Join Bridge Winners
All comments by David Yates
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Given my small lifetime sample size of these auctions, I suspect guessing what frequency responder will be able to double is fairly random. If the ops play ELC, the answer is much more often.

The answer to the question of how often will they wrap it if you do double when opener passed is “higher than you think”.

My record for failing to set 5-X (not this auction) was:
(1) - X - (3) - P;
(5) - ?

I held: QJ109 / AKQJ / AKQJ / A, so I doubled.

Partner took one trick and so did I. BTW, this was my mom's rubber bridge game and none of the ladies there could (or would) stack a deck.
Sept. 10
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Natural, NF (Not sure what minimum is supposed to mean)
Sept. 6
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The problem with attracting young people is we have - at least in USA - virtually no young people already playing.

Bridge has always been, first and foremost: “a social game that attracts anti-social people.” (Dorothy Hayden.) Most people started playing bridge because they had friends who played bridge or knew they could meet others in doing so. Some of those who partake will become hooked on the game, but that hardly happens overnight.

I can think of no reason for anyone under the age of 50-60 to play bridge. Who wants to hang out with a bunch of old people who talk about health problems, unless they are hushing someone else? I hate playing at the club and I love bridge.

Until there is a fun, social game that is about meeting others in your age group and not about memorizing bidding rules and taking classes, we will never restart bridge as an activity among younger people. Never.
Sept. 6
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Using 2 to start a “strong-two” in diamonds is always regressive.

It is rare that “Goren” is more progressive than Standard American, but this is the hand :)
Sept. 3
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My advice:

1. Save the 1 mods for last. Yes, there are a lot of benefits to modifications. But you are undertaking a whole new system as a partnership. Natural, 1 auctions will not produce problems in partnership understandings since after a positive, you are GF. They are also fairly infrequent, so do not start by creating memory load for your side. When you and partner are comfortable with the rest of the system, then you can jazz up the club sequences. You will either be more motivated to do so later or just happy that you kept it simple.

Do not bother with old style asking bids (Trump, Control etc) I played them for years and they are like 1960s technology. Once 8-tracks were high tech, too.

Transfers are big. Transfer the NT with 2C or 2D. The main advantage to transfers is describing dummy to both partner and the opponents. When the play starts, often the only one who knows what is in declarer’s hand is declarer. This is more important against good competition than against club-level players.

2. You can play any NT range you want. You just do not want to play 13-15 or (ugh) the 12-15 range. I have played those and all the other ranges. Including 10-12, 10-13 and 10-14. Split ranges, 15-17. Systemically, the 14-16 fits in “nicer” with the rest of the architecture.

If you and partner have experience playing weak NT, then you could play something like +10-13 or even split (10-13 NV, 14-16 red). It is fun and wrecks havoc with weaker players. If you have no experience with wk NT, you will have some bad results for your partnership as you learn how to handle weak NT auctions in competition. In general with any new system, some poor results from switching will be from your inexperience with the methods and some from not employing best approaches. You need to be realistic in evaluating results.

Third seat red and 4th seat I prefer 15-17 - partner is PH and you open lighter than standard.

3. Your 1 auctions will require the most attention to detail. 1 is a very frequent opening. 1 is not quite like a SA minor opening. It is very often competitive. How you tweak your 1 opening depends a bit on what you do with 2, 2 and perhaps even 2NT as this changes what hands are included in the 1 catchall.

For example, after 1- (1) - ?, in S.Amer, we don’t do much of anything. About the only discussion you ever have with partner is whether 1 guarantees 5, otherwise players think about it as just another competitive auction. In a Precision context, the 1 could be short and you or partner might be unsure about what your anchor suit actually is.

The tweak is play X as four or five spades. (1S by opener is 3 or flat bad 4, 2 is 4-cards and not good enough for jump. If ops bid 2H you have support-X). Now 1 is essentially takeout for a minor or a convenient force with <4S. This is currently midchart but will change in 2 months. With 6 spades, we transfer (2) with good constructive values or better. Just bid 2 with weaker. Now, instead of maybe getting lost in competition, you almost hope they overcall 1.

