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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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I didn't think the problem specified no DK. But I thought the intention was obviously that partner had it (else there would be no bidding problem). And I believe a later reading of the author's comments in the thread makes it clear that partner does have the DK.
April 24, 2012
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Henry B.

You say “Michael, at least on committees on which I have served, although South can retreat to 5?, North is not permitted to now decide that 4? was natural. He must continue to assume that 4? was a transfer, and that therefore 5? is a slam try in spades.”

So funny that you say that, because I believe in every analogous committee ruling that has occurred at the Nationals in the last 20 years, the opposite has been the case.
I have read these cases and thought “how did they suddenly know now that the bid was natural? Was there some UI in partner's reaction when they alerted?” But no Committee member I spoke to after could remember that even being an ISSUE.

The prototypical case is 1N(2C-some convention)-2H(intended as natural, but alerted as a transfer), 2S-3H. Now opener should take this as whatever 1N-2H, 2S-3H would have been in their system (often 5-5 in the majors). Yet somehow they ‘figure it out’ and pass. The Director/Committee say they have no UI, and can do what they want. But to me, it always seems fishy.

It's amazing how often players land on their feet in these situations. Funny that the disasters I have seen always seem to occur when they are playing behind screens….
April 24, 2012
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I don't think I ever claimed that “when you make them guess (e.g., after a preempt) that they guess right more often than they do when you give them a free run”
If I did, I did not intend to. I intended to claim that sometimes they guess right in the bidding and, whatever they end up declaring, thay tend to guess more accurately.

The reason I am making a point of this is I think most experts today think as you and Kit do. I think someone should present the other side. I worry about what gets disseminated as “fact” and ‘truth’ to the bridge public - almost as much as I worry about what parents around the world are telling their children.
April 23, 2012
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Bob,

You say “The fact is, when you make them guess after a preempt, they guess wrong a lot more often than they do when you give them a free run.”

My memory is that, in “The Admirable Crichton”, J.M. Barrie has a character say something like “Whenever anybody begins a sentence with ‘the fact is’, it's a sign he is not speaking the truth.”

While I wouldn't go as far as that, I dislike the idea of establishing something as a “fact”, merely by calling it one.

I would say that the following ARE facts: When you preempt,

1) Some of the time you will go for a number
2) A flawed preempt (one with too much defense compared to offense) when penalized, will more likely result in an adverse result (since your defensive cards play less of a role)
3) A flawed preempt (one with too much offense for other strains) will more often result in a missed contract for your side
4) Opponents will sometimes reach a successful contract they would not have otherwise
5) Opponents will sometimes avoid a contract that would have been unsuccessful
6) Opponents will quite often “guess” to make a contract (whether normal or not)that they would not have otherwise (due to the information gained from the preempt)

I have studied this matter for years. I feel that preempting is not the panacea that it's adherents claim.

I prefer to preempt when I believe I should, not just when I can.

If you are instilled with the belief that preempting always works, then it follows that no argument will convince you otherwise. If you start with a “not sure” philosophy, I think you will see there are many pluses and minuses on both sides.

I suggest you pretend this is day one - and start looking at preempts on a case-by-case basis.
April 23, 2012
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The ‘normal’ Texas problem is 1N-4H - alerted, but intended as natural. It has long been held by Committees that responder is free to go back to 5H after the ‘transfer’ is accepted. The principle being that the AI of the ‘impossible’ 4S bid is what counts (as opposed to the UI of the alert).

The actual situation is a little different, since responder might have various shapes that would be impossible if no comp. Certainly 4-6-0-3, maybe 3-5-0-5 or even 5-5-0-3. However, there can never be any security in a 4S bid, since partner might have 0-7 in the majors.

The question that the responder/Director/committee must ask is this: Is it possible that opener, when asked about the 4H bid, would say “4H is natural, NF” and then proceed to bid 4S? If the answer is no, then responder is free to do as he or she wishes. If the answer is yes, then he or she is not.
Experts would disagree on how often that answer has to be “yes” to prevent responder from bidding. Personally, if that “yes” seems possible, I would not allow the bid.

In the ‘normal’ 1N-4H auction the answer is clearly no. In the actual auction, I think we are talking about an inexperienced player as opener. Who would think 4H is a transfer here? I have no way to know what this player might say, or think, or what their partner should do.

Going back to the ‘normal’ auction, let's say opener had a history of opening 1N on offbeat hands, including 6-card majors. Then I would disallow the 5H bid, as it IS possible that he said “4H is natural” and bid 4S.

