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Lebensohl for beginners Can anyone help me please

#1 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-October-19, 22:29

Hi all

I spent ages thinking about this hand, working out all kinds of things in my head, trying to get a grip on what all the Lebensohl options actually are. I came so close to bidding 4 hearts (overruling the sign-off) and was devastated (not really) that I only scored 17% with 3H+1 (if I'd made an extra trick maybe 30%), and that a substantial minority of the field had ignored the sign-off (or reached game via 1D). I was fairly reassured to be surrounded by many players calling themselves advanced or expert though

Please help

I should have gone with my instincts and ignored the sign off (and possibly the ire of my partner, if human). What I find interesting is whether hands are being setup specifically to catch out and handicap better players, players who actually do follow conventions or some other reason - just coincidence is it? Speaking as someone who always sticks to the letter of the law myself so to speak

Or is it a no trump evaluation test in which case a lot of good players underbid

I would tend to look at that opening hand as a very strong no trump, with 17 points and (only 6 losers with a fit), and with 4 trumps etc, it seemed an obvious raise to game. Sadly I didn't. If I undervalue a No Trump opener I then compensate on my rebid etc, usually, or vice versa overbid then downgrade my second bid etc. But there seem very few good rules for evaluating no trump hands given the variety of options you could face etc

regards P


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#2 User is online   smerriman 

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Posted 2020-October-19, 23:51

From Karen Walker:

Quote

If you have a 5+-card major that's lower in rank than the overcall (RHO bids 2S and you have hearts), there is no invitational sequence available. With borderline hands, you'll have to decide whether you want to force to game (bid a direct 3H) or sign off at the 3-level (go through Lebensohl -- 1NT-2S-2NT-3C-3H). The signoff sequence tends to show values, though, so partner is allowed to raise to 4H if he has a maximum and a good heart fit.

The last sentence applies.

Incidentally, I would not open 1NT with that hand. K&R values it as a 19 count, and I don't open 19 counts 1NT. But NT valuation is tricky as you say, so I wouldn't call it a huge error, and a completely normal bid in the N&B forum.
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#3 User is offline   apollo1201 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 00:31

You have a nuclear bomb - no wasted S honors, 4-cd support, AK’s and a Q working with an A, and nice intermediaries. The hand is almost too good for a 1N 15-17.

Now, try to Imagine how the bidding would go unopposed. Partner transfers to H and you supper accept. It is highly likely partner would bid 4 now, because he has a few values, something near an invite, or a bad invite. As with a weaker hand, he might have remained silent over 2S.

So you bid 4 and hope partner makes it. If he goes down, c’est la vie.
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#4 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 00:32

I hesitate to put my 2 cents worth in, but I would definitely agree with the 1NT opening.
After the 3 bid though it would probably depend on the time of day.
In the mornings I'm usually a bit more alert, and would reevaluate my hand upwards. After all, you have a 9 card Heart fit and 18+ total points.
You don't need much to make, although, if some of the cards are switched around then everything goes horribly wrong and it's a completely different story.

In the evenings, I get a bit tired and if the North robot says drop, then I drop. so now I only play those tourneys in the morning - well, mainly Posted Image.
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#5 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 03:54

I disagree with the suggestion that you should raise 3 to 4. In my humble opinion this is an attempt to be "smarter than your agreements", and while it may work out sometimes you are also damaging your partnership. If I know for sure that my partner had a tendency to ignore sign-off bids I wouldn't know what to do, but it certainly wouldn't be to leave things as they are.

