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Stayman after a double?

#1 User is offline   661_Pete 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 01:28

I've heard it said, that in Acol, if opponents double a 1NT, 'all bets are off'. I.e. you can no longer use any of the standard conventions: stayman or transfers etc.

Well, I wasn't sure if that applies 100% - and I held a classic stayman hand: Kxxx/KQxx/xx/Jxx - so I ventured a 2. But evidently my partner took a different view and passed this. 'Luckily' for me, the opponent who had doubled 'rescued' by calling 2. I was able to bid 2 and even luckier, partner had a fit and 2 made quite easily.

What is the best course after 1NT (X) ? Bearing in mind that both minors looked risky...
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#2 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 01:44

It is normal to play Stayman over a double only if the double is artificial. With your example hand, there seems no good reason why you want to raise the level to play in a possible 4-3 fit. You have enough for partner that 1NTX will probably not be expensive and may even make.
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#3 User is offline   Trinidad 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 03:25

I have a pretty strong opinion on this.

All the agreements you have for when your side opens 1NT and RHO passes also apply when:

  • We open 1NT and RHO doubles
  • We overcall (a natural) 1NT and RHO passes or doubles
  • We balance with (a natural) 1NT and RHO passes or doubles


The argument against playing "System on" is that the situation changes when they double for penalties. That is true, but in how far that is true depends a lot on what the opponents mean by a "penalty double".
If they mean: "I have a 16-18 balanced hand" then it makes some sense to change your agreements. However, I think that changing them to "everything is natural and to play" would certainly not be best. After all, this is the situation where you really want opener to declare because it puts the doubler on opening lead.
If they mean: "I don't think you will make 1NT" then that usually means they a decent hand and a trick source. Something like:
Kx
Qxx
KQJxxx
xx
And if you ask somebody who plays DONT what he would do, he would also double. So, the difference between a penalty double and an artificial double is not as big as it seems. In addition, one shouldn't forget that after an artificial double fourth hand is also allowed to pass.

So, the difference between "penalty" and "artificial" is not as big as it seems.

The arguments for playing "system on" are:
  • It (supposedly) is a good system.
  • The system is clearly defined and you have a lot of experience playing it. The probability for misunderstandings is small.
  • This, in turn, means that you are comfortable with it. This is necessary to be able to "play the system" rather than to "follow the system".
  • It usually will make the 1NT opener declarer.
  • You don't need to learn a second system. It can be handy to have a meaning for redouble and to agree on what responder's subsequent actions mean when he passes first. So, you can focus on that.

They say that it is better to play a bad system well than to play a good system poorly. Even if "System on" would be a bad system (and it isn't) then at least you will be able to play it well (at least better than a perfect system that you get to you use rarely).

Rik
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#4 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 04:17

Rik makes some good points but I think they are more persuasive for a strong-nt pair. Rik, did you notice that OP plays weak NT?

- In Acol land, everybody plays the double as penalty. It doesn't promise a balanced 16+, but it is the most common hand type. I don't think many English club players would double with an 11-count with a good six card suit. They might with a 14-count, but then we come close to the zone where game is unlikely for the 1nt opener. So basically, looking for game shouldn't be our priority.

- You absolutely need a way to bid a weak hand with a 5-card suit in a minor, so just playing "system on" doesn't work. At least you need the agreement that rdbl is a ostensibly a weak hand with a long minor and forces opener to bid 2.

- I agree that transfers make sense as you need to put doubler on lead. On the other hand, when opps double your weak nt and you escape, opps have some complex decisions to make (game? partscore? which strain? defend doubled? ondoubled?), and natural escapes put the most presure on opps. One hand proves nothing but last time opps used exit transfers against us, p had a five card hearts and could double their 2 -> spades, nobody else found 4.
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#5 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 04:22

There are an enormous number of different runout systems for 1NTX and playing a weak NT it is important to agree something. The default method is for all suits to be natural. Another very popular approach in the Acol Club is for Exit Transfers, where each of XX, 2, 2 and 2 are transfers. The method I used as a junior, called Moscow, is one of the few where Stayman is used. The one I use now by choice is called Spelvic. Both of these last 2 prevent our side from playing 1NTX, which many see as problematic but also confers some advantages in terms of reaching a playable spot on the 2 level. I can provide more details on these methods (and others) if you want them but I suspect that would be wasted. Alternatively you could peruse the main options yourself at David Stevenson's website.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#6 User is offline   661_Pete 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 06:11

Thanks for the replies and suggestions. I should have mentioned that we were playing 12-14, but everyone assumed that anyway. I should also have mentioned that we were in a tourney, so I couldn't advise partner (I was asked to alert opponents). Probably informing partner would have been a bit unethical even in the casual rooms, in any case.

