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All comments by Randy Thompson
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“When the kibitzers don't know what trumps are, the last bid suit is trumps.” That rule has worked well over the years. My partner just sent me this question by e-mail and we were pleased that we both said “spades.” To avoid this confusion, we have agreed that cuebidding of cheapest first/2d round controls in support of hearts begins with 4 in this auction, not 3. We already have the firm agreement that you can never commence a cuebidding sequence with a cue of shortness in partner's suit. This just adds a no-cue policy where you have not denied support for his first-bid suit.
Aug. 31, 2014
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I'm not as down on this auction as many apparently are. The 1 opening is a matter of style (I'd open it a 12-14 1N or a 14-16 1N or 1, depending on system and partner.) 2 is clear. 2 is a reasonable choice, although it has a lot in reserve if we are playing diamonds and not no trump. If 3 was a game try, rather than an attempt to unring the 1 bell, then it's only a little pushy. If 3 was a game try then 5 isn't all that bad, tho maybe a 3 cue bid would be better. Opener MIGHT have been 2-1-5-5 after all. If 3 was meant to unring the diamond bell, then it was the big error here, as partner's negative double showed hearts and a minor and he has said that diamonds is that minor. If we must hang someone for this auction, I suppose it is South, but this auction might happen in the best of families.
Aug. 29, 2014
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If this hand is possible for a negative double, then the partnership should never never never convert a negative double to penalties by passing. I can go either way on this issue (can negative doubles just be based on shape or must they have some convertible values) if partner has a strong preference. As I like to take out takeout doubles, I mildly prefer to allow one on something like this. But, IMO, either way can work, so long as you and partner are on the same page on this sort of double (see also 5-5 in the unbid suits with similar values).
Aug. 29, 2014
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Try using your fingers, but on your lap, out of sight while continuing to look only at your cards. You don't have to look at your fingers; you can do it by feel or leg taps, leaving each finger on the leg until done. I find that when I'm using Redwood or RKC Gerber or Kickback instead of 4N, I have to do something like this to help my aging mind not just resort to the bid that would be right in response to 4N. Yet another huge advantage of bidding screens!
Aug. 29, 2014
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Undiscussed, this is not lebensohl.
I think it shows their suits and wants me to bid a 5+ card suit. Pard could be say 3-3-4-3. I bid 3.
Aug. 28, 2014
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It's rude and obnoxious to leave the table for any reason other than necessity (bathroom or water come to mind). If it slows down the session, I'd call the director on the second time the person left for any reason and every subsequent time.
Aug. 27, 2014
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It makes NO sense to play puppet stayman over a weak no trump as there is just no reason to open a weak no trump with a five-card major.
Aug. 27, 2014
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On a side note – Whatever happened to the hundreds of bidding screens newly constructed for the world championships held in Philly a few years ago? We had high hopes they would have been purchased by the ACBL and used more extensively at NABC events. Pity that so few can be available for those. Did those get shipped elsewhere in the world? Destroyed? Stored somewhere until there is another world event here?

I don't know anyone who didn't love bidding boxes as soon as they got to use them once. My first time was in 1983 and it took about one session to love them. Most everyone I know loves screens, but few get to use them. Bridge with screens is way better – just not seeing partner's face when I put down another of my disappointing dummies makes them worthwhile. It is way easier to be ethical with screens, so long as you don't get too carried away and volunteer “usually” when you mean “usually, but not this time.” :)
Aug. 26, 2014
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It's all how you play the sequence. I play that if you bid 1 and then 3 it is a slam try with a VERY good spade suit and if you bid 1 then 4 it is a limited GF with a VERY good spade suit. We only find our 4-4 spade fits if partner reverses or if he bids 3 after a limit raise in hearts. That can be a problem on some hands but it is a big advantage on others. We sacrifice being able to optimize finding our best strain in order to maximize our chances of finding our optimal level in hearts. My answer reflects that approach, but if playing methods that allowed 1 then 3 to show a limit raise, I'd be right in there with a 1 bid (seeing, like you, no downside if those are our methods).
Aug. 26, 2014
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This hand is relatively easy if playing weak NT (1-1, 1N-2, 2-3 and now game is forced and trying for slam a matter of cue bidding style and what bid is RKC) or if playing Precision (1-1, 2-2, 3 and off we go again).

