Friday, 30 January 2009

Life, who'd been doing with it?

Hi all

As is so often the way, a trickle of ideas to improve Chilli has arrived just at the same time as real life has intruded with a large To Do list. So I'm going to have to restrict myself to little and often on the blogging front.

Shunts are so huge that Geoff, Peter and I are only slowly grasping the subtle inferences available to us with this rich new language. For instance, in the auction (2 weak) dbl (5) pass; (pass) dbl, what do you reckon the doubler has?

In the old days it could be anything from more defence than you could expect from the first double to some rock-crusher, maybe with both majors. Now, however, we know that with the latter type of hand, he would either have shunted to a long suit or made a cue shunt instead of the first double. So the doubler has something more like the former - probably about strong no-trump strength - and partner will probably pass unless he has a decent suit.

One area where shunts have dramatically improved possibilities is in sequences like 1 - 2, since now strong opener does not have to grind his teeth and curse partner for disturbing the auction. For that reason, we feel much more confident in using such bids. We've also extended their use to wide range and sub-minimum values opposite limited openings, along these lines:
  • 1 - 2/2: 0-3 points, six cards

  • 1 - 2/2: 0-7 points, six cards

  • 1 - 2: 0-7 points, six cards

All these have a useful pre-emptive effect without doing us any harm. The second one is useful in that it distinguishes these hands from those that bid 2M the second time round with only five cards. The last one is possible because a minimum hand can go via 1 (but 1 - 2 needs to be kept up to minimum strength as there is no alternative route).

This is actually very similar to an idea suggested by Piet some time ago.

Best wishes


Anonymous said...

Hello Alan, Andrea and the world-wide Chilli community.

I chatted with Jim at the club on Thursday about Chilli and he mentioned that he'd had a look through the neutral bidding section and he describes it as "interesting." And we just love playing any system that is a little different from the norm. So after playing Drabble's Midmac (1C= one or both 4-card majors) from 1997 to 2003 and Drabble's Ideal (virtually convention free) from 2003-09 it looks timely to give Chilli a try (at least until 2015 anyway!)

In the past my tendency has always been to "tweak" any system I play (sometimes for the better, sometimes ... enough said!) But partner has been tolerant to date and has on occasions vetoed a number of thoughts he considered were going a bit too far from the essence of the system.

So with Chilli, because the rule-based system structure makes tinkering dangerous, I think we'll take a more ‘fundamentalist’ approach. By this I mean sticking to the system and if we have any doubt about a bid we go back to the rules and nothing but the rules, if there is still a problem we consult the authority on the system. One very strong selling point for Chilli is your blog – and well done for the time and effort you invest. If we’ve had a problem with Midmac or Ideal we’ve very much had to solve it ourselves because the base of knowledge is not out there on the internet (as your recent google for the systems will testify – a search for Ideal only reveals the book title!) Acol, Standard American or 2/1 have very good coverage on a number of forums and for this reason it must be tempting for people to play these systems. But I think that, if we come unstuck with Chilli, there will always be a patient Chillian to hear our woes and put us back on the right path.

Your most recent post has raised a point that has been puzzling me. Prior to this post, am I right in thinking that 1C – 2M and 1D – 2M were minimum single-suited (being bid directly into the neutral window) so about 4-6/5-7 (assuming 15-17 NT) respectively. This left me wondering what 1C – 1D – 2M (uncontested) meant. The direct bid into neutral window meant minimum (20-22) single suited – minimum being defined as that required to total 20 opposite partner’s nominal minimum. Is this interpretation of the 2M correct?

But if these jumps are now defined as sub-minimum (as per the new post), things are looking very promising: 2M will work well opposite 1C and 1D and what of the 2M jump rebid after 1C – 1D? Sub-minimum would be 16-19 single-suited which sounds better than 20-22 (assuming I’d interpreted it correctly.) How are these new jumps to be categorised? Are they to be all jumps to 2M within the neutral window? I guess “sub-minimum” is worthy of an addition in the terminology section if it is going to be used in the definition of bids. Perhaps “a range of no more than 5 points from an upper limit of one point below minimum” or some such. (5 points is an acceptable range if you need to invite opposite the bid.) This would suit a definition of the 6-10 weak 2M but now 1D – 2M would have to be 3-7. So maybe that definition won’t work if it is found better to allow the 0-2 hands to respond 2M.

Another puzzler for me is the NT scale. Now we haven’t played a ‘normal’ 1NT opener since early 1997 (1NT in Midmac/Ideal is the system strong bid – 20+(ish) or 17+(ish) with a good major – which is why we don’t play Stayman and transfers, and have since developed a healthy scepticism of conventions!) Anyway, as we don’t play a balanced 1NT opener we are always focused on how a system handles the balanced hands. So, Chilli…

1N/H/S cover the 12-14 balanced

1D includes any 15-17 balanced hand

1C covers all the 18+

After 1C – 1D how do we rebid? Easy enough with a 4+ major because we just bid a forcing 1H/S, but then I came unstuck.

I guess that 1C – 1D – 2D as a game force must be 25+; 1C – 1D –2C is 23-24; 1C – 1D – 1N I would have thought was 20-22 (minimum = total of 20 points opposite responder’s minimum) but, I know I'm wrong here and that this is probably 18-22. There is a precedent for extending the range of an NT bid: the 1NT overcall is 12-14, but gets stretched to 15, because double starts at 16+.

