Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Randy Thompson
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Well, if you have 2 spade tricks, you don't need to find that other 1/2 of a diamond trick. With at least 4 dummy entries (very likely 5) and lots of high trumps in hand, setting up the 5th spade should be about 60% and then if that fails, you still have that 1/2 of a diamond trick to fall back on unless they lead dias at the go and again if you let them in with a heart.

The auction wasn't so bad up until the 5 signoff. If partner is trying for slam with no diamond controls and missing the KJ of trumps, He ought to have a spade control. The auction given with a 6 conclusion would be reasonable for a pair not established enough to be sure that 3 wouldn't be misunderstood.
Sept. 13, 2014
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How about 4 is an offer to play and I bid 6? I don't think it can be an offer to play, however. With 4 spades partner would always have bid spades at his first rebid. I don't think I can possibly have 5 spades and enough to now cue bid and not have started with a spade bid instead of a negative double. Therefore, if it is an offer to play, it is misguided. Speaking of which . . .

Are you playing Weak No Trumps? If not, why no 1N by partner? I will likely always have a hard time bidding with a partner who thinks that is a 1 opener if 15 is in your range for 1N.
Sept. 13, 2014
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An aggressive, but acceptable, 3 bid would have the hearts and clubs reversed. Then it would serve the purposes of warding off a double of 4 without 4 tricks outside the heart suit, lead direction and of denying the opponents a cue bid of 3. Here? Shrug. PARTNER thinks 4 is forcing – so it is.
Sept. 12, 2014
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Great idea for a format!
Sept. 11, 2014
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The four forms of scoring – BAM, matchpoints, IMPs and total points (played almost solely for money or for funsies)– reward different skill sets. I find BAM crazy hard and it punishes my weaknesses far more than it rewards my strengths. Matchpoints in a tough field is “real” bridge for sure, but it can be random because your “teammates” are a diverse field. IMPs is my favorite form of scoring, probably because I do better at it (as it rewards my strengths far more than it punishes my weaknesses). I think everyone winds up deciding that way – preferring the form of scoring at which they do best – just like some tennis players do better on grass, on clay or on hard courts and some are better at doubles than singles or vice versa.

Mike Cappelletti, Nick Nickell and the Kaplan-Kaye partnership drove me out of the Reisinger in 1981. Each did something spectacular that I would never in all my life be up to doing (nor were our teammates). I saw no reason ever to play that event again. My wife and I played the Mixed BAM for a while and always got good teammates (as a “natural” mixed pair we “punched above our weight” in any mixed event) and always made the second day but never scratched, because in the second day you play only people who know what they are doing at BAM and we didn't.

Playing big KOs during the 80's and early 90's I always “knew” I could get lucky enough to win even a 64 board match and didn't mind the many times it didn't happen. I was NOT intimidated at IMPs (often beaten; never intimidated). We COULD win IMPs, even against top teams, up until the time dummy came down. Bidding and opening leads were our strengths and that's where most IMPs change hands. Playing in a long-time serious partnership (the only way I play) means your strengths tend to be in the “cooperative” areas of bridge.

My biggest weakness has always been as a declarer when the trick goal isn't clear. I'm not that bad of a declarer at IMPs, but at IMPs, I KNOW how many tricks I need to take, almost all the time and I know the risk-reward odds of each decision and re-reading the Reese-Trezel Safety Play book matters. At BAM or matchpoints I need an adviser sitting there whispering in my ear (“go for ONE overtrick and that's your best shot” or “play for down one and you are bound to score well”) and I could do much better.

It's all “real,” Henry. But only the very best players are good at ALL forms of the game.
Sept. 10, 2014
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Make the JS a low one and this is still a VERY good slam, not “dubious.” Draw trumps; cash A and then lead up to the queen through the non-preemptor who has at least one more spot in his hand that could be the K than RHO. Make the Q a low one and we are still somewhere north of 25% to make. If partner has say A xxx Axx AKQxxx what would our chances be?
Sept. 10, 2014
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With a fit and a void, I think the old saw is to “bid one more for safety.” It's hard to say who's making, but pard apparently bid 5 to make and I have what could easily be 4 tricks for him. I might be turning +200 into -200, but that's the way things sometimes go when there are two big fits at the table.
Sept. 10, 2014
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Start with 1 instead of 1.
Then splinter with 3.
Then over 3 cuebid, bid 5 Exclusion RKC.
2N is an underbid regardless of what was opened. Surely you don't bid 12 and 14 the same way here (unless 2 was GF). After 1-2, 3-?? then try whatever would be exclusion RKC in your methods (4 or 5).

