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hideous bridge evening possibly my least enjoyable

#21 User is offline   morecharac 

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Posted 2021-February-28, 23:44

View Postmikeh, on 2021-February-28, 23:32, said:

At the risk of being too pedantic, (1H) x (2H) x is not a negative double. In truth, in my view, terminology matters. Without an agreed terminology, discussions are difficult, because we would need to explain what our idiosyncratic usages are or risk misunderstandings.

Negative doubles are made only by responder: a similar, but not identical, double by advancer, as of 2H here, is a responsive double.

I loathe that term. It's easily one of the least intuitive bits of jargon in bridge.
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#22 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 00:39

View Postmorecharac, on 2021-February-28, 23:44, said:

I loathe that term. It's easily one of the least intuitive bits of jargon in bridge.

I'm not sure why you pick on this as being any less intuitive than many other terms, but you can always use the term 'takeout' instead. It doesn't change the fact that the most common agreement is for it to show a hand that wants to compete but doesn't have four spades.
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#23 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 05:12

View PostTylerE, on 2021-February-28, 20:21, said:

It's IMPs and we're red. Passing an invite is a hanging offense. Only pass if you psyched your double.
To get to a game via an invitation you need three steps. You need to introduce a suit (via opening, overcall or double), partner needs to invite and you need to accept (possibly via slower mechanisms). I think it is wise to play at most two of those as 'acceptable on minimal hands', and it is worth discussing which two those are. In other words, at least one of your overcalls, invites or accepts needs to be sound, even if vulnerable. Also in modern times I want to get in often and let partner know I have a non-minimal raise often, so personally I think playing sound accepts and the other two as aggressive is smart.

View PostTylerE, on 2021-February-28, 21:38, said:

W doesn't actually have a minimum double.

No 3rd heart, AQxx !D likely in the right spot..., Hxx support

It certainly isn't *extras*, but it isn't minimum.
An extra trump is often considered worth about a trick (or a king), so being down a trump is surely worth minus a king?

View Postmikeh, on 2021-February-28, 23:32, said:

East has a simple 4N if she wants to be flexible, including Apollo’s 4N then 5H to hint at slam. Note that doubler, with 2=4=4=3, will bid 5D and now 5H has no slam connotations, since advancer might be, say, 2=4=3=4 or 1=5=2=5 etc, intending to pass 5C but to pull 5D to 5H
If West bids 5 over 4NT on that auction East might well venture 5 (or 5NT/6). The AQ have improved and the empty diamonds are less of an issue opposite strength.
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#24 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 05:50

View PostAL78, on 2021-February-28, 11:39, said:

turn a plus score into a minus score

In what sense?
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#25 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 05:57

View Postnullve, on 2021-March-01, 05:50, said:

In what sense?


Going off in 5 when 4 is going off.
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#26 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 06:02

View PostDavidKok, on 2021-March-01, 05:12, said:

To get to a game via an invitation you need three steps. You need to introduce a suit (via opening, overcall or double), partner needs to invite and you need to accept (possibly via slower mechanisms). I think it is wise to play at most two of those as 'acceptable on minimal hands', and it is worth discussing which two those are. In other words, at least one of your overcalls, invites or accepts needs to be sound, even if vulnerable. Also in modern times I want to get in often and let partner know I have a non-minimal raise often, so personally I think playing sound accepts and the other two as aggressive is smart.


To the contrary, playing ‘sound acceptances’ is demonstrably inferior to playing sound invites and aggressive acceptances

This is easy to demonstrate by considering a simple but common example.

Assume we play 1M 2M as our start, and consider two alternatives: opener inviting aggressively with responder accepting only with sound values, and opener inviting only with sound values and responder accepting aggressively.

Each approach will result in reaching borderline games, some of which will make and some of which will fail. Equally, each approach will result in missing some borderline games, some of which will make and some fail.

Provided that we have gauged our tendencies fairly, the two approaches will have the same frequency of missing close but making games or reaching close but failing games.

