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All comments by Randy Thompson
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Like Jeff, I met Justice Stevens at the bridge table in Washington D.C. area tournaments. He was either playing with his wife (a better player than he) or Mike Cappelletti, who played with him now and then – just out of respect for the great man that he was.

I claim the honor of having informed Justice Stevens that he was (at that time anyway), the only Justice in the history of the Supreme Court to use the word “gargoyle” in an opinion. In his scathing dissent in a case where the majority allowed Florida to impose the death penalty retroactively (when the crime was committed, Florida had no death penalty, its statute having been declared unconstitutional, but later it adopted a constitutional version, and the majority allowed Florida to execute the fiend who had tortured a kid to death, based on a statute adopted AFTER the crime), Justice Stevens said that he hoped that the majority opinion would some day be viewed as an “ancient gargoyle of the law.” A one-word computer search of all Supreme Court opinions up to the date of the search turned up only that one instance of the use of “gargoyle.” He was amused to find out that piece of trivia. They don't make judges like him anymore.
July 17
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If you play a weak no trump, whatever the meaning of their double, use your escapes. Whatever the doubler meant, his partner may pass.
July 17
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Back in the day, it was considered rude to play in the midnight swiss if not stoned or drunk. Is that still the case?
July 15
$20
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In the OP, if you had started with 1, your partner would have alerted and explained that it was strong, forcing and artificial.
July 13
$20
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If 1N denies 4 spades, is there any reason to bother showing 4-4 invitational over 1N?

I agree that there needs to be ways to do that in methods where opener skips spades for a 1N rebid (as I do in my weak NT partnership, where 1 rebid by 1 opener would show a distributional hand). There, we play 2 over 1N is 4-4 invitational and all other invites (even invite to 3N) go through 2. 2 Relay then 2 is 4-5 invite. By making relay then 2N the invite in NT, you can use 2N over 1N for other purposes (we play that it is a relay to 3 weak (will pass 3) or GF (will show shortness over 3). Since relay then 3 is the invite with clubs, a direct 3 can be a 5-5 or better slam try (5+ of M and 5+ clubs).

All of the GF hands with interest in playing in a major go through 2 (with opener required to bid 2 with 4, lacking 4 spades, to bid 2 with 3, and lacking both majors, bid something else descriptive – 2n with 4-4 in the minors, 3m with a 5 card minor).

None of this came down from the mountain on a stone tablet, but (once you have those 2/2 tools), it's easy to come up with a set of methods that cover everything worth covering and fits a pattern you and your pard can remember.
July 13
$20
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Playing a weak NT, I like to rebid 1N to get that power range identified. Over a 1 response to 1 playing Walsh style responses in a 2/1, I would also rebid 1N. However, I don't see the point of not finding our spade fit immediately in all other situations. To me, it seems wrong to obsess about OUR shape so much that we miss our 4-4 spade fit. A huge advantage of playing whatever 1N range let us open 1m here is that we can find our major suit fits cheaply. If partner has 4 spades and a singleton in either minor, no trump could play horribly, with spades an easy make. I don't worry about the invitational or game going hands here – XYZ or 2-way checkbook will take care of those. It's the ones where pard bid 1 only because the 1 bid could have bean as short as 2 (Precision) or even 3 (2/1). One reason the weak no trump is NOT a good method at matchpoints is that we would miss this 4-4 fit. If you miss it too, you just saved us 1/2 a matchpoint. Playing 2/1, if partner insisted on a style that had us rebid 1N here to limit the hand, I suppose I could go along. But, playing Precision, I wouldn't agree to play with a partner who wanted to skip the spade suit in this auction. Take your wins where you can get them – don't give them back just so you, instead of partner, can declare 1N when it's right. Playing Precision (Meckwell Lite version), the 1 opener is a flat 11-13 about 62% of the time, at least according to a sim I ran when first playing it. Whether you rebid 1 or 1N, partner should play you for a flat 11-13 unless/until told otherwise.
July 13
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It depends. In bracket 2 or 3 at a nationals, I once played a team comprised of a guy who surely is in the Canadian hall of fame and some younger guys who had recently represented Canada in world competition. You want some stronger KO brackets, try the ones at nationals the day of the Spingold or Vanderbilt round of 32, when some seriously good teams who were eliminated in the round of 64 are looking for a game and the next ACBL+ event has yet to start. I certainly didn't feel “too good” to lose that close match to them and the match was fun. OTOH, once when we tried to play up at a nationals and weren't allowed to do so, we won the flighted KO we were in by a combined imp score of 145-15 if memory serves. That was not fun. In a typical regional, I would not want to be bumped to a lower bracket, even if on a team that has no realistic shot at winning the top bracket. The second brackets there just are not very strong. So where and when I'm playing and the strength or weakness of the next bracket down could change my response to being bumped down.
July 12
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In talking about 4 and 3, pre-coffee, I thought I had 7-4 in the majors. So, the choices come down to 1 or 2 in my opinion.
July 11
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The problem with not opening the hand 1 is what is your alternative?

4? Could be right and I might do it white vs red in first seat and surely in 3rd seat.

3? Bad choice for so many reasons.

2? Really? At least you will have room to bid again.

