Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Eugene Hung
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Partner will not be in reopening seat after 1 2. You will. If you don't want to double 1, you'll have to decide whether you'll want to double 2 on the next round when partner could still have an unbalanced hand long in hearts, or still be broke. All the arguments you gave against doubling 1 apply even more over 2, for both you and partner. While doubling 1 is dangerous, by passing 1, you may put yourself in a no-win situation over 2, where both passing and bidding are dangerous.

The problem with passing on round 1 is that you have ceded the initiative of the hand to the opponents. They know what to do, you have no clue. Better to stake your claim to the hand on the first round and put partner in the captain's seat for your partnership, before the opponents figure out their fit and strength.

Also, if partner has the hand you give and hears a double and raise to 2, what's wrong with him competing to 3? Assuming that doubler doesn't have _four_ spades (which would be truly bizarre), the opponents have a 9-card fit, so your side has an 8-card fit, and it's obviously diamonds, so the LAW suggests bidding 3 over 2. Opposite the actual double hand, you are likely down 1 or 2, but the opponents have a 9-card spade fit taking at least 8 tricks on offense. Any losses rate to be minor, but the competitive auction may cause them to misjudge their game prospects or push them to a settable 3 (Kxxx Txx AJx xxx opposite QJTxx Qxx Kx Axx). And as Steve Weinstein said, once you double, you know what to do next: pass throughout.

By the way, consider an appeal to authority. Don't you find it interesting that all the recent national champions in this poll voted to double? Not every bidding situation is clear, but when many winning players think something is right, I would recommend at least giving it a try. In fact, 10 years ago I learned a tip from a good player to respond to an opening bid with any hand containing an Ace, even those with just 4 HCP. After trying it, I noticed he was right. Thanks, Bill.
June 17, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
But partner's range is not limited to “balanced with 2 high cards”. Especially given more aggressive openings than in the past: many would open 1 with KQJTxx Jx xx Axx, and some with less. If partner has more than your example range, either in shape or high cards, you might be missing a partial, or a game (as little as x xxxxx Ax Kxxxx is an awesome game, and the same hand without the A is a 40% game – but good luck getting there after passing 1 and watching the opponents raise spades).

Yes, partner could have your example range or less, and then it's not right to compete, but the opponents don't know that yet either. LHO is under the same pressure you are – if he passes on his first turn with some values, he risks having to guess later with little new information. It's dangerous to pass, watch the opponents figure out how high to bid and stop at the 2-level, and then guess. If you always guess to pass in this situation, sometimes you are right and it's a misfit, sometimes you are wrong and they have stolen a partial or even a game in hearts from you. Point is, it's a guess whose hand it is, but better to guess now than guess later when the opponents know more.

If anything, after double, your partner will have a better idea of your hand than responder (LHO) will – the only thing he'll be wrong about is your spade length, and not even that if he knows this hand is part of your range (like Bart Bramley's partners). Not doubling effectively says you don't trust your partner's competitive judgement. If I am a top player playing with another top player, and I have a call that accurately describes most of my hand before the opponents have described theirs, I want to do it as often as possible. This is why people are opening 1NT on less classical shapes (5 card majors-332, 2452, 2362, some 5cM-422), and good 14s. It's clearly “less theoretically sound” but it's also good bridge in terms of leading to better results.
June 17, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I believe that part of the reason top players are doubling today is because players are opening and responding lighter than ever, because they have discovered that finding the right fit is more important than having enough jacks. To paraphrase Kit, it's better to be a little too high than in the wrong strain. If you pass these good 14-counts and 13-counts, you're going to be defending a lot of contracts where you should be declaring. It's part of the reason why I refuse to play 1NT in the sandwich seat as anything but 15-18 balanced. When opener could be as light as 10 and responder as light as 3, you need to show your values or you will miss too many games.
June 17, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
It might, but I'm more likely to want to defend when I have a good hand with 3-card support than a good hand with 4-card support. Why confuse things? I'm a simple soul. I like my doubles to deny immediate knowledge of a fit and my cue-bids and raises to confirm a fit.