In that case, in terms of game bidding, the two approaches will work out as being equivalent. Invite heavy, accept light will ‘win’ or ‘lose’ on different hands than will the invite light, accept heavy school, but with the same frequency.

The key is the small group of hands in which the invite is declined, and the 3-level contract will fail, perhaps because of foul breaks or responder simply having a minimum raise that doesn’t mesh well.

If the limit of the hand is 9 tricks, then there is no gain from playing 3M making 140 compared to playing 2M making an overtrick.

But if the limit is 8 tricks, then there is a big cost, even at imps, to playing 3M compared to 2M.

Which approach will most often get the partnership to 3M?

Obviously the invite light, accept heavy. The other approach stops at the 2 level more often, and thus avoids going down when 8 tricks is the limit. It also, as a minor bonus, avoids going down 2 when 7 tricks is the limit, and on a few of those hands, avoids being doubled at the 3-level (i stress this is a very minor element in the equation)

Note that this has nothing to do with how one gets to the auction or makes an initial raise. I very much believe in aggressive entry into the auction and, as responder, rarely pass my partner’s opening bid. It’s all about the next decision....to make a game try on borderline values, with partner needing to be conservative in accepting, or the opposite approach.
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#27 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 06:22

Sorry, I think we are misunderstanding each other. I should have added that I prefer the style I mentioned exclusively in competitive situations, when there is a second upside to showing values as responder compared to non-competitive auctions. Over for example (1)-1-(P)-?, do ~9 point hands with support go in 2* or 2?
Furthermore the auction 1-2 already supersedes the question I'm trying to address, which is if responder should frequently upgrade weakish hands into a limit raise (and in return, opener needs sound values to convert a limit raise into a game) or if this should be avoided (in which case opener should more often make a game try over 1-2). That is why I said that partner should invite, after we introduce a suit. I think that the styles we are discussing are the same in that regard, in that we both want responder to take more action on borderline hands so that opener doesn't have to after 1M-2M.
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#28 User is offline   Douglas43 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 07:00

On hand 1, I'd agree 2S first time with the East hand, but then bid 3S over 3H. The Kx is a minus feature. Yes 4S makes as the cards sit, but both minor suit kings are right for it. The swing is just unlucky imo.

On hand 2, 100% East's responsibility to bid. There are a number of routes East might choose, as highlighted by other contributors.

Final note, thanks to mikeh for his comment on responsive doubles. I have an agreement with my regular partner that our responsive double either shows both majors 1m x 2m x = "I've got both majors partners, which do you prefer?" or no major: 1M x 2M x = "I can't bid the other major partner, which minor would you prefer?". If you want a more sophisticated approach than that, Sally Horton's book "Double Trouble" is good.
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#29 User is offline   morecharac 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 10:45

The more I hear about how good players bid the more some systems resemble a Rube Goldberg device designed by M.C. Escher on an LSD trip.
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#30 User is offline   eagles123 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 13:13

Sorry to sound harsh, but if you want to improve and have a more enjoyable experience, you simply aren't going to get that with the partners and opponents you play with right now. If you play with and against bad players, of course you're going to get random/disappointing results at times, and by god are you playing with some bad players based on a lot of your posts.
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#31 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 13:57

View Postmorecharac, on 2021-March-01, 10:45, said:

The more I hear about how good players bid the more some systems resemble a Rube Goldberg device designed by M.C. Escher on an LSD trip.


I like the quote, but as someone who is a bit of a bidding nerd (though not as much as one of my partners, with whom I used to play a relay method that had several hundred pages of notes, many in 'space-saving' flowchart presentations), if you actually study what good players play, there will be a clear internal logic behind every aspect of the method.

Any one who has played a lot of ftf bridge at tournaments will be familiar with the pairs who show up with convention cards so densely packed with writing that they are virtually illegible. The first one I remember was back in the late 1970's. My team wasn't very strong...I think I'd just made LM and one of my teammates was hoping to make LM in that KO event. We played this young pair with a dense cc. We beat them, in 28 boards, by 117 imps! More accurately, they beat themselves by 117 imps.

