Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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Difficult hand - both to play and to analyze.
What do we actually KNOW about the opposing hands based on the bidding and the lead? Not a whole lot.
When an opponent shows out in a suit, you KNOW the distribution of that suit. When an opponent opens 1N, you ‘pretty much know’ their range of HCP.
But when an opponent opens a preempt, unless you have actual knowledge of the particular player's style, one should be careful about being too confident in one's inferences.

The line that Samuel suggests (A, H to Q and low club) has, for me, a huge flaw. It risks going down with Q onside. Yes, because this is given as a problem, we pretty much know Q is offside. But, at the table, I'd be loath to take any line that would fail with Q onside.

Adam's line - on the normal defense of K, heart - suffers from the same flaw.

I think it's reasonable to think the lead is from 10xx (which is a likely sort of lead after a preempt here - though Adam's point about West being 6-4 to have his bid is well taken). I win A and lead a club to the 10. Cold if this wins - that's a big ‘chunk’ of percentage already.

Let's say they win Q and return a spade - as they naturally well might. I win the A, cross to Q, lead to J and play a heart. I still make if he led from 10xx - unless he has a third club (when K then messes up my entries)

If they find the inspired shift I need to duck - not because I think stiff ace is anything other than a remote chance, but because I only have 8 tricks if the K wins.

If I lose to stiff ace, I'm cold. If a is doubleton I hope (if East is on lead) that he plays another . Or maybe West had AJ tight and is on lead now.
If West has 6-10xx, Ax, xx I still survive - unless he finds a exit which messes up my entries. Hopefully, he'd just play a heart to set up his 10. Then to J and heart makes.

I'm still not certain of the correct line. But the main thing I want to impart is to try to avoid going down on fairly normal luck (Q onside), unless you feel certain another more obscure play is ‘percentage’.
Feb. 18
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First, the double of 2 is inadvisable. While not ‘penalty’, it does not suggest this shape. Just bid 2.

Second, why on earth would opener bid 4 after 3 gets (foolishly) doubled? Maybe the double of 3 is a typo. Or maybe that’s what you meant about partner not knowing stuff.

Now to the play. Rather than play A and then ruff a to lead a club,, don’t you see it’s far more logical to ruff the and lead a club from hand? If West has A and ducks, you then have the option to discard a CLUB on the A.
More importantly, you don’t allow RHO to play that third through.

Plays such as this are a matter of ‘timing’ - something you want to develop a feel for.

The rest of the play was nice – especially the ending.
Feb. 18
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Its true those are different. But I think it's simpler, and easier on memory, if you just have one agreement as to what you lead from xxx in partner's suit in NT - and not have it be ‘auction dependent’.
Of course, if you HAVE raised then lead high from xxx. You've already told partner you have 3. Now tell him you have no honor.

Side note: I see a lot of inexperienced juniors routinely leading high from honor-third here. I don't know where they ‘learned’ to do it - but this is definitely wrong. Even 10xx should lead low.
There is even a case for being worried about leading the 9 from 9xx. Dummy has (say) Jx and declarer has AQ8 - the lead of the 9 blows up the suit.
That's probably why Debbie posed the problem from 8xx…..
Feb. 17
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I'm always bidding slam. My first thought was to bid 5 so partner could bid grand with (say) —, Kxxxxxx, AKQJ, Ax - but then I realized 4N then 5N get's the same result - but more clearly.
I'm always scared of bidding grands without going through KC….
Feb. 17
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To me it's an important competitive principle that we act more aggressively with shortness in their suit and less agressively with length in their suit.
Here partner acted freely with at least 4 (likely 5) cards in their suit. If he had a baddish hand, he would pass and let me double again. In my way of thinking, partmer MUST have sound values. So I'm bidding a slam.

I might ‘muddy the waters’ with a 4 bid (and that also gives partner roon to cooperate - if he bids 4, we might have a grand.
Another way to ‘be tricky’ is to bid KC. Old philosophy is ‘don’t bid KC with a void'. And that makes sense when you're having a ‘conversation’ auction.
But, if you're always bidding slam, if you just jump to 6 you're more or less announcing the void to the opponents. If you bid KC then 6 - they'll think you have no void. The goal is to try to make their opening lead more difficult - so you feed them some false information at virtually no cost.

I STRESS that this tactic is only to be used when you've already determined what the final contract should be. And also be wary of doing it if you are declarer and the KC response might get doubled (which will help them with the lead).
Here, with partner declaring, no need to worry about a double.
Feb. 17
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Sorry, I was having a blackout where I talked about the successful guess in line 3. A club back messes up my entries too. So the guess should be to Q - hoping West played second hand low. Probably ok if no J there - but if WEst has KJx(x) he might well rise.

So, sadly, I think I have to give up line 3. Either 1 or 2 seems fine.
Feb. 14
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So here are altenative lines - all assuming nothing good happens at trick one.

