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The robots use Gerber sort of

Poll: Gerber (29 member(s) have cast votes)

Is Gerber a useful convention

  1. At any time (1 votes [3.45%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 3.45%

  2. Never (4 votes [13.79%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.79%

  3. Only over no trump openings (16 votes [55.17%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 55.17%

  4. For my opponents (5 votes [17.24%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 17.24%

  5. Other (3 votes [10.34%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 10.34%

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#1 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 01:52

At the place where I learned to play duplicate Bridge last year, there was fierce opposition to the use of Gerber. "HOHOHOHO", that's baby food Mr Namechangedtoprotecttheinnocent would cry out in horror like an actor hearing the word Macbeth or good luck in the theatre.
So abhorrent was the idea of using this particular convention that even local Life Masters would quiver at the thought of bidding 4.

One of the few exceptions was Mr Patel a money Bridge expert and former Engineer who was sometimes brought in to be my partner: he adored it.
So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that GIB claims to play Gerber. After playing with Mr P., and being naturally curious, I soon discovered that there were many variations of Gerber - CRO Gerber, plain Gerber, RKC Gerber and others.
I decided to try it out with GIB at the first opportunity. I set up some hands with my favourite North robot having balanced hands 15-17 and me South with lots of HCP. What could go wrong?
1NT "notrump opener could have a 5CM 15-17 etc.,"; pass
4! "Gerber--" and that's all it says.; pass
4 "Gerber 2 etc.,"
After this, the following continuations are allowed.

4NT is signoff,
5NT is grand slam force in ,
5 query kings.
After that, you get to decide 5, 6 or 7.
I picked 6NT - North did a good job. https://tinyurl.com/y2ov75ob

Which is worth knowing, because if I bid 4NT quantitative North passed and still made 12. https://tinyurl.com/y3l4hq5s
I understand the argument about not using Gerber in suit contracts because of the value of splinter bidding, but over 1NT, it looks pretty good.
Given that there are so many variations of Gerber about now it might be nice to have a bit more info in the system notes.
It doesn't come up very often, but that's only because so many deals are best-hand.
So, my final question is: Is Gerber baby food? If not, which variant is best?
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#2 User is offline   manudude03 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 03:34

Gerber can have its uses, but it's rare. It should generally only be used for unbalanced hands where aces and kings are all you care about. On this hand for example, you need the diamond finesse to work in 6NT regardless of the lead, while you only need it in 6S if you get a diamond lead.
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#3 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 03:47

OK to unpick this, 6N is I think not the right spot, it makes a fraction over 50% of the time. 6 is a spread if spades are 3-2 and is the same as 6N if they're 4-1 unless they lead a diamond, so you probably want to play there. In fact if partner has the same hand without the J 6 still has decent play, 6N is much worse.

Normally you would kick off with Stayman with both majors rather than launching into Gerber, how you then ask for aces once partner bids 2 is a matter of agreement and I'm not sure what the robots do as 4N is quantitative for most people.

I don't think you need the diamond finesse on a diamond lead, spades 3-2 is more likely, so up with the A, draw trumps, 4 rounds of clubs pitching diamonds then play hearts. If spades are 4-1 you still may survive if the same player has 4-4 in the blacks
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#4 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 03:52

Please! Here's the solution https://dds.bridgewe...a2.69869295.pbn
6NT makes 100% from either side.
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#5 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 03:55

View Postpilowsky, on 2020-October-09, 03:52, said:

Please! Here's the solution https://dds.bridgewe...a2.69869295.pbn
6NT makes 100% from either side.


Of course it does IF YOU KNOW THE DIAMOND FINESSE WORKS, if it doesn't, 6N goes down, 6 still makes, reverse the two defensive hands and you'll see the problem
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#6 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 04:00

View PostCyberyeti, on 2020-October-09, 03:55, said:

Of course it does IF YOU KNOW THE DIAMOND FINESSE WORKS, if it doesn't, 6N goes down, 6 still makes, reverse the two defensive hands and you'll see the problem


Oops sorry, no wonder I made it so easily the first time!
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#7 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 04:02

...and yes, it's quantitative for the robots as well. see OP.
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#8 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 07:07

View Postpilowsky, on 2020-October-09, 01:52, said:

Is Gerber baby food? If not, which variant is best?

