Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Context and Theory

A discussion on BBF interested me.

Partner passes as Dealer (not vulnerable), pass, and you open One Club.  LHO overcalls a strong 1NT, and partner bids 2H.

Now, for my part, this sequence is often discussed and shows five hearts with five clubs.

But, the interesting part was analyzing what it would mean logically if the auction were not discussed and if no general agreements for this sort of situation were available.  In other words, what is the LOGIC of the situation?

You start with one principle for any and all analyses.  Partner is sane.  I know, this is dubious, but you have to start somewhere in the hypo.  Sanity implies something to say and safety saying it.  A landing zone should be contemplated for dangerous action.

One aspect of the analysis is partner's predisposition and style in making weak two's.  If strict, maybe 2H shows cruddy but long hearts.  But, if cruddy but long hearts is just fine, then that's out.

The second rule: Partner cannot have later what he denied earlier.  This is not like Poker.  You cannot hand three cards to Dealer and ask for three new cards.  You start with what you end with.  So, bids are defined by prior actions and by prior inaction.

When would partner NOT open 2H but be safe bidding 2H?

One option is that partner's hearts are as good as he says.  If he has that, he was good enough to open 2H.  So, he has a flaw.  The likely flaw is holding four spades also.  So, one logical interpretation is "six hearts with four spades."

Another option is that 2H describes a hand with insufficient hearts to open 2H (hence five) but a logical landing zone.  That might mean a "DONT" or Brozel approach (hearts and spades), a Cappelletti approach (hearts and a minor), or a "fit bid" approach (hearts and clubs). 

Which is used might be a function of discussion, but it might be a result of applying parallel structure (we use Cappelletti normally, so Cappelletti makes sense here).  It might be a function of percentages (6H/4S makes sense, but the two-suited situations occur more frequently).  It might be a function of limited space (Cappelletti makes sense IF 2C agrees clubs, which it does, but DONT and Brozel do not because we need double for penalty, for example).  It might even be a function of the opening bid context (fit bids making sense if the minor is real, but capp if the minor is short or Nebulous).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Empathetics Via Flags

In Philadelphia, a deal showed a rare example of the handling of the empathetic splinter matrix via a flag to identify the fit suit.

My LHO had opened 1NT (strong), and partner doubled to show (a) both minors, (b) just diamonds, (c) both majors, or (d) some other very strong hand otherwise unbiddable.  After a pass from RHO, holding Kxx-Jxxx-xxxx-Ax, I advanced 2D, as my normal "first duty" was to pick the preferred minor.

Opener made a shocking rebid of 3D, and partner doubled, showing both majors and extras.

At this point, I have an incredibly valuable hand.  Thinking along the empathetic splinter matrix, hearts is the "4-4 fit suit," with 5-4 being of course acceptable (and preferable after a 1NT opening by the opposition).  Spades is the 5-3 side source.  Clubs the "ace only" side; and diamonds clearly contextually the short suit.

Contextually, the matrix is known, except that partner cannot know which is the 4-4 and which is the 5-3.  Thus, in this sequence, I opted 4C, a flag for hearts indicating that the matrix was as it was.

Partner held Axxxx-AKxxx-void-Jxx and just enough for the slam.  With the 3D call by Opener, Opener was likely to hold 2-2-6-3 shape (he in fact held 2-2-5-4), which meant that both hearts and spades were cooperating.  As long as partner made sure to right-side the contract by forcing me to bid hearts first, the slam was unstoppable; LHO held the King and Queen of clubs.  (On a small club lead, hop Jack.  On a club honor lead, win the Ace and then lead a club toward the Jack, establishing a pitch for the third spade.)

In the World Open Pairs, no one reached this slam.

This same concept may apply in other sequences where (a) one partner has shown a two-suiter, (b) a specific known suit is clearly the short suit contextually or by definition, and (c) no one has been able yet to define fits.  For example assume for the sake of argument that a 3C response to a 1NT opening shows 5-5 majors and invitational.  Assume, for example, that after a 1NT opening and a natural 2C or 2D overcall, 3H by Responder shows 5-5 majors and game-invitational; in that sequence, Opener's 4C or 4D would seem to be empathetic flags.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Old Scribbles

I found an older convention card and located in this a few scribbled notes.  I'm not sure if I ever posted the idea, but I kind of like it.  The idea concerned a better way to find major fits after Opener starts a strong Two Clubs and then rebids a minor.

First, after a 3C rebid, 3M promises 5+, with 3H possibly showing 5H/4S.  So far, nothing exciting.

Second, after 3C, Responder's 3D is "modified Stayman."  Opener bids 3NT with hearts or 3S with spades.  With no 4-card major, Opener rebids 3H.  This allows Responder to then rebid 3S with 5S/4H.

