## Thursday, January 31, 2013

### Super Accepting?

In line with my latest prior post, what should a "Super-Accept" look like?

You open 1NT with 15-17 HCP (occasional upgrades), and partner transfers.  What is your "range?"

I showed how the "normal" range would be 2-6 cover cards as far as strength, with 2-5 cards in support of the major.  Suppose that we took the cover card range and added to it the variance off of an expected simple 3-card fit.  For example:

3 cover cards.  3-card fit (0 variance).  3+0=3.  Net of 3 Super-Accept Credits (SAC's).

4 cover cards.  4-card fit (+1 variance).  4+1=5.  Net of 5 SAC's.

2 cover cards.  5-card fit (+2 variance).  2+2=4.  Net of 4 SAC's.

4 cover cards.  2-card "fit" (-1 variance).  4-1=3.  Net of 3 SAC's.

If we do this, then perhaps the worst SAC count is 1 SAC (2 covers, no fit), while the greatest is probably only 7 SAC (4-card fit plus 6 covers or 5-card fit nut then only 6 covers), because a 5-card suit with six covers would have upgraded to open the major and jump rebid 2NT.  Thus, the SAC range is 1-7.

With 7 SAC, force game.  With 6 SAC or 5 SAC with something else, show a strong super-accept.  With 5 SAC without something extra or 4 SAC with something extra, show a medium super-accept.  With less, do not super-accept unless you have 4+ support and a means to show a weak super-accept.

Notice how a 3-card super-accept is possible in this approach.

## Thursday, January 17, 2013

### No Trump "Ranges"

What is the "range" for a strong 1NT opening bid?

A lot of people will knee-jerk out "15-17."  Some will start a discussion of upgrades and downgrades for this or that honor collection, will speak about tenaces and length cards and the like.  You might even have discussions of controls and "three and a third's" with some.

All of this is fine when opening the bidding, before anyone has said anything.  But, that only gets you so far.  If partner shows you an unbalanced hand, and if you have a fit, the situation radically changes, such that your analysis should also change.

I mean, if your 15-HCP hand features the KJ2 in clubs, that seems nice.  If you later find out that your partner has a stiff club, however, the KJ2 looks not so useful.  If he has AQxxx, however, you love the KJ2 more tha you thought.

If the auction and knowledge changes, the "range" for a 1NT opening can wildly change, therefore, when viewed as a function of how good it fits with partner's hand.  From a "Losing Trick Count" perspective, the "cover card" count probably could change by as much as three cards.

What?!?!?

Consider a normal-looking Qxx-KQx-Axx-Axxx, a 15-HCP hand.  If partner has something like 5-3-3-2 pattern, your hand has five cover cards -- the two outside Aces, the spade Queen (the agreed trump suit), and both the King and Queen of hearts (a side fragment held by partner).

What if, however, partner holds 2-1-5-5 pattern, a minor two-suiter?  Now, your cover card count looks more like 2, one for each Ace but nothing else.  At most,m if partner has both major Aces, you might contribute a cover card for the diamond King.  This might also help if the opponents defend incorrectly.

Now, the cover card count is not as important unless Responder has an unbalanced hand and we end up declaring a suit contract, but the point seems apparent.  In this rough example, the number of useful cards for a minimum hand of exactly 15 HCP was somewhere between 2 and 5 covers.

Thus, as far as cover cards is concerned, a "tight range" of 15-17 HCP is not remotely tight at all.

Keep this in mind when developing bidding agreements and when analyzing a given auction.  A "maximum" in terms of cover cards is probably about six cover cards (one Ace, one side King, plus two internal King-Queen combinations.  A reasonable "minimum" might be a 15-count with K-Q-J opposite a stiff, Q-J opposite a doubleton, and then only two useful cover cards.  I am having trouble imagining a 1-cover-card 15-HCP hand.  So, the "freak extreme" hands are 2 covers or 6 covers.  Hence, the normal range is probably 3-5.

If you have the freak extreme 6 covers, go crazy.  If freak extreme only 2, you might pass a forcing bid.  But, 3 is a minimum (regard;ess of HCP strength), 5 is a maximum (regardless of HCP strength), and 4 covers is middling, needing more analysis.

So, the range for a 1NT opening is 15-17 HCP, or 2-6 cover cards.

BTW, notice that this phenomenon is not at all unique to 1NT openings.  It is just with 1NT openings (and 2NT openings) that Openers get especially lazy, feeling that they have somehow showed their tight range by the act of opening.  Not so.

## Wednesday, December 12, 2012

### VKCB

Amazon now has VKCB available as a paperback:

http://www.amazon.com/Variable-Key-Card-Blackwood-Rexford/dp/1554947723/ref=la_B0034Q3QKI_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1355339486&sr=1-2

I believe that the foreign Amazon's (e.g., Amazon UK and Amazon Japan) also have this available, but the shipment might still be delayed.  Nor sure.

