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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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I didn't come across it anyplace. I made it up myself, when I realized that responder couldn't intelligently bid 1NT to play when he didn't even know opener's better minor or which suit opener was short in. So from my point of view it was an original idea, although it doesn't surprise me that somebody else had thought of it independently.

Note that this isn't a general 1x-1y;1z auction. It is specifically 1-1H;1, where the 1 opening isn't necessarily opener's best minor and opener is definitely unbalanced. I have no idea how well it would work in a standard structure where opener's better minor is known.
Dec. 18, 2012
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That is correct. While these are all real hands and problems that we faced at the table, I pose the problem from the point of view of the player who I think had the most interesting decisions. It could be either myself or my partner. I don't always say whether it was my hand or my partner's hand you are looking at. And of course I don't play perfectly at the table. Nobody does.
Dec. 18, 2012
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The diamonds don't look that threatening to West. From his point of view, even if you have the ace his partner might have Q10xx.

Even if West will find the shift, you aren't any worse off than if you had led a heart back. Assuming the spade king is offside, you will make whenever East has the ace of clubs or East has a doubleton heart. That is just as good as the other approaches.

In practice, I think it very unlikely West would find the spade shift.
Dec. 18, 2012
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When the partnership has game-going values, the decision of which game to bid can be determined in a very simplistic manner:

1) Do you have an 8-card or longer major-suit fit. If so, bid game in that suit. Else,

2) Are all suits adequately stopped. If so, bid 3NT. Else,

3) Bid game in your best minor-suit fit.

Obviously there are plenty of exceptions. You may well choose to bid 3NT even after having found an 8-card major-suit fit, or you may choose to play a 7-card major-suit fit rather than 3NT. However, in order to make an intelligent decision it is vital to know what the major-suit fit is. For this reason, having opener's rebid show or deny a 6-card major is by far the most important information responder needs, which is why having the 2M rebid (or the 2NT rebid using one of the shifts) show a 6-card major is so valuable. I totally disagree with the concept of not showing the 6-card major when you have one.

The Bergen style of a reverse or new suit at the 3-level not showing extra strength naturally works better when the 1M opening is limited, since you are dealing with a 5-point range rather than an 8-point range. However, even in a standard 2/1 structure I find it works fine. The extra strength concept is a holdover from the old days where a 2/1 wasn't game-forcing, making it important for opener to distinguish between a 12-count and a 17-count so the partnership could stop below game if both partners were minimal. With 2/1 creating a game force, this is not necessary. The focus should be on finding the right strain. Once this is determined, if either partner has extra strength he can make a move towards slam. Shape before strength, always.



Dec. 18, 2012
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You do an excellent job of describing the advantages of the Schuler shift. However, no presentation of a convention is complete without a discussion of the disadvantages of the convention. I believe there are several disadvantages.

1) The danger of wrong-siding 3NT is much greater. Playing natural methods, the 2NT rebid will have only a 5-card major and is likely to have stuff in the other suits since no raise and no second suit rebid (particularly if playing the Bergen style where opener can bid a new suit without extra strength). By contrast, the 2NT rebid showing a 6-card suit might not have anything in the unbid suits. For example: xx AJxxxx xx AQx. After 1-2, opener is forced to rebid 2NT with two worthless doubletons (he might even have a singleton). If there is no 6-2 heart fit it is likely that 3NT is the best game, and responder should definitely be the declarer.

2) Opener often is unable to show his delayed support of responder's minor. Consider again my example of xx AJxxxx xx AQx after 1-2. Playing standard methods opener rebids 2. Responder can now bid 2NT as a waiting bid, allowing opener to describe more, and opener will then bid 3 and the partnership should be well-placed. If opener has to rebid 2NT on that hand, he will never be able to show his fine club support below 3NT.

3) It might be dificult to get to a new suit. Sure, responder might be able to bid a second suit. But is this a suit, or just checking to see if notrump is playable. For example, suppose responder holds: xxx x !AJxxxx AKx and the auction goes: 1-2;2NT showing 6 hearts. It would seem like responder would like to rebid 3 probing for a spade stopper. But responder would be bidding the same way if he were 5-4 or 5-5 or 6-4 in the minors. It is better if responder could punt with 2NT on some of these hands and let opener complete his description when opener is 6-4.

