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How do I alert this bid?

edited December 2020 in EBU TDs

(1NT), X!, (P), 2!d!

X! = 4+ spades, 4+ any other suit, and some minimum point count (varies by vulnerability)
2!d! = ???

Out of all the bids in my current bidding system, the 2!d response to our artificial double of 1NT is probably the hardest to describe, and I haven't been describing it consistently in my alerts.

The basic advancing structure to the X! is that 2!c and 2!d are pass or correct (!c+!s corrects to spades in the case of 2!d), pass and 2!s are to play, 2!h shows exactly 3 spades and more hearts than spades, 2NT is forcing and asks partner which suits they have, and 3-level bids generally show the same shapes as the corresponding 2-level bids but are invitational.

However, I feel like "pass or correct", while it may be (but might not be!) a reasonable description of the 2!c advance, isn't an ideal description of the 2!d bid. There's a lot of nuance involved in whether to use the 2!c or 2!d bid when holding a hand that doesn't fit any of the better-defined descriptions, and me and my partner's strategies for splitting the various hand types between them tend to evolve over time as we get more experienced. (Given that it's mostly a judgement call, the system doesn't particularly care about whether we're using the same algorithm to decide or not.)

Various things our partnership has tried in alerts:

  • "Prefers diamonds to spades, but spades to clubs": accurate to the pass-or-correct nature of the call, but tends to confuse opponents; also, we might well respond 2!h instead on, e.g., a 3=4=5=1 hand
  • "Better minor": accurate about 90% of the time (assuming that the opponents can infer that a hand with a spade fit would just bid spades), but not an honest description of the call in all cases (e.g. a hand with both minors would bid 2!c), and again doesn't cover when 2!h or 2!s might be bid instead
  • "Natural or red suits": a bit more accurate than "better minor", and tends to indicate the hand types that most commonly bid 2!d; it does seem a bit strange on, e.g., a 2=6=3=2 hand shape though (which I bid 2!d on because I considered "both reds" the best description of the hand out of the advances available)

Describing the actual agreement would be along the lines of "2!c and 2!d are both pass or correct, and if we can't show a penalty or spades or hearts with secondary spades, we pick whichever of 2!c and 2!d we think will lead to the higher-scoring final contract", but that's way too long to explain and also leaves our opponents in the dark as to what our hands will likely look like, so it seems like an inadequate way to disclose what we're doing.

I guess there's also an argument for leaving it unalerted, because it plays more like a typical unalerted diamond bid than it does like a typical alerted diamond bid, but I think the entire system is sufficiently unusual that all answers but pass and 2!s should be alertable (and pass/correct bids are alerted by definition).

Does anyone have guidance on what sort of approach should be used for alerting fairly nebulous calls like this one? Most of the cases where calls are potentially unnatural and judgement-based end up being "standard" and people are aware of them already (e.g. in natural systems, rebidding a 3-card suit because the alternatives are worse, or giving false preference to avoid having to pass), so they don't get alerted and don't get explained. This doesn't really help explain what to do in a situation that the opponents are unlikely to be familiar with, though (especially as I find it hard to predict what I, or my partner, would do with various unusual hand shapes, and thus don't even know exactly which hand types would be included within the call).


  • pass or correct seems okay to me... if I were interesting as an opponent I might ask, correct to what?

    It reminds be a bit like a response to ASPTRO, say 1NT - 2C* - p - 2D*
    2C shows 4+ hearts and 5+ other...
    2D I alert as "non-forcing enquiry"

    So, something like, non-forcing query, or, pass or correct both look okay in your instance too.

    One of the main thing I want to know when some bid is alerted is, is that bid forcing or not. Second I want to know what suit/suits it shows and thirdly, is it some unexpected value.

    By saying pass/correct or similar, it answers that this suit is natural(ish), that there is an alternative possible place to play, that it is not forcing. I'm happy with that.

    With those sort of nebulous bids, trying to give a full description of what a bid means or might possibly mean just gets too big and confusing. Consider the ACOL 2C* - well it could be 23+ points and balanced, but it could be a long strong S suit, forcing to at least 3S. What is needed to be known is the principle that this is a strong forcing bid, saying nothing about C holding. Or the Benji 2D* - some game forcing bid - there is no need to say, might be strong balanced, or strong single suited or double suited, maybe 4441 etc...

    When these this might mater, people can ask questions, but I find that a more detailed description is needed either before the lead (by which time the meaning are often clarified by subsequent bids), or in the last seat before deciding the bid or pass.

    I may well be wrong here, but that is how I would approach it.

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