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NV versus Vul, you are opening with (s) Ax (h)--- (d) AKTxxxxxxx (c) x. The opener used 1 club (precision) with 12 hcps instead of 16. I don't agree.

2 clubs (strong) doesn't seem to work because I have too few high card points.

Could 3NT (gambling) be the solution? I'm showing a long, strong minor with 6 or more tricks. Responder can pass into game with stoppers in the majors and one minor (presumably not mine), otherwise remove to four clubs. If not, is there another way to force responder toward game?

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    Precision needs specifying - there’s not just one precision system. – Joe May 3 at 18:23
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    True, but here, all we need is "Precision means a 16+ 1C, 'all' else <=15" (don't even need "and 5-card Majors"). Sure the system after 1C would normally matter, but here, you're 100% going to be playing your "defence to defence to 1C" system. – Mycroft May 4 at 17:15
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I don't like 1C, because good players preempt strongly against it (and bad players preempt badly against it. With this hand, it doesn't matter), and surely the opponents have lots of one of the majors. I can see showing my suit for the first time at the 5 level, not knowing anything other than partner has some cards. 1C-X (majors)-1NT (GF BAL)-4S; your call?

After 1D-X (or 1M, or 2D), you'll get some more useful information from partner, and when they bid 4S, at least now when you bid 5D you're showing an incredibly offensive hand with limited defence and a self-suffcient suit. 1D-2D-X (interested in penalizing at least one major)-4S; 5D (not waiting to see if partner can double 4S) and you're much farther ahead. And when they bid 5S, partner can make the decision with much more confidence than in the strong club auction.

Precision handles distributional hands very nicely; it's actually one of the strengths of the system that you can show a "strong, but not in high cards" hand much more easily than in standard. So the only concern I have with opening 1D is that I'll get passed in it, and with 28 HCP out there, it's a pretty small concern.

Sure, if it goes 1C-p-1S-p, you're going to have all the time in the world to gadget out the cards you need to know about. Call me a pessimist, but that won't happen.

Okay, looked at the story and they were able to introduce the diamonds at the 4 level. Nice. And the key to the hand - if it had gone 4H-5D-5H instead, are they cue-ing 6C? Maybe - those names, anyway; but it's a lot less comfortable. I also notice that we are at favourable - that means 7H can only go -6 to make a profit (and -4 if they want to beat the ones in 6). Not surprised they didn't find it.

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  • I can't support a 1D opener - for two reasons. One is that opponents get to say all they want to before you can properly show what's going on - and what if you're in the situation where partner has nothing useful, and they have a 10-11 card fit of their own? They're in slam in hearts, and you've got really nothing useful to do or say. At least 1c is more likely to dissuade them from slam, if nothing else, and makes it more likely your partner gives you useful information. Second is that, if opponents do NOT have anything to say, it's harder to get into the right auction with a strong partner. – Joe May 4 at 18:27
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    If you're trying to scare people from slam by opening a strong club with one defensive trick, well, it'll work against weak players, but so will anything. First, If they have slam, you're bidding 7D as a sacrifice, surely? Second, 1C is more likely to get them to "sacrifice" in hearts, and lo, magic, it works (as it turns out even at unfav, par is 7Hx-however many black cards cash). As for "get to say all they want", they'll do that anyway, and you haven't shown diamonds yet. How do you tell partner "I have massive D and no defence" over their 4H? 1D, then 5/6D has to be this hand – Mycroft May 4 at 18:47
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    Having said that, the story has David Berkowitz opening 1C partnering ("torturing", in the story) Alan Sontag. They play more Precision in a year than I have in my life, and at a much higher level. But they got lucky that Sontag was able to show spades at the 2 level and the CA below 5D. – Mycroft May 4 at 18:49
  • 3NT is "preemptive," and may head off opponent's game or slam in hearts It also "proposes" game, but allows partner to pull to 4 clubs if s/he has no stoppers in hearts or spades. Even then, when NV vs. Vul, it's better to go down two at 3NT (South has seven tricks in hand) than to have the opponents make game in hearts. – Tom Au May 5 at 15:45
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    Why would I preempt 3NT likely off a bunch of round cards when I'm 80% for 11 tricks in hand in 5D opposite a misfitting yarborough, which also preempts 4M? I don't like preempting at all, but if I am, it'll definitely be in my suit (and likely I'll bid 6 and hope partner has one of the two cards I need). Sure, partner will pull 3NT, but then I bid 5D anyway, and we've given the opponents another round to find their fit. – Mycroft May 5 at 21:05
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The underlying, understood but usually unspoken, assumption behind all forcing opening calls is that such calls are to be made only with hands that can allow Partner to be Captain - because Opener's hand can be described by one or two subsequent calls.

