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All comments by Randy Thompson
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Instead of 4, how about bidding 5 (Exclusion RKC) and find out about what really concerns you – spade suit cards. I think 4 was likely a reflex bid where you hadn't noticed that pard would have NO red cards to cuebid, regardless of cuebidding style. In the auction given, 5 isn't Exclusion, and pard would still have no red cards to cuebid, so I tried 5 hoping that my splinter shifted the focus from club losers to spade losers for the 5 bid. The risk of going down in 5 is small and the chances of slam are extreme. Pard should NOT have 3 hearts, (mine wouldn't have 3+ hearts unless he had GF values, which isn't possible on this hand). So, if pard has KQxxx and out to lunch after that, we should be making a slam. If he has KQxx, then we might need some luck or for hearts to split or for him to have a red queen.
Feb. 19, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Feb. 19, 2014
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In one of his many great books, Edgar Kaplan said something like: “If your team wins all the one- or two-imp swings, my team will surely beat yours.”

At 20-VP victory points, 2 imps is a non-swing in any length of match. They guessed well against you. Good for them. How would +50 have imped against teammates' +420? 8 IMPs is a swing worth going for in any length of match. How about -100 vs 420 or -150 if their hands are both too weak to double or if they don't defend perfectly in a blind opening lead situation? Put pressure on them next hand too and eventually they'll go wrong – or else find yourself an easier game!

The key is not to bid 4 then take another bid of 5. That gives them what Kaplan called a “second bite at the apple” and doesn't give them what Woolsey called “the last guess” in one of his great books. If you bid 4 then you should back your choice and pass 4M and hope they have already guessed wrong (wrong game or wrong level).
Feb. 18, 2014
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This is another case of “do you play OBAR – or not!” If you do, partner's double is a prebalance, whatever the form of scoring. In that case, you thank pard for having successfully jacked them a level, pass, lead a trump and hope to beat it. If you do NOT play OBAR, then IMO double stands out a mile here – for a hand that had two places to play and not many values, this is a moose. In that case, if partner passes, lead a trump and expect to beat it – probably a couple.
Feb. 18, 2014
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Partner made a passable 4 bid.
Partner made a passable 5 bid.
I don't care if partner IS void in diamonds, partner was void in diamonds throughout this auction. I double – and having by now read the result, I'll eat that double like everyone else. I don't think anyone did anything wrong here – and that likely was why the board was pushed. Sometimes you get the bear; sometimes the bear gets you.
Feb. 18, 2014
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I abstained because I've never once had this sequence at the table. I play a simple-minded version of negative doubles – they ALWAYS have 4+ – and a simple-minded version of responses to bids of the unbid major after a negative double – they ALWAYS have 4. That may have its downsides, but there is never any doubt in the plain vanilla auctions. Playing weak NT, that 2 bid showed 4 cd suppt and 15-17 in support of spades. That wouldn't be possible if you might have bid it on a 3-card suit. In uncontested auctions of 1m-1M, 2M-3m, we play it as a short-suit game try that asks opener to go if he isn't counting soft values in m to get to his 15 (other suit bids show soft values and ask opener to go if he isn't counting shortness in that suit to get to his 15; 3M is simple invite and 2N a slam try). I think that would also work just fine here too. I plan to ask my partner about adopting that structure here. Undiscussed, I'd play this as a long-suit game try, forcing to 3.
Feb. 18, 2014
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Let's assume that 3 is non-forcing – I bid 3. Now, let's assume that 3 is forcing – I bid 3. It must either be forcing or not forcing and yet my bid is still 3, so there is time enough later to discuss over drinks after the game whether my 3 bid was forcing or not. I'm the one short in their suit, so I have to be aggressive and it seems silly not to bid a 5 card suit that partner rates to fit – and might super-fit. Double (which should ask pard to bid a minor) just invites the ambiguous 1 opener to rebid 3 with 3-2-5-3 and the 11-13 those 1 openers usually have. First let's find our best strain and after that we can discover whether we are too high. One thing is for sure – passing isn't a logical option.

With 6 diamonds pard would have bid 3D and with 3 hearts he would have bid 3. So he has 3-4 spades, 1-2 hearts, 2-5 diamonds and 2-5 clubs. Spin the wheel and take your chances.
Feb. 18, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Feb. 18, 2014
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If they bid 4M over 4, are you REALLY going to pass? Good for you, you disciplined devils. I would bid 5 at the go, as if I had 8 good diamonds. Sure, this could be a self-made disaster, but I lack the discipline to pass 4M with this hand, so I bid as high as I'm ever going to bid right at the go.

