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Sandwich No Trump Another convention to be canned?

#1 User is offline   32519 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 02:41

OK, so I have rephrased the OP as the original was bad.

The Sandwich NT gives the opponents the hand layout and general HCP distribution. This description favours a 5/5 distribution in the two unbid suits and 5-10/11 HCP. When the opponents choose to bid (in my books, stupid conventions), how can we use the information exchanged to our sides advantage?

Consider this deal:



On the hand posted, after East bid the Sandwich NT in 4th seat, North decided to shoot for game not knowing that his partner had opened an 11 count. On a combined 22 HCP the contract still made as East was marked as the most likely holder of the K for the finesse. The hand layout was also known.

South has the suit well covered and a singleton in the suit. Despite a minimum 11 HCP count, the South hand is suddenly worth much more after the Sandwich NT overcall. South needs to find a bid to be able to differentiate between –
1. A hand happy to settle for the part score.
2. A hand interested in game.
3. A hand interested in slam.
So how will South do this?

How about this scheme?
1. A hand happy to settle for the part score: A simple raise from 1 to 2
2. A hand interested in game: Bidding the lower of the 2-suits shown by the opponents conveying this message, a) I have a fit with your suit partner, and b) I have one or both of the opponents suits shown well covered. Bid game if your hand is suitable.
3. A hand interested in slam: Bidding the higher of the 2-suits shown by the opponents conveying this message, a) I have a fit with your suit partner, b) I have one or both of the opponents suits shown well covered, and c) I have a big hand interested in slam.

Using this scheme, the Sandwich NT bid has given the show away. N/S will now find an easy game despite a combined HCP count of only 22.

So is the Sandwich NT another convention that should be dumped?
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#2 User is offline   Antrax 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 02:44

How do you play 4 if you get there with silent opposition? I don't see how the spade finesse is avoidable, as you will have to lose two trumps and a diamond.
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#3 User is offline   32519 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 03:33

View PostAntrax, on 2012-August-26, 02:44, said:

How do you play 4 if you get there with silent opposition? I don't see how the spade finesse is avoidable, as you will have to lose two trumps and a diamond.


Forget the actual hand. Discuss the convention. Do you believe that the Sandwich NT is a good convention or not? If you believe it to be a good convention then tell me why you think so. If you want to employ it, then why not be more aggressive at favourable vulnerability e.g.
1. 1-P-1-2NT (Equivalent of the Unusual 2NT and showing maybe 9-11 HCP. Not only does it take up more bidding room, but you may also get lucky and opener passes with a minimum or only 3-card support).
2. 1-P-1-3 (Showing either extreme distribution in the unbid suits e.g. 6-6 or a powerful 2-suiter interested in game in one of the unbid suits.

I just see the 1NT bid as whimpish giving away unnecessary information to the opponents as partner is already a passed hand.
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#4 User is offline   mr1303 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 03:36

That looks like a contract anyone would bid using any system, regardless of the interference.
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#5 User is offline   Antrax 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 03:41

What do you mean "forget the actual hand"? You posted this hand in an attempt to show how the distributional information is more useful to the opponents than it is to partner. On this hand, partner has no fit, so it doesn't gain, and the opponents can only play the hand one way, so it doesn't lose.
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#6 User is offline   32519 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 04:06

OK, I deleted the hand to discuss whether this is a good convention or not.
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#7 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 05:12

I have deleted my reasoning to get to the answer of yes.
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#8 User is offline   sfi 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 06:07

I like this concept of dumping conventions every time they come up but don't gain. However, I'm not sure how to apply it in all situations.

For example, the other night one of our conventions came up for the first time in a couple of months. Because of it we gained 10 imps by being the only pair to bid 3nt, for +630. However, had they defended properly we would have lost 6 imps. So, do we have to dump it or can we continue to play it for another session?
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#9 User is offline   Antrax 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 06:40

The other day my partner had no four-card major so we dumped Stayman.
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#10 User is offline   wuudturner 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 07:30

View PostAntrax, on 2012-August-26, 06:40, said:

The other day my partner had no four-card major so we dumped Stayman.


