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Super Natural 1D A less extreme version of Unbalanced 1D

#1 User is offline   perko90 

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Posted 2020-October-02, 22:08

Intro:
Ever since the ACBL loosened up the allowable conventions, we've been enjoying Transfer Walsh. T-Walsh goes well with a short club (more opportunities to use it with a balanced hand). Many pair short club with a natural, but unbalanced 1D. And now the majority of those people will open 1 even with a 3=3=5=2 shape. I like the concept of an unbalanced 1, but believe opening 1 when holding 5 Ds is taking a good idea too far. There's surprisingly little system detail for those who share my opinion. So, the purpose of this post is 2-fold:
1) Share battle-tested ideas on how to accommodate keeping 5-card D hands with 1, but trying to leverage some ideas from the Unbalanced 1 crowd
2) Solicit feedback and suggestions on improvements, keeping in mind the ground rule above

Some of the things I like about the below structure include the following:
- Immediately sorting out 3-card and 4-card raises of Responder's major
- Figuring out in many situations that Opener has to have a 5-card D suit and using that info beneficially
- Being able to play more 1NT contracts when it's right
- Solving some hard rebid issues, like having a real rebid with a stiff S when the auction starts 1-1 or handling the Bridge World Death Hand

Super Natural 1

Opening:
1 = 5+ Ds or any 4441 with Ds, usually 11-19 HCP (can also use judgment with say Kx Qxxx AKxx xxx without harm)

Responses:
Normal (1NT is essentially semi-forcing; usually safe to rebid a 4-card C or a 5-card D suit. Only hand that passes is 4=4=4=1 min or a bad 5-card D suit with no M shortness)
[There's a possibility to make 1NT forcing and 2 & 2 natural and non-forcing. But I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.]
2* = Nebulous [GF, usually natural, but with a balanced hand can be short in Cs and/or contain a 4cM]

Opener Rebids After 1M Response:
1 (over 1) = 4 Ss, tends to deny 3 Hs, but possible with a strong hand (e.g. 4=3=5=1 shape)
1NT* = 11-15 HCP, usually 1-2 M (only exception: 0=4=5=4 after 1)
- If over a 1 response, it’s considered “balanced”(ish) (at most 5 Ds & 4 Cs)
- If over a 1 response, it shows clubs, usually 4+ (only exception 3=2=5=3)
*** Lots of ways to continue as Responder. Noteworthy: we found 2 as NMF (including club sign-off) and direct 2 as sign-off to be better than 2-way NMF.
2* = shows D's, either a minimum w/ 6+ D's, or 15+ HCP w/ 5+ D's
*** Responder, with a minimum hand, puppets to 2 or rebids 2M; other responses are at least invitational strength
2* = 5+ D's & 3-card M raise, 11-14 HCP
“Impossible" 2* (over 1) = 11-14 HCP, at least 5-5 Cs & Ds [a true reverse goes thru 2* retransfer]
2M = 4-card minimum raise
2NT* = 16-17 HCP usually 5 Ds & 4 Cs (includes 1=4=4=4 shape after 1 response)
3 = 5+ C's & 5+ D's, 14-16 HCPs (4-5 loser)
[Special rebids are OFF over ANY 4th seat competition, (including Dbl)]

Opener's Continuation After 1-1M; 2*-2
2NT = balanced 18-19 HCP w/ 5 D's
2M (delayed raise)= 5+ D's, 3 pc raise, invite strength
2 of new M = classic reverse
3 = strong, 4+ C's & 5+ D's (GF)
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#2 User is online   nige1 

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Posted 2020-October-03, 02:27

My partner and I intend to go to the other extreme.
  • Our 1 opener is always shapely. Normally 5+ with a singleton or void (unless 6(322) or 2272)
  • Hence, in future, our short 1 might include 4441 hands with a singleton .

