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All comments by Zygmunt Marcinski
1 2 3 4
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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
Zygmunt Marcinski edited this comment Oct. 15
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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
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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
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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
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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
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RR - multiple: see my remarks upthread
April 16
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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
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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
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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
Zygmunt Marcinski edited this comment April 16
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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
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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
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Very very well done Bob!
March 26
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David,

You ask a pertinent though premature question. Much more interesting and germane are East's 3 discards on the 's played to T3-T5.
March 17
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David,
At first blush that strikes me as an entirely sensible agreement, particularly in this 's over 's situation (there might even be case for the meaning to be nuanced as a function of vulnerability). In the heat of battle do you and Anne manage to systematically alert your opponents to your specialized understanding as to (A) Pass, (B) 3, and presumably (C) XX?

By the way, apart from Richard Fleet's glancing mention no one has brought up the remaining 3-level possibility open to overcaller, namely XX. What interpretation do you and Anne ascribe to that? Perhaps “defensively-oriented maximum”?
Oct. 12, 2018
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@ Frances: that's a very sensible and cost-free improvement to the 5NT idea that I first noted perhaps a dozen years ago - and particularly easy to remember for Kickback aficionados!
Sept. 4, 2018
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@ Allan: “particularly a grand”.
If Qbidding propels you past the usual KC yet reveals the possibility of a grand slam, some leading European pairs have a simple yet elegant solution: in such unusual circumstances they interpreted 5N as a delayed KC inquiry.
Sept. 3, 2018
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@ Larry: you don't necessarily have below 5m KC available on all auctions. One can either agree to always have KC available in preference to a regressive 4N or the other way around. My vote would be for the other way around on the grounds that the value of limiting hands [e.g. a regressive 4N) outweighs the occasional loss of KCB when Qbidding propels us past what would be be KCB - particularly on 2C auctions with a very strong hand facing a considerably weaker hand that typically has 0-3 relevant high-card values. Here for example it might be inferentially very helpful for Opener to find out that Responder either has a card [imagine Opener with K / AKx / AKxxxxx / AQ) or has no card (imagine - / KQx / AQJxxxx / AKx). Finally, if Qbidding does propel you past the usual KC yet reveals the possibility of a grand slam, some leading European pairs have a simple yet elegant solution: in such unusual circumstances they interpreted 5N (or as Frances H points out below, now improved to “5 trump suit + 1”) as a delayed KC inquiry.
Sept. 3, 2018
Zygmunt Marcinski edited this comment Sept. 4, 2018
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@ Craig: to reduce if not entirely solve this ambiguity it is not uncommon (in these parts at least) to assign to the 2 - 2 // 3M sequences the meaning of “4M + longer (usually 6+) 's in an unbalanced hand pattern”. I concede in advance that the OP gives us no hint as to whether or not the auction benefitted from that wrinkle and hence whether or not it suffered from the ambiguity you refer to. Having said that, if did not have this wrinkle available to me then I would be loathe to introduce with 3 only a 4-card suit and so I suggest that Opener should be entitled to assume that Responder will deliver 5+'s (or what looks like 5+). On the other hand, if I had to be saddled with your ambiguity then if as Opener I discerned the possible need to search for 4-4 major suit fits that factor alone would drive me into David Burn's camp of risking a 1 opening in lieu of 2 (see upthread).
Sept. 3, 2018
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@ Andy: with such primary support for 's one can guess to suppress the moth-eaten (albeit 6-card) suit and instead essay a 4 splinter over 3 - ergo 2 - 2 // 3 - 4 // 4 - probably 5 to deny a Qbid or other useful value. Alternatively, if one wasn't inclined to suppress the suit and follow instead the chosen auction, then 2 - 2 // 3 - 3 // 3N - 4 // 4 - 5 where 4 instead of 5 should connote slam aspirations whereas 5 in lieu of 4 or 5 denies a black suit Qbid (I suggest that 4N should connote a Qbid with extras, whereas 5 should imply a Qbid (with no side suit control why would I remove 3N, and if I did why wouldn't I jump to 5 instead?) with little else to spare). Having said that, reaching 5 (which can be defeated if there's an immediate ruff lurking) is a matchpoint disaster after we Qbid to “roadmap” the matchpoint-killing initial lead. On your hand, as Opener it would be impossible for us to stop in 4N as issuing a regressive 4N (if that's what it it is - and that is apparently open to considerable debate) would not cross my mind (indeed, it would be very difficult for me to trust Responder's failure to Qbid 's and restrain myself from committing to slam….which is why I'm attracted to the “tell your entire story in one bid” nature of a 4 splinter directly over 3 instead of 3 followed by a pull to 4 which I believe delivers more in terms of strength/values). But of course, an immediate 4 splinter also precludes landing in 4N and mires us in the matchpoint “no man's land” of 5
Sept. 3, 2018
Zygmunt Marcinski edited this comment Sept. 3, 2018
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@ David B: try as I might I am unable to construct two hands that are consistent with both Responder's actions thru 4 as well as Opener's first two rebids that now needs Opener's 4 continuation to be a non-forcing offer to play. Although I confess to surprise at the extent of the support that progressive interpretations of Opener's 4N rebid has garnered, I should think that an “offer to play” interpretation of Opener's 4 rebid would enjoy no more than very modest popularity.

As to your contention in the second paragraph, how else would you bid holding (say) J / KQJ / AQJxxx / AKJ ? 1? 2N? 2 - 2 - 2N/3N? 2 - 2 - 3 - 3 - any other than 3N? I would contend otherwise, namely that Blackwood on an auction such as this, where the great preponderance of strength is located in one hand, is a much over-used and very blunt instrument as normally Opener can easily solicit from the far weaker hand Q-bids of the 1-3 key high card values it may have without recourse to Blackwood. In short, I would not trip over myself to ensure that I had Blackwood available on all such auctions. In my books it is a far sight more useful to equip Opener with a “regressive” 4N to enable him to limit himself - all the more so here, on an auction that thru 3N merely denied a virtual solo slam drive.
Sept. 3, 2018
Zygmunt Marcinski edited this comment Sept. 3, 2018
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