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All comments by Mike Gill
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Here's the system we came up with, I'm sure there are others. It was designed to be easy to remember (shortness by either player is always shown with 3M+1 to 3M+3), avoid giving away information when there's no slam interest, and always offer the partner of the person showing shortness a chance to show interest below 4M. For the 3 bids that show shortness (3N-4 over spades), you can use whatever scheme you like to resolve where it is (replacement, HI-MID-LOW, …etc).

This is the system over 1, it's the same over hearts but shifted down a step:

1 - 2NT (4-card LR+):
— 3 normal min GF hand, usually 6-7 losers, no voids
— 3 5-loser hand or better, no voids
— 3 min with a void
— 3 rejects 4-card LR
— 3N-4 max with a void

1 - 2N - 3:
— 3 shows slam interest, asks for more info
—— 3 min with a singleton
—— 3 no shortness
—— 3N-4 max with a singleton
— 3 shows a min GF splinter (lower-tier of 2-tiered)
—— 3 asks, 3NT-4 show
— 3 shows mild slam interest opposite a singleton and a max
—— 3NT-4 show singletons and a max
— 3NT-4 show a singleton and extras (upper-tier)

1 - 2N - 3:
— 3 either GF no shortness or splinter with extras
—— opener can ask with 3 or show shortness with 3N-4
— 3 just a LR, no shortness
—— 3N-4 shows shortness
— 3N-4 shortness, 7 losers hand

1 - 2N - 3:
— 3 asks, 3N-4 show the void location

1 - 2N - 3:
— 3N-4 show shortness, slam interest opposite LR rejection

We almost never jump to 4M while partner is unlimited - we'd only do this with the worst hand we can imagine for slam. I also didn't define 4 bids when 3NT-4 show shortness - this step is free actually. You can use this for whatever you want - I think the best use is a hand that has extra values for previous bidding but no singletons. For an opener that's shown 6-7 losers, this might be something like AQJxxx AKx xx xx. You could make slam here opposite a control-heavy balanced minimum GF like Kxxx xx Axx AKxx.
Oct. 20, 2017
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Yes
Oct. 20, 2017
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Well, I suppose you might bid 4 with any GF that can't really visualize a slam, whereas some of those hands might bid 4 playing Standard. But that makes the ceiling of 4 higher, which if anything argues against stretching the floor?

I suspect you're right that thinking about bidding 5 might have been an overbid. 5 *could* be a down 1 save if partner has a singleton diamond but that does seem quite a bit against the odds.
Oct. 20, 2017
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This is a reasonable approach IMO, but there are potential gains from bidding more slowly. If partner has two aces, grand is very good if partner has a heart (~80%) but should be avoided if he's void (50%). Sure he probably has a heart but he might not - on my auction I was pretty certain he didn't have one. Also, hearts doesn't have to be the right strain. If partner has solid spades and jumps to 3 over 2, then you want to play in spades not hearts since you can ruff the hearts good on any break. Give partner AKQJxxx - xxx xxx and 6 is almost cold but 6 is 50/50 on a club lead.

It seems like the gains from bidding Blackwood immediately happen if you can't get back to keycard in hearts at some point. This could conceivably have happened if partner bid 4 instead of 3NT in my auction.
Oct. 20, 2017
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-110 instead of +620 is lose 11 so if I'm committing to this not being our worst board then we're in a lot of trouble!
Oct. 20, 2017
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Thanks, glad you're enjoying it. We didn't come up with the 3-suited stuff, I believe it's a normal part of the Transfer-Oriented Symmetric Relay stuff that we play. But it does make a lot of sense and we could replace it with opener starting natural bidding if we thought it was better.

