Sunday, July 1, 2007

Three New Possible Ideas for Saving Space

Part One -- Serious Three Spades?

Borrowed from the ideas of others, there are a few ways to tweak your cuebidding techniques that may save some space when it matters. These are not ideas that I would strongly endorse, as I do not use them myself, but they were interesting suggestions that I have received from others.

The first is to use a call of 3♠ as a “Serious 3NT” substitute. A simple auction might be 1♥-P-2♣-P-2♥-P-3♥-P-?

Using this approach, Opener’s meanings for 3♠ and 3NT would be reversed. Thus, 3♠ would not show a spade control but would show generally serious slam interest, with or without a spade control. 3NT, then, would be a non-serious cuebid and would artificially show a spade control.

If Opener bids 3♠ as a general serious slam try, then Responder can bid 3NT as an artificial technique to show a spade control.

This accomplishes a few changes. Without this change, 3♠ by Opener would show a spade control but would not clarify his slam interest. 3NT, in contrast, would show serious slam interest without a spade control. Under the new approach, 3NT would clarify that Opener has a spade control, but without serious slam interest, whereas 3♠ would clarify serious slam interest without clarifying whether Opener has a spade control.

This does nothing to assist Opener in checking on a spade control when he is serious but lacks a spade control, for he could just as easily bid 3NT, denying a spade control, and hear a sign-off that closes the auction. It might help find a second spade control, however, such as when Opener has a spade control but wants to know if Responder has one himself. It also may help to more rapidly end auctions where both partners have minimal interest; Opener’s cue of 3NT (spade control, not serious interest) might be enough because of the non-serious interest for Responder to simply bow out and not continue with cooperative cues.

Personally, I’m not sure if these mild possible gains outweigh the artificiality, but it is something to consider.

Part Two -- Poor Trumps Two Spades?

Another idea to save space would be of a similar type, at the two-level. Consider the auction 1♥-P-2♣-P-2D-P-2♥. One could reverse the meanings of 2♠ and 2NT for Opener (and change the continuation by Responder after the new 2♠). 2♠ would then deny two top heart honors, 2NT showing two top heart honors and a spade control. After 2♠ by Opener, 2NT by Responder would be a spade cue (control).

This idea is much more interesting to me, primarily because knowledge of poor trumps may justify an immediate signoff after this new 2♠ call, with no information exchange useful to the opponents.

However, I am still concerned about adding more artificiality. Also, I like the fact that Opener’s bypass of 2♠ to bid 2NT will shut down a number of auctions where Responder otherwise would make a fruitless Picture Jump (because of no spade stopper). This new idea would result in a larger number of Picture Jumps after 2♠.

But, again, something to consider.

Part Three -- Direct Answering?

The third new idea may also be of interest, perhaps.

There are some auctions where the partnership might want one or the other partner to ask the questions at the RKCB level. Suppose, for example, that hearts are trumps. Suppose, as well, that one partner bids 4D, eventually, as a Last Train call. Suppose, finally, that his partner may now want to answer RKCB rather than ask, as his answer to RKCB will fully describe his hand for his partner.

In that scenario, some folks bid 4♠, either as a cue or simply as a request that partner ask the questions. This has some merit. It preserves 5♣ and 5D as meaningful calls (perhaps Exclusion, perhaps a cuebid, or perhaps my suggested variation on RKCB – this suit focused for key cards.

However, if you are in an auction where none of the alternative meanings for 5♣ or 5D could possibly make sense, or if those meanings are not your preference, then you can save space by the “ask-or-answer” technique I recently heard about. The idea is for 4♠ to be Kickback RKCB and for all other calls to answer a hypothetical RKCB.

This yields the following structure, again used after 4D as Last Train:

4D(Last Train)-P-?

4♥ = declines
4♠ = I accept, but I’m asking the questions here
4NT = I accept, 0 or 3 (or reverse if 1430)
5♣ = I accept, 1 or 4 (or reverse if 1430)
5D = I accept, two without
5♥ = I accept, two with

You could do the same basic thing after a 4♥ Last Train call, with spades trumps, or possibly in some minor-suit auctions. You could use this technique in other non-Last-Train auctions, as well.

Personally, I see the most merit to this approach in one specific auction. That would be a Serious 3NT, followed by a Last Train call by that person. However, the person who provided the example of a “good auction for this technique” provided an auction where nothing was really gained.

No comments: