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All comments by Ron Zucker
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Okay, arguing for a total systemic change here, and I know that's not fair. So let me make the case about the theory, and then we'll discuss how it works in the real world.

Usually, the 2 opener has too much to tell, so should just be asking. You reference this in your rule that responder can never bid Blackwood, which is the same rule in a slightly different form. That's why I play a form of controls (K=1, A=2). Tell opener what's going on and s/he can make the choices. The exception is when opener is flat but responder has shape, and those are easy to handle with all of the NT gadgets we all play.

Basically, it boils down to this. Opening 2 says, “I am the captain. Tell me as much information as you can as fast as you can. I need to know how high we're going and in what strain. I'll get them in that order.” Other systems are more geared to strain first. I don't think those work as well, as responder is more likely to get in opener's way than help.

The precise form of controls I play:

2 - 0-4 HCP, negative, 0 or 1 control, pair can stop below game. All other responses are game forcing. (Read into this whatever discussion you've had about whether you can stop in 4 or 4.)
2 - 5+HCP, 0 or 1 control.
2 - 2 controls.
2NT - 3 kings
3 - An ace and a king
3 - 4 or more controls, slam invite at least.

Over 2, I play Kokish, so that opener can play in 2NT after 2-2-2NT. All other bids are natural-ish, with the Kokish rule about hearts being either hearts, hearts and another suit, or game forcing balanced. Bids other than 2NT are forcing for one round.

The great weakness, and I will acknowledge it, is that this wrong-sides a random number of hands. The beauty of 2 waiting and all higher suit bids show two of the top three is that, unless opener has diamonds, responder will only declare if s/he has a good suit to show. I acknowledge this disadvantage, but think the efficiency is worth it. (Yes, I think that spiral relay big club systems are also worth it. I'm just not smart enough to play them.)

With that in mind, let's look at our hands here:

Hand 1:
2-3 and now West knows two things: 1) East has either the A and K or the AK. (Some control systems make this distinction, but I like the negative 2 too much to include it efficiently.) 2) Whichever 3 controls he has, 6NT should be playable from the East side.

How you get there is up to agreements. One partner I play with plays 5 is a puppet to 5NT, after which opener can transfer (6 forces 6, which works because, having opened 2, opener is always declaring a contract) to protect a known king in responder's hand. Others aren't going to be able to get there and will get to 6, but there won't be an opportunity to double a bid for a club lead, so it's not disastrous.

On hand 2, I admit that I wouldn't upgrade this to a 2 call, so I'm probably not the right one to ask, but if it's in your agreements to do so:
2-3-3NT (not ending the auction, just describing the hand) - 4 (natural - partner knows the control situation, so no Gerber here!) - and now you might end up with the same guess. Given that making a small spade in the East hand a small heart gives 7 no play, I don't think I want to be in 7 without a shape relay system that I'm not smart enough to play.

Lacking a control bidding system, I like Barry Rigal's auction on both hands. (Big surprise! I think a world class expert bids well!) But I actually think these hands make the argument for controls by showing how they let opener quickly realize that we're looking at slam, meaning that we don't have to be delicate about our lower bids, as they won't be passed.
Sept. 10
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John, interesting observation. It was the last round, against a pair with a 42% game. If we score 800, we come in 2nd EW, instead of 4th.
Sept. 9
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All of which is to say I think it more likely that you, Richard, Dominic and Craig are all MUCH more likely to make 5 than I am… :D
Sept. 9
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Nope. At least, I don't THINK I tanked. I was pretty satisfied once East doubled in appropriate tempo. I spent his time deciding what I would do over pretty much anything.
Sept. 9
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This was the motivation for the post, though I was also uncertain of the second bid as West. Thank you. I don't know that I'll change what I did the next time (not the exact hand, since that will never happen, but you get the idea), but it's always good to get reasoning and opinions.
Sept. 9
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Yup. Led the 9, Lloyd (since you know us, so I can use names) followed small smoothly, and declarer tanked and ducked. I didn't ask what made him decide to do this, merely commented that he made a nice play, congratulated him and moved on.
Sept. 9
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Michael, full disclosure, I was West. At the time, I was kind of undecided between X and 2 at my first turn. I have a general rule that in situations like this, when there might be later bidding, either come to a conclusion within 10 seconds (I'm a drummer; counting to 10 at the proper pace while thinking about something else is not difficult for me) or mentally flip a coin at 9. In this case, I mentally flipped a coin and ended up doubling. I'm actually surprised at the result. I thought it a close decision, but so far, only a few have chosen that answer.

I was curious how many people would disagree with double. Note that I carefully didn't use the word “blame” here. I don't think that blame is right. I don't think anybody thinks either East or West did anything unreasonable. But I expected more people wouldn't like either double (I thought more people would want to leave it up to partner as East), and I thought a few might want to pull the second double (as Steve Moese suggested).

