## Saturday, May 23, 2009

### Almost Jacoby?

I got to thinking about a few sequences, and a recurring thought kept popping up. It seems like the two-card support problem is a recurring problem.

Partner opens 1♠, you bid 2♣, partner bids something, and you have some 4432 with 2-card spade support. Maybe his bid leaves spade length in question. Maybe you have the 2/1 style where partner's 2♠ says nothing about spades. Sure, you can get around to raising spades, but it takes a step or two and uses space/

Partner opens 1♠ and you have the same hand with 11 HCP. You bid a forcing 1NT and partner bids 2♦ (stealing BART in the process, which sucks). Your calls now are not reliable as to shape.

It seems like incorporating a means of showing 2-card support earlier would make a lot of sense.

One thought I'm dabbling with is a 2NT call (1♠-P-2NT) to show GF with 2-card support rather than 4-card support. I'm not all that enamored with Jacoby 2NT anyway. I mean, I like it all right, but I often bid 2/1 2♣ or something anyway, more than others. If 2NT showed some 4432 shape, Opener could do some neat things, like maybe 3♣ as agreeing the opened major and starting cues, 3♦ as the "other major" 4-card holding, suggesting that suit as trumps and inviting cuebids if Responder has support (immediate 3NT declining), and 3♥/3♠ as minor flags (4-card+ suit, inviting cues also).

Or, maybe 3♣ always for hearts and 3♦ always for spades. If hearts is opened, all is normal. If spades is opened, 3♣ could be implying 5-5 or 5-4, such that Responder can either cue at 3♥+ or bid 3♦ to show 2344, after which Opener can cue anyway to confirm a fifth heart.

If hearts is opened, 2♠ could be used as a similar bid (instead of 2NT, kept as Jacoby), but invitational+. If Opener wants to sign off, he bids 2NT, and Responder can raise to 3NT with GF values. If Opener would accept a game try, he bids 3NT or one of the flag-style bids. Responder's 2♠ could feature the other major if GF strength, in which case he probably bids 3♠ after a signoff suggestion (1♥-2♠-2NT-3♠ = 4234/4243; with any 4(♠)43(2♥) but invitational, bid 1♠ first).

Just thinking out loud, I suppose...

Nick said...

This is quite similar to how I play 1M-2NT, which is almost a Baron-style 2NT. It is +14-20- HCP, 4432 or 5m332, both with doubleton support, and the latter with a poor minor suit. I play very aggressive one-level openings, so the first priority is to establish whether opener has a decent hand or not.

The initial responses are:

3C: 13+ any shape
3D: 10-12 shapely hand (at least a singleton; may contain extra H and S length)
3H: 10-12 extra H length, otherwise no shape
3S: 10-12 extra S length, otherwise no shape
3NT: 10-12 no extra shape
4C: 5+C 6KCB
4D: 5+D 6KCB
(4H should probably be 6 or RKCB after either M opening, 4S as RKCB after a 1S opener)

Cues are in play over 3H and 3S. Natural bidding (up to 3NT) takes place over 3D. Similar sequences take place over 3C.

You can sort of see that this system of responses is not optimised for cueing at a low-level. It basically gives captaincy to opener, who will know where/when to look for a fit, and will be able to judge slam chances fairly well.

If you look to establish fit at a lower level to allow for cue-bidding, serious/non-serious tries have to be available, which is easy enough to arrange after opener repeats their major. Thus, it makes sense to use 3C as showing the other major, for some extra leeway:

1M-2NT-3C-?

3D: 3244
3M (opened): opposite of below, cue
3M (other): non-serious/serious ST
(I guess 3NT could be a replacement D cue.)

The advantage of going through 3D after a 1H opener without an immediate fit is twofold: opener can show a good initial suit, or maybe 4=6 with a weak suit, both subject to agreement.

System aside, it's definitely useful for opener to know of a doubleton in support; it can help avoid a weak 6-2 for slam purposes, and can identify a good 5-2 for either game or slam purposes. Plus there's the guarantee of a fit for opener's second suit if shapely.

I haven't thought much about 1H-2S, but it definitely would have some useful application as inv+ with 2H. If opener showed a minimum, any slam try that responder makes will be in that context. Plus, the rest of the structure can remain the same. Looks good!

