Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Ron Zucker
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I don't think it does. It is right on the number of spades and clubs, but those spades are a GREAT 6 card suit, and those clubs are… not good. But of course, that's why I asked this in the first place.

Am I seeing it wrong, or should I emphasize spades? That strikes me as the first question to answer. Kit (below) answers one way, but a number of players seem to disagree.

As always, thanks for the input.
July 13, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
OK, this is the other question people haven't commented on, except for you. Do I want to be in this slam at IMPs?

First the easy part. 4-3 spades are 62.2%.

Now comes the hard part, and it involves counting. There are 20 3-2 breaks out of 32 combinations of 5 cards (2^5=32). Now, 20/32 should be 62.5%, but I do know that it's 67.8% for a 3-2 break missing 5 cards. This is because of cards in dead suits. But when counting the probability of making it, I don't know how to do this.

If I just count combinations that work, it's 81.25%. That's all 3-2's by combination, plus stiff J in either hand, plus Jxxx to my right. Does that get changed by the same other cards calculation? Because if I count combinations (81.25%) and multiply it by 62.2%, it's a 50.5% slam. Given the possibility for a disaster at the other table – there's always some chance of a disaster on a misfit – do I really want to be in a 50.5% slam at IMPs? In a short match, this is likely to be the important board.

But if I'm miscounting it, and the slam is actually closer to 85 or 87% of all 4-3 spade breaks, I think I want to be in it at IMPs, because the wins against 4 beats out the possibility of a disaster at the other table, so I get about the same IMPs whether I bid 4 or 6,

Of course, 5-0 loses any time the DA is in the same hand as the long clubs, since partner can engineer a ruff. But that's all double dummy. Hell, the way some days go, it's clearly going to go cub ruff, to the ace, club ruff and I'm down 2!

So here's the real question. What's the threshold for bidding this slam? How good does it have to be in a short match? In a longer match?

Yes, if I'm playing a great team, clearly I want to be there if I don't think they will, or not if I think they will. This is a classic board on which to swing, and I just want to do whatever the other team won't if I can figure that out. But against a generic, but not very good, team, there's a strategic element to this hand that is not covered simply by changing our bidding.
July 13, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
OK, so that was a big part of my question. I thought 3 said exactly that. Since a jump shift is usually understood to be “Your suit, my suit or NT,” at least in my experience, I though 3 said, “My suit. Please tell me what you hold.” Is that the underlying problem? Is that not standard? What's the difference between what I chose (2 and then 3) and 2 and then 4?

Thanks for the input. I take it your plan, then is 1-1-2-3*-3-4? Or would you rebid spades after 3? If you do bid 4, what do you bid over partner's 5? Thanks!
July 13, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I'm really not trying to be snarky here, so please don't take it that way. Did East think, as you did, that 3 was non-forcing? I don't think it should be. But it's your system, and I have no qualms with different systems.

Was 2 either a 3 card limit range or natural with clubs that can be less than a GF? If so, I can understand East not wanting to game force. If responder has a primary clubs hand with a stiff spade, we're likely in a misfit, and the impulse to stay low is strong at MPs. But if it's either game forcing with clubs or a spade 3-card limit raise, I would say that East blew it a lot earlier (and therefore regains 100% of the blame) by asking with 2 instead of just bidding 2. If it's game forcing with clubs, great. You get to tell partner about the most important part of your hand. If it's a 3 card limit raise, like most here, I think East has a clear go.

So the 2 bid is a threshold question that your original post didn't address.

If you were on the same page, I really do think both of you underbid by a lot. I mean, I understand underbidding at MPs, but even at MPs, they still pay game bonuses.

But I also think that, if you were on the same page, there's a LOT less fault. East is concerned with wasted club cards. Give West Axx xxx Jxx KQJx and East is dead in the water in 4, and 3 might well be too high. West is, well, I think West still underbid his hand, but in the context of a 2 asking bid and big club system, East could have a pretty crappy hand.

UPDATE: I thought about it another 30 seconds, and I take that back. East still underbid, too. Indeed, 4 is likely to make opposite the worst hand I could come up with for West off the top of my head that was consistent with the bidding. So if you were on the same page, it's 50-50.
July 10, 2015
Ron Zucker edited this comment July 10, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I wanted to give 100% to East for making what has to be at best an ambiguously forcing or non-forcing bid. (Logically, to me, it should be forcing, but with the dreck I often open in my big club system, perhaps it ought not to be, and I'm just not sure.)

