BridgeMatters

BridgeMatters

This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the www.bridgematters.com 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, 2010 Glen Ashton.

Friday, April 30, 2010

BridgeMatters Blog moved to BridgeBest!


This last Wednesday we received this email from "The Blogger Team, Google":
You are receiving this e-mail because one or more of your blogs at Blogger.com are set up to publish via FTP. Earlier this year we announced a planned shut-down of FTP support on Blogger Buzz (the official Blogger blog), and that deadline of May 1st is quickly approaching. This is the second and final email reminder ...
Basically it means no more blog, in blogger format, hosted on BridgeMatters.com.

The blog has now been moved to the BridgeMatters owned site: http://www.bridgebest.com/

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My fav big club auction and multi-way 1C openings


Two new posts on BridgeBest.com:

http://bridgebest.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&p=13#p13

and

http://bridgebest.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&p=14#p14

The new site was up for most of the day yesterday, but sorry when it does have problems, as there's a problem we are still hunting down. Tomorrow, the last day of the Google deadline, there will be a post here explaining why the blog had to move. Btw an easy way to send me a message is just use the BridgeBest message feature.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Don't be a small game hunter


This blog post is up at its new home at:

http://bridgebest.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&p=10#p10

If BridgeBest.com returns an error (since I use cheap hosting), please retry in a couple of minutes. BridgeMatters.com (but not the blog) will remain on the more expensive hosting to ensure that the items offered on the site remain online at most times.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The 3+ Step Mechanism

This post has been moved to:

http://bridgebest.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&p=3#p3

as part of moving the blog to its new home on bridgebest.com

Friday, April 02, 2010

April Issues May Changes


The April issues of both The Bridge World and the ACBL Bridge Bulletin arrived in the mail this week, and in typical fashion for me, I headed right to the bidding articles. Quebec City's Dimiter Zlatanov continues his intriguing set of articles on bidding concerns - in The Bridge World April issue he looks at bid assignments when the person bidding has shown a suit, and is now showing a fit for partner, where the partnership will reach game or slam in the fit suit. He suggests the following steps, and I'll use the sequence 1S-2D(GF);-2H-2S;-? as an example (not one of the examples in the article as its fun to see how well the idea extends itself):

Step 1 (3NT): no shortness (in this example exactly 5-4-2-2)
Step 2 (4C): singleton or void in clubs (using the article rule "the lowest possible bid shows shortness in the suit of its bid - I prefer the rule show shortness in reverse suit ranking order).
Step 3 (4D): singleton in diamonds.
Step 4 (4H): void in diamonds.

Btw if you were just going to buy one issue of The Bridge World, how could you beat an issue with a Spingold final write-up by Rosenberg, an interview with Zia, and Kantar cleverly discussing "Playing a Suit for No Tricks". I don't even need to give the full name of these authors, they are so well known. Linda Lee discusses the issue further here:

http://linda.bridgeblogging.com/?p=2481

In the ACBL Bridge Bulletin, Billy Miller continues his new series of articles on bidding devices, The Coolest Gizmos and Gadgets. In the April issue he looks at an expert approach when Stayman is doubled. He recommends:

1NT-P-2C-X;-?

Pass: no club stopper
Redouble: four really good clubs or five decent ones
2D, 2H, 2S: normal Stayman replies, but with a club stopper

After 1NT-P-2C-X;-P-P-?

Redouble: tell me what you have with special replies (see below)
2D: A hand that used Stayman to pass whatever opener bid
2H: A hand that used Stayman to show both majors, weak
2S: A hand that used Stayman to invite in spades

Although not noted in the article, these 2D, 2H, and 2S bids by responder depend on the partnership agreement of when and when not Stayman is used - for example is Garbage Stayman allowed by the partnership.

After 1NT-P-2C-X;-P-P-XX-P;-? (here opener has shown no club stopper, and then responder has asked, with special replies)

2D: 4Hs, not 4Ss
2H: 4Ss, not 4Hs
2S: no four card major
2NT: both majors, minimum
3C: both majors, maximum

These replies are designed to get responder to play the hand if there is a major fit, in order that any club value that responder may have is protected on the opening lead - since opener has no club stopper, one needs methods over the normal approach of the 1NT opener plays most contracts.

All of this works, but my previous study of this type of treatment has shown one problem - if pass denies a club stopper, but otherwise does not show or deny anything in particular, the auction will often be 1NT-P-2C-X;-P-3C-?, and now the gadgetry above is off, and you need even more gadgetry.

If your partnership memory can handle it, you really want the special stuff immediately over the double, such as:

1NT-P-2C-X;-?

Pass: club stopper, can have good/great clubs - now redouble by responder asks
Redouble: no stopper and no major
2D: 4Hs, not 4Ss, no club stopper
2H: 4Ss, not 4Hs, no club stopper
2NT: both majors, minimum, no club stopper
3C: both majors, maximum, no club stopper

After 1NT-P-2C-X;-P-P-XX-P;-?

Pass : good/great clubs, and a hand that would bid 1NT-P-2C-X;-XX in standard.
2D: club stopper, no major
2H/S: natural, club stopper

To simplify to a meta-agreement, play transfers over the double, and use pass to show a stopper if the double was lead directional, and use pass to show extra values if double showed strength. After the pass (stopper showing or extra values depending on meaning of double), redouble by partner asks for natural bidding. Thus we have:

1NT-P-2C-X;-?

Pass: club stopper, or good clubs - now redouble by responder asks for natural replies
Redouble: transfer, shows what a 2D bid would have shown, no stopper
2D: 4Hs, no club stopper
2H: 4Ss, no club stopper

This is not the coolest gizmo but quite workable in the heat of competition.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Canapé and Molson against Notrump


Yesterday, I bought Ken Rexford's new book, Modified Italian Canapé System, at the web site http://www.ebooksbridge.com/. I think Master Point Press (Linda & Ray Lee, and others, see Linda's blog at http://linda.bridgeblogging.com/) has a real winner with their ebooks approach: I was able to buy the book for just over $8 and get it delivered immediately - great prices, free "shipping", instant use - I love it. I'll review the book at a later date, but I'll note that Rexford's new book is not a dry system notes book, but one with a strong narrative discussion - for example here's just a small part of his comprehensive look at two-bid concerns:
The result of intermediate two-bids is two-fold and complimentary. On the one hand, we more often buy the contract when the opponents miss a superior partscore, or even game. On the other hand, frustrated opponents often compete in a leap-of-faith overcall that yields severe penalties when Responder doubles. Preemption is, in essence, a unilateral decision of one partner to engage in anticipatory fast-arrival. The theory is that consumption of space before opposition exchange of information creates an often irresolvable problem for the opponents.
The book covers much of the current thinking in the system design area, and I strongly recommend it based on my initial reading so far.

