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All comments by Steve Bloom
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You rate to get a diamond lead, so, if trumps are 2-2 and clubs even close to reasonable, you have twelve tricks. If trumps are 3-1, you likely need a singleton club honor with the overcaller. Maybe a 40% slam on the auction.

Hardly worth an ATB. North made an aggressive slam try, influenced by the auction, and you got to a marginal slam. Eh.
an hour ago
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“Win. Then think.”

Wrong. If you don't think about the hand, with the new information just made available, you might not get the defense right. As others have said, maybe it is right to unblock the ace holding AJx. Maybe it is right to signal partner about a side-suit with a suit preference card form an original AQJx. You can't simply win the jack, think, and then realize that playing the jack was a mistake.

You might object if the player thought for a long time before winning from an original Jx. But, with any other holding, there were options, and the player should think those through.
Sept. 23
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Enough, already. You are coming to a site like this, in which the best players in the world contribute. They take the time to respond to you, but you won't listen.

Michael Rosenberg has responded to you, and he just won the biggest event of the year. He takes the time to address you, but you don't want to listen. Enough.

Would you go on a tennis site and try to teach Federer how to hit a backhand? Give Nadal tips on serving? Are you going to tell Lebron James that his technique sucks? Enough!
Sept. 23
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Good point. Don't know how I play it as North, but, if I test clubs first, I know I would hook the diamond.
Sept. 23
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I only see twelve tricks. Win the spade lead, and examine options:

(1) Run diamonds, and hope for a club-heart squeeze, or 3-3 clubs to take 13. That squeeze is very unlikely, since West might well have led a heart holding five or holding the KQ. There is no pseudo-squeeze threat, since my club length will be known pretty quickly when I show up with one spade and only two diamonds.

(2) Test clubs, keeping open the option to play West for Jxxx in diamonds if East has length in clubs. That is my choice, and I would lose to the doubleton jack of diamonds.
Sept. 23
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“A low heart lead (!?) provided 3 heart tticks and the rest was zitzfleisch. ”

Three hearts, four clubs, one diamond. Where is trick nine?

No endplay on West. Whenever a diamond is established, East gets in to take three spades.

A low heart lead gives up two heart tricks, and a tempo. Now, if declarer works out to take three diamond tricks, the contract is home. But declarer cannot make the hand by setting up another heart winner.
Sept. 23
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South should never lead a spade, but I can find layouts where a very aggressive spade lead is needed to set 2NT. Simply because 2NT made three does not mean that 3NT would fetch.

Heart is reasonable, as is a club, but the heart lead gives up a tempo. Now, if declarer guesses the diamonds, declarer can take four clubs, two hearts, three diamonds.

I still don't like declarer's chances, even on a heart lead. Seems like passing 2NT saved six IMPs. Not passing two clubs doubled cost eight.
Sept. 22
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“Let's hope all agree.” I'll agree to three of those four words.

You are refusing to recognize that the defender does not have to play the same honor every time when holding both honors.
Sept. 22
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@ Jay: If you bid four diamonds, partner will play you for ten red suit cards. Assuming partner is short in spades, which seems obvious, partner will suspect your club void. When you suggest a save, but then double, partner will almost certainly play you for a club void.
Sept. 22
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Four clubs and four diamonds are natural bids, and encourage partner to push to the five-level, something you do not want. You seem to have three tricks on defense, and partner will often produce the fourth winner.

That said, bidding four diamonds could work out quite well - if partner saves, maybe you'll make. Otherwise, you double, and partner is likely to find the club lead.

I grade these as: P = 100. 4 (intending to double), 70. 4 (unless specifically agreed as lead-directing) 0.
Sept. 21
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Are you aggravated when partner passes, in first seat, and later overcalls hearts? If the hand did not qualify for a bid the first time, that does not mean it is never correct to bid.
Sept. 21
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Strongly disagree. You make a probability judgment when you bid a game. One factor is the likelihood that your opponents will find the winning defense. When your opponents are lousy, you bid more aggressively - in teams, in IMP pairs, in Matchpoints. Doesn't matter.

So, to take your MP's example: Bidding the game, when the overtrick would score well, is a gamble. You might gain 2 or 3 points, and risk 5 or 6. Is it worth the gamble? Depends on how often you expect to make this game. Against some pairs, you might judge that you would make 99 times out of 100. So bid that game, against that pair.
Sept. 20
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Forget this hand. Suppose you pick up a hand and judge that it is worth trying for game. Do you invite? Bash?

There are clearly advantages to inviting: Even if you judge that game will often be reasonable, that game will likely not be so hot facing the subset of hands where partner would turn down your invite. So, inviting gains in accuracy.

There are clearly disadvantages to inviting: Whatever sequence you choose, you are giving away information about your hand, and about partner's hand - information that may help their opening lead and subsequent defense.

That simple question - bash or invite, always depends on weighing these gains against these losses. Will you gain more in accuracy than you will lose in information loss?

That decision has absolutely nothing to do with the form of scoring. If it is right to invite in one game, then it is absolutely correct to invite in both.
Sept. 20
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I would happily bid three hearts over one spade. If I am going to play weak jump overcalls, and if I am white on red, why would I ever pass with the South hand?
Sept. 20
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5-3-3-2 hands, facing balanced shape, usually do better (at IMPs) playing in notrump. When South shows the five spades, and then bids 3NT, after, say, a 1NT opening, opener can assume no second suit.

That assumption is not so clear on this cramped auction. So, opener normally assumes that responder has some shape and wanted to play in the 5-3 fit.
Sept. 18
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So, if partner is short in hearts and has a long suit, then I should get in? Isn't that partner's job?
Sept. 18
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And Friday, I won a part-score swing when I competed to three hearts over their three clubs (even though RHO had bid a natural one heart over the double), holding QJ1074 in hearts and two small clubs. I knew they had nine or more clubs, and we had eight or more hearts. I would not make that bid playing with you.

You can't evaluate methods based on whether they worked out on a particular hand. If you use a treatment to cover a very large range of hands, then you will lose out when partner can't judge the hand, but gain by getting in more often.

There is always a trade-off balancing frequency with accuracy.
Sept. 18
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This is why I gave North a little blame.

4-3-3-3 hands are worth a downgrade, particularly with nothing in the long suit, but the rest of the hand is so prime, I'd go with the normal route. Still, North might have opened 1NT, and avoided a poor game.

Calling this game cold is pretty weird - seems like 3NT needs some luck, but that luck might come via a club lead.

Most of the time, 3NT needs spades running and the club king onside. If the cards are that friendly, then four spades also has play, and would make easily with a club opening lead. So, the forced cue-bid might have cost a game swing. Maybe North should have psyched a four diamond cue-bid.

South, of course, had two choices - pass 2NT or bid 3NT. I'd let that J109 in partner's suit convince me to raise. Probing for a five-three spade fit was going well against the odds. Still, since the suit is weak, it could be easier to develop tricks in trumps than in notrump. Consider how awkward the play would be in 3NT if North's spade ace was the diamond ace (KQx Kxx Axxx AJ9).
Sept. 18
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That's a new one to me, but makes some sense, particularly if your partners are prone to double on 4-3-3-3 hands. Strikes me as another price one pays for such a distortion.

My partner will always have five to run immediately to the highest strain.
Sept. 18
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I'm unconvinced as well. Playing with a sound bidder, but a weak defender, I would probably work out the winning defense. But I give South very little blame. South has to work out what error (or errors) North has made. So North gets all 100% from me.
Sept. 18
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