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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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I strongly agree with this except for the parenthetical comment. You certainly don't need (“at least”!!) 4-card support AND spade shortness to bid 3. I would turn “and” into “or”. I think (say) 1-3-5-4 might well bid 3.

Oct. 8, 2014
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Perhaps if West had only 4-card , he'd be more likely not to play a second club and find the shift. We KNOW he's missing the 9…

If I were to make up an alternate reality on this hand, I'd have declarer to misread the shape and play the last trump. Then to change his mind and K and a spade after cashing the last trump - only to see West claim the last two tricks with A and a club…
Oct. 7, 2014
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It might have been better for declarer to play A then Q. Aside from avoiding the disaster of East having a singleton (especially singleton K!), there is also the advantage that if West switches to a low trump on the actual layout you can make. Win in dummy, ruff , ruff , ruff , to A, pitching heart.
On the actual hand, West would need to shift to a HIGH trump to defeat you. And (I think) that's only because he has KJ10x. If E had 10x or Jx, you would still make by ruff , pitching .

It may be that playing A first makes it a little easier on West to find the trump shift. But I don't think the high trump is ever going to be “easy” for anybody. So A looks correct to me.

By the way, I like to define a “great play” as a play that defeats a good play. So I could not apply it to declarer here. I could apply it to West's trump 10 shift after winning the second
Oct. 6, 2014
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Ron Z.

First, you're suspicion is correct.

Second, of course it is not 1-4 KC and the K counts. I just messed up.
How best to show the Q's in Double Key Card is not clear. Some prefer to have one suit bey the ‘key’ suit - so there are 6KC and the q of that suit. the other Q is shown as a ‘King’ in response to the next ask (such as 5N).
My preference is to show Q's as none,lower, higher, both. If you show 1/4 or 3/0 that's how you respond to Q ask. If you have 2KC you show Q's right away.
So, on the above hand, the response I gave should have been 5N - 2 with higher Q.
One big advantage of DKC (as opposed to single) occurs when the Blackwooder has the K of the second suit. Now, when he shows all KC, the answerer is better placed to act. Without DKC, the answerer would need to be concerned that the Blackwooder was LOOKING for that K.
I don't know a good article on DKC. If you play it, I strongly recommend that you identify EXACTLY when it applies.
Oct. 3, 2014
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First things first. Line (1) isn't really a line at all. If you are going to lead to the K, it must be right to lead the JACK anyway - just in case. Even a pretty strong player might cover with Q10x on an off day.
By the way, there is no possibility of ducking the Q to play for the overtrick (as was mentioned). That would result in disaster (instead of a make) when LHO started with AQ10. And it's no use saying that is ‘impossible’ on the bidding. If that were so, it would be clear to start with low away from the K.

So the question for declarer is this? Do you try to analyze their cards on the bidding/lead? Or do you play for the defensive error from Q10x?
The stronger they are, the more you should want to go with the analysis-based option. But it's matchpoints, so East may have just been randomly trying for the magic 200.

In the situation given, I would definitely lead J to the K. it would take world-class opposition to make me think otherwise.
Oct. 1, 2014
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Mohit:

Not correct. If East ruffs, you overruff and claim - there are no trumps left and the fourth heart can be ruffed in dummy.
This is as it should be. Opponents should not be gaining by randomly ruffing their partner's winners!
Sept. 30, 2014
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4N would be minors for almost everyone in Standard. It ‘should’ be 2 places to play - just as it would be if they raised to 4. There is no reason why responder might not be psyching with 4.
Sept. 30, 2014
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Maybe you could try giving a specific hand you think is a reasonable 5N choice bid…then give partner a hand for 5 that would fail if you bid 6 (as opposed to 5N).
Sept. 30, 2014
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Gary,

I agree that West MIGHT have either bid 1N or redoubled. I don't agree “certainly”. The fact that he didn't was what made me conclude that the HCP were split 18-3 rather than 19-2.
I was having difficulty coming up with a possible West hand that was NOT in the balanced 18 category. The only remote possibility I found was A10xx, Jxxx, AKJx, K. Since I didn't really believe E had 4-card (he could and should double if he wants to compete with that) I was left with the balanced 18.

Sept. 29, 2014
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So I'd start with Q and hope to get a count. If they appear 3-3, continue as per my comment above. If they are 4-2, you need LHO to have KQ doubleton. At first glance, it seems that is not good enough as you will lose a heart in the end game. BUT..

