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negative free bids

#1 User is offline   bilgo 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 00:29

My partner and I play 2/1. I'd like to know the cons and pros of negative free bids. I personally prefer playing that a free bid is forcing to 1 round, and my partner prefers negative free bids.
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#2 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 00:49

Negative free bids have the advantage that with a weaker hand, you can get your suit in when otherwise you may never get the chance. Also, of course, a negative double will focus on the other major, but with NFB you can show any suit. Though you may have trouble implying 4 after a 1 overcall. I donít know for sure, as I am not very knowledgeable about NFB.

With negative doubles the opposite is true, of course; with stronger hands you can show your suit immediately, and the negative double can be used for hands for which no other bid is suitable, not necessarily weak hands. So it is more flexible than NFB doubles, which is why I think that this method is sounder. Others will disagree, but I believe that you can take full advantage of negative doubles if, after a 1 overcall you donít just use the negative double to show exactly 4 spades. If you define either double or 1 to show 4 or more spades, the other bid can be a good hand with no clear direction (ie a NT-type hand without a stopper).
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#3 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 03:21

 Vampyr, on 2020-January-12, 00:49, said:

Others will disagree, but I believe that you can take full advantage of negative doubles if, after a 1 overcall you don’t just use the negative double to show exactly 4 spades. If you define either double or 1 to show 4 or more spades, the other bid can be a good hand with no clear direction (ie a NT-type hand without a stopper).

Or an NT type hand WITH a stopper - invite partner to bid NT and put the bad guy on lead.
I've not tried this, but seen it recommended by experts.
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#4 User is offline   FelicityR 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 03:34

I've been using negative free bids with my regular partner for many years. The simple answer to the query is that they crop up far more often than hands where you need to force for one round. They define a hand quickly without having to go 'around the houses' by using a negative double or bid a hand with 11+ good points.

They are especially useful where you need to bid at the two level. We bid them up to the level of 3. Approximate point count 6 to a soft 11, depending on vulnerability 5+ cards at two level. 6+ cards at three level.
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#5 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 07:34

Negative free bids were popular here a few years ago but are less common now. The obvious downside would seem to be that a hand which would otherwise be suitable for a natural and forcing free bid has to double instead and now if advancer preempts then opener is at a loss what to do.
A cynic might add that this treatment also loses some effect once opponents know about it (not all people are scrupulous about alerting the negative free bid and the double is not alertable here) <_<

I have an occasional partner who plays negative free bids with her main partner and normal free bids with me. FWIW she prefers not playing it, but more significant, she tends to make some related mistake at least once per tournament - it's not easy to flip between the two treatments, so this is not a choice that should be made lightly.
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#6 User is offline   gwnn 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 08:28

You can use a baby version, "switch":

For example after
1D-(1S)-?
2C* 7+ hcp, 5+ H
2H* 11+ hcp, 5+ C

You can use this any time you have two unbid suits that you can bid on the 2-level 2m and 2M.* That way you can unite your forcing freebids and negative freebids in the unbid major.

It's a bit clumsy but anyway fun to play.

*-I think the rule is that the overcall must be either 1S or 2C. You can obviously extend it also higher. For example,
1S-(3C)-?
3D = hearts, inv+
3H = diamonds (or looking for a stop)
3S = competitive raise
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#7 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 11:40

NFB have huge drawbacks for constructive bidding, for reaching games and slams, and significant benefits for competing for partscores.

The NFB allows responder to compete, after an overcall, on hands with long suits and modest strength. These hands are difficult to impossible to bid in standard methods. If the long suit is ‘the other major’, where partner or the overcaller has shown a major, negative doubles can work, but in other sequences responder often has to pass and hope to be able to bid later....a hope that may not arise and that carries risks since now one is usually bidding a level higher.

However, the costs are huge. This is particularly true when the ops are able to advance the overcall. The problem is that responder cannot make a natural, forcing bid, so must double. This means that responder often has to show his suit next time, a level or two higher, without any real clue as to whether opener fits or doesn’t fit the suit.

