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All comments by Steve Bloom
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In my view, 2C “promises” both minors, usually 4-5 or 5-4. So bidding 2C with 4-4 is no crime. With 3-3-2-5, and nothing in spades, opener must lie in some way - bid 1NT, bid 2H, or bid 2C and correct 2D to 2H.

As to getting to game, such is life. Both hands were minimal for the bidding. That happens. South doesn't have to force to game with a balanced 13 count - he could invite, but forcing to game kept open strain and position choices, so had to be better than a crude 2NT rebid.
Sept. 23, 2012
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Absolutely. Opening will lead to one bad result, partner overbids and the opponents defend well. Opening leads to many more good results.
Sept. 21, 2012
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I'm with you here. To me, the keys to preempting are frequency and accuracy. You want to preempt as often as possible, but need partner to have a fair idea of the trick potential playing in your suit. If we can start at a high level, and partner can judge our offensive potential, then we are way, way ahead of the game.

I don't see how we can survive if we preempt on AQJ10xxx and on 10xxxxxx, but there are many hands worth around 6 offensive tricks. All of Andrew's examples look like 3H openers to me.

The notion that a preempt needs to be measured by its potential number versus their par contract is very outdated. When was the last time you opened 3H and played there doubled? It happens, but not often enough to skew your style. Preempts gain, and lose, when they push one side or the other to the wrong strain or wrong level. I have won and lost lots of IMPs when the auction goes 3H - 3S overcall - P - 4S, with our teammates playing in a sensible partscore against quieter opponents. Some of those thin games make, and others go for 500. Win some, lose some.

I have also won lots of IMPs when the auction goes 3C - 3S overcall - 4S, when they belong in hearts. And I have lost of lot of IMPs when the auction goes 3C all pass, and we belong in hearts. Win some, lose some.

In the long run, hands where we preempt and our counterparts pass net us plus IMPs.
Sept. 21, 2012
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2NT seems like a practical bid, and avoids a lot of the pitfalls lurking. That would lead to 3NT if South held, say, xx KQx AKxxx Qxx. This is OK, when neither player overcalled spades, but 4H is better.
Sept. 21, 2012
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And red at matchpoints is clearly the wrong place to pass, and hear it go 1C - P - 1S to you. Would you overcall 2H? Better to get your suit in at the one-level.
Sept. 20, 2012
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I pass since
(1) It is not clear that double is penalties.
(2) Such doubles should promise enough high-card strength to be certain that this is our hand. I don't have that. Suppose my double chases opener out of 3S and into four hearts. Can I beat that? Don't see how, but doubling this will probably trap partner into doubling four hearts, and paying out 790.
(3) If partner has extra strength, partner will reopen, probably with a double, and I will defend.
Sept. 18, 2012
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2C and raise a spade preference to 3. Seems easy.
Sept. 18, 2012
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2S plays like a dream on any lead. Say you get a club lead, probably best. Try three rounds of diamonds. North must ruff, or there are eight easy tricks. But that gives back control.
Sept. 17, 2012
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Or use transfers in place of 4SF. Here, you can bid 3D = inv+ heart raise, and probe for a slam if opener shows extras.
Sept. 17, 2012
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I am finding it very hard to understand the bidding. I would expect North to rebid two clubs with most 6-4 hands, particularly with strong clubs, so when Rosenberg says “South needs to find a red ace AND trump K AND trump Q AND a diamond control to make slam really worth being in,” such a hand seems impossible. Am I missing something?
North might prefer a two-heart rebid with good hearts and poor clubs. Slam is quite good opposite, say, x AKxxxx Ax Qxxx, and not bad opposite 10xxx of clubs, but I don't see South raising to four clubs with such a hand, particularly when clubs might be artificial.

Kit? Give us a hand consistent with the two heart call which would raise to four clubs where slam is good.

As to the play - calling for the trump queen is odd. As East, you expect South to hold good clubs, and South would not start with the club queen holding AK9x in clubs, so the play is odd. Odd enough, that I would be a little surprised by such a play sitting East, without the club king, and might try to reevaluate my image of declarer's hand. A good East would be prepared for the queen play, if holding the king, so I would take a small hitch as denying the king.

