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All comments by Ron Zucker
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That is an EXCELLENT point, and one I hadn't considered. Yes, mixed raises are alertable. Perhaps rolling it back to 3 would have been the proper ruling.

That said, in a separate email from partner (who reads BW, but who has forgotten his password, so can't comment, he said:

“1) My card agreed with yours. I was mistaken.
2) I had my 4S bid, given my hand's shape in any case.
3) There were several other tables where 4S was doubled and making. I strongly suspect that if I had bid 2S and then 4S, E would have doubled, and that would have been the end of it.
4) Thus, our below par result was totally my fault, but…
5) E really was trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Heads he wins, tails we lose.

But see point number 4– my actions certainly gave him the chance to do that.”

So it seems to me that this is a simple situation of partner forgetting our agreements. Again, I think equity was restored I take at face value my opponent's claim that, absent the statement that 3 was preemptive, he would have passed, but thought he needed to double to get 200 to protect his +140.
Sept. 24, 2015
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Yes, over 1. But over 1, the old K-S world (a tiny, TINY, world, vaguely reminiscent of de Saint-Exupery's little prince) was split between people who responded 1NT on 6-9 and those who responded 1M. Given that this small world, which mostly went away with the switch to 5 card majors, is now mostly confined to some old rubber bridge and Chicago for money players, I think it's become a more and more unusual agreement.

As to the weak jump to 3, as far as I know, they never played that over 1, though K-S was the first system I know of with inverted minors.
Sept. 22, 2015
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As others have pointed out in other threads, I disagree with the “No blame” wording. It's not about the diamonds. It's about overall value of the hand. I think South undercounted the value of QJxxx of clubs. I would make a game try, and might still not get there unless my game try is short suit here.

But I think this is as close an ATB as it gets. I would not be upset being +170 at MPs here, even though game is cold. I will get an average minus, along with most of my peers. A few peripatetic bidders will get to game, and that's the way of the world. At IMPs, especially red, I think it's more culpable, but I'm still not convinced we should be moving on. Let's just say that I wouldn't be particularly hard on partner if I held either hand and we were running the boards afterwards.
Sept. 22, 2015
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Interesting. When playing a weak NT, 4 card major system – basically, as Normand Houle pointed out above, 1950's era K-S – one partner and I play that 1M can be as few as 3 cards (alerted, of course), since we prefer to have 1NT show 8 to a bad 10 in response to a (4+ card) 1 opening, allowing the opener to rebid 1NT (15-17) wherever possible. I've been playing this way (“full Walsh”) for many years, and have never had a director call against it. It's very rarely three cards, but it is alerted as a possibility. But it seems to be illegal.

I'm not exactly certain WHY it's illegal, especially since most players play that (1m)-P-(1M)-2M is natural. I don't think it hurts anyone. It just makes our constructive bidding a tad easier, with the caveat that we will sometimes find a two level 3-4 fit when opener holds a raise with 15-17 playing points (i.e., a distributional raise or a strong NT), and that opener NEVER is allowed to raise on 3 cards, because sub-Moysian stories are fun to tell, but not fun to play.

In other words, we get to some sub-optimal contracts to protect our strong hands and natural bidding on other hands. It's a trade-off we're willing to make, not least because it reduces memory strain, but it seems it might be illegal.
Sept. 22, 2015
Ron Zucker edited this comment Sept. 22, 2015
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Bob, someday, I'd really like to meet you in person. Not just because I often agree with your comments on bridge – indeed, I think you might have convinced me to change my vote to pass as the least of evils here – but because you're the only bridge player I've found who's consistently less optimistic than even I am.

1 is 4 or more the overwhelming amount of time. I've seen quotes from Larry Cohen and others contending that it's only about 3% of the time. (I'm not sure how to do the proper vacant spaces calculation, so I can't confirm this, but I've seen it from enough players I trust to believe it.) Playing for partner to have only three diamonds seems to be too pessimistic, bordering on paranoid.

As I said above, I think the reason for bidding 1 is twofold. Partner doesn't HAVE to bid 1. S/he could have done something helpful. Even 1NT, leading to, at worst, a 5-2 heart fit, would have been fine. But the argument that you fear a 3-2 diamond fit seems wrong to me, and focuses too much on what can go wrong with passing instead of what can go wrong with bidding.

If I had better cards, even if still nominally a 5 count, I would prefer to keep the auction open for partner. But I don't. I'm really thinking that it's their hand, and want to get out ASAP, hoping it will still be cheap enough to suggest a bad hand with hearts later. Either passing or bidding might be right on any given hand, but I don't think that partner being specifically 4-4-3-2 is why.
Sept. 17, 2015
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A good argument for passing 1 in a strong NT structure with a bad non-fitting 5 count. If I pass and then suggest hearts if they reopen, I'm showing a good approximation of my hand. Having chosen 1 (I don't think that's awful, mind you, but I would have preferred pass), I can't leave partner in a known 4-2 fit with little or nothing to help her/him. It's not the first bid that gets you if you don't plan ahead. If partner had held a raise, all would have been dandy. But foreseeing a problem suggests passing 1, imho.

That said, I think you're right that most players would bid 1 here. And who knows how much of my reaction is based on the wire. Partner had 4 non-jump bids available. (1, 1NT, 2 and 2), and only 1 gave me a problem. Of COURSE s/he had the hand that gave me a problem. But your chances were good when you bid it.
Sept. 16, 2015
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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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