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All comments by Adam Meyerson
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Why are WBF events (where there are more unusual methods in play) at a faster pace? Why are time penalties virtually never assessed in these events? Kibitzing these events, much more time is taken in the play and defense than in the bidding, so I doubt that “more complex systems” are that big a factor.

My personal experience is that it's very frustrating playing against people who take an extremely long time to play each and every card. It can be draining when every hand takes ten minutes or more, when every overtrick is (apparently) worth a five minute think. The only recourse faster players have is to complain to a director about the clock, and in these events it seems to have been decided to take that recourse away.

You have basically two groups of bridge players.. those who can play to their normal standard in the allotted time and those who cannot (or at least believe they cannot). Tensions between these groups come up frequently, and in these big events every single time the response seems to be to “give the slow players the time they need” even when that mandates matches that don't finish until the wee hours of the morning, or decreasing the number of boards.
March 30, 2014
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This seems kind of sad to me; rather than enforce the (usually ignored) existing time limits, or speed up the required the pace of play to match (for example) the WBF standard.. our solution is to just play fewer boards. It feels like the slow players are “winning” here, and like we are just deciding that good bridge cannot be played at a reasonable pace.

Of course I agree that the current situation is unacceptable and something should change. This change just wouldn't have been my first choice.
March 30, 2014
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This is not the correct explanation of Lavinthal. A discard says nothing about the suit discarded, and is suit preference for the other suits. For example, if spades are trump and I discard on the third round, if I discard a high diamond it is a signal for hearts and if I discard a low diamond it is a signal for clubs. It says nothing about diamonds either way. If I want to signal for diamonds playing lavinthal, I need to discard either a high heart or a low club.

The reason Lavinthal is superior to UDCA is that it allows me to signal for a specific suit without discarding a card from that suit. In particular it is a common situation that in one of the three suits I have only worthless cards, and Lavinthal allows me to pitch one of these in order to signal for either of the two outstanding suits. Especially against a notrump contract (where my length in the suit I am signaling for may represent tricks) it is very valuable to be able to signal for something without discarding the suit itself.

The comparison between Lavinthal and Roman (or odd-even) discards is less clear. Roman discards are better when I want to signal for a particular suit and also need to discard from that same suit. Lavinthal is better when the particular suit I need to discard from does not contain cards of the appropriate parity (in particular I need two even cards in a worthless suit to be able to make a clear Roman signal). My feeling is that Lavinthal is slightly better on average (the “bad” situation is less frequent) but it's not clear cut and I play Roman discards with some partners.
March 15, 2014
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Its true that a flat 12 with no spots opposite a flat 12 with no spots generally won't make game. But I'd rather have responder not GF than not open the hand. Opening makes other auctions easier; for example if partner has a shapely hand he might preempt in 3rd with some hands that make 4M (3rd hand preempts are wide ranging and might include 10-11 counts that open one in 1st).
March 7, 2014
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I don't have a problem playing 2M in a 5-2 instead of a 4-4 minor suit fit. In fact 2M often scores better than 3m here, and 2m will rarely buy the contract anyway. So 5242 opposite 2344 is not a huge problem for me. This is very different from playing 2M in a 5-2 fit instead of 2OM in a 4-5 fit, which is a huge difference. In fact there are even many cases where you may miss a game this way!

Here are the cases where advancer has a long single suit and overcaller has a non-fitted two-suiter:

1. Advancer long spades; we can both bid 2S to play without a problem.
2. Advancer long hearts. I get 1N-X-Pass-2H; you cannot get to hearts after 1N-2m (it's pass/correct for the major) nor after 1N-X (again, pass/correct for the major).
3. Advancer long diamonds. I can't play diamonds on the two-level here. You can get to diamonds after 1N-2C, but not 1N-Dbl (because it's pass/correct).

