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an opening bid for every hand, or not? increasing variance, in a good way

#1 User is offline   rbforster 

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Posted 2012-May-20, 21:04

Besides playing for fun, most people also like to play bridge to win, and winning is usually thought of in terms of placing 1st/2nd/3rd in some event (and earning masterpoints), while 5th vs 25th doesn't matter that much. If you want to play for the top slot, maybe your bidding system should reflect this...

What about a system that took ~2-3% of hands and just ignored them all together in terms of opening bids? Maybe you play a weak 2 (because it comes up) and just hope for the best when you get dealt a 22+ hcp hand and noone bids ahead of you. Some versions of EHAA have no forcing opening (bid a natural 3N and hope). Maybe you play a limited openers system, say 11-17 natural 1 bids, but don't have a strong club/diamond opening for the bigger hands (or treat your 1 bids as limited and NF, even if they could be unlimited).

The point would be that you come out ahead most of the time (when these rare hands don't come up), but do (much?) worse very rarely when they do. This type of optimization should make your bidding system more like to win the top slot than your skill level would normally allow, at the expense of doing worse than your average infrequently.

If you're not already a favorite to win your event, this type of strategy should improve your odds. Most of us aren't favorites to win, after all, and yet no one I know plays this way.

Thoughts?
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#2 User is offline   Cthulhu D 

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Posted 2012-May-20, 21:51

NAE, but doesn't this only hold really that true at matchpoints, where being exact in those game and slam decisions is less important? Then I think most people are only willing to commit to one system, so play the same thing at IMPs and Matchpoints meaning that they need a system with some science.

Frequency of a weak 2 in clubs isn't that much higher than the strong 2C either, and both are unlikely to come up in a 30 board game.
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#3 User is offline   chasetb 

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Posted 2012-May-20, 23:51

If you want something simple, take a 2/1 system, make a 1 opening Forcing and throw all the Strong hands in it, and make 2 opener 10-14 HCP, 6+ . Over the 1 opener, 1 would have a negative in it like 0-5 (could put other hands into it of course), and other bids would be positive and generally natural. If I put a few minutes into it, I bet I could have a decent structure that wouldn't be a burden on the memory.
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#4 User is offline   Mbodell 

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Posted 2012-May-20, 23:54

Some folks around here have played for a while a weak 2 in clubs with no forcing opening. It is true that it rarely comes up and is rarely an issue. I mean look at how rarely bbo polls pick 2 as the overwhelming favorite when someone asks about opening at the 1 level or opening 2. A weak 2 in clubs is also hard for the opponents as they don't have much experience in it. Also, weak 2's in minors are hard because the opponents aren't sure which of the majors they have (if any).

You can do a similar thing with hands in precision with hands that would fit a precision 2 opening and just frequently pass them (occasionally trying 2 or 1 or 1 or 1nt if the honor concentration was right and a max). They come up less than 1 in 100 hands, and it isn't clear that if you pass you will necessarily end up in the wrong place. Then you can have a multi 2 or weak 2, 2 promises 6, 1M promises 5, and 1 promises 2 (or more if you don't have balanced hands in there).
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#5 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 01:55

View PostMbodell, on 2012-May-20, 23:54, said:

You can do a similar thing with hands in precision with hands that would fit a precision 2 opening and just frequently pass them (occasionally trying 2 or 1 or 1 or 1nt if the honor concentration was right and a max).

Just treat 4414 as balanced and (43)15/4405 as 54M (so either 1 or 2 depending on version). Simple. Has nothing to do with the OP's idea of having no opening bid available for particular (constructive) hand types though.
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#6 User is offline   Mbodell 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 02:59

View PostZelandakh, on 2012-May-21, 01:55, said:

Just treat 4414 as balanced and (43)15/4405 as 54M (so either 1 or 2 depending on version). Simple. Has nothing to do with the OP's idea of having no opening bid available for particular (constructive) hand types though.


If you want your 2 to promise 6 and your 1nt to promise 2 in all suits, then those adjustments don't work. And while it isn't the same as having no forcing opening in a 2/1 system, it can still mean there are a small number of constructive hands with 13 or 14 or a bad 15 that you pass. It is exactly like what OP said, except the hands that you are ignoring are more like 0.5% instead of 2-3%.
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#7 User is offline   benlessard 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 07:49

It sure that in MP it make little sense to use 2C as a strong bid because of frequency reason.

