Benjii 2C again

I keep meeting instances of people opening a benjii 2C. I think this is legal (lets not argue on advisability) if they alert and describe as something such as "May be 7 PT in S/H/D or may be 20+ HCP".
Some real life examples I have met in the last 2 months -
AKQXXXXX - - KQ109X
32,AKQJxxxxx,xx,-
KQJT8xx,A,KJ2,xx
I am aware of BB7C2 and Frances Hinden's note at https://www.ebu.co.uk/documents/laws-and-ethics/articles/BlueBook-section-7C.pdf
I feel it very unfair (or very picky) if I need to rule against them if they forget to exclude clubs as being in their 7/8/9 PT hand. It also seems to be asking for trouble when one of these occur and I ask them "Would you open this hand 2C if xyz was the club suit?".

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Comments

  • I think there's some official guidance somewhere saying that for sufficiently weird hands, a partnership is expected to have no agreement, so they can choose whatever bid they think will go best regardless of what the agreement about it is. The first hand is a good example, containing a double void; most partnerships won't have an agreement about what the best way to bid it is. (Incidentally, the few agreements I've seen that do cater to this sort of hand use an artificial opening bid specifically designed for hands like this, typically 4NT to ask for specific Aces; it doesn't have much use as an opening bid otherwise.)

    OTOH, the second hand listed is the sort of hand that caused the regulations to be written in the first place: it has basically no defence against anything but hearts (or notrumps, if on lead). An opponent who has a strong hand (thus implying that the opening leader is weak) needs to have a call to safely and unambiguously show their strength, and the legal agreements rules are designed so that some such call will always exist. In this case, it's double, but such a call is only safe if you know that the hand doesn't have clubs.

    I think a nice change would be to allow people to explicitly ask questions like "how is your call anchored?", if given an unanchored explanation of a potentially weak call. That allows partnership agreements to be explicitly based on the anchoring properties of an opponent's call (which is the entire reason they exist in the first place). So the conversation would go "2C!" "What does 2C mean?" "8 playing tricks or 20+ HCP" "How is it anchored?" "Weak hands can't have clubs". (Such a question should be ruled not to create UI if the player follows up with the appropriate double or cue bid based on the anchoring, because the UI is duplicated by the AI of the resulting call.) This seems a lot more natural than making players remember to give anchoring properties immediately on explanation, and serves to make the anchoring properties clear enough to allow the opponents to come to an agreement.

    (If the players don't know how their own call is anchored, that's a sign that they're playing an illegal agreement, so any legitimately playing pair should be able to answer the question.)

  • @ais523 said:
    So the conversation would go "2C!" "What does 2C mean?" "8 playing tricks or 20+ HCP" "How is it anchored?"

    Many readers of this forum would understand that last question but the vast majority of ordinary players in ordinary bridge clubs would probably look at you and wonder what you were talking about. The very small proportion of bridge players who not only understand this "stuff about the club suit" but also who actually have such an agreement with a partner, will tend to delight in full disclosure to opponents, and won't need any prompting at all. :)

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • One of my 'agreements' with a multi 2D is : 8 playing tricks in clubs but not a strong hand, using 2C as a strong hand with clubs as an option. There is no reason why a Benji player can't use the same logic.

  • @ais523 said:
    I think there's some official guidance somewhere saying that for sufficiently weird hands, a partnership is expected to have no agreement, so they can choose whatever bid they think will go best regardless of what the agreement about it is.

    Not that I'm aware of. The Frances Hinden article linked in the first post in this thread is the best source of information about this regulation and its background.

  • The Frances Hinden article linked in the first post in this thread

    I was looking for it recently. Could a link be put from https://www.ebu.co.uk/laws-and-ethics/publications please, as it is very useful. Thanks :)

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • I've put that there under "Articles for players".

  • @gordonrainsford said:

    @ais523 said:
    I think there's some official guidance somewhere saying that for sufficiently weird hands, a partnership is expected to have no agreement, so they can choose whatever bid they think will go best regardless of what the agreement about it is.

    Not that I'm aware of. The Frances Hinden article linked in the first post in this thread is the best source of information about this regulation and its background.

    1. I just wanted confirmation that my premise that those wishing to play in their current manor could, provided they excluded clubs as a suit. I intend emailing 3 or 4 people with that suggestion unless overruled.
    2. Just read todays Daily Telegraph, Tom Townsend referenced my hand one above and does not appear to agree with the Blue Book!

    I really do feel I am caught in the middle here as a club TD trying my best.

  • Tom will have been expressing his opinion as to what the regulations should be, and has made a suggestion to the L&E as to how they might be changed, but that does not yet mean that his view prevails.

