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All comments by Randy Thompson
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I held out for “sound” opening bids (other than in a Big Club context) for many decades. But, there were just too many hands where we had to pass but our opponents at the other table opened. It wasn't teammates' fault that they didn't find their best spot, or sometimes didn't even get into the auction, it was our fault for not giving the opponents at our table the same tough choices that our teammates faced.

Constructive bidding is easy and all god's chillun have methods that let them find good games and slams if given a free run. Competitive bidding, OTOH, is tough. Your choices over their opening bids, especially with no good long suit, are often choices among dreadful alternatives. If you have power but no stopper, or no support for an unbid major, for example, you can wind up passing very good hands because they don't suit your methods, or doubling with hands where partner will inevitably bid your doubleton and leave you with no chance to recover, or overcalling in a 4 card suit that makes a joke of partner's attempts to apply the LAW. Had RHO just been nice enough to pass, that same hand can be easy – your methods will make the choice of opening bid automatic 95% of the time and present a tough choice maybe 5% of the time (seat of the pants estimates with no scientific basis). It isn't so much “preemption” as it is reducing the number of bidding options available to the opponents as compared with letting them make a constructive opening bid. Even 1 openers put the opponents into bidding quandaries now and then and that isn't due to “preemption.”

The big issue is what you do with flat hands in the 10-12 range, because those hands get dealt a lot more frequently than others. The closer to 10, the more likely the hand (among flat hands). I used to insist that we pass 4-3-3-3 12 counts if they lacked 2 quick tricks (young folks can google that quaint concept) or if they were 4-3-3-3. In theory, opening bids on distributional hands also promised 12 HCP, 2 QTs and 7 or fewer Losing Tricks, with the proviso that you could not be “light” on more than one of those three requirements. 13 HCP forgave all sins and had to be opened. That meant that with any 12 count, Responder could force game and in constructive auctions that worked very well. But, that was killing us by allowing the opponents to have an unobstructed path into the auction when we passed “bad” 12 counts. So, now, we made “11 the new 12” and “12 the new 13” for opening bids – all 12 counts must open something and even flat 11's can open if they are not 4-3-3-3 and have 2+ QTs. It now takes 13 to force game and invites are 11-12, not 10-11.

In my partnership where the 1N opening bid shows 14-16, we play those requirements at all vulnerabilities, because we have the one level available to find fits on flat hands in the 11-13 range. In my partnership where we had played 12-15 1N (15 only if 4-3-3-3), we have switched to 11-14 (14 only if 4-3-3-3) nonvul in seats 1-2-3; vulnerable or if in 4th seat, we revert to our old 12-15. Part of this is feeding off of what happens when we announce “12-15.” As soon as 15 is possible, most pairs no longer have a penalty double available, and we'd like to keep it that way when vul and there is no one left to preempt when we are in 4th seat.

I see no reason to open flat 10 counts, even in a Big Club context. If partner has to worry you might have that, it will strain your constructive auctions a little too much (IMO, others might disagree).

In your 5-5-4-2 context, are all flat hands that are out of 1N range opened 1 or would 3-3-4-3 be opened 1? When you open all of them with 1 (even 3-3-5-2), then 1 must be a distributional hand and life gets MUCH easier for you when you open 1. It gets worse (sometimes much worse) when you open 1, to be sure. But, when the out of range flat hands have 14-18 or 15-19 HCP, it allows you to make sure that hand is first to bid NT much more often. If your out of range flat hands are 11-13 or 17-18, then (IMO) there appears to be less upside for opening all flat hands 1 and in my 2/1 partnership with 14-16 1N, we don't force all flat hands that are out of range into opening 1. When that weak, getting some distributional info on the table at first bid seems more important than when those flat hands are strong ones. BTW, when you open 1 instead of 1 with say 3-3-5-2 shape, it isn't only partner who can have problems; your opponents may have a nightmare with a normal 2 overcall of 1 or after 1-P-1M, but is stuck for a bid when the opening was 1.
May 23
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IMO, the LR didn't come close to showing the balance of power. 8 HCP and a stiff should surely be enough for the LR, as well as 7 HCP and a void. In a big club context, any 11 count and good 10 counts and some 9 counts will do for an opening bid. And, we haven't begun to evaluate whether any of those HCP might take defensive tricks if we double them or hold off their aces and kings at the five level if we declare. Maybe in a bygone day, playing another system, the LR would show the balance of power, but not here. Worst case scenario, we MIGHT have only 16 HCP between the two of us and half of them could be in our suit, where one or both of them is short.
May 23
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There is another BIG plus to bidding 3M with 4-card support and a minimum hand. Responder can now revalue his hand in support of Opener's suit. Some 5-1-4-3 hand with 7 HCP would never dream of moving over 2 if opener just completes the transfer, but we very likely have a game. And, if playing that 4-card support must bid more than 2M, then when opener bids only 2M, some skinny invite hands can stop in 2M for a plus score. It has been my experience playing mandatory super-accepts for about 13 years that finding these skinny games are the biggest upside of the method, especially at IMPs. Second biggest is inhibiting aggressive invites when responder knows we don't have a 9-card fit.