Kit summarized my agreements with all partners – never never never correct a leap to slam, as the leap says there was no intelligent way to explore a better contract. Partner is NOT allowed to bid on or correct the strain. If 6 here was wrong, talk about it later; for now pass and don't insult partner.
Sept. 10, 2014
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Wait, I thought 4 said “clubs are trumps; slam try.” How can 4 now be an offer to play? IMO, that is double-crossing partner. 4 should show a spade A/K, a diamond control and still cooperating towards slam. I suppose 4N is a better choice than 4, as it shows a spade and diamond control by inference and lets you find out about aces, but if partner passes 4, that's his problem. We certainly should get to at least 6 over a 4 bid! If partner has the A he knows my 4 bid showed the K. We might miss a grand now (if that cuebid endplayed him into a leap to 6), but we should never miss 6.
Sept. 9, 2014
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Know your customer and bid accordingly. Your idea of what a double shows and mine and 20 other people's may result in 22 different definitions of double.
Sept. 8, 2014
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Tom: I agree with you about only playing micro 1N's in a big club context. There is just too much territory to cover otherwise. You can squeeze it some by putting 19's in the 2N opener box, but you still have to have some mighty broad ranges in other no trump rebids (probably 13-16 for 1N and 17-18 for 2N rebids). 13-16 ranges are terrifying for a partner with say 8+ or 9 HCP.
Sept. 6, 2014
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No – all system-on bids, including transfers, are invite+ – we let THEM do the preempting and if they do partner knows we have at least game invite values. It might be different if playing a micro no trump, but ours is a robust 12-14, where we subtract a point for 4-3-3-3 and thus if 4-3-3-3 are 13-15 and if we have only 12 we have at least two quick tricks. Once responder has as many as 5 points, there is no big return on preempting. The key is to let partner know when we are “just competing” (e.g., redouble then bid 2) or are looking for game (e.g., transfer to spades immediately).
Sept. 6, 2014
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IMO, having played 12-14 NTs since 1974, every 2-level response should be the possible beginning of an escape, an invite, a gf, or a slam try. When that isn't the case, (e.g., 2-way stayman) then it is much easier to defend. Also, weak NTs are no better than a 50% device at match points but are MUCH better at IMPs. Folks imagine that -800 is the downside of weak NTs but that couldn't be more wrong. +90 when cold for +140 is the nightmare of weak NTs and that matters only at match points. Weak NTs can dominate your match point results – giving you a huge edge or huge disadvantage with about the same frequency. That sets you apart from the field and helps you win some games but will doom you to a dreadful score now and then.

You need good methods for auctions when they double. I recommend that you handle all escapes with either pass or redouble and keep your constructive system “on.” Redouble should deny invite values, show some 5+ suit and opener bids 2 and responder passes or corrects. Pass is more complicated. It MIGHT be an invite+ hand (but with no major suit interest), might be one where you expect to make 1N, or might be one where you are really hurting – no 5 card suit and very weak. Opener is required to: Pass with any 4-3-3-3 (we won't have a better place to play); bid a 5 card suit (and if he can't have a 5 card major then bid 2 with 4-4 in the majors); or else redouble to show 2 (or 3) four-card suits (and if 2 would have shown the majors then at least one of those suits is a minor). If opener passes or bids a 5 card suit the auction is over unless responder had a game-going hand with no major suit interest (any free bid by responder shows such a hand). If opener bids 2 to show both majors, then responder passes or corrects to spades. If opener redoubles, then the dancing begins if responder is too weak to pass the redouble. If responder has 2 four card suits, he bids his cheapest one and we look for our best fit. If responder has 3-3-3-4 or 3-3-4-3 he bids his minor and then passes thereafter. If responder is 4-3-3-3 or 3-4-3-3, he starts with 2 but if they double and partner sits (showing clubs) he then redoubles (to show one of those two hands) and opener places the contract in opener's second four-card suit. When evaluating escape methods, remember that WHERE you find them matters a LOT – finding a 4-4 club fit at the 2 level is super; finding it at the 3 level hands you one more undertrick.

Some of the power of those methods aren't obvious. One primary goal of escapes is to encourage one opponent to bid something and take us off the hook. When responder MIGHT have a game going hand for his pass and Opener MIGHT pass the double when responder passes, there is tremendous pressure on a busted partner of the doubler to rescue us NOW, even when doubler had us destroyed all on his own. When responder MIGHT have a game-going hand when opener redoubles, a light doubler is under pressure to run now if he has a suit, even if is partner has a ton of points. Each time WE bid a suit, it could get passed out, so if unable to double for penalties, there is often pressure for them to bid something NOW (from either side).

