Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More Meckstroth

This is a continuation of my last post summarizing Jeff Meckstroth's remarks made at Orlando. One caveat, it has now been almost a week since I attended his presentation and I did not take concurrent notes, so my answers definately tend to paraphrase what I have cleaned from the notes that I recorded after the presentation.

1. If you make a take out double over over a minor suit opener, do you need to have 3 or more card support for the opposite minor? Personally, I would make a take-out double over a minor suit opening as long as I have 2 cards in the opposite minor and at least 3-3 in both majors, So with a club opening holding an opening hand and 3-4-2-4 distribution, I make a take-out double. Partner should know that I am not interested in hearing about his diamond suit, but if he bids diamonds we simply play it there. Finding a major suit fit holds out too many rewards to remain silent.

2. What do you think about minor suit overcalls? I don't!! If I can find any other bid to help me find a major suit, I will make it. This explains my answer to the first question and my willingness to make take out doubles that would be considered by some to be "off-shape."

3. If you have some cards, what action do you take opposite partner's take out double? If I have 9 points and some shape I will make a jump bid. If the opening bid is a minor and I have 4-4 in the majors, I will cue bid opener's minor suit.

4. If partner opens a minor and my right hand opponent overcalls a minor, what action should I take if I am 5-4 or 4-5 in the majors? I recommend a negative double to immediately describe your holding in both majors. If you try to bid out both suits, most likely one suit will get lost in the auction. Please note that any minor-minor-double bidding sequence such as you describe does guarantee at least 4-4 in both majors.

5. What do you think of Bergen Raises and does it make a difference which style you use? I think Bergen raises showing 4 card support for partner's major are perfectly acceptable and it doesn't make much difference which of the two styles you use. I personally do not use Bergen raises, but rather the old fashioned jump raise to show a limit raise hand. I do not feel that I need the weak pre-emtive raise.

6. Do you use 4th suit forcing? It is in my bidding system, but it does not get much use if I am playing 2/1 game force. I do play that in a bidding sequence 1c/1d/1h/1s, the one spade bid is forcing to game.

7. Should we use "splinter" bids? A resounding Yes! And, they should take precedence over other support showing bids, so don't use Bergen if you have a 4 card limit raise with shortness. Shape showing bids are essential to bidding close games and slams. One of the benefits of 2/1 is that it permits lower level splinter raises by opener on the first rebid. After a 2/1 response, any jump in a new suit should show support for responder's bid suit and shortness in the suit rebid by opener.

8. What sort of signals and discards do you recommend? Something that you and partner can agree on and remember. I use "upside down count and atitude" reversing the standard sequencing, but if you are not comfortable with that, standard signals showing attitude as the primary will work just as well. As for discards, I do not like dual signal discards such as "odd-even" or "lavinthal." Dual message signals tend to carry a defined messaage on each discard, and there is no clear way to be neutral and leave it to partner to figure out. Often leaving it to partner's judgment will lead to the correct defense. Top players do not use dual message discards.

9. What do you think about weak 2 bids? I think any time that you can take up opponent's bidding space you should do so. This is particularly true in match points. Contrary to popular thinking, I view the weak 2 diamond bid as very useful. My weak 2 bids non-vulnerable guarantee only that I am still awake. When you are vulnerable, stepping in requires more thought and analysis, but it still probably in the "more likely than not" category. Weak 2 bids definately need to be discussed with partner.

So Speaks Jeff Meckstroth. As you can see it was a rich 30 minute experience.

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