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All comments by Randy Thompson
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As a result of having committed a negative double with this hand, I now know that partner has support for my diamonds and that I have approximately -1/2 of a trick on defense. I hope 5DX goes for less than the -790 awaiting us if I pull a green card. Had I never bid, I would sit for the double and hope to score my KH. I read partner for 2-2-3-6 or maybe 3-1-3-6 and extra values. He might think a Kx or Kxx of spades has a friend or two over here – WRONG!
Sept. 27, 2013
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When I took my wife (then my girlfriend) to her first duplicate game, on the very first board she opened 1N (15-17) and I had 17 HCP. Not wanting to have her first experience be going down in a slam, I bid 3N. She had a min hand and had to play it very carefully to take 12 tricks – but she took them. I promised her I would NEVER do anything like that again. Whoever your partner is, you should make any bid that is obviously right (in this case 3C). Trying to be cute and psych is no way to play in a regular partnership or with a newbie. Passing the hand you gave is a very gentle way to play bridge and I sure hope that everyone at my table passes it when I hold the cards the other way. Taking away the one and two levels is worth a lot and given what a nonvul 3C bid might look like these days, bidding 3C doesn't give away much at all.
Sept. 26, 2013
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I have been playing Defense (1) for some time and it is as simple as can be. It also lets us get back to even against the table(s) where our teammates (or the field) opened 2M. We can use lebensohl responses to the double or the 2H bid that functions as a take-out double. We can overcall with 2N or make a 2H/Dbl bid then bid NT to show the same sorts of hands that can be shown at the other table. You, like they, can bid 2S over a 2H opener but must bid 3H over a 2S opener. You have one LARGE edge – you can respond 2H to a take-out double of spades! What will happen with the flat 13-14 point hands at the other tables? They will pass. What will happen with the 15-16 point hands? They will stretch to bid 2N or else will pass. With Defense (1) we have all those options that they have. With the flat hands too weak for 2N, we can always pass and then reopen with a double –presumably showing such a hand, but only after having the auction confirm that it isn't wildly risky to do so.

On Defense (2), only after having SHOWN a flat 13+ will you find out if it was absolute insanity or useful. I like forcing my partner (and myself) to pass with those hands! I can't imagine wanting to exchange take-out doubles for bids that show a hand that much/most of the time should pass!

I'm willing to have a simple goal – just get back with the field on most hands and be content with that plus a slight edge on one type of hand (2H response to double of 2D). IMO, we don't need to try to cover all the hand types and flat-hand ranges known to man at the expense of efficiency and simplicity on the ones that most often matter.
Sept. 26, 2013
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It's not a point count issue for 2N; it's probably at least a 6-loser or better hand and isn't one that is better described by bidding a GF 2/1 then a forcing 3M or by a slam-interest-showing omnibus splinter (bid of 3OM) or a void-showing slam try of 4m or 4H if M was spades. If you don't have slam interest, in a club system you just make the magic bid of 4M and give the opponents no help on defense and bait a trap for them if they bid over 4M. On very flat hands, we likely would have at least 16 HCP and good controls for 2N. One type of hand that is a prime candidate for a 2N raise would be one with a long empty side suit (Axxxx or xxxxx are perfectos) where a stiff from partner will forgive a lot of losers. When you confine your side-suit-then-3M sequences to GOOD side suits (2 of top 3 or AJTxx or better) then those side suits are sources of tricks, not losers, and you use 2N for the bad-side-suit-but-strong hands.