A lot of aspiring players confuse playing conventions with playing systems. A proper system is a carefully integrated set of agreements, the vast majority of which are not 'conventions' at all. They are 'agreements'.

One of the challenging aspects of system design is recognition that when one changes one part of a system, one is probably going to have to change a lot of other aspects. The worst thing one can do, in terms of coming up with a good method, is to adopt conventions without understanding that for every problem a convention appears to solve there will be a new problem that didn't use to exist.

You want to play Flannery 2D?

What do you do with xxx x AKJxxx xxx?

Well, you can decide to open those and similar hands with 3D, but now responder has to adjust how he bids over a 3D opening bid.

You want to play 12-14 1N instead of your previous 15-17?

What does this do to 1m 1M 2M?

In most standard strong 1N methods, 1m 1M 2M may be on a weak hand with 3 card support. Had I AQx x KQxxx Qxx and partner responded to my 1D with 1S, I bid 2S happily

I still have to open 1D with this, playing weak 1N, but now can I raise to 2S?

Most would say: no! Because one raises to 2S with AQxx xx KQxx AJx as well. When playing weak 1N, one raises the major with 4 cards support and either a strong 1N or a distributional hand...the point being that a shapely 12 count, with a stiff or void, is probably as good, in terms of playing strength, as a strong 1N with 4 card support (one would probably bid 3S with 17). However, a weak hand with 3 card support is nowhere near as good a mesh as one with 4 card support.

So you have to discuss and agree on how you handle these problems that simply did not exist with the strong notrump method

And so on.

Some modern methods are extraordinarily complex. Meckwell, in their prime (and for all I know, still today although I had heard that they'd simplified a little) had over 600 pages of notes. But they are NOT random. Nor are they designed primarily to frustrate the opponents.

In my old relay days we had agreements that never, in thousands of hands over several years, arose.

Here's my favourite system change that did arise: playing in our team trials, having reached the semi-finals, we were talking about one of our gadgets. We opened a weak 2D, but very aggressively, including with 5 card suits and with a 4 card major, so we could be 6-4 or 5-4 (or 5332 or 6322 etc)

Our structure was that a 2H response was artificial and asking with a 2N response being forcing in hearts.

Our discussion that morning was to add a wrinkle:

After 2D 2N, showing hearts, we had shown heart support via 3H. We decided that 3C was basically wasted so we added that 3C would be hearts with a bad hand and 3H would be hearts with a good hand.

Partner opened 2D and I held AKQJ9 AKJ9x A AK vul at imos

I bid 2N, he bid 3C!

Now I could keycard, find the heart queen and diamond King and bid the best contract of 7N.

All I am saying is that it is wrong to think that complex methods, played by good pairs, are 'rube goldberg' concoctions. Far from it. They are the results of many hours of discussion and analysis. Beware of mocking that which one does not understand.

Last word: at the highest levels (where I am most definitely not) the standard of declarer play and defence is very consistent. Yes, they all make mistakes or misreads, but they happen rarely. The great majority of swings at high level bridge are the results of bidding. This is why top pairs devote so much energy to their methods.
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#32 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 15:08

Vociferously agreeing with MikeH, especially in how you have to investigate the knockoff effects of any change you make to your system.

One of the keys to becoming a non-novice (in my mind) is when you learn how to not use your convention - or what it means when partner didn't.

One of the nice parts of a well-designed system is that if you forget some of it you can basically recreate it just by knowing what it can't be. Oh, I can't remember what 1NT-2D!; 2H-2S is (and no, I'm not playing Stayman here, so none of the responses are going to make sense):
  • Well, it's a rebid of two of a suit, so it's invitational;
  • It does have to show hearts and spades;
  • But we play 1NT-2C!; 2D-2H! (four or five hearts, INV); 2S as "two hearts and four spades, minimum", so it won't be 4=5 in the majors;
  • And this is a situation where we don't want to play preference, we'd rather stay at the 2 level if we can;
  • So it's 4=4, 5=4 or 5=5, and I'd better Alert 2S so the opponents know it's 80% only 4 hearts.

