but “x”s for the cards lower ranking than jacks. For all of his examples, it will make a huge difference if you make a lot of those “x”s into 10s, 9s, and 8s, vs. 4s, 3s, and 2s.
So I would really like to see examples with *all the spots* specified. Only then would I feel comfortable trying to evaluate how these hands compare to “average” hands with the same HCP strength.
May 19
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Alan,
We currently have no fancier agreements than what I described–after all, this does not occur frequently.
Presumably, with the “long strong suit plus stoppers” hand type, you bid your suit. This would, I suppose, include bidding 5 when that is your suit.

Upon reflection, though, it does seem that if you wanted to get fancy you could encode 5 hand types into 4 steps easily enough, e.g.:
after (3X)-3NT-4 asks, then:
4: (semi)balanced hand, strength unspecified
then: 4 asks strength:
replies (up the line):
4: weakest (say 15+ - 17)
4NT: middle (say 18-19)
5: 20+
more steps?? I'm assuming that with
20+, we will be bidding slam.

4: long in lowest unbid suit + stopper(s)
4: long in middle unbid suit + stopper(s)
4!N: long in highest unbid suit + stopper(s)

Other encodings might be more to your liking. The key is
that you can always show *5* hand types in *4* steps as
follows:
step 1: Type 1 or Type 2
step 2 asks:
then: step 3 = Type 1; step 4 = Type 2

step 2: Type 3
step 3: Type 4
step 4: Type 5

This principle has many applications.
Even more useful, is the extension whereby *8* hand types can be shown in *5* steps.
Applications for this occur frequently.

The general scheme is:
step 1: Type 1, Type 2, or Type 3
step 2 asks which.
Then:
step 3 = Type 1; step 4 = Type 2;step 5 = Type 3

step 2: Type 4 or Type 5
step 3 asks which
Then:
step 4 = Type 4; step 5 = Type 5

step 3 = Type 6; step 4 = Type 7; step 5 = Type 8

You can go even further (e.g. *13* types can be shown in *6* steps), but applications for these seem rare.

One slight drawback of this method is that all the “content” is in the top 3 steps–the lower one(s) all being used as multi-meaning steps.
May 19
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If you have an agreement that the 4 bid was Gerber, then you would make a “delayed alert” after the auction was over.

But they clearly do not have such an agreement as it is not on the card, and OP was merely speculating about what he thought his partner might have intended. In that case, no alert (delayed or otherwise) is appropriate.
May 18
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1-1N-2m-2 shows a big raise of responder's minor.
May 17
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That hand is easily worth a 2 advance, not 1.
May 17
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With 2-level Smolen, weak hands with 5 s + 4 s start with Stayman, pass a 2M response, and bid 2 over 2 which forces opener to bid 2 (which you then pass).

But with 4 s and 5 s and a weak hand, just transfer to 2 and pass.
May 17
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It seems to me that bidding 4 is just giving up. Hard to see how we win IMPs with that unimaginative choice.
I need to try to figure out if partner has (at least) two of A, K, Q. Can I do that? Don't know, but I should at least try.
I guess I have to start with 2NT (yuck–wasting a level of bidding already) and then try to show my big black 2-suiter.
Would be nice to know what is forcing thereafter.
May 17
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Having opened 2 on a hand that does not justify this (you'd need to add a red king or change the Q to the A to have a minimum 2 opener), why would one consider now raising 3NT to 4NT? That ought to suggest something more than a minimum 2 opener, not less than you've already promised.
Unless you have a specific agreement that the 2 response (A & K) is forcing to some higher level, e.g. 4NT.
May 17
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If playing strong (e.g. 15-17) 1NT openers, opener's 2NT rebid after a competitive 2/1 response should definitely be non-forcing–else, what can he bid with a 12-14 balanced or semi-balanced hand with a stopper in their suit and < 3 cards in responder's suit. If responder's suit is a minor, opener might even want to rebid 2NT with 3 cards in responder's suit rather than raising.
May 17
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In 2 level Smolen,
after 1N-2-2-??
(a) 2 by responder forces opener to bid 2
Responder continues:
* PASS: 5=4 majors, weak hand
* 2NT: 5=4 majors, game invitational
* 3: 5 s and 5 s, light invite
* 3: 5 s and 5 s, light invite
* 3: 5 s and 5 s, light invite
* 3NT: 5=4 majors, game force
* 4: 5=5 majors, slam interest
* 4: 6=5 majors, slam interest
* 4: 6=4 majors slam interest
(1N-2-2-3 is 5=5 majors, GF, no slam)

