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All comments by Zygmunt Marcinski
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Stephen,
May I suggest that your inquiry is incomplete and indeed impossible without first being broadened to survey Opener's first rebid:
(A) if he were to double 3, how should that be interpreted?
(B) given the interpretation in (A), (i) should Opener Pass or (ii) double? (Opener's other rebid choices are likely less controversial or pertinent)
Only if you were first armed with an understanding of the implications of Opener's Pass can you hope to tackle the questions you raise concerning Responder's first rebid and thereafter.

My view:
(A) extra high cards, defensive orientation, no other bid, confirms our side's balance of power
(B) I would X without hesitation, establishing a forcing pass
Once a forcing pass has been established, there are different approaches for the remainder of the auction. I will leave to others to weigh in on that.

As a final observation, the questions you posed would have been more appropriate had East opted for a straightforward 3 preempt instead of the “clever” 3 bid, robbing South of the luxury of the Double vs Pass nuance.
April 30
Zygmunt Marcinski edited this comment April 30
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Your initial comment left me in no doubt that both example sequences were game-forcing (and I fully endorse the reasoning in your clarification). What I had been querying however was what in your view and methods was the message that Responder was trying to convey in the 6 respective sequences:
(A1) 3H directly followed by something, versus
(A2) X followed by 3S over Opener's 3H
(B1) 4C directly followed by something, versus
(B2) X followed by 4D over Opener's 3H
(C1) 3D directly followed by a 4H rebid, versus
(C2) X followed by 4H over Opener's 3S

I have my own thoughts on the nuances that I think is appropriate to draw between Responder's foregoing choices, and was simply trying to establish if your “preferred methods” (which appear to be similar to my own “preferred methods” over a 0+ 1 limited opening bid, hence my particular interest) were of the same view.
March 1
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David,

In the context of your “preferred methods” to agree as you describe “DBL followed by a new suit is GF” strikes me as eminently sensible….

I'm curious however as to the suit/shape/strength implications of your “preferred methods” Responder's choice between the following two sequences:
(A) 1 - (3) - say 3 - (P) // say 3 (presumably NF) - (P) - 3 or 4 (in your 2+ methods 's is a “new suit” I presume?) or even 4 for that matter
(B) 1 - (3) - X (P) // say 3 (presumably NF) - (P) - 3 or 4
March 1
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Barry,

Thanks for sharing on BW.

With the benefit of East's count cards in both 's and 's as well as the sight of Dummy's 's, it would have been no cost for West to elegantly hold East's hand on defence by dropping the T under the K. Of course, had East and West swapped their lesser honours resort to this unblocking tactic would have been de rigueur.

I confess that the ruff-sluff in lieu of the return is superficially counter-intuitive. However, since both the distribution is known and the existence of a tenace in the unseen hands inferred with near certainty, the ruff-sluff indeed cannot lose and might gain (as it does here) and hence constitutes an excellent object lesson in the advantages of remaining alert and combatting instinctive superficial analysis.

Turning to the auction, would you castigate South for his choice of 4 in lieu of the unbeatable 3NT? I hope that I'm not indulging in hindsight and “resulting” when I say that in the cold light of day I would have only little sympathy for South's choice (possession of the T is the clincher for me), though it strikes me as an impulsively rash decision that we've all made all too often in the heat of battle.

Hope you can find some time to enjoy the beach!
Feb. 27
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@ Marshall: That's interesting….I suppose that with less dramatic distribution yet enough strength to feel compelled to compete, (say) 5=3=2=3 and 11+ HCPs, again you would double? I suppose that Opener might be counted upon to divine what you have on the basis both of his own hand's distribution and a (not altogether naive at these colours) assumption that the opponents are acting prosaically (i.e. that their trump count in certain)….

With respect, I'm not convinced. Doubling with 5=0=3=5 and probably 5=x=Hx=5 is something that would stick in my throat and in my judgment is far too high a sacrifice to lay (now there is a proper use of that verb) down on the altar of the certainty you profess that 4 delivers 6. I would argue instead that absent more science on the first round of bidding 4 has to be GF+, show 10+ black cards (if only 10 and 55 then either void or at most x in 's) and thus encompass certain 55 types, most 64 where any other alternative is presumptuously unpalatable for one reason or another, and your certainly “implied” 65 unicorn.