That being said, I think there are a few separate points to address here.
  • In the Lebensohl convention, there is inconveniently no way to invite in hearts after spade interference, partner has to take the reigns and choose between selling the hand as either weak or strong. If you wish you could choose to play the direct 3 as NF invitational (as most pairs play 3/3), but this sacrifices other hands instead. In particular you cannot then offer partner a choice of games when holding strong hearts. However, if these are not the methods you are playing, you are not to raise partners sign-off. You have far far less information about partner's hand than they do about yours, and overruling their judgment rates to be wrong more often than right. I do admit that with robots this is perhaps more fantasy than reality, but let me pretend you're playing bridge.
  • Modern 'expert' standard is to upgrade aggressively with notrump hands, so that the true range of a 1NT opening is nowadays called "14+ to 17-" instead of 15-17. With this approach your hand would be well worth an upgrade (three aces! In your longest suits! With matching honour and spot cards!), so in a standard system I would open 1.
  • Alternatively, you can resolve this by playing more sophisticated methods over interference after a strong 1NT. I mentioned the NF 3 above, personally I have recently added Transfer Lebensohl to my arsenal (which offers an invitational bid in hearts in the form of 3). But I wouldn't really recommend this, on KISS principles. The key points are the following: you are on average already ahead of people not playing Lebensohl by having a way to distinguish between strong and weak responders, so take the hands where it doesn't work out on the chin. It will average out in your favour, as long as you stick to the convention. If you feel terrible about losing the option to invite you may need a different method, but reinterpreting the convention at the table will do you no good. I think Meckstroth said in an interview that "you should let your system make the mistakes", which is exactly what you should do here.

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#6 User is online   sfi 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 04:00

View PostDavidKok, on 2020-October-20, 03:54, said:

I think Meckstroth said in an interview that "you should let your system make the mistakes", which is exactly what you should do here.

You should also look at your hand. Partner has just said they are happy enough to compete to the three-level opposite a generic strong NT. Your hand is probably worth 2-3 tricks more than average at this point, so this may be a time to consider breaking that particular rule.
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#7 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 04:50

View Postsfi, on 2020-October-20, 04:00, said:

You should also look at your hand. Partner has just said they are happy enough to compete to the three-level opposite a generic strong NT. Your hand is probably worth 2-3 tricks more than average at this point, so this may be a time to consider breaking that particular rule.

Sure, but you should break it on the first bid of the auction, not the last. Your hand will predictably be stronger than an average 1NT opening. Also partner may very well be competing without any chances of making 3, and would rightfully be upset if you just turned a plus into a minus (which is specifically what the Lebensohl convention attempts to avoid).
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#8 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 05:25

Thanks so much everyone. Much like the auction I realised at the end of my post that the problem was not the Lebenshol and having to pass a sign-off, but most likely my original bid. Its nice to have my concerns, thoughts, whatevr backed up. I do try and adjust things sometimes but sadly didn't do it this time. It can be useful to overbid or underbid occasionally and correct later. Thanks all :)
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#9 User is online   smerriman 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 14:03

View PostDavidKok, on 2020-October-20, 03:54, said:

In my humble opinion this is an attempt to be "smarter than your agreements", and while it may work out sometimes you are also damaging your partnership. If I know for sure that my partner had a tendency to ignore sign-off bids I wouldn't know what to do, but it certainly wouldn't be to leave things as they are.

Seriously? Partnership trust means that if your partner 'breaks the rules', then you trust that they had a good reason to do. (And I'd argue this isn't breaking the rules; lebensohl as Karen Walker described it above specifically allows raising in this situation).

If your partner believes that you'd walk away from your partnership if they didn't throw away their judgement and make the book call - even if it turns out to be a long term loser - that's going to be far worse for your partnership than the bid itself.

Have created a poll on BW; I would be highly surprised if there were many votes for pass.
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#10 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 14:15

Walking away seems very rash, I was thinking more along lines of "discussing how we got into this position (of considering raising a sign-off with a balanced NT hand) in the first place". My point that responder has much more information about the hand than opener stands, if anything that supports the idea that opening 1NT earlier was inaccurate. For what it's worth I think raising might very well be the percentage action with this hand, but also you shouldn't be in this spot to begin with. The original question was phrased as a question on Lebensohl, where without prior discussion raising a sign-off is definitely non-standard.

