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All comments by Henry Bethe
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It is little wonder that Bob Heitzman and I did not do well when we played together since we agree on so little within the framework of basically the same system.

I disagree that “x-y-z” is sensible after 1C-1D-1M. Opener has bid clubs naturally. If in a Walsh context, opener has promised four plus clubs and an unbalanced hand. Even in standard opener has clubs more often than not. Surely 2C is a contract that should be reachable. “X-y-z” lets you reach 2D by forcing opener to bid 2D in response to 2C. But there is no way to reach 2C. So with, say, (3-2) in the majors, five diamonds to the ace and queen third of clubs, responder is forced to bid 1N with three small in the unbid major and a doubleton in the bid major – or reach 3C. Both seem less than optimal.

Feb. 26, 2011
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Peg and Geeske,
I am not among the misogynists. Although I do believe that it is more difficult to win open events than it is to win either age restricted or sex restricted events. I do not believe that the failure to elect women whom I believe to be deserving makes the HOF less, I think it makes the voters less.
Feb. 25, 2011
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I suspect that the votes were widely divided with many voting for only one or two candidates. Some may have decided it should be the Year of the Women with so many strong women candidates: Jill Meyers, Toby Sokolow, Judi Radin and Gail Greenberg. There are many misogynists who look only at open wins which makes it difficult for any woman to be elected, rightly or wrongly. And some, perhaps, believe that only success in open World Championships should count.
Feb. 25, 2011
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Steve,
the question of whether 1S in this auction promises spades or could be “fsf” was already being argued in the early fifties to my certain knowledge, and the “discussion” may go back further than that. The argument predates Walsh (named for Richard Walsh, a fine player who retired from bridge in the early 1970s), and even predates forcing no trumps and widespread adoption of five card majors.

Using 2S as fsf was a proposal of the early 60's, adopted by many, but turns out to have serious problems because of space usage.

In a Walsh context, where responder can only have spades with a good hand and opener can only have spades with 4-4-1-4 or 4-4-0-5 distribution, there is no reason for 1S not to double as fsf, and for 2S to be used either as Levin-Weinstein do or as a method of supporting one of partner's suits and showing shortness in spades.
Feb. 25, 2011
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Kit:
It is easy for me to conceive of a hand that was not forcing to game when partner could have a diamond one suiter and becomes a game force when partner shows either spades and diamonds or a fsf hand.
As I understand modern “standard” responder's only way to establish a force in clubs (and leave room to explore 3N) is by starting with 1S over 1H. 3C would be invitational. Indeed, with Hamman's actual hand I would be leery of forcing to game because I don't think this is a gf if partner were to rebid 2D over 1H. This is true whether you play Walsh or not.
Feb. 24, 2011
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To clarify one point: if you play strict or even semi-Walsh, 1C-1D is one of four types of hand.

1) Any hand with only diamonds
2) A hand with longer diamonds and a four card major and at least game invitational values.
3) A hand with diamonds and clubs
4) A hand with club support that is unsuitable for 1N, 2C or 3C immediately

Since responder cannot have diamonds and spades and less than invitational values, the auction 1C-1D-1H-1S is either at least game invitational with four spades or fourth suit forcing. (Note: the 1H rebid promised real clubs in an unbalanced hand; opener would rebid 1N with all 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2 or 5-3-3-2 hands.)

As a corollary to the above, 3S must be forcing.
Feb. 24, 2011
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Rick, and Danny,
I was not suggesting that Multi is not a “mainstream” convention in many parts of the world. I was suggesting – perhaps wrongly – that even if Multi became fairly common, say played by a third or half the field, the frequency with which it would come up against you is fairly low. Of course it becomes higher if people open Multi frequently with five card suits, even more common if people open Multi on weak five card suits.

You say the mystery need only last for one round of bidding. So lets see. The last time I played against Multi the auction started 2D on my left, 2H natural by partner, pass on my right, and I held AK10xx/x/KJxx/xxx. Which suit was held by LHO was certainly still a mystery to me. And it was a mystery whether 2S would be natural or a cue bid in support of hearts. Actually it was not a mystery: the cheat sheet says that 2S is a cue.

While I was playing in England, a number of pairs adopted the habit that if nv vs vul the auction started 2D-P-2H, opener would pass with 5-3 in the majors, or even 5-2. Which left the suit still a mystery. Which is to say that multi creates a semi-protected semi-psychic position.