Your downthread focus on “risk/reward” in assessing the merits of 4 is entirely on point - though since I don't buy into your apparent premise that 4 would promise 6 in my view you implicitly overstate the chances that we'll land in 4 with confidence.

Your downthread allusion was most apt to describe the dilemma facing Responder - though since the void causes me to categorically preclude X as one of the spectres before me, to my eye I make “Scylla” 3 pessimistically limiting the hand and perhaps burying 's and make “Charybdis” 4 optimistically game-forcing with no assurance that caught in the eddies of its aftermath we'll sort out both strain and level. At these colours, I concur with your risk:reward conclusion to chance 4 as the downside of over-bidding won't be that expensive even if the opponents wield the axe. But had the vulnerability been reversed then that would truly have been a nightmare for all mortals save Odysseus (and I confess that my inclination would have been to chicken out with 3). So would argue that the choice should be resolved with an eye not to form of scoring (MP's vs. IMPs) as you suggest but instead to prevailing vulnerability (FAV vs. UNFAV ….. and my mood at equal).
Jan. 10
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So the poor rodent facing you holds a not surprising (on this auction) though admittedly pessimistic T Kxx AJxxxx Kxx , applies the principle of “when in doubt, assume F” and has his choice of poison of getting your side even further overboard.

I suggest, as you imply, that absent a more sophisticated menu of weaponry on the first round of bidding then it is impractical to play as NF the introduction of an unbid suit at a higher level. If so, therein lies the conundrum posed by the OP: (i) Pass from fear of a misstep? (ii) X yet hiding 6th while holding at best 2 tricks and not enough trumps; (iii) 3S limiting the hand and showing a 6th yet overstating the 's and hiding the 5C's and arguably understating the hand's offensive potential ; (iv) plunging ahead with 4, with no certainty that it will help us sort out either strain or level. I applaud the OP for identifying an excellent and thorny problem.

P.S. do please explain how 4 so assuredly “slays the ghost” of 5=0=3=5 or 5=x=2=5.
Jan. 10
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“Implies six spades”

Convenient if it were true….but might you elaborate (A) on the basis of your foregoing assertion and in particular (B) how else would you propose bidding with 55 or 56 (in each case holding extreme shortness)?

I also note that to date none of the 4 proponents tackles the question of whether it is NF or F - or is it your implicit view that it is NF, once again arguably all too conveniently for the actual hand in question?

Respectfully yours.
Jan. 10
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Deleted (misread) with apologies
Oct. 29, 2019
Zygmunt Marcinski edited this comment Oct. 29, 2019
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Michael R: LOL ….. thank you for stating my case so effectively …. after all, even you will find it a tall task to successfully reconcile your two following statements:
(A) “(…) the PRESUMPTION should be that 3 says nothing about values” (emphasis mine)
(B) “(…) I don't see how my conclusion was PRESUMPTUOUS” (emphasis mine again)?

On a more sober note, I concur with your other remarks and in particular the case for distinguishing possible shades of meaning depending on the possible upper limit of the “scrambling” side's combined playing strength - though I suggest that this can be realistically contemplated only by the most dedicated of partnerships.

Phil C: In view of your above elaboration that 2N followed 3 would have shown “goodish” values, if that were an unequivocal understanding (in this regard see Michael R's entirely a propos admonition) then (A) 2N rather than 3 would have been my choice of action by Responder and (B) surely the debate as to the proper interpretation of Opener's 4 on the given auction is simplified given Opener's knowledge of both Responder's minimal strength and considerable distributional inference (< 4, > 2-card length disparity between 's and 's)? On the actual hand, Opener should simply compete with 4 - but had Responder evaluated his hand as “goodish” (to borrow your parlance) then he could content himself with a straightforward 5. What then might Opener's 4 mean on the actual auction? I submit that (A) it should be assumed to be a choice of 5m games (it should be abundantly clear to both Responder and Opener that 4 is out of the picture) with say a 3=0=3=7 just short of opening 2 that has inadequate 's to make a direct 3 stopper-ask yet has a high offence:defence ratio that persuades him to shoot for 5m rather than settle for (or risk?) belting the opponents in 3, though (B) if Opener converts to 5 it becomes a try for 6. An example of (A) may be say AKx / - / AKx / KJTxxxx (and I concede that offering a choice of games on this hand is questionable). If Opener had little interest in 's (say 4=0=2=7) then he can volunteer 4 or even take a stab with 5 (though this strikes me as very likely unjustifiably undisciplined given his failure to open 2)
Oct. 15, 2019
Zygmunt Marcinski edited this comment Oct. 15, 2019
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Michael R: “If 2N is defined as a scramble, then 3 shows zero values.”

