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NMF Response: Priority of 3-card support vs other Major?

#1 User is offline   perko90 

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Posted 2021-October-11, 14:50

Note: Edited from original post to better shape the conversation.

I've seen mixed recommendations from experts over the years, but nothing with a convincing explanation one way or the other. So, I've stuck with what I first learned which was cheapest major first.
But, I think I may have found a compelling reason to switch now.
When responder is looking for slam after say a 1-1; 1NT-2 start, it seems hard to find out about 3-card support for your major if Opener replies 2 while keeping the auction low for exploration.
I don't want this thread to devolve into a NMF vs checkback vs XYNT discussion. So, as not to debate the various flaws of vanilla NMF, we'll assume we're playing XYNT where 2 is a GF.
There doesn't seem to be a standard treatment for XYNT continuations. I could see the 2NT rebid by Responder as an artificial "tell me more" type bid. In which case, there might be room for cheapest major 1st.
But I don't see the downside - regardless of which flavor of NMF you use - to switching to showing 3-card support as the 1st priority. After all, Responder can continue with an easy and natural 3 bid if interested in finding a 4-4 fit. Besides, Responder will also have a 5-card spade suit, too, if choosing to start with a 1 reply when holding 4 hearts. So, finding out about the 5-3 fit first isn't wasted either.
Did I miss something? Are there other compelling reasons to choose one way or the other?
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#2 User is offline   TylerE 

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Posted 2021-October-11, 15:26

Always show 3 cd support first.
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#3 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-October-11, 19:11

View Postperko90, on 2021-October-11, 14:50, said:

As a novice, I learned that the proper response to a NMF query when holding both 3-card support for ptr's major and 4 cards in the other major was cheapest major 1st.
I've seen mixed recommendations from experts over the years, but nothing with a convincing explanation one way or the other. So, I've stuck with that same approach for all this time.
But, I think I may have found a compelling reason to switch now. When responder is looking for slam after say a 1-1; 1NT-2 start, it seems hard to find out about 3-card support for your major if Opener replies 2 while keeping the auction low for exploration. I don't want this thread to devolve into a NMF vs checkback vs 2-way NMF discussion. Nonetheless, if 2 is a GF, I could see the 2NT rebid as a "tell me more" type bid. In which case, there might be room for cheapest major 1st.
But I don't see the downside - regardless of which flavor of NMF you use - to switching to showing 3-card support as the 1st priority. After all, Responder can continue with an easy and natural 3 bid if interested in finding a 4-4 fit. Besides, Responder will also have a 5-card spade suit, too, if choosing to start with a 1 reply when holding 4 hearts. So, finding out about the 5-3 fit first isn't wasted either.
Did I miss something? Are there other compelling reasons to choose one way or the other?

The only way this occurs is 1m-1S-1NT. Otherwise it goes 1m-1H-1S. I see no reason to avoid 2H when 3-4 in the majors,

No matter adopt xyz. It’s better and easier
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#4 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2021-October-11, 20:45

View Postperko90, on 2021-October-11, 14:50, said:

As a novice, I learned that the proper response to a NMF query when holding both 3-card support for ptr's major and 4 cards in the other major was cheapest major 1st.
I've seen mixed recommendations from experts over the years, but nothing with a convincing explanation one way or the other. So, I've stuck with that same approach for all this time.
But, I think I may have found a compelling reason to switch now. When responder is looking for slam after say a 1-1; 1NT-2 start, it seems hard to find out about 3-card support for your major if Opener replies 2 while keeping the auction low for exploration. I don't want this thread to devolve into a NMF vs checkback vs 2-way NMF discussion. Nonetheless, if 2 is a GF, I could see the 2NT rebid as a "tell me more" type bid. In which case, there might be room for cheapest major 1st.
But I don't see the downside - regardless of which flavor of NMF you use - to switching to showing 3-card support as the 1st priority. After all, Responder can continue with an easy and natural 3 bid if interested in finding a 4-4 fit. Besides, Responder will also have a 5-card spade suit, too, if choosing to start with a 1 reply when holding 4 hearts. So, finding out about the 5-3 fit first isn't wasted either.
Did I miss something? Are there other compelling reasons to choose one way or the other?
Perhaps, opener should show 4-cards in the other major, first, rather than 3-card support for partner's major. 4-4 trump fits often produce more tricks than 5-3 fits.

