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All comments by Adam Meyerson
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Not clear on this defense if 1 is takeout of diamonds or of hearts. Also not clear if it’s forcing.

The double and 1 and 1nt bids potentially overlap a lot. Do we really need three calls for a weak notrump?

It would also be good to have a way to show strong hands as this will help with game bidding. I’d go with some combination like:

Pass = normal call with diamonds if not very strong
X = takeout of hearts, or a strong hand with some diamond length; partner can convert this with some diamonds of his own, or double for penalty on a likely heart stack if opener tries correcting to one heart
1 = takeout of diamonds, or a strong hand short in diamonds; forcing one round
2 = spades and a minor
2 = Natural very good suit
Others as if 1-P-P.
April 21, 2018
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The only issue I see with legality is the missing 4441 hands. They definitely create a disclosure issue — if you describe a hand as balanced or as 5+ in some suit but it’s actually also the normal way to bid 4441 that’s not really on the level. Probably the simplest fix is to pass 10-12 4441 hands and bid 1…1NT with 13-16 (and change the description of this sequence to “13-16 balanced or 4441.” If you want to open 1NT with 10-12 and 4441 this will definitely need to be disclosed and will make the system illegal in some places (notably ACBL).

While that deals with legality, I wouldn’t rate it as particularly effective. The issues:

1. 10-12 NT is good at NV but pretty risky at V. Vulnerable opposite a passed hand you’ll go for a lot of numbers.
2. Responses to 1 are silly and make it hard to find a major fit when responder has 4-5 major. You get auctions like 1-1-2 where opener has 4135 and responder 4342 and less than invitational, and probably miss the spade fit. You can even miss games this way (or get too high, depending on strategy at responders second turn).
3. The 13-16 balanced range is kind of wide. You’ll play a lot of 2NT on decline invites when most people are lower.
4. The sequences after 1 really are a lot worse than after strong .
April 20, 2018
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Yes, SEF is fine. Pretty much any strong bid and responses is fine.

The problem is that artificial bids which could be weak (less than 10HCP or so) are severely restricted. The new charts allow such bids if they have a known suit when weak, but Multi and the like are restricted to major events with long rounds.
April 18, 2018
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According to WBF policy, the following conventions are all Brown Sticker. This effectively bans them outside of top flight TEAM events (roughly the same events that would allow Multi in ACBL).

2 showing a weak hand with either diamonds or hearts
2 showing a weak hand with either minor
3 showing a weak three bid in either major

All of these seem in principle very similar to Multi. All are banned by WBF (except long team events). Why are they harder to defend than Multi? Why is Multi “different”?

The only reason is historical — “everyone” plays Multi. But in the US this is just not true. So why should ACBL treat Multi different than the above three conventions? For the convenience of foreign players who are used to playing it (and to the detriment of US players who are not used to defending it)? Seems like a stretch.

Yes if Multi were allowed and played by lots of people in US they might get the hang of defendin it. But same is true in Europe of the three banned openings above.
April 17, 2018
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The assumption seems to be that this is some sort of poker game, where the doubling side must guess whether to run. My experience is that this isn’t really true. Advancer in 4th seat will either:

1. Fast pass = “I have some help” and now they let you play 1ntXX
2. Slow pass = “I have no help” and now doubler lets you play 1ntXX if he has it beat in his own hand and removes if he was just doubling on points and needed some help.

The upshot is that the opponents make much more accurate decisions of whether to defend if advancer can use his tempo to help partner out. This only happens if responder redoubles or makes a forcing pass — a non forcing pass gives them a hard problem.

Now of course you may think this fast vs slow pass business is unethical but I’ve seen it many times, called director many times, and had (ACBL national level) directors rule there is no problem every single time.
April 11, 2018
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The numerical analysis is fine, but in my experience “probably not making” doubled 1nt contracts are really common. I guess you’re running on a lot more (4432) hands than I do. In my experience 1nt is hard to defend (especially with the strong hand on lead) and sitting for the double with a balanced hand is often a better result than two of a suit.

