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All comments by Randy Thompson
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Old dogs learning new tricks: My partner and I just agreed to use one-under 2M as a 3cd limit+ raise of M after 1M-dbl-?? We decided that our ancient Jordan 2N's inability to distinguish 3 and 4 cd raises weren't good enough. So we can raise via 2M/3M/fit-showing jumps/transfer to 2M and 2N.

Thx for this topic as it got us talking and helped us get more of our methods into the 3 vs 4 distinction that can be critical to partner's hand evaluation.
July 16, 2014
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Hearts are trumps. 1 then 3 then 4 should settle that issue. So, whatever 3 and 4 meant, 4N is RKC, not “to play” or whatever else it might have been. 4N by a hand that refused a chance to bid 3N is certainly not to play. The game is much too hard if the 4N bidder is still resisting hearts – a void is adequate support after 3 heart bids by partner. 4 should have been natural and forcing (at least I think it should be forcing) 4N says "now that I know my stiff heart honor is great support, I'm going slamming and want to know about keycards.
July 16, 2014
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Spot on! I often wish that my partners would pass with such hands (one would and 2 wouldn't), but I know that at the table, my inner demons would reach out and put that 4 card in my hands every time. 4 isn't necessarily wrong. I don't worry about partner bidding 4 or 4 or dbl, but I do worry about 5 and maybe about pass. If partner has say Axx Qxx Axxxx xx we could watch them take 9 or 10 tricks in clubs while cold for 4.
July 16, 2014
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We play old-fashioned Jordan – 2N is limit+ with 3+ trumps and usually 10+ HCP. We also play fit-showing jumps as limit raises. This combo helps partner decide when to double them if they bid on and shuts them out from any cheap bids when we have power. But, we play that redouble is a transfer to 1N showing EITHER 6-8 OR 12+ HCP (with subsequent free bids showing the 12+ GF hand) and a direct 1N showing 9-11 HCP. It would be easy to add in a third meaning to the transfer to 1N – a 3 card limit raise if followed by a spade bid later. We leave bids of 2X free to provide a soft spot to land with short spades and length in X. Direct bids of 2 show what they would always show – 3 card support and 5+ to 9 support points. With fewer support points we use one of those green cards that abound in each bidding box, so there is no need to distinguish between raises to 2. Adding the transfer-to-1N-then-rebid-3 sequence is a great plan – for spades, but not so great for hearts. If using this method for either major, then after 1-dbl-1(transfer to 1N), they could destroy our limit raise sequence with a 3 bid or a 4 bid. If you don't mind asymmetrical methods, you could use this for spades but not for hearts. Using redouble then 3M to show the 3-card limit suffers from the same problem in heart auctions. Probably your surest way to show 3-card support is some form of what Yuan Shen suggests above – perhaps transferring to 2M could show the 3-card limit+ hand and bidding 2M could show the 6-9 hand and passing could still show lesser hands. :) I know; I know; only some of us old folks ever pass with 3 card spade support.

July 14, 2014
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Is the partnership desk still open?
July 11, 2014
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My partner and I decided a couple years ago (after this very auction) that when the hand on lead doubles us, he can certainly beat us and we start bidding suits up the line and worry about being bluffed out of our game later. We have methods when the hand not on lead doubles (redbl says sit if you can stop spades, pass says I can stop spades, after a spade-stopper showing pass then redbl says sit if you can stop hearts. If they've doubled on a minor suit, then they're too tough for us and will get their bonus. :)
July 11, 2014
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oops misread the problem
July 8, 2014
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Recently saw a bumper sticker with an even pickier theme:

Let's eat grandma.
Let's eat, grandma.

Commas save lives!
July 5, 2014
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We play Smolen instead of Puppet and so far it has helped a few times and never has hurt. We make one-suited slam tries by bidding 4X to show a one-suited slam try in the polar suit:
4 = heart slam try;
4 = a spade slam try;
4 = a club slam try and
4 = a diamond slam try.
The responses are simple – bidding responder's suit shows a bad hand for slam in that suit; bidding the next cheapest (“gap”) suit shows a modest hand for slam in that suit and 4N is RKC for that suit with a great hand for slam. Any bid of 4X fixes trumps and the only issue remaining (even if opener has a stiff honor or xx in responder's suit) is how high we are going to play in that suit.
Using 4X as a one-suit slam try means that with both majors (5-5 or better) you transfer to 3 and rebid 3 if you have NO slam interest or LOTS of slam interest. With MILD slam interest, you transfer to 3 and rebid 4. If opener gets excited, it's the second major that he likes for RKC purposes, as he failed to super accept the first one.
Any hand with a 4 cd major starts with Stayman.
After 3-3,
3M is Smolen
4m is natural
4M shows 4 cards in M and at least 4-4 in the minors (stiff/void in OM)
3N/4N are quantitative

