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All comments by Ron Zucker
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Just a follow up question for Michael. Do I take it from this that you use MUD from 3 dead if you decide to lead that suit?

I've tried to avoid MUD, mostly because I'm absolutely certain that I'll play partner for shortness, and not find out otherwise until way too late to fix it, but, uhm, I'm thinking that you somehow have a LOT more experience than I do, particularly with and against top flight competition, so I'm curious about your experience.
Sept. 21, 2012
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I read somewhere some years back, and my subsequent experience has backed it up, that the slam that's hardest to reach is the one where each partner has about an extra king or so. I understand why many want 2NT, as patterning out here is amazingly useful, but after a 3H or 3D bid by partner, I'm in no better shape, and not in MUCH better shape after the best possible bid by partner, 3C. So I'm going to actually tell partner something and let him/her judge for a change, instead of asking partner and trying to judge for myself.

And yes, partner might bid 4H on a 4=6=2=1 minimum, but most people will rebid a 6 card suit instead of a 4 carder with a minimum, so I'm also armed with the knowledge that, if partner bids 4H over 3NT, s/he has a good hand.
Sept. 20, 2012
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FWIW, I, too, chose to pass, mostly on the same reasoning as Rob Brady, but I hated my decision, and when it went 4S-P-P back to me, I bid 5H, almost certainly a mistake. Fortunately, LHO bailed me out by doubling, thinking that showed extras, while RHO thought it showed a hand that "accepted the transfer) and had some heart cards, so passed, letting us play 5H doubled -1 for a top. But I couldn't figure out what to do with my first bid, and thought my pass silly, though I was unsure what I wanted to do. Thanks all for the input.
Sept. 12, 2012
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OK, John, I *know* that you know the hand. I'm still wondering about your opinion. Do we save now? If so, how high? If you bid 5H, do you bid over 5S? If so, doesn't that argue for saving now? And do you save over *six* spades?

Not quite getting the thought process here. I know that preemption is art as much as science, but some thought would be helpful.
Sept. 11, 2012
Ron Zucker edited this comment Sept. 12, 2012
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I agree that an overcall might be on AJxxx and a side queen. And that's sorta what West showed when s/he passed 4H. Double is scary, because partner might bid 5D, but pass is even more dangerous when players are overcalling on so little that advancer MUST rein it in.
Sept. 11, 2012
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OK, but (and I'm not arguing, just probing) with NAMYATS, 4H and 1H followed by 4H available, doesn't it seem reasonable to assume partner doesn't have two aces? Moreover, give partner two aces, one of them in hearts.4 or 5 spades is still likely for them, right? They rate to have no heart losers and no spade losers. Give partner the A, as well as 8 hearts to the AQ (which, again, s/he might have chosen to open 1 with) and their chances in 5 depend on the club honor locations. Of course, if partner has the A, their chances of making a high level contract go down a bunch.

Again, I'm not arguing. i posted this hand to get a range of thought, and this is certainly an interesting one. I'm just trying to figure out how others think about it, and probing for a bit more on how I should be thinking about it.

THANKS!!!
Sept. 11, 2012
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This discussion raises a question I have. With two partners, I play 4 card majors. (Yeah. It's sort of fun to be antediluvian. It's in a 12-14 NT context, so it's sorta like 50's K-S without the 1D-1M-2C strong bid. And with some more modern gadgets for fun and profit.)

I, along with one of the two partners, am of the opinion that four card majors are unusual enough that we should pre-alert. I've seen too many people miscount hands, playing me for a 5 card heart or spade suit, that it seems wrong to me to NOT mention it at some point.

However, it's clearly not alertable according to the convention card, and one partner gets annoyed with me if I do pre-alert it, since it ends up leading to long “how should we handle that” discussions by the opponents that they probably don't need.

Indeed, when I mentioned it to a notoriously slow pair, and it derailed them, we ended up getting a slow play warning because they took so long to discuss it that we couldn't get through our two boards on time.

I hate to slow down the game for something that really has little effect on 95+% of most auctions. But I also hate to get a good board because my opponent, whether as (frequently) declarer or (less frequently, since I can mention it before opening lead) defender, miscounted my hand. After all, fewer people play 4 card majors than play multi 2D, and we don't allow that in the ACBL in two board rounds.