The other slight change is Precision is 1-2. We used to joke this was “minor suit Stayman” because you will respond 2 with longer diamonds. The 1NT response will be “chunkier” than in Standard to make everything work well. Usually a bad 11 if 1NT is 14-16.

4. The 2 opener should be six+ clubs. Meckwell, Greco-Hampson, Grue-Moss, Woolsey-Stewart and Berkowitz-Sontag cannot all be wrong. Polish Club and some European club variants employ the old Prec 4M/5C possibility. But Polish Club allows for 1 to be “natural” so the 2 opener is capped at 14. Prec 2 with 4M/5C and up to 15 is often a random crapshoot for responder. 6C+ is way better.

5. Keep the initial design simple. Add gadgets later. The only initial stuff you want to deal with is say inquiries after 2-2 and 2-2NT. Tack on XYZ for ease. Get the competitive things down. One can be ready to go with a simply club system in 5-minutes. And if you prefer to bid rather than pass, it is more fun than Standard.

For example, as far as 4M & 6C go, it wont be that frequent to begin with (4M5C is about 3X more common) so that should not be your initial concern. I prefer to open 2 with 4H and not 4S, but now that means I have to include 4-6 blacks in my 0+ 1 opening. That requires more discussion with partner, esp if the auction becomes competitive.

So yeah, there is vig in doing that. But what is the gain? The specific frequency of 4S6C(21/30) is .00251. About 40% of hands of these will fall into to a normal opening range. So it comes up once every thousand hands. And you still only get into trouble if partner fits the M AND would not move over 2.

On paper, it sounds convenient to say: “you can open 1 on =4216 because you are prepared for a 1 response and now you do not miss spades opening 2”. This is what any of my partners would explain. Do the math, by itself it is a very small window. The REAL reason I did it this way is eliminating 4S from 2 now makes it easy to put in an effective transfer response structure to 2 rather than the traditional 2 inquiry. That, IMO, is the significant improvement - that comes up all the time. But it only works well if responder does not need to cater to either 4CM with opener.

Precision is a very modular system. You can keep any of its component parts as simple or as jazzed up as you want. Learn to drive first and add the nitrous oxide system to your engine later.

Have fun!
Sept. 1
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FWIW, I played both 1=4+ and 1=0+ for with different partners for years. I prefer 0+ by a mile.
Aug. 31
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What Kit and Phillip say.

Most defensive problems arise from not picturing the whole deal. E failed to do that and was thinking in context of a suit rather than the layout and number of tricks available.

The way signaling comes into it is against 5-X. North leads A, S encourages, A, low heart to Q, Q back (SP) ruffed, low spade to K, club ruff and that is 800.
Aug. 28
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The problem with most ATB postings is there is very little takeaway. In that regard, there is not much difference between ATBs and most PMs I hear at the table.

I charged E on ATB1 and W on ATB2, which is the minority view according to the polling (so I have a good chance of being right:) In reality, both problems share a common theme: the players are showing their hands to each other and neither is taking responsibility for making a decision.

In bidding, a player does only one of two things: he gives information to his partner or he makes a decision. Good bidding is knowing when to do which. What happened in each ATB is both players believed they described their hand to partner. Neither thought much about what the other player held and drew a conclusion. Frances’ partner took that step. (see above)

In the above auction, East starts with an overcall. He continued with 2. Presumably this shows some extra values. West now rebids 3 and East says “I have a stopper”. West now pulls 3NT to show a forcing hand with diamonds and East says: “5-> I am interested in slam”. OK, but suppose over 4, the ghost of Culbertson appeared and told you as East that you had only one bid at that point. What would it be? 6, of course. Partner had a NF 3 and a GI 4 available. You have prime values. If he is pulling 3NT, how bad can 6 be?

But rather than make a decision, East made a descriptive bid. Now that is OK, because for all you know 7 is cold. But East never thought “WT?” when W now bid 5 only diamonds. He just said to himself: partner made a decision. Except partner did not make a decision as much as just worried about losers. In West’s mind, he made a GF sequence on 10 HCP, then pulled 3NT as a slam try, but likely viewed partner’s 5 bid as: “you decide”.

