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 26, 2008

Packaging raises and preparing for the best and worst - part 1

This post is the first of three on raises.

One technique in creating a well defined raise is to place flatter hand types together with shapely hands with less point count.  The idea is that these hands will have close to the same playing value, since a shapely hand offsets the less point count with distributional values.

For example, for 1M-2NT we can have:

a) 12-14, 3+M and unable to make splinter (usually no singleton/void)
b) 10-11, 3+M with at least a doubleton for shortness, and not soft values if just a doubleton
c) 9, 3+M with a singleton/void

Here game invites are combined with minimum game going hands, but the game invites hands have distributional values, while the game going hands are often flatter.  Thus the playing value of this raise is not as widespread as the 9-14 point count would indicate.  Over the 2NT raise, opener will frequent bid 4M to play there.  In playing a 2NT raise similar to this, we have found that opener should never stop below game if holding a singleton/void, even if minimum - even when the game is poor, the opponents sometimes don't make the ideal lead or have the correct defense, since the auction has not disclosed much about the two hands.

One reason for playing a 2NT raise like this is it makes playing 1NT semi-forcing easier.  With 2NT in place as above, 1M-1NT can be semi-forcing, and if 3 in M and an invite, the invite will be a 4-3-3-3 or a hand with a doubleton and soft values.  Now if opener passes 1NT with a flat minimum, 1NT will often be the best place to play even if responder has a 3 card major support.

Why play 1M-1NT semi-forcing instead of forcing?  First, it means that the 2 of a minor rebid by opener (1M-1NT;-2m) is often shapely or extras, which makes the subsequent auction easier.  Even better, it makes implementing Gazzilli a lot easier, as opener can pass 5-3-3-2 minimums instead of trying to find some way of bidding them over 1NT (in Gazzilli opener's rebid of 2C shows 4+Cs or 16/17+ any, and thus 2C cannot be rebid with a 5-3-3-2 with 3Cs, as with the 1NT forcing approach).  In addition, when using the Gazzilli convention, if you play 1NT as 15-17 (instead of 14-16), you should upgrade good 14 5-3-3-2s into the 1NT opening, so these don't have to pass 1NT semi-forcing with good playing value opposite an invite.  

If you like 1M-2NT as natural, you can play the above 2NT raise as 1M-3C - the lost space is not important as most auctions will go 1M-3C;-4M or 1M-3C;-3M signoff.


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