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All comments by Ron Zucker
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FWIW, Kevin (declarer's LHO) held the AQ of spades, so a spade lead doesn't beat the slam. That said, the discussion of the bidding has been educational.
Nov. 12
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I respect all the people saying that I've misbid so badly that asking now is missing the point. But without making excuses, I will suggest that I think 2 is not such a terrible bid as a passed hand. (4 is another question. On review, that's WAY overbidding. The 2 bid makes it more likely partner has a stiff spade. I agree with those savaging that call.) Let me show you how close I think it really is between this bad 2 bid and a good one.

Let's not change the clubs. Aces are special, and adding the CJ (so it's KJxxx) also makes the suit worthwhile. So let's just play with a quack. Make it Qxx in place of Jxx of hearts. I think 2 is now a serious underbid with that hand (8 losers, useful spade position, possibly useful suit and a possible ruffing value). If I'd held KJ9 Q82 52 K9864, I would definitely prefer 2C to either 2 or 2, even at MPs. So we're talking about the difference between a Q and a J. I honestly believe the difference is that small.

I recognize the difference between Qxx of hearts and Jxx; there's a reason that RKC asks about the trump queen, but not the jack. Again, not making excuses. I take all the blame. But I think those that are claiming that 2 is WAY out of line are also overbidding, so to speak. This is the worst auction I committed that night. It is far from the worst auction I've committed in the past month.

This particular hand is not dispositive in any case. Yes, I bid 6, because I tend to think that, absent discussion, 5 is a demand bid. Yes, it makes with not a ton of running luck (It needs the SA onside, or guessing right if LHO leads a small spade and the SA is offside, and then requiring either a 3-3 break or 4-2 in one direction or a hook). Like the rest of the room, we shouldn't have found it; we wouldn't have if I'd just bid 2 like a normal person. Just because a contract makes is not really a reason to bid it. But is having overbid earlier a reason to not answer the question. That's my question here.

Partner's hand, for those who are curious, even though the result doesn't matter:
65
AKQT43
AKJ97


After the SA and a club switch to the Q and ruff, partner cashes two rounds of diamonds. When they live, if LHO has only 2 diamonds, no problem, as dummy has a tenace position in trumps. When LHO follows to the third round of diamond, he ruffs with the 8. This works when diamonds are 3-3 or when they are 4-2 and LHO has the 9.

So by my estimation, it needs a correct guess in spades if they are led (would you underlead the SA here as LHO?), then 36% (diamonds 3-3) or half of all 4-2 with LHO holding the heart 9. I don't know how to adjust the likelihood of LHO having 2 diamonds given that he has 5 spades to presumably RHO's 3, but just on the 36% and half of the other 64%, we're at 68%. With the restricted spaces for diamonds, I think it's slightly better than 70%, after the A lead, but I'm not sure.

Again, not dispositive. I'd rather not have found it by bidding like a human being earlier. But since people HATE the 2 bid, I figured I'd raise that. (Again, totally right to savage 4. That was awful.)
Nov. 12
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Again, I'll accept that. I was certainly pushing way too hard for MPs, where they pay for plus scores. The room bid 2 with my hand, and I think the room was right. I accept that. I didn't make this an ATB. Any blame for a bad result, which we didn't get in the real world, is mine. I'm definitely not looking for validation here. I'm asking for a what now. Am I allowed to evaluate my bidding in light of my previous bidding, or, having chosen to evaluate my hand this way earlier, am I stuck?

Michael's point is the one I'm asking about. Once we have decided to overbid, are we stuck with our original assessment, or do we get to back out? Is it like Blackwood, which we don't pass, even if we think it's likely wrong to bid on, or is it like a cuebid, where we evaluate in context of the rest of our hand (assuming it's not a serious/non-serious situation)?
Nov. 12
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I don't think the idea that 5 asks specifically for second round spade control is controversial. I actually believe that to be fairly standard, at least in the U.S.
Nov. 12
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That's fair. But if I held the CA instead of the CK, my previous auction would have been about right. I'm stretching, but, given my passed hand status, not outrageously. So, say I held the CA, I would still hold a minimum for my bidding. Would it then be a demand?
Nov. 12
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When playing precision, yes, that's definitely an opener, even vul, except in 4th seat. Partner won't hang me. If partner opens in front of me, that's an invite if partner opens a bid that could be 14-16, but I'm passing after 1-1-1NT (unless that's 14-16 because we're NV, where we play 10+-13 1NT in 1st and second seat).

And yes, I was revolted at what I was opening when I first started, too, but I really found that as long as I was careful as responder not to force to game cavalierly, it has not gotten me overboard, even red at MPs. That's simply my precision experience. It's not because I think it's “good” bridge or “bad” bridge. It's just what I've found works fine in the context of the whole system.
Oct. 11
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G'mar chatima tova to you, as well. May your father's memory be a blessing to you, and, because it caused you to share this with us, to all of us.
Oct. 10
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So here's the problem I've always had with this thinking, and I'd love to be shown where I'm wrong. Let's say I'm playing with an… ENTERPRISING partner (yeah, I think I like enterprising :), who might bid 4 and then 5 in an auction like this. All I have to do now is hesitate over 4. I know it's wrong to save. So I should stop him or her.

This is the problem with BIT problems, IMHO. BITs can happen to very ethical players. But they can be used by unethical ones. So the ethical ones try to think about it and the unethical ones still use them. I'm not sure this helps.
Sept. 25
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Steve, may I ask a follow up? I agree that an overcall that doesn't eat space is either a good suit or a good hand. So (1)-1 shows one of the two. However, when it's spades and I can make life a bit harder for them, I struggle to get in. That's especially true as an overcall of 1. (1)-1 promises 13 cards, of which at least 4 and usually 5 are spades, and a pulse. NV, (1)-2 is similarly suspect.

How much does the fact that there's been a response to the 1 opening change that. They've already had the start of a conversation. How much does that change our overcall standards?
Sept. 25
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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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