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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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We use this treatment all the time at the 3-level, when partner has opened the bidding, overcalled, or made a takeout double, and the next hand bids 3, 3, or 3. This lets us distinguish between an invitational hand and a competitive hand. It is conceptually the same as a good-bad 2NT. We can't bid 2NT, so we use the double to show the weak hand.

For example, suppose the bidding goes: 1-3 to you, and you hold QJxx xx Kxxx xxx. You would like to bid the third and final spade (unless opener has a big hand), but if you do partner may take you seriously and bid game. What if you have the same hand with another ace? Now you would like to invite in spades. If you have to bid 3 on both hands, opener is guessing blind.

We solve this problem. 3 is a true limit raise. If we just want to compete to 3 we double, and opener bids 3 unless he has a hand willing to be in game opposite a weak competitive raise.

The relay double also allows us to compete at the 3-level with a weak hand and a long suit. For example, the bidding goes 1-3 to you and you hold: xx QJ109xxx x Kxx. You would like to bid the third and final heart, but 3 is forcing. We can do it. 3 is also forcing with us, but we can double with the above hand expecting opener to bid 3 (the cheapest step) unless he has considerable extra values.

What do we do when we hold a normal negative or responsive double? If we are strong enough to drive to game we make the relay double and follow with 3NT or a Q-bid, which turns the double into a normal negative or responsive double. With an invitational hand we have to go one way or the other, but Standard players aren't much better off. Suppose the bidding goes 1-3 to you and you hold KJxx QJxx xx Kxx. A perfect negative double, right? But if partner doesn't have a major he will be bidding 3NT or 4C, and if he is minimal you are too high. Suppose partner does oblige with 3 of a major. Are you going to pass? If so, it seems inconsistent – stopping short when you do have a fit, but bidding higher when you don't.

Our experience is that when the opponents have bid to the 3-level, the ability to distinguish between a limit raise and a competitive raise or to introduce a new suit without forcing is more valuable than a negative or responsive double.

Kit
Jan. 31, 2011
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Thanks Steve. But what about the most important question – were they in a force?
Jan. 31, 2011
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I think that North's re-opening double is clear. You don't win IMPs by selling out at a low level short in their suit.

In my partnerships pass of the redouble by South would be penalties. I guess we can assume that this is not the case for Meckwell. But what is 2 supposed to show? I would think it should show a good hand with no spade stopper and no clear direction. South's hand is so far from my concept that Meckwell apparently have a different idea about the meaning of the 2 call. Without knowing what their agreements are, it is difficult to comment intelligently on the rest of the auction.

North's 3 call looks right. I would think that 2NT should show a spade stopper, and since North is assumed to have 4 hearts 3 is more informative than 3.

Are they in a force? By my agreements yes, since South showed at least invitational values with the 2 call. If instead South had bid 4 under fire (e.g. if East had bid 4 instead of redouble), then the 4 call would not create a force. But we don't know what their agreements are.

Should North double 5? This really depends on their agreements. If they are not in a force I don't see any reason for North to express an opinion. But if they are in a force I think North should double, since it is hard to imagine any hand South can have which will produce 11 tricks. If 5 makes that's too bad, but North doesn't want South bidding on. North needs spade shortness to justify not doubling.

What should South do? Again we are back to the question of whether or not a force exists. If there is no force then I think South should double. His spade holding will make it very difficult for the opponents to handle an 11-trick contract, and South has no great expectations of taking 11 tricks in what can't be more than an 8-card fit. However, if North's pass is a forcing pass then maybe South's 5 call is right.

Should North convert to 5? I think so. From his point of view his partner's most likely shapes are 5-4-4-0 or 4-4-4-1, and club forces will be more damaging with diamonds trump than with hearts trump.

This hand illustrates the importance of having clear partnership agreements. I am not convinced that Jeff and Eric were on firm ground about the type of hand South figures to have for the 2 call, or whether they were in a force over 5.
Jan. 31, 2011
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Chess clocks have been tried in the past for the U.S trials. They have been wisely abandoned for several reasons.

