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How do people jump straight to slams

#1 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 05:47

Hi all

Curious about something I observe often, especially in suit slams but also with quantitative NT slams. I prefer to bid to slam slowly and usually use cues and Blackwood. Here is an example where due to tiredness or some other excuse I didn't explore further and only made 4+3

Most people who bid slam jumped straight from 3 to 6.

I question how this is safe. I understand it preemptively but surely at that level you want to be sure.

When I look at that hand 6H or 6S is not certain without further exploration. Would be grateful for comments from people who do like to jump straight to slams.

It's an interesting case of two possible major slams I think.



Regards P

PS

As an aside I've noticed over the last six months there is someone who calls themselves a novice on many of the hands I play. They are clearly a very experienced and somewhat dishonest unnamed novice. There is too much of that
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#2 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 06:07

 thepossum, on 2018-November-20, 05:47, said:


Curious about something I observe often, especially in suit slams but also with quantitative NT slams. I prefer to bid to slam slowly and usually use cues and Blackwood. Here is an example where due to tiredness or some other excuse I didn't explore further and only made 4+3



This is probably a matter of style more than anything else.

There are benefits and costs to a controlled and delicate exploration of slam.

Your long and detailed auction will help you evaluate whether your hands have a good chance of making slam.
However, at the same time, this auction will leak information to the defenders and help their defense.

Here's a prototypical example:

Lots of people are reluctant to lead unsupported Aces against slams.

So, if you have a situation where LHO holds Ace empty and RHO holds King empty in some side suit, you might very well be able to make six on bad defense. However, the same detailed cue bidding auction that will allow you to avoid slam off two cashing tricks will also give LHO the information that they need to lead that unsupported Ace and continue to partner's King.
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#4 User is offline   Tramticket 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 06:21

To answer this question, we need to understand first of all why we use Blackwood (& variants such as RKCB, Exclusion etc.) and why we cue bid.

Let's consider Blackwood first as this is simplest. We use Blackwood only when we know that the values are present for a slam, to check that we are not missing two controls and have two quick losers. You should not think of Blackwood as a tool for bidding slams, but rather a tool for staying out of bad slams. It follows that if you know that the values are present for slam and you also know that you don't have two quick losers, then you don't need to use Blackwood (unless maybe you are considering a Grand Slam). Your South hand in the example has three first-round controls (two aces and a void) and one second round control. There is no point in using Blackwood to check for aces.

Cue bidding is a little more sophisticated. Whilst a cue bid does indicate the presence of a particular control, it also sends a message to partner that the values for slam "might be present". Cue bidding involves partner in the decision and is used when you need to know about the overall values for slam - not just controls (cue bidding is also used when Blackwood will not give a helpful answer - maybe because you have a void, or two fast losers in a suit). I am not convinced that the South hand in the example has enough information to be sure that the values are present for slam and I would cue bid over 3 (the problem for South is not knowing how much wastage is sitting opposite the void).

So the main reasons to bid slam without Blackwood or cue bidding is because you know from the bidding to date that the values are present for slam and you know that you are missing no more than one control.

When bidding no trump slams with balanced hands, you can assume that you are not missing two aces when the partnership holds 33 points (or one ace when the partnership holds 37 points).

Finally, occassionally players jump to slam on freak distribution hands without checking on aces, to avoid giving information to opponents - this is often to make opponents guess wrongly whether to sacrifice and bid on or whether to pass and hope to defeat the slam.
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#5 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 06:22

FWIW, with the hand in question, I think that both North and South were way too conservative.
I don't think that the issue is bashing to slam, but rather one of basic hand evaluation.

Both players know that there is a big heart fit and that East's diamond values aren't pulling much weight.

You (South) specifically know

  • That there is a double fit in hearts and spades
  • That you hold a Diamond VOID
  • That you have the Ace of partner's spade suit
  • That you have a first round club control

Bidding 4!H is unfathomable to me.

If you want to be "delicate", bid 3!S.
If you want to bash bid 6
But bidding 4!H is really problematic

FWIW, this is a hand where I would prefer a more delicate auction to bashing 6!H because I am very much worried about missing a grand in Hearts
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#6 User is offline   Tramticket 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 06:27

 Tramticket, on 2018-November-20, 06:21, said:

I am not convinced that the South hand in the example has enough information to be sure that the values are present for slam and I would cue bid over 3 (the problem for South is not knowing how much wastage is sitting opposite the void).


Change this. Thinking about West's 3 bid, there can't be much wastage opposite. The double fit is a major plus.

