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All comments by Adam Meyerson
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I play something like Kit's suggestion with one of my partners. What we do for follow-ups is:

2NT = min (then responder can pass or bid 3m invite)
3 = max, but not a great hand for clubs
3 = max, good hand for clubs, not a great hand for diamonds
3M = max, good holding in each minor, but a weak holding in this major
3NT = accept all invites

The one weakness of this approach is that it sometimes makes the opening lead easier for the opponents (by having opener show a weak doubleton). On the other hand, opener's weak minor might be responder's strong minor if we end in game (so it's not an obvious lead) and if opener has a weak major (and responder no 4M) I find that opponents very frequently find this lead anyway. But of course you can always take the “low information” approach if you want and blast 3NT on a max.
July 22, 2018
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I’m pretty sure even top level players aren’t capable of measuring things like Flannery based on outcomes. Keep in mind that it comes up rarely, determining the counterfactual (what would have happened if they didn’t play their current methods) is very hard, they may not be fully aware of all possible alternate methods, and collecting and retaining data is relatively tough.

Usually when talking to people I find that it comes down to “comfort level” and a small number of memorable results rather than any kind of deep analysis.

Meckwell are probably much more data driven than most of these team trials pairs (many of whom don’t play nearly as high a % of their hands together or against elite opposition as Meckwell). And even Rodwell gave as their reason for dropping micro-NT statements that it had a few times caused them to lose to inferior teams (a couple anecdotes) rather than a long term quantitative analysis.
July 13, 2018
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I would not read much into the number of pairs using a convention. These things often tend to follow “fads” which are frequently driven by people emulating one or two successful pairs. There was a boom in the US in people playing 10-12 NT when Meckwell were playing it and then it dropped off when they stopped. I think Levin-Weinstein are leading the Flannery fad today.

Meckwell get good results because they play well, defend well, have good judgment, and know their methods thoroughly. They can get good results with micro-NTs or without. While they are unlikely to play something “terrible” I don’t think you can judge that micro-NT was “great” in the 1990s and it’s “bad” now because of what Meckwell play. Similar things can be said about Flannery.

One observation though is that Flannery has never been popular outside the US. There are local conditions where in many tournaments Multi and Ekren (otherwise popular 2 openings) are not allowed. Further, Kaplan Interchange (which greatly reduces the usefulness of Flannery) is also often disallowed whereas Gazzilli (which solves some of the same problems of Flannery by giving opener options with strong hands and 3 support after 1-1) has yet to achieve mainstream popularity in the US. So I suspect Flannery is a fad because of the combination of a super successful pair using it and the regulatory conditions.
July 13, 2018
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Looking at the responses above, we already have people saying this is:

1. Suit preference (and discussing whether that should be called Lavinthal).
2. Count.
3. Attitude, saying to continue spades.
4. Attitude, but mostly saying “don't switch to clubs.”

The real message here would seem to be that it's important to have thorough carding discussions/agreements and not just agree to UDCA and assume that's unambiguous!

FWIW in my partnerships we play something closer to #4 (but I wouldn't necessarily assume this without discussion).
July 9, 2018
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Amusing note here… how does declarer play the hearts? Seems obvious to play heart to king or queen and West either wins or ducks. Next round declarer must play to the eight or else lose two heart tricks. Of course this is obvious if East would never play jack from J9 on the first round.

But that might be a nice falsecard! Playing the nine leaves declarer really no recourse but the drop of the jack, whereas the jack seems to create a losing option! Maybe all other declarers assumed East was capable of this falsecard and played to the ten on the second round?

Okay it’s more likely people bid spades. This might make it harder to find game or easier to lead a spade (either setting or holding to four depending who wins the second spade).
July 6, 2018
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You missed a few gains for rebidding 1 with four:

1. If responder is weak with 3-card spades, you reach a better partial (1).
2. If opener is weak in the fourth suit, you can right-side a 3NT contract.
3. If responder has 4 and opener rebids 1NT, responder can conceal his spade holding.
4. After 1-1-1NT, responder knows opener has 4+.
5. Whether opener is balanced (and opener's values) are concealed from opponents after 1m-1-1 starts.

The gains for rebidding 1NT presented above also seem somewhat illusionary to me. If responder has a game-going hand you have a HUGE amount of space after 1m-1-1/1NT. You can easily find out whether opener is balanced or not through a well-designed fourth suit or XYZ type auction.

