Leeway?

Game all, teams of 8 (Tolle scoring, i.e. Cross-IMPs). Match played privately, so no independent TD available. E holds:

!s K 7 5 3
!h 8 6
!d A 9 5
!c 7 5 4 2

W deals and opens 2!c , Benji, showing a strong two in an unknown suit or some range of strong balanced hand (sorry, can't tell you the exact range).

N passes and E dutifully bids 2!d , relay. Now S (vulnerable, remember) wanders into the E/W auction with 2NT, alerted by N. W asks and N says "I think we have agreed to play this as minors, but it is possible that we have agreed to play it as "odd suits", i.e. spades and diamonds or hearts and clubs."

W thinks for a while and doubles. N thinks for a short while and bids 3!d, alerted . E passes. S bids 3!h , at which W looks interrogatively at N who says "Now he definitely has hearts and clubs". W thinks for a while and asks S: "Will he be 5-5?". S says "We don't have a specific agreement, but he has come in vulnerable underneath the strong hand so I would expect him to have good playing strength".

W now thinks for a very long time and doubles again, N passes.

How do you evaluate E's options in view of her partner's evident uncertainty?

Further context:
1. E/W are relatively inexperienced and not particularly strong.
2. N/S are very experienced and rather stronger (E/W's team would have expected to lose the match heavily, but had been only marginally down at half time).
3. It is the penultimate board of the match, and the pace of play has been very slow. E has already commented to the world in general that she is tired.
4. E/W's general style is that undiscussed doubles are for penalty.

Obviously you should take into account the relative inexperience of E. Do you consider that you should give her extra leeway on account of either:
(a) the fact that N/S's defensive methods are likely to be unfamiliar to E/W; or
(b) the fact that N/S have apparently been in some doubt as to what those methods actually are (although that doubt does appear to have been resolved in time to avoid the possibility of damage to E/W)?

Comments

  • Personally I don't think that East has any problems - at least initially. Partner is obviously going to have problems when N/S aren't sure what their methods are (a director would have sent North away and have South explain their agreements).

    After the second sequence of calls, East has UI that partner does not think that double is an obvious course of action or, more likely, does not know whether it would be for penalties or not. I assume there is no partnership agreement about the double - and therefore there are no logical alternatives. (Obviously East should alert the double)

  • edited February 23

    (I initially posted this on a duplicate thread before seeing this thread, and before seeing weejonnie's reply!) [Duplicate thread now deleted - mod]

    This is confusing. Have you got North and South mixed up:

    "W thinks for a while and asks S: "Will he be 5-5?". S says "We don't have a specific agreement, but he has come in vulnerable underneath the strong hand so I would expect him to have good playing strength"."

    I thought that South was the one with the two-suiter?

    North would have done better to say he had some uncertainty about the 2NT and suggest that he leave the room for a moment so that South could explain whether there was an agreement and, if so, what it was.

    I am also not quite sure why East needs "leeway". The auction surely shows that West has a strong balanced hand for the initial double and East has to decide whether opponents will go three off, in which case, she should pass, or whether to bid 3NT for an expected make. It seems to me that the long think by West is because he is in a completely unfamiliar situation and doesn't know what to do for the best with the strong balanced hand that we already know that he has. I don't think that it suggests that we do one thing or another.

    That's just my opinion and it may be a minority opinion which is why it is good to consult.

    Any idea what the alerted 3D bid was, or if anyone asked?

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • If I was directing I would want to know what exactly the NS system was. There has been UI between them.
  • @Senior_Kibitzer said:
    This is confusing. Have you got North and South mixed up:

    "W thinks for a while and asks S: "Will he be 5-5?". S says "We don't have a specific agreement, but he has come in vulnerable underneath the strong hand so I would expect him to have good playing strength"."

    I thought that South was the one with the two-suiter?

    Correct. My apologies. West asked N and that is what N said.

    @Senior_Kibitzer said:
    I am also not quite sure why East needs "leeway". The auction surely shows that West has a strong balanced hand for the initial double and East has to decide whether opponents will go three off, in which case, she should pass, or whether to bid 3NT for an expected make. It seems to me that the long think by West is because he is in a completely unfamiliar situation and doesn't know what to do for the best with the strong balanced hand that we already know that he has. I don't think that it suggests that we do one thing or another.