The bottom line is that space considerations aren't too important when opener has the 5-3-3-2 hand, since his 2NT call in Standard is a pretty accurate description. When opener has the 6-card suit, however, he needs room to complete his description. It is more important for opener to describe than for responder to describe.

Thus, while the Schuler shift does have some merits, it has some serious drawbacks. These must be taken into account before adopting the method.
Dec. 17, 2012
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I don't follow your logic. Assuming the king of spades is off and the defense is accurate:

Covering loses (compared to ducking) only when West has 3 hearts and West has the ace of clubs.

Ducking loses (compared to covering) only when West has 2 hearts and East has the ace of clubs.

Thus, if there is no possible inference in the heart suit, these two scenarios look to be just about equal to me.

At the table my decision was based more on table feel than anything else. For whatever reason, my sixth sense was that West had 3 hearts.

Dec. 16, 2012
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Yes. 1 shows a singleton or void in hearts or clubs, along with the 4-card spade suit.

It is no different from your likely 1NT opening with 5-4-2-2 shape (5-card minor, 4-card major) if the HCP strength is in your 1NT range.
Dec. 16, 2012
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David,

No, it wouldn't. As Andrew says, first rule of slam bidding is to set the trump suit. Failure to do this is the biggest cause of slam disasters IMO.

Andrew's second sequence (4, then 5) looks fine to me on your example hand. As he says, since you have bypassed 5 you presumably are missing a club control. If partner has his expected AK of spades he will know you must have a heart control, as otherwise you couldn't possibly have the values for a 5 call.



Andrew,

I think 5 is logically a slam force, since if partner prefers diamonds he must go to slam. Therefore partner is not expecting me to pass 5, so I would not. I think I would bid 6 since my hearts are so unexpectedly strong.
Dec. 15, 2012
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4 looks like the right start. If partner bids anything other than 4, that has to be good. Assuming he bids 4, I will follow with 5. He should work out that I have a 5-card heart suit, since there would be no reason for me to introduce a 4-card suit when he could have conveniently bid 4 over 4 if he had 4 hearts. If partner isn't sure of the strain (with something like Qx in hearts and xx in diamonds), he can bid 5NT and I will pick hearts.
Dec. 15, 2012
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Is there some reason we can't combine ruffing out KQx of hearts with the doubleton diamond in the hand with the doubleton spade? On club lead, say, take 3 clubs pitching a heart, ace of hearts, heart ruff. If no honor appears, forget the hearts. If an honor does appear, cross to king of diamonds, another heart ruff, and if that doesn't work take ace and king of spades and try the diamonds.
Dec. 14, 2012
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Of course that can happen. There are many other possible things which can happen. The “number” you go for might be only -100 vs. the enemy game, or maybe even +530. Your partner might have the goodies and the opponent steps in at the wrong time, in which case it is your side which collects the number. The higher preempt may take away bidding room you need to get to the best game when partner has a strong hand. The higher preempt may simply be one level too high in a part-score hand. And so on.

I apologize if it appeared that going for a number and causing the opponents to have a high-level accident were the only two possibilities. I was merely trying to illustrate that one should not be afraid to take an action merely because the action is likely to lead to higher volatility. If you judge that the expected IMP result of action A is higher than of action B, you should take action A even if the downside swings of A are greater than of B.
Dec. 10, 2012
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All true, Brad. Of course a defender might be willing to risk playing the king from king-doubleton anyway. He will wind up with egg on his face when his partner has a singleton ace or queen. However, if declarer has AQx and decides that RHO would never risk playing the king from king-doubleton, then it will be declarer who wind up with egg on his face if he now tries leading low towards the 10 from an initial holding of AQx. It is situations like this which make card play more than a matter of sheer technique.
Dec. 10, 2012
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Every bid or play you make involves risk and reward. These choices are based on your judgment as to which action has the greatest expected value.

