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judgement question on a couple of hand

#1 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 15:13

My partner questioned my judgement on a couple of hands earlier this evening.

We play 5 card majors, strong NT.

Hand 1:


South led the A which immediately set up two diamond tricks, and I made 10 tricks, 41.3%. Several people did bid and make 4.

Partner thought I was too strong to preempt. I am one HCP over, but the offence/defence ratio looks very high, and if I open 1, I don't know what to do if the opponents get going in hearts and 3 comes round to me, so I decided to bid what I thought was going to be the most likely best place to play if it was our hand, and make life awkward for opponents if it was their hand. What do you think, should I have started with 1?

Hand 2:


NS easily made 11 tricks which was a good score for us (68.84%). My partner questioned why I didn't overcall 3. I explained that I didn't think the suit was good enough for a vulnerable three level overcall (despite the 15 count and four quick tricks), and it was too risky (e.g. partner raises, they double, one or two off, or we push them into a making game). She gives me these anecdotes about how one of her other partners (who is a gambler) would likely have overcalled and who frequently makes aggressive overcalls (e.g. 2 on a 7 count and ATxxxx) which mostly work well. Do you think I was too conservative here? It happens we can make 4 thanks to a double fit and no wastage, but I don't know that when it is my turn to bid.
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#2 User is offline   TylerE 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 15:29

1 for me on first. Way too good for a W/R 1st seat 3-level preempt. If the hand were 7222 that'd be more like it. But good suit, a potentially useful queen, AND a singleton is too much. If you're going to hold a gun to my head and force me to not open 1 I think it's clearly better to open 4 than 3, and let the chips fall where they may. The vuln is right for it and even if I catch nothing at all opposite I would expect to get out for no worse than down 3.

That said, I don't think it's that bad a bid - but not one than I want to make because then partner is going to start raiding to 4 on balanced 10 counts, which is going to get expensive opposite what I *likely* have for a W/R preempt.

Passing out 2 on the 2nd is...bad. Like, I'd bid 3 there without the K. This is way less of a marginal decision than the first hand. Anyone who doesn't bid 3 there should have the EMTs called because they have no pulse. Let me be clear, pass is here IS terrible with no redeeming qualties what-so-ever.
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#3 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 15:44

4S isn't a great contract on the first one, but there are enough pitfalls for the opening leader to give you reasonable equity. I don't mind the 3S bid, but I would have raised to 4 with partner's hand. I really don't want to hear 4H on my left (or X-P-4H).

TylerE summed up the second one well. You have a 6-card suit, sharp points and no reason to pass.
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#4 User is online   johnu 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 16:21

View PostTylerE, on 2020-October-16, 15:29, said:

Passing out 2 on the 2nd is...bad. Like, I'd bid 3 there without the K. This is way less of a marginal decision than the first hand. Anyone who doesn't bid 3 there should have the EMTs called because they have no pulse. Let me be clear, pass is here IS terrible with no redeeming qualties what-so-ever.

Although South didn't have a pulse after not bidding over 2, there is a small redeeming quality on this particular hand to not bidding 3 because bidding might wake up South and they might bid the heart game. Of course, there is no reason to expect that N/S can make a heart game looking a 3 aces and a king.
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#5 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 17:04

I’d never open 1S on the first hand. Change my minors to Kxx xx, givin* me the same shape and hcp, and I’d always open 1S. This is why I don’t use hcp as the only metric, nor do I add points for length or shortness. It’s not that I don’t consider shape: it’s that I don’t use arithmetic to value a hand, beyond an initial count of hcp, which is only the start of an evaluation.

The difference between the two hands is significant, both offensively and defensively. On the posted hand, my minor cards are less likely to provide defence, if th3 opps own the hand, while holding a King offers more chance of a trick. 1-level openings should contain some defence.

Having said that, the hand is far too strong, not in hcp but in playing strength, for a favourable vulnerability 3S in the style most experts play. Put it another way: how comfortable will you be letting them play 4H?

I’d happily open 4S



On the second hand, you have to bid 3C. Could it backfire? Of course, but it will work, or break-even far more often than it lands you in the soup.

You can be pretty sure that partner won’t balance if you pass and opener does as well.

I think both hands exemplify the (often) valid aphorism that it’s a bidder’s game.

Of course 3C fetches 3H from south but even if they push you to 5C, it’s hardly clear, looking at only the N-S cards, who could/should double. And even if one of them does, you rate to score fairly well.

