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Slam Try after Stayman

#1 User is offline   Liversidge 

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Posted 2018-August-04, 11:53

I have read somewhere (think it's an Andrew Robson book) that with an 8 card fit a suit contract usually plays one trick better than No Trumps, from which I assume that if I can make 12 tricks in spades then it is quite likely that I will make 11 tricks in No Trumps. If I can make 6NT then there is a good chance I will make 13 tricks in spades. I may not have got that right, but if I have then could you help me with this question:

We play 1NT = 12-14. Partner opens 1NT and I have 20 points 4432 with a 4 card spade suit. I bid Stayman and partner responds in my major. Now what? Should I not bid 4NT (quantitative) but pursue the spade contract instead, and if so how? Do I bid 5?

If partner responds 2, which does not deny spades, should I give up on spades and bid 4NT (quantitative)?
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#2 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2018-August-04, 12:19

Firstly - you need to agree what 1N-2-2-2 means. For most Americans this is inv with 4, we play it forcing (not necessarily showing spades, slam invite) so can use it here, partner simply bids his 4m,rebids hearts with 5, bids 2N with 3433 or raises spades with 4. You could also use 1N-2-2-3 as either forcing agreeing hearts, or the hand you have, just need to know which you choose.

Secondly there are all sorts of bids that you can use as a forcing agreement of spades, I'm not sure whether there's any standard here but one of the 4 of a suit bids over 1N-2-2 can be allocated to forcing with spade agreement rather than a splinter.

Other useful gadges, we use 1N-2-2-4 as blackwood and I'd recommend this even if you don't use kickback in any other auction, allowing 4N to be quantitative

Also beware of generalisations:

The suit fit plays better if there's something to ruff, and if you don't have 2 trump losers, beware of hands where you have 12 tricks but 2 losers, one or both in your 4-4 fit suit.
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#3 User is offline   FelicityR 

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Posted 2018-August-04, 13:12

This is on the Novice and Beginner Forum, so I'll try to deal with this in a straightforward manner. Having complicated conventions in your armoury may help but 4-4 or occasionally 5-4 fits in both balanced hands will probably not produce any extra tricks to warrant a grand slam.

Having established the fit via Stayman I would just bid 6. Grand slams are rare.

If no fit exists, then you could choose between 4NT (quantitative) or just bidding 6NT hoping partner hasn't got a bad 12 count.

All a bit agricultural but direct bidding is sometimes better than giving the opponents clues.
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#4 User is online   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2018-August-04, 14:19

If you play transfers, there are two most common methods for establishing fit and slam try/key card asks after stayman:

Method 1:
  • bid 3 of the other major to set trumps with fit. This is not needed as natural since if you had just the other major, you would have transferred. (e.g. 1nt-2c-2s-3h, 1nt-2c-2h-3s).Now cue bidding follows, 4nt is RKC.
  • Jump to 4 of a new suit as a splinter. (1nt-2c-2s-4c = club splinter)

Method 2: (aka Baze)
  • jump to 4c is RKC Gerber (0314 or 1430 by agreement) (1nt-2c-2s-4c). Jump to 4d is setting trumps, no shortness, quantitative slam try. Some people swap 4c/4d meanings.
  • 3 of the other major is splinter *in any suit*, next step asks where.

If partner bids hearts, possibly having spades also, and you have spades, you can still keep spades in the picture with 4nt/5nt bids. Over the quantitative 4nt partner can accept with spades if he has them (you have to have them since you wouldn't use stayman otherwise). 5nt would force to slam, partner can choose between 6s/6nt.

As for 4-4 trump fit taking more tricks -- sometimes. It depends on overall strength and hand shapes. Obviously if you are missing an ace, you aren't going to take 13 tricks in a suit and 12 at notrump; you'll lose the ace at least at both. So there is a rule of thumb particularly at matchpoints to try 6nt when having sufficient power but missing an ace/keycard, but trying 6M not missing one, because 6M sometimes comes up with a ruff for the 13th trick. Excess power for a particular level tends to favor NT as you either only have winners to ruff or enough winners to discard losers without ruffing after losing whatever sure trick(s) the opps are entitled to. When you are a bit thin on high cards you may need to play in a suit for that crucial 12th trick via ruff. Excess highs you play in NT to avoid the opponents ruffing or bad trump split or if at MP for the extra 10 pts.
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#5 User is offline   HardVector 

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Posted 2018-August-05, 13:47

View PostLiversidge, on 2018-August-04, 11:53, said:

I have read somewhere (think it's an Andrew Robson book) that with an 8 card fit a suit contract usually plays one trick better than No Trumps, from which I assume that if I can make 12 tricks in spades then it is quite likely that I will make 11 tricks in No Trumps. If I can make 6NT then there is a good chance I will make 13 tricks in spades. I may not have got that right, but if I have then could you help me with this question:

We play 1NT = 12-14. Partner opens 1NT and I have 20 points 4432 with a 4 card spade suit. I bid Stayman and partner responds in my major. Now what? Should I not bid 4NT (quantitative) but pursue the spade contract instead, and if so how? Do I bid 5?

If partner responds 2, which does not deny spades, should I give up on spades and bid 4NT (quantitative)?

