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All comments by Jonathan Mestel
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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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It makes a difference if we have agreed a suit or not. In the first two examples (and perhaps the 4th) the NT bidder doubles with good defence, otherwise leaves it up to the possible-long-minor hand.
The 3rd they've shown more power than us - does anyone play that forcing, even unfavourable?
But I play hardly any FPs. This is because I rarely have extra values.
July 26, 2016
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We can't right-side 5D any more, which tips the balance against being imaginative. Partner has 3diamonds more than 1/3 of the time anyway.
July 26, 2016
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Or he has KJxxx KJxxxx AQ - and we're about to wrong-side 4… Why unanswerable? Redouble and then 4 is one answer…
July 26, 2016
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Michal: surely, 7+7=14. Nigel's squeeze works because he is assuming LHO has shown out in clubs and RHO has to keep 3 clubs. To put it another way, one club finesse is his 12th trick.

There's also a triple-squeeze: If RHO has say Kxxx x 10xxxx Qxx he is squashed on the 5th trump.

But I think the main extra chance is through misdefence.
July 26, 2016
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If I understand the auction, I never showed my club suit did I? In which case, I think I will run 5 rounds of trumps, throwing clubs, then cash the black aces and play 3 diamonds before misguessing clubs. It may not be technically best, but I expect helpful pitches a fair amount of the time.
July 25, 2016
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Frances - can I just take issue with your use of the word “gamesmanship”? It's not that - being a difficult opponent, which entails having some unpredictability to one's actions, is simply playing the game well. From a game theoretic point of view, the best strategy usually has a probabilistic element.
As I understand the word, gamesmanship has some element of “coffee-housing”, and is distinct from legitimate strategy.
Apart from that, I agree with you totally. I would not regard these sequences as forcing in my partnerships.
July 25, 2016
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Love all at pairs, we would do worse than doubling with this to dislodge 1NT and/or get them to the 3-level. Partner knows this, and will be cautious. Other vuls and scorings, I would pass for now
July 25, 2016
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Well, I agree 5 last round was better, but I don't see why we shouldn't venture an opinion on the actual sequence. Maybe 5x is par, and we can recover. Or they may bid 6 losing to partner's QJx.
July 25, 2016
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I think our initial pass with short hearts was shortsighted. If partner has hearts he won't be able to act, and if LHO has them we'll be faced with the same problem at a higher level. It would be nice if X just showed values, but failing that, 3 for me.

After our initial pass, we have to double, surely? LHO can have a 0-18 for his 2NT at favourable vul. He doesn't have to reveal his hand.
July 25, 2016
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Sometimes, I have no idea whether the worry is missing slam or getting too high. To me this hand can only be a problem if you have some non-standard agreement. Or is it a ruling problem, after this hand bid a slow 3 which was raised?
July 20, 2016
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6NT feels the right call to me at pairs. Let them worry about the lead. With one fewer diamond I'd try for 7 with 5.
July 20, 2016
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I'm not sure it's as simple as that. You, or I, need not care who turns up at a club or tournament if we so choose. But clubs and regional, national or international federations may rightly aim to promote the game and increase their membership, allocating suitable funds for the purpose.

Whether they do so in a manner which inevitably perpetuates the status quo, or whether they should attempt to broaden the appeal to underrepresented groups is a matter for discussion. Should one preferentially target the young or the old, for example? If presentations are made to schools, should they attempt to cover the entire population, or concentrate in affluent areas?
July 20, 2016
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