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All comments by Randy Thompson
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All of the above discussion assumes we are nonvul. Vul, I retreat to being VERY conservative when poking the beast.
Jan. 31
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What does partner expect? Nonvul at IMPs, my partner would alert and tell them that I have 4+ hearts, 4+ spades and 0-25 HCP. If partner expects at least 5-4 and wants decent suits and would commence the Spanish Inquisition if it didn't work? I would pass. Sims show that even with that 1N start, most hands will be competitive part score hands and the advantage will be to those who fire the first distributional shot. If you don't do it now, then how are you going to do anything other than defend the hardest contract to defend and do it in the dark? I would also make this bid at matchpoints if playing with a partner who would see it as “extras.” But, unlike many (here and elsewhere), I think it is MUCH safer to do it at IMPs than at matchpoints. -300 when they have only a part score is a disaster at matchpoints (if they don't have a game), but only about a 5 imp loss at IMPs. Double part score swings in our favor alone will more than offset that risk. And, if the double is in direct seat, their game bonuses will more than offset their doubles of LAWful 2M contracts. Will they double 2M when we are in trouble? MUCH more likely that they will double at match points than at IMPs. It would be a lot less likely to be doubled if the way to show the majors were to bid 2. Now there is no “train the guns” double of an artificial bid if they can hammer spades with a smile, but they have to hammer hearts with a prayer.

In balancing seat, it would be sheer insanity (IMO) to pass this hand rather than show the majors. When responder passes, the chances of us having an 8+ card major suit fit increase dramatically. Against most weak no trumpers, balancing with the majors is the only logical way to balance. Even strong no trumpers will go for those majors if they have them. A pass also enhances the chances of surviving a 4-3 fit in a major, because when they don't get out, the chances of bad splits are reduced and they have to decide which hand with 3 trumps will double and which will sit for it. Whatever else you might think about balancing after 1N-p-p, you surely have to do it anytime you have both majors.

Curmudgeons and curmudgeons-in-training like to go on and on about declarer advantages provided by competing over a strong NT. If your competitive bids are like theirs, maybe so. But if you can have everything from this shape to 7-6 and every point count from 0 to 25, will it help them? If the points in the hand above included Qx, Qxx in the minors, both of those queens would take tricks if they declare and if we were missing the KQJ, partner would score the Q if he had it. And, if you might have 4-4 or 7-6, will they know how long to hold up the A in 3N?

What if partner bids too much? He won't if he knows he needs a 5-card major to bid 3 over 3 and he needs a big fit and lots of shape to consider bidding 4M. Folks all fear the results of bidding 2 with THEIR methods and THEIR partners.
Jan. 31
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4-4-4-1 hands are offensively-challenged. If East doesn't move over 2, you probably won't have a game, and at matchpoints, plus scores always get you some. That said, East overbid as well. Even with an extra trump, a 10-loser 6 count likely won't fetch game opposite even many better hands than West held.
Jan. 30
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We have an Alzheimer's victim who plays at our club. At the end of the auction, his partner puts a bidding card from her box in the board that reminds him what the contract is and who is declarer. Neither he nor his partner is ever loud, so there is no disruption of the game. I hope he keeps playing as long as he can.
Jan. 29
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In refusing to play help suit tries, I have often referred to them as “painting a bullseye on your butt and taking a stroll across a rifle range. Even weak defenders can hop all over that weakness when responder replies that he has no help!

I am willing to play random tries – 2N is the only try and responder bids 3M or 4M. If you don't tell them anything, you'll make some games where partner's ”wrong“ max is good enough when you get the ”right" defense.

