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All comments by Craig Zastera
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Me too. I don't mind if “others” do it either as long as it's not my partner :-).
Aug. 18
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Something about methods would be nice.

We play that partner's 4 overcall shows a 2-suiter with 5(+) s and 5+ s and is forcing.

If OP 4 is just “natural”, how does it differ from 5 or double followed by 5?

Second, what methods does advancer have over partner's (natural) 4?

Would 4 be “Kickback” key-card ask in s? If not, does advancer *have* a way to ask for keycards in s?

What would advancer's 4NT mean? Just natural “for play”? Or would it be a “strong raise to 5”?

How about advancer's 4? Is that some sort of slam try in s? If so, does it say anything about whether responder has or lacks control? Or is it ambiguous w.r.t holding?
Aug. 18
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Richard,
I took your “bad” to mean “a bad hand”, i.e. less than game invitational strength, or, roughly, 5-9 HCPs.

But perhaps you meant “bad” to refer to quality of responder's major suit (e.g. “xxxxx” would be “bad” but “AQJTx” would not be “bad” even if both were in hands with 7 HCPs and similar shape).

If the second is what you meant, you are perhaps commenting on a more subtle issue, i.e.
 After 1x-1M-1N (showing 12-14 balanced, 2-3 cards in "M"
and no weak doubleton with 3 card support for "M"),
considering only responding hands with 5 cards in
"M" and less than game-invitational strength
(e.g. 5-9 HCPs) which should pass 1NT rather than
correcting to 2M?
That is indeed a more difficult question. Probably with enough (simulation) work, one might identify a subset of those responding hands (looking at various secondary features, e.g. HCPs, suit quality, spot card quality, exact shape, controls, etc.) where passing 1NT would prove to be percentage. Of course, one should also specify whether we're discussing Matchpoints or IMPs since that could well make a difference.

I have done *some* simulations w.r.t to that question but have not isolated a specific set of features where passing 1NT seems to be percentage. I have looked in particular at the suit quality of “M” in responder's hand and have not found that a “weak” suit favors passing 1NT.
Aug. 18
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Partner: 5=5 majors, not strong enough to open
Aug. 18
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Thanks for the votes.
Obviously, this problem is about when is a hand too strong for a simple overcall vs. when is it strong enough to double (without classic TO double shape) and rebid in a new suit.

So clearly this is a matter of partnership understanding, i.e. no demonstrably “right” answer.

Bridge World Standard says:
"The normal simple overcall maximum is 18 HCP with 5-3-3-2
distribution or the equivalent after trading off high cards for
shape."
And BWS also says:
"♠AKQTx ♥AKx ♦Qxxx ♣x is slightly too strong for a 1 overcall
of (1) with neither side vulnerable."
Those comments are interesting but don't quite answer (even for BWS) the OP question because they are about hands with at least 3 card support for all the unbid suits, whereas the OP hand has only “Ax” suport for s.

This “flaw” would seem to argue for the 1 overcall instead of the double.

On the other hand, OP hand not only has the strong 5 card suit, but it also has reasonable 4 card support for the other major (s). That would seem to argue for the TO double since that gives the extra chance of discovering a fit when partner has that suit but short s.

A relevent question in deciding this close case is what the partnership agreements are for a 1 advance of a 1 overcall. Can advancer bid 1 on a 4 card suit? Is the 1 advance forcing (by UPH advancer)?
If the answer to both these questions is “yes”, that would argue in favor of the 1 overcall. But if advancer's 1 is expected to show 5 cards, then the double becomes somewhat more appealing as otherwise a 4=4 fit might be missed.

Personally, I find the OP hand slightly too weak for double planning to pull advance to s.
Change the s to Kxxx instead of Qxxx and that would tip the balance (for me) to favor double then s over partner's minimum advance.
But I'll agree that it is a very close case (hence my post).
Aug. 18
Craig Zastera edited this comment Aug. 18
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Richard,
I disagree with you.
I have done extensive simulations on the issue of whether weak responder should “pull” 1NT to 2M when he holds a 5 card major and less than invitational values after 1x-1M-1N (opener 12-14 balanced, 2-3 in “M”).

My simulations have shown that pulling to 2M is the winner provided one does not have to worry that opener might have a singleton in responder's major.