As far as I know, the technical merits of Multi are two: it frees up 2H and 2S for other uses and it makes the weak twos in the majors more effective when it is the opponents' hand because of the mystery aspect. If there are others please tell me.
Feb. 18, 2011
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Peg: When I said that there should be a partnership agreement on principles, I really meant that a new partnership should make this one of their first discussion items. Even before deciding on a no trump structure or methods of responding to opening major suit bids. Especially in a new partnership there will be an enormity of undiscussed bidding situations. Having a blanket agreement to cover them will lead to less acrimony and fewer accidents in the long run.
Feb. 18, 2011
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Obviously Kit is a far more successful player than I am, but my education was the opposite of his. But my experience is the opposite of his for a successful new partnership. (perhaps that is why we had such a lack of success together!)
My difference of experience is with his second axiom. I have found it more useful to play that “if a bid could be forcing, it is.” Of course this comes from my training in the New York school of bridge in the 1960s and 70s: it is better to have a surprise for partner in the form of an extra queen than in the form of a missing queen.
I would like to apologize for my previous post on this thread. I had not seen the 1S overcall when I wrote it.
Feb. 16, 2011
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Rick,
The two situations, multi and transfer responses to 1C, are not remotely comparable. The reason to require a pre-alert of transfer responses is only unexpectedness; I agree that it is becoming sufficiently common that it should no longer require a pre-alert in “expert” games. But transfers over 1C start from the position that there is an opening bid, which makes the probability that it is the opponents' hand significantly less likely, and transfers show a specific suit.

Second, I disagree that Multi is universal or even close to universal in the rest of the world. Item: few French pairs play Multi. Item: when I watch top flight bridge from Norway, I would guess that Multi is used by about half the pairs. Item: both top Italian pairs, Fantunes and Lauria-Versace, do not play multi. Item: two of our top pairs, Levin-Weinstein and Martel-Stansby, both of whom play together almost exclusively in events in which Multi is permitted, do not play Multi.

Then there is the problem that people's versions of multi vary widely. Some play that multi looks like a classic weak two. Others, like Kit, open frequently on five card suits and even on weak five card suits. Some play that multi is a weak weak two, and 2H/2S are constructive weak twos. Kit (imho) and these latter players are not looking for the constructive value that you posit but for the increased destructive value of the mystery suit problem. Kit loves preempts. Particularly in first seat.

Actually, the Multi discussion was not about protecting the average player. Because it was never anticipated that Multi would move to general chart. The discussion was whether we should allow “mystery suit weak openings” in pair games. Once we decided no, there was then the issue whether Multi should get an exemption from the ban.
Feb. 15, 2011
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I think you both miss the critical elements here.

No, it is not hard to defend against Multi in direct position.
What you do after 2D-P-2H or 2D-P-2S is less clear, as are auctions after 2D-P-2H-P-P and 2D-P-2H-P-2S. But these also require prior discussion.

Another major issue is frequency, and therefore how much time you as a partnership should spend on how you defend against it. If a quarter of the pairs you play against are playing multi, an opponent will open multi less than once in a typical 26 board session. If three-quarters of the field play a weak opening convention, then maybe you will face it one to two times a session. Weak openings require more time than defenses against unfamiliar strong methods because the likelihood that it is your hand becomes greater. I don't need much time deciding on a defense to the French strong, game forcing 2D opener, or to the Mexican 2D showing 19-20 balanced. When the (weak) opening is infrequent it is not reasonable to require casual partnerships to have had prior discussions of a defense, and many of the partnerships even in major pair games are casual in the sense that the people have not played together before or have played only infrequently. (Both NABC pair games that I won were won with first time partners.)

When you are playing several boards against the same pair – six or seven or more – it is reasonable to ask that you spend a little time discussing defenses to unusual conventions in auctions in which you are likely to want to compete. This is far less true when you are playing two or three boards.

The Conventions committee took the general position that “mystery weak initial actions”, that is actions not disclosing the (a) primary suit, should not be allowed in short encounters like pair games and board-a-match team events. There was a great deal of discussion whether Multi should be exempted from this. At the end of the day, I seem to remember that the vote was nearly unanimous.
Feb. 15, 2011
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I have two comments:
1) I believe 2H shows (should show) a (maximum) raise to 3C with heart values. As Tom said, 1NT denied four or more hearts. Unless you play “Churchill” in which 1N was simply a weakness showing response, you cannot show what you have already denied. Even with the 1S intervention, 1N should only rarely if ever have four hearts (maybe KJ9x/Jxxx/Kxx/Jx).
2) I have recently adopted playing 1C-1N-2C as forcing. Since the 1N response almost always has 3+ card club support (the only exception should be when responder is 3-3-5-2 with major suit high cards) there should be no reason not to get to 3C. Responder bids 2D with five diamonds, two clubs and a minimum; raises to 3C with three plus clubs and a minimum; bids a major suit concentration or 2N with a maximum. In conjunction with this I now play that the bid of two of either major over the 1N response is shortness with extra values.
Feb. 15, 2011
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First, I was simply responding to the specific question of whether anyone could suggest an auction.

