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Montreal Relay

#1 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2010-October-31, 11:53

I don't know why this has fallen out of favor, but I am more and more convinced...

30 years ago, I learned "Montreal Relay" from my parents. I play this now with my wife. (For those who don't know == 1M response to 1C opening shows 5; bid 1D with one or both majors or long diamonds or balanced.)

Here's the thing. When I play with Walsh people, we have pages and pages of notes about the following. Support doubles. How to make a game try and find out if partner really has 3-card support. Twop-way checkback, perhaps xyz. Etc.

When I play with my wife, who has much less in the way of understanding as to theory, we have none of this. Support double situations never come up as a problem. No worries about trump support. Almost no need to ever make any sort of checkback calls. Just easy bidding without problems.

If my wife and I seem to have no strain problems with an easy approach that takes almost no memory work, and yet the Walsh approach seems to require 20 pages of notes and is messed up constantly, I think this says something.

Just a rambling thought.
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#2 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2010-October-31, 13:14

It seems to me that the montreal relay, while helping on some hands, creates enormous problems on hands on which most pairs have little or no trouble.

When your parents learned the Relay, bridge was a far different game. The 1980s saw some very aggressive approaches but the great bulk of players were conservative...and there were far fewer contested auctions than we have now.

So some of the issues with MR include:

1. rho overcalls partner's 1 with 1, or 2major or 3major, or (if available to them) some number of a minor suit. Opener can sometimes double a major to show the other major, but that adds complication that you claim the MR avoids, and it is an impefect solution, especially if the overcall was a jump. Or if the overcall is raised.

2. Opener must, it seems to me, bid up the line in response to 1, lest a 4-4 partial be missed....it is possible to play methods to get back to a 4-4 fit with near game or game going values if opener rebids 1N with all balanced hands, but, again, this requires the sort of detailed understanding you are trying to avoid, and in any event doesn't solve the loss of a 4-4 fit when responder has less than invitational values.

So, you say...bid up the line. but the reason the Walsh style has become quite wide-spread is precisely because up the line bidding is arguably inferior to the walsh approach (I happen to think that it is demonstrably inferior).

3. Once a major suit fit is found, opener will often be in the dark about responder's relative suit lengths.....yes, responder has, say, a 4 card spade suit after 1 1 1 3, but how many diamonds does he have? Matters are even worse if responder has game+ values....he uses 4th suit, then sets the major...and opener won't have a clue about the general shape of responder's hand.

On any given hand, it may be that none of these flaws arises, or they can be overcome but the existence of these problems and others seems to me to be a very sound basis for the Relay falling out of whatever short-lived favour it once had.
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#3 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2010-October-31, 19:15

View Postmikeh, on 2010-October-31, 13:14, said:

It seems to me that the montreal relay, while helping on some hands, creates enormous problems on hands on which most pairs have little or no trouble.

When your parents learned the Relay, bridge was a far different game. The 1980s saw some very aggressive approaches but the great bulk of players were conservative...and there were far fewer contested auctions than we have now.

Mike, I doubt you would think of me as either a person unaware of how to be competitive or how to be insanely competitive myself.
So some of the issues with MR include:

1. rho overcalls partner's 1 with 1, or 2major or 3major, or (if available to them) some number of a minor suit. Opener can sometimes double a major to show the other major, but that adds complication that you claim the MR avoids, and it is an impefect solution, especially if the overcall was a jump. Or if the overcall is raised.

Actually, the problem is often mitigated by immediate knowledge of the 5-card suit rather than harmed by the hidden nature of a possible 4-card suit, from experience. I just don't see the problem in real life. Like you said, the double as a high ODR solves the rare occurrence. In fact, I would suggest that competition when Responder has no 5-card suit occurs less frequently because of the semi-balanced start (no 5-card major). It just doesn't materialize that this problem really exists. I know, because I play both ways and in very high-level competition.
2. Opener must, it seems to me, bid up the line in response to 1, lest a 4-4 partial be missed....it is possible to play methods to get back to a 4-4 fit with near game or game going values if opener rebids 1N with all balanced hands, but, again, this requires the sort of detailed understanding you are trying to avoid, and in any event doesn't solve the loss of a 4-4 fit when responder has less than invitational values.

