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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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The need for GSF has mostly been obviated by Key Card Blackwood and Exclusion Blackwood.
My rule is to play that I only play GSF if it is responder's first bid or opener's second bid. Probably not optimal, but at least it's simple to remember.

The reason I like 5N as PAS unless otherwise agreed (and I have other agreements) is that I think it is the only way to ensure the partnership is on the same wavelength. This time, almost certainly not optimal, but avoiding disaster is more important than having ‘perfect’ agreements.

In fact, my notes say that the partner of 5N bidder cannot bid grand.

The desire to play in another suit is not uncommon. Sometimes, you have been crowded and the first agreed fit is not the best fit. Sometimes, you want to play in a 4-4 fit with your agreed 5-4 fit providing a discard.

I have no particular rules as to what slams are being suggested. It needs to be based on logic. On the actual hand, it seems pretty clear to me that opener was being given a chance to clear up whether his 4D bid was actually based on a suit.
Aug. 3, 2012
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Bob H.

1) “ If David was really interested in playing 6? instead of 6?, maybe his initial response should have been 2? rather than 3?.”

Maybe it should, and maybe it shouldn't. There is no universal agreement as to whether responder should show support or bid his suit here. But I don't think it's reasonable to think that “maybe he should” translates into ‘he can’t want to play in diamonds, so now 5N can't be pick-a-slam' (not a quote).

2) With the spade ace, West would have two choices over 4S doubled; redouble or KC. Anything else would (at least for the time being) deny the spade ace.

3) What is weird about a double of 4S with the king over the (likely after the 4S cue) ace? Nothing.

4) Which is the greater risk?:

a) that partner will respond 5S over 4N - a total disaster when it happens;
OR

b) That partner will assume a cue in the opponents' suit below 5 of the agreed suit shows the ace rather than just a control.

I consider myself to be a thoughtful player, but I doubt if (b) would have occurred to me.

5) “Even if partner is looking at two small ?s and solid everywhere else, Kx may not be a helpful holding with partner declaring.”

As John Mcenroe would say, you cannot be serious! After the double of 4S, I'd make the odds of the vulnerable overcaller holding the club ace as way over 99 to 1.

6) “If David is too chicken to bid blackwood over the redouble, then he should bid 5? or 5?, not 5?.”

But the whole point is that those bids would DENY a club control - and if partner needs one, I am giving up on slam.
Aug. 3, 2012
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Andrew:

Law 74 C5 states “looking intently at any other player during the
auction and play” is a violation of procedure.

You stated “Yes the rules do allow a player to stare to try to pick up a tell”.
You also suggest observing facial expressions; as an example, you say you “may interpret a curl of the opponent's lip”.

It seems to me that this is a clear and wilful contravention of the Laws. I believe you need to either:

a) Retract what you said and apologize for the damage you have done by disseminating false information;

OR

b) Explain how staring is not a Violation of Procedure

If it's not already obvious, I think you are totally wrong here - and am horrified that you are not just suggesting, but actually encouraging and attempting to promote, staring at an opponent.
Aug. 3, 2012
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Gary,

True, nobody promised natural diamonds. But your 4D bid did not DENY diamonds - you would certainly bid it as a red 2-suiter. Indeed some of the comments have suggested that you should have preferred 4S.

I certainly don't see how “It was much more likely I had spades since 4spades seemed to excite me.” Your redouble of 4S was virtually mandatory with the spade ace (unless you were going to bid 4N yourself).

Also true that your 5N over 5H would have been pick-a-slam - though I find it a little strange that you think your partner would 100% read that, whereas you did not consider that his 5N was pick-a-slam.

Five spades by you made it clear, for the first time, that you were trying for seven. But, as I said earlier in this thread, I see nothing illogical about one player trying for grand and then his partner suggesting an alternate strain for small slam.

