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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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I don't agree. If West plays the queen of diamonds and you duck, it will never occur to West that the defense is in position to take 4 quick winners, since West would know you could have legitimately tried to run the diamond suit without loss. Consequently, I don't think West will ever find a heart shift.
June 30
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Stefan's line is correct. It is a quite remarkable end position. A 2-card ending involving a squeeze where there is no communication in any of the threat suits. In fact, the only way to achieve the desired position is to eliminate the communication in diamonds.

It is worth noting that if West doesn't lead a trump when in with the ace of hearts it is trivial to make the rest of the tricks by ruffing a spade in dummy, overruffing if West ruffs in. The trump return prevents this ruff wherever declarer wins the trick.

This hand came from the last segment of the finals of the senior trials. East had the 4-4-4-1 shape. In reality the long suit was clubs, and Bart had opened 3 and bought the contract there, so it was just a question of an overtrick. West had continued hearts rather than leading a trump, so Bart made 10 tricks. When reviewing the hand Bart thought a trump shift would hold him to 9 tricks, and was quite surprised to find that GIB said he still had 10 tricks. In fact for a while we were convinced that there was a bug in the double-dummy analysis, but a close examination of the hand showed that was not the case.
June 30
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IMO South's pass of 4 is automatic. The multi bidder shuts up. Also, why should he be so sure he is defeating 4, or why should he risk driving the opponents to something they can make. I believe doubling 4 would be a serious blunder.
June 29
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There is every difference.

A jump to slam occurs when either

You have determined that the slam is definitely the percentage contract

You have determined that further probing can not be of any value for improving the contract

You have judged that the upside o further probing is outweighed by the downside of information given to the opponents.

On this hand, asking for aces and then bidding 7NT when you have them is a jump to slam. While it is possible that there is a better contract than 7NT, at matchpoints I do not see any sensible way to determine if this is the case.

However, bidding 7NT without checking for aces is a leap to slam. You can't be sure that 7NT is right, and there is a way to determine that 7NT is very wrong.
June 29
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Since there were no screens in use, North has the information that East did not alert the 2 call. This is authorized information for North (but not for West, of course).

North is entitled to the knowledge of the opponents agreements. Since it is established that their agreements are that the 2 call shows 16-18 balanced, if North isn't told of that agreement he has received MI. If North might well have taken a different (and more successful) action had he received the correct explanation, an adjustment is called for.

Now, I ask you: Suppose you are North. You have the following information:

East did not alert the 2 call.
The meaning of the 2 call in their partnership is balanced 16-18.

Is there any way you would bid 4, knowing there is a very good chance that partner's suit is hearts? I think not.
June 29
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I didn't say jumping to slam is always wrong. I said leaping to slam is always wrong.
June 29
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Yes, you are wrong. Leaping to slam is always wrong. There is some information which can be found, and that information might be what you need to determine that a different contract is superior.

I will grant that it is extremely unlikely we are off an ace. But how can it hurt to ask? Biding Gerber here isn't undignified. This is exactly the reason for Gerber (or any ace-asking convention) – to make sure you aren't off an ace (or aces) before you bid a slam you are planning on bidding. However small the upside of bidding Gerber might be, there is absolutely no downside on this hand to bid Gerber with the plan of bidding 7NT if you have all the aces vs. leaping to 7NT without checking.

Another possibility is to probe for a better strain. This can be done via 5NT, since partner may introduce a suit over that. I agree that at matchpoints the chances are so good that there are 13 tricks in notrump that this is not a worthwhile idea. But if that is the case, why bid Stayman in the first place? A major suit grand scores less than 7NT just as a minor-suit grand scores less. If you aren't looking for a better strain now, there is no reason to have done anything but bid Gerber over 2NT and then bid 7NT if the aces are there.
June 29
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I would be curious about the meaning of 4 in the E-W agreement. Most pairs play transfers when partner has shown a strong balanced hand. If that is true for this E-W pair, then it appears that West took advantage of his partner's failure to alert the 2 call.
June 28
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If both majors behave, I can ruff 2 clubs in hand, 1 spade in dummy setting up the spades, and take 6 trump tricks, 4 spade tricks, 2 diamond tricks, and 1 club trick. If one of the majors doesn't behave, I will need some help from the diamond suit.

