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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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John, you are forgetting one thing. This is not an opening 1NT call, where responder might have any strength. This is a 1NT rebid opposite a hand which is limited to 8 points. From responder's point of view he could care less whether opener has a true 16 or an upgraded 15 for the minimum of the range, since responder can't have a hand with game interest opposite either of these hands. All responder cares about is the top of the range. And that top is defined as 18 from responder's point of view.

It is true that when you upgrade a 15-count such as the actual hand you may wind up in a 23 or 24-point game when responder has a minimum positive response. This is not the end of the world.
July 10, 2012
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I don't see what the “problem in the auction” you are referring to is. I would have no qualms about rebidding 1NT with this hand. The strength is fine. The reason I passed 1 (which I had fully planned to do when I chose to open 1) was simply that I thought it was a better bid than 1NT. Why shouldn't I put the partnership into what I am almost sure is the best contract, as well as describing my hand type very accurately?

There is no “4-point range” as far as responder is concerned. He assumes the 16-18 3-point range. If opener has a 19-pointer, so be it.

Personally, I am quite happy to rebid 1NT on almost all 19-counts – to rebid 2NT I like to have a hand which really does upgrade to a true standard 2NT opening. The only downside is that if responder has a 6-count or a bad 7-count we might miss a game (and a non-vulnerable game at that) which probably isn't laydown. Our equity loss from that is very small. There are many gains:

1) We will never be in 2NT – it will always be 1NT or game. This shows a clear profit when responder is too weak to make a move, which will be the case at least half the time I would estimate.

2) When responder is weak and has a 5-card major we can stop at 2 of the major (or 2 when he has 5+ diamonds since we play Puppet Stayman). If I rebid 2NT, we can't stop at 2 of a suit.

3) when responder is strong enough to move towards game, our structure for finding the best game is far more accurate after the 1NT call than after the 2NT call. This is extremely important. Getting to the right game can swing a full 10 IMPs, while missing a non-vulnerable game costs at most 6 IMPs.

I believe these advantages easily outweigh the only downside of rebidding 1NT with 19 when responder will be playing you for 16-18.
July 10, 2012
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Thanks Barry. It has been fixed.
June 30, 2012
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Seems to me that West did try to protect himself. He asked about the meaning of the redouble even though he hadn't been alerted. And he still didn't get an explanation. Is he supposed to do more?

As I understand the regulations, a committee or director is not permitted to adjust the result on a basis of percentages. If they think some kind of split ruling is in order, all they can do is assign different results to N-S and E-W. The criterion is that the offending side receives the most unfavorable result which is reasonably possible, while the non-offending side receives the most likely result. 4S bid and made is certainly possible, but not all that likely. So it looks to me as though the committee did a fine job with the adjudication.
June 27, 2012
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If their methods really forbid opening 1NT with a 5-card spade suit then that should be given weight, although I would judge that most pairs permit that. Even if East never would open 1NT with 5 spades, I don't believe that would alter the percentages enough to make it correct to play East for Kx of clubs if both follow small to the first round.
June 25, 2012
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Thanks. It has been corrected.
June 23, 2012
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I don't think it makes any difference. An opening 1 of a major bid is an opening 1 of a major bid. I can't think of any hand which I would pass with 5 cards in one major but open if the majors were reversed.
June 22, 2012
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West underbid by a lot. The KQ of diamonds are cards East doesn't hold, yet East was willing to show slam interest opposite the splinter. What can East possibly have but 3 aces and the queen of trumps or 4 aces, which West can see is all he needs for slam. Furthermore, West can check for these cards via RKC, and if somehow 2 keycards are missing 5H should be secure unless East is a total madman.

If anything, East overbid by bidding 4 with his possibly worthless club holding. East's pass of 4 is clear.
June 22, 2012
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That's exactly correct John. In this situation with Kx of clubs one should not lead the king of clubs. If you do, partner should play you for a stiff king and overtake, which would be a disaster if declarer has the queen. Thus, North shouldn't have Kx of clubs, hence the hand I had mentally constructed shouldn't exist.

