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All comments by John Portwood
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How much is 3X going for? 3 looks as if it is going off quite comfortably on a red-suit cross ruff.
May 25, 2013
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The problem with 3 and 3 to show the majors is that you are forced to play in your major at the 3 level - when you could have bought the contract at the 2 level and 3 is going 1 off. I would much rather be forced to show the minors at the 3 level as the other side can outbid us at the 2 level in their major(s) anyway. hence the Roman 2 jump overcall showing both majors at the 2 level. The 2NT bid is pretty well game forcing so it doesn't matter. I play 1NT over a minor as showing a major and the other minor and cue bid the minor to show both majors (but with a stronger hand than an immediate 2 bid). My partner can therefore always find the major suit fit at the 2 level.
May 25, 2013
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I play them - but only with weak 2-suited hands - on the principle that the one bid gets everything out in the open and you can sit back and relax. With intermediate hands there is often a specified and unspecified suit whilst our strong bid (roman 2N) leaves both suits unspecified.

(If you are prepared to play 5-4 hands as 2-suited if the strength is in the long suits then suitable hands come up much more than normal WJOs)
May 24, 2013
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And suppose that East had lied and that is was a Bergen raise in this position so South doesn't bid the game when he might have otherwise . . .

The real question is whether South had UI or AI. If UI then pass is a LA, if AI then there is no problem!

I suppose the conclusion is "Don't interrupt the enemy when they are making mistakes! It is amazing how often a question from the other pair helps a partnership remember their bidding sequences (but perhaps not as obviously as in this case.)
May 24, 2013
John Portwood edited this comment May 24, 2013
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Would aggressive bidders prefer to have:

a) The hand distribution (suits known) or
b) The hand strength (Weak, intermediate or strong)

Shown by partner at the first go? (There are 18 combinations)
May 23, 2013
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How about
1NT : 4?
4!N : 5?
5 : 7

Given that 1NT usually promises 5 tricks, East can see 12 likely tricks so bids 4 asking for aces and the KQ of clubs

4 - 1 key card
4 - 1 + Queen
4 - 2 key cards
4!N - 2 + Queen

east can now see 10 tricks - with at least 5 points still unaccounted for - so makes an asking bid in Diamonds. Note that East could have signed off in 5 if the response to 4 had been unfavourable.

West confirms the K and no other Kings so East now knows that at worst the grand slam depends on the QD being right. If the response had been 5 then East would have had to have hoped that the extra points in West's hand could cover two of his losers (quite likely as K, Q, Q would all help).

Whether this is worth punting 7 I don;t know. No doubt a pair could spend a few hours devising better answers to the 5 enquiry.
May 23, 2013
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There is a lot to be said for downsizing the hand. JX isn't worth anything (that gets you down to 17) and you don't have a 5-card suit. (You also only have 5 tricks before the second gap in the suit, which suggests 1NT as opener). One ten is in a short suit so may not be as useful as the other and the 9 is only 1 point above the average card (8).

My partner and I play a weak NT and only need 4-card majors so our bidding would have gone 1 1 1NT (Interestingly if you play a weak NT/ 4 card majors you will go down less but make fewer tricks on average than a strong NT with a possible 5-card major. I assume this is because of the increased likelihood of holding weak 2-card suits with the strong NT (hence going down as above) but with the possibility of a 5-card major - thus often making an extra trick when the opponents can't set up the weak suit.) Similarly if you Stayman with a 4-3-3-3 hand then you are less likely to make a 1NT - 3NT contract. Anyone want to switch to a WNT for teams and a SNT for pairs?

The only problem that a strong NT hand has is: what do you bid holding a weak 2-card suit, if not 1NT?
May 23, 2013
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Many Bridge players are wed to the 4=3=2=1 HCP. In the hand above I certainly would be cautious as two KQ stiff are not worth 5 HCPs each and your long suit is singlularly lacking in AKs to set up. It is also the case that many players are overwhelmed by excitement when seeing lots of honours and then tend to overbid. Each hand should be looked at dispationately and its offensive/ defensive capabilities assessed emotionlessly. In this case: mene mene tekel upharsim.
May 22, 2013
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It certainly seems to me that North was trying a ‘double-shot’ approach. South having raised North to purely 2 Hearts, it seems extremely unlikely that they could cover 3 of the 5 potential losers (even though to my mind the South hand is maximum for the bid). The 5 Club bid seems fatuous since a fit is already present and could only have been done in the attempt to cover up the double shot. Did North really expect partner to hold a couple of Aces and the King of clubs for his bid? If so the initial response would clearly have been more positive (typically 2NT, but of course methods vary)

I am pretty sure that these days no one would have bid 3 with the West Hand. NS have a heart fit so it is up to West to make them guess whether to play at the 5 level or not. As it was the sequence forced his partner to try and guess the position - hence the BIT.