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#3 User is online   DavidKok 

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Posted 2020-October-03, 03:57

I play the unbalanced diamond1 and balanced club, and my partner and I have settled on opening 1 with 3=3=5=2 unless the diamonds are sufficiently good (and/or the hand has sufficiently unbalanced distribution of points) that we are comfortable bidding and rebidding the diamonds. I think the core principles of the balanced club and the unbalanced diamond are explained very well by Yuan Shen, regardless of how you fill in the details or edge cases. I especially like his remark that over an unbalanced 1 partner should not hesitate to raise in competition (and in fact, that this can be used to classify which balanced hands with 5 diamonds can open 1), which is somewhat of a weak spot in standard 2/1 or SAYC or the likes.

Two further remarks: we also open 1 with X=Y=4=5 shape if too weak to reverse, and reserve the auction 1-1M-1NT* (NF) to show this hand (although we can also raise with 3-card support). The point is that, especially over 1-1, the 1NT rebid is seldom necessary as you have a biddable second suit or rebiddable diamonds. So far we have been burned by this approach once (if the opponents intervene preemptively) and won several partscores with this approach, so I tentatively like it. As a side note, Yuan Shen suggests reserving this 1NT rebid for an artificial Gazzilli call (showing either any 16+ or a 12-15 with a desire to play 2, and the direct 2 rebid promises exactly 5 and 3-card support for partner's major).

Secondly in the Netherlands it is popular to play 1 showing 2+ and 1 showing (any) 5+ or exactly 4=4=4=1 (so not strictly 'unbalanced'). In this system it is common to use the 1 response to 1 as either natural or a fert, to avoid being stuck in the potential 2-2 fit or so. This is especially relevant if 1 also contains the 18-19 NT, so game may still be on opposite the right 5 points. I have invested quite a few hours trying to find a systematic overview of Transfer Walsh methods (my current favourite is based on this version by Michael Goetze, at least for the 1-level), and it seems there is a clear but never discussed split between people who initiate transfers starting at ~6+ points (of course subject to judgment) and people who will transfer with a 0-count just to avoid the club misfit. These two approaches require rather different continuations - the former can start splitting 3-card and 4-card support as low as the 1-level, the latter needs to hedge a bit more in case partner is weak. Personally I prefer the 0+-approach, even without the transfers I have had great results on auctions like 1*-1*-1/*-P.

I'm very interested in this topic, and while I have found some great sources so far a clear overview of relative advantages and disadvantages of different approaches is still missing. I will say that whenever partner opens an unbalanced diamond we tend to be ahead of the field in competition, because I can usually tease out partner's shortness and therefore likely shape from just the opponents' bidding. The real downside is that you need very good agreements over 1 to make up for this, and in particular if you're playing a weak NT this is difficult in competitive auctions.

1I find alerting this convention of course necessary but tiresome, since it also contains semi-balanced hands (and for some partnerships, including mine, even some rare balanced hand types). So instead of explaining 'unbalanced diamond' I have to say 'almost never balanced, and we have such-and-such agreements about a list of edge cases'.
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#4 User is offline   dokoko 

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Posted 2020-October-03, 05:18

IMO the sequence 1-1;1NT is a bit overloaded. You'll have to bid it on x-4-5-x, x-x-5-5 and on balanced hands.

The reason why many eliminate the 5-3-3-2 hands from 1 is to avoid needing a rebid with balanced hands.
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#5 User is online   DavidKok 

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Posted 2020-October-03, 05:45

In this discussion there is no balanced option for 1. With 5-5 in the minors I'll always rebid 2 instead. With X=4=5=Y I do have a rebid problem over 1-1, and my smallest lie systematically is 2 (although again with 3-card support I'll have 2, so it's actually just 1=4=5=3 and 2=4=5=2 shape).
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#6 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-October-03, 06:00

View PostDavidKok, on 2020-October-03, 03:57, said:

The real downside is that you need very good agreements over 1 to make up for this, and in particular if you're playing a weak NT this is difficult in competitive auctions.