Since the last post I've been contemplating Canapé because of a question I received from Ken Scott about the Molson convention against notrump. I recalled the first time the convention ran over me. We were playing in a regional pairs, in the days where regional pairs events were large. We were having a great game, aside from two showstopping problems.

The first problem was we were using a 14-16 notrump opening, and on three boards we opened 1NT with 14, partner invited, and we ended in 2NT with only seven tricks: down 1, where most of the rest of the field would be in 1NT for a plus score. Those three results had our ship listing badly, but the torpedo that sunk us was the Molson convention.

Markland Molson and Boris Baran arrived at our table, and on the first of the two boards we had a decent result. On the second board, we opened our 14-16 1NT, this time with a whole 15 points, and Molson overcalled 2D, showing 3+Ds, and a five card or longer major. This got them to 2H, and a beautiful +110 for them. Molson had overcalled 2D with a 3-5-3-2, on a hand where most would not have the methods or desire to get into the bidding over the field's 15-17 notrump opening.

The next day I asked about the rest of the convention, which was:

2m: 3+ in the minor together with an unknown five card or longer major (usually just five)
2M: 4 in the major, with a longer unknown minor
Double: Single suiter in any suit but diamonds, or both majors

The reason that Double is not a single suiter in diamonds, is to allow for: 1NT-X-P-2C(waiting);-P-2D to show both majors. With a single suiter in diamond one must overcall 3D or play an approach such as 2NT overcall showing diamonds, either both minors or single suited diamonds.

Essentially the Molson convention employs Canapé overcalls over notrump openings. It's not a common approach, and on David Stevenson's detailed look at Defences to 1NT, Canapé is only mentioned as Canapé Transfers here: http://www.blakjak.demon.co.uk/def_1nt11.htm (eighth defence given on that page).

For the next couple of years I tracked the convention by comparing our actual table results when the opponents opened 1NT, with how it might have turned out had we been using the Molson convention. My subjective results were that the 2m overcalls were great, the 2M overcalls were less frequent and randomly had great or poor results depending on whether it hit a fit or swam ashore on misfit island. The double took some unwinding, and the opening side could consume bidding space to make that impossible. Recent convention cards with Baran (Bo on BridgeBase) don't use the convention, but that might be the choice of his partners.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Big club: five or four card majors?


A question that gets regurgitated on the net from time to time is whether to play a big club system with five card majors or four card majors. The right answer is likely a compromise: 1S 5+, 1H 4+.

One of the worst big club/five card major sequences is 1H-2H uncontested so far: 2H announces at least a 5-3 heart fit, which implies the opponents have a fit too, and since both 1H and 2H are limited, the bidding tells the opponents they have some values to bid. Perhaps one could alert 2H, and, when asked, explain, "you are getting sleepy, you don't want to bid" or in Obi-Wan's voice "these aren't the bids you're looking for".

If 1H is 4+, unbalanced if 4, and responder freely raises with 3, then 1H-2H can be just a 4-3 fit, and now the opponents can't assume anymore that they have a fit: there is some risk for them to get into the auction. In a big club/five card major system, 1S(5+)-2S is open season for competitive bidding as well, but at least the opponents have to reach at least the three level (or a questionable 2NT or 2S doubled), and that will turn out okay on much of the hands. 1H(5+)-2H often drives the opponents to the perfect partscore of 2S, and that is bad news usually.

Playing 1H as 4+ eliminates the the need for a Precision 2D short-diamond opening - the 4-4-1-4 and 4-4-0-5 hands can open 1H, as well as 3-4-1-5. It can take out the hands with 4Hs & longer clubs out of the 2C opening: thus 2C will be 6+Cs or 5Cs+4Ss. Now after a 2C opening, and opponent's spade overcall, double can just show values, since it's not needed as a negative double to indicate four hearts. There is extra space to unwind hand types after 2C-2D(asking), since 2H can now be used as a rebid on many hands, with a 2C-2D;-2H-2S re-ask.

Here's a big club system framework that uses the half five-card majors approach, with a couple of other innovations, to produce a bulletproof system. The innovations are:

- 1C with not be too-shapely or short in a major if 15-16. This is two-fold: we want to start with natural bidding if the opponents are likely to compete in a major, and if we open 1C and the opponents compete, we would like responder to be able to bid a major suit as non-forcing opposite a minimum 1C opening. When opener has a 15-16 natural suit opening, opener will be able to show the extra values whether the bidding is contested or not, since the hand will be shapely and/or have major suit shortness.

- 1C will not be balanced if 18-21, and thus if the opponents compete over 1C, responder focuses on the 15-17 balanced or close to balanced possibility for opener, knowing that if opener is shapely and/or extra values, then opener will be able to show those hand types easily on the next turn to bid. This competitive-bidding-aware premeditated distinguishing of hand types by the system design is a characteristic of many modern systems.

1C: Big club, either:
a) 15-17 balanced or close-to-balanced with no major suit singleton/void
b) 17+ unbalanced
c) 22+ balanced

1D: 4+Ds, 10-16, unbalanced, can be 4D-5C in minors, if 15-16 shapely and/or major suit singleton/void

1H: 4+Hs, 10-16, unbalanced, can have longer clubs, if 15-16 shapely and/or spade singleton/void

1S: 5+Ss, 10-16, unbalanced, if 15-16 shapely and/or heart singleton/void

1NT: 11/12-14 balanced, can have five card major

2C: 6+Cs or 5Cs+4Ss, denies 4+Hs, 10-16, unbalanced, if 15-16 shapely and/or major suit singleton/void

2D: 18-19 balanced, can have five card major

2NT: 20-21 balanced, can have five card major

Rest: Preemptive to taste

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Bonds


Even though many of us play cards for the intellectual competition, another important aspect is social. At the farmhouse of Karen's family, once the deserts (always more than one) were done, the plates were all cleared off, the table cloth put away, then a deck of cards were placed in the middle of the table. Playing cards was one of the bonds between the computer geek I am, and the farmer that Karen's Dad was. How the noise would rise at the table as the playing became intense, and the storytelling got in high gear. It was far from the quiet of a bridge table at a duplicate bridge club!

If you now look up to heaven, and think you might hear a boisterous card game going on, then Karen's Dad, Lloyd Brown, will be there. We miss him.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

11 Point Balanced Openings?


The capability or decision to open 11 point balanced hands was key in the semi-final of the NEC Cup on Friday in Japan, between the Italian Lavazza team and the Netherlands.