1) Clearly it would be impractical for the players themselves to punch the clock. Unlike chess where many moves require several minutes of thought, in bridge most bids and plays are made automatically. In addition, there are far more bids and plays in a typical bridge match than there are in a typical chess game. There would be too many distractions. In addition, with screens one couldn't know when the bids were made on the other side, so normal chess clocks wouldn't work anyway. A monitor would be needed.

2) Having a monitor costs money, particularly hiring somebody competent which would be necessary.

3) Monitors make mistakes. Considering all the clock punching which would be needed after every single bid and play, it is easy to see how a monitor might accidentally punch the wrong button. This could result in the wrong pair being assigned the time for a long huddle. Or the monitor might fail to center the clock (which stops both clocks from running) in-between hands, and again a pair might be wrongly charged with using time. There would be no way a pair could protect themselves from such errors.

4) The monitor would have to sit where he could see both sides of the screen, and would have to punch the clock as soon as every bid was made. That would make it easy for a player to see when bids were made on the other side of the screen, thus negating the main purpose of screens.

In addition to the practical problems, there are bridge considerations. The big question is: Do we want the clock to be an integral part of the game, with IMPs riding on the time and strategies developed to win IMPs by causing the opponents to overstep the time limit. Or should the purpose of the clock be to simply keep the game moving.

In chess, the clock is an integral part of the game. It is common and accepted practice to make a possibly unsound move which complicates the position when your opponent is short on time.

How would this translate to bridge? Suppose you are in 7NT, with a long suit and 13 top tricks. Normally you would claim. But if there is an advantage to having your opponent use extra time, you would not claim but simply run your long suit and let them sweat their discards, thinking that you were a trick short and trying to decide how to discard deceptively or what they need to hang onto. One couldn't legislate against such tactics. You aren't required to claim. There isn't a bridge player alive who hasn't played out a hand when he had a claim, either because he miscounted his tricks or he just wanted to make sure.

Here are a couple of actual examples from team trials I have participated in where chess clocks were in use:

At one trials, my partner and I had clearly taken longer for most of the quarter, and we were approaching the time limit for the quarter. IMO my opponents played the last 2 deals intentionally slowly. As a result the table went over the time limit, and our team was penalized 10 IMPs. I don't necessarily criticize my opponents. They are playing to win, and playing within the rules as specified. But should players be subject to this ethical dilemma, where some may feel differently than others.

At another trials, I was playing with Mike Lawrence against Paul Soloway and Bobby Goldman. They are all fast players, and with about 4 boards to go we had about an hour left on the clock. Then Mike was declaring a partial. At trick 3 Bobby was in, and after a couple of minutes he didn't play. It was apparent from the table tension and the seeming simplicity of the hand that Bobby didn't realize he was on lead. If there had been no clock, I would of course have said: You know it is your lead, Bobby, and the game would have gone on. But here, with potential gain from time penalties, what should I do? As it was our non-playing captain was kibitzing on my side of the screen and he clearly knew also, so I decided to leave it to him. He said nothing. After about 40 minutes, Bobby came to his senses. This left maybe 20 minutes on the clock to complete the last 3 boards. Should I intentionally play slowly, which would clearly cause the opponents to be penalized? Whatever I should do, it is clearly an unhappy situation.

It is to be noted that in all these cases, including the 7NT example, the use of the clock and time penalties caused the game to go slower than it would have gone without the clock and time penalties. This is contrary to what the time constraints should be trying to accomplish.

Kit
Jan. 26, 2011
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We virtually always open 2 rather than 1NT with a 6-card club suit, since it is such a descriptive call.

Kit
Jan. 26, 2011
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It is important to understand that there is a big difference between matchpoints (or board-a-match) and IMPs when it come to time considerations.

1) In an IMP match, if you run into a couple of difficult hands which take a total of 20 minutes (instead of the expected 15 minutes), it isn't a big deal. You have 14 boards to make up the extra 5 minutes. The odds are there will be a couple of quick claims which solve the problem. At matchpoints, if you take 20 minutes for 2 difficult hands you are 5 minutes late. This might result in a penalty, and will certainly put you (and, unfairly, your next round opponents) under pressure to play quickly for the next couple of rounds to catch up.