Kenneth Rexford, Esq. said...

I like this idea, regardless of which intelligent follow-up makes the most sense for the style of the partnership, especially for those of us who have particularly good cuebidding styles. I find Jacoby 2NT nice, but not necessary in a practical sense, because of the effectiveness of cue sequences.

I can see how a shape-oriented approach also works well. And, I see that your approach has some shape focus. I assume that the 3♣ rebid probably has some standard follow-up styles?

I could see, for instance, 1M-P-2NT-P-3♣-P-??? Solved as maybe:

3♦ = fragment in other major; Opener can flag minor if interested (3♥ for clubs, 3♠ for diamonds)

3♥ = fragment in clubs (flag short minor); Opener can bid 3♠ as a diamond flag, 4♣/♦ as major flags

3♠ = fragment in diamonds; Opener can bid 4♣ natural, or 4M, or 4♦ as a slam try for the other major

3NT = minimum, non-slammish

Something like that.

I'm hesitant about the 1♥-P-2♠ idea, the more I think about it. As much as I like the benefit of the call itself, I dislike giving up the alternative meaning that I have for 2♠ (natural, invitational, maybe 8-11 or so). I'm not sure which would be the long winner.

Nick said...

I like your solution to 1M-2NT-3C-? -- I don't use flags there, although they would be better. (FYI: 3D: either minor fragment; 3M (opened): strong doubleton; 3M (other): natural fragment; 3NT: minimum no slam interest.)

Your point about the Jacoby 2NT is interesting too; most of my partnerships don't play 2/1 so our cue-bidding is not tip-top (the reason why I started reading your website). Yet Jacoby 2NT is unnecessary, since we can sort out range/shortage/keys and stay at 4M if it is right, using a 2M+3 GF raise. It's as though 2NT doesn't give the information available to 2/1-ers, and has too much room if you aren't immediately worried about cueing. 2NT with a doubleton seems to be just right.

Changing 1H-P-2NT to 1H-P-2S is certainly for quite a specific use; exactly 3244, with a hand that would feel awkward bidding 1H-1NT-2D-2NT in standard. I think you're right, and it wouldn't outweight the benefits of an invitational 2S. I am considering making the change, though, since I use 1H-P-2S as an invitational raise, and it can be easily interchanged with 2NT. (Invitational hands with (5)6S pose a problem: 1H-1S-1NT needs to utilise a checkback-style 2C. It helps that 1H-1S-2m-2S promises some values in the style I usually play.)

Kenneth Rexford, Esq. said...

ANOTHER TWO-CARD RAISE IDEA...

I also wonder somewhat about another idea, somewhat related.

Consider 1♠-P-2♦-P-2♠-P-???

I like to use a lot of "waiting" 2NT calls in this sequence. If, for example, I have interest in bigger and better things in diamonds, I might bid 2NT because it is a lot easier for Opener to bid 3♦ over 2NT than it is to bid 4♦ over 3♦, both by cards needed and psychologically. Because of this, the rebid of diamonds, although covering a hand type, seems somewhat rare. And, when it comes up, I would not be that offended coming up with some other call like 2NT (of a manufactured new suit, or whatever).

All of this leads me to consider whether, in this sequence (or sequences of this type) it might benefit to have a rebid of the minor actually show a "snapdragon-ish" holding. In other words, confirming 5+ in the minor but also showing a doubleton in Opener's major. A raise, of sorts.

Then, the next obvious step in the thought train is to invert the meanings.

You end up with...

1M-P-2minor-P-
2OM-P-?

...3Ominor=sets OM as trumps
...3OM=5Ominor/2OM

If the 2/1 style is Hardy-ish, 3OM sets OM as trumps. If the 2/1 style is Lawrence-ish, not yet.

I kind of lik this, at least as a thought experiment. Partner opens 1♠, and I bid 2♣, which could be manufactured. He bids 2♠. If I can start cuebidding with a 3♣ bid, rather than 3♠, I save a world of useful space. If I can also bid 3♠ to show doubleton support and five clubs, I'm doubly happy.

Or, 1♥-P-2♦-P-2♥. Same basic benefits, although the space savings is not that much. But, one trump cue is nice to grab anyway.