A more common example of this situation comes when you lead the king from KQx and dummy has xxx, and your king holds. Unless you need an uppercut on the fourth round of the suit you should continue with your small card rather than the queen. If you continue with the queen, partner should overtake playing you for KQ doubleton.
June 4, 2012
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Yes, I agree that he could have a good-looking but minimal hand. With that sort of hand he probably would have chosen 4 rather then 4 in order to give me last train room (over which he could sign off) instead of putting a gun to my head. We can do this since our 4-level slam try Q-bids are not control oriented, particularly if made by an unlimited hand. If a 4-level slam try Q-bid is expected to show a control, then of course this approach would not be available.

Our general style is to make the Q-bid which leaves partner last train wriggle room unless we have the sort of hand which doesn't want to hear that last train bid since we wouldn't know what to do over it. Or, as on this hand, North can afford to shut out the last train call since he is planning on making another move anyway. Thus, when an unlimited hand chooses to make the Q-bid which shuts out the last train call, the inference is that he probably isn't minimal for his Q-bid.
June 3, 2012
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It may seem as though there is nothing to the play of this hand, and as the cards are there is nothing to the play. But that wasn't the way it looked to me, as you can see by following the play of the hand.

Fred led the king of clubs. His idea was to hold the lead so he could cash the ace of diamonds if the club trick lived, while not spending the ace of diamonds if we didn't have a club trick. Quite thoughtful. But as is so often the case, there is that third opponent to worry about.

Looking at the dummy, it was clear that East interpreted the 5 call as asking for a club control, so I thought that was West's problem. I pictured a possible West hand as: AKQJxxx A AK xxx. If that were the West hand, a trump shift wouldn't work. Declarer would win, unblock the diamonds, ruff a club in dummy, and pitch his last club on the queen of diamonds. The winning defense would be to continue clubs, forcing out the dummy entry before declarer could take advantage of it. Perhaps partner could work this out, but why put him to the test? So I smartly overtook the king of clubs and continued clubs.

Declarer discarded the king of diamonds, and my heart dropped about 10 feet. I was sure I had just blown the match. But he didn't claim yet. He ran his trumps. I now knew his shape was 7-3-2-1, obviously with the AK of hearts, but I didn't know what his other heart was. If it were a small heart partner's queen would be falling, and the contract would make. If it were the queen of hearts the suit would block, and we would still get the ace of diamonds. When he cashed the second high heart I held my breath, and have never been so relieved to see partner follow small.

Incidentally, my defense is definitely a blunder, but for a reason which most players may not realize. I'll leave that reason to the readers for now.
June 2, 2012
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Seems like with that hand partner wouldn't be worth anything over the 4 signoff.

Nothing is perfect. But when both partners have weakish trump holdings, generally both partners will tend to pull back a notch unless they have considerable extras on the side. You won't get it right 100% of the time, but that will never happen regardless of your methods. You will get it right most of the time if you evaluate intelligently.
June 2, 2012
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Thanks Barry. It has been corrected.
June 2, 2012
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The simplest way looks to me to bid 3, assuming that is a splinter bid. This flashes the slam interest message to partner, and leaves him room to Q-bid clubs below the game level. If he has a club control, one would expect him to bid 4.

It is true that you are “supposed” to have spade shortness for the splinter, but so what? You aren't trying to win a beauty contest. You are trying to get to the best contract. If you judge that finding out if partner has a club control has the highest priority, this should work.
May 31, 2012
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Perhaps declarer's line of play wasn't best, but that's the way he played it at the table. Experts don't always find the best line of play. It is quite possible that declarer correctly placed West with the king of hearts, but thought East has QJx of spades. If that is the case and declarer leads a third spade East will win and put a heart through, which will not be good for declarer. He doesn't mind West ruffing the diamond so much, since West will be end-played.

I'm not convinced that leading the king of hearts instead of a small heart gives declarer any problems when declarer has KJxxx of clubs. Declarer will be playing West for the ace of clubs, so he will take some kind of club finesse. Even if he goes wrong and plays the jack, he will have a pretty good count on the hand and should lead the king of clubs on the next round of clubs.
May 27, 2012
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Of course it is self-serving. That is just by definition. If your argument is accepted it benefits you, which makes it self-serving. That doesn't mean it isn't an honest argument. I fully think you believe what you say, and that if you were on a committee with other players involved in the appeal that you would rule in favor of the 6 bidder. But the assertion is still self-serving.