I don't know, but using a gerbified version of a gadget that nullve-nullve play and given that South is crazy enough to launch it directly over 1N, the auction would start

1N(1)-4(2)
4(3)-4(4)
5(5)

(1) 15-17 BAL
(2) "K-Q Gerber"
(3) even # of kings
(4) asking
(5) odd # of queens, Q, Q, no Q,

and then Responder would know about

2 aces + Q + Q + Q

in Opener's hand.
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#9 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 08:00

I have a general dislike for ace-asking bids (especially with a jump). Gerber is one of many that fall in that category (along with 4NT Blackwood/RKC in a whole list of situations, Lackwood/Voidwood/Exclusion Blackwood, Redwood/Kickback and Minorwood). On general principles there are three questions that must be answered before you can push to slam. In order of importance:

  • Your partnership needs to determine and establish a trump suit, or establish that you are not looking for one. There are situations where this takes second seat to determining the level (for example when balanced opposite balanced) or you may wish to change tack at the 6- or 7-level, but more commonly it is precisely the establishing of a trump suit which lets both players make a proper valuation of their hand.1
  • You need to determine the combined strength of the hands, and decide if there is a play for 12 (or 13) tricks assuming normal breaks. In particular: do you have long suits to set up, or enough high card strength to plausibly win that many tricks perforce?
  • You need to ensure you are not off two quick tricks, in the form of two aces (or an ace and the king of trumps, although the latter can occasionally be picked up) or the Ace-King in a single suit.

A lot of beginning players will jump straight to question number 3, often for little more reason than they have a shiny gadget to ask it with. Of course it is possible that after as little as an opening bid from partner you can answer questions 1 and 2 to satisfaction, and convention books will often give examples of hands like this (usually 19+ point battleships with long running suits but oh no, two aces are missing!). And I cannot deny it does happen at the table - as little as 2.5 years ago I participated in a bidding competition (well, 'table') where a Gerber bid was the correct response to a 1NT opening. But in all my other slams, both the ones bid and the ones avoided, work had to be done before it was time to break out the keycard tools.

Furthermore it rarely makes sense to jump in a constructive slam-going auction. There is usually no risk of giving too much information to the opponents, for they can almost never profitably sacrifice on slam-going auctions. By contrast you stand to gain a lot by inquiring as much as possible, allowing you to pick a better suit or reach a profitable 7. Only two weeks ago I had an auction where I was gunning for 6NT, but by taking it as slow as possible I found that partner had the exact right points for a laydown 7NT. For these reasons I play keycard-asking tools are off if multiple control bids or a forcing raise was available instead, or more generally if there is still ambiguity about the answers to questions 1 & 2.

P.S. I don't see the 'once every 5 years' option on the poll, which would be the statistically correct answer based on my experience.

1 On auctions with a clearly defined captain it is not necessary to establish the trump suit in the bidding, merely for the captain to determine it. But in natural systems this is usually achieved precisely by following this sequence of priorities, and if you have mastered some relay system then you have more than outgrown this little explanation.
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#10 User is online   nige1 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 08:42


Thank you Pilowsky..
Edited to remove my loony analysis

On Bridgewinners there is an instructive Keycard asking survey

There, I advocate a version of Key-card Gerber i.e
  • 4C is key-card Gerber, whenever that interpretation makes sense.
  • It agrees the obvious suit.
  • Responses and continuations are similar to RKCB.

