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Last Train to Clarksville

#1 User is offline   32519 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 00:34

This is an extract from a reply to a bidding query on a different website:

In my opinion "Last Train" as part of your cue-bidding mechanism is the most valuable and vital cue-bidding tool that has been invented in the last 30 years. Last train operates in major suit slam auctions and when spades are agreed the bid of 4 (one below the major) is the Last Train bid and when hearts are agreed 4 (again one below the major) is the Last Train bid.

I have yet to witness LTTC in action, either against me (online bridge or offline bridge), or being used during a Vugraph Live Broadcast (including the recent Bermuda Bowl).

Possible reasons for its invisibility –
1.) Opportunities for using it are rare. Therefore few players make the effort to learn it properly.
2.) LTTC is a complex convention. Therefore few players make the effort to learn it properly.
3.) Partnership has other slam exploring agreements. LTTC is not one of them.

Any thoughts on LTTC?
How often have you encountered it?
Does your regular partnership use it?
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#2 User is offline   the hog 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 00:40

"Any thoughts on LTTC?
How often have you encountered it?
A few times. Not often and only when used by good opponents.

Does your regular partnership use it?
Yes.
"The King of Hearts a broadsword bears, the Queen of Hearts a rose." W. H. Auden.
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#3 User is offline   Phil 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 00:43

It comes up a fair amount if you watch for it. As do the inferences from not using it.

Low on my list for new players to learn.
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#4 User is offline   Siegmund 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 01:05

I have seen it on vugraphs / forum-posted hands. I have never seen a real-life pair use it, and never had a partner ask me to play it.

How useful it is depends in large part on what your cuebidding style is. My last regular p and I used Brashler-style sweep cues, and had essentially no need for it. The typical 'problem auctions' like 1S-3S-4D with diamonds but lacking clubs did not happen, because our auction started 1S-3S-3NT("I don't have clubs, do you?")

If you are committed to Italian style cues and already have a meaning for 3NT you aren't willing to give up, then yes, adding LTTC is an improvement.
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#5 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 06:47

A. Playing standard cues, LTTC is a major improvement.
B. I do not think LTTC is common amongst non-experts. If you are not playing in those circles then you may well never see it "live".
C. My preference is to use denial cue bids which alleviates the need for LTTC. My experience is that this method is far simpler to use but still effective.

With reference to your quote, I do not know when RKCB, Roman cue bids, Serious/Frivolous or 5NT pick a slam were invented but each of these is more important than LTTC imo. Also, Justin has said on these forums that using 4NT as LTTC with clubs agreed has been a huge winner for him.
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#6 User is offline   dake50 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 08:45

LTTC at least makes more sense than
"surprise! I'm key-carding this auction"
as THE slam-try.
Why aren't slammy stuff shown way lower?
Some Jump Shift reserved to invite slam,
demand trump quality, controls, eg?
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#7 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 09:04

View Post32519, on 2012-January-20, 00:34, said:

Any thoughts on LTTC?
How often have you encountered it?
Does your regular partnership use it?


The more important application of this idea, in my opinion, is at the 3-level. When opponents ask about this bid, I sometimes explain is as "attempt to win the post-mortem."
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#8 User is offline   benlessard 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 09:28

LTTC should only applies if you play Italian style cuebids (cheapest first or 2nd round control) (Im only 90% sure about this)

Understanding why you should always bid the first cuebid available and that cuebidding is a way to deny rather than to show is the cornerstone to standard slam bidding and when you understand that LTTC become simple.

1S--3S (limit)
4D --??

Here 4D show a D control but more importantly it denies a club control (playing Italian cuebid you MUST NOT not bid 4D with a club control). Denying the club control is just way more significant than whatever holding you could have in D or H. Partner responses will mostly be based on what hes got in clubs and not what hes got in D/H/S.

---4S signoff(i dont have anything in clubs, it doesnt matter what ive got in D/H/S since we are losing 2 quick tricks in clubs

---4H could have 2 meanings. A) i have something in clubs but no extras (I may or may not have a H control) or B) I have a club control but im lacking a H control (I may may or may not have extras) .

The corollary is
---4Nt A) I have something in clubs and slam interest ask for Aces or keycards ( I may or may not have a H control) --B) I have a C+H control and im asking for Aces/keycards (I may or may not have extras).

IMO non serious 3Nt is waaayyy more useful than last train.
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#9 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 11:09

View PostVampyr, on 2012-January-20, 09:04, said:

The more important application of this idea, in my opinion, is at the 3-level. When opponents ask about this bid, I sometimes explain is as "attempt to win the post-mortem."
Ah, blame transfers. My favourite class of convention.

Seriously, as Vampyr is well aware, they are very useful - provided when you explain it as a blame transfer, you're joking.
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#10 User is offline   whereagles 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 11:10

Can anyone tell me how LTTC is better than, say, serious/frivolous in the 1st step available?
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#11 User is offline   Free 

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Posted 2012-January-20, 15:25

View Postwhereagles, on 2012-January-20, 11:10, said:

Can anyone tell me how LTTC is better than, say, serious/frivolous in the 1st step available?

