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All comments by Ron Zucker
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No UI at all. This was in our Unit A-X game, which separates out most players with fewer than 2,000 MPs, and with two A pairs. All bids were made in appropriate tempo (that is to say not instant, but, except for the 10 seconds I needed and used over 3, within 2-3 seconds). I was wondering how many passed, how many bid 5 and how many bid 4NT.

I chose 4NT, and it didn't work out well when partner, with her rock crusher 4-6-0-3, chose 6, since if I had minors, she didn't want to bid 6. I totally understand her decision, but 6 went down while 6 would have made. It looks like I made minority decisions twice in a row, and that cost us.

I was mostly curious if I made relatively mainstream decisions that didn't work, or if I made idiosyncratic decisions that didn't work. I thought both decisions (P or 4 over 3, and 5 or 4NT or pass over (4)-X-(P)) were close. I wanted to see both who and how many took the other choices.
Sept. 15, 2015
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You can count my 5 vote as a vote for 6 (as I'm committing to slam), but let me explain why I think it's better.

Pard has two places (or 3) to play. If one of them is clubs, great. We end there. But partner is playing it. With all of the aces and a dry hand, any lead value we have is in partner's hand. Though I have the strong hand, I want to be dummy. What I'm hoping is that, if partner has spades and a minor, s/he will bid spades, and I will bid 6. If partner has both minors, s/he will bid 6, and I will pass. Either way, we have our best shot of being helped by the lead.

So the question is, IMHO, not just whether or not to (over)bid and make a slam commitment, which I'm in the minority, but willing to do, but how the best way to overbid is. And while I don't have a lot of excellent ideas about bidding in general, I am an expert in how to overbid. And underdeclare. Ask any of my partners.
Sept. 11, 2015
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This is the dividing line between optimists and pessimists. Cowards (like me) are convinced partner is going to pass out 2 when s/he has a bad hand and is following the rule that, if you can't handle partner passing your takeout double, you shouldn't make one. Optimists pass.

I'm sorry, Josh. Can you please pass me that half empty glass?
Sept. 10, 2015
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Ethan, this just came up. According to a Bridge World Master Solvers Club from a few years ago, the“expert standard” way to handle this is to make a negative double over 1, then, if partner passes and it comes back to you at a level you want to compete, bid spades. I.e., in this case, double 1- (1) - X - (2) - P - (P) - ?, 2 shows 4 spades and diamond support, letting partner choose between the known diamond fit and 2 in a 4-3 fit.

This does seem to be sort of expert standard. In that case, it was at the 4 level, but I don't think it changes anything. And while it seemed strange to me when I first read it, it makes a lot of sense to me now that it's come up at the table.

That's part of why I've not weighed in on this. I am not at a level good enough to know what “expert standard” looks like, nor the reasons behind it. I'm very influenced by players like Kit and Michael Kamil and Ish and Thomas B. and such, because they ARE that good. Like most of us in the lower levels, I haven't made up my mind one way or another, but that's because I don't know what's “clear” to an expert on most of these hands. For example, until Geoff Hampson explained to me why it's wrong, I probably would have led a heart against 3 - all pass holding ATxx xxx Ax Axx. Now I understand why a diamond is a better lead there.

Which only goes to prove that even ridiculously terrible threads about people that many I respect have decided are cheating can teach me a bunch. It's sort of nice to have experts commenting on what they think is “normal.” Three years ago, when the BW MSC came out, I didn't know why they do what they do. Now, I do, and learning about bridge is still my favorite part of the game.
Sept. 2, 2015
Ron Zucker edited this comment Sept. 3, 2015
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One of my partners plays 2NT - 3NT as 5 and 4, since puppet makes smolen not work (you can xfer to and bid with 5 and 4 ). 3 relays to 3NT to play or to show various minor suit hands.

However, his agreement is that 2NT-3NT-4M-4NT is OS4NT and to play. Since 4 of either major is not rational if 3NT was to play, it's been ruled legal, as the auction, rather than the alert, wakes up the 3NT bidder.