So, after 3C, Responder has these options:

With just five spades, bid 3S.
With five spades and four hearts, bid 3D modified Stayman and then, if necessary, bid 3S after the 3H-no-major rebid.
With just five hearts, bid 3H.
With 5H/4S, bid 3H and see if opener bids 3S.
With one or both 4-card majors, bid 3D.

The simplicity of this is the key.  Everything is natural, except that Opener rebids 3NT to show four hearts and rebids 3H to deny a four-card major after Responder's artificial 3D rebid.

So, next to the 3D rebid.  Opener solves the problems himself, by describing his major holdings, a reversal of roles!

2C-P-2D-P-3H = diamonds with four hearts, and might be 3451 (Responder needs five spades to introduce them).

2C-P-2D-P-3S = diamonds with four spades, with fewer than three hearts.

This eliminates some holdings from the 3D rebid.  Not all that the one common method uses are included (which leaves a problem finding the 5-3 heart fit if Opener is 4351 or 4360).

Opener's 3D call, with these methods, becomes a "natural but Puppet" call.  Responder can bid 3S with five spades (as usual) or 3NT with five hearts!  (With five hearts and extras, a higher call would work.)  With no five-card majors, Responder rebids 3H.  This allows Opener to rebid 3S with 4351.

This method allows Opener to distinguish/handle the "other major" sufficiently for Responder.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Go Where the Experts Dare Not?

A funny email just came to me.

You have xx-Qxx-10xxx-AKJx opposite a partner who opens a limited (max of 15 HCP) 1S, 2D overcall.  What do you do?  If you opt to pass, what next when partner reopens with a double?

The question has been asked of several people, including experts, with a wide variety of answers, including:

Bid 2S the first time;
Double 2D negative;
Pass twice;
Pass and then bid 2S;
Pass and then bid 2H;
Pass and then bid 3D(!);
Pass and then bid 3C.

When asked about this, I decided to apply a rule.  When experts have six or more ideas of what to do in a given situation, avoid all six (or more) options at all costs and look for yet another option.

I think this rule works here.  I opted for pass and then 2NT.

Pass and then 2NT seems to show extras without spade support, without four hearts, and without five clubs (and hence four diamonds).  Plus, it seems to show insufficient diamonds to sit for penalties.  Tada!

Now, maybe pass...2NT is not the best answer, but maybe it is.  The rule of ignoring all options of experts when they pick six or more different answers seems to be the best argument, though, for pass...2NT.  I'm convinced!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


In thinking through a bidding sequence for possibilities, a somewhat strange thought occurred to me.  I am not sure what to make of it, but the thought process was unique.

Suppose one decided that the ability to bid a natural 2NT after a weak Two Hearts is doubled by partner is a good thing.  Suppose, further, that to cater to this, one decided to use Two Spades in this sequence as the alternative for Lebensohl.  This might not be ideal, but that's not the point that I reached.

In that scheme, you end up forced to the three-level to play spades.  This is the obvious downside.

But, the thought process was not simply along these lines.  What I thought about was whether playing 2S by Advancer as artificial and forcing would be the description.  Or, would Doubler simply be forced, in a sense?  The nuance might be elusive at this point.  "Is 2S forcing, or is the Doubler forced?"  What's the difference?

If the double commits to play at the 2NT level or higher, then there is nothing in effect "different," in a sense.  Advancer can bid 2S, knowing that the auction is alive.  However, 2S is not the forcing bid, but rather the Double forces a set level as a minimum end point, in the thought process. 

This is sort of like a Standard American sequence.  Opener starts 1S.  Responder responds 2D.  Opener bids 2H.  This is "forcing," but the 2H call does not establish the force.  2D did that.

I am still working out the implications, but it alleviates some analysis.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Responding to a Weak Two

The other night, a friend of mine and I, who do not play all that frequently, had an auction where one of us forgot whether we played RONF or new suits non-forcing after a two-level weak opening.  The specific auction was 2H-P-2S-P-?  Opener opted to show secondary diamonds, feeling that the auction was forcing and that, without discussion otherwise, a diamond call should show diamonds.  Responder, thinking that 2S was non-forcing, logically construed 3D as agreeing spades and showing extras, perhaps a feature, perhaps shortness.  Needless to say, the auction got a tad out of control.

This then caused an initial discussion of "what do we play?"  Looking at the convention card resolved that.

The secondary discussion, then, was "why do we play that?"  This resulted in a debate as to the merits of escape calls and of constructive calls with stronger hands.

It then dawned on me that perhaps a new style of responding might be worth considering.  Responding methods are often easiest to remember if they parallel other structures for other sequences.  This actually made for a relatively easy method.

