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All comments by Ben Thompson
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Then we just play XX for money. In your “lead the lowest ranking logical suit” maybe you have a look at your overall stopper position, but the maths makes it worth doing on general strength at IMPs. It's also good advertising
July 31
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When it's clear what their lead is, and we bid 3NT with as at least an offer to play, we play XX specifically as doubt about our stopper. We used to play it as general doubt, but it turns out there are too many ways in which you can have doubt so it's better just to focus on the most likely kind of doubt.


Bill & I also play the same thing if we bid a natural but not GF 2NT (if we bid 2NT GF then XX is straight penalty)

I think you might have different meanings for the hand that is supposed to have a stopper vs the one that isn't, but in practice for us the non-stopper hand's XX is like “don't panic about points or tricks, just make sure you've got a stopper” whereas the stopper hand's XX is simply expressing doubt about the true stopperness of their stopper.
July 30
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I've had some entertaining results against 41 doubles. I sometimes make a milquetoast simple raise with 5 trumps (typically with a balanced hand) which gets both oppos overbidding more often than you would think because they're both excited about their shortage - oops, no ruffs :)

Occasionally the milquetoast catches a “41” pair, or a pair with shaky agreements, and we wind up playing doubled at a surprisingly low level. Even better when it makes.
July 15
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I don't entirely agree that 3-over-3 is extras by definition (which I'm reading as “extra values”). I think it should be extra trump(s), but not extra values. If you play this way, then you need a different bid for extra values - which could be just banging out game (eminently reasonable), or it could be a defined game try bid (eg game try double)
July 15
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I use a simple guide when you're considering taking the push to/at the 5 level:
- you're not allowed to think about it unless you have at least 1 trump more than you're supposed to (on the auction to date)
- you're not allowed to actually take the push unless you have at least 2 trumps more than you're supposed to

This is a forcing auction, so I pass - meaning I'm thinking about taking the push (so I have 1+ more H than I already showed) but I'm not good enough to bid 5H myself (so I probably have just the 1 extra H)

Pass & pull vs bid is by agreement but I prefer pass & pull is strong because it feels more space efficient for slam bidding in a tough spot.
July 9
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I like to start with a small number of general “default” rules.

For example:
“in the absence of a specific agreement to the contrary, X at the 1/2 level is takeout”
"in the absence of a specific agreement to the contrary, if they bid something artificial (doesn't need to include the suit they bid) then XXX is on“ - ie 1/2/3 X's, or value-takeout-penalty

Then they start getting more specific but I still try to keep them general. For example:
”If we’re known to have 6+ cards in one known suit or 9+ cards in two known suits, partner’s X is penalty. The long suit(s) holder’s X is extras (takeoutish)“

And towards the end we get to specific situations like:
”a lead-directing X of 3NT calls for, in order of priority: your suit, my suit, dummy's primary suit, highest unbid suit"
July 7
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I think the value in examples is when they illustrate. Adding “because …” to the end.

In your example, for example, the raise matters to me but I can't tell if it matters to you. Does it matter that the balancer didn't act over 1H (eg is 1H 1S 2H P P 2S X different)?

If you (generic you) can explain your rule we can have a sensible discussion about where we agree and where we don't.

This issue, by the way, is why I rarely get past the first few pages of someone else's system notes. They're usually full of examples and devoid of the rationale for them. I'm just not willing to invest the effort in figuring out the rules that someone else hasn't - or can't - explain themselves.
July 6
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No, that part you have to do just like takeout doubles - you pass and hope partner doubles. Otherwise your rule would have to be “X could mean anything and partner figures it out” :)

But I mean more situations like:
P 1H 1S 2H
3D X P (and that X is by definition a game try)
and you as 2Her hold something like AJ10x xxx Axx xxx

Well, if you're thinking only about your own contract, you accept a game try but without enthusiasm since you have some big holes.