I've only had to use it once… :D
Sept. 2, 2015
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Did the opponents bid? Missed that one last night and committed an embarrassing error. No, partner did NOT just jump. Oops. (Sounds so simple, yet I did miss it.)
Aug. 28, 2015
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FWIW, and this comes from playing against him enough to know his tendencies, I was close on Steve Robinson's shape. He can't have 6 clubs, as he overcalls with any 13 cards if he has the right shape. For the same reason, he can't have 4 hearts, as he's revealed sufficient values to have doubled the first time with 4 hearts.. I put him on something like 3=3=2=5 with excellent spades and secondary values elsewhere. So I don't lead a spade (I'd bet solid money on AQx of spades, if not AQJ).

Which is to say that it depends how many boards you've played against certain players. Steve is aggressive and skilled, which is almost a redundancy when the board takes place in the quarter finals of the Spingolds. Because he lives locally (and comes out to the Unit Game most Thursday nights, and leads a post-mortem discussion afterwards at a local diner, and is, in general, more generous in discussing hands and his thinking than almost any other expert I know except MAYBE some of the experts on this site), I probably can predict his unusual actions better than I can predict any other player of his caliber.

Can't beat him in a long match yet, of course. I often know what he has. Can't necessarily figure out how to take advantage of that, because both he and Peter are simply a lot better than I am, as are his regular teammates in local events.

But I'd get that lead right. Very strange non-scientific auctions sometimes reveal as much as detailed scientific ones. I think this one is in that category.
Aug. 28, 2015
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The partnership I wanted to use it in is precision with a 0+ 1 (i.e., 2 and 2 are both intermediate and natural with 6+ of the named suit, so 4-4-0-5 11-15 has to open 1). We have the same inability to raise what could be a 0 card suit, which is why we want to use it. But my understanding is that it's not GCC, so we'd have to find something else in those events that don't allow it. It goes against my grain to have two different systems. That's why I ask.
Aug. 27, 2015
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And partner didn't give me hell for my choice. He agreed that this is a difficult hand. He simply said that we should discuss this sequence and this situation. I agree, and decided to start that discussion by getting the sort of feedback I've gotten here.
Aug. 26, 2015
Ron Zucker edited this comment Aug. 26, 2015
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Bill, I'm probably being obtuse, but does that even help? In Rubensohl, I bid 2NT (xfer to 3C) and… pass?

Part of my consideration is that I thought there was some likely chance that 3NT was going to be right if partner could bid it. As it was, it required an unlikely lead to beat it. But I also know that I'm probably overbidding.

Moreover, the fact that 1 shows 0+ diamonds (an unusual but not unheard of version of Precision) means that we might not have a place to run to. Can't partner be 4-4-5-0, even in normal precision?

I'm not objecting. Rubensohl makes sense in this context. I'm actively considering it, though I hadn't before. Partner is often going to have either an 11-13 weak NT (V) or a 14-16 weak NT (NV, where we play 10+-13 1NT). So Rubensohl, playing him for exactly that hand type, makes a lot of sense. But I'm not sure it helps. So I'm asking for information.

THANKS!!! Feedback is what makes bridge so much fun for me. I love hearing ideas and thought processes.
Aug. 26, 2015
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And partner, indeed, holding Kxx KJxx xxxx KJ made 3NT on the heart lead (stiff ace of hearts and the on his right). A spade lead sets it.

But, as I said, the reason I didn't make this a bidding poll is because the next time, he won't, and I still won't know what to do next time. I agree that long suits with honors take tricks. That's why I bid 3. But what is the percentage action? How do I know?
Aug. 26, 2015
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Danny and Leo, may I ask a follow up? As I understand it, what you suggest is NOT GCC legal. Is that right? (I was playing it that way and removed it recently for that reason, since I hate to have two agreements, one for Mid-Chart and SuperChart events, one for everything else.)
Aug. 25, 2015
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We got there. It's simple. After the 2 call (which, unlike many, I agree with, as I've seen partner reverse into 2 with a strong 1-3-3-6 hand, and 4 may be better at MPs), and the 3 third bid by west, East, looking at 3 keycards and 3 card support of partners rebiddable club suit, should blow off 3NT. If you're playing kickback, you can still stop in 4NT.

