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Cue Bids Convince me that I need them

#1 User is offline   Michael000 

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Posted 2014-December-29, 11:37

“How can you possibly hope to bid slams if you don’t play cue bids and splinters” . . . was said to me in another thread. OK, let’s look at how helpful they are. . .

Rules for Cue-Bidding Controls
1). The first cue-bid cannot take place until the trump suit has been agreed as in the sequence 1-Pass -3

Example
1 Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
5Pass 5 Pass
6Pass Pass Pass

1 An opening hand with at least four hearts and 12 – 19HCP
3 A response promising at least 4 heart support and 10 – 15HCP.
3 A cue-bid showing first-round control in spades and guaranteeing either the Ace or King of hearts.

First problem . . .that opening shows me less than 22HCP and the response shows me less than 16HCP so neither side has any idea that they have the necessary numbers for a slam and unless opener has a very unusual (and very rare) hand why would he think a slam is on?

Second problem . . .first-round control in spades and guaranteeing either the Ace or King of hearts. . . . what if I don't have the A or K

In my experience (and I accept that I am no expert) I would argue that the route to a slam is rarely if never 1 3 and more often through a combination of the identification of sufficient points and a suit or not. But I am posting this as I am willing to be convinced that I am wrong.
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#2 User is offline   manudude03 

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Posted 2014-December-29, 11:47

People play 3H as a much smaller range, usually 10-12, sometimes 10-11. It's not all about the HCP though. Also, people don't promise a top heart when they start cuebidding. Something like AKx QJTxxx void AQJx is an obvious 3S bid (if you're not doing other fancy stuff like 5D as exclusion key card blackwood).

BTW your boxes for the alerts are indistinguishable.
Wayne Somerville
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#3 User is offline   monikrazy 

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Posted 2014-December-29, 13:03

maybe post some example hands

slams are determined by good fit more than points.. that is why cue bids are so important

many (most?) players cue bid with first or second-round control in a suit, so if you are cue-bidding 1st round controls only that may reduce the utility of your cue bids considerability



also cue bids are even more valuable in the context of finding good grand slams without 35+ points

for example, playing my preferred methods we will sometimes bid grand slam based on a specific (non-trump) queen ask
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#4 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2014-December-29, 14:05

Welcome to the forums! it is refreshing to see a new poster, clearly interested in learning.

However, and please don't take this as a putdown, it seems to me that you maybe need to take a look at increasing your understanding of how good players bid these days, at least how most forum users bid.

We have users of a wide range of methods here, from acol to sayc to 2/1 gf, to esoteric relay methods.

My inferences from your posts is that you use a rather old-fashioned version of acol, such very few, if any, regular forum posters would play anything remotely the same.

As one example, your description of the jump raise was 4 hearts and 10-15 hcp.

10 would sound like an invitational raise, and 15 clearly is an extra-values game force, so I have doubts as to how playable this method is, but maybe your low end hands have distributional values that warrant a game force, so I will assume that you play a jump raise as forcing.

I think you will find that virtually no-one who posts here plays forcing raises. The 'traditionalists' play limit raises, but most advanced to expert bidders play more esoteric methods.

Your definition of an opening bid of 1 as 12-19 hcp would also find little support here. For example, I am one of the more conservative bidders on the forum yet to me x AQJxxx Kxxx xx is a clear 1 opening bid, as is Ax AKxxx AKQx xx.

Now, at the high end of the range, maybe you play some form of acol 2-bid wherein 2 shows a strong hand, in which case ignore my 20 count example.

I am going to make a suggestion which, I hope, will help you a great deal if you are serious about wanting to improve your game. Find a good book on modern acol bidding. I am sure there are UK posters here who would gladly point you in the right direction....I am not an acolite :P

Otherwise, I suspect that many of your posts will either not attract a lot of answers or will get responses that don't help you, since you seem to be operating from a different understanding than most of us have here, in terms of basic bidding concepts.

On a more general note, aimed more at your 'conventions' post:

The more serious the level of competition, the more important it becomes to be able to bid as wide a range of hand-types as possible with great accuracy.

There are a lot of weak players whose idea of good bridge is to play complex gadgets without understanding how those gadgets fit or don't fit together. However, if you spend any time on BBO watching vugraph of major events, you will see that all of the winning players play complex methods.

40+ years ago, the leading Bridge Magazine (The Bridge World) ran stories about matches between 'scientists' and 'natural' bidders, in an effort to prove the ideas held by the then-editor that complex bidding methods weren't better than simple, natural methods.

The 'science' that was used was, by today's standards, laughable, and the quality of the players and form of scoring was such that I don't think it was safe to draw any conclusions. However, the proof is in the pudding. Take a look at the methods played by the best pairs in the world: they are staggering in their complexity. Even the methods that look ostensibly fairly natural come with many late-round agreements, that aren't seen on convention cards but are recorded in the system notes.

Of course few players have the time to learn such complexities, which is why the world champions are always professional players or their client. But even at the local Congress level (in the UK) or the Regional (in NA), the winners of most events play fairly complex methods and lots of conventions, at least compared to what you currently play.

You shouldn't look to these forums to pick up conventions, since choosing which conventions to play requires more consideration of the gains and costs than you are likely to find here, plus even here the quality of the advice you will get is inconsistent. We aren't as afflicted with false claims to expert status as BBO itself is, but we do have our share, and it won't be easy for a newbie to the forum to figure out who is who. That's why I suggest finding a book...I am sure you can buy it online once you get an idea as to which one is right for you.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#5 User is offline   Fluffy 

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Posted 2014-December-29, 15:59

your rules are too complicated, here are mines:

A cuebid/control serves 2 purposes:

announcing that you are interested in playing more than game
announcing that you do not lose A+K on the suit you cuebid.

The idea is that if both players are interested in slam, and one of them finds that no A+K is missing in any suit, he can use RCKW that will tell if no A+A is off, and if that is also true then you know that you can play slam with the guarantee that you won't lose the first 2 tricks.

About cuebids, don't forget the most important rule: it is much more important info the cuebids that you skip than the ones you make. When you cuebid 4 but skip 4 on the proccess you are announcing that you could lose A+K, so if partner doesn't hold any of those cards (or short) should quickly retreat to game.


Normally you need a stablished fit to start cuebidding, however there are some exceptions to this, since you can also use the cuebid/control bid as a way to stablish trumps. For example:


1-1
2NT-3
4

Here 4 announces that he is interested in playing in hearts (otherwise 3NT would be bid) and that he has a club control.

Another typical example comes when you jump cuebid, this is normally called splinter control, this kind of control is also known to be from shortness, not Ace or King, but sure shortness.


1-1
4

Here opener is announcing that he holds 4 spades, and at most 1 club, this will most often be based on 5+ diamonds (onyl 4441 exception). This helps partner evaluate his hand, since now it is known that KQJ are worthless, AKQ and AKQ are golden, and AKQ might be useful but perhaps not neccesary.
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#6 User is offline   Michael000 

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Posted 2014-December-29, 16:29

View Postmikeh, on 2014-December-29, 14:05, said:

you maybe need to take a look at increasing your understanding of how good players bid these days, at least how most forum users bid.


I play at Club level and I play for my Club at Regional level and I have played at that level once a week for 15 years. I stress once a week because I know that many of my Club members play 5 days a week; I do not but I do know good players and I do know how they bid and I know I am a ‘good player.’

View Postmikeh, on 2014-December-29, 14:05, said:

We have users of a wide range of methods here, from acol to sayc to 2/1 gf, to esoteric relay methods.
My inferences from your posts is that you use a rather old-fashioned version of acol, such very few, if any, regular forum posters would play anything remotely the same.
As one example, your description of the jump raise was 4 hearts and 10-15 hcp.


I know that there is a range of systems and I know that they are largely geographical i.e. if you are American you play SAYC and if you are Polish you play Polish Club etc. Not wanting to make a career out of Bridge I have not studied every System and every convention. I play Acol and I know that the Acol I play modern Acol. I, must infer from your post that you don’t know Acol !

