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Last Train Does it apply

#1 User is offline   easy 

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Posted 2006-January-23, 20:33

Hi everyone long time no see :D
I just had a fairly heated discussion re the following auction. Let's hear your opinion .

1 - 1
1 - 4


Question 1. Assuming the 4 bid is a splinter is it a slam try.

Question 2. Does Last train apply to this auction ie. what does 4 mean by the opener.

Please include reasoning behind your answers.
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#2 User is offline   fred 

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Posted 2006-January-23, 20:44

This is a matter of partnership agreement - there is not exactly an official list of auctions (or rules that describe auctions) in what "Last Train" applies.

In my opinion, it is smart to use 4H here as "Last Train" because it is more likely that you will want to deliver the message "I have a hand that could produce a slam but is unwilling to commit to the 5-level" than that you have a hand in which it is necessary to deliver the message that "I have a control in hearts, but I am unwilling to bid Blackwood". Note that if it is the 2nd message is the one you want to send, the 1st message will often be appropriate as well.

I believe that nowadays most of the top partnerships in America would use 4H in this auction as "Last Train". 10 years ago that would not have been the case.

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#3 User is offline   pclayton 

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Posted 2006-January-23, 20:57

Agree with Fred.

I wouldn't take 4 as a slam try; quite the opposite as a matter of fact. I would expect a strong hand with diamond shortness to go through 4SF or a jump to 3 a la xyz.
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#4 User is offline   Kalvan14 

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Posted 2006-January-23, 23:10

A splinter, in standard usage, should show 12 to 15 HCP (which is typically enough 40 to 50% of a 30 points deck). If the hands fit without wastage, there can be slam with 29 HCP (even if this time the fit is just 4-4).

IMHO, can be stronger, and will re-open over 4. The message of the singleton diamond is too important to go through a 4thSF.

4 is certainly Last Train (and 4 would not deny a stopper). In this case is easier than ever: is the first suit named by advancer, and opener would not cue-bid a shortness in any case.
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#5 User is offline   keylime 

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  Posted 2006-January-24, 00:31

Quick question to ask the illustrious panel:

I agree with the connotation here about 4. However, is RKC then a milder slam try versus this? Or a CERTAIN slam try? What about let's say, 5 instead?
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#6 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 02:28

Why am I making a splinter slam try in partners longest suit, with a minimum slam try hand?

If I have a huge hand with lots of extras that is another story.
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#7 User is offline   Blofeld 

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  Posted 2006-January-24, 07:33

keylime, on Jan 24 2006, 01:31 AM, said:

Quick question to ask the illustrious panel:

I agree with the connotation here about 4. However, is RKC then a milder slam try versus this? Or a CERTAIN slam try? What about let's say, 5 instead?

4 suggests going past 4, while 4NT or 5 unilaterally decide to do so. Hence, the latter two bids are stronger slam tries.
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#8 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 08:09

Usually I don't splinter in partner's suit but I think it can hardly mean anything else here - a hand suitable for a picture bid (or whatever it's called) could prabably have splintered in clubs.

Anyway, 4 should be last train here.
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#9 User is offline   Al_U_Card 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 08:35

easy, on Jan 23 2006, 09:33 PM, said:

Question 1. Assuming the 4 bid is a splinter is it a slam try.

Just out of idle curiosity, was it?
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#10 User is offline   fred 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 09:14

keylime, on Jan 24 2006, 06:31 AM, said:

Quick question to ask the illustrious panel:

I agree with the connotation here about 4. However, is RKC then a milder slam try versus this? Or a CERTAIN slam try? What about let's say, 5 instead?

It is not wrong to say that "Last Train" is a milder slam try than RKCB (because RKCB commits you to slam unless 2 keycards/trump queen are missing), but I don't think this is the right way to think about this. Here is how you should think about it:

The splinter limits responder's hand and transfers captaincy to the opener. In other words, if the opener signs off in 4S, responder will always pass (well not quite always - see below).

After the splinter, Last Train puts the ball back in responder's court (ie responder becomes the captain again). Again this is not quite accurate - see below.

However, if the partner of the player who splintered bids Blackwood instead of Last Train, he is choosing to maintain captaincy. When a player bids Blackwood he is suggesting that the answer will allow him to accurately place the final contract. If the answer is not going to help him in this regard, he should not bid Blackwood.