Also, Bridge World's website has it up for paperback, at a nice discount.

## Monday, December 3, 2012

### Irony!

In August Boehm's "Boehm on Bridge" in the December Bridge Bulletin, he noted that irony is frequent in literature but rare in bridge. Strangely, irony in December of 2012 occurred in bridge literature.

In Mr. Boehm's article, he mentioned an auction where with AQ-AQJ5-KQ10942-8, you end up bidding 4NT as Roman Key Card Blackwood (hearts agreed) to find two key cards, but cannot find the grand opposite two Aces (which should make in context) because one of partner's key cards might be the heart king. Quoting Edgar Kaplan for "the trump king is not the same as an ace," he notes the irony that RKCB players would have to stop in the small slam while traditional Blackwood players could bid the grand.

The irony is that on December 2, I released through Master Point Press my new book, called Variable Key Card Blackwood. My new VKCB is a means of improving upon RKCB to, among other things, identify which key cards replier has, namely whether the holding is two aces or an ace and the trump king. In the auction that Mr. Boehm provides (1S-X-P-4H-P-?), doubler would bid 4S as Kickback VKCB. Partner would respond 4NT, showing two key cards. Doubler (with this specific hand) would then be able to bid 5C to ask whether partner has the trump Queen (already known) and, if not, which form of key cards he has. Replier would bid 5D to deny the trump Queen but show that his two key cards are both aces.

So, ironically, in the same month that we published Variable Key Card Blackwood, August Boehm spots this issue and bemoans the lack of a solution in RKCB, in an article about irony!

### Variable Key Card Blackwood

The VKCB book is now available for order.  Note that the title to the book is now "Variable Key Card Blackwood" rather than "Variable Keycard Blackwood," which makes sense.

http://ebooksbridge.com/www/ebb/index.php?main_page=ebb_product_book_info&cPath=133&products_id=521

## Friday, November 30, 2012

### Variable Keycard Blackwood

I am pleased to announce that I will be publishing a new book, called Variable Keycard Blackwood, through Master Point Press, to be released any day now.  Check at www.ebooksbridge.com for the ebook version (which is usually available first) to arrive.

From the back cover:

Beyond Roman Key Card Blackwood!

Easley Blackwood introduced and developed the Blackwood Convention. Eddie Kantar then expanded the Blue Team’s Roman Blackwood into the Roman Key Card Blackwood that has dominated expert circles for the past half century. Variable Key Card Blackwood may be the next logical step. VKCB allows partnerships to address many problems that neither Blackwood nor Roman Key Card Blackwood solves, while keeping the auction low enough to avoid bad slams. And, better yet, it is relatively easy to use.

Suppose you have enough power for slam but only the J732 in trumps, in support of partner’s five-card suit. You also know that partner has only one of the top three honors. If the honor is the ace, the slam seems good. If it is the king, the slam is not so good. Using VKCB, partner can tell you which honor he has. What about holding 8732? Now you need partner specifically to have the ace and the jack. VKCB has a solution for that problem as well. In fact, you might also find out about a particular side king, all before committing to a slam and without any cuebidding. VKCB solves your problem without going past the safety of the five-level.

KEN REXFORD (Ohio) is a Master Point Press author known for his contributions to bidding theory. His first book, Cuebidding at Bridge, introduced the bridge world to a modern approach to Italian cuebidding. His most recent books for Master Point Press are Modified Italian CanapĂ© System

## Friday, November 16, 2012

### Taking Advantage of a Forced Wrap-Around

Consider an auction:

4NT would be RKCB, but partner bids 5C as Exclusion RKCB.

5D = 0/3
5H = 1/4
5S = 2 without the Queen
5NT = 2 with the Queen

Now, if this is your structure, you probably see that 5C as Exclusion RKCB forces slam when replier has "two plus the Queen."

You also notice a problem.  If Replier has "1/4," there is insufficient space below 5S to ask for the Queen.  This might not be such a problem, as perhaps even "1 with the Queen" is not enough while "4" is enough for a grand (if 2+Q is enough for the small slam).

What about the 0/3 holding?  You have space for a Queen-ask, presumabl;y for grand slam purposes, in the 5H call.  But, you already know that any more questions are grand-slam oriented, if 2+Q is enough for slam.

It seems to me, then, that in this situation (and other similar situations) you can save space by wrapping around the answers.  You do not need (enough to matter) an answer showing yet another void, so why not put this wrap-around to better use?

One approach is this:

5D = 0, or 3 without the Queen (5H then asks for specific features as a grand probe)
5H = 1/4 (if 4, can bid on)
5S = 2 without
5NT = 2 with (asker can continue a grand probe if desired)
6C+ = 3 with the Queen, showing specific features (as if partner had bid 5NT himself)