This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Here is a post I made on a thread on the 2NT GF balanced response to 1H/S.

Playing 2NT as GF balanced is certainly an improvement over normal 2/1 GF methods. However there is not enough bidding space for opener to properly unwind unbalanced hands and big hands over the 2NT response. That said, most hands will have no problems in getting to the best spot.

I believe it is better to play the 2C response to 1H/1S as either GF balanced or GF Cs. There are various structures possible after this, some involving complex relays. If one is aiming for simplicity combined with effectiveness, one could try:

After 1H/1S- 2C;-? (note M=opener's major)

2D: fewer than 4 in other major, not 6+ in M with extras. After 2D:
---2H: GF with Cs.
---2S: GF with 3+ in M and Cs.
---2NT: GF balanced.
--- 3X: GF with Cs and very distributional.

2H: 4 or longer in other major, not 6+ in M with extras. After 2H:
---2S: GF with Cs.
---2NT: GF balanced.
--- 3X: GF with Cs and very distributional.

2S: 6 or longer in M, extras.
---2NT: GF balanced.
--- 3X: GF with Cs.

The concept is to use 2C as a steppingstone on the way to bidding 2NT with GF balanced, to give opener more bidding space to unwind hands.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The European Bridge Team Championships have hit the halfway mark, and given we bridge players are pattern matchers, here's a couple of patterns I've seen.

1) As usual one needs solid agreements. If one partner bids 5NT as pick-a-slam, and the other takes it as grand-slam-force, one can easily lose 16 IMPs.

2) With quite a weak hand, either preempt quite high or be quiet.

To illustrate the issues around 2, imagine one is playing weak-twos in the range of 5 to 8. Now the opponents can get into the auction and often end in 3NT, knowing:
- the weak two bidder cannot have a good suit and an outside entry - either the suit is not good enough to establish, or the hand has no outside entry to get in to run the suit once it is set up
- the location of values is fairly well marked for declarer.
- the weak two bidder side likely does not have the values to penalize the opponents if they step in.

Contrast these considerations if the "weak-two" is, say 8 to 11 in range. Now the factors are not so tilted against the "weak" side.

So with the quite-weak hands, one is usually better off pushing the bidding to a higher level, or staying quiet to not provide the opponents a roadmap to play the hand. I've seen this theme repeated time and time again watching this past week. Opening at the three level with the quite-weak hands at least takes some exploration room away from the opponents, though can drive them to 3NT for better or worse.

For the Euro championships it's been magnificent coverage by the Polish organizers.

Also today the US team trials started. A very strong field as usual and will be fun to follow the results.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Recently I described on the BBO forums the outline for ETM Storm:

Forum Post 1

I was asked to explain the rationale for the structure, which I did here:

Forum Post 2

I'll repeat my reply here:

In general with the frequent 11-14 range, the system describes a key nature of the hand so that responder is in good position to take the right steps forward. The primary focus is on possible major fits, both finding ours and trying to be an obstacle to the opponents finding theirs.

The mini-spades 1D opening is to:
1) Get 10-12 with 4Ss into the bidding
2) With 5Ss and 2/3Hs allow for our H fit to be found
3) Have a limited opening so responder can move to the best spot quickly.

The 2H/2S openings try to get to the right spot ASAP, and block out an overcall in the other major as much as possible.

The 2C and 2D deny 4+Ss, so we open at the two level to block out a possible S overcall as much as possible, while limiting the hand and showing opener's longest suit.

The 1S opening is a full-bodied opening, though limited - responder is well placed to judge prospects while the opponents are at risk if they enter the bidding. For example 1S-2H-Pass-Pass;-Double shows 13/14-17. so responder can make a penalty pass with less than in standard. Since 1S is not a flat minimum, responder can bounce to 4S on 10-13 counts and 3+Ss, forcing a tough decision on the opponents if they have a hand that might need to compete, while also not revealing much so that the lead and defense to 4S will not be easy (compare to the 1S-1NT;-2x-3S;-4S auction of 1NT forcing).

The 1H opening can have 4Hs if 11-14 with 4+Ds - this means that the opponents cannot count on a true fit after 1H-Pass-2H and must be careful coming in, while if opener is active in later bidding then it promises 5+Hs.

Weak notrump is used since it fits the overall structure. 13-14 balanced with 4Ss needs to open 1NT since 1D cannot handle as wide a range as 10-14 balanced and still have okay rebids.