1) The spade finesse - Bobby's line. Clean. Though he did say. “presumably lead a spade” so perhaps his mind is wandering towards…

2) ‘Guess the finesse’ - Win the first club in hand, unblock hearts, to ace, cash hearts (pitch 2 spades and Club from dummy), then try to use your card-reading skills (they made 4 discards) to guess which finesse to take. (Though if you play you might fail even when ‘right’, if they can take K and 4 spades).

3) ‘Combine chances’ - line I went over in my previous comment.

Unfortunately, entries don't permit this line to work seamlessly, due to the heart blockage. Had hearts been KQ1098 (or even KQ10xx) the right line would be to duck club, win A, low (misguessing), win return, A, overtake J, run hearts and lead a to the K. But, here this also needs 3-3 hearts.

And another risk here is after a SUCCESSFUL guess at trick 3, a back would force you to rely on 3-3 hearts. Hopefully, they won't find that amazing defense, and will just play another club.

Still, this line may be best, since you have the finesse and still have a chance when it loses.

It's definitely the ‘scariest’ line to take - but it does give you 3-3 hearts and A onside (about 18% ‘extra’ in addition to the finesse.)

I lean toward line 3 - because OPPONENTS CANNOT SEE YOUR HAND.
They will almost never find that back.

Hope I'm not having a blackout here…
Feb. 14
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So now for the rest of the hand. Assuming nothing good happens at trick one, how should we begin?
With 8 tricks (assuming hearts not 5-1), the 9th trick could from a successful guess, or finding A onside. My first thought of what I wanted to do is to combine those chances - it would be nice if we could succeed if either works.
The ‘normal’ way to best combine these chances would be to lead a LOW diamond from the ace (to keep control); then, after an unsuccessful guess, win the (or return) and then try a spade to the king - 2 finesses are better than one!

I wanted to put this ‘combining chances’ idea in a separate comment to highlight the general principle. My third and final comment coming next (did I hear ‘Thank God’)?
Feb. 14
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Great problem - and I'm not just saying that because card play problems are inherently more interesting than bidding problems!

I'm going to split up my comment. My first will deal with trick one only.

What to do at trick one depends, at least partly, on something we can't really be sure of, viz. what would West lead from J982 or Q982? I think the majority just leads 4th best though some (both experts and non-experts) treat this holding as an ‘interior sequence’ and lead a middle card.

But since that's only two holdings, why even consider the 7 when the 2 could be from QJ82, QJ52 or QJ42 - 3 holdings? The answer lies in an important card play principle -
THE OPPONENTS CANNOT SEE YOUR HAND.
Let's say you play low and East has Q95, Q94, Q85, Q84, J85 or J84. Does he know what to do? Yes, the middle card works here - but it would be pretty bad to play (say) the 8 from Q8x and find partner had led from AJxx.

The above (re East's guess) would have some validity even without the 7.

So what to do at trick one from dummy is a function of how often West leads low from H98x PLUS how often East will guess wrong with the holdings listed above. Not easy,

Spots matter. Change the lead to the 6 and things are different. Now, there is (if you presume an honor would have been led from QJ96(x)) only ONE ‘combination’ the 10 wins on - QJ86(x) - and two H986(x) combinations where the 7 ‘wins’.
On the other hand, if you play the 7 here, there is no losing ‘guess’ for East. Assuming normal 4th best, East can't have any of those Q9 or H8 holdings.

I offer no conclusion about which play is ‘correct’ at trick one. But I will say that the ‘Standard Expert’ play is the 10. And thus (going back to the deuce lead), many Expert Easts will NOT stick in the middle card - thinking you would have played the 10 had you had Axx.

Once, playing against Eddie Wold, I played low on this holding. He was surprised - and also upset because it worked!. (I forget if it worked because he had led from H98x, or because his partner misguessed.)
Feb. 14
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Sarik: 3N by West is realy difficult to reach on any sensiblr auction.

Michael S: I agree about 2 - it shouldn't be a given that one bids 2 on ever hand with 6-card . The double has relieved you of the obligation created by partner's forcing bid.

I also agree that 4 is the best of games that one can reasonably reach - since 3N by the stiff club hand seems unattainable.

I'm far less clear on the idea of 4 being a ‘NF cuebid’. That seems to mean you can't show stiff A - an idea I don't like. I'd tend to think more that if rsponder is not clear on what trumps should be, he should ‘go slower’ and investigate.

With that in mind, I see 1-1(X), 2-2, 2N-3, 3 as a good start - and now responder, realizing the importance of protecting the K, MIGHT bid 4.
Feb. 14
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Sorry. Yes, I meant on the assumption that 3 was some sort of fit-showing bid, that one should clarify whether it promises 5-card .
Feb. 14
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“For the avoidance of doubt, I am asking what you believe the standard interpretation to be.”