I've done this kind of reconstruction of complicated parts of my system at the table, in fact. Kind of important in this sequence to do the reconstruction before responding to 1NT, of course.
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#33 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 15:21

View Postmikeh, on 2021-February-28, 18:44, said:

It’s important, if you want to become a better player, to stop focusing on the results on any one hand and start thinking about how the hands should be bid. In other words, sometimes good bidding leads to a bad result but the lesson to take from that is to simply accept that sh*t happens. The worst possible ‘lesson’ is to let the occasional bad result cause you to start bidding badly. I promise you: you’ll get even more bad results.


I'm trying not to get focused on individual bad results. I'm aware that some outcomes I can't do anything about, and it is often fairly clear if is was wrong opponents at the wrong time, fixed by the field, or me having an apparently tough decision and getting it wrong (which is sometimes because I failed to assimilate all the information available). I'm not bothered about missing a spade game that has poor odds but happens to make, but I think we should have been in 3S, as people in this thread (and now my partner) have said, my partner should have bid 3S over 3H.

I started posting hands on rec.games.bridge and then here when I discovered this forum because from about 2017 I began to experience bridge regression, the running mean of my MP sessions began trending downward, and in 2019 it had dropped 5%. That is pretty significant and I don't know why it happened. It was happening over too long and too sustained a period to be brushed off as randomness, so I decided to try and look for possible causes. Putting hands up where expert players give feedback will hopefully bring up any common factors in my worst boards which I can then try and address. As of now I am struggling to find anything I can nail down, aside from occasional lapses of concentration and getting it wrong when I am faced with two or three feasible lines of play. The only other thing I have noticed during the regression is I am defending far more than average, up to 72% of the time over one year, that was a mystery as well as I am not consciously passive in the bidding. Hence why I tend to post a fair few tales of woe on here.
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#34 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 16:11

View PostAL78, on 2021-March-01, 15:21, said:

I'm trying not to get focused on individual bad results. I'm aware that some outcomes I can't do anything about, and it is often fairly clear if is was wrong opponents at the wrong time, fixed by the field, or me having an apparently tough decision and getting it wrong (which is sometimes because I failed to assimilate all the information available). I'm not bothered about missing a spade game that has poor odds but happens to make, but I think we should have been in 3S, as people in this thread (and now my partner) have said, my partner should have bid 3S over 3H.

I started posting hands on rec.games.bridge and then here when I discovered this forum because from about 2017 I began to experience bridge regression, the running mean of my MP sessions began trending downward, and in 2019 it had dropped 5%. That is pretty significant and I don't know why it happened. It was happening over too long and too sustained a period to be brushed off as randomness, so I decided to try and look for possible causes. Putting hands up where expert players give feedback will hopefully bring up any common factors in my worst boards which I can then try and address. As of now I am struggling to find anything I can nail down, aside from occasional lapses of concentration and getting it wrong when I am faced with two or three feasible lines of play. The only other thing I have noticed during the regression is I am defending far more than average, up to 72% of the time over one year, that was a mystery as well as I am not consciously passive in the bidding. Hence why I tend to post a fair few tales of woe on here.

Look at the two hands you posted. On the first one, you defended because your partner made a very bad call.

On the second, you probably would have been defending had you bid a slam, but at least you’d have gone plus. Again, your partner was incredibly passive...you were passive when you passed out 4S but not to the extent that your partner was.

As I recall, that’s a common theme in many of your tales of woe. You are not going to get better unless you play with better partners, or get your current partner(s) to improve. Do they read this forum? Do they read BridgeWinners? I’m not sure what the best bridge magazine is where you play, but if a paper copy or an online copy of The Bridge World is available, I urge you and your partners to subscribe. The Master Solvers Club is worth the price of the subscription all by itself. It shows how good players think about bidding.
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#35 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 16:35

View Postmikeh, on 2021-March-01, 06:02, said:

To the contrary, playing ‘sound acceptances’ is demonstrably inferior to playing sound invites and aggressive acceptances

This is easy to demonstrate by considering a simple but common example.

