# BBO Discussion Forums: Which is better and why? - BBO Discussion Forums

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## Which is better and why? Serious or Non-serious 3NT

### #21fromageGB

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• Joined: 2008-April-06

Posted 2013-February-26, 07:48

Zelandakh, on 2013-February-26, 03:08, said:

If you are playing
3 = Frivolous
3NT = serious, spade control, no club control
4 = serious, spade and club controls, no diamond control
4 = serious, spade, club and diamond controls (but not enough extras for RKCB)

then it seems to me you have a non-frivolous problem on serious hands without a spade control. I assume that you are actually not playing Frivolous 3 but rather that you also bid this on these hands too. This is similar to a method played by at least one expert American pair (or was when I saw them on vugraph) except that they do not claim to be playing Frivolous, rather just that they resolve controls before strength. In order to judge your method, I would need to see how your follow-ups to 3 work. In principle you do not have enough space to do everything you are claiming here.

No. I do play frivolous 3NT - except I prefer the term non-serious, as that is much more descriptive, a serious hand having additional values.

I introduced to the thread the idea of one-under denial cue bids when we were talking about bidding serious opposite a limited hand. There, 4 is the non-serious bid, so 3 is serious denial in spades, 3NT serious denial in clubs, 4 serious denial in diamonds. You can do it in all suits.

You are right, when partner is unlimited, there is no room to do everything. As you said, you cannot show a serious hand missing a spade control. 4 is an ambiguous bid. It shows either
(a) a serious hand possibly missing a spade control that wants partner to ace ask if he has extras. If he has, and does, then you may be missing a spade control but you have the safety of both hands having extras.
or (b) a super-serious hand (that wants to ace ask opposite a minimum) that is missing a spade control. (If you were not missing a control you would have ace asked immediately.) Non-serious partner of course now bids 4 and you ace ask. However, if he has no spade control he knows you don't, so shows no aces.

This method does have a danger of perhaps occasionally getting too high when spades are open, but has the advantage of always allowing cooperative ace asking when both sides have extras that are insufficient on their own.

With denial cue bids I am sure you have a problem where you are missing the control under the trump suit. Keeping with hearts as trumps, you bid 4, and partner is stuck. If he doesn't have it, he has to bid 4 and you stop there OK, but if he has it, but in a minimum hand, what does he do? I guess he replies with his ace response as if you were asking, but you have lost the ability to have cooperative ace asking when both sides have extras that are insufficient on their own.

Which is better, an unknown spade control but have the facility of cooperative ace asking, or definite knowledge of controls but no cooperative asking?
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### #22TWO4BRIDGE

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Posted 2013-February-26, 08:37

agreed as trump.
After 3H ( and using standard Ctrl-cuebids :

Mbodell ( post # 10 ) , Free ( post # 15 ) and Zel ( post # 19 ) suggest that
3S! = non-Serious and says nothing about a -Ctrl as long as 3NT! by either partner is Serious AND shows a -Ctrl.

Alternatively, it seems that 3S! could be used as Serious as long as 3NT by either partner also shows a -Ctrl :

After 3H ( bid neither partner has limited ):
3S! = Serious ( says nothing about -Ctrl )
..... - 3NT! = -Ctrl
..... - 4C = -Ctrl, but denies a -Ctrl
..... - 4D etc

3NT! = non-serious, but have -Ctrl
..... - 4C = -Ctrl, slammish
..... - 4D = -Ctrl, no -Ctrl, but slammish
..... - 4H = I'm not serious either

4C = non-serious, -Ctrl, but no -Ctrl
..... - 4D = -Ctrl, slammish, don't worry about
........... [ actually, Responder at this point would probably just go 4NT ( RKC ) instead of 4D-cue ] .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sooo, I'm in a "funk" ... I don't know which 3S! is better -- Serious or non-Serious
( using standard Ctrl-cues )
Don Stenmark
TWOferBRIDGE
"imo by far in bridge the least understood concept is how to bid over a jump-shift
( 1M-1NT!-3m-?? )." ....Justin Lall

" Did someone mention relays? " .... Zelandakh

K-Rex to Mikeh : " Sometimes you drive me nuts " .
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### #23Zelandakh

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Posted 2013-February-26, 09:16

fromageGB, on 2013-February-26, 07:48, said:

With denial cue bids I am sure you have a problem where you are missing the control under the trump suit. Keeping with hearts as trumps, you bid 4, and partner is stuck. If he doesn't have it, he has to bid 4 and you stop there OK, but if he has it, but in a minimum hand, what does he do? I guess he replies with his ace response as if you were asking, but you have lost the ability to have cooperative ace asking when both sides have extras that are insufficient on their own.