You are completely correct that in a version of Lebensohl where raising is permitted then it is the clear call on this hand. This would let responder make some weak game invitations, at the cost of not being able to bid with truly weak hands with a major suit. This sounds very sensible. My only point is that this should be discussed beforehand and not introduced after partner made their 3 bid.
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#11 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2020-October-20, 14:47

I'm not sure that you're not too good for 15-17 (although I know several players who would open it 1NT with the K changed for the 4, so maybe they would). But when 3 comes back to you, you look at it again.

Your spades are the best they could be in this auction.
Your hearts and values are a clear superaccept over a regular transfer - you're willing to play 3 opposite 98654 and a zero count (okay, you'll go down if partner has that, but it's worth it to get to game opposite partner's actual hand).
Your minor suit cards are tricks.

Your hand may be a good 17 ab initio, but it's much better than that now. Sure, I'd take the blame if 9 tricks was the limit, but I'd try.

I used to have a bid that said "go to game if, knowing I have 4-card support for you, you would have opened Precision 1". I think the same thing applies here - "If you knew I had 5 hearts and something, would you have opened only 1NT?"
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#12 User is online   smerriman 

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Posted 2020-October-21, 22:12

Interesting results so far - of the 35 votes, 23 are raising to game, and 12 are passing. All but 2 either agree with the 1NT opener, or didn't read the fine print, always hard to tell which :)

Not many comments but a couple were interesting; in particular one which said they understand partner is specifically not inviting, yet will raise anyway; and another who argued that partner can't have a real invite, probably doesn't have 6 hearts, and still voted for a raise.

As usual, pays to check out the names of the voters to see who voted for which option (if you're familiar with the names).
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#13 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-October-21, 22:28

In principle, North is captain so once he decides to sign off there's nothing you can do as South.

Maybe this hand is an exception. The South hand is arguably too strong for a 1NT opening, and with partner showing hearts and LHO showing spades it gets as much stronger as it possibly could. So bidding 4 would be reasonable although it is of course undisciplined.

North also is very close to a direct (forcing) 3 bid, with only one spade loser as A is unlikely to be behind it. I would have opened 2 which would have made things easier.

There are better methods available where North can show an invitational hand, but GIB obviously doesn't play that. But maybe North could have doubled, pulling to 3 if S were to bid 3m? Wouldn't that show something like this? But again, GIB doesn't do that kind of things.
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#14 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-November-01, 23:51

I have been avoiding Lebensohl since I took up Bridge, but it seems that I will now have to come to grips with it.
This hand just came up on my (self-) teaching table.
I was practicing 1NT hands when after 2 Cappalletti the North robot bids 3NT alerted as "Lebensohl" which just turned out to be 4333 with no spade stopper and GLP.
Here it is K led make 10 tricks Posted Image

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#15 User is offline   Tramticket 

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Posted 2020-November-02, 02:07

View Postpilowsky, on 2020-November-01, 23:51, said:

I was practicing 1NT hands when after 2 Cappalletti the North robot bids 3NT alerted as "Lebensohl" which just turned out to be 4333 with no spade stopper and GLP.


Playing Lebensohl, there are two ways of reaching 3NT: (1) Directly: 1NT-(2)-3NT or (2) through the Lebensohl sequence: 1NT-(2)-2NT-3-3NT. These two sequences should shown different hand types and it is common to play that one shows a stop and one denies a stop, but there is no universal agreement as to which is which! In this instance North was playing that 3NT shows the values for game and denies a spade stop.
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#16 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-November-02, 02:27

View PostTramticket, on 2020-November-02, 02:07, said:

Playing Lebensohl, there are two ways of reaching 3NT: (1) Directly: 1NT-(2)-3NT or (2) through the Lebensohl sequence: 1NT-(2)-2NT-3-3NT. These two sequences should shown different hand types and it is common to play that one shows a stop and one denies a stop, but there is no universal agreement as to which is which! In this instance North was playing that 3NT shows the values for game and denies a spade stop.