Just add a Precision 2 opener to make your 1 opening "15+/bal or any strong" and the issue becomes less problematic. For reference, my version of unbalanced diamond runs:-

1 (10-17 unbalanced, xx45 possible)
==
1 = INV+ relay
... - 1 = min <4 unless 4441/4450 (then 1NT = GF relay, others = nat INV)
... - 1NT = 4 <4 (then 2 = GF relay, others = nat INV)
... - 2 = 4+ GF
... - ... - 2 = relay
... - ... - ... - 2 = 5+ 4 <4
... - ... - ... - 2 = 5+ 5+
... - ... - ... - 2NT = (13)45/2245
... - ... - ... - 3 = 1444
... - ... - ... - 3 = 0445
... - ... - ... - 3+ = 0454
... - 2 = 6+ one-suited GF
... - 2 = 4 <4 <4 GF
... - 2 = 4441 GF
... - 2NT = 4450 GF
... - 3+ = 5+ (optional if you prefer to open these 1)
1 = weak 4+
1NT = weak 4+, usually <4
2 = weak 5+, usually no 4M
2 = weak raise
2M = weak jump
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#7 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2020-October-03, 08:02

FWIW, I think the structure in the original post is a lot better than what I see a lot of people play. In particular, opening 1 with balanced hands including five diamonds will get you much better results on those hands in competitive sequences, while costing you very little on the unbalanced 1 openings. To address some of the complaints:

1. The "unbalanced 1" opening does not promise a singleton, despite what many of its proponents seem to think. AFAIK they are all opening 1 with 2362 and most of them with 2254 and 2452, none of which include a singleton. There is not that much difference between 2353 and these shapes.
2. The 1NT rebid over 1-1 is not particularly overloaded. The patterns included are 2353, 2254, 2452, 1354, 1453, 1444, and 0454 (seven patterns). In comparison the "standard" 1-1-1NT sequence includes 2443, 2344, 3244, 3442, 2353, 3253, 3352, 2452, 3343 (eight patterns) plus possibly 1453 and 1444. Note that 5/5 minors is not rebidding 1NT in this auction (instead making an artificial 2 call).
3. The "unbalanced 1" openings that most people play don't offer particularly good rebids on patterns like 1453 after 1-1. You're either rebidding what could be a bad five-card diamond suit or pretending to have a four-card club suit, and you can easily miss a heart fit (unless you also play reverse flannery, which costs you on many other patterns and sequences). This system handles those hands quite cleanly.
4. I'd also mention that if 1 includes all unbalanced hands with 5+, and I need to choose whether I am including also 2353-type hands or whether I am including (13)45 type hands, I would much rather include the balanced hands that actually have five diamonds than include the canape hands with longer clubs. I'd expect much better results in both contested sequences (partner can be more confident I have five diamonds) and uncontested sequences (partner knows which way to preference when I show both minors).
Adam W. Meyerson
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#8 User is online   DavidKok 

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Posted 2020-October-03, 09:22

  • I don't know of proponents who claim that the convention only contains unbalanced hands, my only qualm is that the name is less than maximally descriptive (and as a result it requires careful explanation).
  • I thought the main benefit of opening 1 with a 1444 was the easy 2 rebid, and I would bid the same with 2254 or 1354.
  • Agreed.
  • I disagree - one benefit of the unbalanced diamond is that it is often a hand much more suited for playing than for defending, in particular opposite a balanced hand. I prefer including unbalanced hand types with a 4-card diamond, where we might end up in a 4-3 fit in a major or 4-4 diamond fit on the 3-level, over risking partner stretching when in reality we are both balanced. I refer again to Yuan Shen - by excluding most/all 5332-hands partner is in a better position for competitive decisions (especially since these are quite common).

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#9 User is offline   Periiz 

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Posted 2020-October-03, 22:14

I've played unbalanced diamond for quite some time but we recently reverted to a 4+ opening because we felt that this was already good enough for competing and also evaluating the hand properly without losing too much on minor hands. I never really liked the "forcing 2" rebid after a diamond opening (kinda like a Gazzilli), but it is a nice tool. I guess I should just learn it.

