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All comments by Phillip Martin
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The argument for Lightner doubles against slams is that it makes no sense to double simply to increase the penalty. The same can't be said for three notrump. Frequently if the normal lead works, it will beat the contract several tricks, so there is a real cost to giving up the penalty double. Of course, it's possible that the gain of being able to ask for an unusual lead outweighs that cost. But I believe the consensus is that it doesn't. The hands where you will want something other than a spade lead after having bid them twice are too infrequent to give up the opportunity of doubling to increase the penalty.
March 10, 2012
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I don't think the distinction between 2S and pass is strength; I think it is hand type. Both are weak, but pass suggests a higher defense-to-offense ratio, and 2S suggests the opposite.
March 8, 2012
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3NT
March 8, 2012
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The link has been corrected. Thanks for pointing it out.
March 5, 2012
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Sorry. Wrong link. I can't seem to edit it, however. The correct link is here: http://www.wuala.com/psmartin186/Gargoyle%20Chronicles%20PBN%20Files/Event%203/Match%204%20-%20Board%207.PBN/
March 5, 2012
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It depends on the alternative. I would not suppress it to bid one notrump (unless I would do so even without the double). But I may well suppress to raise partner's minor.
Feb. 20, 2012
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The ‘show/hide’ toggle is missing in the article editor. How does one input html?
Feb. 1, 2012
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No. Jack shows both the contract and the score at the other table. It doesn't, however, tell you the auction or how the play went. And I don't blame it. With a result like this, I would want to keep the details secret, too.
Jan. 25, 2012
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Partner was willing to defend two clubs but was unwilling to defend two hearts, so he must have good clubs. Since dummy has no source of tricks, a trump lead looks right.
Jan. 22, 2012
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“Difficult” is an underbid. I don't see any way, even double dummy, to hold declarer to nine tricks.
Jan. 18, 2012
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I think the prospects of a defensive ruff are too good to release the spade ace. Finding partner with a singleton club and switching to a club at trick two is one of the likely routes to three tricks.
Jan. 16, 2012
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I'm not sure what the issue is with bidding in front of partner. Partner pre-empted. He's not bidding again. To do so would be a violation of captaincy.
Jan. 16, 2012
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Neither. Sorry. I should have said that. The handviewer shows vulnerability by coloring the compass direction red if that side is vulnerable. But I see now that one can't tell whether no one is vulnerable or whether I simply forgot to specify the vulnerability to the handviewer.
Jan. 12, 2012
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Indeed I should. Now I have to ask myself why I didn't think of that. I suppose it's because my first thought was that I had to guess who had the doubleton. Once I found a play that improved on that, I was happy. Deciding when it's OK to stop thinking is one of the hardest problems in bridge. If we were to encounter this as a problem in a book (“Find a sure trick line for an overtrick, assuming split honors.”), we would solve it. At the table, no one tells you there is a sure trick line, so once we find a line that works much of the time, we often stop looking. I have no clear idea of how to avoid errors like this. I suppose the easiest way to avoid this exact error is to know the combination off the top of your head, which obviously I did not. Now I do. Thanks for alerting me.
Jan. 9, 2012
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I am a notoriously slow player. (See https://sites.google.com/site/psmartinsite/Home/bridge-articles/the-huddle.) And I am slower now than I used to be from lack of practice. This particular hand, however, did not take long, since once you see that leading the queen picks up more holdings than leading low, it's unnecessary to go through the calculations to determine that East is more likely to have a doubleton heart than West. Note that, in the post, I postponed the discussion of that fact until after the hand was over. That's precisely because I didn't work that out during the play of the hand; it's something I thought about afterwards. (Although in rereading the post, I see that perhaps that wasn't clear. I should have omitted the “especially when you consider” phrase.)

I struggle to be honest that way: to discuss only what I actually thought about during the play, saving any additional points until the post mortem. Sometimes I feel guilty in leaving a train of thought incomplete (as in saying “the defense seems well placed at this point,” then moving on without actually verifying that declarer will go down in that position). Typically, bridge articles don't do that, and I have to keep reminding myself that my objective here is different than that of typical bridge articles. As you point out, you seldom have time to analyze a hand fully at the table, so shortcuts like that are necessary, and if I am to represent my thought processes accurately, taking such shortcuts is necessary.