I agree about the actual result. I actually like South's decision to open 2, but it's certainly not the “book” bid. These things, they happen. But I'm fairly critical of my decisions even when it goes “right.” I've posted more than a few hands where I was “right” as the cards lie, but thought I was wrong in theory.
Sept. 9
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Ken, looking at all four hands, not necessarily. The lead of a *small* club does that, but if North decides not to lead a diamond, isn't he likely to lead the Q (J if that's systemic)? If so, if South unblocks, one club loser, or if s/he fails to unblock, one club loser as s/he will be unable to find N.

Not doubting the legitimacy of the point. I like Kit's point. But not clear that what you wrote is true.
Sept. 9
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There is a more general problem going on here. Michael, though I agree with Oren's comments that your comment was awfully inappropriate, you are not alone among bridge players. There is a local player who is a top notch expert who engenders a split reaction among other players. He routinely makes comments about bids or plays by the opponents. I believe he is fascinated by the game and wants to share why he finds it so fascinating. I love to play against him, and always find his comments insightful, especially when I disagree after further analysis. He's always willing to discuss and debate. I love playing against him.

However, at least one player I'm friends with will go to outlandish extremes to try to avoid playing this player. Not because he fears him at all. He doesn't and his results are excellent. Rather, my friend finds the running commentary on hands bothersome and rude.

I think that, in the end, I also find the expert's comments bothersome and rude, but that I also find them instructive enough not to care. I understand the objection and might be more disturbed, but I'm not. I enjoy it.

But I also know that I'm not “normal,” even in the constraints of bridge players, who are as a whole not that “normal.”

In answer to the OP, I find your comment to be very rude, and would probably feel like gloating at the table. I suspect she knew that she COULD take the finesse, and probably SHOULD take the spade finesse, but she chose to trust her other judgment, incorrectly, and was probably annoyed with herself over that. That probably motivated her retort.

But no matter what she said or why, I hope you've learned that there are people to whom you can make that comment, but they are mostly friends, or people like me. Leave the other players alone. They'll learn what they are willing to learn and no more. That makes me kind of sad, but I am not here to judge why people choose to spend their time and money playing bridge. If she's enjoying it as she is, just let her enjoy it. We all play the game for different reasons. I won't mess with your enjoyment of the game. Indeed, I'm thrilled for it. But don't mess with mine, either.
Sept. 9
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I think I'm wrong to pass. The stiff diamond is scary to pass with. The one who knows (is short) goes.

That said, I can't see how I can even possibly bid 5 and expect to play there if it's right. Partner can have 3 aces and leave me with no play for slam, and surely s/he is raising with 3 aces, right? And partner passed over 3, so 3 aces is unlikely. I'll hope to defeat it and and recognize that I might be wrong here.
Sept. 3
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Respectfully, because you know how much I respect you and your game, and I fear that the internet will just show snark, which is not intended…

So what's your plan after 2-P-2-(4)-?

How about after 2-P-2-(4)-4-5-P-P?

I get that they competed where your teammates didn't, but partner is not broke but you shut down the auction with 4S, the same thing you'd bid with AKQxxxx xx Ax xx. You don't have a pleasant bid after 3, but you're still in the running for slam. I agree with your opening. It's your rebid with which I disagree.
Aug. 29
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I could go either way with this one and would probably put my vote as, “I would open 1 with it, but would be fine if partner decided to open it 2.” I'm doing it tactically. With my shortness in the reds, I might be telling partner about my suit for the first time at the 4 level. I think 1 will help me save space when (not if) the bad guys come in the red suits. I might still have to do some guessing, but it's nice to get my AKQT9x on the table.

Doesn't mean I'm not scared partner will pass 1, but I've not made game yet opposite a hand that passes 1.
Aug. 29
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That's effectively what I did. My thinking was that after the hand, I wanted to assure opps, who, as mentioned, are quite competent, that, if they wanted to call and ask for an adjustment, I would not contest the BIT (though I would have contested whether there was an LA at the time, but Tom Peters, above, convinced me that I was wrong).

I think I might have handled it differently against less experienced players, but this particular pair is well aware that asking for an adjustment is not some sort of gross action. I mentioned it only to grease the wheels if they felt they needed it.

They decided they didn't need to call the director or ask for anything, as my LHO chose a terrible time to grossly underbid with 1NT when his partner had a marginally invitational hand, and my choice didn't affect the fact that they didn't find game. But I wanted to figure out what I should have done.
Aug. 5
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I called it hitting for the cycle (admittedly, in two session match) when partner and I cumulatively both made and went down in:

a partscore;
a game;
a slam;
a doubled partscore;
a doubled game; and,
a doubled slam.