Look up the Baze convention after 1n openings. Barring that, just bid what you think you can make. Also, after a Stayman response, a jump to 4c should always be Gerber. Note, it has to be a jump. If it goes 2n-3c-3h-4c, this is not Gerber in standard bidding.
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#6 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2018-August-05, 18:08

Standard is that
1NT-2
2-4NT
is quantitative with four spades. I suppose opener, with four spades, just bids 5/6 with minimum/maximum, but you could also agree to show keycards.

However, it is better to be able to find a minor suit fit also, especially if it is your style to open 1NT with 24(52). You could agree to play
1NT-2
2-3*
as minor suit ask.

To invite slam with a fit for opener's major, you bid
1NT-2
2-3
or
1NT-2
2-3

Finally, as Cyberyeti mentions, you need to agree on the meaning of
1NT-2
2-2

If you play this as a relay you don't need to use 3 as minor suit ask.

If you play non-promissory Stayman, you could play this as four spades, invitational. It is maybe slightly better to invert 2 and 2NT so that 2 becomes a relay, in first instance asking for strength but could also be used with slamish hands. Or you could decide that you don't worry about the spades fit with invitational hands so that 2NT doesn't deny four spades in this auction.

If you play promissory stayman, 2 here is normally an invite with five spades, but you could also play it as a relay or maybe as a weak hand with four spades and longer diamonds.
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#7 User is offline   bravejason 

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Posted 2018-August-09, 10:50

Given the amount of points between the two hands, I would ask for aces after finding the spade fit and then bid the slam or not accordingly.

I doubt I would bid 7, but if I was inclined to do so, I would do so only if my side had all four kings. The opponents potentially have 8 points between them and I want those points to all be queens and jacks rather than risk holding Axx facing Jxx and the opponents having the guarded K and Q.
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#8 User is online   TylerE 

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Posted 2018-August-10, 13:33

One convention I really like here is RKC Gerber.

After a Stayman response OR a transfer, 4 is RKC and agrees trumps.

so for instance...

1N-2
2-4 = RKC for

1N-2
2-4 = RKC for

Simple, pragmatic, and oftem lets you stop in 4M
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#9 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2018-August-12, 18:01

I would just call a jump to 4 after Stayman and partner shows a major "RKC". "Gerber" is a different convention, and only asks for aces. "RKC" here, as some have pointed out upthread, is part of Baze.
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#10 User is online   Tramticket 

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Posted 2018-August-13, 03:14

There are various approaches that you can discuss with partner:
- Stayman followed by 4NT is usually agreed as quantitative - but some partnership agree it as ace-asking.
- Bidding three of the other major after a positive Stayman response to show a fit and invite slam has been mentioned above. I use this with one partner.
- If you don't play transfers in four suits, it is common to play 1NT, 2 as a range-ask bid. This would be used on invitational hands and potential slam hands. Responder bids 2NT with a minimum or four-card suits up the line with a maximum. This allows you identify whether opener is minimum / maximum and find potential four-card fits in any suit (not just major suit fits).
- Even if playing transfers in four suits, it is possible to use the sequence 1NT, 2; 2, 2 as a range-ask.
- One simple idea is to respond 1NT, 4NT on all slam invite hands and decline to use Stayman. Opener passes with a minimum, but with a maximum opener bids a four-card suit at the five level or a five-card suit at the six level.
- I dislike Gerber, but I suppose that it is possible. I would prefer to use 4 as a splinter - another method of looking for a slam.
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#11 User is online   pescetom 

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Posted 2018-August-13, 07:22

View PostTylerE, on 2018-August-10, 13:33, said:

One convention I really like here is RKC Gerber.

After a Stayman response OR a transfer, 4 is RKC and agrees trumps.

so for instance...

1N-2
2-4 = RKC for

1N-2
2-4 = RKC for

Simple, pragmatic, and oftem lets you stop in 4M


I would call that a 4 RKCB Kickback, not RKC Gerber.
And I'm not thrilled about using it over a Stayman response.
Over a 2-level transfer yes, also over a 2 or 3 level preempt in any suit but (in which case use 4).

Not that any of this is suitable for Novice and Beginner IMO.
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#12 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2018-August-13, 11:32

View PostTramticket, on 2018-August-13, 03:14, said:

There are various approaches that you can discuss with partner:
- <snipped> - If you don't play transfers in four suits, it is common to play 1NT, 2 as a range-ask bid. This would be used on invitational hands and potential slam hands. Responder bids 2NT with a minimum or four-card suits up the line with a maximum. This allows you identify whether opener is minimum / maximum and find potential four-card fits in any suit (not just major suit fits<snipped> - I dislike Gerber, but I suppose that it is possible. I would prefer to use 4 as a splinter - another method of looking for a slam.


One can and imo should use 2S (in response to 1N) as range-ask even if or indeed especially when playing 4 suit transfers.

Now, this topic is probably too much for a novice/beginner forum, but posting mistaken ideas is even worse than posting 'too advanced' ideas, since it sows confusion.

