Friday, July 18, 2008

Smell 'em? Write 'em down!

Do you sometimes smell unexpected slam potential during an auction and then just sit there for a minute, somewhat helpless? Ultimately, you probably sign off if there seems to be no route to a slam, at least not one you have thought of yet.

I'd suggest writing these hands down, when you smell a slam, whether it exists or not. You might also keep track of deals where slam does make but you did not smell anything.

Hopefully, those who are reading this are noticing an increasing aroma of slam potential, if nothing else other than that you are thinking outside of the box most people are in (33 HCP).

However, the "smell test" could be useful for a few reasons. First, maybe you are not sniffing around enough because you are not picking up enough on holdings and sequences where slam potential is actually present. Writing this stuff down, and seeing patterns, may help.

Second, you may start noticing trends. Those trends translate into ideas. For, if every time you hear some specific strange sequence there is a slam that is on or not on depending on whether partner has the club or diamond Queen, maybe you should have some bid ask which minor-suit Queen partner has. You understand what I mean, I'm sure.

Third, if you are smelling things that are not there too often, this could be a good reason to restrain that enthusiasm. If a specific sequence seems interesting to you all the time but always ends up being a mess of nothing, then hopefully you will stop being so enthusiastic if that same auction creeps up again.

One caveat, though. Do not fall into the trap of being excited about the one hand analysis. Look for trends, not a single case. If the single case is interesting, run a deal generator or something.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Interesting Idea

Interesting idea. Let me see if I have this exactly right.

After Responder shows diamonds (4♦), Opener can bid 4♥ as a spade flag, albeit without shhowing extras necessarily. This allows Responder to simply bid 4♠ as a mild slam try, or, after learning of the fit, take some other more aggressive action, including 4NT (RKCB), presumably 5♦ as RKCB for the diamond suit secondaries (spades still agreed), or Exclusion 5♣/5♥, or possibly a quantitative 5♠. If Responder opts mild only (4♠), Opener could continue on with 4NT (RKCB), 5♦ (RKCB diamond secondaries focused), or maybe 5♣/5♥ as something else (Empathetic Splinter?).

If Opener has a diamond focus, he flags diamonds via 4♠. Responder can suggest a signoff (4NT or 5♦). I'd suggest 5♣ by either side (5♣ immediately by Responder or 4NT-P-5♣ by Opener) as Last Train, myself, with 5♦ a decline again, 5♥ accept with 2, 5♠ accept 2 with Q, 5NT accept 3, 6♣ acept 3+Q. Something like that.

Opener can also bid 4NT as natural.

Nice idea.

From: A.H. (may want privacy)
Subject: about the bidding
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2008 00:38:58 +0000

Hi Ken
this is alex, i am the fan of your book "Cuebidding At Bridge ", thanks for sharing those bright ideas,
I have some think about 2NT--3H--3S--4D, on page 154, I am currently using transfer after the sequence like this, thinking may works better

2NT 3H
3S 4D
4H Now opener's 4H is trsfer to 4S, flag of Spades,perparing stop at 4S or strong hand will bid 4NT
as RKC for Spades.Responder can refuse trsfer if he has stronger hand instead of mildly slamish.
if responder bid 4NT it is RKC of spades.
4S Now it is flag for D, RKC . Or we can use as D flag, but not a very good hand to bid RKC,
or strong hand(will bid 5C as RKC if responder signoff)responder can rebid 4NT as signoff , 5C is
4NT Natural



Friday, July 11, 2008

Tough Hand -- Any Solutions?

At BBO, my wife and I ran into an interesting hand.

The essence was that Opener has a three-loser hand (xx-void-AKQ10-AQJ10xxx) and Responder has a nice collection with a double fit (Ax-KJxx-xxxx-Kxx). The same basic problem could also arise with any other long suit and any other 4-piece.

The auction started with the 7-4 hand describing a long, powerful club suit via 2♣-P-2♦(GF)-P-3♣. As you can see, 6♣ is icy as hell, but 7♦ makes on a 3-2 split. Bidding 7♦ on this, when you need a 3-2, seems like a bit much, but give Responder five small diamonds. ♠Ax ♥KJx ♦xxxxx ♣Kxx.

The solution for this kind of a problem evades me at the moment. There may be no solution, for that matter, but I still wonder if there might be some general operating procedures for more frequently checking/showing alternative strains for slam purposes. Some conventions, like a 3M rebid after a 2♣ opening to show a 6-4 hand with diamonds and the indicated major, serve this additional function well.

The pattern bidding inverted spiral relay lunatics who can unwind a 6520 hand with four bids might like problems of this nature. As I am an empathetic cuebidding wrap-around yummy toes implied LTTC Type II lunatic, I am also curious.

Of course, this does remind me of the story I heard about Rodwell coming up with 30-some pages of system notes revisions to ask for a Jack for grand slam purposes and the reaction of almost putting the man out of his misery. Bah! 40-some pages might be too much, but only 30-something?

Anyway... Any ideas of thoughts? Maybe the auction is easier after a simple 1♣ opening. Hmmm.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

More strange flags

The use of flags can be quite powerful.

RHO opens 1♥ and you overcall 2♥, Michaels for spades and a minor. LHO bids 2♠, GF with heart support (2NT would have been limit). Partner bids 3♠, and RHO pops in a 4♦ cue. You want to compete to 4♠. Now, you could make a "Flag Fit-Bid" in this situation. 4♥ would be a raise to 4♠ showing clubs; 4♠ would thus show diamonds. That might help partner decide whether 5♠, passing, or doubling is right if the opponents compete to 5♥.

