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A Beginners Guide to "Balance/ing"

#1 User is offline   inquiry 

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Posted 2003-June-10, 07:48

In another thread,

Quote

Maureen asked... [ben] would you please start another thread and call it " A Beginners Guide to "Balance/ing" .

What is balancing? This is when you are last to bid and if you pass, the opponents get to play the hand. The last to bid in this situation is said to be in the "balancing" position (oppenents bids in brackets in all the following examples).

(1S)-P-(P)-? <--- balancing cause if you pass they play 1S

(1S)-P-(1NT)-P
(P)- ? <<---- balance because if you pass, they play 1NT.

You get the idea. It is the last chance for your side to compete for the contract. Because of this being the "last chance", when you are in the balancing position you will take liberties with your bid that you would never do in the direct seat. You will double with hands that you would never consider doubling directly. You will bid 1NT (balancing NT) with a heck of a lot less than you would bid 1NT with immediately as an overcall. You will bid a new suit on some pretty disgusting suits that you WOULD NEVER consider overcalling on (remember you are not "overcalling" here, you are "balancing").

That is.. don't think of

(1S)-P-(P)-2C as an "overcall" think of it as a "balance", and then bear in minds that the rules (and the quality of the bid) for a balancing bid is MUCH different from that of an "overcall."

"Balancing" is most frequently a very safe action. This is because when the opponents stop at a low leve, your sid has roughly high card strength. Balancing becomes EVEN MORE attractive if they stop at a low level after finding a fit, say after

(1S)-P-(2S)-P-(P)-?

The reason being, the fact that they have a fit and only about half the points mean you are very likely to have a fit and obviously, the other "half" of the the points.

nts stop low; and the fact that they have a trump suit makes it likely that your side has one also. If they have 8 hearts then we have 5 among our combined 26 cards. That leaves 21 cards to be distributed among 3 suits: 7-7-7, 8-7-6, 9-6-6, etc… We have at least at least a 4-3 fit in our trump suit with good chances of an 8-card fit. All we have to do is find it. As LOTT suggest, it is a losing strategy to allow the opponents to play in their 8 card fit at the two level when they have half the hcp.

So how does a balance differ from an overcall? Let's take a look at four examples... the 1NT bid, the dbl, the overcall, and the jump overcall.

(1S)-1NT show 15-17, 15-18, or 16-18 depending upon your style. You need the good values, because your partner's hand is unknown. However,

(1S)-P-(P)-1NT is typically 11-13, 10-14, 12-14, something like that (you have to agree with your partner what your balancing NT range will be). But here, you know your partner has some hcp, so you bid NT with less. This allows you to bid with hands where DBL or overcall don't make sense.

Balancing doubles...
(1S)-DBL Ok, good hand, good shape.

(1S)-P-(P)-DBL here you have to do something or they get to play 1S. (it could also be 1s-2s passed to you in balancing seat). The double here is nothing like the direct seat double (it could be that good, but it doesn't have to be). In fact, Rado said in balancing seat, take action with a QUEEN less than in the direct seat. Bill Root in his book on common sense in bidding, says with a KING less. I just sort of "take action" when I have close to the right shape.

Also... (1S)-DBL-(P)-2any-(P)-new suit generally shows a monster (for most beginners), but when balancing....
(1S)-P-(P)-DBL-(P)-2 any-(P)-new suit, shows less than a monster. I would suggest you follow Rado's advice and have this show about a queen or king less than the when done as "overcaller".

New suit...
(1S)-2C This two over one shows a good suit, good hand.

(1S)-P-(P)-2C here you can be bidding on junk hands (remember you are bidding your points and your partner's points). Generally here, the weaker your hand in HCP, the better your suit should be for this bid. If they found a fit and stopped, you would try this with perhaps even less quality.

Other issue for other post...what about jumps to 2NT? What about jump shifts in balance seat. But this will serve (hopefully) as a starting point for a series of questions and answers.

Ben
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#2 User is offline   Rado 

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Posted 2003-June-10, 08:53

Hi all,

After the well written introduction by Ben I may just add that Mike Lawrance Book on balancing is very intersting and usefull for all bridge fans. Same words about his book on overcalls :-))))))))))

Regards, Rado
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#3 User is offline   pbleighton 

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Posted 2003-June-10, 09:02

After (1S)-P-(2S)-P-(P)-?, or something else that requires showing a suit at the 3 level, what do you need for that?