Thus I ‘agree’ with your partner in being critical of your choices. I do NOT agree, however, with what I perceive as th3 basis of her criticisms. It’s an error, imo, to argue for a 1S opening on the first, and suggesting that making 2 or 3 level,overcall son 7 counts is good ‘aggressive’ tactics is silly, imo. I suspect that her hero plays in weak fields or with passive partners, such that he does ‘all’ the bidding for the partnership.
'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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#6 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 17:32

I don't like overcalling at the three level vulnerable on iffy suits and partner is marked with little. Looks like I am out of touch with the modern bridge world.
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#7 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 17:50

Here are a couple hand from the same session which shows what happens when I do err on the aggressive side:



2 showed 5-5 in the red suits, and as we hadn't discussed how to deal with this, I made the most practical bid I could think of. Two down, 8.7% (although my partner did misplay it).



2 isn't game forcing, but opposite a 2/1 I felt I was good enough for a jump rebid (5 losers and a long reasonable suit). The 4-0 offside break killed it, and I went one down, 48.55%.

Years of getting punished like this for sticking my neck out has meant I tend to err on the side of caution in what I view as marginal situations. If I increase my bidding aggression I will have to improve my card play skill.
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#8 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 18:16

On hand (1) - I would open 4 at the given vulnerability. Whether you open that 1 or not is a matter of partnership agreement, and I do play in partnerships that open that 1. I think agreeing to pass that hand is a mistake (but if it's your agreement, follow it).

On hand (2) - Please take a big pad of paper, and write "-100 is a better score than -110." a hundred times. Then write "Never let opponents play in 2 of a fit." ninety-nine times. (You can write "Very rarely it's okay to let opponents play in 2 of a fit." once.)

EDIT: The point isn't to increase your bidding aggression overall, but to increase it in the situations where down 1 is likely to be a good score.

A story about jumping into the auction at the 3 level:

Matchpoint pairs, open regional event which is fairly good, playing against a strong pair. Opps are playing 5-card major 12-14 1N, and this is the ACBL, so they're probably one of two or three pairs in the field playing something other than 15-17. I hold



I'm in a pretty bad spot. Most likely the field opened 1N with the East hand. (For those of you from Acol backgrounds, you should know that in ACBL-land, 5 card major 12-14 1N systems are usually descendants of Kaplan-Sheinwold, where the 2M raise is up to 16 or 17 if balanced.) So if 2 makes, which it looks like it will, it will probably outscore the folks in 1N, meaning a bottom for us.

So I bid 3. If I make, it's a very good score. If I go down undoubled, it's probably still a good score. If I go down 1 doubled, I'll still beat the -120s, though I won't beat the -90s, but I was already losing to the -90s. And if I end up -300, which is a real possibility, well I probably only lost 1 or 2 matchpoints.

All the cards are in the right places and I make, doubled, for a top. (It was a top without the double. I took a while, then asked "Do you frequently raise with 3 card support?", before bidding, both of which flashed a big "Double me" sign, but I didn't want to bid if they were in a 4-3 fit and destined to make no more tricks than the folks in 1N.)
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#9 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 19:10


AL78 'Hand 1: My partner questioned my judgement on a couple of hands earlier this evening. We play 5 card majors, strong NT. South led the A which immediately set up two diamond tricks, and I made 10 tricks, 41.3%. Several people did bid and make 4. Partner thought I was too strong to preempt. I am one HCP over, but the offence/defence ratio looks very high, and if I open 1, I don't know what to do if the opponents get going in hearts and 3 comes round to me, so I decided to bid what I thought was going to be the most likely best place to play if it was our hand, and make life awkward for opponents if it was their hand. What do you think, should I have started with 1?
+++++++++++++++++++

I rank
1. 3 = PRE. A bit to spare. But Terence Reese warned against pre-empts that are always "known to be weak" 4 requires misdefence and good guessing. Partner might have raised pre-emptively.
2. 4 = PRE. Pushy.
3. 1 = NAT. Reasonable with the Boss suit.