(b) 2 by responder shows 5+ s and 4+ Ss
(s always longer than s)
with invitational or better values
Opener continues:
* 2N: minimum with 2 s
* 3N: maximum with 2 s
* 3: minimum with 3 s
* 3/3: 3 s, game re-try (16?)
* 4/4/4: 3 s, max (4m = cue-bid)

If you want to include a way to show 5 s & 5m with light game invite strength, you can use a version of Walsh Relay:
1NT-2 (Jacoby)-2-2 (forces opener to bid 2NT)-2N:
then:
* 3: 5 + 5, light invite
* 3: 5 + 5, light invite
* higher bids: various uses by agreement
May 16
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Need an agreement. Mine is that Texas is on in competition even when it is not a jump (like here).

So, for me, after 1NT-(4):
4: Texas for s
4: Texas for s
4: s (but opener can bid 4NT to play)

Double: general strength, Staymanish, but can be left in.
May 16
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“Fit bids” are supposed to show good suits. 2/3 top honors is ideal (and nice to have the J too).
I can see “cheating” a bit when the hand is otherwise ideal (maybe with AJTxx). But Q9xxx is a joke.
A fit bid is supposed to indicate that *1* fitting honor in this suit will give it a good chance of running.

I see this hand as a choice between a pre-empt (4 seems about right to me) vs. a negative double to bring s into the picture.

I do not think the hand is strong enough to start with 2.
May 16
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I believe it is illegal to alert bids above 3NT that occur after opener's 1st rebid (hence 4 on OP's auction).
And it would certainly be wrong to alert a bid for which you do not have an agreed meaning–alerts are supposed to be to make the opponents aware of agreements.

Of course, if they *ask* about 4 on their own initiative, then you can explain what your agreement is.
May 16
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I agree with Jay here.
A 2 overcall should be natural, constructive, and descriptive.
Partner has a right to expect certan values (and suit length/strength), and will compete accordingly. He will not be pleased if his choice(s) work out poorly because you do not have the expected values.

I suppose there are situations where you can make “unilateral” bids with ambiguous values, but this is not one of them.
Besides, any alleged “disruptive” value of 2 here, in that it removes certain potential rebids from LHO, will be largely offset by giving away the show about the suit lay-out.
May 16
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Jacoby transfer followed by a new suit jump is a splinter. This is a standard part of Jacoby transfers, so I would not hesitate to assume this is what it means.

I have a poor hand for a slam opposite short s, so I bid 4 to show that.

A recent post I made with a similar auction raises the question of whether opener could bid 4NT natural and slam negative. I believe that should be the meaning of 4NT (but many disagreed). However, this hand would not be suitable for that choice anyway because the s are not nearly strong enough.
May 16
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Since I play 2-level Smolen, I don't have the option of Stayman followed by 2 to show a (light?) invite with 5 s and perhaps some “shape.” So I pass 2.

If I had the Stayman then 2 option, I would not choose it because it will not give partner the key information about my hand (the 5 + 5 shape) that he would need to make an intelligent decision.

However, there are methods that allow showing various specific 5-5 patterns with “light invite” strength.
One is something called “2-tier transfers”. In that method, I believe, 1N-2-2-3 is a transfer to s showing this hand type (2N would be a transfer to s).

With 2-level Smolen, where responder's 2 after 1N-2-2 forces opener to bid 2, one can play that a 3 continuation by responder after 2 shows specifically a / 5-5 light invite. With that method, I think I would succumb to temptation and trot it out with OP's hand here, even though this would be more ideal with e.g. Kxxxx-xx-KJxxx-x rather than having one of the kings in a short suit.
May 16
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Shocked to see more votes for 2 than 3.

Although I wouldn't dream of opening either with this hand, if forced to choose, 3 would be clear as this hand certainly does not resemble a 2 opener in my view. Weak twos are supposed to have well-defined HCP and shape requirements as they function as constructive bids as well as pre-empts.
May 16
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