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One way that relays can bid to 7H after West passes is as follows:

Pass
1 (16+, any)
2 (both majors)
2 (relay)
2NT ( are longer)
3 (relay)
3 (equal lengths in minors)
3 (relay)
3NT (4-5-2-2)
4 (RKC in )
4 (2 keys, no Q)
5 (K?)
5 (noK)
6 (Q?)
6 (yesQ, noQ)
7
Jan. 12, 2014
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Norman -

In Spiral Scan, Isn't trump Jack scanned before side suit Queen? I thought that's how Truscott and Rosenkranz defined it…
Jan. 4, 2014
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With the example hand you gave, the first thing opener needs to decide is if he wants to stay at 3NT, after learning that responder has 1-4-5+2+. With only 1.5 stoppers in spades and slow winners in the other three suits, it is perhaps better for opener to seek a minor-suit contract. (Of course, I am wrong if responder has x, Axxx, AKQJx, xxx.)

To get to clubs, opener can bid clubs first. If Responder has 1-4-6-2, then he could correct to diamonds later. And we still have the whole 4-level to sort out the strengths and the degree of fit. So we do have a good chance to reach the slam.

Using 2-way Stayman, how should the auction proceed, after 1NT-2D-3C? A likely continuation is 3D (responder) and 3NT(opener). But then, should responder make a unilateral decision to escape from NT, based on the information that there are only 3-4 spades between the two hands? What if opener's spades were KQx or KJx? It seems that responder in this auction, who only knows the number of spades, has a tougher decision to make than opener in the other auction, who knows both the number and the wastage.

Starting a 2-way auction with x, Axxx, AKxxx, Kxx, responder does receive some useful information when opener responds 3C. But what if opener rebids 2S to the 2D inquiry? The spade length can cause a false impression that the partnership has a stopper there. Responder also has the similar trouble if opener rebids 2NT. 5D or even 6D can easily be a better contract than 3NT.

Personality or not, showing shortness allows better judgment as to whether the partnership should stay in no-trump, in my view,. The judgment may not be 100% correct, as the example above shows. But it has a better chance to get it right.
Dec. 1, 2013
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Ron - well said about interfering 1D opening. We, Precisionists, need to cut down the number of hand types in 1D. One possible solution is:

2C: 6+ clubs
2D: 6+ diamonds
1D: no 5-card majors, no 6-card minors, and must be unbalanced

Therefore, this 1D must be
1) 2-suited 4M-5m
2) 3-suited, 4441 or 5440
3) both minors (4-5, 5-4 or 5-5)

This is more manageable than the more popular 2+ diamonds 1D. The draw back is that your weak 1NT opening is now 12-15, which has a 4-point range. But I think the trade-off is well worth.
Dec. 1, 2013
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Believe it or not, we die-hard relayers, can actually bid as follows:

1C (any 16+)
1S (8-10, any unbalanced)
1NT (relay)
3H (8-10, 5+ spades, 4+ diamonds, 0 or 2 short suits of equal length)
3S (relay)
4NT (8-10, 9-0-4-0. OMG!)
7S (of course!)

Over opener's 3S relay, responder's 3NT = 5-2-4-2; 4C = 6-1-5-1; 4D = 7-1-4-1; 4H = 7-0-6-0; 4S = 8-0-5-0; 4NT = 9-0-4-0. (Recall that responder has already said that he has 0 or 2 short suits of equal lengths and that the higher he bids later, the more exotic distribution he has.)

Obviously, when we design the relay system, we did not intend to cover a 9400 hand. Rather, we want to include 5422 and, occasionally, a 6511 (that's why 6511 is bid above 3NT). But the logic behind it allows us to extend the relays to extreme distributions without extra effort.
Dec. 1, 2013
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Another way to understand the statement, “2-way Stayman will always have substantially fewer total sequences.”, is when you use 2 bids, 2C and 2D, to ask for the same information (i.e. majors)from opener, it is a duplication of effort, and hence is not the best way of utilizing bidding space available, at least from the constructive bidding point of view.

When responder has a strong unbalanced hand with a long minor, 1-suited or 2-suited, 2-way players often get to speak only once before the level of 3NT. The major-suit information that he gathers from opener can in fact be useless. And opener has to decide whether to move beyond 3NT. This decision is often not easy.