I totally agree with this, but taking it one step further, after one opens 1NT the opponents are now able to place the points more accurately, so you should decide to dump all natural NT bids. There is now no reason to dump (or keep) Stayman. Think how much easier bidding will be with NO conventions at all?

All bids give some information to partner and your opponents. The trick in all bidding is to apply judgment.
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#11 User is offline   Siegmund 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 08:45

5-5 Sandwich seems pointless.

I do like it to show minimum 4-5 and 4-6 hands, with 2NT for the weak 5-5s and double as takeout for responder's major (stronger and often 4-4 in the unbids with 3 or 4 cards in opener's suit; partner is allowed to bid openers minor to play, 2 of responder's major is the strong cue.)

In the context of pairs who almost always have 12 when they open and almost always have 6 when they respond, I won't touch the 15-18 notrump overcall, and consider some conventional use of it obvious.

A lot of good forum posters in previous threads have said they felt the natural notrump bid was necessary -- because they were being stolen from by people who opened on 10 and responded on 4 (or 2 or 1 or 0).
But, for better or worse, that just isnt the way most people play in live games where I am, though it is increasingly popular on BBO and (so I am told) in top matches.
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Posted 2012-August-26, 09:45

I have modified the OP for further discussion.
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#13 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2012-August-26, 18:00

I think lots of people are dumping Sandwich NT simply because they find a natural, strong NT to be more useful these days. Opening and responding bids have gotten lighter and lighter, so it's not unheard of for the opening side to only have a combined 16 HCP, so it could be your hand even without extreme shape.

If you want to show a 2-suiter, just bid Unusual 2NT. Yes, it's a level higher, but it also gets in the opponents' way more.

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Posted 2012-August-27, 01:16

I can think of one possible situation where the Sandwich NT might still prove to be effective, and that is in a “Trap Pass” situation. The minor suit opened could easily be the real suit of the player sitting in second seat. With a hand not suitable for any other bid, a trap pass may be the best option available. When partner comes alive with a Sandwich NT bid in fourth seat, the hand in second seat with a fit in one of the two suits shown rapidly increases in value. The suit opened is well covered (similar to the situation described in the OP).
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#15 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2012-August-27, 05:41

View Postbarmar, on 2012-August-26, 18:00, said:

I think lots of people are dumping Sandwich NT simply because they find a natural, strong NT to be more useful these days. Opening and responding bids have gotten lighter and lighter, so it's not unheard of for the opening side to only have a combined 16 HCP, so it could be your hand even without extreme shape.

If you want to show a 2-suiter, just bid Unusual 2NT. Yes, it's a level higher, but it also gets in the opponents' way more.


+1

There is no point discussing the ditching of Sandwich unless you propose, as did barmar above, an alternative treatment for the bid against which to measure its relative merits. It might be argued that there is no sensible use of 1N in this position and you should be forced to pass whatever you hold. Somehow I doubt that that is the optimal strategy.

I observe that most of the expert world is moving in the direction described by barmar. I am not totally convinced, myself. There are two problems with it: (1) Just because they might have opened light it does not mean that they have done so. If they have a double coming their way then they are likely to find it and you are unlikely to have anywhere to run. What happens more often, that you have been talked out of a game or that you are walking into the valley of death? I don't know. The experts who all are switching to the natural 1N are all better players than I.

There may yet be some third use of 1N yet to be devised that could be superior to either of these methods.

I would add that one of the objections of the OP is a little tenuous in my view. If you have a hand suitable for the 2-suited overcall, (a) you may judge that 2N is too risky until you hear some co-operation from partner, (b) bidding 1N to show the hand may allow partner to push the opponents too high or make a preemptive raise that crowds their space. Just because partner is a passed hand and you expect the opponents to own the contract does not mean that it is always in your interests to give them a free ride. Yes, there is a cost, in that if and when they buy the contract the play of the hand is easier when they know the shape of an opponent. That eats into the benefits but does not necessarily override them.

Basically, I think it is a pretty balanced argument one way or the other.
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Posted 2012-August-27, 08:36

I don't think I've ever agreed to play Sandwich NT. If I have, it never came up. The one time it sort of did, what happened is that our opponents arrived at the table in the middle of a discussion about the convention. My partner heard all this, and we started bidding the first hand. Bid on my right, pass by me, bid on my left, and partner gets this gleam in her eye, and bids 1NT. Turns out she had a balanced 12 count, 4-4 in the unbid suits. No alert, but RHO asks - maybe he saw the gleam in her eye. I very carefully said "our agreement is that it's natural, balanced, some 15 to 18". All pass. As I recall, she didn't make 1NT. She wasn't happy with me. Oh well. ;)
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#17 User is offline   rsteele 

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Posted 2012-August-27, 13:41

I do believe that the traditional usage of sandwich NT provides to much information on hands that you are seldom the declarer. I have, however with better hands, had great success using the bid only differently defined. "Sanwhich" shows a two level overcall in the lower unbid suit with a tolerance for the 4th suit. So 1D - P - 1H - 1NT may hold KQX, XXX, X, AQJXXX. While with AQXX, XXX, X, AQXXX I will simply make a TO double. With the freak two suited hand : KQTXX, XX, X, KQJXXX I will bid 2NT. I have given up a lot of info but at least taken up considerable bidding space. Obviously if you are a passed hand the parameters for the bid change.
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#18 User is online   johnu 

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Posted 2012-August-29, 01:39

Does anybody know how many good/expert players play sandwich NT as a 2 suited takeout? I thought that 1NT as strong and natural was standard. I've had a couple of people ask about it before the start of play, but "respectfully" declined.
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Posted 2012-August-29, 07:14

View Postbarmar, on 2012-August-26, 18:00, said:

I think lots of people are dumping Sandwich NT simply because they find a natural, strong NT to be more useful these days. Opening and responding bids have gotten lighter and lighter, so it's not unheard of for the opening side to only have a combined 16 HCP, so it could be your hand even without extreme shape.

If you want to show a 2-suiter, just bid Unusual 2NT. Yes, it's a level higher, but it also gets in the opponents' way more.



View Postjohnu, on 2012-August-29, 01:39, said:

Does anybody know how many good/expert players play sandwich NT as a 2 suited takeout? I thought that 1NT as strong and natural was standard. I've had a couple of people ask about it before the start of play, but "respectfully" declined.


These obviously. If you think that a sandwich no trump is useful, you haven't played enough bridge at a high level. Even at my level people are routinely opening ten counts, and responding on two counts, and even more so at the top levels. Allowing yourself to get bullied out of having a natural 1N bid will lose you many 3N games. Consider reasonably popular systems like transfer walsh with a short club. Responder is essentially obliged to respond any time he doesnt want to pass out 1C when it could be 2, like just some normal 4432 Yarborough.

The second part of your post seemed to be asking how you should defend. Well just play dble = desire to penalise (at least) one of their suits. Regardless of game making, they will be taking at least 8 tricks defending 2C or 2S doubled. So the auction here would go

1d p 1h 1N*
X P P 2C
X AP

with the second double being t/o of clubs.

IF you are asking about the best use for this bid by a passed hand, well now I favour 4M5m or 4M6m hands. There are not that many hands that are 55 that I would not open but would like to micheals on, so I feel its a pretty small target, whereas there are lots of 4-5 10 counts where passing is a good strategy in first, but bidding now is indicated.
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#20 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2012-August-29, 10:37

Certainly many people will open and respond light. But wouldn't we rather defend doubled than bid 3nt most of the times this happens? Beating 1ntX three tricks is usually better than 3nt... and we can't always make 3nt and still might extract 300 or 500 on defense. Further, if opponents have actual values, a plan of starting with double or pass may be safer than bidding 1nt in sandwich seat?
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