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All comments by Ian Casselton
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Hi Gordon.
I have noted this phenomenon in the UK also. It seems to me that 6 * 8 board matches is better for a number of reasons: fairer, less time consuming (one fewer board but more importantly, one fewer break between matches) and it lends itself to two even sessions (most such tournaments have a break at some point).
However, of the various problems with organised bridge, this is not at the top of the list of needed immediate addressing.
For what it's worth, I like the idea of match lengths that are powers of 2 in general, which is the theme of this article.
Ian C
18 minutes ago
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Very kind of you, Kieran.

It was fun to play too :)

Ian C
May 18
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Hi Michael.

Check out this list in general, and Sandgroper in particular.

http://www.bridgewithdan.com/systems/bridge-system-collection.txt

We played it extensively 20 years ago, with reasonable success.

Ian C
May 17
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I don't agree, Ian G.

I am more likely to bid, and bid aggressively, over the less defined method. If a Precision pair get to open 1M, they are already ahead of the game - your interference is unlikely to cause them too much bother. This is not true of an Acol 1, though this difference is not extreme.

Change it to natural 1 versus nebulous Precision 1, or natural 1 versus potentially very short 1 a la the modern style, then I'm much more likely to bid and do so aggressively over the latter in each case - even the humble WJO can make it very difficult for the oppo to unscramble everything that might be needed.

Ian C
May 17
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EPILOGUE

Thank you to all those who replied to the article - much appreciated!

Before I asked, my instinct (as it always is) was to try and make advance T/O arrangements for overcaller's potential suit. I judge this is the best type of defence to a Multi 2, which exhibits similar characteristics. Further, any time that you can make a T/O DBL (or equivalent) when the oppo haven't bid their actual suit allows for safer auction entry. My musing was along the lines of

2 = T/O of clubs
RDBL = T/O of NOT clubs
Others = In the partnership Lebensohl style

However, on reading the various responses, it became clear that those who meaningfully modify their methods play RDBL (initially at least) as a puppet to 2 - most often showing one minor or both majors. This made a fair bit of sense - if one hand is balanced and another has length, then there must be a fair chance responder also has length - and if in a minor, it would be good to be able to conveniently show it. Showing both majors, NF, is useful - the weaker the NT range, the moreso. However, I judge it the lesser advantage of the two capabilities the RDBL gives.

I also share the view that the RDBL as business has marginal use - most times that I would want to wield the axe I would trust that either opener or responder could get the ball rolling with a T/O DBL.

There is also the the school of those who think responder showing their suit early (and in some cases, high) is important, primarily to prevent opener conveniently clarifying. As someone who plays a defence to 1NT along similar lines (DONK: DBL is minimum single-suited not spades, or a penalty DBL, otherwise mostly like DONT) I haven't found this to be an issue. The combination of advancer's DBL as T/O and the auction being forcing if it comes back to overcaller and they can bid their suit at the two level seems to work fine. However, at the margins, bidding a higher ranking suit must cause some discomfort to overcaller some of the time.

Related to the earlier argument that responder is relatively more likely to have length, I think a reasonable argument can also be made that responder is likely to be slightly weaker than they otherwise were a priori once the overcall is made. These two factors lead me to think playing 2 as (constructive) Stayman is less useful than it would otherwise have been. Further, as I can see RDBL showing a minor is useful, it would be even better to know which minor - allowing pre-emption/competition, perhaps even before opener has been able to clarify.

Wrapping this all up, my considered view as to how to vary our otherwise Bridge World Standard like methods is as follows …

RDBL:
Clubs, 5+ WK (Pass 2), or
Clubs, 5 INV+ (2 or higher), or
Constructive Stayman (Rebid 2), or
Weak both majors (Rebid 2)

2:
Diamonds, 5+ WK (Pass 2), or
Diamonds, 5 INV+ (2 or higher)

Otherwise pretty much system on, except the minor suit transfers of 2 & 2NT become at least INV.

