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All comments by Brian Callaghan
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Let's hope his teammates in the trials prove to be adequate.
Oct. 17, 2016
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From a transfer/relay perspective, Stayman variants look argumentative.

Using transfers:
1NT (a relay - tell me what suits you have) - 2 (I have hearts) - 2 (another relay - tell me more)

Using forcing Stayman:
1NT (a relay) - 2 (I don't want to tell you what suits I have - I would rather use valuable bidding space with my own relay to say I want to play in game)
Oct. 17, 2016
Brian Callaghan edited this comment Oct. 17, 2016
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I was a subscriber to Bridge Today in its printed incarnation, so I would have read the series, but I have to admit my memory of it is pretty hazy now.
Oct. 17, 2016
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I answered “a poor convention but not the worst”. You could have put the same poll about non-forcing Stayman and I would have answered the same. When my more flexible partners agree to play my methods, I avoid Stayman entirely and use the Tell Principle for all responses to a 1NT opening. Whether or not it is worth using 2 as something other than Stayman in absolute terms, the opponents' reactions provide me with plenty of entertainment.
Oct. 16, 2016
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I play the good 5 of a minor meaning with Chris, my wife. I think neither of us has ever opened it. Where we live, in Acol-land, the 4NT specific aces opening is the default meaning as far as I am aware. The benefit is that since we do not use the specific ace meaning, we are unable, as so many others do, to misuse it either.
July 28, 2016
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“An ignored upside of opening 1nt (and particularly opening it a lot) is that responder gets control of the auction without having to disclose their shape much if at all.”

I have a bidding-philosophy disagreement with the above. The way I view it, an ignored upside of opening a natural 1NT, whatever the strength, is that it does not show a suit.

So the ideal auction to 3NT is simply 1NT-3NT. It makes the defenders' job hard. If the partnership is to play in something other than 3NT, then one of the partners has to show a suit. To preserve the advantage of opener not having shown a suit, it should be responder who shows any suit first, so that if the final contract becomes 3NT, opener has not leaked unnecessary information to the defenders.

My preference is methods that have just responder doing suit-showing in the early auction so that opener can make an informed choice of where to play. Transfers work very well in this respect; traditional Stayman does not. Puppet Stayman works a lot better. But Puppet Stayman and similar methods mean that responder can't offer a choice between the majors at the 2-level, so the stronger the 1NT opening the more attractive Puppet Stayman methods become.

(Traditional Stayman is the prototype of relay methods in which responder tries to find out as much as possible about the 1NT opener's shape. I'm not keen on these and prefer methods in which the initial relay is effectively the 1NT opening and it is responder who progressively reveals more shape.)
July 28, 2016
Brian Callaghan edited this comment July 28, 2016
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I see now that I should in general just bid over an insufficient bid when that is what I plan to do. Knowing law 27, calling the director, and then trying to accept the bid without hearing all the potential options, as well as contravening 9B2, does not make a lot of sense and probably confuses the director. I'll know better in future.
July 24, 2016
Brian Callaghan edited this comment July 24, 2016
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This has been an education. Despite being quite good on law 27 in particular (I seem to get a lot of practice), I'm obviously lacking in a good enough overall knowledge of the laws and should in general leave their application to the professionals.

This was actually the consolation final of the pairs (played using bidding boxes but not screens). I wouldn't expect our opponents' knowledge of the laws to be as good as mine, which you can see was not that good.

Can I, and should if I am prepared to, call over an insufficient bid without involving the director and the attendant time delay? Obviously there's some risk to our side. For instance if the opponents were playing Rubens reponses to overcalls and their 2 bid were to show hearts then they might be in trouble and I wouldn't want to show hearts in any case (but perhaps they could correct to 2 showing diamonds without penalty).

At the table I had the impression that East had intended to bid 1, either not having noticed West's 1 or having forgotten it. But if I call 1 over 1, West then calls the director and East is allowed correct the 1 to something else, is my 1 authorized information for our side. Or should I call the director in any case to get a determination first on whether East's call may be changed?
July 24, 2016
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I know that I'm allowed to accept an IB by calling over it, but I'm also supposed to ask for the director as soon as I become aware of an irregularity. Which takes precedence?
July 24, 2016
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9B2 - didn't know about that one. Shows it isn't sufficient just to look at the specific law 27 on insufficient bids.
July 23, 2016
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I know you said “anyone disagreeing with this might not want to read on…”. I do disagree, but I read on in any case. I play that either 1 or 1 by opener normally shows a 3-card suit (it might just be a 4-card suit in a 4333). So a responder in my partnership would not normally raise 1 with fewer than 5 cards in the suit. A 2 or 2 rebid by opener over the double would be a normal ‘raise’ with a 4-card suit and not implying any extra values. This treatment is in accord with the Law of Total Tricks (trying to play a 7-card fit at the 1-level), and avoids problems which can occur when the partnership is not on the same wavelength about the strength of a jump in a major by opener (I've had those in unfamilar partnerships).