April 23, 2012
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Rant follows.

Kit says:

“Suppose the preempt turns out badly. Partner misjudges and you miss a good game. Partner over-competes. You go for 800 against their game, or 300 against their partial. Nobody can make much, and you get a small minus instead of a small plus. Most of these losses are around 5 IMPs.”

and he continues“

”Now, look at the upside. Suppose the preempt turns out well. Opponents miss a game, get to the wrong game, have a slam accident, or misjudge the competition. Most of these gains are double-digit gains."

This, of course, was written by a member of the PAW (Preempts Always Work) party.

Let me rewrite it as a member of the POW (Preempts Occasionally Work) party.

Suppose the preempt works out badly. Partner ‘misjudges’, and you miss a cold game (in NT, D or either major) or good slam. You go for 1400 against their game. Or you go for 1100 against their 4M that was going to fail (on D to ace, CA, and each ruff a minor). Or you go for 800 against their making partial. Or you go for 500 against their partial that was going to fail. Nobody can make that much and you get a minus instead of a plus.
Most of these losses are double-digit swings. Only the last one is between 4 and 9 imps.

Another major loss (not mentioned by Kit) is that your 3D opening will often push them into the winning contract. with a good diamond holding, they may get to 3N rather than an 8-card major fit which fails on a 2-2 crossruff. Or (less likely), they may avoid 3N when 2-2 in diamonds and reach a successful 5C or 7-card major fit.

Yes, there are upsides to preempting - and they are mentioned by Kit. But there would be upsides to opening 3S on any random 13 cards. A 3D opening on the actual hand is so flawed - both in terms of offense and defense - that it rates to fail. At least, that is the opinion of the POW party.

Even the actual result, which we are presumably supposed to consider a triumph for the preempt, might result in a loss against passing. The final contract might have been 5D doubled making.
April 22, 2012
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At the table math:

Partner rates to be short where I'm long. If he's not, blame God.
April 21, 2012
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Without getting into the specifics of this hand, I think the point that Eugene and Ari are making is this:

When you signal attitude, you are stating your attitude - not about the suit, but about the ENTIRE HAND.

I strongly agree with this principle.
April 21, 2012
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Spade lead will almost always increase their top tricks by one. Heart lead will do this far less often. Plus, if they have AKx facing Q9xx they may go wrong when they normally would go right thinking "nobody would lead from J fourth'.
April 18, 2012
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Does a 1H response to 1D promise 4-card H?
April 18, 2012
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In Standard, all 1-level negative doubles carry a guarantee, whereas higher doubles do not. This double guarantees 4-card H.
With Yordan's hand 2D and 2S are both possible. With Phillip's hand pass. With Paul's hand 2S (the cue should be LR+ OR balanced GF).

As Henry points out, in this (or any other) auction, you are free to violate your agreement if you think you can control the auction.
But, in this particular case, that is virtually never.

Side question. What do you bid over double as opener with xx, KJx, Axx, Axxxx? In my opinion, 2H is the only bid I would classify as “real bridge”.
April 17, 2012
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Meike,

While it is true that playing the direct 5H as a slam try has the theoretical advantage you point out, there are also disadvantages, both theoretical (small), and practical.

Theoretical disadvantage:

An opponent may bid 5S over 4N. You are probably worse off not being able to get your “to play” 5H in, rather than your “slam try” 5H.
With the slam try 5H, you can still bid slam if you choose. with the to play 5H, your partner (who might have wanted to bid slam if he knew you had one long suit) has to guess what to do.

Practical disadvantage:

a) As you point out, one might forget and bid 5H ‘in the heat of the moment’.

b) Worse, there might be some ethical problem when you bid 5H after hesitation - partner might now feel you ‘remembered’. And if you bid it fast, he might feel you ‘forgot.’
The same problem does not arise playing 4N was the slam try - when you go through this auction it's obvious you know what you are doing, regardless of tempo.

For these reasons, I prefer, IN A NON-FORCING situation, to play the direct 5H is not a slam try.
April 15, 2012
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Serious answer:

At matchpoints, pass. Hope that your side is going for 200 or more.
At imps, it's upsetting to think partner might have Axxx, xxx, Axxxx, A. True you might beat 2S 3 tricks, but that is not quite enough compensation for a grand slam.