2) If one of your opponents in an IMP match appears to be playing slowly, you have the opportunity to inform the director about this before the table falls too much behind. This will let the director know that there is a problem, as well as give the table a chance to catch up. At matchpoints, you can't realistically call the director every time an opponent goes into a 1 minute huddle. Yet, that huddle (which might become a 2 minute huddle) may cause the table to fall behind.

3) In an IMP match, the directors can determine which tables are potentially problem tables and keep close watch on them, particularly in the late rounds of a knockout event. At matchpoints, this is clearly impossible. All a director can do is come to a table which hasn't finished in time, and that is locking the barn door after the horse is stolen.

4) There are considerably more quick claims or quickly played hands at IMPs. Let's say you are in a 4 contract with a clear number of tricks, and not much chance for an extra trick unless the opponents do something foolish. If you have only 9 tricks, naturally you will put forth a strong effort to induce the opponents to make the unlikely error. However, if you have 10 tricks, most likely you will just claim or at least play the hand quickly, since it isn't worth the time spent for a tiny chance to win an IMP. At matchpoints every trick counts whether it is for the contract or an overtrick, so you will always be making the effort to get that unlikely extra trick. Consequently, the average time to play a hand is greater at matchpoints than at IMPs.

5) If a table is late at IMPs, a director who is doing his job should be able to determine to what extent each pair is at fault and if there are time penalties assign them appropriately. At matchpoints, this is impossible. Sure, a director can ask if either pair is willing to accept responsibility, but we all know how ridiculous that is – often when a player is slow he doesn't even realize it. Thus, the director either has to not penalize the pairs or assign a penalty which may be grossly unfair to one of the pairs.

6) At IMPs, players can discuss their methods with their opponents before the quarter, and any defenses which need to be discussed can be taken care of. Once this is done, there is no need for delay between boards. That is not true at matchpoints. You are playing new opponents every 2 rounds. This means that time may be needed for discussion before each round. Even if there is no discussion, the simple physical matter of having to move the boards, change tables, maybe wait for opponents, and enter the scores (either on a scoreslip or electronically) takes extra time. This delay eats into the already tight time constraints for a matchpoint event.

For these reasons, it is wrong to treat matchpoints and IMPs the same when it comes to time constraints. While 2 hours may be adequate time for a 16-board quarter at IMPs, averaging 7 1/2 minutes per board, that does not mean that 15 minutes is adequate for a 2-board round at matchpoints.

The solution is simply to give more time per round for high-level matchpoint and board-a-match events, in particular the Reisinger. It is true that an extra 2 minutes per round means 1/2 hour less time for dinner and 1/2 hour later play in the evening. Big deal. The players and the directors can and should make this sacrifice in order to alleviate the overdone time pressure which exists in high-level matchpoint and board-a-match events.

There will still be problems, of course. But that extra 2 minutes per round will make it a lot less likely that a pair will fall behind, and if a pair does fall behind it will be a lot easier for them to catch up without having to play unnecessarily quickly. This will mean that the directors won't be in the difficult position of assigning penalties without knowing who really is at fault. We don't want results of our events to be determined by such penalties, particularly since they are often assigned arbitrarily depending on which director is involved, which slow table the director happens to get to, etc.

Kit
Jan. 25, 2011
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1 opening is okay, as is 2NT. Either could work out well or badly.

I think it is clear that Helgemo should not pass over 3. Either 3 or double is much better. My preference would be double, as there is plenty of defensive potential if partner can smash 3. My plan would be:

If LHO bids 3 or 4 and partner doubles, pass
If LHO bids 3 and partner passes, bid 4
If LHO bids 4 and partner passes, bid 4NT

Clearly any action by Helgemo would get them to at least 5.

I don't see what Helness can do over 4. He has no idea if it is making or not, and 5 could easily go for 800.