Hands which cannot be described in the system following the strong forcing opening must find other ways to open the auction.

Since no system has system calls to describe 2 loser hands with solid 10 card suits, a strong 1C opening is unsuitable on this hand. Only this hand can ever make a judgement of the final destination, so a plan must be made allowing an inquiry of partner's assets.

There are endless varieties of Precision now played, so specifics will be dependent on the partnership agreements. However one technique often useful on these hands is a fake reverse by Opener on the rebid. Usually that would be made in a 3-card major not shown by Responder, but here the Spade suit is all that's available for that.

If Partner shows Hearts then a reverse into Spades is forcing; and when followed by a jump return to Diamonds should be a GF auction setting Diamonds as Trump. If Opponents show Spades then a cue bid of the suit is available to show GF values.

There will always be much guessing on these hands, so giving the opponents room to bid is not a bad idea as long as you still expect to win the contract.

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    Your first paragraph is less relevant to Precision than to standard systems. In many cases, you just Walrus-count your 16s and hope it works; "I hope to break even on my 1C openings, and win with the limited ones". The payback with 1M, and to a lesser extent 2C and 1D, is so great, the strong club can almost be a catchall. Also many 1C response systems are designed around asking the weak hand pinpoint questions, rather than presenting the strong one. I absolutely agree with your intent here, though, when it comes to upgrading hands into the strong bid. Almost always a bad idea on shape. – Mycroft May 4 at 15:47
  • The only way I know to "game force" is to bid a game, here, 3NT. Responder has "most" of the power. S/he can pass "into" 3NT with 2.5 quick tricks in three suits (opposite opener's presumed seven). S/he can "pull" to 4 clubs with one (major) wide open, saying, "You're on your own." Occasionally, responder will have something to say, e.g. 4 spades, with solid spades (QJTxx or better) asking opener "do we have a helpful double fit for a trump game or slam with one suit wide open?" – Tom Au May 4 at 17:55
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It’s hard to say without knowing your full convention card in relation to opening bids, but I have no issue with 1C.

2C in standard precision means a club opener 11-15 6 clubs. So that’s out, you have diamonds. If this were 2/1 standard then it’s okay to open this 2C probably depending on the other options.

3NT is not a good idea - you don’t actually have the correct hand for that technically (requires AKQ) though it’s probably fine from a realistic standpoint there - but it also requires nothing outside. That pesky A of spades means it’s a no. If you DO have a slam odds are your partner passes!

Quick tricks are often used to evaluate freak hands - this one has eleven, so it clearly is okay to bid as if it were ‘strong’. I wish it had the Qd - that would mean diamonds was definitely no losers - but it’s still safe to say it’s probably going to fall out.

The bigger problem is how do you get the info you need? You need to set up an exchange where you can game force and then get into asking for controls. Don’t worry as much about points - worry about getting to that control asking spot. Precision club usually makes that pretty easy.


Edit: After talking this over with my expert friend, there's another option that I didn't mention. Open 6D (or, perhaps, 5D)! You have 11 tricks in hand; opening 6D is not entirely crazy, given that, just hoping partner has one, and it's highly unlikely you'll find out about the card(s) you need. 5D is a bit different, in particular as often that's considered weaker - not to make - and so it's less likely that you get to slam; but it's possible you end up at 5DXX which can score a rather large number of points itself. Taking out opponents' room to discover their fit (hearts, as it turns out, but given your hand it could be any suit really) is very helpful here as it's less likely they can mention it at the 5 (or, obviously, 6 level).