Transfers usually allows you to speak twice before the level of 3NT. Thus responder can get in his second suit conveniently. In fact, the version that I play allows you to speak three times. Therefore, in addition to showing all 4+-card suits, responder gets to tell its shortness as well, before the level of 3NT. For example, if responder has a 1-4-5-3, game-forcing values, he will show that he has 4 hearts, 5+ diamonds, and short spades, with a 3S bid some time. Knowing the shortness enables opener to find out how much the wastage in the suit and is often the key to the strain and the level.

In terms of captaincy in constructive bidding, the “Balanced Hand Principle”, which says that balanced hands should be in charge, is often more accurate. Even in a big-club context, if responder to 1C opening is balanced, then it is usually better that he takes distributional information from opener, not the other way around.
Dec. 1, 2013
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Michael, thanks for being in the well. Back to the King of ACBL issues, you wanted (among other things):
1. More screens
2. Time clock/Trick 1 process
3. No automatic penalties
4. A recorder system

How about putting 4 monitors in a room and have the 4 players play bridge like they were on BBO? (ACBL will set up these monitors at the game site.) The advantages that I can see are:

1. Self-alerts and many UIs can be eliminated. Different explanations given by different players won't be an issue

2. Time clock and T1 process can be reinforced easily.

3. Revokes, out-of-turn-leads, insufficient bids, and others will not happen.

4. Constant psyches or wrongdoings will be recorded automatically.

5. No need for BBO VuGraph operators - Jan Martel's job will be much easier.

6. “Cheating” can be prevented more easily - no need for symmetric cards, etc.

I am sure there are other advantages too. For one, having monitors at a table look far better than having a screen across the table.

One of the disadvantages is probably cost. And players have to learn to type well.

What do you think? We can't be King of ACBL, but King of Well allows you to dream.

Aug. 24, 2013
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I am adding to Henry's comment above on relay systems. Yes, if responder acts as relayer, then he should be able to place the hand at 6C. Below is such an auction, after a big club is opened:

1C : any 16+ HCP

1D : several hand types, one of which is any balanced hand with 5+ HCP, as here

1S : 16+, 4+ spades, unbalanced

1NT: relay, not yet game-forcing

2C : 16-21, 4+ spades and 4+ clubs, unbalanced

2D : relay, now game-forcing

2H : 16-18, 2-suited spades and clubs

2S : relay

2NT: 16-18, 2-suited, clubs longer than spades

3C : relay

3S : 16-18, 4-1-3-5

4C : RKCB in clubs

4D : 0 or 3 key cards

4NT: yes CQ, but no SK

5NT: no SQ

6C : to play

After RKCB, Spiral Scan is used.
May 27, 2013
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To Henry (and Bob),

While it is useful to have two sequences, 1NT-2H-2S-2NT and 1NT-2C-2H-2S, to distinguish different strengths for invitational 5+-card spade hands, I am not sure that's the best way to utilize the bidding space. For example, one could use the former sequence for second transfer, showing spades and clubs, game-forcing (or at least shapely invitational, depending on your preference). The space you gain here would allow you to identify shortness below the level of 3NT. So, if you decide this hand is good enough to drive to game, as Jacoby or Bob did, then the auction could go something like this:

1NT-2H(transfer)-2S-3C(diamonds)-3D.

Then, over 3D, there are three bids below 3NT available to responder: 3H (short in clubs), 3S (short in hearts) and 3NT (5-2-4-2). So, responder would bid 3H and opener can suggest 4H as the final contract. Responder's club shortness is one of the keys to this hand.

I believe the regular Stayman, in which 2D denies any major, 2H shows 4 hearts (may also have 4 spades), and 2S shows 4 spades only, has a fundamental flaw. The highest bid, 2S, show only one 4-card major, which does not offer maximum protection for responder. So, in addition to the 4 spades vs. 5 spades dilemma above, if you have 4H-5D, you may not afford to bid regular Stayman, afraid that opener may respond 2S. But the Denial Stayman above, which is defined in a progressive manner (the higher you bid, the more major suits you have), can bid 2C comfortably.

I wrote an article on Denial Stayman, which was published in the 1994 Nov/Dec issue of Bridge Today. The system, which is similar to 4-suit transfers, allows responder to show all his 4+-card suits, as well his shortness, below 3NT when he has a game-forcing hand. I was (still am) nobody, so no one was listening. :) Everybody is welcome to ask for a copy of the article.

To Bill,

I am curious why you want to show shortness after 1NT-2C-2H-2S-2NT? Does your 2NT force to game? If so, then asking for shortness is reasonable. Otherwise, just let responder to bid his second suit naturally (so that you can play there) may sound more reasonable.
May 27, 2013
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“By the way, I think that is right: if partner does not have three spades, I think you often do not want to be in game.”

