Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Uncontested Structure Tailored for Contested Structure Parallels

I am more and more liking the idea of structuring the uncontested auction in a manner that caters to consistency and sophistication in the contested auction.

As a simple example, consider the benefits of a 3C response to a 1NT opening as Puppet Stayman.  In and of itself, it has obvious benefits, which is why a lot of folks use this method.  There may be alternative methods to explore this information in an uncontested auction, as well.  But, consider an added benefit to Puppet 3C after 1NT.

If you have this structure in mind, then it doesn't seem that complicated to kick into Puppet 3C (and transfers) if RHO overcalls 2NT for the minors.  1NT-(2NT)-3C as Puppet, and then transfers, is workable.

But, then take it a step further.  Often, Puppet 3C is coupled with 3H as 1345/1354 and 3S as 3145/3154.  So, suppose the auction is 1NT-(2H)-?  Now, one could have a semi-parallel structure where 3C is "Puppet" Stayman (3S=5, 3H=4, 3D=2-3), with a "parallel" 3H and 3S as shortness in hearts with three spades indicating the long minor.  Then, you might decide to have a double of 2H be a transfer (stolen bid), 2S as one or both minors weak or GF (which I like out of comp for this reason -- consistency between contested and uncontested, geared toward needs of contested on default; 2NT prefs diamonds BTW), 2NT as some general invite (usually with clubs anchor), and 3D as invitational with diamonds.

Whether  you love this structure or hate it, you may see the point.  I like Puppet 3C, 2S as wk/GF minor(s), and the 3-level frag-minors bids because of their own benefits but also because in contested auctions these create a workable core structure, with tweaks as needed or situationally suggested. 

Many other structures are such that any call disrupts the structure completely and forces something entirely different, which means more memory, more thinking, and less familiarity. 

When structures are similar, things that you see in repeated auctions lead to suggestions and judgment and modifications.  Playing "X Convention" in multiple situations means that it comes up a lot, meaning that you start to understand and feel it, and this allows you to realize, for instance, that a specific auction types suggests a specific weird call as a splinter rather than an honor, or a choice bid rather than a last train call, or optional rather than kickback.  Whatever.  If the structures vary a lot across sequences, you end up skimming the surface of the sequence and not gaining understanding, which weakens things.

So, think about developing contested structure first, perhaps, and then translating it to uncontested rather than the reverse.  I think it works better.  

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