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Strong distributional major hand opposite 1 NT

#1 User is online   thepossum 

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Posted 2019-February-15, 19:02

Dear all

When you get a hand like this opposite strong 1 NT what are your considerations for a bid and how to explore possible slam without overstretching. Also is there any consideration about which hand you want to play from.

I decided on the transfer to spades (missing possible hearts) followed by splinter etc. but wondered about Stayman or bidding a major myself, jumping straight to game, or other unknown options. Note, I had forgotten about Texas but probably would not have chosen it in this case due to my perceived strength of the hand

regards P


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#2 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2019-February-15, 22:24

Splinter seems a reasonable option with this hand. With shorter spades most approaches start with stayman, then a smolen transfer if partner doesn't have a 4 cd major.
Note that playing with bots (unless by some miracle the last update fixed this), splintering doesn't help much because GIB has zero idea how to cooperate with splinters only with working values.

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#3 User is online   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 02:33

swans play best in the long suit
Alderaan delenda est
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#4 User is online   thepossum 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 03:51

View PostStephen Tu, on 2019-February-15, 22:24, said:

Splinter seems a reasonable option with this hand. With shorter spades most approaches start with stayman, then a smolen transfer if partner doesn't have a 4 cd major.
Note that playing with bots (unless by some miracle the last update fixed this), splintering doesn't help much because GIB has zero idea how to cooperate with splinters only with working values.


Thanks Stephen


View Posthrothgar, on 2019-February-16, 02:33, said:

swans play best in the long suit


Thanks Hrothgar and for introducing me to a new bridge term. I've now found a new site with bridge slang now and may introduce some of them into my vocab

In this case the fits were 7-2 spades and 4-4 hearts with marginally better outcome for spades. Ive often wondered about the pros and cons of different fits (eg 4-4 vs 5-3)
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#5 User is online   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 09:29

View Postthepossum, on 2019-February-16, 03:51, said:

In this case the fits were 7-2 spades and 4-4 hearts with marginally better outcome for spades. Ive often wondered about the pros and cons of different fits (eg 4-4 vs 5-3)


As a rule, 4-4 fits are typically preferred to 5-3 fits since they offer a bit more flexibility wrt which hand you take your ruffs in.

(With a 5-3 fit, you really want to be taking your ruffs in the hand with the short trump and, perversely the hand with the long trump is the one where you will often have shortage.)
Alderaan delenda est
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#6 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 11:33

I think transferring is right with this hand. You know that unless partner has opened NT with a stiff you have at least a 9 card fit and maybe more. The fit is 9 cards at most. But I don't think a Texas transfer is right for this hand. Texas is simply for hands where game is the limit or for slam going hands where the only critical thing necessary is opener's keycards. (4 NT after Texas being your variant of RKCB). You have a 5 loser hand which opposite a presumed 6 loser hand for opener indicates potentially 13 winners. So, the hand certainly looks to be one where some slam exploration should be made.

A simple transfer followed by a splinter of 4 is a good way to go. It gives opener lots of information about your hand -> shortness, 6+ card suit, slam interest. If partner finds a control bid, you can continue exploration with a minor suit control. If partner doesn't show a control, you subside in 4 .

Re: 4-4 vs. 5-3 - Generally the 4-4 fit is preferred. That's because if both suits are equal in strength and can be set up, playing in the 4-4 fit offers the chance to set up the 5 card suit for potential loser pitches from the hand with the 3 card fragment. The downside is that the hand may be more difficult to make if a 4-1 break is found.
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#7 User is online   thepossum 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 15:49

Here is the hand and how it worked out. It seemed to make only 5. I can't see a play for 6 although some tried slams in spades and NT. I don't know if my bidding is correct after the splinter but my interpretation of the cues was to stop. If you go straight for Blackwood you find you have all keycards (minus Queen) but miss the gaps I think. Its an unlucky break of trumps and hearts. No idea what the percentage of making it is. I know the chance of a Queen drop is 52%??? but you also want the Jack to drop? I dont know if cues versus Blackwood was correct but the descriptions of Norths 5S was denying AK in diamonds and hearts and I thought I needed some support in those suits, especially hearts


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#8 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 16:39

if the hearts are 4-1 there is a big problem in 6, otherwise on a non club lead it looks easier than 6 particularly by S as you can probably ruff the spades good.

The spades coming in is any 2-2 except QJ with W plus singleton Q/J with W so 52% in the spade suit and then you can survive that not working if the heart finesse works and they're 3-2 (without spades 4-0 offside) so 6 is high 60s %.

5 is a terrible bid by the robot, you could easily be looking at KQxxxxx, KQJx, void, Ax and their aces are exactly what you want, doesn't 5 deny either red ace, so you're expecting something like AJ, xxx, KQJxx, KQx and bid 6 not 7 now.
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#9 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 17:12

It's a good slam. An illustration of how the robots can't bid after splinters. IMO North is supposed to cooperate with 4H after 4D with 3 bullets and minimal wastage in the diamond suit, 14 alleged working pts out of a 15-17 NT. I think if South is needing North to wait until holding perfecto xxx in diamond suit to cooperate, South is being too aggressive with slam tries. When North signs off in 4S IMO South is supposed to give up, as 5S can be in jeopardy opposite some bad North holdings. When South tries again, it's criminal for North not to cooperate having signed off the first time.

