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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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Playing ace first loses when North has QJ53, QJ52, QJ32, and QJ532 – 4 losing cases.

Riding the 10 (unless North shows out) loses when North has Q532 and J532 – 2 losing cases.

So obviously riding the 10 is better.
May 9
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Is it that easy? They duck the diamond. You ruff another club low, and that lives. Then what? You have to get back to you hand for one more club ruff, and again to draw the last trump. Also you have to knock out the ace of diamonds before tapping yourself in spades. If the trumps are 3-1, it seems you are in jeopardy on a 5-2 diamond split, or possibly on a 4-3 diamond split if an opponent can discard a diamond on the fourth round of clubs.

All that being said, I agree that slam is probably a slight favorite to make. But it has to be close enough to not worry about missing it.
May 9
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Unless I am missing something, it looks like N-S judged fine. What 12 tricks would you propose to take in 6?
May 9
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I am assuming the play goes: Ace of diamonds, club to queen, ace of clubs, club, diamond, run clubs.

If South has a major-suit ace he will show strength in that suit (using whatever the partnership agreements are), and then discard down to stiff ace. This will allow North to discard to a void in that suit and hold maximum protection if the other major.

Similarly, if North has an ace he will suit-preference in his minor-suit plays to make it clear that he has that ace.

When neither defender shows an ace in a major, the position is clear. Declarer has 8 top tricks. If declarer has only one major-suit queen he will have no choice but to take that finesse. If he has both queens, he has to guess which finesse to take. He isn't going to take some anti-percentage play of playing North for both kings and being forced to stiff a king.

I don't see where deception comes in. North can pitch a spade, and then randomly a heart or a spade for his final pitch. South can pitch a diamond, a spade, a heart, and then randomly a heart or a spade for his last pitch. Declarer will simply have to guess which finesse to take.
May 7
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Right – wrote too fast. Of course C(5,3) is also 10, not 20.
May 7
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If the AK of clubs lives, you are cold regardless of the rest of the hand (unless there is a diamond ruff). Ruff a club with the jack of hearts, and if no overruff play ace of hearts and 10 of hearts. This will limit the opponents to 2 trump tricks no matter what.

Given that, why not cash the ace of hearts before playing on clubs? This gains when an opponent is 1-1 in hearts and clubs. It could also gain if the ace of hearts drops an honor, since then you continue trumps and make unless you have 2 club lowers. This could gain if somebody has KQ doubleton of hearts, a doubleton club, and his partner has a stiff diamond.

I can't find any downside to cashing the ace of hearts first.
May 6
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Why do you say a 2 rebid is invitational with hearts? If I had something like: xxx Qx xx AQJxxx I would bid 2, then 2, and not want it to be invitational. Would you do differently?
May 6
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Let's assume that West is 5-4 in spades and diamonds. I understand that there are other possibilities, but this is the most likely scenario, so if one play comes out clearly better on this assumption it will be the right play.

Leading a spade is superior when West has stiff ace of hearts and xxx in clubs.

Leading a heart is superior when West has Ax of hearts and xx in clubs.

There is 1 stiff ace. There are 20 xxx holdings (5 things taken 3 at a time). That gives 20 winning layouts for leading a spade.

There are 4 Ax holdings. There are 20 xx holdings (5 things taken 2 at a time). That give 80 winning layouts for leading a heart.

It isn't close. Leading a heart is far better.
May 6
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Right. Our general agreements when they double a low-level artificial bid like this are:

Pass = asks partner to pass it out there with 3+ in the suit (if next hand passes), to shut up if next hand bids.

Redouble = forces the cheapest bid, to place the contract.

Other = as if no double.

This agreement will let us escape in the artificial suit sometimes, or force them to pull when they don't have a stack in the suit. It is most valuable when partner opens 2 multi and we are short in one of the majors.
May 6
ATB
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South's defense makes no sense. While it might be right to win the ace of spades and shift to a heart, if South is planning on continuing spades it will always be better to play the queen of spades. If West has the king, nothing will be lost. If partner has the king, partner will know what is going on in the spade suit and can defend accordingly.
May 5
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I have thought about it. The answer is: almost never.

For us to go -500, that would mean the opponents would be able to take 8 tricks with our 7 or 8-card fit trumps. If they can do that they are on the verge of making 3NT, which means that RHO wouldn't have passed 1NT.

