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I guess you mean you will bid 5D on the next board. Should be exciting !!!
Oct. 1
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This problem casts a wide shadow, as it raises issues involving quite different – but if properly viewed, closely interrelated – stylistic questions and policies, notably in regard to opening the bidding. I maintain that conundrums like this are considerably less nightmarish to resolve if partnership style encourages an opening weak-2 (or better yet, multi) on decent five-card suits. In a context of that sort, it is a lot easier to give up on Double in situations like this, which are hardly rare.

Some additional, collateral points follow …

(1) When most people conceptualize the benefits that can be reaped from even mild pre-empts, they mainly focus on the ugly problems that such obstructive openings can pose for the adversary. There is no denying of course that this is the primary objective of such actions. HOWEVER – we can get far more mileage out of our opening pre-empts if we cleave to an approach which maximizes the benefits that can accrue to our side when that does NOT happen. When in first or second seat we PASS, partner is in a much better position to rule out – or at least regard as anti-percentage – a wider range of possible hands for us, namely a reasonable five-card suit with some sort of modest values. This in turn makes it MUCH easier for partner to act effectively in a range of competitive situations because it bends the odds more in favor of certain actions that he can imagine as potential home-runs, but which would likely look too dangerous if our weak-2s were governed by a more restrictive set of criteria. One such scenario is illustrated by the problem posed in this poll – Double is far easier to dismiss if partner is relatively unlikely to have 5 hearts because he has passed, particularly given that he was nonvulnerable to boot.

(2) Of course I can already hear people saying “But he was in second seat (GASP)”. Personally I regard the mainstream dogma that “second seat actions must be the very soundest of all” as nonsense, but realize such a stance would be anathema to most. That's fine with me – I am fully aware that folks will just keep on passing in second seat and letting an opponent pre-empt their 4th-seat partners, and it will not matter how many awful results they get in consequence. They will just keep on passing, oh so righteously and contentedly. God bless them and keep them.

(3) Just to be clear, the above observations refer to weak-two (multi) resources that show ONE suit. They strenuously exclude (and anti-recommend) other sorts of devices, e.g. the puerile “Toys-R-US” Muiderberg (5M-cum-minor) gizmo which simply helps the other side, or an opening 2H showing hearts and another suit which is designed to lose our spade fit as often as human wit can realistically contrive or else to tell opponents that THEIR spade suit is breaking 4-1 or else to drive foes to a successful 3N when they were about to fail in 4S.

(4) One of the greatest advantages of the policy advocated above
regularly comes home to roost when we are in third chair after two passes. Particularly playing pairs, most players would for example probably be loath to open 3C (if adhering to mainstream standards for opening weak-2s) on a hand like the following: Kxx x QJx AJT9xx, because if partner has five spades par on the deal is all too likely to be a part-score our way in that suit. How radically the picture changes when we can safely regard it as seriously odds-against for partner to turn up with that hand. Liberating a third-seat partner is a huge side benefit of the more inclusive approach to weak-2s.
Oct. 1
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Oct. 1
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(A) It seems to me that you said VERY clearly that all the logic was on the side of the “penalty” interpretation. Are the following excerpts examples of me putting words in your mouth?

(1) “take out double here is in my view nonsense”
(2) “check the logic of what you are asking”
(3) “take out fails the logic test”
(4) “unlikely we want to compete in a major. That is maybe if you will logical.” (sic)


(B) Now we can add, right there inside the putative disclaimer:
“not sensible on frequency grounds or general desirability”.
Incidentally, however questionable the takeout construal might seem on those two grounds, the penalty interpretation fares at least as dismally with respect to both criteria.

(C) You speak repeatedly of LOGIC, and in quite a proprietary if not downright monopolistic way. OK if it is Logic you want, here is some Logic for you (or rather, some MORE logic, in addition to everything I have already said – none of which by the way you have even acknowledged, let alone addressed, let alone rebutted) …..

LOGIC – aka (EXTENDED) PRINCIPLE OF RESTRICTED CHOICE
If partner wanted to defend, because he thought the contract would likely/probably/certainly fail, he could simply have passed and very reasonably hoped for a respectable score.

In contrast, if what he wanted was to contest the partial, because he held (or thought he held) a special enough hand to compete in this unusual context, THE ONLY OPTION AVAILABLE TO HIM would be Double (i.e. with multiple places to play and needing us to pick one, or perhaps pass for penalties instead).

In short, if his desire was to defend, he had TWO ways to do that, one of which would involve ZERO risk of misinterpretation. If however his desire was to compete there was only ONE path open to him.

