Sanity Check: answers

Today's Panelists: Stan Schenker, David Milton, Mike Shuster, Jeff Blond, John Jones, Adam Wildavsky, Chris Willenken, Barry Rigal, David Caprera Mark Bartusek, Bobby Bodenheimer, David Weiss, Robb Gordon, Dan Hugh-Jones, Fred Curtis, Kent Hartman, and guest Mike Shuman.

Wow. 17 responses.

Matchpoints, none vul, you hold

 S:KQ1063 H:AQ10 D:A8 C:J92

Pass 1S: Pass 1NT (forcing)
Pass 2C: Pass 2S:
Pass ?

You don't play any sort of 2D: gadget. What do you call now, and is it close?

This comes from an appeals case in Chicago. CHO tanked before bidding only 2S:; he had a 12-count (!). The opener rebid 2NT and argued that it was automatic. While reviewing the case, I agreed with him, but I was very surprised when the directors polled some players and found about a 50/50 split between passing and bidding 2NT. I figured I'd check. Looks like the poll was right.

[Pass.] There are 2 possible hands for partner: 1. A bad raise to 2 Spades. 2. A hand limited to about 9 to a bad 10 points with a doubleton spade. This is matchpoints, I would pass, and no I don't think it is close. For all the good hands, there are many many more bad ones.
[2NT.] I presume that we must be playing weak no trumps [In fact, that was the case. --Jeff]—otherwise I cannot imagine why I did not open this 1NT (not quite good enough to open 1S: and bid 2NT over forcing NT, but, it is close).

I would look at my opponents (all three of them) and then consider bidding 2NT (nothing else is reasonable). I think I would bid more often then pass.

2NT. By HCP, it is close, but by honor clusters it isn't. The S:10, C:9 and even D:8 offer additional protection. Aces on the outside will give fast access to additional tricks if stretching to 3NT — it doesn't take much to make...  S:Jx H:Kxx D:xxxxx C:Axx
[Pass.] If you want partner to respond to your openings with any hint of aggression, you absolutely, positively have to pass this hand. You can't risk going minus on this deal on the 5- to 10-per-cent chance game will make opposite a suitable hand.

If you go on, partner will always be worried about you hanging him when he responds 1NT on less than classic values.

[That's probably not an issue this time. The opponents haven't bid and some of the time that partner responds real light it's because he's short in spades. He'll then pass 2C:, having improved the contract from his perspective. Sometimes partner has a Yarborough with a fit, but 3S: down two may still win the board; it doesn't matter that we could have got out for -50. --Jeff]

[2NT.] I think this one is rather close. Playing the delayed 2S: as 6 to 10 (sort of the standard range) then the 1S: opener should generally try 2NT with 16 or 17. I don't have connected cards, but I do have above average spots. Yes, 2NT could get us too high, but it might get us to a making game. I'll try 2NT, and think that it's even more clear if it were IMPs (even NV). A decent D: holding by pard might make NT a superior matchpoint strain.
I think it's close between pass and 2NT. At matchpoints I'd pass.
Open 1NT to avoid this obvious problem?
[Pass.] This looks vaguely like a deal from an appeal... [Vaguely? I copied it spot for spot! --Jeff]

If so is it relevant that you are playing weak NT and claim that bidding 2NT now shows 15-17 or 16-17? [No. Playing 15-17 NTs, 2NT now shows 16-17ish. --Jeff]

Regardless I would not bid on, but if I could be presauded that 2NT here was systemic that might be different. [Anyone who says, "I have to bid that because it's our system," is full of it. --Jeff]

If it is not the appeal hand and I am playing standard I pass and consider it close — make my S:10 the J and I bid 2NT (of course I would bid 2NT over 1NT).

[2NT.] The modern view appears to be to open 1NT and then you don't have this problem (but, of course, you might lose your 9 card spade fit.) I haven't really decided what I think about all that. I tend to be whimsical, opening 1NT some of the time and 1M others (particularly with a weak 5 card suit).

But having opened a not unreasonable 1S:, I think I would now choose to rebid 2NT. You have a lot of really nice spot cards. At matchpoints, I have some sympathy for the low road pass but partner could easily have enough for game. Bidding is a little bit more dangerous if partner is apt to bid 1NT with 3 spades and a really bad hand. These are my only choices. Bidding 3NT or 3H: is just way too much. Yeah, I think it is kind of close between 2NT and pass. In a team game I would definitely bid 2NT. I would score it something like 2NT=9, P=6, 3H:=2, anything else 0.

Very close; but I'm swayed by the spots and will bid 2NT at both MPs and IMPs.

I also take the inference that with a bad hand and 2=x=x=4 partner would pass because he is scared I would bid again.