Anyway, it is not 95% except that I am at least 95% sure I want to be in 6.

With ATB1, we had the same scenario. Lots of people thought E should just bid 4NT over 3. And if S passed, perhaps that is what might have happened. But it is not clear to me that over 4 that 4NT is RKC in hearts. It is clear to me looking at just my hand that 4NT down 3 is a possibility. Since I have pass and pull, why not? Looking at all four hands that had E heard 4NT from partner, he knows partner really cannot have a running club suit and a stop. But West does not get the luxury of first looking at partner’s hand to know he cannot misinterpret 4NT.

We have the same scenario with who is making a decision. From West’s view point, he showed a slam try and East, who could have a weak hand declined. I think of the two, that not continuing over 4 is the worst action in either ATB. But everyone thinks looking at all four hands that 4NT was not going to be a problem. And it certainly would not have been had S not bid. I think the votes charging W on this ATB are really wrong because W is mostly taking a safe route to insure that partner understands hearts are trump and he has a great hand. Maybe you imagine partner is recognizing RKC, but without discussion, I like W’s approach. He asked partner to make a decision and partner abdicated.

This is, BTW, why relay systems work pretty well for slam auctions. We know who is supposed to make a decision.

Finally, because I always like to amuse myself in seeing how little progress modern technology sometimes yields. . .

Both slams are gimmies via Goren point count. On #2, E is 6HCP + 2 DP + 3LP when the heart fit is shown. So that hand is 11 rebid points opposite a strong 2-bid. (4NT is the right bid, but by E). On #1, E is 19 rebid points when diamonds are raised, partner forced to game. . .

At the end of the day, it wont much matter if your are counting tricks or points if someone does not add the hands together and make a decision.
Aug. 26
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If 4 was a slam try, then much more South. He has a heck of a hand of “invitational”, all working values and the missing spade control.

Not my methods here (4 is SI and pass is SI) but it was the right tools for the job on this hand. North should apparently know that South has a spade control for “pass”, but the North hand is not limited and South is co-operating below game level as he should with less than he held. South dropped the wrench.
Aug. 26
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Unflag Roland's comment as it is really funny. Hans Island is not a serious political disagreement. It is closer to Canada & US fighting over Moosylvania. (David Burn cites classic literature and I reference Rocky & Bullwinkle.)

https://www.businessinsider.com/canada-and-denmark-whiskey-war-over-hans-island-2016-1
Aug. 25
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Looks pretty complicated - any conclusions as to whether they can play?
Aug. 25
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If there is no agreement on strength for 3 and it could be six small, then East.

Otherwise, West was also a little chicken.
Aug. 25
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Their auction was GF, so pass was forcing. They “invert” pass & double. This creates more flexibility: double is TO/pass initially suggests defending/pass & pull is strong.
Aug. 25
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If one is playing behind screens, it would be nice to have reached a point in one's bridge career when one does not whine when the opponents do not spoon feed every conceivable variation.

I am all for FD, but also opposed to claims of damages in a case such as this. I would have spelled it out to some little old guy at the bridge club, but I would not penalize E/W here for assuming their opponents in an international tourney understood a common bridge term.

Fragment is less than four cards and implies shortness in an unbid suit. If you do not know that - and really should - then ASK when the opponents describe a bid with a term you do not know. Players are supposed to explain agreements, not bridge terms.
Aug. 24
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This is my preferred agreement when we are GF: X is TO, pass is looking for penalties. It gives your side pass & pull to show extras.

Without discussion I would assume partner intended penalty.
Aug. 24
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Having under-ruffed with the 3 holding K3 and now faced with the proposition of losing his natural trump trick, LH GIB was too embarrassed to follow suit when the trump ace was played.

What this means is GIB just passed a variation of the Turing Test.
Aug. 24
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Yes, if given another chance I bid 1.

But no, if I chose 2 I am done.
Aug. 24
David Yates edited this comment Aug. 24
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The one thing not to like about this article is “former”.

I miss Roland as VG coordinator almost as much as the sleep Roland missed performing his duties so well.
Aug. 22
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Ver 2.0 is a big improvement.
Aug. 20
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Looks like a wonderful location.
Aug. 20
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