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All comments by Jonathan Mestel
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Is the problem that systemically I should have bid 2, and now have to bid 3 or 2 or 2NT to recover? I'll bid 2. Maybe partner will forget the system too.
Aug. 9, 2016
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Nasty problem. At the vul we can't even rely on opponents having 10hearts. I shall pass reluctantly.
Aug. 9, 2016
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2 in any partnership seems a much clearer way of proceeding.
Aug. 9, 2016
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Had this happened, I'd have gladly bought you a beer for that 7!
July 31, 2016
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Although we have the values for 4, I think 3 will tempo better.
July 31, 2016
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Sorry I wasn't clear. You said North shouldn't bid 3 because South would have to bid 3NT with 4 spades. But with a nonpositional stop South can bid 3 if North is expected to offer 3NT without spades. Just an idea; the actual sequence felt a bit uncomfortable.
July 30, 2016
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Having denied a -stop, why can't you bid 3-3-3NT? Does that show half a stop?
July 30, 2016
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@Richard If some degree of card reading or timing is required then I agree with you; but if the extra trick would automatically have fallen into declarer's lap then he should still be given it.
The fundamental point is that claims are usually made to save everyone time and effort. A slightly sloppy claim doesn't make the perpetrator a villain. He should still obtain what he deserves, if he plays routinely, with any doubt going against him. Hence my AK10 example.
July 30, 2016
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Well, that's what happened. Declarer made a claim, the defence pointed out that he could have made an extra trick. Despite not having noticed the possibility declarer called the director. The committee decided that had play continued, declarer would in fact have made the extra trick and so awarded it. I was responding to your response to my earlier comment.
July 30, 2016
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@Ed Say declarer has AK10 in a suit and concedes a trick. The defence accept, and comment that QJ are doubleton but do not concede the extra trick. Declarer then summons the director. Even if this possibility had not occurred to him, he is entitled to his extra trick, even if he is an unpalatable character. In borderline cases, a ruling has to be given. If everyone agrees with the ruling, then it isn't a borderline case…
July 30, 2016
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To me, “what would have happened” is critical. South was about to exit with a low diamond. I don't think it would be irrational for declarer to follow with the 10 from hand and play small from dummy. His stated line is to try to cash 3 heart tricks. It would be ridiculous to make him block the heart suit by playing the ace first, but I don't think it is ridiculous to make him block the diamonds as above. He cashes J and learns he has a -loser. Probably he would now realise that cashing K was a sensible move which could not cost, but he might reason “I still have a chance if North has K. But I must keep K in dummy as entry to A, so that I can avoid going two down if South has K.” So he crosses to A and finesses K. As luck has it, the finesse wins. As he succeeds after the only plausible alternative line also, my inclination is to go with the committee on this one. Being consistent, had South held a stiff K I would not allow declarer to drop it on a show-up squeeze, in contrast to those who argue “declarer may not take a finesse he didn't state om his claim”. (This would spoil a few victor Mollo stories…)
But it's close - putting it to a committee makes some sense.
July 29, 2016
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A great enthusiast indeed and no small loss.
July 29, 2016
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Somewhere between 2 & 3, depending on the event and opponents. Before the lead, I agree it is polite to inform opponents what is going on. A case in point:

1NT 2(Alert)
2(Alert) 3NT all pass

With my regular partner, responder has shown 4 and opener has denied them. Many opponents will assume it is a transfer sequence we have alerted rather than announced and not bother to enquire. Clearly, that is their fault and it is not incumbent on us to say anything before asked, but I much prefer to warn them that the sequence may not be what they expect.

In some circumstances, I personally believe it is correct practice to alert non-alertable bids and damn the legal torpedos. Alerting regulations change over the years. Take the sequence:

2(Multi) X 4 ?

If conventional, 4 is now alertable in the UK, but being over 3NT it did not use to be. 4th hand is expected to pass unless he might take some action, when he is permitted to enquire, with all the UI that implies. In practice, enquiring the meaning of an alerted bid conveys less UI than the same for a non-alerted bid, and so I used to alert 4 before the rules were changed so that it became mandatory. To do this though you must be 150% confident that partner knows the bid isn't natural.

While I'm on the subject, there are some alertable bids which in my view one should not alert until after the auction. Imagine some contorted sequence with asking bids, with opponents silent. On the 3rd round of bidding, a conventional response is given below the 3NT level which happens to be in the agreed suit (so there is no possibility of a defender wishing to double it). To alert such a call serves no purpose other than to confirm to partner that you're still on board the system. Of course, one is not supposed to take this into account, but when later one has a close decision at the slam level, how much easier it is to be confident you're on the same page in a slightly murky sequence after these confirmatory alerts.

So all I'm saying is that minor infractions of the written laws can sometimes be made to better comply with the intentions of the laws. I don't expect everyone to agree! It's much easier with screens of course.
July 29, 2016
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Firstly, if West has 4 clubs he is squeezed when we cash AK. If West wins the 4th heart we have many chances, but it's true that if East wins it, he can play a diamond through breaking up many positions. We then cash AK AK pitching a spade from dummy and if our 3rd spade isn't good we fall back on clubs. This squeezes East if he began with 4 and 4.
In practice, the play may time differently, as the defence rarely cash the suit we play at them.
July 28, 2016
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We were talking about a “bad day”…West has 10xxx Ax Q10xx xxx. We drift one off, but at the other table declarer won DJ and cashed 9 black tricks. Teammates had a bad day too and unguarded diamonds for the 4th overtrick…don't you have days like that?
I would also lead a at trick 2.
July 28, 2016
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But that tightens up the position for a squeeze - it's them cashing 5 hearts which is a slight worry.
July 28, 2016
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The trouble with doubling is that our next diamond call will be an underbid. I'll bid my longest suit. Let's hear how many spades they have.
July 27, 2016
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If I bid 6 now partner may not be brave enough to stick it, and if he does it will likely go Lightner double on my right for -100. Double is probably worth 300. There's something to be said for 7 from us, which will make on a non-spade lead. In fact, I'm going to change my call to 7 (it was originally double). I expect to be +1210 on the wrong lead and -350 on the right one, scoring up with the par of +300. I don't see why they'll lead the right thing that often. And they may take insurance in 7.
July 26, 2016
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I'm worth a a slam try (4). My partner plays them better than yours, Richard.
July 26, 2016
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And yet…whether a hand is shuffled or not codes just one “bit” of information. Frequently boards from teammates arrive in sets of 4. Often they arrive out of sequence, and with the Norths not properly aligned. Juggling the order and orientation of 4 boards would encode 4!*3*4*4 >1000 bits of information. That's enough for a 40 letter message, something like “WILLYOUPLAYABITFASTERPLEASEPSILOVEYOUXXX”

Maybe this is too serious an issue to joke about.
July 26, 2016
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