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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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The danger of losing 2 trump tricks by playing AK of hearts is definitely greater than the danger of a diamond ruff, since the latter takes a 5-1 diamond split. In addition, the queen of hearts might be onside. So it is clear to win the opening lead in dummy and take a heart finesse.

However, I was forced to click other, since my line of play was not included. I would win the opening lead in dummy, but I would win with the king, not the jack. The problem with winning the jack is that when East doesn't cover West will know you started with AQ. If you lose a heart finesse to him, he will be able to count 10 tricks for you (4 hearts, 4 diamonds, 1 club, and 1 spade), so he will know that a club shift is necessary. If West has the ace of spades, the defense may get two club tricks, either by force if East has AJ or if the clubs are 3-3 and you misguess when West gets in and leads another club. If you win the king of diamonds, this danger will not be obvious to West, and he will probably exit safely.
10 hours ago
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I totally disagree. When playing 10-12 NT, you want to be able to start scrambling before the opponents have a chance to show their strength if you are outgunned. It is more dangerous for them to enter when you bid 2, since you may have a real invitational hand yourself.

The main advantage of Puppet Stayman is that responder describes and opener can choose the contract. The concept is similar to transfers. You want the strong hand to be making the decisions if possible, since the strong hand hand has most of the high cards and can better choose when to play 3NT instead of a 4-4 major-suit fit, when to stay away from notrump if there is a danger suit, etc.
12 hours ago
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Thanks, Mike. I wasn't aware of that position. That is a clear technical advantage. Also true if dummy has Jx and declarer K10x. And declarer will be playing small from dummy in these positions.

Are there any other positions you know about where it is necessary from a technical point of view to threat H98x(x) as an interior sequence if we assume that declarer is making the “correct” play (i.e. if we assume declarer will be playing the 10 with K10x opposite Axx).
Jan. 17
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If dummy has K10x and declarer Axx, isn't declarer going to play the 10 if you lead low as his only legit play for 3 tricks in the suit? That's why it seems to me that the technical advantage of leading the 9 from H98x(x) is questionable.
Jan. 17
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I guess one has to judge whether the technical advantage of leading from this low an interior sequence compensates for partner not knowing what the lead is from.
Jan. 16
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No I do not. Maybe one should, but I have never done so (unless I didn't want to lead low from something like Q98x for fear of blocking the suit).
Jan. 16
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Range is 14-16. How can this be considered an overbid?
Jan. 15
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Definitely. The double of 1M-3m (bergenesque) is virtually free – very very unlikely opponents will have a penalty redouble. By contrast, after, say 1NT-2, if you make a lead-directing double you definitely have to weigh the danger of a penalty redouble.
Jan. 15
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Regarding the disadvantages of Puppet Stayman which Mike mentions:

1) My experience has been that this is very minor. When responder has a game drive, it is likely that just getting to the best contract is what matters. The defense knowing that declarer does or does not have an extra jack is unlikely to make a difference.

2) This does seem to be the major disadvantage. I have found that the cost of giving the opponents the opportunity to double the artificial bid isn't nearly as great as one would think. That may be because players are more conservative than they should be with this sort of double. Of course it is more dangerous in the sense that opener knows a lot about responder's hand, so will be able to redouble profitably when it is right.

3) That is definitely true vs. standard Stayman when opener has no major. But when opener does have a major, the other major is implicitly shown by responder. Also, this information only affects the opening lead, while concealment of opener's major affects the whole hand.

4) Obviously a cost. whenever we are dealt what looks like a model garbage Stayman and are forced to pass or transfer into the 5-card major, we pray to the Gods of Puppet. It has been amazing how often those prayers are answered. We pass with a sing leton club, see the opening club lead hit the table, and partner turns up with KQ10xx.

