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.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Bridge Pirate Club

Today is "pirate talk" day on the Internet - you can search on Google in pirate (the "i be feelin' lucky" button does not work like it might on some sites - on Google it replaces the "i feel lucky") - for friends on Facebook I click on "me hearties" (which is not a 4H preempt).  On BBO, well, nothing to talk about yet, but perhaps next year a flashy pirate flag option?

Let’s look at how we can be bridge pirates, just for a day.  We have:


Partner opens 1C, and we want can to shut out spades and get to a club contract.

We try bidding 3C, preemptive - they bid spades, or double and get to spades.

Instead we try bidding 4C, preemptive - they bid spades, or double and get to spades.

Instead, we try bidding 5C (okay I try it, you sit this one out), to play - they double, opener is 4-3-3-3 exactly, its Nightmare on Club Street!

Instead, we try bidding 1D, they bid spades, or double and get to spades. Keep digging!

Instead, we bid 2C (SAYC, single raise 6 to 10) - they bid spades, or double and get to spades.

Instead we bid 2C, Inverted minors (limit raise or better) - they can bid spades, or double and get to spades - they have seen that these "limit raises" are sometimes fairly point light, and it pays to get their major or majors into the bidding.  However this is our best chance to shut out the opponents since they have to be concerned that the opening side has values.  The problem is that opener expects the opening side to have values too: a terrible 3NT or 5C, perhaps doubled, could be davy jones' locker for this pirate.

Instead we bid 1NT, balanced hand with no four card major - they bid spades, or double and get to spades - many times they have seen, after a one of a minor opening, that some number of NTs by responder has a concealed fit for opener’s minor, and here 1NT denys lots of points.

Instead we bid 1S (okay, just me trying this psyche) - partner raises spades to game, this gets doubled and so does 5C - its Nightmare on Club Street II Roadkill.

We develop nuclear weapons for this situation:

First we try the 2D (or 2C) response as a two way raise:  weak raise or game forcing flat raise.  We bid 2C, they keep quiet in case we have the big hand, partner bids something, we bid 3C showing the weak raise, just as if we had bid 3C in the first place - now they bid spades, or double and get to spades.

Okay, we try 2NT as two way:  weak raise or game forcing flat raise.  They keep quiet, partner bids 3C and now we pass.  The next person to bid finds out this shows the weak raise, and bids spades or doubles and they find spades.  Well we froze out the person bidding before us, but since they couldn’t initially find a bid over 1C, not much to freeze out there - we need to shut out the person bidding after us.

This is like digging for buried treasure - sounds like a good idea, but takes hours.

How about this - we bid 2D (or 2C) and ask opener to grade their hand - 3C = bad, 2NT= 18-19 balanced, rest in between.  Now when we bid 3C (or pass 3C) it does not show a weak raise - it shows that we found out there is not enough points for game, but it could be quite a spread of possible values.  Now the opponents have to decide - how many working cannons does this pirate ship really have?

We could improve this by having opener let us know if they are balanced if not a bad hand, and if opener shows this the opponents have to be considered that responder can now find a double on quite a set of hands.

The structure would be like this:

1C-2D(C raise, wide ranging, can be balanced, asks);-?

2H: balanced hand, 13-14.  3C to play, 2NT invites, 2S asks opener to bid 2NT, 3D/H/S shortness slam tries, 3NT to play.

2S: unbalanced hand, 13-15.  2NT asks, 3C to play, 3D/H/S shortness slam tries.

2NT: 18-19 balanced or semi-balanced.  3C invite, 3NT to play, rest slam tries.

3C: Up to 12, balanced or unbalanced.

3D/H/S: Unbalanced, shortness showing, 16+.  4C to play.  4D RKCB for Cs.
3NT: 16-17, unbalanced but not shortness.  4C to play.  4D RKCB for Cs.

These sequences will not force the opponents to walk the plank all the time, but it will allow you to be a pirate on some days, burying their spades for a treasured score.


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