So what is my responsibility to the game? The ACBL has determined that I have no responsibility to disclose this as long as my card is appropriately filled out. I think the ACBL is wrong. But what's the right thing to do?
Sept. 6, 2012
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I am disappointed that, while there is a like button, there is no LOVE button.

On the hand, it doesn't say if we're playing 2/1, and fast vs. slow arrival. In BWS, which is a slow arrival structure, I agree that 3H is clear. In Washington Standard, where fast arrival applies, I'm jumping to 4H with my quacky 13 count.
Sept. 6, 2012
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In a KO, I once had 12 minus scores in the second half of a match in which we were down by 5 after the first half of an afternoon session. I'd already arranged a team for the BAM, pretty certain that our teammates would never want to play with me again, especially as I misguessed two queens, one for a red game, the other for a white slam. Our teammates came back to the table.

“How did it go?”

“The ACBL called. They want my gold card back.”

“Well, we had a pretty good set. Let's see how it went.”

Teammates had, in fact, had a MONSTER set, so we won handily (though they did have two minus scores). I ran out to catch my erstwhile BAM evening teammates to tell them to find someone else.

I admire your ability to continue to play hard. I know that, on the next to last and last board of the set, I felt so beaten down by my results that I had to fight hard to stay in the game, and was probably too tentative in the bidding on one board. We all know in our hearts that we have to put the last board behind us, but after that many minus scores, I just couldn't do it.
Sept. 5, 2012
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I like to play negative doubles, which have distinct distribution requirements, through 4.

On responsive doubles, though, I have one strong disagreement with LC. On my card, I write that responsive doubles are on through 7. Doubles of 7 are for penalty. :D
Sept. 5, 2012
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I'm guilty. I was at lunch at work. Mea culpa.

I double because I just doubt it. Given that I have the three side suits, I don't think it's making. If RHO has such a freak that it is making, I expect I'm giving away a max of five imps. Partner, if s/he is stretching with a 6-4, is not doing it, I hope, with four card spades on the side. I rate my chances of taking spade tricks to be reasonable, and see nowhere else they can set up tricks.

I think it's close between double and pass. I admit that I wouldn't bid 4S, but then, I'm not sure about the style of the opener.
Aug. 31, 2012
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Clearly I'm missing something. I chose 3, but the lopsided vote (no spoiler, but 3 was not that popular) suggests that I'm wrong. So I'm including my thought process so that I can learn something here. Comments, including doubts about my intelligence, are appreciated.

The double suggests I don't have four diamonds, which I like, but I also want to get my strength across without jamming us to a no-play game. 3 is neither equal level, nor a conversion. I have a flexible hand with great values. If partner raises, I'll show secondary diamond support and let him/her decide between 5 and 5. (I saw no indication of kickback, which would make this a harder bid, and probably tilt me to the double.) If partner passes, we rate to be in a playable spot. And if partner bids 3NT, I'm willing to forgo the 6th club I'm supposed to have for the overall quality of my hand.
Aug. 30, 2012
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I cannot like Aviv's comment enough times. A perfect illustration of the problem. Thank you.
Aug. 24, 2012
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Debbie, I have to ask. You mentioned earlier in the thread that this was sucking some of the joy out of bridge for you. To what degree does the expertise of the player factor into this?

A friend sent me hand 2 but with the alert, and I chose 4S. I reasoned that, though partner might be making a slam try, if s/he was, my jump might encourage enough when I'm aceless. If it's a game try, I decided to accept, though I think that's far from clear. Clearly, this marks me as being less imaginative, and almost certainly not as good a player, as the expert you cited.

But the problem you discuss is, I think, the wrong one. Let's follow your reasoning. So now we have to decide how good our opponents' bidding judgment is? If I'm sitting against you and make this decision, do I feel insulted when you don't call the director?

4H was an excellent bid. I can see that. But I don't think you can hold the bridge world as a whole to the standards of your expert opponent. We're all trying, but many, myself included, just aren't that good. So I have to wonder how much of the problem you're facing is poor education of the responsibilities as a player (where clearly hand 3 is an ethical disaster that should, at the very least, face education, if not a procedural penalty, no matter how much 4S goes down), and how much is you just having extremely high standards for bridge.
Aug. 23, 2012
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I'm fine with the redouble, but I'd surely pass the double of 2S. North said that this was where he'd like to be. Despite South's diamonds, I'm likely to live with it. East west are likely to get out with at most 3 tricks, fewer if declarer tries cashing the CA. (N cashes three trump and leads the DQ. When declarer ruffs in the long hand, North is able to ruff a club and cash hearts. South still, I think, has to come to the HK and CK.

