Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Buried Slam Tries

Another good discussion on BBF.

The idea eventually arose -- how to make a rare slam try in a game try sequence for a side suit, without revealing too much too often?

The core issue. When Opener has invitational values and hears a raise of his major, the partnership may well have a slam in a side 4-4 or 4-5 fit, strangely. E.g., A-AQxxx-Kxx-KJxx opposite xxx-Kxx-xx-AQxxx. You basically need normal splits to make 6C. Add in the heart Jack, and this is nearly laydown.

My approach would be:

3C-P-3NT(super-accept clubs)-P-
4C(agrees clubs)-etc.

But, one objection was that 3C might reveal too much. So, what about a slower, non-revealing sequence, using some new tools?

2S(first step -- random GT or better)-2NT(relay -- I have interest in a side suit slam, if you care)-P-3C(I do. Where?)-P-
3H = clubs
3S = spades

Opener then either bids 4M, or cuebids, or relays again (Responder's call +1) to ask questions.

Seems like it might work.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interesting Surrogate Bidding Problem

I found this deal to be a fascinating hand, at least for the possibilities involved. See the link to the BBF post.

This features a 5C call that ends up being RKCB for diamonds despite agreement that spades are "trumps," with the end contract (depending on the answer) being either 5S or 6D. This is enabled because of all the info exchanged during the cuebidding sequence, which follows a 4SF that sets trumps at the two-level. A really powerful auction. Now, admittedly it would be a better sequence as far as the clarity of the position to take) had Responder held three diamonds or the AJ doubleton, but fascinating nonetheless.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Internal strength Cue?

The general "rule" for my style of cuebidding is that a cuebid in a suit that the cuebidder initiated shows two of the top three honors.

So, for example, after 1S-P-2C-P-2D-P-2S, Opener only cues 3D if he has two of the top three honors in diamonds.

However, note that the failure to cuebid 2NT (a trump quality denial cue) means that Opener also has two of the top three honors in trumps, the latter known by inference.

So, let's cramp up the auction a bit. 1S-P-2D-P-3C-P-3S. A very similar auction, with one major difference -- we have lost a round of cuebidding. That major difference deprives us of both a 3S cue as a trump cue and the 2NT cue as a denial cue.

In this situation, there might be some merit to consider expanding the thought process for a 4C cue. Normally, a 4C cue shows two of the top three honors, in clubs. Also, this is a courtesy cue (Opener did not cue 3NT to show serious interest).

Well, it seems somehow strange to me, in thinking this through, to have a mmeans for Opener to define his external strength (his strength in clubs) but not his internal strength (his strength in trumps). In other words, it seems odd that a 4C cuebid cannot be made unless Opener has at least KQ, but Opener could have just about anything in trumps.

I have not thought through the permutations of an alternative approach, but it seems to me that it would be workable for Opener's cramped-space cuebid of a side suit to not show two of the top three honors in clubs but to rather show what could be called "internal strength."

"Internal strength" is a concept that looks both at clubs and at trumps. In this situation, clubs and spades.

"Internal strength" could be defined in several ways.

It could mean one of two holdings: (A) two of the top three clubs, or (B) one of the top two clubs and two of the top three spades. With this definition, Opener could cue 4C with AQ, AK, or KQ in clubs, even if he has no spade honor. Or, Opener could cue 4C with just the sole Ace or King of clubs, so long as he has two of the top three spades.

The problem with this definition is that the net honor contribution is variable. Another alternative might be more pure. For the "pure three" method, a 4C call could be made with either (A) two of the top three clubs and at least one of the top three trumps, or (B) one of the top two clubs and two of the top three trumps.

Suppose that Responder is looking at two of the top three trumps. If he hears a 4C call from Opener, Responder would know that Opener has two of the top three clubs. If, however, Responder is looking at two of the top three clubs, then he would know that Opener has two of the top three trumps, and the missing club honor. Thus, when Responder has two of the top three cards in one of Opener's suits, the meaning of opener's courtesy cue would be clear.

However, what if Responder only has one of the top three cards in each black suit? In that event, Responder would know that either clubs are solid or trumps are solid. Either one might be enough. However, there is a serious problem that you may spot. What if Responder has all three top spades?

Well, then maybe a third option for "internal strength" emerges. (A) Two of the top three clubs plus one trump honor, or (B) one of the top two clubs plus two trump honors, or (C) all three top club honors.

Either of the second or third options will limit Opener's opportunities to cue 4C, but they would each be more descriptive. The first option would allow the cue to be made more often, but then this would cost in description reliability.

I suppose a fourth option comes to mind, a variation on the first. (A) Two of the top three clubs, or (B) two of the top three trumps and the club Ace.

Any thoughts on this?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wrap-Around Answering

In my book, I described a "wrap-around" method of answering "yummy toes" asking bids (asking bids following a picture bid to fill in the blanks). The idea was to answer the next logical question if your answer to the present question was the highest answer possible.

It recently dawned on me that this is not that unusual, as it has been a part of RKCB for years. The steps to RKCB are 0(or 3), 1(or 4), 2. However, the "highest answer" has a wrap-around of the next logical question -- the queen ask. This makes the steps actually 0(or 3), 1(or 4), 2(without the Queen), 2(with the Queen).

So, wrap-arounds are not all that foreign, eh?

I think wrap-arounds can and probably should be used more frequently. A discussion of a deal recently provided an example. Responder has shown a negative (at most one queen) with a probability of shortness in hearts (at most two). He has already shown his queen in a cuebid after trumps are set. opener now asks for heart length, in steps. If Responder has 2, first step. With one, second step. It seems to me that with the void, third step, Responder can wrap by next answering the logical question (how many trumps do you have for me). Contextually, this would mean (trust me) that the third step shows a void with two trumps, then void with three trumps, etc.

I think simpler examples exist. If your answers to checkback stayman are to always bid 2D without support for Responder's major, 2H with a minimum, and 2S with a maximum, then it seems that 2S will not be the final contract. Why not then have 2S and higher bids be "wrap arounds?" If partner is slammish, this wrapping would start that process up earlier and save space.

Some "wrap arounds" are implicit. Consider a Jacoby Transfer. The "highest response" is accepting the transfer, which is only one bid. However, with support, you are able to "wrap around" to answer an implied next question. Maybe the partnership agrees that the next question is to show a doubleton. Maybe a different question. But, you essentially wrap around if enabled.