But one thing that I never really decided was:
After 1-1, is it more important to show 3 card support or to show 4 hearts and not enough to reverse? I've played both at 2 and both are helpful when come up and missed dearly when it's the other hand that appears.
I think that 3 card raise ir more frequent? But having the "4 hearts less than reverse" makes the 2 rebid/transfer always promising 6 (good to rest in an ok partscore but specially nice to try for a thin 3NT).

In the method presented here, I assume I would have to bid 1NT both with 4 clubs and 4 hearts? 1-4-5-3 // 1-3-5-4, or even some 2-4-5-2 // 2-2-5-4? Even though this solves the "promising 6 diamonds" thing, I feel a little bit unsure if it is a good ideia, because only opener knows if he is short or long in hearts/clubs.

The way I see it, putting the 5-332 hand into 1 opening is simply a way to have better bids for the 1 opening, but it sacrifices some annoying things. In 3rd seat I think the partnership should seriously think if 1 should be always unbalanced or not (I think not).

Recently I played some boards with a friend that likes using unbalanced diamond opening and 1-1M ; 1N as the "Gazzilli" strong bid (I imagined something like 16+ or minimum 6+). This also frees 2 rebid for 3 card support (or 4 hearts less than reverse), but will probably wrong side no trump when opener has a minimum diamond rebid :( . In reality, he prefers for 1NT to always be 16+, losing the specialized 2 bid but gaining better 16+ auctions. Those are all good things to think about.

One could say that reverse flannery solves the need for a "4 hearts less than reverse" hand, but that's not entirely true, as your diamond rebid won't always promise 6 cards.

Long story short, I don't think that having a true unbalanced diamond is really needed for competitive purposes. But having it is surprisingly good for constructive and uncontested auctions. This was pretty much the opposite I thought before playing it. But now that we went back to some less "extreme" framework, I kinda feel more comfortable on minor openings.
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#10 User is offline   perko90 

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Posted 2020-October-05, 11:16

Thanks for all the good discussion in the posts.

A have a few comments for some of the concerns. Thanks, Adam, for already addressing most of them.

Let's be clear, opening 1 on a xx45 pattern or 1 with 5 Ds is a concession - not a strength. The whole point of my post is an attempt to show that refusing to make these concessions is only a small price. I think I packed a lot of good things into this approach and was willing to accept some trade-offs. For ex., when I started, I was fully prepared to concede that not having a bid to show 5 Ds & 4 Cs after 1-1M was a weakness. But, surprisingly, it feels like a strength. I learned early that hiding 5-5 minors is not a good thing and fixed it. But with a minimum 5-4 Ds & Cs, 1NT is actually a good rebid. After 1-1, you're ahead of the field in that responder knows you have 5 Ds. And after 1-1, a 1NT rebid that doesn't mislead partner and might be a fine final contract is handy. There's some hidden nuggets, too. For ex, when Opener has 2=2=5=4 and responder has 5=4-x-x with minimum hands, we're ending up in 2 (1-1; 1NT*-2(NF); 2-P) while the field is likely ending in 2m after a 1-1; 2 start.


@DavidKok: I guess we go in the middle on our philosophy for transfers in T-Walsh. We keep it constructive with only a 4cM, but are ok with 0 HCPs with the extra safety of a 5cM. We're also in the camp of accepting the transfer with 3 pcs or 2 with a minimum balanced hand. I'm familiar with M Goetze's write-up and have borrowed ideas from it. It's beyond the theme of this thread to discuss much further, but PM me if you may be interested in seeing our T-Walsh approach.

@DavidKok: I'm familiar with Yuan Shen's articles and have exchanged a couple e-mails with him on this topic. Of note, Yuan started out in my camp with opening 1D when holding 5 Ds, but switched over to "the dark side" (as he called it). I developed my approach cognizant of his suggestions, but ultimately decided to go my own way.

@Zelandakh: Looks like you had already gone down the path I was suggesting in my comment to 1-1NT, but swapped the 1 and 1NT replies. Cool.