Your reference to a jump raise . . 4H 10-15HCP; I don’t understand. If you mean a jump shift showing 15+HCP – that’s modern Acol.

View Postmikeh, on 2014-December-29, 14:05, said:

Your definition of an opening bid of 1H as 12-19 hcp would also find little support here.


It may find little support here but that is modern Acol.

View Postmikeh, on 2014-December-29, 14:05, said:

I am going to make a suggestion which, I hope, will help you a great deal if you are serious about wanting to improve your game. Find a good book on modern acol bidding. I am sure there are UK posters here who would gladly point you in the right direction....I am not an acolyte.


I have more than a dozen Bridge books and regularly look out for new publications. I would be pleased (and surprised) if you could make a recommendation of a publication that promotes a form of Acol bidding that is more ‘modern’ than that which I use.

View Postmikeh, on 2014-December-29, 14:05, said:

On a more general note, aimed more at your 'conventions' post:
The more serious the level of competition, the more important it becomes to be able to bid as wide a range of hand-types as possible with great accuracy.
There are a lot of weak players whose idea of good bridge is to play complex gadgets without understanding how those gadgets fit or don't fit together.


Indeed and that is why a started that thread. There are hundreds of conventions and I know, from experience, that some players collect them and display then like boy scout badges.

View Postmikeh, on 2014-December-29, 14:05, said:

You shouldn't look to these forums to pick up conventions


Either I have not made myself clear or you have not read my posts. I am NOT looking to pick up conventions. The crux of my posts is that most are not necessary and I don’t need them but being modest, I accept that there are others more ‘expert’ than I and I ask to be convinced that convention ‘x’ is of real value.

View Postmikeh, on 2014-December-29, 14:05, said:

Welcome to the forums! it is refreshing to see a new poster, clearly interested in learning.


Thank you, yes I am interested in learning, I know that I can improve, in fact I know all of us can learn and improve and the person who thinks he/she knows it all is a fool.
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#7 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2014-December-29, 17:01

View Postmikeh, on 2014-December-29, 14:05, said:

Now, at the high end of the range, maybe you play some form of acol 2-bid wherein 2 shows a strong hand, in which case ignore my 20 count example.


In another thread the OP noted that he plays Benji.
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#8 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2014-December-29, 19:13

View PostMichael000, on 2014-December-29, 11:37, said:

First problem . . .that opening shows me less than 22HCP and the response shows me less than 16HCP so neither side has any idea that they have the necessary numbers for a slam and unless opener has a very unusual (and very rare) hand why would he think a slam is on?

Second problem . . .first-round control in spades and guaranteeing either the Ace or King of hearts. . . . what if I don't have the A or K

In my experience (and I accept that I am no expert) I would argue that the route to a slam is rarely if never 1 3 and more often through a combination of the identification of sufficient points and a suit or not. But I am posting this as I am willing to be convinced that I am wrong.


- As noted by others your meaning for 1h-3h as "10-15 HCP" is rather bizarre. Most play this as invitational these days, a much narrower HCP range of ~10-12, maybe slightly shaded with favorable distributional attributes. Others play it as much weaker, a preemptive raise. Really old players might play it as forcing, but then it would usually be unlimited on the upper end, not limited to 15 HCP. Though it could conceivably be limited to 15 HCP if you had another raise (e.g. 2nt) available with stronger raises. Most though don't use 3H for this as it's perceived as more valuable for inv/preempts, they use something higher, like variations on "Swiss" raises, though these aren't very popular.

- Slam after 1h-3h if played as only invitational is indeed quite rare. Most of the time cue bidding comes up it's in other auction beginnings where either or both players could be considerably stronger. Just because cue bidding is rarely useful on this auction doesn't mean that you shouldn't be using it on other auctions.

- The point of splinters and cue bidding is to find slams that make based on well fitting cards and distribution, with the partnership only holding say 25-30 HCP between them. With long running suits and/or the right stiffs/voids, you don't need the mass of HCP you need with two balanced hands facing each other to take 12 tricks. Cue bidding also helps you *avoid* bad slams when your side has lots of HCP and would bid it without cue bidding tools available, because you can diagnose situations where a suit is something like xx vs. Qx or the like despite having an easy 13 tricks if the opps didn't lead the critical suit.