So what if Opener bids up-the-line? He doesn't always, but what if he does? Why is this seen as a bad thing? I mean, I understand the nuances involved, as a person who rebids THREE-CARD suits in these sequences, but again I see no cost here but lots of gain. If you think the disclosure is a problem, consider the non-disclosure of 1C-P-1D-P-1NT, where RESPONDER never bids one or both of HIS four-card majors. Also, note that OPENER declares more major contracts this way.
So, you say...bid up the line. but the reason the Walsh style has become quite wide-spread is precisely because up the line bidding is arguably inferior to the walsh approach (I happen to think that it is demonstrably inferior).

Why? Having played both ways for some time now, I disagree. Have you played Montreal? I understand that MR was initial invented for beginners, but so what? If it works...
3. Once a major suit fit is found, opener will often be in the dark about responder's relative suit lengths.....yes, responder has, say, a 4 card spade suit after 1 1 1 3, but how many diamonds does he have? Matters are even worse if responder has game+ values....he uses 4th suit, then sets the major...and opener won't have a clue about the general shape of responder's hand.

If the auction is non-slammish, who cares? In this world, game bash without exposure of the diamond suit helps, IMO. If the sequence is a slam sequence, I am sure that you could figure out methids here. E.g., because checkback is not needed, how about this? 1-1-1-2 as agreeing spades with slam interest. Now you have an entire level of bidding available to unwind a lot more than 1-1-1NT-2-3.
On any given hand, it may be that none of these flaws arises, or they can be overcome but the existence of these problems and others seems to me to be a very sound basis for the Relay falling out of whatever short-lived favour it once had.


Here's the thing, though. From what I can follow, it fell out of favor some 25 years ago or so. Most experts I speak with about this have no experience playing this or cannot remember playing this. Most of the "falling out of favor" happened before support doubles became mainstream and before xyz and the like were invented. The base, then, was compared with a shoddy base from years ago without any real test in a more modern world. For example, no one seemed to have been using an unbalanced diamond opening until a few years ago, but many of us MR types have been using that for 15 years or so, only now becoming popular. So, I am not so sure that the old assessments were correct. And, from experience playing both ways, I am finding the modern unwinds to walsh increasingly nonsensical.
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#4 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2010-October-31, 21:30

I should have known better: discussing bridge theory with Ken is a waste of time, since the only opinion that matters, to him, is his.
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#5 User is offline   Phil 

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Posted 2010-October-31, 22:46

In Southern California, there is a subset that play MR, but have no idea why. The same genre plays the Mexi 2, and give you a blank stare when you ask what 1x - 1y - 2N mean.

What I have found is that the 1 - pass - 1 auctions are practically meaningless and disclose a lot of information about opener's hand that is not necessary. Furthermore, preemption renders it useless, although MikeH said that, had you chose to read it.
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#6 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 06:27

View Postmikeh, on 2010-October-31, 21:30, said:

I should have known better: discussing bridge theory with Ken is a waste of time, since the only opinion that matters, to him, is his.

Odd analysis of the concept of a discussion.

A discussion, in my understanding, is not formed by having someone offer a proposal as a topic of discussion, with the goal of having a noted expert state truth, and end thereby the discussion.

Rather, the idea is to have a conversation back and forth as to the topic.

The secondary "had you read it" seems rather in line with the alternative view of solicited pronouncements ex cathedra.

That said, if you read through MY responsive posts, I believe that I am asking a big "Why?" pronouncements like "you have to bid up the line" seem rather odd as negatives, when "bidding up the line" is done in many situations without this being deemed a reason for concern. Stating that something in "arguably inferior" without explaining the arguability of that inferiority, beyond the minor points made and rebutted, seems less conversational and more dispensational.

The new insights from the sidekick add little to the conversation. The fact that some people in California give you a blank stare when you ask about 1C-P-2NT is as useful in assessing MR as is the fact that so-and-so plays Precision but cannot grasp the game at all.

I mean, try discussing the theory with ME, rather than with dolts in California. I would think that 30 years of playing MR, many years of playing Walsh at high levels, and a somewhat developed theory grasp would make me a better candidate for discussion of the pros/cons than someone who has trouble remembering stayman.
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#7 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 08:39

Tony Forrester and David Gold formed a partnership earlier this year, they are playing MR or similar, I believe it is Tony's choice of method. Not quite sure of all the details, but 1C:1D, 1H:1S was artificial, and 2H now showed 5C4H 15-18 and was the final contract.