(Just noticed that Marc Bonnet said much the same more succinctly.)
June 10, 2016
Brian Callaghan edited this comment June 10, 2016
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My preference is to open 1. One reason is that if I rebid in NT (either 1NT or 2NT) partner can use the next step in as a puppet. That makes it possible to reach 2 or 3 as the final contract. It is not possible to reach the same level with a fit if the opening is 1 (unless responder's next-step club rebid is natural and non-forcing).
April 26, 2016
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Used to play the rebid of 3 or 3 as forcing to the 3-level in the major shown. Now play it game forcing. GF makes it more likely the partnership can pick the best game.

I may be misremembering but I think I first came across the game before slam phrase in the serialization of a book by Monroe Ingberman in Bridge Today. I thought the general idea was that if you had a bidding sequence with a meaning that was not well-agreed you and partner should default to the assumption that you were looking for the best game. If you are assigning meanings to bids in your system, that is a different matter and depends on how much bidding space you want to devote to bids that are clear slam tries. The notion that game before slam suggests that the rebid of 3 or 3 might not be forcing to game is consistent with a generalization in which each lower scoring contract comes beforer a higher scoring one. In other words - partscore before game before small slam before grand slam. That's a bit of a mouthful, although it could be applied to undiscussed sequences and I think the small/grand slam extension definitely makes sense.
April 4, 2016
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It's certainly true that if someone at the table has failed to notice an Ace or King in his/her hand than the odds are 2/1 that it is an opponent.
March 23, 2016
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I played fairly natural Precision variants for many years in serious partnerships. Responder's bids mostly showed shape, but we addressed the stength problem by having responder's second bid in the next step (in a sufficiently low auction) show all hands with extra values (about an ace more than minimum). In my view the big advantages in Precision come from having the 1 and 1 responses to 1 as GF. But the 2 and 2 responses put you in a worse position than a 2/1 auction because you have bid only one suit in the auction so far.

I currently play 2/1 in one partnership. I don't confess to any deep understanding of the method though. As with most methods it solves some problems and introduces others. It depends on what drawbacks you are willing to tolerate. The most obvious drawback in 2/1 is the wide range of a 1NT response (whether 1NT is forcing or not). And dealing with the strength issue is more difficult than in Precision because the GF starts no lower than 2, which leaves less bidding room.
March 19, 2016
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Some of the reluctance to open this hand in fourth seat might be down to the cognitive biases loss aversion and risk aversion. People prefer avoiding losses to making gains. When both losses and gains are likely to be small, as here, this leads to underevaluation. Probably magnified by the derision from the other three players if you open the hand and get a minus score. Any expectation of more than zero in whatever becomes the final contract makes this hand worth opening. So, very roughly speaking and assuming losses are about the same size as gains, a minimum strength opening in fourth seat would be getting a minus score up to half the time.
March 19, 2016
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I would open this hand if,
{1) my methods are designed not to get me too high, and
(2) my opponents are given to opening aggressively.

It looks to be worth around an average 11 HCP hand. Most deals belong to one side or the other. Aggressive opponents who do not open are effectively saying they don't think the deal belongs to their side. I don't believe I have too little to disagree with them.
March 17, 2016
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In some of my partnerships I used to play that 2m showed a strong hand with a 1-suiter in (an uknown) one of the two unbid suits. That makes some sense as a meaning for the bid, although it occurs rarely. The meaning of double is then not overloaded with the strong single-suiters, so that a double usually shows both unbid suits.
Jan. 19, 2016
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Kieran, if it were to do with me it would be Binkie points. (“Binkie” is a nickname bestowed upon more than a decade ago - perhaps so that people won't take me too seriously. Spelling follows that of Binkie Beaumont - British theate manager and producer.)
Dec. 11, 2015
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Most in this thread are focussed on practicalities - the heuristics by which you decide to open 1NT when holding 14 Works or not open 1NT when holding 15 Works. I'm interested in the theoretical basis for doing so.

I wish I could draw a little graph to illustrate what follows - a picture can be worth a thousand words. Anyway here goes - it's mostly qualitative, mathematics gave up on me long ago.

Use a graph with x-axis of Reals (the real value of a hand) and y-axis number of hands. Draw two curves. One curve shows all hands of 14 Works, the other all hands of 15 Works. Each curve should look vaguely binomial (something like our friend the normal curve) with tails to the left and right and a hump between them. The hump is probably a bit to the left towards lower values. The curve for 15 Works is a bit smaller than the one for 14 Works (above ‘average’ hands with a higher number of Works getting less frequent).

The two curves should intersect (because we believe some hands of 15 Works are worth less than some of 14 Works). Make a mark somewhere on the x-axis ‘between’ the curves. Treat everything to the right of the mark as a 15-17 1NT opening and everything to the left as a suit opening. Doing so is the only way to minimize the extent of the ranges for both and the only way to ensure you cannot open some 14 Work count with a suit opening when it is stronger than some 15 Work count. In other words, you have to ‘upgrade’ and ‘downgrade’ some hands to be bidding most effectively.

Precisely where to make the mark is a different matter. It might be where the curves intersect (which may seem a natural choice). It might be somewhere to keep a 1-point Work range a constant width (even though that's probably not really true in any case). Or it might be some value for which some relatively simple heuristics provide a very good guide.
Dec. 1, 2015
Brian Callaghan edited this comment Dec. 1, 2015
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