But then I thought, “Clearly, East has to think 3 is game forcing, right?” I mean, how tightly are you going to parse the case of a bid with approximately a 3 point range? In that case, the fault is West's, for passing a forcing bid.

Then I realized that, while I love playing innovative systems as much as the next guy, they require a LOT more thought and discussion than “Standard” systems. So they both get 100% blame for adopting a big club system with a 2 over 1 ambiguous response and not discussing follow ups.

This is Schroedinger's Post. If West is right and 3 is not forcing, east is 100% at fault. If East is right and 3 is forcing, West is 100% at fault. I suspect their matchpoint score on this board collapsed the wave form…
July 10, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Ha ha ha. But this isn't a discussion of bridge. It's a frank solicitation for help finding it, but there is no issue of strategy, tactics or anything else. When I post a hand, I'm looking for help improving my game. When I post an article, it's about the game. Others can (I hope) learn from the responses. This, on the other hand, targets the tiny group who are on their way to Israel, which strikes me as potentially not appropriate.

Obviously, I'll let the mods decide, but I had to think about whether or not this is indeed appropriate to the site. I first tried by DM'ing two players whom I know to be from Israel, but when I didn't hear back, I tried this. But I'm not sure it's appropriate.
July 6, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
As one of the lesser players who wants to play up, I know that I don't have the experience or skill to play against some of the best teams. I can win or lose in Bracket II (my ego and experience says more likely win, but since I don't play in it very often any more, I can't be sure). I have a chance in Bracket I, but I have to be on my A game, as does my partner.

But here's the thing. The only reason for me to play at a regional is to play better players. I'm lucky enough to live in an area with a relatively healthy local bridge game. It's not world class, obviously, but it's solid. The reason to travel, to have the expense and the hassle of going to a regional or an NABC is simple; I want to challenge the best and see where I really stand. I want to learn from them.

With the growth of KOs and the difficulty playing up (yes, I've been turned down often, including once where we asked to play up, were turned down, then brought in when another team begged to be moved down and it was reasonable, and went on to win the event), I just don't go to regionals anymore. The top pairs are not in the MP game. They're in the KOs. As such, it's no thrill to win a regional pairs.

If I could guarantee being allowed to play up, I'd go through the hassle of finding a team. Since I work for a living, that's often hard, as the local regional happens during a time (this week) that is almost impossible for me to take off from work. But I'd find a way. Without that guarantee, I'm not taking off from work. I'm not going through the hassle to play Bracket II or regional pairs. And yes, the advent of online records means that I've gotten caught, and earned the ire of directors, adding a zero to my MP total.

With ALL of that said, I also think that players vote with their feet. The cynics say that masterpoints are for sale, and I can't argue against it. Those more hopeful, like me, say that the ACBL is in the business of servicing its membership within certain limits, and the membership as a whole likes KOs. If you have to sacrifice a few outliers like me, well, I can save up and go to the NABC's instead, where nobody minds if you play in the title cups even though you have no chance of winning. So that's what I do.

It's imperfect, but maybe it helps that I'm a political activist for a living. Sometimes, it turns out that I'm not in the majority, and I have learned to accept that.

As to the original question, Joe, let me tell you a little secret. I have happily paid pros for lessons. I continue to do so online now (with Josh Donn). It has made me a better player overall. I know I need to work a little harder at the game. I tend to get careless. Playing with Josh has reminded me of the things I already know that I let slip too often. Yes, at some level, your client will be paying you for a better chance to win. But at another level, s/he will play better across from you than s/he normally does, because it's embarrassing to play like an idiot across from a better player. As others have pointed out, I don't see it as being different from the people in the KOs who are hiring pros, and I think it might be better, because you can also model what it takes to be a better partner and a better player.

The only advice I'd offer is to follow the model of the best pros, who might or might not teach at the table (I think most of the best don't), but who run all the boards with their partners to discuss what they did and why, and who have perfect comportment at the table. Be kind to partner and you opponents. Be unfailingly polite, even if there is an irregularity. Model what we want to see in the A/X game, and try to bring your partner there with you. That way, even if you don't win, you will get to teach your partner something important about the game, and make it worthwhile to him/her to hire you in the first place.

