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That elusive 6NT

#1 User is offline   661_Pete 

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Posted 2018-July-19, 02:36

The main point of interest here is the scoring.

In pairs MPs, I was looking at this powerhouse the other day, sitting south, dealer N, EW vul:

As soon as partner opened 1NT (12-14) the slam looked highly likely, so my first idea was to establish trumps with a transfer (it didn't seem to matter that North would be playing the hand), then fire off Blackwood. We duly settled on 6 and after the defence cashed their A, and no 'unfriendly' ruffs, it was laydown.

So far so good. There was no possibility of an overtrick, as far as we could see. We were the first to play this board, and were hoping for nice things on the traveller. After all, there was a good chance that other tables might stop at game....

Not so. At the end we found ourselves with a paltry 50% :( . Of the seven tables who played it, five played in 6. One got stuck at 4NT (presumably a bidding mix-up) so they earned the 'bottom'. The seventh table chose to play it in 6NT, and those crucial extra 10 points made all the difference - they bagged 100%. Oh if only it had been IMPs!

It never occurred to me that I might have needed 6NT to share the honours. Anyway I'd have been a bit scared to bid it, with singleton K and not knowing if we had the A. Perhaps cue-bidding is called for here?
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#2 User is offline   P_Marlowe 

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Posted 2018-July-19, 03:15

6H is normal, given that you have 32-34 HCP and a 8 card fit, playing 6H will
give you average. Average result for the par contract.
Your auction is fine, of course AK in diamonds may be missing, ..., and you are
missing a diamond control, i.e. a cue bidding seq. to find the diamond control
(and revealing the Ace of spades) is certainly an option.

It may go like this

1NT - 2D
2H - 3C (1)
3H (2) - 3S (3)
4C (3) - 4D (4)
4S (5) -

(1) 54 GF, either SI or not semi balanced
(2) showing the fit, if you want to go fancy 3H showes club fit, 4C the heart fit
(3) cue
(4) Last Train
(5) cue, and showes a diamond cue ... you could also key card, and for simplicity
this may be best avoiding mix ups
A cue by passing game, should be 1st round control

...
Not convinced I am finding this at the table
With kind regards
Uwe Gebhardt (P_Marlowe)
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#3 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2018-July-19, 04:28

You need to cue bid this, can you tell the difference between the actual hand:

xxxx, Jxx, AKx, KJx - must play 6
Axxx, xx, Axx, KJ10x - 7 is the spot (yes 7/N make most of the time but just bidding a grand will get you most of the MPs unless right at top level)
AQJx, Jxx, Jxx, KJx - 5/5N is the limit
Axxx, Jx, AKx, xxxx - 6N is the spot
AQxx, Jx, AKx, xxxx - 7N is the spot
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#4 User is offline   The_Badger 

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Posted 2018-July-19, 06:58

At matchpoints at least you have the luxury of experimentation (if your partner allows). Chasing a few tops I would just bash out 6NT with the South hand in response to a weak NT. And yes, you may be missing an ace and a king off the top and go down, but the opponents have to find the killing lead first. Many a slam has been made missing two setting tricks on a lead. Scientific bidding is great, but it doesn't always produce the top results. And it also provides lots of information to the opponents too.

At IMPs in a team match you have to be more cautious as a bad result can produce a massive swing.
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#5 User is offline   eagles123 

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Posted 2018-July-19, 08:00

fwiw i think most would play 4N in your sequence as quantitative ...
"definitely that's what I like to play when I'm playing standard - I want to be able to bid diamonds because bidding good suits is important in bridge" - Meckstroth's opinion on weak 2 diamond
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#6 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2018-July-19, 17:49

I agree that 4 NT is quantitative. A simple fix might be to adopt Texas Transfers. Then you could use Texas followed by 4 NT as always being a keycard ask. The 4 NT after a simple transfer then is always quantitative and there's no confusion.

But an issue is that asking about keycards doesn't really settle if slam is makeable or not. The real issue is whether you have 2 or more losers in the side suits. That requires exchanging some information with partner through control bidding.

