Hesitation Blackwood

I realise, of course, that when canvassing opinions in a UI case one is supposed not to mention the UI, but when one asks what call you would choose after partner bids Blackwood and signs off in 5, it is blindingly obvious what the problem is. So apologies for the breach of protocol.

Love all, teams of 8, Tolle (X-IMP) scoring.

S holds:
!s KQ1087
!h A
!d AJ9853
!c K

The auction (with silent opposition) is
1!d - 2!c - 2!s - 3!h - 3!s - 4NT - 5!d - 5!s . 5!d showed 0 or 3 Keycards for spades (clearly 3 by a reversing hand).

Are you inclined to allow S to overrule N's captaincy and bid the slam?

Comments

  • In short: no.

    Players do not bid Blackwood unless they are prepared to bid 6 unless two key cards are missing. if this was e.g. the 10th division of an inter-club where beginners/ improvers are being 'blooded' 'then they may well take time to work out the possibilites and then think that they should sign off over a 0/3 response and let partner bid the slam with the higher number (which is how I was taught it). To such a player trying to remember slam procedures may take a while and thus provide no UI.

  • edited December 2018

    @Abbeybear said:
    Are you inclined to allow S to overrule N's captaincy and bid the slam?

    What hand could partner have to have bid like this but be missing two aces?
    Jxx
    KQJ
    KQT
    QJT9 [edited to match the auction better, though it does depend a bit about agreement of FSF after reverses]

    Yes, there's certainly plenty of scope there, with partner even needing to have all that lot.

    What might partner have been thinking about? Well, this isn't a 0/3 decision in my opinion after I have reversed. Maybe partner has an ace but it worried about diamonds. Or perhaps partner really wants to agree diamonds rather than spades. Or isn't sure which was agreed by 4NT (should be obvious, but may not be to everyone).

    What the White Book says is:

    The responder to a Blackwood bid is normally expected to accept their partner’s decision, and
    when that decision is after a pause for thought, responder is not permitted to continue except
    when partner ‘cannot’ have a hand on which slam will fail. (See EBU Appeals 2000, hand 2.)
    While this is the normal case there are particular positions where it might be acceptable for a
    player to continue, which include:
    • Responder holds an unshown but useful void.
    • After a response showing 0/3, 0/4 or 1/4, responder has the higher value.

    As noted above, I don't think the second of these applies and clearly nor does the first, so I would not allow the player to bid a successful slam here.

  • TagTag
    edited December 2018

    So, partner has five clubs, four hearts, three spades and a diamond spot and probably an opening hand himself. Then again, he knows that you're 6/5 in the pointed suits. What do we have that partner doesn't know about? I think that the answer is "not a lot, besides the CK".

    No, pass is a logical alternative. If partner had bid 5S in tempo, I'd bid the slam myself but not with the BIT. Then again, does the partnership have the agreement that you sign off and expect partner to continue with the maximum number of shown keycards unless he has reason not to?

  • Just so someone takes the opposite view an unlikely but possible hand.

    Opener might have bid the same up to 5D with
    QJ109xx KQ KQJ10xx -
    it's 9 tricks partner and we can't treat it as strong.
    So now with 3 rather than 0, if that's their rule, can bid on even somehow investigating 7.

    With Gordon's chunky 3334 many (most in the Tolle?) pairs would be in a game forcing sequence after 2S so bid 2NT or 3D rather than 3H. Is this something we should know as it eliminates many hands opposite.

    If someone's going to be fussy my hand above combined with the actual hand means the 4NT bidder has used Blackwood without either A or K of hearts but it happens.
  • @Gra said:
    Just so someone takes the opposite view an unlikely but possible hand.

    Opener might have bid the same up to 5D with
    QJ109xx KQ KQJ10xx -
    it's 9 tricks partner and we can't treat it as strong.
    So now with 3 rather than 0, if that's their rule, can bid on even somehow investigating 7.

    With Gordon's chunky 3334 many (most in the Tolle?) pairs would be in a game forcing sequence after 2S so bid 2NT or 3D rather than 3H. Is this something we should know as it eliminates many hands opposite.

    If someone's going to be fussy my hand above combined with the actual hand means the 4NT bidder has used Blackwood without either A or K of hearts but it happens.

    They are more likely to be fussy about the fourteenth card!

    I agree we should find out about their system - I alluded to this when I said: "it does depend a bit about agreement of FSF after reverses".

