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The structure I play, after 1 is opened:

1NT: like forcing 1NT in Standard, opener will answer naturally. This 1NT can be unlimited and artificial full-blown relays only start in round two.

2 : transfer to diamonds

2 : transfer to hearts

2: transfer to clubs

After transfers, natural bidding will take place, similar to transfers after 1NT is opened. Note that these transfers can be made with a weak hand (8-10 HCP in a big club context). It has other bridge reasons to show these weak hand type immediately via a transfer - your opponents may interfere if you respond 1NT with this hand type and your long suit can get buried.
Oct. 5, 2014
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If you have a distributional hand, such as 1=8=2=2 , using relay breaks to ask about partner's heart holding is a good idea. However, I would argue that you should do this earlier.

Partner opens 1 and you are looking at this hand, K QT9xxxxx xx AK, what is the most important information you wish to know from opener? Not his 6th spade of course. Not his secondary club either. Even his full shape, e.g. 5=1=4=3, won't matter much in most cases. The most important piece of information is his heart holding, and responder should let opener know this as soon as possible. In this regard, I believe relayers are one step behind natural bidders. Natural bidding can start with 1-2, and opener would appreciate K or even J early on, if he has it. On the other hand, if a relay system starts with 1-2 (art. GF relay) and tries to get back to natural bidding with a relay break, the level (probably 3 in this case) can be uncomfortably high.

As a result, if I have a hand that I wish to describe, either unbalanced such as 1=8=2=2 or a hand that with KQT98x, I tend not to relay and start a natural bidding instead. A corollary is that when I do relay, I do not need specific information from partner. Therefore, when I use a relay break, that means I would skip the current round of information I am supposed to ask and enquire for the next round of information, similar to spiral scan for honor cards. For example, if responder's cheapest relay now is to get opener's exact distribution, his relay-plus-one bid could be RKCB in opener's longest suit, and relay-plus-two bid can be RKCB in second longest suit, etc.
Oct. 3, 2014
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We should have called this post “ USBF In The Well”. The count is now 239 comments. We could easily top Cohen's 281 in a day or so…
June 27, 2014
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If you are playing the current structure, the 2 response, just like 2, doesn't take away any space from the 2 opener. Opener can still bid his hand freely, whether it is 2, 2NT, 3, or 3. If he has hearts, you already has a big fit. So, 2 is special in this sense. A case can be made to allow this 2 to be a canapé, to take away the burden of other responses, including 2. But that is another topic.

“have to play” is perhaps too strong a phrase.
June 13, 2014
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Anybody would respond 2 to 2 opening? 2 is the lowest positive response (so you want to use it as often as possible), hence the requirement shouldn't be as rigid as 3, for example. This pair is actually a good demonstration that if you don't bid 2 now, you may get preempted by opener later.
June 12, 2014
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That was not my point, whether you have a partial heart fit or spade stoppers for the 3-5-3-2 hand. My point was when you have a diamond fit, as in the 3-4-4-2 hand, you have a better trick-taking potential (4 diamond tricks are more likely), and yet you want to stop at a part score. In contrast, when you don't have a fit (such as the 3-5-3-2 hand), you have less playing potential, but you are forced to play at 3NT (or a 5-2 4 fit as you said). Does it sound logical to you?
June 9, 2014
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Thanks, Alan. So you would pass 3 with Zia's actual hand:

KJ5 K962 K852 109

and bid 3NT with

KJ5 K9632 K52 109?
June 9, 2014
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Thanks, Kit. really appreciate all your comments (and other people's too). Now I realize that we are in fact quite close on this 3D issue.

When I used the phrase “forcing or not”, I did not intend it as to whether it is a system violation. It is more like “I don't expected to be passed”, or “logically it shouldn't be passed”. So if my partner bids 3D, I do allow the possibility that he may hold a 3-0-3-7, for example. But that is just me and it is a minor issue. Sorry about the confusion.
June 9, 2014
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I am probably repeating what I have already said. Since 3 is higher than 3, and when there is no diamond fit (which has a significant chance), the partnership is forced to at least 3NT. So, to me, this 3 bid accepts the invitation, to 3NT or to 4m/5m. It is a bid that is on its way to 3NT, but maybe 5m (if possible) can be better.

I understand that both Kit and Zia are multiple world champions. That's what it troubles me.
June 8, 2014
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I don't necessarily agree that this is a semantics issue or that responder is in a better position to decide. The Duboin-Zia auction may have a twist. What would you bid with say Ax x Kxx AJ8xxxx, or even 1-1-4-7 over Zia's 2NT? 3 looks good to me
June 8, 2014
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So, the theory is that, as Sriram said earlier, responder could pass 3 (or 3 in the posted auction)when he has a fit, and is forced to bid 3NT when he doesn't have a fit?

It seems to me that stopping on a dime at 3-level based on this logic is not as useful as using it as a choice of game.
June 8, 2014
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How do you play this sequence: 1-1;2-2NT;3, assuming no special methods? Are these two auctions similar, as to forcing or not?