I think P_Marlowe's auction is a pretty good example.

If you don't play Last Train, then responder might consider jumping to 5 over 4 which asks about a control. How can that be? Well, the NT opener can see that responder has cued which must either be K or shortness. Responder's failure to bid 4 (now a cue and no longer Last Train) denies a control there as well. If responder doesn't have A also then it would be pretty hard imagining that responder would be inviting slam.
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#7 User is offline   msjennifer 

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Posted 2018-July-19, 23:37

Cue bids are a must as may be missing DA and DK.
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#8 User is offline   Tramticket 

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Posted 2018-July-20, 01:31

Pete, I'm not sure of your basic system? Since you are playing a weak NT, I don't like Texas transfers. It is fairly standard in the UK for a 3 response to 1NT to be natural and forcing - at least the values to invite slam. You can start cue-bidding from there.

The decision to opt for 6NT is a Match-point judgement - experienced Match-point players recognise that if there are plenty of tricks and ace/king controls (rather than singleton/voids), 6NT will out-score 6M.
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#9 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2018-July-20, 10:07



Playing strong NT and XYZ this drops out nicely:
1 1
1 2
2 3
3 4
4 4
5 6/NT

My partner can be trusted to place the contract in NT at MP, knowing that North has the A and K; I'm not sure I would have the same presence of mind.
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#10 User is offline   661_Pete 

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Posted 2018-July-20, 10:12

View PostTramticket, on 2018-July-20, 01:31, said:

Pete, I'm not sure of your basic system? Since you are playing a weak NT, I don't like Texas transfers. It is fairly standard in the UK for a 3 response to 1NT to be natural and forcing - at least the values to invite slam. You can start cue-bidding from there.

The decision to opt for 6NT is a Match-point judgement - experienced Match-point players recognise that if there are plenty of tricks and ace/king controls (rather than singleton/voids), 6NT will out-score 6M.

Standard Acol. I rather like the idea of 1NT - 3, but was playing with a new partner and we hadn't agreed that this would be forcing, so I didn't want to risk it.

As it happens, I got a better result on a fairly similar board, yesterday. This time the fit was in but I made certain of reaching 6NT this time - making +1. The slam wasn't such a good one, it depended on a finesse but luck was on our side! This time, looking at the traveller (8 tables this time), four others got the same as us, but at MPs a shared top (79%) beats a mere average! BridgeWebs says, the 'optimum' is 7NT but no-one bid that!
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#11 User is offline   661_Pete 

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Posted 2018-July-20, 10:23

View Postpescetom, on 2018-July-20, 10:07, said:

Playing strong NT and XYZ this drops out nicely:
1 1
1 2
2 3
3 4
4 4
5 6/NT

My partner in South would certainly place the contract in NT at MP, knowing that North has the A and K; I'm not sure I would have the same presence of mind.
I don't know that system but I like it - provided I can be confident that South's 3 is forcing. Shows all the controls while still at the 5 level and I think South knows enough to safely bid 6NT!

Perhaps I should discuss cue bids, before next session (different partner). I'm not experienced enough in this field.
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#12 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2018-July-20, 10:48

View Post661_Pete, on 2018-July-20, 10:23, said:

I don't know that system but I like it - provided I can be confident that South's 3 is forcing. Shows all the controls while still at the 5 level and I think South knows enough to safely bid 6NT!

Perhaps I should discuss cue bids, before next session (different partner). I'm not experienced enough in this field.


You certainly should discuss cue bids, but your best bet is to establish and practice a cue bid system with a regular partner: methods vary too much to go far with a casual partner and any incomprehension can be fatal.

