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All comments by Mike Gill
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Wait, why did I bid 3?
Dec. 4, 2015
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I agree it doesn't seem right that the defense should profit from the fact that they have agreements that can't be discovered without asking. That's part of why I posted this in the first place. But I'm not sure what you can do to stop them from possibly taking an inference.

A bidding analogy might be that I'm contemplating psyching (a strong) 1NT in third seat, but I only want to do it if they're not playing X as penalty. I usually treat all 3rd seat 1NT openings as weak just because it's such a good place to psych. If I don't know their agreement, though, what can I do? Even if I just look at their card, before opening 1NT it probably won't be nearly as effective…
Dec. 2, 2015
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When I posted this, I was thinking more about asking after RHO's play to the first trick - I agree there are no issue with asking before any cards are played, nor should there be.

Maybe this boils down to the following question: can I ask the opponents a question whenever I want without any ethical implications? I'm ok if the answer is yes, but gosh that feels weird. It seems like it also implies that I *should* sometimes ask questions randomly in the middle of tricks even when I don't care about the answer at that point to prevent my opponents from deducing my holding in the times when I didn't realize I needed to know until then. It also seems like that means that really nobody should ever take any inference from the timing or content of a question an opponent asks, since I could be faking the timing.

Applied to this situation: if I am holding AJ and I realize that if I did hold AJT I would need to ask before RHO's play, I would ask at that point so that they might think I held AJT. This is what “feels” wrong to me. But if I ask just because RHO just played the card and I'm allowed to without realizing the ethical obligations, then I'm acting the same as someone who does realize the implications and is doing it for deceptive reasons.
Nov. 28, 2015
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I almost always ask about carding agreements when dummy goes down as well, but this is not something people will mention and it's not on a convention card, since it's a specific situation.
Nov. 27, 2015
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Sure you *can* open 1 with 17-19 and hearts, but now you're compromising one of the main strengths of precision (limited openings)
Nov. 27, 2015
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The whole play in 1NT with 20 opposite nothing just doesn't seem to happen very often, since even when it could, the opponents have half the deck and someone bids. Being able to use 1NT systems with 20-21 opposite 5-7 is a win if you accept the relay most of the time, but you wrongside spade contracts. Breaking the relay more often is really complicated since you have to account for two very different hand types for opener. Honestly, I think the bigger issue with this is that it complicates the more frequent hands where you have hearts. What do you do with a 45xx min after 1 1 1 1? Losing responder's first bid as natural puts you at least one bid behind in describing your hands (maybe more since after a relay break you still have to sort out opener's hand type). Overall, I'd believe this is break-even or a small win with really good agreements, but I think most variations would be a small loss.
Nov. 27, 2015
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My personal belief is that, yes, 4 should be the worst hand you can possible imagine. I don't think partner has enough information to ever bid 4 here, since he knows nothing about my hand. But seriously unless you've had explicit discussion with your partner about this denying 2 trump honors, why on Earth would you pass 4?
Nov. 13, 2015
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I don't think this agreement makes sense on an auction where partner might just know they're toast. Does he really have to sit and pass instead of collecting a number because he doesn't want me to waste my one time on lead blowing a trick in diamonds? Opponents could easily have just grabbed for the red game carrot here and we're massacring them.
Nov. 6, 2015
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I'm as sure about leading a heart as I am confused about why I opened 2d not 3
Oct. 30, 2015
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Pass seems clear-cut to me. It seems extremely unlikely the auction will come back higher than 4H or die at 3C. What else could pass then spades show but too much shape to pass and too weak a hand to bid initially? If you bid 4S with this hand directly I don't see how partner is ever supposed to judge accurately if the opponents bid 5H - surely he's entitled to play you for *some* defense (can't you just have a maximum pass with 5-5?)
Oct. 4, 2015
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It's not a “huge problem”, but the main issue as I see it is after 1c - 1d when RHO bids. You now have to sort out the whole spectrum of balanced ranges (aside from those that will make a takeout double, and even that isn't necessarily easy since with 20-21 you might have to guess whether to raise or not). I'm assuming that the standard treatment is for 17-19 to bid 1n/pass, and 20-21 will bid 2n, but now what do you do with a bigger hand? I guess you have to start with double or bid 3N if interference is high enough, but neither of those seems that appealing. If RHO bids 3x you're probably going to be forced to suck it up and double or bid 3n, but you're just guessing - partner might be able to double back with 6-7 but he might not want to since the odds are that you have some random balanced 17. If you remove 20-21 from the mix, 22-24 has a comfy 2n rebid over 1x or 2x.