That is certainly the kind of LOGIC that I would apply to this situation, and that I would expect him both to apply and to expect me to apply.
Sept. 30
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Sept. 30
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There is a considerable gap that yawns open between “unlikely” and “impossible”. It is both possible and – for some of us – likely that partner thought it wide enough to build our house on. I've already gave a hand completely consistent with the auction which supports the hypothesis that partner may think “takeout” is a sensible possibility. And the more you continue to ignore entirely everything I have said about Partnership Meta-Principles, the less this dialogue seems worth pursuing.
Sept. 30
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“Futile” may be more accurate. :):)
Sept. 30
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@ DC – Yes and if you agree that 3H shows the 8 of spades you are also future-proof. There are however some pretty good reasons why it would nevertheless be misguided to do so.

@ HS & PDE – Only if your bidding box is a mess. The choice is supposed to reside some distance below both those placards.
Sept. 30
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Such an agreement IS already in place for most partnerships with which I am familiar: “Doubles below game are non-penalty UNLESS they are on the Official List Of Exceptions”. Apparently, based on Kevin's survey results after canvassing a contingent of locals in Paris, there is cross-cultural variability with regard to this cornerstone principle of competitive bidding. But in many bridge cultures, the meta-agreement which I have cited holds sway.

Hence your recurring references to “the logic test” strike me as quite inappropriate. OK you have stated a reason for treating the Double as penalty, and that is fine. But that does not entail that there is no possible case to be made for the alternate construal, and the more you insist on your one-sided position as the only imaginable one, completely ignoring the case for the other side – both in terms of already-agreed Partnership Meta-principles AND the “hypothetical empirical” evidence submitted (i.e. the sample deal I presented which fits the actual auction perfectly) – the more it looks like you are just willfully choosing to be adamant (thesaurus successfully ransacked for adjective conforming to the Community Guidelines).
Sept. 30
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Sept. 30
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Sorry but I am puzzled what that comment is addressed to. How did you imagine that I was the person who made the Double, or that I ever gave my approval to it? The point here is simply that somebody made the call and somebody else had to interpret it, and the poll is about how to construe that bewildering action. When victimized by an idiotic “never-heard-this-auction-before” solo shot by partner, there is no option of saying: “We haven't discussed this, so I do not need to arrive at an interpretation, and in fact I do not even have to bid so I am going to the bar, hasta la vista.” On this site one can simply abstain, or just laugh to oneself and not get involved, but at the table you have to commit one way or another. Later with any luck/justice you can have partner committed.

Meanwhile, taking the plight of the author of the thread seriously and addressing the actual, real problem he faced – instead of whining like the tiresomely plaintive panel-persona of the late Al Roth about always being faced with a previously unencountered challenge – there are two possibilities here and only one of them is going to be right, and the other one is going to be worse than “not right”. So now you may be surprised to learn that I actually agree with approximately 94% of your admonition above, which I reproduce here in full:

“if you want me to see this as takeout check the logic of what you are asking. If you want me to remove it tell me in advance do not expect me to understand”

Just replace the words “takeout” and “remove” with the alternative words “penalty” and “pass”, and the sentiment expressed would not be far off my own attitude at all. However, you have stated the above quotation AS IF there were a clear-cut universal DEFAULT interpretation of the iniquitous Double that Kevin was obliged to cope with, and as far as I am concerned there simply isn't one. So in the absence of any such norms, we have to fall back on other considerations, and the ones I think it is appropriate to go with are the following:

(1) PARTNERSHIP META-PRINCIPLES – In something like all of the top class partnerships I know (and many others as well) there is a general operating canon to the effect that: “With precious few exceptions, which ideally should all be explicitly agreed to in advance (though all too often this diligent work has admittedly not been done, or not done exhaustively) Doubles below game are Takout/Non-Penalty”. If that is one of our doctrines, then it is in my opinion quite perverse to assume that partner would not be counting on me to invoke it in this situation.

(2) LIMITING DOWNSIDE RISK – Even ignoring the all-important (1) for a moment, the one thing we assuredly want to avoid if at all possible is to take a committal action which, if wrong, has a massive likelihood of incurring a catastrophic loss. In this situation if we pass and they make it, there will certainly be no salvaging the board. On the other hand, if we bid here and it turns out that: (a) partner meant the Double as penalty; AND (b) the opponents were going down on whatever defense we perpetrated – already quite the parlay, especially since a fellow who bids like this partner may be equally “quixotic” (to use the kindest label I can think of) on defense – that does not necessarily mean we are getting a zero. Obviously it rates to be a wistfulness-inducing lost opportunity, but that is not the same thing as “un zero integral” (to use the parlance of Kevin's fellow competitors).
Sept. 30
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Oct. 1
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I am definitely not advocating an overcall here, but I disagree about the only rationale being space-consumption. In fact I do not even think that is the primary upside of bidding here, which in my view is attracting not just the lead you want but the only one you can stand.