Assume we play 1M 2M as our start, and consider two alternatives: opener inviting aggressively with responder accepting only with sound values, and opener inviting only with sound values and responder accepting aggressively.

Each approach will result in reaching borderline games, some of which will make and some of which will fail. Equally, each approach will result in missing some borderline games, some of which will make and some fail.

Provided that we have gauged our tendencies fairly, the two approaches will have the same frequency of missing close but making games or reaching close but failing games.

In that case, in terms of game bidding, the two approaches will work out as being equivalent. Invite heavy, accept light will ‘win’ or ‘lose’ on different hands than will the invite light, accept heavy school, but with the same frequency.

The key is the small group of hands in which the invite is declined, and the 3-level contract will fail, perhaps because of foul breaks or responder simply having a minimum raise that doesn’t mesh well.

If the limit of the hand is 9 tricks, then there is no gain from playing 3M making 140 compared to playing 2M making an overtrick.

But if the limit is 8 tricks, then there is a big cost, even at imps, to playing 3M compared to 2M.

Which approach will most often get the partnership to 3M?

Obviously the invite light, accept heavy. The other approach stops at the 2 level more often, and thus avoids going down when 8 tricks is the limit. It also, as a minor bonus, avoids going down 2 when 7 tricks is the limit, and on a few of those hands, avoids being doubled at the 3-level (i stress this is a very minor element in the equation)

Note that this has nothing to do with how one gets to the auction or makes an initial raise. I very much believe in aggressive entry into the auction and, as responder, rarely pass my partner’s opening bid. It’s all about the next decision....to make a game try on borderline values, with partner needing to be conservative in accepting, or the opposite approach.

If this (purely qualitiative) argument that

"invite (relatively) heavy, accept (relatively) light" > "invite (relatively) light, accept (relatively) heavy"

is valid, there must be, for every "invite heavy, accept light" strategy short of "invite even if you clearly belong in game, accept always" (= the ultimate invitational strategy?), a better strategy consisting of even sounder invites and more aggressive acceptances.

Or am I missing something?
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#36 User is offline   morecharac 

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Posted 2021-March-01, 18:05

View Postmikeh, on 2021-March-01, 13:57, said:

All I am saying is that it is wrong to think that complex methods, played by good pairs, are 'rube goldberg' concoctions. Far from it. They are the results of many hours of discussion and analysis. Beware of mocking that which one does not understand.

The quote's* not a matter of mocking that which I don't understand but a comment on the sheer number of extra steps added to arrive at what was once a pretty straighforward contract to reach.

If someone can memorise three digits' worth of system notes, good for them. But I remember so many newer players at FTF whose eyes would glaze over because some advanced player's explanations required at least one Goldberg worth of intermediate steps to justify that all the newer player could see was a brick wall, not the single brick they'd asked about.

Some of the advice here seems to fall into the brick wall category, sometimes mutually incompatible brick walls.

* Was that quote actually from somebody? I thought it sprang forth from my own Hwel of inspiration.
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#37 User is offline   Douglas43 

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Posted 2021-March-02, 13:33

View Postmikeh, on 2021-March-01, 13:57, said:

I like the quote, but as someone who is a bit of a bidding nerd (though not as much as one of my partners, with whom I used to play a relay method that had several hundred pages of notes, many in 'space-saving' flowchart presentations), if you actually study what good players play, there will be a clear internal logic behind every aspect of the method.


What does this do to 1m 1M 2M?

In most standard strong 1N methods, 1m 1M 2M may be on a weak hand with 3 card support. Had I AQx x KQxxx Qxx and partner responded to my 1D with 1S, I bid 2S happily

I still have to open 1D with this, playing weak 1N, but now can I raise to 2S?

Most would say: no! Because one raises to 2S with AQxx xx KQxx AJx as well. When playing weak 1N, one raises the major with 4 cards support and either a strong 1N or a distributional hand...the point being that a shapely 12 count, with a stiff or void, is probably as good, in terms of playing strength, as a strong 1N with 4 card support (one would probably bid 3S with 17). However, a weak hand with 3 card support is nowhere near as good a mesh as one with 4 card support.