June 8, 2014
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Just for the record, Eric Kokish opened 1 this hand in Challenge The Champs, 1996 October issue of The Bridge World:

AQ A9654 AK AK93.

EOK's comment at that time was: Too many losers for two clubs plus suit; two clubs then 2NT would make it hard to find a club fit."
June 6, 2014
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1. 6 seems best, looking at both hands. 7 makes when spades are 2-2 and hearts are 3-3 or 4-2 (40%*84% = 33.6%) or when spades are not 2-2 but hearts are 3-3 (60%*36% = 21.6%). So they add up to be about 55%. There are some other minor chances.

2. If I am behind, I would try to bid the same slam at the other table - like what Steve Weinstein did at the Trials. If I am ahead, then try to bid top a different slam. This is easier to say than done.

3. Henry did not tell us who dealt the hand. If East starts, it may go 1-2-2-3, followed by a few cue bids to get to 6. If west starts, it may go (I play Kaplan Interchange with 5+ spades) 1-1NT (5+ spades)-2 and get to 6.

4. Sriram's lines on 6 look good to me.
June 2, 2014
Kai-Ching Lin edited this comment June 3, 2014
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Do you want Hail Mary Pass in bridge? I have mixed feelings about this. Miracles in sports are exciting - they often involve beautiful athletic moves. Bridge is somewhat different. If my opponents bid 7 on this pair as last hand (which, based on my own calculation, is about 55%) and beat me, whether they found the best line or not, I am OK with it. However, if they bid 7 on a pure 50% finesse, I would rather not let them know the current score.
June 2, 2014
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Some play that 2-2-3M = diamonds plus that major.
May 31, 2014
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What about 3 with xx AQx xxx AKQxx over partner's 2? (You would open 1NT, would you?)
May 30, 2014
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Several years ago, The Bridge World published an article which had similar ideas: opener super-accepts with 2M+1 bids. I'll use the heart transfer to give the details:

1NT-2: hearts
2 - ? : opener super-accepts
2NT : responder is short in a minor (his later 3 = short in clubs; 3 = short in diamonds)
3 : responder short in the other major, spades
3 : re-transfer

If responder transfers to spades, everything is the same, just one step higher.

May 29, 2014
Kai-Ching Lin edited this comment May 29, 2014
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Yes, you don't want to miss slams when the missing two key cards are both Kings, where the slam could be 75%.

The right idea for 2-suited Blackwood is key controls, not key cards. You count each Ace as 2 key controls and each of the two key Kings as one. (So there are 10 key controls in total.)You would bid a slam if and only if there are at least 8 key controls in combined hands, provided all the supporting Queens and Jacks are present.

Below is a possible responding scheme for this Roman Key Control Blackwood (using 4NT as an ask):

5: 0/5/10 or 1/6 key controls
5: 2/7 key controls
5: 3/8 key controls
5: 4/9 key controls

Over 5, askers can bid 5 to find out if teller has 0/5/10 or 1/6. Note that we assume here asker can tell the difference of 5 key controls, which is two Aces and one King.

The main drawback of this Roman Key Control Blackwood is that there isn't room to locate key Queens at the 5-level.

May 28, 2014
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Eric, points well taken. Transfers after 1NT rebid (I believe you were the one who started this idea many years ago)are probably best when responder has an unbalanced hand. When both are balanced, as this case here, I am not so sure.

You want responder to show his exact shape to opener and let him decide; and Kit has a method to let opener show his shape to responder (but decide not to use it). The reason that both of you want opener to choose the strain is because he has the most lower hours, i.e. quacks, instead of aces and kings. This hand, AK63 AJ102 A74 K10, are all aces and kings, so he is not in a position to choose the strain. If responder has instead AQJ3 KQJ2 KJ4 K10, then he perhaps should be the one who makes the decision. Does that mean that we should have two relay methods, one for opener and one for responder (depending on who has most quacks)? No, it is probably impossible (not enough room) and impractical.

Relaying for exact shape is still important for balanced hands. Sometimes you can find additional ruff to make an extra trick; and sometimes you will find mirror distribution and be able to stop low.

Maybe we can add the following tool to Kit's relay method. His slam method is: after responder finds out opener's exact distribution, responder can sign off at any game (using 4 as puppet, I believe), make a slam try in any strain (4, which puppets to 4, then name the suit), or bid RKC for any suit (4 and up). To get opener involved in choosing the strain, the tool is have responder bid 5NT, instead of 4/4/4. Opener would look at all his 4- and 3-card suits that he has shown and choose the best one or 6NT. He should be aware that he is perhaps choosing the best trump suit among two or three 7-card fits (since responder does not choose the strain to RKCB). This is not as good as Kit's 2 then 5NT for this particular hand, where the opener's choices over 5NT are more focused. But it has the merit of being general. And to make a quantitative invitation, responder can bid 4 first, which puppets to 4, followed by 4NT.

May 25, 2014
Kai-Ching Lin edited this comment May 25, 2014
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