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All comments by Randy Thompson
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I abstained because I would have bid 4 at my first turn and let partner deal with it after that. If partner is void in hearts? He won't be next time! If he is? He won't be the time after that! I won't stop bidding 4, so partners have to stop doubling with hands where it's wrong for me to bid 4M with a seven-bagger. What should he bid? Anything other than double.
Oct. 13, 2014
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I only play semi-forcing 1N in the context of Precision 14-16 1N openers that can contain a 5 card major. In that context, it works very well and opener always passes 1N unless he has a 4+ card side suit or a 6th card in M. When playing 12-14 1N openers that cannot have a 5 card major, I don't think it works as well. Plus, in the latter context, we play that 1N then 3 of a lower ranking suit is the hand where pre-2/1 GF you could bid and rebid the suit to invite but not force game and we play 1N then 4M is a “Secret Side-Suit raise” (3 trumps, some long side suit that isn't a good suit, some stiff/void and only about 11-13 HCP). That precludes using 1N semi-forcing (IMO). Secret Side Suit Raises “purify” the new-suit then 3M/4M game forces as showing GOOD suits (2 of top 3 or AJTxx or better).

I respectfully disagree that it doesn't matter whether responder shows a 4th trump in his less-than-gf raises. Opener can be MUCH more aggressive when he can re-value his hand in support of Responder's 4-card suit. Maybe because our openers are sound, we can't hold 12 in support of M without forcing game (direct 3N = 12-14 HCP, 3+ trumps, no stiff/void, a “Flat Rat Raise”), so we can't have “extra points” in our 3-card limits. I do think it doesn't matter very much in the context of very strong hands – and we use a 2N forcing raise on those hands, even with only 3 card support (too strong for a splinter, too strong for a Flat Rat Raise or too strong for a Secret Side Suit Raise). When responder is limited, he shows; when he is very strong he asks.
Oct. 12, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Oct. 12, 2014
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I would bid 3N, wishing I had a third club, but Bridgetta dealt us only 2. Perhaps that will be enough if RHO has only 2 or if partner has a club card. At match points, or nonvul at IMPs, I would pass. Vul at IMPs, I think you gotta do SOMEthing, so 3N just seems less dreadful to me than 3 or double (because no one in my partnerships gets much practice declaring 4-2 fits). I have some respect for passing – you might avoid -400 that way.

Notice the “loose deuce” theory (if a bid would be perfect if you just moved a deuce, how bad can it be?) doesn't help here. Move the 2 to spades and 3 would be easy; move it to hearts and double would be easy; and move it to clubs and 3N would be easy. So, I suppose what makes this a hard problem is that the 2 is misplaced!
Oct. 10, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Oct. 10, 2014
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Here, we play transfers can be to 4-card suits (with a hand strong enough to invite game opposite a big NT) and if we have say 4-4 in the majors, we would transfer to hearts and rebid 2 non forcing to show 4+ 4+ in the majors and about 8-11. But, this lets us also transfer to a 6 card suit with 4+ HCP. Opener is required to jump-accept the transfer with 4 of responder's major (3M = 15-16 in suppt, 4M = 17-18 in suppt and jumpcuebid = 19+ in suppt). If you are interested, I can send you the outline via e-mail. Redouble here would be a transfer to diamonds (usually just a 6-9 raise with 4 cd suppt but maybe a good hands with diamonds and another suit).
Oct. 9, 2014
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I have no intention of playing in clubs (ruffing spades with club honors seems like a bad idea to me), but bidding 4 now (clearly forcing and presumptively natural) seems right. We could belong in 5, 6, 7, 5, 6 or 7 and pard's bid over 4 should help us decide. We won't be playing 4 – if that was right (7 good hearts and out to lunch), pard should have bid 4 at his first turn. Hope we have some firm agreements about 4N over partners 4 or 4 rebids.
Oct. 9, 2014
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I would have bid 2N on the prior round, as redouble gives them extra bidding room (which they used) and either call should show a flat hand too good for a 1N opener. Redouble should include at least one suit we want to double and we don't have that. Partner's 3 in front of my redouble should show a 4th heart if he had no way to show that earlier. Bidding game isn't because of having 18 HCP; it's because we expect/hope to make it and because we have a lead and want to match the decision at the other table.
Oct. 9, 2014
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You could fill a book of bidding quizzes with the gnarly problems created by “Tom” bids (two of the“other minor”). That's why I like to be the one bidding 2 over 1 or 2 over 1, not one of the folks reacting to those nasty bids. In a weak no trump context, where 1m cannot be the dreaded flat 12-14, my partner and I play “ToTom” (transfers over Two of the other minor). I tried to figure out how to use transfers in standard auctions to help deal with these dilemmas, but wasn't able to come up with anything good. Tom Bids are one of our “smoking lamp is lit” auctions where the Tom Bidder is allowed to be “creative” and “just disruptive” without being hanged for it by his CHO.