- There are many different cue bidding styles. Not all of them guarantee first round control (ace); "Italian" style cue bidding with cue bidding Ks and singletons is also quite common. This is subject to partnership agreement. Nor does cue bidding have to guarantee the ace or king of trumps, that's more of a suggestion to avoid looking for marginal slams with poor trump holdings. And depends a lot on the previous auction.
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#9 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2014-December-29, 19:29


A.
Michael000 makes a good point. Slam is unlikely after a limit raise showing
4+card support and roughly 10-12 HCP. But shapely hands can make slams on fewer points. Not all hands are as flat as these examples. Here part-score is enough.

B.
Game is reasonable.

C.
West judges that his hand satisfies John McLaren's "Ace extra test"
So he cue-bids.
But neither partner admits to a control,
So game is enough.

D.
Again, West is a bit pushy.
But, luckily, the hands fit well without duplication.
Cue-bids establish that all suits are controlled.
Hence slam is reasonable.

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#10 User is offline   Michael000 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 02:53

View PostStephen Tu, on 2014-December-29, 19:13, said:

As noted by others your meaning for 1h-3h as "10-15 HCP" is rather bizarre. Most play this as invitational these days, a much narrower HCP range of ~10-12, maybe slightly shaded with favorable distributional attributes. Others play it as much weaker, a preemptive raise. Really old players might play it as forcing, but then it would usually be unlimited on the upper end, not limited to 15 HCP. Though it could conceivably be limited to 15 HCP if you had another raise (e.g. 2nt) available with stronger raises. Most though don't use 3H for this as it's perceived as more valuable for inv/preempts, they use something higher, like variations on "Swiss" raises, though these aren't very popular.


I play modern Acol. I didn’t invent it, I am not selling it and I am not promoting it. I understand and accept that the reason I play Acol is an accident of birth and not because it is the best system (although it may be).

In modern Acol an opening of 1H (ordinarily) shows <20HCP else partner would have opened 2NT. A response of 3H is invitational, it is certainly not forcing, there is a risk of partner passing, it cuts out a lot of bidding space, yes it identifies a fit but restricts giving other more valuable information. If I had a hand which looked like game or slam I would not want to risk partner passing and so would bid another suit and if I had 16+HCP I would jump shift to show the points; that is modern Acol. If partner opened with 18+HCP and I responded in a new suit (a forcing bid) opener can jump shift showing the point count and off we go; that’s modern Acol.

When you say. . . . Most play this as invitational these days, a much narrower HCP range . . . what system are the playing; it may be a great system and it may be a better system but it certainly is not modern Acol as advocated by the EBU.
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#11 User is offline   Michael000 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 03:47

Just to be clear . . . I am not looking to add new conventions to my card, in fact I absolutely don't want to use up any brain space with a new convention but I also don't want to be closed to the possibility that I might improve our game with one. So far this thread has done nothing to convince me that cue bids will do that but I remain open to be convinced.
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#12 User is offline   Cthulhu D 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 06:26

I don't think you need to play cue bids if you don't want to. How often do they actually come up, how many matchpoints is it worth when it does, and what % of those hands can be bid on power or with blackwood? Less than once a session, half a board, maybe 50% are my best guess answers. This isn't like a neg double when you have no other plausible way to bid some (all?) of the hands. The last slam auction I perpetrated went (hostile preempts) - 3H - (more preempting) - 6H making.

However, let's identify what I think the criteria for a slam is:

A) Do we have enough power (HCPs) or a source of tricks to get the 12 tricks
B) Do we have two fast losers in a suit? (e.g. are we off a cashing AK)
C) Do we have enough key cards aka do they have two aces?

When evaluating cue bids we want to know if they answer a question about going slamming for us, so it's important to know what questions we want answered! I would note that you seem to be labouring under the misconception in your opening post that cue bids help answer question A. They absolutely do not - that would be a separate agreement. Cue bids are about question B. With that, analysis!


1) What's the cost?