We all know the advantage of support doubles by opener when responder could have 4-5 pieces. Why shouldn't we be similarly strict here, and have our doubles show 3, and our raises/cue-bids show 4? Some hands might slip through the cracks, but it's so much easier on partner for evaluation.
June 13, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I wouldn't have expected 4 spades from partner. It feels unlikely we want to leave open the possibility of defending at the 2-level when we have a likely 8-card fit, and possibly a 9-card fit. (I know 1 does not guarantee 4 but it seems like we will be contorting our bidding too much not to assume it.) Holding 4 spades and more than a minimum takeout double, I would either cuebid or jump-raise to 3, depending on texture and pattern. Once I've got my primary spade support off my chest, then I'll start looking to penalize.
June 13, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Barry, if Sartaj wanted a qualitative estimate (how many boards should we have to make it likely for the better team to prevail?), he should have avoided specifying an 80% confidence. Once you ask for 80% confidence, the only real way to answer the question is with math, and math is rigorous.
June 12, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
This is a question that is incomplete. Mathematically speaking, you need to quantify the relative difference in skill level between the teams before you can get an 80% confidence level that the better team will win. For example, any top team would not need many boards to likely win against a Flight C team, but they'd need more to likely win against a typical Flight A team. You also need to quantify the standard deviation of IMPs/board.
June 12, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
We really don't want to play 1S-XX here. Remember that the spade length is sitting over you. Trump holdings like KJ98 are going to get chewed up by finesses. And if you had 5 spades and enough values to pass for penalty, then you would have overcalled 1.
June 11, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Andrew, I'm not advocating following the LAW blindly. After all, I did say I felt it was okay to pass 2. Against 2, I have multiple negative adjustments: the JT and the 4th spade. I just think suggesting to pass 2 is overthinking things. Few hands are perfect. If you always look for reasons to pass you'll end up making life too easy for your opponents. I look for reasons to bid. I have plenty: both sides have an 8-card fit, I have no wastage in their trump suit, and their trumps are breaking nicely for them.

Here's a clear example why it's right to bid. Give partner a pure minimum hand like xx KQJ10 xxx KQxx and now it's possible we're making 3 while the opponents are making 2 (enemy hands KQxx xx QJxx xxx opposite xxx Axxx AKxx Jx, 17 total tricks). Now that was a loaded example in my favor. Move some of the cards around to give a more realistic example and it's still likely that at least one of the two contracts will make. For example, swap the red queens and now 3 is still making on the normal heart guess, but 2 might go down if declarer misguesses diamonds. It takes multiple adjustments and lots of pessimism to come to a layout where _both_ contracts are likely down (say, xx KQJx QJx KTxx). Frankly, I wouldn't double on such hands in a live auction, I think the hands with 10+ HCP in the round suits (and thus 16 total tricks) are more likely.

Summary: it's important to bid 3 over 2 when the total _tricks_ are 16+, either you are making or you have a good “save” vs. 2. Only when both contracts are going down (7 for them, 8 for you: 15 total tricks) is it wrong to bid. This is not a guideline, this is a fact. The guideline comes from estimating the total tricks based on the # of total trumps.

The LAW indicates that the total tricks are around 16. The JT of spades, along with some other negative factors in partner's hand, _may_ end up decrementing this total to 15, but it's not likely enough to talk me out of bidding. There are still plenty of hands where the total tricks are 16, or even 17. Even if the total tricks are 15, they may continue competing, or misdefend (declarer's advantage!). I think it's really important to bid on over 2: if you pass and you're wrong, you have no escape; if you bid and you're wrong, you have outs.
June 11, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I think the conclusion to defend 2 is a misapplication of the LAW. Yes, Aces are very likely to take tricks on defense, but they are also likely to take tricks on offense (and prevent the opponents from taking tricks on defense). They are not defensively oriented, they are neutral, for deciding whether or not to compete. It's impurities such as Q and flat 4333 shape that deflates the total trick count and argues for defending. I think it's wrong to pass out the opponents in their 8-card fit at the 2-level with no wastage in their suit and a known 8-card fit of our own. We should be passing when we think there's a possibility of a misfit on either side, but that's impossible, as a misfit would require partner to hold 2 spades and 4 diamonds, which he denied with his double.