Having said that, I believe the risk/reward ratio is seriously lopsided against action because:

(1) The scenario you most need to worry about with regard to lead is when the auction begins (1S) - P - (1N), and then Opener raises NT immediately. If anything else happens, either your hand will be on lead or else the opponents will have bid enough suits that chances of partner finding a heart lead increase dramatically, obviating the need to court the perils associated with an overcall. So the upside-chase is aiming at a somewhat narrow target.

(2) If you overcall, you may transfer the declaration of 3N over to Opener, which is exactly what you do NOT want to happen. For example, it could easily go Double (negative) and now RHO bids NT and ends up in that game via one route or another.

Sample illustration:
DUMMY: Qx Qxx J9xx KJxx
DECLARER: AT9xx KT KQx AQx

Left to his own devices after the unopposed auction 1S-1N-2N-3N, partner – looking at XXXX XXX AT8X XX – may well decide to launch the defense with a heart. In practice declarer is surely going to try the ten from dummy and is summarily doomed. Moreover, even if he somehow finds the double-dummy play of the heart king at Trick One, the defense still prevails as long as opening leader does not lose his mind and win his ace prematurely. Meanwhile back at the overcalling ranch, the auction has gone Sputnik by your LHO and 3N by the opening bidder, and instead of going down declarer might even make an overtrick.

The point of all this is that even when you DO get the lead-director into the auction, the effort might backfire with respect to that very objective itself. Whenever a dangerous action might easily undermine its own shaky rationale, the case in favor is seriously diminished.

(3) After the 1S bid on your right, your chances of outbidding the opponents are slim – unless of course PARTNER can enter on his own. The likelihood of the following parlay borders on the miniscule: (a) We can successfully outbid them; AND (b) We will probably be unable to do so unless this hand acts right now.

(4) And all the while, an overcall here runs a significant risk of a catastrophic penalty. That adjective is motivated not just by the sheer potential size of the prospective minus per se, but by the fact that our high-card structure also offers substantial defensive wherewithal, so that the adversary might easily fail in any game they bid.
Sept. 30
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Sept. 30
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This was the Stayman bidder's hand: xxx xxxx xxxxxx –
Partner has: AT9x AJxx – Qxxxx
Opener has: Qx KTx AKJTx AKx
Nine (+) tricks for both sides. Modicum of care needed but the declarer knows the location of all honor cards and as much about the shapes as he needs to know.
So yes, I do agree in a way with the reference to “nonsense”, but …
Sept. 30
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Oct. 1
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I wish I could remember why I came into this room
Sept. 28
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they tried. got laughed at. thought I was daft of course. they might be right. might rain hookers tomorrow too
Sept. 28
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Thanks for the clarification. As you no doubt anticipate, some will question the value of statistics reckoned in relation to abstract double-dummy pars rather than genuine empirical situations in which everyone has to operate with a particular body of information. Obviously the latter would be incredibly complicated to assess.

It all depends on what one thinks the phrase “effectiveness on defense” ought to signify in order to have genuine practical utility. Of course, if the ultimate goal has to do with flagging reasons to monitor a pair more closely, rather than practical evaluative utility, maybe other considerations countervail. Still, it is not as if those with a penchant for skullduggery can be assumed to have access to the double-dummy pars.
Sept. 27
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Sept. 27
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ah ok, sorry I was slow in the head
Sept. 27
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For once in all the time we have exchanged views, I am at a loss to figure out what your rejoinders here are addressed to. My point was simply sharp disagreement with any summary rejection of 3H as a viable option at our first turn. In that light what is the import of your replies? No doubt I am being dense here, and if so my apologies.
Sept. 27
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I have just looked at the link, and fear that I must be missing something, because I cannot find any explanation of how all the percentage figures in each chart were calculated, without which they seem essentially impossible to interpret.