In my simulations, I allow for the possibility that *some* balanced minimum range openers with 3 card support for “M” might have raised to 2M rather than rebidding 1NT.
This of course *weakens* the case for pulling to 2M since the balanced openers that are eliminated from the simulation by this consideration are ones where 2M is especially likely to be better (which is why opener raised rather than 1NT).

My criteria for “balanced minimum opener's 3 card raise” is that if opener has a *weak doubleton* in an unbid suit (Tx or xx) and 3 card support for responder's major, I assume he would raise to 2M rather than rebid 1NT.

For partnerships which rarely or never raise responder's 1M with only 3 card support and a balanced minimum hand, the case for “pulling” 1NT to 2M is even stronger.
Aug. 18
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Thank you, David.
I had done similar simulation (see my post way upthread) on the OP hand (AK/A 11 pointer) and found that not only did it not merit “upgrade” to 12 point equivalent, it actually performed *slightly* worse than an average balanced 11 count, at least w.r.t to how often 3NT was makeable opposite random balanced 13 HCP hands.

When I saw the disparaging comments about QJx-QJx-QJx-QJxx, I was going to do a simulation on that because I suspected that it would not display the abysmal performance many assumed that would objectively justifying the downgrade.

My simulation technique is a little different from yours.
I look at hand in question opposite random balanced hands of HCP strength to make 3NT borderline and compare its performance against “average” hands of various strengths based on statistics I have compiled over time.
Aug. 18
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Can play in 4m after partner's 2NT opening but not in 3m.
Aug. 18
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I would not have bid 3 the first time.

A useful agreement (see e.g. Andrew Robson's book “Partnership Bidding at Bridge”) is to use *2NT* to show a limit raise or better of partner's suit in competitive auctions where Qbidding the opponent's suit would force our side beyond three of partner's suit.

In particular, these conditions always arise when partner makes a (non-jump) 2 level overcall of our LHO's opening bid and our RHO makes a single raise of opener's suit:

(1X)-2Y-(2X)-?? (where “X” is higher ranking than “Y”).

So in this auction type, use 2NT to show a limit raise or better of “Y” (partner's suit), while 3Y shows a weaker raise.

With that treatment, the 3 level cue-bid (3X) can be used to show a splinter raise with sufficient playing strength to force to at least the 4 level in partner's suit.

With these agreements, I would consider OP hand:
8-AJ94-QJ97-Q842 adequate for a 3 “splinter raise” after partner's vulnerable 2 overcall.

Then having shown a hand with support, a stiff , and sufficient strength to commit to at least 4, this OP advancer would have “said it all” in one bid and could sit back and leave the rest to partner.

As the actual auction developed (and with the grossly inadequate 3 raise last round), it now appears the opponents have 8 card fits in both majors.

So picture partner with as little as e.g. xxxx-x-AKxxxx-Kx and we see that 5 has play.

Given that this is IMPs and we are VUL, I am persuaded to awaken from my slumbers with a highly unusual jump to 5.
This may sound inconsistent (and it is), but it is largely a reflection of previous inadequate bid combined with shape inferences from the opponents' auction.

If I thought that partner would interpret 4 from me as game-invitational (e.g. if DOUBLE would be a “relay double” used to show a hand “just competing” to 4), I might settle for that.
But I don't really think 4 here would be interpreted as anything more than “just competitive” in light of our previous very limited simple raise to 3.
Aug. 18
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I agree.
Our 1NT range is 15-17 HCPs.

But I have done many simulations of the actual playing strengh of NT hands, and as a result I have an excellent intuition for what it takes for a balanced hand with 14 HCPs actually to be worth an “upgrade” to 15 (i.e. that it will perform more like a typical 15 HCP hand than like a typical 14 HCP hand).
BTW, it takes a *lot* of “+” features to justify such an upgrade using that objective criteria.

Thus, I think my “15-17” description is correct.
Partner bids on the assumption that I have 15-17 HCPs.
In the (rare) cases where I happen to have opened 1NT with a 14 or an 18, it shouldn't matter to him because that hand will have features such that it is equivalent to a typical hand in the 15-17 range.
Aug. 18
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Depends on what 1NT response to 1 means.

Most (at least around here) play it shows 8-10 HCPs and denies a 4 card major. In that case OP hand would probably just raise to 3NT.
Aug. 18
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After the relay double, doubler's partner usually accepts the relay (i.e. makes cheapest bid).