If 1C:1D, 1S can still be 4342 or 4S5+C, this must make it harder to find club fits when opener is unbalanced. It is also less preemptive, so even if you conclude that MR>Walsh in uncontested auctions, it doesn't neccessarily make it the better method. Hell, it is even less preemptive than Transfer Walsh.
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#8 User is offline   Phil 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 09:55

Ken, I think its curious that you choose to attack Mike about his second comment, when you do not even respond to respond to his first. If I were advocating a structure, I would do more than say (in effect), "hey - been playing MR, isn't that awesome"?

My example about Mexi 2, was to demonstrate more that a certain class of player is drawn to system tweaks without having any real understanding about why they play something, and the domino effect it can have on the rest of the structure. They are also essentially clueless about the 3rd bid in a particular sequence as well as what to do in competition.

However, you have convinced me in the past that some of the things you advocate (like 1M - 2) have a lot of merit. So in an effort to put things back on a constructive track:

My comments / questions / criticisms in no particular order or importance:

1. If I were going to advocate MR, it seems there are a lot of total tricks auctions available, like 1 - pass - 1M - (interference) - 3M as simply showing 4 trump (but not 4333) and a minimum of HCP.

2. Are you playing a weak or a strong NT? An unbalanced diamond w/ short club?

3. One of the reasons I like Walsh is I get to show a balanced opener over 1 - pass - 1 - pass. In MR it seems like opener always has to show the 4cM over 1, which not only discloses a lot about opener's hand, but also says little about his hand type. It also would seem that 1 - 1 - 1N is kind of unusual, since there are fewer hand patterns that bid this way.

4. The frequency of responder bidding 1 over 1 instead of 1N goes way up. The frequency of bidding 1M goes way down. As I said before, this makes it very vulnerable to preemption.

5. In Walsh, occasionally our one level responses preempt their overcall. 1 - pass - 1 seems like a license to let them overcall.

6. How are you playing your low level doubles (xx's) by opener if they are not support?

7. 1 - pass - 1 as some ranges of balanced hands doesn't bother me, since Walsh uses this as 5-7, and sometimes 11-12. However, it seems you can offload some of the diamond hands onto 1 - 2 which would aid when they jam you.

8. What do you do with a GF and 5+ - 4M? 5+ - 4M? It seems you can sensibly include a 4cM into an inverted 2 raise.
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#9 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 10:22

View PostPhil, on 2010-November-01, 09:55, said:

Ken, I think its curious that you choose to attack Mike about his second comment, when you do not even respond to respond to his first. If I were advocating a structure, I would do more than say (in effect), "hey - been playing MR, isn't that awesome"?

My example about Mexi 2, was to demonstrate more that a certain class of player is drawn to system tweaks without having any real understanding about why they play something, and the domino effect it can have on the rest of the structure. They are also essentially clueless about the 3rd bid in a particular sequence as well as what to do in competition.

However, you have convinced me in the past that some of the things you advocate (like 1M - 2) have a lot of merit. So in an effort to put things back on a constructive track:

My comments / questions / criticisms in no particular order or importance:

I'll try to respond constructively. B)
1. If I were going to advocate MR, it seems there are a lot of total tricks auctions available, like 1 - pass - 1M - (interference) - 3M as simply showing 4 trump (but not 4333) and a minimum of HCP.

I have thought of this, but it seems better to leave the TT count unknown. That said, knowledge of the 9-fit allows you to better assess the value of shortness reliably, if that makes sense, such that 3M is more reliable.
2. Are you playing a weak or a strong NT? An unbalanced diamond w/ short club?

Strong 1NT (but frequent upgrades), with an unbalanced 1D. 1D shows a stiff or void, so 1C could be 6322 with long diamonds, in theory.
3. One of the reasons I like Walsh is I get to show a balanced opener over 1 - pass - 1 - pass. In MR it seems like opener always has to show the 4cM over 1, which not only discloses a lot about opener's hand, but also says little about his hand type. It also would seem that 1 - 1 - 1N is kind of unusual, since there are fewer hand patterns that bid this way.

