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All comments by Stephen Cooper
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Too many bids these days are used for raises. Whether one likes weak or strong jump shifts (and there are some tools that allow you to use both at the same time, while perhaps losing some of the efficacy of the preemptive version), they cover important holes in most systems. Perhaps a weak-jump shift response of 3 to 1 is what is needed? (I suppose this might be available even if you use Bergen raises).

May 23, 2014
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3 is a real tough call to fight. The negative double is one possible call; the only other option is 4, natural and not forcing. However, East must jump to 4 over the double. The actual 3 call could have been made with a minimum hand, and was not forcing.
May 22, 2014
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I think partner is strong enough to bid 4 over your 3. You are not likely to be short in diamonds ( she only has three of them) so those cards are probably useful, and her spade is the ace, normally useful as well. Although her hearts are not great, 2 little is better than it might be.

I come from a school of very strong jump shifts. I might rebid 2!. 3 has merit if the hand does not prove to be a misfit. The void in partner's response is a negative feature and would slow me down a bit.

Your 3 is a good compromise bid.
May 22, 2014
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First note that the final double did not cost that much. I looked at the scores, and -130 would only get you 29%. Had you led a trump, certainly possible on this sequence and with no attractive lead in your hand, the defense might have come to 4 tricks, and you would have had a top. ( , , then heart switch.) The double might have been important if it goes down one and your side could make a part-score.

Your first double was fine. I can understand the 3 bid, but probably 3 is better. I am assuming partner's double suggested support for at least one of the majors, and he could then correct.
May 22, 2014
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Although the default meaning of a raise of 3NT to 4NT should be natural and invitational, that should not apply where 3NT was either completely artificial (as in serious 3NT) or only quasi-natural (as here). The key ingredient is that 3NT has to have described a specific point range, so that the 3NT bidder can evaluate min/max. Since that does not apply to this 3NT, 4NT should clearly be RKCB.
May 11, 2014
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Just thought I might throw this into the mix: Every now and then the decision not to play Strong Jump Shifts comes back to bite you. Gab says:“no special agreements”, but I guess SJS have gone the way of the dinosaur…
May 9, 2014
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Hi Cheryl,

This deal raises a few interesting points. The first question is whether or not West should open the bidding. This looks like a borderline decision to me, and you would find proponents either way.

Let's look at how it might go in each case.

If West starts 1, East responds 1 and West has a fairly automatic 2 rebid. Playing a fairly standard approach, all new suit bids by responder should be forcing for at least one round, so East might continue with a simple 2 bid. However, unless you have some special agreement hat says otherwise, I think a 3 bid would show a game-forcing hand with at least 5/5 in the bid suits. Over either of these bids, West may feel a bit pinched. There is no heart stopper with which to bid no-trump; the clubs cannot be bid a 3rd time;it seems premature to support spades with a singleton, even though it is the ace; so perhaps a diamond raise might be the default bid. East's strong spades are worth bidding again, even without hearing support,so East may now rebid 4. West should be delighted to pass that.

The difficulties that West endures may make West regret opening.

So what if s/he passes initially? East should start with 1. If East/West use the popular “Drury” convention as a passed hand, the natural 2 call is not available, and West must jump to 3, showing something like this: 6+ clubs, with a maximum passed hand. East can continue 3, and now West's options are similar to those describe above.

The key in any sequence is for East to appreciate that this spade suit is good enough to play facing little or no support. Even if you lose 2 trump tricks (opposite, say, a small singleton)game may still make.
May 2, 2014
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For an article on similarities between bridge and poker, read the April Bridge World.
April 7, 2014
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I will also miss Henry. He taught me the following philosophy: When running into someone that you have not seen in a long time (which I would guess happened quite frequently in his travels), never ask open-ended questions that you do not know the answer to, such as “How are you?”. You are inviting an answer such as “My best friend's dog ran off with my wife” and the like. Safer to just say “Nice to see you”.

And it was always nice to see him.
March 29, 2014
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Thanks! Where is your club, Don?
Feb. 7, 2014
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5 as exclusion is a good thought. This is not a convention that the average player knows about. Even if you play it, it has two possible drawbacks ( particularly at matchpoints): You won't know if 7NT might be better, because you are excluding the Club Ace; and you won't know if 7 might be better, because you are not exploring the possible 4-4 fit.
Feb. 7, 2014
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First, missing game that needs a finesse is not so bad, especially when you just have 21 HCP between the two of you. However, the two key features of the hand are known to partner, and not to you. You made a game try. Partner can almost guarantee that there will be no trump losers, since you must have the King or Queen or both, and we can assume opener has the missing card (if we are missing one). But the 4th trump in the East hand is the critical card. It means we have 9 trumps, and is in fact the game-going trick.