But if he has an exceptional hand (either considerable extra values and/or perhaps very unusual shape) such that he would want to play some contract higher than his expected “relay acceptance” bid even when doubler happens to be very weak with length in the that suit, then doubler's partner can make some other descriptive bid instead of accepting the relay. But my take is that would be very rare.
Aug. 18
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Wheter support doubles apply at the 3 level is a matter of partnership agreement.

My *guess* is that most play them only through 2 of responder's suit.

But some (including me) play them at the 3 level too.
At that level, they show the strength for a double raise of responder's major, but with only 3 card trump support.
Hence they promise a significantly stronger hand at the 3 level than is promised for a 2-level support double.
Aug. 17
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Partner has said that he wants to defend (4X). He has not asked my opinion.

I *suppose* there must be hands where I could remove this, although I'm having trouble imagining what they would be.
Aug. 17
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I believe if you read Woolsey's articles you will find that he suggests ways to attempt to handle this type of strong advancing hand for which a “normal responsive double” might have been more convenient than “relay doubles”.
To quote just one of his comments on that subject:
"Double is a relay to the next cheapest suit.
It is assumed to be a weak hand somewhere, although if
you follow with 3NT or a Q-bid, that turns it into a
normal responsive double."

Clearly, there are situations where “Relay Doubles” will be less convenient than “negative” or “responsive” doubles.

But that is true of most all conventions–sometimes deals occur where some other agreement would be better.

It is all about frequency and how well one can cope with the “awkward” hands for which ones methods are not ideally suited.

My view is that the issue of distinguishing competitive from invitational (or even GF) hands in auctions where both sides are bidding is ubiquitous and of crucial importance.

I find that “good/bad 2NT” and its “relay double” cousin pass the tests for a “good agreement.” Opportunities for their use are *VERY* frequent, and the benefits when they occur are significant.
Aug. 17
Craig Zastera edited this comment Aug. 17
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Agreements?

What would a double of (2) now mean?
If opener had passed 2, in our methods 2 by me would show s (transfer advances) and 2 would show s. 2 would be a strong raise, while 3 would be a weaker raise.

When our overcall is in direct seat and responder raises with only minors having been bid:
(1)-2-(2)-??
we play that double by advancer is responsive showing both majors.

But on OP auction where opener has rebid his own suit, it is not clear whether double now should be responsive or penalties.
Aug. 17
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Hi Frank.

I considered 3 but chose 2 because of so much outside strength (3 could mislead partner).

Pass is not on my radar with this hand.
Aug. 17
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Richard,
Unless you think “relay doubles” might apply on this hand over East's (3).

If so, 3 would be an unambiguous game-invitational bid, hence OK with OP hand. A competitive raise to 3 would make a relay double of (3), then correct partner's forced 3 to 3.

My mention of “relay doubles” points to the very common problem in competitive auctions at the 3 level of distinguishing betweeen *competitive bids* vs. “game-invitational” bids.

When the auction is at the 2 level, we have “good/bad” 2NT available for that task.

When the auction is at the 3 level, then “relay doubles” are one systemic way to make the “competitive” vs. “invitational” distinction.

You suggest improvising 3 in hopes partner would read that as a game-invitational raise. That might be a bit or a risky hope with some (many?) partners.

Personally, I would probably think that 3 was some sort of a “fit non-jump” so I would expect it to show support, albeit in a hand with better and longer s. That slight misinterpretation on OP hand would probably be OK though as long as partner got the “ support and invitational values” message.
Aug. 17
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Well, the way to reach 4 I think would be for East to bid 3 over (3). That would be natural and invitational in a Relay Double context.

Then, West would have to decide he had enough to raise to 4. I think the raise (of an invitational 3) is fairly clear as West has some very nice support and good high card structure.

It is less clear to me whether the East hand is good enough for an invitational 3. I don't think that call implies playability in s, so West might pass 3 with poor support such that 3 is a worse contract than 4.

A middle of the road 3rd alternative would be to RD (3) but then PASS West's forced 3. Somehow, that appeals to me less than either RD then 4 or immediate 3 invitational.
Aug. 17
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Yes, I said I misplayed the hand.

Against the defense I got, I could actually have made 11 tricks, although better defense can hold me to 10.

My interest in posting this though, was to get feedback about how E/W should have bid in a “Relay Double” context given that playing in s (even 4) would lead to a better result than playing in s (although in actual field, making any contract would have been good enough for a top).
Aug. 17
Craig Zastera edited this comment Aug. 17
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