Ian C

PS Expanding the idea behind 1NT (DBL) RDBL (P) 2 (P) 2 showing both majors, maybe it's best to cover all weak two suiters somehow? It could be done very easily in the above schema, noting that 1NT (DBL) 3 already caters for WK both minors

RDBL then 2: WK hearts and a black suit (4+/4+)
RDBL then 2: WK clubs and spades (not 5/4)
2 then 2: WK diamonds and hearts (not 5/4)
2 then 2: WK diamonds and spades (not 5/4)

If morphing to this, then the INV 5m hands simply rebid 2NT+
May 17
Ian Casselton edited this comment May 17
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Hi Kit.

I can't disagree with most of your detailed analysis. What caught my eye most was auction position after 1 (1) P (1NT) ?.

I like to think our generic defensive methods can handle almost all situations, but we wouldn't have been on firm ground here. After the equivalent of 1 (1) ?, we would play DBL as T/O of the option which DOESN'T contain the bid suit, so T/O of the majors, and “step” (1 here) T/O of the other option.

However, 1NT later as the (likely) undisclosed single-suiter type throws a spanner into the works, both in terms of which of the two opposition bids any potential T/O action refers to, and if it's the latter, what do various calls mean?

Instinctively, I prefer catering for the later single-suited option, and it feels like something analogous to a Multi 2 defence (2 = T/O of hearts, DBL = T/O of spades) might be best, e.g. 2 = T/O of clubs, DBL = T/O of NOT clubs. Wouldn't have worked optimally here, as one couldn't bid 2 natural (would have had to DBL, intending to T/O DBL a later heart bid, if it came).

Related to this line of thought, what is the standard expert defence to the single-suit-showing DBL in Brozel/DONT etc? Whatever it is, it could be adapted to the situation above, with DBL replacing RDBL as the main adaption.

Ian C
May 13
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Hi Florian.

As it happens, I would instinctively overcall with the West hand (as whatever method I'm playing requires, in my case, 2 showing diamonds and a major, 5+/4+ either way) so whether I should is somewhat moot.

If I did bother to think about it before making a call, it would become a philosophical question. Our philosophy is not to try for most tight games, but to overcall 1NT as frequently as practical. So, once in a while we pay out to a missed game, but we believe we gain more in the wash. Here, our downside risk is mitigated further by the Strong NT environment.

This philosophy has other effects, some initially counter-intuitive. Our interventionist approach means we also sacrifice the penalty DBL in favour of being able to describe more shapes at lower levels. Whilst this does miss the odd tight major suit game opposite a two-suiter containing a major, as alluded to above, it brings into focus penalty passes of the DBL - and games based on perfect fitting hands opposite some shapes others can't conveniently show.

Ian C
May 8
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Hi Barry.

It depends what you play the DBL of the transfer as - and interestingly, I was just discussing this with Doug Bennion in an older Bridgewinners article.

If you start from the premise you always want a take-out DBL available (this is true for me) then you have three choices …

(1) DBL of the transfer bid
(2) Cue of the shown suit
(3) DBL of the completed transfer

The above expresses my order of preference.

If you go for (1), then the cue logically becomes how you normally play a direct cue (for most, Michaels, for me, Top'n'Bottom).

(2) normally accompanies a DBL of the transfer bid showing the transfer bid suit.

I dislike (3) as it risks pre-emption from advancer before you get the take-out call in and it sacrifices the penalty option (but you probably get both Michaels and the suit-showing DBL).

I suspect (2) is slightly a more common treatment than (1), but both have significant numbers of adherents.

Ian C
May 5
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Indeed, Doug.

We would also treat it the way we treat transfers …

DBL = T/O of the shown suit
Pass then DBL = Penalty
Cue = Two suited (for us this is Top'n'Bottom, but if I were playing with a Michaels person, it would be Michaels)

Your right about the ability to show hearts at the two level, but, once again on frequency, I reckon I'd like the safer auction entry with a T/O DBL around 3 or 4 times more often than I would with a heart suit.