AL78 'Hand 2: NS easily made 11 tricks which was a good score for us (68.84%). My partner questioned why I didn't overcall 3. I explained that I didn't think the suit was good enough for a vulnerable three level overcall (despite the 15 count and four quick tricks), and it was too risky (e.g. partner raises, they double, one or two off, or we push them into a making game). She gives me these anecdotes about how one of her other partners (who is a gambler) would likely have overcalled and who frequently makes aggressive overcalls (e.g. 2 on a 7 count and ATxxxx) which mostly work well. Do you think I was too conservative here? It happens we can make 4 thanks to a double fit and no wastage, but I don't know that when it is my turn to bid.
+++++++++++++++++++


I rank
1. 3 = NAT. Safer when opps have found a fit.
2. Pass = NAT. Good judgement to avoid the Biltcliffe Gambit (Protection that allows opponents to bid a game that they missed)
(Eric Crowhurst named this coup after a partner, prone to use it. (Refinements .. accepted .. declined .. etc)

AL78 'Hand 3: Here are a couple hand from the same session which shows what happens when I do err on the aggressive side: 2 showed 5-5 in the red suits, and as we hadn't discussed how to deal with this, I made the most practical bid I could think of. Two down, 8.7% (although my partner did misplay it).
+++++++++++++++++++

I rank
1. 3 = NAT Just competing. Partner was brave to bid 4. If he remembers the auction, partner might make it.
2. 4 = NAT. Brave.

AL78 'Hand 4: 2 isn't game forcing, but opposite a 2/1 I felt I was good enough for a jump rebid (5 losers and a long reasonable suit). The 4-0 offside break killed it, and I went one down, 48.55%. Years of getting punished like this for sticking my neck out has meant I tend to err on the side of caution in what I view as marginal situations. If I increase my bidding aggression I will have to improve my card play skill.
+++++++++++++++++++

I rank
1. 3 = INV. The percentage action. Don't let occasional bad breaks induce paranoia.
2. 4 = NAT. Brave.
3. 2 = NAT. Timid.

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#10 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 20:00

I like Tyler's comment on the first hand - the colours make it for me. That looks like an unfavourable 3 preempt to me. So I would have opened it 4 myself (note that we have 4 available for that hand with one more spade), but I can definitely see 1. The A is a horrible lead ("dry ace leads against suits almost always give up a trick"), but with the magic of the hand, 4 looks like it always comes.

On the second, my firm belief is "we never let them play 2 of a fit at matchpoints", so I'd bid 3 with much less (and the good suit), and I'd double with your partner's hand. But here's the thing - in weaker games, passing works, because you get hands like this. If you *had* bid 3, south would almost be forced into bidding; and if she only bid 3 - which should be "strictly competitive, not looking for game" - North would raise because "I've got a little more than I've said". If partner raises clubs after 3-3, 4 would be automatic. And maybe you can make 4, but you'll be in 5, and they can make 5 (as they did at the table), or double you for the same -200. And if they do bid 5, are you doubling with your "4 tricks"?

In a better field, South realizes his hand is gold. People play LTC when they shouldn't, but when you have a fit is where it shines. South's "12 high" is huge - 5 losers, and 4 opposite a raise most of the time (even if the raise is 765, there's no losers on a 2-2 break). Partner has to have *a* cover outside of clubs, and something nice to happen, to make game. Some game try - 3 if it shows shortness is best, but if you're not playing it, *anything*, even 3 if that's all she's got - should be automatic. If you bid 3, I bid 3 with that hand (for us, it's "generic game try, they've taken the rest of the room").

The problem with this style is that when my partners and I play against these kinds of pairs, we balance, or "balance in direct seat", and one hand says "oh, I have a little extra, I'll bid 3" and partner says "oh, I have a little extra, I'll bid 4", and it's cold. And we get a bad score, because others are only bidding 2, and their opponents are letting them play it, and "the obvious game" scores 70%. The problem with not playing this style is that you get eaten alive in better fields, where when the opponents stop in 2, that's all they're making, and your -110 is losing to -100 (in 3) or +100 (in 3) or +110 (in 3). (Yes, it beats -200 in 3x, the "matchpoint double", but that doesn't happen as much as you'd think, even in a very strong field; and some of those "-200s" are +670s when they misguess or misdefend.)

In other words, the only player who I think bid enough was North, and he didn't get a chance to get it wrong, frankly.
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#11 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-October-16, 20:07

#1: 1, 3 or 4 is basically a matter of style. At these colours I prefer 4 but 1 and 3 are not wrong if that is what your partnership agree on.
#2: Game All is the worst possible time to compete in part score battles but with this hand you have just got to do it.
#3: Not playing UvU, 3 is just fine. Whether partner should raise to 4 is questionable but as it is a decent contract, it is hard to criticise.
#4: This is not all that far from what a 4th seat 3 opening looks like but the 3 good hearts put me off. To me the auction went wrong at 2. I much prefer 1 - 1NT; 2 - 3; 4 but you got to a good spot so all was well.
(-: Zel :-)

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#12 User is offline   Huibertus 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 05:30

"Partner thought I was too strong to preempt."

