Sunday, December 30, 2007

Canape Notes

For many years, I played with a few guys from Mansfield who all liked canape. The approach they had started with was a mess. I tweaked it into a system that worked very well, being "available" to relative novices (some NLM's played the system).

I no longer use a canape approach, largely because of new partners. However, I did save a 2000 "book," of sorts, that I had put together for the small group of Ohio canape players.

The sad thing is that I lost the electronic version of the thing. I do have a scanned version, however, one that could be converted, I suppose.

If anyone out there happens to be interested in my thoughts on canape bidding (from almost eight years ago), let me know. My email, again, is I could send you the scanned version.

Tweaking Super Standard

I don't like the handling of 4-4-4-1 hands entirely. I doubt they did (let alone most of us) either.

An idea:

Define a sequence 2♣-P-2D-P-2NT as "both minors," but precisely "4+ in each minor and unbalanced." This allows 2NT to show 4-1-4-4 or 1-4-4-4 (the trouble patterns).

Responder can bid 3M as described by Bennet-Wirgren (natural), or 3D just asking for the minor. However...

Responder can also bid 3♣ as "Mini-Puppet Stayman." The responses by Opener:

1. 3M shows four cards (3♥ = 1-4-4-4 or 0-4-5-4 or 0-4-4-5; 3♠ same thing, but short hearts)
2. 3NT denies a three-card or longer major; Opener can instead "flag" his short major (4♣=♥, 4D=♠) if too strong for 3NT; 4♥ maybe 1-1 majors?
3. 3D shows an undisclosed three-card major (and stiff in the other major); 3♥ asks; 3♠ shows three spades, 3NT shows three hearts, and 4♣ shows three hearts but too strong for 3NT.

This seems better to me. The 3NT calls that showed these hands now are different, whatever you want them to be.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I had been tinkering around with an idea to better handle the hand opened 2♣ in standard and 2/1 GF, with the idea of a strong 2♦ ("♦" = diamonds) to show an unbalanced hand with spades (and strong). After I worked out the kinks, I was informed that Anders Wirgren and Johan Bennet had come up with this idea years ago. I was tickled, but disappointed that my "innovation" was already spotted and developed. Nothing new under the sun perhaps.
That said, I cannot find any write-up of the newest version (called "Pioneer," apparently). But, I found a Swedish-language version of the slightly older "Super Standard," upon which Pioneer is apparently based, with an explanation of their approach.
Because I really like the idea, I did a rough translation. Some of the follow-up bidding is not developed but logical to work out, and some of the "translation" is tweaked (because these are personal notes more than a translation). But, for those who cannot read Swedish and are not as weird as me (I used a word-by-word translator at points), but who may be interested, I have attached my notes hereto. I think that this approach has great potential. The cost is the weak 2♦ opening, but many have ditched that anyway. The gain is that strong hands now are not a liability and patterns can be handled properly.
My "translation" is broken down into hand-type categories, to all analysis in such a way as to see the parallel structure (you will understand as you read this), which makes memory work lesser. It seems very logical.
My own version seemed a bit more fluid at points, but this version seems to handle some patterns better. I handled balanced hands much better, at the cost of handling minor two-suiters and generally two-suiters without quite the same definition (at least initially). The Swedish version, in all, seems slightly better. I'm curious to see whether the Pioneer notes solved some of my concerns or not. (Anyone have this?)
Anyway, here goes:

Majors, after Positive Waiting (2♣-P-2♦ or 2♦-P-2♥):

Heart-focus hand types:
1. heart-minor canapé
2. 5-5 hearts plus a minor
3. 6-5 hearts plus a minor
4. single-suited hearts (6322+)
5. hearts-minor, shorter in minor

Spade-focus hand types:
1. spade-minor canapé
2. 5-5 spades plus a minor
3. 6-5 spades plus a minor
4. single-suited spades (6322+)
5. spades-minor, shorter in minor
6. 5+ hearts, 4+ spades spades only (2♦)
7. 5+ spades, 4 hearts spades only (2♦)

With category #1 (major-minor canapé):
Open 2♣ with hearts, and then bid 3♣/3♦
Open 2♦ with spades, and then bid 3♣/3♦

