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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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The possibility of going down more than one makes bidding the vulnerable game more attractive, not less attractive. The reason is that if you bid 4 and go down 2, that means that 3 would have gone down 1, so the cost of bidding the game is only 3 IMPs, not 6 IMPs. Only if not bidding the game will allow you to stop in 2 should this factor be taken into account as an argument for going conservative.

This is a major consideration on some hands. For example, partner opens 2NT and you have queen-sixth of clubs and out. 3NT figures to be a good underdog IMO. Yet, you should bid it, because if the clubs don't run the chances are that 2NT isn't making either. Thus, you are getting more like 10 to 3 IMP odds, not 10 to 6 IMP odds.

As for getting doubled, it usually doesn't happen on constructive auctions. You should have a good feel for which type of auction might get doubled. Also, getting doubled isn't necessarily a loss. Sometimes you make when they double. On balance, I don't think the possibility of getting doubled has any real effect on the IMP odds unless he auction is such that you are likely to get doubled if things are bad.

One must also take into account the “declarer advantage”. Studies have shown that on balance, for game contracts declarer tends to do about 1/4 of a trick better in real life than double-dummy analysis has him doing – largely due to a favorable opening lead. This makes bidding the vulnerable game even more attractive.

So, if I had to put a number on it, I would say that about 30% (on a double-dummy basis) is the break-even point for bidding a vulnerable game vs. stopping one trick short.
6 hours ago
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Unless South is really crazy, he has at least 5 spades. That leaves partner with at most a singleton spade. If partner also has 3+ hearts, one would expect his P/C call to have been 2, not 2. Declarer figures to have 4 hearts, so a heart discard will not be of value to him. Therefore, there is no rush to cash heart tricks. Declarer's most likely distribution is 5-4-2-2. A heart shift will cost a trick if partner has 10-doubleton.

Given that, it looks best to cash the king of diamonds. If partner happens to have a stiff heart (which is possible), he will give suit-preference for hearts and I will give him his ruff. If he has the king of clubs he will give suit-preference for clubs, and I play a small club to his king so he can put a spade through and take me off a potential end-play. If he plays a middle diamond, I then play ace and a club.

Note that it is not safe to continue a third diamond if declarer's hand is AQJxx Jxxx xx Kx. Declarer will win, pitch a club, and lead a club to king and ace. My only safe exit is a club. Declarer will ruff, play ace and a spade, and now I will be end-played. By playing ace and a club, I retain a safe diamond exit when I am in with the king of spades.
7 hours ago
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Exactly, Phil. When I was playing through the hand, I was sure that dummy was going to be pulling “right” card. If so, that could help declarer.

Since dummy playing a card is an infraction, any doubtful ruling should go against declarer. So, I think the ruling should be:

If dummy has pulled the “wrong” card (as in the actual case), declarer has to speak up immediately and say that he hasn't called a card yet. If declarer fails to do so, he is stuck with the wrong play.

If dummy has pulled the “right” card, then declarer is forced to make the wrong play unless that play is totally irrational rather than careless. In this case, had dummy pulled the right card I would force declarer to make the wrong play.
8 hours ago
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I'm not saying that opening 4 is wrong when I say it is an over-preempt. What I'm saying is that on the sheer value of the hand, it is a 3 bid, not a 4 bid. Thus, 4 is what I call an over-preempt.
8 hours ago
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I coined the term several years ago in an article I wrote for the Bridge World. It is the relationship of potential IMPs gained vs. IMPs lost for action A vs. action B.

A simple example which we are all familiar with: Let's suppose you are considering whether or not to bid a vulnerable game. Assume getting doubled isn't an issue, and the contract will either make or go down 1. Then:

If you bid game and it makes, you gain 10 IMPs vs. not bidding game (this is true whether or not game is bid at the other table).

If you bid game and it goes down, you lose 6 IMPs vs. not bidding game.

Thus, you are getting 10 to 6 IMP odds for bidding the game.
8 hours ago
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No doubt the corollary would be: If declarer takes the finesse, withhold the king.
8 hours ago
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Opposite a favorable vulnerability preempt, if I held the North hand I would expect it more likely that 3 would go down than 4 would make.
8 hours ago
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Right. I mis-saw the hand. Changing my vote.
June 16
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Since partner has no last train room on this auction, I believe you need slightly better than a minimal opening bid for the splinter. If my minors were reversed, I would splinter an a minimum opening bid with this shape. Also, if I were in a strong club context I would splinter with a minimum and this shape even with no last train room.

I will say that the vote surprised me. I thought I was in the “splinter on any excuse” camp more than most, but apparently not.
June 16
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Leading a spade is right when partner has 109 of spades and declarer has 5 diamonds.

Leading a club is right when declarer has one of the spade cards and 4 diamonds.

