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Balanced hands and a major suit fit - what game? Stayman question

#1 User is offline   el mister 

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Posted 2012-September-28, 06:13

Does the advantage of playing game in an 8 card M fit (relative to 3NT) still hold if both hands are very balanced, ie there are no ruffing values?

Say you hold the following as responder

KJXXAJXXXXQJX

and partner opens a weak NT. You bid Stayman and get 2 back - respond with an invitational 3 or maybe just bid 4 direct, but you're playing game in spades. Is this type of hand one where you should really think carefully about 3NT? Or is it still generally the case that the major suit game is the right spot? Is it something that is particularly scoring dependent maybe?

If 3NT should be in the picture, can a Stayman sequence be used to communicate this as responder? ie a way of saying we have an 8 card M fit, about 25 hcp between us, but I'm flat as a pancake here so maybe we should consider 3NT?
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#2 User is offline   gwnn 

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Posted 2012-September-28, 06:31

In my opinion it's best to just raise to 3NT on these 4333 hands with a major. However, if you asked and got 2 as a response, it is best to bid 4. The two statements are not contradictory: the reason for not asking is that you want to avoid giving away too much information to the defence.

Some people play 1NT-2; 2-3 as possibly just a choice-of-games hand, that is an interesting treatment but far from standard.
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#3 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-September-28, 06:40

Simulation studies have suggested that it is better to simply respond 3NT with this kind of (43)33 hand than to use Stayman. If you want some finer tuning than this thenthere is a convention designed specifically for this purpose called SID (Stayman in Doubt). The original SID concept is that bidding 3 after partner's 2M response to Stayman shows 4333 shape with 4 card support for the major and asks partner to choose the better game. This is a bit os a waste of the bid so a better treatment is to use a modified form combing SID with a GF raise. For example, after 1NT - 2; 2 you might assign 3 to mean "precisely 4333 shape or 4+ spades and slam interest". Over this, 3 might be 4333 shape with 3NT Frivolous and 4 serious cues. Other builds are possible of course. The point is that there are ways of handling this without messing up other parts of your bidding structure but that if you do not want to do this then as a general rule it is recommended just to jump to 3NT and ignore the major fit without giving the opponents' extra information.

Edit: sorry, just saw the forum title. Gwnn's (cross-posted) post is more suitable and says pretty much everything I wanted to say.
(-: Zel :-)
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#4 User is offline   P_Marlowe 

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Posted 2012-September-28, 06:48

In short, even if you are 4333 and have no ruffing value, this does not mean, that the NT
opener has no ruffing value.

The above is especially true, if you happen to regular open offshape 5422 hands with 1 NT.

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#5 User is offline   SteveMoe 

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Posted 2012-October-01, 21:01

Not all 4=3=3=3 hands are equal.
True, 3N might make when 4 fails on sheer power. Usually if you suspect we are closer to 12+12 than 12+14, 3N would be better (since partner too is balanced). We can't know - bridge is like that.

The OP hand would be better in were partner's shortness in (again, we can't know).

Likewise I am Less: KJXXAJXXXXQJX --- KXXXAXXQXXQJX --- TXXXAJXKJXQJX --- :More
likely to bid 1N-3N than look for via Stayman. The more distributed my values the better NT will be. The less I have in Spades the better NT will be.
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#6 User is offline   Codo 

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Posted 2012-October-02, 03:38

1. You may find bidding systems where partner can decide what to do if you hold 4333. A quite common one is to use 3 for 3433 and 3 for 4333.
2. If you have really many points- so 27-29 together- always go for NT.
3. If you have Quacks, go for NT, if you have aces and kings go for the major.
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#7 User is offline   gwnn 

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Posted 2012-October-02, 07:48

View PostCodo, on 2012-October-02, 03:38, said:

1. You may find bidding systems where partner can decide what to do if you hold 4333. A quite common one is to use 3 for 3433 and 3 for 4333.

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#8 User is offline   Fluffy 

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Posted 2012-October-02, 07:54

The decision is close, when this subject was argued endlessly years ago I came to the conclusion that you actually want to play 4M with 4333 against balanced hand with 4 spades, but that the difference is so slim that it is not worth the info you leak when bidding goes 1NT-2-2x-3NT.

To avoid info leaks there is a convention that bids 1NT-3M to show a stayman hand with 4 cards in the other major, but this allows for lead directing doubles.
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#9 User is offline   dwar0123 

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Posted 2012-October-04, 14:10

I believe the major takeaway from this is that you need to decide before bidding 2 where you want to play. If you want to play in 4 bid stayman and raise a spade response to game, bidding 3nt otherwise. If you want to play in 3nt regardless, just bid it.

What you can not do is bid stayman hear a spade response and then decide to play 3nt, as this will mislead partner into thinking you have 4.
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#10 User is offline   Quantumcat 

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Posted 2012-October-07, 20:15

It is just as much to do with how strong you are as your shape:

- With maximum HCP for game (and not enough for slam) you will probably make as many tricks in NT as in your fit. And you may make more tricks if your fit breaks badly, since you have three other suits with plenty of high cards in them to make tricks with. You may even make 3NT when 4-major goes off due to the bad brek.

- With minimum HCP for game (or even a few points light), and with a five or six-card suit to set up on the side, you are better off in your major suit fit. The fit will provide control in the side suits (where you have a lack of high cards) while you set up your five or six-card side suit for your tricks.

- With minimum points for game (or a few light), and with neither of you having a nice five or six-card suit, your chances of making any game are low. But at least in 3NT you only need make nine tricks. So if a few suits break and a few finesses work you might be able to scrape those nine, but ten will need a bit more luck.

