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Unusual NT

#1 User is offline   wyman 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 09:30

So, I'm pretty comfortable deciding whether or not to bid U2N with a hand when I see it (at least in the style I'm used to), but I'm playing with a new partner who is used to playing that U2N is either maxi or mini, so the midi hands all bid the suits out.

I don't like this style, and I'd like to lay this out for pard, so that we can have a discussion about the relative merits of each side. His major concern is that we're bidding 2N on such a huge range that partner won't be able to make a good decision. I think shape, ODR, and losers are way more important than HCP for high level decisions, but I'm having trouble trying to put into words what I think we should and shouldn't bid 2N with. Part of what I'd like to say is something like: If you want partner's input at the 5-level, you need to bid 2N. So a hand with defense in the short suits might not bid 2N, for example. So I was thinking ODR, rather than HCP was one good metric. But I'm not sure that is sufficient.

Help me out, BBF. When do you bid 2N? When do you *not* bid 2N? Or what do you think "expert standard" is? Any bits will help, I'm sure. Thanks.
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#2 User is online   gszes 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 09:43

too large of a subject for this forum a reasonable explanation of the use
of 2n (2 lowest unbid) formula is at web site.

http://omahabridge.o...mh_UNUSUALN.pdf

this site alows briefly touches on the idea of when to emphasize 1 suit
with an overcall vs using 2n.
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#3 User is offline   wyman 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 09:54

link is broken

your new link works

"I think maybe so and so was caught cheating but maybe I don't have the names right". Sure, and I think maybe your mother .... Oh yeah, that was someone else maybe. -- kenberg

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#4 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 10:03

I play your partner's style too even though this seems to be regarded as a bit old hat now. The main point is that overcalling and then bidding a new suit freely shows values. This sometime allows partner to make a tight doubling decision. Even if you play this style though there are hands where you should still bid 2NT with hands that might qualify for bidding both suits. Hands with very high offence and little defence are clear - after all why announce defensive values when you do not have them? - but also when you do not need input from partner such as when they are a passed hand. In other words, it is imho better to play that bidding both suits definitely shows values but that you can bid the 2-suiter directly on tactical grounds. Perhaps this is a compromise that would appeal to both of you.
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#5 User is offline   phil_20686 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 10:15

I have found that whatever people say they are playing, they still bid 2N on roughly the same hands.

The chance to get both your suits in at once is so valuable, that I prefer to get both suits in on a wide variety of hands. I also dont like to bid it too weak, so split range has never worked well for me since I basically am never in the bottom range. If you bid unusual and don't declarer you are giving a lot of information away, and you are helping the opps evaulaute their hands. So you want to have a decent chance to declarer. When I played split range I seemed to often have the issue that partner wouldnt bid, despite a bit of support, and then you have a big problem later deciding whether to double or not with the strong option.

Then you have the side problem of two suited hands like x x AKxxx AKxxxx that are gigantic with even a bit of a fit, but close to useless without one, so are they strong or in the intermediate range. If they are in the intermediate range can you afford to bid the longer clubs first, or does that just get you into trouble when the auction comes back at the 4 level, and you struggle to get the diamonds in.

Meh, I just found that split range produced a problem on virtually every hand where it came up and you didnt have the strong option. Lots of the problems where not easily forseen, but so many auctions become so easy after a 2N bid that is int+ as strong option is rare and can double later, and geting both your KQxxx KQxxx suits in at a safe level is so useful, compared to bidding one, and then partner doesnt know about your huge side suit distribution even when you do have a decent fit, so thinks a bit and then elects to pass 4S, and then you have a UI problem, because you never know if he was thinking about doubling or bidding, but you will be getting ruled back anyway.....
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#6 User is offline   wyman 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 10:24

View Postphil_20686, on 2012-February-13, 10:15, said:

I have found that whatever people say they are playing, they still bid 2N on roughly the same hands.


I'm not sure I agree. A thread I read yesterday (http://www.bridgebas...rth-the-5-level) found several A/E regs:

Quote

If 2NT were available on the first go, that would have been my call; then I wouldn't have to make any guesses now.

