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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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Why do you say a 2 rebid is invitational with hearts? If I had something like: xxx Qx xx AQJxxx I would bid 2, then 2, and not want it to be invitational. Would you do differently?
May 6
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Let's assume that West is 5-4 in spades and diamonds. I understand that there are other possibilities, but this is the most likely scenario, so if one play comes out clearly better on this assumption it will be the right play.

Leading a spade is superior when West has stiff ace of hearts and xxx in clubs.

Leading a heart is superior when West has Ax of hearts and xx in clubs.

There is 1 stiff ace. There are 20 xxx holdings (5 things taken 3 at a time). That gives 20 winning layouts for leading a spade.

There are 4 Ax holdings. There are 20 xx holdings (5 things taken 2 at a time). That give 80 winning layouts for leading a heart.

It isn't close. Leading a heart is far better.
May 6
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Right. Our general agreements when they double a low-level artificial bid like this are:

Pass = asks partner to pass it out there with 3+ in the suit (if next hand passes), to shut up if next hand bids.

Redouble = forces the cheapest bid, to place the contract.

Other = as if no double.

This agreement will let us escape in the artificial suit sometimes, or force them to pull when they don't have a stack in the suit. It is most valuable when partner opens 2 multi and we are short in one of the majors.
May 6
ATB
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South's defense makes no sense. While it might be right to win the ace of spades and shift to a heart, if South is planning on continuing spades it will always be better to play the queen of spades. If West has the king, nothing will be lost. If partner has the king, partner will know what is going on in the spade suit and can defend accordingly.
May 5
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I have thought about it. The answer is: almost never.

For us to go -500, that would mean the opponents would be able to take 8 tricks with our 7 or 8-card fit trumps. If they can do that they are on the verge of making 3NT, which means that RHO wouldn't have passed 1NT.

Furthermore, even if we are in trouble who is going to double? Not the 1NT opener, since he has bid his hand and doesn't know that his partner has anything. So only the partner of the 1NT bidder can double, and he would need a trump stack to do this. Furthermore, most pairs play that his double is takeout, so even that risk is non-existent.

In addition, most pairs are unwilling to make what might be a marginal double of 2 of a major for fear of doubling the opponents into game. They know their par is to get any plus score, so they are happy defeating the contract undoubled.

Sure, it could happen. But in real life going for a number with this balancing action is very rare. The actual hand is a perfect illustration. The 2 bidder hit just about the worst possible holding. His partner had no fit for either major, and the opponents had well over half the deck. And nothing terrible happened.
May 5
Kit Woolsey edited this comment May 5
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Strength has nothing to do with the decision of whether or not to balance with both majors. You know from West's pass of 1NT that every king you don't hold is in partner's hand. In fact, the weaker you are the more attractive balancing is. If partner has, say, 13 HCP, the reason he didn't act immediately is likely because he has a balanced hand, and if partner is balanced you are more likely to catch a fit in one of the majors.

As to a guideline about whether or not to balance, keep in mind that passing is equivalent to choosing to play 1NT rather than 2 of a major, since you need the same 7 tricks to get a plus score. So, ask yourself the following question: Suppose partner opened 1NT showing a balanced hand in the range where your side has approximately half the deck opposite your hand. Would you pass, or would you bid garbage Stayman? The answer to that question will tell you what to do.
May 5
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South might have taken different actions. However, North's failure to compete to 3 with a known 9-card fit and a singleton in the enemy suit is criminal. North clearly doesn't understand the Law of Total Tricks.
May 4
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Sorry, but I don't buy this. This isn't the Peter Fredin hand, and you know that it isn't. Declarer won't try that swindle. He will take the perfectly legitimate line of knocking out the ace of spades, then ducking the first round of diamonds, before playing AK of hearts, stripping the black suits, and hoping the player with 3 hearts has a doubleton diamond.

Probably your best bet is to hope declarer has the 9 of hearts. Play an honest and seemingly careless 2 of clubs on the first round, showing your length. Duck the first round of spades, so declarer will be concerned about a spade ruff. This might cause declarer to abandon the strip and misguess the hearts.
May 4
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On a club lead, it might be right to win the ace of clubs, diamond to ace, diamond ruff, and then ace and a heart. The point is that if East has stiff 10 or 9 of hearts you still have good chances with a trump coup. On a club return, say, you win in hand, cash the king of diamonds discarding a club, ruff a club, spade to queen, and ram good clubs through West. All this needs is a 3-2 club split. Since this line might give better protection against a club ruff when the clubs are 4-1, it could be best.
May 4
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Patrick,

