Seven Notrump

In which some people who play bridge blog about it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Weak jump overcalls

With the onset of weak two bids, some ambiguity has been uncomfortably introduced regarding the meaning of an overcall at the two level. Following a 1S bid from the enemy, does 2H show 13 points and 5 hearts? 7 points and 6 hearts? Maybe 10 points and 4 hearts? Ambiguity has its inevitable place in bidding, but this is not a good place for it.

I propose that we standardize on the popular system of weak jump overcalls, though it might feel unintuitive at first.

A jumping overcall is the equivalent of a preemptive weak-two opening bid, showing say 7-11 points and a six-card suit; in the case of the overcall, though, the suit ought to be quite solid, without more than one missing honor.

A nonjumping overcall at the one level shows 10 points and a five-card suit (unless Bryan is the bidder; Bryan likes 13-point overcalls only.) A 1NT overcall shows standard 1NT opening, with the addition of a stopper in the enemies' suit. A nonjumping overcall at the two-level is strong, showing opening points and a good suit, except as spelled out below.

If you have a mammoth 18+-point hand, just double and bid your suit next round.

The quirk to remember

If you would have to jump to the three level -- e.g., opener bids 1H and you have six good diamonds and a weak hand -- don't jump, except to show seven cards. Your nonjumping overcall is thus either strong or weak, which will be clarified by your rebid.

Responder should bid if she has 10 points or good trump support. Raise partner in his suit to invite to game. A new suit is forcing for one round. NT is limiting, around 10 points and a stopper in opponents' suit.

When the bidding comes back around to you, the overcaller, pass or return to your suit cheaply if your initial overcall was weak. Any other bid implies that it was strong and forces to game.



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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Better minor

What do you bid with 4-4-3-2? Bidding 1D, the "convenient minor" or "better minor," is a plague; what good does it do your partner to know you have maybe three diamonds and two clubs, rather than two diamonds and three clubs? Neither is much of a step toward an eight-card fit.

I far prefer opening 1C unless you have four diamonds. That way a 1D bid actually means something, and you can clarify whether the club bid is artificial or genuine on the next round. Responder, for her part, should not pass a 1C opening unless her hand is truly pathetic.

A corollary of this practice is that the 1NT response to 1C is not as limiting as a 1NT response to an opening bid of another suit: it shows genuine balance and up to 13 points, I'd say.


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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Some competitive bidding

Here's an interesting hand. I think North was a little too encouraging. I sat West and I was surprised to see my opponents bid slam when I held half the deck's points.

♦ Pass♥ Dbl
♥ Pass♥ 4NT
PassPass♣ ♠ 
PassPass♥ Dbl
♠ 6
♥ 8 4 3
♦ J 10 7 5 4 3
♣ Q 9 3
♠ A K Q 8 5
♥ Q J 2
♦ 6
♣ A K J 6
♠ 10 9 7 4 2
♥ 9 7
♦ K Q 9 8
♣ 10 8
♠ J 3
♥ A K 10 6 5
♦ A 2
♣ 7 5 4 2


  At Thursday, April 12, 2007 10:44:00 PM, Blogger Ryan said:

You guys mainly play rubber bridge, right?

  At Friday, April 13, 2007 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Yeah, it's hard enough getting four of us in the same place at the same time, and I don't think we're club people. I play duplicate online a bit though. We set that hand up there by 5 tricks, for 11.60 IMPs.

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Anybody recognize this system?

I just watched this game on BBO and the bidding is a little opaque to me.

♣ Pass♦ Pass
♥ Pass♠ Pass
2NTPass♠ Pass
♠ J 10 9 7
♥ J 8 3
♦ Q J 7 4
♣ 5 3
♠ A K 8 6
♥ 10 4
♦ K 3 2
♣ J 10 7 2
♠ 3 2
♥ A Q 9 7 5
♦ A 6 5
♣ A 8 4
♠ Q 5 4
♥ K 6 2
♦ 10 9 8
♣ K Q 9 6


  At Thursday, April 12, 2007 8:15:00 AM, Blogger Mark said:

Looks like East/West are using transfer responses to 1C, more and more popular these days. 1H probably denied 3 hearts. 2S was most likely some sort of artificial game force. Not so sure about 3S.

  At Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:29:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

Thanks, Mark! That makes sense, although the spade bids are confusing.

  At Thursday, July 05, 2007 12:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

3S - 'Watch out for this suit' (?)

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The beast with five hands

You may notice parenthetical entries in the running score tally. Those represent the nights when we had exactly five players, and do not contribute to the cumulative player totals.

The equitable system we've devised for playing with five people is a swiftly rotating ostracism. After your turn as declarer, you must sit out a deal. Ideally this happens around a round table, so that no physical shifting is required, but still it's problematic. Partnership lines are continually redrawn: for any given deal, your partner is whichever person of the five is not out and not sitting adjacent to you, though he or she may be facing you at an oblique angle. This also tends to guarantee that whoever does sit adjacent to you is never your partner; often for the whole of the night, since the every-man-for-himself scoring system required prevents proper rubbering, and hence the seating is never rearranged.

It's the scoring that's the main difficulty. Scores are tabulated in five columns, one for each individual, wherein above- and below-the-line points are stacked. Nothing is subtracted, so at the end of the night, everyone's score is positive. Uncomfortably, because of the rotation of partners, you can get into a situation where you're vulnerable and running a 90-point part-score, while your partner of the moment is non-vulnerable with no partial. Your two sets of bidding priorities are necessarily vastly different, and a pusillanimous player will be tempted to falsely underbid in order to make his own game while leaving his partner unfulfilled. This unpleasant nonmutuality goes hand in hand with other trickery, such as trying to make your partner play the contract, especially an ill-fitting contract, so that she and not you will have to sit out the next round.

There are other questions too, like Does a partial get cut off by an opposing game? Even if the holder of the partial is the fifth wheel during that game? and Ought the first column to reach two games receive a rubber bonus? If any math-minded person -- Matos? Anne? -- would like to weigh in on a better way to handle the scoring of these games, please do!

After typing this up, I'm starting to feel that the traditional way might be better, a slowly rotating ostracism, in which the fifth player sits out while four play their whole rubber, then randomizes in. What do you all think? It's a boon for the scorekeeper and for the comity of partnerships. The downside, of course, is just the fifth wheel's boredom during an interminable rubber, and the consequent vicious cycle in which the bored person chats with the players, thereby distracting them and protracting the rubber further, at the fifth wheel's own expense. Certainly we ought to work on our speed, but I for one am going to bring a book next time; perhaps this one.


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