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.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

When the auction starts 1X-Pass-1Y-Double, double by my partner, I often find myself with no good bid, at best three cards in one of the two unbid suits, and not much in points. Fortunately most of the time opener bids something and I'm off the hook. This is an auction where the opening side should go headhunting.

I'm considering the following treatment:

After 1X-Pass-1Y-Double, pass by opener says:
- All doubles by the partnership are now penalty
- Responder is to double two of a minor bid with 4+ length in the minor, even if minimum
- Responder is to double 2 of a major that doubler showed, with Hxx or better in the suit and 11+ points (or less points, better suit)
- Responder is to double 3 of any suit with Hx or better and 11+ points (or less points, better suit)
- 3NT by responder directly over 3 of a suit shows xx in that suit, 12+ points, no good bid.
- Opponents cannot play undoubled below 2H
- This double does not promise extra points, just puts the partnership in headhunting mode

Since the opponents cannot play undoubled below 2H, if it goes 1X-Pass-1Y-Double--Pass-Bid below 2H, responder's pass here will be forcing, since opener must bid or double.

If opener does not want to go into headhunting mode, perhaps because the opening hand is distributional and/or quite weak, then opener makes the normal descriptive call over the double. This will include support redoubles if the partnership plays them.

The reason we don't play a headhunting redouble is this would allow the next hand to pass and get the doubler into action to find the best fit. Instead by opener passing, the next hand has to act unilaterally, and might land in an awful spot.

If it goes 1X-Pass-1Y-Double--Pass-Pass, responder passes to play there, can bid naturally, non-forcing (jumps are invites), or can redouble which asks opener to describe hand as if there was no double, and then the bidding continues as if there was no double. Since responder can pass to play in 1Y doubled, if opener does not show support then any natural bid of Y by responder is not to play but asks for a Y stopper.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good Bad Gerber,, has an advanced section with this new response structure:

4D: Good, 0 to 2 aces
-- now 4H, 4S, 4NT, 5D asks partner to pass if 0, or show aces in steps
-- 5C asks for aces in steps
4H: Bad, 0 or 3 aces
4S: Bad, 1 or 4 aces
4NT: Bad, 2 aces
5C: Good, 3 aces
5D: Good, 4 aces

The response compression gives the partnership an excellent chance of staying low if partner has a bad hand and/or not enough aces. See the document for examples.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ask4Hearts and 2CIF (version 1.2) are up on BridgeMatters:

Ask4Hearts is the companion of 2Dlay ( for minor suit openings - used for game forcing balanced hands, and some other hand types, to find out more about opener's hand, and often arriving at 3NT.

2CIF provides a common structure to all 1X-2C bids, using 2C as game force asking bid. The approach does not use common relay structures, as it is focused on getting to the right contract without disclosing too much and usually making responder declarer. This is complex, and I recommend partnerships try out Ask4Hearts for something easier and quite useful.

Monday, June 02, 2008

You are behind 53 IMPs with 16 boards to go - what do you do? First, you do not withdraw. If you are behind less than 5 times the number of boards to play (here, 5*16=80), continue to play.

Next, over the 16 boards you will not play 2NT or 3 of a suit, except for 3 of a suit in a competitive just-to-play-there situation. In short, there are no invites and game tries, either blast the game, or stay low (1NT, 1 or 2 of a suit). For 2NT to be the exactly right spot to play, you need 2NT to make and 3NT down 1 and anything else can't help enough - that's too much that needs to be right. If 3NT is down 2, and 2NT down 1, you will not pick up enough IMPs for this to be the right decision (2 IMPs not vul, 3 IMPs vul) - compare with the IMPs that can be obtained from 3NT down 2 and 1NT making (5 IMPs not vul, 7 IMPs vul) - now you are covering ground.

Let's take a look at the last CNTC segment in this year's final:

17: 12 IMPs gained when leading team plays in cuebid

18: 11 IMPs lost due to 1NT opening range differences - back to square +1

19: You have near 9 tricks - if you bid 3NT a 4-0 diamond split stops it and you are down 2 - in 3D you are down 1. By not bidding 3NT, the trailing team gained only 2 IMPs here, too low a reward for missing the 3NT shot.

20: You have:
S: 762H: Q53D: QJ643C: J5

It goes 1C-1D-(1S overcall)-2NT(18-19)-?. You would pass in normal circumstances. Here, 2NT is forcing when behind lots. If you bid 3NT you gain 10 IMPs.

21: You have:
S: QT8H: KQ852D: A8C: A63

You open this 1H (in your style, NT ranges), it goes 1NT forcing by partner, 2C (2+) by you, 2D (Bart but here for a 1H opening, forcing), 2H(nothing special), 3D (long Ds, to play). At this point, close your eyes and bid 3NT. Partner will deliver S J64 H 6 D KT95432 C: 87 - yuck! Hey, Ds are 2-2, and you have bid Cs - if they start with a low spade away from AK, you are home with 10 IMPs - passing 3D wins you 4 IMPs.

22: Your side bids 3S on a competitive auction, but this is just to play - collect 3 IMPs.

23: Your side opens a two-under preempt - 2D showing Ss. You have S A8 H AK7 D K96 C K9765. Understandably you try 4S and this is down 2 vulnerable, a push with 3NT down 2 at the other table. However you have another way to swing on this board - if 2H over 2D would ask if a bad preempt (it should, taking advantage of the two-under), and 2S=bad, then you would get +110 and together with +200 from your teammates that would be 7 IMPs.

24: 3NT, push result

25: You gain 3 IMPs on a fairly random result

26: You have:
S: 7H: JT9D: KT6C: AT8652

Partner opens 1D, your bid. 1NT seems bad with a singleton spade, and 2C requires more points, so you bid 1H. LHO doubles, and partner bids 2H showing 4Hs, RHO passing. At the table, this hand made a game try - forget those, either bash or hide. If you bash, you go for -1100 in 4H doubled and the match is almost over. The game try chosen got to 4H anyway, for the same score. If you notice your small spade and nobody bidding spades is a bad sign, you get out with a push or a possible small gain. The key decision point is over 2H, as the risk/reward ratio is poor for game trying this hand to 3H.

Boards 27-32: Not much is available for IMPs for you - this happens, not every story is a Hollywood miracle comeback ending.

If board 18 had been a push, instead of a loss due to different NT ranges at the two tables, on 17-25 you could gain 12 + 10 + 10 + 3 + 7 + 3 = 45. After 18 and the -11 imps, you would be up +34 IMPs, and would hope for a net two more big swings your way on 26 to 32. The chances are this will not take place, but teams down -53 with 16 boards usually lose - it's up for you to win them when the cards are happening for you.

Congratulations to the CNTC winners: Nicolas L'Ecuyer, Marc-André Fourcaudot, Dan Jacob, Kamel Fergani, Robert Lebi, Vincent Demuy - they will represent Canada very well in China

Congratulations to our Senior team, from Ottawa-Gatineau: Stephen Brown, Edward Zaluski, Bill Bowman, John Bowman, Jurek Czyzowicz. These five will be unavailable to win events at the Ottawa regional October 7-13, as they will be in China, so this year is the year to come to Ottawa for the regional as some of the very best local players will be gone! Doug Fraser is listed on the winning team as well, but I believe he will not end up getting a medal for the Seniors event, as he was on the Silver medal team for the CNTC event, and thus did not play a board in the Seniors match (unless cloning works). Having said that, he would make a great addition as the 6th member of the team, so I hope to see him on the team sent to China.

We look forward to see all our winning teams in action during the World Mind Sport Games in Beijing, China, October 3-18, 2008.