The mitigation is that Opener is not known to be balanced or unbalanced (which actually seems to say less about Opener's hand) and that the short club means that the minor situation is also unknwon. Strange that one objection is too much disclosure, when my experience and logic tell me that the opposite is true -- you disclose less.
4. The frequency of responder bidding 1 over 1 instead of 1N goes way up. The frequency of bidding 1M goes way down. As I said before, this makes it very vulnerable to preemption.

Not really, for counter-intuitive reasons. 1M is less subject to preemption because you already advertised a 5-card suit. 1D is more subject, therefore, but less damaged because the major focus will be singular (only a 4-4 fit can exist). By limiting that which can be effectively preempted to that which is fairly flat as to the majors, the damage actually ends up lesser.
5. In Walsh, occasionally our one level responses preempt their overcall. 1 - pass - 1 seems like a license to let them overcall.

This is somewhat true, as to preemption of a 1 overcall with a 1 response. However, the law protection in this situation is often lower anyway (9-fits in major eliminated). But, that is somewhat of a downside. Against this, however, is the value of spotting the 5-3 or 5-4 immediately. Seems like more than a wash.
6. How are you playing your low level doubles (xx's) by opener if they are not support?

Typically negative/takeout. High ODR with shortness. Typically 4-card in other major.
7. 1 - pass - 1 as some ranges of balanced hands doesn't bother me, since Walsh uses this as 5-7, and sometimes 11-12. However, it seems you can offload some of the diamond hands onto 1 - 2 which would aid when they jam you.

True that you lose ability to raise diamonds reliably, and this can be a source of occasional problems.
8. What do you do with a GF and 5+ - 4M? 5+ - 4M? It seems you can sensibly include a 4cM into an inverted 2 raise.

With the first, you bid diamonds first. If partner bids 1NT, then you bid the major and all is normal. If partner bids the major, you then can bid fourth suit, which is typically NOT asking anything about some stupid major checkback but is usually establishing slam interest with a fit. Remember that the lack of need for checkback means that this call is useful for unwinds and is more focused. As a simple example, 1-P-1-P-1M-P-2OM is typically a raise of the major and slammish. Faster and cleaner focus allows better and cheaper unwinds of pattern/control.

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#10 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 11:08

Ken, I read that the first time, and didn't see any response to Mike's post either - because all of your text was underlined in the quote box, and I just skipped the quote box completely. Reposting it, without breaking out the quote, won't help those of us who auto-skip what is clearly "the entire previous post I just read".

I'm guessing I'm not the only one, and if it were Mike who missed it, would explain a lot.

Having said that, I have a pair that plays MR, and (apart from the fact that they have "difficulty" explaining all the inferences they're taking (not that you would)), I see these problems:

1) a short club, and mini-roman, so that diamonds promises 5. Doesn't seem necessary, but oh well. If you are playing the short club, (and not just for majors 5, diamonds 4) - well, I play a short diamond, and it causes problems, but at least mine is limited to 11-15.
2) they play 1C-1NT as something odd as well (8-11, I think?) and that further overloads the 1D response.
3) 1C-1D does invite preemption, and one of these days I'm going to psych my 2-card heart suit to (hopefully) talk them out of their 4-4 fit that everybody else is going to have go 1C-1H. 1C-p-1D-3D puts you back into the support-doubler's domain, except that most pairs already have some idea about (one) major fit).
4) I see your response to Mike, and wonder about your ability to raise either minor after 1C or after 1C-1D. Again, I play Precision, not like I have anything to talk about here.

Having said that, I don't have a hate on for montreal relay; just never played it.
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#11 User is offline   Gerben42 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 12:09

Disclaimer: I have never played the Montreal Relay. I am also not a fan of Walsh. I am a believer in showing your suits. 1 - 1 showing some 4-card major but not a 5-card major really violates this principle. I like , it's the suit where experts make a difference.

So my feeling is that I wouldn't agree to play Montreal Relay even if my life depended on it. My current league partner really likes Walsh, so we agreed on Transfer Walsh so I can bid my suits up-the-line in a way and he can get his Walsh style :)
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#12 User is offline   TWO4BRIDGE 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 12:10

Who has not read whom?
Granted, it took me little awhile to figure out that the "underlines" were really Ken's replies to Mike's points.

