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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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The tempo issue when playing suit-preference at trick 1 is greatly overestimated. For starters, third hand is always entitled to 10 or 15 seconds to “think” about his play and the hand. In fact, if declarer instantly calls a card from dummy (which he shouldn't do, but we all get careless at times), third hand is entitled and expected to “think” for 10 or 15 seconds even if he has nothing resembling a problem. If third hand plays instantly, that would give partner UI.

Once I have decided what signal I want to give, it is automatic which card I should play. In the 20 years I have been playing suit-preference at trick 1, I don't think I have ever had to “think” for more than 10 or 15 seconds when it was a question of signaling. If I did have to think longer then the question was which signal I wanted to give, not which card to play when I didn't have the optimal card for the signal I wanted to give. That can be a problem for any signaling system.

The new convention chart says:

Note: Distinct meanings for middle cards (vs. highest and lowest) are permissible.

This is exactly what we do. Middle cards are encouraging (vs. high cards which are suit-preference high, low cards which are suit-preference low).

Yes, the 10 is our strongest suit-preference high, and the 2 is our strongest suit-preference low. These are the same priorities as with Standard players. If you hold 1093 and wish to encourage, you play the 10, not the 9. If you hold 1032 and wish to discourage, you play the 2, not the 3.

As for quibbling about the priorities of our middle cards (6, 5, 7) that is getting absurd. The 6 is the most middle card, since there are 4 spots higher and 4 spots lower. Obviously it will be the most readable spot card to play when we wish to encourage.

What happens when we don't have the desired spot card? Let's suppose we hold 632, and would prefer to give suit-preference high, can live with partner reading our signal as suit-preference low, but absolutely cannot stand it if partner reads our signal as encouraging. It wouldn't make sense to play the 6, since partner is sure to read this as encouraging. Instead we play the 3, which partner will probably interpret as suit-preference low. Not ideal, but we avoid giving the signal he will surely misinterpret. This isn't a matter of partnership agreement. It is a matter of bridge logic.

Standard players do the same thing. Let's suppose partner leads the ace, and you have 1062. The hand is such that you want partner to cash another round and then switch. If you play the 2, he will read that as discouraging and shift. If you play the 10, he will continue a third round. Instead you play the 6, hoping that he will cash another round, and then follow with the 10 in order to tell him that you weren't giving the most encouraging signal.
an hour ago
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No, it doesn't mean that. All it means if you follow low in tempo is that either you don't have the ace or you have the ace but decided to play small.

Of course if apriori you are 50% to hold the ace and there is some chance that you might go up ace, then when you play low in tempo the chances that you don't have the ace are greater than 50%. But this would be true regardless of whether you win he ace quickly or slowly when you choose to win the ace.
Dec. 16
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If declarer had that hand, he would not have risked the king of diamonds getting ruffed. He would have led the king of spades at trick 2, won the heart return, played two top spades, and discarded a diamond on a heart, making as many tricks as possible.

I agree that I should have mentioned this possibility.
Dec. 16
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Thanks. Fixed.
Dec. 16
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Normally 2NT openings lead to lousy slam auctions since the weak hand has to take control, but this one shouldn't be difficult if South is willing to gamble a little. Once South finds the super heart fit, he simply bids RKC. Upon finding all the key cards he asks for specific kings according to the partnership agreement. When North has both minor-suit kings, South knows the grand is at worst on a diamond finesse and may be laydown.

In my structure, it would go:

2NT 3D
4C(a) 4S(b)
4NT© 5S(d)
5NT(e) 6C(f)
6NT(g) 7H
Pass

a) Great hand for hearts
b) RKC
c) 0 or 3 keycards
d) Specific king ask
e) King of clubs at least
f) Do you have the king of diamonds?
g) Yes, have king of diamonds

South was fortunate to have been dealt the J10 of diamonds. Without those cards I don't see any way the grand can be bid sensibly without a good relay system.
Dec. 13
Kit Woolsey edited this comment Dec. 14
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I agree – Josh's line is right. I had been only looking at a low heart to the 8. Leading the jack is stronger, since that can power home 3 heart tricks without squandering a spade trick (which is all that is needed), and if it doesn't work the club finesse is in reserve. It even retains some squeeze possibilities when the heart suit doesn't come in for 3 tricks but the clubs finesse is onside and one opponent has to guard both hearts and clubs.
Dec. 12
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If you go after hearts, you will potentially have to squander a spade trick to make the most of the heart suit. This means you will almost always be winding up taking a club finesse. So, maybe the right idea is the unnatural play of taking an immediate club finesse. If it loses, you are down of course. If it wins you can test the clubs. Then:

If the clubs are 3-3, you can claim needing nothing from the heart suit.