It's interesting (to a bidding geek like me anyway) that in my KS and 2/1 auctions, all splinters (whether 3OM stiff-showing or 4X void-showing) are severely limited raises with NO independent slam interest (using 2N instead with independent slam interest) but in a big club system they should always have slam interest opposite a well-fitting hand (else why bother telling the opps about your hand(s)?). In my non-big-club partnerships, 3N is a “Flat Rat Raise” (12-14 HCP, no stiff/void and 3+ of M), splinters tend to have 9-12 HCP and shape that gives them about 12-15 in suppt of M; 1N then 4M is a “Secret Side Suit Raise” with 3 of M (with 4 would have splintered), some stiff/void (else would bid 3N) and some long side suit that isn't a GOOD one (as described above) and about 11-13 HCP. When limited, responder TELLS opener why he is forcing game; when too strong for one of those bids and not right for a side suit bid first he uses 2N (even with only 3 cd suppt) to ASK about opener's hand.
Sept. 25, 2013
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I love ASTRO over Majors and strongly prefer it to Guessing Michaels. For the good hands you can always use Leaping Michaels and then partner not only knows you have a good two suiter, he knows which minor when they bid 4M. Michaels over minors seems hard to do without.
Sept. 22, 2013
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In two of my partnerships (one KS and one 2/1), we play the traditional (flawed) responses to 2N, but in my Precision partnership, where 2N is a VERY strong bid and 1M is a limited bid we have 2N do double duty as a limit raise or a slam try. That way on slam hands, responder finds out if opener has a hand that would accept to game over a limit raise and can THEN find out about shape.

Opener only has two responses to 2N:
3C to show he WOULD accept a limit raise or
3M to say he would NOT accept one.

If responder has a limit raise, he just bids game over 3C and passes 3M without the opponents having been told anything about shape.

If responder is looking for slam, he can bid 3D over 3C to ask for shortness or he can bid anything higher as an initiation of cuebids of cheapest 1st/2d round controls. Over 3M,responder can carry on with a slam try by cuebidding or by bidding 3N to ask for shortness. Or if responder's slam interest is dampened by opener's 3M rebid, he can just bump it to 4M w/o having given ANY shape information about declarer's hand to the opponents.

You could get a lot fancier than that, but this serves the purpose of denying the opponents information on routine game hands and lets responder find out about shortness and controls. By including limit raise hands, it also frees up another bid for other uses (3M or whatever 3m Bergen bid would be a limit raise in your methods).
Sept. 22, 2013
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May all your finesses work and all your opponents' fail! We'll be rooting for you and following via Vu-graph and recaps.
Sept. 17, 2013
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Yes – there is NO doubt that it was far easier.

Perhaps as important as the influx of Euro pros was that back in the day, many highly seeded pros were trying to carry dead meat clients on their backs, while today many/most of the highly-seeded teams have patrons who (IMO) are REALLY good bridge players. In 1983, we beat 2 pro teams (and a third “amateur” team seeded in the high-40's that contained several players who later won NABC championships) and the two patrons of those teams were just too heavy a load to carry.
Sept. 12, 2013
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An example of your point: In 1983, we got 11.45 masterpoints for making the round of 16 in the Vanderbilt (which are now considered only black points, just the same as online points scored in robot games). BTW, our team had fewer than 5000 aggregate MPs at the time.

I like Adam's idea of only considering Platinum Points scored in the past ten years for seeding purposes and of expanding the events for which seeding points are given. For KO events, perhaps IMP Pairs wins should count.

To offset the alleged bias towards us geezers, I think the way to go is to permit discretionary re-seeds by committee of more than one grouping of anyone who has won an NABC+ event and who has been a member of the ACBL for less than ten years (or else upgrade their total by taking their average per year in the past five years and inflating it to a ten-year total).

Sept. 12, 2013
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Excellent choice. Good Luck in Bali. May you play as well as you did in the Trials!
June 12, 2013
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Henry: Opporunity cost dollars are just as real as other cash. Each stands to win or not win a bonus and the money difference is VERY real, not imaginary. In effect, they are “betting their bonuses” on the outcome of the finals. Those bonuses may very well ride on not only pure skill but also the location of two kings in 64 deals so there IS at least an element of gambling – surely as much of an element as at Bridgebig.

