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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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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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On a diamond lead, it is even easier. Ruff, SA, C to K, ruff D, heart. Ruff third heart (or diamond) in hand and play trump.

But I think you are correct about the club lead - as long as defense understands Confucius.
June 27, 2012
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Phillip M:

2N either has an agreed meaning or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then it is clearly superior - you will reach a better contract more often by consulting partner, whether or not he thinks it is forcing.
If 2N had an agreed meaning (I'm guessing it didn't), such as asking about partner's hand, it would also have clearly been superior.
If it had some weird artificial meaning (which I strongly doubt) then obviously I was wrong to limit myself to the 2N bid - but then there was likely to be some other bid available. For example, if 2N showed clubs, then it is very likely that some bid (maybe 3C) would be a better way to go than just bidding 3N.
Perhaps the 3N bid didn't seem as ridiculous to you as it did to me.
June 17, 2012
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A few points:

1) You say “Leading the ?Q can't be right. That caters to partner having A10x of clubs and the ?Q. If that is what you were playing for, you should have ducked the diamond to begin with.”

In a general way, I don't think this is logical. Just because you have already made a mistake, it doesn't follow that you shouldn't still try to make the best play now.
But here, I think you are clearly correct that the Club queen is the wrong play

2) Talking about the bidding, I think it's worth noting that the convention chosen by N-S has a serious flaw. I do not like any defense to 1N that does not allow you to know whether partner is 4-5 or 5-4 in the majors.
I was surprised Kit did not mention this - the Woolsey convention bids 2C for the majors, and thus passes that test.

3) Kit was correct to excoriate South's declarer play. Not ducking the heart at trick one was silly. But I think South's bidding was also very poor. With such poor club spots, it's far too likely a club will be led and you wil have no chance. It seems clear that 2N would have been a superior bid, whatever it meant.
June 17, 2012
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I thought this was a great article - perhaps Kit's best - so naturally nobody commented.
I especially like the point about leading through declarer's trumps - this sort of Morton's Fork position comes up quite a lot, but is often missed.
June 12, 2012
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Congratulations on winning the Trials - it's always great to have you representing the US. And you had to carry Zia, too.

1) I noticed when we played together that you never said to me “Why did you do that?” (I'm guessing you either figured out why I did it, or figured I'd lost my mind). Is this a policy with all your partners? If not, when was the last time you asked your partner, “Why did you do that?”

2) Who would you say was the greater player between Al Roth and Ira Rubin?
June 9, 2012
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Kit:

You say (on page 3 about the 4D bid) “Partner clearly has the 14+ hand…”.

Now I know a lot less about Strong Club bidding than you, but I don't understand this. Why can't partner have a very suitable hand in the minimum range? - I could construct many. Whereas with an averagely suitable hand, he would just raise to 4H. (I'm presuming, without knowing it, that an unsuitable hand, that cannot bid 3N, might bid 3S.)
June 3, 2012
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I think your (f)
- “3H and 3S ask for a stopper, but one has a high D card and the other doesn't”

sort of crosses over with my (e) -

“3H shows either a stop OR a high D (so partner can bid 3N with solid D and no stop)
3S shows no stop and no high D.”

We would both bid 3H on your first example hand, and 3S on your second. What you do not cover is KQxx, Axx, xxx, xxx where my (e) would bid 3H (and get to 3N facing Jxx, xx, AKQxxx, AQ), whereas your (f) would presumably be forced to bid 3N.
May 31, 2012
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Sriram:

Not necessarily. For example, over 3S “Last Train”, responder, if not bidding 3N, can ‘raise’ to 4S with a strong 4-carder, knowing that opener can always go back to 5D if he doesn't have 3-card spades and a desire to play 4S.

Also, let's say after 3S, responder bids 4D. Now opener, with a strong 3-card spade holding, can bid 4S - which I think should be an offer to play.

It IS true that, if responder bids 3N over 3S, that the 4-3 fit will get lost. You can't do everything.
May 29, 2012
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The question asked by Gavin in the title was “what is Standard for 3H in this auction?”

I answered that question “asks for stop”. The vote so far seems to say I am correct.

The “correct” way to play is not clear to me. What IS clear to me is that 3S cannot show more of a heart stopper than 3H. Nor can it show more no-trump suitability than 3H.
And it is also clear to me that, over 3H, opener's 3S should be a “Last Train” try for 3N. I see the following possibilities:

a) 3H shows stopper (but not sure 3N is correct)
3S no H stopper

b) 3H shows half-stop
3S shows no stop

c) 3H asks for stop in a notrumpy-type hand
3S shows a suit oriented hand (stiff H?)

d) 3H asks for stop
3S shows powerful 4-carder (3 of top 4) looking for 4S on 4-3

e) 3H shows either a stop OR a high D (so partner can bid 3N with solid D and no stop)
3S shows no stop and no high D.

All have advantages, and flaws. As usual, the most important thing is to be on the same wavelength with your partner.
May 29, 2012
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I agree it's not that easy to construct. How about xx, Q10x, xxx, AQxxx?
Trying to construct the natural 3N is torture. Hey, wait a minute, if I bid 3N that's what I'll force partner to try and do….
May 29, 2012
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