(The doubled slam was a grand when partner thought we were playing 1430 and I thought we were playing 3014. The missing keycard was the trump ace…)
July 30
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First, THANK YOU! I used to be quite active on BW and play more bridge. The last couple of years, I've not had time. I missed this kind of back and forth and different viewpoints.

@David, I agree with Mike and Ian. I understand if I'm pushed into either passing or bidding 4S. But in this case, I got to express an opinion that we should play this hand at a pretty high level, either because I think we're going to make 3S or because it will be close but I think it's a better score than defending 3H. Partner can't know which, but she knows I think we should contract for 9 tricks if she has a minimum (as defined by our partnership) takeout double of 1.

The one thing West suspects is that someone is kidding based on good distribution. She holds a reasonable 8 count, LHO opened, partner doubled, and RHO made an invitational bid. The root of my question is that, with the worst possible distribution in their suits, 2-2, why is it clear that anybody can make anything at the 4 level?

The OP didn't mention form of scoring. Doesn't that matter? If either side can make a 4 level contract, it's got to be right at IMPs to bid it, right? At MPs it only makes sense if I'm fairly confident I'm not going for 200. Maybe others are more confident of that than I am.

I understand the temptation. And it's probably true that when they can make 4, 4 is probably right. But that's a pretty big parlay, and people seem awfully confident in making that bet. I'm just not sure it's such an obvious bet that I'm blaming anyone.
July 25
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I understand what people are saying about West, but I have the doom holding in both opponents' suits. xx xx is terrible. Especially since it's far from clear to me that N-S have a 10 card heart fit. If it's only 9, I have the worst possible holding. Meanwhile, partner rates to have some diamond cards that are more useful on defense than offense.

It's not that I can't imagine a 4 bid from either partner, but I'm not sure either one has a clear call on this hand.

This is simply a “What am I missing” post. I'm clearly missing something, as other posters seem quite vehement. I'm trying to figure out why it's so clear that 4 is a good save (let alone a make) and why it's so clear that 4 is making. Thank you all for being so willing to teach me.
July 25
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Ian, notwithstanding the argument, simply saying, “Fair points, I got this one wrong” is the most honest I've heard a bridge player. I simply want to give you kudos for saying that.
July 15
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I want to second Greg Lawler's comment. I'm a solid intermediate who loves to play up, whether that's the Vanderbilts or a top flight at a regional, yet I don't show up for regionals anymore. And Oren is right. My opponents have always been very kind about explaining what they did and why, even when I've won and they probably pissed off. Yet I don't go to many regionals anymore.

The reasons are myriad. Locations that are from from the downtown area where I live, necessitating either a hotel room or a rough commute. Start times that I find too early to be palatable. Too often in the past, not being allowed to play up in a KO because it would make an inconvenient number of entries. The death of open pairs.

I've decided to vote with my feet. I haven't enjoyed most bridge tournaments in a long time. If that means I don't get to play the game I love as often and that my poor skills deteriorate as a result, I still have more fun doing other things. And that says a lot, as I love the game.
July 7
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FWIW, I don't object to 1. If partner bids 1 over 1, life is easy. I'm willing to bid 1NT. But if partner bids 1, life could get ugly when I have a doubleton in the other major. I don't think I'd choose it every time, but I think 1 is actually a thoughtful decision that might work out poorly.
May 2
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Unfortunately, it's been a while since I've been able to be at an NABC. I'm definitely a “toughest competition” person. I like being beaten by the best, and try to be respectful as I try to learn to play better. Once they identified me as this type of player, more than one has been kind enough to make suggestions about what I ought to study to continue to improve. I'm well past the age where I think I'm going to have any chance any time soon of winning the Vanderbilts, especially with my friends who I play with, but I've pulled off some significant upsets and had a great time doing it. At first I was dissuaded from doing this, as I was realistically giving one lucky team a bye into the second round more often than not, but I've been encouraged every time I've done it and treated with a great deal of respect by my opponents, especially when I've made it through the first day. I encourage it to anyone who will listen.

All I ask is that they not schedule the mixed pairs as the only event that starts on day 2 of the title cup events. I'm traveling to play against the best. I will continue playing in the biggest events with the goal of winning an NABC+ event. I have two top 15 finishes, but no top 10's, in pair events. I don't kid myself that it's likely I'll ever win one, but it's still a goal. When I travel to these events, it's all I'm after. Anything that gives me a better shot at that is good. Anything that leaves me playing a Regional event fails to understand why I travel to play.

I will note that my experience is that NABC's are rarely held when the destination is at its best for tourism. However, even if it was, I think it unlikely I'd notice. I'm there for the bridge against the best in the world. Nothing else matters to me. But I also think I'm not “normal,” so catering to my interests is orthagonal to throwing a successful event.
May 1
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