As I told the director when I was given the problem, I would not have bid 6 regardless of whether 3 showed diamond support or was just clubs, and I didn't think it was a particularly close decision. I think I said that I thought the 6 call was more attractive vs. the diamond raise for reasons I have discussed. Keep in mind that for partner to have a singleton club that means the opponents have a 10-card club fit. That is possible, of course, but if the 3 call artificially shows diamond support I think it is more likely that partner has a doubleton club and a singleton diamond.

Of course that is just my bridge opinion, and yours is obviously different since you did, in fact, bid 6 at the table. Difference of opinions make horse races, duplicate tournaments, and committee decisions. A committee member must exercise his bridge judgment and possibly that of other bridge players when ruling on a case such as this. This is why it is important to have top experts on a committee for an event such as the trials.

As to what the results of the poll you suggest would be, I have no idea. However, the fact that 7 out of 7 experts chose to not bid 6 with no alert on the 3 call indicates that the landslide you are predicting might not happen.
May 21, 2012
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Very well put John. Let's carry your argument even further.

Suppose South is told by West that the 3 call is a good diamond raise, but this is not correct – the 3 bid actually just shows clubs. South chooses to bid 6, and that is not a success. In the committee, South argues as follows:

It is quite likely that partner has the king of spades, so if the spades are 3-2 a spade lead will defeat the contract. From the information I was given, I had every reason to expect the opponents to arrive at 6, which would put partner on lead. He is unlikely to find the spade lead on the bidding, and since the opponents clearly have a side club fit they may be able to discard the spade loser on a club. Therefore, I judged that saving was the percentage action.

Had I known that the 3 bid just showed clubs, I would expect the opponents to arrive in 6, not 6. That would put me on lead, and I would know to lead a spade. Thus, had I been given the correct information that the 3 bid just showed clubs, I would not have taken the save since with a spade lead I believe there is a good chance to defeat the contract.

The point I am making is that one can always find an argument for an action, and if given MI one can always come up with a self-serving reason why the MI caused them to do the wrong thing. I think the argument for not saving if the 3 call just shows clubs is as strong, if not stronger, than the argument for not saving if the 3 call is a diamond raise. In fact, when I was presented with the problem with no alert, I did not save for exactly this reason – that I would be on lead against the expected 6 contract.
May 20, 2012
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For a simple counter-example when East has Jxxx KQ Kxx Jxxx, suppose South's hand is: KQ10x Axx Jxxx Kx, which is a far more likely hand from East's point of view than the actual hand given the bidding. If East plays a second heart, South must duck again. Now a spade to West and a diamond through defeats the contract (yes, I can see that South could make by finessing the 10 of spades, but that would just be another double-dummy play – imagine West with AJ of spades and the clubs 3-2). If East shifts to a spade without playing the second heart first, the defense won't get the needed 3 red-suit tricks.

I'm not saying that the immediate spade shift is necessarily wrong, although I do suspect that it isn't the percentage play. But to imply that East would or should shift to a spade from your example hand is flat out double-dummy analysis.
May 20, 2012
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For starters East probably doesn't have a slam drive. But that is not the issue in the example you are giving.

In order for a bid to not be permitted in a UI situation, the bid has to be suggested by the UI. On this deal, the UI that East has is that partner thinks he has a 6-count when he actually has a 16-count. That suggests overbidding, not underbidding. If East takes a low road in the auction, that is definitely permissible.
May 19, 2012
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Why would it be kickback (even assuming E-W are playing kickback). Clubs haven't been agreed yet – not until the 4 call. From East's point of view, West doesn't have to have much of a club suit.

If you are asking why West didn't bid kickback, it is because he thought his partner had a weak jump shift in hearts (even more evidence that West did not have any UI). He knew his partner couldn't have 2 aces. He was just gambling his partner had 1 ace.
May 19, 2012
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