The match was tied when board 15 arrived, near the end of the first of two segments.


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The Dutch South passed, West opened the 11 point balanced hand, and then there was a quiet auction to 3NT, making.


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In the open room South opened the 11 point balanced hand. This left West with no good call, so he passed, and now North had a weapon available: 2D to show 5+ spades, 4+ hearts, less than invite values: a form of "Reverse Flannery by Responder". North South settled in two spades, down 1, for 7 IMPs.

Two boards later, in the last segment, the closed room East opened a 11 point balanced hand and a quiet auction got to 3NT, making.


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At the other table, the Dutch East passed, and now South opened light in 3rd seat.


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This got North South to a 2H contract before the opponents could compete, and then a takeout double and 2NT scramble got to 3D, down one, for 10 more IMPs to the Italians. Team Lavazza won their semi-final match by 7 IMPs, 41-34, and as the bulletin remarked, this was a very low scoring 32 board match for top level bridge.

The NEC Cup bulletins were excellent, as usual, the editors/writers being Rich Colker and Barry Rigal.

Board 15 is on page 30 of this bulletin, and board 17 on the next page:

http://www.jcbl.or.jp/game/nec/necfest10/nec2010_data/bulletins/blt5.pdf

Check out the bulletins after that for the exciting Lavazza-Zimmermann team final, at the NEC Cup Bridge Festival bulletin site:

http://www.jcbl.or.jp/game/nec/necfest10/nec_bul.html

I'll get to that changing your mind posting in a couple of days, if I don't change plans once more.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bread N' Butter Part IX


This is Part IX of the Bread N' Butter series: a look at Meckwell bidding in the last world championship when one of them had 10 to 17 balanced, either in opening position, or directly over an opponent's opening. We will consider balanced as any 4-3-3-3/4-4-3-2/5-3-3-2, plus any hand that Meckwell treated as balanced.

The last of the round robin matches for USA2 was against Russia, with both cold war teams here running hot and ready to qualify for the playoffs.


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On board 1, Meckstroth opened 1D with the balanced 13, Rodwell bid 1H, Meckstroth rebid 1S where some approaches prefer a 1NT call with a balanced hand, 2C was fourth suit game forcing, and in their methods 2NT showed either 4-2-4-3/4-2-3-4/4-1-4-4. 3NT was a push.


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On board 6 we see once more the 1D-2m;-2H sequence to show the 11-13 balanced hand type, and now 3D artificially showed 6+Cs and 4+Hs, game forcing. Against 3NT South led a spade, and Meckstroth played club ace and another just making. In the other room in 3NT, the lead was a diamond, won in hand and on a club up Zia, South, played the club king, just getting one club trick. Russia had a couple of overtricks for 2 IMPs.


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On board 8, Meckstroth overcalled 1NT (15-18), and now opener's reopening double showed four spades in their methods. 2H was down 1. In the other room a 2D Flannery opening had East overcalling notrump at the two level, down 1, and the two +50s gave 3 IMPs to USA2.


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On board 10, Meckstroth opened a 14-16 1NT, and South's double was majors or strong single major or very strong hand. Since doubler could be weak, Rodwell did not initiate any runout sequence, and the opponents soon got to 4H, the contract in the other room. USA2 had an overtrick for 1 IMP.

The match score was 40-19 in IMPs, 20-10 in Victory Points. USA2 finished fourth in the round robin, and that it meant it would play who ever the top three teams didn't pick to play. Italy finished first, and picked Russia, who finished 7th, to play against, even though China was 1 VP lower than Russia. Norway picked China, and Bulgaria picked Germany. I love the picking of teams format for the playoffs since it produces motivation: the picked-on team says "you think we're easy pickings do you, let's change your mind". Before we get to the quarterfinals, and USA2 against the dangerous Dutch team, we'll look into issues of changing your mind in the next post.

Meckwell were 25th overcall in the round robin Butlers, a comparison of all pairs by results on each board across all matches. However different pairs play different matches, and Meckwell play all the tough ones. If we eliminate the matches that Meckwell did not play in, and take out a pair that had fewer than 5 match results left, we get:

1 Boye BROGELAND - Espen LINDQVIST Norway 0.82
2 Claudio NUNES - Fulvio FANTONI Italy 0.71
3 Alexander SMIRNOV - Josef PIEKAREK Germany 0.69
4 Kalin KARAIVANOV - Roumen TRENDAFILOV Bulgaria 0.68
5 Weimin WANG - Zejun ZHUANG China Long Zhu Open 0.61
6 Alejandro BIANCHEDI - Ernesto MUZZIO Argentina 0.58
7 Antonio SEMENTA - Giorgio DUBOIN Italy 0.57
8 Vadim KHOLOMEEV - Yury KHIUPPENEN Russia 0.54
9 Ulf Haakon TUNDAL - Glenn GROETHEIM Norway 0.51
10 Michael ELINESCU - Entscho WLADOW Germany 0.48
11 Zia MAHMOOD - Bob HAMMAN USA 2 0.42
12 Victor ARONOV - Julian STEFANOV Bulgaria 0.39
13 Kazuo FURUTA - Dawei CHEN Japan 0.36
14 Georgi KARAKOLEV - Diyan DANAILOV Bulgaria 0.30
15 Peter BOYD - Steve ROBINSON USA 1 0.29
16 Eric RODWELL - Jeff MECKSTROTH USA 2 0.28
17 Juei-Yu SHIH - Chih-Kuo SHEN Chinese Taipei 0.25
18 Huub BERTENS - Ton BAKKEREN Netherlands 0.23
19 Sjoert BRINK - Bas DRIJVER Netherlands 0.17
20 Simon de WIJS - Bauke MULLER Netherlands 0.09
21 Lixin YANG - Jianming DAI China Long Zhu Open 0.06
22 Per Erik AUSTBERG - Erik SAELENSMINDE Norway 0.05
23 Georgi MATUSHKO - Alexander KHOKHLOV Russia -0.04
24 Pablo RAVENNA - Carlos PELLEGRINI Argentina -0.37

The last figure is the average IMP gain per board played. If we then further take out the two easy matches that Meckwell had, we have:

1 Weimin WANG - Zejun ZHUANG China Long Zhu Open 0.69
2 Boye BROGELAND - Espen LINDQVIST Norway 0.63
3 Claudio NUNES - Fulvio FANTONI Italy 0.60
4 Kalin KARAIVANOV - Roumen TRENDAFILOV Bulgaria 0.59
5 Antonio SEMENTA - Giorgio DUBOIN Italy 0.51
6 Victor ARONOV - Julian STEFANOV Bulgaria 0.49
7 Alejandro BIANCHEDI - Ernesto MUZZIO Argentina 0.45
8 Zia MAHMOOD - Bob HAMMAN USA 2 0.42
9 Vadim KHOLOMEEV - Yury KHIUPPENEN Russia 0.41
10 Michael ELINESCU - Entscho WLADOW Germany 0.25
11 Peter BOYD - Steve ROBINSON USA 1 0.24
12 Ulf Haakon TUNDAL - Glenn GROETHEIM Norway 0.22
13 Eric RODWELL - Jeff MECKSTROTH USA 2 0.22
14 Alexander SMIRNOV - Josef PIEKAREK Germany 0.21
15 Sjoert BRINK - Bas DRIJVER Netherlands 0.21
16 Juei-Yu SHIH - Chih-Kuo SHEN Chinese Taipei 0.18
17 Lixin YANG - Jianming DAI China Long Zhu Open 0.16
18 Simon de WIJS - Bauke MULLER Netherlands 0.09
19 Georgi MATUSHKO - Alexander KHOKHLOV Russia 0.06
20 Per Erik AUSTBERG - Erik SAELENSMINDE Norway 0.05
21 Huub BERTENS - Ton BAKKEREN Netherlands -0.04
22 Kazuo FURUTA - Dawei CHEN Japan -0.05
23 Georgi KARAKOLEV - Diyan DANAILOV Bulgaria -0.11
24 Pablo RAVENNA - Carlos PELLEGRINI Argentina -0.37

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Bread N' Butter Part VIII


This is Part VIII of the Bread N' Butter series: a look at Meckwell bidding in the last world championship when one of them had 10 to 17 balanced, either in opening position, or directly over an opponent's opening. We will consider balanced as any 4-3-3-3/4-4-3-2/5-3-3-2, plus any hand that Meckwell treated as balanced.

One of the nice features of the Just Sayin' blog (see Memphis Mojo link to the right) is that it sometimes features poker magazine covers with a player quote from that magazine issue. With Meckstroth the star of balanced hands in this match, here's the bridge equivalent, the cover of the ACBL Bulletin, February 2010:


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In the interview, when asked about prep for the world championships, Meckstroth replied:

I try to take the week before off to get my head in the right place for the upcoming battle. Eric has taught me some visualization techniques that seem to work pretty well…
In this match we will see Meckstroth visualize a couple of notrump openings that some others would not attempt. Perhaps it's because, as Meckstroth answered when asked what his strong points were:

I am completely fearless. I'm not afraid to look silly, which I have done many times.
Well he might occasionally look silly, but his fearless style has a 99% genius, 1% silly ratio based on results. As Taylor Swift sings in her title track Fearless, "I don't know how it gets better than this".

Meckstroth's was in action with a balanced hand on board 1:


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Meckstroth doubled the 1C opening, which could be as short as two (1D by East would promise 4) - given he has only 3-2 in the majors, this double must have been meant as value showing instead of pure takeout. Rodwell bid 1D, and the Meckwell partnership like to show support in these situations, Meckstroth here bidding 2D. West tried a takeout double, and got to 2S, making. At the other table, the same 2S, but this time played by North: the bidding started P-1D-P-1H;-P-2H, and now South doubled, and North bid 2S to find the 3-3 fit, for down 2 and a push. Neither South player in this match wanted to make the 1NT overcall.

On board 9, Meckstroth decided to treat his hand as balanced, a mild 3rd seat psyche - 1NT showed 14-16, but here he upgraded his 11 count! West led fifth best, the ten of clubs, and this was down 1. In the other room, the auction was P-P-2H-3C;-3H-Double-P-5C, and that was down 1 for 4 IMPs to Argentina.


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On board 10, Meckstroth treated us to a four card major suit overcall:


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This would almost be the perfect Lawrence example (from The Complete Book on Overcalls, a must-have book for any bridge library): great suit, length in opponents suit opened, competitive values. Rodwell made an overtrick in 1NT, good for 1 IMP compared to -100, 1NT by East down 2, at the other table, where South kept out of the bidding.

On board 11, Meckstroth decided to treat his 2-5-4-2 hand as balanced:


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2NT by Rodwell was Puppet Stayman, 3H showed five, and they got to 4H, making 5 (a spade lead allowed the spade jack to be set up for a club discard). In the other room, they also opened 1NT, but here North just raised to 3NT, down 1 for 11 IMPs to USA2.

On board 12, Meckstroth competed with a double, but didn't having anything more to say, letting the opponents play in 3D for two overtricks and +150.


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In the other room, a Flannery auction got the opponents into 3NT, doubled, for -800, and 12 IMPs to USA2. With Lebenshol over takeout doubles, 3C promised some values, and that was just enough to get into trouble.


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On board 15, Meckstroth opened the 11 point balanced hand, and next made a support double, but Meckwell picked a good spot to stay conservative, 2D still down 2, -200.


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In the other room not opening the South hand got them to game, after Hamman overcalled 3C opposite a passed Zia.


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This time 3NT was down 4 for -400, and 5 IMPS to USA2. Even with all those nice results, it was still Argentina prevailing 39-35, 16-14 in VPs.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Bread N' Butter Part VII


This is Part VII of the Bread N' Butter series: a look at Meckwell bidding in the last world championship when one of them had 10 to 17 balanced, either in opening position, or directly over an opponent's opening. We will consider balanced as any 4-3-3-3/4-4-3-2/5-3-3-2, plus any hand that Meckwell treated as balanced.

The big match of day 5 for USA2 was against Italy. There was a balanced hand on the first board:


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Meckstroth with a nice 10 count in second seat passed, but even though balanced, wasn't willing to sell out to a third seat 1NT. Double showed either both majors or a minor. Rodwell found out the hand type by bidding 2C, but this got doubled for takeout and the Italians were able to find a 2H contract for +140. This was a push as in the quieter room Zia, South, played in 1NT for +150.


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On board 5, Meckstroth opened 1NT, 14-16. Rodwell bid 2S, their range check and minor device, over which opener bid 2NT to show a minimum. 3C was to play, +110, losing 2 IMPS, as the auction in the other room was 1S-1NT (semi-forcing), and that was +180.