  • @ais523 said "If the players don't know how their own call is anchored, that's a sign that they're playing an illegal agreement"

    Isn't this a sign that they don't have an agreement, rather than an illegal agreement? Or at least have not discussed this situation. I know that with a couple of partners I have only agreed to play Benji - we have not discussed the system further than agreeing to play Benji. Not knowing how partners determine whether a hand is worthy of a 2C or 2D open is the standard for the players I know (to even a reasonable standard) and certainly at the club level and with pickup partners.

    In addition, following a 2C open which is alerted, when asked for the meaning, Benji 2C seems to cover the situation for most people and "either 8 winning tricks when playing in some unspecified suit, or 23+ balanced" covers for anyone that does not look certain or queries further.

    With a partner that I play 3 weak 2s, I alert 2C and when asked advise that this is our only forcing opening bid, normally strong but occasionally intermediate values (and it is recorded as such on our card).

    Also, it is worth noting that it is only illegal to agree to open certain hands with a strong open, it does not mean that it is actually illegal to actually open with a strong bid when it does not meet the 16+ points/12+ with 5 controls. This would either be deviation from the agreement or a out and out psych bid - both of which are allowed?
  • @Martin said:

    With a partner that I play 3 weak 2s, I alert 2C and when asked advise that this is our only forcing opening bid, normally strong but occasionally intermediate values (and it is recorded as such on our card).

    To be legal shouldn't your agreement be, " this is our only forcing opening bid, normally strong but occasionally intermediate values if S, H or D, but always strong if Clubs"

  • Indeed, or alternatively: "This is our only forcing opening bid, always strong!" :)

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • edited December 2019

    Had this one last night: S- HJ DAKT8764 CAT874

    Opened 2C described as "Benji, 8 playing tricks", but no further elaboration as to exactly what 8PT meant (as with most players, certainly at club level).

    Legal? Meets the 5 controls rule, has it really got 8PT in any way guaranteed?

  • @GrahamC said:
    Had this one last night: S- HJ DAKT8764 CAT874

    Opened 2C described as "Benji, 8 playing tricks", but no further elaboration as to exactly what 8PT meant (as with most players, certainly at club level).

    Legal? Meets the 5 controls rule, has it really got 8PT in any way guaranteed?

    Looks to me as though it has about 8 playing tricks (not to be confused with clear-cut tricks). Regardless, it's certainly legal to agree to open this 2C. Your question seems to be about whether the explanation was adequate.

  • That has 6 playing tricks in diamonds, but you'll likely face a range of opinions about how many tricks it has in clubs. I'd think it reasonable to count the hand as having anywhere from 1 to 3 playing tricks in clubs, and would expect most partnerships not to have discussed exactly how to count a suit like that.

  • Instead of playing tricks for which there isn't a definition why don't we just say the hand has 5 or fewer losers if in the Majors or 4 or fewer losers in the minors with a minimum of 5 cards in an undisclosed suit. The 12/16 point rule could still stand. At least there's a book (or two?) on the losing trick count.

  • @AlanB said:
    At least there's a book (or two?) on the losing trick count.

    And almost as many variations as books.

  • @AlanB said:
    Instead of playing tricks for which there isn't a definition why don't we just say the hand has 5 or fewer losers if in the Majors or 4 or fewer losers in the minors with a minimum of 5 cards in an undisclosed suit. The 12/16 point rule could still stand. At least there's a book (or two?) on the losing trick count.

    I suppose that if someone wanted to describe their Benji 2C opening as "5 losers, based on losing trick count" (club suit excepted) than that could be acceptable, but please don't describe it as 8PT. For example:
    S AQxxx
    H AQx
    D KQx
    C xx

    ...has nowhere near 8PT.

  • @GrahamC said:

    @AlanB said:
    Instead of playing tricks for which there isn't a definition why don't we just say the hand has 5 or fewer losers if in the Majors or 4 or fewer losers in the minors with a minimum of 5 cards in an undisclosed suit. The 12/16 point rule could still stand. At least there's a book (or two?) on the losing trick count.

    I suppose that if someone wanted to describe their Benji 2C opening as "5 losers, based on losing trick count" (club suit excepted) than that could be acceptable, but please don't describe it as 8PT. For example:
    S AQxxx
    H AQx
    D KQx
    C xx

    ...has nowhere near 8PT.

    What's your definition of playing tricks?

  • edited December 2019

    What's your definition of playing tricks?

    I sense I'm walking into a hornet's nest here, and I am well aware that your question has depths of complexity. But as a starter, ...

    The number of tricks I would reasonably expect the hand to make with no particular help from partner's hand.

    So on my 1st example, with a diamond suit of AKT8764 I would expect to make 6 tricks. On good breaks it would be 7; on not-so-good breaks 5, or on a very bad day just 4 or conceivably even 3, but most of the time I'd expect 6 PTs.

  • @GrahamC said:
    Had this one last night: S- HJ DAKT8764 CAT874
    .... has it really got 8PT in any way guaranteed?

