Sunday, September 23, 2007

Superaccepting a Relay

There are many opportunities to make a "super acceptance" when you do not know what you are super-accepting, in a manner of speaking. This might occur, for instance, if you make an unusual response to what normally would be considered a relay. A few examples, perhaps?
Consider the Kokish Relay. Partner opens 2C, strong, forcing, and artificial. You bid 2D, artificial, game forcing. Partner now bids 2H. Using Kokish, this is a relay to 2S, after which partner will either bid 2NT, showing any balanced hand with about 24+ HCP (and maybe only two hearts) or will bid something else, natural, confirming that the 2H call included a real heart suit. So, most people simply bid 2S and see what happens.

Why? Why not clarify holdings here, in a way that might be useful. My personal preference is to play splinters. So, if I do not bid 2S, I'll bid my short suit from a 4441 hand. Thus, for example, 2C-P-2D-P-2H!-P-?

2S = not 4441
3C = 4441
3D = 4414
3H = 4144
3S = 1444

These are tough hands to bid after a balanced 2NT call, so why not gain something here? For that matter, I also play that 2NT shows a 6-card, non-positive spade suit (preserve the lead-direction).

There are many other examples. Another favorite is after this sequence:

2NT(strong)-P-3S(relay to 3NT for a minor or minors slam try)-P-???

Responder is about to bid his minor of interest (4C or 4D), or his short major if holding both minors. Why not do something intelligent as Opener? A simple solution is for 4C to show extras for slam purposes, with great cards for the minors. This gains in many respects, including the ability of Responder to push slightly with a 3S call, planning to pass if Opener cannot bid anything other than 3NT.

You might also, after this 2NT-P-3S-P-? auction, use Empathetic Splinters, of course. Thus, 4H or 4S by Opener would show primed-out minor-oriented cards, with no wasted cards in the bid major. Same principle. If you know where partner is going, why sit back and wait?

Take the time to think through relay sequences, and decide with partner whether any offer chances for these types of "Relay Super Acceptances." You may find a lot of options for improving definition that were never recognized. Sometimes, maybe shoprtness-indicators are available. Sometimes you might use paradox super acceptances (bidding the suit that you would not super-accept, for instance). But, there are probably missed opportunities that you will find.


Alvin P. Bluthman said...


Your suggestion, to show 4-4-4-1s after partner's Kokish 2H, leaves me asking some questions. When partner holds a strong balanced hand, his range is from 24+ (i.e., the five-bid seqpence at the two level substitutes for all standard rebid sequences above 2NT, and it can sometimes be difficult for opener to show his point count later. First, how does your method do this: e. g., after 2C - 2D - 2H - 3D, say. Second, what is your point range when you show the 4-4-4-1 hanf? Minimum (say, 0-3)? Slam invitational (say 4-7)? Stronger?


Alvin P. Bluthman

Kenneth Rexford, Esq. said...

I would first note that the idea was to use the space, however your techniques work best. Your partnership may have different ideas.

That being said, I do have an approach that I use. For me, 2D was a GF relay, promising at least one King or two Queens. When you add the worst-case scenario of one King (only one cover card) to a stiff and four-card support for something, this generates a reasonable shot at three covers (the King and two ruffs). That alone is quite powerful opposite either the heart-based holding or the 24+ holding.

In most situations, the trump fit may be agreed below game, allowing cuebidding to work out the details. Thus, for example, a 3C call allows any side suit to be named at the three-level.

The problem splinter is 3S, forcing a 4H trump set. For this reason, I myself wrap down 2NT as the spade splinter rather than the spade-suit hand.