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All comments by Craig Zastera
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John,
If the responder is not 5332, then the advantage of 3NT over 4M when opener is 4333 pretty much disappears.

Even when responder is 5422 (which I have checked recently),
the make percentage for 4M and 3NT are about equal when opener's 4 card suit is opposite one of responder's doubletons, while 4M makes more often than 3NT when both of responder's doubletons are opposite 3 card holdings. This was the point of the two simulations I cited in my later comment.

I don't have any recent simulations for 3N vs. 4M when responder is 5431, but I suspect in that case 3NT will be definitely inferior statistically.

And, yes, it seems to me that in order for a partnership to take advantage of this rather striking result (i.e. that 3NT will make significantly more often than 4M when one hand is 4333 and the other 5332), it would be ideal to have sequences for responder that suggest 5332 with a high degree of probability, e.g. 1N-Jac. xfer-2M-3N (and, ideally, 2NT).
May 15
Craig Zastera edited this comment May 15
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I answered “depends on which suit they opened” because
(a) if (2), then double is TO, 3 is majors
(b) if (2M), then double is TO, 3M cue is stopper ask
(with 4m = m + OM)
May 15
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Remarkably, it appears that 3NT fares better than 4M even when opener's 4 card suit is the same as responder's 5 card major, although in that case the advantage of 3NT vs. 4M (in 5-4 fit) is not as great as when opener's 4 card suit
(in 4-3-3-3 hand) is a different suit from responder's 5 card suit.
May 15
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Showing the 4 card minor (when reasonably good suit) without having slam going strength can win in several ways. Sometimes, we can discover a playable minor suit fit with a weak suit for NT and play 5m successfully.

But as simulations like the ones I mentioned above show, there is a crucial difference between responder's 5332 (5M) and 5422 and 5431 shapes opposite NT opener in that when opener is 4333, 3NT is often significantly superior to 4M whereas when responder is 5422 and especially 5431 it is generally better to play 4M when responder is 4333.

Therefore, my view is not only that it is a good idea for responder to show 5M4m shapes when he is GF, even when he is only invitational it is useful (and there are methods to facilitate this).

When I transfer with Jacoby and then bid 2NT or 3NT, I do not expect partner to “mechanically” play NT with 2 in my major and 3M or 4M with 3. No–he is supposed to treat my sequence as asking him to choose strain (NT vs. M). He is free to choose NT with 3 (even 4) in my major or choose the major even with only a doubleton when he has reason to do so.
May 14
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Rainer,
With 5M4m22 and GF values, I would usually bid the four card minor after transferring to the major.

Exceptions would be with very strong doubletons and weak 4 card minor. Showing the minor would be strongly indicated with most points concentrated in the two long suits.

Furthermore, when responder is 5M4m22 with invitational or minimum GF values and opener is 4333, playing 3NT is generally as good as 4M.

I recently completed a couple of 1000 deal simulations
where responder has 9 HCPs with 5 s, a 4 card minor, and 2 and 2 in the Om.
I gave opener 15-17 HCPs with 4333 shape (only 3 s).
Here are the two results:
(a) when opener's 4 card suit was :
3NT : made on 608 deals
4 : made on 608 deals
An exact tie (for IMP purposes anyway). Remarkable.

(b) when opener's 4 card suit was a minor:
3NT : made on 589 deals
4 : made on 609 deals
So a slight win for 4 in this case, but this
will be reduced because when responder chooses
not to show 4 card minor, his hand will be more
NT suitable (e.g. strong doubletons).
May 14
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John,
(a) minor suit transfers show 6+ card suits, not 5

(b) A new suit by responder after a minor suit transfer
showing shortness is standard (not universal, but
certainly the common treatment).
In support of this, I quote from Bridge World Standard
2017 summary of structure over our 1NT openings:

“(e) modified four-suit transfers with
2 = either:
* a range inquiry
(opener bids 2NT with a minimum)
or:
* s
(simple new-suit rebid by responder
shows shortness)

2NT = s
(simple new-suit rebid by responder
shows shortness)

3 = both minors weak (nonforcing)

3 of another suit = both minors strong
(3 = no major-suit shortness;
3M = at most one card in the suit bid).”
May 14
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John,
I'm not sure if most people even have a minor suit transfer available over 2NT openings.
I know there are many structures over 2NT, but common (not mine) is to use 3 as minor suit Stayman and 4 and 4 as Texas transfers.

I suppose 4 is commonly Gerber, although I find that a poor use of the bid (I like 5=5 majors, no slam interest).

Anyway, even over 1NT openings, if a pair has minor suit transfers (e.g. 2 for s and 2N or 3 for s), I think usual use of 3M continuation is splinter.
May 14
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John,
The simulations I did for this post use only the OP's specific East hand, so you are correct that one cannot conclude from these results that West should, in general, prefer 3NT with 4333 shapes.

