Saturday, March 31, 2012

4 suit transfers over 1NT

When I first learned 4way transfers over 1NT, I learned that transferring to a minor and then bidding a new suit (such as 1NT-2S; 3C-3H) shows a 6+ clubs and shortness in hearts. 3H in this auction should not be natural because you would start with stayman to show 6 clubs and 4 hearts. Over a 2S or 2D response to stayman, you could bid 3C, natural and forcing, while implying having a 4 card major, just not one that fits with partner. Why do we need two ways to show game forcing hands with 4-6 shape? I thought this was standard but in the last month, 2 different fairly experienced players I was playing with on different deals expected the auction to show 4-6 shape rather than a 6 card minor and shortness in the other suit. This led to playing bad 3NT contracts.

There is a lot of utility in being able to show shortness after showing your long suit. A lot of the time opener will have something like AQJ in your short suit and just sign off in 3NT, but a significant part of the time, opener will have something like 3 small in the suit and the bid will help get you to a good minor suit slam or get you to game in the other major on a 4-3 fit.

Yes, Sean and I do play that a transfer to 3m followed by 3M shows 4-6 but we also play a version of puppet stayman that pretty much no one else plays, especially over 1NT.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Memphis NABC fun

I feel like I should update this blog because I have returned from another NABC but I'm really not sure what I want to say. Sean and I had 3 decent sessions (+15, +7, +21) and 1 really bad session in the imp pairs to not make the overalls but finish with a positive score.
Sunday was A/X Swiss with Josh and Alex, which started horribly. At the half, we had 37VP on a 60 average. We dominated the evening session, bringing our total to 142 and 3rd in X and 15th overall. The split 1NT (simultaneously 8-10 or 15-17) and split 2NT ranges (20-21 or both minors preemptive) worked well again. Maybe this should become part of our regular system rather than something we do when we want to take bridge a little less seriously. I did feel a bit bad when we beat our junior European friends with this. Oh well.
I didn't mark down any deals that are blog-worthy.
As usual, I returned home from the NABC after just 4 days, emotionally drained and exhausted, halfway wanting to go back for the second weekend and halfway looking forward to being somewhat anti-social again rather than the social butterfly that I tend to transform into during such events.
Sean seems to like using bridge terms to describe various other things in life and it has caught on to some of us less creative people. Sunday we had some big disagreements about how these metaphors should be used.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bridgemates and the demise of caddies

In the last 5 years, bridgemates (and other similar machines) have taken over in pair games at tournaments.  This means less work for the directors as they don’t have to enter every score into the computer. It means fewer caddies because they are no longer needed to go around after every round to collect pick up slips. It also means no more having to decipher when someone wrote, no more having to go back to the person who wrote the score to figure out if 4H making 5 for 420 is really supposed to be making 4 for 420 or making 5 for 450, and no more searching the table for wherever the EW pair may have left the pick-up slip. On the surface, these sound like good things but there are several bad things that come from this.


One reason to discontinue use of bridgemates is that players, particularly players who have only played duplicate in the bridgemate era, will not be able to figure out their own scores. Yes, previously, we could look it up in a table or on the bidding cards but you really should be able to figure the score in your head, partly for appearing like it’s not your first time playing but partly because it sometimes should affect your bidding and play to know that a vulnerable major suit game is 620 and that 2HX making is 670 and what doubles undertricks cost. I’ve noticed more and more people lately simply clueless about what certain scores are. Whether or not players are less educated or informed or experienced than in the past, it sure feels like they are.


Secondly, fewer caddies means less exposure to teenagers and pre-teens who normally take caddying jobs, at least in the summer and on weekends. Aren’t these the people we are trying to encourage to get interested in bridge?  Simply being around the game that their parents or grandparents or neighbor love is a good way of getting more young people involved – the kids get a little money and get to see what the game is all about. Well, it didn’t do much for getting my older brother involved in bridge. He was a caddy when he was a pre-teen and learned to despise the game but that’s probably more due to other issues than just not liking bridge. Even so, some exposure is better than none, and I haven’t seen a little old lady who doesn’t enjoy seeing the teenagers in the bridge room.