Ian C

PS Thanks for the Jammer article in TBW back in the day!
May 4
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You could be right, Marshall.

I don't have a big enough sample space against good enough players to be sure.

In any case, I the possibility of returning to a WK only 2NT structure is now in the back of my mind. Against that, there is something structurally sounds in the “mostly strong” version - you know explicitly what you have to do with most minimums opposite 2NT and bypasses of 2NT - an memory/judgement advantage not to be sniffed at.

Ian C
April 26
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Edit: Moved to a reply above
April 26
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Hi Richard.

I'm not sure Michael's arguments have wholesale convinced me, but his case, in particular re 3 as game interest, is fairly compelling.

There was a good set of articles in The Bridge World early 1999 IIRC which dealt with various Lebensohl, Good/Bad 2NT etc variants. Based on some ideas by Mark Abrahams, for some time I tried to optimise when to play Good 2NT versus when to play Bad 2NT.

After trying this for a while, the combination of difficulty in succinctly expressing the rules of application, with memory strain, led me to abandon the idea and go with one - hence 2NT being “mostly good” - WK with or STR without in context - as previously mentioned.

However, as Michael implicitly observes, this puts major suit, and in the actual case, heart, invitations, at risk of further pre-emption. We live with this as on a frequency basis we judge the need to compete is far more frequent that the need to invite/force - and want to bid suits directly if we might be at risk of penalty to avoid giving the oppo two chances to nail us - but we could be wrong!

Ian C
April 26
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Hi Richard.

I would be interested to hear from any Master Solvers Club class panelist (i.e. actual or their partners/teammates) if they wouldn't bid 3 on this hand in the auction given.

Some might do so with misgivings, perhaps, but I reckon they would all do it. Mind you, the way to madness lies in predictions of unanimity on said forum :)

On your later point, I would never blame partner for taking an anti-system view if he did so because he thought it were right (e.g. to fail to bid 4 even though it were systemically required) but conversely, to apportion blame to him for not doing so if that's what the partnership agreement was would be churlish IMO.

Ian C
April 26
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Hi Kit.

The first question is what 4 would have meant. I'm basically with you - I think it's diamonds or perhaps diamonds with a spade tolerance.

For me, that substantively puts the Kickback question to bed (it doesn't exist, and a jump to 4NT would be RKCB) but let's consider those who might think 4 being a cue-bid is “bridge”.

I don't think Kickback (or for that matter, Kickbo, if that is your poison, as it is mine) alters the meaning of bids, it merely switches them. So, if 4 would normally be a cue-bid and 4NT would normally be RKCB, then for those who play Kickback, these meanings would get switched. In this case, 4 wouldn't deny a diamond control - just a hand which wishes to make a forcing raise and is unsuitable for key-card asking.

Let's tweak the hypothesis further to those who think 4 being a cue-bid is “bridge” but don't play Kickback until after explicit suit agreement. In this case, 4 would remain a cue-bid and 4 would explicitly deny a diamond control (and based on 4 in the actual auction being described as a cue-bid, it appears the control showing style is 1st/2nd round controls together).

It wouldn't be my preference to play a substitute Kickback here (or in my case, a substitute Kickbo) as the relative proximity of suits affects the utility and I wouldn't care to try and document the rules governing its potential application. Hence I would revert again 4NT as RKCB and other bids as control showing cue-bids.

As to the meaning of 4 after this start (4 denying a diamond control) there are those who would play it as showing diamond and spade controls, and some who would play it as just showing a diamond control (spade control status indeterminate).

After a control showing cue-bid, it is my preference not to play 4NT as RKCB, but rather, a trump cue (either but not both of the A/K of trumps). However, I don't expect that to be a majority view these days, if ever it was.

Finally, there is the question of how obligatory a control-showing cue bid might be. For me, in an uncontested auction, control cue-bidding is more or less mandatory below game if the opportunity presents, but above game it expresses an opinion. I don't believe I've ever discussed if this changes in a competitive auction, but my instinct is that it should - with space having been consumed early, you probably want to express an opinion while you can do so safely.

