Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kaplan Inversion by Opener?

Has anyone ever thought of this?  A Kaplan Inversion after a minor opening and One Heart response?

I was thinking tonight about the sequence 1D-P-1H-P-1S as opposed to 1D-P-1H-P-1NT.  For many of us, 1NT rebids might be made with a four-card spade suit.  1D-P-1H-P-1S, then, is unbalanced. 

Assuming this, I wondered whether a Kaplan Inversion by Opener might open up some interesting opportunities.  Opener rebids 1NT with an unbalanced minimum, four spades and five diamonds.  With the hand with which he would normally bid 1NT, he bids 1S instead, forcing to at least 1NT.  How would this gain?

Well, assume that Responder has the hand with which he would pass 1NT.  In that event, he instead simply bids 1NT after the inversion, and we wrong-side the contract, probably.  That's bad.

But, a lot of good things could then happen if we add in alternative holdings for Opener.  See, if 1S is forcing, then Opener can use this inversion as a relay before a next move with some of the tweener strong-ish hands.  Assuming, again, the simple auction, you have:


What can Opener rebid?

Pass = would have bid 1NT (probably wrong-sided)
2C = 18-19 balanced with either three hearts or four spades or both,  CHECKBACK!  If Responder has five hearts, he bids 2D as a transfer suggestion (Opener can reject this).  If Responder has four spades, he transfers to spades.  With neither, he transfers to 2NT and then can bid again as appropriate.  This allows nice stops on occasion at the two-level, a rare pass of 2C as well, and averts the somewhat preemptive 2NT, which now shows 2H and 2-3S and hence allows more focus for Responder's 3-bids.
2D = Intermediate, with diamonds.  This is the normal 3D call (jump rebid), but we can get out lower if Responder has a bust, and Responder can even rebid hearts.  This allows the direct 1D-P-1H-P-3D to be forcing, avoiding manufactured jump shifts.
2H = Intermediate hearts raise (anywhere from would accept a game try by Responder to would make a game try himself).  This allows stops at the two-level more often, more descriptive game tries (Opener is not forced to bid 3H with any number of hands but now has space to show stiffs and the like), and a different meaning for a direct 1D-P-1H-P-3H call (maybe GF).
2S = Spades and diamonds, enough for a reverse but nor for a jump shift.
2NT = Solid diamonds, needs something more.

Of course, we would need to work out the kinks as to what happens when responder has values or takes other actions, but this seems capable of working out.

Extend this, then, to 1C-P-1H-P-1S as another inversion.  This allows, after the 1NT relay:

2C = Club intermediate
2D = 3145 with extras but not good enough to reverse
2H = Invite raise
2S = Spades and clubs reverse-not-Jump-Shift hand
2NT = Balanced with four spades (direct 2NT denies four spades)

This time, the inversion solves the 3145 problem hand as the focus of the new minor call.  I mean, the same exact approach is possible, but perhaps it is more useful to handle this difficult pattern rather than super-tweaking strong balanced hands.  Plus, 2D gets messy anyway when you start thinking through the loss of re-transfers.  A smaller tweak works fine.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stepping Stone Bids, Bootstrap Bids, and Standoff Bids

I have previously described an idea that I call a "stepping stone bid."  The name comes from the similar situation of throwing an opponent in to gain his card's value as an entry to Dummy (or hand) that you do not yourself have.  Similarly (in a sense), a "stepping stone bid" is a call that does not take shape unless the opponent takes action, usually relying upon the need for the opponent to actually take action.

An example might be if you were to play that a 2C overcall of 1NT is a one-suited hand (Cappelletti, for example) but without any agreement that Advancer bids 2D to find out what you have.  Instead, 2C just says you have a one-suited hand, and Advancer is free to pass.  This would only make sense if we are white on red and limited severely as to strength.  In that condition, the opponents cannot simply pass this out and defend a silly 2C contract, even if the score will be "down eight" for +400 to the opponents, because the opponents would be missing their vulonerable game bonus.  Hence, 2C is not forcing on Advancer but rather conditionally forcing on the opponents.

A stepping stone bid, then, uses the condition of a force on the opponents as a means of having a "forcing" auction.  This actually has some space-saving merit, in that this allows you two extra layers of description at a lower level.  Consider the Cappelletti auction.  If 2C is forcing on Advancer, the 2D relay means that we play 2D, 2H, 2S or 3C.  If 2C is forcing on the opponents by the conditions that exist, however, we can bid 2C and play 2C, 2D, 2H, or 2S.  Hence, you gain the ability to play one level lower in clubs when that is your suit.  For that matter, you gain another step -- the redouble -- such that 2C could (in the situation of a conditional force on the opponents) safely show any one-suiter with the ability to play at the two-level and one additional meaning, perhaps weak with both majors or weak with both reds or something like that.