Quote

I don't know, 2NT is really risky but it might also hit gold. I would bid it but I'm not sure that it is sound.

Quote

Our hand is bad, our diamonds are bad, we have 3 spades, and we are vul. 2NT seems really weird to me.

Quote

We might make a lot of tricks in 5♦ if partner has 4, but if he has 1336 the 5 level will be very bad. That's why 2NT the round before would had been better.

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#7 User is online   ArtK78 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 10:38

If I have a two suiter, I like to get both suits into the picture sooner rather than later. So, for me, shape considerations outweigh strength considerations.
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#8 User is offline   JLOGIC 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 13:41

I have rather strong views about this.

Why it is bad to play weak + strong, with intermediate hands bidding out

The common reason given for playing this is that having a split range helps partners bidding, and that when you bid one suit and later bid another suit, you will be known to have an intermediate range. The problem with that is that you often don't get a chance to bid both suits, and you might miss out on a big fit. Competitive auctions are about finding fits, they are not about figuring out precisely how many values you have. The other problem is that bridge is not as cut and dried as I have 5-5 weak, intermediate, or strong. There may be several reasons where you would try to bid out rather than show a 2 suiter. Like, if it goes (1S) 2D (2S) p (p) ? and you bid 3C. This does not just show an intermediate 5-5. You may have 3154 with a very strong hand and be balancing, etc. If it was michaels, an auction like (1S) 1S (2D) p (p) 2H would be even worse, you could be 5-4, 6-4, etc.

How to narrow your range

The obvious way to narrow your range is to eliminate the "weak" variety hand types of unusual 2N. To be honest, I would never bid unusual 2N with a hand considered weak. Your weak hands should be the intermediate hands. Why is this?

unusual 2N is not a preempt

Just because you can overcall 3C on 7 clubs and a weak hand doesn't mean you can overcall 2N on 5-5 in the minors and a weak hand. For starters, you have much less safety. Secondly, you are telling them much more about how to play the hand, which is bad when you have a weak hand since that's what they'll end up doing most of the time. You are much less likely to have a profitable save. And your preempt is much less effective, they hve 2 cuebids, and a double followed by double/pass, and a pass followed by double, and two suits are out of the game.

So, if we are not preempting, and we are telling them a lot about the hand, what is the purpose of our bid? It's to find making games, or making partscores, or good saves when partner has a big fit.

So I would say just pass or in the case of H+D or H+C, overcall 1H when you have a bad hand, and bid unusual 2N on the medium to strong hands. You are committing to the 3 level while offering up a VERY easy penalty (they have double to say they want to penalize, as opposed to a preempt where double is negative), and telling them a LOT about the hand. You need a good hand to make that committment. You need upside. What is the upside vs downside in bidding with x xx KJxxx KJxxx at equal vulnerability? It is not there, and I see people make worse unusual 2Ns than that.

It is a little bit different with michaels, but I would say split range there is also bad, for slightly different reasons depending on the exact auction.
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#9 User is offline   quiddity 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 13:59

Fred's "Learn To Play Bridge" series has a nice set of slides on U2N and Michaels with examples of hands which qualify or do not qualify at various vulnerabilities. It was available through the old windows client; I'm not sure if it can be viewed through the web client.

It includes discussion on the importance of spots, having the honors in the long suits, etc.
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#10 User is offline   JLOGIC 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 14:14

Yes, the tens and nines of your suits are close to honors, they are more important than a random stiff Q for sure. This is for safety purposes if doubled of course.
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#11 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 14:31

View PostJLOGIC, on 2012-February-13, 13:41, said:

I have rather strong views about this.

Why it is bad to play weak + strong, with intermediate hands bidding out

The common reason given for playing this is that having a split range helps partners bidding, and that when you bid one suit and later bid another suit, you will be known to have an intermediate range. The problem with that is that you often don't get a chance to bid both suits, and you might miss out on a big fit. Competitive auctions are about finding fits, they are not about figuring out precisely how many values you have. The other problem is that bridge is not as cut and dried as I have 5-5 weak, intermediate, or strong. There may be several reasons where you would try to bid out rather than show a 2 suiter. Like, if it goes (1S) 2D (2S) p (p) ? and you bid 3C. This does not just show an intermediate 5-5. You may have 3154 with a very strong hand and be balancing, etc. If it was michaels, an auction like (1S) 1S (2D) p (p) 2H would be even worse, you could be 5-4, 6-4, etc.