The 2 bid is already a Game Force, North's 2 reply shows 3-card support and fixes trumps. South's 3 shows at least mild slam interest, inviting North to cue bid. The successive cue bids show first or second level controls indistinctly, Italian style. North's 5 denies an even number of Keycards, so South knows that they are missing the A but have the K as well as the K - things are pretty much sewn up at the safe 5 level.
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#13 User is offline   miamijd 

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Posted 2018-July-20, 11:58

I generally play 14-16 or 15-17 NT (2/1), but even with a weak NT, I think you went off the rails with an ace-asking bid (and yes, 4NT is quantitative, not keycard). How about bidding 3C after the transfer? Now when partner bids 3H, you can start cue-bidding. It could even be that your best spot is is 7C (Axx xx AJx Kxxxx, for example).

Cheers,
Mike
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#14 User is offline   HardVector 

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Posted 2018-July-20, 20:13

I am continuously amazed when these kind of hands come up, and people asked me "How should I have bid this?" as they invariably end up in the wrong place. I always ask them, How do you show a hand that has a good 6 card major and is forcing to game? I always hear, "I can't". This is a major flaw when you replace the natural meaning of a simple 1nt-3h bid as natural, forcing, 6+ cards and slam interest. Yes, it's old fashioned. Yes, it makes the responder declarer in a suit contract. But it makes the bidding easy, and if you end up in slam, that means that responder is just as strong as the opener is.

If, however, you wish to retain your modern, conventional bidding, then are you aware that your 4n bid was NOT Blackwood? But even if your partner understands it that way, then you are bidding Blackwood with 2 fast diamond losers. In other words, you are assuming that partner has the king of diamonds. If you are going to make assumptions and just go for it, you might as well just bid 6n and go for that too. As a matter of fact, don't even mention the heart suit, just bid 4c (Gerber) over 1n right away.
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#15 User is offline   smerriman 

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Posted 2018-July-20, 22:18

View PostHardVector, on 2018-July-20, 20:13, said:

I always ask them, How do you show a hand that has a good 6 card major and is forcing to game? I always hear, "I can't". This is a major flaw when you replace the natural meaning of a simple 1nt-3h bid as natural, forcing, 6+ cards and slam interest.


Really? That is, with pretty standard bidding, you have at least four options:

- Texas then pass, without slam hope
- Texas then KC/Blackwood
- Transfer then splinter, with shortness
- Transfer then bid game, without shortness

If you don't play Texas or splinters (probably because you haven't gotten around to learning them, vs more useful definitions of those bids), then isn't it pretty unlikely that you play a conventional 3?
Feel free to send me a friend challenge of any format as often as you like. I'll always accept :)
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#16 User is offline   dokoko 

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Posted 2018-July-21, 00:49

View Post661_Pete, on 2018-July-19, 02:36, said:

The main point of interest here is the scoring.

In pairs MPs, I was looking at this powerhouse the other day, sitting south, dealer N, EW vul:

As soon as partner opened 1NT (12-14) the slam looked highly likely, so my first idea was to establish trumps with a transfer (it didn't seem to matter that North would be playing the hand), then fire off Blackwood. We duly settled on 6 and after the defence cashed their A, and no 'unfriendly' ruffs, it was laydown.

So far so good. There was no possibility of an overtrick, as far as we could see. We were the first to play this board, and were hoping for nice things on the traveller. After all, there was a good chance that other tables might stop at game....

Not so. At the end we found ourselves with a paltry 50% :( . Of the seven tables who played it, five played in 6. One got stuck at 4NT (presumably a bidding mix-up) so they earned the 'bottom'. The seventh table chose to play it in 6NT, and those crucial extra 10 points made all the difference - they bagged 100%. Oh if only it had been IMPs!

It never occurred to me that I might have needed 6NT to share the honours. Anyway I'd have been a bit scared to bid it, with singleton K and not knowing if we had the A. Perhaps cue-bidding is called for here?


Why do you expect more than 50% by just doing routine things? True, you can expect to outscore those who have accidents in routine auctions on one hand in three. Perhaps just bidding slam is enough for most of the MPs in some clubs.

But, as several posters pointed out, to earn a top you must either take risks (e.g. bash out 6NT) or use better tools (and master them) to reach the best contract.

