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All comments by Ron Zucker
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OK, we've thrashed this out pretty thoroughly, and I appreciate all the feedback. I take the (relatively small, but definitely there) charge. Now I'm left with a few questions.

1) I mistranscribed the hand. East had Kx of D. I like 1NT even more now, since it's truly light for a reverse, but it does make the quantitative tries more shaky. Do you still agree?

2) For those advocating 4H-4S-5NT or the like, including 2-2-4NT (quantitative):

a) How certain are you, in a pickup partnership (we had played two sessions before this event), that 5NT will not be taken as GSF instead of Pick a Slam. I agree that it SHOULD be. When I have RKC available to find out about your trump, 5NT should be pick a slam. I'm asking, not criticising.

b) Even if partner is guaranteed to get it right, I still don't like it. It is completely plausible that we have 7 on a perfecto minimum. Give partner KQx AKxx Qxx Qxx (note that I gave him flat shape and a wasted DQ), and 7 is laydown on 3-1 spades. I know that I committed blackwood abuse with Qxx of hearts, but I thought this was the best way to find 7 if it exists. Even if partner has KQx AKxx QJx xxx, there are squeeze possibilities, or the ruffing finesse. This is why I chose to commit the blackwood abuse. If I was wrong, I would be very wrong, but it gave me the best chance of finding 7 relatively safely.

3) Most important, I think I would have played it as partner did. Thank you to those pointing out that it's a few percentage points better to play K on the first round. Both plays lose to QTxx in one hand, so that's a wash, but this picks up stiff Q with South. That was very educational.
Feb. 2, 2017
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4C is ace asking, but no trump involved. Since I wanted to know about spades, I chose that.
Feb. 2, 2017
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Yes, I commented on that above. I meant to say that SEVEN NT makes. Thanks.
Feb. 2, 2017
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Funny you should mention this. Mike Richey, Vince Wilmot, David Genne and I were discussing this before the unit game. Sadly, Jim, my partner for Saturday, wasn't there. :D
Feb. 2, 2017
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Yeah. I was West. And I took it as intended. I don't think I did anything unconscionable. I just hated the auction the whole way through. I admit that, if I'd gotten a 1 key response, I was going to just chuck it all and bid 6NT, because, I mean, that's a pretty prime 17 count. Perhaps I should have done that anyway.
Feb. 1, 2017
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Clearly 6NT should make. You just win the diamond lead and play A, K and another club. You have 4 clubs, 4 hearts 2 diamonds and 2 spades for a completely satisfying 12 tricks. Going down in 6NT by your opponents was… creative.

And again, my problem is that I (who was sitting west) never gave us a chance to find the cold 6NT. I'm certain that, aside from the blackwood abuse, which, y'know, just happens sometimes, there was no terrible bid, and the line of play is clear. The question is whether East was justified in choosing 1NT here versus 1 and whether West should have bid jacoby and then danced in clubs to give our side a chance to push it or lose one in 6NT.

I think that, at some point, it's the subtleties in thought process that matter. I know that I can bid competently and declare semi-demi-hemi competently. I'm a terrible defender, but, as Bob Hamman supposedly said, the best of us can't defend, and the rest are worse, so I'm actually an above average defender in my experience. But the best players think about things like this in choosing their auctions, and I'm trying to learn to emulate them.
Feb. 1, 2017
Ron Zucker edited this comment Feb. 1, 2017
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1 - 1NT (8-10 HCP)
2 - 2NT
3NT Alert

“We play penalty raises of stupid bids. Given that I can't possibly have my 2NT bid, he shows no extra values with his 3NT bid.”
Oct. 26, 2016
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Because his response, given that he's shown so much of his hand, is going to be 6 if he holds the K.
Sept. 13, 2016
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Wait, Yu. You MAKE grand slams? If I made them more often, I wouldn't have to ask this. (Though this one did, indeed, make, but I felt a little sick when I played the A and LHO played the 8…)
Sept. 12, 2016
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In my book, 4 is a serious slam try and demands cuebidding. If partner starts with 4, I'll bid 4 and let him/her know where the problem lies. If partner starts with 4, 5 should be find. And if partner bids 4, I'll be thrilled.
Sept. 12, 2016
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OK, this is a helpful analysis once dummy comes down, and thank you for it. But what does it say about my 5? Is that a bad bid?

Bidding is hard. There is so much to find out and so little space to find it out. Did I bid poorly? Can you give suggestions?
Sept. 12, 2016
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Thank you, Steve, for the reference to Andrew's excellent article. I did not know of that article.

To my surprise, the opps did, indeed, stop in 4NT on the auction 1-3NT (13-15)-4NT-P I was surprised. I admit that 1m-3NT as 13-15 is one of my least favorite methods for this exact reason. I did not consider during the auction that they might stop short of small slam. They didn't even really explore diamonds, and, with the Q offside, as it was, 6NT had no play anyway.

