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All comments by Phillip Martin
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I'm not sure, as declarer, how confident I would be in ruling out king-jack fifth of hearts and the spade king, partly because I'm not all that consistent myself with such hands. There are days when I wouldn't overcall. (“Partner's a passed hand. We can't outbid them, and one heart doesn't consume much space. So bidding will accomplish nothing other than giving declarer a road map.”) But there are days I would overcall without a second thought. (“Bidding is fun. Why would you ever pass up a chance to bid something?”)
April 30, 2012
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1NT. Ira Rubin insists you should never pass partner's one of a major opening with a singleton or void in his suit, and my own experience confirms his judgment. I once asked him if he thought that rule should still apply if you are playing five-card majors. “It should apply if you're playing SIX-card majors,” he snapped back.
April 29, 2012
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I can hear the argument now. “Of course Smith applies! It may be obvious to someone TWO tables down that it's not Smith. But certainly not to someone THREE tables down.”
April 27, 2012
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True. He would always cover with king third and a doubleton club. But he might choose not to cover with king fourth. So I guess “virtual lock” was an overbid.
April 23, 2012
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Some day, partner will open 1 NT, I will bid 2, and partner will bid 2 with a 3-card suit. When later I ask him why, he will say, “I know I'm supposed to have four hearts, but it seemed like the least misdescriptive call.” I can understand playing a double of 1 as take-out of spades. I can understand playing it shows four hearts. But I don't understand “it shows four hearts 95% of the time.” If it shows four hearts, presumably the purpose of the bid is to locate a four-four heart fit. Why, then, would there be any hand without four hearts for which the bid is appropriate?If you think there is a small class of hands without four hearts where you should double, if, in fact,  it's appropriate to double on a hand where finding partner with four hearts may work out poorly, then obviously finding a four-four heart fit is not the purpose of the bid. I'm not saying that's necessarily the wrong way to play. But if it is the right way to play, then the double must serve some purpose which I haven't heard articulated. It seems to me, then, we've gone about this backwards. First we must decide what purpose the bid serves. Only then can we decide what hands are appropriate.
April 20, 2012
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Yes. I skirted that issue by changing the auction in my question above. But I play any number of diamonds as simply a “raise” of responder's implied diamonds. If responder doesn't have diamonds, he needs a good enough hand to show a preference to clubs a level higher.
April 18, 2012
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I'm curious about something. Let me change the auction to avoid certain side issues. Let's say the opening bid was 1 instead of 1. How do those of you who play that the double promises four hearts play opener's rebid of 3 or 4? For those of us who play the double as showing support for the unbid suits (or a willingness to correct clubs to diamonds), both 3 and 4 are non-forcing limit bids, “raises” of responder's implied club suit. It would seem to me that if you play the double as essentially a replacement for a 1 response, it makes sense to play that all of opener's rebids mean the same thing as they would after a 1 response. Thus 3 would be a forcing jump shift and 4 would be a splinter. Is that your agreement?
April 18, 2012
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I'm not sure what percentage of players would bid. But the fact that responder has a maximum with all working cards and game still isn't cold confirms that it's not a good idea.
April 17, 2012
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xxx Axx Kxxx Qxx.
April 17, 2012
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You had to ask. I was so happy when I was playing this hand that I wasn't playing matchpoints. Now that I've thought about it for the past couple of hours, I suspect you should play it the same way. It's not clear that you gain by playing spades toward your hand again unless East has ace third of spades and you play for it (by playing a third round of spades if East ducks the ace again). If the spade ace is onside but spade are four-two, you may even do worse. The defense can tap you out and take two trump tricks and three club tricks, holding you to two, whereas my line might make three (as it did) by exploiting dummy's ten of spades.
April 9, 2012
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Except that partner knows all those all things as well. He heard you cue-bid, so he should be doubling himself with any excuse. Surely he would double on any hand with a natural trump trick or even a trump holding that will give the opponents some difficulty. I think doubling with this hand shows a lack of respect for partner.