You lose by bidding 3M only if a parlay comes home: 1) you can make 2M but not 3M, and 2) they would have sold to 2M. If you are going to take the push if they balance, you will get better defense against your slow 3M than I'll get against my fast 3M and you are more like to get doubled than I am. Sometimes, you can only make 3M if you bid it immediately and make them defend in the dark. Once someone balances with 3m, the lead and Defense can get a lot more accurate. Hiding our 9-card fit by bidding 2M when they have nearly half the deck doesn't alter the fact that one or both of the opponents will be short in our major. I'm not saying that bidding 2M can never be right; of course it sometimes can be right, especially against passive opponents.
May 20
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I think John is suggesting changing what is “legal.”
May 19
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By agreement, opener should be able to bid an “advance push” 3 directly over 2. With a “super-accept,” bid something else (what you bid depends on agreement) – usually 2N or 3. This is just another place where the LAW protects you when you bid at the three level with a 9+ card fit. Bidding 2 and then bidding 3 now may work against weak opponents, who can't be relied upon to compete (so that you might be allowed to play 2), but the stronger the field or opponents at IMPs, the more valuable it is to play mandatory super-accepts with a big fit.

edit to fix errors induced by pre-morning-coffee posting
May 19
Randy Thompson edited this comment May 19
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This problem comes up at the table very frequently and I can testify from decades of weak NT experience that NO answer works best all the time. I tend to focus on suit quality. If spades are good and hearts are bad, then Stayman then 2 seems best; if hearts are good and spades are bad, then Jacoby seems best. If both are bad suits or both are decent suits then hand strength is my factor for deciding – Jacoby tends to lead to fewer doubled contracts than crawling Stayman, so if very very weak, Jacoby, but if almost an invite then Stayman. If very weak and vul, then I might gamble with Stayman, hoping that partner will have a 4-card major, so that we have some chance of escaping alive.

John: Playing that a rebid of 2M over 2 shows 5 and is to play works in the case of a stronger NT, where you can afford to pass the 4-4 hands instead of commencing evasive maneuvers. I play your method in one partnership with a 14-16 1N range (15-17 if vul in 3rd seat or if in 4th seat). Works just fine.
May 18
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Another advantage of having ALL invites go through 2 is that it makes life simple – if you don't go through 2 it isn't an invite. That means that 2N is freed up for a double-duty way to show clubs (weak or GF – with invite would bid 2 then 3).

We have only 1 exception to this rule – 2 bid by 1 responder shows 4-4 invite, so that relay then 2 can show 4-5. This matters only to those of us who must rebid 1N if in-range (in our case 15-17) instead of rebidding 1N. If rebidding 1 instead of 1N is the priority for a partnership then the ALL invites go through 2 has no necessary exception(s).
May 18
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How about when responder has 4-6 in the reds? X-Y-Z lets you stop in that 6 card diamond suit instead of picking your poison or having to bid 1N with 2-1 in the blacks. The tradeoff on not being able to stop in 2 is at least offset by the ability to stop in 2.
May 17
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Or perhaps a 6-imp procedural penalty or a requirement that the appellant w/o merit be disallowed from playing in the next session. Sponsored teams wouldn't sweat a fine. The fine was only ever there to intimidate appeals by the financially disadvantaged.
May 17
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The best aspect (IMO) of Lebensohl after a double of over weak is that you don't need to discuss details – you have already discussed them in the 1N context. If you play slow 3N shows stopper Lebensohl oner 1N, you play it over that double of a weak two; if the fast or slow cues show interest in a 4-4 major suit fit (w/o or w a stop if playing slow-shows), in one context, you play it in another.

I detect an element of fishing for a way to get it right with one choice or get it wrong but lay the ground for a director bailout here. This is why some players seem to always be before committees. One of the players involved in complaining about the auction that reached 7N after a mis-answer of RKC may be such a player. I had a committee involving this player decades ago and after we won in committee, he and his partner had to rush off because they had ANOTHER appeal from the same session. We could go 5-10 years w/o a dispute needing a committee and they had two in one session? There should be some limit, like the limit on a coach asking for instant replay in (NFL) football – you only get a fixed number per tournament (say 1), but if you win it you don't lose your 1.
May 17
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IMO, Opener's pass suggests we have no game bonus to protect. He should bid 5 with a great offensive hand or should double 5 if he has 2+ defensive tricks but nothing special on offense. If, after Opener passes, Responder thinks we can't beat 5, he can pass or bid 5; if he thinks we can beat 5 he can double. An opening bid that MIGHT be on a good 9 count and a limit raise that MIGHT be counting a lot for club shortness (when opener is also short in clubs) should not be forced to dive on their swords at the five level.
May 16
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Is it North's “fault” that the 6 wasn't the 6 or the 6 or the Q wasn't the Q? Needs to be a sign erected here: Danger! Result Merchants at work! :)
May 15
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Ed: You were puzzled over something about the DONT 2 defense. Over Responder's 2 bid,
Opener's first obligation is to show if he is accepting an invite. 2N says not accepting regardless of which minor Responder has. That lets Responder quit in 3m.

