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All comments by John D'Errico
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Monty -

Nobody would EVER bid 5♢ expecting to make. The question is if 4♡ is likely to make, AND if it does make, will 5♢X cost more than 4♡ making? If 4♡ does not make, then you virtually never come out ahead by bidding, because the odds that 5♢ will make are essentially zero here.

How many trumps do they have? The trump suit may be 4-4, so partner has a doubleton, or partner may be stiff or void. So they have 8-10 trumps. Our diamond fit may be 8 or 9 cards, but I seriously doubt that partner has an 8 card diamond suit if he passed the first round, and a 6 card suit is a serious possibility.

Assume that the law of total tricks is accurate on this deal. If there are 16 total tricks at an absolute minimum, then if they can indeed make 10 tricks in hearts, then 5♢ is down 5. At the other end of the spectrum, if there are 19 total tricks, and they can make 10 tricks in hearts, then you can take 9 tricks in diamonds, so down 2. If 4♡ fails, it will rarely fail by more than 1 trick.

So, let me postulate the frequency that 4♡ makes p(%) of the time. My personal estimate is that probability is somewhere around 60%, but I might be wrong in either direction. 5♢ is surely going to be doubled however, and LOTT predicts it will go down by somewhere between 1 and 5 tricks, depending on what partner holds and whether 4♡ makes.

As well, we can assume they will be in the 4♡ game at the other table, undoubled. So, at IMP scoring, we can condition the result on the number of total tricks held by the two sides. If there are…

16 total tricks, then your gain from bidding 5♢ is

p*(620 - 1100) + (1-p)*(-100 - 800) = 420*p - 900

So if p = 0.60, then you score -648, to lose 12 IMPs. Note that no value of p here gives you a positive return.

17 total tricks, then your gain from bidding 5♢ is

p*(620 - 800) + (1-p)*(-100 - 500) = 420*p - 600

Again, there is no winning scenario, regardless of the value of p here. With the value of p I've suggested as possible, bidding 5♢ loses only 8 IMPs.

18 total tricks, then your gain from bidding 5♢ is

p*(620 - 500) + (1-p)*(-100 - 300) = 520*p - 400

So with 18 total tricks, bidding on wins only when p is as great as 76.9% So you need to be pretty confident that their game is making to bid on, even with 18 total tricks.

19 total tricks, then your gain from bidding 5♢ is

p*(620 - 300) + (1-p)*(-100 - 100) = 520*p - 200

Here the break-even point for bidding is at p=0.385.

Personally, I think it is quite likely that partner has only a 6 card suit for his delayed preempt, and I'll guess that they have a 9 card fit. In that case, we are in the 17 total tricks domain, where there was NO winning scenario for bidding on. Even if partner had a more classical 7 card suit, then you need to be seriously confident that their game is making for bidding to make any sense at all.
Jan. 1, 2016
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More info would be useful. Is this MPs or IMPs? What is partner's style?

Partner passed initially, so he/she will have a flawed preempt. Maybe too much outside, maybe a really weak suit, maybe something else. Will 5♢ play well? Partner has 0,1, or 2 hearts. Partner very possibly has spade length,but I have insufficient trumps to help much there.

And when I have too much in their suit, AND they bid game anyway, then they often have values in our suit.

So at MPs, if our game could be pushed into the money with a top, I'll double. At IMPs, a state of the match double could work too. Under no circumstances would I bid 5♢. Given a choice between pass and 5♢, pass stands out to me.
Jan. 1, 2016
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And this is what you should do to anyone who has such an agreement. Give them a few -1700's on their card, and it will go away. As well, anyone who is playing with Binkley will be tempted to make it the last time they do so.
Dec. 31, 2015
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We use a three tiered set of ranges and find it works well.

11-13 in first and second seats, when not vul.
14-16 when vul in first and second seat, or not vul in 3rd seat.
15-17 when vul in third seat, and always in 4th seat.

We feel that having a stronger NT range is useful once partner is a passed hand, since an important goal is to reach game if possible. If partner is unlikely to have more than a bad 11 count having passed initially, there will be few hands where an 11-13 NT would ever get us into a game.

On the other hand, a weak 1NT in third seat has preemptive value, so many I have talked to prefer that.

I do love the preemptive value of the weak 1NT, even in team games,where it rarely has hurt us. Admittedly, it sometimes leads to random results when our opponents are using a strong 1NT, playing contracts from the opposite side. This does increase the variability of your results, something I am not worried about. If I am playing against a stronger team, then variability is good. If I am playing a weaker team, then I expect to outplay them anyway.

Don't forget that the NT range will affect the ranges of your other bids. Since our strong club is 17+ if balanced, then when 1NT will be 15-17, the 1♣ range must shift.
Dec. 30, 2015
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I love to see these examples posted. Students I have mentored might know in theory about things like a Vienna coup, but every time they see one written up like this, it firms up their understanding of it, as well as making it more likely they can find one at the table when the time comes.
Dec. 24, 2015
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Oh, you also asked how the bidding should go after 1♡. While 4 card majors is not my style, if 2NT is indeed Jacoby, then for me…

1♡ - 2NT(1)
3♣(2) - 3♠(3)
4♢(3) - …

1. Jacoby
2. shortness
3. first or second round control

At this point, you can both taste a potential slam in the offing. I use 4♠ over heart agreement as keycard with my partners. For me, I would blithely assume that partner has the 3 keycard response here, because I completely trust that all of my partners will not blast me on the rare hand when that is wrong. That will also allow us to get to the grand, since you can find out about the diamond king along the way, and then you can count a pretty solid 13 tricks in 7♡.
Dec. 24, 2015
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Well, you either did or did not agree to play 2NT as Jacoby. To quote you:

“ and agreed to play Jacoby 2NT with an outside suit reply at the 3-level showing a singleton or a void.”