I would win heart lead in dummy, spade to ace (I might change plans if the queen comes down and I choose to believe it), cash ace of clubs, and lead a heart to dummy. Then:

1) if hearts are 3-2, ruff a club, AK and a spade ruff. Then:

a) If spades are 3-3 or queen is doubleton, ruff a club, diamond to king, draw last trump pitching a diamond, and my hand is good.

b) If somebody has Qxxx of spades, ruff a club, and lead diamond to jack. Assuming it wins, draw the last trump pitching a spade, diamond to ace, and diamond finesse, taking 6 trumps, 4 diamonds, 2 spades, and 1 club.

2) If hearts are 4-1, then ruff a club, diamond to jack. Assuming it wins, ruff a club, diamond to 10, and draw trumps discarding a spade and the ace of diamonds. This makes when the diamonds are good (3-3 or Q9 doubleton onside), spade finesse is on, or some spade-diamond squeeze (maybe a show-up squeeze, maybe a squeeze I will have to guess vs. the finesse) comes home.
June 28
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This simulation is meaningless without knowing the exact specifications set on the other hands.

In particular, did you eliminate hands where East is at least 5-4 in the majors and would have balanced with 2 showing the majors?

Perhaps the link you give explains your parameters, but I don't understand what is there. How about explaining those parameters in layman's terms.
June 28
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We don't need to know, since the defense based on the count is correct regardless of who has the ace of clubs.
June 27
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Agreed. However, if East wins the ace or the king I would drop the queen. Maybe East has AK10 of diamonds, QJ of clubs, and returns a heart, or maybe if he returns a club he gets pseudo-squeezed in the end.
June 27
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Since 4 is needed as natural as responder might have a 2-suiter, that makes 4 the cheapest artificial call above 4. Playing kickback, which I play, that makes 4 kickback. Therefore, 4NT is a club slam try.

Even not playing kickback, I have an overriding rule that 4NT is never RKC for clubs. It is needed for a slam try, and it isn't safe anyway since a 5 response may get too high.
June 26
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If your methods require you to go through Stayman on an invitational hand whether or not responder has a major, there is a very good reason for playing 1NT-2;2NT = 4-4 majors, minimum. If you are not playing this, what does opener do after 1NT-2;2-2NT if he has 4-4 majors and a minimum. If he passes, he may be missing a 4-4 spade fit. If he bids 3, there may be no fit and the partnership is too high. Yes, one can play that responder bids 1NT-2;2-2 with 4 spades and an invite (so 2NT denies 4 spades), but this gives away a lot of information as well as losing the ability for this sequence to show a light invite with 5 spades.

With 1NT-2;2NT showing 4-4 majors minimum, this problem doesn't exist. Responder knows exactly what opener has, and can place the contract.

Note that if opener is 4-4 majors non-minimum he can safely bid 2 and then 3 over 2NT.
June 25
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okay – when the last suit bid was 2, 2, or 2 by the opponents.
June 25
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Agree, but I would assign for my weighted average of 5 a probability of zero.
June 25
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Why would it be so obvious to cash the ace of hearts? West wouldn't know where the ace of clubs is. Yes, it is a simple defense when you can see all four hands.
June 25
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If I were trying to make the contract (and didn't have x-ray vision), I would have gone up queen of clubs hoping the opening leader has AK.
June 24
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Simple rule: Unless specifically defined to to the contrary, 2NT in competition is NOT natural.
June 24
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I know the honor combinations for a given suit as well as I know the multiplication tables, e.g. when I see AQJ I automatically think “7” without any effort.

So, I simply go through each suit, adding up the points as I go along.

For example, with KQxx AQJx Qx AKJx I would think

5 + 7 = 12 + 2 = 14 + 8 = 22.

Of course the actual thought process is faster than that. Since I am picturing each suit as a number, I am mentally adding at most 4 small numbers, which I can do at a glance without having to go step by step.

Hope that helps.
June 23
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