If Opener is accepting if Responder has a specific minor, but not if he has the other, he bids the one he would NOT accept (that way any further bids by Responder put us in a GF auction).
If he would accept regardless of which minor Responder has, then Opener's next obligation is to describe his major suit stopper(s). If he can stop only one major, he bids it; if he can stop both, he bids 3N. Actually there is another (unlikely) possibility – accepting in both minors but stopper in neither major, in which case Opener would bid 4. The normal “Unusual over Unusual” structure that relies on corresponding suits falls apart in the case of the nasty 2 bid showing the majors. The 2 bid has to pull double-duty.

Another nasty aspect of DONT 2 bids is that there is no “train the guns” double – if you want to double spades but not hearts, you are stuck for a bid.
May 11
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Over 2 for the majors: 2 natural; 2M invite+ in corresponding minor; 2N for minors; 3m competitive and < invite values; double to “train the guns” for a penalty double and force game if we don't double 2M; 3M shows stop and asks for 3N if opener can stop OM; 3N to play with both majors stopped.
Over 2 for the majors: Same, except that 2 is no longer available.
Over 2 for the majors: 2 is invite+ with unspecified minor; 2N for minors; other bids as above; Over 2, Opener bids 2N to reject game try in both minors, or bids 3m to reject game try in that minor but accept in om; 3M to accept both and show stop; 3N to accept both and show stopper in both majors.
May 10
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Surely there should be an irony alert?
May 10
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For me, it's all about system swings. Say each team has one Big Club pair and one 2/1 pair. If behind, I want the Big Club pairs at the same table to maximize system swings; if ahead, I want them separated to minimize system swings. The concept is the same if one pair on each team uses weak NT and the other strong. Other than that it comes down to who on our team can best cope with an exotic-methods pair on our team.
May 9
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With clubs and heart support, a fit-showing jump to 3 can be treated as invitational+. Then a 2 rebid after 2 shows 2 hearts and there is no need to self-preempt with 3. With 4 probably no reason to introduce clubs – just cue bid. This is all just my opinion, not what I think most folks play, but fit-showing jumps in competition seem to work well. I started playing these after seeing bootleg copy of Eddie Manfield partner notes, where he said, in defense of using fit-showing jumps instead of splinters: “in competition, tell partner where you are long and let the opponents tell him where you are short.” Simple? Yes. Effective? yes. I like to play that in comp, the only splinters are in the opponents' suit(s).
May 6
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Partner's most likely shape (given that he has 3 hearts and 6+ diamonds and that no one bid spades) is 3-3-6-1. 13 HCP is going to be far more likely than 16. 6 diamonds far more likely than 7, 3-1 in the blacks more likely than 2-2, 3 spades and 1 club far more likely than 1 spade and 3 clubs). Let's see where we want to be opposite a non-minimum AJx Axx KQxxxx x. Seems like 3 might be our last shot at a plus score. Only if the diamonds are much better would diamonds play better than hearts. Move the black ace to clubs and we are down off the top in 3N with down 2 likely and down one or two in 3. At other tables, they will likely be playing 2 or 2 (whichever one opener rebids). Let's bid 3 and beat all those in 2 and some of those in 2 (when the weak opponents slip a trick – weak opponents never lead trumps). I would say that 3 has an expected score of 140. Unlucky if our methods (huge range of HCP and of diamond quality) caused us to miss a game, but at least they may have let us find our best matchpoint strain.
May 5
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Life is too short to get all bothered about what goes on against you at a club game. Winning at a club game is more fun than not winning, but having stress-free fun at a club game is more important (to me) than how or whether I place. If you want masterpoints w/o worrying that your opponents are unethical, you can score thousands of masterpoints playing BBO robot games. To my (not-from-experience) knowledge, bots may fix you but they never cheat you.
May 2
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I considered 3, but didn't want to have the next UHold be what I do over his 4 or 5 bid. I thought about double, but wasn't sure we could beat 2N, even with the Q lead. You better have your partnership agreements fully locked and loaded for this auction or you may find that both you and your partner think the meanings of double and 3 are “obvious” but that you don't agree on what obvious meaning that is. When you pass at the go with this hand, partner should not have to live in fear that you will punish him w/o having a fit for his suit. Would I LIKE to show the majors? Sure. Am I certain which call shows the majors? No. The one call that cannot be misunderstood here is pass – and it might even be the right call. Is it so impossible that partner has a 2-2-5-4 with about 9 HCP, all in the minors? After pass, if it goes, (3), Pass, Pass back to us, then maybe pard will work out what a balancing 3 shows (it certainly denies diamonds and we didn't open 2). We could still be in trouble if pard is 2-2-5-4, or 2-1-6-4, but I would risk showing the majors once I was more sure of having found a call that showed them. If it goes all-pass, I lead my top spade and hope to get a plus score.

Interesting problem!
May 2
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