If East's hand had been AJT J96 T43 T987, game has a very poor chance, as you will need hearts 3-3
Jan. 31, 2014
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You raise two interesting issues: The opening bid, and the overcall.

As far as the opening bid is concerned, South is in first seat. He has no reason to expect to be defending with partner on lead! Moreover, a 1 bid is not exactly a lead-director - it would also be done with a suit such as Jxx. When the auction takes a more normal course, one wants to be able to make a natural rebid. So the plan is to open 1, intending to rebid 2 over partner's (possible) 1 response.

As to the overcall, I understand your concern about the vulnerability, but there is a limit as to the suit length and hand strength advertised by what is supposed to be a weak jump overcall. A weak jump to the two-level is typically a 6-card suit. There are times when you might have a seven-card suit. I have never seen anybody do it with an eight-card suit, and I would not recommend it. When you add that to the side King and side Void, the hand is too strong.

(How did you get to game? You did not say)

If you start with 2, wouldn't you feel tempted to bid again later in some sequences? In general, your preempt should describe your hand with one bid, and you should not bid again. I would sooner bid 1, and listen to what transpires…
Jan. 31, 2014
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Negative free bids at the four level! There's always something new….
Jan. 30, 2014
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Never comment on a bidding dispute betwen husband and wife :). However, I bid 4. I have played with (the other) Steve Cooper
Jan. 22, 2014
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How do you bid game-forcing 54 hands that are 22 not 31? How do you bid game forcing single-suiters?
Jan. 17, 2014
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I was a little late in submitting my comments but I DID look at this hand. Here is what I wrote:

Most Wests will declare 4S. Some will open 4S, while others might wait a bit before they bid it. One advantage of the direct approach is that it prevents the opposition from finding their profitable sacrifice at 5D. Over a 4S opening, it will probably go all pass. But North can afford to bid 2D, white against red, if West starts with a sound 1S opening. East will make a negative double over that, since his hand is too weak to bid 2H (usually showing at least ten points). That will allow South to raise diamonds as high as he pleases. Although it is not obvious that N/S should save with two balanced hands contain some defensive values, they may well do so if they are convince by West's 4? call. Coupled with the favourable vulnerability, some pairs will save.

Whether they bid or not, the DQ is the obvious opening lead. West should pitch a club. Although in theory he can ruff the third club in dummy, this is a pipe-dream since the defense will have adequate time to switch to a trump and prevent that maneuver. He should then draw trumps, and hope to lose just one club and two hearts, or 2 clubs and one heart. He hopes to have the club King as an entry.

Alternatively, he can use his entry to lead a heart towards the king. This could be necessary. However, it also allows a ruff in some instances. If South has stiff Q or J, they can take 3 hearts, including the ruff. But if the ace of clubs is onside all along, they would make my drawing trumps. This alternate line works when hearts are 2-2 with the ace onside and the club ace is offside.

Hard to say which is better. If there has been bidding, there might be a clue.
Dec. 12, 2013
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Hi John. Just back from Phoenix.

Life in the fast lane? Technical points, for what its worth: What should redouble in the direct seat mean? Playing plain vanilla unencumbered, it means : “Don't even think of running pard, I got it!”. Playing a more subtle advanced (expert?) style, it shows doubt. He should not be doubtful, really, with two heart stops and 2 fitting diamond cards (I know, he would like a 3rd diamond). In the pass-out seat (is this the person you think should redouble?) only a “doubt” type makes sense. Little point in redoubling just for the extra points. So, yes, he should have some doubt. The heart void is scary, the high cards are scant, the suit is short. He has two other places to play. Still, who knows what kind of mountain partner may have? So we do not want to run on our own. Redouble may be a good answer.

As to the lead, one would think that responder's double suggests that opener lead his own suit, not the enemy suit.
Dec. 8, 2013
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Another advantage of using 4 as an ask (instead of 5M) is that there is room below 5M to differentiate between various suit qualities. The worst hand, of course, need not go beyond 4M. But you can use 4 with a void in trumps because you have other answers available to distinguish between one-loser facing a stiff, or one loser facing a void. Some of this suit solidity issue is really just trying to play the odds, of course, as AQJxxxx facing a stiff is not truly one-loser, while adding the ten overcomes all except a 5-0 break (and responder might have the stiff ten?).

Meanwhile, the unsophisticated bidders at the other table (!^%$$) bid the slam with AQJxxxx facing a void, and it made.

‘You've got to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?’



Nov. 27, 2013
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Acrophobia is an extreme or irrational fear of heights.
Nov. 15, 2013
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