I would bid only 4 at matchpoints, where -500 is going to be a dreadful result, but at IMPs -500 only costs more than 2-3 IMPs if they aren't making 4M. -800 when they don't have a slam would mean you have a bad partner – good partners have a trick somewhere – preferably the stiff K. :)

I don't think 3N is going to make nearly as often as partner will bid it if we choose 3 – and if it would make, we will have left them room to find THEIR save, so we may not get to play it anyway. I think this is a choice between 4 (with the resolve to pass 4M) or 5 (with the Alfred E. Newman approach of “what, me worry?” after that). Either one could be right, and even 3 might be right if partner has honor-x in diamonds and the K and they don't bid over 3 or 3!N (a cuebid of 4 is what I'd envision whether or not pard has enough for 3N). Hard to cuebid over 4 or 5, but 3 gently allows them that option in either seat.
Feb. 17, 2014
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If I opened this hand in my 2/1 or KS partnerships, I'd owe partner a point and half a quick trick and technically I'm not supposed to be light on more than one requirement (2QT, 12 HCP, 7 LT). With 6 losing tricks, it's a tough hand to pass. I don't think you are close to alone in your notion (well, in our age demographic anyway) and I'm certain that one of my partners would pass this hand.

I confess that I would open the hand even in my conservative-opening partnerships because Bridgetta didn't give me the 10 and 10 to encourage me to pass. And, I don't see ANY problem with reopening with 3. My partners would know that I have lots of offense but not lots of power or I would have reopened with the double they likely wanted.

The idea that we will balance them into game likely arises in afternoon club games, not serious competition. WHAT game on this auction could they reach over 3? The spade ship has already sailed, as has the heart ship and 3N is only possible in a novice game. The idea is to balance them into 3 down one or to get our +110 if they sell to 3.
Feb. 17, 2014
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If partner has a penalty pass of 2H doubled, he won't be happy if you pass. He'll understand if you bid 3 and it's wrong, but not if you pass and it's wrong. I think your red suits would have to be reversed to pass with a 6-card club suit – so you would know he isn't trap passing.
Feb. 17, 2014
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I would bid 2. As a long-time weak no trumper, it feels “automatic” to get into a major suit at all forms of scoring and all vulnerabilities. If partner might hold a five-card major, it has to be right to try to find it. If partner would expect 4-5 for a 2 rebid over 2 then I'd STILL do it with this hand, provided that he would correct to 2 with 3-2 in the majors.

If partner expects 4-5, that's not “garbage Stayman” – it's just bidding Stayman on garbage, but with a soft spot to land in a 5-card major. THIS is what a garbage stayman hand really looks like. Imagine that your partner has 12-14 HCP and you can see how this treatment first arose back in the day – born of the terror of passing and hearing “double.” Weak no trumpers all run before the double – which is why a double of their Stayman should show cards and why you shouldn't balance against them with flat hands of any range. If you had them nailed in 1N,then they would have run already. If dealt a flat 18 count in balancing seat, just pass and hope to beat them one. I define balancing doubles here as DONT bids, just to force partners to pass with big flat hands.
Feb. 15, 2014
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this raises the question: Do you play OBAR or not? If you don't then pass is the only sane bid; I play OBAR and would stay with it and double and my partner would alert and take it out to an unbid suit unless he had 5 hearts and 4 sure tricks or 4 hearts and 5 sure tricks. 2N would be ask me for my better minor.
Feb. 14, 2014
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You make the telling point – it's mostly about opening bid style. It takes VERY sound openers for this to be a limit. Another factor is whether you play forcing 1N or semi-forcing. If semi-forcing, then you avoid reaching 3 on the min flat openers when pard passes 1N. If you are playing semi-forcing and pard rebids 2 or if he rebids 2, then you would want to bid 3.

I checked the 2 box, but I think it's close because our opening bids are sound (except in my Precision partnership, where this wouldn't even be a max 2 raise). Some correspondence about hands with Danny Kleinman convinced me to be a bit conservative with xxx for trump support. I've been doing better rounding down on such hands. Also pard's most likely short suit is clubs and that could limit this hand's value – if the KJ were the A, then all the points would rate to be working and then vul at IMPs I'd call it a limit.
Feb. 10, 2014
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Insufficient explanation (and possibly a pre-alert and possibly illegal, but I'll let others decide that).

When we play DONT non-vul vs a Big NT, we give up on power-based games and bid with any 4-4 or any 6-card suit. So, if pard bids 2 we alert and explain when asked: “4+ diamonds, 4+ of a major, 0-25 HCP”. Just saying “diamonds and a major” is NOT an adequate explanation. This is a similar situation. BTW, in each of those cases, you should WANT to tell the full truth! This will instill a sense of paranoia in the opponents that they are the only ones being “picked on” with this call and cause them to do something silly.
Feb. 10, 2014
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Oops, missed the first double. Undo. Undo. Still bid the same, but discussion before was gibberish. When this is his second double, pass becomes much more of an option!