@Periiz: I tend to avoid "too much" artificiality. But the 2 retransfer rebid by Opener is just too good to pass up. It's a 5-in-1 bid which fortunately isn't too hard to untangle because the opponents usually stay out of the way (they both already had a chance to act the 1st time). As for the age-old concern of losing the H suit after a 1-1 start, it's not that big a deal when you have a 2 2nd bid by Responder as non-forcing. You'll always find the 4-4 H fit anyway, and with Opener having at least 4 cards in the Ms, you can't land in less than a 7-card fit by trying.
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#11 User is offline   Kungsgeten 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 11:48

I like the idea and your structure. I play a similar opening style with my girlfriend, but almost no artificial continuations. Our 1 is:

a) 5+ suit.
b) 4441 hand with short clubs.
c) Balanced with 4 diamonds and a good diamond suit. Usually not 4333.

Playing your methods we would have to remove option C.

In my main partnership we play a "real" unbalanced diamond, also including xx45 shape.

I do not fully agree with awm that it is better to open your five card suit when holding 5332 hands. Indicating a balanced hand has upside, since responder more freely can bid their own suit and usually knows about opener's strength etc. I'm actually interested in trying a style where opening 1M also promise an unbalanced hand, but none of my partners want to try it.
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#12 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 14:32

View PostKungsgeten, on 2020-October-07, 11:48, said:

I do not fully agree with awm that it is better to open your five card suit when holding 5332 hands. Indicating a balanced hand has upside, since responder more freely can bid their own suit and usually knows about opener's strength etc.


I wouldn't necessarily go this far, but would rather emphasize that opening 1 does not show a balanced hand. It shows either balanced or clubs, which is not nearly so safe/helpful in competitive auctions. An opening that definitely shows a balanced hand might be preferable over showing a five-card suit (certainly there are hands with a five-card major that I would open 1NT for example); I don't think this is the same thing at all.

I'm also not convinced that guaranteeing an unbalanced hand with an opening is particularly advantageous except in a few relay sequences (especially since "unbalanced hand" doesn't require a singleton). Usually partner's actions won't depend on this so much as on suit lengths.
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#13 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-October-07, 15:51

You will know from the design of my strong club system, where 1, 1 and 1 all promise unbalanced hands, that I think there are plenty of benefits to putting those 5332 hands in 1 and having tools to uncover the 5-3 fit providing that the system is set up to use the hand division to maximum advantage.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#14 User is offline   Kungsgeten 

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Posted 2020-October-08, 02:15

View Postawm, on 2020-October-07, 14:32, said:

I wouldn't necessarily go this far, but would rather emphasize that opening 1 does not show a balanced hand. It shows either balanced or clubs, which is not nearly so safe/helpful in competitive auctions. An opening that definitely shows a balanced hand might be preferable over showing a five-card suit (certainly there are hands with a five-card major that I would open 1NT for example); I don't think this is the same thing at all.

I'm also not convinced that guaranteeing an unbalanced hand with an opening is particularly advantageous except in a few relay sequences (especially since "unbalanced hand" doesn't require a singleton). Usually partner's actions won't depend on this so much as on suit lengths.


I fully agree. However I'd argue that knowing opener has some shape with their opening bid has benefits apart from relays: clever use of rebids, knowing opener is not flat when they raise your suit, etc. However most of these apply also when including 5332 shapes.

"Balanced or clubs" is not the only way to use the balanced 1 (or other nebulous minors). I myself like "balanced or strong" because of good hand separation and competitive auctions when holding the weak hand. The downside ofcourse is when holding the strong hand, similar to the downside of "balanced or clubs" when holding clubs. Nebulous diamond in strong club systems usually have the same issues.
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#15 User is offline   Nirmalya 

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Posted 2021-May-17, 05:38

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-October-03, 06:00, said:

Just add a Precision 2 opener to make your 1 opening "15+/bal or any strong" and the issue becomes less problematic. For reference, my version of unbalanced diamond runs:-