It seems like I am winning four cases (hearts opposite S+either minor either longer) and losing only two cases (diamonds opposite C+M with longer clubs). And in your cases opponents have a big major fit that they will probably reach at the two-level anyway, whereas in the my cases opponents fit is in a minor which may be harder to find and will definitely require them to compete to the three-level.

The most common competitive case is where opener's partner transfers to a major (major transfers require only five cards and are quite a bit more common than minor transfers which require six). Here we have the following interesting cases for advancer:

1. Advancer has a fit for the other major. We are both generally able to compete via a double of the final contract. Perhaps I have some issue where opponents major is spades and advancer has three-only hearts and less than three in at least one minor (i.e. 3352) creating a possibility of a misfit, but these hands are rare and it's not clear that it's right to compete here in your methods either (fairly often bidding 8-card fit over 7-card fit at the three-level).
2. Advancer has a fit for both minors. I have an easy 2nt competitive bid and you have nothing, because partner could have both majors and there is no fit.

When opponents transfer to a minor as in your example, your “advantage” seems based on the idea that you really want to compete when advancer has three-only in a major and no fit for the other minor. In other words, advancer has something like 4342 and partner showed major+minor with opponents transferring to diamonds. With so many diamonds in hand, why do we want to compete in an eight-card heart fit? If we do want to compete, there is a decent chance partner tries a takeout double on his presumed 3514 hand (which we might, honestly, want to convert)?
Feb. 16, 2014
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So if I have 3343, I can bid 2H and partner bids his longest major. But what if I have 2533? If I bid 2H and partner bids his longest major, we may play a 5-2 spade fit instead of a 4-5 heart fit. This seems pretty bad.

Similarly, if I have 4243 perhaps I try 2D in case a 4-4 diamond fit is superior to a 5-2 heart fit. If partner now bids 2H, I don't know if this is both majors (in which case we belong in spades) or if it's five hearts and four clubs (in which case it may be our last making spot).

Now suppose I have a hand like xx KQJxxx x Qxxx and hear 1NT-2D-pass to me. I would really like to play in 2H, but I can't because that would be pass or correct. So I guess I'm committing to the possible 6-card fit (even maybe with a TEN card heart fit on the side on a bad day)? Or do I commit to the three-level? In Meyerson this hand is easy: 1NT-Dbl-Pass-2H “suit of my own” and partner can raise with a heart fit or pass otherwise.

The 2 majors bid is about as frequent as your 2 bid (you have x4x5 and 4xx5 and x4x6 and 4xx6; I have 54xx and 45xx and 55xx and 46xx and 64xx), but hands with majors are arguably more important since we more likely to win the partscore battle and also more likely to have game.

Further, when I make a bid that shows “a major and a minor” partner has an easier time of working out my hand in competition than if I make a bid that shows “a major and a minor or both majors.” There are effectively fewer possible combinations.
Feb. 15, 2014
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I'll disagree with you here. Meyerson is substantially ahead on the following two hand types:

1. One-suiter with diamonds. We bid 2 natural; you have no two-level bid for this hand.
2. Hand with both majors. We can play in the better fit when responder has equal length, which you have no way to do. We are also better placed when opponents compete in a minor; for example say you have xx KQxxx xxx Qxx and hear 1N-Dbl-2N (diamonds). Probably partner has 5S-4C and you've got nowhere to go, but if partner has 5S-4H or even 4S-5H you need to compete. No problem after 1N-2C(majors)-2N. Hands with both majors are arguably the most important hands too.

I agree that you are better positioned after 1N-2m-2M than we would be after 1N-Dbl-2M (to play). But almost no one bids 2M “to play” after a double – far more frequent is the use of transfers and stayman (“systems on”). This gives us additional chances, because we can double the artificial transfer bid to show a fit for that suit. For example, if you hear 1N-2D-2S and have a fit for hearts, you step into the auction, but if partner in fact has diamonds and spades you're a bit stuck. We would bid 1N-Dbl-2H (spades)-Dbl (fit for hearts) and can safely get out of the auction when no fit materializes.
Feb. 15, 2014
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I don't really understand the appeal of 2+ diamonds. There are definitely advantages to showing 4+ diamonds because you can raise more freely in competition and get a better picture of whether you have a real double fit in some auctions. But it doesn't necessarily follow that “more diamonds is always better.” In particular once you get to the point that 1D includes all balanced hands in some fairly weak range, you basically can't raise diamonds at all. There is very little difference between 2+ and 0+ (assuming that 2+ includes all balanced hands and 0+ adds only the fairly rare three suited type patterns with no five-card major) and going to 0+ lets you make better use of another opening call.