But the following is priceless... and true no matter what:

View Postkenrexford, on 2010-November-01, 06:27, said:

Odd analysis of the concept of a discussion.


I mean, try discussing the theory with ME, rather than with dolts in California. I would think that ...... would make me a better candidate for discussion of the pros/cons than someone who has trouble remembering stayman.

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#13 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 12:24

I've played against quite a bit of montreal relay at my local club.

My experience is that these pairs get some good results from the 1 opening in competition, and from the auction 1-Pass-1M which solves a number of problems relating to raising on three-card support. However, they lose a lot when opponents bid over their 1 opening (because they don't know which minor opener has length in) and in their 1-P-1 auctions (either because they lose a major fit when 4th hand bids, or because they lose a major fit by rebidding 2NT and having partner pass).

The method seems to cater to people who want to find all their 5-3 major fits while never playing in a 4-3 major fit. That's all very well, but sometimes playing 4-3 fits in 2M is right, sometimes playing 5-3 major fits in notrump is right, and sometimes they miss their 4-4 major fits because the opponents jumped in (and playing 4-4 major fits in the major is very frequently right). In all I haven't been that impressed.
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#14 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 13:18

Let me try explaining at least my experience somewhat better, in the context of what really happens. This is not what happens with "DFC's" ("Dolts From California") or "MCLI's" ("My club's local idiots").

I have dealt to me on the first deal a hand with four diamonds and a stiff or void somewhere. This includes the annoying 4H/5D or 4H/4D/4-1 blacks hands that cause bidding problems. I open 1 and all is solved. This has nothing to do with MR, except that it seems to be a part of MR thinking.

On the second deal, I open 1, which could be balanced (11-14 or 18-19), in which case the minor lengths are unknown, or unbalanced with 4+ clubs. By so opening, I know that the opponents will have some difficulty on lead, because they do not know what my minors are (just like with a strong 1NT opening). I also know that LHO will occasionally have a problem doubling because he is really short in diamonds.

If LHO passes (if he does not, MR if off), partner might bid 1NT. (With some like my wife, I actually play this as 5-11, which mitigates some "problems" noted above), partner's 1NT call places us in the exact same situation as everyone else, except that the minor situation is unknown. I like that.

On the third deal, I again start 1, passed to partner. If she bids 1 or 1, I immediately find the 5-3 or 5-4 fit before RHO gets a chance to cause problems. No "support double" is needed, which might allow me to find a fit in the other major more easily (partnert responds hearts, minor overcall, the field has support doubles but I find a spade fit). And, the opponents still don't know about my minor situation.

Partner in fact bids a major, and now I can raise more effectively than others, because I know about the fifth card in their suit. If I decline that suit, moreover, partner does not need checkback but can use that call for something better and not giving up that which two-way checkback gives up. If I raise, and if we end up in slam mode, I have plenty of space to unwind my shape.

On the fourth deal, I again start 1. This time, pertner bids 1. I get no competition and show my major(s). I get to declare this hand, right-sided, more often than not. If I have no majors, I rebid 1NT, and the opponents no nothing about my minors and nothing about partner's majors. Tough lead problem. If we end up in slam mode, we have space to unwind things, because 4SF and NMF calls are artificial fit bids.

On the fifth deal, partner's 1 response gets an intervening call. Because partner has no 5-card majors, I know that we cannot have a 9-card major fit, which eases the issues. I may need to make a "negative double" as Opener, which seems weird to others, but no problems seem to develop from this. On occasion, a three-level minor call might get tricky, but this would have been tricky anyway.

In the end, then, I might have an occasional problem with finding a 4-4 major fit at the three-level, but I gain in MANY other auctions by having better focus on what doubles and new suit calls mean, by having fewer unwinds, etc.

As an aside, I also am ALLOWED to find 4-3 fits. For instance, if I open 1 and hear a 1 response, I could bid 1M with 3145 or 1345 pattern.
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#15 User is offline   mgoetze 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 13:38

Ken, I haven't bothered to read your second post in this thread. I am a strong believer in the one person who writes a post making an effort to make it easily readable, rather than the 50 people who read it.