After (1H)-P-(2H)-P-(P)-?, and you have AJxx-xx-Kxx-Qxxx, do you double, bid 2S, or pass?

Generally, would you balance at the 2 level with an OK but not great 4 card suit?
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Posted 2003-June-10, 11:07

Response to pbleighton

After (1S)-P-(2S)-P-(P)-?, or something else that requires showing a suit at the 3 level, what do you need for that?

A fairly goodish five card suit. Don't think so much in terms of hcp. For the more you have, the less your partner will have and vise versa. That is, they have about 18-22 points. To keep the math simple, lets guess the have 20. Thus if you have 8 your partner has 12. If you have 5 your partner has 15. Etc. When you balance here, you are bidding your sides COMBINED points. If vul, you would like to have a better suit (well, you will always like to have a better suit, but you know what I mean).

What you will not have is both minors (bid 2NT), not 4 in the other major and the minor (use takeout dbl) and if partner lacks a clear bid, will uses scrambling 2NT so you can bid your minor.

After (1H)-P-(2H)-P-(P)-?, and you have AJxx-xx-Kxx-Qxxx, do you double, bid 2S, or pass?

I do not pass. I probably would have doubled 1 heart on the first round fo bidding. Here I would double. If partner can't bid 2S, he will bid a five card minor, or if stuck for a bid with no spade fit, 2NT looking for me to bid my minor. Realize after this double, your partner may bid 2S on Qxx in that suit.

Generally, would you balance at the 2 level with an OK but not great 4 card suit?

Yes I will generally have an ok suit, but not alway. Take a look at the following thread where I propose to balance in a four card suit headed by the Ten.... at the two level (bidding like this is not for the faint of heart and I hesitiate to show the link in this thread because I am sure this is not generally accepted bidding with the hand shown in that thread...but you asked).

http://forums.bridgebase.com/in...msg2989#msg2989

Ben
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#5 User is offline   EarlPurple 

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Posted 2004-July-15, 10:28

I've read Mark Lawrence's book but it seems to be almost totally dedicated to an opening bid of 1 of a suit being passed round to you. That auction occurs far less than the others and while it needs discussion, I don't know if it requires as much space as others.

There is a concept of "pre-balancing", thus 1 pass 2 Dbl is a "pre-balance". You are saying you have some values to compete should the next hand pass, but they may be less than the normal expected values for doubling an opening bid of 1. It should probably promise 4 spades and at least one 4 card minor and at least 3 cards in the other, thus 4-1-4-4, 4-1-5-3, 4-1-3-5 or 4-2-4-3 or 4-2-3-4. Partner can now bid 2NT to ask for your better minor. Of course, if partner was "trap-passing" we might get a good penalty here. I have taken 1100 against such an auction.

Beware of habitually reopening. Especially if a vulnerable opening bid of 1 is passed round to you. Clubs might not be their best suit, in fact it might not be a suit at all for them and defending you could beat what you get if you re-open. If you double they may find a better fit. Also sometimes the opener can bid a second suit and they can find a big fit.

Also if you gain a reputation as someone who ALWAYS reopens in some auctions, the opponents may take liberties and then catch you for a big penalty.
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#6 User is offline   luke warm 

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Posted 2004-July-15, 17:11

maybe i'm just paranoid, but in my experience i've usually gotten burnt after 1x/p/p/my balance... opener seems to always have a 20 point hand, responder 3 or 4, me 10 and partner 7 or so... invaribly when i balance here, my score seems worse than if i'd just passed

i've had better luck after something like 1h/p/2h/p/p/ then balancing... 'course i'll still balance on the first type if i have something to say... i'm a slow learner
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#7 User is offline   Cave_Draco 

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Posted 2004-July-17, 12:02

Balancing used to be, in the UK, known as "Protecting".

In the balancing position, ask yourself "Why did P pass?"
It could be that P didn't have a bid...
1-I have AQxx-Kxx-KJxx-Kx, I would pass; knowing that partner will "protect" my pass if s/he has even a moderate hand.
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#8 User is offline   EarlPurple 

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Posted 2004-July-17, 19:11

I also might pass on that 16-count because 1NT could lead to major trouble.
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#9 User is offline   7hearts 

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  Posted 2004-July-18, 11:28

Something my students find useful: The borrowed King" - when you find yourself in balancing position, "borrow" a King from your partner, and if :lol: that allows you to act - do so, if not pass.
Responder must "deduct" the king if and when responding to the balancing call.

Hope this helps,

7Hearts
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