This is really only true in a perfect world. In reality there are many hands in which Blackwood is simply the best you can do - the answer won't always tell you exactly where you belong (since, for example, the presence of a key Jack that you can't find out about or let partner know that you need might make all the difference).

But the bottom line is that the player who bids Blackwood sets the contract - he is in control of the auction. He is the captain.

Blackwood assumes control whereas conventions like Last Train and splinters relinquish control. Blackwood says "I know where we are going (based on your answer to 4NT)". Last Train and splinters say "You decide where we are going".

Now about the "see below" part I mentioned above:

There are situations in which you give up control via bids like splinters and Last Train and then assume control again with a "surprise" continuation when partner signs off.

For example, PClayton is right that a splinter in this situation limits responder's hand to a narrow range. However, it is also appropriate to splinter with another type of hand: a very strong hand that is perfect for Blackwood but for which you want your partner to know about your singleton before you bid Blackwood (so that he can better evaluate for grand slam purposes should all the keycards be accounted for, for example).

Similarly (and much more frequently in practice), there are hands for which the best course of action is to bid Last Train and then bid again. In this auction the opener might have a strong hand that consists of only Aces and Kings. Hands like that are more suited for responding to Blackwood then they are to bidding Blackwood (because if partner bids Blackwood you can show all your cards and if you bid Blackwood the answer will not tell you if you have enough tricks for slam).

So you would typically bid Last Train with such a hand in the hope that partner can take control and bid Blackwood. If it turns out that partner signs off, your hand might still be strong enough to take another call.

It surprises me sometimes how even very good players do not fully understand these concepts. For example, last week I was playing a match at an ACBL Regional against a woman who has won more than 1 World Championship. On one hand her partner opened 1 of a major, she splintered, and her partner signed off. Then she sat there for 3 minutes deciding what to do next.

This doesn't make any sense because the splinter means "you decide what to do next - I am going to pass unless you sign off" (or rarely "I know what I am going to do next but I want you to know I have a singleton"). If, after making a splinter and hearing a signoff, you don't know what to do, it means that you should not have splintered in the first place. On the hand I am referring to the person should have bid the equivilant of Jacoby 2NT (maintaining control) instead of splintering (and giving up control). She was 4441 with 16 HCP.

When I see even very strong players display a basic lack of understanding regarding fundamental principles of bidding like "captaincy", for me it only reinforces the notion that people should not try to learn fancy systems and conventions until they are very very experienced.

If you learned something from reading this post then you will benefit much more from studying concepts like these than you will from trying to learn a complex relay system (for example). You might be able to memorize such a system, but you won't be able to use it effectively. It doesn't matter how good the system is, your results will not be good when you use it.

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#11 User is offline   Chamaco 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 09:21

Thanks a lot, Fred, really, this is a great one. :P
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Posted 2006-January-24, 09:52

Wow, great post Fred thanks.
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#13 User is offline   keylime 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 11:48

Fred,

The depth of your response to what I thought was somewhat of a simplistic question, is worthy of a 2nd Masterclass book. I am in complete awe here.

As written, I agreed with the connotation about 4 . However in my current state of affairs, I don't use Last Train in this case, yet. Admittedly, this auction has caused me to reconsider my entire Last Train and Serious 3NT agreements because certain sequences that are analogous to this, now appear very muddled, almost confusing.

The concept of "captaincy" in an situation like this one should be clearly defined. I in this auction in most cases use this as a game-going splinter but ZERO slam interest (however with two partners 4 as fit-showing since we have another mechanism available). Hence my question about 5 for example - to me this would indicate a very good hand for slam but the inability to make any other constructive/needed call.

Your mention about the potential misuse about the splinter vs. Jacoby 2NT reinforced to me why I have ditched splinters and J2NT -> instead I've been using Swedish 2NT with fit showing jumps in my 2/1 p'ship locally(1H - 4C for example; 4C showing the picture jump type hand). I've found for me personally it's a lot easier on the auction and partnership to make inquiry (no pun intended Ben!) bids than demand bids.

I feel as if we have been graced here. Thank you Fred - very, very much.
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#14 User is offline   pclayton 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 11:52

Fantastic! Not much to add to that. If the old articles on 2/1 and Last Train are still on the Bridgebase site, I'd certainly append them with this post.

I'd add a footnote. If you decide to Last Train / Splinter (temporarily transferring captaincy), and make a follow-up call, I would make sure I have a 100% action. If pard hitches and signs off, I can see an ethical problem with a continuation.