Here is a partial list of the reasons why a potential consumer of these data would need to know HOW the statistics were computed:

(1) What does “effective on defense” (after Trick One) even mean?
(2) If it has to do with “mistakes”, what counts as a mistake? Underachievement versus double-dummy par? Versus other table(s)? Failure to accurately resolve something like a 50/50 guess?
(3) Even if it is somehow satisfactorily determined for a given board that some “mistake” was involved in the sub-optimal result, by what means is it determined WHOSE mistake it was? Just to take one of a possibly innumerable types of issues that would arise in this connection, supposing one player gives a careless signal that suggests a superficially attractive but in fact fatal shift, and the partner goes ahead and does that EVEN THOUGH HE HAD ENOUGH INFORMATION TO SEE THAT COMPLIANCE WITH HIS PARTNER'S SIGNAL WAS QUITE UNLIKELY TO YIELD A SATISFACTORY OUTCOME, whose error is this? If both, how is the blame divided?
(4) How are matters like “difficulty of the deal” taken into account? For example, at one table the opponents' bidding may have given the defenders all of the information they needed to defend successfully without breaking a cerebral sweat, while at the other table the auction was much more hermetic, so that essentially the two pairs on defense were not really solving the same problem. Moreover, one declarer might play the hand deceptively, setting a trap or fostering an illusion that greatly complicated the defense while the other one played less imaginatively. Alternatively one declarer might have made a glaring technical error which none or few of the counterparts managed to find.
(5) It seems overwhelmingly probable that in some cases – and perhaps many, given the current prevailing geist of contesting as many auctions as possible – an apparent “ineffectiveness on defense” would far more accurately be assessed as “ineffectiveness in the auction”. Busy bidders routinely give a lot of information away that can be of immeasurable aid to declarer, and pre-emptors may prevent their partner from making a call that would make the defense much easier (even apart from the opening lead). Of course, timid bidding can also have dire effects on a result.

Certainly I am not saying that the statistics on the linked page are inaccurate, worthless, or any other summary judgment. I am saying that they are exceedingly difficult if not impossible to evaluate without knowing the methodology, which includes all the definitions and decision-criteria, involved in producing them.

Actually, though, I'm saying something else too. The statistics, and the methodology that produces them – whatever it may be – are being flogged as wholly “objective”. But as soon as we get to the point where we have to answer questions like the ones I have highlighted above (which were again the tip of the iceberg) we are almost certainly, at least some of the time, in the realm of what I have called “decision-criteria” above, and that surely involves quite a significant degree of subjectivity.

Come to think of it, the quantity and quality of the ensemble of potential issues that come so readily to mind with respect to the calculation of these figures seems rather reminiscent of the list of problems which render meaningful interpretation of the Butler indices so fraught with peril. These statistics are however claimed to be clearly superior to Butler scores – but there is no way for the consumer even to reach an opinion on that claim if the figures themselves remain opaque.

I for one, and perhaps many others, would eagerly welcome clarification in this regard. Again, I acknowledge that it is very possible that the kinds of explanation I seek were available to me and others and I have just stupidly overlooked them, and if so I apologize for this lengthy appeal.
Sept. 27
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Sept. 27
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Your second paragraph quite properly begins with the partitive indefinite quantifier “a”, because the problem you cite therein – while undeniably pertinent – is just the tip of the “How-&-Why-Butler-Scores-Can-Be-Extremely-Misleading” iceberg. (Richard F is clearly of a similar mind based on his remark above.)
Sept. 27
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Sept. 27
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(1) It is all very well to say “3H was a clear error” when we have a wire on the board that LHO is going to do something relatively innocuous. But if we Pass we might easily lose a double game swing after LHO jumps to 5C, e.g. when partner holds the likes of: KTxxx Axx xxxxx –. Or are we somehow supposed to find 5H in that scenario?

(2) To my mind the club holding here is a factor IN FAVOR OF immediate action – the fewer clubs partner has, the more hearts he rates to hold.

(3) If we Pass on the first round and partner keeps it alive with Double, are we really so well-placed? Neither one of us will have any idea whether the other is stretching, full value, or even holding in a notch in view of the pressure scenario. In particular, partner won't have a clue that our heart suit is this long and entirely self-sustaining – even with quite a good hand, he won't think his Axx is much of a holding after he has re-opened with a takeout Double. And a fortiori is he ever going to bid – or even think about suggesting – a slam, after our Pass, holding: AKxxx xxx Axxxx – ?
Sept. 26
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Sept. 26
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w/o discussion, I would assume that partner would assume that I would assume that 2N is natural, great trick-potential with a bit of help in Hearts, maybe something like: ATx Q Kxx AKTxxx
Sept. 26
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Combination of Heart void and mediocre-at-best defensive values for comfort if/when partner penalty-passes rules out X for me. Wouldn't be thrilled to defend even 3HX, so hardly excited about trying to take more tricks than they do (which is what I expect we will need to do for a good score) when they are at the 2-level in at least an 8-card fit.
Sept. 25
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