So, with a 4333, count your points. Do you have 9-10 or 11? Look for the suit fit. With any luck partner will have a doubleton and a five card suit somewhere [edit: unless you don't open 1NT with a 5422] and 4-major will be an excellent contract, while 3NT needs a lot of luck. If partner also has a 4333 and is minimum, any game would have been dodgy anyway. Do you have 11 or 12-15? Bid 3NT. Even if you have a 4-4 fit it may break badly and 3NT will be a much easier contract for your partner to play.
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#11 User is offline   han 

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Posted 2012-October-08, 23:59

Don't listen to quantumcat.

All the evidence that I have found supports bidding 3NT especially with 9-10 HCP and a 4333 distribution.
Please note: I am interested in boring, bog standard, 2/1.

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#12 User is offline   twoshy 

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Posted 2012-October-09, 02:22

+1 to Han. I recall reading Quantumcut's rationale in old Bridge Worlds but there are a lot more reasons for bypassing Stayman on minimum GF values, while using Stayman on hands with extras. In minimal HCP games, the information Stayman provides to defenders is more likely to matter since the contract is likely to be tighter. A favourable lead is more likely to provide the game-going trick or tempo (these are more likely to lead to overtricks in maximal HCP games), again being more likely after not using Stayman. In maximal HCP games, the danger of being off an entire suit (Qxx in responder's hand opposite xx, etc) and losing five tricks on the lead is more likely than a bad trump break leading to the doom of 4M. Basically, 8 cards in a suit > 5 or 6 in a side suit.
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#13 User is offline   Lurpoa 

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Posted 2012-October-10, 13:46

View Posthan, on 2012-October-08, 23:59, said:

Don't listen to quantumcat.

All the evidence that I have found supports bidding 3NT especially with 9-10 HCP and a 4333 distribution.




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#14 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2012-October-26, 22:27

Over a weak NT, the two situations game going hand versus invitational hand are slightly different.

Normally, it's better to play in the 8 card major fit. However, there is one exception -- when both hands are 4-3-3-3 it's usually better to play 3 NT. That's because neither hand has a short suit that would allow ruffing a card from the other hand.

With a game going hand, you are sort of stuck because you can't find that this is the situation without distorting the NT opener's understanding of what you hold. So the best plan is probably just bid 4 of the major. If you have a 4-3-3-3 with good intermediate cards in the 3 card suits, you probably should just bid 3 NT initially rather than Stayman.

With an invitational hand, after, say, 1 NT - 2 - 2 - 3 , opener has an additional response available -- 3 NT. If you use this to show a 4-3-3-3 hand accepting the invitation to go to game, then responder has the chance to pass holding a 4-3-3-3 hand.
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#15 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2012-October-28, 04:50

A related uncomfortable problem that I sometimes have is with (43)33 shape and values to invite to game but insufficient to GF, where systemically I am required to bid Stayman on the way to 2N, and then hit partner with a fit for my 4 bagger. In some respects I would have been happier to hear partner deny 4 card support. I have been known to change my mind about invitational values and pass partner's 2M response to Stayman. I have no idea whether there is any science behind it, but it seemed to work out well surprisingly frequently (by which I mean more than half that you should expect anyway). Could be a fickle memory, of course.
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#16 User is offline   gwnn 

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Posted 2012-October-28, 05:31

View Post1eyedjack, on 2012-October-28, 04:50, said:

A related uncomfortable problem that I sometimes have is with (43)33 shape and values to invite to game but insufficient to GF, where systemically I am required to bid Stayman on the way to 2N, and then hit partner with a fit for my 4 bagger. In some respects I would have been happier to hear partner deny 4 card support. I have been known to change my mind about invitational values and pass partner's 2M response to Stayman. I have no idea whether there is any science behind it, but it seemed to work out well surprisingly frequently (by which I mean more than half that you should expect anyway). Could be a fickle memory, of course.

ulven (Ulf Nilsson, Swedish international) wrote about something like this, bidding Stayman intending to pass 2M but to bid 2NT over 2oM/2D. Interesting stuff to be sure.
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#17 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2012-October-29, 03:03

View Postrmnka447, on 2012-October-26, 22:27, said:

With a game going hand, you are sort of stuck because you can't find that this is the situation without distorting the NT opener's understanding of what you hold.

My previous post (#3) mentions a method that does allow for the detection of mirror 4333 hands without distorting hand type and while preserving slam options. In truth, most pairs have a GF raise of Opener's major below 3NT which would allow 3NT to show this hand - it is only a matter of whether they have a better use for the call rather than catering to a fairly rare situation that can (mostly) be dealt with another way.
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#18 User is offline   NickRW 

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Posted 2012-November-02, 07:54

View Post1eyedjack, on 2012-October-28, 04:50, said:

A related uncomfortable problem that I sometimes have is with (43)33 shape and values to invite to game but insufficient to GF, where systemically I am required to bid Stayman on the way to 2N, and then hit partner with a fit for my 4 bagger. In some respects I would have been happier to hear partner deny 4 card support. I have been known to change my mind about invitational values and pass partner's 2M response to Stayman. I have no idea whether there is any science behind it, but it seemed to work out well surprisingly frequently (by which I mean more than half that you should expect anyway). Could be a fickle memory, of course.


I believe there is some science to it. Playing in NT with a 4=4 fit somewhere requires a point more to produce game according to some sims I did years ago. More usually this question applies to (Acol, therefore 4 card ) auctions like 1-3 than it does to major suits of course. The reason being that the 4=4 produces no length tricks; a 5=3 fit does and a 4=3 fit gives you another card somewhere else to either help stop a suit or make another 4=3 fit elsewhere)
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