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2 level simple overcall requirement I feel like I'm alien, seeking opinion

#1 User is offline   frank0 

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Posted 2012-April-04, 18:56

This is a little bit complain by me ;).

One thing I feel weird about, from the first day I start playing bridge to now, is about people's opinion about 2 level overcall. I feel like people around me come from a different world where those bridge authors come from.

At least, based on my understanding of what those authors say, a 2 level overcall should in general, though not promise, shows a decent 6-card suit, close to opening strength at least(or maybe more than opening strength if you open light). 5-card crappy suit with balanced shape(5332/5422) with 14HCP or less, is an automatic pass. I'll try to give some example from various books,

Porten's "Introduction to Defensive Bidding"
RHO open 1, you have K32 82 AQ763 K76, he says you should pass at any vulnerability.
Lawrence's "The Complete Book on Overcall"
RHO open 1, you're white at IMP, you have 3 K42 KQ987 K542, he says you should pass.
RHO open 1, you're red at IMP, you have K2 J63 KQ8654 AJ, he says you should pass!(2 in MP)
Gitelman's software "Learn to Play Bridge"
"Suit length and quality are important factors in deciding whether to overcall with a hand with minimum values. Try to have a strong 6-card suit to overcall at the 2-level or higher"

In more advanced book like Robson and Segal's "Partnership Bidding at Bridge" even though they don't say explicitly, the offensive competitive raise style they suggest seems only work if the overcall promise fairly strong offensive value.

However, my experience was more than 90% of the people I've met, either my fellows or opponents, online or offline, seems to think any opening hand with a 5-card suit worth an overcall and when I pass with 13HCP hand with a 5 cards suit everybody thinks I'm weird.

Take the example above, RHO open 1(assume first seat), you have K32 82 AQ763 K76 at any vulnerability, I think "standard approach" is to pass and bid 2NT if partner balance with X. If my hand is 832 K2 AQ763 K76, then 3 after partner X. If opp keep bidding after I pass then I choose to defense. In reality I rarely see people bid this type of hand this way, more often than not I see a 2 overcall, sometime with same shape/HCP but even worse suit quality.

Maybe I'm too old-schooled or simply misunderstand something. But let's share the opinion about this issue, if you're going to write a set of rules/a chapter in book about overcall at 2 level, what are you going to say? What's your opinion about the example I give above? Do you agree that most people's 2-level overcall are less disciplined compare to textbook? Do you think overcalling 2-level more often with wider range hand, is a winning or losing strategy?
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#2 User is offline   nigel_k 

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Posted 2012-April-04, 19:25

View Postfrank0, on 2012-April-04, 18:56, said:

However, my experience was more than 90% of the people I've met, either my fellows or opponents, online or offline, seems to think any opening hand with a 5-card suit worth an overcall and when I pass with 13HCP hand with a 5 cards suit everybody thinks I'm weird.

It is true that a lot of people do this but they are wrong and you should ignore them.
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#3 User is offline   phil_20686 

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Posted 2012-April-04, 19:43

View Postfrank0, on 2012-April-04, 18:56, said:

One thing I feel weird about, from the first day I start playing bridge to now, is about people's opinion about 2 level overcall. I feel like people around me come from a different world where those bridge authors come from.

Porten's "Introduction to Defensive Bidding"
RHO open 1, you have K32 82 AQ763 K76, he says you should pass at any vulnerability.
Lawrence's "The Complete Book on Overcall"
RHO open 1, you're white at IMP, you have 3 K42 KQ987 K542, he says you should pass.
RHO open 1, you're red at IMP, you have K2 J63 KQ8654 AJ, he says you should pass!(2 in MP)


So experts have got a bit more agressive here, particularly with dble, from when these books were written. Your second example would be a clear t/o double for many, and your third example is a clear overcall for most. The first example is a pass. Also tend to be more aggressive with the (1d)-2c- overcall as its harder to defend against.

View Postnigel_k, on 2012-April-04, 19:25, said:

It is true that a lot of people do this but they are wrong and you should ignore them.


Also this. A lot of people overcall terrible hands at the two level and its a bad habit. Hands with a decent suit can overcall with fairly light values though. - Axxx AT9xxx xxx would be a clear 2d overcall over 1S for example, as the spade void and the excellent shape make it potentially a hugely powerful hand if this is a fit auction, and the spade shortage strongly suggests that partner might not be able to get into this auction. Balanced hands should not overcall without strong NT ish values generally.
The physics is theoretical, but the fun is real. - Sheldon Cooper
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#4 User is offline   frank0 

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Posted 2012-April-04, 20:20

View Postphil_20686, on 2012-April-04, 19:43, said:

The first example is a pass.

Another interesting point is, if you want to explain why this is not an overcall hand, how are you going to do that? I find this is not easy and many books, are using very shocking but not persuasive examples.

Those stories have the same format, "You overcall with ♠K32 ♥82 ♦AQ763 ♣K76, LHO gets KJT95 sitting behind you and all your finesse are off. Even worse finally they find an uppercut(RHO ruff with 8 or something like that) to set you 5~6 tricks when their 3NT is not cold."

I can think of a frequent trouble of including those hands in overcall range is partner may have a hand(usually about 7-8HCP flat with support), where facing your maximum overcall 3NT can be made with lots of trick sources, but facing this hand 3 could be -2, with or without double. Therefore it makes the constructive bidding very difficult(partner don't know whether to support with 7-8HCP flat hand).

Another problem I can think of that overcall is that partner is likely to over compete or making phantom sacrifice.

Any other thoughts?
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#5 User is offline   nigel_k 

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Posted 2012-April-05, 01:29

If you want a rule, below is something I came up with a while ago. As with any rule, there will be plenty of exceptions.

Start by counting HCP
Add one for each honour in your long suit
Subtract one for each Q or J outside the long suit
Add three for each card beyond five
Add one with a singleton in the suit opened or two with a void

Overcall at the one level with 10+ non vulnerable or 11+ vulnerable
Overcall at the two level with 15+ non vulnerable or 17+ vulnerable

This means your example hand (Kxx xx AQxxx Kxx) would be a minimum overcall non-vul if it had the 10 as well and would be a minimum overcall vul with an extra diamond. You can also loosen it a little if your overcall consumes space, e.g. (1)-2 needs a bit less than (1)-2 because it has more ways to gain for the same risk.
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#6 User is offline   phil_20686 

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Posted 2012-April-05, 03:51

Don't overcall with 5332!

When I tell people my stlye i normally say "better than a wk nt in some way", the more unbalanced you are the less HCP you need. I dont think there is particularly a hard and fast rule. I think most would overcall with a suit AKxxxx and an outside K, but virtually everyone would pass AQx AQx Kxxxx xx, (well they might bid a strong nt if so inclined, but not 2d).

Part of it is imagining how well your hand will play if you have a fit. With balanced hands the answer is generally, not very well.
The physics is theoretical, but the fun is real. - Sheldon Cooper
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