That's exactly what you want to happen! You want it broadcast to as many people as possible exactly what you are doing.
May 4
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I wasn't talking about avoiding disqualification. I was focusing on visibility. If you just refuse to play against them, nobody may notice. But if you sit there for 15 minutes without making a bid, it will be quite clear to directors, kibitzers, and other players exactly what you are doing. The hope is that the next pair who plays them says to themselves: Hey, if Roy and Sabine can do this, we can also. Once the ball gets rolling, that will have the desired effect.
May 3
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Perhaps a better approach than refusing to play against them is to sit down to play, but simply don't make a bid for the entire round. You will get a slow play penalty, of course, but you won't be expelled for not playing against a pair. More important, it will be visible to other players what you are doing, and other players will be more inclined to follow your example. That is the key. If everybody refuses to make a bid against them, that will do the job.
May 3
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If the 2 call shows 6+ spades in the partnership agreement, both East and West should have explained this agreement to their screenmate when the call was made. If they had followed the proper procedure, there would not have been a problem. The fact that East happens to have 5 spades doesn't matter. East is entitled to bid his hand as he sees fit.

Obviously the question was worded badly. The proper wording is: Does the 2 call show 6+ spades. If the question had been worded properly, East could answer yes without a problem.

As it was, East was put in an awkward position. His best move would have been to answer the question in writing by saying: 2 shows 6+ spades.

Anyway, East can bid his hand as he sees fit and there is no MI.
May 3
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When I declared the hand I did win the first trick for that reason. However, it was an error. The double end-play will work regardless if you duck. The problem with winning the first trick is that I didn't know whom to play for the 10 of clubs. Oren's play was better.
April 29
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The different scoring involves some radical departures from normal matchpoint strategy. Some examples:

You have a 3-3-3-4 17-count. Bidding is: 1NT-2;2-3NT;? Do you pass or bid 4? With normal scoring, this can be a challenging decision. Both games figure to make. If notrump takes the same number of tricks, you want to play 3NT. If spades takes one more trick, you want to play 4. However, with a 10-point differential not mattering it is clear to bid 4. Notrump needs to take one more trick than spades in order to be profitable, and that doesn't seem likely.

You have a 2-4-4-3 9-count. Bidding is: 1S-1NT;2D-? Assume in your methods 2 will always be a 4+ card suit. Should you pass or take a preference to 2? With normal scoring this is a difficult decision, since if there are 9 tricks in spades playing the 5-2 fit will beat 10 tricks in diamonds. However with a 10-point differential not counting, it is clear to pass 2. Diamonds figures to take 1 more trick than spades, so there is no gain from playing in the major.

You have bid to 2, which you think you can make, and the opponents bid to 3 which you might or might not beat. You don't think you can make 3. Do you double or not?

If they are vulnerable, then at normal scoring it it mandatory to double even if they may be slight favorites to make, since the difference between +100 and +200 may be a full board. However, with 10 points not mattering your +100 will suffice to push the board, so you shouldn't double unless you think they are more likely than not to go down.

If they are non-vulnerable and you beat them a trick, doubling won't protect your +110 at normal scoring. With 10 points not counting, it will push the board. The strange conclusion is that you should be more tempted to make that marginal double if the opponents are non-vulnerable than if they are vulnerable.

In the last segment, Bart and I defended 3. Our defense left something to be desired, and we let them make 10 tricks. Not to worry. Our teammates were +120, so we would get the same result for -110 as for -130. That isn't as it should be.

Overall, I did not like the different scoring system.
April 29
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South did not deny a spade control with 4. 3 would have been a suggestion to play in spades.

Controls aren't the only issue involved when it comes to slams. You can have all the controls in the world and still not be able to take 12 tricks. Being off a cashing AK is only one of the ways for a slam to fail. One has to judge what is the most important consideration.
April 29
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No, leading away from a bunch of small clubs is a lot safer. That doesn't give declarer anything he couldn't do himself. Worst case is something like giving declarer his guess on the queen, and that isn't likely to matter anyway.

As for leading away from the king of clubs, let's see what it takes to be right. South appears to have the ace of clubs on the auction. So, the club lead needs:

Partner to have the queen.
Declarer to have a way to discard losing clubs on diamonds.
Those discards aren't available quickly.

That is quite a parlay.

For the club lead to lose, all that is necessary is for either dummy or declarer to have to queen.

It doesn't look like a good bet.
April 29
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Why not splinter with a stiff ace? It tells partner more about your hand than a simple raise would, which will let him evaluate better.
April 29
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3 would suggest that maybe spades is a better trump suit. We don't have to play in a 4-4 heart fit just because we have one.

Why shouldn't 3NT be an offer to play? Do you think that just because we have an 8-card major-suit fit that 3NT is out of the picture? If South were 5-4-2-2 with stuff in both minors and weak hearts, he would be happy to bid 3NT over 3. And then North could pass if North had an appropriate hand to play notrump opposite that.
April 29
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This sort of problem illustrates why playing new suits non-forcing opposite 2-level overcalls is a questionable approach.
April 19
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