THANK YOU.
Feb. 14
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Every time you have undisclosed values that you want to show, and no better descriptive bid, remember to think ‘that’s what the Double card is for'…
Feb. 14
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It's certainly reasonable to agree that 3 is some sort of fit-showing bid. However, you need to be clear - I believe most would think it showed 5-card , unless the discussion is precise.
Feb. 14
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Another reason to worry about 3NT is that, if partner has 3-card , she ALWAYS has a doubleton . If your hand were x, 10xx, AKxxx, KJxx at least you could ‘get lucky’ and find 5-3-3-2 shape opposite.
Feb. 14
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What if 4x+1 IS a first bid suit. Does 4x + 2 now become Redwood?
Feb. 14
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Samuel: “I think 3!n looks better because of the possible double heart stopper if they break the suit.”

You have this thought sort of backwards. A second stop is really unlikely. But, playing in 4, the J makes the chance of only one loser close to 75% (instead of only 50% if you didn't have that J) - most players won't underlead an ace at trick one.

* * * * * *

You will learn this game better, and faster, if you focus on what is logical and what is percentage - rather than on the result of a particular hand.
Feb. 14
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Aside from the obvious ‘missing 3 aces hand’, there are several hands where 3N is desirable. At imps, I might take the chance of going past 3N - 5 will often make. But at matchpints, the possibility of partner having the ‘wrong’ hand for diamonds combined with the possibility of overtricks in 3N, makes me settle for 2.
We may still be able to reach 5 or 6 when that is right.

But let's say that it's imps, for the moment, and I decide to go past 3N.

IF - and this IF needs to be capitalized, in bold, underlined, yellow-highlighted and in large font - IF 4 is CLEARLY agreed as KC, then 4 would be my choice. When I find 3KC I get to the slam. If not, we play 5.
But the benefit of KC rather than splinter is that I have a better chance of surviving the opening lead. Splintering in clubs gives the opponent a ‘road map’ to lead a spade against 5. If partner has (say) Jxx, A, KJ10xxx, Kxx that may be fatal (or course, facing that, we wish we were in 3N).

It's true that splintering might refine our slam auction - partner cooperating with Qxx and not with xxx - but with 3KC it's going to be difficult to stop partner anyway.

Makes the spades KQx and then I think I'd bid 4 KC- even at matchpoints.
Feb. 14
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I think this is a great problem. It highlights two really important ‘parts’ of bidding.

1) PLAYING THE HAND DURING THE BIDDING.

In analyzing whether to go past 3N, we ‘play the hand’. If partner has 3KC and not two quick spade losers - say Qxx, A, Kxxxxx, Axx - we can ‘play 6’ in our head and see that it's cold.
If partner has 2KC and no stopper - say, QJx, A, KJ10xxx, Jxx - we ‘play 5’. If partner has 1 or 2 KC and good clubs (two stoppers) - say, Jxx, x, KJ10xxx, AKx - we ‘play 3N’.
If partner has one club stopper and K-sixth of , a major suit ace will be enough for 3N (1+6+2). 5 might also make - but this is matchpoints, so, if there's a chance of a 10th trick…
It's true if partner has Axx, A, J109xxx, Kxx that 5 is cold while 3N is in jeopardy. In 3N (or 6!) you want the finesse to win. In 5, you want it to lose!
Finally, if we're missing 3 aces - say, QJx, x, KJxxxx, KQx the only making contract is 3N.

For simplicity, I ignored 4 as a possible contract. Though on some hands, it might be the only game with a chance to make.

2) HAVING A ‘BIDDING CONVERSATION’

So far, the bidding has gone:

Partner: I have opening values, not a hand for 1N opening, and my longest suit is diamonds.
Me: I have 4(+)-card
Partner: I have 6(+)-card , minimum opening strength, not 3-card and not 4-card

So do we continue the dialogue? Bid 2 to tell partner we have a GF with spade values and try to find out more? Try to see whether or not we should be in 3N?
Or do we take control and make the conversation ‘one-sided’ and bid 4 KC?
Or do we make the decision to go past 3N - but still consult partner as to whether we should be in 5 or 6 via a 4 splinter?

In the ‘bidding conversation’, you want to figure out a way to tell partner what he needs to know, or somehow elicit from partner what you need to know.

This comment might already be in the TLDR category - so I'll start a fresh comment giving my choice and reasoning.
Feb. 14
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I think there's a possibility Oren and Michael S. are discussing different auctions. Michael S. said:

“Already in a GF auction AND already have suit agreement.”

So I think he might have meant jumping to 4 AFTER bidding 2 and hearing 2N. Whereas Oren (I think) was just referencing the OP ‘suggestion’ of jumping to 4 over 2.

Both Oren and Michael are correct about how vital it is to have rock-solid agreements about ace-asking bids. With good agreements, there should NEVER be a case where either partner is unsure that (say) a bid is Minorwood.
You don't want to be ‘head-scratching’ - especially in slam auctions. Rules should be clear, and should cover every conceivable auction. Oh yeah, and then there must be learned….
Feb. 14
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