Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Adam Meyerson
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Are we making 4S after two diamond taps? Seems iffy…
May 30, 2014
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My reaction was neither “This convention needs to be banned” nor “Wow, I need learn this gadget and put it on my card!” but rather “I wish I had spent more time discussing my defense to this before the start of the round and/or event.” To a great degree this is the point of regulation of methods! There are two main reasons for methods to be restricted (especially in pairs events):

1. Time. If each round we need to determine which non-standard never-seen-before methods opponents are playing and devise at least a somewhat reasonable defense, our ability to finish two-board rounds on time is severely compromised. Bridge is, after all, a timed game. Further, bridge is also a game of full disclosure and if people are playing methods so convoluted that they cannot even explain the meaning of their calls in a timely manner disclosure goes by the wayside. In fact this last is the standard for legality of methods in the Cavendish.

2. Skill. We want bridge to be a game of skill. This includes skill in card play and defense of course, but it does also include skill in designing/remembering superior methods. However, superior methods should get you a good result (on average) even against reasonable opponents with a reasonable defense. The concern is that some methods which are not particularly effective against reasonable opponents work wonders against weak opponents. In a pairs event, a pair which consistently racks up top boards against the weakest half of the field is hard to beat even if they can't do much against the better opponents. Methods like multi, forcing pass, and super-weak openings tend to have this effect, causing the winner to be the pair which can most effectively “bunny bash” rather than the one who bid and played the best.

Note that neither of these points really applies in the context of long team matches, where I would agree that more or less all methods should be allowed.

As for how we decide what to allow/disallow, it's based on a combination of familiarity and difficulty to defend. Certainly there are some methods which are actually hard to defend but permitted because they are natural/familiar (very light preempts are a good example)… but Multi is acknowledged in the “hard to defend” category by basically everyone, and similar methods without the history that multi has are routinely rated as brown sticker. Since Multi doesn't have this long history of popularity in the US, it's treated as though it were brown sticker over here. I don't see a big problem with this except in the biggest events where we expect/want an international field (Reisinger being a prime example).
May 29, 2014
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We have found it valuable for advancer to have a bid with a good long suit of his own. We play transfers from the cuebid, and new suit forcing below, so for example 1D-1S-P-3C is clubs and less than invite. Without this you are basically conceding on these hands! While the fit jump in clubs is useful (esp. on pure hands) there are many ways to raise (including 4C fit jump) and we don't always guess wrong. In fact jumping to 3S on weaker fit jumps does prevent openers 3D rebid…

We also play jumps to game (like the original example) as to play.

Many other jumps are fitted (for example 1D-1S-P-3H fit) however we think a splinter is more valuable than a second fit jump (so 1C-1S-P-3D fit but 1C-1S-P-4D splinter). While the splinter hand is rare it can be VERY powerful esp. if over caller is short in openers suit.

The “natural” jumps do revert to fit/splinter by passed hand.
May 24, 2014
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For a while I did play fit jumps facing an overcall at all levels. I have gone back to preferring it another way. :)
May 24, 2014
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I do not much care about the high card points.

However, I would think that if the partnership agreement is to often open a weak two on a poor five-card suit opposite an unpassed partner, there should be some disclosure (on the convention card or an alert or something). ACBL requires a pre-alert for “very aggressive preempts” for example and I think this fits the bill.

Without such disclosure, I'd count it as a psych.
May 24, 2014
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I like everything as a transfer, with transfer to their suit as stayman. So with the 2H preempt:

3C = diamonds
3D = 4 spades
3H = 5+ spades
3S = clubs

If the preempt was in spades we flip 3H/3S so 3S is stayman and 3H is clubs to avoid wrong siding.

I think this is better than natural because it let's you give 5M choice of games, show 5/5 slam tries, and make minor suit slam tries while still getting out in 3n.
May 20, 2014
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I think I'd make the slightly offbeat play of a club at trick two. Opponents will probably cash their clubs, which puts RHO under some discard pressure and gives LHO the opportunity to make a bad shift. Obviously this could embarrass me if clubs are 6-2 and the diamonds are Kx on my right, but this is very much against the odds.
May 18, 2014
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A well-reasoned post, especially by a good player, can change my viewpoint. A poll will not.
May 17, 2014
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I interpret the scale very differently from Sriram. If it's a coin toss between two bids, I'd give them both an A. My scale is more like:

A - Perfectly reasonable bid, as likely to work as anything
B - I'd choose a different call, but not strongly convinced my choice is better
C - I think a different call offers better odds, but this action could work out
D - This call isn't totally insane, but something else is significantly better
E - Seems like a “nullo” call, very bad bid

On this scale I'd give the 2 bid a C. I think it's a clear underbid, but it's fairly easy to imagine non-fitting hands where this underbid will work out.
May 5, 2014
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For me, 4th suit forcing is pretty much essential. Certain hands become very hard to bid without this convention.

