The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Bizarre Coincidence and Expert Systems

So yesterday I’m playing online in a set game (my college partner and I against two experts working out their system) and I hear the following auction:


1NT was a kamikaze variety (10-13 HCP) and 2 was alerted as “Relay to 2D”. Now, I learned Stayman (bidding two clubs after a 1N opener to ask about Majors) on the first or second day I played bridge, and this was the first time in twenty years that I’d ever had opponents play anything else. But amazingly enough, I’d discovered the system they were using online literally a few hours before our game (while searching for “Bridge Play Problems,” and then exploring the rest of the site). Just a bizarre coincidence, or possibly a higher power telling me I should play that system.

Having read the site, I thought a) this system is superior to vanilla stayman, but mainly due to the amount of thought that went into followups, structure and efficient use of bidding space, b) I can handle the memory load (although it would take a while to learn) and c) I’ll never get any partner to play this. (I had the same thoughts this summer when reading the online NT bidding book hosted by the Pattaya Bridge Club in Thailand).

The experts system was a modified/modernized Blue-Club, which has all strong hands (17+, 16 if not vul) open 1 club, a canape’ bidding structure (sometimes short suits are bid before long ones), a kamikaze NT (as we’ve seen), very light openings in general. Of interest (to me, if nobody else) is that they’d incorporated modern Precision big-club responses and a variety of modernizations (and aggresivenizations).

Here’s an example of bidding you won’t see every day… South is Dealer, and EW are vulnerable … South opens a weak NT (11-14 HCP). Care to guess the final contract?

spades Q52
hearts J82
diamonds KJT
clubs A943
spades T4
hearts AQ763
diamonds Q86542
Bridge Table spades AK6
hearts T95
diamonds 73
clubs QJ862
spades J9873
hearts K4
diamonds A9
clubs KT75

Here’s that auction.

Dbl P 2hearts! P
4hearts P P P

If you guessed that E-W got to four hearts, good! That’s pretty good. I doubt anybody would guess that EAST would be declaring, though.

South (Partner) opened a weak (11-14) 1NT. West’s double is a rare convention called Shuler Doubles, showing a two- (rarely three-) suited handed. It doesn’t promise a point range; more shape requires less points. By our system, after a double I pass with moderate values (waiting for partner to redouble, or I’ll come in later). Playing Shuler, a 2clubs bid by East would mean “We’re scrambling, clubs are not my shortest suit” (two diamonds would be a scramble with clubs as the shortest suit). Any other suit shows real values and a willingness to look for game. East decided to bid the cheap two hearts instead of going to three clubs, and West bid the game.

About the only good play I made here was not doubling.  South decided to start with the Diamond Ace (North dropping the Jack) and then it went Diamond 9-Q-K-7. And now the onus is on me. If I play partner for the heart King, then returning a diamond ensures the set. However, I knew that East had bid 2 hearts with only three … it seemed to me that they should include the king. And if E had good spades, like AQxx, he could have bid 2S instead of 2H (even if he had the HK). So partner may have the AQ of spades … I switched to a spade. Game making and 11 IMPs in the red.  Had I thought about it a bit more, I would have realized that partner’s Heart and Diamond doubleton meant 5-4 in the black suits, and with good black suits he would have bid them instead of 1NT, so he was likely to have an honor in each red suit.

Written by taogaming

December 10, 2009 at 11:23 am

Posted in Bridge, Session Reports

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. On further discussion, it turns out that the experts were playing 2C as puppet stayman, not a relay system. Ah well.


    December 10, 2009 at 1:17 pm

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