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All comments by Randy Thompson
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You make the telling point – it's mostly about opening bid style. It takes VERY sound openers for this to be a limit. Another factor is whether you play forcing 1N or semi-forcing. If semi-forcing, then you avoid reaching 3 on the min flat openers when pard passes 1N. If you are playing semi-forcing and pard rebids 2 or if he rebids 2, then you would want to bid 3.

I checked the 2 box, but I think it's close because our opening bids are sound (except in my Precision partnership, where this wouldn't even be a max 2 raise). Some correspondence about hands with Danny Kleinman convinced me to be a bit conservative with xxx for trump support. I've been doing better rounding down on such hands. Also pard's most likely short suit is clubs and that could limit this hand's value – if the KJ were the A, then all the points would rate to be working and then vul at IMPs I'd call it a limit.
Feb. 10, 2014
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Insufficient explanation (and possibly a pre-alert and possibly illegal, but I'll let others decide that).

When we play DONT non-vul vs a Big NT, we give up on power-based games and bid with any 4-4 or any 6-card suit. So, if pard bids 2 we alert and explain when asked: “4+ diamonds, 4+ of a major, 0-25 HCP”. Just saying “diamonds and a major” is NOT an adequate explanation. This is a similar situation. BTW, in each of those cases, you should WANT to tell the full truth! This will instill a sense of paranoia in the opponents that they are the only ones being “picked on” with this call and cause them to do something silly.
Feb. 10, 2014
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Oops, missed the first double. Undo. Undo. Still bid the same, but discussion before was gibberish. When this is his second double, pass becomes much more of an option!

4 could let us find our 5-3 major instead of our 4-3 major, but it might also let us find our 4-3 major instead of our 3-3 major or our 5-4 club fit. How would pard bid with 1-5 in the minors and 4-3 or 3-4 in the majors? If he is very strong here, couldn't he bid 3M over 3 to show that suit, extras and another place to play? I would bid 4.
Feb. 10, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Feb. 10, 2014
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Pass will violate the law of total trumps – never name a suit as trumps where the opponents have more of it than you do. Pard is suggesting the 4-3 with HIS three-card suit. If he doesn't like clubs, try diamonds. If he has 4 hearts and doesn't have 5 diamonds, get another partner.
Feb. 9, 2014
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Do we think partner has 3 tricks outside diamonds? If not, aren't they cold for 4M? The cost (if any) of -800 happens only if someone doubles 5 and his partner sits for it. As one of them will be void or both will have a stiff, is that likely? Even -800 is likely a small loss to their 620-680 or so playing in a major. Give partner something like 3-1-5-4 shape and a couple of black cards and we could easily be down only one in 5. Even 3-2-5-3 will produce a good save against 4M. It is a mortal sin against the Goddess Bridgetta to bid less than 5 now and then bid 5 later.

IMO, 4 is far too gentle a bid. All it does is deny them cuebids and splinters, but won't impede them from bidding their major suit game.

Psychs work okay in bidding problems where partner can't bid again, but in real life you will be pulling penalty doubles all the way up to the 5 you should have bid at your first turn.
Feb. 8, 2014
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I played for several decades against Peter Boyd and always thought he had the best practical judgment of all the many top level players in the Washington area over the years. When my partner and I had a dispute over some bid, he was the only player whose judgment we would both accept as “right.” If Peter disagreed with our choice, we accepted that it was wrong. Peter is the partner we all wish we had sitting across the table – Stevie Robinson is one lucky player to have that in real life.

I first learned about Peter when I was in law school at Georgetown in the early 70's. The best player in our group there (and the best player I actually knew at the time) was griping about having to add Peter as a fifth to their Regional Swiss team when Peter asked to be on the (very strong young) team. (He had wanted to play 4-handed.) Knowing who Peter was, but having never played against him, I asked my friend, “so, why not just say no to Peter?” He looked at me as if I were nuts and instantly replied, “Then we'd have to try and BEAT him!” Hello! He's THAT good? Nothing I ever learned from watching and playing against Peter over the years ever suggested otherwise.