I will say that reconstructing hands is absolutely essential to playing well. This is something Woolsey impressed upon me years ago. You don't need to construct a lot of hands. But if you find yourself saying things like “It looks right to tap declarer,” “It looks right to cut down on ruffs,” or “It looks right to lead diamonds through dummy,” you're being lazy. If the line of play you are about to embark on is truly correct, it shouldn't be hard to construct one specific hand where it is right. Many errors, particularly on defense, would be avoided if players would do just that much. It's difficult at first. But if you are disciplined about doing it, you will find yourself getting faster.
Jan. 9, 2012
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Thanks, Danny. I was about to comment about that auction, but I see you beat me to it. While the examples in the original Cooperative Pass article (https://sites.google.com/site/psmartinsite/Home/bridge-articles/the-cooperative-pass">https://sites.google.com/site/psmartinsite/Home/bridge-articles/the-cooperative-pass) were all at the two-level, I did not mean to imply that the cooperative pass can't occur at the one level. It is simply rarer because of the availability of a one notrump response. But if one notrump, a negative double, and a diamond raise are all inappropriate for one reason or another, I would certainly have no qualms about passing one spade with a moderate hand.
Jan. 6, 2012
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(1) Yes, two notrump in that auction is a puppet to three clubs, presumably with the intention to sign off in a minor or invite with three spades.
(2) The link I supplied above goes into detail about why I play double as take-out and how I handle the subsequent auction. The short answer is: the one-notrump doubler reopens with a doubleton in the bid suit but not with length. If we both have length in the suit they run to, they sometimes escape. I'm willing to give up penalizing them when their trumps are three-three (in which case we may not have a substantial penalty anyway) in order to get the play-or-defend decision correct more often.
(3) The teacher of that class must have been confused. After one notrump and an overcall, penalty doubles were virtually universal well before the invention of lebensohl. The purpose of lebensohl was to allow you to make natural forcing bids. Before lebensohl, it was customary to play all new suits by responder as non-forcing and to use the cue-bid as the only force. Two notrump was natural but a shade lighter than normal. Opener tended to give responder leeway and seldom went on to three. This competitive two notrump had limited usefulness, so giving it up to give responder two ways to bid a suit was a sensible trade-off.
Jan. 2, 2012
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Jess: No, since I play negative doubles after one notrump-overcall (see http://sites.google.com/site/psmartinsite/Home/bridge-articles/countering-notrump-interference">sites.google.com/site/psmartinsite/Home/bridge-articles/countering-notrump-interference), I would play 1N-X-2H-X as negative also. If responder bids over the double, we simply pretend partner opened 1NT, and all the same agreements apply. I'm not sure I understand your statement that playing lebensohl “clarifies that a double would be penalty.” One can play lebensohl and negative doubles or one can play lebensohl and penalty doubles. Lebensohl is perfectly consistent with either agreement.
Jan. 1, 2012
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Yes, I play that lebensohl is on. You essentially have the same problems in this auction as you do if partner opens one notrump and your RHO overcalls with a natural two hearts. While there are some tactical differences (it is desirable to keep opener on lead if possible, for example), I don't think they are sufficient to merit the memory strain of playing different methods. So, whatever my methods are after one notrump–two hearts, I play the same thing here. I also play the same methods after one notrump–penalty double–two hearts by the way. For the same reasons.
Jan. 1, 2012
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Aha! I guessed correctly who this comment from this from. (My email notifications list the comment but not the commenter.)

Yes, your solution is superior to mine. Not only does it allow you to delay your decision about the lie of the heart suit, it avoids the crossruff variation, which fails on best defense if East has the club eight. So why didn't I see that? I suppose it took me so long to think of not ruffing two hearts that I wore myself out, and I gave insufficient thought to the best way to reach my hand. My instinct said to ruff a spade to force East to discard, and I didn't stop to question my instinct.
Dec. 26, 2011
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