And now we come to the four-letter word (“pass”), the most inconceivably bad choice of all for this 7-loser hand with both majors (including all the spot cards in each!) and 2 of the quickest of quick tricks on defense. Your partner will never in this lifetime picture such a beast of a hand for a pass, whether on offense or defense and regardless of subsequent bidding. (IMO) there is no seat or vulnerability where pass is better than any of the 4 choices of spade opening bids. But, I view this as not “my” decision, but “our” decision and the 1 choice is the one that most involves partner.
July 11
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Asking about something that is marked on the card is always suspect. Just pick up the convention card, turn it to the back side and down at the bottom, this question is answered. The question is ALWAYS a “trap” of some sot – either fishing for mis-information or else trying to convey mis-information. Sorry. The card is there for a reason and if it lies, call the director. If it happens once, tough luck. If it keeps happening, punish the offenders.
July 11
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I tried odd-even (first) discards at the insistence of one partner, but eventually just had to stop. I found that, for me, there was no way to play those discards ethically. There were many times when there was no easy choice of card – no low even card to get the right suit preference, etc. that I could not act in tempo and felt slimy. I then tried taking forever at my first discard even when it was easy, but that drove me nuts (I hate slow play). The person I played them with is for sure an ethical player, so maybe it is possible to overcome this problem, but I suspect that some odd-even folks have an element of tempo in their signals that is hard to avoid.
July 8
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Count only when absolutely clear – hold up to kill dummy, show a doubleton to get a ruff, warn partner his second high honor won't cash, etc. Otherwise whichever partner is most likely to need – attitude or suit preference. With known length in a suit, “rainbow” – hi and low are suit preference and middle encourages continuation (or denies help elsewhere, depending on the situation). We have some recurring situations but usually it's just a matter of “the signal partner should expect to get, given the bidding, dummy, play up to this point.” That won't work so well in casual partnerships, but I don't play in those.
July 7
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I pass if playing 2/1, as in the problem posed. Might be wrong, but it's 50 a trick and pard could have enough power to get us into a lot of trouble if we bid.

Playing a big club system, this is an automatic 1 bid as there is less our CHO is likely to do to us with his rebid and the opponents surely have a game if partner gets too aggressive with his rebid. Cue Aerosmith's Rag Doll (theme of overbidders everywhere):

Yes I'm moving
Yes I'm moving
Get ready for the big time
Tap dancing on a land mine
Yes I'm moving
Yes I'm moving
Old tin lizzy do it until you're dizzy
Give it all you got until you're put out of your misery
July 5
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How do your find your 4-4 fits in a major playing 2)? Level matters. While we still have room to sort things out, I like to play 4+ and forcing at the one level, 5+ and constructive but not forcing at the two level; 5+ and forcing at the 3 level. Don't know what is “right” but I've been playing that way for a while now and it's been working. Not sure where I got the distinctions but I didn't invent the structure – it was from some good player (perhaps in a post here).
July 2
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We play a form of Leaping Michaels over natural opening bids of 1m or 2m. A jump to 4 shows hearts and the other minor; a jump to 4 shows spades and the other minor. This works great, right up to the moment pard is dealt 7 of the other minor and preempts 4om – then the **** hits the fan. The theory is great but I'm not sure the memory cost is worth it for most pairs. The other cost is that if you do remember you can't bid 4om with that hand, you must choose between a wimpy 3om and a carnivorous 5om, each of which might cost.
July 1
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No idea what you mean by “target suit.” We are playing in Responder's major. The only issue is how high. By bidding 4, Responder denies a stiff/void, so he is either 7-2-2-2 or some 6-3-2-2. Opener (in my methods) has already denied 4-card support for M and if playing 15-17 1N openers, has denied 3-card support and 17 HCP. Opener can try to quit in 4M or he can cue or use KickBack to drive it if he wants to cooperate.
June 30
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If my opponents hold this hand, I hope they pass.
If my partner or teammate holds this hand, I hope they 2.
When will partner be on lead? Not when they play spades. Not when LHO makes a negative double. For pard to be on lead, LHO has to be playing the hand and that is decidedly unlikely. His “share” of the 16 unclaimed HCP is 8. That usually does not translate to a free bid at the two level.

This is a common theme here at BW – do you wait for the perfect overcall or do you bid the one right there under your nose? I'd much rather overbid at the go and then drag my feet than underbid at the go and try to catch up later. Opening hand, 6-card suit, let's get into the auction by showing that suit and those values. Yes, we would all prefer that the 6-card suit have some honor higher than the ten, but the ten was all Bridgetta dealt us.
June 30
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I play that 4 is a slam try in spades with no stiff/void (with some stiff/void would rebid 3OM). If not playing that, then presumably 4 is a mild slam try and I do that.
June 30
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Lacking the shape for double, it isn't as easy as you suggest. Unless your double means bupkus other than strength, it won't cover a 1-6-4-2 good hand.
June 29
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Mike: You must be talking about the variant of 2 opener that can have 5 clubs. The one with 6+ is easy to bid over constructively. And, in comp, they will always have a soft spot to land in clubs if a negative double fails to turn up a 4-4 major suit fit. If the jump overcall is a “real” one, then at the other table it will have started 1-(4). Think those folks are better off than the Precision 2 openers? The higher the preempt, the more likely a negative double can be left in.
June 29
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