4 could let us find our 5-3 major instead of our 4-3 major, but it might also let us find our 4-3 major instead of our 3-3 major or our 5-4 club fit. How would pard bid with 1-5 in the minors and 4-3 or 3-4 in the majors? If he is very strong here, couldn't he bid 3M over 3 to show that suit, extras and another place to play? I would bid 4.
Feb. 10, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Feb. 10, 2014
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Pass will violate the law of total trumps – never name a suit as trumps where the opponents have more of it than you do. Pard is suggesting the 4-3 with HIS three-card suit. If he doesn't like clubs, try diamonds. If he has 4 hearts and doesn't have 5 diamonds, get another partner.
Feb. 9, 2014
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Do we think partner has 3 tricks outside diamonds? If not, aren't they cold for 4M? The cost (if any) of -800 happens only if someone doubles 5 and his partner sits for it. As one of them will be void or both will have a stiff, is that likely? Even -800 is likely a small loss to their 620-680 or so playing in a major. Give partner something like 3-1-5-4 shape and a couple of black cards and we could easily be down only one in 5. Even 3-2-5-3 will produce a good save against 4M. It is a mortal sin against the Goddess Bridgetta to bid less than 5 now and then bid 5 later.

IMO, 4 is far too gentle a bid. All it does is deny them cuebids and splinters, but won't impede them from bidding their major suit game.

Psychs work okay in bidding problems where partner can't bid again, but in real life you will be pulling penalty doubles all the way up to the 5 you should have bid at your first turn.
Feb. 8, 2014
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I played for several decades against Peter Boyd and always thought he had the best practical judgment of all the many top level players in the Washington area over the years. When my partner and I had a dispute over some bid, he was the only player whose judgment we would both accept as “right.” If Peter disagreed with our choice, we accepted that it was wrong. Peter is the partner we all wish we had sitting across the table – Stevie Robinson is one lucky player to have that in real life.

I first learned about Peter when I was in law school at Georgetown in the early 70's. The best player in our group there (and the best player I actually knew at the time) was griping about having to add Peter as a fifth to their Regional Swiss team when Peter asked to be on the (very strong young) team. (He had wanted to play 4-handed.) Knowing who Peter was, but having never played against him, I asked my friend, “so, why not just say no to Peter?” He looked at me as if I were nuts and instantly replied, “Then we'd have to try and BEAT him!” Hello! He's THAT good? Nothing I ever learned from watching and playing against Peter over the years ever suggested otherwise.

All these candidates are worthy, as is Marty Bergen, but I'd have to go with Peter.
Feb. 6, 2014
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I would double (intending to correct clubs to diamonds). 2S (Guessing Michaels) could work, but why broach the 3 level on purpose? IMO, 2H is dreadful, much riskier than double with less upside. If not allowed to double, I'd pass. If 1N were forcing, more could be said for passing (for now).

Against a standard pair, their auction has claimed at least about 17 points or so, so a partner should give us the leeway to get our side into the auction with light shapely hands like this one. The hand short in spades must be the one to get us into the auction or this will too often become an opening lead problem.
Feb. 5, 2014
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This is probably a hand where “abstain” is the best choice. I prefer 6D to 4D at my first turn and there is no way I'd even consider passing 4H now. Pard could have shown a very good hand with just hearts by bidding 4H at his first turn. He could have bid 4C leaping Michaels with a strong two-suiter. He surely has 5-4 or 6-4 in the rounds and a hand too good to bid 3H. I would have bid a conservative 5D before and now I'm even closer to bidding 6D, but I am a bit worried about what this partner might think this sequence shows and will settle for 5D, mostly because the opponents have competed only to 3S and not 4S. THEY are telling me that partner has at least 2 and maybe 3 spades, which might mean he has a stiff diamond? I'm expecting 2-5-2-4 from partner, with good points but not such great hearts. Probably best to play in the 7-2 or 7-1 diamond fit, where I hold 11 useful cards, instead of clubs, where I may hold only 4 or 5.
Feb. 5, 2014
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Sorry, but regardless of the source, those are inferior methods. Double for penalties of at least one major (and GF if don't double 2M); 2M for invite+ in corresponding minor; 2N for the minors; 3m competitive; and 3M to show stopper and ask for 3N if pard has OM stopped is WAY better. Those methods make this an easy 2N bid and one that can withstand bids of 3M by LHO. With stronger hands and the minors, raise partner's pick or cuebid over partner's pick.
Jan. 7, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment Jan. 7, 2014
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