Helgemo finds himself in a box. Since East bid 4 voluntarily (from East's point of view 3 would probably buy the contract), there is every reason to think that East is bidding to make. In that case Helgemo doesn't have much defense, and if he hits a good fit (with increased chances of doing so after the 4 call) it could even be a double game swing. I think he should bid 4NT.

Kit
Jan. 24, 2011
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Kevin – the basic principle behind all of these sequences is that 3 is always the weakest action. By opener, it shows a minimum. By responder, it is a signoff. Note that our 2 opening always shows 6+ clubs, so 3 can be assumed to be a playable contract.

What Gavin describes is the structure which we initially played. However, we found that the 3 call showing any minimum created problems when responder had a game-forcing hand with some weak suit. Responder needed to if opener was short in the weak suit so he would know whether or not 3NT was playable, and he had to guess.

We now play that 3 shows a balanced minimum. We bid 2 on all hands with some shortness and no 4-card major. Responder can find out everything he needs to know. He asks with 2NT. With a minimum opener bids 3, and if responder is still interested he bids 3 and opener can show his shortness (in a coded manner) without getting above 3NT. If opener has a non-minimum, he shows his shortness directly. This way responder determines both strength and shortness without going above 3NT, as well as being able to stop in 3 when opener has a minimum.

Kit
Jan. 23, 2011
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Wow Steve, is there a “right” line of play here? I can think of at least 3 different approaches, and all of these have sub-variations.

1) Win the heart, and test the clubs. If they come in, claim. If not, play king of diamonds and diamond to dummy, with various options available.

2) Win the heart, and lead king of diamonds and a diamond up. Various options available depending on what happens in the diamond suit.

3) Win the heart lead in dummy, and lead either the 10 of diamonds or a small diamond, hoping to pass it. If East plays something which threatens to win the trick, there are various options.

My preference is to win the heart in hand and play king of diamonds and a diamond up, putting in the 10 if only small diamonds have appeared. This gains when West has QJxx of diamonds and the clubs don't split, as well as picking up any Q9, J9, QJ, or 3-3 diamond split. I risk a killing spade shift from East, but for it to be killing it needs to be from a 3-card holding. If I haven't flagged my club strength, I don't see how East will ever find the shift when a heart return must appear productive. The other lines of play make it easier for East to find the shift.

If East is good enough to play the 9 of diamonds from nine-doubleton and West is good enough to duck from QJxx, they got me when the clubs don't split.

Both of the other approaches tell the defense all about my hand and make it a lot easier for East to find the potentially killing spade shift.

Kit
Jan. 22, 2011
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Sorry Tim, but I believe the ruling is 100% correct. Let's go through the process of analyzing unauthorized information situations step by step:

1) Did you receive unauthorized information? The way to determine this is to picture how things would have looked to you had you been playing with screens so you wouldn't hear the alert. In this case, there is no question that you did receive unauthorized information. Had you been playing with screens, you would have had no clue that your partner (rightly or wrongly) interpreted your 2 opening as Flannery.

2) Does the unauthorized information suggest bidding 3 (as opposed to passing)?. Clearly it does. The knowledge that partner interpreted your 2 call as Flannery tells you that if you pass you will probably be wearing it in 2 doubled, and that figures to be awful.

3) Is passing (as opposed to bidding 3) a logical alternative? Of course one would have to see your actual hand. However, in my bridge judgment if you open a weak 2 and the auction goes as it did not only is passing a logical alternative but it is correct with virtually any hand. Partner has heard your description of your hand, and he can take care of himself. Pass by you doesn't show any kind of heart support, since presumably partner, who made a lead-directing raise, wasn't planning on playing in hearts anyway. So why do anything? For all you know partner's lead-directing raise looks like xx KQJ10xx Axx xx and he will be perfectly happy to play 2 doubled.

Since you clearly had unauthorized information, and since the 3 call was clearly suggested by the unauthorized information, then if it is judged that pass is a logical alternative that makes the 3 call inadmissible and the result should be adjudicated to what would likely have happened had you passed. Whether the adjudication of the committee is accurate or not would depend upon the entire hand.