When playing 4-way transfers, the normal scheme is:

2D shows 5+ hearts
2H shows 5+ spades
2S shows 5+ clubs
2N shows 5+ diamonds

Note that with the minor transfers it would be normal to insist that one hold 6+ in the suit if one intends to play 3m, or if one is hoping to look for a borderline suit game or slam. However, an auction such as 1N 2S 3C 3N can be used to show a hand with 5+ clubs, no stiffs or voids, values for game and (in my view) a hand that is heavy...has mild slam interest. With a lesser hand, one just bids 3N

A big reason for this scheme of 2S for clubs and 2N for diamonds is that there is a gap between the call made and the suit shown, and this gap can be used to allow opener to show whether she likes her hand or not.

Traditionally, the 'like' or 'dislike' revolved around fit for the minor (Hxx or better = good, and xx equals bad) and overall strength (if 1N = 15-17, then 15 = bad, 17 = good, and 16 = depends, but probably good)

Now, using 2S as range ask means that one bids 2S with:

a) a hand invitational to 3N without a major....the hand that would have bid 1N 2N absent using 2N artificially, or
b) a hand with long clubs, including hands that simply want to get out in 3C


It is possible to include other, more complex hands in the structure but that would definitely be a bridge too far for this forum or for the Intermediate forum as well.


The normal expert way of responding to a minor transfer, when 2S is either range-ask or clubs, is to use:

a) first step: minimum hand, not encouraged
b) accept the transfer (second step): good hand in context.

The main difference between how one rebids, as the opener, when playing range ask is in clubs. Remember that traditionally, when playing that 2S always shows clubs, one looks at how one fits clubs, as well as one's overall hand, to determine whether one likes one's hand or not.

When 2S includes hands that simply want to invite in notrump, there is little point in looking at one's clubs to assist: one simply looks at whether one would accept a natural 1N 2N auction.

If the answer is 'no', then bid 2N. Partner will pass anytime she had the 'invitational in notrump' hand, since you've said that you would reject the invitation.

What if partner has clubs?

She bids 3C to play, or bids 3 of another suit to show shortness there and announce game-force values with clubs, or bids 3N to show a balanced or semi-balanced hand that had some reason for not bidding 3N initially (in my view, this is the hand that had some slam interest until opener showed a bad hand)

This post is off-topic in terms of the OP, but I wanted to correct a misdescription of a very useful tool....the 2S response to 1N as range-ask. Not only is it playable with a 4-way transfer method, but it is in fact ideal in that context. Bear in mind that it is a replacement for an invitational 2N bid, so it is necessary only in methods in which 2N is assigned an artificial meaning (there are a myriad of such methods, of course).

At the risk of going on too long, some might wonder why bother with range-ask? Why not simply bid 2C stayman and then 2N, with the agreement that 2C doesn't promise a major?

That approach is pretty good, and indeed I played it for many years. However, a little-recognized downside is that opener, who will be declarer in the eventual notrump contract, will be required to give away information about his major holdings, whether that be by way of bidding a major or responding 2D, to deny a 4+ major. Good defenders will use that information not only on opening lead but also during the defence of the hand.

Since when responder has no major and merely an invitation in notrump she will have no interest in knowing about majors or the lack thereof, the information exchange arising from an unnecessary stayman auction is all one way....to the defenders. That is not a good idea.
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#13 User is online   TylerE 

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Posted 2018-August-13, 18:53

View Postpescetom, on 2018-August-13, 07:22, said:

I would call that a 4 RKCB Kickback, not RKC Gerber.


That would be incorrect. A kickback bid is Trumps+1
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#14 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2018-August-17, 18:13

I'd just call it a Roman Keycard Asking Bid. The fact that it's 4 does not make it Gerber — that's a different convention.
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#15 User is online   pescetom 

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Posted 2018-August-18, 16:17

View PostTylerE, on 2018-August-13, 18:53, said:

That would be incorrect. A kickback bid is Trumps+1


Yes, if you are literal minded.
But there are Kickback-like conventions (Crosswood, Preempt RKCB etc) that use strains other than Trumps+1 as the asking strain for one or more predefined suits or for the current suit.
These aren't strictly Kickback, but the inspiration comes from there.
IMO the fundamental idea of Kickback is that of bidding RCKB at a lower level than 4NT using a suit as asking strain.
The fact that it was originally Trumps+1 for all suits is marginal and perhaps not optimal.
If you can't live with that, then let's call them all Suit Asking-Strained RKCB or something similarly long winded.
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#16 User is offline   fromageGB 

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Posted 2018-August-19, 04:35

View Postpescetom, on 2018-August-18, 16:17, said:

If you can't live with that, then let's call them all Suit Asking-Strained RKCB or something similarly long winded.

Don't give it a name, just call it ace asking. Whether you have 4, 5 or 6 aces is up to you.
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#17 User is online   pescetom 

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Posted 2018-August-19, 10:07

View PostfromageGB, on 2018-August-19, 04:35, said:

Don't give it a name, just call it ace asking. Whether you have 4, 5 or 6 aces is up to you.

Whether you use NT, Suit+1 or Clubs as the Asking Strain is also up to you, of course.
But Novice and Beginner are probably best off using 4NT as the only ace ask.
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