I play 5N is always pick-a-slam - unless otherwise defined (e.g. a king ask in Blackwood). That's the sort of agreement that tends to avoid disaster.
Aug. 2, 2012
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I think David thought it unclear - or at least that 5N was clearer.
Aug. 2, 2012
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let's say, on an entirely different West hand, the right contract was 6D, and the match was lost because David bid 6H over 5S. Wouldn't there be many who said he was totally at fault for not getting his side to 6D after partner bid 4D?
Aug. 2, 2012
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Actually, it was gary who had to pay me to limit my analysis to DAVID'S bids.
I don't see how it is reasonable to describe David's 5C bid as a psyche. What do you think he should have done?
Even if YOU think Blackwood was safe - that partner could not have a 5S response - surely it is not unreasonable for David to worry about that and feel 5C is safer?
At any rate, I think calling 5C a psyche is plain unfair - in fact, it is the bid I would have made.
Aug. 1, 2012
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Maybe you can tell the difference. Maybe you can't. Wouldn't it be better to be certain? And to know what is a grey area, and what is not?
July 31, 2012
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Gary:

Some might play you might have passed 4C with no control. Others might think you are not in a force, so that might be a little risky.

It's not really fair to say you made 2 slam tries - since redouble is virtually obligatory with SA. Anyway, I think you might make 2 slam tries with, say, AQJ, Q10xxxxx, A, xx.

Finally, I see no reason why it is a logical impossibility for one player to make a GST and then the other to offer a choice of strain for small slam.

Barry (and Dror)

There certainly could be advantages to playing in D. Let's see - a heart loser could go on a spade. Or there could be a 2-way guess for HQ - easier if D are trump. Or there might be a D ruff if hearts are trump. Or hearts might break unluckily. Maybe someone else can think of more.
July 30, 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.”

If I thought that were true, I would not have an issue with you.
in this article you describe 2N as “pretty clear”. I would say that 2N is very clear - a lot clearer than whether there exists in the universe a hand that does not ‘fit’ an opening bid or a preempt.

But I think a reader could be forgiven, on reading your article, for thinking that if 2N is “pretty clear” then passing this hand second seat with all vul would be just plain wrong - not as opinion, but as virtual fact.

Obviously there are more examples of “clarity” in cardplay, when there can easily be a 100% play than in bidding, where there is usually room for argument.

But I don't think one should say ““There is no break between a 1-bid and a 2-bid” with the same authority as one might say, for example, ”one should be more aggressive competing for partials when nobody is vulnerable" - which is (more or less) an established fact.

You may think this is all a matter of semantics. To me, it's more a matter of education.
July 30, 2012
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Let's look at only East's actions:

1) 3C. Certainly normal and reasonable

2) 4S. Too much to sign-off. Can't bid KC because can't stand a 5S response. Wants to leave KC in the game, and doesn't want to bypass what could be a critical spade control. So 4S seems obvious to me.

3) 5C. Partner might need a club control, holding xx. Still can't KC because of 5S response. Again, I see no real choice.

4) 5H sign-off. Obviously can't be part of the problem.

5) 5N. In most expert partnerships, 5N is pick-a-slam if that is possible. While 4D might not have promised D length, it certainly doesn't deny D length. So it is natural to try to get to 6D, especially having bid 3C with only 3-card H. While a simple 6D might have been more direct, it probably seemed ‘safer and nicer’ to East to bid 5N and pass 6D, than put his partner under pressure by bidding 6D.
However, this is to me the one questionable action in an unpracticed partnership - 6H would certainly be ‘simpler’.

But I can't see giving much blame for that - certainly not 19% - I basically have no criticism of East's actions.

I also have sympathy for North-South
July 30, 2012
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“There is no break between a 1-bid and a 2-bid”

To disseminate this statement to BW readers as if it were a pure fact does a great disservice. Just because your religion states that bidding is always better than passing, this does not make it actually true.

To an atheist such as myself, there are many hands which do not ‘fit’ a 1-level or a 2-level opening (or any other). The actual hand would be one for me.

- If I open with a 1-level bid, I may well get too high (I would feel better about it if my ace was with one of my 3-card suits).

- If I open with a preempt, I may no longer be able to reach our best strain.

Now, I'm not saying it is a fact that it is wrong to open 1H or 2H. I'm saying that I THINK it is an inferior action - just my opinion.

However, I AM stating that it IS wrong to state as a fact that you MUST open something on this hand. There is no evidence for this, and my experience (and, I believe, the experience of many other experts) is that this is not true.

Where the evidence is not clear (or non-existent) beliefs should not be stated as facts - especially not to those you are attempting to edify.
July 30, 2012
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Partner COULD have a running suit - and be using your system to help reach the optimal contract.

He could have a hand with solid diamonds. Had you shown a stiff SPADE, partner would look to play 5D or 6D. When you show a stiff DIAMOND his best shot is 3N.