It sure did! more robotics for me to get used too.
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#17 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2020-November-03, 14:58

View Postsmerriman, on 2020-October-21, 22:12, said:

Interesting results so far - of the 35 votes, 23 are raising to game, and 12 are passing. All but 2 either agree with the 1NT opener, or didn't read the fine print, always hard to tell which :)

Not many comments but a couple were interesting; in particular one which said they understand partner is specifically not inviting, yet will raise anyway; and another who argued that partner can't have a real invite, probably doesn't have 6 hearts, and still voted for a raise.

As usual, pays to check out the names of the voters to see who voted for which option (if you're familiar with the names).


Thankyou for creating a poll. Interesting results

I'm starting to think that Lebensohl scenarios like the above are a good test for hands which are too strong open 1NT
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#18 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-November-03, 15:36

As other have pointed out, there are 2 basic forms of Lebensohl. In my youth, the standard method in the UK was "no trump, no stopper", in which bidding 2NT followed by 3NT or a cue denies a stopper while bidding 3NT or a cue directly shows one. The default method in the US, and one that is increasingly supplanting "no trump, no stopper" in Blighty, is commonly called "slow shows". Here bidding 2NT followed by 3NT or a cue shows a stopper and bidding 3NT or a cue directly denies one. If you have to learn just one, learn the latter as it is used more widely.

For me though, it is much simpler to use transfers here with a transfer to their suit being Stayman. So after 1NT - (2), 2NT shows clubs, 3 shows diamonds, 3 shows hearts, 3 shows 4 hearts (Stayman) and 3 is a stopper ask. Similarly for 1NT - (2): 2 = weak natural; 2NT = clubs; 3 = diamonds; 3 = 4 spades (Stayman); 3 = spades; and 3 = stopper ask. There are some more elaborate transfer schemes available too but I think the above is good enough and easier for most players than remembering the various paths in Lebensohl.
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#19 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2020-November-03, 16:31

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-November-03, 15:36, said:

As other have pointed out, there are 2 basic forms of Lebensohl. In my youth, the standard method in the UK was "no trump, no stopper", in which bidding 2NT followed by 3NT or a cue denies a stopper while bidding 3NT or a cue directly shows one. The default method in the US, and one that is increasingly supplanting "no trump, no stopper" in Blighty, is commonly called "slow shows". Here bidding 2NT followed by 3NT or a cue shows a stopper and bidding 3NT or a cue directly denies one. If you have to learn just one, learn the latter as it is used more widely.

For me though, it is much simpler to use transfers here with a transfer to their suit being Stayman. So after 1NT - (2), 2NT shows clubs, 3 shows diamonds, 3 shows hearts, 3 shows 4 hearts (Stayman) and 3 is a stopper ask. Similarly for 1NT - (2): 2 = weak natural; 2NT = clubs; 3 = diamonds; 3 = 4 spades (Stayman); 3 = spades; and 3 = stopper ask. There are some more elaborate transfer schemes available too but I think the above is good enough and easier for most players than remembering the various paths in Lebensohl.

I agree with most of this. I would add, however, that it is useful/essential to define the strength shown by a transfer.

Thus 1N (2S) 3D as hearts is great (and what I play) but what is opener to do with that information?

We play that 3D, here, shows invitational or better values.opener bids 3H with a hand that would reject an invitation, and something else with an acceptance. Again, one should define what ‘something else means. 3N should have spades sewn up, say AQx, while 3S, and 4m, should be very good hands, cuebidding for hearts, with 4H being acceptance with nothing special.

However, partnerships are free to choose their own poison
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#20 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-November-03, 17:37

View Postmikeh, on 2020-November-03, 16:31, said:

I agree with most of this. I would add, however, that it is useful/essential to define the strength shown by a transfer.

Absolutely Mike and the point is well made. I personally suggest the even simpler rule that the transfer is either competitive or game-forcing if the suit was not biddable at the 2 level (and is therefore technically a marionette) but INV+ if the suit could have been bid at the 2 level. This means losing some invites in the B/I version of the convention; they can be added back later by using either Double or a more complex 2NT structure but that for me is really only suitable for pairs that have mastered the basic transfer method.
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