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Bidding over weak 2M IMPs

#1 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-October-06, 21:10

Hi all

I think I may have asked about bidding over a weak 2M before but this hand recently appeared and I carelessly passed thinking I was off shape for a double and wasnt sure about the 3C overcall - desite it being a nice hand. My pass scored very badly at IMPs since there is a heart game etc

I did a bit of Googling to find pages on overcalls and one I use occasionally is Karen's page kwbridge.com

According to the options there I had a choice of an overcall or an offshape double given my hearts

The page also discusses the rule of 7 points to decide whether the overcall is appropriate

I wasnt familiar with this rule and would possibly struggle assessing if my hand was capable of 3C opposite 7 points anyway. However I ran a sim and sure enough both the double and the overcall are good options. Both 3H and 3C show as good options. Also 2S doubled is not a bad option provided you can defeat the contract :)

How could I make the decision on this hand that 3C or double was an option

Excuse me if asking whether to overcall with this seems strange but I genuinely was unsure and even sitting opposite an average 7 points I would not be confident of making 3C - or should I be. If I'm using loser counts and assume I may be lucky enough to have 3 or 4 trumps opposite how do I assess. I have 6 losers. That means I hope for 9 or fewer losers opposite (my preferred method) or maybe 4 trumps (9 tricks)



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#2 User is offline   smerriman 

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Posted 2020-October-06, 21:57

I'll leave the comments on whether to bid or pass to others, but if you passed and were making game, I'd say its highly likely your partner made a terrible bid. (Which, if this was GIB, is very likely, since it doesn't understand balancing auctions, or the important points in Karen's page about adding an ace / stretching to compete with shortness in their suit).
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#3 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 01:00

I think both pass and 3 are normal here, an off-shape double seems strange (especially opposite a passed partner). I think at the table I would also pass.
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#4 User is online   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 03:03

View Postsmerriman, on 2020-October-06, 21:57, said:

I'll leave the comments on whether to bid or pass to others, but if you passed and were making game, I'd say its highly likely your partner made a terrible bid. (Which, if this was GIB, is very likely, since it doesn't understand balancing auctions, or the important points in Karen's page about adding an ace / stretching to compete with shortness in their suit).


If you want your partner to balance with xx, KQxxx, xxxx, Qx I think you're expecting a bit much, add the A instead of Q and it's not 100% obvious, 3 seems very committal, X what do you do over 3 ?
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#5 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 08:25

This os one of those problem hands where you have the HCP strength to want to come in but don't have a good call. Double will leave you with a problem if partner bids the likely 3, and 3 overcall on AKxxx is unappealing (would you overcall 1 with 2 on this?). I'd pass and hope partner can strain a bid in balancing seat. If not and we miss game, hard luck, pre-empts work (and so does aggressive and dodgy bidding sometimes).
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#6 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 13:57

Probably the most challenging aspect of competitive bidding for players beyond the rank novice level is understanding that just because an action worked out badly doesn’t mean that the action was a mistake, with the equally important corollary that just because an action worked out well doesn’t mean it was the correct action.

Bridge is a game of probabilities. By definition, the best actions will fail sometimes, while poor actions will sometimes succeed.

Here, the percentage action is, IMO, a pass. Indeed, in my view it is clearly the best call, by a significant margin.

Your club suit is too short to bid 3C, and this is worsened by your spade holding. Qxx in a suit opened by RHO is usually a terrible holding for a suit contract, since LHO will often be ruffing the 3rd round even if RHO holds both the A and K.

The hand is too weak for 2N, which promises a stronger hand. One might stretch a little if one has a source of tricks, but the club suit is too anemic to justify the action.

Double is very bad. You might well double with a working 14 count and 2=4=2=5 on the basis that partner will often hold 5+ diamonds to put your side in 3ad, so you might survive. Here, the diamond stiff makes Tharp too dangerous.