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#5 User is offline   perko90 

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Posted 2021-October-11, 22:34

View Postnige1, on 2021-October-11, 20:45, said:

Perhaps, opener should show 4-cards in the other major, first, rather than 3-card support for partner's major. 4-4 trump fits often produce more tricks than 5-3 fits.


It's well known that 4-4 fits often play better than 5-3 fits. But on the hand shown, there's nothin' stopping finding it even by starting with showing the 3-card support: 1-1; 1NT-2; 2-3; 4-All pass
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#6 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2021-October-11, 22:57

View Postperko90, on 2021-October-11, 22:34, said:

It's well known that 4-4 fits often play better than 5-3 fits.
My posts mostly comprise truisms and tautologies :( but

Some classical poet should have said:

Sometimes there's an urgent duty to point out the obvious :)

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#7 User is offline   P_Marlowe 

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Posted 2021-October-12, 00:16

Playing NMF: Showing the 3 card in partner suits simplifies the later sequences, it is also
the most likely information partner is looking for.
Simplicity comes with a price tag, the price is missing the 44, and you may end in a contract
where the 53 fit goes down, when the 44 fit makes.

And my guess is, that there are combination, when a 53 spade may get lost, if responder is 5332.
not sure, about this one.

With kind regards
Marlowe
With kind regards
Uwe Gebhardt (P_Marlowe)
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#8 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-October-12, 05:16

I've been told that this difference in styles is due to a difference in priorities. As other commenters have already pointed out, the primary concerns are simplicity, the followups and finding 4-4 fits over 5-3 fits.
To the best of my knowledge optimising for the 4-4 fits is of most value for slam investigations. 4-4 versus 5-3 (conditional on both being present) is often a wash at game and partscore level (in fact, if responder has an invitational but not very strong 5-4 in the majors the 5-3 fit may play better at partscore level). So bidding "cheapest major first" places slightly more emphasis on slam bidding, and bidding "3-card support first" keeps the followup auction simpler for game investigation.
I'm sure experts have a way to confirm the presence of both the 5-3 and the 4-4 fit on slam auctions, but personally I don't have a good way to confirm secondary support (it would show a control instead).
XYZ eliminates the issue to some extent - the 2 bid forces 2, after which responder clarifies whether they have 5-4 in the majors or not. And over an immediate XYZ 2 partscore is no longer an option, so I think up the line has a theoretical edge, albeit at the potential cost of making the right game investigation more difficult.
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#9 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2021-October-12, 13:38

View Postperko90, on 2021-October-11, 22:34, said:

It's well known that 4-4 fits often play better than 5-3 fits. But on the hand shown, there's nothin' stopping finding it even by starting with showing the 3-card support: 1-1; 1NT-2; 2-3; 4-All pass

This is true when Responder has a game force but typically not for an invitational hand. This is one reason why, as Winston suggests, taking all of the invitational hands into the 2 rebid tends to simplify matters. Xyz is not the only such solution though, a similar effect can be achieved by using 2 and 2 as weak/GF transfers.
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#10 User is offline   perko90 

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Posted 2021-October-12, 16:38

This thread has gone sideways from where I was hoping. I'll try to reel it in. I wanted to avoid the discussion about NMF vs Checkback vs 2-way NMF (a.k.a. XYNT, a.k.a. XYZ) not because I was posing a problem unique to vanilla NMF, but because I considered it COMMON to all of them. Apparently, the panel disagrees. I don't even play vanilla NMF by choice. I believe it has irreparable flaws (but mostly when Responder is interested in the minor - not in the major oriented auctions). I rarely choose simplicity over accuracy - just ask my partner!
Anyway, let's reset (I'll edit my OP, too). Let's assume we're playing XYNT. My question still stands. Which do you prioritize and why?
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#11 User is online   smerriman 