I appreciate you are getting busy outside bridge ("life - don't talk to me about life") and may not be able to reply for some time, so I will always welcome assistance from fellow chilli bidders. I must admit that, as I am new to the Chilli concepts and don't have a brain the size of a planet, some of my queries may seem a little basic/obvious. But please bear with me as I learn to walk and do forgive me if I first try to run!

Alan Williams said...

Hi Jeff

Great news to hear that you and Jim are going to try out Chilli. You will have lots of fun, and plenty of support and encouragement from here.

You're absolutely right that it's dangerous to tinker with such a rules-based system, but it's good for everybody to question and find out why something is as it is. Please use the blog to raise issues. There are a few other Chilleans around the globe who I am hoping will join in too.

On to your specific points ... Both relate to action after 1C - 1D. This is an area of the system we have spent very little time on, for good reason: it comes up only a very small percentage of the time - much less than a Precision-style negative.

(If you've read Roy Hughes's book Building a Bidding System, you will know that efficient system builders frown on such a wasteful use of a low-level bid, but what the heck!)

Another factor is that the opposition frequently wander into 1C - 1D auctions, because they will often have a fair slab of points.

With partner being so weak, the no-trump structure is not a great issue: we can afford to play a wide-range no-trump rebid, because partner is always going to pass it or sign-off in some suit. So 18 to 22 works fine: I'm even happy to rebid 1NT with 23, since 23 opposite 3 doesn't play well. In this way we can score better than those opening 20+ balanced hands with some strong two-bid.

A purely tactical point: although Chilleans always bid their major suits first, facing a 1D response is the one case where I might consider suppressing a major and bidding an immediate 1NT to end our constructive bidding. And the possible wide range will give them issues.

We hadn't really thought about the sequence 1C - 1D; 2M to be honest. On of the ideas of the latest tweak is that if partner is limited, you can afford to make the range of the bid quite wide, because (a) partner will never bid on except in a big fit Total Tricks sort of way and (b) the pre-emptive effect and the subsequent concealment damage them more than us.

So here I would inclined to rebid 2M on any single-suited minimim-ish 1C opener with a six-carder, and not worry too much about how that differed from going the slow way.

I can see though that I need to do a little more work on the words to express the general principle involved in the jumps to 2M, which is: if 1M is available, then 2M instead shows any single-suited hand of a strength such that partner will always pass (or possibly raise pre-emptively). As just written there, it's slightly too woolly, but that's the main idea - it's not constructive.

A final thought: way back, we used to have a different system after 1C - 1D. In particular, the 1D bidder could later sign off in 2C or 2D rather than be forced to the three-level. There was nothing wrong with it - it was better in some ways - but it came up so infrequently that in the end it became memory baggage.

All the best

Alan Williams said...

As I said yesterday, my words about direct bids of 2M were 'slightly too woolly'. I realise I'm muddling up two different cases.

CASE A is where partner will not bid on (other then pre-emptively). This includes:

1NT - 2M
1D - 2M
1H - 2S
1C - 1D; 2M

In the first two cases responder could be either sub-minimum or minimum since opener is tightly limited.

In the third case, responder should be sub-minimum, since with a minimum response facing a maximum opener, game is possible.

In the fourth case, opener can be anything up to about 20 points since responder is tightly limited.

CASE B is where partner may well bid on, so the 2M bid must be strictly limited. It includes

1C - 2M

The 2M bid should be tightly limited to a rubbish hand.

Now I come to think of it, another case B could be 1C - 1H; 2S, where opener would have to be strictly limited to a minimum 1C opener.


Andrea said...

Hi Alan, Jeff and all Chillians,

after the "shunt revolution" I studied the whole system again and I convinced myself once more that it is really sound. And, though I do not know whether I will have the chance of experimenting that any time soon, I would bet that Chilli is one of the few systems which are more effective at the table than on paper.
Why do I say this? Because:
1) It is simple (little memory load) and very well defined (few doubts).
2) Gives adequate consideration to competitive bidding (I would even say more than adequate, with shunts).
3) Tries to address every bidding situation.
4) Majors first... nevertheless bidding a minor game or slam seems quite possible!

Anyway, this thread is one more proof of Chilly maturity. I mean, when attention shifts to matters like 2Major jumps after a minor opening (interesting and important as it is) it means that a system is mature. Or at least I think so. ;)

And congratulations to all involved, but obviously Alan above all, for such a great endeavour!

All the best,


Andrea said...

Hi again,

in my previous post I completely forgot to mention the main reason I think Chilli is now a really great system and would deserve worldwide success!

Well, what is the most popular bidding structure around, used by most systems, refined in every detail, the one everybody hopes to be able to use often? 1NT and continuations, right?

Now, Chilli brings all that to almost every auction! Let us see:

1) Neutral bidding is like modern uncontested 1NT:
2C = Invitational Stayman
2D = Game forcing Stayman
Up = Mostly to play

2) Disturbed bidding, with shunts, is like a streamlined, simpler, better "transfer-Lebensohl" (ouch... oops... sorry) structure, elsewhere used only in contested 1NT auctions.

3) Even fit bidding is like a glorified Gerber!

I wonder... Alan, have you consciously designed the system that way? Or is it serendipity?

All the best,


Alan Williams said...

Hi Andrea

Fascinating! I never realised that I was subconsciously addicted to 1NT auctions. Good spot!

Best wishes

P.S. Serendipity.

pattayabridge said...

1C - 2H/2S: 0-3 points, six cards

Is this a mis-print or is the upper range really three points? I play this as 0-5, i.e. a hand not good enough for a normal response.

Alan Williams said...

Hi Pattayabridge

0 to 3 is correct. A normal Chilli response to 1C shows 4 or more.