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Alert Required?

An animated discussion took place over Indian dinner in Wroclaw. As is usually the case, there were strong opinions expressed from all corners of the globe, but no conclusions were reached.

Let's say your opponents play a Strong Club system, and they open a weak 2-bid on any 5-card suit pretty much anytime they're non-vul. Inthe WBF that's 0-9 HCP. (No, this was not about me, even though the shoe does fit.) They open aggressively at the one-level, and aggressively in 3rd seat. They play five-card majors but will often open with fourin 3rd seat. They also preempt aggressively and will often have a six-card suit at the three-level. They are forthcoming about their agreements and style, and their convention card clearly spells this out. Theyhave clearly met the full-disclosure requirements.

How would you assess the chances that their non-vul 3rd seat 1-major opening is a five-card suit?

It doesn't take much effort to work out that they're a LOT more likely to have four than five. They'd presumably open a weak-2 with five unless they have a strong enough hand to be concerned about missing a game facing a balanced 0-9. In which case they'd probably be opening 1. You have all the information you need to figure this out for yourself.

So... Should they alert their 3rd seat 1M openings? Should they say, "Usually four?"

There were strong views voiced in both directions. I don't have a definite opinion myself (for a change). Negative inferences are not alertable. You have full information about their agreements. Bridge is a game of logic and deduction. The laws appear to say, "No alert."

On the other hand, their familiarity with their own methods provides them with clear inferences that their opponents may miss. On the other hand... is it our job to wake them up? To do their thinking for them? And, isn't it the case in every good partnership that there are literally thousands of tiny agreements and inferences available based upon more general, alertable agreements.

I tend to think that, in the spirit of the game,an alert is appropriate, even if not required But I'm not sure I agree with myself. Those who say, "No alert" also make a good case. What do you think?

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