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All comments by Randy Thompson
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Just ask the question; don't give reasons for every answer. (i.e., eliminate all after the first period of each answer).
Oct. 3
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If you win, can it be called an addiction? Blackjack once was relatively easy for card counters; rule changes have made that less the case. (I knew some bridge players who made their living at blackjack in the days when early surrender was allowed.) Poker is head-to-head and a much simpler card game than bridge, so it should come as no surprise that top bridge players may also be winners at poker. The skill sets may overlap, but they are not the same. I soon found I was welcome in everyone's poker game because apparently I am easy to read. Good players fold in droves when I have a good hand; they call all my bluffs. It may be possible to win at the track, but you have to spend your life at it and probably need some inside information. Same for sports betting – overcoming the 11-10 vig on bets that are long run very close to 50-50 isn't easy. If someone keeps losing over and over and over again, then yes, it is an addiction – a lesser form of a death wish. But, IMO, you don't get addicted to gambling; you get addicted to losing at gambling. (I am not a psychiatrist, nor do I play one on TV, so this is all just seat of the pants speculation.)
Oct. 2
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I have no problem as a weak no trumper playing that the forcing 1N response can be 6-11, or even 6-12 if we open light. We recently switched to opening 1M on lighter hands. We had only one type of hand that bid 1N forcing, intending to bid a game, but we compressed that hand into another hand type and now our 1N response is “semi-forcing.” That means that opener only passes 1N with a flat hand of 11 to 13 and, if 13, it should not be one that is good enough to accept a 3-card limit raise (probably a pure doubleton in there somewhere). With a better flat hand, opener rebids a 3-card minor, just as is the case with those who rebid over a forcing 1N. This makes a 2N rebid by responder on 10-11 less risky, as at least it won't be opposite a flat 11-13.

Playing 12-14 1N and 20-21 2N, I prefer that the raise show 17-18. With 15+ to 16, we can rebid 2m and then bid 2N at our next turn to bid. With 15-, we may miss a game, but driving to 2N when we might have barely half the deck is at least as risky as the risk of missing a game on 15- opposite 9 or 10-. What to do with those 10- and 15- hands may depend on form of the game (push for game with them if vul at imps but stay conservative otherwise).
Sept. 30
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Richard: whatever verb you use for it, the Last Train bid neither shows nor denies a control in that suit and partner has NO idea if it is safe to use RKC or kickback. If you are playing non-serious 3N, then a 3N bidder has already tried to drag his feet and if partner carries on, there is no need for Last Train. But specific controls may be needed big time, in side suits that include M-1. If someone who could have bid 3N frivolous instead cues above 3N, THAT is showing slam interest that also tends to eliminate or significantly reduce the value of LT. You seem to assume that the antecedent bidding has left ambiguity about slam interest. Maybe sometimes, but not often. If your GF raise methods show when limited and ask only when very strong, you also won't need LT. Maybe if your methods prior this cue bidding sequence need improvement, LT can have more value.
Sept. 30
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With a 9-card major suit fit established, 3N as an offer to play is as close to useless as possible.
Once someone cues 3 we are in a GF auction.
If someone bids 3N, we are in a GF auction.
If you don't play it as non-serious 3N, and if you play Last Train, then 3N could be a cue of the Last-Train suit.
Non-serious 3N tends to minimize any possible need for Last Train.
Sept. 30
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A national-level player advised me to shift to two-way checkback some 30+ years ago. He assured me that it was both better and easier. I was “much too wise” to make the shift, as NMF was working okay for us. In 2006, a new partner insisted that we play 2-way checkback and I was stunned at how much better and how much easier it is than NM checkback. I now play it with all pards (whether part of XYZ or not).

Only wrinkles worth discussing: how to get out in clubs; and what is the difference between bidding 2N and bidding 2 then 2N. Trick question – the answer to two of these is related. Make 2 then 2N the invite and then 2N can be a relay to clubs, weak or strong. Undiscussed, the bidding logic of having 2 initiate all invite sequences and 2 initiate all GF sequences is that 3 is weak with clubs (because could have invited by bidding 2 first or could have forced by bidding 2 first).

If 1N rebid did not deny 4 spades, then one more wrinkle pops up after 1m-1, 1N-?? – how to distinguish 4-4 in the majors from 4-5 on invite hands (we play that 2 then 2 is 4-5 and immediate 2 over 1N is 4-4 invite but either way should work so long as you know what way you are using). Most players using a 15-17 range 1N opener would never bypass a four-card spade suit, so for them, this is a non-issue.
Sept. 30
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Once you call a hand a limit raise, IMO, you cannot refuse to show controls when partner demands that you show them. That type of bidding makes this all about you and not about cooperation with partner, who is entitled to believe that you have no minor suit control if you bid 4. BTW, this is another time when it would be better to be playing Frivolous 3N rather than serious 3N. In that case, 3 (cheapest cue above 3) would be the bid for the strong hand (unambiguous slam try and YOU could bid 3N to express your low opinion of your hand for slam (within the context of having called the hand a limit raise). This also shows the limitations of Last Train in partnership bidding. If partner mostly needed to hear about a diamond control, there would be no way to show it (or deny it) short of the 5 level. I know that many players who are much better than I love Last Train, but I see it as a Blame Transfer that eats OUR bidding space by denying us a cue bid of suit M-1.
Sept. 30
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In all cases where two specific suits are shown, I prefer to play what you describe.