However, other more general simulatons I have done *do* suggest that 4333 hands opposite 5332 shape hands on average do play better in NT than in a 5-3 or even 5-4 fit.

Thus, if East transfers and then bids *3NT*, I believe opener should leave it there with 4333 shape hands as that responder sequence strongly suggests 5332 (because with a 4+ card side suit and GF, he will usually bid it).

However when East transfers and then bids only *2NT*, the inference that he is likely 5332 is much weaker unless the partnership has some gadget (e.g. 2 stage transfers) available to show a second suit with only invitational values. In that case, it may be much riskier for opener to prefer NT with 3 card support just because he is 4333.
May 14
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Nothing “gratuitous” or “overstatement” about it.
Just look up the topic in standard texts and this is what you will find.
Only rank beginners would think that 4NT would be ace (or key-card) ask after a major suit reply to Stayman.
May 14
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I just completed some simulations which strongly suggest that the East hand is in fact too strong for a mere game invitational sequence, hence should in fact force to game.

I did a series of 1000 deal simulations putting this East hand opposite various *15* HCP balanced hands with random distribution of the N/S cards.

I looked only at 15 HCP West hands since 16/17 hands would presumably go to game opposite an invite, whereas 15 HCP hands in general would not.

Here are my results.
Notice:
1. 3NT far outperforms 4 when opener is 4333,
even when his four card suit is s.

2. for every balanced shape 15 HCP opener,
at least one of 3NT or 4 is well above 50%

a. West: 15 HCPs with *2* s (30.0% of 15 HCP bal hands)
results: 3NT made 60.0%; 4 made 36.8%

b. West: 15 HCPs with *3* s (46.7% of 15 HCP bal hands)
results: 3NT made 53.0%; 4 made 60.5%

b1. West: 15 HCPs, *3* s, some 4-3-3-3 shape (18.2%)
results: 3NT made 67.3%; 4 made 48.0%

b2. West: 15 HCPs, *3* s, some 4-4-3-2 shape (12.4%)
results: 3NT made 46.8%; 4 made 65.1%

b3. West: 15 HCPs, *3* s, some 5-3-3-2 shape (15.9%)
results: 3NT made 44.6%; 4 made 67.0%

c. West: 15 HCPs with *4* s (19.9% of 15 HCP bal hands)
results: 3NT made 46.2%; 4 made 58.6%

c1. West: 15 HCPs with 3=4=3=3 shape (4.0%)
results: 3NT made 57.5%; 4 made 35.5%

c2. West: 15 HCPs, *4* s, some 4-4-3-2 shape (17.0%)
results: 3NT made 45.2%; 4 made 65.4%

d. West: 15 HCPs, *5* s, some 5-3-3-2 shape (3.4%)
results: 3NT made 34.0%; 4 made 55.7%

Conclusions:
1. East must force to game
2. West should prefer 3NT when 4333, even s is his
four card suit.
3. Actual OP deal was unusual in that the poor mesh
of cards actually makes game poor (but the favorable
placement of N/S cards allows it to make anyway).
4. Those two hard-working ten spots in the East hand
make it much better than an average 2=5=3=3 9 count.
May 14
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I said nothing about 4–I agree that 4 (or 4) following Stayman are length showing (and forcing).

But *4* following Stayman cannot be length showing, hence is available as a slam try in s after 2N-3-3.
May 14
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This is pretty standard stuff–Stayman or a Jacoby transfer followed by are 4NT are natural.

After 2N-3-3, if responder wants to agree s and show slam interest, he bids 4.

One could have the agreement that over this 4, opener either rebids 4 to show a “bad” hand for slam (responder can still continue with 4NT RKCB s over this), or else responds keycards above 4 (4N/5/5/5) with a hand he deems “good” for slam.
May 14
Craig Zastera edited this comment May 14
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In general, it is better to avoid bidding the short suit.

In fact, I once developed a method (I called it “SBS” for “Strain Below Shortness”) which allowed shortness (stiff or void) to be shown in all situations without ever bidding the suit of the shortness.
It applied in all splinter cases and for Exclusion asks too.
It also worked whether there were three possible short suits or only two.
I'm sure this was theoretically superior to other schemes of encoding shortness.

Two alternative schemes for shortness encoding are
(1) “LMH” (Low, Middle, High) collapsing to “LH” when there are only two possible short suits.
Here, 1st step shows shortness in the lowest
possible suit, etc.
This scheme sometimes results in bidding the short suit.

(2)“natural with substitution”.
Here, you bid the strain of the short suit. When
not possible, use NT or trump suit to substitute when
bid in strain of the shortness is not available.