All these candidates are worthy, as is Marty Bergen, but I'd have to go with Peter.
Feb. 6, 2014
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I would double (intending to correct clubs to diamonds). 2S (Guessing Michaels) could work, but why broach the 3 level on purpose? IMO, 2H is dreadful, much riskier than double with less upside. If not allowed to double, I'd pass. If 1N were forcing, more could be said for passing (for now).

Against a standard pair, their auction has claimed at least about 17 points or so, so a partner should give us the leeway to get our side into the auction with light shapely hands like this one. The hand short in spades must be the one to get us into the auction or this will too often become an opening lead problem.
Feb. 5, 2014
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This is probably a hand where “abstain” is the best choice. I prefer 6D to 4D at my first turn and there is no way I'd even consider passing 4H now. Pard could have shown a very good hand with just hearts by bidding 4H at his first turn. He could have bid 4C leaping Michaels with a strong two-suiter. He surely has 5-4 or 6-4 in the rounds and a hand too good to bid 3H. I would have bid a conservative 5D before and now I'm even closer to bidding 6D, but I am a bit worried about what this partner might think this sequence shows and will settle for 5D, mostly because the opponents have competed only to 3S and not 4S. THEY are telling me that partner has at least 2 and maybe 3 spades, which might mean he has a stiff diamond? I'm expecting 2-5-2-4 from partner, with good points but not such great hearts. Probably best to play in the 7-2 or 7-1 diamond fit, where I hold 11 useful cards, instead of clubs, where I may hold only 4 or 5.
Feb. 5, 2014
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Sorry, but regardless of the source, those are inferior methods. Double for penalties of at least one major (and GF if don't double 2M); 2M for invite+ in corresponding minor; 2N for the minors; 3m competitive; and 3M to show stopper and ask for 3N if pard has OM stopped is WAY better. Those methods make this an easy 2N bid and one that can withstand bids of 3M by LHO. With stronger hands and the minors, raise partner's pick or cuebid over partner's pick.
Jan. 7, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Jan. 7, 2014
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There are obvious reasons and standing rules of thumb that say not to double, bid 3, bid 3N or Pass. But, you gotta pick a poison. At matchpoints, I'd pass and hope any plus score would beat all those who guessed wrong among double/3/3N. At IMPs, I think I'd double and involve partner in this nightmare and leave 4 games available. Best hope is that he passes the double!
Jan. 4, 2014
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My first Sectional win was a Women's Pairs!. A slow judge kept my (law and bridge) partner from showing up in time for the Men's Pairs, but the Women's had an odd number and they let us play in it for free. We only got credit for a section top, however, as were genetically ineligible to win the event.

My First Blue Ribbon Q came when a committee upheld a director's ruling that both teams lost the last match of a Flight A Regional Swiss Teams. One player, made a joke and said “uppercut,” as he played a trump with a flourish at some point. Declarer then took a bizarre line of play and went down in the cold contract. The Director ruled that the team of the player who made the improper comment got the score for the game making because it surely would have made absent the improper comment rattling the declarer; but that the declarer wasn't allowed to be profoundly stupid, regardless of the comment, so his team got the score for the game going down one! That caused both teams to lose the match. Cool. :)

I gave up Precision back in the 1970's when a LOL psyched a three-card spade suit against me and we couldn't find our way to our vul 4 game. I'm trying it again these days, as the methods for coping with comp have been wildly improved by Rodwell and folks seem to leave us alone when we open 1 more often than they did back in the 70's).