The last of the hands under review for us was board 8:


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Rodwell opened a 14-16 1NT, and Sementa doubled to show 4-3/3-4+ in the majors with values, or a very strong hand. Meckstroth passed, which asks partner to redouble, often a runout with two touching suits (Ss & Cs would be touching too). Here South started running first, bidding 2C, and Sementa introduced hearts. Meckstroth now bid 2S, which would represent only 4 as he would have shown spades on the first round with 5 or longer. It also showed competitive shape, and Rodwell was able to now bid 3D, making for +110. In the other room this was the bidding:


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Zia passed the value showing double, then retreated to 3H when 3D was doubled. This made for +140 and 6 IMPS to USA2, who won the match 29-4 in IMPs, 21-9 in victory points - more than twice as much victory points than IMPs for the Italians.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bread N' Butter Part VI


This is Part VI of the Bread N' Butter series: a look at Meckwell bidding in the last world championship when one of them had 10 to 17 balanced, either in opening position, or directly over an opponent's opening. We will consider balanced as any 4-3-3-3/4-4-3-2/5-3-3-2, plus any hand that Meckwell treated as balanced.

Meckwell had no rest on day 4 as the last match of the day was against China, now a strong contender for the championship. On the first board of the match we see a Marty Bergen idea that should be more popular, as Justin Lall blogged about in Five Uncommon Conventions You Should Play:

http://justinlall.com/2009/04/05/five-uncommon-conventions-you-should-play/

Perhaps it is uncommon because most people are reluctant to turn over the reins of a 3NT contract to their partner? Here though for Meckwell, regardless of which player transfers, you have a world class declarer.


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Rodwell opened the flat 11 with 1D, and after the overcall, Meckstroth jumped to 3S to transfer to 3NT. China, in 3NT by North after a 2S cuebid by South, made an extra overtrick for 1 IMP.


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On board 19 Meckstroth had a 3-4-3-3 13 count, so he opened 1D, and bid hearts after Rodwell's negative double. Since his hand is completely flat, I'm surprised he competed to 3H when 2S came back around to him. Still being not vulnerable down two only cost -100, and that picked up 5 IMPs, as the South at the other table opened a weak notrump, doubled by Zia, West, for +300.


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On board 22 it was back to opening flat 11s, and the first of two times we would see the sequence 1D-2C;-2H in this match. Meckwell play that 1D-2C;-2H and 1D-2D;-2H shows the balanced hand for the 1D opening. Now responder can bid notrump themselves, or can bid 2S to transfer to 2NT. Thus they can judge whether the 2C or 2D response has given a little too much information to the opponents, and it should be dummy, or if the hand has value location that makes it best to declarer a notrump contract. Here Rodwell placed himself in 3NT, making for a push.

Board 23 was yet another flat 11 count opening 1D:


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It might appear that the 1NT rebid is 11-13, but it is actually 11-14, since the 1NT opening when vulnerable in 3rd seat is 15-17 (or upgraded 14s). Note that the South hand did not rebid 2S, as the 1NT rebid can have a singleton spade. If 1NT promised a balanced hand, always 2 or 3 spades, then the South hand would want to rebid spades as the suit can find early retirement in notrump by the opponents holding up the spade ace, assuming that the outside values can't produce an entry. Both tables had the same auction for a push.

Board 29 saw the 1D-2C;-2H start again:


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Here Meckstroth transferred to notrump with 2S, then placed Rodwell in 3NT. Both tables were down 2 in 3NT for a push.

The balanced hands had little to write home about in this match, one that USA2 won by 33-11, for 20-10 in victory points. USA2 were in a comfortable fourth overall spot, but there were many good teams chasing them.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Bread N' Butter Part V


This is Part V of the Bread N' Butter series: a look at Meckwell bidding in the last world championship when one of them had 10 to 17 balanced, either in opening position, or directly over an opponent's opening. We will consider balanced as any 4-3-3-3/4-4-3-2/5-3-3-2, plus any hand that Meckwell treated as balanced.

Part IV of this series was posted on September 21st, and since then we've looked at some theoretical concepts that can be examined as part of this series. For this and upcoming posts in this series, the postings will consider two potential modifications to the Meckwell style 1D opening:

1) Removing the unbalanced diamond hand types, and thus a 1D is a single hand type: 10/11-13 balanced or semi-balanced.
2) Adding 5-3-3-2s with a five card major, 11-13, into 1D, treating these as a balanced hand opening, and not a major suit opening.

With the news this past weekend that the Netherlands will host the 2011 World Championship (likely late October 2011, exact location not established yet), we will resume the series with the second match on Day 4 of the round robin against the dangerous Netherlands team.


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On board 4, Rodwell opened a flat 12 count, and next made a support double. After the three club fit bid (spades + clubs + values), note that Meckstroth's three heart bid is to play, and does not invite in any way. Bakkeren got to a decent game contract and Rodwell led the diamond ace, and then switched to a heart. After drawing trumps, declarer knocked out the diamond king, and then later took a ruffing finesse in diamonds, leading the diamond ten and hoping Rodwell had the jack. Instead Meckstroth had it and that was down one and 7 IMPs to USA2.


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On the next board Rodwell opened a flat 11 count in fourth seat, even though he was opposite a passed partner who would have opened any 11 count. However the 4-4 in the majors were nice, and opening 1D got them to 1H making 1 for a push.


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On board 8, Meckstroth opened the balanced 17 with 1C since 1NT for them in 3rd seat is only 15-17 when vulnerable. They landed in 3NT for a push, Rodwell's 1NT showing a game force with a spade stopper.


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On board 10, Meckstroth opened a flat one heart, and Meckwell had nothing more to say. If 1D would be the system opening (if 5-3-3-2s with a 5 card major are treated as balanced), the contract would likely be the same. In the other room, Zia as South overcalled one spade (their jump overcalls vulnerable are Intermediate), and this allowed East West to reach 3D making. 2S against Meckwell was down one for a push.

Board 11 had a balanced hand but due to a power outage just at the time there is no record of the bidding. Here is the hand from the other table, where they got to a five heart contract:


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This was an amazing hand, as Meckwell got to 6H, played by Rodwell, West. On a neutral lead, Rodwell drew trumps and stripped out the black suits, then led a diamond to the king. To beat this North just needs to duck this, and wait with his AJ of diamonds over the queen. Instead he took the king and returned a diamond. Now Rodwell had to guess whether North made a mistake or not. He assumed he didn't, and played the eight from dummy, covered by the nine, and down one losing 11 IMPs.