Here's another Stayman poser. Not from BBO this time. This morning, holding xxx/xxx/J/xxxxxx, vulnerable, I was faced once again with partner's 1NT (no double this time). I passed, fully expecting LHO to find a bid of some sort, but my partner was left in 1NT (-2) and took me to the cleaners over this (a very rare occurrence in our friendly local U3A club!). I was told I should have bid 2, "pseudo-stayman" I suppose: then after partner showed their major, returned to 3 to play. OK, so partner was holding AKxx in . I didn't know that! Was I right to not want to contemplate playing at the three level with 13-15 points and possibly no trump honour? I thought so.....
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#7 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 07:19

The question you have to ask yourself is how many tricks do you have in NT versus how many tricks you have in clubs. If you have to go to the three level, you need reasonable expectations of at least two more tricks. Here I would estimate it at about 4, so I would play in 3C even though I don't expect to make it. After all, -200 is better than -400. And 3C is harder to double for penalty than a weak NT.

Another way to think about it is that when partner has a fit, then 3C is probably a better place to play. And when partner doesn't have a fit, you will not be able to use your long clubs as tricks in NT, so 3C is probably a better place to play.

As to how you get to 3C, that depends on partnership agreement. If you don't know your agreements, it's hard to make sensible decisions about how best to navigate through them.
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#8 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 11:00

Playing 12-14 NTs, you have to have a runout strategy for when you have a weak hand over a penalty double. So agree to something. With my favorite partner, we play similar to what zel mentioned where all bids are transfers. So with the second hand you proposed, we would redouble and 1 NT opener would bid 2 . With first hand, we would pass which conveys a willingness to play 1 NT doubled OR a lack of a 5 card or longer suit. Opener has the option to pass if willing to play 1 NT doubled (rare), bid a minor if the opener was based on a 5-3-3-2 hand, or redouble to request responder to bid 4 card suits up the line.

After a redouble by opener, responder can pass if holding a hand willing to play 1 NTxx. If responder has 8-9, opener 12-14, and doubler 14+, then after a pass of a redouble by responder, doubler's partner with few points will be under tremendous pressure to pull the redouble.

With the first hand, you're good enough to sit for 1 NTx rather than run. I'd also have no problem sitting for partner's redouble either if you were playing similar to the way we do.
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#9 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 13:16

View Post661_Pete, on 2016-June-17, 06:11, said:

Here's another Stayman poser. Not from BBO this time. This morning, holding xxx/xxx/J/xxxxxx, vulnerable, I was faced once again with partner's 1NT (no double this time). I passed, fully expecting LHO to find a bid of some sort, but my partner was left in 1NT (-2) and took me to the cleaners over this (a very rare occurrence in our friendly local U3A club!). I was told I should have bid 2, "pseudo-stayman" I suppose: then after partner showed their major, returned to 3 to play. OK, so partner was holding AKxx in . I didn't know that! Was I right to not want to contemplate playing at the three level with 13-15 points and possibly no trump honour? I thought so.....


Bidding Stayman and then rebidding 3 is only reasonable if that sequence is an absolute drop dead bid. Most play that sequence as invitational or forcing, and you certainly don't want to show an invitational+ hand.

Some (most?) partnerships play some kind of transfer to 3, either 2 or 2NT. If you had that agreement, you could transfer and pass.

With partner having half+ of their points in clubs in a 6-4 fit, don't the opponents have a game someplace?
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#10 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2016-June-17, 13:39

View Postjohnu, on 2016-June-17, 13:16, said:

Some (most?) partnerships play some kind of transfer to 3, either 2 or 2NT. If you had that agreement, you could transfer and pass.


Many also use one of those bids as a weak takeout into either minor. I have an occasional partner who plays this, but oddly doesn't include 2-suited minor slam tries.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#11 User is offline   GrahamJson 

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Posted 2016-June-18, 01:53

The short answer to this is that in a regular partnership you can play whatever methods you like, and there are several to choose from. With a pick up partner "normal" methods are assumed, I.i rdbl is strong, suits are natural and 2NT shows a good unbalanced hand. Also, if I took 1NT doubled out into 2C, say, and then redoubled, I would hope that partner had the wit to realise that I was trying to scramble Ito a playable spot with something like Qxxx xxxx J10xx x.
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#12 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2016-June-18, 05:24

View Postsfi, on 2016-June-17, 07:19, said:

The question you have to ask yourself is how many tricks do you have in NT versus how many tricks you have in clubs. If you have to go to the three level, you need reasonable expectations of at least two more tricks.

This is a good approach except that I would suggest a hand with an expectation of 2 tricks difference should sit and only take out to the minor if they double.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#13 User is offline   fromageGB 

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Posted 2016-June-18, 09:31

View PostVampyr, on 2016-June-17, 01:44, said:

It is normal to play Stayman over a double only if the double is artificial.

Sure? There is a good chance an artificial double means both majors! Ask first. Natural double is more likely with a weak NT, and then for a regular partnership it is necessary to have an agreed escape route (as others have said) where 2 will be part of that. With a random partner, assume 2 = clubs.
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#14 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2016-June-18, 10:29

View PostfromageGB, on 2016-June-18, 09:31, said:

Sure? There is a good chance an artificial double means both majors! Ask first. Natural double is more likely with a weak NT, and then for a regular partnership it is necessary to have an agreed escape route (as others have said) where 2 will be part of that. With a random partner, assume 2 = clubs.


Yes, f course you should ask, but sometimes one of the majors is eg Jxxx, which does not preclude playing in that suit.

Also of course the opponent could be psyching, but this is far too rare an occurrence to base a system on.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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