My suggestion is so far beneath contempt that it has attracted no comments :(
It does have obvious drawbacks :(
It might well be of little benefit to experts.
For ordinary players, however, please consider some of its positive features:
  • Simplicity
  • Consistency
  • Memorability
  • Ease of use.
  • Space-saving.
  • Economy: reserves only 1 bid (4N etc can be put to other uses).
  • Versatility: applies to both majors and minors.
  • Camouflage: lacking sufficient keys, you place the contract, without further leakage.
  • Safety: often avoids precarious 5-level contracts.

Over 2NT openers I like ...
3/4/4 = Transfers to // respectively
So following the Key-card Gerber rule ...
4 = RKCB for s.

But, in this context, I suppose it might be simpler to use ordinary Gerber :)

This post has been edited by nige1: 2020-October-09, 14:41

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#11 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 10:34

My opinion of Gerber is well noted here. I explicitly play systems so that my partners can't bid it. I don't with one partner, because she's much better than I am - G is still 4 times to zero, and it was the wrong bid at least 3 of those times.

It's not that Gerber is bad - it's that people will bid it when other information is more useful. And they'll jump 2 or 3 levels to bid it - losing all the opportunity to get that information. Even real A players.

It's not that Gerber is bad - it's that people will play it over suits as well, "because we can get out in game". That only increases the chances that they'll wheel it out when other information is more useful. In addition, there is *always* a better meaning for 4 over suits than straight Ace asking (or Keycard, blech).

Now, my other serious partner, we have ways of making quantitative slam tries of 1NT, and keycarding in every suit, below 3NT. So 1NT-4NT is - wait for it - straight Ace Blackwood. That's also never come up.

Gerber works the one hand a year where "I know we have 12 tricks if we're not off two aces". A balanced flat hand opposite a NT opener needs all the high cards, so might as well quant ask. A suit-oriented hand that only cares about missing top tricks - is rare. The other meaning: "Hey partner, we might have slam! And as opposed to our other 'we might have slam' bid, we can stop in 4!" is less rare, and as long as *I* only have to defend against it, I'm good.
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#12 User is offline   dsLawsd 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 23:39

What "they" said. The problem is that GIB robots straight jacket us so often. We use Gerber when we think we will have to mastermind the auction and suspect otherwise GIB will go crazy on us.

For partnerships I recommend Kantar's very complete book RKC: The Final Word where various bids are necessary- (often 4 or 4) become the asks. There is a complete section on minor suits and of course the material on what you need to use RKC and various asks such as for Queens, specific Kings, and those some
times critical holdings in a side suit. Not for the squeamish for sure. So many times it will be better not to use either RKC or Gerber at all.

On this fun hand Stayman might be right depending on the score although I like just bidding 6NT and let them find a lead...
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#13 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-October-10, 01:14

Thanks guys. The point of the post was not the hand itself. In fact, I manufactured a bunch of hands after reading that GIB uses Gerber in order to see how GIB uses Gerber.
I was hoping for something a little more sophisticated than the version on offer, but at least it's better than nothing if I'm desperate. Very occasionally I find myself playing with GIB in non-best hand tournaments and I wanted to be prepared. I've never come across it before this.
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#14 User is offline   Ddancer24 

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Posted 2020-October-10, 04:53

over first or last bids of NT
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#15 User is offline   nudnikbp 

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Posted 2020-October-10, 05:25

Gerber is a jump to 4C over either 1NT or 2NT.
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#16 User is offline   bluenikki 

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Posted 2020-October-10, 06:47

Only *immediately* after a notrump bid and then only if NT is the first natural bid. And then only if jump.

It is for when you have a (very) long strong suit. Major or minor.

With two balanced hands, any ace-asking is wrong.
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#17 User is offline   Joe_Old 

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Posted 2020-October-10, 08:02

View PostDdancer24, on 2020-October-10, 04:53, said:

over first or last bids of NT


Which should include a 2NT rebid by opener after a strong 2C (2C. P. 2D P ..... 2NT).

I have also seen Gerber used in this auction: 2C. P. 2NT P. 4C, where 2NT was positive (8 to 11). In that particular auction the number of kings were critical to reach the lay down 7NT.