Here, I chose competitive (is that “DSI?”) because if I had really been dealt super shape I'd likely have already acted or else my partner or the opponents would be bidding more. If I really had been dealt a penalty double, the auction would NEVER go like this, as my partner would have bid something over 3 with about 99.9% certainty (stiff/void club would light a fire under him and inspire aggressive action). All that left was some awkward hand with some values (say 4-3-3-3 and about 8-11 HCP and no club stopper) and enough feistiness to not want to settle for defending 3 undoubled. In other words, it's a hand that probably should pass instead of doubling and the dreadful 6 count given as the example should surely pass. You can make a case for any of the choices here, and it's only important that you and your partner are on the same page (unlike my partner who said “penalty” and me who said “competitive”). Maybe we aren't all that far apart, as a partner who passed over 3 will likely also pass over 3 doubled.
Oct. 8, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Oct. 8, 2014
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A weak player in a money bridge game took a bathroom break and apologized when he returned. His partner said, “no problem, that's the only time all day I've known what you had in your hand.”

In days of yore when dust-ups at the table were common, a director who was called to the table asked “Did you really call your opponent an ass?” Reply: “yes, but on reflection, it was an insufficient call.”
Oct. 8, 2014
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We alert all of our bids after we make a DONT 2m bid. The cheapest is just asking for the second suit and other bids promise 6+ cards and are non forcing. Nonvul over a big NT, our “two-suiters” can be 4-4's (with 0-25 HCP) so we don't obsess about always playing in one of partner's suits if we have 6 of our own suit. Yes, we give the full explanation about 4+ and 4+ and the 0-25 range. It's a GOOD thing for our side to tell them all that – it gives them the sense they are receiving abuse others won't face, which can foster bad decisions.
Oct. 5, 2014
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I was just drafting the response below when I saw yours. :)

Louis Watson: The Play of the Hand at Bridge. Written in the 1930's, it is still probably the best book ever on declaring. It (literally) starts with the fact that an ace beats a king and then moves on to the fact that a king beats a queen! From there, (skipping NO steps), he moves on till reaching endplays and squeezes late in the book. I try to re-read it every five years or so and it still doesn't bore me, even though declarer play is neither my strength nor my interest.
Oct. 4, 2014
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IMO, Kit's is the ONLY good book on matchpoints ever written. My copy also has fallen apart due to bad binding, but I have doggedly kept those pages together and have reread it every few years. Often, when I get the urge to save at matchpoints, I think back to Kit's “parlay” explanation and then pull out a green card instead. The notion that strain is more important than level at matchpoints is another thing that (in rare lucid moments) comes back to save me now and then.
Oct. 4, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Oct. 4, 2014
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And a pro who you all know today, as a youngster back then, wore a tee shirt to a Washington tournament that said, "Man made booze. God made grass. Who do YOU trust?
Oct. 2, 2014
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Early on, I learned that the perfect time to psych was at the table of a notorious psycher. His partners always would suspect that he was the one causing all the action.

One guy I played with for a while many years ago was notorious for his action and psychs, but playing with him I discovered that they were rare –but perfectly timed. Ray advised “never psych a stiff or void – instead pick off a suit that will be breaking well for the opponents and that partner is less likely to raise.” He wouldn't play weak two's so when I was dealt QJxxxx and cheese at favorable vulnerability against a top pair in a regional, I “had” to open 3 because 2 would have been ACOL. That froze out the first opponent (while he might have bid over 2). Then Ray bid 4N RKC. That froze out the second opponent. I swear that he seemed unhappy when I bid 5 and he had to “sign off” in 5. The opponents' points were divided and the fact that they had an easy slam never occurred to them (or me) until dummy hit with its pair of queens and square shape. Down 7 is good bridge. And so a legend earns his rep.

These days, I'm old and stodgy and never psych. Sometimes I bid when others might pass, or bid a different suit than others might pick (e.g. with 5-5 in the pointed suits nonvul in 3d seat, I think it's automatic to open 2 not 2, regardless of relative suit qualities) but it's not a psych, just a matter of warped judgment.
Oct. 2, 2014
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I started playing tournaments in 1972, and started playing K-S in about 1974. I played K-S controlled psychs in the mid-1970's and then stopped playing them when the controls were outlawed (somewhere in the very late 70's or very early 80's). If I couldn't have controls on them, they just weren't worth it.