I am primarily an imp player. As such, I really don’t like NFBs. They will, I think, show some gain on partscore hands, by finding fits immediately or by interfering with the opps’ auctions. However, they can and do cost game and slam swings. I’d consider playing them if I were playing only mps. If playing both, I’d rather not play two very different competitive methods, dependent on the form of scoring. Thus I don’t play NFB.

Having said that, in my serious partnerships I play a lot of transfers in competition, and transfers (to a large degree) allow you to have your cake and eat it too. But transfers will not be suitable for other than experienced pairs wiling to do a lot of work.
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#8 User is offline   gwnn 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 12:41

 mikeh, on 2020-January-12, 11:40, said:

However, the costs are huge. This is particularly true when the ops are able to advance the overcall.

Another issue with them is that even if opponents pass, opener has to guess with a minimum unbalanced hand. Suppose it goes

1-(2)-2*-p
???

if 2 can have 1-6 as well as 2-5 in the majors, opener will be at a loss what to do with 1-5 or 2-6 in the majors.

NFBs work the best in Polish/Swedish club, where opener will always be balanced when they are minimum, so a) will have tolerance to responder's suit and b) will not have much of an alternative to pull to anyway. They are more complicated in SA or 2/1 1m auctions because 1m is "two-way" even when minimum: either a suit or a balanced hand.

(actually, most Polish club players still use NFBs even after 1/1M out of simplicity.)

Quote

The problem is that responder cannot make a natural, forcing bid, so must double. This means that responder often has to show his suit next time, a level or two higher, without any real clue as to whether opener fits or doesnít fit the suit.

When I play NFBs, I play jumps to the 3-level as natural and game-forcing (sometimes stretching and sometimes "downgrading" invites into NFBs). I still like to keep doubles quite pure. But obviously losing a whole level of bidding is a huge loss and NFBs (unless after 1 Polish/Swedish) are not my preferred method.
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#9 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 13:09

 pescetom, on 2020-January-12, 07:34, said:

Negative free bids were popular here a few years ago but are less common now. The obvious downside would seem to be that a hand which would otherwise be suitable for a natural and forcing free bid has to double instead and now if advancer preempts then opener is at a loss what to do.
A cynic might add that this treatment also loses some effect once opponents know about it (not all people are scrupulous about alerting the negative free bid and the double is not alertable here) <_<

I have an occasional partner who plays negative free bids with her main partner and normal free bids with me. FWIW she prefers not playing it, but more significant, she tends to make some related mistake at least once per tournament - it's not easy to flip between the two treatments, so this is not a choice that should be made lightly.


It is unfortunate that NFB doubles are not alertable there.
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#10 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 14:25

 Vampyr, on 2020-January-12, 13:09, said:

It is unfortunate that NFB doubles are not alertable there.

I would start with people actually alerting NFBs, which is due but rarely happens.
As for doubles, our regulations are still firmly aligned to the old WBF alert policy, so without screens one must not alert any double or redouble except those that affirm or deny length in one or more specific suits (or redoubles that have opposite meaning to pass).
Whether or not that is a good idea (and whether current alternative policies in EBU and other RAs are any better) would be an interesting discussion, OT in this thread but worth a specific thread some time.
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#11 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 16:06

 pescetom, on 2020-January-12, 14:25, said:

I would start with people actually alerting NFBs, which is due but rarely happens.
As for doubles, our regulations are still firmly aligned to the old WBF alert policy, so without screens one must not alert any double or redouble except those that affirm or deny length in one or more specific suits (or redoubles that have opposite meaning to pass).
Whether or not that is a good idea (and whether current alternative policies in EBU and other RAs are any better) would be an interesting discussion, OT in this thread but worth a specific thread some time.


In the EBU we have a pretty good regulation WRT alerting doubles. Some people complain that it is occasionally counter-intuitive, and it is, but simplicity was wisely judged to be better than developing lists of auctions and making decisions about each one of them.
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#12 User is offline   gwnn 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 22:59

 pescetom, on 2020-January-12, 14:25, said:

I would start with people actually alerting NFBs, which is due but rarely happens.