But here's the problem I have. We can't know during the auction, if we're playing a more or less standard system, that partner made an excellent judgment to bid 2. What it it's the normal bid, say with one more diamond and one fewer spade?

If so, I think my 5 looks right according to his article. Odds are very, very good for this hand. But I can't be sure during the auction, especially with someone I haven't played with a ton.
Sept. 12, 2016
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It is very difficult for me to fault South for 3NT after 3. The K and solid hearts make slam awfully good now. That's why I think that N should have bid 4 over 3, effectively saying, “I'm not sure what you're looking for, but I probably don't have it.”

Once N bid 4, of course, partner doesn't have the above hand. Perhaps S should stop there. Still, AKJxx of hearts, the K, and the Q, which is still consistent with the bidding, makes this a more than acceptable slam (I make it about 75%, though I'm sure I'm missing something. As such, while South's glasses were definitely rosy, North's 3 bid after a totally minimum opening were what led South down the primrose path, into a tangle of thorns.

I'm out of flower cliches though, so I'll leave it at that.
Sept. 8, 2016
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John, why do you assume only three hearts? Partner would not bid 3 over 3 with only 4.

I don't think that makes the problem easier, but I'm curious.

And yes, the double of 1 is clearly penalty in my book. A snapdragon-ish double would be convenient on THIS hand, but is not what I play, and I think it loses out overall.
Aug. 30, 2016
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But I don't care what bid they make. It's a binary decision. If you bid on, you KNOW the red suit situation, and you're basically driving to slam unless partner shows a missing spade honor (it would have to be something like AQJxxx Jx xxx Kx). I'm more interested in the thought process.
Aug. 30, 2016
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We ended up going in a slightly different direction, choosing to use what the Internet has dubbed (I have no idea if it's accurate) Meckwell Light with a few tweaks. To wit:

1-1 is a “mini-positive.” 8-11 HCP, fewer than 5 spades. 1 is 5+ spades, 8+ points, and 1NT through 2D are transfers with 12+.

2 opening is intermediate with 6+ diamonds. This means our 1 is 0+ D, but in return we get our diamond hands off our chests easily and we have 3 card major suit raises (using the Steve Weinstein guidelines) available. With 1-1, we can even distinguish longer (i.e., passable) diamonds from longer clubs.

Opening majors are 5 cards. (Thanks to a comment above, I looked and did a bunch of hand generation analysis, and the 1M-4M bids are such a big win it was worth it to swallow my preference for 4 card majors.)

NT are variable (10+-13 1st and second seats non-vul, 14-16 all vul plus opposite a passed partner non-vul.)

1-1-1 is Koke-ish. (Not truly Kokish, but kinda.) 20-21 balanced or 4+ hearts, with or without a longer minor. Responder rebids are what Kit has published on the 2 level, with 1S being a stall, 1NT being 5 spades and 0-4 points and 2S being 6+ spades in a bad hand.

1D-1M-1NT frequently on a stiff.

1D-3m 6+, natural and invitational. 1D-2m not game forcing, with some dances available to get out below game. 1D-2M reverse Flannery. 1D-2NT game forcing.

If you like, I'd be happy to send you our system notes. They're not totally complete, as some areas, like cuebidding agreements, competitive bidding and such, carried over from our time playing weak NT. But they're not half bad.
Aug. 30, 2016
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I disagree with your categorization here. South doesn't have a CLEAR 4 bid, but certainly North can do no more. North has the death holding in clubs (Jxx) and the Intensive Care Unit holding in hearts (Qxx). So if ANYONE is bidding 4, it's South. But that's a big if, IMHO.

Now, should s/he bid it? On the one hand, it's red at IMPs. On the other hand, the K is worth less than full value. But the stiff club and the J are worth every bit of their value. I don't think South did anything WRONG, per se. But I think it's 80% the card gods and 20% South.
Aug. 30, 2016
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FWIW, my LHO was an expert with a 3rd in a world pairs event, multiple high NABC+ finishes and over 10,000 Master Points, only a NABC+ win away from GLM. But it wouldn't matter. Even if my LHO is not very good, perhaps especially if so, that's no reason not to know what WE are doing.
Aug. 16, 2016
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Since Richard mentioned it, it's a coastal thing here, and I am forced to ask a question. Who said that first, Kit? You or Stevie, or did you both hear it from someone else? It does seem to be his mantra.
Aug. 16, 2016
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Sorry, Dave. Neither I nor my partner posted this as a bidding problem, so I was unaware it came up that way. Since there are probably salient comments, would you please point me to the problem? Thanks!
Aug. 16, 2016
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