Since both pairs seem to be at fault, I would have no hesitation in agreeing a split decision.
May 22, 2013
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If East had opened a weak 1NT then every Tom, Dick and Harry would have transferred to 2 - so why not bid it when east shows a weak nt on their rebid?
May 19, 2013
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It depends on what a 1NT response by West means. To me it is the least bad option (on a 4-3-3-3 for heaven's sake) That having been said East should have realised that West preferred 3NT and should have abided by his wishes.
May 19, 2013
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The A risks setting up less than the other possible leads.
May 17, 2013
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I suppose you could classify psychic bidding as inline with brown sticker systems. A tactical bid is designed to improve your chances of making a contract, a psychic bid is designed to prevent the opponents reaching theirs.

Thus in 1 - 2 - 3 (purpotdly a long suit trial bid but actually made on AQ) - 4, the 3 bid is a tactical bid (made hoping partner will bid 4 (which you intended to bid anyway)) aimed at encouraging the wrong lead, would be described as ‘tactical’.
May 15, 2013
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I would certainly go for bidding practice. Play technique can be learned on its own - but you need your partner to bid so on the occasions you are together practise and improve your bidding. If you are in the wrong contract then the best technique won't help you much.
May 15, 2013
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There is too much danger of partner having wasted assets in the red suits for 4 to be a good bid. With a weak NT you can guesstimate partner for 4 potential tricks - even if their tricks cover your losers (very unlikely) you are one trick short.
May 15, 2013
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Hi Polly!

Back in the early days of bridge psyching was much more common - the typical one being a 1 bid on 3 card suits. The use has declined obviously.

Under the rules I play (English Bridge Union), psyching is permitted (obviously) however methods of controlling psyches are banned and if partner makes a bid expecting that partner's bid to be a psyche (called fielding) that results in an automatic penalty.

You should remember that the psyche has to have the same element of surprise for partner as it does for the opponents. In particular your partner cannot assume that you have made the psychic bid. If you start psyching on a regular basis then inevitably your partners are going to spot the occasions, giving your side an unfair advantage. In England psyches should be recorded. I do not think that this happens on BBO.

The safest form of psyching is where your partner is fully limited in their hand e.g. after a weak 2 or a pre-empt so you know they won't make another bid. The next safest is early in the Auction when the opponents don't have any idea as to their combined assets, again when partner has passed (for preference). You should always be aware when the person on your right makes a strong bid after a pre-empt on your left that they could be psyching.

In these days psyches are actually quite safe as most pairs will double for take out rather than penalties, however you must have a reasonably safe place to run to in case they can expose your bid. The first psyche you illustrate (K8 93 KTXX Q9532) is ‘barely’ a psyche as the hand only scores one less than the ‘rule of 18’ (High card points + two longest suits) and, being opposite a passed partner is safe.

(Last night I psyched a 1NT overcall on JXX KJTX XX XX over a 1 (could be 2 cards) opening bid. This ostensibly showed an unspecified single-suited weak hand (partner to bid 2, pass or correct). The aim was to rebid 2 (lead directing). Partner forgot the system and raised to 2NT, which I managed to go 2-off in (Non V) for an average score.) Psyching when the opponents have announced strength but not fit can be profitable.

A couple of comments

From Skid Simon in “Why you lose at Bridge”) “Your hand has not improved because the other side may be psyching.”

“It's legal to psyche as much as you like, as long as you like to psyche never!”

“A psychic bid is a bid made in the attempt to persuade the opponent that you hold cards in your hand which, up to then, he thought that he held in his own.”

May 15, 2013
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Pretty obvious for a pass obviously in the community. I would have thought more would have tried for +100 to beat +90.

North has Q832 AT6 83 A965
East has J964 Q742 A95 73
South has 75 KJ93 KJ642 42

In Deep Finesse land 1N makes exactly (losing 4 A and a diamond) and 2X goes 1 off as North hasn't the entries to do everything and South gets forced in clubs. In real life 2NT makes with 2 2 and 4 as NS fail to attack hearts (as you can see S has a very dangerous holding and North will attack diamonds on the opening lead and when in with A.)

(In case you are wondering why E did not advance over 1N as there could be 25 points in the two hands - the response showed a poor 18 so 9 tricks unlikely. We ended up in 3NT and although the tricks look as if they could be there (an extra spade to the ones already shown) suit blockages resulted in 3 down.

Thanks for the comments.
May 14, 2013
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Partner hasn't got spades (no raise), hearts (no negative double) therefore he has values in diamonds and Clubs (assuming 3 pre-emptive). I wouldn't be surprised if 3 isn't going 3 off - so let him double on a good defensive hand - some of my spades will cash.
May 13, 2013
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Maybe 4N would be best - obviously tells partner we are interested in a slam and he should infer that Diamonds are the problem as I haven't cue'd them. We'll just have to accept the risk of 5 -1. If I get 5 back (showing the Ace) then it's Josephine time.

Obviously need discussion with partner on what to do after splinters:)
May 10, 2013
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Even if partner hasn't a diamond stop, you can often make 3NT with a 4-4 suit out against you if he has values and if partner has a moderate hand you may find that 1N+1 is a good score.

The thing I don't like on this hand is the spot cards (there is nothing to set up or finesse) so my feeling is: make the most descriptive bid at the lowest level and let partner take over.
May 10, 2013
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