There is one problem that requires more wrinkles – their 2 DONT bid over our 1N that shows the majors. There, we use 2 as invite+ in an unspecified minor. Opener bids 2N to decline in either minor; 3m to decline in that minor but accept in the other minor; 3M to accept in both minors and show a stop in M; or 3N to accept in both minors with a stop in both majors.
Sept. 29
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The rest of your methods matter here. If you always open 1 with out-of-1N-range flat hands, then the 1 bid is always distributional and 1N can be the rebid over 1M that shows 5-4 or 4-5 in the minors and 2 rebids can be forcing. I wrote up how we handle this in an article here: http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/magic-bullet-1n/ If not playing that type of 1 opener, then my choice of 1 or 1 with 4-5 and less than reverse values, would depend on relative suit strengths and after 1-1M, 2, partner assumes 4-4 or 5-5 and does not assume diamonds are longer.
Sept. 29
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Martin: Okay, so it always is a raise of the major but opener bids 3N with a stop so that if that raise was a tad on the short side in support (Hx or maybe Axx with a stop where 3N by pard might work well we can get to 3N. Thx for explaining it. With less than Hx support, I guess you bid 3N w a stop or bid a minor or 4N, or whatever.
Sept. 23
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If you get to bid 3N, then aren't you the lucky one that partner didn't accept your limit raise.
Sept. 23
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Claiming creates a third area where expertise is needed. 1) Bidding 2) Play/Defense 3) Ability to state a line of play precisely, including that you won't play the Q from AQ if an opponent plays the King in front of that holding, that you won't try to cash a suit from the bottom, that you won't set up all their suits before knocking out their controls in yours, etc. etc., etc. Or, you can just eliminate #3 entirely – don't claim. Too simple? Saves too much time better spent debating the subparagraphs of the claiming rules?
Sept. 23
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I've never seen any pair play such devastatingly perfect bridge against me than in my one set of 16 deals against what I had heard called “Hel's Angels.” Very quiet – I don't remember either one uttering a single word – but they never dropped a trick, never touched a wrong bidding card, and kept pulling the red card with alarming frequency and beating us lots of tricks after what seemed like normal bidding choices. We had still been in the match after the first quarter, but not after that second quarter.
Sept. 21
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Beam me up Scotty.
Sept. 21
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If responder wants to play diamonds or hearts, he should be willing to bid them twice; otherwise he picks a black suit if weak. IMO, red suit bids here are not attempts to improve the strain but instead are looking for 3N. If opener can stop hearts, we probably belong in 3N, especially as it means our diamonds are not very useful in 5. If opener cannot stop hearts, then we should bid a black-suit game (maybe 4 if feeling piggy at matchpoints if pard rebids 3; 5 otherwise). I would ignore the spade game possibility because any making game will beat those going down in 3N or 4.
Sept. 21
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Michear R: If YOU get that extra trick and find out later you shouldn't have, YOU would turn in a score correction. I'm 100% sure of that because of your deserved reputation for being an ethical player. I'm talking about what an ethical person would do (as did your wife in a famous situation where it either did or could have cost her a national championship). I have gone back and corrected a bad claim when the opponents accepted a claim we figured out between rounds was overstated. So, I repeat what I said before. You cannot legitimately profit from a claim. You certainly can lose if your claim is verbally imprecise. This is so self-evident that I think you must be misunderstanding the point and imagining something from another planet. You cannot ethically profit from a bad claim unless you never realize it until after the score correction period and that cannot impact the decision to claim or not.
Sept. 20
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Same is true against bridge lawyers.
Sept. 20
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Wow, so claiming more than you deserve can help you so you should claim more than you deserve in hopes of sleepy opponents? That isn't my idea of legitimate “help” and I know that you don't mean that. You will never legitimately get a better score by claiming than by playing it out – repeat, never.
Sept. 20
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The rules do not require a claim. I didn't say I wanted relaxed laws, only that one way to obey all the rules and save stress/time/occasionally tricks is to not claim, especially against what it IS fair to call “bridge lawyers” looking to jump on a comma for some imps. What you said is wrong, very wrong, is instead right, very right and your arguments do not address the issue of whether claiming can ever help you. You obviously know that the answer to that is that claiming can never help but but a poorly worded one can hurt you. If that isn't the case, please identify ONE situation where claiming helps you.
Sept. 19
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Because that is the ONLY way to be sure not to get all you are entitled to get. Just read all the posts here about claims and ask yourself if you have ANYthing to gain by claiming. The answer is a resounding no. Can you have something to lose? Very possibly. All you lose by not claiming is time.
Sept. 19
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