You'll pick up the spade suit about 46% of the time. 52% is when you have 9 cd missing Q, but holding J, and you have *already* cashed one honor and the Q didn't drop and have led a 2nd card up and have choice of finesse/drop. At that point it's approx 52:48 in favor of drop not having info in bidding or play about the other suits. Before playing the spade suit at all, it's about 53% to pick up the suit, as you just need 2-2 spades (~40.7%) or stiff Q(~12.4).

But that's not when missing Q and J. When you are missing Q and jack, but hold the T, essentially you are supposed to play for the drop unless an honor drops first round on the favorable side and leaves you a finessing position. This is the so-called "law of restricted choice". The idea is that QJ tight, Q alone, and J alone are all approximately equally likely to be dealt (QJ being very slightly more common than one of the honors). So by hooking, you pick up two of the positions but lose to one, a net gain. So you will pick up Qx/Jx/J/Q with west, but lose to all QJx(x) and QJ tight with West. West with QJ alone is assumed to play randomly either honor. So tally all this up and you get a bit above 46, it's essentially the 40% for the 2-2 breaks, but lose QJ tight with west (a bit over 6%) but gain the stiff honors (a bit over 12).

If the spades don't come in, and it wasn't the disaster QJxx with west, where you are down already, then the hearts have to come in. Since you don't have critical 9/8 spots essentially you need 3-2 with the K onside which is ~34%. So overall it's around 62% which is a decent slam to be in, unfortunately it goes down on the actual deal; it would have made if the E/W hands swapped.
estimate = (46% spades come in, + 34% (hearts behave) *49% (spades don't come in but not QJxx offside)), not totally accurate since hearts behaving isn't totally independent of spade behavior, but close enough.

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#10 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 19:04

View PostStephen Tu, on 2019-February-16, 17:12, said:

It's a good slam. An illustration of how the robots can't bid after splinters. IMO North is supposed to cooperate with 4H after 4D with 3 bullets and minimal wastage in the diamond suit, 14 alleged working pts out of a 15-17 NT. I think if South is needing North to wait until holding perfecto xxx in diamond suit to cooperate, South is being too aggressive with slam tries. When North signs off in 4S IMO South is supposed to give up, as 5S can be in jeopardy opposite some bad North holdings. When South tries again, it's criminal for North not to cooperate having signed off the first time.

You'll pick up the spade suit about 46% of the time. 52% is when you have 9 cd missing Q, but holding J, and you have *already* cashed one honor and the Q didn't drop and have led a 2nd card up and have choice of finesse/drop. At that point it's approx 52:48 in favor of drop not having info in bidding or play about the other suits. Before playing the spade suit at all, it's about 53% to pick up the suit, as you just need 2-2 spades (~40.7%) or stiff Q(~12.4).

But that's not when missing Q and J. When you are missing Q and jack, but hold the T, essentially you are supposed to play for the drop unless an honor drops first round on the favorable side and leaves you a finessing position. This is the so-called "law of restricted choice". The idea is that QJ tight, Q alone, and J alone are all approximately equally likely to be dealt (QJ being very slightly more common than one of the honors). So by hooking, you pick up two of the positions but lose to one, a net gain. So you will pick up Qx/Jx/J/Q with west, but lose to all QJx(x) and QJ tight with West. West with QJ alone is assumed to play randomly either honor. So tally all this up and you get a bit above 46, it's essentially the 40% for the 2-2 breaks, but lose QJ tight with west (a bit over 6%) but gain the stiff honors (a bit over 12).

If the spades don't come in, and it wasn't the disaster QJxx with west, where you are down already, then the hearts have to come in. Since you don't have critical 9/8 spots essentially you need 3-2 with the K onside which is ~34%. So overall it's around 62% which is a decent slam to be in, unfortunately it goes down on the actual deal; it would have made if the E/W hands swapped.
estimate = (46% spades come in, + 34% (hearts behave) *49% (spades don't come in but not QJxx offside)), not totally accurate since hearts behaving isn't totally independent of spade behavior, but close enough.


You are correct, I forgot to deduct QJ doubleton from the 52%. Calculating the odds on 6 is also interesting. If the hearts break and spades are not 4-0 offside you stand very good chances.
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#11 User is online   thepossum 

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Posted 2019-February-16, 19:25

Thanks everyone

I'm wondering if the different options suggest that Stayman or an alternative to the splinter where I can show spades and hearts maybe is a better choice with such hands

Obviously most of the time with 7-4 opposite 1NT the 7 suit is going to be better but especially if partner often has 5 card major with 1NT then Stayman would be better. I think GIB hardly ever bids 1NT with 5 card major even though it is permitted. I like to do it occasionally.

Also are there any figures on how a 7-2 compares to 5-4. From what everyone says 5-4 would be better than 7-2
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