In the absence of OP elaborating on his partnership's agreed distinction (usually about strength) if any between (A) 3 directly over X versus (B) scrambling 2N followed by a 3 correction, your conclusion is presumptuous. As it would be inappropriate to hijack this thread for a discussion of the relative merits of the possible alternative interpretations of this distinction, I will simply observe that there are at least some top-flight partnerships (i.e. 2019 Bermuda Bowl entrants) whose agreements (as I understand them) provide that (A) promises constructive values (and hence on this auction “real” 's as well) whereas (B) would deny same.
Oct. 15, 2019
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If anything, the foregoing plaudits are inadequate. Congratulations on an outstanding career and best wishes for a happy and long retirement Matt. I am left with the hope of having the pleasure of crossing swords with you (perhaps with Duncan?) at the bridge table should it now beckon to you as a player.
July 28, 2019
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The second place team included another though former Montrealer, Nick Gartaganis: a formidable and always resourceful adversary who oozes from every pore both irreproachable manners and unimpeachable ethics.
May 11, 2019
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RR,

I regret that your eloquent remarks do not in the least succeed in dissuading me from holding fast to my position that 4 is a decidedly inferior rebid vis-a-vis 5. Having pummelled each other with arguments defending our respective views, without any noticeable dent in each other's convictions, shall we call an armistice?

I thank you for this liberal exchange of ideas in that it sowed sufficient seeds of doubt to lead me to interrogate my regular partner and to my relief he immediately and unequivocally interpreted Advancer's 3 as I did - without any leading remarks from me to bias him. The cherry on the icing was that he also concurred that overcaller's indicated rebid was indeed 5.

Respectfully yours, ZM
April 17, 2019
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RR - multiple: see my remarks upthread
April 16, 2019
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RR,

The only argument in favour of a 4 in lieu of 5 rebid by the 2NT overcaller is uncertainty (aka lack of trust?) over the intended meaning of the 3 advance.

I have already argued downthread that anything other than the “what's in front of my nose” (at least, if I'm certain that 3 delivers support and appropriate values) 5 unnecessarily courts a mishap. There can be many pitfalls lurking beneath the purported “safety” of 4 - for example: (i) LHO is “listening” and may make a more effective/damaging opening lead, (ii) RHO will have a better chance to defend effectively if he knows that I hold 3+'s, (iii) it leaves room for an imaginative LHO to essay 4 on a freakish Yarborough 6=6=1=0 or the like (after all, he presumably can't have a major 1-suiter that passed over 2N); (iv) holding (say) 2=4=5=2 with plausible values (say xx / AJxx / Jxxxx / Ax might well rebid 5 getting us to a far worse spot than 5); and (v) the needless stress of figuring out what 4 is showing when I have eschewed the “what's in front of my nose” 5 erodes partnership confidence.

With due respect for your often sage views, 4 is not at all my cup of tea.
April 16, 2019
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RR - my remarks were predicated on what I believed to be a near certainty that a passed hand 3 advance must be based on support and adequate values - yet the remarks of the preponderance of posters to date suggest that in holding so I am in a distinct minority. If I were no longer armed by what I had thought was the ironclad assurance of primary support facing me, then I concur with your foregoing remarks as to both Scenarios 1 and 2. Fortunately, in all of my serious partnerships I would have complete confidence of finding sufficient support and values to warrant the bump in final contract from 3 to 3N/4/higher.
April 16, 2019
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RR - certainly Advancer can have your example hand IF his partnership style precludes a 1st/2nd seat preempt without hand pattern and value location (FWIW, I confess that I subscribe to such a style, and so facing myself the example you lay out would be a possibility). Having said that, (A) even if one were to cater to your example hand then isn't it it at least somewhat presumptuous for Advancer to assume that bidding 3 will lead to an improved contract over 3? - particularly if you are suggesting that Advancer's 3 is NF?; and (B) if indeed you are suggesting 3 is NF, then how else would you propose that Advancer bid when he has a fit without a biddable 5M, other than a guess between the blunt instrument of 3N or a 4/5 stab, neither of which permits any exploration of 4M?