Since I prefer to play 1m-2 as 6+ hearts invitational, and I'm rebidding 2 with 6+ and weak regardless of whether opener has two, the advantage on hands where responder has six hearts also disappears.
July 5, 2018
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In the past I've appreciated BridgeWinners moderators, as they have kept this site a sanctuary to discuss bridge without the fights over religion and politics that pollute other forums.

But now BridgeWinners has chosen to feature this article, promoting a political philosophy which I view as akin to Fascism. Contrary to its name, “objectivism” is based on no science or analysis, but rather works of utter tripe by a disgruntled author who could not even live by her own philosophy. Its adherents are a group of sociopaths – they are not convinced by Ayn Rand's trivial-to-debunk arguments, but rather find a kindred soul telling them what they want to believe: that they are successful not because of luck, inherent advantages of race or gender or upbringing, or by living in a modern society… but rather because they are simply “better” than everyone else. It's a philosophy that says impulses like empathy, charity, or social obligation are weaknesses and a sign of inferiority.

It's assholes like these who lock babies in cages at the border, who try to eliminate medical care for the old and disabled, who march in the streets of Charlottesville yelling Nazi slogans. In bridge they're the ones who think winning is everything, who dump partners and teammates and even nations for a few extra bucks, and who think that bridge professionals have no obligations to grow or promote the game.

The choice by BridgeWinners to break their “no political discussion” rule and promote this philosophy disgusts me. Even looking at the site and seeing this post at the top of the “Featured Articles” makes me cringe. I'll give it a few days to see if the moderators take it down and issue an apology, but I don't expect it (in fact I fully expect MY response here to be censored). If there's no progress I'll delete my account. If I wanted to argue with neo-Nazis I'd be at a protest march; this is supposed to be a BRIDGE site.
June 27, 2018
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Suppose your opponents are from China and have always played Precision. Most of their opponents play Precision too. In Precision you don’t have to “make up” suits in order to show a GF opening since such hands open 1. So opponents may have no idea that 1-1-3 could be based on a three (or even two) card club suit that needs to force game. Still “just bridge” when the sequence (with no alerts and the 3 bid explained as “natural GF”) talks them out of a killing club lead against the final contract?

Okay, now your opponents play Alien Canapé. They bid 1-1-2-3nt. When asked, they explain that all bids are natural but opener will have longer diamonds than hearts and responder might have a longer minor than spades. You lead a club, they score up 3nt and it turns out responder has a 2236 hand with two small spades (and a spade lead sets them off the top). You complain, they say “it’s just bridge, every Alien Canapé player knows that 2m is NF so sometimes you have to fudge 1 when you don’t have a fit.”

Yet the first is viewed as fair because you play a “normal” system while the second is unfair because their system is “weird” even though what is normal depends entirely on region of origin and level of experience.
June 22, 2018
Adam Meyerson edited this comment June 22, 2018
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Sure, but general approach can usually be asked. Something that might fall into “just bridge” is which suit gets opened with various (4432) patterns and a strong notrump. My impression is that there are rather complicated rules/tendencies about suit quality that might be “just bridge” for good British players but as a five-card major player I haven't the slightest idea what they are.
June 20, 2018
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Moving from one country to another has reinforced how much of “just bridge” is regional knowledge. Even without explicit discussion, people from the same place will often agree. But it’s not really fair to call this “just bridge.”

An example for me is the occasional 5-card weak two, which is “just bridge” in many parts of the US but seems highly unexpected here in Switzerland.
June 20, 2018
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Zürich is CHF 15 ($15) for non-members and CHF 13 ($13) for members. The membership fee is also quite high (I think about CHF200/year). Of course this is Switzerland and everything is expensive!

However the clubs do offer cash prizes for the top few places (usually winning is a bit more than the entry fee although it depends on size of game) and this compensates a bit for the higher fees relative to US clubs (except Honors in NY which at $27+ has the highest fee for a club entry I’ve ever seen).
June 18, 2018
Adam Meyerson edited this comment June 18, 2018
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I'd prefer Lebensohl here; I don't play what most people call good/bad. It's interesting what people say about scrambling when responding to a takeout double when one of the standard Lebensohl situations is 2-Dbl-Pass…

As far as this situation goes, the hand where you want to scramble is quite narrow. With a five card minor or a doubleton spade you have an obvious bid. With one minor longer than the other you may as well bid your long minor (4-3 fit with you holding four is probably better than 4-3 fit with partner holding four considering who has the short hearts). And you don't have some massive heart stack. So this pretty much comes down to 1444 with bad hearts. You also don't have enough to make a negative double directly (which would be normal on this shape, but might require 9 hcp or something). Pretty small set of hands.