5) This is really tiny. The difference to the defense between a 4 and 5-card major in opener's hand is unlikely to matter as long as the defense knows opener has that major. We avoid opening 1NT with a 5-card major unless the rebid would be intolerable or the hand has notrump written on it, so the frequency of this happening is very low.
Jan. 14
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That is true. I was only comparing club to 9 vs. spade duck.
Jan. 14
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He won't have to. I will evaluate it for him. He will show the singleton diamond when i bid Jacoby, and he will show the king of diamonds when I subsequently ask for specific kings.
Jan. 14
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Let's compare the two plays. I'm going to assume that East isn't going to be finding the brilliant duck of the king of spades when declarer leads low to the queen.

Play A: Club to the 9

Play B. Duck the second round of spades.

It is clear that both plays make when West has the king of clubs. Play B makes since if West has 2 spades his king get air, if he has 3 spades there are 3 spade tricks, and if he has 4 spades he is squeezed. Therefore, we need only consider layouts where the king of clubs is offside.

Play A is superior when West has J10 of clubs and at least 4 spades.

Play B is superior when East has either the jack or the 10 of clubs and the spades are 3-3.

It is clear that play B is superior more often.
Jan. 14
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When I see a defender find that play at the table, then I'll change my wording. I think I'll have a long wait.
Jan. 13
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South might have tried 5 over 4 to see if he could get another spade Q-bid from North. But North's 7 call is criminal. When partner leaps to slam, the auction is over.
Jan. 13
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There is nothing wrong with 5NT not guaranteeing all the key cards. I have been playing this for years, and it works fine. All you have to realize is that if responder chooses to override or bid the grand himself, instead of bidding 7 he bids 6NT. This tells the RKC bidder to bid the grand unless a keycard is missing.

Playing this sometimes allows you to get to a superior slam (often 6NT) when responder has a critical king which gives you the necessary source of tricks without needing a trump suit.
Jan. 13
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I'll grant that if we politely show defense that we have 5 heart tricks, then if East is in the zone he could conceivably duck the king of spades if he has K98x and no king of clubs. But we have to realize that although we know we have 5 heart winners, East doesn't know that. It would be quite reasonable for declarer to take an early spade finesse with a hand such as Jxx KJxxx AJx !Kx. If that is declarer's hand, East will have handed declarer a no-play contract by ducking. Thus, if declarer takes the spade finesse early it is impossible for East to duck.
Jan. 13
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I don't understand the question. There is no “deep mind” program, at least not at present.

There are several computer programs which play decently, and would be favorites against the BBO robots. However, the program which outplays human experts has yet to be written.
Jan. 13
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David said:

If the queen of spades wins I intend to run the red suits, retaining ♠J and two clubs in hand opposite dummy's original club holding. I will then rely on my legendary card-reading skills to bring about a winning end game.

Well, at least you are honest about it. I fully concede that if you could see the E-W hands you can always make (assuming hearts not 5-0). You lead through the king of spades so as to score 2 spade tricks while the opponents get none. Then:

If the spades are 3-3, continue spades for a third spade trick. Otherwise,

If the club finesse is onside, take it for a second club trick. Otherwise,

Run your red suit winners (hearts first) which will get East in a squeeze-endplay if he holds the king of clubs and you know his distribution.

All this assumes you know where the king of spades is and you know where the king of clubs is and you know the enemy distribution. I'm afraid my card-reading skills aren't as good as David's, so I would not be so confident about getting the end position right.
Jan. 13
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Khokan said:

I'm discarding a small diamond.

And then what? Note that if you choose to lead a spade to the queen (winning) and duck a spade, the defense will return a diamond. Now you will be forced to cash your red-suit winners and make 2 more discards from dummy. Does West have the king of clubs? Or is the king of clubs offside and the spades 3-3 all along?
Jan. 13
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Yes, the lead is part of it. Also, the ace of hearts is not necessarily a meaningless card when partner has a singleton diamond as that could be trick 13 in a 5-4 spade fit. If I had the mechanism and room to bid exclusion and then ask for the queen of trumps and get specific kings when partner has the queen of trumps then I might do so when partner doesn't have a singleton diamond. But I doubt if many partnerships can do all that.
Jan. 13
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