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All comments by Andy Hung
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Yep. In general, I believe 5332 opp 4333 often plays better in 3NT.

Sophisticated players employing re-transfers can have two bites of the cherry (where after 1NT-2-2; 3 demands opener to bid 4 with support where you might have 5422 and didn't want to show the second suit, and 1NT-2-2-3NT is 5332 choice of games).
April 22
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I agree with this, but I think the most compelling reason here is the diamond fit. There doesn't seem to be that much harm by showing our diamond raise and then still get to 3NT later if it's right. I presume N/S's system after 1-3 opener would show shortage? If so, then having weak major suits is the other good reason to be showing the diamond raise. If it doesn't show shortage, then I'd prefer to go slow and start with 2. I certainly invite the opposition to interfere - that will help me to determine whether we have stoppers in the majors or not!

This reminds me of a hand I had in the 2016 GCC. I had something like KJxx Axx AJ Qxxx. My partner opened 1 (2+) and next opponent overcalled 1. With my strong spades and my partner's likely hand being a weak NT, my first instinct was to just bid 3NT. But then I thought, well it can't hurt to show my club support first so I went with 2 cue raise (even though partner could have <4 - if so, then we'd get to 3NT anyway so it couldn't hurt). The auction then continued with 3 from the next opponent and my partner now bid 4 a slam try! Just as well I had shown my club support.
April 22
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Just be a bit careful because there are always those nasty exceptions. If you have 64 after 1-1NT, it's definitely not wise to be bypassing hearts.

For what it's worth, I'm also in the camp of almost always rebidding 2-minor after 1M-1NT as (a) it's not often responder will be rebidding 2NT (more often it's preference back to 2M), and (b) I hate losing out on a good minor suit fit (plus when we have spades, after 1-1NT-2-2x, I can still go back to 2 with the right hands).
April 18
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Any thoughts about the final bid of 4?
April 16
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Good auction to 4. This is definitely an auction you should discuss with your partnership what opener's third bid means/whether it's forcing or not (all of 3/3/3/3). Another type of auction might be, say, 1-1; 2m-2NT; 3x.

There's certainly lots of different types of methods (some with a bit of artificiality), but in the end it's just best to make sure you have an agreement.
April 16
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My personal experience is that it's just all too random, sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you get unlucky. Sometimes opening at 1level is best, sometimes 4M is best, so, yeah, random I say!

In the recent Bermuda Bowl against the Polish eventual winners in the Round Robin, the Polish player opened 4 in 1st seat favourable on Qx AJ9xxxx Ax xx. He bought it there for 3 off but won 10 IMPs (his LHO had 2344 17 count and passed, RHO had 5134 9 count of which 2 was stiff Q and passed it out). The other table opened 1 and opps got to 3NT making.

On the very next hand against the same Polish player, our team member opened 4 in 1st seat all vul (playing strong club) on AKQJxxx void Qxxx x thinking if he did it to me, I'll do one back…and you can guess what happened. Yes, a grand slam was missed, partner had x Qx AKJxx AKxxx. It was a sad match!

So perhaps it is true that 4 should be opened more and 4 a bit less? I say it's just all random luck!
April 12
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Axel is on the money that playing the queen to show the count and to clarify the suit.

Basically if your agreement is count, and if the count matters, then you should agree that playing an honour shows what you have, and also shows the count (so queen here shows the jack and an odd number). Actually sometimes you'd have to play the jack from Jxx without the ten to show your odd number.
If the count doesn't matter say you had QJxx, you can then play either your lowest or the queen depending on whether a suit needs to be switched from your side or not.
April 12
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Maybe this is just my ignorance of Good/Bad, but I thought it didn't apply if 4th seat doubles since I can now just redouble to show a good hand? It seems like with a competitive hand you'd want to bid your suit immediately because the next person might just be bidding game (and you might want to sacrifice under the right vulnerability).

But then again, I have zero experience in these 2M invitational bids.
April 12
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I don't mind support doubles, but like Stephen, I don't like support doubles of an interfering 1NT bid because I like my penalties too much! In fact, I've even gone as far as giving up the Support Redouble and play that as strong! (Though I do admit in that instance, I play 1NT rebid as the “support double” as minimum hands can just pass.)
April 12
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That's a comment that has a bit of theory overload, Barbara! I'm not saying I like the cross-jump bid, but certainly it depends on the rest of the system and how much complexity one wishes to have.