However, the main reason I’ve stopped playing the “pass forces redouble” or even “redouble to play” sorts of methods is a series of director rulings. The issue is that fourth hand makes a slow pass (which IMO almost always shows a bad balanced hand unsure of where/whether to run) and apparently doubler is now allowed to pull his own penalty double on “normal” hands (note that responders redouble or forcing pass gives him a chance). So basically I use pass as to play in order to deprive the 4th hand of “slow pass.”
April 9, 2018
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Hi Chip,

You’re unusual among world class players in maintaining a full-time (non-bridge) job. How regularly were you able to play during the years you were working, and how much did you need to play to feel “tuned up” for top level events? Did your non-bridge job ever make it difficult to keep partnerships alive?

Thanks!
April 4, 2018
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The value of the standard deviation depends on the teams involved. If you take teams playing similar methods the standard deviation will be lower. I’d also expect standard deviation to be lower when both teams are good — if everyone bids and makes the “easy” games you get more low variance boards.

The point is that the standard deviation on a BBO board is probably higher than a Bermuda bowl board. I’d easily believe 7.5 for the first and 5.0 for the second.
April 4, 2018
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I’m not really worried about this — suspect online play will come to the rescue here.

The very top players generally learn as kids (college at the latest) and then make bridge into at least a partial career. We’re actually doing better getting kids into bridge now (with programs like SiVY and youth NABC, it’s no longer the case that almost all youth players are children of serious players) so I suspect the limiting factor here will be the number of pro jobs more than the talent base.

There may be a drop in active membership the next few years since the new crop of retirees is less likely to be familiar with the game than new retirees from 10-20 years ago. Against this, it’s always been the case that young adults (other than the ones who become bridge pros) tend to cut way back on play or give up the game entirely as they become busy with career and family. Now that they have the opportunity to stay involved in the game through online play, they will keep in touch with the bridge playing community and are more likely to play the occasional face to face game and/or get more involved when their kids are older. They are also likely to be better players when they come back to the game, since they never gave it up entirely and played a thousand hours or so of online bridge in their spare time.

Anyway the problem case is if “new players” are playing a lot less sessions than the “old players” and it’s easy to check this by looking at total table counts vs. membership. My guess is there’s a small drop if you don’t count online tables and a gain if you do. So the online game is growing, face to face clubs outside big cities may be hurting, but I suspect the tournament scene will survive in general.
April 1, 2018
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2 default with any 11-14 or more with a long but not great single suiter
2M natural reverse 4M, 5+
2N 18-19 balanced, could have a 4M, not 4
3 four card support extras, no shortness
3 extras with 6+ sets trumps so very good suit
3M splinter with 4+
April 1, 2018
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I had the following experience a few years back in the Spingold:

First day, four way match where we are the bottom seed. Play a top team in 30-board match, beat them. Of course we might’ve advanced by losing also (and our opponent did advance by winning the second session). Enter day two, we are still a bottom seed, draw a top ten team. Beat them over 60 boards, now we are in R32. Our opponents are a lower seed than our R64 opponents but there are not a lot of bad teams in the top 32 any more. We lose a close match.

So we won two matches (30 and 60 boards) against really good teams, then lost match three. What do we get?

No seeding points (gotta make R16 for that). No overall MP awards (gotta win two head-to-heads for that). We do get some match awards (I think like 7 or 8). In terms of point awards we’d do better playing regional events.

Of course we are not in this primarily for the MP awards. But since we cannot get any seeding points our chances of getting deep in the event are not improving. We got to play 100 boards against good opponents (sit-outs in 6-man team), but we also didn’t get hand records and only got screens on day three. We also paid a lot in entry fees. And we had to do a fair amount of work to put a team together.

Overall it seems like the platinum pairs, where we also play against good opponents but there are no sit-outs and we have a shot at a top-20 finish are just a much better deal.
March 27, 2018
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It seems like the Soloway event in fall has this structure. The first year will surely have high attendance (everyone wants to try new event) but it will be interesting to see how it settles down after a few years.