If West has 4 clubs, you will need KQ of hearts onside. So run the spades pitching your club and play a heart.

If East has 4 clubs, lead a spade to dummy and play a heart. This will make if East has honor-doubleton of hearts, or if the heart honors are split and the 10 of spades comes down.
Dec. 12
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I would play a heart to the king and a heart to the jack. If Qx(x) of hearts is onside, ace of clubs and a club ruff allows me to handle a 4-1 club split. If Qxxx of hearts is onside, ace of clubs, club ruff, and heart to ace makes if clubs are 3-2. If Qx(x) of hearts is offside, ace of clubs and a club ruff makes if clubs are 3-2.
Dec. 12
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If any hesitation got the player a zero, there would be more he said she said disputes about whether or not there was a hesitation than you want to think about.

In addition, having to make every bid and play instantly means one could never think about the hand at all, which would take all interest out of playing.

If you want to play under such conditions, play in a speedball pairs.
Dec. 12
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In order for a slam to make, there are three necessities:

1) Not being off two key cards. RKC can take care of that if it appears to be the problem.

2) Not being off a cashing AK. Q-bidding can take care of that. Such Q-bids don't have to be at the 4-level. They can be at the 5-level.

3) Having enough tricks. This is where slam tries come in. You can have all the controls in the world, but if the tricks aren't there slam isn't going to make. You need bids such as last train to determine whether or not the tricks are there.

On the actual hand, suppose North's clubs were QJxx instead of xxxx. Now slam would be great instead of awful. That is the hand North should be moving on, after South showed more interest with the 4 call. However, the control issue is the same. Controls aren't the problem with this hand. Tricks are.

Suppose South's had AKxx of clubs and xx of hearts. His hand would be just as strong, perhaps stronger. Still, South wouldn't want to go above the 4 safety level on his own. The only way he can show interest without going above 4 is to bid 4. If a heart control were the issue, that could be determined via 5-level Q-bids.
Dec. 11
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David,

On the 7NT lead problem I would lead a spade (after the UI) because I believe a spade lead is a LA.

On the hand here, I would double (after the UI) because I do not believe that pass is a LA.

You may disagree with my bridge judgment on either or both of these hands. But there is nothing inconsistent.
Dec. 11
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All it means is that either partner didn't want to encourage a club continuation or he couldn't afford a higher spot.
Dec. 11
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Partner is forced to pass, double, or bid 5.
Dec. 11
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Maybe I shouldn't have used the term LA. However, it isn't a question of South saying he would have doubled 3. That is just a self-serving statement. Also, it is isn't a question of how likely it is that South would have doubled 3. The only things to be looked at are:

Was there MI

If so, would the correct information have made an alternative and more successful action be more attractive than the action actually taken.

If so, then adjudicate the result to what likely would have happened had the player taken the alternative action. If this adjudication is not clear, a weighted average may be necessary.
Dec. 10
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When I am playing Standard, I play as Martin describes (different coding, but the same concept).

When I am playing Precision, there is no need for 2-tiered splinters, since there won't be a slam opposite a limited opening bid when I have the weaker splinter. Instead, I use the 2-tiered approach to distinguish between a singleton and a void.
Dec. 10
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That would be true only if you were absolutely sure there is no slam. If there could be a slam after the response to RKC, you should bid it. Remember your signoff after you bid RKC is absolute. Partner can't move regardless of his hand, since you will have told him two keycards are missing.
Dec. 10
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Yes, it did. The deals in my series are always real life deals. There is no need to make things up. Bridge hands are always interesting.
Dec. 10
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I don't see any validity to that. Partner asked for a major. You have one, so you show it.

In fact, most expert pairs have an agreement about an immediate bid (vs. pass) over the double – either it shows a club stopper or denies a club stopper depending upon the partnership agreement. Either approach is fine, it is the agreement which is important. You said nothing either way in your presentation of the problem.
Dec. 9
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Paul,

Of course E-W could appeal a slow double. It would have to be shown that:

1) The slowness of the double suggested a diamond lead (as opposed to something else).

2) There was a LA to a diamond lead after the double.

IMO, neither of these conditions exist. I would expect any double of 7NT to be made slowly. In addition. IMO the diamond lead is 1000% after the double.
Dec. 9
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I think the ACBL rules are meant for no screens. With screens, it should be: Alert and explain any understanding if there is the slightest possibility that it would otherwise not be interpreted properly.

As I said, most likely Bobby and Joe didn't have a specific agreement about the pass since they aren't a regular partnership. Bobby probably just made the assumption that Joe would have redoubled with first round diamond control, which is mainstream.
Dec. 9
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