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All comments by Ian Casselton
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Hi Richard.

I'm not sure Michael's arguments have wholesale convinced me, but his case, in particular re 3 as game interest, is fairly compelling.

There was a good set of articles in The Bridge World early 1999 IIRC which dealt with various Lebensohl, Good/Bad 2NT etc variants. Based on some ideas by Mark Abrahams, for some time I tried to optimise when to play Good 2NT versus when to play Bad 2NT.

After trying this for a while, the combination of difficulty in succinctly expressing the rules of application, with memory strain, led me to abandon the idea and go with one - hence 2NT being “mostly good” - WK with or STR without in context - as previously mentioned.

However, as Michael implicitly observes, this puts major suit, and in the actual case, heart, invitations, at risk of further pre-emption. We live with this as on a frequency basis we judge the need to compete is far more frequent that the need to invite/force - and want to bid suits directly if we might be at risk of penalty to avoid giving the oppo two chances to nail us - but we could be wrong!

Ian C
an hour ago
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Hi Richard.

I would be interested to hear from any Master Solvers Club class panelist (i.e. actual or their partners/teammates) if they wouldn't bid 3 on this hand in the auction given.

Some might do so with misgivings, perhaps, but I reckon they would all do it. Mind you, the way to madness lies in predictions of unanimity on said forum :)

On your later point, I would never blame partner for taking an anti-system view if he did so because he thought it were right (e.g. to fail to bid 4 even though it were systemically required) but conversely, to apportion blame to him for not doing so if that's what the partnership agreement was would be churlish IMO.

Ian C
4 hours ago
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Hi Kit.

The first question is what 4 would have meant. I'm basically with you - I think it's diamonds or perhaps diamonds with a spade tolerance.

For me, that substantively puts the Kickback question to bed (it doesn't exist, and a jump to 4NT would be RKCB) but let's consider those who might think 4 being a cue-bid is “bridge”.

I don't think Kickback (or for that matter, Kickbo, if that is your poison, as it is mine) alters the meaning of bids, it merely switches them. So, if 4 would normally be a cue-bid and 4NT would normally be RKCB, then for those who play Kickback, these meanings would get switched. In this case, 4 wouldn't deny a diamond control - just a hand which wishes to make a forcing raise and is unsuitable for key-card asking.

Let's tweak the hypothesis further to those who think 4 being a cue-bid is “bridge” but don't play Kickback until after explicit suit agreement. In this case, 4 would remain a cue-bid and 4 would explicitly deny a diamond control (and based on 4 in the actual auction being described as a cue-bid, it appears the control showing style is 1st/2nd round controls together).

It wouldn't be my preference to play a substitute Kickback here (or in my case, a substitute Kickbo) as the relative proximity of suits affects the utility and I wouldn't care to try and document the rules governing its potential application. Hence I would revert again 4NT as RKCB and other bids as control showing cue-bids.

As to the meaning of 4 after this start (4 denying a diamond control) there are those who would play it as showing diamond and spade controls, and some who would play it as just showing a diamond control (spade control status indeterminate).

After a control showing cue-bid, it is my preference not to play 4NT as RKCB, but rather, a trump cue (either but not both of the A/K of trumps). However, I don't expect that to be a majority view these days, if ever it was.

Finally, there is the question of how obligatory a control-showing cue bid might be. For me, in an uncontested auction, control cue-bidding is more or less mandatory below game if the opportunity presents, but above game it expresses an opinion. I don't believe I've ever discussed if this changes in a competitive auction, but my instinct is that it should - with space having been consumed early, you probably want to express an opinion while you can do so safely.

In short, it comes down to various partnership agreements, which is where you were heading with your own question no doubt.

Taking the actual auction at face value (4 forcing raise, 4 1st or 2nd round control and 4NT not discussed) I think South's 3 overcall was routine and 4 the most questionable action in the auction.

I think North's actions are not unreasonable - 6 is perhaps the most open to question but to do so depends on how he thought the not discussed 4NT would be interpreted (and if RKCB, the response order).

More South than North, on balance of probability.

Ian C
13 hours ago
Ian Casselton edited this comment 5 hours ago
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Hi Richard.

As the partnership is not limited (only I am, to a large extent, as a previous passer) then I prefer to play this as the partnership version of Lebensohl - whatever that is.

If instead both hands had passed, e.g. (1) P (2) P (P) DBL (P) 2NT, then I would play that as some form of “Scrambling” (once again, to suit the partnership style).

For what it's worth, my partnership style of Lebensohl is “mostly good”, i.e. 2NT is WK with or STR without , WK and STR being context dependent.

Ian C
17 hours ago
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Hi Gerben.