For further details see Ray Lee's write up and comments at:
http://ray.bridgeblogging.com/?p=205


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On board 15, in the other room Hamman, North, opened 1NT with a singleton king and played there, making. Against Meckwell, North opened one diamond, and Meckstroth overcalled one spade. Rodwell showed a spade fit and something in hearts (not much something here) a mixed raise (constructive values with four or longer trumps - thanks to David Morgan for this correction) with a three bid, and Meckstroth parked it in the part score, just making for 6 IMPs. With a game swing on the last board, USA2 had won 40-30, 17-13 in victory points.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Designing the 1C and 1D Openings


The mainstay of bridge bidding system design has been the mapping of certain sets of balanced and unbalanced hand types on to the 1C and 1D openings. Aside from variations of standard approaches, popular methods have included:

KS - 1m: natural unbalanced or 15-19 balanced with minor
Precision - 1C: unbalanced or balanced 16+, 1D: natural unbalanced 11-15
Modified Precision - 1C: unbalanced 16+ or balanced 17+, 1D: balanced 11-13 or unbalanced natural or 3Ds+5Cs
Polish - 1C: unbalanced natural 16+ or balanced 12-14 or any 18+ or 4-4-1-4 exactly 11+

Each of the implementations, in the widely-used systems and less popular ones, solves certain problems but also have their own trouble spots, as there are not enough bids to map the hand types out perfectly. Still that hasn't stopped system designers from that search for the Holy Grail of Bridge Systems: the best mapping of sets of hands to bids possible.

Let's look at how a system designer would attempt to fix the balanced/unbalanced mix in an opening bid. We will start with a 1C opening that shows either:

a) Balanced, 12-14 or 18-19 (for balanced you can assume standard 3+Cs, or a modern any balanced hand type)
b) Unbalanced, natural, 10/11-21.

We will assume that the designer is fortunate to have available both the 2C and 2D openings to shift hand types to, and that special methods are used for game forcing hands to make these openings available. The two hand types in the 1C opening can unwind quite well if the opponents don't interfere, so the designer looks at the issues in competitive sequences, and here we will look at 1C-2D(natural jump overcall), where the opponents have now consumed a level of bidding space.

After it goes 1C-2D-P-P;-?, opener with 18-19 balanced and some length in diamonds will not want to compete if responder is very weak but will want to bid if responder has 5-9 without a good bid over 2D. To eliminate this problem, the designer could decide to use Rosenkranz's Mexican 2D opening to show 18-19 balanced, leaving 1C showing:

a) Balanced, 12-14
b) Unbalanced, natural, 10/11-21.

A further look at the 1C-2D-? sequence shows that there are some awkward hands where responder has 5-10 with a five card major. When responder has this hand type, if opener has the 12-14 balanced, responder wants to play two of the major, but if responder bids two of major it is forcing, usually 10+. If two of the major is played not-forcing (in the method called negative free bids), then responder still can't bid two of the major on a 5-10 hand in case in runs into a minimum unbalanced natural 1C opener, with shortness in the major, in which case the partnership can be back in no-fit/not enough values land. The designer might decide to employ the 2C opening to solve this problem, moving unbalanced natural club openings with either singleton/void in a major or six or longer clubs and shapely, out of the 1C opening, leaving it to be:

a) Balanced, 12-14
b) Unbalanced, natural, 10/11-21, but if 10-15 no major suit singleton/void and not super shapely.

Now after 1C-2D(overcall)-2M(5+ card suit, less than an invite)-P;-?, opener passes if less than 15, and bids otherwise.

A further issue arises when balanced hands are combined with unbalanced natural one level openings - which hands will responder want to pass the opening. Say, after a 1C balanced or clubs opening, responder has:

S: 9876
H: 9875
D: 9874
C: 3

If responder passes this, it might be the very worst suit strain for the partnership when opener is balanced. Now give responder:

S: 3
H: 987
D: 9874
C: 98765

Here responder wants to pass if opener is balanced, but if opener is a maximum with long clubs, responder would like to show support with a weak hand, since there could be game opposite some maximums.

Either balanced or unbalanced minor suit openings produce this conundrum: responder only wants to pass with length in the suit opened, but that risks not showing support when opener is unbalanced. There is solution to this rarely seen in systems: flip the unbalanced minors!

Thus, using the 1C opening designed above, the 1D opening becomes:

a) Balanced, 12-14
b) Unbalanced, clubs, 10/11-21, but if 10-15 no major suit singleton/void and not super shapely.

Now responder, if weak with diamonds, will pass this, and since it is low it is likely as good as spot as any if opener is unbalanced. If responder doesn't have diamonds, then regardless of strength responder bids to locate a better spot.

The 1C opening can now show diamonds or balanced, and could be designed to be:
a) Balanced, 18-20
b) Unbalanced, diamonds, 10/11-21.

Again responder will only pass this if weak and with the suit opened, here clubs.

We will explore this class of system at a later time, but now, having established some theoretical intrigue with balanced hands, we will return next to the Bread N' Butter series, which looks at how Meckwell fared with their balanced hands in their latest world championship.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What's natural for balanced?


If you were teaching someone modern (five card majors) natural methods, what do you tell them to open this hand with?

S AQ54
H AQ3
D J76
C 432

How do you explain opening the worst suit playing natural methods? Do you explain it as the process of elimination?

- You don't have a five card major
- You're not strong enough for 1NT
- You don't have four diamonds
- Voila! You have a "natural" one club opening.

However the better way of explaining it is:
- We have balanced hands, and unbalanced hands
- We bid balanced hands following a "notrump ladder" depending on our point count.

It would help the process if we grouped our balanced hands of certain ranges into one bid, instead of distributing them across all four one level suit bids. Thus for teaching purposes it would be easier to have:

Balanced hands:
12-14: Open 1C and rebid 1NT or support partner
15-17: Open 1NT
18-19: Open 1C and rebid 2NT or support partner
20-21: Open 2NT
22-24: Open 2C and rebid 2NT or support partner
25-27: Open 2C and rebid 3NT or support partner

Unbalanced hands: open longest suit, highest ranking if equal length of longest (but 4-4-1-4 opens 1C and all other 4-4-4-1s open 1D), unless game force values, then open 2C and rebid longest suit.

Key is to distinguish the approaches for balanced hands and for unbalanced hands. The remaining issue is then how to handle the openings that combine both balanced and unbalanced sets of hands, and that's a decisive factor in any system design that we'll look at next.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Opening 17-19 balanced


The problem of what to open with 17-19 balanced was solved by Ron Klinger in The Power System: Five Bids To Winning Bridge. However the price of his 17-20 1NT opening was the loss of using 1NT to open the far more frequent 15-17, 14-16, or 12-14 balanced hands, and that has proven too high a cost for everybody.