BridgeBig presumably is also not an ACBL event. Maybe the Cavendish too is barred from any booth, fliers, etc. at nationals and maybe they don't care as their clientele all know when where and how much w/o being recruited.
March 1, 2013
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So, does this mean that professional players who receive performance bonuses from their sponsors are violating ACBL policy? When the finals of a KO event see two pro teams with performance bonuses on the line isn't that EXACTLY what is going on? Is the Cavendish illegal under the ACBL policy? I'm not by any means saying these bonuses or the Cavendish should be outlawed by the ACBL; I'm just pointing out their hypocrisy. Good luck in changing the minds of the ACBL dinosaurs.
March 1, 2013
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1H-4C* *showing a void and a limited GF hand
4N-5H* *2 keycards w/o QH

The hand values to 13 in support of hearts, has 2 quick tricks and is a 7-loser hand – of course it's a game force. Our methods would show a STIFF and a limited splinter raise via 3OM, so the jump to 4X is freed for voids. With a hand too strong to be comfortable letting opener stop in 4M, we would start with 2N instead of the limited splinter (whether 3OM or 4X). Once you are counting 5 for a void, it doesn't take much more strength than this to be TOO strong for 4C – this hand is perfect. Opener knows that he has a gigantic hand opposite four hearts, 12-15(or so) in support, counting 5 for a heart void. That makes this an easy auction and hearing of the two keycards makes this at WORST on a spade hook for 6 hearts.
Feb. 6, 2013
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Playing "Three-way-Immediate-Non-Drury will solve all of these issues – plus the ones where there is a preempt to 2S rather than a meek 1S overcall. In this method, if you open the bidding in 3d seat, then you have an opening bid! With less than an opening bid, you make an immdediate weakness-showing bid of 2D/2H/2S and increase the problems you give the opponents. Reverse upside-down five-way fit-showing drury still leaves you at sea if they bid 2S over your partner's 3d seat 1H opener. With say Ax Qxx KJxxx Jxx you will have NO idea what to do if your partner's drury-addicted opening bid can be a joke on a four-card suit or an actual opening bid.
Feb. 4, 2013
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Vs 2C or 2D for the majors, we play that double shows a desire to double at least one major suit and invites partner to double the other one, with game forced if we don't double them. Bidding a major shows the corresponding minor and at least game invite values; 3m is just competitive and 2N is take-out for the minors and 3M shows a stopper in M and asks partner to bid 3N with a stopper in OM or to bid 4C/4D on a pass-or-correct basis (as responder surely has a minor he expects to run vs 3N).

It gets more complicated when 2H shows the majors. Double is once again the penalty hand and 3m is competitive, 3M shows a stopper and 2N take-out for the minors, but now 2S is invite+ with an unspecified minor. Over 2S, opener bids 2N to decline in both minors, 3C to decline in clubs but not diamonds and 3D to decline in diamonds but not clubs (pass or correct style) and 3M accepts in either minor and shows a stopper. 3N accepts in either minor and shows both M's stopped.
Jan. 22, 2013
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I bid what I would/should have bid on the prior round – 4H. RHO must hate Guessing Michaels as much as I do and must not be playing Leaping Michaels over 1M. Partner should work out that I would have converted his double to penalties; otherwise my 4H bid here is insane. If partner is 3-5-4-1 with some extra values, as seems most likely, we should be making 4H. We were never going to take more than 2 tricks in the round suits vs 3S, so I don't see us getting rich there, even on two trump leads. Now if pard has Axx and a lot of imagination, he might duck the first spade so that we can lead them three times and that would ring the bell and get us a few club tricks and a very large number.
Jan. 21, 2013
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For a several years, I've been exprimenting with eliminating the HCP requirements for DONT bids when nonvul against Big NT openers. We also eliminated the distinction between good and bad hands for 2S bids (using the bidding-room-expanding double only for the other three suits). We treat any 4-4 as a two suiter and any 6 card suit as a one-suiter, so that we pass ONLY with some 4-3-3-3 or 5-3-3-2 distribution. Our HCP range for any of these bids is 0-25. It has worked very well. The way it has worked is that the opponents are goaded into overbidding – a doubling pattern leads to one opponent thinking game is forced when the other doubled on some 6 count and a trump stack. Sometimes when the second suit is unknown they just bid on and you cash the suit. They can usually no longer invite games so they just overbid to them. You do NOT steal from the opponents – they give you stuff.