I agree your seventh heart is clearly more useful for 4H. However your two aces could be just what partner needs for 3N - two fast tricks (or the club ace could make partner's clubs running). Whereas, if partner has ‘only’ 8 tricks in his hand, 4H and 5D may both fail.
July 24, 2012
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I would pass 3N. I do not know, in fact I CANNOT know what I would have done without the BIT. Human beings are not able to totally block out thoughts at their convenience.
The BIT expresses doubt. It is likely that my hand is more suitable for whatever partner had in mind other than 3N.
Partner should have foreseen this and thought before he bid 3D. THAT BIT is much harder to read.

If I were serving on a Committee, I would rule against the 4H bid, and revert the contract back to 3N. That is the “message” I wish to send.

Having said all that, if my opponent bid 4H I would simply ask the opponents if they agreed there was a BIT. Then, when I finally discovered what the 4H bidder held, I would let it go. I only ask for redress for BIT if I am very confident I have actually been damaged. Here, the seventh heart is sufficiently unusual that I would not feel sure.
I'm not willing to send the “message” when it's in my own self interest.

Bridge is a difficult game - and I prefer to focus on the cases that seem clear to me.
July 24, 2012
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I'd be interested to see those hands. To spare the readership here, you can, if you like, email one or more to me at microse59@gmail.com
July 2, 2012
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Bob H.

1) I know you sometimes “get them for numbers when you play the second double is negative”. That was why I said “if advancer has values and the ‘wrong’ heart holding to double, he will be compelled to let them off the hook”. I presume if advancer has game values and heart length, you would have him bid 3N.

2) Playing forcing passes, you don't have to let them ”make it when they have you out-gunned“ any more than you do playing non-forcing passes. You can simply choose not to defend on those hands.

3) In addition to the problems you mention, you also must fear a psyche, and that the opponent is playing in your 4-4 heart fit undoubled (say if you have 8HCP facing 17 HCP)

4) The whole point (to me) is that when ”weak notrumper's partner has a strong hand" they very rarely run.

5) Quite right. I only play penalty doubles over SNT in direct seat at imp scoring. Of course, these days there are some players whose 1NT openings should ALWAYS be treated as weak….
July 2, 2012
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I grew up with WNT, and have been thinking about these matters for more than 40 years. It's possible I've devoted more hours thought to this subject than any other person on the planet.

I agree with Michael Bodell, and anyone else who stresses that the important thing is to focus on penalizing the opponents.

Bob H says: “We CANNOT (my emphasis)afford to play that an auction like (1N)-x-(2?)-p-(2?)-p-(p) is forcing–if advancer is broke and the doubler is minimum, there may be nowhere to go.”

Couldn't one equally reasonably say: “we CANNOT afford to play an auction like (1N)X-(2H)P is NON-FORCING - because if advancer has values and the ‘wrong’ heart holding to double, he will be compelled to let them off the hook”?

Now, one might argue that “letting them off the hook” is a lesser disaster than having to bid with “nowhere to go”. But I believe one is wrong. Missing a juicy penalty, even if it's just a non-profit, can still be a big ‘loss’. And my experience is that on the far rarer “nowhere to go” hands, the trouble, if any, is usually minimal.

WNT is a potent weapon - and the best counter is being able to extract the occasional penalty.

By the way, at IMPS I also play penalty doubles of SNT.

July 1, 2012
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Henry:

On a club lead, declarer wins and plays a heart. The defense triumphs by winning and immediately playing back hearts (although actually, a trump return from East might also suffice).

I learned from Zia more than 35 years ago that, whenever the suit attacked by one player is immediately played back by the opponents, you say:

Confucius he say: “Both sides play same suit, someone make mistake.”

Not true on this hand, and not PC, but old habits die hard - especially when I find them funny.

June 27, 2012
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What was the auction in which West guaranteed 6C + 5H?
June 27, 2012
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I don't see what declarer's line was. I also don't see how playing a small trump could ever work without help from the defense - unless specifically EAST started with J doubleton.
Best chance seems to be to start with a heart honor from dummy. If they win and tap dummy, then spade ace and heart, ruffing third heart and trying to guess spades (queen is “normal”). If they win heart and shift to a club, win in hand, ruff D, SA, heart - again trying to guess spades later.
June 27, 2012
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