Which is better, an unknown spade control but have the facility of cooperative ace asking, or definite knowledge of controls but no cooperative asking?

No, the control under the trump suit is no problem because serious slam interest has already been established by this point. You seem to be using serious in a way that is different from how I use it. For me, serious means that I think we have enough strength/tricks for slam if we are not off 2 cashing tricks. Frivolous means that there may be a slam but I am not going to drive it. Your definition of serious sounds like my definition of frivolous. What you are doing is finding out about controls first, then deciding if there are enough extras for slam. What I am doing is finding out if there are enough extras for slam and only checking for controls if the answer is yes. Both methods do have the advantage over Standard of allowing targeted asks. I think this method has the additional advantage over yours of less information leakage. But I need to see the follow-ups in more detail to be absolutely certain.

One thing that is true of my method is that it has been designed primarily under the assumption that one hand will be limited. This is due to the way my methods work. If you play a system where where both hands are often unlimited in slam auctions, then it is quite possible that you want to play methods where more attention given to that aspect. In effect, I use Frivolous as a slam try by the unlimited hand, or as a decline of a slam try by a limited hand. In either case it is the weakest action while still showing slam interest. If the unlimited (control) hand is to bid then:

3 = Frivolous (slam try)
4m = serious, ask in m
4 = sign off
4 = RKCB (rare since ask is free)

If the limited (showing) hand is to bid then:

3 = Frivolous (decline of (imagined) slam try)
3NT = accept of slam try, no spade control
4 = accept of slam try, spade control, no club control
4 = accept of slam try, spade and club controls, no diamond control
4 = accept of slam try, controls in all side suits

Did I not write this earlier? If you write your method out in a similar way, it is easier to compare. Descriptions can be difficult to follow.

Anyway, the method of cue bidding the top of equal controls is one I know of. I have never seen it used in quite the way you are suggesting but I would suggest that knowing whether you are off a cashing AK before committing to the 5 level is quite important. In fact, I would far rather commit to the 5 level on a hand where we know we have extras and all suits controlled than a hand where we might have extras and might have a spade control. If you were seriously worried about the "more extras" issue then I think I would prefer to make 4 conditional RKCB. Seems silly to me though - I would prefer just to improve the design of the system before reaching the slam bidding so that we are not guessing at the 4 level.

@Don, Serious and Frivolous, whether 3M+1, 3NT or 4M-1, all give the same information in the end. The earlier you put the strength question, and the less often you make a control bid when slam is not there, the better from an information leakage point of view. In this respect, Frivolous 3M+1 is best.

The second question is between using standard (Roman) control bids and denial cues. Here denial cue bids have the advantage for intermediate players of having consistent rules, whereas Standard cues is quite complicated in some auctions. There is a further advantage of allowing targeted asks on slam force hands before making the drive. Standard can have an advantage on some auctions, especially pure cue auctions, but this generally requires (close to) expert level judgement.

Therefore, I suggest Frivolous 3M+1 and denial cues as the best arrangement for good intermediate and advanced pairs that are willing to make the commitment to something like this.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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### #24fromageGB

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Posted 2013-February-26, 11:56

Zelandakh, on 2013-February-26, 09:16, said:

... You seem to be using serious in a way that is different from how I use it. For me, serious means that I think we have enough strength/tricks for slam if we are not off 2 cashing tricks. Frivolous means that there may be a slam but I am not going to drive it. Your definition of serious sounds like my definition of frivolous.

Yes. Your terms -> my terms compare as you expected.
minimumish -> non-serious
frivolous -> serious
serious -> super-serious
I will keep to my terms in the following, so I will let you make the translation.

Quote

One thing that is true of my method is that it has been designed primarily under the assumption that one hand will be limited. This is due to the way my methods work. If you play a system where where both hands are often unlimited in slam auctions, then it is quite possible that you want to play methods where more attention given to that aspect.

This is true : we do have sequences where both hands are unlimited, and with (my) serious hand want to express it. For example, after 1 2 GF 4 card support we have both sides showing a shortage if there is one, then we are at the 3 level and the non-serious/serious comes into play with neither side limited. The majority of bidding sequences are of course limited, but unlimited ones are in there as well. I will go into more detail.

Take the case of a limited hand first.
If the known limited hand is about to bid and we are below 3, he always bids 3. The other hand bids:
3 = super-serious denial of spades
3NT = super-serious denial of clubs
4 = super-serious denial of diamonds
4 = non-serious or just serious. A sign off. (The definition of serious is that the hand needs partner to have extra values, and the limited nature already expressed excludes this.)
4 = ace ask, rare because you can always look for an extra control first.
So we have responder bidding the missing control for opener to ace ask, or to deny it by bidding 4, after which the super-serious hand can continue anyway if he was just checking for an extra control.