Good luck!
July 6, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
OK, just to wrap back around. I decided to pass (in tempo) and they played in 6. Our teammates hit 5 for +100, taking one in each plain suit when partner held Txxxx x Jxx J9xx. I led a top spade, and the spades were 1-1. Though they could run the diamonds, that only provided 3 pitches, and they had to take the heart hook for down 1 for a 5 IMP pickup. But note that, predictably, this depended on a 1-1 spade break, which is about even money.

My LHO (East) held x Jx KQTxxx Kxxx, leaving my RHO with x AQTxx Axx AQTx. He played the clubs for no losers, but the diamonds only provide 3 pitches, one too few.

The clue I acted on that nobody mentioned was that my RHO was the 5 and 6 bidder. With 0 spades, I'd have expected my LHO to take the push. With 2 spades, I'd have expected him to warn partner of the expected spade losers by doubling. By passing over 5, I decided his most likely number of spades was 1. That gives me a much greater chance of beating 6, especially if the bad club break will make life more difficult for them.

But the more I thought about it, the worse I felt about my decision. I'm getting, as Kit suggested, 50-50 odds for the bid, as they were in 5X as the other table. But if I pass and am wrong, I'm losing 10 IMPs. Locking in a 5 IMP loss feels right, even though passing was a 5 IMP gain.After all, 1-1 spades is only slightly above 50-50 (52-48). And my RHO DID bid 6, and he's a very good player.

So I asked. Some excellent players disagree about what's right (SHOCK!), but the majority seem to agree with my pass.

As an aside, the reason we won this match is that both tables botched an early second half board (they went for 800 against a white game, while I misbid and propelled us to a no-play slam) but our team at both tables used that as reason enough to just batten down the hatches and play bridge, which, not surprisingly, worked. As people have pointed out, SOM didn't matter. We just played bridge, and that was the best approach.
June 30, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Kit, you are a genius. Not just for your understanding of the problem, but for the clarity of your explanation of the IMP odds. Thank you.
June 30, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Fair enough. I was hoping, by giving thinking, that I could focus on what I was thinking, and get feedback on that. But your thinking is basically that partner has a good picture of my hand after the 5 call. That is very much the same as I was trying to imply by saying, “My job here is done.”

As to 4 over 1, I thought about it at the time, but I was very concerned with partner over-saving on this hand. My hearts suggest a very distributional hand going on already. It's a defensive value, not an offensive one. I don't want partner to unilaterally save. I only bid 5 after partner's 4, when I know we have a big fit. I want partner to use some discretion. If I bid 4 over 1, I don't think partner is ever letting them play, even when it's right to do so.
June 30, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I think I would, even if taking out insurance, let them play 7C. Your K is a big card.
June 30, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Thanks, all. I held the other hand. 85 AQ2 AK5 J5432. I thought I had a very difficult decision, and finally decided that partner was unlikely to be 6-4 with spades good enough to handle 85 doubleton, but could be 5-5. Moreover, even if not, if his hearts were good, he has a chance to ruff spades high in dummy and return to his hearts, so it might play better.

(NOTE: I intend to post that one, too, but don't love it when you post both sides at the same time, so intend to wait long enough to get honest answers.)

When running the boards, I mentioned that, while I would have bid 2S here, I'm not sure what's right. So I figured I'd ask.
June 29, 2015
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
OK, hadn't really thought about it, but clearly, you're right. I usually just assume that constructive bidding is fine.

1 after 1 (0+, no precision short diamond opener a la 2) - (1) - 1 is constructive, shows 8+ playing points (sometimes shaded down a la a standard negative double of 1) and at least 8, and sometimes 9, minor suit cards, but not the values or shape to show a natural 2 level minor. So it's a pretty narrowly defined, constructive bid. It didn't occur to me that narrowly defined constructive bids would be outlawed by the GCC.

It's not that I didn't believe David's comment. It just literally had not occurred to me to check. Now that I have, it's CLEARLY not GCC legal, and I'll have to have that discussion. Thank you.
June 26, 2015
.

Bottom Home Top