I am willing to play short suit tries (go if you have your raise w/o counting shortness in this suit and cue if you have a working max) combined with 2N as a flat raise (and responder bidding 3N w flat 8-9 or 4M w shapely 8-9. The short suit and 2N tries can be augmented with a third try – 3M to show either 6-3-2-2 or 5-4-2-2 and asking responder to go if he has his raise counting ONLY aces and kings. None of these tries offer up a double that will improve the defense.
Jan. 29
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David: Oops, 12+ is right of course. I was confusing opener's 2S rebid over 1/1 response to 1.
Jan. 29
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1H = 8-11 and <5 spades
1S = 8+ and 5+ spades
1N = 5+ hearts and 12+ HCP
2C = 5+ clubs and 12+ HCP
2D = 5+ diamonds and 12+ HCP
2H = 12-13 HCP OR 16+ HCP flat
2S = 4-4-4-1 and 18+ HCP
2N = 14-15 HCP flat

I think those are what Greco-Hampson play in Meckwell lite.
Jan. 28
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I have a structure that has worked well for a long time, at least in the context of 12-14 1N methods where the raise promises 4 card support. It should work elsewhere with ranges adjusted, but I haven't tried it there.

After 1m-1M, 2M-?? (where, in our case 2M shows 15-17 support points)

2N…GF, slam try, asking for more information
New suit…A third 4-card suit (or you could have it show shortness)
3m…5+ of m, distributional hand
3M…5 of M, likely 6 of m (but could be a black 5-5 hand)
3N…VERY flat hand (4-3-3-3 or 4-4-3-2) and a max
4m…VERY flat hand (4-3-3-3 or 4-4-3-2 and a max
3m…SHORT in opener's minor, asking opener to try to stop in 3M if doesn't have
his bid (in our case 15-17 support points) w/o counting soft values in m,
to bid 4m w only a min in support w/o counting those; and to cue w working max
New Suit…Concentration cue bid. show soft values in that suit that would be wasted if
opener doesn't have his bid w/o counting shortness in that suit. With a working
max, opener cue bids.
3M…Invite (just go w a max, pass w a min)
3N…Choice of games with very flat hand (likely 4-3-3-3)
4M…End of Auction, no slam interest.