  • Oops
    Meant QJ109x KQ KQJ10xx -
  • @Gra said:
    With Gordon's chunky 3334 many (most in the Tolle?) pairs would be in a game forcing sequence after 2S so bid 2NT or 3D rather than 3H. Is this something we should know as it eliminates many hands opposite.

    It wasn't in the Tolle - it was a County league match which happens to use Tolle scoring. The pair concerned are highly experienced County players although not of Tolle standard.

    I can't answer questions about the system being played except that I would be very surprised if 2!s had not established a game force. Given that I know what N bid 3!h on, however, it appears that they play fourth suit in an already game-forcing auction as artificial ("I don't know where we are going, partner - can you help?") rather than natural.

    @Gra said:
    Oops
    Meant QJ109x KQ KQJ10xx -

    That's not a reverse in my book, after responder has bid my void, although it's awkward if 2!d isn't forcing.

    @Tag said:
    Then again, does the partnership have the agreement that you sign off and expect partner to continue with the maximum number of shown keycards unless he has reason not to?

    I cannot be certain but I imagine not. I have never thought it necessary. If partner cannot tell whether you have 0 or 3 (or 1 or 4), the (s)he was almost certainly wrong to wheel out RKCB in the first place.

  • Like some have said above, I wouldn't even want to overrule partner with this hand. System caveats may always apply, but it looks like I've shown a strong 6-5 and partner was fishing for 4 aces. I don't think I've got any extras.

  • In the event we didn't pursue a request for a ruling, partly because it wasn't clear we were in time (team-mates having forgotten to tell me as captain that there was an issue, so I didn't hear about it till the following morning), and partly because I felt it was closer than most Hesitation Blackwood rulings.

    N actually had a rather curious Blackwood call:
    !s AJ4
    !h Q72
    !d KQ10
    !c J975
    Two losers in both of the suits S does not have (!), although with N having a 10-count in S's suits S must presumably have something in the rounded suits to scrape up a reverse. It later transpired that N has a Blackwood style all her own. Holding:
    !s KQxx
    !h Axx
    !d AKQxxx
    !c void
    she opened 1!d , and when partner responded 1!s , she launched into RKCB, passing (slowly, again) when partner had zero. Partner, this time, passed and a reasonable slam bid and made at the other three tables was missed.

  • [Gordon]: "What might partner have been thinking about? Well, this isn't a 0/3 decision in my opinion after I have reversed."

    Some partnerships have an agreement that responder has to bid on with the higher number of keycards even when it's obvious to both players that the higher number is held. Perhaps partner wants to know about another significant card that responder will show by bidding on.

    I prefer this method to running the risk of the partnership disagreeing over where the boundary between "obvious" and "not quite obvious" lies.

  • @VixTD said:
    Some partnerships have an agreement that responder has to bid on with the higher number of keycards even when it's obvious to both players that the higher number is held. Perhaps partner wants to know about another significant card that responder will show by bidding on.

    From a ruling perspective, the problem with this is that it is not the sort of thing that is likely to be documented on a system card. Would you accept an undocumented statement to that effect in a Hesitation Blackwood case (particularly where the hand responding to RKCB has shown sufficient values that 3 (or 4) is - if not guaranteed - certainly more likely than 0 (or 1)? That sounds a tad convenient for the HBers.

  • Probably not, although I document it on my convention card. I've seen this method given as "standard" in books on slam bidding, rather than as an option that partnerships can choose to adopt if they like.

  • I'd accept the 0/3 or 1/4 playing at the table against a leading pair but not from the pair in question. IF that's permissible for a director difficult to draw a line to stop hesitation replacing competence.

    AB.
    Not only is the extreme hand I came up with not a reverse in your book (not what you meant I know) it isn't in anyone's book because as far as I know such hands aren't taught or written about - many more important things to cover before lesson No. xxxx :)
  • The need to answer 4NT (RKCB) honestly - even after playing it for 15+ years, means that there is always a break in tempo whenever partner and I take the plunge. It always takes an extra second or two to avoid enquiring when the 5S response would be too high; it takes an extra second to review the bidding so far and to check that yes, we still want to do this.
    As responder, I follow the "green cross code" in that I add them from left to right, I add them from right to left and then check from left to right just to make sure I have the right answer. I admit this does mean a break in tempo, please don't mistake this for "hesitation blackwood".
    Incidentally, last week, partner and I had a surreal sequence where he asked me and I replied 3 (but I had 4). When he subsequently asked me to name my lowest King (5NT), I believed that he was confirming all keycards were present so following his 6S bid I bid 7S on the grounds we had one more than all the keycards so 7 must be safe.
    At the time, I felt we'd recovered from a mistake in the bidding but reading all the stuff above, I admit I don't know what a decent TD would have made of it if called.