But since lefty has carelessly stepped in, try pass. Partner leads a trump and the hand rates to fall apart for them.
July 6
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We sometimes pass the game try X for fun and profit. Not playing penalty doubles doesn't mean we don't end up playing for penalties.
July 6
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I wouldn't call that an example of a rule. I'd call it an example. I feel like there must have been some scientist who archly said “enumeration is not illumination” but since I can't find the ref, I'm just going to claim it for myself :)

Here's an example of a rule that Renee & I play:
If we raise and they bid: if it’s a raise or the suit below ours then our X is a game try, but if it’s solo and we have a bid available to make a game try our X is PEN

Applying our rule to your example - we would also play X as penalty.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of what Kate is pushing on - having a set of clear rules. In the pressure of the moment, your partnership needs to be able to rely on clear rules that you both know are being applied the same way on the other side of the screen.

It's super important that your rules in high-variance situations (like doubles) are clear, general and simple. It's worth every second you spend refining them.
July 6
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Game try - we have a major suit fit and only one bid left. We use it to try for game.

Fair argument for penalty at matchpoints though.
July 5
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“Takeout” would be the most common Australian expert explanation of low-level takeout doubles
June 15
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This hand was kind of cool at our table.

Renee found the excellent 10 lead. Leading a into the strong hand has many many faults and I'm very happy with Renee's thoughtful choice.

So we ran that to the K, robo-declarer ran Q successfully, and then put K on the virtual table.

Renee grabbed that and continued clubs, and we duly took 2 tricks. I switched to 9. Declarer cashed their 3 top 's, throwing a first, and then had to decide which other little red card to pitch from the board on the last big as Renee showed out pitching - still right on her game - her last .

Having seen the finesse already work, and Renee clearly having started with 7 red cards (of which one would usually presume no more than 4 were hearts), and no clear indication from the bidding that would place the K, declarer chose to…

…throw another and play 's from the top.

Interesting line. Robo probably decided that Renee couldn't have started with more than 4 's, but she was a favourite to have 4 because (a) she didn't lead one (presuming she would with 5) and (b) didn't pitch one (which she might do with only 3).

If you follow that through, Robo gets the double shot of either dropping my 10xx offside, or throwing Renee in with the 10 to lead away from her K.

Nicely played, Robo.

Maybe I went wrong at trick one. If I play the J, declarer may go wrong subsequently (when Renee puts another through after winning A) and enable us to cash 3 tricks. Now Renee can put a through and it's basically impossible for declarer to get the hand right from there.

That does require Renee to have 8 though, and I wasn't even 100% sure she had 4 of them at the get-go.
April 24
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I find that marginal 5-5's don't play that well in a 5-3 fit unless partner has support for the side suit. They DO play well in a 5-4 fit, almost regardless of the rest of partner's hand.

So - I typically invite (long suit trial) if I think we're probably on a 5-3 fit, but bang out game if I think we're likely in a 5-4 fit. Side benefit - if I do make a long suit trial, I basically want partner to accept with support for the second suit OR with a secret 4th trump (and not a complete pile of crap)
April 24
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I opened 3. Standout red vs green. 1 misrepresents your values & gives the oppos an in to find their contract/sacrifice, or overcall-investigate-give up.

Opening 1 is seriously antipercentage in my view. I'd rather open 4
April 24
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It probably gets me to file a recorder form.

I don't go for the double shot (ie I do my normal thing; I don't pass and try to get it back in court if that was wrong). In my view players who try that sort of thing on are no better than the dodgy hesitators.
April 22
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My general agreement in unanchored auctions is that bidding a suit they MIGHT still have is natural, but bidding a suit they have established they DO have is … whatever our other agreements say it is, but typically a raise or a stopper ask/show.

In this auction, the 2Der's suit hasn't been established and 2H is kind of the opposite of natural. So 3H for me is natural (upper limit will depend on your defensive method to 2D)
April 19
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With a 6 card suit, it looks more like a play hand than a defend hand to me.
April 18
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The real question is “what's your default rebid after 4th suit?” That is, when you don't have: a stopper in the 4th suit, 5 in 2nd suit, 6 in your first suit or 3 (Hx) in pard's first suit, what do you do?

I bid the thing my partnership has agreed is the default rebid. That way everything else is clearly meaningful, and only the default needs to be viewed with a degree of suspicion.
April 13
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This is a bit of an opportunity for Smith signals. North clearly doesn't have a S honour but they did start with 3 of them

In this situation I would play North's (negative) Smith as “I have a better idea”, and the “positive” Smith as “I can't thunk of anything better for us than to keep playing your suit”

That's probably enough to encourage South to continue a low one rather than cash the bullet
April 4
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