Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Different "Jacoby 2NT" Use?

After some thought following the usual BBF discussions, it dawned upon me that perhaps a better use for the "Jacoby 2NT" call is possible and worth considering.

The typical limitation upon Jac2NT for those who use good cuebidding methods seems to be a fairly balanced hand, ideally with primes.  This makes some sense, except that the equally modern trend for a 2C 2/1 as "real clubs or fit" or "real clubs, fit, or balanced" seems to cater equally well to these hands.  If you have a fairly balanced hand with primes, starting with 2C seems to work perfectly fine.  So, why Jac2NT at all?

In thinking through this issue, I realized that there are certain hand types that end up being "problems" when 2/1 auctions develop.  The "problem" occurs when we have a reduced likelihood of trumps being set at the two-level, usually caused because either Responder bids a 2/1 in the suit immediately below Opener's major (such that Opener cannot possibly make another call below his major) or, when Opener starts 1H, Responder is short in spades, such that Opener rebidding 2S is likely. 

For example, suppose partner opens 1S and you have 3-5-3-2 pattern.  If you respond 2H, the auction goes ballistic and spades cannot be agreed at the two-level.  With that specific pattern, I might opt to bid 2C, myself, as then I can switch tactics if Opener rebids 2H but otherwise usually can agree spades at the two-level.

But, consider a 1H opening.  If Responder has 1-3-5-4, for example, the auction is not likely to end up with hearts agreed at the two-level, both because Responder probably should bid 2D, which makes it impossible, and because even if a 2C response is selected Opener likely rebids 2S. 

Cuebidding sequences that start at the three-level are much less defined.  The solution might be to force certain patterns into two-level cuebidding by having 2NT be a GF raise with 3+ support and a trouble pattern, rather than Jacoby 2NT.

For instance:

1H-P-2NT = Hearts agreed.  Responder has a heart fit (3+) with long diamonds and/or short spades.
1S-P-2NT = Spades agreed.  Responder has a spade fit (3+) with long hearts and/or short clubs.

Re-defining 2NT along these lines then calls for different rules for the continuing auction, obviously.  One might have Opener usually bid a relay 3C to unwind?  For example:


3D = long diamonds, balanced (2353, 3352, 2452)
3H = long diamonds, short spade (1354, 1453, 1552, 0454, etc.)
3S = short spade, with clubs (same as 3H, but with club length)
3NT = short spade, 1444-ish
4C+ = I have not worked this out that far -- what do you want from me?

Some similar type of unwind could be used when the opening is in spades.  In either situation, however, Opener mjight be able to break the relay, probably to show some very specific type of equally difficult hand contextually.

I have not worked out all of the possible sequences, as this is simply a brainstorming.  But, from the experience of actual bidding, I know that (1) Jacoby 2NT as balanced with primes is not that important any more, but (2) some hand types for Responder cause predictable problems that might be averted with the 2NT call re-defined.  Hence, this new approach might be worth considering and developing.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lead Preference Indicators?

An auction that I have seen rather frequently as calling for a lead-direction indicator is on that I describe in my "Really Unusual Notrump (R.U.N.T.)" book.  An example:

1C-P-1H-1NT*-P-? (*Sandwich)

In RUNT, I recommend 2C as agreeing diamond to declare but preferring a spade lead, 2H as to declare spades but wanting a diamond lead, 2D or 2S netural but leaning to lead that suit.  That helps when Advancer has, for example, Kx or Ax in one suit but 3-4 small in the other.

This works wonders if the opponents end up playing hearts, where the person on lead has the information now as to which suit to lead.  This then made me think whether this same type of messaging might be used to enable a person showing two suits to indicate his lead preference.

Suppose, for example, this auction:


Sandwich is less important as a range describing tool, as we know that Dealer has a weak hand.  One could, of course, define X and NT as different packages of suits.  For instance, 1NT might show the minors notwithstanding the 1C opening.  But, perhaps both partners can discuss lead preference, to cater to a final contract of either clubs or hearts as the strain, and hence either person on lead.  (Maybe there are other circumstances where this discussion makes sense; the purpose here is to discuss theory and tools, not judgment.)

Suppose, then, that the 1NT call showed lead preference in the lower suit, X lead preference in the higher suit.  You might then have these possible auctions:


Overcaller prefers a diamond lead against a club contract; Advancer wants a spade lead against a heart contract but agrees diamonds as our fit.  Had Advancer bid 2D instead, he is neutral or prefers diamonds for lead also.


Overcaller prefers a diamond lead against a club contract; Advancer prefers a diamond lead against a heart contract but wants to declare spades.  Had Advancer bid 2S instead, he prefers a spade lead against a heart contract or is neutral.


Doubler prefers a spade lead against a club contract; Advancer preferes a spade lead as well but wants to declare diamonds; had he bid 2D he would be neutral as to lead or prefer a diamond lead.

You get the point.

What inspired all of this was a sick hand from last night.  The opponents bid 1C-P-1D, to me.  With AQxx in spades and Jxxxx in hearts, I really wanted a spade lead.  The end result of the auction was that my RHO ended up declaring 3NT, where I was on lead.  My lead was a heart to partner's Ace, partner got in, and a spade return would hold the opponents to 10 tricks; they ended up with 11 when partner continued hearts.  Our defense should have resulted in three tricks for the defense, but that is not the point.  It would have been fantastic to have the auction develop where I knew to lead the heart and did not just guess, and where partner knew to switch to the spade without any guessing as well.  This could have happened by me offering both majors by way of a call that indicated preference for a spade lead and partner picking hearts with preference for a heart lead (or neutral).

Granted, this scheme would cause potential problems when acting as overcaller, because you might have equal holdings in the two suits.  But, the solution there is to have one of the two calls show preference for a specific suit or neutral.  One would be clear.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Assumed Call Bidding?

Just a thought experiment...

There is a fairly well-known technique where in certain sequences one partner might make calls that respond to an implied RKCB 4NT call that is not actually made.  For instance, you might agree to play that a transfer followed by a 5-level call is an immediate answer to an implied but not made 4NT asking bid from partner.  I.e., 1NT-2D, 2H-5C as three key cards, hearts agreed.  This auction resembles 1NT-2D, 2H-something, 4NT-5C.  But, the 4NT call is not actually made.  Instead, Responder in a sense assumes an implied 4NT call for his calls.

Another similar example is a call after a quantitative 4NT, where the meaning of the 4NT call shifts from quantitative to RKCB, in a sense.  For example, 1NT-2D, 2H-4NT, 5D.  5D as an RKCB response to 4NT is assuming a change to the meaning of 4NT from quantitative to RKCB.  That auction resembles 1NT-2D, 2H-4NT, 4H-4NT, 5C.  An insufficient bid, perhaps, but the point works.

I wonder to what degree assumed bidding might be played in other auctions.