When you play ace and a club (after ‘seeing’ the apparent 4-2 break) West will likely win and play a 4th . Will East pitch his other heart? Maybe not if he started with 10x or Jx. So, you ruff, draw the last trump SQUEEZING WEST. He must pitch a spade. Now, to Q (West must duck), to K (dropping East's J or 10) and a spade to endplay West.

Let's now say East started with xx in and doesn't pitch his other heart on the 4th . You CAN still make. Lead a spade to the Q, and a club to J (West pitches a spade). Now lead heart to 8 (it doesn't help West to split), cash K, and ‘use’ West to get to the A.
But I see no reason to play for that, since….

If East DOES pitch a heart from xx, I don't see any answer. I could have made if I STARTED A (playing no hearts). But then I'd fail against the KQx hand…

Sept. 29, 2014
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Missing 21 HCP. West appears to be balanced so 18-3 seems the most likely split. East has already shown Q, so will have one major suit J. East probably has 5-card - 6 is impossible, 4 not impossible but unlikely.
Let's say West has the classic - AJx, 10xx, AKJx, KQx. Notwithstanding comments above, i think you CAN make against this hand. Play three rounds of hearts ending in dummy and ruff the 4th (overruffing the 7 with the j if necessary. THEN play the K. Now LHO is helpless and cannot avoid the endplay. Let's say A and a spade. Ruff and lead the 4th ….
Sept. 29, 2014
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Josh, are you discussing a direct 5N, or one over 5? I think the latter, but am just checking…
Sept. 29, 2014
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Funny this hand coming right after your last one where the ‘suspected’ 5-card holding in RHO was proved untrue by the lead of the lowest spot card.
Also amazing that this came right after your discussion with Steve Bloom on his article which involved unblocking to avoid getting locked in hand - and it was also the 9!
Were these coincidences?

1) Regarding the decision of whether to pass 3 or bid 3N, I think it’s worth noting that sometimes 3 will fail while NT does better - sometimes MUCH better. For example, partner has KJx, Kxx, AKx, AKxx while East has Axxxxx, Ax, Jx, Jxx. 3 fails, while 3N can make TEN tricks.

2) If East unblocks the K from your AJ10xxx, xxx, Qx, Kx hand, it’s easy to make now. Simply unblock hearts and lead a club to 10. The tough part is deciding if East has KJ tight! Would be sad to go down there….

3) Regarding East’s duck of the K, you point out that declarer can just unblock hearts and continue with the J from AQJx. I agree with that. But East does not KNOW S has A. Could South not have K94, AK, AQ109, QJxx? But, you counter, winning and returning a club is fine against that hand. So maybe there IS a case for unblocking hearts before Q….
Sept. 27, 2014
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Absolutely. One might prefer the rule not to apply to NT bids that are possibly a stiff. You can make whatever rule you think best on a percentage basis.
Sept. 27, 2014
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I have about 9 situations. Here, hearts is obvious. Spades applies because of “any 5(+)-card suit facing a 1N or 2N opening or rebid.”
On the hand and auction above, it doesn't actually matter, since the 3 bid already identified Qx to responder.
Sept. 27, 2014
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1-1, 1N-2 (GF Checkback), 2(4-card , denies 3-card )-3, 3(Hx)-4 (Serious slam try), 4-4N (Double KC), 5(1 or 4)-5, 5!N(Q, no Q)-6N.

If responder could bid 6 at the end as a K ask - not guaranteeing all KC - that might be even better. But even Qx, Kxxx, AQxx, Qxx or Qx, Kxxx, AJ9x, Qxx makes 6N right. If diamonds are worse they may not lead one. At BaM it seems clearly right.

Sept. 26, 2014
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Here's how I think this (and every other situation) ‘should’ work. The non-alert has one specified meaning. This should be codified.
If your action doesn't mean precisely that, it should be alerted.

If it is alerted, and it is the first round of the auction (which, for these purposes, begins with the first bid), next player MUST ask. It is wrong for the bidding to go 1N(2-alerted)- Pass (without asking). Why should partner know you totally don't care what 2 means?

So, the logical extension is that all “first-round” actions (except for non-alertable calls) should be announcements.

I know some will abhor this idea…
Sept. 26, 2014
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Stop it already. You're giving me a haddock.
Sept. 26, 2014
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It's dangerous to alert the cue-bid. I think regulations say that means its NATURAL.

Clearly, 2m overcall denying a 4-card M is alertable.
Sept. 25, 2014
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It may not be 'significant". What I said is that it maximizes your ways of penalizing them for doubling.
Sept. 24, 2014
Michael Rosenberg edited this comment Sept. 24, 2014
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