Anyway, are you just saying Montreal Relay is a good idea for people with bad memories, or are you claiming any real advantages, especially as opposed to more sophisticated modern methods such as transfer Walsh?
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#16 User is offline   MickyB 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 13:45

It seems slightly bizarre to be bringing short club vs better minor into a debate on Montreal Relay - why not assume that all balanced hands are being opened 1C, then compare the merits of various responses?
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#17 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 13:45

To reply to Ken's post:

I agree that you get some advantages from 1 unbalanced. No arguments there, although I suspect 1=5+ might be better in some ways.

If the auction goes 1-Pass-1N-All pass, then I don't agree this gives any problems on lead. People would rarely make a different lead against 1-P-1N than against 1-P-1N; both auctions suggest a major suit lead. Your hand is coming down as dummy at trick one anyway, so at that point any ambiguities are removed. However, it's possible that you have a big minor suit fit on this auction (say you have 3352 and partner has 2353). In this case, you might be going down in 1NT with 3 ice cold. If opponents have a big major fit, it's safer for them to enter the auction after 1-P-1N than after 1-P-3 (because they are a level lower). I think you've lost substantially on hands where you belong in a minor suit.

After 1-P-1M, you have some gains but also perhaps some losses. For example, suppose we see 1-P-1-2-2-3. In a standard auction, responder knows how many spades opener has (four). He can decide to compete to the three-level if he has five spades and a decent hand, or to sell to 3 if he has five spades and a terrible hand. He can also use his degree of secondary fit with opener's minor to judge borderline game hands. Playing montreal relay, responder doesn't know if opener has three spades or four. He doesn't know opener's minor so he can't evaluate a double fit. Sure, opener knows that responder has a fifth spade, but blindly competing to 3 on a weak notrump with four spades could be very wrong if responder has a lousy hand. I think you're behind in this auction.

After 1-P-1, you sometimes give up more information than the standard bidders. For example, if you have a weak notrump you might bid 1-1-1N in standard bidding or 1-1-1N (bypassing) in Walsh. Here you bid 1-1-1-1-1N revealing the four-card majors in both hands, or 1-1-1-1N revealing opener's heart suit. In both sequences you've given away more major suit shape information. In all, I think this is roughly a wash, but the argument that montreal relay somehow gives up "less information" only applies to some auctions.

In the last case, I agree all is well if the auction goes 1-P-1-1M because you can make a negative double. But what if the opponents bid 2m natural? Or jump to 2? Now it seems easy to miss a 4-4 major fit that the entire rest of the field will find (or else opener has to double on wildly unsuitable hands and hope you don't go for a number).
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#18 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2010-November-01, 13:56

View Postmgoetze, on 2010-November-01, 13:38, said:

Ken, I haven't bothered to read your second post in this thread. I am a strong believer in the one person who writes a post making an effort to make it easily readable, rather than the 50 people who read it.

Anyway, are you just saying Montreal Relay is a good idea for people with bad memories, or are you claiming any real advantages, especially as opposed to more sophisticated modern methods such as transfer Walsh?


I think T-Walsh may be the way to go, but unfortunately the stupid ACBL has not yet allowed it. What I am saying, though, is that MR seems better than regular old Walsh.
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#19 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2010-November-02, 17:54

View Postkenrexford, on 2010-November-01, 13:18, said:

Let me try explaining at least my experience somewhat better, in the context of what really happens. This is not what happens with "DFC's" ("Dolts From California") or "MCLI's" ("My club's local idiots").

I have dealt to me on the first deal a hand with four diamonds and a stiff or void somewhere. This includes the annoying 4H/5D or 4H/4D/4-1 blacks hands that cause bidding problems. I open 1 and all is solved. This has nothing to do with MR, except that it seems to be a part of MR thinking.

Given your initial assumption to remove DFCs and MCLIs I do not see the bidding problems to which you are referring. Opening 1D as 4+ solves any issues you might have on these hands irrespective of MR or not.

View Postkenrexford, on 2010-November-01, 13:18, said:

On the second deal, I open 1, which could be balanced (11-14 or 18-19), in which case the minor lengths are unknown, or unbalanced with 4+ clubs. By so opening, I know that the opponents will have some difficulty on lead, because they do not know what my minors are (just like with a strong 1NT opening). I also know that LHO will occasionally have a problem doubling because he is really short in diamonds.