The point, though, is that a conditional force on the opponents is something we can in theory take advantage of in designing some isolated sequence options.  As another example, consider a passed-hand Responder to a third-seat, whoite-on-red weak Two Hearts.  You could decide that a 2S response is a weak escaqpe showing spades, clubs, diamonds, or both minors, non-forcing.  If the opponents pass this out, they lose.  So, they are conditionally forced to double.  If they double, you can pass with spades, bid your minor with a one-suited minor, bid 2NT with both minors of equal length, or redouble with 6-4 in the minors (allowing Opener to bid a side 4-card minor or bid 2NT to ask for your minor).

Related to the Stepping Stone Bid is the "Bootstrap Bid."  This is a call that boostraps onto the force actually created by the opponents.  A simple example is a cuebid made by the opponents.  If partner opens One Heart and RHO cuebids Two Hearts, this establishes a force on Advancer.  Responder can use that force to facilitate more descriptive bidding himself, with free calls meaning one thing but passes-then-action another.  There is nothing all that tricky about a Bootstrap Bid, but understanding the concept as such might create some interesting options that might not have been thought of before.

A third related concept is one I would call a Standoff Bid, which is related to the Boostrap Bid.  A standoff is a situation where perhaps neither side likes the status quo.  However, someone must blink.  Because someone must blink, this requirement establishes a force itself.  Moreover, one can use the forced blink as a defining tool, albeit with some risk of the Bluff Defense.

Let's consider an example.  RHO opens a Multi 2D, guaranteeing a major.  You play that a double shows "the other major."  RHO cannot pass 2DX, so he must show his major.  That, then, reveals your major to partner.  Opener could use a "Bluff Defense" of bidding the major he does not have, of course, but that might get messy.

The point, though, is that the standoff creates an ability to stack meanings because the opponent not only must blink but in so doing must tell partner what you have.  The standoff exists because in theory everyone could pass 2DX in the example.  But, we expect them to blink first, so we send 2DX out there as a possible contract.  I suppose that the other defense is the "All In Gamble," where 2DX is passed and played.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Restructuring 1NT Responses

It has been a long time since anyone really seems to have considered a complete revamp of the basic building blocks for responding to 1NT.  In thinking through some ideas, the area of 1NT responses popped up.

Is there a possible alternative core to potentially replace Stayman and Jacoby Transfers?  How about something like this:

2D as Stayman, with invitational+ values.  Opener bids 2S with four spades, 2H with neither major, 2NT with four hearts and a minimum, 3C with both majors (re-transfers), 3H or 3S with four and a maximum, 3D with neither but a maximum. 

2C as one or both majors.  Opener assumes 5-5 and bids 2D with spade preference, 2H with heart preference (2S for 22 majors).  If Responder has both weak, he places contract.  With just one weak, he bids it.  With both invitational, raise preference.  With just one but Opener preferenced, raise that.  With just wrong one and six, jumps.  With just wrong one and 5, notrumps.

2H as one or both minors invitational+.  Opener picks minor preference to decline invites by bidding 3C or 2NT for diamonds, after which Responder places contract or can bid 3M as stiff from 5-5 and GF.  If Opener would accept some invites, bids 2S, after which Responder bids 2NT minors, bids minor, or bids 3M shortness GF.

2S as one or both minors weak, or 3-1/1-3 majors GF.  Opener shows minor preference, after which Responder places weak contract or bids stiff major if GF.

This is just a rough draft brainstorm.  Much more would need to be filled in, of course, like perhaps Puppet 3C.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mechanism of Competitive Two-Under Sometimes One-Under

In a competitive sequence, a Two-Under call may be made by way of what appears to be a one-under "call," in a sense. 

If you double an opposition two-under call, this works as a surrogate for a two-under call.  Hence, for example, a double of 4C could show one or both majors, or crunched cappelletti (any two suits), effectively.

A forcing pass of either a one-under call by the opponents, or a double of a one-under call from partner, also works, as it allows a double or redouble from partner to be the preference call for the higher suit.  One example is the runout of 1NT doubled, where a forcing pass enables that one-under 1NT to be escaped into a one or both minors holding.  So also, consider 2C-4D-?  A forcing pass here would allow opener's double to show spade preference and therefore would enable a cunched cappelletti forcing pass of the one-under 4D call.