They also tried to ban EHAA, but wound up only being able to ban the mandatory psych aspect of the system and the name. Doubt if anyone was ever busted for playing even the mandatory psych aspect of it but the ancients who made the rules were offended by the notion of NEVER passing a hand. If memory serves, 2X was 5+ of X and 6-12 HCP; 1X was 4+ of X and 13+ HCP and 1N was 16-18 (quaint!). With 0-5 HCP you psyched 1X (real suit). Those playing “Chicken EHAA” used 3 as their forcing opening bid. More daring EHAA players just didn't pass 1X very often and had no GF opening bid (a forerunner of Fantunes?). When the name was banned, one pair who didn't stop playing it called their system WBOS (We Bid Our Suits). It was so natural that it was very hard for the powers that hated it to say what was wrong about it other than mandatory psychs. So folks would just pass now and then so no one could say their psychs were mandatory (just frequent).

Others (who no doubt were feeling the effects of rampant hallucinogens) sometimes in clubs played “One Bid” as a system – each player in the partnership could only make one bid (other than pass or double) in any auction. Others played “No Peek”. They didn't look at their hands but always passed in first or second seat and waited to see what happened. In 3d seat they always opened 1C and if 4th chair didn't bid, they bid 3N. Obviously, if directors discovered what they were doing they were barred from certain clubs for a while, but most didn't really care.
Oct. 2, 2014
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We haven't thought this through carefully since we added Reverse Flannery responses to our methods, but there certainly is no need for 2 to be non forcing. 2 is not forcing; 2N is invite (10-11), as are 3 and 3. If we “make up” a suit it would be clubs, the Rodney Dangerfield of suits. 3 and 4 would be splinters. If we can't stop either hearts or clubs but want to force game but can't splinter? We are in a world of hurt, but luckily such hands are rare. This is an uncomfortable auction for us because we have to rebid 2 far more often than most (because a 2 rebid would be forcing and show a reverse or a decent three-card raise and a 1N rebid would show 15-17). So, we likely will do something more creative with 2 eventually. Probably we will go to a 4sf type of structure, where 2 is GF and presumed natural (but opener can't raise past 3).

I agree with Eric that the cheapest bid here is the theoretically best artificial game force, but we old dogs don't make up major suits partner might have 4 of without great fear of our CHO and extensive revision of system notes after discussion. And, we have to do this in a way consistent with 1 -1, 2-?? or auctions, etc. Hate non-symetric methods as they are too much memory strain.
Oct. 2, 2014
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Yes. And yes, I would.
Sept. 30, 2014
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I play mostly IMPs and think double with this hand stands out as a choice. I agree that you need to have your style decisions made in advance so that this double can be in the same tempo as your “heavier” ones. I suspect that many “Crypto and Telltale” pairs double slowly with this hand but cheerfully with the K added.

I remember Mike Cappelletti recounting an auction in the Hospitality Suite as follows: “You open a 12-14 1N and LHO passes after a full thirteen-point hesitation…..”
Sept. 30, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Oct. 1, 2014
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If not now, when? If you pass this hand, will partner be better placed to get us into the auction after the most-likely 1N response? Partners of the passers will have to be very aggressive with awkward shapes in order not to be stolen blind. I would prefer that my J were the 2, but if you wait for perfect hands, you wind up giving partner Bridge World Uhold problems. I like to get in there aggressively early, then leave the rest up to partner if I'm light.

AJ is a doubleton and that's shorter than partner rates to be (so, as luck would have it, I agree with my regular partner! :) ) AJ is 1.5 tricks? Is partner always dealt a heart honor when they open 1 and we have two honors?
Sept. 30, 2014
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I can't even imagine taking a call – the first time or now. P.S. – maybe that's why I do better at IMPs than matchpoints.
Sept. 29, 2014
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A passed hand 2 isn't a “drop-dead” 2. He surely promises a rebid over 2 – he could have bid 1N or opened 2, after all. Once that is true, 3 is a splinter, even in a casual partnership, and it stands out as the best choice (IMO). I wouldn't think twice about this – just bid 3.

We won't be playing 3N if partner has only one heart stopper. He knows he's on his own and getting a heart lead, so maybe he would bid it with something like: Qx QJ9x AJxxx xx, but, with only one soft heart stopper, he should bid 4 and with no dead heart points he would bid 5. I have no sense of humor when Vul at Imps, so we will play either 5 or 3N depending on whether partner has a possible double heart stopper that translates to too much waste in diamonds. If partner bids 5, I would expect slam to be on a hook, but wouldn't bid it unless behind late in a KO match or swinging at the end of an IMP pairs.
Sept. 29, 2014
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