    I'll go for 9 playing tricks because opposite S 5432 H 5432 D 32 C 532, I'd reckon to make 9 tricks most of the time.
    I can't help with losers because I don't know LTC.

    Barrie Partridge - CTD for Bridge Club Live

  • There's more than one way to count losing tricks, but all the definitions come to the same thing for that hand, at 4 losers.

    (The simplest definition counts one loser for each missing first-round control, each missing second-round control, and each missing third-round control; that hand is missing first-round control of hearts, third-round control of diamonds, and second- and third-round control of clubs, thus 4 losers. There are other definitions that adjust for things like AKJT being less likely to lose a trick than AKxx, but they're more complex.)

  • I just been checking 7C1 note 1:

    A ‘Benji’ 2c or 2d opening (or any other opening with a similar meaning) which may have ‘eight playing tricks’ in any suit must by agreement satisfy (a) above. If the minimum strength does not, by agreement, satisfy (a) above the long suit (or suits) may not be the suit opened (in accordance with (b) (iv) above).

    Suppose the hand is weakened a little by making DK a DQ and D4 a DJ, which I reckon still has 8PT:
    S- HJ DAQJT876 CAT874

    My interpretation of note 1 is that if the hand is opened 2C, then it could be described as "8PT" (but not clubs), but it could not be described as Benji as it fails the strength test (a) of 16+ or 12+/5+. It would be permitted under 7C1(b) iv 1:
    At least five cards in a suit, specified or not, which must not be the suit opened,

    In which case, as Gordon alluded to, it's all about getting the description right. By which I mean, provided you don't claim it's strong, and 8PT is not necessarily strong under the 16+ / 15+ with 5+ definition, then it's legal provided it is described merely as "8PT".

    Have I got that right? Or am I over-complicating it?

  • @GrahamC said:
    In which case, as Gordon alluded to, it's all about getting the description right. By which I mean, provided you don't claim it's strong, and 8PT is not necessarily strong under the 16+ / 15+ with 5+ definition, then it's legal provided it is described merely as "8PT".

    Have I got that right? Or am I over-complicating it?

    Yes, that sounds right, although if you have an artificial opening that may not be strong as defined, then the suit cannot be the one opened. Hence all the concern about not having single-suited clubs in a 2C opener if it might not meet the definition of strong.

  • Are we getting close to a definition of Playing Tricks? Something like "the number of tricks you'd expect to make in a suit with reasonable breaks". e.g. If you've 8 cards in a suit then a reasonable distribution would be 221 in the other hands. If you've 7 cards in a suit then a reasonable distribution would be 321; with 6 cards 322 and 5 cards 332. Here are some examples:
    AKQxxxxx 8 Cards and an expected 8 playing tricks
    AKQxxxx 7 Cards and an expected 7 playing tricks
    AKQxxx 6 Cards and an expected 6 playing tricks
    AKQxx 5 Cards and an expected 5 playing tricks
    My feeling is that only the first example is correct since I never seem to get the breaks expected!

  • Why do we need a definition of playing tricks? BB5A3 requires that your definition of PT must be easily understood by opponents, and BB5C3 says that there is a need for complete disclosure, but beyond that there are no restrictions. Whether you define PT as based on a reasonable distribution, partner having none, or the second worse split (all of which I have seen), as long as you disclose the basis then it's OK.

  • edited December 2019

    @AlanB said:
    AKQxx 5 Cards and an expected 5 playing tricks
    My feeling is that only the first example is correct since I never seem to get the breaks expected!

    On this one you would quite often (time to get the stats books out) expect to find one defender with a 4 card suit and a big card (e.g. Jack, or T with pard with the J), so you should only expect to make 4 and bit PTs.
    On really bad days it might only make 3, but on average I'd expect it not to be that bad.

    What you expect to make with reasonable breaks is more than what you expect to make. You need to include a few unreasonable breaks. if only a few more finance people understood that when doing business cases.

  • Most players don't define their systems as precisely as this.
    Whether it's points or losing tricks or playing tricks there is always a grey area of indecision. There will be hands that haven't been considered in detail where two partners might disagree or even one might make different choices on different days.
    To me 2 Clubs means "23 or more points balanced or game forcing." My partner and I, who have played together for over fifty years, have never felt the need to define it more precisely in losing tricks or playing tricks (and of course the EBU definition of strong doesn't come into our decision.)

    Alan

  • Such a description also includes a hand with 10 solid spades and nothing else though, Alan, and this is one of the hand-types that the rules have attempted to avoid having people say is "strong".

  • @Tag said:
    Such a description also includes a hand with 10 solid spades and nothing else though, Alan, and this is one of the hand-types that the rules have attempted to avoid having people say is "strong".

    or "Benji".

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