So you have to discuss and agree on how you handle these problems that simply did not exist with the strong notrump method






I agree with your big point mikeh but am afraid your illustrations about weak NT are not well chosen (at least as weak NT is played on this side of the pond):

AQx x KQxxx Qxx is only 12 cards but I would raise 1D-1S-2S on AQx if the missing (x) is in clubs. If it is in hearts, I open 1NT, if it is in diamonds I probably prefer to rebid the 6 card suit. The sequence 1D-1S-2C-2D-2S would show a stronger hand with three card support.

AQxx xx KQxx AJx is a 6 loser hand and an easy raise to 3S.
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#38 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-March-02, 13:49

View PostDouglas43, on 2021-March-02, 13:33, said:

I agree with your big point mikeh but am afraid your illustrations about weak NT are not well chosen (at least as weak NT is played on this side of the pond):

AQx x KQxxx Qxx is only 12 cards but I would raise 1D-1S-2S on AQx if the missing (x) is in clubs. If it is in hearts, I open 1NT, if it is in diamonds I probably prefer to rebid the 6 card suit. The sequence 1D-1S-2C-2D-2S would show a stronger hand with three card support.

AQxx xx KQxx AJx is a 6 loser hand and an easy raise to 3S.


The example was supposed to be 3=1=5=4, of course.

As to whether the example is not well chosen, I think you nailed it when you commented about your side of the pond.

Over in NA, many weak notrump players (not that there are many) have been influenced by theorists such as Eric Kokish, although he was by no means that only expert advocating for what is the most common style. That is that when opener raises the major, he is showing 4 card support, unequivocally. He has either a strong notrump or a distributional hand.

There are clear benefits to this approach, in that the auction can stay low, reaching 2M on hands where responder would be too weak to respond to a strong 1N, and would thus miss the 4-4 fit. Also, by having shown a 'good' raise, either in hcp or shape, at the 2-level, one has extra room to explore slam/game possibilities.

The downside is, as noted, that one would have to rebid 2C with the example hand, which has obvious drawbacks in that one may miss the 5-3 major suit fit when responder is too weak to bid over 2C or, having preferred to 2D, opener is too weak to pattern out.

As I understand it, in your part of the world, the raise to 2M is extremely vague. It may be a minimum strong notrump, a minimum unbalanced hand with 4 card support or a minimum unbalanced hand with 3 card support. Plus one has to jump to 3M with good strong notrump hands, thus sometimes obviating the benefit, unavailable to strong NT bidders, of playing at the 2 level when responder is weak.

As always, there are costs and benefits to whatever one chooses. Btw, I have played my described weak NT methods with a very fine player...so my comments are based on experience, not just theory.
'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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#39 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2021-March-02, 16:09

I can't comment on much but I would have opened hand 2 with a heart bid - dont know where that gets you

For some entertainment I tried Hand 2 in Qplus using a few systems. The software ended in 5 spades-1; when I opened 1 heart we ended up in 6HX-1 -100
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#40 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2021-March-02, 18:03

View Postmikeh, on 2021-March-01, 16:11, said:

Look at the two hands you posted. On the first one, you defended because your partner made a very bad call.

On the second, you probably would have been defending had you bid a slam, but at least you’d have gone plus. Again, your partner was incredibly passive...you were passive when you passed out 4S but not to the extent that your partner was.

As I recall, that’s a common theme in many of your tales of woe. You are not going to get better unless you play with better partners, or get your current partner(s) to improve. Do they read this forum? Do they read BridgeWinners? I’m not sure what the best bridge magazine is where you play, but if a paper copy or an online copy of The Bridge World is available, I urge you and your partners to subscribe. The Master Solvers Club is worth the price of the subscription all by itself. It shows how good players think about bidding.


Thank you for those subscription suggestions. I will look into them and probably subscribe to at least one of them. The EBU magazine is the only one I get currently.
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