Tricky hand!
Sept. 16, 2012
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I mostly agree with this, but not with the math. You are giving up an 11% chance (Kxx) hoping to pick off a singleton king offside, 13%. Kx will be onside 26% of the time (not 39%). To gain, we need the defender with Kx onside to cover, or work out what he holds, more than 24/26 of the time.
Sept. 15, 2012
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Another big clue to a good DD problem is consistency. Normally there is only one “solution”. Here, South can play the heart queen or heart ten at trick two, so my guess is this was not composed by Hugh Darwen. He would have given South the AJ107 of hearts, and North the AKJ4 of spades.

I looked the hand up on DoubleDummy.net. It is problem # 413, composed by Saul Cass in 1937, but not published until 1998.
Sept. 12, 2012
Steve Bloom edited this comment Sept. 12, 2012
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We have a “game before slam” philosophy in place on competitive auctions, and play these splinters and fit-showing bids with a fairly wide range. It is important to judge the degree of fit. If one side or the other rates to take 11 tricks, we want to push on to the five level. If it is a make, great. If it is a save, great!

That said, this is still a pretty nice minimum with no wastage. Driving to slam via kickback seems too much, and signing off too little, so I am with you. I cue-bid. I gave it to Betty, and she cue-bid.
Sept. 10, 2012
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Is 4D a clear slam try in your methods? We tend to use these bids to help partner judge how high to compete. If partner holds a hand with 5 card support, we will usually have to make a decision over 4S or 5D, and use the splinter to help partner make a five-level decision. So partner could have a hand like xxx AQJxx x QJxx.
Sept. 9, 2012
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No, doubling and bidding a spade game should show more flexibility. Both are strong bids, but the double sequence suggests other strains. Partner can pull to five clubs or diamonds with Kxxxx(x) in the suit and a spade void.
Sept. 8, 2012
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I can't find the reference, but the Bridge World published a large (double-dummy) study some years back tracking total tricks in the major or notrump when
(1) we had a five-three fit
(2) Both hands were balanced, 5-3-3-2 opposite 4-4-3-2, 4-3-3-3, or 5-3-3-2.
The major suit was seldom two tricks better, and at IMPs, notrump was the vastly superior strain. The major scored one trick more with enough frequency to suggest playing in the 5-3 fit at matchpoints.

The conclusion: At IMPs, don't check back for a five three fit with a balanced hand after 1m - 1M - 1NT, and don't worry about opening 1NT with a 5 card major, and missing a potential 5-3 fit.

This is crude, and you can use your judgement. With a weak doubleton spade, after 1m - 1H - 1NT, checking back seems right, while two low in partner's suit suggests notrump. But don't let one disaster change your methods.
Sept. 7, 2012
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On the hand from match 3, your teammate should have made 4Hx, in my opinion. Given a club lead, trump, lay down the heart ace, and lead a spade up. South will probably grab the king, and the distribution will be clear, as expected from the auction. There are lots of routes home now. Sooner or later South will be stripped of minor suit cards and stuck in to give up another spade trick. The 9-8 of spades are huge.
Sept. 6, 2012
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True, but that depends on how high North plans to compete. North certainly wouldn't want to go back to teammates and explain how they guessed the spade queen in six hearts (uh, I bid spades, so pard led the queen …). I would not expect the strong team, up 27 at the half, to mess around much.
Sept. 6, 2012
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Good catch, but you won't know that East is 7-4-1-1 until you draw trumps, and then it is too late to pick up hearts. Leading a low heart from the hand at trick four would lose the contract when East was 8-2-1-2.

Even worse, suppose you lead a heart to the eight and nine, and your table feel tells you that West didn't start with a doubleton honor. East now returns a heart. Finessing is right if East held QJ9x, but wrong if East held Q9x or J9x. You still don't have a count on the hand, so you might go down when hearts were three-three.
Sept. 6, 2012
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Clubs could be 3-0 the other way, too. Perhaps West is 5-2-3-3.
Sept. 6, 2012
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