Our playing TD diligently alerted a 1 NFB, diligently ignored his partner's shocked face, passed, and soon entered +230 into the bridgemate while taking some abuse. I guess he couldn't call himself to deal with it.

(NFBs don't usually apply on the 1/3 level, or at least so do most people play them.)
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#13 User is offline   rhm 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 03:43

 FelicityR, on 2020-January-12, 03:34, said:

I've been using negative free bids with my regular partner for many years. The simple answer to the query is that they crop up far more often than hands where you need to force for one round. They define a hand quickly without having to go 'around the houses' by using a negative double or bid a hand with 11+ good points.


 pescetom, on 2020-January-12, 07:34, said:

Negative free bids were popular here a few years ago but are less common now. The obvious downside would seem to be that a hand which would otherwise be suitable for a natural and forcing free bid has to double instead and now if advancer preempts then opener is at a loss what to do.
A cynic might add that this treatment also loses some effect once opponents know about it (not all people are scrupulous about alerting the negative free bid and the double is not alertable here) <_<

Your cynic is quite wrong. Where I play, Negative Free Bids are quite common at the two level only and very common among Polish Club players, where it is almost an integral part of the whole system.
By the way when partner opens 1NT and RHO overcalls almost anybody plays new suits at the two level as Negative Free Bids.

I agree completely with the first quote above. Once your RHO overcalls - not preempts, in which case new suits remain forcing - you are not that likely to hold a game force without a fit with your partner's suit.
My experience is that when I make a negative free bid, others, playing this bid as forcing, make exactly the same bid, only they can not stop at the two level and quite often get too high on minimum values or a msifit.
Most players are understandably reluctant to pass with a constructive hand and a good suit when RHO overcalls, even if they do not have game forcing values. After all LHO might raise his partner.

 mikeh, on 2020-January-12, 11:40, said:

However, the costs are huge. This is particularly true when the ops are able to advance the overcall. The problem is that responder cannot make a natural, forcing bid, so must double. This means that responder often has to show his suit next time, a level or two higher, without any real clue as to whether opener fits or doesn’t fit the suit.

I am primarily an imp player. As such, I really don’t like NFBs. They will, I think, show some gain on partscore hands, by finding fits immediately or by interfering with the opps’ auctions. However, they can and do cost game and slam swings. I’d consider playing them if I were playing only mps. If playing both, I’d rather not play two very different competitive methods, dependent on the form of scoring. Thus I don’t play NFB.

First: Most play NFB only at the two level.
Once RHO has overcalled I do not play weak jumps in new suits to the three-level. They are game forcing with good suits. (Of course transfers are a very sensible alternative)

So your scenario arises only if

1) you have game forcing values, unlikely in the first place
2) no fit for partner
3) no good suit of your own.

Then you intent to double first. Now if the overcall is advanced you might have to judge between bidding your 5 card suit but with values for game in the knowledge opponents have a fit or doubling again.
Your claim that the costs are huge is greatly exaggerated, probably because you have little experience with NFB. You also underestimate the value when opener knows from the NFB that the hand opposite is limited in strength.
I can not remember ever having got in trouble when holding a game forcing hand.
The method is quite robust and that opponents can exploit NFB is a myth.
It is also a myth that most IMP matches are decided by superior game or slam bidding. Partscore battles matter too and are much more frequent, when opponents overcall, and a lost partscore cost on average about 50% of a game or slam swing.

Rainer Herrmann
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#14 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 04:58

 rhm, on 2020-January-13, 03:43, said:


By the way when partner opens 1NT and RHO overcalls almost anybody plays new suits at the two level as Negative Free Bids.


ridiculous comment there's a massive difference between a NF response to a bid that's in a 3 point range, and one that has an 11 point range or so. You already know enough to judge

Quote

I agree completely with the first quote above. Once your RHO overcalls - not preempts, in which case new suits remain forcing - you are not that likely to hold a game force without a fit with your partner's suit.
My experience is that when I make a negative free bid, others, playing this bid as forcing, make exactly the same bid, only they can not stop at the two level and quite often get too high on a msifit.
Most players are understandably reluctant to pass with a constructive hand and a good suit when RHO overcalls, even if they do not have game forcing values. After all LHO might raise his partner.


