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All comments by Craig Zastera
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You need methods to distinguish two hand types opener might have:
(a) a weak 5=5 in the majors.
opposite responder's 1N then 2N showing about 11 HCPs,
opener wants to play in 3 or 3.

(b) 5=5 majors, strong enough for game opposite 11, but
not sure of best game (4, 4, or 3NT).

A common way to do this is:
(a) 1-1N-2-2N-3
This would be “pass or correct to 3”, weak 5=5.

(b) 1-1N-2-2N-3
This 3 is an artificial relay to 3.
This is sometimes called “Lall.”
Over responder's forced 3, 3 by opener
shows the 5=5 (could be 6=5) with game going values,
offering responder a choice of games.

The “Lall” technique can be used to distinguish weak 6+ card major suit openers (1-1N-2-2N-3) from choice of game
strength openers (1-1N-2-2N-3-3-3) and also for
similar distinctions with some other shape types (e.g. 6=4).

Some might reverse the meanings of opener's immediate major suit bid at his 3rd turn vs. going through the 3 relay, but I think the way I have stated it is the common technique.
June 24
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My partner's don't psych, so I dismiss those concerns.
Without the overcall, we'd undoubtedly be in game , probably 3NT.

Here, partner pulled my penalty double, so I credit him with a minimum HCP shapely opener.

Still, I think my hand is too good (certainly more than my double promised) to just give up at 2.

But RHO's and partner's bidding have convinced me to pull in a notch instead of just bidding game.

So the “invites” available are 2NT and 3.
Between those two, I prefer 2NT since that puts the weak hand on lead, and he may well not find the lead if that is the killer.
If partner is not interested, I expect him to retreat to 3, which I will pass.

With more science available, it might be right to bid 2 if that were forcing and stopper showing.
Then, if partner bids 3, we give up.
If he instead bids 2, we can bid 3 so that the defense will know what to lead for sure.

But I won't risk 2 or 2 undiscussed because partner might think it is natural and passable with a 5 card suit.
Besides, retaining the chance of a less than optimal opening lead could be critical here.
June 24
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I find it hard to understand how a 3 follow-up can be right as that bid is not forcing (and it should guarantee four hearts since responder's 2 certainly does not).

Once responder rebids 2, opener here knows that game must be reached. Having already underbid by about an ace, he certainly must make a forcing call (or bid game) now.

A follow-up raise to 3 would be consistent with some
dead minimum opener that was 4-6 in the reds, e.g.
x-KQxx-KQxxxx-xx.
June 24
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Correct–not using a certain sequence must be inferior to assigning that sequence some specific, well-defined meaning.

If you think a certain sequence uses up a lot of bidding room, then that just means that it must show some very narrowly defined set of hands. But not using the sequence at all just reduces your system's descriptive power vs. one that uses more sequences with appropriate definitions for each.

That is the principle behind “picture bid jumps” and “fit showing jumps”–these bids use a lot of bidding space, *but* they describe very specific hand features. The specificity of the description can compensate for the space consumed.
June 24
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It is a pet peeve of mine when partner rebids 2 with this hand (as mine does too often).

1NT then 2 is about the most negative, discouraging sequence partner can concoct–in fact, it is often done with 3 s too weak for a raise for the express purpose of “discouraging” opener.

What is opener going to do when he hears the “weak preference” holding, say KQJxx-Qxxx-Qx-Ax ?
June 23
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1. Just the Q with partner is sufficient for a “beat”
J or T is not needed.
( assuming he holds A–if no A, then declarer has 9 tricks unless we can cash *3* tricks immediately to go with our 2 s, meaning pard would need KJx.

2. Cashing the A may be fatal (as in example I gave above). So there is no “sure beat”–you have to decide
at trick 2 how you are going to defend–cannot wait for partner's “signal” on the A even if you knew what it meant.

3. So it is *possible* that the only winning defense is the A and another . The only lay-out I can see where that is necessary is if pard has 4 s, *and* the A and not the K and not the Q–a real longshot to play for it seems to me.
Meanwhile, shifting to a low at trick 2 wins if
(a) partner has :KJx (or : KQx)
or
(b) partner has A and K
or
© partner has A and Q

There are lay-outs where an immediate shift would work *and* you can still beat the hand if you cash A first and then shift to a , but why risk that?
June 23
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It shows a strong NT (15-17) with a 5 card major.
Cuts back on the (IMO) usually bad idea of opening 1N with this hand type (particularly with 16-17).