Well, what's 1S-3S-4C naturally? Or 1S-2H-3H-4C. It has to be some sort of slam try because we've now committed to game, showing some sort of 2nd suit. That doesn't seem to me to be a very frequent bid, particular as even if partner does have support, he cannot afford to raise because 4S or H might be the last making spot! I certainly never have this sort of hand, and even if I did, what is partner supposed to do with this information?

2) What's the memory load?

This is a 2nd or 3rd round gadget and relatively infrequent, so it has a couple of risk factors. The advantage is as in my sample auctions 4C there HAS to be forcing (why would I suddenly want to play 4C and not 4H or 4S given the known 8/9 card fit?) so a forget is unlikely to be a disaster. Overall I'd rate the memory burden as low.

3) What do we gain?

Well, let's look at our slam criteria:

A) Do we have enough power (HCPs) or a source of tricks to get the 12 tricks we want - as you note in your original post, you need to have enough comfort in the rest of your methods to work this out. Cue bids don't help or damage this, though see the note about LTTC
B) Do we have two fast losers in a suit? - Cue bids are great for this! (though imperfect, you can bid a slam that is off singleton to ace, coming back for a ruff).
C) Do we have enough key cards? - this is solved by blackwood, which you already play.

Cue bids seem to solve 2, and reduce our risk of bidding a slam that is off two tricks in a suit and it's very hard to be sure of this without cue bidding or a similar method. Given the low utility of the bid as natural, and the ability of Cue Bids to answer one of the 'can we bid slam' questions, I think it's definitely more valuable than the natural meaning.

However, this is by no means critical. If you don't have that information and bid slam anyway, you won't be off two tricks in a suit some % of the time. It just means you stay out of the occasional bad slam where you have 12 tricks but they can cash AK. Sometimes if the AK is split even when they are cashing oppo won't do it.

Overall it's probably worth playing them, but the gain is small. If you are willing to accept the risk of occassionally bidding a slam off a cashing AK, go for it.


For further interest, there are two related methods that go to your point that "A) - do we have the firepower to make 12?" rather than B. I have pout them in spoilers as they are added complexity, that doesn't strictly related to cue bids but is interesting to see their place.

Spoiler

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#13 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 07:17

A 1M 3M showing 10-15 points is NOT modern Acol. I have no idea from where you got this idea. Furthermore this range is close to unplayable.

I would like to ask you how you would bid this slam and stay out of the second one without playing cue bids.

Akjxx
Kxx
XX
Akx

Opposite
Qxxx
Xx
Akqjx
Qx

The second
Akjxx
Qjx
Xx
Akx
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#14 User is offline   Michael000 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 09:42

View Postthe hog, on 2014-December-30, 07:17, said:

A 1M 3M showing 10-15 points is NOT modern Acol.


OK, so how many points does your Acol partner hold responding 3M to your opening of Acol 1M?

If the hand you shows is C D H S, I would open 1C and skip jump after partners response showing 18+HCP, that would be the invitation to go looking.
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#15 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 09:46

View PostMichael000, on 2014-December-30, 02:53, said:

In modern Acol an opening of 1H (ordinarily) shows <20HCP else partner would have opened 2NT. A response of 3H is invitational, it is certainly not forcing, there is a risk of partner passing, it cuts out a lot of bidding space, yes it identifies a fit but restricts giving other more valuable information.

When you say. . . . Most play this as invitational these days, a much narrower HCP range . . . what system are the playing; it may be a great system and it may be a better system but it certainly is not modern Acol as advocated by the EBU.


You described 1h-3h as showing "10-15 HCP and heart support". Since 3H is invitational, not forcing, your stated range for the bid doesn't make any sense. Why would responder with 13-15 HCP opposite an opening hand wish to risk playing only 3H holding game values? This is why 3H normally shows something like 10 to a bad 12. One doesn't want to play in 3H if opener is going to pass with 12-13 if you have 15 HCP and support! People choose different raises with GF values, they don't put GF hands into invitational responses that can be passed!