Finally, and importantly, it is a general principle in bidding over preempt that the player, if either, with shortness in their suit should be aggressive and, in contrast, the player with length should be conservative (note that this would not apply much were our spades AQx, but we don’t hold AQx)

So pass


If you can make a game, partner will frequently be able to balance

Btw, if this hand came up opposite a robot, and the robot should have but did not (due to the profound flaws in GIB bidding programmes), it is simply one of the reasons why one cannot become even an adequate player if one plays only or mostly with robots
'one of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is the howls you will hear from the Men of God' Johann Hari
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#7 User is offline   smerriman 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 14:23

View PostCyberyeti, on 2020-October-07, 03:03, said:

If you want your partner to balance with xx, KQxxx, xxxx, Qx I think you're expecting a bit much, add the A instead of Q and it's not 100% obvious, 3 seems very committal, X what do you do over 3 ?

Right - wasn't saying that it's not possible for there to be hands where you'll miss game. Just that there are many more games you'll miss because of the failure of the robot to balance. Given everyone who didn't pass sounds like they found game, I'm pretty confident it'll be due to the latter.
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#8 User is online   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 15:20

View Postsmerriman, on 2020-October-07, 14:23, said:

Right - wasn't saying that it's not possible for there to be hands where you'll miss game. Just that there are many more games you'll miss because of the failure of the robot to balance. Given everyone who didn't pass sounds like they found game, I'm pretty confident it'll be due to the latter.


What I meant was that this was a dangerous hand to presume partner was going to balance, because he could easily have the same sort of shape issue as you, I would have thought 2(45)2 was not unlikely, but yes I suspect the robots will simply miss what we'd consider an obvious protection a lot more often.
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#9 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 16:45

This is a matter of partnership agreement.

If you agree to pass with this hand in direct seat, then whoever is in balancing seat will have to balance more aggressively. If you agree to bid with this hand in direct seat, then whoever is in balancing seat can pass more often.

You can also agree to play that you're not bidding with this hand more because you have Qxx in their suit than because you are in direct seat. In that case, whoever is in balancing seat will have to balance aggressively only when they have shortness in opponent's suit.

All these styles have their risks. Agree with your partner.
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#10 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 20:21

thepossum 'I think I may have asked about bidding over a weak 2M before but this hand recently appeared and I carelessly passed thinking I was off shape for a double and wasn't sure about the 3C overcall - despite it being a nice hand. My pass scored very badly at IMPs since there is a heart game etc. I did a bit of Googling to find pages on overcalls and one I use occasionally is Karen's page kwbridge.com. According to the options there I had a choice of an overcall or an offshape double given my hearts. The page also discusses the rule of 7 points to decide whether the overcall is appropriate wasnt familiar with this rule and would possibly struggle assessing if my hand was capable of 3C opposite 7 points anyway. However I ran a sim and sure enough both the double and the overcall are good options. Both 3H and 3C show as good options. Also 2S doubled is not a bad option provided you can defeat the contract 'How could I make the decision on this hand that 3C or double was an option. Excuse me if asking whether to overcall with this seems strange but I genuinely was unsure and even sitting opposite an average 7 points I would not be confident of making 3C - or should I be. If I'm using loser counts and assume I may be lucky enough to have 3 or 4 trumps opposite how do I assess. I have 6 losers. That means I hope for 9 or fewer losers opposite (my preferred method) or maybe 4 trumps (9 tricks)
++++++++++++++++++++
Everyone has given sound advice. I rank actions:
1. 2NT = NAT 15-18. A point short :( You might also rate the singleton to be a negative feature :(
2. Pass = Might be more sensible :)
3. 3 = NAT. "Put your trust in the long suit."
4. Double = T/O. But 3 might play badly :(

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#11 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-October-08, 00:16

Thx everyone

I usually rule out no trumps over a pre-empt unless I have solid stoppers

Looking back at the discussion and the auction I'm wondering if the rule I read about deciding on overcalls related to cases when partner had not already passed although if its only an average 7-point type hand, maybe it works for passed/unpassed hands
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#12 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-October-08, 00:20

In case anyone is interested here is the full hand

In theory I could have defeated the contract with one of my usual leads from an AK but on this day I went for the singleton which proved costly

However clearly in this case clubs would not have worked well. Hearts was the go-to contract :)


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#13 User is online   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-October-08, 03:14

The play and defence are ludicrous here, yes you should play AK6, partner ruffs and plays a heart, you play a 4th club which he ruffs and you must come to a spade and a diamond now for -1.