It's a seriously hard problem hand for the (common) methods presented, especially if partner will expect another queen for a 2 bid. I used to play a style where 2 reverses were not 100% forcing (but showed extras in the 15-18 range). That style has its own problems, but it would make this hand easy to bid as well. UHold bidding problems tend to be hands that don't suit the methods being used and no methods are perfect. On this hand my 2/1 partner and I would likely miss this slam as neither of us would rebid 2 or 2N or open the hand 1N. Once hearts is the 4th suit, we are officially in trouble on this hand.

Rebidding 2 should have given them a chance to find the slam IF they are playing Reverse Flannery. Now, responder's 2 bid is GF and 3 by opener should show extras and off we go again. I would have given myself no chance by rebidding 2; maybe my pard would have rebid 2 with this hand and we'd have had a chance.
Aug. 26, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Aug. 26, 2014
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All three of the sites mentioned are easily reached with Apple lap tops (I have one and access each frequently with it). Good luck.
Aug. 24, 2014
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The hand short in their suit should be aggressive. IMO, this is an automatic double, although I'm well aware that many don't share my view. This is why my partners are reluctant to convert my take-out doubles to penalties (we follow the advice of Edgar Kaplan to take out take-out doubles pretty strictly). I have 14 in support of any unbid suit. That's not enough? My partners wish I always had that much support. :)

BTW, many/most weak no trumpers won't open a weak NT with a 5-card major, so if flat, opener's range may well be 12-19, not 15-19. You gain very little opening a 12-14 1N with a 5-card major. Unlike when you open 1m, you almost never will get to rebid 1N to show a flat 15-17 if that is your style (only after 1-1), so you won't be able to show 15-16 flat any easier whether or not you would have opened 1N with 12-14. Either way, when it goes 1M-1N back to you, you could be hurting if you have 15-16 flat. One big advantage of a big NT is being able to open 15-16 point 5-3-3-2 hands with 1N. Where big no trumpers have rocking chair auctions here, we weak no trumpers must scramble and hope (usually ignore 15th point but make a delayed 2N bid with 16 and take a risk).
Aug. 24, 2014
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I've been giving some thought to treating non-vul 14-16 ranges as 13-15 because so many pairs playing 14-16 (usually associated with Precision) upgrade. But, for now we are still in the last category – our defense changes as soon as they might hold 16.

Vs strong NT, we don't have ways to look for power-based games but get into the auction with all but 4-3-3-3 and 5-3-3-2 shapes when nonvul. Simulations showed that when their range is 15-17, we NEVER had more than 23 HCP and seldom had more than 21 HCP. So, subtract your total from 21 and you have partner's likely max hand and subtract it from 23 and you have a max he won't exceed 99+% of the time. It isn't just their range but whether they frequently upgrade that matters. If a 14-16 is a de facto 13-15 because this pair has never seen a 13 or 16 count they didn't love, then shifting to weak NT defense would make sense. Wish the convention card had a box to check about frequency of upgrading. Even then, it would be fickle, as in some partnerships, one player often upgrades and the other seldom does. I seldom upgrade to 14-16 or 15-17; my Precision partner frequently does. I frequently upgrade 19 counts to 20-21; my 2/1 partner never does; and my KS partner seldom does. Part of this decision making process is who your CHO is for this session – when he's very aggressive, best not to upgrade; when he's very conservative, upgrade frequently. When I'm playing with my Precision partner I tend to subtract a point from my hand, as he is likely to have bid it already or soon will; with my 2/1 partner I tend to add a point to my hand because he will often have a point he “doesn't notice.” With my KS partner, I tend to stay pretty close to our ranges (except 2N openers) because he and I usually “count alike.” Bidding screens are great because you can inquire about such tendencies w/o giving partner UI.
Aug. 24, 2014
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I don't mind a stiff in a 1N opener (especially a stiff club honor); I don't mind a 6 card minor in a 1N opener; having both takes me out of opening 1N. There is more to a 1N opener than just getting the strength right – it also says something about shape and opening 1N on this hand could cost us finding 5 or 6 instead of a doomed 3N.

It is ALMOST strong enough for a 2 reverse; if down in an IMPs match, I'd bid 2 and hope that if we overbid to a game it would be a lucky make.