On this hand, if you bid 2 and it goes 2 P P, we know partner is 2434 so the total trick count should be 16 with no known negative adjustments, so the LAW says we should bid 3 over 2. If the opponents land in 2, now the total trick count is deflated – the J10 are cards that are more useful on defense than offense, and we even have 4 trumps to seriously annoy declarer. I can see an argument for bidding 2 with the plan of passing 2, but I don't see the argument for bidding 2 with the plan of selling to 2.
June 11, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
If partner is 1-4-4-4 then the opponents are choosing to play the 7-card diamond instead of their known 8-card spade fit. I wish I had such opponents.
June 11, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Fast Denies is a poor way to play Lebensohl after double of weak two. In standard Lebensohl, after a 1NT opener, the notrump declaration is already fixed. In this situation, notrump has not been taken, so why do you want to jump to 3NT without a stopper when partner might hold Kx of the enemy suit? Far better to deny a stopper with a cue-bid. Slow 3NT (going through Lebensohl) should show a stopper with some doubt (the other major is playable), while fast 3NT shows a stopper with no doubt (the other major is not playable).
June 11, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Bob, if West has AKJ10xx and sees 9763 in dummy and both of the players follow small, he has to get it right. There is only one card missing, and no matter who has it, playing the other top honor will run the suit. So East is wrong to unblock, it's a play that can't win – unless you think West has AKJ10x and declarer xx.
June 10, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
But Henry, what about all the 21-23 point bad-to-hopeless games that happen to make, gaining 6-12 IMPs? You have to take the good with the bad. You can't just arbitrarily say: let's avoid all hopeless games and bid only the good ones; part of the reason why these teams are winning is because they are constantly putting their opponents to the test.

Justin Lall once told me about the importance of constantly being in game, even hopeless ones, as long as the defense isn't brain-dead easy. At IMPs, constantly bidding thin games wears on the opponents and puts them under pressure not to make a mistake. You stop on a dime in 3 with play for 9 tricks, and the pressure is off: if they drop the overtrick, they lose 1 IMP. Go to 4 and put 10-12 IMPs on the table. Or, maybe your skill finds a line that your counterpart misses: another huge pickup to offset the 5-7 IMP giveaways. At IMPs, the odds are on your side to be an optimist about game – so push them hard!
June 9, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Hi Bob – Thanks for participating in the Well. Beyond “Hamman's Rule”, what would you say is your most important tip for advancing players to improve their game?
June 9, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
High on the list of conventions I love to see my opponents play: “constructive” major-suit raises. They work well when you have 8-10, but awful when you have the 6-7. Just raise to 2, get your hand off your chest, and make it harder for the opponents to compete when you have a fit. East's hand is going to bid anyway over 2, but now if you drive to game, East will have to tip off his strong distributional hand. And you certainly won't be hitting 4 for two doubled overtricks. 5 maybe, but never 4, once you know partner has primary support and 6 support points.
June 9, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Feels pusillanimous to pass with reasonable 3-card support and a void in opener's suit. I believe in supporting with support and letting partner evaluate his hand. If half the people in this poll are passing 2, then I don't take much inference from LHO's failure to raise to 3 – the world is full of bridge players who fail to support their partner when they should.
June 8, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
We could legislate withdrawals, but I don't see the need. I'm fine with the way things currently are. Don't ask, but if your opponents want to withdraw, you're welcome to accept.
June 8, 2012
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Yes, this is an advantage of transfers over 1 – it allows you to open lighter than standard because you have two ways to show a non-strong notrump while reaching 1NT. The ranges are:

11-13 : open 1 … accept transfer … 1NT
14-16 : open 1NT
17-19 : open 1 … break transfer and bid 1NT
20-21 : open 2NT

I know JoAnna and Migry worked hard on mastering this system and it looks like it paid off. Congratulations ladies!
June 6, 2012
.

Bottom Home Top