[2NT] I think it's close. I think there are two reasonable options, 2NT and pass. I like my hand for NT play so I bit 2NT.
[2NT] I hate to say it, because it is an indictment of my sanity, but I agree completely with Mark. [Maybe that's why Mark has to dissent so often on ACs! Agreeing with him is an indictment of one's sanity! --Jeff] I would bid 2NT. If partner has the bad raise to 2S:, one of the several hands I'm worried about, we'll have to play 3S:, down a few. A good partner will have  S:Ax H:Jxx D:Qxxxx C:Qxx, and we'll roll into a good game. If I pass on these hands, partner will start to rebid 2NT with his flat nine counts, and that way madness lies.
[Pass.] I open 1NT with this hand (5 spades and not enough to raise a 1NT response to 2NT). Notwithstanding, I think it is a close decision — AT IMPS. At matchpoints we are paid to go +; pass is clear.
2NT even at MPs. The spots offer a fair amount of protection. If I wasn't prepared to offer up 2NT, I'd have started with 1NT.
[Pass.] If it were IMPs I think the presence of the good pips (unsupported J is awful but J9x offers some prospects and it is less likely that they will lead that suit — albeit lead comes through you in NT) 2NT is indicated.

However, the MP angle for a positive is huge to pass.

Generally I am not a big fan of 1NT openings on good 5S suits — and this hand is very suit oriented (controls etc) but it would have got your hand off your chest in one bid.

Responder's possible hands as I understand your parameters are:
a) 3 card S: raise too weak for a constructive raise
b) 2 card S: non-raise with < invitational: up to a fair 10 HCP with no 6 card suit
c) misfit with singleton S: and no 6 card suit eg 1-5-5-2

Depending on how weak you define your constructive raise (and I have seen some US styles and comments in MSC which suggest that to an Acol/Romex style their 3 card constructive raise would be a limit raise to 3!!) a) is unlikely to amount to game: at most 2 cover cards, and 3 level could be dangerous.

Top end of b) will have a fair to good prospect of game, but lower end will be too high already — a reasonable gamble at IMPs (just given vul) but not at MP

Advantage of c) is that you may find a better contract.

None of this augurs well for the bid of 2NT at MPs and just puts you behind those who opened 1NT on the hand- so hope for type a) or lower end of b) or opponents' cards distributed unfavourably by passing (and doing it in tempo might even see them balance???)

[Pass] If I were playing a 15-17 NT, I would open this hand 1NT at any form of scoring, and I don't think it's close.

This auction is why we play the 2D: gadget. The given sequence shows about 16-17, about a king under a 2NT rebid.

I think I'd bid 2NT at IMPs. I would not be surprised to be in 2NT or 3NT at each table at IMPs, pushing the board at -100. In my regular partnerships we stretch to invite, but not to accept, so I'm not going to be raised on any seven HCP or a ratty eight count.

My first instinct was 2NT, and three years ago that would have been my bid. However, it needs a near perfecto from partner to be right. It seems that the ratio of partner's unfavorable hands to favorable ones is high, so passing looks right at matchpoints.

Final decision: Pass. I don't think it's close, but I also don't think it's clearcut, and I wouldn't criticize partner for bidding 2NT.

[Pass] IMPs first: If you bid 2NT and pard calls 3NT you're comfortable with that. If he passes 2NT.......uneasy? Vul at IMPs, 2NT 90%, Non-vul, 60%. Pairs, any vul.: Pass 60%, 2NT 40%.

Opening 1NT is sometimes better than having to rebid C:J9x after pard's forcing NT?

When in doubt at pairs, go for the + score, and underbid 5-3-3-2's. (If my partner has S:Jx, I bid 2NT. [That may be a dangerous underbid! --Jeff])

Wasn't there, but I thought 2NT was completely normal.
Most thought it close.

Five would open 1NT. Of course, in the actual event, that was impossible, as it showed 12-14.

I don't play much matchpoints, and maybe this is one reason why I don't win matchpoint events.

At first, I thought this was a completely obvious 2NT bid, but the panel has convinced me that it's a toss-up.

One unmentioned reason in favor of 2NT (though JJ alluded to it) is that 2NT may outscore 2S:. We probably have roughly 23-24 HCP and 7 spades. It wouldn't surprise anyone if each contract made exactly 8 tricks, would it? I wouldn't be surprised to see 7 tricks in NT and 8 in spades, either, but 2NT doesn't have to be an inferior contract to 2S:, even if partner passes. In any case, sometimes 2NT will do better than 2S:. Add in 3NT's making sometimes and it looks awfully close, even at matchpoints.

Of course, at IMPs, 2NT is mandatory. You can't afford to miss games at IMPs, even white. Maybe I ought to have capitalized "matchpoints" in the problem setting.

Whether to open 1NT with a five-card major is an open question. My personal style is to open very few five-card majors 1NT, so I wouldn't, nor am I bothered by rebidding 2C:. Since I play 2D: as artificial after 2C:, I'm happy to go out of my way to start these sequences. Of course, as Kent mentions, playing the 2D: gadget, 1S:-1NT; 2C:-2S: shows at most a poorish 8-count, so passing is easy in that context. Besides, my partners play the cards just fine, so I don't worry about being dummy with hands like this.

Jeff Goldsmith,, Sep 24, 2006