Furthermore, even if we are in trouble who is going to double? Not the 1NT opener, since he has bid his hand and doesn't know that his partner has anything. So only the partner of the 1NT bidder can double, and he would need a trump stack to do this. Furthermore, most pairs play that his double is takeout, so even that risk is non-existent.

In addition, most pairs are unwilling to make what might be a marginal double of 2 of a major for fear of doubling the opponents into game. They know their par is to get any plus score, so they are happy defeating the contract undoubled.

Sure, it could happen. But in real life going for a number with this balancing action is very rare. The actual hand is a perfect illustration. The 2 bidder hit just about the worst possible holding. His partner had no fit for either major, and the opponents had well over half the deck. And nothing terrible happened.
May 5
Kit Woolsey edited this comment May 5
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Strength has nothing to do with the decision of whether or not to balance with both majors. You know from West's pass of 1NT that every king you don't hold is in partner's hand. In fact, the weaker you are the more attractive balancing is. If partner has, say, 13 HCP, the reason he didn't act immediately is likely because he has a balanced hand, and if partner is balanced you are more likely to catch a fit in one of the majors.

As to a guideline about whether or not to balance, keep in mind that passing is equivalent to choosing to play 1NT rather than 2 of a major, since you need the same 7 tricks to get a plus score. So, ask yourself the following question: Suppose partner opened 1NT showing a balanced hand in the range where your side has approximately half the deck opposite your hand. Would you pass, or would you bid garbage Stayman? The answer to that question will tell you what to do.
May 5
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South might have taken different actions. However, North's failure to compete to 3 with a known 9-card fit and a singleton in the enemy suit is criminal. North clearly doesn't understand the Law of Total Tricks.
May 4
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Sorry, but I don't buy this. This isn't the Peter Fredin hand, and you know that it isn't. Declarer won't try that swindle. He will take the perfectly legitimate line of knocking out the ace of spades, then ducking the first round of diamonds, before playing AK of hearts, stripping the black suits, and hoping the player with 3 hearts has a doubleton diamond.

Probably your best bet is to hope declarer has the 9 of hearts. Play an honest and seemingly careless 2 of clubs on the first round, showing your length. Duck the first round of spades, so declarer will be concerned about a spade ruff. This might cause declarer to abandon the strip and misguess the hearts.
May 4
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On a club lead, it might be right to win the ace of clubs, diamond to ace, diamond ruff, and then ace and a heart. The point is that if East has stiff 10 or 9 of hearts you still have good chances with a trump coup. On a club return, say, you win in hand, cash the king of diamonds discarding a club, ruff a club, spade to queen, and ram good clubs through West. All this needs is a 3-2 club split. Since this line might give better protection against a club ruff when the clubs are 4-1, it could be best.
May 4
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Patrick,

That's exactly what you want to happen! You want it broadcast to as many people as possible exactly what you are doing.
May 4
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I wasn't talking about avoiding disqualification. I was focusing on visibility. If you just refuse to play against them, nobody may notice. But if you sit there for 15 minutes without making a bid, it will be quite clear to directors, kibitzers, and other players exactly what you are doing. The hope is that the next pair who plays them says to themselves: Hey, if Roy and Sabine can do this, we can also. Once the ball gets rolling, that will have the desired effect.
May 3
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Perhaps a better approach than refusing to play against them is to sit down to play, but simply don't make a bid for the entire round. You will get a slow play penalty, of course, but you won't be expelled for not playing against a pair. More important, it will be visible to other players what you are doing, and other players will be more inclined to follow your example. That is the key. If everybody refuses to make a bid against them, that will do the job.
May 3
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If the 2 call shows 6+ spades in the partnership agreement, both East and West should have explained this agreement to their screenmate when the call was made. If they had followed the proper procedure, there would not have been a problem. The fact that East happens to have 5 spades doesn't matter. East is entitled to bid his hand as he sees fit.

Obviously the question was worded badly. The proper wording is: Does the 2 call show 6+ spades. If the question had been worded properly, East could answer yes without a problem.

As it was, East was put in an awkward position. His best move would have been to answer the question in writing by saying: 2 shows 6+ spades.

Anyway, East can bid his hand as he sees fit and there is no MI.
May 3
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When I declared the hand I did win the first trick for that reason. However, it was an error. The double end-play will work regardless if you duck. The problem with winning the first trick is that I didn't know whom to play for the 10 of clubs. Oren's play was better.
April 29
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