The idea:

After 2H, 2S by Responder is a relay call, showing one or both minors.  This parallels our 2S response to a 1NT opening.  Opener picks the minor of preference (bidding 2NT with diamond preference, to get under 3C).  After this, Responder can then pass 3C to play, convert 2NT to 3C to play, or bid 3D to play, all of which cater to either one-suited minor (clubs or diamonds).  Opener's preference call (2NT for diamonds, 3C for clubs) allows Responder with weak minors to select the minor of choice as if that were his one minor.

With extras, Responder hears the response and then bids 3S to agree the minor Opener showed, forcing (Opener might have started with both minors), bids 3NT if Opener "picked wrong," or perhaps even bids the other minor at the four-level (also forcing).  Returning to Opener's major is to play, suggesting that the 2S call was actually tactical, wanting to spot a feature perhaps (this might instead show the other minor and forcing, if that makes more sense, or flags method).

That handles one or both minors and weak or strong, at the sole cost of not being able to show spades cheaply.  To show spades, Responder could bid 3C with one hand, 3D with another (perhaps one is 5-card, the other 6+) or perhaps 3C is simply "asking," with Opener agreeing spades with 3, rebidding his major with a sixth card (for the 5-carders), or waiting 3D with neither.

After a 2S opening, the methods described in the Rexford-Eichenbaum system notes works.

After a 2D opening, we do not need a means to show both minors.  However, criss-cross has some merits.  2H would then show spades (a simple transfer), which allows spades to be shown as weak or as GF.  2S would show hearts, which eliminates the ability to get out at 2H, but if you play RONF otherwise, this is no real loss.

Perhaps something like this is best.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Yet Another 2D Opening Method???

I love coming up with new meanings for opening 2D.  A sick hobby, perhaps.  Well, here's another, inspired by my thinking again on "delayed canapes."

There are two 5431's where delayed canape does not help:

1-3-4-5 and

Interesting.  This suggests that a 2D opening could show these.  14-17 or so HCP, with 1345 or 1435.

But, then you could add in 1-4-4-4 fairly safely.

You now have a three-suited opening, flexible like the Precision three-suited 2D opening (not strictly 4-4-4-1), with like Precision a known shortness (here, spades).  2D as 1345/1435/1444, 14-17 HCP or so.

Unlike the Precision 2D (3415/4315/4414/4405), it is easier to pass this 2D call.  Plus, the available asking bid of 2S (retaining the meaning of 2NT as natural) is much less painful.

2S asking?

2NT = 1345
3C = 1435
3D = 1444

3S after answer as slam probe?

Something like that.  This could be coupled with 2H as H+C and 2S as S+minor to solve all high-reverse problems.  Perhaps r-on-w or 4th seat?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Delayed Canape

I was pleased to see some extra interested in one of the concepts that I have enjoyed developing somewhat.  The link:

I responded to an inquiry from the "Bridge Guys" recently, which you may find true:

If you notice, most of the examples are ones that feature a 5-4-3-1 shape with the four-card suit being higher ranking than the 3-card suit. (As a side note, this is also the precise pattern that is the best argument for occasional 1NT openings with a stiff, when the stiff is the Ace or King.)
With 4531 or 4513, you have (1) open 1H, (2) typically rebid the minor, and then (3) rebid/raise spades. This might also happen, in theory, as Responder, but NMF or XYZ usually is used instead.
With 4153, this could also develop (1D-1NT, 2C-2D, 2S...). In fact, spades could be the end contract (Responder maybe 4333).
With 1453, delayed canape very possible, as described.
With 3145, delayed canape is possible.
Beyond these, however, are two possible preempted second suit scenarios.
With 5314, for instance, you might start 1S, rebid 2H, and then bid 3C. Similarly, with 3514, the same sequence might occur. These would seem to be less frequent with 2/1 GF, but I have had these sequences with standard or other methods, especially as a solution for a high reverse problem, and especially if the first suit is lousy.

For example, consider a problem. You open 1S with Jxxxx-AKJ-x-AKxx, and partner rebids 2D (as a passed hand, perhaps, or playing Standard American). Rebidding 2H makes sense. If partner then bids 2S, rebidding 3C makes a lot of sense as showing four clubs (possibly only three hearts).
Assuming this sequence type, the "delayed canape" sequence may also, therefore, occur when the sequence has preempted (or preempted in potential) the four-card suit even if the four-card suit is below the long suit. The preemption might come from an actual call (2D preempting the ability to bid clubs at the same level), through an artificial call (2C as Drury preempting Opener's ability to rebid 2C, for instance), or through the rebid being an artificial call (2C old-school drury preempting the ability to bid 2D as a natural values call, for example).

In theory, then, "delayed canape" may have a lot more occurrences.