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Full Version: Questions Re: MFA/SF Bidding and Trick Taking Minimums
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In response to this thread:


I've been wanting to read the linked post above for a while, but I just skimmed it due to time restraints because I wanted to make some points and ask some questions.

I think there are flaws in both SF and MFA bidding systems, and of course there is the major flaw overall bidding where bids mean something a little different to each person. If you are playing against and with random people, it is highly unlikely that everyone is going to be on the same page regarding what each bid means in each situation. It's not like bridge where you learn a specific bidding convention and you and your partner stick to it (unless you make a mistake or forget something). I guess that is because there are no books or websites available (for pinochle) for any consistency to determine right or wrong in bidding...at least in the finer details of bidding.

One important point to make:
Not all Meld First Always Bidders are meld bidding all the time regardless of the texture of their hand. I guess they aren't MFA bidders then, but I think most of us would make the assumption that they are if partnering with them. MFAB is how I was taught, but as I learned the concept of trick counting, I realized that not all 20+ meld hands are created equal. So as a result, I guess you could say I'm a SFB when I have a strong hand (what I determine as a strong hand) regardless of meld and I meld bid when I do not have a strong hand or when I have a strong "helping" hand. I will also adjust my bidding depending on what type of bidder I find my partner to be.

MFAB is easier to teach newbies than SFB. In MFAB, the newbie just follows the set of "rules" and learns through experience. SFB involves more hand evaluation, which doesn't seem like a big deal to those of us who have played for years, but is completely overwhelming for most players who are still thinking about meld, what the bidding numbers mean, and the rules of the trick taking phase of the game. That is a lot for a newbie.

What I want to know is what each PP member believes is a strong hand as defined by probable or likely trick takers. For example, does a 10 trick hand qualify as a strong hand or does an 8 trick hand qualify. Of course I realize that hand texture is important when making this determination, but in case you haven't already guessed, I'm thinking in terms of a "rule" for newbies for teaching trick taking and applying it to bidding.

Once a newbie is semi-comfortable with meld and the play of the hand, their usual apprehension is taking the bid and playing the hand as declarer. They don't know what is a good (strong) hand or a bad (weak) hand. In my opinion, at that point they need to learn how to count tricks in their hand and use that as the basic determining factor as to what a good/bad hand is as a potential declarer.

So my questions would be:

For the Glossary what are we making MFAB and SFB stand for? I used them interchangeably in this post as either MFA/SF Bidding or MFA/SF Bidder.

Should there be a third type of bidder, a MFS or MF to mean a Meld First Sometimes Bidding/Bidder?

What simple basic trick counting minimums can we use to qualify a..

Save bid hand?

A biddable non-save bid hand?

A strong "captaincy" type bid hand?

Please answer the bidding question by using the minimum probable trick takers a hand would have to have even if the premise of this question doesn't necessarily fit into your ideal bidding system. As an example answer: A save bid hand must have a minimum of 5 trick takers, a non-save bid hand a min of 7 TT, and a strong bid hand a min of 9TT.

Not using adjusted meld (not arguing for or against it), how many tricks do you assume a random partner will give you in a random hand where you are declarer?

Based on the previous question's answer, or if you just can't give an answer to the previous question, is there a formula (based on the number of aces in your hand) you can use to determine how many tricks you assume a random partner will give you in a random hand where you are declarer?
The Newbie Speaks:

Partners Aces: ( 16 - my Aces ) / 3 (round down)
obviously these aces will generally be in suits where I have fewer aces. This is a problem when I have a void
as I will be trumping Partner's aces.

x, and Ax are one loser suits. I can depend on Lefty having one of the missing aces.
AAx and AAAx are 2/3 loser suits. Nothing to bank on, but something.

So partners proposed aces in my short suits have to be discounted.
Void or Singleton(x), Ax: dock partner one Ace.
I haven't seen that many Meld First Mostly bidders, and it's likely that the difference between SF and MFM is actually not much. It's probably better to give 20 first with, say,


and 30 with


Neither of these hands is offensively oriented.

And I've said this before: 'strong' is NOT nearly as important as 'offensively oriented.' rak, you approached that point, with the comment that not all 20 meld hands are created equal. The same holds true for 7-trick hands. If I have the 2nd hand, and my partner opens 50 in first seat, I give the 30 happily. It doesn't matter that I have an 8 trick hand; I should have 4 or 5 tricks for him, and *great* trump support for anything but hearts...where we get another 4 meld.

Heck, let's go extreme:

GIVE THE DOUBLE ACES! ANY 7 or 8 card trump suit in partner's hand will be Just Fine, Thank You. And remember: you don't *have* to pass on your next turn. You can give a minimum bid at virtually ANY level, saying "I do have a playable trump suit."

My minimum requirement for a non-save SF meld-ask is at least 6 tricks, and net 35 points (meld and play). That's a simple, objective standard. That *doesn't* mean such a hand always asks for meld, as the 2 hands above show.

In a save bid, a save doesn't promise ANYTHING beyond a TTKQJJ trump suit...PERIOD. No aces, no meld outside the required marriage, no nothing.

A shutout bid (big jump to 60+ when partner has not bid yet, OR has asked for meld) is also much less about 'strength' and more about TRUMPS.

Adjusted meld has nothing to do with the expected support from partner, because you have no idea whether the 20 meld he just gave, is an aceless roundhouse or 16 with 4 aces.

I expect my partner to take *2* tricks in most cases. Exceptions:
a) He's bid aces or double aces. Aces bid means 4-5 tricks; double aces bid largely ensures we have our 20.
b) My hand is really extreme, such as 9-7...I hope to get 2 tricks, but I'll settle for 1 with friendly shape in my long suits.
c) When my partner is in a save bid situation, and passes, I still more-or-less expect him to take 2 tricks; what drops is that instead of counting on him for 15 total, I reduce to 10 total.
d) Sometimes, *when partner has already passed* I'll take a shot with a weak, but very trump-oriented hand, say:


This hand is worth 4 or 5 tricks in spades (no TS's hurts). But it's worth squat in anything else. Thus, we're MUCH closer to saving if I play it in spades than in any other case.

If I bid before partner, I start with a meld bid, and if he wants it, I won't fight him. I don't have 6 tricks. But if, say, I start with 53 in first seat, and he passes, I think it's a reasonable gamble to bid 65.

2 other situations are worth mentioning...when an opponent has bid aces. When it's LHO, the aces block any path from you to your partner. This is a negative. When it's RHO, it's a mxed bag: partner will be able to signal the 3rd ace of a suit, as a clear entry, but LHO may also know, or learn of, a path to RHO, meaning both opponents cash.

I can't really say I change my expectation; I still count partner for 2 tricks. The adjustment is probably about 1/2 trick up or down...down, of course, when it's LHO with the aces. But this is getting fairly subtle. I think it's enough to bring up the implications above.