I think that I would jump straight to slam.
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#7 User is offline   The_Badger 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 06:52

Not much to add to the hrothgar and Tramticket comments other than the restrained bidding of East/West is unbelievable. Against an advanced/expert human partnership you may have been talked out of a slam by aggressive sacrifice bidding. The robot North, in my opinion, doesn't recognise that a known 10+ card fit with his own array of controls - even discounting the dead K - opposite a 2/1 responder is a beautiful hand and is worth another punt beyond 4. And yes, South could have done a little bit more, but North is the real culprit here.
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#8 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 07:39

 The_Badger, on 2018-November-20, 06:52, said:

And yes, South could have done a little bit more, but North is the real culprit here.


For me, South is obliged to bid 3. Bidding is a collaborative process and the double fit is dynamite, why hide it from partner? It also invites partner to control-bid, which puts things on the right footing.
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#9 User is offline   DozyDom 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 08:48

It does require some good judgement to bid the grand here. Obviously not on your auction - both hands are excellent for slam - but after the sequence 1S - (P) - 2H - (5D) - 5H - (6D), which I hope would happen, it feels like a normal S will settle for a plus score in 6H rather than risk everything by bidding the grand.
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#10 User is offline   paulg 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 10:42

As hrothgar says, South has failed to appreciate the strength of his hand especially in terms of valuable controls, but I wonder if North's 3 has also been understood.

In any 2/1 partnership, even if unfamiliar, I expect 3 to cover a wide variety of hands. North is only going to jump to 4 with a hand that is minimum and inappropriate for slam - for example, a minimum 53(32) hand with no control in diamonds.

I doubt even experts have a consensus on what 4 over 3 means, since we debate it often enough (using terms like fast arrival, picture bids, etc), but we have a general expectation that a minimum with no diamond control would bid 4 so partner is better than that. This is sufficient to mean that you should be bidding slam and seeing if it should be a small slam or grand. If partner had bid 4 over 3, then you should probably settle for a small slam.

Note that this is very different from Acol, where the 2 response would not be game forcing and North's 3 would be competitive and non-forcing.
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#11 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 14:30

After the 3 bid, both hands have a very wide range. It is now essential to know your partnership's control bidding style.

If South has to bid 4 with any (near)minimum because a cuebid would promise serious extras, you would do well on this particular hand. South makes a control bid, and North now knows that the partnership has slam values. The price you pay is that next time, North has a monster but the auction is muddled by South bidding 4 instead of showing something which North needs.

If South must bid a control with any hand that has a control, regardless of strength (and the same rule applies to North), you need to play Last Train or some such since otherwise you will only know about your controls and will have no way of knowing if you have enough general values for slam. Last Train is presumably a sensible convention (since many experts play it) but it comes with a cost as it sits in the way of a 4 control bid. It is also not the easiest style to learn, I think.

Finally, you can have the agreement that South can use 3NT to show a minimum (non-serious 3NT) which still leaves room for North to show a control (which would get the message across that North is strong enough to explore slam even knowing that South is minimal). One major costs of this is that sometimes you want 3NT for something else. In particular, you can't use it for minor suit slams as 3NT is usually in the picture as a contract when you have a minor suit fit.

So you pick your style together with partner.

Playing with robots I would bid 4 with the South hand to suppress a club lead (which is likely to be the most dangerous lead) and then jump to 6 next round regardless of North's response. The main advantage of robot bridge is that you can make these tactical bids without causing ethical issues or damaging partnership trust.
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#12 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 16:20

 The_Badger, on 2018-November-20, 06:52, said:

Not much to add to the hrothgar and Tramticket comments other than the restrained bidding of East/West is unbelievable.


One you see that East/West are GIBs, nothing is unbelievable. B-)
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#13 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 16:59

I agree with Helene for the most part.

I add, however, that one will never learn to bid properly playing with and against robots, especially with. GIB uses rules, not judgement. GIB possesses no capacity to visualize beyond crunching a large number of rules-driven examples. One can, I gather, learn to get good results with and against robots, but one is not really playing bridge when one is doing this: one is taking advantage of known problems with GIBís algorithms to create good outcomes. Since real players donít bid the same way, and donít think about bidding using the same rules as does GUB, what works with robots is unlikely to work with humans

Here, I would not jump to slam as South, unless I was limited to a choic3 between slam or game. Bidding 4H here suggests a complete lack of basic hand valuation knowledge.

We have very good spade support. We have a decent but not great heart suit. We have a diamond void and the club Ace. Partner rates to be short in clubs....his holding a stiff diamond is unusual,to say the least, and inconceivable against most human players, so with his known spades, at least 3 hearts, and usually something in diamonds, he rates to be short in clubs. We therefore rate to have few losers, and it remains to be seen how many winners we have.

The obvious first step is 3S. Now, in an experienced partnership, one will have an agreement as to whether this is a cue or a fit. In my partnerships, it is a fit. However, here I donít care, since I have both.