Of course the above is just my own personal bridge judgment. Others may think that pass is not a logical alternative on your hand, in which case the call would be admissible. However, from the committee's ruling it appears that the committee agreed with my bridge judgment.

Kit
Jan. 21, 2011
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No Barry, my 1 opening in third seat does not necessarily show diamonds. It could easily be on a worthless doubleton. Sorry if I misled you. My example hands were just illustrations of hands which might also be opened 1 in Standard.

Kit
Jan. 21, 2011
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Cute story. But one wonders what would have happened had the director been called back to the table after the hand is over. There are several points to consider.

1) Were the opponents damaged by mis-information? It doesn't seem so. The partnership agreement was Flannery, and that is what they were told. They also had the further information that North actually had a weak 2-bid, which for them is quite authorized information. If they were unable to sort things out, unlucky, but they did have the information they were entitled to and more.

2) Was North permitted to pass 2 holding 4-card support? Yes. North didn't have any unauthorized information. She could do anything she thought was right. If South had alerted the 2 call, was asked, and said it was Flannery, then North would have the unauthorized information that she had made a mistake. But from the author's description it seems clear that she worked that out on her own.

3) Was South permitted to bid only 2? This is questionable. South definitely did have the unauthorized information that North had a weak 2 in diamonds rather than a Flannery call. There is no question that this unauthorized information suggested a conservative 2 call rather than an invitational 3 call (or a mixed raise to 3, or whatever the partnership methods might permit). If the director or a committee judged that a 3 call was a “logical alternative” to 2, then the 2 call should not be permitted and the result should be adjudicated to whatever is deemed likely after South bids 3.

4) Is North permitted to “psych” the 2 opener? I'm not sure. I seem to recall that there is some ACBL regulation which prohibits psyching of artificial calls. If so, then the 2 call should not be permitted – even though it was accidental, it is still a psych of an artificial call. That would indicate that N-S should get average minus or their score on the board, whichever is worse, and E-W should get the reciprocal.

It was probably best for all concerned that the director wasn't called back to the table.

Kit
Jan. 20, 2011
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Let's say I'm playing Precision, with my 1 opening defined to be 11-15 points, at least 2 diamonds, no 5-card major, no 6-card club suit. In third seat with none vulnerable I pick up xxx xxx AKJ10x QJ. Naturally I open 1. It is in my range. If partner responds 1 of a major I can pass, so there are no rebid problems. In addition, by opening the bidding I prevent the opponents from opening, which is advantageous since opponents usually bid more accurately when they open the bidding than when they have to start with an overcall or a takeout double. Standard players would probably make the same call. They would have more reason to be happy with their 1 opening since that actually shows diamonds which they have, increasing the chances that partner will make a good competitive decision or get off to the right lead.

Make the hand xxx xxx AKJ10x Qx. Does that change anything? Of course not. But now I am outside my stated 11-15 point-count range. Have I psyched? Or have I just shaded things a bit? All the same comments apply to Standard players.

Make the hand xxx xxx AKJ10x Jx. Does that change anything? Have I psyched? I am now farther away from my stated range, but the hand is essentially the same hand with the advantages and disadvantages for the 1 opening. Once again, all the same comments apply to Standard players.

Make the hand xxx xxx AKJ10x xx. Does that change anything? Have I now officially psyched because I am 3 Goren points away from my stated range. Yet the hand is still essentially the same hand.

Where do you draw the line? At what point does a bid become a “psych” instead of a shading or a tactical call? Is there some point count range which defines this? What does point count have to do with it anyway. Everybody knows that the Goren point count is at best an approximation of hand strength.

I think that John has the right answer. Any third seat bid is potentially a fert, although it could also be an opening bid with full values. It is true that a light 1 opening is safer in Precision than in Standard due to the nature of the structure. Partner is known to have less than 11 points, so since your opening bid is limited to 15 (lower if balanced since you didn't open 1NT), there isn't likely to be a game. Furthermore, since the 1 bid doesn't show diamonds partner won't be able to compete too high since he won't know of any fit. Thus, partner is less likely to bury you for opening light in third seat than playing Standard. This is an intrinsic advantage of playing Precision, and there is no reason why it shouldn't be capitalized on with appropriate hands.