    Surely we are in a normal UI situation to this extent: W's double is for penalties per the default agreement; E knows from the tempo that W was uncertain; surely removing is suggested.

    @Senior_Kibitzer said:
    Any idea what the alerted 3D bid was, or if anyone asked?

    Pass or correct (nobody asked, as far as I recall; and pass or correct was the correct answer whichever two-suiter was the actual agreement). In fact N has taken a safety play and bid 3!d with 4-4-3-2 shape in case S intended minors. This will get to the right strain in two out of three cases (if S has minors; if S has clubs and hearts), and the wrong one (but still a presumed 8-card fit) if S has diamonds and spades.

  • @Alan16248 said:
    If I was directing I would want to know what exactly the NS system was. There has been UI between them.

    Sure, but only S has UI. He must continue to bid as if N had explained according to his (S's) understanding of the system (which was "odd suits"). In S's eyes 3!d said "pass if you had pointed suits, bid 3!h if you had rounded suits", so I cannot see a logical alternative to bidding 3!h .

  • @Abbeybear said:

    Surely we are in a normal UI situation to this extent: W's double is for penalties per the default agreement; E knows from the tempo that W was uncertain; surely removing is suggested.

    I think it's an unusual UI situation. As East, the first double tells me that partner had a strong balanced hand, as the second double tells me nothing I didn't know already, and I don't think that the think before the second double tells us anything we didn't already know, either.

    The thinking is indicative of a player who has not come across a situation like this before and is struggling to think of any alternatives to doubling. If you open a strong artificial opener with an unbalanced hand, it is not unusual for the opponents to bounce the auction higher, but not when you actually have a strong balanced hand. The OP says that EW are relatively inexperienced, which backs up my view.

    Sure, the White Book says that a hesitation followed by a penalty double normally suggests a willingness for partner to take it out, but this is not a "normal" situation.

    I think, with the East hand, with our ace and king in the pointed suits and South having shown the rounded suits, I am inclined to guess that 3H may go only two off and therefore I'd bid 3NT

    Maybe if EW were very experienced there might be an expectation for West, over the 3H bid, to pass with relatively little the opponent's suits and double with values better spread. Now, a hesitation might suggest taking out the double but I'm bidding 3NT anyway.

    As I said before, my opinion might be in the minority, which is why it's good to consult.

    Barrie Partridge - Senior Kibitzer in Bridge Club Live - Pig Trader in IBLF

  • W actually had a semi-balanced hand (4-2-5-2 with Ax in both S's suits). I would have thought that a balanced hand with greater length in one or both of S's suits would be more likely to make, if not a quick, happy double, at least a less-agonised one, and I wondered at the time whether the trance suggested precisely 4 spades.

    Be that as it may, I guess that my reference to allowing leeway for E(/W) on the grounds that the defensive methods are likely to be unfamiliar (and thus E/W are in uncharted waters in respect of counter-measures) and your conclusion that nothing much is suggested are really two sides of the same coin.

    In fact E bid 3!s , raised to game by W. Both 4!s and 3NT are cold for an overtrick, although 5!d would go down. 3!h doubled would only have been down one.

    N/S took the view that some leeway should be allowed and did not ask for a ruling.

  • What about East's Pass over 3D ?
    whether slow, normal or fast should it negate any thought of leeway for East - looks to me as though it's assumed to be forcing and encouraging UI.
  • @Gra said:
    What about East's Pass over 3D ?
    whether slow, normal or fast should it negate any thought of leeway for East - looks to me as though it's assumed to be forcing and encouraging UI.

    E's pass was in normal enough tempo - she didn't have any long suit to bid, nor good enough diamonds to double. In her book, I guess, nothing much to think about. Yes, it's logically forcing, but I'm afraid I don't understand the "encouraging UI" comment.

  • Probably less experienced players don't double enough but how much better than A9x would one want to double 3D opposite a strong balanced hand, surely a double doesn't suggest we might play in D.
    That's why I think passing, leaving it to partner, and then removing the slow double of 3H is dubious.
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