Important to agree with partner whether this 3NT promises 5332 shape (I think that is a good idea), or if it can be done with a stiff in responder's suit.
June 23
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Steve,
I think your long list slightly exagerates the reality.

What you clearly lose is “two ways to show s”, as with Lebensohl you can bid 2NT then pass partner's 3 (if that's what he bids) or advance 3 directly showing “values.”

I don't think the meanings of 2M advances are affected (weak, up to some maximum, say 7 or 8 or whatever).

You still have 3M jump advances as invitational.

With GF hands, you can start with 3 cue-bid, Staymanesque.

I guess you lose “two ways to cue-bid” also–immediate 3 advance vs. 2NT then, if partner bids 3, delayed 3, however one chooses to define the distinction.

But I gain a natural 2NT which I think is quite valuable (giving it up is a real loss even after doubles of (2M), but at least then there are more hand types for advancer where Lebensohl allows him to make important strength distinctions, e.g. after (2)-DBL, he can show weak vs. invitational hands in any of *3* suits).
June 23
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This agreement (Lebensohl after doubles of (2M) but not after doubles of (2)) does not seem to be one of the more difficult ones for my partners to remember.

Perhaps it is because we also play:
* Over our weak 2M, next step is “Ogust-like”, while
over our 2, next step is “feature ask.”

* When we overcall their (2) with 2NT, we use the
same structure as over our 2NT openers (allows showing
5=4 and 4=5 major suit hands among other things).
But when we overcall their (2M) with 2NT, we use
transfers (3 ==> 3, cue-bid is Stayman, bidding
suit below theirs transfers to next suit above theirs).

So my partners are fully primed to treat 2 differently from 2M openings.

Leonard,
Double does not appeal to me much with 3=4=3=3 shape, a nice hold-upable holding, and the right (albeit minimum) HCP count for 2NT. The minimal point count would be the only factor that gives double any appeal (as you say, can play 2M), but I don't think this is enough to distort my hand type.
June 23
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If advancer jumped to 3 over intervenor's double, that would show a strong hand (some would play it as forcing).

Thus, intervenor's bidding 3NT over the 3 jump advance would not show a particularly strong hand in my view.

Perhaps you were thinking of starting with double and then *jumping* to 3NT over a *2* advance? Does that show the same shape(s) as an immedate 3NT but a different strength range? Maybe.
But might also just show more flexibility (i.e. doubt about 3NT vs. perhaps playing in s if advancer has 5+ of those).
June 23
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Thanks.
I do have a large database of (laboriously) pre-calculated performance of various strength balanced hands opposite balanced dummys of various strengths in NT contracts.
These were all 10,000 deal simulations, so pretty “accurate” (but yes, all using double dummy analysis–the horror!).

This makes it easier for me to use simulations on problems such as the above since I only have to run one with the test hand.

BTW, I would note that this type of question (“is this hand worth an upgrade/downgrade w.r.t it's actual HCP count?”) is particularly appropriate for double-dummy simulations because errors due to double-dummy analysis, however important you may think they are for other simulation experiments, are relatively unimportant for this type of question since we are comparing a “test” hand with many different hands using the same double-dummy analysis in all cases.

The relative performance of the test hand as compared to a large number of different similarly shaped hands with the same or +1 or -1 HCP should give us a good sense of whether “upgrade” or “downgrade” is justified, even if the actual numbers produced (e.g. %age of deals where 3NT makes) differ from what real-world single dummy results would have been.

Of course, as here, it may be necessary to look at more than just 3NT (or NT in general) results, as possible alternative strains may be relevent. Unfortunately, I do not as yet have a similar database of pre-calculated results for suit contracts, so I did have to do some extra work here to look at 4 contracts in 5-3 fits.
June 23
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Steve,
I think we must assume partner has the A in any event because if declarer has it, he would appear to have 9 tricks if we cash our A (6 , 2 s and 1 ), unless partner's s are as good as KJx, in which case a shift either immediately *or* after cashing A will succeed.

