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, September 27, 2008

Packaging raises and preparing for the best and worst - part 2

This post is the second of three on raises

What should 1C-3C raise be?

Playing inverted minors, where 1C-2C handles game invites or better, 1C is often given as 5-8, 5+Cs (Truscott's "The Bidding Dictionary", which I like since I'm mentioned on page 1 and it's a comprehensive database of bidding, gives 4 to 8 as the range).   Now let's look at the worst and best for opener.

If opener has the frequent minimum hand in the 12-13 range, the opponents have 19-23 points, and a 8+ fit usually, and often a 9 card fit.  Thus the 3C bid does not actually block the opponents from bidding, but serves as a catalyst to get opponents to compete.  About the only advantage it has is that it has taken away space for the opponents to judge the best strain and whether to stay at the 3 level or go higher.

Now let's look at opener's most frequent best hand: 18-19 balanced.  Now the opening side has 23 to 27 points, and opener is left with the guess - whether to try 3NT with a suit fit, but a little underpowered if 23-24 combined points.  In addition if opener has a poor D/H/S suit, then opener has to guess whether to bid 3NT and not disclose it, or show values at the 3 level and pinpoint the weakness to the opponents.  Even worse for opener is if the opponents enter the bidding - if responder is singleton/void in the suit the opponents land in, then double will often not be the right move.  If the bidding goes 1C-Pass-3C-Suit;-?, opener with 18-19 balanced has an immediate decision to make, and can't merely pass to get responder's opinion.  Yet opener does not have the information for this decision making.  
In short, this 5-8 (or 4-8) raise doesn't work well with the common worst of hands or the most frequent of the best of hands.

Some partnerships define the jump minor raise as having no game interest opposite the 18-19 balanced - this would be a maximum of a poor 6.  This makes decision making for opener a lot easier, but has disadvantages:

- This is even more a catalyst for the opponents to compete, and now they are encouraged to bid making major suit games since they frequently will have 21 to 28 points and a nice fit;

- Opener can rarely double, since partner might have a defensive nothing, and club length may negate any defensive cards opener has in clubs (since one of the opponents can be quite short in clubs);

- The inverted raise is carrying a lot of load, and decision making problems are moved there.

A better solution is to make the jump minor raise have enough values so that 3NT (or 5C) has sufficient chances if opener has 18 to 19.  This will be about a decent 6 to 10.  In addition I suggest the following stipulation - responder must have 2 or 3 cards in each major.  Now that 1C-3C shows decent 6 to 10, and 2-3 in each major, opener can:

- double when opponents land in poor fit at three level, even on some hands that are in the 12-14 balanced range (that would have to pass if responder could have 5-8 and be quite short);

- can bid 3NT even if xxx in a suit, since even if the opponents lead it, and responder has xx, the suit may split 4-4-, and 5C will often not be a better spot with two quick losers off the top;

- know in subsequent cuebidding, that responder is showing values, not shortness, when making a major suit cuebid.

Now when it goes 1C-Pass-3C(6-10, no singleton/void major);-?, the opponents incur significant risk entering the bidding.  They most likely have a suit fit, but their point range, if opener is minimum will be just average minus (17 to 22), and opener will know when they stepped out of line.  Thus the raise takes up bidding space, and acts as a deterrent, not a catalyst, on the opponents.
What do we do with raises that are less than a decent 6, or have a singleton/void in a major? - this will be Part 3 of this three part series of posts.


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