Haven't been playing SBS lately as it is an extra memory
strain and easily forgotten (usually in favor of “natural”) in the heat of battle.
May 13
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Well, I suppose it is “funny”.
That is part of the reason I posted this–to make the point that it should be possible to play in NT after partner has made a 4 level splinter slam try. Perhaps many people have not considered this.

Second, the responding methods I described above are well documented in writing in my system notes (which partner has long had a copy of, although he forgets many details).

There is nothing too strange about the keycard responses described–it makes much more sense to have the balanced hand show key-cards to the shapely hand than the other way around. We use a similar scheme in other slam try auctions after 2NT openers.

And since opener has two ways to discourage slam (4 and 4NT), it makes sense that other calls should be slam positive (not necessarily forcing to slam, of course).
The most useful information he can give in those cases is to show how many keycards he has (sometimes, 2 or 1 + Q will be missing, and sometimes responder has a big hand and may pursue a grand if all keys are held).

BTW, when the splinter bid is such that there are bid(s) available to opener *below* 4 of responder's suit, those are either “last train” when only one is available or cue-bids if 2 are available. Both agree responder's suit but
do not commit the partnership beyond 4M.

I mis-spoke when I said 5NT is “cold”. Certainly there are possible lay-outs of the suit that could hold us to 10 (or even 9) tricks in NT. Of course, those lay-outs will also likely defeat 4 too.

On the *actual* lay-out, 11 tricks are in fact cold in NT
May 13
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I do not believe that a splinter slam try showing a 6 card major suit should automatically require that we play in that suit.

My actual hand is a good example why–it is cold for 11 tricks in NT but makes only 10 in s (and even without the ruff, 11 tricks in NT beats 11 in s at matchpoints).

So my view is that when responder makes a 4 level slam try over opener's strong NT (1N, 2N, etc.), that opener's 4NT rebid should always be natural and slam negative.

Of course, on my OP problem, this is complicated by the fact that responder does not have anything resembling his bid:
(a) with 4=6 majors, he should start with Stayman
as a 4=4 (or 4=5) fit will usually be better
than a 6=2 fit.
(b) he is not strong enough for a splinter slam try
(something like Kxx-KQJxxx-x-Kxx would perhaps be
an acceptable minimum)

© his 5 continuation is beyond belief as that
has to show a void as well as a maximum slam try
(or more).

But anyway, after 1NT-2-2-4 (splinter, 6+ s),
opener should be able to bid as follows:
4: content to play s but bad hand for slam
4NT: natural, slam negative. Spectacular s
4/5/5/5: agrees s, slam positive, and
shows # of keycards:
1 or 4 / 0 or 3 / 2 no Q / 2 +Q
May 13
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Makes sense that if you open 1NT (12-14) with balanced hands including a 5 card major (I think, but am not sure, that in US most 12-14 1NTers do not typically open 1NT with a 5 card major), that a 2NT rebid by opener would be forcing (presumably showing 15-17, right?).

But playing 15-17 1NT opener, opener with a balanced minimum and a stopper and not 3 card support surely needs to be able to rebid 2NT Not Forcing when partner's competitive 2 response might be based on only 10 HCPs.
May 13
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I agree, Richard, which is why I would have bid only 3 (but 4 for sure with :KJxx, :AJTxxx and :x).

I was merely saying that *IF* I were going to bid at the 4 level with this hand (I'm not), I would choose 4 rather than 4 because 4 might be more useful to partner over further competition.
May 13
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And the free 2 or 3 ought to, I hope, deny three card support (because of availability of support double), whereas the same rebids in an uncontested auction might have such.

Since an uncontested 3, and usually 2 too, would already show six s, it sounds like for you there isn't much difference.
For those who don't mind rebidding 1NT with a stiff in partner's suit (not me), an uncontested 2 rebid I think would *always* show six also, no?
May 13
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only when the field overbids.

On this deal, most of the time stopping in 3 would produce a top when the “field” is -1 or -2 in 4.

Just because this day Lady Luck smiled on the overbidders is not a reason to abandon our judgment and join the herd.

If you find yourself missing *percentage* games, then it will be time to re-calibrate your bidding judgment a bit.
May 13
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Super-accepts should be reserved for hands that are worth *More than 17 points* in support of responder's suit.
Typically, 4 card support with 17 HCPs and a doubleton,
but could occasionally be only strong 3 card support, e.g.
KQJ-xx-AKTx-Axxx after 1N-2-?.
Might occasionally SA with only a great 16 HCPs and four card support, e.g. KQTx-xx-AKTx-Axxx.

Otherwise, partner expects 15-17 points and knows you can have 3 or 4 cards in his suit. If that could be enough, he can invite.
May 13
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