There is no definitive answer to this question. It all depends on the agreed partnership's style for Preempts.

First hand, NV-agaist VUL, this would be too much within my prefered style, but I have seen good, succesfull partnerships being succesfull with a very conservative preempting style that would allow for 3 on this hand.

Hand two, I agree with your partner. This is 3, it is either functioning as pre-balancing making sure partner does not ballance with 3, or it will help to find the appropriate /NT game, or a good save. By the way, you should not be in this position, N should preempt in . Making it almost impossible for E/W to find the right save and forcing N/S to guess on the 5 level.

Hand 3.

Same thing as hand 1. It's partnership style. 2 for the reds is possible IF you agree 7 losers is allowed. I would advise against 7 losers, in my book that is just too much.

Hand 4.

Don't worry, nothing wrong with this, just a matter of bad luck. Bidding went fine, and 4 will make more often than not, meaning is is excelent in IMP's and good enough in Matchpoints.
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#13 User is offline   nudnikbp 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 06:38

Regarding the first hand, open 1S, then rebid 2S. Second choice: open 4S. On the second hand, overcall 3C.
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#14 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 08:19

Hand 1: I am torn between opening this 3 / 4. While I can see some arguments being made for opening 1, it is not my style to open this hand at the 1-level so I will stick to the preempt.

Hand 2: I would certainly enter the bidding with 3.

Hand 3: I am in complete agreement with your action on this one. 3 would be my choice as well.

Hand 4: Again, I totally agree with 3.
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#15 User is offline   undoubling 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 10:03

The difference here is one of a persons APPROACH to ANY hand they hold. My approach is to look at the vulnerability AS WELL AS the HCP's. When I have a hand "short" in HCP's, I give MORE weight to the "Losing Trick Count" and bid accordingly. On hand 1, I would see 6 losers (based on missing A, K, Q in every suit) and would follow the "down 2 Vul down 3 Non" method and would comfortably bid 4 S's-- NOT expecting to make, but preventing the opps from gaining +140, 170, or 620 themselves. On hand 2, my ONLY question is why would you NOT bid 3 clubs?? Yes, you COULD go down, but not badly enough against their possible 140, 170, or game, AND you're providing your partner with the BEST possible lead direction. It's highly probable that your side is going to make 110, 130, 150, because of your values (offensive AND defensive) OR your opps are going to overbid and go down 1 or 2. In both cases, being timid ONLY results in YOU getting the worst of the deal, while THOUGHTFUL aggression puts you on top, or at least EVEN with the "field". On both of these hands, using LTC as a yardstick, allows you to compete, instead of just surrendering through timidity. Learning to recognize those hands that SHOULD enter an auction, and those that wisely remain on the sidelines, is difficult and time-consuming, but highly worthwhile in the long run.
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#16 User is offline   apollo1201 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 10:38

Your partner seems to be prone at pointing your « errors » and bypassing hers. I don’t think your actions - except 1 - were criticizable.

Hand 1, is a really max NV vs V 3S. Nevertheless, she should have raised to 4, not to make it (although you will if you go form D the good way), but to shut out opps who would make game very often, if she thinks she is facing a much weaker hand. 4S is an option as others pointed out. 1S a bit too much for me with the sg H and only a side Q but ymmv depending on the pair’s style.

Hand 2, yes, you have to act. You’ll go 5 or 800 once in a while, but you’ll push them into 3H-1 or score +110-130 or -100 much more often. You were lucky that S was asleep too, finally.

Hand 3, partner should know that 3S on this sequence is like 2.5S, a max 2S with 3-cd support or maybe a shy invite, or a decent 4-cd support. Bidding 4S on a min 5332 and a wasted HQ (ok, the rest is golden) was compulsory, but she shouldn’t be -2, and could even conceivably make it (H, H, H ruff, S to A, S to 8, D to dummy, S, and south cannot play H to force).

Hand 4, well, even non-GF, what the hell was this 2C bid. 4S is not the worst contract you’ll be in, and you’d end up there anyway in several sequences as suggested by others.
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#17 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 11:33

View Postapollo1201, on 2020-October-17, 10:38, said:

Your partner seems to be prone at pointing your « errors » and bypassing hers. I don’t think your actions - except 1 - were criticizable.