BTW, at IMPs you would probably have pushed the board.
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#17 User is offline   Tramticket 

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Posted 2018-July-21, 03:16

View Postsmerriman, on 2018-July-20, 22:18, said:

Really? That is, with pretty standard bidding, you have at least four options:

- Texas then pass, without slam hope
- Texas then KC/Blackwood
- Transfer then splinter, with shortness
- Transfer then bid game, without shortness

If you don't play Texas or splinters (probably because you haven't gotten around to learning them, vs more useful definitions of those bids), then isn't it pretty unlikely that you play a conventional 3?


661_Pete is in the UK, playing Acol. Texas transfers are not part of standard Acol, 3H/3S as natural and forcing would be the alternative. There are some good theoretical reasons why this approach might be better in a weak NT context:
-1NT,4M is natural, allowing you to play 4M from either side (direct or through red suit transfers), depending upon whether you want the lead to come to your hand or to partner's.
- For stronger hands you bid 3M, ensuring the stronger and less defined hand is declarer and hidden.
- You have set trumps at the three-level on slam-going hands, saving a whole round of bidding.
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#18 User is offline   HardVector 

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Posted 2018-July-21, 12:49

View Postsmerriman, on 2018-July-20, 22:18, said:

Really? That is, with pretty standard bidding, you have at least four options:

- Texas then pass, without slam hope
- Texas then KC/Blackwood
- Transfer then splinter, with shortness
- Transfer then bid game, without shortness

If you don't play Texas or splinters (probably because you haven't gotten around to learning them, vs more useful definitions of those bids), then isn't it pretty unlikely that you play a conventional 3?

Point 1: The question was how to force to game. The idea is to gather information. Texas just sets the game, like 1n-3n does
Point 2: You are not gathering information, you are taking control. Still doesn't address the 2 fast diamond losers.
Point 3: What if you have a 7222 hand? Also, your hand may gain value if you know your partner has a fit (3 or 4 cards).
Point 4: This is the whole idea. You are making decisions without gaining any information from your partner. You are guessing.
Point 5: The method you didn't address. Texas then cuebid for a slam try. This is basically the only viable option. The problem is, that you are now exploring at the 5 level.

1n-3h/3s is generally some kind of conventional bid, and I just ask the question, WHY? A conventional bid should be an improvement on the natural meaning and here I can't find something better. About the only thing that is close to being acceptable is showing 31(54), 13(54) hands. I still don't feel this is more useful than the natural meaning. By the way, just because in this case I prefer natural methods does NOT mean I am ignorant of conventional bidding. I challenge you to attempt to play Viking Precision if you really want to stretch yourself in bidding.
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#19 User is offline   tashi108 

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Posted 2018-July-21, 13:13

Actually, it could be fairly simple with SAYC methods if you are only playing 4th Suit Forcing.

1C--1H--1S--2D*--2NT--6NT (or B'wood to be safe)

2NT after 4SF (2dia) must show a diamond stopper
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#20 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2018-July-21, 13:51

View Post661_Pete, on 2018-July-20, 10:12, said:

Standard Acol. I rather like the idea of 1NT - 3, but was playing with a new partner and we hadn't agreed that this would be forcing, so I didn't want to risk it.

As it happens, I got a better result on a fairly similar board, yesterday. This time the fit was in but I made certain of reaching 6NT this time - making +1. The slam wasn't such a good one, it depended on a finesse but luck was on our side! This time, looking at the traveller (8 tables this time), four others got the same as us, but at MPs a shared top (79%) beats a mere average! BridgeWebs says, the 'optimum' is 7NT but no-one bid that!


7 might shown as being made and optimum by the analysis package, but grand slams should normally be bid if you can count 13 tricks or they are something like a 67%+ chance of making. That's especially true at matchpoints where in a normal field there always seem to be a few pairs that will have trouble bidding slam. Any slam bid rates to be at least average plus. Where you might think about a NT slam versus a suit slam is if the HC controls exist and you're pretty sure everyone will be bidding slam.
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