What is the downside of doubling? On this particular hand, playing with this particular partner, the downside of doubling is that they will make it. As I mentioned in the post, I found partner's lead surprising. I probably would have led a trump. If opener had doubled, I'm sure I would have led a trump, because I think the only way declarer could make this is by scoring enough ruffs in dummy. I was curious if Jack agreed with me, so I replayed the deal and doubled. He did, in fact, lead a trump. Apparently, my failure to double persuaded him that we weren't beating this on sheer power, so he decided to go after a club ruff. I'm not saying that double should be lead directing in any intentional sense. But if double is an expression of your confidence in beating them rather than an acknowledgment of your strategic position (“We might have a game, so I want to protect my equity.”), partner might be able to choose his lead more intelligently.
April 2, 2012
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Passing then taking aggressive action is how you show spades and a good hand if that is what you want to do. For example, after 1-P-1-P-2-P-P, you can bid 3 to show a good hand with spades and diamonds (with spades equal or longer). If you aren't balancing, you don't even need to jump. After 1-P-1-P-1N-P-2, for example, 2 shows spades and diamonds. Bidding 2 immediately over 1 is possible but less descriptive than the trap and re-enter auction. It might also be better spades and a worse hand. A weak two-bid in spades is more typical for that auction. Passing does, of course, run the risk that opener has psyched. You might not get another chance.
March 29, 2012
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One heart. Until I read the comments, I assumed the issue was whether to double or bid 1, since I don't think pass is even an option. I'm not even sure what the passers are afraid of. If partner has heart support, I'm certainly happy to play at whatever level he wants to raise me to. And if he doesn't, it must be better to bid now and find that out than to risk a balance later on. In short, 1 gains in two scenarios: (1) we have a heart fit, and (2) we don't have a heart fit. In all other scenarios, it's a loser.
March 26, 2012
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I don't understand the “at least two cards” requirement. Unless you have game-going values, I don't know why you would want to act with a balanced hand with more than two cards in the opponents suit. The ability to sell out and go plus when each of you has three cards in the opponents suit is one of the prime benefits of this method. And, no, I don't require four cards in an unbid major. The only gain I can see from that requirement is that it allows partner to bid a three-card major. That seems like a dubious gain, since you are playing a 4-3 fit with shortness in the wrong hand. And the downside is severe. If the opponents overcall 2, for example, I want to be able to double with 3-2-4-4 to reach a minor-suit fit or a 4-3 spade fit with shortness in the right hand.
March 26, 2012
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I would not have bid 3 with partner's hand, although he obviously did the right thing. 3 is where you belong, and responder can't act in balancing seat. This is a good hand for Kit's two-card double. Opener can double, showing a desire to compete with precisely two hearts. Responder bids two notrump (diamonds with club tolerance), and opener bids three clubs.
March 25, 2012
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I disagree that three clubs shows extra values. If partner has six clubs, he should compete. He can't leave it up to responder to compete when he is the one with the long suit. If opener has any interest in reaching game, he can bid an offshape two notrump. So three clubs should be intended as a signoff.
March 25, 2012
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(1) Do you play negative doubles with both weak and strong 1NT openers? Yes. Somewhat count-intuitively, my experience has been that the requirement for opener to reopen with a doubleton in the bid suit causes fewer problems playing weak notrumps than it does playing strong notrumps. Perhaps this is because after a weak notrump and an overcall, if responder is broke, advancer will typically act, taking opener off the hook.

(2) Do you know if has the same discipline as you describe? I don't know.

(3) Is the 8 HCP the minimum? The minimum is whatever ensures your having 22 HCP combined. Over a 15-17 NT, then, the minimum is 7 HCP. There is no maximum.

(4) You mentioned that the 2-card rule doesn't apply at the 3-level. Do you ever deviate from the 2-card rule at the 2-level? And if you did, would you be more likely to neg-X with 1-card or pass partner's neg-X with 3-card? I can't imagine passing the double at the two-level with three cards. As responder, I might double with a 4-4-4-1 if I had extra high cards so that I wouldn't mind if partner passed.

(5) Do you combine negative doubles with lebensohl or Transfer lebensohl? I have done both.

(6) re you aware of other articles on negative doubles in this situation? No.
March 24, 2012
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I was going to link to my article on this very subject, but I see Jeff beat me to it. I would not call them cooperative doubles, however. I would call them negative. A cooperative double, to my mind, shows moderate trump length; partner is expected to pull with shortness. The doubles I discuss in the article typically show a balanced hand with a doubleton in the doubled suit; partner passes only with a stack. That seems like a pretty classic negative double to me.
March 24, 2012
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I agree. “Take-out” can mean take-out of diamonds, take-out of spades, or a two suited take-out. I play it as take-out of diamonds, which allows partner to pass it with some frequency.
March 21, 2012
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With a spade-diamond two-suiter, you probably would have bid on the previous round. Doubles like this I think are best played as a 3-suited “take-out double” of partner's suit. It says, in essence, “bid a second suit if you have one; pass if you don't.”
March 21, 2012
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