A quick fix would be play 1C forcing or something like 2NT is strong and forcing and 1C can be bal up to 22 pts and you respond light. Note there is about 5 times more hands that are borderline GF than true GF hands.
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#8 User is offline   rbforster 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 07:59

In some sense, precision is already a move in this direction. Limited hands in the 10-15 range come up a lot and are opened naturally for the most part, allowing for more aggressive preemption both from the opening itself and from responder's actions. The auctions after the strong club can be awkward, vulnerable to preemption, and lead to subpar part-scores. But strong clubs don't come up much, so most of the time you see only the benefits and none of the drawbacks.
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#9 User is offline   guido 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 08:32

There is nothing new in Bridge. :)

The Churchill method from the thirties used no forcing opening. The original Roth-Stone system from the fifties used 2C as a weak two and no forcing opening n matchpoints (2C was artificial and forcing when playing total points -- this was pre-IMPs).
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#10 User is offline   bluecalm 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 09:27

Play 2C as majors 6-10hcp (then 2D asks for longer). This opening looks innocent but it's a killer at matchpoints against unprepared opponents even good ones.

The idea of getting rid of 2C and play all openings as 11+ are an old one and a few Polish pair do that.
2C as majors doesn't go well in polish club context (you need 2C as intermediate club opening) but it's very popular here as many people think it's brings so many mp's that being in deep hole with 11-14 (or 15+) club hands is worth it.
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#11 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 11:22

I think that Little Major, and the original Carrot Club system had (optional) systemic openers for hands of less than traditional opening strength. By widening a range or two, you could open every hand. Strong-pass systems are probably even more effective. Regulators hate them all. Such systems seem to be a lot of fun :) but not without risk :(
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#12 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 11:40

View Postrbforster, on 2012-May-20, 21:04, said:


What about a system that took ~2-3% of hands and just ignored them all together in terms of opening bids?



I don't know of a single solitary system that forbids a player from passing in first / second seat.
If this is correct, all systems include various hand types that get "ignored" all together in terms of opening bids.

Case in point: Lets assume that you are playing BWS

In first seat, you get dealt the following

KQ73
K832
973
J7

Systemically, you pass. You are ignoring this hand type as an opening bid.
Alderaan delenda est
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#13 User is offline   rogerclee 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 13:42

I think you are overestimating how much you can affect your expected results, particularly in long events, by merely changing your system.
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#14 User is offline   inquiry 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 16:20

View PostMbodell, on 2012-May-20, 23:54, said:

Some folks around here have played for a while a weak 2 in clubs with no forcing opening. It is true that it rarely comes up and is rarely an issue. I mean look at how rarely bbo polls pick 2 as the overwhelming favorite when someone asks about opening at the 1 level or opening 2. A weak 2 in clubs is also hard for the opponents as they don't have much experience in it. Also, weak 2's in minors are hard because the opponents aren't sure which of the majors they have (if any).


The real problem is that the 2 bid has too high an upper limit. Try lowering it. I open acol two bids in a major 2 and 2 is ONLY FORCING to two of a major. But I include all the normal strong hands as well (and when allowed, some three suit not so strong hands in 2).

This increases your 2 opening bids, and coincidently, makes your non-2 opening bids more defined. If you would open a typical acol 2 bid 2, then what does 1-bid-3 (no interference) show, for example. So you get more 2 openers and you get more descriptive bids when you don't open 2.

This concept was taken from Chris Ryall paradox webpage stuff.
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#15 User is offline   rbforster 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 16:28

View Postrogerclee, on 2012-May-21, 13:42, said:

I think you are overestimating how much you can affect your expected results, particularly in long events, by merely changing your system.

Well, I havent really estimated how much this would matter so I'm not sure I'm overestimating it. I was thinking about 24 board single session local events rather than multi-day events, where there's already a fair bit of uncertainty as to whether any "different" part of your system would come up at all. In long events, I agree these effects get smaller and/or less worthwhile.

It's a little like swinging when you're behind, only you start out swinging because you're already behind the first place pair. Lots of people swing, especially at the end of a session when they think they need to recover from some bad result.
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#16 User is offline   rogerclee 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 17:47

I guess I just don't follow the thinking that a good way to increase variance is to make mild improvements in your system at the great detriment of a small percentage of handtypes. I don't think you have to go to such lengths. Playing weak NT, strong club, an aggressive style of preempting, or any combination of those 3 drastically increase variance without making your system unsound.

