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All comments by Craig Zastera
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Depends on agreements, of course.

I consider this auction a “classic” for Lebensohl (aka “good/bad 2NT”) as it is imperative for advancer to be able to differentiate a hand with true game invitational strength (e.g. 8-10 or 9-11, whatever) from one that just wants to compete at the 3 level (say 5-7 or 6-8) because doubler can have quite a strong hand (so game is a real possibility).

Therefore, with Lebensohl available, this hand is clearly not good enough for an immediate, game-invitational 3.

Therefore, I advance 2NT, Lebensohl intending to correct 3 to 3. If doubler bids 3 instead of 3, that is “equal level conversion” in my methods, i.e. showing something like a minimum range TO double with four s and 5/6 s.
Nov. 14, 2018
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Leonard,
I agree with you that if the K were guarded, then this hand would be (just) worth a “good/good” reply, even given the conditions (vul in 2nd chair).

The point about using the cheapest response as the Ogust inquiry is just conforming to “useful space principle” (similar to using Kickback for key card asks instead of always using 4NT). There are other examples of this /NT inversion.

We even extend this to using 2 reply to our (weak) 2 openers as our artificial ask. We use it as “feature ask” because we believe that pursuing 3NT is more likely the objective after a 2 opener (but could use it as Ogust).
Our replies are:
2: “feature” in or
then 2NT asks which:
… 3: feature
… 3: feature
3: feature
3: no feature (or minimum hand not showing feature)
3: solid suit (AKQ)

With this scheme, a 2 response to the 2 opener shows s, and a 2NT response shows s.

Sure, it is probably a good idea to encode two meanings into the 1st step reply so as to allow the description of *5* different hand types while still not rebidding above 3 of opener's suit.
Nov. 14, 2018
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I voted for 1.
1NT is a possible alternative, but hand seems a trifle thin.

After 1NT overcall, we play advancer's 2 level suit bids as natural, for play.
That right-sides the contracts and makes it a little less dangerous to make marginal 1NT overcalls as partner can escape to any suit at the 2 level when he has 5.

I would not pass with this hand.
Nov. 14, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 14, 2018
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This depends on partnership agreements.
We define “good suit” as 2/3 top honors.

So this hand is “good suit” by that definition.

“Good hand” is a bit more subjective. And, it depends on position and vulnerability.

Second seat is the “worst” position for a weak 2, so partner is expecting a classic hand.
Also, we are VUL, so that suggests we need a better hand for a weak 2 then if not VUL.

Therefore, I would tell partner “good suit / bad hand” since I have the “minimum” good suit and the value of the stiff K is unclear.
But I would consider “good/good”.

BTW, you might consider using 2 as your “Ogust ask” over 2 openers instead of 2NT. That way, none of opener's replies go beyond 3.
With this treatment, a 2NT response shows s (and is forcing but not necessarily to game).
Nov. 14, 2018
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It could be a “maximal overcall double”, i.e. a game invitation in s.

This convention generally applies when “our” suit is immediately below theirs and they have competed to a level where we have no room for other game tries.

It occurs most commonly when we have s and they have s and they have competed up to 3. In such cases, most would play that 3 is “just competitive”, so if instead we have a game-invitation in s, we use “double” (maximal overcall double) to show this.

Some consider having a penalty double too important to give up for a “MO” double. Such players, when they have a game invite, just jump to game and hope for the best.
Nov. 14, 2018
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Yes, if there are 17 trump, competing is “LAW”ful at the given vulnerability.

But they might not have a 9 card fit. I will agree that it is more likely than not that they *do* have 9, but they might not (and didn't on actual OP deal).

Second, if overcaller is 3=6=2=2 or 3=5=3=2, he will have to guess well. It depends on partnership, but in mine he will think a doubleton is less likely than a stiff and might choose not to bid 3 with 6 not so great s.

Nevertheless, I agree that here making a responsive double with 4=2=5=2 shape and near maximum HCPs (for PH) is not an unreasonable choice.
Nov. 13, 2018
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Stan,
I mostly agree with your facts, but not so much with your conclusion.

Of course, it is unlikely that they will have 24 HCPs.
But they might easily have 21 or 22.

If I had to “guess” at the expected HCP distribution, I would guess close to 20-20 between the partnerships with *perhaps* their side *slightly* more likely to have slightly over half.

I know that's a lot of “slightlys”, but that is because there is a large range of uncertainty on this auction (one of the advantages of those “weak NT” openers).

As to whether only a “fraction” of the tables will be opening RHO's hand, with a 10-13 range that is far from clear.
If he has 12-13, nearly everyone will be opening.
Even if he has only 11, nowadays a lot of young crazies open all/almost all of these too.

So it is only when he has 10 (11) HCPs that we are likely to be in a disadvantageous position.

Also, it is important to know partner's bidding tendencies on this auction. Here are some important questions to try to answer before choosing our action:
1. If pard had a stiff with good TO shape,
say 4=1=4=4, 4=1=3=5, 4=1=5=3, 3=1=5=4=, 3=1=4=5,
what would be the minimum HCPs with which he would
double (2) ??