1C is 2+, so there is no tangible difference here from 5542. LHO will play exactly the same defence to your 1C opening as over any other short club.

View Postkenrexford, on 2010-November-01, 13:18, said:

If LHO passes (if he does not, MR if off), partner might bid 1NT. (With some like my wife, I actually play this as 5-11, which mitigates some "problems" noted above), partner's 1NT call places us in the exact same situation as everyone else, except that the minor situation is unknown. I like that.

The 1NT response as 5-11 seems to be a very wide range to me. With 15 you need to invite but 2NT is unsafe with 20hcp. Moreover I think you are overestinating the lead problems after 1C - 1NT; most likely the defence will lead a major through the strong hand and be able to see clearly from dummy when it is right to switch to a minor.

View Postkenrexford, on 2010-November-01, 13:18, said:

On the third deal, I again start 1, passed to partner. If she bids 1 or 1, I immediately find the 5-3 or 5-4 fit before RHO gets a chance to cause problems. No "support double" is needed, which might allow me to find a fit in the other major more easily (partnert responds hearts, minor overcall, the field has support doubles but I find a spade fit). And, the opponents still don't know about my minor situation.

1C - 1M is the primary gain from your system. it is not always going to be beneficial but on average it is a positive.

View Postkenrexford, on 2010-November-01, 13:18, said:

Partner in fact bids a major, and now I can raise more effectively than others, because I know about the fifth card in their suit. If I decline that suit, moreover, partner does not need checkback but can use that call for something better and not giving up that which two-way checkback gives up. If I raise, and if we end up in slam mode, I have plenty of space to unwind my shape.

It is ironic that you have gained a natural meaning for your 2C bid just at a time when it is of least use to you because Opener's club length is unknown. I am not even sure if it is not best to use 2C as checkback anyway in this spot just to establish the range of responder's hand.

View Postkenrexford, on 2010-November-01, 13:18, said:

On the fourth deal, I again start 1. This time, pertner bids 1. I get no competition and show my major(s). I get to declare this hand, right-sided, more often than not. If I have no majors, I rebid 1NT, and the opponents no nothing about my minors and nothing about partner's majors. Tough lead problem. If we end up in slam mode, we have space to unwind things, because 4SF and NMF calls are artificial fit bids.

You right-side hearts all of the time and spades some of the time. You also wrongside spades and no-trumps some of the time. Do you think 1C - 1D - 1NT is really a big lead problem? Declarer has a balanced hand without a major, Responder is weak with one or both majors. I reckon I can trust myself to lead the right major a fair percentage of the time. I would expect better players to get this right almost every time.

View Postkenrexford, on 2010-November-01, 13:18, said:

On the fifth deal, partner's 1 response gets an intervening call. Because partner has no 5-card majors, I know that we cannot have a 9-card major fit, which eases the issues. I may need to make a "negative double" as Opener, which seems weird to others, but no problems seem to develop from this. On occasion, a three-level minor call might get tricky, but this would have been tricky anyway.

Even at the 2 level you can have problems. 1C - 1D - (2m). Opener has a major so doubles. Unfortunately Responder has the other major. Now you are scrambling for a fit where everyone else in the field got out in 2om or defending 2m.

View Postkenrexford, on 2010-November-01, 13:18, said:

In the end, then, I might have an occasional problem with finding a 4-4 major fit at the three-level, but I gain in MANY other auctions by having better focus on what doubles and new suit calls mean, by having fewer unwinds, etc.

As an aside, I also am ALLOWED to find 4-3 fits. For instance, if I open 1 and hear a 1 response, I could bid 1M with 3145 or 1345 pattern.

I do not have any problems with MR. It makes sense from a bidding theory perspective to put more hands into the lowest response. However I do not think that your stated gains here are as big as you suggest and I think there are practical problems after interference. And perhaps I am biased or blinkered but I think that opening 1C on a 2=2=7=2 hand when a natural 1D opening is available is simply losing bridge.
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#20 User is offline   Free 

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Posted 2010-November-04, 05:07

Imo Walsh is more flexible and gives us a better starting position when we have the minors. Perhaps people started realizing that there are a lot of points to be gained from minors as well, but wanted to keep their MAFIA style in some way.
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