Aside from that and some not-allowed-everywhere ideas, like the strong one heart opening discussed in previous blog posts, this leaves these four opening options: 1C, 1D, 2C, and 2D.

Opening 1D with 17-19 balanced has problems, even though it is used by a number of good partnerships. The sequence 1D-1NT wrong sides the most likely strain, having the weak hand play notrump. In addition the range of the 1D-1NT response is an issue - if it is not forcing, it is either something to be passed, like 3-5, and a waste of a bid, or something that is an invite opposite 17-19, such as 5-7, and not used much, and stronger responding hands pose a problem. If 1D-1NT starts at a higher range, then one has to either pass with a weaker hand, when 1D can be a poor spot, or make some suit bid without much values. Often the structures with 1D containing 17-19 balanced have to resort to responding 1M sometimes with just 3 in M, and that imposes follow-up complexity. It's not a pretty sight.

Opening 2C or 2D with 17 balanced doesn't work, since many of the opponents will be playing 1NT as 15-17, and thus when responder is weak the opponents will often be playing 1NT, instead of the 2NT forced by the two level opening. However 2D as 18-19, or 2C as 18-19, 18-20 or 18-21 are all workable, although my studies show that poor 18s can be too light, such as 4-3-3-3s, and there is a risk undertaken in opening these at the two levels. The 2C opening works better than 2D, since 2C provides room for transfers to either major, allowing for two level signoffs, and finding for 4-4 major fits on the way to 2NT. The cost of using 2C instead of 2D is that stronger game forcing hands have to open something other than 2C (such as 2D), often with bidding room and/or entanglement issues. In the style that I prefer, following the ideas of Kokish, a game force opening is only made with real game forcing playing value, and thus is not that frequent. In that case I don't mind exiling the game forces to a worse bidding location, in order that the 18+ balanced hands are well treated. However if your style is currently to use the 2C opening on many close-to-game-force hands, then you are better off either playing 2D as 18-19 balanced, or using BRASS to put the 18-19s into your 2C opening.

All that is to say, with 17-19 balanced your best opening is 1C. It allows the partnership to get to 1NT when responder is weak. It provides room for transfers where permitted, or other major fit methods as wanted. The downside is you have to have some decent structure here. The current standard approach of 1m (can be 18-19 balanced with the minor)-1M(can be light);-?, and having opener rebid either 2NT (18-19 balanced without 4 in M) and 4M(raise with 18-19) is flawed when light responses are possible, and if light responses are not possible, the partnership can languish in one of a minor when 1NT is the landing spot.

The other flaw in opening 1C with 17-19 is whether or not it is combined with much weak hand types, such as 11-13 balanced or minimum openings with unbalanced club hands. If the minimum for the 1C opening is much like standard, then mild competitive bidding by the opponents can pose problems. Say it goes 1C-2S(overcall)-? Or 1C-2S(overcall)-P-P;-?. On the first sequence responder would like to compete on most 6-9s, if opener is 17-19 balanced, but if opener can be a standard minimum, responder must pass most 6-9s to keep the partnership from getting to 2NT or 3 level on not much values. On the second sequence, if responder is passing 2S with most 6-9s, opener would like to show the extras of 17-19, but if opener bids and responder is quite weak this again risks a 2NT or 3 level contract on insufficient values.

For this reason, the big club approach is a better way of treating 17-19 balanced, since after 1C-2S(overcall)-?, responder knows opener has 16/17+, and can compete with game interest. However as discussed in the last post, using the big club can result in less than optimal treatments of unbalanced hands with no five card major. One thing to consider if playing in ACBL events, is if the 1C opening promises at least 15, then transfers and other artificial methods can be played over the 1C opening.

If you don't want to open 18-19 balanced on the one level, the best option is to play 1NT as a healthy 15 to 18-, and then have a 2C or 2D opening for decent 18s and all 19s and poor 20s balanced. The concern here is that the range for minimum balanced hands becomes about 4 points, about decent 11s to poor 15s, a little too wide. Some experts believe that it is not effective to open 11s and bad 12s balanced - for example while Meckwell will open any 11, their world championship teammates have on their respective convention cards "Avoid opening bad BAL hands 1st/2nd". If one starts opening balanced hands at not too bad 12s, then 1NT as 15 to 18- works well. A lot depends on style here as opposed to there being any absolute rights and wrongs. One reason for the Bread N' Butter series is to look at how opening those flat 11 counts fares - do light & flat openings form a key factor in success?

Next up - when balanced and unbalanced live together.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Unbalanced minor suit openings


In a system framework, consider openings that show an unbalanced hand with no five card or longer major. For these openings try ranking the following five criteria:

1) Showing a specific 4 card major with the opening bid
2) Having room to investigate for major suit fits
3) Preempting the opponents
4) Showing the longest minor with the opening bid
5) Immediately showing extra values or limiting hand.

Here's my countdown ranking, from least important to most important:

5) Immediately showing extra values or limiting hand

If the unbalanced hand opening was wide ranging, it would be easy to show extra values later whether or not the opponents compete. Thus immediately showing extra values or limiting the hand doesn't help a lot.

4) Preempting the opponents

Unless one can jam the bidding at the four level or higher, preempting will not work often, as the opponents can freely introduce major suits or double to get into the bidding.

3) Showing a specific 4 card major with the opening bid

If negative doubles were banned this might be important since 4-4 fits could be lost if the opponents mildly interfered. However with negative doubles most 4-4 fits can be tracked down, or if the opponents really jam the bidding, then there are often bad splits that make a 4-4 fit contract not easy at all. On some hands immediately showing a 4 card major will work well, and thus it has some efficacy.

2) Showing the longest minor with the opening bid

If the opponents jam the bidding, knowing opener's longest minor will be a key factor, since if there is a good fit one wants to show support. However if the opponents do not interfere, opener will be able to show the longest minor later.

1) Having room to investigate for major suit fits

In order to know where to play, one needs to investigate for major suit fits, and one needs to have sufficient room to check for 4-4, 5-3, and 6-2, or better fits. While the opponents can jam the bidding to hinder fit finding, if the bidding starts off low, the opponents with constructive or better values will often stay low too, making non-jump overcalls or a takeout double.

Here's a couple of problem hands for some systems:

S: AJ53
H: 6
D: J53
C: AQ964

This hand opens 1D in some big club frameworks. The opening is limited, but that's not important. There's sufficient room to find a major suit fit, and that's good. However opener has not shown the longest minor with the opening bid.

In a Polish club system, this would open 2C. Again, limited but not important. There is now less room to find a major suit fit (e.g. is 2C-2M played as forcing or not), the most important criteria. Opener showed the longest minor which can work well in competitive auctions.