But, you may protest that disclosure is bad. OK, LHO cuebids 4♣ then. You could opt to bid 4♠ as a non-disclosing bid. Or, you could show the diamonds (4♦) but flag the clubs (4♥).

This same principle could occur at a lower level. After your Michaels 2♥ call, LHO passes this time, and partner picks 2♠. If his minors are 4-1, and he has Kx in spades, what do you expect? However, Opener makes a strange call of 3♦, alerted as a strong 3♥ call. Apparently, the opponents use transfers here, with 2NT as a transfer to clubs, 3♣ a transfer to diamonds, 3♦ a transfer to hearts (and strong), and 3♥ simply competitive. You like this, and you plan to discuss this idea with partner, but now you have a call to make. The auction may well not die at the three-level, but you may not want to enter the four-level yourself to show your minor. On the other hand, if partner knows your minor, he may be better positioned to consider a 4♠ sacrifice, or even a sacrifice in your minor, instead. Might as well take advantage of the opponents' techniques, eh? You know the drill now. 3♥ is a competitive raise to 3♠ with clubs as the second suit; 3♠ then shows diamonds as the second suit.

How About Paradox Flags?

LHO opens 1NT, announced as kamikazee (8-11, balanced). Two passes come to you, and you realize that your agreements are not exactly tailored to this opening. However, you have agreed to play that a double shows one minor or both majors, major calls are natural, and minor calls are takeout, of sorts. The minor calls show that minor and either just spades or that minor and two higher suits.

When the balance is 2♦, partner knows that you have diamonds and either both majors (Platonic ideal 1444) or diamonds and spades (would convert a 2♥ call to 2♠). When the balanced is 2♣, you will have clubs+diamond+hearts, or clubs+diamonds+spades, or clubs+hearts+spades, or clubs+spades.

Ugh! Well, shoulda coulda does not help here. You have to make a call.

So, suppose you have a hand where 2♣ is your call. After LHO passes, partner bids 2♦, which offers diamonds as a contract that is "acceptable," and showing presumably that his club support is not so good. Partner is expected to have some game plan if you convert 2♦ to 2♥ (to show clubs+hearts+spades) or 2♠ (clubs+spades). RHO, however, who was apparently sleeping, bids 2♠ out of the blue, which is alerted as a transfer to 3♣. Strangely, the opponents have actually discussed this sequence.

So, what now, if you want to compete? Should you not complete your pattern, in case partner, if he knows your pattern, has a better idea than 3♦?

Obviously, 3♣ sounds like a bad call. But, what should it show?

Well, think back to your possible hand types. It seems to me that flags come in handy here.

3♣ seems to flag hearts. 3♦, then, would seem to flag spades. Why would you flag a major? Because that's the only major that you hold. So, 3♣, to me, if Paradox Flags are in play, suggests something resembling 4441 and 3♦ suggests 4414. With 4144, 2NT comes to mind, not only because it covers the problem of not wanting to flag a specific major, but because it actually sounds natural after partner, in a sense, showed diamonds. Natural is good, in moderation. LOL

Yeah, but what about the club-spade hands? Double seems to scream out. As a bonus, it is both penalty for the artificial suit and for the suit shown. Kind of cute.

Now, obviously this is a contrived, but nonetheless possible, example. But, the principle is similar to the paradox situation described earlier. The notrump bid shows the holding that isolates the preference suit as the shortness. The available call is a flag for the higher-ranking suit, in that other case for hearts because a flag for spades is not particularly useful.

Note also that both examples so far have a strange result that appears. Natural calls in "agreed" suits tend to have incidental flag messages concerning rejected suits. However, calls in an agreed diamond suit may on rare occasion actually also be flags for spades.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Strange Paradox?

An interesting sequence was described to me.

Suppose you have five small diamonds, with the Ace or hearts and a doubleton clubs, or with the Ace of clubs and a doubleton diamond, nothing else.

Not very interesting.

So, LHO opens 4♠ and partner bids 4NT. You have a clear 5♦ call, so you do that. LHO comes back at you with 5♠ and partner raises to 6♦. This is passed around to Opener who persists with 6♠. Partner passes this to you. So far, this was the actual sequence.

The problem is quite involved, it seems. Partner's 4NT showed two places to play, either both minors or hearts and a minor. So far, so good.

When you picked diamonds, however, you might well have had longest hearts, medium diamonds, and short clubs. 4-3-1, 4-2-1, something like that. You picked a minor because, well, that's what you do.

When partner competed to 6♦, you know that he had both minors. Why? Because, paradoxically, it seems that he should bid 6♣ if his two suits were diamonds and hearts. If he has both minors, he just bids diamonds because he knows that you prefer diamonds to clubs. If, however, he has diamonds and hearts, he wants you back in the picture and, accordingly, must make the one call that gets you back in -- 6♣.

Now, you could protest that 6♣ could show both minors and 6♦, therefore, both red suits. But, you want to make a call in something other than trumps only when you might want to bid something other than trumps, it seems. Extra calls give extra space for informative doubles by the opponents. Plus, the preference already made for diamonds suggests shorter clubs than hearts, such that you only want to bid 6♣ on the rare hand, namely when overcaller has that unexpected length in the probable longer of Advancer's other two suits.

So, partner's pass, if you interpret it as forcing, seems to be from a minor two-suiter, making the heart-Ace-doubleton-club holding look HUGE. The club-Ace-doubleton-heart holding would have looked great after a 6♣ "heart flag."