I'd definitely take that over Drury (I've played without, yes you occasionally get to play 2M instead of 3M using Drury but it's hardly a necessity). I've also played without Stayman, but in the context of a complete notrump structure which is rather more convoluted.
April 28, 2014
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Couple points about this hand:

1. I can't see how a club shift beats it, given the spots. Declarer seems to have two club stoppers when the suit is attacked from my side. Of course, this would change if partner had the eight.
2. It didn't occur to me (or perhaps most of us?) that declarer might have a bad 11-count for his 12-14 notrump. Since we can place partner with the K, it seems like partner should not have A, in which case declarer would always have two club controls making the heart switch our only hope.
April 25, 2014
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1. The disclosure issue exists, but there are also hands where you can bid 1-1-2m-3nt-pass versus 1-1-2-asking bid-etc-3nt where you actually reduced disclosure. In general I would not worry so much about this.
2. I don't see how 4sf is relevant here; if responder has a GF and opener has a hand too good to raise a 1M response to 2M, you are at least borderline for slam. You could miss a slam when responder blasts 4M (expecting a weak notrump and finding 15 with a side singleton) or if you do investigate you save some space by not immediately raising.
3. What is this hand where you miss game by passing 2 after 1-1-2? It seems that responder has four-five spades (with six he would rebid them) and zero-one heart (no preference or false preference) and exactly three in the minor (no raise despite game chances). That pretty much comes down to 5143 or 4153. He won't have 10+ points (would bid 2NT) either, but with at most 9 points and 4153 he would certainly have passed a 2 raise (and you might not make game without a real fit anyway). So basically this leaves 5143 with 8-9 points. That's pretty specific, and it's not totally clear that all 8-9s with this shape would bid on over 1-1-2 either. Against this, there are many 52(42) and 5233 and 4225 and 4135 with 8-9 where you might miss a game passing a 2 raise (which could easily be a much worse hand) but find game easily after the 2 rebid. There are also hands where the patterning-out sequence lets you make a great decision between a 4-3 spade game and 3nt (or between 2 and 2nt and 3m), which might be difficult to do accurately after the direct raise (depending on your methods I guess).

The only real advantage to what you're suggesting is whatever alternate use you put to 1-1-2m-2-2. It'd have to be really great to outweigh the above though.
April 25, 2014
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The death hand for mini-roman is something like KQxxx xx Axx xxx which is a pretty ordinary hand to have opposite the 2 bid. What do you do? In the likely case that partner has short spades there is really no good contract available (not to mention having given a road-map to the defense on a hand where partner will declare). If partner has shortage somewhere else you've just missed a game after 2-2-pass. Things are only marginally better if you switch the suits around.

The fact is that weak 4441 hands are not really that difficult to bid naturally. You open 1m and raise a major suit response to an appropriate level, or rebid 1 or 1nt if partner bids your singleton. The mini-roman opening gets you to worse contracts and wastes an opening in the process!
April 25, 2014
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It seems clear to me that negative double over a 3 overcall should be GF and that a negative double over a 3 overcall need not be GF. I will go with “GF over 3M but not over 3m” as a reasonable rule.
April 25, 2014
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Seems to me that:

1. I see no real advantage in the inverted minor auction by excluding the balanced hand with four-plus diamonds. You would still not have to worry about 2-3 diamond hands.
2. In precision you already have the 2NT rebid available since big balanced hands are opening 1. You do gain the 1NT bid, but you have plenty of space to negotiate over a single raise if you are going to game, and if you are signing off in partial telling the opponents whether it's a 3-card raise with an unbalanced opener (where trump lead is virtually auto) or a 4-card raise with a balanced opener (trump lead often ineffective) is huge.
3. Reverses are well-defined anyway – no one is suggesting a reverse on a balanced hand (good balanced hands open 1NT or 1, bad balanced hands would rebid 1NT regardless of heart length).
4 “Extending” the 1NT range to 11-15 seems like a huge loser, as you will have to invite and decline much more often than a tighter range.
5. The lead direction and competitive advantages mentioned by Yuan would seem to apply any time 1 promises real diamonds, regardless of whether it can be balanced or not.
April 25, 2014
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The reasoning is that you don't want to make a single raise of spades with KQx AKxxx x Axxx because partner will not expect a prime 16-count and you will miss many games. If you had four spades you could bid 3 on this strength of hand, but that call consumes a lot of space (making it hard to negotiate the right contract if three-card support is a possibility).
April 25, 2014
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My preference is Dbl as sound three-suited takeout (of responder's suit), 1nt as potentially light (but wide range) two-suited takeout, and pass followed by double (in most sequences) as sound takeout of opener's suit (usually left in though, given location of our suit length behind theirs). This lets us get into the auction on some hands that strong notrumpers cannot (weaker two-suited takeout), lets us reach the right strain on what's otherwise a problem hand (sound three-suited takeout where opener's suit is a potential strain), and allows us to penalize on a lot of the strong notrump hands (balancing “sound takeout of opener's suit”) with a fair degree of safety.
April 25, 2014
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There are many popular agreements that I think are inferior (to name a few: puppet stayman, walsh responses to 1, support doubles, strong notrump in sandwich position, attitude discards, fit showing jumps by unpassed hand) but I don't think any of these rise to the level of “the worst agreements in bridge.”

For that category, I'd nominate:

1. Step responses to 2
2. “Systems on” to partner's double of 1NT
3. Mini-roman 2

These are methods which consistently produce worse results when they come up than simple natural bidding. This differs from other nominees which arguably could be replaced with a superior conventional method, or which produce decent results when they come up but are not frequent enough to be worthwhile, or which produce mixed results seeming a bit more bad than good.
April 21, 2014
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I'd like to see some (preferably real life) example hands where knowing that 1 was unbalanced lead to a good result. Certainly I can see examples where knowing that 1 is (almost always) a five-card suit is helpful, but the additional “unbalanced” information seems dubious to me.
April 19, 2014
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I have roughly the opposite view from Kit.

It seems to me that a certain prestige and level of difficulty ought to apply to any event which is called a “national championship.” In particular, calling the swiss a national championship when most of the country's best players are in the Reisinger is a joke to me (same applies to IMP pairs and Plat pairs). I really don't think two open national championship events should ever start the same day.

As for the Reisinger, they could have three times as many teams in the final and still play a complete round robin; currently they are playing 6 boards against each team (3 board rounds and meet each team each session) which is a lot!

I like the schedule change.
April 8, 2014
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