  • @TawVale said:
    The need to answer 4NT (RKCB) honestly - even after playing it for 15+ years, means that there is always a break in tempo whenever partner and I take the plunge. It always takes an extra second or two to avoid enquiring when the 5S response would be too high; it takes an extra second to review the bidding so far and to check that yes, we still want to do this.
    As responder, I follow the "green cross code" in that I add them from left to right, I add them from right to left and then check from left to right just to make sure I have the right answer. I admit this does mean a break in tempo, please don't mistake this for "hesitation blackwood".
    Incidentally, last week, partner and I had a surreal sequence where he asked me and I replied 3 (but I had 4). When he subsequently asked me to name my lowest King (5NT), I believed that he was confirming all keycards were present so following his 6S bid I bid 7S on the grounds we had one more than all the keycards so 7 must be safe.
    At the time, I felt we'd recovered from a mistake in the bidding but reading all the stuff above, I admit I don't know what a decent TD would have made of it if called.

    Hesitation Blackwood isn't the response, necessarily, it is usually the slow sign off after the response has been given, indicating that the person who bid 4NT wanted to go on, but had a problem. (Incidentally it should never happen - you bid RKCB intending to bid 6 unless two key cards are missing. If you have to think then you have misapplied it - but that is bidding theory).

    As to your 'surreal sequence' - there are several tests we have to do:

    1) was there a break in tempo - or other UI? if not then there is no problem.
    2) Did the break demonstrably suggest the action taken? If not there is no problem
    3) Was there a logical alternative i.e. a call other players would consider and some (20% guideline) make? If not there is no problem.

    Obviously I don't know whether there were any tempo-related issues. It seems as if there weren't - so your raise to 7 would be allowed. You can depart from your agreement at any time. (There is no automatic fielding of a misbid penalty these days).

  • Many ACBL appeals booklets have recommended always pausing before bidding the Blackwood call (usually 4NT), to work out what your response would be over any possible response by partner, so that your tempo later in the auction is unlikely to be a problem. That seems like a sensible approach to take.

    A different approach, which I'm quite fond of (but have yet to deploy in practice) is to modify the Blackwood response-to-response structure itself to give room for an "I know I called Blackwood, but even after hearing the response I'm unsure about slam" bid. That's useful in cases where your partner's strength is unknown (which can easily happen if the opponents pre-empted; you might well want to check for Aces before your partner has had a chance to limit their hand), and in cases where you've been thinking for longer than you should have been, you can use the bid to give AI that duplicates any UI from the tempo. (There's both a weaker bid – an absolute signoff that can't be raised under any circumstances – and several stronger bids, which force to (or are) slam, meaning that even if the AI duplication isn't perfect the hesitation leaves it unclear as to whether the Blackwood user was considering a signoff or a slam force.)

    As for the situation which @TawVale mentioned, I think the only Laws effect of raising to seven on the basis that you believed the side had six out of five keycards would be to consider the situation "an extremely serious error" when determining the adjustment after any hypothetical infraction from the opponents! Playing someone for fourteen cards in the play is an understandable error, but a fifth Ace, or second King of trumps, is something that really shouldn't be believed when it's shown in the bidding.

  • edited December 2018

    I've played an opponent for a high honour when it had already been played and I either missed it or forgot about it.And I've certainly heard comments like "The ten was good" "Oh! Had the Jack gone" in the brief postmortem.I think experienced players tend to forget that keeping track of the cards is an acquired skill and many players never get round to doing it.

    NB - just thought - this can happen when a player shows the Queen of Trumps because they know they will be in a 10-card fit - and partner already has it!

  • @ais523 said:
    Many ACBL appeals booklets have recommended always pausing before bidding the Blackwood call (usually 4NT), to work out what your response would be over any possible response by partner, so that your tempo later in the auction is unlikely to be a problem. That seems like a sensible approach to take.

    I agree. A pause before asking for Aces transmits UI, but it is almost always UI that does not effectively constrain partner's actions, for this reason. The Blackwooder could have been thinking about anything from passing the hand out in game, through making some other move towards slam, to blasting a slam. The UI therefore tends not to suggest anything particular about the Blackwooder's hand. Besides, the responder to Blackwood is being asked for specific information with a view to abiding by the Blackwooder's decision, so the question of choosing something demonstrably suggested from among logical alternatives does not normally arise.

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