With category #2 (5-5 major-minor):
Open 2♣ with hearts, and then flag the minor (3♥=5♥/5♣; 3♠=5♥/5♦)
Open 2♦ with spades, and then flag the minor (3♥=5♠/5♣; 3♠=5♠/5♦)

With category #3 (6-5 major-minor):
Open appropriate minor, then jump in minor (4♣/4♦)

With category #4 (single-suited hand) or #5 (major, plus shorter minor):
Open 2♣ with hearts, and then bid 2♠[1]
Open 2♦ with spades, and then bid 2♠

With category #6 (spades only – 5+♥/4+♠)
Open 2♦ and then bid 2NT.
Rebid 3♠ later with 5-5
Rebid 3♥ later with 4-5♠, 6♥

With category #7 (5+♠/4♥):
Open 2♦, rebid 2♠, introduce hearts later

Handling Minors after Positive Waiting:

Open 2♣. Responder’s 2♦ is waiting.

With both minors (5-4/4-5 or greater, no 4-card major), bid 2NT next.
Responder might bid 3♣ as “stayman,” asking for a three-card major, if any.
Responder might instead flag a minor of choice for slam interest.

With a one-suited minor:
Opener rebids 2♥, sort of like Kokish, but without hearts.
(Opener will have one minor, or some 4441’s, or balanced)
After 2♠, Opener rebids his minor. Will not be 5-4 in minors, but might be 6-4. No side 4-card major, though.

Note: Responder can reject “Kokish” by showing a minor or minors:
-2NT shows diamonds. Opener, with clubs, bids 3♣. With diamonds, the celebration begins.
-3♣ shows clubs. Opener, with diamonds, bids 3♦. With clubs, the celebration begins.
-3♥/3♠ shows 5-5, bidding stiff

Handling 4-4-4-1 hands after Positive Waiting:
With 4-1-4-4 and BIG (24+), open 2♦ and then rebid 3NT.
With 1-4-4-4 and BIG (24+), open 2♣, then “Kokish” 2♥, and then rebid 3NT.
With 1-4-4-4 and decent (21-23), open 2♣ and immediately rebid 3NT.
After all three above:
4♣ = shows a weak hand and is a relay to 4♦. Responder will pick the suit contract, or 4NT as general quantitative invite to possible 6NT contract.
4♦ = major slam try (LTTC)
4♥ = club slam try (RKCB?)
4♠ = diamond slam try (RKCB?)
4NT = RKCB for the major

With 4-1-4-4 and decent (21-23), treat as balanced. Life sucks.

With 4-4-4-1 or 4-4-1-4, open 2♣, then “Kokish” 2♥, then flag the stiff minor.
3♥ = 4-4-4-1 3♠ = 4-4-1-4
Handling Balanced Hands after Positive Waiting:
Open 2♣. After 2♦, bid 2♥ as “Kokish” parallel. After 2♠, bid 2NT.

Response structure will be the same. Puppet and the like. Frequent super-acceptances encouraged. “Super-accept” of 3NT to a transfer is BIG balanced.

Note: We may want to scrap/modify the 2♣…2NT as minors. That would make 2♣…2♥…2NT 24+ and 2♣…2NT 22-23.

If so, then a “one-suited minor” could be 5-5 minors. No great solution, but perhaps better than lumping all of the balanced hands together.

Wirgren-Bennet alleviated the strong, balanced to some degree by establishing:
1. 2NT open is 22-23
2. 2♣…2♥…2NT is then 19+ to 21 OR 24+
This split range may be easier to handle than 22+ plus would be.

After the 2♦ opening and a Negative Rebid:
If Responder has 4+ spades (and thus a fit), he bids 3♥. This shows an intention to pass 3♠ or a bare minimum raise to 4♠. Opener bids 3♠ is not interested in slam under these conditions, or 4♠ is game-only no matter what, or 3NT/other as slam tries (other=natural). 3NT just gives room for cues of values, if any.