Bids such as this cannot be banned, nor should they be. It is the player's goal to make whatever bid he thinks is most likely to be successful. It is required that opponents know systematic meanings, but everybody knows that a third seat opening might be light whether playing Precision or Standard.

The only thing which should be policed is the actions of responder. If responder fails to take what appears to be a clear action opposite a true 11-14 hand and it turns out that opener has one of those 7-counts, that is cause for some adjustment.

Kit
Jan. 20, 2011
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In my opinion, the loss of a natural 2 response will hurt both your slam bidding and your choice of game decisions, and the cost will be greater than the small gain from stopping at 2 on the invitational hands opposite a minimum.

The reason that Drury is so effective is that when the partner of the opening bidder is a passed hand both slam and game (if no fit) chances go way down, so the importance of having a natural 2 call available is much less.

Kit
Jan. 19, 2011
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Well Geoff, we will just have to agree to disagree. It is true that opening 1 isn't a misdirection, since partner will play you for a weak notrump which is exactly what you have. However, there are some costs:

1) You lose any chance to find a 5-3 heart fit.

2) When partner has 4 hearts, the 1 opening will allow partner to bounce the auction to whatever level looks right to him.

3) When LHO gets to 3NT, partner will find a heart lead – probably best, as that is your 5-card suit and you do have entries.

The disadvantages of opening 1 are:

1) You will sometimes get to 4 in a 5-3 fit when 3NT is better.

2) Partner may mis-evaluate his hand expecting you to have heart strength.

3) Partner may make a losing heart lead against a suit contract.

I believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Geoff and Barry think otherwise. That's what makes bridge interesting.

Kit
Jan. 17, 2011
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The actions through 7 are okay. Brad's upgrade could be disputed, but that isn't worth quibbling about. His 4 choice looks right. At this point he assumes it is a question of the best game, and with his primish hand the 5-2 spade fit looks better than 4NT. Fred might have bid 7 immediately over 3NT, but what he did was fine. He certainly described his 5-4-0-4 shape, and from his point of view a grand was probably laydown or at worst on a finesse.

Brad's 7 call looks bad at first glance, but at a very high level I believe it is correct. If Brad had AKQJxx of diamonds, it is inconceivable that he would bid 4 on his known doubleton and suggest that contract. He would definitely have bid 4NT, the contract he knows is right. Given that, Brad knows that Fred knows that 7 can't be the right contract, so it must be pick-a-slam.

Why should Brad bid 7 rather than 7 if he wants to offer a choice of grands? Because his hearts are weak. Picture Brad holding the same hand, but AJx of hearts instead of Axx. Now 7H is where you want to be. By bidding 7, Brad gives Fred the opportunity to bid 7 if Fred has KQJx of hearts, which would again make 7 best. With the jack of hearts missing, 7NT is the superior grand.

Clearly Fred erred by passing 7. He should have realized that in light of Brad's 4 call Brad couldn't have the hand where 7 is best.

While Brad's 7 call is theoretically correct, whether it is the correct practical call could be disputed. This sort of bid puts Fred under a lot of pressure, and he might fail to draw the inference that Brad can't have solid diamonds. Whether it is worth taking this risk for the extra added accuracy of choice of strain is not clear.

There is one further point which I feel should be brought up. As I remember watching this hand on vu-graph, Brad took took quite some time before bidding 7. This is understandable, of course, since he has a complicated problem. Fred may have felt that he could not justify pulling 7. If Brad did have solid diamonds it wouldn't have taken him long to bid 7, so Fred had unauthorized information from the huddle that Brad didn't have solid diamonds. However, Fred also had the same information authorized from Brad's 4 call that Brad didn't have solid diamonds, so Fred was entitled to pull 7.

