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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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Did you try 11-point hands with a doubleton spade? We are talking about third seat openings, and I doubt if we are passing 11-counts.
10 hours ago
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Okay, I'll accept vul at IMPs. I'll accept that on balance a 25 HCP 3NT is about 60% (I'm not accepting any discussion of 26 HCP, since I'm assuming the passed hand has 11 HCP, never 12).

How much is the cost of missing game?

If we play the hand 10 times, 6 times game makes for -60 IMPs. 4 times game goes down (but 1NT will make), +24 IMPs. Net of -36 IMPs, or average cost of 3.6 IMPs.

That's when opener has 14 HCP. What about others.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that when opener has 13 HCP he will accept, and while game will be an underdog on balance the vulnerability makes it about a wash. Is that fair?

If opener has 12 or 11 HCP, let's assume on balance 2NT goes down 1/3 of the time. It costs 5 IMPs when that happens, for a net of 1 2/3 IMPs cost. If there are twice as many 11/12 point hands as 14 point hands, that figure has to be doubled (to compare with he cost of not inviting when opener has the 14-point hand), which comes to 3 1/3 IMPs. Since 11 and 12 point hands are slightly more common than 14 point hands, it looks to me like a tossup as to whether or not to invite with the 11-pointer.
13 hours ago
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David,

Will you grant for the sake of argument that with two flat hands, on balance you prefer to be in 3NT with 25 HCP but prefer to be in 1NT with 24 HCP. If you think 24 HCP with two flat hands produces game more often than not my numbers below will have to be adjusted a bit, but the logic remains the same.

Let's suppose you have a flat 11-count (or whatever you consider a maximum pass in your style) with a 4-card major. You pass, partner opens 1 of a minor, you bid your major, and partner rebids 1NT. Do you raise to 2NT?

Let's look at the possibilities:

Partner has 14 HCP. You have a combined 25 HCP. You have gained by bidding 2NT. Of course that doesn't mean 3NT is laydown, but on balance you prefer to be there.

Partner has 13 HCP. You have a combined 24 HCP. If partner bids 3NT, you are worse than if you had passed 1NT. If partner passes, you are playing in 2NT instead of 1NT.

Partner has 12 HCP. Partner will pass. You are playing in 2NT instead of 1NT.

Partner has 11 HCP (and he will open that in your style, unless you enjoy passing out hands with a combined 22 HCP). Again, you are playing in 2NT instead of 1NT.

I think these numbers make it clear that bidding 2NT on this maximum pass is not a percentage action.

So, if partner isn't going to raise to 2NT on his maximum pass, then you never gain by rebidding 1NT with your 14-count and 3-card support. Even if game is percentage, you aren't going to ge there. All that happens is you play 1NT rather than playing 1 of your 7+ card fit.
15 hours ago
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The normal reason to lead away from a king vs. a slam is to find partner with the ace or the queen and cash 2 quick tricks or establish a trick in the suit. A possible other reason is to force declarer into a quick decision about whether or not to finesse.

On this hand, if West is looking at a red king he has the information that dummy is going to be hitting with AQx in the suit. Therefore, the main reason for leading away from a king isn't applicable. Declarer's hand could be anything under the sun. While on this hand it turns out that a red-suit lead forces declarer to make an immediate decision, West isn't looking into our hand so he doesn't know that. From his point of view, declarer will have no choice but to finesse. If declarer has the jack and the defense has the 10, leading away from the king costs a trick. If West holds the jack, leading away from the king may also cost a trick if this rides to declarer's 10.

The conclusion is that West is very unlikely to be leading away from a red king. In particular, if West has one red king and not the other, if he chooses to lead a red suit he will definitely choose to lead the suit where he doesn't have the king.

If West has the king of diamonds but not the king of hearts, he will always lead a heart. He has no choice. However, If West has neither red king, he might lead either suit. This is a simple application of restricted choice. That is why the diamond finesse is a 2 to 1 favorite to succeed.
19 hours ago
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The diamond finesse is about a 2 to 1 favorite to succeed. I will withhold the explanation of this for a bit so others can think about why.
Nov. 16
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East isn't going to double a diamond bid unless he has a huge diamond holding. Remember, South's hand could be anything. For all East knows South has a 5-card diamond suit and is planning on playing in diamonds.
Nov. 16
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If West has K9xx of spades, doesn't this limit you to 6 trump tricks, 2 spade tricks, 2 diamond tricks, 1 heart trick?
Nov. 16
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Yes, I play everything natural and very non-forcing after a 1NT rebid opposite a passed hand. Why not? I know opener has a doubleton in my major, since he didn't pass the 1M response. Therefore, he is a lock to have 3+ in both minors after a 1 response (he doesn't have 4 spades, doesn't have 3 hearts, and doesn't have a 6-card minor), and a big favorite to have 3+ in both minors after a 1 response (only 2-4-2-5 or 2-4-5-2 is possible).
Nov. 16
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As always, if you have to ask whether something should be alerted the answer is yes.
Nov. 16
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I do play 15-17 1NT in third and fourth seat. It is true that we will be opening balanced hands perhaps a point lighter than standard players. But even playing Standard, this applies. Assuming “12” HCP is the minimum opening bid on balanced hands and “14” HCP is the maximum for a 1NT rebid, in worse case scenario we have 11 opposite 14 HCP, for a total of 25 HCP. While it is true that on balance you prefer to be in game with a combined 25 HCP, missing such a game isn't very costly on balance. If the initial passer has anything less than 11 HCP or the opening bidder has anything less than 14 HCP, game figures to be an underdog. Thus, on balance you will show a profit by passing the 1M response with 3-card support. This gives partner valuable information if there is competition, let's you stop at the 1-level, guarantees you will always be playing the 8-card major-suit fit when you have it, and let's you play in 1NT rather than 2 of the major when you have only a 5-2 fit.