I was knocked out of the Spingold when the late Alan Lebendig and his partner bid 7N off an ace in the last quarter of the match. My partner and I had the same auction up as they did – right up until my partner believed me when I signed off in 6N after having asked for keycards. At the other table, our opponent went on to 7N. Our teammate had his hand on a safe sequence lead (T from T98x) until our other teammate, the late Jim Kirkham, holding the ace of that suit, doubled. We gave the lead problem to just about all of the world level players in the Washington DC area and we got ADAMENT opinions that the double called for the lead of EACH of the FOUR SUITS! Guess Lightner Doubles are an inexact tool! Our teammate led dummy's first bid suit (a large contingent voted for that lead) and that was that when the ace was elsewhere. To win, we didn't need for them to beat 7N, we just needed for Lebendig's partner not to have insulted him by raising to a grand after having told the truth about his number of aces. Had they beaten 7N, we'd have won by a large margin.

Playing in a pair event at a Nationals against Zia and George Jacobs, I mis-sorted my hand and didn't notice that both of my black suits were spades until we had reached the five level and I had to correct 5 to 5 in a confusing auction. Bad result. :)

Playing in a Regional Swiss in an unfamiliar partnership with John Jemmott, we had a forcing-pass snafu where I thought I had to double 6 or bid over it. To beat 6 doubled, John had to UNDERLEAD AKQxxx of his suit (that I had supported) to my Jxxxx (they were 1-1) and then get his ruff. When the LOL who was our opponent saw what had happened, she sadly commented, “Oh, if they bid 6 at the other table, they'll make it!”
Jan. 3, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Jan. 3, 2014
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Meta Rule that has held up over time: “When a hand that bid 3N to play bids 4N at his next turn, it should be natural.”
Jan. 3, 2014
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Auctions that begin with 1 or 1 or 2 will for SURE be competitive auctions where the opponents get to exchange information cheaply and our partner will never have a chance to read us for diamonds like this.

I think the choice should be between 4N straight Blackwood and 5. All this discussion of the subtle difference between a direct and delayed 5 seem to me to misplace the focus, as they omit the fact that the opponents will be well placed to make a decision over a delayed 5. I started out with 5 but have come around to preferring 4N.
Jan. 3, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Jan. 3, 2014
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With silent opponents, I read partner for 4-4-2-3 or 4-4-3-2 shape. If his three-card minor is clubs we need to bid them again to get our 130. If he's 4-5-2-2, I'll regret bidding again.
Jan. 3, 2014
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Into the Valley of Death Rode the 500. 4 with apologies prepared for an annoyed partner if it is wrong. This won't be my first zero, nor my last.
Jan. 1, 2014
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1N may not be perfect (I'd rather have the J instead of the T) but it surely beats passing and hoping partner interprets our pattern correctly when we balance with 3 or finding out if partner is on our un-discussed wavelength regarding what 3 or 2 should mean. Partner's take-out double should include a heart stopper. Passing then 3 would likely be our best choice if we had no K. Pard will get our shape right on that sequence but our values will be understated by enough to miss some good games.
Dec. 29, 2013
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If we can use RKC for clubs (and surely either 4D or 4N does that) then we can find the grand. If not, just bid 6N.
Dec. 26, 2013
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keycard ask – presumably 4D.
Dec. 21, 2013
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This is a question of bidding contest or at-the-table. I suppose in a bidding contest there is no harm in “going slow” with 2H. No matter what you do, they'll leave you alone. At the table, when you can make 5C they will be in 5 of a red suit (possibly making) if you are gentle with them. My partners don't double 1H with fewer than 3 spades, but might well double with no clubs and an “equal level conversion” of clubs to diamonds. I bid 4S – to make – and worry more about the opponents than slam. If they bid over 4S, partner will come closer to getting it right if we start with 4S than if we claim 12 points with 2H and are woefully short of that. Yes, it IS worth a lot on offense – but 4S says that.

With the actual hand held, I think a bid of 3H over 1H stands out. If partner can stop hearts, you should have a “shot” at 3N. Double has so many ways to go wrong that I wouldn't even consider it.
Dec. 21, 2013
Randy Thompson edited this comment Dec. 21, 2013
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Partner made them guess and they took the push. Way to go, partner. Hope they guessed wrong!

I think both players bid this hand well – you can't double them every time they are going down w/o getting some peeks. :)
Dec. 10, 2013
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