So be happy you are playing this weird convention and bid 4C Without the convention, I don't know between pass and 3C. (Three clubs may not solve your problem, even when it is “winning” to bid.)
April 15, 2012
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Simple. I put a 2N bid on top of a pass card.
April 15, 2012
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Kit:

No, we are not just talking semantics. Playing Standard, there is NO hand I would open 3S with and then pull 3N to 4S. If I thought I “should” then I wouldn't have opened 3S.

I notice you didn't comment on my point that, even in the example you gave where you thought pulling was ‘winning’, 3N was in fact the superior contract.

Bob H.

It's definitely true, for me, that first seat favorable preempts are different from all others. It's the one position where I open in a NON-STANDARD fashion.
So, in the MSC problem, I cannot bid 4S on stiff ace - that would be silly in my style. The choice is between 3N and 4H (and, perhaps incorrectly, I deemed 3N more likely to make).
At any other vul, my choice would be between 4H and 4S - 4S would be clear if we were vul, and at equal white I think I'd bid 4S.
April 13, 2012
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Kit,

I think your second example is poorly selected. 4S is more likely to fail (on a club ruff) than 3N

I have no doubt that, given your preempting style, it is superior to play that 3N does not end the auction.
There are many more possible hands for your 3S opening than there are for my 3S opening; so your partner would want to guess 3N a lot more often than mine.

However, that is beside the point.

My point is that, when two non-Kit-Woolsey experts sit down having agreed to play “standard” and not having discussed this situation, the presumption is that 3N ends the auction.

I'm sure this was true 30 years ago. Whether it is true today can only be determined by polling all the players who fit into that category.

Michael
April 12, 2012
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All Kit says is true - with the assumption you have that agreement.

But if Kit sat down to play with a random expert, and bid 3N over 3S, that expert would NOT remove to 4S whatever his hand was (assuming he did not know of Kit's philosophy). That is because the STANDARD meaning of 3S-3N is that it ends the auction.

So Kit would be bidding 3N on the “wrong” hands.

I guess it boils down to what “Standard” is. In terms of all possible bridge situations, there probably does not exist two experts who think identically on all matters.
April 12, 2012
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Bob H.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that the agreement that 3N ends the auction is the CORRECT one - only that it is the STANDARD one.
There are some “super-experts” who would think your way. I know that Chip Martel does, and I'm almost certain Kit Woolsey does. But they have ‘modernized’ their thinking - and I believe their philosophy requires a specific agreement that parther is still involved.

Really, it's a function of what hands you open 3S with. Of the hands Kit Woolsey would open 3S with at equal white, I'm guessing I'd open 3S on about 10% of them. So, my partner is better placed to make the final decision for the partnership.
April 12, 2012
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Hi Ish,

Congratulations on your well-deserved success.

What year would you say you became a serious bridge player?

From that time to the present, have you observed a major change in your own ethics? In the ethics of Australian bridge? In the ethics of players around the world?
April 12, 2012
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Bob H,

Yes, of course, weaker hands are more common than stronger ones. And when partner thinks and bid 4S, the most likely alternative he had was pass.
But when he thinks AND BIDS 3N, I think it is less than 5% that he was considering pass. With the hands that would bid 3N, slam thought is more likely, and 4S is hugely more likely.
I had actually thought about mentioning pass before, but thought this was obvious so tried to save some words. Silly me - failed again.

Returning to the non-ethical problem of pulling, you say

“A lot depends on what kind of good hands responder will bid 3N on rather than 4?. I maintain that partner will usually bid 3N when in doubt, because 3N doesn't rule out 4?”

But this is the whole point! If it were true that partner still wants me to use my judgment after 3N, neither I (nor anyone else)would be arguing that you “shouldn't” pull. And, obviously, you are free to make the agreement with your partner that 3N here is a ‘choice-of-games’. But that is NOT STANDARD. It certainly was and (I hope) still is, Standard that 3N ends this auction.

Consider these two auctions.

A) 2S-3N
B) 2S-2N, 3x(whatever it means)-3N

In (A), 3N ends the auction. In (B), opener still has the right to correct to 4S. That is a Standard understanding.

In the case of 3S-3N, we cannot do both and I believe the expert community long ago decided (sensibly, in my opinion) to go with meaning (A). If not sure, responder guesses 4S rather than 3N.

Obviously, you are free to go the other way. But I recommend you discuss with your expert partner in advance - I think he is unlikely to be on the same wavelength.
April 11, 2012
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