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Responding to TOX with two 4 card majors

#1 User is offline   thasler 

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Posted 2018-August-15, 12:26

For the record, I play ACOL with my partner but the question I am posing and the answers will probably apply to all natural systems.

My LHO opens 1, partner doubles, RHO passes and I have two four card majors. Should I always bid or should I bid my better quality suit?

To be clear, partner would usually overcall with 8-15 points and a 5 card major, and must have at least one 4 card major. Furthermore, she will trust me to bid at the two level with 8 points plus. So 90% of the time she will pass whatever my response is.

I have seen some articles that suggest bidding the cheaper of two major suits but it makes no sense to me.

True, if I have 8+ point and my partner has 16+ points and a good 6 card suit the bidding may go:
(1) - X - (P) - 2 - (P) - 3, but we will normally make that contract anyway.

Whatever suit I bid there is a risk that we will end up in a 4-3 fit and if so I would surely like it to be my strong suit no?
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#2 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2018-August-15, 13:39

With both 4 cd majors, and about 10+HCP, you should cue bid. (1d)-dbl-(p)-2d. Partner will bid their lowest 4 cd major, then you raise to an appropriate level; 3M would be inv, 4M with enough to force to game, maybe cue bid again if too strong for 4M (rare). The cue bid shows inv+ values with both majors or GF with only one major or no majors (unsuited to 3nt without any majors). New suits after cue bidding are forcing, raising partner's major from 2 to 3 is the only NF action.

With *less* than about 10 HCP though, you aren't really strong enough to want to force to 3 level, so you should bid 1M. In this situation, with both 4 cd M you should always bid SPADES, not hearts. This is because if given another opportunity at a reasonable level (or if partner forces you to bid by cue bidding or doubling again, if you are on the very weak side of the 0-9 range), you are going to bid hearts next. This way, after you bid hearts, partner can pass or correct back to spades at the same level. If you did it the other way, bidding hearts then spades, if partner made a takeout double with 3-4 in the majors to correct to the 4-4 fit he'd have to go up a level.

This at least is the standard way to respond to takeout doubles in America. I'm not that familiar with differences in competitive bidding in the UK. With this scheme you will find your 4-4 fits unless passed out at the 1 level, which is hopefully low enough to make in the wrong fit.
Other notes:
  • It's "Acol", not "ACOL". The system is named after a street name in London where there was a bridge club, not an acronym.
  • Overcalling capped at 15 HCP is considered somewhat antiquated by most better players. Consider overcalling at least up to 17HCP, sometimes even 18/19 on awkward hands when short in a major, especially spades. Partner should raise with a fit, the only real concern is missing a power 3nt game on a non-fit if partner decides not to bid 1nt on some 6-8 count perhaps lacking a stopper in the opp's suit, and not having suit of their own to bid, passing you out. The problem is that doubling just because you have 16/17 hcp, having length in one major but not the other, gets quite awkward in these days of heavy preemption by the opps. LHO jumps raises, partner bids the suit you don't have, you end up correcting at a very high level, higher than you want.
  • Jump to 2M on a random 8 count and 4 bagger might be a bit aggressive. This is an area subject to partnership agreement; personally I like a higher requirement, like 9+ with a 5 cd suit and 10+ with only 4. To me if you have an 8 hcp and 4 bagger you aren't missing game if partner can't raise. Just bid 1, bid again when the opps compete and partner will know you weren't broke.
  • The last sequence you presented with 1d-x-p-2s-p-3h really ought to be forcing to game.

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#3 User is offline   thasler 

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Posted 2018-August-15, 14:55

Stephen,

Thanks so much for the superb reply. I can sleep easy tonight!
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#4 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2018-August-15, 15:46

View PostStephen Tu, on 2018-August-15, 13:39, said:

New suits after cue bidding are forcing, raising partner's major from 2 to 3 is the only NF action.

This is North American standard but I don't think it is UK standard. I may be wrong, but I would expect
(1)-x-(p)-2
(p)-2M
to be passable, and also
(1)-x-(p)-2
(p)-2M-(p)-2NT

(1)-x-(p)-2
(p)-2-(p)-2
is passable for many Dutch players but I would expect most British players to see it as forcing.

In any case, the cuebid is any GF hand as well as an invitational hand with 4-4 in the majors, as Stephen says. Make sure you agree with partner which bids are forcing after the cuebid.
... I am not at all keen on arriving at the 4 level with no idea of where our fit(s) might be. --- Zelandakh
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#5 User is offline   ahydra 

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Posted 2018-August-15, 17:54

Some people play the cuebid as "forcing to suit agreement". I have no idea how that's meant to work :). Perhaps in Helene's third example, it means that 2S is forcing but if doubler simply raised to 3S that would be passable if advancer was minimum.

Doubler can have a fair bit of extra strength though and shouldn't have to jump with say an averagey 15, so I think playing the cuebid as forcing for 1.5 rounds (i.e. promises another bid, at least over a suit reply) might be a reasonable approach.

ahydra
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#6 User is offline   dokoko 

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Posted 2018-August-19, 04:59

With two 4-card majors, I ...

- bid the better one if very weak, as I don't plan to make another bid.
- bid 1 with about 5-7(8) pts, planning to rebid hearts if I get the chance.*
- cuebid with (at least) the values for a jump response.^

* As the doubler will not introduce a 4-card suit after his double I have to bid both suits economically. Same reason why you open the higher of two 5-card suits.

^ This is perfectly playable. The cuebid shows:
a) a constructive or better hand with two 4-card majors (passes/raises 2M = nf) or
b) a invitational or better hand with one 4-card major and a stop (rebids NT = nf) or
c) any game forcing hand.
Doubler bids his better major if he would have passed a 2M response, jumps to 3M as a natural invite or bids anything else as a game force.
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#7 User is offline   dokoko 

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Posted 2018-August-19, 05:21

View Postthasler, on 2018-August-15, 12:26, said:

I have seen some articles that suggest bidding the cheaper of two major suits but it makes no sense to me.


If you read the articles correctly, the authors are just wrong.

The reason for bidding 4-card suits up-the-line is that partner will cooperate in introducing his 4-card suits. So when partner doesn't bid 1 over 1 there is no fit in spades so no need to bid them. This is not the case here as partner cannot deliberately introduce a 4-card major after his double.

Be aware, however, that some players mistakenly think a sequence like (1) dbl (-) 1; (2) pass (2) 2 suggests 5 spades. These players will have to sell out to 2m or play in the wrong major if they don't guess doubler's 4-card suit.
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