Here are the considerations of what I'm talking about (I'm not referring to this hand, just the system bid 1-2 or 1-3 that shows 3-card limit):

- If both hands are balanced, you likely would have been better off responding 1NT as opener will pass, playing in 1NT instead of 3M. If opener is unbalanced and rebids, you can now go to 3M or 4M depending.

- They give the opponents a ‘free’ double of an artificial bid.

- What if responder is unbalanced? Now you likely prefer to show your 3-card limit straight away because opener may have a hand that would pass a 1NT response but bid game opposite a 3-card limit raise. True, you can play that opener only passes 1NT if he wasn't going to accept a limit raise, but then this would sort of force opener to rebid 2m (or just 2) on 2/3 card suits with 13/14 HCP, and that has its own consequence.

- If a partnership is playing something simple with some form of Bergen raises, then they would need to ‘plug a hole’ in their system to show the 3-card limit raise.

- It can be very helpful for competitive purposes. By responding 1NT, 4th seat might be able to overcall something (then their partner might raise), and now opener cannot judge as effectively had he known that responder has a fit. People tend to not weigh this point heavily enough because I agree it is hard to quantify, but I think it's a very important point as high level decisions is the bane of our bridge life!

- Sometimes the cross-jump can be very preemptive and 4th seat may be in an awkward position if they wanted to overcall in a minor suit (even if they did, they'd unlikely buy the contract anyway but at least their partner now knows what to lead), and even more awkward if they have both minors.

Now I'm not taking any sides, but I'm just saying that I would understand if one chooses to play the cross-jump. But you do have to note that there is a big difference between a balanced 3-card limit raise and an unbalanced one.

For my own system, I like 1-3 as natural and invitational (due to 1-2=GF) and so I've designed my 1M-3 as 7-9 w/4 or 10-12 w/3 (3 would ask). I also play 1-2 as 5/5+ both minors 7-10ish for the very reason that 4th hand will likely have spades if responder is 5/5 minors and wanted to pre-find a potential sacrifice. Whether that's a good idea or not, I don't know, but I do know that it requires more system memory if opener happens to be the one with the strong hand!
April 12
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I think the maths is probably a bit close? I don't know, there's a lot of factors at play.

Playing on clubs first seems like you just need the diamond finesse if clubs are 2-2 or 3-1 with stiff king. If someone has Kxx then they can duck A-J (or if you lead the J first). If we play A-J and overtake with Q, if West has Kxx and ducks, we'd need West to have Kx. If we lead J first and overtake Q (whether they take K or not), we can reassess our options. Quite often, table presence should tell us where the K is.

By playing on diamonds first, you will need the club finesse (and a bit of luck in diamonds). Say you play A and J, if they take the king (or East plays 10 so you overtake Q) and they're 3-2, you now have two entries to dummy to finesse in clubs and can now pick up Kxx onside (not K9xx). If they don't take the K on the second round, you can still play a third diamond to set up an entry to dummy allowing you to pick up Kx onside. When you play the J, if East has the K he may have a think, so if that's the case, if he ducks you might now overtake Q anyway.

There certainly seems like a lot of variations (some I didn't bother mentioning such as clubs 4-0 etc.) and it's giving me a bit of a headache. Maybe I'm missing something.

One thing to think about also:
By playing on clubs, say they take K on the second round (whether they're 2-2 or 3-1) and play a spade. You can now run off all of your club winners to come down to Kx AJx and watch your opponents discards. Sometimes they might tell you who has the A/K, and sometimes East might pitch a spade. For example, if East comes down to J9 Q Kx and you figured that the A was onside, then you can now play a heart instead of a diamond (opponents take one club, one heart, and two spades). It might seem silly, but it's a fact of life, defending can be hard.

Maybe playing on clubs is slightly better? I have no idea also.
April 11
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I'm a simple soul, I would've just raised to 2. If we do have game on, I think partner rates to make an invitational move. If we don't have a game on and the opponents balance, I no doubt plan to bid 3 as a potential resting place. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of hiding my major suit support as partner will often misjudge the auction later (in constructive or especially competitive auction).

One thing to note is that the club suit isn't “robust” enough to fear that (much) we would have missed game. Having AJT9-to seven means that we would need partner to have Hx(x) plus a potential finesse. Contrast it to a suit headed by AK or AQ where we don't need any club honours from partner and it could just be on a finesse.
April 11
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I think if you and your partner can diagnose the fit as well as both hands being relative balanced, then it would definitely be a good idea (and important) to offer 3NT.