How to narrow your range

The obvious way to narrow your range is to eliminate the "weak" variety hand types of unusual 2N. To be honest, I would never bid unusual 2N with a hand considered weak. Your weak hands should be the intermediate hands. Why is this?

unusual 2N is not a preempt

Just because you can overcall 3C on 7 clubs and a weak hand doesn't mean you can overcall 2N on 5-5 in the minors and a weak hand. For starters, you have much less safety. Secondly, you are telling them much more about how to play the hand, which is bad when you have a weak hand since that's what they'll end up doing most of the time. You are much less likely to have a profitable save. And your preempt is much less effective, they hve 2 cuebids, and a double followed by double/pass, and a pass followed by double, and two suits are out of the game.

So, if we are not preempting, and we are telling them a lot about the hand, what is the purpose of our bid? It's to find making games, or making partscores, or good saves when partner has a big fit.

So I would say just pass or in the case of H+D or H+C, overcall 1H when you have a bad hand, and bid unusual 2N on the medium to strong hands. You are committing to the 3 level while offering up a VERY easy penalty (they have double to say they want to penalize, as opposed to a preempt where double is negative), and telling them a LOT about the hand. You need a good hand to make that committment. You need upside. What is the upside vs downside in bidding with x xx KJxxx KJxxx at equal vulnerability? It is not there, and I see people make worse unusual 2Ns than that.

It is a little bit different with michaels, but I would say split range there is also bad, for slightly different reasons depending on the exact auction.

I upvoted this post, primarily because of the discussion of WHY one bids, and the (huge) downsides of making this call on a weak hand. In fact, I think Justin has just given me my topic for when I give a lecture between sessions at our upcoming Sectional....I was casting around for something useful for intermediates....altho I have to say that I see lots of players who consider themselves to be at least advanced who perpetrate the unusual 2N with very weak hands.
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#12 User is offline   phil_20686 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 14:47

View Postwyman, on 2012-February-13, 10:24, said:

I'm not sure I agree. A thread I read yesterday (http://www.bridgebas...rth-the-5-level) found several A/E regs:


What I was trying to say, is that when partners ask me to play slipt range, i generally shrug and agree, only to find later that they are bidding 2N with intermediate hands "for tactical reasons". I didnt mean to say that different people bid 2N on the same hands, I meant that a given person tends to bid 2N on the same hands whether you agree to play split range or not, as there are so many hands and situations where you might not get your second suit in, or it might be too late, so you decide to "treat this hand as strong" since you are only bending by a couple of HCP, etc, until the split range is restricted to auctions like 1!s P P where there is little danger of not getting your second suit in.

I strongly dislike split range, but Justin managed to give the reasons better than my somewhat rambling post managed.
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#13 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 17:31

View Postphil_20686, on 2012-February-13, 14:47, said:

I strongly dislike split range, but Justin managed to give the reasons better than my somewhat rambling post managed.


I don't like split range either, but I have been playing a very wide range. Justin's post has convinced me to make a change.
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#15 User is offline   bd71 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 20:52

View PostJLOGIC, on 2012-February-13, 13:41, said:


How to narrow your range

The obvious way to narrow your range is to eliminate the "weak" variety hand types of unusual 2N. To be honest, I would never bid unusual 2N with a hand considered weak. Your weak hands should be the intermediate hands. Why is this?



Your RHO opens a natural 1x bid. What is an example of the WEAKEST hand with which you would bid 2N...

...by different vulnerabilities.

...depending on which suit their 1x bid is.
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#16 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2012-February-13, 22:23

View PostJLOGIC, on 2012-February-13, 13:41, said:

It is a little bit different with michaels, but I would say split range there is also bad, for slightly different reasons depending on the exact auction.