It may seem counterintuitive to some, but we reel in these wild bids at PAIRS, not at IMPs. At matchpoints, getting doubled and going for 300 when they have a part score is a zero; at IMPs it's 4 IMPs; or going for 500 when they have 420 or 450 is also a zero at matchpoints but only 2 IMPs at IMPs. What you get in return for your (rare) small losses are frequent plus scores when teammates (or others in IMP Pairs) stop and go plus while we defend a game for a plus score. You must be confident in your ability as a partnership to defend, because if you let those overbid games make, then THAT is a disaster. Oh, and it appears based on our experience that just the (rare) times you make the doubled partscore more than offset the IMPs lost from too many doubled undertricks on some (equally rare) hand.

Playing these methods, it has been a winning strategy to lead the unknown suit after an auction such as 1N-2D-3N-all pass rather than the suit bid (diamonds in the given auction). The only reason to lead the first-bid suit is if it is 5 cards long and the higher suit is 4 cards long.

The side benefits of having this method arise early in an IMPs match or as the first board of a round are signficant. The opponents will assume you are wild and crazy bidders in every type of auction – even if you are very conservative in most of your approach. Once opponents get a feeling that you are giving him/her problems that others won't face at the other table(s), they become headhunters, out to “make you pay” and thus much easier oppoents to play against. It's like the joy of being caught bluffing in an early hand of a new poker game – they'll be calling your good hands with trash a lot that evening.
Jan. 15, 2013
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Sorry, that was indeed confus(ing/ed) –if 2X is available, then partner's overcall would have been 1X. The methods treat all overcalls the same. 3X is always a preemptive raise with 4 cds, whether 2X was available or not. 2N is always a mixed raise with 4 cds and cuebid is always game invite or better with 4 cds. The redouble takes on all 3-card raises other than weak with 3 cd suppt where 2X was available – there we get right on 2X ASAP. When 2X is available that redbl shows three-card support and too much stuff to bid only 2X. This lets partner have a shot at pounding them if they bid too much.

Re 1D-2C auctions. When we make that overcall of 2C (or a jump to 2D over their 1C), partner alerts it and explains that it is VERY undisciplined (and offers to give the gory details of just how undisciplined they can be, especially if nonvul). He's also very leery of raising to 3C on a weak hand with only 3-card support. You don't need to jack the auction to mess with them big time – pard has already been there and done that! This is one of those auctions-from-hell for big no trumpers and unprepared weak no trumpers so we feed it to them as often as possible. When the opponents bid 2om over our 1m openers, we play double and all bids of 2X as transfers (with 4+ of the suit shown if it is a major and game invite or better opposite a big NT or else 4+ HCP and 6 cd suit). That holds up pretty well when partner is either distributional or has 15+ HCP, (certainly better than negative doubles or negative free bids and Lebensohl, all of which we've tried and found lacking). I make no claims that it is even playable if partner's hand could be a weak NT, 18-19 NT or distributional. NOTHING is perfect here, but for weak no trumpers this may be the most effective way to try and stay alive. When playing strong NTs, I just make some offshaped neg dbls and pray to land on my feet, or else pass and hope others do worse by abusing some choice of bid.

Re redoubles with Qx – you either do or you don't. I expect my partner to lead his suit that he bid at the two level most of the time without my helping him along any. Now if they CUEBID his suit, I play as you do – doubling the cue tells pard to underlead at NT and when they cuebid the odds that we will be anywhere other than defending are slim.
Dec. 1, 2012
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I've played weak no trumps for over 40 years and this topic has long been an obsession and my methods have evolved over the years.