Given a choice between the big club or Polish club frameworks, we would prefer the big club since the 1D opening has more room to find major suit fits.

S: AJ5
H: 642
D: 8
C: AQT964

This hand opens 2C in both big club and Polish frameworks. The key problem is the opening eats bidding space, here hurting the ability to find 5-3 or better major fits. In some structures the bidding will go 2C-2D(ask);-3C showing a minimum with no four card major, and now responder must either pass or push to 3NT or beyond. If one plays 2C-2M as either forcing, or showing just a five card major, then weak hands with a 6 card major have risk in bidding 2C-2M, since opener can bid again. In standard one has sequences like 1C-1M;-2C-2M to the best spot.

In a big club system, when 1C is opened with an unbalanced hand with no five card major, one is not well positioned by just showing the extra values. If it goes 1C-1D(negative);-?, you have to play the 1M rebid as showing 4 or longer, since 1C-1D;-2m can lose 4-4 major suit fits found in standard by 1m-1M using light responses. If the opponents jam the auction, if opener next shows the minor suit, there is a risk of not finding any major suit fit. The big club is far from ideal for unbalanced minor suit hands, though works well with strong balanced hands.

Using the above criteria, an example of an ideal opening is in a system where the 1D opening is unbalanced, 4/5+ Ds, and is wide ranging. However in the last post it was discussed how balanced weak notrump hands are best opened 1D instead of 1C (if just opening one of the minors on this hand type). Thus we have a system design conflict: 1D works well as an unbalanced natural wide ranging opening, and 1D works well as a limited balanced opening - in the next post I'll look at another factor for us to consider.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Weak Notrump: 1C or 1D Opening?


If you had to open either 1C or 1D with all your weak notrumps, which one should it be?

Opening 1C gives plenty of room to unwind, play transfers where allowed, and investigate for 4-4 and 5-3 major fits below 1NT. However the 1C opening gives that same room to the opponents, where they can naturally bid all four suits, such as:

Double: takeout and/or value showing, and now 1D by advancer can be waiting/negative
1D/H/S, 2C: natural
2D: Both majors

Opening 1D with all your weak notrumps takes away bidding space for both our side and the opponents. Who wins?

The lack of bidding room means sometimes our side will end up in two of a major on a seven card fit (e.g. 1D-1M;-1NT-2M when opener has just 2 in M) - however that is only marginally bad as two of major can work better than 1NT on a whole set of hands. It removes the ability to play transfers, and has responder playing 1NT on the auction 1D-1NT, but a weak notrump hand doesn't have enough values to necessarily be the best one to be declarer of most contracts.

However the reduced bidding room really hurts the opponents, as they are unable to bid all suits naturally and have a bid of 2C or 2D for both majors. In addition, if they double 1D, advancer (partner of the doubler) has to bid 1NT, 2C or higher if no major.

Due to this competitive aspect, it is my opinion that opening 1D with all weak notrump hands is the better approach. In addition, I've come to believe that the big club split for balanced hands of 1NT 14-16 and 1D 11-13 is likely optimal in bidding design. When the Bread N' Butter series continues, let's see if that rings true.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Unbalanced Major


Yesterday, one of Canada's top players, Allan Graves, commented on a posting from November - since that's an older posting and a long one, where readers could miss the "1 comment" marker at the end of two miles of system frameworks, I've reposted it here:

I recommend the unbalanced major point of view and simply use 1C as weak NT or clubs with transfer responses, 1D as natural usually unbalanced with 5 plus, 1NT 14+ to 17 frequently with 5332 major, 2D 18 -19 bal, not 5 card major.
This leaves Major opener as usually not 5332 11-17 unless third or fourth seat , a competely natural diamond and 1C 11 + natural unbalanced or a weak NT including 5332 major.
I think this separation of hand types is the cleanest and recommend Nilsson's article in the November Bridge World . Please email me allangraves _AT_ me _DOT_ com if you have system ideas etc. around this structure.
In a draft of the comment, Allan notes:

- Nilsson … is highly regarded Swedish international with impressive resume of performances
- transfer responses as per Swedish methods
- 2D 18-19 balanced per Lauria Versace
- This is a simple yet very powerful approach for non big clubbers.

For replying to Allan, you can email him, or you can comment on this posting, or email me at bridgequestion@gmail.com with your system ideas and permission to post, and I'll post your email as a blog post here.

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My reply.

The ETM Gold system was based on these types of ideas, especially influenced by Swedish and Italian approaches. Put simply it is:

1C: Natural or weak balanced (can have a five card major).
1D: 5Ds & unbalanced hand, or 4=4=4=1 exactly, or 1=4=4=4 exactly with extras (15+), or with 4Ds & 5Cs and 17+. Forcing.
1H/S: Natural, 5+ major, never a 5-3-3-2.
1NT: 14/15-17 balanced, can have a five card major.
2C: 17/18-21 balanced, can have a five card major.
2D: Any game force, can be 24/25+ balanced.

First, note that one has to park the 4=4=4=1 (4-4-4-1 exactly) shape somewhere. Thus 1D unbalanced includes that hand type. In addition I moved some unbalanced and extras with just 4Ds into 1D to take advantage of the bidding room available there.

For the 2C/2D split, I went with a modified Bocchi-Duboin approach instead of Lauria-Versace. In the Bocchi-Duboin methods, 2C was 18-19 balanced, while 2D was 23+ balanced or any game force. I increased the range of 2C since it had sufficient room to unwind a wider balanced range. The 2D opening eats bidding space, but true game forces, even balanced, or relatively infrequent compared to 18-21 balanced - in bidding design one can send a rarer hand type to Siberia in order to keep the rest nice and cozy besides the wood stove of low level bidding.

Several years later I invented Brass, which combines the 2C and 2D hand types into just 2C, freeing up 2D for other duties. Using Brass, 2C would be 18-19/22+ balanced or any game force. One option is to then play 2D as mini-Roman but never short in diamonds (11-14, a three suiter not short in Ds), and thus the 1D opening is always 5+Ds if less than 15, and the 1C opening will have 5+Cs if minimum and a singleton/void in a major.

For transfers over 1C, I did not include that in the base version of ETM Gold, as it is not ACBL GCC legal. Instead I went with a modified version of Kokish's Montreal Relay, since older rock n' roll is ACBL allowed. In the Gold Premium methods transfers over 1C is in one of the modules: Premium 1C Response Structure Including Transfers, starting on page 160 of the ETM Gold notes.

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