Just to see, I looked at 50 hands where opener was dealt 20-21 balanced - certainly not a definitive number but enough to get a feel. I only threw out 1 as clearly too good for a 2n opener, and in the 49 remaining hands here's what happened:

* Responder had a positive response 18 times, and on 15 of those opener/responder had a free run (I bid only if I thought it was “normal”, so I was probably on the conservative side based on watching people bid over strong club)
* On 9 of these hands opener had to bid after 1c - 1d - (2x or higher)
* Direct seat interfered 16 times and sandwich seat 18 times (including raises of a direct bid)

I also tried to figure out what I thought would happen on the hands. Basically my main conclusion was that most of the time it doesn't matter what you play. 40 of the 49 hands I thought it was clear the same contract and result would happen. Of the swings:

* There were 6 slams in the cards on the 49 hands, 5 of them were easily biddable with strong 2N as well (I assumed strong clubbers would always get it right)
* Twice the opponents got in a profitable lead-directing bid and were able to defeat a game they wouldn't have over a 2n opener
* Twice the opponents bid and raised a running suit over 1c that would have been led against 3n. Once you would clearly get to a making alternate game, the other game in a 4-3 major was touch and go.
* Once the opponents showed majors over 1c - 1d and likely talked us into 3n instead of a weak 5-3 4M where trumps were breaking badly
* Opener had two really nasty guesses over 1c - 1d - (3x) where it seemed like he would go wrong frequently. Hard to figure out what would happen on these

Overall opening 1c came out a single digit # of IMPs ahead, but really the sample size is too small to say anything definitive.
Sept. 19, 2015
Mike Gill edited this comment Sept. 20, 2015
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Kit,
We play strong 2NT because

1) While's it's great if you get to make a positive response and apply all your gadgets, much of the time your opponents bid and 20-21 balanced is an awkward range to handle in competition, since you have some extra but you still are just balanced. If you split the range, then everything is much cleaner, since 17-19 can just comfortably pass (or bid 1N) knowing partner will play him for that, and 22-23 can just bid 2N (or feels much better about 3N if it comes to that).

2) Adding an extra balanced range isn't a huge loss for the system over 1c -1d (depending on what you play anyway), but it does cost you *something*.

3) We like our 2N systems and feel they are already a gain on the field, and this way we do not introduce additional variance. We had a particularly brutal streak of several hands before we started playing Strong 2n again where it went 1c - 1d and RHO bid and that was the board. I know that's not a reason to do it, but it definitely pushed us over the edge for better or worse, heh.

4) There isn't anything we are all that crazy about playing 2n as. You probably have a lot more experience with it so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never viewed the minors 2NT opener as a huge win.
Sept. 19, 2015
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Both of my first two actions are clearly wrong. However, sitting for this double is substantially more ludicrous than both combined.
March 23, 2015
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I've never played attitude leads before but it seems like a 5-card suit to two honors and some potential entries warrants leading low
Jan. 17, 2015
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It seems like the difference in likelihood of a ruff is minimal at best - seems like you would lead a singleton in either major here or you wouldn't. Seems like hearts is strictly better aside of that - I have very good chances to make an extra trick if they either lead the wrong minor or continue the minor they lead.
Dec. 31, 2014
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Partner could have been considering Pass, X, 4 or something stronger than 5. Even if we take Pass out of that group it seems to me that there are enough things partner could be thinking about that I wouldn't feel I had an ethical obligation.
Dec. 20, 2014
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Next time I suggest my partner hold a 1345 21 count for his 3NT bid?
Oct. 27, 2014
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I'm a big believer in keeping it in the fairway, especially when you're on a strong team at BAM, but I really just don't think it applies to situations like this. Maybe 3NT was an aggressive/swingy action, maybe they went slower at the other table and you got a chance to get your hand in and get a heart lead against 3N, maybe your hand passed and got in both majors. I have had really poor results trying to guess what's happening at the other table, but here you're SURE that LHO does not want to hear you bid 4, almost no matter what he has.
Oct. 18, 2014
Mike Gill edited this comment Oct. 18, 2014
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4 seems clearcut to me given the table position. If the 3NT bid were on my right, I think pass would have a lot more going for it, since if I step in it LHO will get a chance to double and stop RHO from saving me.
Oct. 17, 2014
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My favorite of these is from the WBL unit game in 2006. In a 2-section A/X game, scored across the field, I was playing N-S, had a 62.6% game, and was 4th in section out of 9 pairs. The 5th place pair in our direction had a ~57.5 and didn't even scratch, and 7 of the 9 pairs were above 50%. In the other direction in our section, an E-W pair got a section top for a 49.8% game, and a 47% made the section overalls. This also featured the lowest score I've ever seen in an A/X game (24.5%), and it wasn't even a pair that had never played at that level before!

(I have the saved printout, but unfortunately the link on the WBL site to the archived file is broken so I can't link to it).
Sept. 13, 2014
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