In short, it comes down to various partnership agreements, which is where you were heading with your own question no doubt.

Taking the actual auction at face value (4 forcing raise, 4 1st or 2nd round control and 4NT not discussed) I think South's 3 overcall was routine and 4 the most questionable action in the auction.

I think North's actions are not unreasonable - 6 is perhaps the most open to question but to do so depends on how he thought the not discussed 4NT would be interpreted (and if RKCB, the response order).

More South than North, on balance of probability.

Ian C
April 25
Ian Casselton edited this comment April 26
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Hi Richard.

As the partnership is not limited (only I am, to a large extent, as a previous passer) then I prefer to play this as the partnership version of Lebensohl - whatever that is.

If instead both hands had passed, e.g. (1) P (2) P (P) DBL (P) 2NT, then I would play that as some form of “Scrambling” (once again, to suit the partnership style).

For what it's worth, my partnership style of Lebensohl is “mostly good”, i.e. 2NT is WK with or STR without , WK and STR being context dependent.

Ian C
April 25
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Hi Gerben.

Anyone who plays DBL as T/O of is speaking my language here (see earlier reply).

Ian C
April 24
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Hi David.

I think I'm fairly much in agreement with you.

I have a fairly simple rule - if DBL can possibly be take-out, it is (of the most likely, else the most important, possibility).

Here, the only consideration is of what suit? As we don't have relative frequency information and a chance to discuss in advance, logic dictates we care most about the situation when the oppo have the spade raise, so DBL should be T/O of that (with, as you say, whatever kind of Lebensohlish structure you might play thereafter).

It's worth noting as an aside that the thing they have given us here is a safe'ish entry point - it is slightly more dangerous going in after (1) Pass (2) ?

Other actions should be as after the above auction in my opinion, so 2 should be Michaels if that is your normal style etc.

Pass then DBL (e.g. of 2) I prefer as penalty (or perhaps Co-operative Penalty in The Bridge World lexicon).

I would only deal with an effective 1 2 auction from the opponents if it is confirmed explicitly in the later action.

Ian C
April 23
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No disagreement from me, Bernard.

Ian C
April 19
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Hi Michael R.

Agreed, but as Richard observes (and I commented in the team discussion) if you're playing to go down but minimise the loss, ducking the K seems the right start.

As a matter of interest, after that start, do you think you would have found the two down defence?

Ian C
April 19
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Hi Michael R and others.

Thanks for replying!

For the record, when given the problem, I said I would take the hook fairly quickly. This was not the result of some deep analysis, but rather, a philosophy which leads to a fairly blunt heuristic - play to make unless that is demonstrably inferior by inspection. I think there are more important things to expend time and effort on.

Nevertheless, the deal caused considerably debate amongst my normal team, not all of whom (including me) were playing on the day.

In the brief analysis that I did, as much to consider the possibility of whether I could possibly induce round suit honours to crash as anything else, I judged that the hook was likely to be slightly anti-percentage. I reckoned LHO was a strong favourite to hold the J as well as the KQ for the lead, and that of the five remaining relevant cards, RHO would hold four of them. Yes, RHO might open with only three of them if AAK, or I could be wrong about the J, but that would make LHO considerably less inclined to sell out to 3.

However, as alluded to by others above, spades might be 5-3 and not 4-4 and with three prime cards plus the Q, RHO might have found 3. Hence, I think my a priori near 1 in 5 chance of LHO holding the Q is perhaps closer to 1 in 4 in practise.

For anyone interested in the actual result, the LH/RH hands were

T952 K KQJ4 9765 / Q874 A75 9862 AK

My usual teammate took the hook, which of course lost, and the oppo did negotiate the club ruff. This led to -300 and a loss of 5 IMPs against the 1NT by E making contract in the other room. This was the margin of a 7-12 loss in the match, and enough to move them from equal second to fourth in the event (it was the final match).

Unlucky, I think, but not all agreed …

Ian C
April 19
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