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All comments by Nick Hughes
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Khokan, maybe the control-rich East hand with 4-4 majors is too strong for 1NT? (despite no intermediates). There is a view - Beauchamp? - that this shape with 17 points is too much.
June 18
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I also wonder whether a program would cash A after the A, then take the heart finesse, correctly reasoning that it costs nothing to check for a singleton K.
May 9
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9 lead was not a success

N QT843

W J E AK75

S 962

How do I post the complete layout in a poll?
May 9
Nick Hughes edited this comment May 9
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I guess so, in a top game. As a simple soul, if I saw North - who seems to have five major cards - pitch two spades I would think he had the K.
May 8
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Depends whether you think four tricks is enough.
Q picks up Kx & Kxx for all five club tricks, then you can relax.
May 7
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North has a few early choices. K or J. Is one the default? Which? Then the second diamond lead might be a middle one, since all are aware of declarer's problem.

Declarer rates to have two A-Qs though I guess AKJ QJx is possible.

Baring K is probably okay but note that declarer has the option of playing North for both major kings, in which case one will be bare. If South is pitching count, that might reveal North's shape.

If you pitch 3, should it be heart then spade or other way round?
May 7
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Okay, fixed
May 7
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The difference being that a transfer might lead to 4 by South, with West less likely to swing A.
May 6
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I ran this through Win BGen, which is a bit crude.
32 hands assuming West had 5-4, East K.

25 times a heart worked, 6 times West had stiff A so South had to lead a spade.

With our side having eight hearts, 5-1-4-3 is a bit more common that 5-3-4-1.
May 6
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Okay, seems clear by the votes a heart is right. I still think it's close.
Playing 5 looks like it needs hearts to break, plus the club finesse.
Playing 7 needs Kxx exactly onside.

In practice a spade is the winning play.

Opener had
Axxxx A Kxxx xxx

Opener having 5-4 increases the chance of stiff A, perhaps not by enough.
May 6
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After a diamond lead, did he make it?
May 6
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I think a bad habit some people have is being fixated - even mesmerised - by dummy. I've fallen into this at times as declarer. Tunnel vision has caused me to miss peripheral cards completely. Did East follow to the first trump?
Likewise as defender, if you stare at dummy all the time, your brain can push the vital cards played by partner and declarer into the background. In fact, it is better to look at your own cards than dummy's, bearing in mind that looking pointedly at partners' hand is probably slotting.
April 17
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I have aphantasia, meaning “no mind's eye”. That means I have virtually no ability to form internal images. Peter Gill, a top Australian player, has the same condition.

For instance, when I was young and had difficulty getting to sleep, I heard people say “Try counting sheep”. I had no ideas what that entailed.

Anyway, it may seem like a big disadvantage but I am able to “imagine” a layout, just not visually. It's hard to explain. I play a decent game of chess and can play blindfold, though not well. Najdorf played 40 simultaneous games blindfold. I imagine he was able to draw up a picture of each of the 40 layouts.
April 16
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Ian & Al,

there are other gains in “suits & shortages top down, canap√© first”: when you lose steps, and with some freaky shapes.

Take a black 6511. If the bid to show this is 3,
opener can bid 3 to ask, if prepared to play 3NT opposite 5-1-1-6 (canape first) and 4 opposite 6-1-1-5.

A bit obscure. More common are hands after 1 - 1 - 1, where the structure is Up 2. Then the bid to show x-4-4-x happens to be 3 for us.
Give opener something like 5-2-3-3.
Now relaying with 3 is safe, planning to pass 3NT, else play 4 if partner bids 4 to show 3-4-4-2.

PS. We zoom straight off with 1-suiters. Useful if the auction is not GF.
Our 1 opening denies four s

1 - 1

1NT = , 2 = bal,
2 = >, 2 = >=
2 = 6+, HS, etc
April 16
Nick Hughes edited this comment April 16
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Ron, you wrote …
“Burgess, who had been watching, said why do you use 2 to show lower suit is longer? I recognised him and said ”That is how M-B do it“. He shook his head and walked away …”

This illustrates why you can't just sit down and say “Let's play symmetric.” Note that it is better to use 2 as “reverser” rather than “enhancer” as M-B were doing at the time, also to show high shortage first.

Take 3-5-1-4 and 1-4-3-5

The first shape - hands with low shortage / long majors - can happily zoom straight to 3 because 4 & 4 are likely spots.
The second shape needs to stop off at 2 and/or 2NT because asker is more likely to want to break the chain to check out more strains.
April 15
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Ian,

We always felt uneasy playing Strong Pass vulnerable, for a number of reasons.
- Being vulnerable we should be more concerned about getting our game bonus and thus devote bids to our good hands.
- Apart from -1100 in a doubled fert, the 8-12s were in danger too, particularly 1NT as 9-12 no major.
- A 1 fert passed out was often bad, when opener had spades.

The 0-7 1 fert has proved a consistent winner. Pre-empt one major and bid the other. 1 = s, 1 = s have room for two relays, so we broadened them to 7-12.
That left 1 as 7-12 no major, 1 - 1 - 1NT = minimum, nice.

So you are right. We decided that 1 was the best spot for a fert, for destructive potential plus making good use of lower bids. Happy with the way it is going.

Playing Strong Pass, we have not had gains from oppoonents' misadventures, like stealing their major fit. They simply seem to make more errors in bidding judgement and cardplay.
April 14
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Wayne, indeed you did mention it. My bad. Seemed lacking in earlier threads.
April 11
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Wayne, we still do that, when allowed.
Strong pass not vul, strong club vul.

I note that nobody yet has mentioned systems that vary with seat. Playing Acol-ish, some play 12-14 in 1st & 2nd, 15-17 in 3rd & 4th. There is merit in this, since it increases the chance of the best auction in bridge, 1NT - 3NT.

Are these people playing two systems?
Yes, the failure to open a weak notrump affects many auctions. Playing 12-14, a suit opening shows “a good suit or a good hand”. You lose that inference when 1NT is strong.

When we play strong club with 4-card majors and relays, we switch a bit to Precision in 3rd & 4th.
Does that mean we play three systems? (Strong pass when not vul)
April 10
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I was wondering if some would choose 3 or 3
April 6
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Absurd is it?
The fate of the hand may depend upon East being able to persuade declarer to guess wrong at trick two.

Also, on some hands - as Barry pointed out - East may want to tell partner about the 10, lest West blow a trick later on, having led from QJ9xx
April 2
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