It seems that nobody is playing old-fashioned non-forcing Stayman anymore, which would get to where Henry wants. 1NT - 2C (Stayman) - 2H (4 hearts) - 2S: 5+ spades, non-forcing. Then, the auction could continue as: 2NT - 3D -3H - 4H.

However, had West not had CQ, then the sequence above would have stopped at 2S.

Thanks, Henry, for this wonderful Reprise series.
May 26, 2013
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I am adding to Henry's comment about relay systems. Yes, if responder acts as a relayer for this hand, he will be able to place it at 6C successfully. Below is such an auction, where he is responder to a big club:

1C : any 16+ HCP
1D : 5+ HCP, several hand types. One of which is any balanced hand with 5+ HCP, as here.
1S : 16+, 4+ spades, unbalanced, forcing
1NT : relay, not yet game-forcing
2C : 16+, unbalanced, 4+ spades and 4+ clubs, forcing
2D : relay, game-foricng now
2H : 16-18, 2-suited with spades and clubs, either can be longer
2S : relay
2NT : 16-18, 2-suited in S and C, C longer
3C : relay
3S : 16-18, 4-1-3-5
4C : RKCB in clubs
4D : 3 keys
4NT : yes CQ, but no SK
5NT : no SQ
6C : to play

After RKCB, Spiral Scan is used.
May 25, 2013
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Yes, after 1S opening, 2C (showing diamonds), 2D (showing hearts), and 2H (showing clubs) are all transfers. It can be strong (i.e. game-forcing) or weak (below GF strength). When weak, responder must have a 1-suited hand with 6+ cards in the suit. (With a weak no-fit 2- or 3-suited hand, he would respond 1NT as in Standard.). Over the transfer, opener would assume that responder has the weak variety (i.e.responder had opened a weak 2 bid) and act accordingly. He can simply accept the transfer to allow responder to play there; jump-accept the transfer or even splinter; and reject the transfer by rebidding his own major or naming a new suit (which is non-forcing in a big-club context and should be forcing when opener can have more strength.) Over opener's simple acceptance, responder can pass to play, to re-raise himself to invite, or bid a new suit or 2NT (artificial,1-suited) to force.

You can email me at klin1021@gmail.com. I'll send the system details.
Jan. 10, 2013
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It looks that we have many mathematicians here. Hi, Chuck, long time no see. :)

Andrew - fully agree with Balanced Hand Principle, which I believe was first written by David Morgan, published in the 1989 The Bridge World.

Here is another thought. So, we have two bids, 1NT and 2C, both asking opener for the same thing - more information from opener. Why not combining them into one? (Remember non-forcing Stayman and forcing Stayman?) Isn't it a more efficient way of using bidding space? That is, 1M-1NT can have balanced game-forcing hands, and it is 100% forcing. I understand that sometimes 1NT can be the best contract, that's the price I am willing to pay. On the other hand, I'll use sequences such as 1S-1NT-2C-2D (i.e. responder's new suit bid) to show a balanced game-forcing hand. Thus, opener is given even more space than the nebulous 2C. Often, opener will have at least 4 opportunities to describe his hand before the level of 3NT. Thus, more extotic hands (6430 or 5530, not just 5431 or 5521) can be shown exactly.

What do you do with weak hands and a long suit, the hands that you would bid 2D in Standard after 1S-1NT-2C? You transfer immediately after 1M is opened. Another principle in bridge is “Weak Must Speak”. If responder has a weak hand and a long suit, he should show it immediatley, since he suit can be buried if the 4th hand intervenes. (Your partner can preempt you too!) I once saw a world-class player respond 1NT when he has 8 semi-solid diamonds (KQJTxxxx). Is this natural? Is this bridge?

So, essentialy, I am swapping weak 1-suited hands out of the 1NT response by game-forcing balanced hands. And to solve the forcing vs non-forcing issue when holding a long suit, responder uses transfers. This scheme works quite well especially when opener is limited, such as in Precision. It has more issues when opener can have a better hand.
Dec. 27, 2012
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I, too, play relay responses. We turn them off if the interference is at the 3rd step or higher. So, relays will be still on after 1C-(1H), but off after 1C-(1S).