This of course begs the question - if you have the listed hand in the problem, do you raise 6D?

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    I play that a "gambling" 3NT requires seven (not six) tricks. That could be AKQxxxx, or AKQxxx plus a side ace or K. Partner is expected to provide two tricks with stoppers in three suits. One of them could be a "non-trick," like Jxxx. So partner should leave in the bid with something like Axxx Kxxx x Jxxx (or better) and pull to 4C with one suit unstopped. – Tom Au May 4 at 15:47
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    Gambling is really not supposed to have any side strength - otherwise it's not really gambling, it's just 3NT. I would really encourage playing it strictly - it's a much more powerful convention when played strictly, IMO, as partner knows exactly what to do. – Joe May 4 at 17:00
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    @Jow Bridgebum says "Opener may have anywhere from 0-3 outside suits stopped" depending on partnership style. Wikipedia says "Partnership agreements vary as to whether the 3NT opening bid shows a side-suit ace or king." No-side-suit stoppers may be the best agreement, but it is not the only one. – David Siegel May 5 at 17:44
  • The frightening thing about opening 6D is that if partner has something like S-Kx, H-AKx, D-Qx, C-Jxxxxx, they may raise it to 7D (on the grounds that they SURELY have at least one trick) then lose to a club lead. – Dawood ibn Kareem May 19 at 5:57
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This is, of course, a freak hand. No sensible system is designed for such hands, and allowing for them should not disturb the overall system.

I do not play Precision, and don't know it well enough to suggest how such a hand should be bid in that system. So I am going to address how the hand might be bid in Standard American.

First let's consider Gambling 3NT. The most common agreement for this is "no outside Aces or Kings", in which case this hand isn't suitable, because a game or slam may be missed when responder doesn't realize that opener has a side-suit covered. Those who play that one outside A/K is allowed, should have a convention for finding it. Possibly 4D as a bid asking for the outside A or K.

If not 3N, I would open this with 2C. True it is short on HCP, but it has at least 10, probably 11 playing tricks. Playing 2D waiting, the article hand of SK9865 H4 D97 CAKQ107 could bid either 2S or 3C. 6D should be reached, if not 7. Not as good as in the article, but then I am not Alan Sontag.

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  • The way I play is that the responder "leaves" the contract in 3NT with 2.5 tricks in both majors and one minor suit, with the unguarded minor presumably the bidder's suit. The "0.5" is a stopper, something like Jxxx. Otherwise the responder pulls to 4 clubs and lets it play in 4 or 5 of the minor. The "gambler" is supposed to have seven tricks, (to add to responder's two), and if there are only six of the minor, the seventh has to come from the outside. Seven solid minor suit and no outside strength is also permissible. In either event 7+2=9. – Tom Au May 6 at 17:43
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No system is designed with hands like this in mind, so we will likely end up guessing. There are strong club systems (or even strong 2C opening systems), where the responder first tells the number of controls they have (A=2, K=1). Such a convention might help us estimate the odds of a making slam, but it is not a sure thing. Opening 4NT, asking partner to show specific aces, could work but I will not be thrilled by a 5H response. Nope, none of these ideas help much.

Also, the opponents are likely to have a major suit fit, and they will compete. If they have game-going strength, at these colors they are even reluctant to let us play 5D(x) because that will not compensate for a loss of 4M making often enough, and this time in particular :-). Both opps will be eyeing their diamond shortness with interest, and chances are one or the other will take the push. So I expect them to contest to 5M at least, unless partner is well stocked in the majors.

I think I will open a quiet 1D, and see how things develop. Unless partner is relatively strong (when we may be able to investigate a grand) I expect to end in 6D. Either with the expectation of making it, or as something that is at worst a cheap sacrifice/insurance.

I'm not horribly against opening a strong club with this. Often there are gadgets that may help. Against docile opponents I could set diamonds as trumps and then voidwood in hearts. I have never had sufficient agreements in place with any partner, but the pros might :-)

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