If opener can have a 10 count and overcaller a 6 count, there's plenty of room for a GF even without a fit (I have actually held a 22 count in this position).
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#15 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 06:18

 rhm, on 2020-January-13, 03:43, said:

Your cynic is quite wrong. Where I play, Negative Free Bids are quite common at the two level only and very common among Polish Club players, where it is almost an integral part of the whole system.
By the way when partner opens 1NT and RHO overcalls almost anybody plays new suits at the two level as Negative Free Bids.

I agree completely with the first quote above. Once your RHO overcalls - not preempts, in which case new suits remain forcing - you are not that likely to hold a game force without a fit with your partner's suit.
My experience is that when I make a negative free bid, others, playing this bid as forcing, make exactly the same bid, only they can not stop at the two level and quite often get too high on minimum values or a msifit.
Most players are understandably reluctant to pass with a constructive hand and a good suit when RHO overcalls, even if they do not have game forcing values. After all LHO might raise his partner.


First: Most play NFB only at the two level.
Once RHO has overcalled I do not play weak jumps in new suits to the three-level. They are game forcing with good suits. (Of course transfers are a very sensible alternative)

So your scenario arises only if

1) you have game forcing values, unlikely in the first place
2) no fit for partner
3) no good suit of your own.

Then you intent to double first. Now if the overcall is advanced you might have to judge between bidding your 5 card suit but with values for game in the knowledge opponents have a fit or doubling again.
Your claim that the costs are huge is greatly exaggerated, probably because you have little experience with NFB. You also underestimate the value when opener knows from the NFB that the hand opposite is limited in strength.
I can not remember ever having got in trouble when holding a game forcing hand.
The method is quite robust and that opponents can exploit NFB is a myth.
It is also a myth that most IMP matches are decided by superior game or slam bidding. Partscore battles matter too and are much more frequent, when opponents overcall, and a lost partscore cost on average about 50% of a game or slam swing.

Rainer Herrmann

Your analysis seems to be based on the bizarre notion that a normal Ďfree bidí by responder, after an overcal, is game force. I have played NFB. The important point is the range shown. If it is less than invitational, then you have to double with invitational or better hands. Indeed, the invitational hands become the most vulnerable to preemption, although the notion of having to jumpshift with good hands and no fit, Which seems to be popular, leaves me cold.

As for the idea that imp matches are decided mostly (not entirely, although I always enjoy seeing a true straw man argument such as the one you used), itís undoubtedly true, especially in Swiss events scored in VP.

Btw, if your version of a NFB includes invitational values, youveycreated entirely new problems for yourself, since now opener has to keep the bidding alive with even slightly extra values.
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#16 User is offline   rhm 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 08:19

 Cyberyeti, on 2020-January-13, 04:58, said:

ridiculous comment there's a massive difference between a NF response to a bid that's in a 3 point range, and one that has an 11 point range or so. You already know enough to judge
If opener can have a 10 count and overcaller a 6 count, there's plenty of room for a GF even without a fit (I have actually held a 22 count in this position).

I never claimed that there is no difference. Why is it ridiculous mentioning a simple fact?
If you would play new suits forcing after a notrump opening and an overcall your game and slam bidding would surely improve as well and if you play strong notrump you need less to hold game forcing values.

 mikeh, on 2020-January-13, 06:18, said:

Your analysis seems to be based on the bizarre notion that a normal ‘free bid’ by responder, after an overcal, is game force.