Anyone who plays DBL as T/O of is speaking my language here (see earlier reply).

Ian C
April 24
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Hi David.

I think I'm fairly much in agreement with you.

I have a fairly simple rule - if DBL can possibly be take-out, it is (of the most likely, else the most important, possibility).

Here, the only consideration is of what suit? As we don't have relative frequency information and a chance to discuss in advance, logic dictates we care most about the situation when the oppo have the spade raise, so DBL should be T/O of that (with, as you say, whatever kind of Lebensohlish structure you might play thereafter).

It's worth noting as an aside that the thing they have given us here is a safe'ish entry point - it is slightly more dangerous going in after (1) Pass (2) ?

Other actions should be as after the above auction in my opinion, so 2 should be Michaels if that is your normal style etc.

Pass then DBL (e.g. of 2) I prefer as penalty (or perhaps Co-operative Penalty in The Bridge World lexicon).

I would only deal with an effective 1 2 auction from the opponents if it is confirmed explicitly in the later action.

Ian C
April 23
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No disagreement from me, Bernard.

Ian C
April 19
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Hi Michael R.

Agreed, but as Richard observes (and I commented in the team discussion) if you're playing to go down but minimise the loss, ducking the K seems the right start.

As a matter of interest, after that start, do you think you would have found the two down defence?

Ian C
April 19
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Hi Michael R and others.

Thanks for replying!

For the record, when given the problem, I said I would take the hook fairly quickly. This was not the result of some deep analysis, but rather, a philosophy which leads to a fairly blunt heuristic - play to make unless that is demonstrably inferior by inspection. I think there are more important things to expend time and effort on.

Nevertheless, the deal caused considerably debate amongst my normal team, not all of whom (including me) were playing on the day.

In the brief analysis that I did, as much to consider the possibility of whether I could possibly induce round suit honours to crash as anything else, I judged that the hook was likely to be slightly anti-percentage. I reckoned LHO was a strong favourite to hold the J as well as the KQ for the lead, and that of the five remaining relevant cards, RHO would hold four of them. Yes, RHO might open with only three of them if AAK, or I could be wrong about the J, but that would make LHO considerably less inclined to sell out to 3.

However, as alluded to by others above, spades might be 5-3 and not 4-4 and with three prime cards plus the Q, RHO might have found 3. Hence, I think my a priori near 1 in 5 chance of LHO holding the Q is perhaps closer to 1 in 4 in practise.

For anyone interested in the actual result, the LH/RH hands were

T952 K KQJ4 9765 / Q874 A75 9862 AK

My usual teammate took the hook, which of course lost, and the oppo did negotiate the club ruff. This led to -300 and a loss of 5 IMPs against the 1NT by E making contract in the other room. This was the margin of a 7-12 loss in the match, and enough to move them from equal second to fourth in the event (it was the final match).

Unlucky, I think, but not all agreed …

Ian C
April 19
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Hi Avon.

I agree with most of your premises - perhaps your influence (conscious or sub-conscious)?

Geoffo and I played 1 2 and 1 2NT as FG raises and 1 2NT and 1 3 as BAL, FG for years. Our current 1M 2 response (FG, clubs or raise, as per The Bridge World article “CLOR”) is similar - also allowing 2NT as BAL, FG and preserving even more space for the raise.

As to Barry's question, and unlike some, we play (the equivalent of) 1m 2m as an FG raise and 1m 2NT as an INV raise, both in an 11-13 1NT opening context. With a weaker raise than that it's 3m, or (the equivalent of) 1NT.

Edit: An additional comment - I would have no particular issue in many methods in bidding 1 1 or 1 1 on a 3 card suit, rather than 1NT, for positional reasons if unable to otherwise conveniently show a 4 card minor suit raise. I just don't need to in our current method.

Ian C
April 18
Ian Casselton edited this comment April 18
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Understood, Johan.

I'm not sure that allowing for 4m333's is that descriptive though. Don't get me wrong, though - see my earlier post, my own method doesn't work well on this hand.

Allowing a free and easy 2 response is one thing - it can't get in the way of partner and may be quite descriptive. I would think a reasoned argument can be made that the trade-off for doing the same with a 2 response can be made. But bidding 3m on BAL hands will get in the way a lot and hasn't (at that point at least) been that descriptive).

Ian C
April 7
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Hi Johan.

I understand both Richard's instinctive reaction and your rationale. We have a similar underlying principle opposite our 1 0-10 hcp Fert and an artificial and strong 1 response … we play opener's 2 rebid as 0-4 hcp any, unsuitable for a 3+ pre-empt. This gives definition to everything else - the worst thing is that we can't then bid 2 over it NAT (as that is reserved for FG types).