I voted "Other".
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#18 User is offline   RD350LC 

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Posted 2020-October-10, 16:31

View PostDavidKok, on 2020-October-09, 08:00, said:

I have a general dislike for ace-asking bids (especially with a jump). Gerber is one of many that fall in that category (along with 4NT Blackwood/RKC in a whole list of situations, Lackwood/Voidwood/Exclusion Blackwood, Redwood/Kickback and Minorwood). On general principles there are three questions that must be answered before you can push to slam. In order of importance:

  • Your partnership needs to determine and establish a trump suit, or establish that you are not looking for one. There are situations where this takes second seat to determining the level (for example when balanced opposite balanced) or you may wish to change tack at the 6- or 7-level, but more commonly it is precisely the establishing of a trump suit which lets both players make a proper valuation of their hand.1
  • You need to determine the combined strength of the hands, and decide if there is a play for 12 (or 13) tricks assuming normal breaks. In particular: do you have long suits to set up, or enough high card strength to plausibly win that many tricks perforce?
  • You need to ensure you are not off two quick tricks, in the form of two aces (or an ace and the king of trumps, although the latter can occasionally be picked up) or the Ace-King in a single suit.

A lot of beginning players will jump straight to question number 3, often for little more reason than they have a shiny gadget to ask it with. Of course it is possible that after as little as an opening bid from partner you can answer questions 1 and 2 to satisfaction, and convention books will often give examples of hands like this (usually 19+ point battleships with long running suits but oh no, two aces are missing!). And I cannot deny it does happen at the table - as little as 2.5 years ago I participated in a bidding competition (well, 'table') where a Gerber bid was the correct response to a 1NT opening. But in all my other slams, both the ones bid and the ones avoided, work had to be done before it was time to break out the keycard tools.

Furthermore it rarely makes sense to jump in a constructive slam-going auction. There is usually no risk of giving too much information to the opponents, for they can almost never profitably sacrifice on slam-going auctions. By contrast you stand to gain a lot by inquiring as much as possible, allowing you to pick a better suit or reach a profitable 7. Only two weeks ago I had an auction where I was gunning for 6NT, but by taking it as slow as possible I found that partner had the exact right points for a laydown 7NT. For these reasons I play keycard-asking tools are off if multiple control bids or a forcing raise was available instead, or more generally if there is still ambiguity about the answers to questions 1 & 2.

P.S. I don't see the 'once every 5 years' option on the poll, which would be the statistically correct answer based on my experience.

1 On auctions with a clearly defined captain it is not necessary to establish the trump suit in the bidding, merely for the captain to determine it. But in natural systems this is usually achieved precisely by following this sequence of priorities, and if you have mastered some relay system then you have more than outgrown this little explanation.

With this I agree completely. I have heard that the skill of a bridge player is inversely proportional to the times they use Blackwood, and Gerber is the same.
In reading a series for beginner players by Larry Cohen, he does mention Gerber, but that is all.
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#19 User is offline   dond01 

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Posted 2020-October-10, 18:39

As just an intermediate player, I'm not sure I have the background to comment, but my take is that 4NT "quantitative" is usually more useful than Gerber. However, there may be times where responder feels they have the trick-taking values for slam, but a concern about being off 2 cashing aces, so it still has some use.
On the actual bidding of the hand, it should be relatively easy to reach 6 spades (or 6NT if responder (presumably playing matchpoints) prefers using standard bidding methods.
I'm pretty sure the GIB robots play that after a Stayman enquiry, a bid of 3 of the other major agrees to a fit and shows slam interest.
So:
1NT-2;
2-3; (confirms spade fit, asks for cue-bids)
4-4;(1st round controls)
4-?
South now knows the A is missing, and can choose the slam.
[If N/S are playing that cue-bids show 1st or 2nd round controls, would still have to go through keycard]
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#20 User is offline   Huibertus 

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Posted 2020-October-11, 03:00

There ALWAYS is a better use for 4, including as a response to NT openings.
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