Wednesday, October 03, 2007

very funny, pclayton

Pclayton, posting on BBO Forums and commenting the bidding sequence:

2♠ - 3♣
3♠ - 3♥
4♠ - P

(3♥ was probably a typo, intended as 4♥)

The insufficient 3♥ call is a very imaginative way to efficiently get your suits in. Over 3♠, you can try another 3♥ which gives you room for cue bidding, and show your extra suit length. 4♥ would be weaker. Sort of a fast arrival thing.
I vote this as the comment of the year ;-)

Monday, September 10, 2007

a few boards from Mamaia 2007

I have posted a few interesting boards from Mamaia 2007 festival on BBO forums:

- a competitive bidding position
- two 6-5 hands
- a probabilities declarer problem (matchpoints)


Sunday, July 15, 2007

sayc "secrets"

SAYC, or 'Standard American Yellow Card' is a bridge bidding system used in North America. Due to increasing popularity of online bridge, it has become the de-facto standard for bidding. Unfortunatelly, many people seems to play their own variant.

I'll try to cover here some of the common misunderstandings. My reference is a recent book by Ned Downey and Ellen (Caitlin) Pomer, Standard bidding with SAYC, highly recommended if you are serious about bridge. Even if you are an expert you should buy this book, for reference.

Weak two openings, simple Stayman and transfers to majors after 1/2 NT are standard. There is no need to put in your BBO profile "sayc, weak 2, transfers", "sayc" would be enough. If you refuse to play weak twos or transfers, maybe it's time to step into 21 century ;-)

It is perfectly okay to open 1NT with a 5 card major (5332 distribution). The french school players hate this, the americans love it. Same goes for 2NT opening, of course when you have the required point range (15-17 for 1NT opening, 20-21 for 2NT).

A direct 2NT answer after 1 minor opening is Game Forcing (for example 1D - 2NT), 13-15 balanced hand (usually without four card major). This is highly unusual for european players, who play it as invitational, 11-12 HCP. I don't know which variant is better, I only say what SAYC is.

With 18-19 balanced hand you don't open 1NT or 2NT. Opening 1NT with 15-18 and 2NT with 19-22 is agricultural bridge. The way to show this is with a jump rebid in NT after opening 1 suit, for example: 1C - 1S - 2NT.

Enough "secrets" for one day, have fun with your game!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

she is dangerous!

Some nights ago I have told my opponents at a BBO table that my partner is one of the best female players in Romania (after she left our table, so it wasn't a flattery). They weren't so impressed.

Yesterday, she proved it! It was a 10 boards match between friends, all Romanian experts/advanced. When the last board hit the table, we're 8 IMPs behind, so both me and my partner felt the impulse to do something. I have opened 1NT (natural, 15-17) and left hand opponent doubled, showing a 5minor-4major two-suiter. With
♥ K5
♦ 5
♣ AQ74
she announced an undeterred 7♠. You need some temper to think about this bid and even more to make it at the table. The result was also influenced by my eccentric choice of opening:

♠ 6
♥ T964
♦ 98762
♣ T82

1NT (!) DBL* 7♠ (!!!) all pass

♠ AKJT85
♥ K5
♦ 5
♣ AQ74

♠ Q3
♥ AQ8732
♦ Q4
♣ K95

♠ 9742
♥ J
♣ J63

What happened then? North led a club, trying to (mis)guess partner's minor and 7♠ was an easy make (by working on hearts). At the other table, a more normal and unsuccessful bidding landed in 6
♥, down one (lead ♦ A and then you loose one more trump).

Call me a result merchant, but +20 IMPs is such a pleasing way to finish a match ;-) Thank you partner!


Friday, April 13, 2007

my own pet developments after 1M-2NT

With my regular partners, I play 1♥/ - 2NT sequence as four (or more) card fit and invitational or better values. I know for North Americans this shows game forcing values with fit 4+ (Jacoby 2NT), but in Europe "fit 4+, INV+" is more popular and I think it's better.

There are many ways to continue after such a start. For some years, I was quite happy with the simplest system: the rebid of the opened major, from both sides is minimal and can be passed; anything else is (semi)natural, in first instance a game trial bid, but can reveal later a slam tentative.

One of my partners insisted this is too rudimentary and proposed a very complicated scheme, but I'm a simple soul and resisted ;-) I'll probably detail that later, but for now i want to propose my original(?) and simple scheme, which is based on losing trick count (LTC). I found this to be very appropriate, since we know about a nine card fit, LTC should be adequate.

So, after 1M-2NT, the opener bids his loser count in steps:
- 3♣ = minimal hand (7 losers or worse).
- 3♦ = 6 losers
- 3♥ = 5 losers
- 3 = 4 losers or better (but with 3 losers you probably open 2C)
Higher announces are still to be refined, for now I propose: 4♣/♦ = 5-5 hand, non-minimum; 3NT = not defined yet (specific Ace ask it's an option).

After the 3♣ = minimal hand, the responder can
- use 3♦ as a general game essay
- try to sign off in 3M (opener may override and still bid game)
- blast the game
- bid anything else with slam interest (cue-bid)

After 3 (4 losers), you are for sure in slam zone and will continue with cue-bids. A grand is not excluded ;-)

After the other step responses, the responder can see at a glance if there is slam possibility by counting his potential cover cards and continue with cue-bids or stop in the game.

It would be only fair to add that I don't insist this is the best system over 2NT "fit 4, INV+". It's just an untested idea, which appeals to me because of the simplicity and apparent efficacy. Your mileage may vary.

References on losing trick count (LTC):
- wikipedia on hand evaluation methods
- bridgeguys glossary
- Ron Klinger's book on Amazon


Thursday, April 12, 2007

how to give back 1100

Last night I played a short IMP tourney on BBO. On the first board, we were lucky enough to receive a +1100 gift from our opponents. A board or two later, my partner opened 1 heart in third position and I have
4 3
♥ 8 7 6 5 4
♦ A 2
♣ 10 8 7 4
We're vulnerable, red versus white and both opponents passed. Still, I have decided to bid 3 hearts (weak in our system). That is a little bit over-aggressive but I blame the -1100 which followed on partner opening, which was:
Q J 5
♥ K 9 3 2
♦ Q J 6 3
♣ Q 9
Full bidding: p - (p) - 1♥ - (p); 3♥ - (DBL) - all pass.

I think this board is an useful exercise in blaming partner ;-) Seriously now, look at his hand, I would really consider passing it. Slow values, a hand which scream 'defend, defend!'.

Also, even if we accept opening with only 4 card in majors in this position, there should be a reason:
- lead directing (good suit). is this case, 1♥ is not better than 1♦
- preempting. in this case, 1♥ preempts nothing more than 1♦
Do not open a 4 card major (in a 5 card majors system) just because you can.

Now, I wait for my partner comments on how bad was my 3♥ call, with a semi-balanced hand, 9 losers etc ;-)


Thursday, April 05, 2007

freemind for bidding system notes

FreeMind is a free mind mapping software. You may check the official page and the wikipedia entry for download and tutorials.

Why is this interesting for bridge players? Well, I have decided to try using it to keep bidding system notes. In my experience, it's better than a wiki engine for this purpose. You don't have (yet?) the collaborative editing, but the result looks far more nicer and usable than a set of wiki pages.

You may check a preliminary work here: my system notes (requires Java enabled browser). Click around to expand/collapse nodes, some of them are incomplete but hopefully you'll get a taste of FreeMind.