Once you've led the diamond, you're not beating this, but declarer has an easy overtrick, butchers this, and you give it back to them. Why are you ruffing declarer's losing diamond with your winning trump ?

Had declarer simply played on clubs at this point keeping the diamond ace as an entry to the 4th club, he could have made the overtrick by force, but the premature diamond play meant that by holding one of your AK up for a round you could have prevented him from getting to it so he would lose a diamond.
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#14 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-October-08, 03:57

View PostCyberyeti, on 2020-October-08, 03:14, said:

The play and defence are ludicrous here, yes you should play AK6, partner ruffs and plays a heart, you play a 4th club which he ruffs and you must come to a spade and a diamond now for -1.

Once you've led the diamond, you're not beating this, but declarer has an easy overtrick, butchers this, and you give it back to them. Why are you ruffing declarer's losing diamond with your winning trump ?

Had declarer simply played on clubs at this point keeping the diamond ace as an entry to the 4th club, he could have made the overtrick by force, but the premature diamond play meant that by holding one of your AK up for a round you could have prevented him from getting to it so he would lose a diamond.


It was a bidding question and yet again I made the unnwise mistake of posting the play so that could be attacked. However, the only lead guaranteed to bring that contract down is a spade attack. As I said. I usually would do that but decide on a singleton this time, in a suit I hoped partner had. The pay was not ludicrous. There is no need for rudeness

Oh and something else, maybe you should all remember you dont see all 4 hands when playing. Nobody successfully defended that contract either
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#15 User is online   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-October-08, 07:28

View Postthepossum, on 2020-October-08, 03:57, said:

It was a bidding question and yet again I made the unnwise mistake of posting the play so that could be attacked. However, the only lead guaranteed to bring that contract down is a spade attack. As I said. I usually would do that but decide on a singleton this time, in a suit I hoped partner had. The pay was not ludicrous. There is no need for rudeness

Oh and something else, maybe you should all remember you dont see all 4 hands when playing. Nobody successfully defended that contract either


The defence should be automatic IF you lead the club ace which is by no means certain, but I'd have thought some people would have found it.

It is almost never right when declarer leads up towards a holding like the AJ here to ruff in front with the master trump when you think partner can beat the second card. You are ruffing a loser and this will generally cost you a trick. The only time you consider countermanding this is if losers are imminently about to be discarded.

Declarer (the robot's) play was at best odd, it is always better to play clubs rather than diamonds here whatever the NS holdings, and here it's critical.

And sorry possum, ruffing the losing diamond like this is one of the first things most people learn not to do as a beginner, that's the only thing you did that would qualify as ludicrous.
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#16 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-October-08, 21:46

View PostCyberyeti, on 2020-October-08, 07:28, said:

The defence should be automatic IF you lead the club ace which is by no means certain, but I'd have thought some people would have found it.

It is almost never right when declarer leads up towards a holding like the AJ here to ruff in front with the master trump when you think partner can beat the second card. You are ruffing a loser and this will generally cost you a trick. The only time you consider countermanding this is if losers are imminently about to be discarded.

Declarer (the robot's) play was at best odd, it is always better to play clubs rather than diamonds here whatever the NS holdings, and here it's critical.

And sorry possum, ruffing the losing diamond like this is one of the first things most people learn not to do as a beginner, that's the only thing you did that would qualify as ludicrous.


thats fine if you want to teach the beginners stuff on this forum Cyber :)

I will make sure only to post the hands I play perfectly in future. There is a tendency of people to make the assumptionthat a mistake means you are beginner - reckon I could teach a fair few players claiming mroe advanced level a few things about how to really play the game, despite not analysing everything to the nth degree and being perfect - I'm more a rubber/IMPs player - you win some - you lose some. Its more fun :)

I kind of don't mind you pointing out errors. But what really bugs me these days is when people who just started the game and are going to beginner classes try and teach me anything, thinking that classes somehow trumps 40+ years of knowledge of the game :)

The other pervasive attitude on this site is - you maye get a good game playing robots or in the beginners lounge and ask for beginner players :)

Actually lets just say the whole world seems to been going that terrible way for years now. You need a degree to deliver takeaway these days
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#17 User is online   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 01:39

Your pass looks normal to me. Second choice 3. Maybe North could find a move over that, but then again, North could also have balanced after you pass.

