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3N over 3 is one way to bid the minors and it may work if LHO has 10 of them that are divided 5-5. Over 2 he can double to show both minors and values, bid 2N to show both minors and shape or bid 3m with a 6-card minor (likely clubs). We don't know at the point of the 3 bid whether we have a game and we haven't shown anything in hearts so there is less likelihood of a minor suit fit than there is over 2.
Aug. 13, 2019
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If facing 3 hearts, we will be defending 5 or 6 if we start with 2; we might buy it in 3 or 4 if we start with 3.
Aug. 13, 2019
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If we have a 6-3 heart fit, we may have to bid to the 6 level to buy it. The opponents will have 17+ minor suit cards. 2 makes it trivial for them to find their double fit; 3 does not.
Aug. 13, 2019
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There are two other players at the table (who have no impact in a bidding contest but matter in a real setting). If we don't have a heart fit, there is no advantage to bidding 2, as it mistates the location of our values; if we do have a heart fit, then the opponents have a double fit in the minors. Bidding 2 makes life easy on them; bidding 3 makes life hard. Over 2 they can double or bid 2N to get into the auction easily and descriptively. Over 3, they would have to bid 4N in order to show both those minors or overcall 4m in the dark. That is a LOT more of a commitment on their part prior to knowing whether we have a game. If they do buy it in 5mx, the last thing we want from partner is a heart lead. So, that is why someone would NOT start with 2. In a two-person bidding contest, 2 stands out; in a real-table scenario, I much prefer 3.
Aug. 13, 2019
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Brad: You took the words right out of my mouth about the reason for bidding 1. I'm pretty sure we are wrong, but old dogs often don't bother to learn new tricks.
Aug. 9, 2019
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Being “smarter than the field” isn't always a plus. Even if you think 6 is right, you can be sure that almost no one but you in a club game will think that, so you will be competing with many tables where the contract is 5 doubled. The club game field tries to get doubled as low as possible, maybe even bidding only 4, always intending to keep bidding to 5 “if they bid a game.” In a team event, you can rely on your teammates to do what is right and at IMPs, the odds may well favor the 6 choice. If they bid on and go down or if they double when they have a slam it can be double-figure IMP wins, while down one more than the other table isn't a “zero;” it's minus 5 imps.
Aug. 9, 2019
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Richard: I think that's an ACBL rule. For sure you can't do it here.
Aug. 9, 2019
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Aug. 8, 2019
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At Imps, this was a very reasonable auction. At matchpoints, IMO, 5 would be enough.
Aug. 7, 2019
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Marshall: If you agree that 3 fixes strain, then 3N can be used as Frivolous 3N. I now have that agreement with all 3 of my regular pards.

Richard: 3 should deny a spade suit that can play opposite a stiff, or even a void, so you are not going to be allowed to play 4 by a partner who noticed that you passed up a chance to bid 3. I would want to have a high diamond honor if willing to abandon the chance to show this spade suit.
Aug. 6, 2019
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This is a spot where 3N by responder over a 3 rebid should be “Frivolous 3N” and suggest that Responder does not want to cue bid. In that case, there would be no need to worry about a 4 bid that could not happen. We play Frivolous here because it is another case where 3M has been bid with game forced and trumps decided. Over 3N, we can cue 4 and partner will surely cue 4. Then when we bid 4, the need for a heart control is clear and partner can carry on if he has one. All the hands that folks fear missing a slam on here seem to have SIX diamonds. 6 diamonds when we hold 4 is some tiny fraction (at most 1/3) as likely as 5 diamonds. Then pard needs more than just the top two diamonds to have a loserless suit for slam. Even at IMPs, it's better to play 4 making instead of 5 down one. Last chance to convince a partner with a stiff spade that spades should be trumps is right now. IMO, 4 completely gives up on our best game strain in search of a slam that will usually play just as well in spades as diamonds.
Aug. 6, 2019
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Over a major, I think it is right to play 13-16 for the balancing 1N range. You no longer are likely to get to show 15-16 by rebidding 1N. This came up last night on BBO and we reached a game others missed when the 14 top of others' balancing 1N was near the bottom of ours and a 10 count with a 5 card suit drove it to game. IMO the harder issue is the lack of anything resembling a stopper of a suit where they hold 5+ (unlike the case with a minor, where most will hold 3+).
Aug. 5, 2019
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A delayed 3N sounds like a scared heart stopper (to me), but I may well score 3 heart tricks if they lead the suit each has bid! Instead, should I first try my best to make my three dead clubs trumps by doubling or try my best to avoid a game bonus by bidding 2-only no trump? I'm with Richard on this one – bid what is front of your nose and leave the daisies to be picked by other, more subtle, folk.

