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All comments by Randy Thompson
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What else should 2 show than a spade fit and invite+? Didn't our double say we have spades? Now the cue says we have enough power that we might have a game even opposite a hand that could only bid 1.

With other strong hands that don't have 4 spades, we might have overcalled 1N or rebid 2N here or overcalled 1 or 2 or even pass. Do we not have spades and also not have red stoppers? I see no hand where we need to cue 2 here where we shouldn't have done something other than double or couldn't do something other than cue bid now.
March 17
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You make those doubles too? :) That makes this for sure a competitive part-score hand, where it is more important than ever to raise to 2 so pard can decide what, if anything, to bid over 3/3. Shame does not relieve you of your duty to tell partner that you have 4 spades and that he is captain at the three level.
March 17
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Lesson common to these claim polls is: NEVER claim. Let them stew, even when you have all top trumps.
March 16
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2 should cover all the strong hands with 4 spades, so 2 should be a bid made in anticipation of more red suit bidding by the opponents. Thank you, pard, as now we know that the LoTT says we can be relatively safe competing to 3. The last time anyone was allowed to play 1 with a 9-card spade fit has to have been a lot of decades ago. If their 1 bidder has diamonds he wasn't willing to bid at the 3 level, but would for sure have bid at the 2 level, then partner just stole the pot. Thanks again, pard, for bidding 2 with a bare minimum double!

edited to correct a typo 1 to 2
March 16
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Did he continue a heart despite discouragement from East?
Sorry, the D couldn't have been very good if they only beat it one.
March 15
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That South opened 1 instead of 4 suggests he is kind and gentle to his opponents.
At the other table, that East bid 4N instead of the automatic pass suggests that he is new to this game. What that East deserved was for his pard to believe that the 4N bid showed both minors, likely 5-5 and bid 5. Pulling the double should only be done with the expectation of making the contract reached.

4 double all pass would happen at pretty close to all tables where experienced players were playing. The action would come over whether EW took their 5 defensive tricks or let the mice get at one of them.
March 15
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East knew that not only did he have 18 old-fashioned support points when his partner could expect only 15-17, he also knew that there were zero dead spade points among them, when one of his queens could have easily been the spade queen. Using a different analysis, East only has 5 losing tricks (old version, no idea of the new), so that is a much better hand than West will ever hope for in a 3 bid. East can also just picture West with as little as the Heart king and club Jack and know it's a game that should be bid vul at IMPs. West has enough to think about game, but IMO he won't have long run IMPs success bidding his partner's cards.
March 15
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It's all a matter of whether you want to win as a bridge player or as a bridge lawyer. These aren't close – declarer gets them all unless East-West are players I don't want as partners or teammates – and against whom I would NEVER claim.
March 15
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Local Yokels.
March 14
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Ultimate intellectual warfare.
March 8
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In or out of the Hall of Fame (and I say “in!”), Bergen changed the way bridge is played more than anyone in my 50+ years of playing. When Granovetter-Rubin won a string of Challenge the Champs bidding contests in Bridge World magazine in the 1970's using a relay system, it appeared that ultra science was winning the day. Along came Bergen with his wild and crazy weak two's and his LoTT-based bidding theories and that move to relay systems ground to a halt. The idea became to force the opponents out of their rocking chair scientific auctions and into a rough-and-tumble guessing game. The world adopted Bergen's style and has basically ignored relay systems.

I had a personal experience against Marty Bergen and Ethan Stein in a Washington regional Swiss that caused me to abandon my never-give-em-an-IMP scientific style and start tying to force the opponents to err with a more aggressive style. In that 7-board match, Bergen-Stein made my partner and me guess on 5 game decisions (all of which would have been easy had they just stayed out)! We got all 5 right, but our nerves were shot – we were under no delusion that we had been smart; it was clear we had been super lucky. (We lost the match when a mechanical error at the other table cost us.) I came away saying that, “I have seen the future of bridge, and I want to be a part of it!”