If the hand opposite a known limited hand is about to bid when the bidding is at or beneath 3, the bids are exactly the same (as if partner had bid 3).

I think the above scenario is fine. It may have an advantage over yours in that the limited hand does not need to show a control if the other hand is not looking.

Take the case of 2 unlimited hands. We are now only in particular circumstances, such as either partner having shown a shortage if there is one after a J2N start. If the shortage is not spades, it is shown beneath the level of 3. Your categorisation of the hand into non-serious/serious/super-serious is of course rejudged in the light of partner's shortage. The non-shortage hand now bids:
3 = non-serious . . => and a super-serious partner continues as above
3NT = serious or super-serious, asks for club control
4 = serious or super-serious, asks for diamond control
4 = serious, not missing any control - the cooperative bit
4 = the rare super-serious straight ace ask with no checks

Over the 4, partner ace asks if serious, or bids 4 if non-serious.
(The 4 bid can also be used as a relay for the other hand to ace ask, if he is known to be serious (such as an opener making a serious rebid) and you suspect he will be in a better position to judge whether there are 13 tricks.)
Over the serious or super-serious one-under denial, partner bids the suit to show control (of course he may also choose to take control and ace ask) and when he bids the suit you can then ace ask if super-serious, or bid 4 if serious. This is the cooperative bit. Partner knows you must be serious, and can now ace ask if he too is serious. If partner does not have the asked-for control, he signs off in 4.

If the shortage after the 2M+1 ask is in spades, this is shown by a 3 bid. If partner bids this,
(a) you are non-serious
You no longer have the ability to bid 3 when non-serious, so have to bid 3 as non-serious. Partner can now no longer make a one-under denial in spades, but of course he has control there. His 3NT and 4 are serious or super-serious one-under denials as normal. His 4 is again serious, not missing any control - the cooperative bit. You are back with the bidding above, and have lost nothing.

(b) you are serious or super-serious
3NT = one-under denial, etc, and again you can't deny spades, but partner has control. Again you have full cooperation and nothing lost.

If there was a game forcing sequence when one side bids 3 to set the suit without having shown spade control, and with both sides unlimited, then the spade control or lack of is unknowable. But there are not too many of these.
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### #25fromageGB

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Posted 2013-February-26, 12:03

Zelandakh, on 2013-February-26, 09:16, said:

In fact, I would far rather commit to the 5 level on a hand where we know we have extras and all suits controlled than a hand where we might have extras and might have a spade control.

We would not be in this position, as when we might or might not have a spade control we will be serious opposite serious, or a super-serious. But I agree, it is better not to get there. Such "unlimited opposite unlimited" sequences are rare.
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### #26Zelandakh

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Posted 2013-February-27, 04:08

You have given yourself an extra bid by assuming that suit agreement was below 3. Clearly an extra step means an extra bit of information can be exchanged. I was assuming that the last bid made was 3. The situation where a control (shortage) has been shown below 3 is also a special case giving you an extra step and therefore an extra bit of information.

I am not sure how you imagine this but I see each step as a binary bit acting as an OR gate. Both 0s = sign off, otherwise continue. Over 3 we have 4 steps and so can exchange 4 bits of information. I choose strength as the first bit and controls of the side suits as the last 3. If you have an extra bit then you can add an additional piece of information. That could be a further refinement of strength, as you suggest, or anything else you think is relevant (such as distinguishing between a singleton and a void in the shortage suit). In fact, when you have this extra bit you should be able to divide the strength range into 4 rather than 3 by using the above principle. The reason that you only get 3 ranges is the enforced 3 call. If you only bid 3 with the lower half range of the limited hands then you will achieve this effect. Incidentally, you could also choose to put the second strength range ask before the control bids getting back to the methods which I am suggesting. That would give you (calling the 4 range min, mid, max, super-max):

3 = min or mid (3 asks which)
3 = max
3NT = super-max, no spade control
4 = super-max, spade control, no club control
4 = super-max, spade control, club control, no diamond control
4 = super-max, spade control, club control, diamond control

which gives you everything you want (and more!) with little information leakage (only for a super-max limited hand opposite no slam interest).
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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### #27WGF_Flame

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Posted 2013-February-27, 04:18

imo, non serious is much better.
The main difference is that with weak hands (which i think are the majority of the hands) you will bid faster to game without giving extra cue bid information to the opponents.
I also feel its more "natural" and less dangerous in case you forget the system.
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