Jack's recommondation of using Michaels for opener's return cue-bid is great. An alternative could be both 5-5 minors, with 4m = Leaping Michaels.
Dec. 11, 2012
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Cue bid with GF values, no 5-card suits, and no stoppers is useful. Opener knows that responder usually has a balanced hand with all his strength (8+ HCP) outside opponent's suit. If opener is also relatively balanced, then his first priority would be to bid 2NT when he has a stopper. Without a stopper and a 5-card suit, he will tend to bid a 4-acrd minor at the 3-level. Thus, 3H by opener, should usually be a 5+-card suit unless he is 4333 or the like. Even then, responder still has 2 bids to play with over 3H: 3S and 3NT.

A better use of 2NT is perhaps the following.

Opener's 2NT is artificial, usually denying any 5-card suit (see below also), may or may not have stoppers. Consequently, opener's 3-level suit bids are always 5+ cards. Note that, since responder has denied a stopper, opener already knows if 3NT is a viable contract or not. He should be the decision maker as far as NT is concerned.

If you are worried about both players being unlimited, you can add a little artificialty by playing some asking bids when opener bids a new suit at the 3-level. For example, 1st step = no support 8-10; 2 nd step = no support, 11-13, 3rd step = support 8-10; 4th = support, 11-13. (You need to define your support.)

The drawback of this scheme is that when the fit is hidden in opener's secondary suits, we may not able to discover it in time before the level of 3NT. But if opener has no stoppers, he has no choice but to bid on. So, the hand types that we will have trouble are opener's 2-suited habnds with stoppers or the like. With those, opener may choose to start with 2NT, seeking a 4-4 fit in seconadry suits.

We haven't said anything about opener's cue-bid yet, any suggestion?
Dec. 10, 2012
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Big clubs always have the disadvantage of being vulnerable to opponents' preemption when 1C is opened, since no suits have been named. On the other hand, they deal with constructive auctions better, especially when opener is in the 16-21 range. because more sequences are utilized tahn in Standard.

I do not like nebulous 1D either. I prefer to have a bid to show long diamonds, hence the 2m openings below. The 1D opening described there always finds 4-4 major-suit fit, if there is one. In fact, if respodner bids a major over 1D and opener fails to support it and bids a minor instead, it shows the other major and the minor bid.

The mirror 2m openings are not my inventions. Swedes, Bertheau and Nystrom, played this version before they broke up. Their 1D also included weak NT (11-13). I removed it to make it well-defined. (Their 1NT is medium, 14-16.)

Dec. 5, 2012
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Yes, closer to home, Becker-Rubin also have their Ultimate Club, 4-card majors with canape. They do had a book out many years ago, written by Matt Granovetter. Again it is relay-heavy.
Dec. 5, 2012
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If you want to play a canape structure in a big club contect, one of the best systems I know is Sabine Aukin's. Australians and New Zealanders also do that, the MOSCITO crowd. Both use relays heavily.
Dec. 5, 2012
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The reason for 6+ clubs in 2C opening is the following. In classic Precision, in which either 4M-5C is possible, if responder holds a 4-card major and is interested in games, he asks with 2D. If the 4-4 major-suit fit is found, great. If not, then you may have to play at 3C with a possible 5-2 fit, which is not desirable. Thus, Meckwell, among others, now require 6+ clubs to open 2C, which offers a better protection if a major-suit fit is not found.

Other remedies include the one I propose below. Another possibility is to reduce either 4M-5C to 4H-5C (or 4S-5C) only (still include 1-suited 6+ clubs). That is, 2C shows either 1-suited 6+ clubs or 4H-5C. When holding a 4-card major, responder would know if he can find a 4-4 fit.
Dec. 5, 2012
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Ron,I play Precision.

1. The sequence 1D-1M-2C shows both minors, at least 4-5 or 5-4. Meckwell use 1D-1M-2NT artificially, I believe.
2. We hardly raise on a 3-card support.
3. 1D-1M-1NT with shortness in responder's hand is quite possible, especially 4441 hands
4. Meckwell don't play 4-card majors. Don't like the possibilities of having a longer suit elsewhere. Partner can misjudge easily especially in competition.

I sense that you are worried about finding 4-4 major suit fits and 1D carry too many hand types. The version I play now is:

1. 2m openings show either a one-suited 6+-card suit in the minor or a 2-suited hand with 5+ cards in the minor plus a 4-card suit in the other minor. No 4-card majors.
2. 1NT is 12-15.
3. 1D is everything else. That is, it must be an unbalanced hand with a 2-suited 4M-5m or any 3-suited. Put in another way, it must be an unbalanced hand with a 4-card major and a 4-card minor. So it is well-defined. If you play Woolsey against 1NT opening, you are already familiar with the concept. Note that 1D can be void in diamonds. So designing the response structure needs to be careful.

Dec. 5, 2012
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