Right now it is pretty frustrating to upset an elite team in the first round and get no masterpoints, no seeding points, and another tough match in R32!
March 26, 2018
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It's just extras. I'd go with 17+ HCP, usually a normal takeout double of diamonds shape, but could be balanced 19+ too. Partner will often remove to clubs or hearts, but is welcome to pass with a misfit and/or some values.
March 25, 2018
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I don't think the teams with a “realistic expectation of winning” are the problem here. It's more teams that have an outside chance of beating a top team in an upset, but are really unlikely to score up the four-five consecutive upsets they'd need to win the event. Jan Martel's team above is a good example.

Of course there is some question whether we WANT such teams in the Vanderbilt, but if we do, some of them may care about MPs. I suspect even more care about the events on the schedule if they lose on day one or two (right now not very appealing and likely not letting them play in the same partnership/team they arranged for the Vanderbilt).
March 25, 2018
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There's a certain clique of good players who like to announce “fifteen-to-seventeen” but who upgrade so aggressively that the most common point total actually held is an “upgraded” 14, with 13 also being more common than 17 (many of which upgrade out of the range), and 12 not very unusual.

Yes, I'm sure that opponents who are “in the know” will be sure to ask some question like “how often do you open a 15-17 1NT with thirteen or fewer points” before the start of the round so they can select the appropriate defensive methods and count hands properly in the play. But I'm sure this “style” wins a lot of boards against unprepared opponents, and it really stinks of cheating to me!

Of course there are some people who legitimately have a “different” evaluation that's so far from the 4321 scale that they think some 12s are worth 15 or whatever. It's unfortunate that cracking down on the clique described above cramps these peoples' style – but honestly their style creates a serious disclosure issue anyway (do we really have time for them to try and describe how their evaluation works in depth before each two-board round? and if they don't, can any of their calls really be considered properly disclosed?)
March 25, 2018
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I suspect all of these are okay as psyches (but don’t make a habit of them lest it become an implicit agreement).

What they’re trying to avoid is the one-point deviation, where your stated range is 10-12 but you upgrade lots of 9s so it’s really the disallowed 9-12. Then your defense is “oh this 9 point hand is a psych and psychs are allowed.” The work around is to say a one point deviation is not a psych, and thus in violation of the rules.
March 23, 2018
Adam Meyerson edited this comment March 23, 2018
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I like pass wanting to defend. While these hands are rare, having the call available is often a massive swing (i.e. opponents going for 600 instead of my side going for 500).

The penalty pass has been a huge winner for me when their opening is 1m. Over a five card major opening it has not come up, but since I lose very little over 1M by using 1NT as a scramble I don’t see much reason to change my agreement based on how many cards their opening shows.
March 11, 2018
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Partners hand was something like:

xxxxxx
xxx
AQxx
-

Maybe he should have bid, but his primary suit is awful, he is unfavorable, and he’s kind of light on values. It’s at least understandable why he has a problem.
March 8, 2018
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I’d take my normal action. If opponents neglect to call the director (and I got a good result) I’ll call the director and explain the situation, and even encourage him to poll. But I’m not going to play guessing games about what other players consider LA.

A number of years ago, I had the following hand in the life master pairs:

Ax
Qx
KT9xxx
Xxx

I was vulnerable against not. LHO opened and the auction continued:
1-P*-1-P
2-P*-4-P
P-P*

* Break in Tempo.

That’s right, partner broke tempo after EVERY ONE of his three passes. So I have UI. Instead of making my normal lead, I spent a lot of time thinking about the UI and LAs and such nonsense. I decided partner probably has some spades (else what is he thinking of bidding over both 1 and 2) and that a spade lead was thus suggested. Since a heart lead would be bizarre and a diamond lead might hit partners shortness (he seems to have shape from the UI) I settled on a “passive” club from three small.

Partner ruffed at trick one, and we got a top board. Opponents called director, claimed partner might have been thinking of a lighter double of 4, and this my passive lead from three small was suggested by UI. Director rolled back the result.

That’s right, the lead I made SPECIFICALLY TO AVOID TAKING ADVANTAGE of UI was rolled back for taking advantage of UI!

This being the case, I’m done playing guessing games, especially when I know what my normal action would be. I’ll encourage opponents to call director or even call on myself (I think that is active ethics) but I won’t play the LA guessing game.
March 8, 2018
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This is not about “better” though — it’s about “simpler.” Seems easier to have a rule without a bunch of exceptions?
March 5, 2018
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