Hand 1, is a really max NV vs V 3S. Nevertheless, she should have raised to 4, not to make it (although you will if you go form D the good way), but to shut out opps who would make game very often, if she thinks she is facing a much weaker hand. 4S is an option as others pointed out. 1S a bit too much for me with the sg H and only a side Q but ymmv depending on the pair’s style.

Hand 2, yes, you have to act. You’ll go 5 or 800 once in a while, but you’ll push them into 3H-1 or score +110-130 or -100 much more often. You were lucky that S was asleep too, finally.

Hand 3, partner should know that 3S on this sequence is like 2.5S, a max 2S with 3-cd support or maybe a shy invite, or a decent 4-cd support. Bidding 4S on a min 5332 and a wasted HQ (ok, the rest is golden) was compulsory, but she shouldn’t be -2, and could even conceivably make it (H, H, H ruff, S to A, S to 8, D to dummy, S, and south cannot play H to force).

Hand 4, well, even non-GF, what the hell was this 2C bid. 4S is not the worst contract you’ll be in, and you’d end up there anyway in several sequences as suggested by others.


Yes I now accept I was way too timid on hand 2. I should look for reasons to come in, not reasons to pass, and shouldn't keep anticipating the worst. I got lucky with my timidity in that NS were also too passive.

Hand 3: We discussed some of the hands after, and I pointed out that based on the overcall, when she played a spade to the ace and a spade back, no honor cards appearing, the odds favour playing the ten, not the queen. Playing the queen works if North holds Jx, playing the ten works if North holds Kx and if South holds KJxx, which is likely. I also pointed out that when she played the ace of clubs and South followed with the jack, finessing North for the queen is certain to fail if they have their bid, because North has already shown one spade, so holds two clubs, thus play for the drop on the second round. On this line it makes. I'm not sure I would have bid 4S on her hand given it is a minimum with a wasted HQ, but it nearly worked out well thanks to the double fit and well placed black suit honor cards.

To be fair to my partner she is not pointing out my errors to shift blame or score points, she is interested in why I made a decision that was different to what she would have done in my position. She is keen to learn and improve (so am I), and we have decided to play more frequently to get a better feel for each others bidding style. One of her partners is aggressive, another is more solid and conservative, so she is now going to align her bidding judgement towards what she sees in me as a more conservative style.
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#18 User is offline   Huibertus 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 12:31

I now notice hand 3 is asking about the other sides bidden.

Well following a two-suited overcall you need 4 bids, INV+ in partners suit, INV+ in your own suit (the 4th), Just bidding in partners suit (that ahs to be 3 here, just bidding your own suit 3here.

4 in partners or your own suit is natural, non slam going.

This hand you have to sell as INV+ in partners suit as that is what you have. That would be 3 in my book.
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#19 User is offline   Huibertus 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 12:43

I now notice hand 3 is asking about the other sides bidden.

Well following a two-suited overcall you need 4 bids, INV+ in partners suit, INV+ in your own suit (the 4th), Just bidding in partners suit (that ahs to be 3 here, just bidding your own suit 3here.

4 in partners or your own suit is natural, non slam going.

This hand you have to sell as INV+ in partners suit as that is what you have. That would be 3 in my book.
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#20 User is offline   dsLawsd 

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Posted 2020-October-17, 13:37

This is one of the best questions I have seen here! The focus is on partnership agreements plus listening to the bidding plus looking ahead to how the auction will likely proceed.
First seat preempts have to consider partner (non passed hand) and whether we are playing IMPs or MPs.

Hand 1- bid 1 or 3 depending. OK either way for me. BUT partner should bid 4/3 knowing we do not have hearts.
Hand 2- too strong to pass- some might double but 3 seems about right- it can be dangerous crossing the street.

Hand 3 requires an agreement as to what 3/3 mean= asking or telling with what tolerance for spades. All because 2show hearts and a minor suggesting the hand
may not break favorably for game.

Hand 4- 3shows a very good 6 or 7 card suit with some fitting values (else bid 2). 3cue might work but perhaps a Qxx holding in clubs would be better. For aggression
4 void in support could work depending on partners strength where 6 could make if holding the mini AKxxxxx clubs and the spade K. Again, what minimum does partner need
for 2 here?

Sounds like a good partnership is developing for you!
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