Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Mike Doecke
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Partner can have a lot of things for the pass and then double, but I suspect they likely have sharp values including something in hearts.

The kind of hand to pull would be something like: QJTxxxx Ax QJx x where 5C could be making and 5S is likely to be cheap.
April 8, 2019
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Making a poor or even potentially incorrect claim doesn't mean that you automatically lose all your rights.

If declarer had stated a line e.g.“crossruffing” then the rules cover the 2 card ending with an outstanding trump very clearly:

“C. There Is an Outstanding Trump
When a trump remains in one of the opponents’ hands, the Director shall award a trick or tricks to the opponents if:

1. claimer made no statement about that trump, and
2. it is at all likely that claimer at the time of his claim was unaware that a trump remained in an opponent’s hand, and
3. a trick could be lost to that trump by any normal(*) line of play.

A expert declarer who hasn't drawn any trumps isn't unaware that trumps likely remain and I think it would be ”normal" for any
declarer to cash the last trump before trying a plain suit winner.
April 8, 2019
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<misplaced>
April 8, 2019
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The cross-ruff line does work on the actual layout, when East over-ruffs and returns a club declarer's hand is high.
April 8, 2019
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I've often retold a story from many years ago when I was playing in the MTG World Championships.

I “claimed” in a position very similar to this bridge hand. MTG obviously isn't the same as bridge, but I had a short series of completely logical plays that resulted in me winning. I was going to win. My opponent knew I was going to win.

He could've asked me to clarify my line, but instead he called for a judge's ruling directly.

It turned out that my opponent had a past history of unsportsmanlike conduct and intentionally trying to gain an advantage in similar situations. As a result his request was upgraded directly to the head judge (tournament director).

Unencumbered by specific rules about how this kind of situation was handled, the judge not only upheld my claim but also ruled that my opponent was being intentionally unsportsmanlike. He was also awarded a match loss (MTG is typically best of 3).

Feels like a pretty good change to the rules of bridge…
April 6, 2019
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I'm abstaining, because I don't think the system or auction makes sense.

I can't imagine bidding 2D on the East hand, pass looks auto. If partner shows a 3C limit-raise, I'll bash 4H and hope that concealing the diamonds makes it tougher to defend.

After opener bids 2D to show a minimum distributional hand with Hearts and Diamonds, why is responder not just placing the contract?

In any sensible method, responder's 2H should be ‘TO PLAY’.

Either a limit raise that didn't improve in light of the 2D bid or one of the awkward hands similar to the one that Chris mentioned - a minimum 4225 or 5215 for example.
April 4, 2019
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I'm curious if there is any precedent for the idea that you're required to play partner for a mechanical error in a UI situation where they make an otherwise impossible bid?
April 2, 2019
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I think North is allowed to recognize 3S as an extremely unlikely choice over his intended Kokish relay. I don't have a problem with any of North's choices.

However, if the director polled players about their choice over the 6D bid - even assuming it was systemically suggesting a contract - I think they would all correct to 6H.

The 9 card fit rates to be safer, deep heart losers aren't going anywhere in 6D, and in a normal looking contract, 6H scores an extra 2 IMPs.

If South had splintered on an offbeat hand - perhaps a 1345 - or even a 1444 with chunky diamonds, passing 6D would be reasonable.

If none of the polled player's passed 6D, then I think it is reasonable to assume that the BIT did mean something *to this particular pair* and adjust the score to 6H.
April 1, 2019
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Thanks for the responses!

I was the South on this hand and doubled holding AJx Tx Q8xxx Kxx.

My double was based on table feel, the opponents' tempo and my own tendency to stretch bidding 3NT in this spot. I never even considered that it might ask for a spade lead through declarer's 6 card suit! However, the consensus pretty strongly disagrees with me!

At the table (and despite the fact that both opponents had super-max hands for the auction), any club lead scored +500.

The D9 was also winning because it would enable me to find the club switch for the same +500.

The contract is still double dummy beatable after a spade or a heart but in practice a diamond switch leads to -850.
March 14, 2019
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You phrased the description of the pass in a weird way in your OP. That isn't the way much of the world plays pass, although it does make sense at favourable.

Assuming that partner also knows what North's pass means (but you haven't discussed 2NT) then the correct answer obviously depends heavily on partnership style.

3 feels like the best option but might be ambiguous.
March 7, 2019
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What does North's pass of the double show?
March 7, 2019
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My opinion is not to overthink it.

If you legitimately believe that an action is clear-cut and that there is no alternative, you should take the action even if it is indicated by the UI. Call the director on yourself if you think others might do something different and if you suffer a negative adjustment then so be it.