The reason why I mentioned about favouring 4Major is that I've seen more double digit IMPs lost when playing in 3NT instead of 4Major in Australia. I've seen a lot of Australian players trying to “man up” and bids 3NT where it is down with 4Major cold.

Perhaps one of the errors is that when you have an 8-card fit, you should try to tell your partner about that first and then offer 3NT later, rather than trying to go solo with 3NT without telling partner about the fit.

Now I'm not saying these 3NT vs 4M hands should be leaned towards 4M - definitely no, what I mean is that you need both partners to evaluate their hands and make a suggestion of 3NT. We can certainly talk about those spectacular hands that were played in 3NT with a 9+major fit, but I try not to encourage players otherwise they might take it a bit too far.
April 11
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I'm a chicken, I would pass.
Basically I don't want to hang my partner for overcalling at favourable, and usually when the opponents bid 3 missing AJ98 they would tend to have something else to compensate for it. Besides, sometimes partner might be strong enough to act again (double).

With these partscore penalty doubles, I want to be doubling them for a guaranteed down one and likely down two. On this hand, I am ‘hoping’ that it is down one (hoping partner has 2 tricks for us) which means it's not guaranteed. Give partner an average hand of AQxxx KTxxx Qx x and now defending 3 would be pretty scary.
April 9
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I think the 2 opening is a very big underbid in 1st seat favourable. Otherwise, well done getting to a slam.
It's not clear to me whether to be saving with East's hand to 7 since it could be a phantom sacrifice if partner's ace was in clubs instead of hearts. I guess it's probably odds against for the ace to be in clubs so it's probably fine.
April 9
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Pele: That's right, the 2 would change the auction entirely. I would bid 3 as West (suppressing an ok 7-card club suit with opp's showing both majors doesn't seem like a good idea). But if West does pass and North bids 2, I would rebid 3 as East. Partner rates to have two diamonds very often, and sometimes may have three diamonds if partner doesn't want to make a support double with say a 4333.

Jodi: Ahok I understand now. I thought the weak/strong conventional bids only applied as a direct overcall over the opening bid, as opposed to this one in a live auction where we have more options available (2? 2NT?).
Anyway yes I'm a big believer in any strength as you can often survive by showing your strength on the next round, but with weak/strong, the intermediate hands would often lose the other suit as you'd have to guess whether to show your second suit at the 3-level.
April 8
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Good question Jodi. In general, I would say to not worry about it and tend to go for 4-Major unless (a) 8-card fit has been located (both partners know about the fit) and you can now make an offer (e.g. on this hand some people might play 3NT as Serious/Non-serious anyway), and (b) you have the right hand for it (rather than offer it for the sake of it).

If 3NT was an option here, then East's hand doesn't seem right for it because partner has bid 2 which often has strength, and so 4 would be 100% much safer than 3NT (imagine in 3NT we get a heart lead to our queen and the spade queen was offside).
April 8
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Thoughts about South's 1 overcall?
While I do completely understand it, but I've come to realise that the other 5-card major suit cannot be ignored so if system permits then I would overcall 2 (or 2) to show 5-5 majors.

I've seen this type of hand I think about 4 times (5-5 majors, one of them is very weak) where their RHO opens 1minor. All four times the hand overcalled in their good major suit. 3 out of 4 times there was a 8 or a 9-card fit in the other major but it was lost.
April 8
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Nice judgement Pele, singleton in partner's suit is always a warning sign.

I'd be curious about Stephen's thoughts on his Q lead which worked very well. For me it feels like 95% K 5%Q (i.e. partner may have ace-empty or king-empty where the Q lead could be costly).
April 8
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I feel like showing West's hand as a limit raise is a bit of an overbid (lots of jacks, no side entry to the club suit). I mean, I do understand that the conventional 2 can allow you to stop in 2 (1-2-2), but it feels like the repercussions if the auction gets contested may not be good. For example, if 4th seat opponent overcalls or preempts, partner is expecting us to have some values (limit raise or GF) and may make the wrong decision.

Sitting as North, with players showing some 9 counts as a limit raise, I think North's hand should definitely overcall 2. I was flirting around with double (which I think should be takeout of hearts) but I prefer to show my 5-card spade suit straight away. As it happens, it would be the wrong time to come into the auction, but I feel that the 2 bid is going to be 3-card limit raise more often, and I wouldn't want to be shut out of the auction. You might say, well, I can balance after 1-2-2-P, but there won't be any balancing if the auction was 1-2-4! where 4 may make or be a cheap sacrifice.
April 8
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