If Responder has 0-3 spades, he will bid 2♠, which can be passed. Or:
2NT through 3♦ = transfer to next-up suit. Opener might pass or continue pattern description.
3♥ = also a transfer, showing 6+ spades
3♠ = 24+, with 4-1-4-4
3NT = To play
4♣/4♦ = BIG 5-5
4♥ = BIG 4♠/6+♥
4♠ = To play

After the 2♣ opening and the Two-Way Double Negatives:
2♥ shows double negative and 0-3 hearts
2♠ shows double negative and 4+ hearts

If Opener has hearts, 2♠ gives him lots of information. If he does not have hearts, Opener will have a one-suited minor, both minors, or balanced. Thus:
2NT = Balanced, not four hearts (might be 21-23 and 4-1-4-4)
3♣/♦ = One-suited minor or light both minors; passable
3♥ = To play
3♠ = Strong both minors
3NT = Best guess contract (to play)
4♣/♦ = BIG minor
4♥ = To play

If Opener lacks hearts (2♥):
Opener can pass.
Opener can make any bid as above, except…
2NT shows BIG hand (24+)
2♠ shows:
A. 22-23 (or 20-21 if…)
B. Heart-minor
C. Heart GF
After 2♠, Responder usually bids 2NT, after which Opener:
A. Passes with weak balanced
B. Bids minor with 5-4/5-5
C. Bids 3♥ GF, 6+ hearts
D. Bids 4♣/4♦ with STRONG 5-5

The Positives:
After 2♣ opening:
2NT = Positive with Spades
3♣/♦/♥ = Positives, natural

After 2♦ opening:
2NT shows heart positive
3♣/3♦ shows minor positive

Note = 3♥ shows negative with spades; 4bids would be minimal splinters with spade support

After these positives, logical bidding. Possibly splinters.

[1] Responder can bid 3♦ (transfer) or splinter to support hearts.
3♥ by Responder is described as a bare bust heart acceptance and passable, but I don’t see the merits. Makes more sense to me as a power raise, with something in all side suits (Ace, King, Stiff, and/or maybe one suit Queen-only).
Describes 2NT as a general denial of fit/waiting, after which Opener bids:
1. a minor (3♣/3♦(
2. rebids hearts
3. 3♠ for 0544, or
4. 4minor as strong 6-4.
Responder’s 3♣ shows a minor without hearts. Opener can ask (3♦, flag answer) or bid own way (naturally).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bridge Without a Partner Available

If you are interested in purchasing Ken Eichenbaum's "Bridge Without a Partner," I have set up a paypal account to handle orders for him. It is available in the items on the left side of this page, bottom. I must admit, though, that I just set up this "paypal" account and have no idea how it works. So, please excuse me if I get confused and it takes a bit longer than 2-3 business days. LOL I'm sure that it will get easier as I do this more often.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

When to Exit the Asking Bids

A discussion on line recently induced a thought. I think that there is great importance in agreeing with partner when pattern completion ends and cuebidding begins, if you use pattern bidding.

The discussion focused on a Jacoby 2NT response to a 1♠ opening. Opener rebid 3♣, showing a balanced hand. 3D asked for more info, and 3♥ showed a minimum. Responder then bid 3♠, which was the point of discussion. Should Opener introduce a four-card suit with 5422, or bid 3NT with 5332 or 6322? Would 4♣ after 3NT ask for spade length, with perhaps 4D showing 5332 and 4♥ showing 6322? Maybe we could even work out a method for showing the doubleton when 5332 or the three-card suit when 6322?

The problem on the hand was that Responder needed to know if Opener held (1) both minor Aces and at least the heart King, or (2) one minor Ace and the heart A-K, or perhaps, if brave, (3) one minor Ace, the heart Ace, and the spade Queen (50-50 slam that way, about).

You can ask for pattern all you want, but you will never find out about specific cards unless you eventually start cuebidding.

On the actual deal, cuebidding from the very start would have worked better. However, it is not necessary to force that issue forward. What seems necessary, however, is for partnerships who do embark on pattern asking bids to have some point in the auction where someone can change the focus. In the discussed sequence, that point was with a 3NT call rather than a 3♠ "waiting" call, apparently. That's workable.

If you do have pattern bidding as part of your approach, I advise that this topic be discussed.