Marty Bergen deserves all of our thanks for saving us from having to memorize relay systems!
March 8
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Congrats to all, but especially to Peter. If looking for the best partner in the world, I'd start with Peter. Player? Maybe some others have a stronger claim, but if picking one player to have sitting across the table from me, it would for sure be Peter. When we lived in the Washington area at a time when world champions were plentiful, Peter was the one player whose judgment my partner and I could both accept as “right.”
March 8
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So you would play to drop the doubleton queen offside? You have no play for 13 tricks w/o having 3 spades, 4 hearts and 3 diamonds and 2 clubs in the sack, so that you are within reach of your 13 tricks if you can find a squeeze for the last one. If you don't hook the spade at T-1, you likely will hook it at T2, right?
March 8
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I would hook the spade. spade to ace, getting the news. AD. pick up the heart suit, ending in dummy. I would take approximately forever to make sure the sequence I chose would result in the double squeeze that must be there once 3 of the queens have been found. It always takes me a long long time to play out a double squeeze, so maybe someone would start pitching honors just to make the hand be over. :) At any rate, I'd try several sequences in my head before doing anything like cash the !KS or !JD. There has to be one that works and I will not spend all of my Friday free time going through the iterations ever so slowly. :)
March 8
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I prefer Leaping Michaels with powerhouse 2-suiters over 1M as well as 2M and Nonleaping Michaels over 3M. 4 at the go would describe this hand. Too many times when you use Guessing Michaels, partner won't know if he has a massive fit or no fit. Hence the name.
March 7
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If the deuce of spades were in either minor suit, opening 1N would be an easy solution. If a bid would be perfect if one “loose deuce” were moved to another suit, how bad can it be if it isn't moved? If the hearts are good, and doubletons bad, move the loose deuce to hearts and rebid 2. If the hearts are bad and spades good, move the loose deuce of hearts to spades and open 1. Or don't play Gazzilli and rebid 2 in tempo (showing 3+ clubs), along with many in ACBL land, where Gazzilli can't be played in most limited events. Anyway, this seems to me to be yet another hand where the Late Russ Ekeblad's “Loose Deuce” analysis is the way to sort out your problem, and it doesn't produce one constant answer, but 3 different ones, depending on what your hand looks like.
March 5
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David: I agree with you that upgrades and downgrades are best used as a way to get to open 1N instead of something less descriptive and durable in competition. But, downgrading when you often upgrade is usually a very bad idea for another reason. Your 1N range becomes much too wide. Partner can cope with 14-16 where it might include 13 with a decent 5-card suit; but if he must worry about a “bad” 17, he won't know if a 10-point hand is a game force holding or a skinny invite that risks 2N down one. Not saying that downgrading to a 1N opener isn't ever possible, but it is not the “second side of the same coin” by any means. If you upgrade OFTEN, then you should SELDOM downgrade. But whichever way you go, it should be to get into a 1N opener and out of a more ambiguous opening.
March 3
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Their average score for that session.
March 1
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Too much of a good thing?
My partner and I open 1N with 12-14, but we subtract a point for 4-3-3-3 shape, so 15 HCP with that shape would also open 1N. We struggled with what to announce. We tried, saying “12-14,” but if he's 4-3-3-3, it could be 15.“ That created HUGE problems for our opponents whose methods switch if it could be 15. Many times one of them would play weak NT methods and the other would play strong. This was not a fun way to get good results. We asked a world level player what he would prefer to hear, given our agreement, and it was just ”12-15.“ That's what we now do in pair events.

In team events, before the match starts, when they have time to discuss which of their methods applies with no live auction going on, we give the full explanation, including that we treat it as 12-14. There is only one time we ever can know it is 15 – when pard super-accepts a Jacoby transfer with 2N, which shows 3-card support and some 4-3-3-3 15 count. (Oddly, that 2N bid has never hurt us, but it surely will some day.) There is also one time when the range shifts up to 13-15 and we alert that. When they double 1N and it goes pass, pass back to opener, if he passes, he has to have some 4-3-3-3 shape, which means he can't have 12 but could have 15.

We don't volunteer that a 12 count has to have 2 Quick Tricks to open 1N or that the 1N cannot have a five-card major (but, of course the frequent 5-card major box on the CC is not checked). Quick Tricks also matter for minimum suit openers. At some point, it's a self-indulgent waste of everyone's time to give lectures on your bidding methods. If asked about style, or for more info about 1N, we can go on at length. Any opening bid theoretically requires 12 HCP, 7 or fewer LTs and 2+ QTs and opener is not supposed to shade on more than one of the requirements unless he has 13+ HCP, in which case all other ”requirements“ are ignored.

BTW, those who are ”much too wise“ to ”just count points“ give me a strong urge to hurl. Usually, that means they are too undisciplined to be bound by any set of ”rules" and their partners are just left to guess what they might have for any bid they might make.
March 1
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Inconceivable to me that a passed hand can create a force by making a fit-showing-jump that usually makes partner captain.
Feb. 28
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