My preference in a strong club method is to play 1D as 0-5 in each minor, 0-4 in each major (and not qualified for a 1C or 1NT opening) and 2m as 6+ in the bid suit.
Feb. 11, 2014
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“To play” isn't really a good explanation of a call. To take the example of 1N-(Dbl)-3H, obviously you don't always bid 3H in this auction, so there must be some hands where you bid 3H and some hands where you do something else. Even if you haven't discussed this in detail, if you've played long enough partner will have a feel for what sort of hands you bid 3H with. This will effect things like:

1. Does partner ever raise to 4H, in further competition or otherwise?
2. Does partner ever double for penalty if opponents compete onwards?
3. If opponents bid and you later name a second suit, under what circumstances (if any) will partner correct back to hearts?

Opponents are entitled to all relevant information that partner has.
Feb. 2, 2014
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Your statement here is simply wrong. You are required to disclose partnership experience and tendencies. It is not sufficient to simply describe your verbal agreement, if your partnership experience gives you more information than this (or even contradictory information to this).
Feb. 2, 2014
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On the disclosure issue, implicit partnership understandings due to experience are disclosable. If partner and I agree that 2H is a “weak two bid” without further discussion, but we have played a long time together, opponents can ask me questions and I am expected to answer. For example, I have to disclose if partner frequently opens 2H on a five-card suit or almost never, if partner sometimes has a suit headed by the nine, etc. In some cases these “implicit” understandings also become alerts – for example if partner often opens 2H with a long spade suit and not many hearts at all, I need to alert and disclose this tendency.

It is similar with “asking” bids – suppose the auction goes 1S-Pass-4S. The opponents are within their rights to ask with what sort of hand I usually bid 4S, and partner must disclose whether he has seen me do this with good hands with few spades (i.e. 3334 13-count), whether I might have significant side cards, etc. The same would apply to your examples of 1N-3N or 1S-4N. And if I have often made these bids with “very unexpected” hands (like raising 1N-3N on a zero-count or bidding 1S-4N on garbage with six spades) then this would require an alert.

When full disclosure is provided, a psych is simply a call which does not fall into the parameters which were disclosed. By this rule, a “weird” bid like the examples given always creates one of two cases:

1. I've never (or extremely rarely) made similar calls in the context of this partnership, and partner and I have never discussed such an action. In this case it's a psych.
2. Partner and I have discussed such an action before, or I have made this type of call several times within this partnership. In this case it's an undisclosed agreement.

Of course the director has discretion here and a good director will ask some questions. For example, suppose we have the auction 1N-Dbl-3H (to play) and I have a bunch of spades and few hearts. The director needs to determine whether this is a psych or undisclosed agreement. So she should ask “have we discussed making this type of bid before? has he made similar calls before? how many times?” and so forth. The director has some discretion, for example if I have made this sort of call once before in the ten years we have played it's probably a psych, whereas if I have made this sort of call once before in the two sessions today, it's probably not a psych… and there is a great deal of space in between. Further, if my methods are unusual in a way that seems to accommodate this action (i.e. opener can never bid again no matter what the subsequent auction) that also points to agreement rather than psych. This is also what recorder forms are for.
Feb. 1, 2014
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Suppose East does not cash his last spade, squeezing his partner.

If he returns a diamond, we can take the losing finesse and West is out of spades, allowing us to score two diamonds and two hearts. If he returns a heart, we play the queen and duck West's king, establishing three hearts and a diamond (if West ducks the heart queen we will make an overtrick). Again West has no spades to cash.