I think some people modify their decisions based on UI for the wrong reason. There is often a legitimate logical alternative that isn't suggested by the UI, and in that case you should certainly take it. However, taking a ‘safe’ alternative that you would never realistically have chosen without the UI is just a way of protecting yourself from a poor result.

Maintaining a high level of ethics shouldn't be about proving yourself to others. In situations like this if you take a liberal view of what constitutes a logical alternative and are true to yourself then you will never have a problem!
Dec. 6, 2018
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My gut instinct is that it might be better to win the spade in hand and play a diamond towards the king right away.

There are definitely associated risks, but really like the fact that it conceals your trump and diamonds holdings. Starting diamonds immediately also retains flexibility on a hand where the defenders could easily go wrong!
Nov. 20, 2018
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I think partner is showing a strong 4S raise (probably balanced or semi-balanced) with diamond values. On this hand we've got an automatic 4 bid and will know to hit 5 if they take the sacrifice.
Nov. 4, 2018
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I was curious about this myself a couple of years ago. To try and find an answer, I looked over the NT defensive methods of top pairs in the world. My criteria was something like Bermuda Bowl T8, US Nats T4 and European Champs T4.

Although a variety of methods were used, almost every pair (~90-95%) used 2 to show Both Majors. That was enough to convince me!
Nov. 3, 2018
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You will definitely find out, but when the club king doesn't hold the trick, know which suit you should've led isn't going to do you much good.
Oct. 26, 2018
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Pass is definitely a logical alternative for me.

4S is super wide ranging on this auction (maybe 3-15 HCP?) and the opponents could easily be cold for slam.
Aug. 11, 2018
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“Always cover the 6 with the 9” might be a bit tough to sell.

Matt bumped into the declarer today and mentioned the hand again. Maksymilian's first comment was that he regretted his misplay! He should've led the S4 to the S7 - can't afford to waste that S6…
Aug. 10, 2018
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I played 2NT as a puppet to 3C for a while but felt that it was only effective against weaker opponents that hadn't discussed a defense.

To counter Kit's main point, the frequency of a G/F 2-suiter is low. This is especially true when the 4th seat holds a strong hand. When 4th hand holds a weaker hand, they can often pass and hope to act again in the balancing seat once responder has confirmed a preemptive hand.

A simple but effective defensive method to (2C)- P - (2NT*) is:

Pass and then double = Weakish takeout. Avoiding danger vs the strong option.

Double = 15+ balanced (X then pass) OR Strong takeout 13/14+ (X then X) OR ANY very strong hand (X then bid). Note that 15-16 balanced with club length is very awkward after (2C)-P-(3C)-??? because you're forced to commit to 3NT opposite a potential bust.

3C = 5+/5+ majors. Can be very weak, especially with 6/5. Letting the opponents in on these hands is a significant downside of the method.

3D/3H/3S = Strongish/Constructive single-suiter, encouraging partner to bid 3NT.

Pass then 3D/3H/3S = Weak/Distributional single-suiter. Again, allowing these hands to get into the bidding is a serious disadvantage of the method.

3NT = Not 15+ Balanced (else start double). Knowing the 3NT bid is usually based on a long suit rather than a flexible hand is another advantage to the defenders.

Once you consider how you would show each of these hands over a 2NT puppet and a direct 3C preempt, I think it's pretty clear that the 3C preempt is superior.

However unless East took a very aggressive view, any preempt is likely to keep EW out of game on this deal!
Aug. 4, 2018
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Long time reader, infrequent contributor but still loving your column. Many thanks for writing it!

It's especially refreshing to hear from a top level player that is willing to share some failures along with the triumphs.

Re: this hand, I'm an experienced strong club theory-crafter and can appreciate the issue of dealing with strong 4441s. However, 4D on 13+ committing to 4NT+ is just too unsound for me. This is especially true if you tactically upgrade the appropriate 14/15 counts (which I think is a big winner for the reasons you mention in this article).

4441 hands often get treated in a special way by strong club systems, but not for the right reasons. They don't play particularly well, but they're often awkward to fit into the rest of the system.

I explored this situation a while ago via a dealing simulator and came to a simple conclusion. When you have a strong hand with a shortage opposite a strong club, partner is overwhelmingly likely to hold a minimum hand with length and strength in your shortage.

Getting to 4NT/5H/5S rather than 3NT/4H/4S on misfit hands might not cost you a ton of EV each time, but if you consider the frequency of the loss, I think you'd be convinced to change the method.
Aug. 4, 2018
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