Furthermore, you don't know that opening 2 is the “safe” bid. Suppose your counterpart at the other table chooses to open 3. Now it is your 2 opening which becomes the “swinging” action which risks losing a lot of IMPs to a random event, while opening 3 becomes the “safe” action which is more likely to lead to a push.

Dec. 10, 2012
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Clearly the WBF philosophy of alerts behind screens is the correct one. I would go even further. I think the philosophy should be: If there is ANY possibility that an opponent might misinterpret the meaning of a call, then it should be alerted.

I agree with Mike about asking about enemy bids in uncontested auctions. I do this often. It isn't just for the purpose of masking when I need to know right now. It is so I can follow the logic of the auction as it develops, rather than having to work it all out at once when the auction is completed. Also, this may prepare me for a later action I need to take.
Dec. 9, 2012
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Let's carry the logic a step further. Assume the opponents know from the auction that you don't have a 10-card fit. This makes it safe for RHO to play the king from king-small (or KJ doubleton), and he should do so often. If you have AQx you will never risk trying the swindle of continuing with a small card from your hand, as this will gain only when RHO has a singleton king and it will lose when he has any king-doubleton which is three times as likely.

From the above analysis, it is clear that if RHO has KQ doubleton he should always play the king. This will protect the defense if LHO holds J9x. When LHO sees it go king-ace and then a small one from declarer, LHO will know not to go up jack, since declarer would not risk this play holding AQx.

The conclusion is that when it goes queen-ace and a small card from declarer, LHO holding J9x should know that the queen is singleton and that declarer is attempting a swindle, since he would know that from KQ doubleton his partner would always play the king.

That is how good defenders can protect themselves from this swindle.
Dec. 9, 2012
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Good guess. We play all bid other than pass or redouble mean exactly what they would have meant had there been no double.

We play that 2-3 of a minor shows the corresponding major, and asks opener about his support for that major. This is how we handle strong responding hands with a 5+ card major. Since our 3 of a major calls are pass or correct, something like this seems necessary. We find no need to bid a minor naturally.
Dec. 9, 2012
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I don't agree. Why would the 9 look less like a singleton than the 3?

Unless you know the exact effect such a play will have on partner, it is always better to make the correct play and hope partner can work it out. If you falsecard partner, you better make sure you want him to believe your falsecard.

To illustrate the dangers with this sort of play, suppose West has a 5-bagger for his multi which he could certainly have at this vulnerability. If East plays the 9, West will be convinced that East has a singleton or a doubleton heart, so continuing hearts will be automatic. If East properly plays the 3, at least there is a chance that West will get it right.
Dec. 9, 2012
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Forgetting about the multi issue, let's suppose you open 3 and 2 is opened at the other table.

Suppose in your judgment, you think it equally likely that you will gain from the higher preempt (by the opponents getting to the wrong game or having a slam accident) than that you will lose (by going for a number greater than their game).

Your average gain from their accident is about 12 IMPs. Your average loss when you go for the number is about 8 IMPs. Sure, opening 3 creates more volatility, but under these assumptions the odds are in your favor. That is what you should strive for.

Whether or not you agree with these estimates is another matter, of course. But if you believe they are accurate and there are no other considerations, then 3 figures to be a more successful action than 2.
Dec. 9, 2012
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That seems like a pretty slender inference to me. Do you think South would really pass 3NT with something like AJ109xxx xxx x Kx?
Dec. 9, 2012
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Yuan,

There is nothing you need to say. It will be clear when you put down the dummy in 3NT that you forgot your agreement (or perhaps intentionally misbid). As long as the opponents have received the proper information about the partnership agreement and your side has not made a marginal call which might have been suggested by unauthorized information, you have done what you are supposed to do.

As to what a “logical alternative” is, everybody has their own concept. I would define a logical alternative as an action which I would consider as a serious candidate, whether or not it is the action I would in fact take. On the actual hand passing 3NT would not be on my radar, so I don't consider it a logical alternative. Other players may feel differently. It is difference of opinions which make horse races and committee decisions.
Dec. 6, 2012
Kit Woolsey edited this comment Dec. 6, 2012
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