With that said, I tend to think that partner pulling my penalty double means we should be looking hard for game. S/he is telling me that we have more coming our way than 300. I'd like to see 2NT after 2S (S has the other two suits stopped), N bid 3D (we don't necessarily have 9 runners after a club lead from N's perspective) and South choose between 3NT (N doesn't know about the A) and 5D. Either is a better bid than 3D after 2S.
Aug. 14, 2012
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Playing XYZ, what's the difference between 3D, 3H and 2D (GF) and then one of those bids?
Aug. 13, 2012
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I chose other. I think, as Henry does, that the K is a HUGE card, and I need to let partner know about it, and my continued slam interest, so I chose 5. I'll respect a signoff here, though.
Aug. 7, 2012
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Shape matters, but mostly it's aces. Kit Woolsey published an article on an improved point count some years back that used A=4.5, K=3, Q=1.75 and J=.75. This approximates “little jack points.” I open all except 4-3-3-3 without a 4 card major 12 counts using this point count method. So aces matter.
Aug. 7, 2012
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I think that is EXACTLY John Adams' argument above. He's convinced that double is right, and that most of the field has this wrong. (I'm a friend of John's, and he's something of a mentor to me, so I weigh his opinions heavily, even when, as here, I think he's wrong.) He doesn't just think double is right. He thinks it's VERY right, and that he has an opportunity to get a very good board often enough that he's thrilled that the rest of the world disagrees with him, even knowing that he's going to pay off on some hands. (Yeah, we discussed it at the unit game briefly last night.)

But I think Gavin's point is that it's only true if, as John is, you're CERTAIN that this is a percentage action. Sometimes, I think it MIGHT be a percentage action, but it might not. In those cases, I don't want to get out of line with the field. It's one thing to take an anti-percentage action. It's another thing entirely if you think you're going to be one of the few taking that action. Now you're getting a near top or a near bottom instead of an average plus or average minus.

Larry Cohen had an article in the Bridge World in November 2001 (No, I didn't remember offhand, but rather consulted the helpful online index) called “Win It on Another Board.” IIRC, and it's been some years since I read it, he suggests that when you are relatively certain the field is wrong, go anti-field. But when you are not perfectly certain, just rely on superior defense or declarer play to get you at worst to average, and avoid the 0. I don't think it's perfect advice, but it's certainly good advice.

I note that my informal listing of players I know and respect had a number on each side of the pass/double divide. That leads me to believe that this is a borderline decision. It's clear to me, especially after reading this, that the answer to the title question – Do we have a bidding problem or not? – is yes. I'm beginning to believe that the situation is actually close enough that it might be worth generating a large number of deals and checking for whether double is, in fact, a percentage action. I lack the ability to do that. Anybody else have it and have the time?
July 27, 2012
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The flaw, I think, is not whether you have a better place to be than defending 1NT. I think it at least odds on that you do *if LHO is about to pass.*

But you don't know that. For all you know, LHO is about to bid 2H, a reverse, or 3C. (I'm assuming that this is not against a big club pair. If it is, I have more sympathy for the double.) And with them NV, you might well be giving them a fielder's choice about how to get their top. Bid game, or just hammer your bid for 500?

The other problem here is that, even when LHO was about to pass, there's no way of knowing if a double is going to find your happy place. If partner bids clubs and you pass, that might well be very bad, conceivably a 5 card fit when partner is 3=3=4=3. If you don't pass (say you bid 2D), the red cards are coming out. If partner could see your hand, I have no doubt that a double for partner to pull is best. But s/he can't. You're tossing a decision to partner (where should we play this) that partner is much more likely to get wrong than right.

Moreover, I might double in BAM. There, I have no field to worry about, and only have to worry about beating one other pair. It's quite possibly worth a chance. But at MPs, I have to wonder about the field. If I double, my answer has to be better than a bunch of players. Partner didn't have a 5 card major, and I assume partner might have bid with a good enough 4 card major (say AKTx). So I'm aiming at a very narrow gap.

If you assume that this auction happened at a LOT of tables, and your hand gives you no reason to think not, I think this is a hand you try not to lose the event on. I'll try to WIN it on another hand, where I have better information. I think I can defend my way to at least average, if not average plus. I'll put that in the bank and save my views for places where I have more information.
July 26, 2012
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