At the table this is lot of information to process, and I have plenty of sympathy for Fred's error. I will admit that when I was watching I didn't appreciate all the inferences, and I thought that Brad shouldn't have bid 7 and that Fred was ethically bound to pass. It was only today that I understood Brad's thinking. If I couldn't figure this out from the comfort of watching on vu-graph, imagine how difficult it is for Fred to work it out at the table under the pressure of a grand slam decision in the trials with possible ethical problems hanging over his head. Bridge can be a very difficult game.

Kit
Jan. 17, 2011
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Trying to judge what N-S would do on various hands with the different philosophies is difficult to do objectively. I think a more meaningful approach is as follows:

1) Deal out whatever number of hands according to whatever specifications about the 1 opening and 4 overcall.

2) Give the N-S hands to partnerships after that start and have them bid them. One partnership has the “takeout/cards” philosophy, the other has the “penalty/cards” philosophy.

3) Score the final contracts against each other based on expected IMPs (this might take some judgment, but should be reasonably easy to do fairly).

This way you don't have to make any subjective decisions about what bids N-S would make with the different philosophies.

Kit
Jan. 17, 2011
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Well, Barry, we'll have to let Hampson speak for himself on that. But I couldn't disagree with you more. Shape is everything, particularly when you are the limited hand. You must describe your shape accurately. Assuming a 14-16 notrump range (which we play vulnerable), I would routinely open 1 and not even think there is a second choice. The limited hand must not mastermind in any way when describing his distribution.

Kit
Jan. 16, 2011
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Henry – Even with your Roth-Stonish style, I think it is safe to say that you will open “all” 13-point hands. Yes, there might be some junky ones you would pass, but when you pass partner will not be expecting you to have 13 points.

Playing Precision, the defined minimum opening bid strength is 11, not 13. This is what partner will be expecting. If I pass this hand, partner will never play me for this much strength. Yes, there are some awful 11-pointers I might pass, but this hand with primes certainly isn't one of them. It is an automatic opening bid in my style. If we were vulnerable so the 10-12 notrump wasn't available (we play 10-12 notrump only non-vul 1st and 2nd seat), opening 1 would be routine. Since the 10-12 notrump is available the question is what to open – not whether to open.

One of the advantages of Precision is that the non 1 openings have an upper range of 15, which permits a lower range of 11 since it is only a 5-point range. Playing Standard where a 1-bid might be as strong as 19, it is more dangerous to open 11-counts since a 9-point range can be difficult to handle.

Of course what structure one chooses is a matter of personal style. My experience is that in bridge, as in war, the side which strikes the first blow is usually at an advantage, so I want to open the bidding as often as I reasonably can.

Kit
Jan. 16, 2011
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The reason we don't define it as 11-15 is the same reason that standard players don't define their notrump rebids as 12-16. It is simply too wide a range. On slam auctions responder would not have a sufficient handle on opener's strength.

Suppose playing Standard as dealer you hold: xx AQxxx KQx AJx. I'm sure you would open 1NT. It isn't because the hand is notrumpish – the hand is quite suit-oriented for a 5-3-3-2 hand. It is because if you open 1 and partner responds 1 you don't have a reasonable rebid.

Give yourself the same hand but make the queen of hearts the jack, and now you might open 1. Here if partner bids 1 you can fudge and rebid 1NT. The range of the 1NT rebid is 12-14 so you are a jack heavy, but you can live with that.

Give yourself the same hand but interchange the majors and now you might open 1. The rebid problems aren't as severe. If partner responds 2 you will have to rebid 2NT. This shows 12-14, but you might survive that. You don't define the 2NT rebid as 12-16 just to cater to this specific hand type. You simply decide which opening bid is the lesser evil taking hand type and rebid considerations into account and you live with your choice.

On the actual hand, if my ace of spades were the king of spades then opening 1NT would be clear since the distortions after a 1 opening are too great to handle. As seen I did choose to open 1NT at the table, but in retrospect I believe I was wrong. I can afford to treat this hand as a 13-15 if I need to.

Kit
Jan. 16, 2011
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