My biggest issues, in order, with your structure would be the 3/3/2 bids - they are likely to get in the way of 2 opener too often IMO.

As an aside, doesn't 3 have to be 5+?

Ian C
April 6
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Hmm.

Perhaps not a great hand for our methods - lucky the big ones don't come up very often!

P 2
2 4
?

What would you do here as responder?

Hard to be honest knowing all the hands, but I might be inclined to punt 6.

Ian C
April 6
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Hi Larry,

Not saying you're wrong (I've not seen this suggested before, so haven't properly considered it). But why might you be right?

As someone who uses a top'n'bottom variant, combined with ELCD's to the higher two suits, I'm keen to understand any material technical merit.

Ian C
April 5
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Hi Jeff.

At risk of answering for someone clearly more expert than me, “… of course …”.

However, by rough analogy, after (1NT) P (3NT) DBL, is your agreement that partner leads (i) spades, or (ii) their shorter major, or (iii) their shortest suit, or (iv) something else?

Considering (i) through (iii) above only, as a spectrum, you get increasing frequency of potential usefulness, but tempered by more risk. I see “Obvious Shift” based carding analogous to (i) - more accurate when directly applicable, but less flexible otherwise. In context, straight attitude is closer to (ii) or (iii) in nature.

Both approaches appear playable to me, so it is probably down to whatever suits - though I'm probably more philosophically aligned to Kit's view.

Ian C

PS As a related aside, for most of our carding (leads, signals, discards) except where specifically otherwise defined, we played “Mixed” signals, i.e. reverse count without a honour (initially defined as Q or higher versus suits, J or higher vs NT's) and natural count with a relevant honour. As opposed to a directive style of signals/carding, this requires you to use a lot of “bridge logic” - but like anything is imperfect.
April 4
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Hi Thomas.

I remember Ulf's article. I also remember another one (might have been Ulf, might have been Denis Lesage) suggesting a similar use of 2-suited overcalls combined with a cue-bid being played as a Multi (rather than Michaels) - to get the single-suited WJO's back. Note that this, in principle, gives you four two-suited jumps (the three former WJO's plus 2NT).

All that said, I don't play any of them, and prefer
(1) ELCD's to the top two suits - showing the 2nd higher suit to be at least as long as the higher
(2) Cue-bid as top'n'bottom: 5+/5+ if (1) 2 else 4+/5+m

I don't feel strongly about all the above except that I don't like Michaels - but as a convention, it's come back strongly into vogue recently (and played very wide ranging - which I like even less).

Ian C
April 3
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Hi Kit.

I'm one of those who would have opened 1 and rebid 2 over a 1 response (though probably raised 1 to 2). This risks the odd wrong partial, and I'm sure over the years it must have happened, but I can't recall a recent incident along those lines. As a general principle in bidding, I believe it is more effective to show a second suit rather than emphasise length in the first.

On a related note, I would probably have bypassed 1 to respond 1 - but I'm fairly sure that's a minority position. That brings up the interesting ELCD question of what the auction (1m) DBL (1) P (2m) 2 means. I'm guessing you can't do it with this hand, though you might want to, and that it still retains its traditional strong meaning - maybe I'm wrong?

Finally, to opener's rebid. I require NT rebids to show BAL/semi-BAL hands and non-forcing rebids of a suit to show 6+ length: hence that leaves the 1 opening. But of the two rules, I detest breaking the latter rule more. Therefore, I don't have a particular issue with a 1 1 1NT auction in a partnership where that possibility is (subsequently) catered for, but dislike the auction at the table and have little sympathy over the outcome.

In the discussion above, I have not particularly considered the effect of West's DBL on the North/South bidding. For what it's worth, I wouldn't seek a 1 level penalty as North either - if for no other reason than the hand is marginally weak opposite a modern opening style.

Ian C
April 1
Ian Casselton edited this comment April 1
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Agreed, Nigel.

As you allude to, it is almost impossible at the table to know what your peers would do in many (most?) arbitrary UI situations, so the only pragmatic approach is to do what you would normally do when you are reasonably confident that is the case.

After that, you can let the gendarmes sort it out if they need to.

Ian C
March 30
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Hi Aviv.

I'm with Kit on this one (and I think the Rubens editorial is similarly - though it also deals with the mechanics of how one might approach taking the “normal” action).

That is why this is a good example scenario for discussion, as it flushes out, amongst other things, how the laws are interpreted radically different by many.

Ian C
March 30
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Hi Paulo.

It is based on my recollection of a pub conversation, of what the player at the table described as his thought process as he tried to rationalise what 4 might be if not natural (which he thought was likely).

Ian C
March 30
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