So it seems the contract was always making once you worked out the position and to play the spade queen. Well done!
Jan. 31, 2014
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It's important to be able to distinguish the invite with 4S from the one without. This both enables better partscore bidding and lets you find some light games when a fit upgrades responder's hand (say responder has a singleton somewhere). So given the restrictions of the original post I'd go with “four spades invite.”

However, there are various ways to take the balanced invite with no major out of the 2C response, which also helps avoid giving information to opponents. A simple one is to play 2S as either a balanced invite or a club transfer, and have opener bid 2NT with a min and 3C with a max. Then anything but passing 2NT or bidding 3NT over 3C shows the hand with clubs.

If you can get balanced invite with no major out of 2C, then I like using the 2S rebid as a five-card invite. This lets you stop in 2S when opener is min and frees up transfer followed by 2NT for something else (I like transfer to clubs; second-round transfers help a lot in fleshing out responder's shape).

I don't see much point in using this as GF relay – usually it is better to have the balanced hand relay and the shapely hand describe, so GF relay only really helps you when both hands are balanced and you're in the slam zone. I wouldn't want to waste the 2S bid for this purpose.
Jan. 30, 2014
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I'll give some reasons why most experts don't play anything similar to this, and why I think it's not very good:

xx Qx xxx KTxxxx

You can probably make three clubs. But you have no bid to sign off in clubs in your system. Partner is unlikely to balance since you have the short spades.

x KJTxxx xxx xxx

You can probably make three hearts, maybe even four hearts if partner has a nice fit. But you don't want to bid 3 and hear partner bid 3NT on a doubleton heart; you basically want to “sign off” in three hearts unless opener has something resembling a super-accept.

xx x AQxx AQJxxx

You have some interest in slam in clubs, but since there is no call showing clubs directly it seems you will have to start with 3. If partner now shows five hearts by bidding 4 you are pretty well fixed. Even if partner bids 3NT now, you're going to have to start your slam investigation at the four-level.

x Kxxx Qxxx Qxxx

Not really an invite; you certainly don't want to hear partner blast 3NT if you double. But there are many hands where you can make a heart contract (even game) or otherwise a nice minor partial. If you do double and hear partner bid 2NT, you could easily play a silly partial with no spade stopper and a nine-card minor fit.

- AQxx Axx AQxxxx

Slam seems almost certain. Do you really want to start with double? Partner could easily leave it in and you're unlikely to compensate for the slam bonus by defending. Of course you could agree that opener never leaves in your negative doubles, but this will lose on a wide variety of more “normal” negative double hands where defending may be your best plus score.

Your usage of 2NT as “I have exactly an invite in notrump” surely has its advantages, but they are on a very narrow range of hands (8+ to 9- points, not four hearts, not enough spades that you want to pass and wait for a reopening double). Surely it is better to make some other use of this call (i.e. transfer to clubs, or lebensohl).
Jan. 22, 2014
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You've posted a whole series of these, and they seem to leave out some of the most important calls such as:

1N - (2S) - 2N?
1N - (2S) - 3S?

As well as many of the important details such as:

1N - (2S) - Dbl - (Pass)

What are 3C and 3D by opener? Four card suit? Five card suit? Do they necessarily show extras? Does 2NT by opener necessarily promise a spade stopper? Deny a five-card minor?

When you say 3C is a transfer, is that transfer to diamonds? Hearts? What do you do with a competitive hand in clubs? Game force hand in clubs?

