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Check-back XYZ follow-ups feedback
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One popular version of a check-back mechanism called "XYZ" can be summarized this way:  After any three bids by us at the one-level (X, Y, & Z) responder's next bids are:

2:  Relay to 2 to initiate any game try (or get out in ).  You might refuse the relay if you really don't want to play in diamonds.

2:  Game Forcing check-back.  Opener now clarifies shape, particularly with respect to majors, the order of which to show first TBD.  (See next page.)

Major rebid or 2:  Non-forcing with less than invitational values, usually expecting opener to pass or correct.

2NT:  Relay to 3 for get-out (or some advanced agreement, often slam-related - I like shortness showing).

Jump Shift:  Usually a natural slam try (often defined in terms of allowable trump losers).


I like XYZ check-back because it allows game tries at the two-level, a level lower than most limit bidding systems.  That and the fact that it's straightforward sold me instantly.  Plus you only give up the ability to play 2.  A bargain like this is a fairly easy partnership sell.  But as with so many nifty agreements, the follow-ups pose problems of detail, discussion, agreement, and memory.  There is, Virginia, no free lunch.  I know there are fully articulated agreements out there to show full distributions and specific side-suit honor holdings, but I'm interested here in discussing three basic areas where agreement seems hard to achieve.  That's where I'd appreciate feedback.  Some of you system wonks or dedicated partnerships - I know you're here -  may have hashed out well-reasoned answers to the following three questions:

1)  Which major should opener show first after responder's 2 GF check-back?  It seems best to me to show the other major first in all game forcing situations and hearts first in invitational cases.  This efficiently gets the other major out of the way, may improve siding, and allows hands to be 'bid out' more readily.  On the other hand, responder's first-bid major is more likely to be the location of an 8-c fit and showing support for that first (particularly if it's hearts) hides opener's distribution a bit better.  Your thoughts?  You might add any thoughts on the meaning of jumps by opener if you like.

2)  Is XYZ on in competition?  There appear to be two common camps here, always and never.  Don't you find that as a group bridge players are a brutally decisive lot, sometimes to a fault?  And that getting common agreement across a range of partnerships is not unlike the plight of cat herders everywhere?  Either of the polar positions solves the problem and is if nothing else easy on the memory.  But the opponents do step on your auction with increasing frequency, so why not employ the advantages of check-back when you can?  One argument against playing it on in competition is that it keeps you from showing minor support at a low-level, which could impair subsequent three-level competitive decisions. Besides the opponents slipping in a bid between our three one-level bids, there is also the consideration of their take-out double.  How does that affect the status of your XYZ agreement?  Which is the more frequently occurring and useful way to play?  Should some auctions be on and others off?  Which ones and on what basis or meta-rule(s)?  Some play play that XYZ is still on if the partnership makes three bids at the one-level regardless of interference, and most who play this way treat a double by opener (whether support or cards) as not counting as a bid.  The mind reels.  Your thoughts?

Finally, what about when one player is a passed hand?  The passed hand is very unlikely to have a for-real game forcing hand (you could modify the 2 GF to "GF if opener has a full opener") and thus that there is more value on being able to play a minor at the two-level.  Some play XYZ on if three suits are bid but that if 1NT is the 3rd bid, simple new minor is now the check-back mechanism.  Your thoughts?

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