For hands with BOTH minors (4-5 or 5-5 or better), we start with 3 minor suit Stayman (gf). If opener denies a minor by rebidding 3N, responder can bid 4m to show 4 of m and 5+ of om (minor Smolen), 4N is natural and 5/6/7 says “pick a minor, damn it.” Not having to handled one-suiters and two-suiters together (by playing 4X as one-suited slam tries) really lets your other auctions be more precise and comprehensive.
July 4, 2014
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3 is forcing. It allows partner to rebid 3, over which 3 stands out, or 3 over which 4 stands out, or 3N, which would mean partner can stop clubs and we have likely right-sided the contract. This hand is too strong for a non-forcing 2N (IMO) due to the major suit tens that make for a lot of fast trick possibilities and it has that pesky lack of a club stopper for no trump. With 2 flaws, I think 3 is preferable to 2N. But, it's possible that diamonds is the minor that could prove to be the problem, so 2N is certainly a reasonable alternative.
July 3, 2014
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As a weak no trumper since about 1974, I've always had ways to escape doubles, and they've evolved over the years. Right now, we handle ALL escape hands with the two “extra” calls the double provides us – pass and redouble. That leaves system entirely on, but with the proviso that you must have at least game invite values to do anything but pass or redouble and you MIGHT pass with game-going values if you have no major suit interest. The structure is:

REDBL…Commands 2, shows some 5+ suit and <invite
values.
PASS….Commands opener to take action from the
following pecking order of priorities:
(1) bid a 5 card suit (and in my weak no trump
partnership that can only be a minor);
(2) bid 2 with 4-4 in the majors;
(3) PASS WITH 4-3-3-3 (in which case his range is
13-15, as we subtract a point for that shape).
(4) redbl with 2 4-card suits, at least 1 of which
is a minor
After a redouble by opener, responder can
(1) leave it in with a game invite+ hand w no
major suit interest.
(2) Leave it in with 8-10 HCP that wouldn't invite
game and has no 5 card suit but expects to make.
(3) Leave it in with 6-7 HCP and 4-3-3-3 on
the assumption that we will take 6 or 7 tricks,
probably have no better strain and may as well
get the game bonus if we take 7 tricks (and this
flushes all but the bravest/dumbest of opps).
(4) With any 2 or 3 4 card suits, bid the
cheapest one
(5) With 3-3-4-3 or 3-3-3-4 bid the minor suit if
less than 7 HCP
(6) with 4-3-3-3 or 3-4-3-3 and too weak to sit,
bid 2 and if they double and pard sits
(meaning one of his suits is clubs) then redbl
and he bids his other 4 cd suit and if it's a
major they can't be sure we don't have a fit
when we pass it.

Bullet proof? Maybe not, but it has worked awfully well. Our last “telephone number” was sometime about 1.5 to 2 years ago. Part of the reason this works so well is that the ONLY action that cannot be passed is the redbl to show an escape with a 5+ suit. That isolates competitive pressure because the opp next to bid knows he may never get another turn. If either the doubler or his partner has less than his pard might hope for, there is a STRONG incentive to “get out of Dodge NOW” – and in the process rescue us when we “deserved” to go for a number.
June 23, 2014
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Sorry – didn't make it clearer – responder can NOT have 10 for 1N – range is 6 to a 9 he wouldn't force game with. We pass all but a GOOD 16 because of that.
June 23, 2014
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If not playing weak NT, partner surely would have opened 1, which presumably would not make your hand look better. If he had only 3 spades, the opponents would be bidding 3, so he surely has four spades. He prefers hearts to diamonds. So, isn't his shape most likely to be 4-3-2-4? If his values are where his length is, we are plenty high enough. Playing weak NT, if they stayed out, I have a way to invite game with this hand but would choose not to do so. However, if partner super-accepted my transfer to hearts (3 to show 4 hts and a max or 3 to show 4 hearts and a min), I'd bid 4, knowing that if it wasn't a make they would have some black game.
June 23, 2014
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Playing 12-14 1N, my partner and I bid 1N over 1m ONLY with a hand that would not force game opposite a 15-17 flat hand. I would at most invite game with this hand, so 1N would be permissible, but I hate to steal the NT from the stronger hand and would bid 1 here whether playing 2/1 or weak nt.