Don't get so caught up in YOUR methods that you forget how easy or hard they make life on opponents. For example, bidding 2M to play leaves TWO opponents a turn to bid with the knowledge that they have about 1/2 the deck. After a jacoby-then-pass sequence, only ONE opponent has a turn to bid and may well have an awkward choice. Or if passing a double DENIES values and FORCES opener to do something other than pass, then the doubler's partner is under no pressure to help us out. I spent a lot of decades working on this and changed a lot over time before settling on the stuff described above in the mid 90's. Last time we were “numbered” – about 2 or 3 years ago (can't remember but know it was a long time ago).
Sept. 6, 2014
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It feels like I should alert, as partner knows WAY more than the opponents about my hand. I've often said that it “feels like cheating” to know that pard's opening bid in 3d seat has opening bid values. But, we have been told in even-clearer situations that negative inferences need not be alerted. Example: Nonvul, over big no trump openings, the ONLY shapes where we pass (except in rare state-of-the-game situations where we have a KO match or matchpoint event already won) are: 4-3-3-3's and 5-3-3-2's. So, first board out, when my partner passes 1N, I know he has one of those shapes. “Not an alert” say several national directors. When I open a weak NT in first second or third seat and partner passes, I know with about 95% certainty that his hand will fit the description “6-10 HCP, no five card major,” yet that's “not an alert” say several national directors. (The opponents' silence makes it unlikely that we need to take evasive action as responder to a 4th seat weak NT.) One advantage of our full-values 3d seat openers is that unlike many drury addicts we CAN double you if you get frisky over our 3d seat openers (leave in a balancing double with knowledge that pard has 13 HCP or else 2+ QTs, etc.)

Is 2 still drury if they bid 1N? Fantastic! You can't double me for penalties if you have a fit? What if they make an preemptive-by-agreement but intermediate-by-tactics jump overcall? Now you don't know if partner even has 5 pieces for his “opening bid” but you think he does …if the preempt has preempt values…. and on and on.

The smoke screen is the one that YOUR (drury-induced) doubts create, not their actions.
Sept. 5, 2014
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I can preempt 1N on 12-14 (well, not ALL 12 counts, as they can't be 4-3-3-3 or have <2QT), so with hands with only 4-card suits I often can do that . . . or I can make use of one of those magical green cards in the bidding box that let partner know I don't have an opening bid, don't have 5 diamonds and don't have a five-card major, other than maybe a very bad major.

Nonvul in third seat, any hand with 5 diamonds can be bid 2 and in my youth (long long ago, in a galaxy far, far away) I DID open 2 on QJxx a time or two but the ACBL got stodgy about that so I stopped. I reserve the right to do it again, as it has been decades since the last instance and can't be called a “pattern.” (partner will play me for at least a low straight flush in diamonds). Now, both of the following are clearcut nonvul 2 openers in 3d seat: Kxxxx, Ax 65432 x and Ax Qxx KJxxxx Jx. Nothing quite like a side 5-card spade suit to keep shape-double opponents from doubling, and that is the suit that can be bid at the 2 level if they do reopen with a double or leave in a take-out double when it's back to me. Partner expects at least Qxxxx for a 2 opener nonvul in 3d seat and QJxxx for a 2 opener there. If 5-5 in the reds, I prefer a !2H opener with a diamond bid to come later if they give me a chance.

The payoff for playing 5-card majors and having opening bids in 3d seat promise opening values come on the constructive hands where partner doesn't have a good fit and on competitive hands of all varieties and on the constructive hands where the fourth seat hand takes a bid (and it always should if possible, including psyching 1N, etc. to take advantage of the smoke screen created by drury addiction).
Sept. 5, 2014
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We play 3-way immediate non-drury in 3d seat (undisciplined weak 2's), so that opening 1M in 3d seat shows an opening 1M bid and system can stay on, including a natural 2. We do dump Bergen raises for fit-showing raises and old-fashioned simple and limit raises. We have been using 2N as a 3-card limit raise, but I don't like that (preferring 1N then 3M instead, as partner will only pass 1N with a minimum flat hand). Still fishing for a good use and reading here to try to find one.

For all those relying on Drury to let their 3d-seat opening bids range from 8 to 20, I usually ask what is Drury after P-P-1S-2H? Do your opponents really let you just bid upside down flip flop 2-way Drury or must responder guess whether opener has an opener or a drury-induced 4-card psych? Just asking.
Sept. 5, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Sept. 5, 2014
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I'm a passer. Whether partner's pass was intended as forcing or not, the force, if any, was based on my stretched-beyond-the-max 3N. I choose to unbid that game! If partner couldn't bid 4N or double, then I'm betting that we weren't making the game I bid at my last turn. IMO, we can't come within two tricks of making a (likely doubled) game and we would at best beat 4 one trick, so the imp odds on double are dreadful and bidding 4N or 5 when we MIGHT beat 4 is worse than doubling. We may have only two tricks for partner in 5. I don't see how partner could have intended a pass-and-pull slam try given my club holding, but if he did, maybe he was slicing the salami too thin with his pass.
Sept. 3, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Sept. 3, 2014
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From what I've read, tables are close together and smokers wander among them while hands are live. Not an atmosphere where some would want to play for lots of money.
Sept. 3, 2014
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We MIGHT have five tricks on defense. No chance whatsoever we have 9 tricks in spades or 10 in a minor unless partner bids it w/o prompting.
Sept. 3, 2014
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Encyclopedia of Bridge suit combinations suggests low to the 9 is best. I always hope my partner has this play to make and that if this is all we needed to make the game, then I must not have bid it all that badly. :)
Sept. 2, 2014
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