If opener might have raised on only 3-card support, try some other structure; this one won't work.
Jan. 28
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I think Meckwell Lite was the trimmed-down version of Meckwell that Paul Soloway created and played. It certainly resembles Meckwell, as when I kibitz them on vugraph, most all their initial actions and responses are what Meckwell Lite would dictate. Their agreements relating to extended auctions get way past what most would ever try to remember.
Jan. 28
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1-P-1 showing 8-11 HCP and <5 spades is a bid that works super well at the table. When you have more, you DO show your shape AND you are in the slam zone right away, with shape shown. With game forced, and slam unlikely, and tons of bidding room remaining, preemption may have come too late to hurt us. The time to preempt big club auctions is immediately over 1.
Jan. 27
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We play that 3OM (after 1N-2T, 2M-??) is a slam try in responder's M with some stiff/void suit. 4 is a slam try in responder's suit with no stiff/void. Neither of those bids is needed for other uses (Smolen can cover the natural meanings of 3OM and 4 as a splinter is super-inefficient. When you try with 3OM, opener can ask the location of the short suit or he can warn of waste in all side suits by bidding 4M w/o asking. It is much more efficient to show short suits than long ones if you have 6+ of M as responder. The major suit 5-5 hands can be handled by using 4 as pick-a-major with no slam interest or lots of slam interest and using a transfer to 2 followed by 4 as a mild slam try with 5-5.
Jan. 26
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Hmmm, I prefer to play 1m-1M, 3N as saying “if you can stop M, we can likely make 3N.” Because we require 10 playing tricks for opening 2 and rebidding 3m, this hand comes up more than you might think.
Jan. 24
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In my Meckwell Lite partnerships, 2N is EITHER a 4-card limit OR a slam try (mere GF hands would just bid 4M). Because we would open 1N (14-16) with a five-card major and a flat 13 HCP (unless crummy), the only way opener would be accepting a limit raise would be if he has a short suit or a 6th trump. If he is accepting, he bids 3 and if it was only a limit raise NOTHING is revealed about opener's hand – responder bids 4M. If he is declining, he should have a flat 11-12 or maybe a quacky 13. If he accepts by bidding 3, 3 asks for his shortness and he shows it or rebids 3M to show he's accepting with a 6-7 card suit and no shortness. Is there more responder needs to know? The key is to reveal nothing on the limit raise hands. Slam hands have to reveal stuff in order to explore logically. We play that 1M-3M is a mixed raise, so 2N need not include that. Preemptive raises commence evasive action with a 1N semi-forcing response to try to conceal the fit when it helps them more than us to know about it. This is crazy simple but it has been working extremely well. The key is that the possible hands for 2N bracket the 1M-4M GF w no slam interest hand. Continuous ranges are beasts when the opponents step in.
Jan. 24
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No way! We who don't play last train now or ever would argue that last train is NEVER a default option undiscussed.
Jan. 23
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Not an easy hand. The traditional defense to a bid showing a limited 4-4-4-1 hand is “pass and lead trumps or double and lead trumps.” North's 15 HCP are just a bit too ugly to make a cards-showing double here and South would fear chasing them to a better spot even if double was penalty. EVERY suit is splitting badly for offense, so bids over this type of 2 opener should focus on defense and 3N. 4-4-4-1 hands have been characterized by someone I once read as “defensive giants and offensive midgets.” The goal is to keep them playing the contract with their offensive midget and don't let them get a shot at you with their defensive giant. With everything onside, North South will barely make 3N – but 800 against 2 is there for the taking. North-south's bidding was fine, but this time they bear got them.
Jan. 22
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Michael: You absolutely pinpoint the value of an undisciplined weak 2 opening. A top Washington D.C. area player who was often kind enough to answer my questions said, “If forced to pick between never opening a weak two with an unbid 4-card major on the side and always having one, I'd pick always!” That side major length makes you “almost double-proof.” If they hand with power only has a couple of cards in that major, they just can't double, even if their partner would be thrilled to convert it to penalties.
Jan. 21
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Wow. This is the big time. Congrats, Greg!
Jan. 20
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Michael: If partner is 3-3-2-5, shouldn't you be playing in the major partner prefers (probably spades, so he can declare)?
Jan. 19
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If playing a weak NT (anything weaker than 14-16), I think it is right to JS on all 4, especially at matchpoints. I voted 1-3 only in the 15-17 at IMPs context. The biggest hole in weak NT methods is when it goes 1N all pass, cold for 110 or 140 in a major suit fit the rest of the room found. This comes with NO guarantees of success. If pard has opened 1N with 2-2 in the majors it will suck to be you if you use JS.

A separate issue arises when you are too weak to invite game but have 4-5 or 5-4 in the majors. Do you Jacoby or Stayman (assuming neither suit is a good suit or headed by a 6 spot)? It gets more complicated when you would want to raise if partner has a 4 card major. had the following hand, playing IMPs pairs on BBO:

Q865
AQ632
T95
4

Playing a 12-15 IN (15 only if 4-3-3-3 and if 12 then cannot be 4-3-3-3 and must have 2 Quick Tricks and that cannot have a 5-card major), Pard opened 1N. If you transfer to hearts, pard will always superaccept with 4-card support (3 with a min, 3 with a max) or bid 2N with 3-card support and 3 card heart support in a 15 HCP hand. My partner and I parted ways on whether to use Stayman or Jacoby. This is a common disagreement he and I have and experience has not yet proven to either of us which is better. Any advice? Would it be different if weaker? I know it would be different if suit quality was very different (do what it takes to get into the good suit).
Jan. 19
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David:

“a regular weak 2♦; which can often be opened 3♦ anyway”

That's also my solution to not having a weak 2 available when playing Meckwell Lite! But, it only solves the 6-card weak two problem; the 5-card weak two has to use the cursed green card or step up and open 1 (at least if nonvul in third seat). Unfortunately, 5-card suits are dealt 3 times as frequently as 6-card suits.
Jan. 18
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