With hands that would force game opposite a big NT, we bid 2 or 2 (assuming no major), so these bids cannot be GF unless opener rebids 2N (15-17) or 3N (18-19). So, after 1m-1N, we only invite with 2N with 17 or an excellent 16 (a hand where we would “cheerfully” have accepted an invite to game had we opened a big NT). This isn't necessarily the only way to survive playing weak NTs, but it has stood up over time as a way to decide between 1N/2m/3m responses to 1m with 5+ of m (where 3m would not have invited game opposite a big NT and thus opener needs 18+ to carry on).
June 23, 2014
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I have played ELC since the mid-1970's and love it, for the reasons Kit has set out so well above. We only apply ELC to corrections of clubs to diamonds. Maybe we should handle 5-4 and 4-5 in the majors that way, but we don't (old dogs, new tricks, etc.).

We handle the OM-Clubs hand by playing ASTRO cuebids, where 1M-(2M) shows exactly four of OM, 5+ clubs and at least an opening hand. The combination of ELC and ASTRO means that when we bid 2m over their 1M, we cannot have four cards in OM (well sometimes with a great suit in m and xxxx of OM and just barely enough to act, we might lie and just bid 2m).

All that gives up are strength-showing double-then-pull-clubs-to-diamonds auctions and Guessing Michaels. We play Leaping Michaels over 1M (as well as over 2M) so the strong Michaels hands are dealt with in a MUCH MUCH better way (no guessing about which minor partner has when they bid 4M, as those rascals do so often). The weaker Michaels hands we handle by just overcalling one of our suits (the major unless it stinks) and the strong diamond overcalls by overcalling diamonds and hoping to get to show it by subsequent action.
June 20, 2014
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I agree with Henry that if you respond 1, a 2 preference has more ways to win than the auction-ending pass. But, my partners would know that my max number of hearts for a 2 “preference” is two, so this is a smaller lie for me than for most folks. We either pass or respond 2 with weak hands where many would bid 1N then 2. If we are going to play a 6-card fit, I prefer the 5-1 to the 4-2. If partner has a 3-card black suit, he might bid it over 2.

Very close between 1 and 1N, but I tend to prefer 1N (so long as a subsequent 3 bid is weak). This WOULD be a lie about shape, but treating xxxx as if it were xxx isn't all that much of a lie.
June 20, 2014
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Has no one here ever had a “senior moment?” West was obviously in the “Great Blue Fog” and hadn't the slightest clue what was going on – passing 13 in 3d seat and not noticing that his partner was a passed hand. Whatever crazy agreement they might have as a UPH, surely 1N is “unusual” undiscussed, whether the opening bid was a natural or Precision Club. As recently as two nights ago on BBO, I thought partner had opened 2 in FOURTH seat but, the hand record shows he was in THIRD seat. That made my penalty double of 4 incredibly stupid, even though it worked out when we nipped them a trick. I'm 67. How old were these folks and oh yes, would they happen to live in Colorado? :)
June 19, 2014
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The more I read of these thoughtful but disparate comments, the better a plus score in 4 starts to look!

Forced by the opponents to guess, I guessed 6. Give partner the weak no trump he most likely holds and something like the 2-3-3-5 shape that those looking for a club slam hope for and 6 should have good play. Even if partner has a stiff spade, 6 would be a good spot if that stiff were the queen or even the ten, if he has the A. In my partnerships, 4N would be presumed to be a 5 bid with longer diamonds. We have never had the auction where a 5m by partner was then corrected to 5. It probably should be a hand like this, but . . . couldn't it show spades and diamonds and a great hand? Another choice that would require having discussed it a LOT would be 5 here. If no trump offers a choice of the minors, or sets up a choice of diamonds and spades (via correction of clubs to diamonds) perhaps 5 SHOULD offer the choice of the black suits. Maybe after discussion, it will be added to our partnership “Forget List.” Undiscussed, I would view 5H as a 6.5 Club bid. But, with a 6-3 differential in black suit lengths, we might as well just bid 6 now and save partner the trouble, as the chances he will pick spades are slim. In my non-Precision partnerships, partner would pass any 12 count with 4-3-3-3 and would pass any 12 count that lacked 2 QT – probably the hands conservative Henry would also pass. This makes guessing to bid a slam a bit easier.

Good problem – yet another nasty bid by the opponents.
June 18, 2014
Randy Thompson edited this comment June 18, 2014
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I would double and pass 3, 3 or 4M, but bid 3 over 3. Hard to see how this could be worse than the majority choice of 3 directly. If partner is 4-4 in the majors, and strong enough to bid game, he'll bid 4 now and I'll pick spades.
June 16, 2014
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It would help if you gave a hand and auction.
June 9, 2014
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