It would be an easy 3 if one of the hearts were a spade. 3 would get the strength right and the diamonds right but would make it impossible to find hearts. This is a poster-hand for playing Reverse Flannery. Or for playing Precision where you could rebid 1 forcing over a 1 response to 1 and then 2 non forcing to show this hand while staying low. If I knew partner couldn't have 4+ hearts without GF values, I think I'd rebid 3 with this hand. But, not playing Reverse Flannery and not being down in this IMPs match, I'd just dare to go low and rebid 2 while silently repeating the Al Roth mantra that “if I can just get by this round . . .” Hopefully, I could do this in a close-to-normal tempo. This is a tough problem and one to give any partner who is reluctant to play Reverse Flannery responses to 1m.
Aug. 24, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Aug. 24, 2014
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I got to watch several deals from the Sweden-USA1 finals of the under-21 event. A VERY impressive level of bridge was being played. Maybe I missed their errors, but it sure seemed to me to freer from blunders than even most Bermuda Bowl events, etc. Look for many of those ten players to rise to the highest levels in the world very soon. While the skill levels of the players seemed comparable, in the deals I watched, the Swedes seemed to have much higher-powered bidding methods and they used them relentlessly and precisely, especially in slam bidding. Congrats to Sweden on its impressive win and to the USA team for giving them a tough final match.
Aug. 23, 2014
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Guess I got lucky, as I thought double was right. If partner doesn't have four spades, then he might have a 5 card minor or might have extra values. He heard me bid 1, so how can 2 be right if he doesn't bid it over double? 2 should absolutely promise a fifth spade here. Pass could be right; double could be right; 2 has to be wrong.

Didn't expect his actual hand – that looks like a 1N overcall to me – last chance to show this power at the one level is likely his first turn to bid. If I had anything at all, I would have bid 2 at my first turn – a passed hand cue bid would show say about 10-11, so if I had something like 7-9 or 6-8 and 5 spades, I'd never have bid only 1.
Aug. 23, 2014
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System matters, but I would never raise hearts with 3. In my KS partnership, we always rebid 1N with flat hands to show the 15-17. In my 2/1 partnership, we normally would bid 1 here – but with xxxx might choose 1N to avoid bidding the only suit we can't stop. In my Precision partnership, after 1-1, we would always rebid 1. In all three partnerships, my partner would count on me for 4 hearts for a raise to 2. I know that others succeed with a style that permits 3-card raises, but we like to know when responder can revalue his hand “in support of hearts” and when he needs more HCP to go for a game.
Aug. 22, 2014
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I assume we don't have too many old-fashioned requirements about opening bids, so I prefer to overbid 1 now and then go passive, rather than pass now and try to catch up later. I'd rather put the opponents into competitive mode and I can rebid clubs easily over whatever partner might inflict on me if the opponents are silent. In a dream world, partner bids 1 and I can rebid 1 and then clubs as many times as need be to show weakness and length in clubs.

Playing Precision, this would be a comfortable 2 opener. I might have to pass and catch up later playing K-S (because I don't have 15-17 in support of hearts, don't have 2 QT and don't have 12 HCP), but would open 1 playing 2/1 with a partner with a sense of humor. 3 gets my secret admiration, but this hand is WAY too good in support of hearts for that not to be a pretty big risk and 3 would be a bad lead-director if they buy the contract.
Aug. 21, 2014
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If we have a game, it's in spades, so I bid 2 at IMPs. I'm willing to risk being in the wrong part-score strain to find a game. If I bid 2, partner might raise me; if I bid 3, the spade suit has been lost and partner likely won't be looking for an 11-trick game. Also, if I bid 2, partnr might bid 3 and it would be time to bid the diamonds then. At matchpoints, where the plus score in diamonds would matter a LOT more than a remote shot at a game bonus, I'd bid 3 and risk losing the chance at a spade game.

Not a chance 2N would be lebensohl for me – all the good hands and invitational hands would have bid much earlier. I would play 2N here as scrambling for a minor with something like 2-3-4-4 shape.
Aug. 21, 2014
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I would bid 2, but 2 might be right because of the suit quality of the spades. 2 would be my last choice (other than pass). I have a firm agreement with all partners that we don't make a negative double without 4+ of the only unbid major and we don't bid 3 card major suits as opener in response to a negative double. It may sometimes make life harder, but we NEVER play 3-3 major suit fits and when we do bid the major, partner knows for sure we have a fit. I don't think I'll be playing a 3-3 diamond fit here, as partner would surely have a correction to 2M or 2N if he has only 3 diamonds. If over 2 partner cues, I can still bid 3 but now partner will know for sure I have 3 hearts and might suspect my actual shape.

If I had committed a 2 call (echo of the late Edgar), I would now try 3, to let partner have room to put us into 3 down one instead of 4 down 2.
Aug. 21, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Aug. 21, 2014
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