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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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Maybe a simulation would prove you right, but until I see that simulation I'll be playing in 2. Keep in mind that there might be a 5-4 spade fit. If that is the case, 2 will be much better than 1NT on balance. Even on your example hand with 5 small spades, I would bet on 2 over 1NT.

If you knew for certain that partner doesn't have 4 spades, it might be another story. But you don't know that.
Aug. 4, 2012
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If chess clocks are to be used, I would recommend using clocks which allow a time delay. The way these work is that you can set a time amount, say 12 seconds, and if a player acts within 12 seconds he doesn't lose any time on his clock. This way a player isn't punished for taking the few seconds he is supposed to take in all situations so as to not convey information to his partner by an instantaneous action.

These time delay clocks have been used in backgammon tournaments for several years, and they are much better than the old chess clocks. In backgammon you make a lot of moves during a match, but most of these moves are made in a few seconds, so you aren't penalized for short delays. Only the truly long huddles are timed. I think the same would be true for bridge.
Aug. 1, 2012
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Either 2NT or 3. With the worthless doubleton in spades and an honor in clubs, I would choose 3.
July 31, 2012
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It should be quite clear that when I recommend a bid or play in this series I am giving my opinion. I am not stating it as a fact. The readers can and should form their own opinions, which will often be quite different from mine.

If a player chooses to pass a hand such as the North hand, that is their decision. I'm simply saying that I do not believe it is a percentage action.
July 30, 2012
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I think that is double-dummy. Why couldn't declarer have stiff 10 of hearts, or even stiff king? Why couldn't partner have K1098x of spades instead of A1098x along with some minor-suit entry, in which case it is essential to continue spades?
July 30, 2012
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The 2 call shows no game interest. If responder has game interest, he bids 2, then 2. Provided opener is strong enough to continue, there will be time to locate a 5-3 heart fit.

Keep in mind that we are playing Precision, so opener's hand is limited. That will affect the maximum responder might have for the 2 call.
July 25, 2012
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Yes, I would. I don't think there is much difference. Even with AJ10xxxx I would probably go for 4, even though now there is a much greater chance of shooting past 3NT. The odds on the vulnerability are too great to pass up.
July 22, 2012
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Keep in mind that we are playing Precision. Thus, opener doesn't have the 18 HCP hand. His only reason for making another move would be the extra distribution.

In a non-limited opening bid context the parameters would be different. But with opener being limited, he shouldn't be balanced if he makes a move.
July 19, 2012
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The 3 call itself implies diamond shortness, since without diamond shortness opener has no business going above the 2-level when responder has announced no game interest.
July 19, 2012
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The 2 call is a choice of partials. It shows no game interest opposite a normal hand. Your example hands are clearly too strong for a 2 call, since they have definite game interest. Thus, forget about slam.

Keep in mind that responder can be quite weak. A 2-5-3-3 6-count would be quite consistent with responder's sequence. Thus, I see no justification for driving this hand to game.

July 19, 2012
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I believe Rainer's analysis is accurate. After taking the immediate diamond ruff, there are adequate entries to get the necessary small ruffs in hand when the black suits behave well. When something bad is happening in the black suits, the chances of scrambling home enough ruffs is definitely better with the first diamond ruff locked in. So, the best line of play appears to be to ruff a diamond at trick 2 and then blast away with the clubs.
July 16, 2012
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I don't agree at all. South has AJxx of diamonds opposite his partner's known singleton. From South's point of view, 4 is almost certainly better than 3NT.
July 14, 2012
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I gave arguments both ways. It is possible that the opponents have a 9-card fit. Also, the vulnerability argues for bidding.

Why does the vulnerability make such a difference? If both 2 and 2 are down 1, passing gains a whopping 3 IMPs. However, if either 2 or 2 makes and the other contract is down 1 (which is what the law of total tricks suggests is a likely outcome), then bidding gains 2 IMPs. If the decision is close it is generally better to bid than to pass in this situation. It is more likely that the defense will drop a trick than that declarer will drop a trick. Also, maybe the opponents will misjudge and compete to 3. They can't make a mistake if you don't give them the opportunity to do so.

While it is true that 2 should go down, it isn't an “easy” set such as 6 top losers. There is work to be done, which means there are ways the defense can screw up.
July 13, 2012
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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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