Good points, Justin. Wouldn't this one apply to most (any?) two suited overcalls? Suppose for example you play the cue bid as Top-and-Bottom, instead of Michaels?
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#17 User is offline   Fluffy 

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Posted 2012-February-14, 02:46

The split range comes to say that if the bidding starts:

(1)-2NT-(pass)-3
(pass)-

and you have no idea if you should now bid on or not. Then you shouldn´t bid 2NT first place.

For me split range makes sense only non vulnerable, vulnerable I´ve come to a decision that my minimums and maximums don´t have an in between range.
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#18 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-February-14, 04:00

View PostFluffy, on 2012-February-14, 02:46, said:

The split range comes to say that if the bidding starts:

(1)-2NT-(pass)-3
(pass)-

and you have no idea if you should now bid on or not. Then you shouldn´t bid 2NT first place.

I agree with this 100% and this is why "strong" in the split range context should be pretty strong, stronger than most seem to play it. This is what creates the in-between range that can cause difficulties, especially when green.


View PostFluffy, on 2012-February-14, 02:46, said:

For me split range makes sense only non vulnerable, vulnerable I´ve come to a decision that my minimums and maximums don´t have an in between range.

This also makes alot of sense - split range not vulnerable and intermediate-plus vulnerable. Certainly your lower range vulnerable should be sound as you have least to gain and plenty to lose. I still split between "weak" and "strong" in my preferred 2-suited methods here but now this is practically a continuous range. There are still 2-suited hands where I will bid one suit and then the other though.


View PostJLOGIC, on 2012-February-13, 13:41, said:

Why it is bad to play weak + strong, with intermediate hands bidding out

The common reason given for playing this is that having a split range helps partners bidding, and that when you bid one suit and later bid another suit, you will be known to have an intermediate range. The problem with that is that you often don't get a chance to bid both suits, and you might miss out on a big fit.

True of course. But the point of bidding both suits is, I think, more about showing defence. If we have defence then we have less to fear from them barraging. This is the point about making the 2-suited bid even on some hands that would qualify for bidding both suits.


View PostJLOGIC, on 2012-February-13, 13:41, said:

if it goes (1S) 2D (2S) p (p) ? and you bid 3C. This does not just show an intermediate 5-5. You may have 3154 with a very strong hand and be balancing, etc. If it was michaels, an auction like (1S) 1S (2D) p (p) 2H would be even worse, you could be 5-4, 6-4, etc.

This is the same argument that kept players using strong jump shifts for years. "Doubling and bidding a suit only shows 5 whereas the SJO shows the 6th card at once". True of course but we have values and want to bid constructively; is it more important to show those values (which might help to make a sensible 3NT decision) or to show the 5th club (which might help us bid 5m). I think this is something you have to decide on every hand individually.


View PostJLOGIC, on 2012-February-13, 13:41, said:

If it was michaels, an auction like (1S) 1S (2D) p (p) 2H would be even worse, you could be 5-4, 6-4, etc.

Can we not double with 4 hearts here?

View PostJLOGIC, on 2012-February-13, 13:41, said:

The obvious way to narrow your range is to eliminate the "weak" variety hand types of unusual 2N. To be honest, I would never bid unusual 2N with a hand considered weak. Your weak hands should be the intermediate hands. Why is this?

Would you really not call 2NT over 1 with x/x/KJTxx/KJTxxx when nv vs vul? Perhaps the sticking point here is the nomenclature. If at green "weak" is something like 8/9-12/13 and "intermediate" ~13/14-16/17, I do not think we are putting the bottom end too low. If "strong" were to mean 15+ without extra shape then I would agree that splitting the range is pointless.


View PostJLOGIC, on 2012-February-13, 13:41, said:

unusual 2N is not a preempt

I disagree with this. 2NT is often a very effective preempt against weak players. You simply have to be more careful about using it than a regular one-suited preempt. The same applies to 2-suited opening bids too but I have never heard anyone saying these are not preemptive. Yes, before you say it, I agree that the upside when we get the first shot in is much higher.