I guess I'm confused why you are posting these, since they do not have sufficient detail for anyone to really comment. If you are looking to create system notes with a regular partner, it seems better to do that via Google Drive than by posting on a public forums in bridgewinners. If you are soliciting comments some more context would be nice.
Jan. 20, 2014
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Obviously a matter of agreement. I prefer takeout doubles here, but in this case South failed to make a mandatory double with the given hand. Given South's pass it's apparent that you're playing penalty doubles here, and North's double is penalty. You basically need to play double the same way from both sides of the table.
Jan. 15, 2014
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While I don't like Bergen raises for many of the reasons listed above, I think there is a lot of merit to taking the 3-card limit raise out of the 1N response. In particular:

1. Slam auctions when opener has a big hand are easier with a direct 3-card LR; if you bid 1NT and opener jump shifts, describing your hand type at a reasonable level is hard.
2. Opener's minor suit rebid helps the opponents count out his hand on defense, and rarely helps us in any way.
3. If opponent in 4th seat sticks a bid in, the auction can get murky (1H-P-1N-3S-P-P). Usually people bid 4M here (which is fairly often wrong).
4. If you play semi-forcing 1N, you will end up playing 1N instead of 3M a lot. At IMPs this tends to be okay (you get an occasional win 4-5 to compensate for the frequent lose 1-2) but at MPs it's pretty bad.
Jan. 15, 2014
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The point I'm trying to make is the following two sequences:

1-1
2

I have a game force with five spades and three hearts. If 4th suit is invitational, I will bid 3 next and we will have some cue bidding auction around non-serious 3nt to negotiate slam. However, if 4th suit is GF we might bid:

1-1
2-2
3-3

Again we can cue bid around non-serious 3nt etc, but now I've obtained the additional information that partner has a 5-5 hand and started cue bids at the same level as before. Surely there are hands where this additional information is key to bidding a good slam.

The second point is more about the following:

1-1
2-3

Suppose I hold a hand like AQxxx xxx Kx KQx. If partner has control of hearts then 3nt will almost always be the right spot. If not, we might make 4 opposite a doubleton honor or try for 5. I need help from partner to get some direction.

If my 3 bid creates a game force, I can expect that partner will bid 3nt with an appropriate heart holding, or else 3 with Hx in spades, 3 with a seventh diamond or a really good six. This rebid essentially solves my problem for me. If 3 is usually the start of an invitational sequence, partner will bid 3 most of the time and I am just on a guess now.

The overall point is that on these “no clear direction” type hands playing 4th suit GF is just a huge win over 4th suit INV. On the invitational hands, the natural invite is slightly better in case partner has a hand with extra shape (I guess you can play paradox responses to 4th suit INV to fix this, but those create even more issues for the GF with no clear direction hands). On the GF hands, it is true that in some auctions you get to set strain a level lower by playing 4th suit INV, but there are also auctions like the one above where 4th suit GF gets you more information prior to the start of cue bidding, so even here I don't think 4th suit INV is a clear-cut winner.
Jan. 13, 2014
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There are a couple points I disagree with here:

1. On the merits of 2/1, you must also consider the forcing 1NT response which says nothing useful about either strain or level. On game-invitational hands especially, you are likely to have many murky auctions where responder struggles to clarify range, much less shape. Slam auctions where opener has a big hand and responder has an “original invite” are simply a disaster. As opening standards get lighter, the relative frequency of forcing notrump responses to immediate GF responses also goes up.

2. On the 3/4 suit auctions, you must consider that there are actually three types of hand in question: GF where you know the strain, INV where you know the strain, and GF where you need help to select the strain. The 3/4 suit invitational style helps only slightly on the first type of hand (you get a win when you can set the strain at a cheaper level like in your example, but you also lose where you could've extracted another informative call from opener before setting the strain at the same level; say 1H-1S-2C-2D-descriptive bid-3H GF instead of 1H-1S-2C-3H GF and you have lost info). But the 3/4 invitational style is a disaster when you have GF needing help with the strain because opener often just makes the step “I would not accept an invite” response leaving you stranded with no useful information.
Jan. 11, 2014
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Well I would've doubled 1S, but given the auction I think passing is reasonable. It's easy to go for 300 at the three-level in these auctions. After the hesitation I feel like passing is mandatory.
Jan. 11, 2014
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