I disagree STRONGLY with 3. Partner knows it matchpoints, too. But after 2H, s/he made no effort to find 3NT. S/he said, in effect, “I don't think we belong in 3NT even at MPs, and I have quite a good hand.” East said, “Well, my support for your long suit and my control rich hand (THREE keycards!!!!) opposite a reverse doesn't convince me we might have slam.” Either East has seen some poor reverses from West before, or East really needs to reconsider how good his/her hand is.
Aug. 24, 2015
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My favorite bridge quote from the master (from Fer-de-lance, which I read just as I was starting to get into duplicate, and had framed). “(A) pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant.”
Aug. 20, 2015
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Especially when we end up in a NT contract, they often miscount the hand. Especially at MPs, that can be a crucial overtrick. Often, even when I announce 4 card majors, that happens. So few people in the States play them anymore that it's just outside their reckoning. But if I didn't, it tends to REALLY mess up their counting.

Where it costs them much more, and is why I think it should be announced, is when we end up defending. I've had good players count out the whole hand and take the hook that HAS to work, since I'm out of these, and have it lose when I only had 4 of my major. And I do feel bad for them. They played the hand right. They counted. This wasn't an inference that partner is more likely to have this card. It was a guaranteed line. And it was wrong.

That's why I agree with Steve R. This is, at least in the US, a VERY unusual approach. I know that it's more common in the rest of the world, but it's rare here. I think it should be like a short minor. Not an alert, but simply an announcement that it could be as few as 4 cards. It's not a tactical bid, like Steve M's 4-5-2-2 above, where partner will expect 5 but you may have 4. It's systemic, and the opponents should know about that. At least, that's my opinion.
Aug. 10, 2015
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Steve, as one of the players who plays weak NT with 4 card majors fairly regularly, I very much agree with you. It *SHOULD* be announced before the round. And when I remember to, I do. I don't do it because I have to. It's well disclosed on the card. But one doesn't always look at a card for what feels like a regular call like opening 1.

I admit, however, that I fail often beforehand, because I'm not thinking. Would it be appropriate in your opinion to, if I forget to announce at the beginning of the round, alert the call? That's an honest question. How would you handle it if I forget?
Aug. 10, 2015
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OK, I admit that I didn't think it close, but about half the field reached 4, almost all on the auction 3-4. And yeah, it makes 5 when partner shows up with ATxxxxx Ax – Jxxx. +200 was worth well below average, but seemed to me to be the obvious resting place. I was curious if I was out of my mind for thinking this a clear pass at MPs, or if the field all was huffing laughing gas that night. Thank you for the sanity check.
July 28, 2015
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The only good news of this series is that, last night, playing a team match in the local Round Robin, I was UNBELIEVABLY careful when stating my claims. There were no conceivable questions, and when I had a conditional claim (“I make 5 if the side suit ace is onside, 4 otherwise”), I made it very clear in what order I would take the tricks. I know I should have been doing this all along, but now I've had enough reminders to ACTUALLY do it.
July 22, 2015
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You missed an answer. “Other. I mostly use blackwood when I can't figure out how else to make a slam try. I know whether to go or not by partner's tempo when s/he bids over 4NT.” That seems to be my opps methods, and it works remarkably well.
July 21, 2015
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I'm not sure I've ever seen that auction. The point of this approach to a strong jump shift is exactly that we don't do it on two suiters, and responder is usually going to bid one of the three strains in which s/he wants to play and make a slam try, so, in this case, 3, 3 or 3NT. It's similar to how far good players will go to avoid opening 2 on a two suiter.

As I mentioned, once I bid 2, I thought I was burying the clubs forever. Maybe we can back in to it if there is a 5NT pick a slam bid somewhere, but at least at this stage of the auction, I am assuming we are playing in spades. I'm not sure what 4 should be, but I'm pretty sure that I don't have an agreement with anyone on what it should be.
July 14, 2015
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