My answer is perhaps as few as 6 HCPs with 4=1=4=4,
maybe that or a point more with the others.

This situation is similar to an “OBAR BIDS” situation
in that partner, if weak but with good shape, knows
that we will have some points but may lack the shape
to compete. Hence, he will make very light TO doubles
when he has appropriate shape.

2. How about with “fair” TO shape: 4=2=4/3, 3=2=4=4 ?

My answer: assuming no wasted minor honor(s), I
think 8 HCPs would suffice.

3. With a *balanced* hand, what is the *maximum* HCPs
with which partner would/might pass (2)?

This one is harder, but I would say that with 13 HCPs
he should probably do something other than pass most
of the time. If none of his values are in s, I
think he should double with 11, even with 4=3=3=3,
probably even 3=3=4/3.

With 3=3=3/4 and values (e.g. KTx), he might pass
with 13, but I think that would be rare.

If you disagree substantially with any of the above, that might lead you to a different conclusion (from mine).
But my view is that partner will not have a hand with anything resembling TO double shape.
He probably has 3 s. Something like 2=3=3=5, 3=3=3=4, or 3=3=2=5 are likely.

So now I consider “Law of Total Tricks”.

It is quite possible there are only 14 trump (e.g. if partner's shape is 3=3=3=4, 2=3=3=5, 3=3=2=5).
In these cases, bidding (or doubling) now would be “wrong” from a LOTT perspective.

Also likely is 15 trump–perhaps they have an 8 card fit (I consider this slightly against the odds given partner's pass and the above analysis), or that we
have an 8 card fit in or s.
In this case, bidding/doubling is still probably wrong.
If they can make (2), by LOTT we would be down in 2 and even more likely in 3m. Since we are vulnerable, this would be risking being doubled, =200.

There would need to be at least 16 total trump for acting to be a likely winner. In this case, we might make 2 while (2) also makes. Or we make 3m while they would be only -1 in (2).

Although it is certainly quite possible for there to be 16 trump, I judge this to be against the odds.

Worse, in order to maximize chances of finding our “fit” if we have one, DOUBLE would have to be our balancing choice. But that is quite risky given that we don't really have TO double shape–if partner responds in s, that will likely be very bad for our side.

The alternative is to balance with 2. But that too carries substantial risks–we might play in a 4=2 (with perhaps a better fit available elsewhere) *or* partner might even compete to 3 thinking we have 5.

So my conclusion from all this is that although the scenario might be as you fear such that we are headed for a “zero” defending (2) and have some nice fit available where we can make 8 or 9 tricks, I think it is at least as likely that competing would lead to a minus score (perhaps -200) while we might even be able to defeat (2).

So I do not see sufficient probability that acting here will lead to a good result to justify the risk.
I think it is at least as reasonable to play for one of the scenarios where we are best off defending (2).

One final consideraton before passing (2) is “what am I going to lead?”
Unfortunately, it is true that we don't have a clear “good” lead (an argument in favor of bidding).

I think it is clear to lead a minor suit, but less clear whether to choose a prudent (probably an honor) or the aggessive K (hoping for a ruff).
I'll admit that the K appeals to me as we likely need something good to happen on defense in order to beat (2).
Nov. 13, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 14, 2018
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Playing UDCA, if East wanted to encourage a shift, wouldn't she simply discard a low (a suit in which she is known to have many cards) rather attempting to encourage a shift obliquely by discarding a discouraging (a suit in which her attitude is already known)?

No, if she chooses to discard a , a suit in which she has no high cards and likely not much length, it can only be because she has shortness.

Therefore, a discard should be construed as count in that suit, not discouraging attitude.
Hence, playing UDCA, if East chooses to discard a rather than a , she should choose the 2.
Nov. 13, 2018
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John,
I guess it is unclear to which play OP was referring.

I assumed it was West's shift because that is the play after which 2 becomes unbeatable with best declarer play.

But I suppose discarding T instead of 2 when playing UDCA is a candidate, as well as the later 4th round of s after declarer gave the defense a 2nd chance.
Nov. 13, 2018
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Yes, Phil, East's s in my example are 98.
The :JT7 is the South holding.
Nov. 13, 2018
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Why is it “at best moot”?
Points are at best evenly divided. So unless you are arguing against the LOTT, a call that will likely result in our playing at the 3 level without sufficient “total trump” is likely to be a losing action.
Nov. 13, 2018
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you are correct. My bare-bones example does not produce a 50% play for 4.

On the other hand, I actually expect a somewhat better hand than this for partner's negative double.

Still, I suspect that 3 is probably the “percentage” action, which is why I think it would be my choice at matchpoints.

We all know that at IMPs, though, it pays to bid games aggressively. Even when these games turn out not to be percentage, the result is a “push” at -1 or even -2.
Nov. 13, 2018
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Why does our side have to hold at least half the deck?
I mean, we could,…. but also East could have 13 and West up to 11, so we certainly don't have to hold half the deck.

