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All comments by Steve Chen
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There is no reason to believe we would end up defending and partner has to lead. It's OK to overcall with 4-card suit when you have length in opps suit, but here you have a near-perfect take-out double. I am surprised it isn't unanimous.

I don't think lead-directing aspect should be so dominant as to skew the hand pattern. Change the hand to: AKJx, JTxx, Kxxx, x, does anyone go out of the way to bid 1 for lead?
Jan. 3, 2014
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“opps say they are experts” – that is equivalent of “BBO experts”…

It is true that if opps could make 3, then 3 might go down a couple, theoretically you are getting -500 if doubled (instead of -470). But in reality we probably would be allowed to play 3 quietly.

With likely 17 total trumps, it is a bit scary to pass. Yes my trump 10 and 9 argues for negative adjustment, but only slightly. I would reluctantly bid 3 (knowing it could be wrong but not disastrous)and look for blood on other hands. Of course if the state of match warrants a swing then my decision would be different.
Jan. 3, 2014
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Right, I see. I am not used to East being on lead. :-)
Sept. 24, 2013
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Does everyone agree with pass over 1?
Sept. 23, 2013
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I am not sure 2 is the right call. 2 usually relays to 2, but since your hand is still in wide range, I don't think you are required to complete the relay. The case is different from 1 1 1NT. I probably would have bid 3 over 2. If partner then bids 3 I would pass.
Jan. 29, 2013
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Partner invites slam missing A/A/AK. Must be a highly distributional hand, at worst something like KQxxx KQJxx xx x (IMO this is probably not good enough for 5). I just cannot construct a hand that 7 isn't nearly cold, so why fool around with cuebids?

With KQxxxx Qxx xx AK, 4 is enough. Missing too many controls, and AK not pulling full weight for sure.
Jan. 29, 2013
Steve Chen edited this comment Jan. 29, 2013
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Poker players sometimes wear dark glasses during play. Would this help in bridge?
Aug. 8, 2012
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I would play Q first (planning to run it if not covered by K) before touching the trump suit.
Aug. 7, 2012
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“But the whole point is that those bids would DENY a club control - and if partner needs one, I am giving up on slam.”

I would argue that 5 from David should imply a club control (quite often 2nd-round control). If David didn't have it, he should probably just sign off in 5. Partner had first-round controls in spades and diamonds (from bidding it looked like A and A), if partner had club control as well he might have bid differently. (In reality Gary did have club control, and should have bid differently IMO).
Aug. 3, 2012
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What would 6D mean (instead of 5NT)? Counter-grand-slam-try?
Aug. 2, 2012
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Insightful article. But there are two points I don't understand completely:

1. While leading toward KJ(xx), why would a weak opponent often hesitate with xx, xxx or xxxx? Is that because weak players don't know what's critical, so they hesitate even thought there should be nothing to think about?

2. When you lead toward K (and the location of A matters), I suppose this is a situation that you have an alternative line of play, such as xx vs. KJx and you are to lose only one trick. LHO smoothly played low, but you sense some tension. How do you know this tension is due to holding of A? Could it not be that LHO is not relaxed because he is holding Q instead, and he knows you have a guess here (and that you might guess right)? Is the tension from holding A any different from holding Q in this case?
Aug. 1, 2012
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I think 2 response is much better than 1 (assuming the 2 bid includes some balanced GF hand).
July 31, 2012
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South's 4 did plenty of damage. The issue is whether pass of 4 would be forcing. With 3 showing a possible LR only hand, it probably doesn't set up a forcing situation (at 4-level). If that is the case, then West could not pass, and didn't want to bid only 4. I don't like 4 as a cuebid, since it will not help partner evaluate diamond honors properly, but I sympathize that bid. I personally would choose 4 instead, but I can certainly construct hands where 5-level can be too high. On the other hand, suppose after 4 by West, if East only signed off, would West be content to pass? If he wasn't going to anyway, then IMO an initial 4 cuebid would be a clearly better choice than 4.

