## Thursday, January 15, 2009

### lowstiff, highstiff, lowvoid, highvoid, done

A good meta-agreement, IMO.

When Responder to a 1NT opening shows a two-suited hand, and Opener picks one, then Responder can indicate his shortness in a set agreement as to steps.

Step 1: low stiff
Step 2: high stiff
Step 3: low void
Step 4: high void
Step 5: no interest

Consider 1NT-P-3♦(majors)-P-3♥(hearts set). Responder can bid 3♠(1) for 5521, 3NT(2) for 5512, 4♣(3) for 5530, 4♦(4) for 5503, or 4♥(5) to sign off.

How about a transfer and then a minor? 1NT-P-2♦-P-2♥-P-3♦-P-3♥ works the same way. If Opener agrees diamonds in this sequence (4♦?), the same thing could work as well.

The same general principle might work in many other sequences. The key is that when one person shows a two-suited hand, and the other person agrees trumps by bidding the focus suit one level below game, shortness bids in steps can be bid through this meta-agreement. Of course, you want to know when shortness indication is more important and hence the partnership default, rather than cuebidding.

## Tuesday, January 6, 2009

### Impossible 2NT?

An auction with which many of us are familiar:

1♥-P-1NT(forcing)-P-

2♣/2♦-P-2♠?

2♠ here, of course, is a power raise of Opener's minor.

1♠-P-1NT(forcing)-P-

2♣/2♦-P-P-X-

2♥-P-2NT

I mean, can 2NT to play be right? How much better to get under 3♣/3♦ to make a game try if your "practical pass" has just grown up? Partner might simply be competing, but he might have a very powerful hand. Game is still in play, but forcing the four-level to explore this possibility seems a bit rich, even if it happens to be justified. Why play 4♣/4♦ just because it really should make when a strange stack or surprise somewhere might limit the hand to 9 tricks?

If Opener hears 2NT, he can sign off with a hand that would decline an invite. With interest in this new enthusiasm, Opener can always do something intelligent to see what your basis for enthusiasm may be. A reasonable approach to this would be to bid the other minor as an asking bid, allowing Responder to cue a feature (including a 3♠ bid as "shortness"). Or, Opener could bid 3♥ to show that his short suit is void, 3♠ to show a suit playable opposite a doubleton (or maybe even opposite a stiff honor?), and 3NT to show a primed-out hand.

I really like Opener's rebid of spades at this point to indicate playable opposite a stiff honor. Imagine, for example, these hands:

Opener: ♠AKJxx ♥AJx ♦x ♣Axxx
Responder: ♠Q ♥Kx ♦xxxxx ♣Kxxxx

1♠-P-1NT(forcing)-P-
2♣-P-P-X-
2♥-P-2NT!-P(worried)-
3♠(playable opposite stiff honor)-P-4♠-all pass.