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All comments by Craig Zastera
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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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Double of 6 denies first round control.
Jan. 19
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Why not win the A in hand and immediately ruff a (low) high to dummy. Then draw the remaining trumps before returning to hand with the A to discard dummy's two remaining s on your AK?
Jan. 19
Craig Zastera edited this comment Jan. 20
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Now that partner has “come alive”, this hand has definite slam potential.

As little as:
Axxx-Kxxx-xxx-xx
would give slam reasonable play (assume finesse likely on given LHO's opening bid).

But partner obviously has more than that for his (PH) cue-bid (promising LR strength with at least 3 card support).

Further, his 3 rebid (rather than 3) over your 3 (assumed to be some sort of naturalish game try) suggests his hand is not minimum.

So to bid 4 now, ending the auction, would be very poor.
The best continuation would seem to me to be 4.

This both shows that we now have slam interest (else, just 4), *and* that we have long (presumably strong) s.
A near perfect description.

I would prefer this 4 over 4 even if I were 100% positive that 4 would be interpreted as a cue-bid for s and not as an offer to play (and I'm not 100% confident of that).
Jan. 19
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One more and East might have risked a positive response in that suit.
Jan. 19
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I do not play the “junk” Stayman (or whatever you want to call it) because I find the 1N-2-2-2 sequence too useful for other purposes.

We use that sequence as a relay to 2, primarily with “2-level Smolen” type hands (5=4=x-y with at least game invitational values).
But since the 2 forces 2, it can also be used with other hand types:
* weak/very weak with 5=4 majors
(planning to pass a 2 reply to Stayman, else play
2 after 1N-2-2-2-2 or 1N-2-2).

* “light invite” hands with 5 s and another 5 card suit
After 1N-2-2-2-2, these hands continue with
3/3/3 (non-forcing) to show this hand type.
:Kxxxx plus Kxxxx in another suit would be typical.
Opener can pass 3x, correct to 3 (to play) or
bid game (generally NOT 3NT as these sequences are
used for 5=5 responding hands with less than traditional
game invite HCP strength).

(I've omitted details of how these hands are handled
when opener replies other than 2 to 2, but there
are ways to handle this.
Also, we handle similar hands with 5 s plus a 5
card minor via “Walsh relays”: 1N-2-2-2-2N-3m
where 2 forces opener to bid 2NT).
Jan. 19
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I would expect at least 50% of the pairs in 3NT, probably more.

First, there are those who would open 1NT with the East hand. For those, 3NT is almost certain (1N-3N most likely).

Second, there are those East's who open 1 planning on a 2NT rebid. When West responds 1, we have 1-1-2NT.
Some West's will just raise this to 3NT based on 30+ HCPs.
Some will perhaps rebid (or transfer to) s. Over that, many East's will rebid 3NT based on their good minor suit stoppers, ending the auction.

Finally, some auctions (not too many I suspect) will start:
1-2(GF).
What will East rebid? Probably not 2N or 3NT with the weak s. Perhaps some will raise s while others will just mark time with 2. Some (most?) of those pairs with this auction start may find their way to 4.

Anyway, since 3NT is the superior (matchpoint) contract, it would seem cynical to expect few pairs to reach it.
Jan. 19
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2=2=5=4 and 2=2=4=5 are popular “off shapes” for 1NT openings.
Jan. 19
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