Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Clear Direction?

An irony.

So, a post on BBF noted a commentary about the difference in theory between a splinter auction and a Jacoby 2NT auction, as it pertains to captaincy.  It makes sense.  A splinter call is a very descriptive call and hence yields captaincy almost entirely to partner.  Conversely, a Jacoby 2NT call seeks description and is almost entirely, therefore, a captaincy grabbing call.

I tend to agree.  As a result, I tend to be pure in my "type" for splinter actions, and I (ironically) hate Jacoby 2NT auctions.  The irony is that I have been accused in the past of masterminding or of not being partnership-oriented in my bidding.  My take, however, and fairly easily argued, is that my usual "error," if anything, is in being "too partnership oriented."  In other words, I often go way out into the netherworlds of theory to make calls that cater to partner having maximal description or that cater to partner's various (but sometimes remote) possible hand patterns.  This often catches a partner unaware of "WTF."  To me, though, this is the ultimate in partnership bidding rather than "masterminding."

To me, a masterminding call is something like bidding 3NT too early while hiding a fit or blasting a slam (or signing off) because you think you know better than partner.  In contrast, consider the type of call I often make that is not made by many.  For example, partner bids Stayman and then 3NT when you show hearts.  If you have both majors, do you make a call on route to 4S in case partner was borderline, or do you just bid 4S?  If you make those 4C calls, they might be revealing too much, or too pie in the sky at times, but these are CLEARLY partnership-oriented calls and not masterminding calls.

In any event, back to the captaincy idea.  To me, I love 2/1 sequences precisely because commitment to captaincy is deferred.  I consider this critical in circumstances of impure holdings, but I also consider it difficult but appropriate partnership-oriented bidding. 

So, I would group three types of sequences.  Ones that seize captaincy, ones that yield captaincy, and ones that defer captaincy.  I prefer the last, because I trust partners more than I trust structures (whether that trust be warranted or not).  Which category do you fall into?  Yielders?  Seizers?

This is also perhaps why I disliked pure relay structures so much.  The worst of all possible worlds seems to be pre-determined captaincy rules.  Having three options in any given situation (I'll seize, I'll yield, or I'll defer) seems ideal for those random and unexpected new situations that arise.  Developing structure with a pre-determined default captaincy before the deal even hits the table seems horrible to me.  But, to each his own.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Parallel Structure, but Unparallel Application

Too often I think that folks have a tendency toward an unwarranted parallelism as it pertains to application simply because of parallel structure.

Here's a simple example. You open One Spade, and partner makes a splinter response of 4C, 4D, or 4H. What do these calls show?

Well, a parallel structure (often needed for memory reasons) will likely mean that:

1. 4C is a splinter, support in spades with shortness in clubs
2. 4D is a splinter, support in spades with shortness in diamonds
3. 4H is a splinter, support in spades with shortness in hearts

Easy, right? So, what's the problem?

The "problem" is that parallel structure does not equate with parallel application, or at least it should not. In practice, it often does, but that seems to be a mistake.

Consider that within what appears to be a "parallel structure" there is an unparallel circumstance.

1. After 4C, Opener has two bids available below game as slam tries -- 4D and 4H. Two steps of available space actually means three levels of inquiry. 4H as a slam try, 4D as a slam try, and 4D as a slam try with a 4H re-try. Whatever these sequences mean, three levels of inquiry are available.

2. After 4D, one level of inquiry is available -- a 4H slam try.

3. After 4H, there is no level of inquiry below game.

If you consider a 3S splinter in support of hearts, the levels of inquiry atre even higher. 3NT, 4C, and 4D are available. 3NT can be rejected outright, sent back as 4C, sent back as 4C with space for 4D, or sent back as 4D. Hence, seven levels of inquiry exist (I think).

Thus, a one-under splinter leaves no below-game inquiries. Two-under gives one. Three-under gives three. Four-under gives 7. 0, 1, 3, 7.

This should start the thinking that the lower the picture action, the more flexible the picture action can be. Conversely, the higher the picture action, the more pure the picture should be.

This translates, then, into alternative sequences. Suppose, for instance, that partner opts for an alternative 2/1 sequence and ends up revealing a hand that seems to have been potentially suitable for a splinter. If the splinter would have been a one-under splinter, then his range of possible holdings for the alternative 2/1 sequence is higher, as he might be just shy of "pure splinter." If, alternatives, his 2/1 sequence reveals a plausible splinter candidate that would have been a four-under splinter, then his hand likely does not resemble a pure splinter at all, despite the shortness. The difference is probably tactical (meaning, the likely sequence after a four-under splinter could not have revealed the nature of his hand, so he has some feature or feature not otherwise describable via the splinter).

So, when you design a system and opt for a parallel structure, recognize that the goal of parallel structure is self-defeating, in a sense, because you cannot effectively create a true parallel structure when unparallel circumstances necessarily arise from stepped structure, as the degree of step away from a decision point creates necessarily unparallel application. Cater, then, to that unparallel application if you want to design an effective system.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Muiderberg by Responder?

Just a thought...

For a few years I experimented with what could be called "Muiderberg by Responder," at least when Responder already has a passed hand.  An example:

P-P-1H-P-2S as Spades plus a Minor.
P-P-1S-P-2H as Hearts plus a Minor.

I really liked this a lot, and I wonder if this could be usefully extended into unpassed-hand auctions.  I mean, I really like 1H-P-2S as intermediate with a six-bagger, as this solves a lot of problems.  But, there is something to be said for Muiderberg, as well.

When I started thinking about this, however, I end up with the lack of knowledge of the minor seeming to be more problematic in these auctions.  A "specific minor Muiderberg" might work.

I don't know...just some rambling thoughts for a Wednesday morning.