No. They are not mutually exclusive, you should play both.

It comes up quite often and gives you the opportunity to show various strengths. The most common situation is when partner skips 1 cuebid which you hold, while you don't hold the other one. For example with as trumps set at 3-level your partner bids 4 cue. When you hold a control but no control, you're out of options without LTTC. It could be that you land on your fit without playing this, but like others said, sometimes it's invisible.
As an extra for whereagles, say you set with 3, the auction can also go ...-3-3NT!-4 which is basically the same. Here, you still want to have LTTC at your disposal when you hold a control but no control.

Imo it's a very good tool, it's logical, but not for a beginner. It's a must have (or some variation if that exists) in any self respecting partnership.
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#12 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2012-January-23, 21:04

I recall watching a board in the Spingold in Hawaii, where I think Meckwell, but I cannot be sure, played reverse last train. Say it goes 1S-(3D)-3S-(4D). Now 4H would be a puppet to 4S and either terminal or a strong slam try, and 4S would be last train. Seemed interesting.
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#13 User is offline   gnasher 

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Posted 2012-January-24, 03:09

View PostFree, on 2012-January-20, 15:25, said:

It's a must have (or some variation if that exists) in any self respecting partnership.

All my partnerships lack self-respect.
... that would still not be conclusive proof, before someone wants to explain that to me as well as if I was a 5 year-old. - gwnn
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#14 User is offline   whereagles 

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Posted 2012-January-24, 09:06

View Postlamford, on 2012-January-23, 21:04, said:

I recall watching a board in the Spingold in Hawaii, where I think Meckwell, but I cannot be sure, played reverse last train. Say it goes 1S-(3D)-3S-(4D). Now 4H would be a puppet to 4S and either terminal or a strong slam try, and 4S would be last train. Seemed interesting.


I'm actually thinking of something else: after a forcing raise (e.g. 1M-2x-2M-3M)

1st step = not interested in slam (frivolous). Pard bids next free step RKCB.
2nd step+= interested in slam, RKCB responses.
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#15 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-January-24, 09:19

View Postwhereagles, on 2012-January-24, 09:06, said:

I'm actually thinking of something else: after a forcing raise (e.g. 1M-2x-2M-3M)

1st step = not interested in slam (frivolous). Pard bids next free step RKCB.
2nd step+= interested in slam, RKCB responses.


You are about 1 step away from the G-word here...! I think if you have the space to use the bids between 3X and 4X for cue bids in order to check whether the 5 level will be safe it is wise to do so. The method you propose works well at the 4 level though, typically in a minor.
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#16 User is offline   bluecalm 

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Posted 2012-January-24, 09:58

1st step being "frivolous and next being cuebids (with 3NT being S cuebid after frivolous 3S with hearts as trumps) works great imo.
As to LTTC it seems it should be useful in some cases but I just don't see it coming up often enough to ever bother about it.
Cuebids should be exchanged only if slam interest is established. Unfortunately many systems fail in this respect but you lose 0.25 or w/e that is of the trick on average every time you tell them where all your honors are. I don't know how Meckwell plays but it seems they somehow never are at 5 level while avoiding cuebids on game hands too. I think this style is what we should be striving for.
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#17 User is offline   whereagles 

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Posted 2012-January-24, 12:33

View PostZelandakh, on 2012-January-24, 09:19, said:

You are about 1 step away from the G-word here...!


Asking about aces in general is not evil :) It is only so in the G-word context!

View PostZelandakh, on 2012-January-24, 09:19, said:

I think if you have the space to use the bids between 3X and 4X for cue bids in order to check whether the 5 level will be safe it is wise to do so. The method you propose works well at the 4 level though, typically in a minor.


The idea is to swap RKCB and controls. If after the RKCB response pard has doubts about controls, he can use denial cues in HEL style. Example:

1 2
2 3
4 4/4/4NT

4 = slam interest, 1-4 keys
4/4/4NT = worried about the HEL suit, i.e. spades/diamonds/clubs (4 would be lack of keys)

The advantage is that you can start grand slam tries at the 5 level. This scheme is still very crude still. There are some issues to sort, but you get the point.
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#18 User is offline   suokko 

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Posted 2013-April-10, 15:17

View Postwhereagles, on 2012-January-24, 12:33, said:

Asking about aces in general is not evil :) It is only so in the G-word context!


Ace asking is evil convention.

It is very hard to try to teach youngesters not to use it after they have learned it from start as only slam exploration method.

But anyway. LTTC is part of "standard" cue biding that I try to teach :)
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#19 User is offline   han 

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Posted 2013-April-11, 04:51

AQxxx
Qxx
xxx
Ax

1S - 4D
??
Please note: I am interested in boring, bog standard, 2/1.

- hrothgar
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