If you don't have a 100% clear course of action, better to go through the lower level forcing bid.
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#15 User is offline   ArcLight 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 12:03

What is the upper limit of a splinter bid?

If one has a very strong hand (>16 HCP) with a singleton and pard opens one of a major, what is the correct bid?

Do you not splinter because you are too strong?
If not, then what do you bid? J2NT? 2/1 game force?
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#16 User is offline   fred 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 12:43

pclayton, on Jan 24 2006, 05:52 PM, said:

Fantastic! Not much to add to that. If the old articles on 2/1 and Last Train are still on the Bridgebase site, I'd certainly append them with this post.

I'd add a footnote. If you decide to Last Train / Splinter (temporarily transferring captaincy), and make a follow-up call, I would make sure I have a 100% action. If pard hitches and signs off, I can see an ethical problem with a continuation.

If you don't have a 100% clear course of action, better to go through the lower level forcing bid.

What I really have to do is rewrite those articles. Theory in this area has advanced a lot since the time I wrote those articles (as have my own opinions about things like 5-level cuebids and cuebidding 2nd round controls).

I don't really have time for writing about bridge anymore, but if that changes at some point I will probably write a new series of articles about these topics.

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#17 User is offline   Kalvan14 

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Posted 2006-January-24, 18:01

ArcLight, on Jan 24 2006, 01:03 PM, said:

What is the upper limit of a splinter bid?

If one has a very strong hand (>16 HCP) with a singleton and pard opens one of a major, what is the correct bid?

Do you not splinter because you are too strong?
If not, then what do you bid?  J2NT?  2/1 game force?

The upper limit for a splinter should be 15 HCP, as per standard usage.

Stronger hands can indeed be dealt with via J2NT or 2/1. I would never splinter, even within the agreed range, with a hand including a significant suit (KQxxx, but also AKJx).

I've been playing splinters for a lot of time. Now I'm reversing my approach, and going more and more for fit-showing bids.
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#18 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2006-January-25, 07:27

Agree completely with Fred. I would add one note. A good rule of thumb for me has been to view a call which "might be" Last Train as actually LTTC if captaincy appears to be with the person making that call.

For instance, if one bid one-under after previously bidding Ser3NT, then it is LTTC. If, however, the other partner (the one who did not show serious interest) bids one-under, this is a standard cue. You tell if asked to tell.

If a call is ambiguous as to captaincy, then LTTC hits usually also, in a sense. By "ambiguous," I mean an auction where, as Fred mentioned, captaincy can transfer back and forth. Even RKCB bounces, as a 5NT ask, by announcing solidit at the top, invites partner back into the decision. Splinters accomplish this result, too, as mentioned by Fred. Hence, 4H should be LTTC, and strategic often.
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#19 User is offline   Rebound 

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Posted 2006-January-25, 11:05

fred, on Jan 24 2006, 02:43 PM, said:

pclayton, on Jan 24 2006, 05:52 PM, said:

Fantastic! Not much to add to that. If the old articles on 2/1 and Last Train are still on the Bridgebase site, I'd certainly append them with this post.

I'd add a footnote. If you decide to Last Train / Splinter (temporarily transferring captaincy), and make a follow-up call, I would make sure I have a 100% action. If pard hitches and signs off, I can see an ethical problem with a continuation.

If you don't have a 100% clear course of action, better to go through the lower level forcing bid.

What I really have to do is rewrite those articles. Theory in this area has advanced a lot since the time I wrote those articles (as have my own opinions about things like 5-level cuebids and cuebidding 2nd round controls).

I don't really have time for writing about bridge anymore, but if that changes at some point I will probably write a new series of articles about these topics.

Fred Gitelman
Bridge Base Inc.
www.bridgebase.com

That would be most appreciated, of course. Here's hopin' :-)
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#20 User is offline   easy 

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Posted 2006-January-27, 08:46

(ben if you think this should become a new thread be my guest and start one)


Thx for the input all. FYI i argued for last train applying and that the splinter was a slam try.
A review of the auction

1 - 1
1 - 4

many of the posts to this thread indicated that the splinter bid limited the responders hand(but did not address whether or not the splinter was a slam try)


It is also my belief that the splinter is a limited bid and turns the captancy back over to the opener but ....It would seem to me that after the opener has limited his hand a splinter is a waste of time and too much info to opponents IF it is not intended to let the opener know that a fitting maximum could make a slam opposite the responder's hand.

Would someone contending that the splinter is not a slam try please help me out with the logic.
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