Appearences are deceptive
I am completely aware that forcing does not mean the bidding could not die on the next round.
My analysis is based on the notion that I would like a new suit bid at the two level after an overcall to be forcing only if I have game forcing values.
If I do not have them I am clearly at a disadvantage if I force my partner to bid again and the whole point was it is not impossible but unlikely to hold game forcing values when RHO interferes but does not preempt.
You yourself mention the disadvantage of getting too high.

Also if I force, my partner has also more difficulty to differentiate his strength since he can not pass with a minimum hand.
By the way NFB is no hindrance to reach game or slam when hands fit well.
I have had times when I bid a new suit nonforcing reaching game where my counterpart in the other room made a negative double and missed game.

Quote

Btw, if your version of a NFB includes invitational values, youveycreated entirely new problems for yourself, since now opener has to keep the bidding alive with even slightly extra values.

This shows that you have not understood NFB. This is not a question of version, but good bidding or poor bidding.
NFB are not an excuse to bid on bad suits or on a weak hand. Of course they include invitational hands. They are not sign-offs.
NFB always show a constructive hand with a good suit, but less than a game force. Should we eventually defend, they tend to be good lead directors.
The less you have the better the suit. The HCP range is 7-11. With less and without a fit you pass the overcall at the two level or if your suit is poor you might make a negative double. Opener is well placed.
As I said my experience is that at least 90% of the time when I bid a new suit as non-forcing after an overcall other pairs, who do not play NFB, make the same bid, but now the bid is unlimited and forcing.

Rainer Herrmann
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#17 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 13:54

I've played NFB, but only in a 12-14 1N opening context.

My NFBs certainly included invitational hands. The big plus is actually on the invitational hands when partner can pass with a nonfitting minimum and playing in a 5-2 fit at the 2 level is your best spot. Our minimum for the NFB is a little higher than some folks - you have to be able to stand a 2N bid from partner's 15 balanced.

Playing 12-14 1Ns, when partner opens 1m, showing unbalanced or 15+, I think NFBs are definitely a plus. Partner can't have the kind of 14 count that is worried about a good invitational hand opposite, and preemption is more dangerous for your opponents.
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#18 User is offline   gwnn 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 16:54

 akwoo, on 2020-January-13, 13:54, said:

I've played NFB, but only in a 12-14 1N opening context.

My NFBs certainly included invitational hands. The big plus is actually on the invitational hands when partner can pass with a nonfitting minimum and playing in a 5-2 fit at the 2 level is your best spot. Our minimum for the NFB is a little higher than some folks - you have to be able to stand a 2N bid from partner's 15 balanced.

Playing 12-14 1Ns, when partner opens 1m, showing unbalanced or 15+, I think NFBs are definitely a plus. Partner can't have the kind of 14 count that is worried about a good invitational hand opposite, and preemption is more dangerous for your opponents.

Except your partner will keep on showing up with hands with 5-card minors and stiffs in your suit and you will keep on getting into bad spots. At least in a strong NT context, you can hope for a bad hand but with tolerance for your suit. What am I missing?
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#19 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 21:16

 gwnn, on 2020-January-13, 16:54, said:

Except your partner will keep on showing up with hands with 5-card minors and stiffs in your suit and you will keep on getting into bad spots. At least in a strong NT context, you can hope for a bad hand but with tolerance for your suit. What am I missing?


And with a hand like this, you're better off using a negative double how?

Playing NFBs, with a 3154 11-count opposite a 3523 7-count, it goes 1D-(1S)-2H

Playing forcing free bids, with the same hands, it goes 1D-(1S)-X-(P)-2C-(P)-2H (especially at MPs)

and you have the same problem.
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#20 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2020-January-14, 02:49

It wouldnít occur to me to bid 2h on Akwooís hand after a negative double and partners 2c rebid. If partner has three hearts for me, opponents have a nine card spade fit (and half the high cards) and have somehow not found a spade raise or rebid! Far more likely that partner will have a singleton heart and Iím best off playing 2 of a minor.

In general I donít make non-forcing rebids of five card suits where Iíve already shown 4+ length. This does seem to be a difference between my style and some Acol and Polish Club players.
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