Can't blame East for having rosy view after 4 and XX of 4 from partner. However, 5 from East left room for misunderstanding, and more so with 5NT. I cannot imagine 5NT to be a grand slam try with East's cards, but to say it means pick-a-slam between diamonds and hearts, that's really obscure.
July 31, 2012
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The problem of inviting (with 2NT) is that partner may not know when to accept. Partner is missing so many aces, there are not many hands that he/she will feel “prime”. As a result, partner will pass many 13-point hands, or even some “crappy” 14-hcp hands which actually fit reasonably well with my 3 aces.

Since I expect that partner will take a somewhat dim view of his hand anyway (not always but frequent enough), I'd just take charge and bid 3NT at IMPS. It may not be cold, but opponents still need to beat it. At MP I will probably bid it under normal situations, but if I absolutely need a swing board I may opt to pass and play 1NT.
July 31, 2012
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I think most in this forum would agree. I just want to bring to attention a common attitude among general bridge community (at least as I perceive) that may be misdirected. Although in many cases the right thing to do after partner's UI is to PASS, this is not always the case, and I hope this point can be brought up in the article (it doesn't have to be the focal point). In this particular case, partner's UI conveys lack of value, instead of the usual case of “having unexpressed value”.
July 20, 2012
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This is how I read this law: the “doubtful call or play” is the one suggested by UI. When the offending side makes these doubtful calls, two things can happen: if there is no damage to the non-offending side, the result stands; if there is damage to the non-offending side, the result may be changed to a logical call/play that is not suggested by the UI.

A typical example: partner bids Blackwood, you respond accordingly, partner then hesitates and signs off at 5S, you carry on to 6S. Now if 6S goes down, the result stands. If 6S makes, the result is changed to 5S making an over-trick. Whether one would bid to 6S “anyway” is not relevant, unless he/she can find a very compelling reason to suggest otherwise.

I don't see any inconsistency with what is described in the article. To avoid having the above issue, in light of UI from partner, one should choose a logical call that is not suggested by the UI. The law doesn't explicitly require that people do that, but its application encourages that ethical behavior.
July 18, 2012
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re 2: if most of players (with comparable skill level) will accept the invitation, then arguably PASS is not an LA. Another question is whether the slow invitation produces useful UI or not. Partner knows that you are either underbidding (you may have a hand that almost could jump to game) or overbidding (you may stretch to invite), but which one?
July 18, 2012
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I agree. But in reality I never saw such a ruling, to force people to bid on, even if that is the LA suggested without UI. Many people think that “oh partner hesitated, so I'd better pass if it is a close call”, that is not entirely true, what determines an ethical action is not PASS or not by itself, but rather what can be suggested with/without UI.

Moreover, if the reaction to partner's UI is always to PASS, then it can actually be used in very unethical way. For example holding Kxx, xx, xx, KQT9x, partner opens 1S, RHO passes, this hand responds 2S, LHO 3C, P, P, now the responder makes a very very slow double, knowing that partner will have to pass to avoid a director call…
July 18, 2012
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One thing I notice is that, when one player breaks tempo, people tend to think that the ethical thing for the partner to do (in reaction to UI) is usually to PASS. The law of bridge specifically says that the partner should take an action which is not suggested by the UI, in some cases this means to bid on, but in practice I've never seen such a ruling.

An example: in one of the regional team matches, both vulnerable, an opponent held: QTx / AKx / Kx / AKQxx, opened the bidding with 2NT, which continued with 2NT - 3H - 3S - 4S (with no interference). The opponents play Texas transfer, so this sequence shows mild slam interest. When the responder bid 4S, he broke in tempo for about 30 seconds. The opener magically passed. Responder's hand: Jxxxxx,xx,Qx,xxx. Do you think the opener should be required to bid on, or it is an automatic PASS simply because there is break in tempo?
July 18, 2012
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That 4 goes down on the brilliant club switch at trick 2. Declarer couldn't have done anything. In fact it was not just trick 2, even at trick 1 the East defender must play 2 (the actual play was 9, which would already make the contract cold since now his J can be finessed). But I think both tricks are very subtle, the actual defense could have easily worked in another layout.
July 16, 2012
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