Another inference is that partner knows (2) is terminal for their side. So if he had anything (particularly with fewer than 3 s), he likely would have done something (e.g. double) over (2) since he would know that we might be in a tough position in pass out seat with some HCPs but no shape.
Nov. 12, 2018
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But playing a 4th will fail on my example
(East has K8xx-A9xxxx-T-98).
Must shift to a to succeed.
Nov. 12, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 13, 2018
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Here is a possible lay-out that absolutely refutes any suggestion of “worst play ever.”

Suppose East's hand were:
K8xx-A9xxxx-T-98
Leaving declarer with:
AQJ9xx-KJ-xx-JT7

I believe this lay-out is reasonably consistent with the bidding.

After West starts with K, A, the *ONLY* defense that will beat 2 is:
1. Continue with Q on which East *must* pitch T.
2. Switch to a to give East a ruff

That's four tricks for the defense with the A and K still to come.

Since this is a possible lay-out for which West's (and East's) plays including trick 4 swtich constitute the only winning defense (after first two s have been cashed), West's switch cannot be the “worst play ever” as to contend for that title would require at the least a play that could not possibly be needed to defeat the contract on any conceivable lay-out.
Nov. 12, 2018
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I agree with your assessment of “close.”

I based my aggressive 4 choice more on the form of scoring–at matchpoints I would more likely choose 3.

I expect partner to hold a decent hand for a double at this level.

It doesn't take much to make 4 a reasonable spot.
Say: xx-xxx-Kxxx-Axxx.
Nov. 12, 2018
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Your “doesn't come up enough” is, if true, an argument for playing this double as something other than responsive (for example, it could be used to show s so that 3 would show a good raise and 3 a lesser raise as a supplement to a “transfer advance” scheme).

For a responsive double at the 3 level (as here) to be sound, it must conform to LOTT analysis. It is clear that our side can't have a great HCP majority (if we even have our half), hence we must have sufficient trump length to justify 3 level competition.

If (responsive) doubler is less than 5=5, it becomes unlikely that our side possesses a sufficiently long trump suit to justify 3 level competition. Even when he is 5=5
(say 5=2=5=1 in OP example), the responsive double may not work out (if overcaller is e.g. 2=5=2=4), but at least when he is 5=5 there is a reasonable chance that his side will have at least an 8 card fit somewhere.

Long ago Jeff Rubens also observed that hands truly suitable for a responsive double after partner has *overcalled* (as constrasted to when he has doubled for take-out) do not occur very often. This is particularly true at the 3 levl.

For that reason, Rubens suggested an alternative use for these doubles–“cue-bid doubles”–so that after e.g.
(1)-1M-(3)- a “double” would be used to show a good raise of overcaller's major while 3M would be a weaker raise.
Opportunities for a “cue-bid double” occur relatively frequently, perform a very useful function (allowing advancer to distinguish invitational raises from competitive ones), and conform to “LOTT” thinking in that they are used in cases where a suitable fit is known to exist.

So if you believe that hands suitable for responsive doubles after partner overcalls occur rarely (and may not work well even when they do), you might consider adopting the “cue-bid double” treatment as a more useful alternative.
Nov. 12, 2018
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If East's T were a stiff (say he had one more and one fewer ), a shift at trick 4 by West would not defeat the contract assuming the same major suit honor lay-out.

Nor would leading the 4th succeed.

No, if this were the lay-out, only a shift from West at trick 4 would defeat 2.

After a shift is ruffed by East, say he exits with K. As long as South wins and plays J he succeeds. If East instead exits a low , declarer must play J to succeed.
Nov. 12, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 12, 2018
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(a) Don't see why the discard on 3rd was bad.
East expects partner to continue with 4th on which
he can discard his other , ensuring set too I think.
Not sure *which* East should discard given their
signalling methods. I would discard T count, but
I play “standard” count signals, so perhaps with UDCA
the 2 should be the first discard.

(b) Once West shifts to a instead of playing 4th
(or a ), it is no longer possible to defeat 2
if declarer plays correctly.
It doesn't matter what East does on the 2nd high
from dummy–ruff high, discard, or ruff low–
declarer can make 2 in all cases.

© You are right that South's low exit did give the
defense a second chance–if West wins T and leads
a , the defense can prevail.
Nov. 12, 2018
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Chris,
I'm not sure I understand your comment–possibly you did not say exactly what you meant.

According to OP, West played a at trick *4* (not trick 3 as you say).

And a shift at trick 4 is by no means necessary to defeat 2, although it would be OK.

A 4th round of s (on which East must pitch her other ) also suffices to defeat 2.

Interestingly, both a opening lead or a switch at trick 2 would lead to defeating 2.

But a shift at trick 3 (after cashing two s) would NOT work!

Once West has cashed *2* rounds of s, he *MUST* continue with a 3rd (high) in order to defeat 2.

However, after cashing the 3rd round of s, the defense can prevail either by a 4th (provided East pitched a on the 3rd round) *or* by a switch.
Nov. 12, 2018
Craig Zastera edited this comment Nov. 12, 2018
.

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