At several tournaments lately I have heard directors complain about having too many score corrections after the session, threatening to penalize people for having to correct a score after the game. It seems that scores are actually more accurate when the director puts them in from pick-ups than when players enter them in machines. This is possibly more because the scores don’t get screened by the director before being entered. With pick-ups, the director may catch a lot of errors before entering them. Often times, players don’t pay much attention to the bridgemate, entering them in a rush and EW often doesn’t bother checking or just presses ok without even thinking.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Charlotte sectional recap

I'm on the drive home from Charlotte, where Sean and I played in our warmup tournament for the NABC next week. Although, calling it a warmup is barely accurate because there were no imp pair or midchart games so we weren't even playing our regular system.

It was my first time at a Charlotte sectional and was equivalently as nice if not nicer than their regionals. The food was good, playing space pleasant. The park right outside made for more pleasant breaks. Our results were meh - just scratched in pairs Saturday and finished 3rd or 4th in the Swiss with 40 or so teams.

I've been a big proponent of late starting times and have previously tried to avoid tournaments with only 2 sessions at 10 and 3 or something similar. I think I'm changing my opinion if this, especially if tournaments will make a habit of providing fruit, donuts, and biscuits to snack on throughout the morning session (as Charlotte had), thereby eliminating the need to wake up even earlier to get breakfast. Getting up for a 10:00 game is still a bit tough but once up, I think I like being able to do things like team trivia over dinner.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Does it show or ask for a stopper or show a real suit

I've had several auctions come up lately where there was some
confusion about where a bid was asking for or showing a stopper or
natural. It's easy when the opponents have intervened because bidding
their suit would ask for a stopper, in an auction such as 1S-2D-(2H);
3D-3H. And if the opponents have bid 2 suits, bidding one of their
suits tends to show a stopper in that suit but not their other suit,
such as 1D-(1H)-1S-(2C); 2D-(P)-3C.

Without an intervening bid, there is often doubt about when we bid a
new suit at the 3 level on the 3rd round of the auction when we have
not found a fit (or found a minor suit fit).

A) 1S-2C; 2D-3D; 3H

B) 1S-2D; 3D-3H

C) 1S-1NT; 2D-3D; 3H

D) 1D-2C; 2S-3H

In each of these cases, 3H is the bid in question. In A, it is clearly
a stopper ask or a cue toward a diamond slam. Responder initially
treats it as a stopper ask, with the expectation that opener will cue
bid again if he has a slam try. This auction came up on BBO last night
and we successfully avoided 3NT with Qx opposite Jx while 5 of either
minor rolled. (Sean bid 5C over 3H, which I think is weaker than 4C,
but it's also debatable about whether you can stop in 4 of a minor in
an auction like this.)

B is different from A in that there are two unbid suits, only one of
which you can bid below 3NT but I think it has pretty much the same

C differs from A in that responder didn't game force so we can't rule
out having a 5-3 heart fit (with responder having 5). For most 2/1
bidders, there's no way responder could have shown an invitational
hand with 5 hearts so it kind of makes sense for 3H to be showing a 3
card heart suit.

Fourth suit when you're in a game force, as in auction D, is certainly
not artificial 4th suit forcing (like it would be in 1D-1S; 2C-2H) but
does it make sense to be natural? Opener has denied having 4 hearts so
unless you really like Moysians, responder would need to have 5 hearts
(and therefore 6 clubs) to bid hearts naturally. That seems unlikely,
and when opener has shown at least 4-5 in spades and diamonds, it's
likely a total misfit deal. I think a more productive use of 3H here
is to ask for a heart stopper - something like Axx, xxx, Qx, AQJxx.
Then again, that hand can temporize with a slightly misleading 3C or
3D bid. This one came up Tuesday night and sure enough, Emory has 5
hearts and 6 clubs and we avoided a good 3NT because I didn't bid it
with stiff Q. 5 of a minor also rolled but lost matchpoints to all of
the 630s in 3NT.

These are interesting things to consider and I don't think I have any
definitive answers but a rule of thumb is that if it is possible to
still have an 8 card fit in that suit (without having a real freak
hand), it should be natural. If we could confidently rule out that
suit as a place to play, it probably ought to be stopper ask.