Given that, a low shift before relinquishing control of the suit will succeed if partner has as little as the Q. Say declarer has QJ-J76x-QJT-KJTx, for example.
Cashing the A would be fatal while a shift at trick 2 would defeat the contract.

It is true that A and a 3rd is necessary when declarer has both the K and the Q (but not A), while partner started with four s, for example, if declarer has:
Qx-J76-QJTx-KQTx. But that is a big parlay I think.
There are other lay-outs where either play will succeed, but we don't have to worry about those!
June 23
Craig Zastera edited this comment June 23
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I compared with average 17 & 18 HCP balanced hands of all shapes for NT purposes. Using those yardsticks I found:

* opposite 7 HCP balanced with 2 spades:
3NT with test hand between avg 17 and avg 18,
but slightly closer to avg 17.
avg 17: 3NT makes 36.45%
avg 18: 3NT makes 54.88%
OP hand 1: 3NT makes 44.8%

Note:
I don't claim my figures are accurate to anywhere
near 0.01%. They are all based on 10,000
deal simulations.
Accuracy is probably around 0.5% or so.
I'm just reporting my exact measurements.

* opposite 7 HCP balanced with 3 spades:
4 was 48% on test hand vs.
54% with avg 18 balanced with 5 s
but only 35% with avg 17s with 5 s.
So, OP hand 1 clearly closer to avg 18 for 4.

Thus, for purposes of playing 4, OP hand 1 is indeed just a little below avg 18 w/ 5 , so upgrade justified.

For 3NT without an 8 card fit, closer to avg 17
balanced 17, but only slightly.

So I agree that this hand does justify an upgrade.

Particularly because the fact that it is a better hand
for a contract (when a fit exists), it is better
to open 1 rather than 1NT because the 1 opening increases the chances of finding a desirable 5-3 fit.

I suspect it is the weak doubleton that makes this hand effectively stronger for a contract (in 5-3 fit) then it is for a NT contract.
June 23
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Actually, my simulations suggest that even hand 1 is not quite worth an upgrade.

My criteria for an upgrade is that the hand must perform closer to the average for +1 HCP with the same shape (i.e., here 18 HCPs with 5 and balanced shape) than to the average for same shape and HCPs (17 with 5 and balanced).

While hand 1 here performs better than an average 17 HCP, balanced with 5 , it is (slightly) closer to that than to the average 18 balanced with 5 s. Therefore, no upgrade.
June 23
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Best is to define 4 as asking partner's hand type.

Assuming we don't have that, I transfer to , then bid a natural 4NT—seems like a pretty good description.
June 23
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I don't play Lebensohl advances of doubles of (2).
There is more benefit from a natural 2NT, since both and can be shown at the 2 level with a bad hand, so Leb would only have benefit when advancer has s.
June 23
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Why cash A?
If this is IMPs (you don't say), seems clear to shift to some other than the A at trick 2.
June 23
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I do not understand worry about describing these hands later.

If partner responds a forcing 1NT, we can rebid a 3 card minor, and then if partner preferences back to 2M (most common), we can continue with 2NT to show 16-17.

If partner makes a 2/1 GF response, a jump to 3NT shows our hand perfectly.

With only 15 HCPs and 5332, I usually open 1NT as 2m then 2NT seems like it might get us too high.

On the 1st OP hand, I can understand judging this strong enough for 1-1N-2N.
June 22
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I think most would overcall 1 with the East hand.
At matchpoints and/or NV, I would do so too.

But VUL at IMPs, I think the East hand is very marginal for 1, so cannot fault the pass (although I'm not sure I would have passed even at these conditions).

But passing worked out badly as now we have endplayed ourselves into having to make a marginal 2NT bid. On the plus side, hopefully partner will not expect any more than this from us, else surely we would have overcalled 1 the first time.
June 21
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The popular 3 choice (and I agree after given start) would have worked well.

See my final post for the “real deal” and our result at:

http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/how-would-you-bid-this-hand-2-2d8z81sskn/
June 21
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