We use only two calls for escapes – pass and redouble – and all other bids are “system on” but now promise invitational or better values.

Redouble… commands 2C and shows some 5+ suit and less than invitational values.

Pass…commands opener to
bid a 5 cd m (or 5 cd M if sys permits one)
bid 2H w 4-4 in majors (if sys forbids 5 cd M in wk NT)
Redbl w 2 (or rarely 3) 4-card suits, at least one of which is a minor if 2H would have showed 4-4 in majors)
Pass with 4-3-3-3 (in which case his range goes up one point as we subtract a point for 4-3-3-3 when opening)
Responder's pass is not ALWAYS an escape – it could be a game-invite or better hand with no interest in playing a major suit game.

If opener redbls then responder:
bids his cheapest 4 cd suit
If he is 4-3-3-3, he passes unless we have no chance of a combined total of 19 HCP, in which case he bids his 4 card suit if it's a minor or bids 2C if it's a major. If he bids 2C on 4-3-3-3 or 3-4-3-3 and a yarborough, and they double and opener shows 4 clubs by passing, then he redbls to get opener to bid his other four-card suit and if it's a major, they can't be sure we don't have a LAWful 8-cd fit – at worst we trade one 4-3 fit for another.

Notice that this structure (other than the runout to a 5+ suit by responder or to 2m by opener) tends to isolate competitive pressure on ONE opponent. If the doubler is heavy and advancer is very weak, advancer has to fear that opener will pass out the doubled 1N – and with a point added to the top and bottom of his range. If the doubler is minimum and advancer has values, then when opener redbls, doubler has to fear that responder will leave it in.

This structure maintains our normal methods if we have game interest so that some skinny conventional double doesn't destroy us in some testosterone-charged attempt to play 1NXX when it isn't a possible contract. We don't have to worry what their double means – our bids still work for us and let us find such things as 4-4 fits in clubs or diamonds that we otherwise would have missed.

Note that this structure permits (and threatens) playing in 1N doubled or 1N redoubled, in each case when one of us is 4-3-3-3 and the other has no 5 card suit so that 2X rates to play no better than 1N.

If responder passes the double then later makes a double of their runnout or a free bid, he shows a game-going hand with no major suit interest.
Dec. 1, 2012
Randy Thompson edited this comment Dec. 1, 2012
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So, your cuebid raise can be either 3 or 4 cards; your 2N raise can be either preemptive or mixed. All this to show honor-x. And if that honor-x is Qx and partner has AJ? Didn't help much to double and get him off to the wrong lead, did it? If you confine it to Ax or Kx, where an underlead can never hurt us, you are painting that bid into even more seldom coming up. Every time you redouble it's on a hand where had you passed they would be FAR more likely to wind up in the wrong strain, so you help them more often than you help partner lead – in fact YOU will often be on lead (vs their best strain) after you double and opener (gratefullly) passes. I think it's better to play

After (1M)-2X-(X)-??

2X = 3-cd weak raise (could be scared preemptive 4 cd raise at unfavorable vul)
xx = 3 card raise (and if 2X is available, stronger than 2X)
2M = strong 4-cd raise
2N = 4-card mixed raise
3X = preemptive 4-cd raise
Jump shifts = fit
2Y = to play with 0-1 of X and 6+ of Y (fear leave in of dbl)

After redoubling to show a 3 cd raise (or a stronger-than-simple 3 cd raise if 2X is available) if overcaller passes their bid, you can show more values than you had already shown by now bidding 3X or by doubling to show a LOT more values than already shown.

If X is hearts, then we will as often play the hand at the three level as they do, as their fit rates to be in a minor far more often than in spades (tho a 6-2 is still possible). If X is hearts, passing with Hx is X makes opener's guess as to strain with any 5-3-3-2 pattern a potentially very expensive and UnLAWful one, while letting him pass your XX tells responder that he's 5-3-3-2 and maximizes their chance of playing in their best strain.

Dec. 1, 2012

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