Would 2NT by a passed hand show a 2-suiter? I would think so. Then South will make some positive noise, maybe just an agricultural 4, in any case you will find 4.

North can also double, planning to correct 3 to 3. Maybe South just bids 4 over the double.
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#18 User is online   AL78 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 11:14

View Postthepossum, on 2020-October-08, 03:57, said:

It was a bidding question and yet again I made the unnwise mistake of posting the play so that could be attacked. However, the only lead guaranteed to bring that contract down is a spade attack. As I said. I usually would do that but decide on a singleton this time, in a suit I hoped partner had. The pay was not ludicrous. There is no need for rudeness

Oh and something else, maybe you should all remember you dont see all 4 hands when playing. Nobody successfully defended that contract either


I can kind of see why you led a singleton but I think singleton leads are overrated, especially when you have a reasonable alternative (A from AK) and you hold a slow trump winner where ruffing only gains if you can ruff twice. Often when a singleton lead fails it ends up picking up the suit for declarer. You need partner to hold the ace of diamonds and the king of hearts, and you need to underlead your heart ace to put partner back in for a second ruff. It is the sort of defence you try if you are playing IMPS and can see no other way of getting the contract down. Playing a top club is very unlikely to give anything away, and it gives you the opportunity to look at dummy and decide if switching to the singleton diamond is worth a try. It is not clear whether or not the diamonmd switch is best at that stage, if partner holds the king it might be necessary to set it up before declarer can establish clubs and throw any losing diamonds, so the best defence is not totally obvious at the table.
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#19 User is online   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 11:25

View Postthepossum, on 2020-October-08, 21:46, said:

thats fine if you want to teach the beginners stuff on this forum Cyber :)

I will make sure only to post the hands I play perfectly in future. There is a tendency of people to make the assumptionthat a mistake means you are beginner - reckon I could teach a fair few players claiming mroe advanced level a few things about how to really play the game, despite not analysing everything to the nth degree and being perfect - I'm more a rubber/IMPs player - you win some - you lose some. Its more fun :)

I kind of don't mind you pointing out errors. But what really bugs me these days is when people who just started the game and are going to beginner classes try and teach me anything, thinking that classes somehow trumps 40+ years of knowledge of the game :)

The other pervasive attitude on this site is - you maye get a good game playing robots or in the beginners lounge and ask for beginner players :)

Actually lets just say the whole world seems to been going that terrible way for years now. You need a degree to deliver takeaway these days


Sorry, this is the beginners forum, I assumed from the way you played you'd just taken up the game. I'm a very experienced player who's not international class like MikeH but has won the odd minor national, and I thought it was an important thing to point out.
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#20 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2020-October-09, 12:41

ThePossum 'In case anyone is interested here is the full hand. In theory I could have defeated the contract with one of my usual leads from an AK but on this day I went for the singleton which proved costly. However clearly in this case clubs would not have worked well. Hearts was the go-to contract '

+++++++++++++++++++++
Thank you, for posting all 4 hands. It makes it easier to take the right view :) Anyway, IMO:
- Another illustration of the old maxim: "It's a bidder's game".
- Assuming "K for count", K seems the best lead -- in theory as well as practice. It usually allows you to inspect dummy before fatally committing yourself. Was it Bob Hammond's aphorism? "God dealt you AK to save you thinking about what to lead"
- When you have a strong hand, a singleton is less likely to work, especially when you hold a probable trump trick.
- I respect Cyberyeti's opinion: it's rarely right to ruff declarer's potential loser with a trump trick.
- I sympathise, however. I make worse misjudgements, with increasing regularity.

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