Pass, intending to convert another double to a penalty double might well be theoretically a great choice, but defending 2 undoubled doesn't appeal to me at all. Partner has already shown his heart shortness and limited values and will pretty much never re-enter with a double (as opposed to 2 or 3m), so the upside of pass is slim and the downside is grim.
Aug. 5, 2019
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I would open 2, but wouldn't mind if my partner opened 3 on this hand but could neither imagine nor forgive passing.
Aug. 4, 2019
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If you play a style (as I now do) where you can open 1 with 4-5 in the minors and less than reverse values, and you don't have the methods to promise 5 or more diamonds in your bids that show clubs, then responder needs to treat the suits as equal and not insist on the notion that diamonds must be longer than or equal to clubs (a notion born many decades ago when that was always the case). In fact, when you make a bid that promises 5 clubs, partner should probably assume that the minors are either 5-5 or 4-5, not 5-5 or 5-4. In other words, your assumptions should match your style.

Back in the 1990's when having the best matchpoint event of my life, part of the reason had been undisciplined weak two's, especially in diamonds. Our game was so good that day that I had the rare experience of knowing we had the (300+ pair regional play-through Open pairs at a nationals) won going into the last couple of rounds, so long as we didn't stack up four zeros in those rounds. All day long, my partner and I had been opening 2 with a holding such as the one I picked up then – JT987. But, no longer needing to do anything anti-field, I passed nonvul in first seat. To show the kind of luck we were having, my LHO then opened 1 and rebid clubs and then when his partner didn't appreciate that his repeated club bids raised the possibility of 4-5 in the minors, they wound up in 6 (undoubled, of course).
Aug. 1, 2019
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For sure. The “magic bullet 1N” is alertable when it shows clubs (or possibly hearts). If 2 is forcing, it is alertable (just alerted it several times at the Vegas Nationals) and if it promises 5 clubs is also alertable (with the explanation when asked that clubs may be lonter than diamonds).

If 1N routinely has a singleton in partner's major it may or may not be alertable. I think it should be, but no one on this planet ever alerts it, even when though thousands play it that way. That is the lie of choice so frequently that tournament players should consider it a lively possibility. It is also a pet peeve, as it means ACBL regulations favor some no trump ranges over others. You cannot treat a small stiff as if it were a doubleton for purposes of opening 1N but certainly can if rebidding 1N. The problem of course, is the profoundly stupid prohibition on opening 1N with a small stiff.
July 31, 2019
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If your 1 opener promises a distributional hand (with flat out-of-range hands opening 1), there need be no problem with opening 1 and rebidding 1N over 1 to show a hand with 4+ diamonds and 4+clubs and rebidding 1N over 1 to show 4+ diamonds and either 4 hearts or 4+ clubs, in either case with less than the values for a reverse in your methods (and thus non forcing). That way your raise to 2M can still show 4-card support and your 2 bid can be forcing if you like that method. Or you can play that the 2 rebid promises 5 but isn't forcing over 1 and with 5-4 you can rebid 1N.
https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/magic-bullet-1n/

If you insist that 1N show a flat hand then you need to permit it to include a singleton or be willing to raise to 2M with three-card support, even with xxx in M. Or, you can guess opener's length when he rebids 2 with 5-4, 4-5 or 5-5.
July 31, 2019
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If partner cared about what we thought his bids meant, he'd have made ones that are consistent with our agreements. He's more concerned with what the opponents think and to me, that says “other – walking the dog and trying to induce a double from sleepy opponents.” Or, he just wanted to be captain if they do bid. Whatever, he has told us that we are irrelevant to the rest of this auction, so we have “no need to know” what he has.
July 30, 2019
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I was Barry's partner on this hand and I also filed a player memo about declarer, as I think he was just inventing a hesitation (there was none, as I told the director at the time) in order to try to make it one way with his guess and the other way by director intervention. I (of course) also got no response. Only the close-door button on an elevator is more of a useless placebo than a player memo. One fact that Barry omitted was that the client-partner of the declarer refused to say whether there was a hesitation, claiming that he wasn't watching closely (late in the finals of a national event). I don't believe the pro saw any hesitation, as there was none; and I don't believe his client wasn't watching closely enough to be able to say. These were a pair of liars.
July 30, 2019
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I would have bid 2 at my first turn (planning to bid 2 if it goes PP dbl or Dbl PP). I will go quietly now –this has become partner's problem. Saving at matchpoints is a BAD idea unless you are sure they are making and sure we won't go for a telephone number.
July 27, 2019
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