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All comments by Adam Wildavsky
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6 is a decent spot single-dummy. It needs both minors 3-2 and no spade lead. I've seen a couple notorious 6 overcalls on worse hands than this one.
Oct. 20
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I was East at the other table. My club switch had the effect of breaking up the simple squeeze but that was not my intent. I certainly did not envision the end position. A diamond switch would have been safer since declarer might have needed to guess clubs.
Oct. 18
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It seems that Norway is a monarchy, and the King retains the power to pardon:

http://www.nysun.com/editorials/hats-off-to-harald/90095/
Oct. 13
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Copied from the other thread. I urge you to vote “No”.

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One of our chief responsibilities as administrators is to make sure that every competitor has an incentive to do as well as he can in every match. Providing an advantage to a team that loses a match abrogates our responsibility. Any such policy is an evil one and would be even if no player ever dumped intentionally. As The Bridge World magazine put it, it is wrong to place a player in a situation where he will suffer the disapprobation of roughly half of his peers no matter which action he takes.

We must retain the sequester. If for some reason we eliminate it then I will resume my quest to eliminate the RR in favor of a straight KO with first-round byes.
Oct. 12
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One of our chief responsibilities as administrators is to make sure that every competitor has an incentive to do as well as he can in every match. Providing an advantage to a team that loses a match abrogates our responsibility. Any such policy is an evil one, and would be even if no player ever dumped intentionally. As The Bridge World magazine put it, it is wrong to place a player in a situation where he will suffer the disapprobation of roughly half of his peers no matter which action he takes.

We must retain the sequester. If for some reason we eliminate it then I will resume my quest to eliminate the RR in favor of a straight KO with first-round byes.
Oct. 12
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I agree with Michael. A tie in the final should be decided by a playoff. This does not pose the logistical and fairness problems (the winner will be less rested than their next opponent) that it would in an earlier round.
Oct. 8
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Because total points would take precedence there would be no incentive to use BAM strategy. I predict that a BAM tiebreaker would happen less often than once per century. It's simply there as a last-ditch effort to avoid a coin toss.

I'd be happy for total-point tiebreaks to yield precedence to overall RR finish, but we do need something in the case of teams that tied in the RR or did not play in it. I don't mind that total-point strategy is different than IMP strategy, since total points are the foundation of all other scoring methods.
Oct. 7
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When two teams tie a KO match it would be reasonable for either to go forward. I view it as essentially arbitrary, so long as it is objective and known beforehand. Any of the proposed methods work for me. For teams that did not play the RR I'd be fine with total points, then BAM if still tied (unlikely), then a coin toss. For nitpickers, total points would be scored without honors.
Oct. 7
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Bob, the Colorado Springs system is a labor of love. Had it even a smidgeon of funding or support from the ACBL it could easily be extended to team games. The English have done this already. They produce a combined rating using a conversion factor they have determined empirically at 6.48 % to 1 IMP per board. Were I doing this I'd likely produce separate ratings for IMPs and MPs instead.

I suggest it would be more useful, more accurate, and less threatening to the status quo to use a rating system rather than trying to tinker with the masterpoint system. The two can live alongside one another, as they are measuring different things.
Oct. 7
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Thanks for posting, Barbara! I agree that these are important issues, but like you I don't know where the solution lies. I find it difficult to remember how I learned this stuff. I asked my friends Amy and Steve Nellissen about it, since they run a club that caters to newcomers. Steve replied:

=======================

We try to get them playing in a Newplicate for a year. (Faces, mumbling, and other social faux pas and all).

I occasionally talk about Jacoby Transfers and tell a joke about not making Monkey or Seal noises when partner doesn’t say “transfer”.

By the time they are comfortable, they start playing in our Non-LM game, and if they are pretty well hooked, we can gently address some of these behaviors.

There is too much to learn and remember, without etiquette lessons for social players.

If a club can’t deal with the skew or the players can’t make exceptions for new folks, the club is in trouble.

An ACBL protocol would be ridiculous.
Oct. 3
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Board by board results would allow us to dive deeper into analysis, but it's not clear to me which of the ACBL's goals would that serve. If something simpler lets us bootstrap a Strength-Based Rating system them I'm all for starting simple.