What I was originally trying to say most of all though is that I think this is an unhealthy and self-limiting way of approaching bridge.
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#17 User is offline   Statto 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 18:39

View Postbenlessard, on 2012-May-21, 07:49, said:

It sure that in MP it make little sense to use 2C as a strong bid because of frequency reason.

Interesting, I play with one partner a strong system at teams, thinking it is better for finding games and slams in that environment. But you suggest it's also better at MPs too :D
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#18 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 19:21

It's not exactly clear to me what the question is here. Of course every system has implicit decisions about which hands should open and which hands should pass. For example, I have no opening with K9854 2 KT965 62, whereas someone playing Polish twos would have an opening with that hand. I do have an opening with 65 432 KQT865 98, whereas someone who plays 2 Flannery might not. Of course it makes sense to consider these decisions from the standpoint of frequency and degree of gain/loss, and of course field/anti-field might be a small consideration.

The specific questions asked here seem to be about two particular considerations that a lot of system designers have overlooked/ignored. They are:

(1) Is it worthwhile to have a forcing bid (like a strong 2)? The general perception is that you will lose a lot on the forcing hands when you don't have a forcing bid and open with some wide-range call. Obviously you could get passed out and miss a game, but even if partner responds (or opponents intervene) it may be difficult to show the actual strength of the hand. So whatever replacement you have for the forcing call needs to be a pretty big winner (especially at IMP scoring) for the tradeoff to be worthwhile. I've seen some people advocate this approach at matchpoints (it does make more sense there).

(2) Is it reasonable to pass on some proportion of minimum openings with "difficult" shape? Personally I think this is a reasonable approach, especially given the sort of garbage that people open in 3rd chair these days. You're unlikely to miss a game and may even win in competition (since people typically overcall at the one-level a lot more aggressively than they open in 2nd). To some degree I have seen this advocated; for example 2 AK94 KJT65 642 and AK94 2 642 KJT65 have equal playing strength, yet I have seen people advocate passing the first while opening the second because of the easier rebids. However this is usually "on the boundaries" rather than a more extreme approach like passing all 4414/(43)15/4405 patterns with less than 15 hcp.
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#19 User is offline   shevek 

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Posted 2012-May-21, 19:48

Unofficially, the ACBL frowns on methods like EHAA. As an outsider, it seems to me that they would prefer people to play similar, natural systems. Then matchpoint events would be decided by bidding judgement and cardplay skills.
To play something like EHAA (or a simple strong pass method) could be seen as "irresponsibility to the field", distributing tops and bottoms to random opponents.
System designers are unwelcome, tweakers only in rigidly controlled sectors, such as interfering over 1NT.
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#20 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2012-May-22, 10:08

Wow, as an ACBL player and occasional TD who play(s|ed)* EHAA, I think you're missing something there...

They "banned" the 8-12 NT (so we play it 10-12). They Bergen-banned weak 2s, so we bid "standard EHAA" weak 2s which are, luckily enough, "completely within a 7 HCP range, and at least 5 cards". They banned "systemic psychics" for the good and valid reason that they weren't psychic bids at all, but agreements, and they didn't want those hands opened (at the one level) by agreement. Oddly enough, book-EHAA (no forcing opening bid and all) was just fine.**

The only simple strong pass system is one with a 1 fert. Yeah, the ACBL bans that, too, along with the non-simple ones - of course, so do 90% of the NBOs in the world. I don't think that's really a case against the ACBL.

Yes, I would like to see some (in fact, a fair great deal of) liberalization of allowed methods in the ACBL; yes *some* well-known players in the ACBL would like to limit systems more than is current. But the ACBL allows a surprising lot of things, even if not what many people here (including me) would want to play.

*: I would play EHAA here if I could find a partner willing to do so. Might still happen. It's fun, especially at matchpoints. Having said that, when I *was* playing book-EHAA, while it *was* legal in the ACBL at GCC, it was a *YELLOW* system in Australia; banned at several events. Something about opening 86432 AQ7 T4 742...

**: And let me add to the people who believe that a weak 2 is a powerful weapon, even when one discounts the unfamiliarity part. As someone who play(s|ed) it a fair bit...
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