The other side is that opener doesn't need extras to double here with the right shape, but he might have extras. There's a very wide range of hands that want to respond 3 over partner's double here (from zero-counts to something like 9-10 HCP). It seems much more frequent and higher payoff to be able to distinguish these hands.
June 10, 2018
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I’d go with “undisclosed agreement” rather than “illegal agreement.”

Essentially, I think this agreement combined with the actual hand is strong evidence that they have a de facto agreement that 2 may not be a real suit. They did not alert the 2 bid and give appropriate explanation.

More generally, you can’t have an agreement that a particular call says “I do not have what my previous bid showed” because this implies a concealed partnership understanding regarding the previous bid in question. The agreement about 4 carries that implication because it’s easy to imagine hands where spades is better opposite any “real” spade bid and yet opener is not allowed to bid it.
June 9, 2018
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It seems to me that the real problem is awarding points based on the number of tables in a lower-flighted event. If the lower-flighted event is gold-rush pairs, this increases the point award for a small open or A/X pairs running in parallel, whereas it does not increase the point award for a small open or A/X teams running in parallel.

Why not just award points based on strength of field (as is done for KOs already) instead of this nonsense about tables in the lower event? The fact is that winning an open pair game with exactly the same set of pairs doesn't get easier or harder depending on whether there's a concurrent gold rush.
June 3, 2018
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I've actually played in an event like Mike Bodell suggests at the Charlottesville Virginia Sectional– they split the field in two by materpoint totals and ran it as a two-section flighted MP pair game, but they also grouped the pairs by masterpoint totals (so the highest overall was paired with the lowest overall, etc) for a BAM score.

If your teammates played badly you could still place/win points for the MP results in your flight, but it was interesting to have people to compare with and probably a good experience for some of the newer players to compare with the more experienced ones.
June 2, 2018
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My answers:
1. Yes, but sometimes limited space will prevent this.
2. Yes.
3. Slam. The range of 3m is pretty narrow, we don’t need a “re-invite” especially one that bypasses 3nt.
4. Obviously occasionally useful, but I wouldn’t do it. Much more useful to be able to explore for the right game.
5. Yes.
May 15, 2018
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1-2NT(natural)-4. Suppose I hold good but not very long clubs. If 4 is a suit, doubling is dangerous (they may make 4xx despite my having tricks in the trump suit), and besides I’m likely to be in lead against a minor suit contract.

If 4 is Gerber then doubling for the lead may be quite reasonable.
May 14, 2018
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It’s fine to ask opponents about their balancing style, or what they expect for 3. But the way this question was posed in the post seemed inappropriate and sort of accusatory. Don’t pose your questions in a way that presumes an answer… this seemed almost like asking opponents after the auction “do you cheat?” or “why did he psych 3?”, both of which are quite inappropriate.
May 7, 2018
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The one I used to see a lot was when stayman over 2NT was not alertable but puppet stayman was. People often seem to forget whether they agreed puppet or not. So they bid 3 and if partner alerts they know puppet is on, whereas no alert and it’s regular stayman.

Meanwhile opponents almost never care until the auction is over (even if they are considering to double 3, whether it’s puppet or normal stayman won’t matter).

ACBL fortunately fixed this problem a few years back and now any 3 response to 2NT which “asks about majors” is not alerted.

Anyway I could easily see the same situation if (say) RKC is alerted and quantitative 4NT is not, or if minorwood is alerted and a forcing natural 4m asking a cue is not, etc.

Usually in these high level auctions opponents aren’t bidding, and I don’t think it’s far fetched that alerts might help the alerting side (sans screens). Sure it might be unethical to take advantage but people are good at convincing themselves they “would’ve remembered that they play that convention before their next call anyway.”
April 23, 2018
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My own idea, although it seems common for people to use 1 as takeout of hearts in similar situations. Here it seemed better to double with the heart takeout though (more common hand type, better odds to “get them” etc) so I just swapped some bids.
April 21, 2018
Adam Meyerson edited this comment April 21, 2018
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