So I say that it's a matter of percentages that a partnership needs to discuss and agree on: (1) with your example hand I grit my teeth and bid 3, knowing full well that we may have missed a better spot yet knowing that such risk is a very narrow target; (B) all “one-suited” advances by a passed hand show sufficient values and fit for overcaller's suit to justify the increase in level should the exploration bear no fruit and overcaller or our side retreats to the safety of cheapest level available in overcaller's suit; and (C) an passed hand advance in the “other” minor (here 3) is presumed to be natural but is suspect to leave room to identify an M fit where Advancer cannot bid 3M otherwise without overstating his M length/quality (to take an admittedly extreme example, how about e.g. JTxxx / Axxx / xx / Kx? Not convinced? See Frances Hinden's comments infra where she states that in her experienced partnerships she would fully expect Advancer to hold support with 's.
April 16, 2019
Zygmunt Marcinski edited this comment April 16, 2019
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If Advancer were not a passed hand, then I can see the case for a natural interpretation of his 3 (although even then I think it's inferior to forego a Q-bid to search for the other minor opposite a one-suited minor, though I confess that that would require express agreement).

Sure, Advancer didn't preempt 2D in first seat - but he also didn't take advantage of the juicy vulnerability and preempt 3D. As such he can hardly have 7's (surely he'd have preempted in 1st seat?) or a misfit 4M6 (surely he'd have meekly accepted our fate in 3 rather than seek greener pastures?).

Even if Advancer has only 5's, then surely (A) he must have a fit to spur him into committing our side to perhaps 4 and (B) the hand will play better in C's? It's not as though Overcaller is x=y=4=6 where it is more likely that we'll have adequate transportation between the two hands with 's as trumps….
April 15, 2019
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On general principles, even in the absence of express discussion of this sequence (after all, who has the time to discuss the infinite auctions possible?), I would conclude that to bypass the “safety” of 3, particularly as a passed hand, Advancer surely (A) must have a fit, (B) some values (usually I'd assume in 's but he might be concerned that 3M would show a 5+M with a fit hence 3 substitutes for an amorphous cuebid that doesn't wish to unilaterally suggest 3N directly (indeed, RHO's X of 3D in conjunction with my holding strongly suggest to me that Advancer has cleverly invented just such an amorphous cuebid to keep 3N (or perhaps 4M) in the picture).

Given my foregoing interpretation of Advancer's 3, in BOTH scenarios I cannot imagine stopping short of 5 - even at MP's leave alone IMPs as here. As slam seems a long way off I may as well just bid 5 directly: why put needless pressure on partner, sow the seeds for a possible accident, and perhaps guide a better defence against 5? Some slower approach bid, particularly one that leaves available to LHO a 4 cuebid, runs the risk (albeit a somewhat obscure one) that LHO will have the room to express to good advantage some freakish Yarborough 2-suiter (e.g. xxxxxx / Jxxxx / - / x facing say KQxx / AK / JTxxx / Ax which leaves Advancer a plausible x / xxxx / Kxxx / Kxxx) that he felt unable to express at his first opportunity (my scenario assumes that LHO had the means to express directly a 6/7-card M).

I fully endorse RF's reaction to MN's suggestion that overcaller's immediate 4 would be forcing - indeed, I should think that common expert practice would be to interpret an immediate retreat to the cheapest level of our side's fit as the weakest and least progressive action possible.

Assuming that the 2N bidder is an experienced player, then I should think that in Scenario 2 any seemingly strongish action other than 5 (e.g. XX or 3M) was an attempt to camouflage a flagrant use of UI to lay a plausible defence for a subsequent bail-out in 4. As such, if I were serving on a Disciplinary Committee struck to consider his conduct then I would be inclined to mete out just as harsh a sanction as for a more blatant action such as a direct 4 or perhaps Pass.

P.S. You may wish to edit your post to permit if possible a vote separately for EACH of Scenario 1 and Scenario 2.
April 15, 2019
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Very very well done Bob!
March 26, 2019
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