While we can't know anything about the spades, I believe all the indications are that declarer has 4 diamonds. If declarer has 5 diamonds, his shape is 2-4-5-2 and partner's shape is 4-4-2-3. Partner might not have made a takeout double of 1 with a doubleton diamond. Declarer might have bid 1 rather than 1 with 5 diamonds and 4 hearts. Partner might have returned a small club rather than the jack if he started with 3 clubs. Declarer might have cashed the good club while in dummy, since his line of play abandons the club if he started with a doubleton club.
June 16
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Why is it difficult to believe that declarer will need clubs for tricks and be unable to keep your hand off lead? Picture declarer with K10x of clubs, for example.
June 16
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It seems to me that regardless of West's spade holding he would be concerned about giving declarer a ruff-sluff if declarer has a stiff heart and 3 small spades. Since he always has a safe spade exit if he doesn't have another diamond, his only reason for ever leading a heart would be that he knew (or thought he know) that declarer has a second heart. I don't think we can draw any other inferences from the heart play other than that the hearts are 5-5.
June 15
Kit Woolsey edited this comment June 15
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All the evidence (partner's takeout double, declarer's heart play at trick 2) point to declarer having the queen of hearts and partner the ace. Declarer figures to be 2-4-4-3 from the bidding and his attack on the diamond suit.

Given the above, declarer has only 6 tricks ready to take: 1 heart, 2 diamonds, 3 clubs. If partner has the maximum spade holding of A109x, all we can take right now is 4 spade tricks, 2 diamond tricks, and 1 heart trick. Thus, it looks right to set up a club trick before our king of spades is dislodged.
June 15
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Why are you worried about this hand. If East had held Jxxx !J9x xxxx xx then game would be terrible. There is no way you are going to make that kind if distinction.
June 15
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Just for fun, I decided to construct a pair of hands which would legitimately get the maximum number of consecutive bids with the relay structure we use.

North: xxxx J10xx K KJ10x

South: AKQ AKQx AQx Axx

South opens a strong 1, and all his bids except his final call are relays:

1 1 (4+ spades, 8+ HCP)
1 1NT (4+ hearts)
2 2 (3-suiter, short minor)
2 2 (short diamonds)
2NT 3 (4-4-1-4)
3 3 (0-2 controls – stiff king not counted as control)
3 3NT (0-1 controls – assumed 1)
4 4 (no ace or king of spades)
4 4 (no ace or king of hearts)
4NT 5 (no queen of spades)
5 5 (no queen of hearts)
5 5 (no queen of clubs)
5NT 6 (no jack of spades)
7 P

Opener knows that his partner has to have the stiff king of diamonds for his positive response once the queen of clubs was denied. If he finds his partner with the jack of spades, he can count 13 tricks in notrump. Otherwise, it may be necessary to play in hearts to get to 13 tricks.
June 15
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What some of you are saying is that if a player intentionally deviates from his system via an alertable call (having some plan to recover), he is not permitted to execute this plan because he has received UI from his partner's alert and explanation of the meaning of his bid.

That is nonsense. There is no UI. His partner gave the explanation which the player expected to hear. As long as it is clearly defined in the pair's agreements that the explanation is correct, there is no infraction.

I will grant that it is possible for a player to not know the agreements, use his partner's explanation to help him recover from a mis-bid, and then claim that he knew what he was doing all along. We have to assume some degree of honesty about players, else there is no point playing bridge in the first place. In my experience in this sort of situation, there is never any doubt whether or not the player knew he was deviating from his agreements.
June 15
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Time pressure is not a realistic problem. The explanation doesn't have to be a book. A one sentence answer is sufficient almost all of the time.

On this auction, it would go:

West: Please explain
North: 5-7 points

Do you really think that any meaningful time has been wasted with this exchange?
June 15
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If West were 4-5-1-3 as Michael suggests and is worried that a heart might give declarer a ruff and discard, he can always shift safely to a spade. Their card says the lead of the king asks for count. So, I don't buy the argument that West thought the 10 of hearts was suit-preference. He thought it was count, as otherwise he wouldn't have risked playing a second round of hearts.
June 15
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Michael makes a good point about not drawing the third trump when both defenders follow small to the first two spades. Of course West should falsecard with the 10 from Q10xx, but players have been known to be careless.

I'm not sure much can be drawn from West's heart play at trick 3. Their agreements are to show count, so presumably East has done so and West knows declarer has another heart.
June 15
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Taking the ruffing finesse in diamonds is hopeless. Not only is it probably offside (West would lead the king without the ace, and he would probably lead the ace if he had both), but that approach would require West to have 3 spades. The odds would be way against that, since West is known to have 5+ hearts, 3 clubs, and AK of diamonds for ruffing finesse in diamonds to work.

The ruffing finesse in spades is obviously the percentage play if the 10 drops. However, I had to vote other. After taking the club finesse, I would not cash the king of clubs. Instead, I would cash the ace of spades, and if both follow small I would continue with the king of spades. If both follow, I draw trumps and will have transposed to the normal line. However, if trumps are 5-1, West will ruff the king of spades, and now I will have to entries to take the ruffing finesse in diamonds and escape for down 1 if it succeeds.

It is true that West could thwart this by not ruffing the king of spades, but it is so against human nature to not take the setting trick with a trump which can be picked up that it isn't going to happen.
June 14
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