If partner takes it as a cue or a fit, in either case North has sufficient extras to warrant a 4C cue,

Over that, southís hand is huge. It would be useful to play 6 card keycard here: a gadget used when two primary fits are known, so that one counts both kings as keycards, and can show 0,1 or 2 key queens.

However, few pairs use this, and I wouldnít expect an inexperienced player to do so.

One can see how useful the convention is here, and in fact I donít see a clear path to grand without it.

If spades are agreed, via the 3S bid, then South can bid 5D, exclusion, and North can bid 6C, 2 keycards in spades and the spade Queen, but South canít really count tricks. Opposite, say, KQxxx Axx xx Kx one needs both majors to break, which makes grand a poor proposition. Of course, North rates to have more than that to have bid 4C, so maybe one bids 7H anyway. One never bids 7S since we will more often have 9+ hearts than 9+ spades.

If spades are not agreed, or we are uncertain, then over 4C, Iíd bid 4D and await developments. North has a big hand, soft in aces, but partner is making repeated slam tries and we have 3 Kings, so we can safely lace South with at least 2 Aces. Note that this sort of reasoning is, I think, alien to how GIB processes auctions.

Whether we bid grand or languish in six isnít easy to predict.

As for how best to manipulate GIB, I donít know and donít care, since Iím a bridge player,and GIB may be entertaining to manipulate but one is neither playing nor learning bridge while doing so.
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#14 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 18:05

Lots of good comments so far.

Part of the blasting to slam is recognizing that slam is likely to exist and either they known the right cards are likely to exist in partner's hand or that slam is close and there's no way to ascertain exactly what you need to know and are taking a calculated gamble in bidding it. (In this latter case, I've often heard really good players say "Well, partner, this hand's likely either making 5 or 7 and I decided to bid slam." after the auction is over.)

In your example hand, you've hit upon one of the classic types of hands where slam is very likely to exist. When opener rebids 3 , you know there are two fits of at least 8 cards. These "double fit" hands will often yield 12+ tricks if the suits are reasonably solid and appropriate controls are available in the side suits.

Let's consider your hand. In , you hold 3 card support to 2 honors, a terrific holding for potentially solidifying the suit. In , you hold 3 honors which is also good. Even if partner's support is just xxx, you might well be able to bring the suit in with only 1 loser. If partner happens to hold the A, you may even be able to bring home the suit with a 4-1 break. As for the and side suits, you have 1st round controls in both, so this is a very slam positive hand.

So, after partner's 3 raise, it's up to you to start slam exploration. In a 2/1 GF context, you can do that either of two ways.

The first is to let partner in on the double fit by bidding 3 . If you just wanted to play in game you could bid either 4 or 4 . So, 3 says we not only have a fit in , but one in also. If partner doesn't like his/her hand then partner can signoff in 4 or 4 . Otherwise, partner can bid a control.

The second is for you to bid a control. That would tend to point you toward a slam since you've not revealed the fit.

As you can see, partner's hand ought to get excited about slam once you take any step towards it. Partner knows that you have a 10+ card fit. Over 3 , partner can show continued slam interest by bidding a control, or, possibly using RKCB/1430. Some pairs, by agreement, also use 3 NT as a waiting bid showing slam interest.


I'd likely bid 3 over 3 . It let's partner know his/her holding is important and also get partner to focus on the side suit controls when holding reasonable cards in the fitting suits. Good bidding is normally a cooperative effort.
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#15 User is offline   neilkaz 

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Posted 2018-November-20, 19:38

Nice thread here and like others have said, your hand is now too good to just bid 4. Better to keep the bidding open with another call. I'd bid 3 revealing the double fit and then PD should move us towards slam. I'd expect to stop in 6 opposite a bot or typical pd without expert level tools.
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#16 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2018-November-21, 15:45

Thanks everyone for all the comments and discussion.

Regards P
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#17 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2018-November-21, 16:30

 mikeh, on 2018-November-20, 16:59, said:

one will never learn to bid properly playing with and against robots

I will be the advocate of the devil and say that you will never learn to bid properly by playing with humans :)

Of course, the ideal solution is to find a very good partner who is able and willing to teach bidding. But in most towns, the population size of such potential partners is zero. In a city you may have a handful but most likely, zero of them are available.

I think that getting a copy of Jack would be quite useful. But GIB is not that bad, as long as one discusses problematic hands on the forum. Depends what alternatives you have. One advantage of GIB is that people on this forum are familiar with the GIB system.

Of course, reading good books is very important. Just saying that for most of us, practicing with humans (i.e. those humans that are available as partners for a beginner) teaches bad habits also. So I think playing with robots is OK as long as one is aware of the limitations.
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#18 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2018-November-22, 03:12

Dear all

Having played for 40 years despite regarding myself as beginner or ordinary intermediate I must put in a plug for GIB.