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Posted 2021-October-12, 17:16

If you're playing XYNZ, then I see no reason at all to avoid the cheaper 2 response, since you have plenty of time to bid further. You mentioned yourself your only problem with 2 was the difficulties in keeping the bidding low to find slam, which is one of the main flaws of NMF in the first place.
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#12 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-October-12, 18:35

Here is the essence: with an invitational hand responder will not pass 2H but should rebid either 2S or 2N with no fit, allowing opener to show 3-card support as well as minimum/maximum by correcting to 3S or 4S.
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#13 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2021-October-12, 23:15

There really aren't any issues here but providing clear description is one reason I mentioned the transfer approach earlier. In that 1 - 1 -- 1NT - 2 promises 4+, so after Opener shows their major preference it is really easy to finish bidding out shape using standard natural rules. And if Responder does not have hearts and was looking initially for 3, a sequence like 1 - 1 -- 1NT - 2 -- 2 - 2NT works easily enough. And when there is no slam interest and no fit, hiding whether Opener has 4 on the way to 3NT is advantageous. Doing it the other way, via xyz with priority, seems to give a worse version. Sure by responding 2 you manage to hide the hearts when they were irrelevant but only on the way to 4 where it doesn't help much. Meanwhile, when the double fit is useful, it gets discovered at a higher level. So if you are keen to get the advantages that the approach gives, I would suggest you look at the transfer scheme. I think you will find you get everything you want and more.

I know you do not see this thread as a systems discussion but really it is. You look at the pros and cons of various methods. The advantages you get from what you are proposing are already there in a better approach so if you choose to play xyz it makes sense to focus on the advantages of that method rather than trying for advantages that are built into one of the main alternatives.
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#14 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-October-13, 03:44

I agree with perko, already the discussion is going off track again.

As I said before, I think there are theoretical reasons to prefer 'cheapest suit first' for slam investigation and 'three-card support first' if partscore is still an option. This latter option also tends to simplify game investigation. If you are playing XYNT I would bid cheapest suit first, since the only situation where it comes up you are in a game force. Going through the possible auctions (opponents passing)

1m-1; 1NT-2*; 2*(forced)-?
  • Responder bids 2 with 5(+) hearts, NF invitational. If responder has 45 and opener has 43 it is difficult to get to a spade contract, you could invent a gadget after exactly this sequence. Or you can accept it as a small flaw in the system.
  • Responder bids 2 with 4=4 majors, NF invitational. Opener has no problem with 43.

1m-1; 1NT-2*; ?
  • Opener can bid 2 with 43 - we are in a game force, and responder can bid 2 with exactly 4=4 majors to get to the right strain while keeping the bidding low.
  • 2 shows 42.

1m-1; 1NT-2*; 2*(forced)-?
  • Responder bids 2 with 4(+) hearts, 5(+) spades, NF invitational. If responder has 34 you presumably accept the invitation always on account of the double fit, and you can choose which strain to play in. There is no confusion.
  • Responder bids 2 with 5(+) spades, NF invitational. Opener has no problem with 34.
If responder has, say, 6(+)4, they may have to decide on their second rebid since 2 is NF - they might get passed in a 4-4 fit despite a double fit. With shapely hands like that it is sometimes worth upgrading to 2* instead.

1m-1; 1NT-2*; ?
  • This is the auction where there is a decision to make. With any holding other than 34 the rebid is clear. I would bid 2 with exactly that holding. We are in a game force, so I can support spades on the next round without ambiguity. If you decide to support spades first it is ambiguous if 3 next round shows a natural suit or a control.
  • Be sure to discuss responders rebids over 2. I personally play that 2 shows 6, since opener was already planning to support anyway with 3-card support so showing 5 is not necessary.

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