You can play bridge without cue bids, but your slam bidding will involve more guessing, and be less accurate than those of advanced/expert bidders, and you will be less able to reach low HCP but good slams. However, slam hands are relatively rare, and at the typical club level everyone else's slam bidding is pretty terrible also, so it's not surprising that you don't perceive a need for cue bidding. But face better opposition and maybe you will change your mind after you get more experience.
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#16 User is offline   Michael000 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 12:17

View PostStephen Tu, on 2014-December-30, 09:46, said:

You described 1h-3h as showing "10-15 HCP and heart support". Since 3H is invitational, not forcing, your stated range for the bid doesn't make any sense. Why would responder with 13-15 HCP opposite an opening hand wish to risk playing only 3H holding game values?


Holding 15HCP and 4H opposite an opening of IH what would you bid – was NOT the question. If that was the question, with a minimum of 25HCP between us I would AVOID bidding 3H for risk or partner passing.

The question (if it ever was a question) is . . . your partner responds (Acol) 3H over your opening of (Acol) 1H; what is the minimum and maximum points he promises. The (Acol) answer is . . . a minimum of 10HCP and a maximum of 15HCP. Why . . . . because if he held less than 10HCP he would have bid 2H and if he held more than 15HCP he would have bid a jump shift or some other bid that has been agreed that shows slam potential.
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#17 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 12:44

View PostMichael000, on 2014-December-30, 12:17, said:

Holding 15HCP and 4H opposite an opening of IH what would you bid – was NOT the question. If that was the question, with a minimum of 25HCP between us I would AVOID bidding 3H for risk or partner passing.

The question (if it ever was a question) is . . . your partner responds (Acol) 3H over your opening of (Acol) 1H; what is the minimum and maximum points he promises. The (Acol) answer is . . . a minimum of 10HCP and a maximum of 15HCP. Why . . . . because if he held less than 10HCP he would have bid 2H and if he held more than 15HCP he would have bid a jump shift or some other bid that has been agreed that shows slam potential.

I am beginning to suspect a troll at work.

Otoh, he says that he would never respond 3 to his partner's opening of 1 with 15 hcp, and then otoh he says that in his method a 3 response to a 1 opening includes up to 15 hcp.

This troll notion is also, less clearly, suggested from his other posts in which he seems to conclude that conventions are a waste of time. Either he really is a very bad player (and yet he claims to be good....of course most bad players think they are good, which is one reason they often stay bad) or he is having some 'fun' with us.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#18 User is offline   mikestar13 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 13:03

View Postthe hog, on 2014-December-30, 07:17, said:

A 1M 3M showing 10-15 points is NOT modern Acol. I have no idea from where you got this idea. Furthermore this range is close to unplayable.

I would like to ask you how you would bid this slam and stay out of the second one without playing cue bids.

Akjxx
Kxx
XX
Akx

Opposite
Qxxx
Xx
Akqjx
Qx

The second
Akjxx
Qjx
Xx
Akx


I must disagree with this. To play this is not merely "close too unplayable", it's f***ing insane. The EBU (as an aside, a far more rational bridge organization than ACBL) doesn't advocate this. Even I (an American who has never played Acol, but does know some bridge history) knows enough to know that with four card support and 13 to 15 or so the auction goes 1-4, expressing the concept "game values in support of hearts but no slam interest". This is the natural meaning of the sequence. It appears in Culbertsons Blue Book from 1930 before Acol was. It appears in the writings of Terrence Reese, who was one of the inventors of Acol. It's what the sequence meant the day Harold Vanderbilt invented modern Contract Bridge, it's what it meant in Plafond. OP needs to forget about conventions and brush up on basic bidding first--no matter what he erroneously believes the EBU says. It is impossible to play well if you make a non-game bid that can be passed (3 response to 1) when you have game values.
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#19 User is offline   mikestar13 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 13:07

Apologies to others if have have fed a troll.
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#20 User is offline   diana_eva 

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Posted 2014-December-30, 13:23

I don't think Michael is a troll. I think he made a mistake with the 10-15 raise (maybe he misremembered or something). It's probably 10-12, not 10-15. From what he posted further it seems he wouldn't actually make a passable bid with a GF hand.

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