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All comments by Steve Bloom
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OK. Let's suppose that every artificial bid was alerted, and every natural bid was not alerted. Remember when bridge was that simple?

One club would be alerted, but they knew what that meant. One spade, and two hearts were natural, and not alerted. Every bid starting with four clubs was alerted, until the final call, six hearts, which was not alerted.

So, a player asks, before the final pass: (1) Please explain the alert to four clubs? (2) OK, please explain the alert to four diamonds. And so on. How would any of this violate the laws.

Unfortunately, given the sorry state of the laws today, we aren't allowed to know if any bids past 3NT should be alerted. So the lawmakers have forced us to ask about every one of those bids. It is a huge waste of time, but foisted on us. Again, tell me how these questions violate the laws.
Feb. 12
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How could they know better?

Four clubs could be natural, some big 2-suiter. More likely, four clubs is artificial. I would guess shortness, but it could have been some form of ace-asking.

Of course, if it is anything except natural, it should be alerted. No, wait! Stupid legislators have decided that certain bids, like four clubs, can't be alerted.

I play Precision, and have no idea what this bid means. For us, it is natural. So I don't know any better, and I would ask. I would either ask when the bid occurred, or I would ask at the end of the auction.

This player waited until the end of the auction. How is this wrong?

Experienced players know enough to ask consistently - always ask when a stupid (laws say I can't alert but I should) bid is made, or always ask at some specific point, like the end of the auction. Unless someone has evidence that this particular player asked only this one time, then there is no issue here.
Feb. 12
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Curious. How do they uppercut me after two rounds of trumps?
Feb. 12
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Heart ace, king, then spade ruff back. If trumps aren't up, and the spade queen hasn't dropped, club finesse.

Trumps rate to be 2-2. West, looking at a sure trump trick, would cash the diamond king. East, looking at a potential trump trick like Qxx, would force dummy. Either player might hold Jxx and not realize that this was a possible trump trick, but that means Restricted Choice is not so applicable.

I don't understand the four heart call. Was the opening artificial? Four hearts makes more sense if the opening was, say, balanced or strong.
Feb. 11
Steve Bloom edited this comment Feb. 11
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And on this auction, I am a passed hand. I can't imagine any hand where I would want to make a game try over a balance, yet I would want to pass over two hearts.
Feb. 10
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You write, on p. 7, “Partner's order of spade plays is suit-preference. However, this does not negate his play at trick 1 of the 8 of diamonds. That is definitely partner's highest diamond spot. If partner didn't have the king of hearts, it is inconceivable that he would have played the 8 of diamonds. All partner's order of trumps says is that he also has the jack of clubs.”

That seems like nonsense to me. What was partner supposed to play, at trick one, with Q8 doubleton in diamonds and no king of hearts? The eight of diamonds was a signal only if partner started with three or four diamonds. On this auction, declarer could easily hold five diamonds.

Given that, I think East made a bad choice playing trumps low-high. East must announce the heart king entry.

This is a common error. You make a signal that you think is clear to partner, and so try to show something subtle with your next signal. When, often, your first signal is not so clear to partner.

West ducked the first round of trumps to get a signal, and to clarify the meaning of the diamond eight. So, show the heart king. You can try to announce the club jack later on.
Feb. 3
Steve Bloom edited this comment Feb. 3
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And how is North supposed to describe this hand after South (or East) bids 3 over the silly 2 response?

The correct response, for North, is 3. And a coach can spend some time explaining why three clubs rates to work out better than two spades. But that is subtle, and I wouldn't worry too much about a junior choosing a two spade response.

Taking the bids in order: Pass is fine. Opening 1 is also acceptable. Either might work out better on one particular hand.
2 is fine. Again, opening one heart might make the auction easier, or might make it harder. No choice is 100%.
2 is probably wrong, but, as I said, explaining why one should bid a 5-5 hand backwards, showing clubs first, is subtle. I wouldn't sweat it much.
3 is automatic.
4 is a bit too conservative. Two aces should make some sort of slam try. Usually two aces will force to a slam facing a 2 opening. Four clubs, followed by five hearts, seems about right.
4NT is wrong, and this is a good spot for a coach. After a positive response, seven rates to be decent facing the trump ace. What would 5NT mean? Coach should spend some time discussing when 5NT is pick-a-slam and when, if ever, 5NT asks. How about four spades? Is that passable (no!, but needs discussion). However, 4NT, given the lack of real discussion, was not a bad punt.
Feb. 1
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I don't mind passing two diamonds. The choice is close. Two diamonds rates to be an easier plus than, say, two notrump, if partner moves again.

However, if I did preference to two spades, and partner raised, I'd bid a game. In essence, this is how the auction went, so South should bid four spades.
Jan. 31
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Partner is, mostly, captain. 3NT could be based on power, or tricks, or simply a gambling psyche. Pass is not forcing. 4NT suggests a hand where I hope I make it, and double shows a hand where I hope to win four tricks on defense.