WRT 1430, I pretty much agree there's no theoretical advantage, we mostly play that because we've been playing it forever and it's easier not to change things. I'm not sure there's really a disadvantage, though. The only theoretical point I can think of is that if you're bidding either 4 or 4 as keycard, you probably want to maximize the frequency of a 4NT response since it can't be doubled for the lead. I think that means making 4NT 1/4 keycards, but I'm not sure. We probably wouldn't make an agreement like that at this point since it's a bit prone to forgets. We just don't play enough to profit from advantages that are so rare/small, since if you forget it ever really you won't make up the difference.
Oct. 10, 2017
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If you think these are the type of opponents who would take the dive in 6 over a direct 6, maybe it's right to do that. Normally, it seems unlikely to hurt by starting with 3 asking for a stopper. I can pull partner's response to 4 or 5 depending on how aggressive I'm feeling to show a massive hand too strong to overcall 4 directly.
Oct. 7, 2017
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2 seems normal to me given the Q is probably waste paper. Not raising with East just seems bizarre.
Oct. 4, 2017
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I think the fact that the 7 was led matters a lot as well, though I didn't mention it specifically. I would lead the 2 if I had Jxx 1072 KJxxx Qx, since I don't want partner to lead the highest suit but I am ok with the two lower. I think you're essentially forced to give a binary signal initially since you don't know how many of your cards partner will get to see before making the critical decision. You're probably right about the 10 being more for diamonds.
Sept. 19, 2017
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North should just bid a natural, invitational 4N over 3.
Sept. 14, 2017
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Was thinking about this last night - early diamond to the J loses if LHO has say KTxxx Qxx KTx Ax and RHO AJxxx xxxxx xx K, right? That seems consistent with the bidding and lead. I guess it depends on how likely you think it is that LHO leads a trump from AK tight.
Sept. 13, 2017
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Updated the text slightly.

On deeper analysis, crossing in diamonds is essentially 100% safe for the contract if LHO has a singleton. Say he ruffs, plays a club to RHO and receives another ruff. Now I can ruff the club return and cash a high trump. If LHO shows out, I can cross to a heart in dummy, cash my diamond winner to pitch a heart (since LHO can't ruff) and take a trump finesse. If hearts were somehow 4=1 they could play a heart instead of a club to leave me a guess, but that would mean LHO has 2416 and RHO didn't raise clubs with 4-card support and a singleton in the suit we'd just bid, so that's not really possible.

If LHO led from xxxx in diamonds (which was possible on the lead), I might go down on this line if the trump finesse loses to the stiff Q. That would require LHO to have preempted on 1246 and RHO not to have a raised.
Sept. 12, 2017
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Yes, diamond to the jack early seems slightly better.

I didn't realize it at the time, but when East played the 8, my legit chances were all gone, since he couldn't really hold a tripleton 87 either. Unless he'd played the 8 as a signal from a 4-card holding without the 7, but these opponents didn't seem like the type to make that kind of error. I thought about playing Q hoping they'd ducked from the AK, but didn't think about LHO ducking from AJx.
Sept. 12, 2017
Mike Gill edited this comment Sept. 12, 2017
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Thanks, fixed.
Sept. 12, 2017
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It's totally normal to bid 5 with 3-4 in partner's suits, except maybe at matchpoints if you are planning on making a 5-level contract. So I don't think 5 really gives the opponents all that much more information than 5 does.

And who said 5 is necessarily the winning call? Give partner a totally normal x AKxxx Jx KQxxx and both contracts are down. Take away the J and they're still down when hearts are 2-2 or RHO holds the A.
Sept. 11, 2017
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Assuming 4 is natural, our diamond trick(s) is/are unlikely to be going anywhere. I think bidding 5 is clear since partner is most likely 5-5 and why wouldn't we want to play our better fit at IMPs?
Sept. 8, 2017
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I don't like bidding 3NT either. You could definitely miss a slam, but that's what happens sometimes when they preempt? Kx and a singleton in partner's suit are slam-negative enough that I don't actually feel too bad about this bid. If I had Ax x KT9x AKJT9x I might bypass 3NT.
Sept. 8, 2017
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I agree he needs a big hand (though your particular example is maybe not the best). I think the type of hand where partner would bid on is QJxx AKx AQJxx x. Maybe I would bid over 3 with that but I might just pass to see where partner is going.
Sept. 7, 2017
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If you bid 3 and partner has a stopper he has to bid 3NT on almost any hand. Over X, partner has a lot more options, and I think it depends more on the overall hand than just how strong the stopper is. He could pass with either a balanced hand and strong spades or an unbalanced hand with short diamonds and enough trump stoppers to be confident of getting some ruffs. With 3424 shape it seems normal for partner to bid 2NT on almost any hand with a stopper for lack of better options. With that shape and no stopper, I have no idea what you're supposed to do!

With my actual hand I probably would have bid 3 - partner is practically limited to 2-3 in the majors so he has to have either 6 or 3.
Sept. 7, 2017
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Certainly we agree this hand is not a mild slam try. But if KJT9xxx Qxx xx x is a direct 4 bid (what else could you bid?), then I'm not sure how partner is supposed to know whether or not to bid on with extra values.
Sept. 7, 2017
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