If you'd like a rich body of data I suggest you request access to the BBO or OKBridge archives. They have not only deal by deal results but trick by trick. Richard Pavlicek has analyzed data from Vugraphs of top team events and posted some interesting findings:

http://www.rpbridge.net/9ya1.htm

Unfortunately, he stopped in 2014.
Oct. 1
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Richard, I like your suggestion of basing ratings on board by board performance but it might prove unnecessary. Many algorithms would transform linearly so that the sum of a pair's board-by-board ratings for a session, taking into account each opponent's rating, would be equal to the rating based on the sum of the pair's scores and the average of their opponent's ratings.
Oct. 1
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I dropped in to comment on the Strength-Based Rating proposal, and I am happy to see that Richard has made most of the points I had in mind. I'll emphasize a few of his points and then add a couple more:

As Richard notes, the proposed implementation is much too complex, and unnecessarily so. Bridge is such a wonderful game precisely because it has so many interlocking aspects. No means of separation of component skills can hope to measure all of them individually. Further, setting up special deals would feed paranoia and appears contrary to to the laws of bridge.

Fortunately the foregoing proves unnecessary since we already have a method that measures all aspects at once in the most accurate way possible – club and tournament play. Let us use these results as input to our system.

Using matchpoint results is precisely the method used by the Power Ratings system from Colorado Springs, the National Grading Scheme from the English Bridge Union, and perhaps others worldwide. Similar systems have been constructed for IMP results. We can use these existing systems to great advantage. From the English experience, we can learn the effect of the system on attendance, if any, on the nature of bridge competition, and on bridge professionalism. We can use the Colorado system to bootstrap an ACBL system. It already seems to include results from NABC pair games. All it needs is a data feed from the ACBL to include results from all ACBL matchpoint play, ideally including a decade's or so worth of past results.

All of the obviates any requirement to separate fields of so-called experts from non-experts because of masterpoint or rating considerations. There would never be any need for a stratified pairs, and flighting could be affected by rating, with lower-flighted players allowed to choose to play up a level.

You may note that if a pair play exclusively with one another then it is not possible to assign a rating to the members of the pair since we have no way of knowing the relative strength of the two members, but the pair itself can be rated. The Colorado and NGS systems take this into account.

The ACBL proposal does not elucidate some of the advantages I see in a rating system. More accurate seeding is indeed one, but it seems relatively unimportant to me. Much more important is to take into account different strengths of partnerships and fields, for instance, professional partnerships, open versus invitational games, or open versus women's or mixed fields. Each player's rating would be the percentage score he'd be expected to attain playing with a partner of similar rating in a field of exactly average strength for the ACBL as a whole. Scoring better than expected would improve a player's rating, the extent of improvement proportional to the amount he exceeded the expected score. The converse would be true for falling below the expected score. The expected score would be the average of the two players ratings. This would lessen or eliminate the rating advantage of those who hire pros and would encourage more demand for partners with lower ratings, most especially those who appear underrated. Using a rating system also has the potential to put to bed the endless discussion of who should get what part of the masterpoint award for a six-person team. Each match would be rated individually, so only the ratings of the players in that match would be affected.

For reference the Strength-Based Rating proposal can be found here:

https://web3.acbl.org/myacbl/user/content/big-ideas

The Power Rating system is here:

http://www.coloradospringsbridge.com/PR_FILES/PR.HTM

The National Grading System is here:

https://www.ebu.co.uk/ngs
Oct. 1
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Not everyone, Phil. Yes, everyone understands that governments treat tax evasion seriously, since taxes are their source of revenue, and that one should pay what one owes, to the extent it is possible to determine it, out of a sense of self-preservation. But not everyone considers tax evasion immoral. There is a school of thought that considers compulsory taxation worse than theft, since a thief does not claim that he is taking your funds for your own good. This school would suggest that allowing governments more funds simply permits them to do more harm. You might not agree, but it would be difficult to argue that everything any current government does is beneficial.

Bridge cheats, on the other hand, are a scourge. If I could think of a punishment worse than a lifetime ban but still legal then I would propose it.
Sept. 28
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Apologies for the original poor formatting. I've now corrected it as best I could, and I've filed a bug report noting that previews get formatted differently from what they're previewing! Also, the “code” tag works (mostly) but the “pre” tag does not.
Sept. 26
Adam Wildavsky edited this comment Sept. 26
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Yes, a hand diagram would be nice, but failing that I'd love to see opener's hand below responder's hand.
Sept. 26
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Exactly.