If you did make that agreement, then 2NT is Jacoby. Period.

Could partner have held 0 keycards? OF course he could have. It is quite easy to construct hands for partner that would bid as he has with no aces. There are 14 points in missing honors from your hand that are not aces. For example, give partner something like this:

QJxx
Q9xxx
K
KQJ

No aces, but 14 points. A decent opener that will open the bidding with 1♡, then after what he apparently thinks is a natural 2NT by you, rebid spades at the three level.

I'm not at all sure I would assume some random partner would know to play “auto-wood”, i.e., where they are asked to go on to slam holding 3 keycards in this auction when you stop in 5 of the major. So for you to stop in 5♡, hoping he would go on was a dangerous thing. Always assume that a random partner will not read your mind.

In the end, you might have decided that it is fairly unlikely that partner has that hand with no keycards at all. But had you gone on, and partner did have that zero keycard hand, you would as surely have gotten blasted for making the “wrong” assumption. Some people will always find a way to show that any problem was your mistake, not theirs. From what you have said so far, my guess is this was one of those people.

By the way, this is why I tend to play with very few partners. For me, it simply is not a fun thing to play with randoms, having to guess how they will interpret my bids. And if I'm not having fun at the table, I'd rather stay home.
Dec. 24, 2015
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Nice hand, nice play.

If you have only now seen one arise in play after that long though, I might respectfully say you are not looking hard enough.

A friend of mine once asked me how often those fancy plays like squeezes actually happen in play. The answer is: often, IF you look for them, even in lower level contracts. It is the same thing as when I first started playing bridge. I learned about some strange bid called a negative double. The blasted thing never seemed to come up at first, until I really learned what they were, when to use them, etc. Yes, we see negative doubles happen all the time at the table.

Squeezes and Vienna coups honestly do happen often enough. Anytime you have a hand that meets the qualifications for a squeeze, you should be looking for a squeeze. And a Vienna coup is often necessary to make a squeeze work, or even to improve the odds of that squeeze working by turning a simple positional squeeze into a double squeeze against either opponent. Yes, some of the time that I'll use a Vienna coup in play, the squeeze does not work because the cards do not lie as I need them to lie. It should be a part of your play arsenal though.
Dec. 21, 2015
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Gordon, it seems you find yourself speechless after reading the press release.
Dec. 20, 2015
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So the logic is effectively: My client could not have committed that murder. After all, there are hundreds of still living people he did not murder, yet.

It might convince a jury.
Dec. 19, 2015
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At first glance, given his last name, it would seem that he who must not be combed would be a natural as a bridge player. Of course, he would never do well, because how could he then ever play in a notrump contract?
Dec. 19, 2015
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Picky, picky, picky. :)

I once had a local player claim that my raise to a 1♢ opening on 4 card “support” should be alerted, and could not even be called a raise, since opener might have as few as 2 diamonds.
Dec. 19, 2015
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I wonder what F-S say to each other in private? Do they discuss how they will obfuscate the issue, what they did? Do they make plans for the next bridge event they will play in? (Perhaps in the year 2200?) Do they just live in denial, even to themselves?

Dec. 17, 2015
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ROFLMAO. My sarcasm detector is flashing. But maybe you really do trust the Russian Athletic Federation. Not likely.
Dec. 16, 2015
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I was worried about causing a problem. However, I do know that partner and I have been playing this system for 20 years, and carefully alerting that same bid when it comes up. So I was quite confidant that partner did alert it to his screenmate.
Dec. 13, 2015
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Can't beat that reason.
Dec. 12, 2015
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Once while playing on vugraf, we had a bid come up (with a quite non-obvious meaning) in our variation of precision. After explaining it in writing to my screen-mate, I also passed the note to the vugraf operator for explanation.
Dec. 10, 2015
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Well done! As for defending a title in a field like this? I bow to anyone able to do that.
Dec. 4, 2015
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When you make it easy for partner to count out your hand, to make inferences about your side suits, then you also make it easy for partner to get quite accurate information about declarer's hand.

Yes, of course it is a good idea to return your multiply bid suit. But the defense of the hand is often more than just, RETURN MY SUIT PARTNER. It may be necessary to avoid the impending squeeze. Or you may be effectively telling partner enough information to know what suit to guard.
Dec. 4, 2015
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I would have had no problem were this done when I was playing lunch-time bridge game, played entirely for fun. In fact, I was once described as a trash-talker at lunch-time bridge.

Once you start playing competitively, you need to recognize that jokes like this are a long way down the road to explicit cheating.

All of this said by someone who plays bridge because I love the game, AND I love to have fun at the table. I will joke around far more than most. But there need to be limits. NEVER joke in a way that passes information about your hand. That steps over the line.
Dec. 3, 2015
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