1. Bridge is about agreement of a system with partner so I try to play 100% GIB when GIB is my partner
2. Out of thousands of hands I would estimate GIB let me down on less than a few percent of hands
3. From what I see, most criticism of GIB is when people expect a bot to understand their system
4. Learning against a bot is arguably better than a human partner since the adherence to system is very good on average

I generally feel that part of the core of bridge has been lost since I started many years ago. The idea of bridge is that of agreement with a partner and clarity of explanation to opponents. There is no correct way of bidding. It is based on agreement and a convention card. I have been told I couldn't play in a club if I didn't play SAYC. That's ridiculous. If me and my partner play a different system we give you our CC and explain all our bids when required to alert, acknowledge or when asked for explanation. Much of the worst advice I see is from people who think there is only one way to bid. I agree with Helene that learning against bots is not bad

Regards P
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#19 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2018-November-22, 09:58

 thepossum, on 2018-November-22, 03:12, said:

Dear all

Having played for 40 years despite regarding myself as beginner or ordinary intermediate I must put in a plug for GIB.

1. Bridge is about agreement of a system with partner so I try to play 100% GIB when GIB is my partner
2. Out of thousands of hands I would estimate GIB let me down on less than a few percent of hands
3. From what I see, most criticism of GIB is when people expect a bot to understand their system
4. Learning against a bot is arguably better than a human partner since the adherence to system is very good on average

I generally feel that part of the core of bridge has been lost since I started many years ago. The idea of bridge is that of agreement with a partner and clarity of explanation to opponents. There is no correct way of bidding. It is based on agreement and a convention card. I have been told I couldn't play in a club if I didn't play SAYC. That's ridiculous. If me and my partner play a different system we give you our CC and explain all our bids when required to alert, acknowledge or when asked for explanation. Much of the worst advice I see is from people who think there is only one way to bid. I agree with Helene that learning against bots is not bad

Regards P

You are not a beginner. You are, rather, a very weak player who professes to want to learn but who is adamant that your virtually non-existent understanding of the game is superior to that of those of us who have wasted our time trying to help you.

You have no chance of improving for so long as you perceive honest criticism as an attack. Frankly, you bore me.
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#20 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2018-November-23, 16:08

ThePossum asks "Curious about something I observe often, especially in suit slams but also with quantitative NT slams. I prefer to bid to slam slowly and usually use cues and Blackwood. Here is an example where due to tiredness or some other excuse I didn't explore further and only made 4+3. Most people who bid slam jumped straight from 3 to 6.. I question how this is safe. I understand it preemptively but surely at that level you want to be sure. When I look at that hand 6H or 6S is not certain without further exploration. Would be grateful for comments from people who do like to jump straight to slams. It's an interesting case of two possible major slams I think.As an aside I've noticed over the last six months there is someone who calls themselves a novice on many of the hands I play. They are clearly a very experienced and somewhat dishonest unnamed novice. There is too much of that"
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Random thoughts:

In 2/1, North's 3 is unlimited, so South would be worth a 3 or 4 cue-bid on a much weaker hand. However....

The object of bidding is not to describe your hand, except as a means to an end -- reaching a good contract. When you know you have a double fit (here and ), then the law of total tricks implies that opponents also have a fit (here ), if they aren't already aware of that fit, then we might be able to pre-empt them out of finding it. Cue-bididng etc might allow opponents to compete. Anyway, the information from further exploration might be less useful to us than to them. In such contexts, Hugh Kelsey labelled a slow approach "Daisy Picking". Hence, here, there is a case for fast arrival in a likely game or slam.

Unlike some BBO members, GIB is polite, patient, predictable, and happy to let you play the hand. GIB is also quicker and better than the average Bridge-player. so makes an excellent practice partner. If it could cope with Full-Disclosure, that would be a bonus. Other Bots, like Jack and WBridge5 have evolved to overtake GIB.

BBO players who under-rate themselves are preferable to those who over-rate themselves, Most of us make novice mistakes.

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#21 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2018-November-23, 19:25

 mikeh, on 2018-November-22, 09:58, said:

You are not a beginner. You are, rather, a very weak player who professes to want to learn but who is adamant that your virtually non-existent understanding of the game is superior to that of those of us who have wasted our time trying to help you.

You have no chance of improving for so long as you perceive honest criticism as an attack. Frankly, you bore me.


Mikeh - Maybe this is a statement about the average bridge player rather than about the OP, but I'm sure that the OP is better - and more willing to learn new things - than the average player.

For one thing, most bridge players are, in practice, incapable of learning 2/1 well enough to play even remotely well with GIB, despite the explanations of bids being available.

OP has been brought up on playing sound, low-risk bridge that is effective at consistently doing well in very weak fields. It's not surprising that he's questioning ideas that are higher-risk, even if they are better. You would play like him too if you wanted to minimize your chance of losing to players who can't count trumps correctly on a consistent basis.
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