1 (10-17 unbalanced, xx45 possible)
==
1 = INV+ relay
... - 1 = min <4 unless 4441/4450 (then 1NT = GF relay, others = nat INV)
... - 1NT = 4 <4 (then 2 = GF relay, others = nat INV)
... - 2 = 4+ GF
... - ... - 2 = relay
... - ... - ... - 2 = 5+ 4 <4
... - ... - ... - 2 = 5+ 5+
... - ... - ... - 2NT = (13)45/2245
... - ... - ... - 3 = 1444
... - ... - ... - 3 = 0445
... - ... - ... - 3+ = 0454
... - 2 = 6+ one-suited GF
... - 2 = 4 <4 <4 GF
... - 2 = 4441 GF
... - 2NT = 4450 GF
... - 3+ = 5+ (optional if you prefer to open these 1)
1 = weak 4+
1NT = weak 4+, usually <4
2 = weak 5+, usually no 4M
2 = weak raise
2M = weak jump


What is the response if responder has a 8-10 hand with no 4 cards major?
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#16 User is offline   rbforster 

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Posted 2021-May-18, 05:05

View PostNirmalya, on 2021-May-17, 05:38, said:

What is the response if responder has a 8-10 hand with no 4 cards major?

Looks like 3343 would bid 2, lacking 4M or 5?
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#17 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2021-May-18, 06:22

View Postperko90, on 2020-October-02, 22:08, said:

Opener's Continuation After 1-1M; 2*-2
2NT = balanced 18-19 HCP w/ 5 D's
2M (delayed raise)= 5+ D's, 3 pc raise, invite strength
2 of new M = classic reverse
3 = strong, 4+ C's & 5+ D's (GF)

With 18-19, 5D(332) I'm going to declare NT many, many times for each time it will be useful to show my fifth diamond in competition, so I'd rather open 1 and risk playing in a non-fit, just to avoid the information leakage and be able to stop in 1N.

With 12-14, 5D(332) it's different.
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#18 User is online   mw64ahw 

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Posted 2021-May-19, 12:48

I play a slightly unusual unbalanced 1 and Transfer Walsh 1 which can include 3352 hands in a 5 card Major context. For both I use a GF/GI bid of 1 with the main continuations summarised as below:

1-1

1NT-Any 5431/6430
2-4441/5440 not short
2-6+
2-46+
2-46+
2NT-5+5
3-46+ Min.
etc.

1-1

1NT-Weak NT/18-19NT
2-5+ w. 3+M6+/(43)15/(42)25
2-(422)5
2-441(0)4(5)
2-2245/2236/2227
2NT-2245 Min
3-6+ Min
3-46+ w. extras
3-46+ w. extras
3-46+ w. extras
etc.
Additional continuations flesh out strength and shape further.

When responder is weak 1-1 signifies either or both majors and am happy to play in the Moysian fit. Other responses show 6+ new suit or 4+ support for .

With TW and 5 I tend to play in 1NT unless responder has bid 1NT and the suit is decent. Invitational hands allow a bit more flexibility. 2 level responses tend to be 6+ WJS or 5/6+
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#19 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2021-May-20, 06:18

View Postmw64ahw, on 2021-May-19, 12:48, said:

When responder is weak 1-1 signifies either or both majors and am happy to play in the Moysian fit. Other responses show 6+ new suit or 4+ support for .

What's your structure after 1-1?
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#20 User is online   mw64ahw 

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Posted 2021-May-20, 10:23

GF version 1-1
1-3/4 (5431) or 46+ Min-Int
--1NT 4/5
--2 to play in minor Pass/Correct opener must have 5m
--2-44+
--2-44
--2-4+ Weak-Avg
--2NT-4 Inv
--345 Inv
--3-45 Inv
--3-45 Inv
--3-5+ Inv
1NT-3/4 (5431) or 46+ Min-Imt
--etc
2-55 or 46+
2-6+
2-46+
2-46+
2NT-3/4 (5431)/Str+
etc. as above, but with Str+ hands
3NT-3/4 (5431) XStr+
0

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