But there is a more general issue here: I believe that in general responder should stay out of the 2C opener's way during the first couple rounds of the auction. The strong hand usually has a lot to say, and space consuming bids by responder leave less room later.

About half the time opener will rebid 2N or (if playing ‘Kokish’) will relay with 2H and bid a forcing 2N. If responder has a hand that can adequately be handled over the balanced rebid, imo responder should not make a space-consuming response. Therefore responses other than 2D should describe hands that cannot reasonably be described in other ways. This would include two suited freaks with eleven or more cards in two suits and hands with an unexpected source of tricks. It might also include very weak hands with a long minor that would be unable to sign off in the minor opposite partner's 2N rebid such as xx/xx/xx/xxxxxxx.

A good weak two can be described easily over partner's 2N rebid. In addition you get the advantage of transfers if you wait for partner's rebid. Ordinary two suiters also. Its only freaks that cannot.
Feb. 15, 2011
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Walter:
Many years ago there was a convention for such hands over 2 openers. It has been lost in the mists of time because it never comes up, but:
2-3 showed a six card or longer one loser suit with no side ace or king
2-3 showed a six card or longer solid suit with no side ace or king

After either of these bids the cheapest bid asked for length: step 1 = 6, step 2 = 7, etc.

5N then asked what suit (although opener usually knew).

Using this convention, then, the auction would go
2-3-3-4 (eight card suit)-5N-6-7
Feb. 14, 2011
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West might after all be 1-3-5-4. It might also make a difference how the auction went: If South opened 1N, West might play South not to be 5-4 in the minors and conceal the fourth club. Less likely if South opened 1D and rebid 1N.
Feb. 2, 2011
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One thing I would say: in the events you are playing I believe, unless the bridge world has changed greatly, you are very unlikely to run into mini-roman. I believe this is popular only in Florida. And there not among the people who are likely to be playing in NABC+ events. (I may be wrong; Steve would know better.)
Again, where the opponents interfere over 1N I like to have general principles, although some may have to be changed because of “common sense” against specific methods. My own are:
2C or X of 2C is always Stayman
System is on over X or a 2C overcall (whatever 2C means)
System is off (but Lebensohl is on) over higher overcalls.
If an overcall is natural or seminatural (shows the suit bid and another suit), double is negative
If an overcall is artificial Double shows high card values.
Feb. 1, 2011
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I try to have general principles for similar situations. Therefore against two suited interference where both suits are known:
A bid of the fourth suit is natural and nf
the lower cue bid shows a forcing hand with the fourth suit *
the higher cue shows limit + in opener's suit *
Double is like a redouble: creates a one round force and suggests defending

* if this order of cue bids would create turmoil, e.g. after 1D-2N showing clubs and hearts, reverse these two

I do not know what the convention restrictions are for NAP Flight A, although I suspect that it is midchart-restricted. You might want to check before you spend time developing defenses.

Good luck and congratulations
Feb. 1, 2011
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However, South might have played to shake his spade loser with the first hand by taking the club finesse and partner is less likely to lead a doubleton diamond than a stiff. So it looks to me like the second hand is more likely.
Jan. 27, 2011
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I think there are many auctions where you just muddle through. And that the more space you conserve for muddling the better.
For what it is worth, Jeff, I do not think three card support should be expected for 1S-2C-2H-2S, although maybe for 1S-2C-2D-2S where 2H is conveniently available as fsf.
I think after…2H-2S, 3S by opener says my spades are good enough to play opposite Hx and I do not have a diamond stopper, and that 3C is not shape promising, just suggesting say Hx in clubs with inadequate spades and no diamond stopper.
Tom: isn't it a bit sad that on the hand that needs the most exploration you need to make such a space consuming bid?
Jan. 26, 2011
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Tom:
What do you suggest one bid with, for example, Jx AQx xxx AQJxx after 1-2-2? Surely 2 is the most practical bid. It allows partner the most room to make a useful, descriptive continuation. The point, I suppose, is that 2 does not set trump. Or should not.

I do not think that 2N by opener should be strictly shape-showing. At some point in almost all auctions someone has to promise a stopper. Which is why, with the example above, responder should not bid 2N over 2 and with AQ10xx Kxxx xx Kx opener should not bid 2N over 2 by responder in my opinion.
Jan. 26, 2011
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