When I lived in Switzerland (no tax treaty with the US) I had to file both Swiss and US returns. The US gave me a credit for what I paid to Switzerland, and Swiss taxes were lower than US taxes, so I didn't have to pay more overall, but things got complicated. Filing two country's returns for three years was a nightmare from which I have not yet fully recovered.
Sept. 26
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I just came across this article I wrote almost two decades ago:

Years ago John Solodar suggested to me and my partner, Steve Nellissen,
that after a weak 2 bid lebensohl should be used only over direct doubles,
not balancing doubles where a natural 2NT reponse is more valuable. I've been
playing that way ever since, and have seldom had cause to regret it. I
thought we might not have reached the best spot here, though. Playing
with Dan Morse in the first session of the LM pairs I wanted to offer a
choice between 3N and 4S. With my usual lebensohl agreement, slow
auctions show four cards in the other major, I could have managed it.
Since 2NT would have been natural I tried a cue-bid instead and ended up
in 5.

Board 25
NS Vul
Rotated for convenience


Morse
A K 3
4
A Q J 2
8 7 5 3 2
8 7 J 9 6 5
8 7 2 Q J T 6 5
7 6 5 9 3
K Q 9 6 3 A J
Wildavsky
Q T 4 2
A K 9 3
K T 8 4
T
West North East South
2 Pass
Pass Dbl Pass 3
Pass 4 Pass 4
Pass 5 All Pass

East overtook the club lead to continue the suit and I played a spade to
dummy to ruff another club while East pitched a heart. If trump were 3-2
and spades no worse than 4-2 I could ruff another club, draw trump, and
take the rest of the tricks, pitching dummy's last club on the heart
King. I could see that this was unnecessary, though, since I had a guaranteed
double squeeze. With East guarding hearts and West guarding clubs
neither of them would be able to protect spades. I drew two rounds of
trump ending in dummy to reach this position:


A 3
4
A Q
8 7
8 J 9 6
8 7 2 Q J T 6
7
Q 9
Q T 4
A K 9 3


Drawing the last round of trump would be a mistake since I might need
to guess whether East had started with five or six hearts. Playing Ace,
King, and ruffing a third heart before drawing the last trump guarantees
12 tricks with no guessing. East will have to keep a heart as one of his
last three cards and West will have to keep a club, so the spades will
run.

+620 gave us an average score – half the pairs in 3NT made 9 tricks, half
made 10 tricks, and 6D was too hard to reach since it depended on a
perfect fit. I was concerned about the bidding, though, since after the
2H opening I might have managed 10 tricks in 3NT on a similar squeeze.

I buttonholed John about the issue after the session, without giving him
my hand. “Well”, he said, “If you have a problem like that just pass and
take your plus.” I had another look and sure enough, we have an easy +800
on a club lead. No wonder John's a world champion and Grand Life Master
– here he made the right call without even knowing what cards I held!
Sept. 25
Adam Wildavsky edited this comment Sept. 26
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I'll submit these comments to the ACBL email address as well:

1. I suggest that all charts should allow any natural call, that is, a call that suggests willingness to play in the current or named denomination at the current level or higher. The laws allow us to prohibit some such calls, but that doesn't mean that we should.

2. I love Michael Bodell's suggestion to use the convention level allowed as a factor in the MP awards. I understand that that might be out of scope for the current effort.

3. “Any opening bid in a suit which is Natural, as long as it shows at least Near-Average Strength.”

“which” should be “that”. Or perhaps:

“Any natural opening bid in a suit, as long as it shows at least Near-Average Strength.”

4. Like other correspondents, I don't understand why these are called charts. I see no charts here.

5. This makes me uncomfortable:

“There are two classes of methods that are particularly difficult to defend against, allowed only in segments of six boards or longer, and only in events governed by the Red Chart.”

It embeds rules regarding what is allowed along with descriptions of agreements. I'd find it more straightforward to introduce a fifth color.

6. A defense must be submitted for approval.

Submitted to whom?

7. The submitted defense should be supplied to any opponents, even prior to receiving approval for that defense.

Allowing a method that has not been approved seems to negate the meaning of approval.

8. White Chart - Any bracket where the highest team has less than 1000 masterpoints
Does this mean an average of 1000 MPs, a total of 1000 MPs, 1000 MPs each, or something else?

Also, “highest” is unclear. I suggest replacing with “highest seeded” or something like that.
Sept. 10
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