View PostJLOGIC, on 2012-February-13, 13:41, said:

So I would say just pass or in the case of H+D or H+C, overcall 1H when you have a bad hand, and bid unusual 2N on the medium to strong hands. You are committing to the 3 level while offering up a VERY easy penalty (they have double to say they want to penalize, as opposed to a preempt where double is negative), and telling them a LOT about the hand.

This is a sensible system to play, especially vulnerable. The downside to this method is that I think it is more difficult for B/Is than the alternative being discussed here since you have lots of constructive and destructive hands mixed together. It also does not help when they open a major and our overcall would be at the 2 level. Finally, my preferred 2-suited methods over 1m (see below) are as often as possible non-forcing to try and take away the double=penalise option. Naturally you cannot remove this entirely though (2NT is still unusual).

For reference this is what I like to play over 1m:-

1m - 2m = MULTI: WJO in a major or spades and om, strong
1m - 2 = both majors, weak
1m - 2 = spades and om, weak
1m - 2NT = hearts and om, weak or strong
1m - 3m = both majors, strong
1 - 2 = WJO
1 - 3 = WJO
(-: Zel :-)
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#19 User is offline   whereagles 

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Posted 2012-February-14, 05:12

justin: you probably know this, but here it goes anyway. The original reason to play split-range was to include hands

1) too weak to make a 2nd bid (so you have to show both suits in one go)
2) too strong to risk pard pass the overcall

Intermediate hands can afford to have pard pass if weak and are strong enough have another shot at a suit 2nd round.

But yeah these days the tendency is to butt-in on any decent 2-suiter. To sort the range problem you can then either upgrade mins (your solution) or upgrade/downgrade intermediates into the strong/weak variant (my solution).
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#20 User is offline   JLOGIC 

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Posted 2012-February-14, 10:28

View Postbd71, on 2012-February-13, 20:52, said:

Your RHO opens a natural 1x bid. What is an example of the WEAKEST hand with which you would bid 2N...

...by different vulnerabilities.

...depending on which suit their 1x bid is.


Sorry I never answer questions like this they are too open ended/hard, and too many answers.

Quote

Good points, Justin. Wouldn't this one apply to most (any?) two suited overcalls? Suppose for example you play the cue bid as Top-and-Bottom, instead of Michaels?


Yes, I suppose if it was on the complete cusp it might make a difference that you are showing your exact suits, but basically it's the same.

Quote

Can we not double with 4 hearts here?


It depends on your hand but I would say often no, partner might bid clubs. It might be circular, I always bid 2H because my partner will correct with 2-3 because I would have bid michaels with 5-5. Regardless, one of your hand types will suffer in that auction because you have too wide of a range of shapes, whatever you choose to do.

Quote

Would you really not call 2NT over 1♠ with x/x/KJTxx/KJTxxx when nv vs vul? Perhaps the sticking point here is the nomenclature. If at green "weak" is something like 8/9-12/13 and "intermediate" ~13/14-16/17, I do not think we are putting the bottom end too low. If "strong" were to mean 15+ without extra shape then I would agree that splitting the range is pointless.


W/R obviously there is more upside and less downside to bidding as you might have a save. I would of course bid 2N with this 6-5 hand. 6-5 is a much different beast than 5-5, it is another trick and gives you even less defense. I do not think unusual 2N says anything about your defense. Of course I would bid unusual 2N with this hand, I think discussing it in terms of points is not great, I would bid 2N with this hand if I was vulnerable also. If partner bid a game, I'd be happy, I don't need that much for him to make it.

The idea of overcalling 2D with a 15/16/17 count and 5-5 in the minors leaves a bad taste in my mouth, when you have that many points it is possible that you get passed out with a good fit in the other minor. You are also susceptible to preemption, as always when you try to bid one and the other. Would you rather bid 1S 2D 3S p p 4C or 1S 2N 3S p p X or pass (depending on your hand) with that type of hand? Yes you will be guessing a little, but you will be much better placed having shown both minors already so you are not compelled to bid.
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