I don't have any experience playing 12-14 1NT.
Nov. 16
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Of course Marty is right. The danger of a full 1 matchpoint swing against every table where the contract is 5 doubled, which figures to be a common result, makes it clear to go up ace of spades.

If I had to bet, I would bet that West does, in fact, have the stiff king of spades. West has a save in his own hand. The only justification for not taking this save must be that West felt he had some defense, which must be the stiff king of spades.

From a sheer mathematical point of view, let's look at West's possible relevant initial holdings. Note that the correct way is to examine initial holdings, which avoids getting bogged down with restricted choice. West might hold void, stiff 5, stiff 8, stiff queen, stiff king. So, if we ignore other considerations, roughly 3 times out of 5 the finesse will be the winning play and 2 times out of 5 the drop will be the winning play.
Nov. 15
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We play any kind of checkback is off by passed hand. There is no need for it. If all opener has is a 1NT rebid opposite a passed hand, there is no game. Consequently, opener will not rebid 1NT with 3-card support and a minimum balanced hand. He will simply pass, since there is no game and it is generally better to contract for 7 tricks with a trump suit where you have the majority of trumps than to contract for 7 tricks with no trump suit.
Nov. 15
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Definitely open 1 with 5 diamonds and 4 clubs. If you aren't strong enough to jump shift, open 1 and rebid 2 even if you have reversing strength. Never distort your shape for strength-showing purposes. Shape before strength, always.
Nov. 14
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I was simply stating what my partnership agreements are. If a partner with whom I didn't have such agreements threw this at me, my reaction would be: Nobody invited me to the party. I would judge that virtually all players at any level would feel the same way.

Of course if a partnership does have the agreement that this sort of call is a grand slam try of some sort, that is another story. But with no such agreement, the opening bidder will have the green card on the table.
Nov. 13
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You say 5 is clearly asking about spades. I do not accept that premise. If partner lacked a spade control but had slam interest, his call would be 5, logically not having a spade control from failure to bid the cheap 4. I think 5 is a general slam try with no particular control problems but not sure there are 12 winners.
Nov. 12
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Why “must” 6 be a grand slam try? If the RKC bidder were interested in making an unambiguous grand slam try, he would have bid 5NT. In my book, when the RKC bidder immediately bids 6 of anything, that is an offer to play.
Nov. 12
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Not only the most fun line, but the best line. I believe a slight improvement is to not cash the king of diamonds until you have the heart ruff and the AK of clubs in your hip pocket. That way if West overruffs the heart or ruffs the second round of clubs you still have a chance on a crossruff if West can't do any more overruffing. After cashing the king of diamonds first, if something bad happens a second round of diamonds will defeat you.
Nov. 11
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Agreed it is probably less than 1 in 20. I was just giving Ronald the benefit of doubt, trying to demonstrate that even under the most favorable assumptions for his argument the cost of missing a game due to the preempt is tiny in the big picture of things.
Nov. 11
Kit Woolsey edited this comment Nov. 11
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I totally agree with David. If partner bids RKC and signs off, you pass without looking at your hand.
Nov. 11
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Quite right, Michael. I believe we will be seeing more and more top pairs playing some kind of relay structure. There are too many IMPs which get away on hands like this.

I was curious to see if our structure would be able to handle this hand, since this particular layout with responder having no aces or kings in his long suits is particularly cumbersome for us. Let's see:

1C 1H(a)
1S 1NT(b)
2C 2S©
2NT 3H(d)
3S 4D(e)
4H 4S(f)
4NT 5C(g)
5D 5S(h)
5NT 6C(i)
6D 6S(j)
6NT Pass

a) Spades
b) Hearts
c) At least 5-5
d) Short clubs, generic 5-5-2-1, so exactly 5=5=2=1
e) 4 controls (A = 2, K = 1), stiff king not counted
f) None (or both) of AK of spades
g) None (or both) of AK of hearts
h) Queen of spades, no queen of hearts
i) No queen of diamonds
j) Jack of spades, no jack of hearts

Responder's barebones hand is known to be: QJxxx xxxxx Ax A. Final contract of 6NT is obvious, since if the hearts come in there are 4 spade tricks, 4 heart tricks, 2 diamond tricks, 2 club tricks. If responder hadn't had the queen of spades he would have bid 5 instead of 5, and we would have stopped there. If responder hadn't had the jack of spades he would have bid 6 instead of 6, and we would have stopped there. So, the structure worked okay in spite of the awkwardness.

I'm sure other decent relay systems would have done basically as well. Perhaps not finding 6NT, but certainly finding 6.
Nov. 10
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