But most of the time, I pass and leave it up to my Captain.
Jan. 31
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I rather suspect that the problems described are entirely, and I mean entirely, due to District 3 management.

The district is quite long, extending all the way to the northern portions of New York, yet they hold the GN finals in New Jersey every year. This means some members must drive 7 hours, one way, to the site. Even worse, the event is held over two weekends, so there are two such ridiculous drives.

For years, we insisted that the site be rotated around the district. And, for a while, it was rotated. Then it found a permanent home in New Jersey. And we stopped attending.

This is also a district the eliminated knockouts from their regionals. Guess what - we stopped attending District 3 regionals. Only one D3 regional has KO's, and that was held in a beautiful tourist area. Last year, they moved it to a horrible location, and we heard hundreds of complaints from those attending. Lots of “worst place I've ever stayed. No way will I come back here next year.” So, of course, the board chose that site for this coming year.

D25 does a lot right. D3 does almost nothing right.

Bridge, like almost any business, needs customers. When you abuse your customers, they go elsewhere.
Jan. 31
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Seriously? How do you make four spades if South's minor suits are reversed? Is South supposed to know that Qxxx in diamonds is golden, but Qxxx in clubs worthless?

North bid the hand perfectly. South fell asleep.
Jan. 30
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The seven and eight don't matter. A1092 facing 43 will score a second trick if two honors third are onside.

However (see Richard's comment below), with the spade seven and eight, declarer may misguess - playing East for honor-eight doubleton.
Jan. 30
Steve Bloom edited this comment Jan. 30
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Option 1: Short suit tries. Fairly effective, but give up on finding a second strain - after 1M 2M, we sometimes belong in the other major.

Option 2: Two-way game tries, using a relay to show one type, bidding directly with the other. Also reasonably effective, but loses the natural 2NT try. That is a big loss, since 3NT is quite often the best game, even after a raise.

Option 3: Standard (long(?) suit tries). This leaves you sort of stuck when you have a perfect short suit try. However, it is pretty standard to bid the lowest of side suits with a short suit try, trusting partner to punt back with concentration in an in-between suit.

I prefer option 3, which means that my long suit game tries, particularly in a lower suit, might not be perfect.
Jan. 28
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I see two lines, assuming spades are 4-3.

(1) Try to cash three spades, one club, one diamond, and trump three clubs on the table.

(2) Set up diamonds. Diamond ace, diamond ruff high, spade to king, diamond ruff high. If diamonds are up, high trump, trump eight to the nine. I make unless East started with 10xxx in trumps. If diamonds are not up, I'll need hearts 3-2 with the ten onside.

(1) looks better. So, spade king, club ace, spade queen, club ruff low, diamond ace, diamond ruff with the eight, club ruff with the nine. If that lives, I can ruff one more club with the jack - twelve tricks.

No attempt at all to take thirteen.
Jan. 27
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Queen loses the contract if East started with J98x (against singleton king). I see no advantage over ace, low.

But, if we have some interior spot cards in clubs, then queen would gain over ace is some cases (maybe singleton nine or eight on our left). Ace is the right first play in the suit with AQ2 facing 106543, but queen is better with AQ7 facing 106432.
Jan. 26
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Looks like you go down if East started with a hand like AJ10xxxxx x x Jxx.

I'll play club ace, low club. That picks up every holding except KJxx onside.
Jan. 25
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The comment has become unauthorized information, and the 4NT bidder must continue as if partner held only two aces.

So, first question: How many aces did the 4NT bidder hold?

If one, then 6NT is normal. Perhaps seven would be cold facing three aces, but bidding seven is not allowed.

If zero, they are likely out of luck, and forced to a slam anyway, unless spades rates to be a playable contract. So the table result stands unless the 4NT bidder has zero aces, and reason to believe that five spades would make. Then five spades becomes the final contract.

One other consideration: With some hands, the bidder might prefer to play the “safer” minor suit slam missing one ace, but feel a notrump slam would score better missing no aces. So, in some variants, the score should be adjusted to six of a minor. If that were possible, then you need a poll to see if playing in six of a minor was a logical alternative.
Jan. 24
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As others have said, the double squeeze has no real chance - East has the heart ace. So there are no real options. However, there is no hurry to cash the clubs. E-W don't know our shape, and certainly don't know that we have five spades. The squeeze will work by running diamonds, discarding one spade, one club, and the heart jack, and then cashing the clubs. If we run diamonds first, and discard the spade last, West, holding four spades, may also pitch a spade.

Indeed, the robots almost always go wrong on hands like this, if you don't show them your intentions early.
Jan. 24
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Thanks. That makes sense.
Jan. 23
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I am curious why you say we may be forced to game if partner has hearts. Can't I pass the four step response of 3?
Jan. 23
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