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All comments by Alan Frank
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Marty Fleisher has been very active in USBF.
Oct. 19
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Please don't drag Shoeless Joe into this. There are many people who believe that he did not intentionally throw games.
Oct. 19
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I'd like to go to one NABC per year, but if there were only two per year, it would decrease the chance that there would be one that fit my schedule and was in a desirable location.

Also, the more NABCs, the more time I can waste watching VuGraph on BBO.
Oct. 18
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The purpose of allowing claims is to speed up play. I don't like penalizing someone for claiming by forcing him to go down in a contract that he would almost certainly have made if the hand were played out.
There is a general principle to keep winners and discard losers. I would allow declarer to follow that rule. I also expect that he would have noticed what was going on soon enough to not discard the 12th trick.

If West had the diamond jack (any length) or East had Jxxx, where there is a choice of plays in the suit, I don't think we can give declarer the benefit of the doubt as there is a fair chance of going wrong.
Oct. 18
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Given partner's 24 count (or even 23), he *must* have either a heart control or a club control. I think any hand with a heart control would have bid 4. But some hands with a club control, particularly if he upgraded, might decide not to show it. So I think it okay to bid on, though like most, a further invitation seems like a better call than a direct 6.

One point that I don't think was discussed above is that 6 is not suggested by the UI compared with 5. Even if you somehow had AI that partner had a club control, I think 5 is a better call; let partner sign off with AKQx Jxx AKJ KQJ or some upgraded 23's.
Oct. 17
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Blame the Great Shuffler for a deal where 3NT makes.
Oct. 17
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Unless N-S have a special agreement about the double, I think North has a fine pass of 3. He is comfortable either defending or putting down a dummy in 4, depending on partner's hand.

But South, with less defense and more offense than expected, and perhaps a chance for slam opposite a penalty double (AJTxx Qx AJxx Ax), should pull.
Oct. 16
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I put “other” as second choice, being 5. That should be pick-a-slam with first-round control of spades, while 5NT would be the same without that control.
On this auction, either of those bids should show primary hearts; a hand like this one with the rounded suits interchanged. With the actual hand, just bid 6 and partner can correct with the red suits.
This assumes that you evaluate the hand as a slam force. I think it's a very close call.
Oct. 16
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Michael, playing without screens and without “Questions?,” when does opening leader face the lead?
Oct. 16
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At the end, I think that should be “repeat the club finesse.”
Oct. 16
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Yes, and if they have the first hand, you'd be happier with 2 and with the second, 2. I agree, bid your suit, but does this mean the one with length or the one with strength?
Oct. 16
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I agree with Michael about “Having none?” (Though so long as the Laws allow, I will ask when partner has shown length during the auction.) But I don't see the issue with “Questions?” as long it is done consistently and after the lead is made face-down.
Oct. 16
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I don't like 4NT, given that North doesn't know what to do next. Or he can take advantage of the reprieve and pass 5*, indicating that his Blackwood call was a mistake and letting partner go on with extras.
Oct. 16
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What I don't understand is why more lefties don't bunt against the shift. I don't think that's about sportsmanship.
Oct. 15
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Start by counting top plain suit winners. Four. So we would need nine trump tricks, but there are not enough potential ruffs to accomplish this by a straight crossruff–we can get only eight. So we need to set up one more trick in a side suit.

I think some good ideas above on how to do it, but it's important to understand the challenge first.
Oct. 15
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I don't like opening 1NT with a five-card major, but North's hand here would tempt even me, so I would hate to call that choice the cause of a poor result. Having opened 1NT, I believe North has to reopen at matchpoints. Given the initial choice to suppress the hearts, perhaps it is right to continue to treat the hand as balanced; on the other hand, I've seen the guidance to bid your suit with a two-card discrepancy, and with two honors as well, that's what I'd do here. With KJx / Jxxxx / KQJ / Ax, I'd double.
Oct. 15
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Several N-S pairs found NT contracts and almost all took nine tricks, most likely when East assumed that declarer had an extra spade.
Oct. 15
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Given that we know that West bid 3 vulnerable on a bad suit with no side cards (well, maybe the Q), perhaps it is a fair guess from the beginning that he had an eight-card suit. Notwithstanding East possibly having other reasons to continue spades, the lack of a diamond return gives some support to this guess.
Oct. 14
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Suppose that the missing high cards are AKQQJ and that West would have bid the same with all of them or with a missing queen. With no distribution information, there is a 73% chance that West holds the missing queen–the four cases of West holding all three quacks or missing one of them are close to equal in probability. In order for the finesse to balance the drop, you need East to have 73% of the vacant spaces. Suppose West leads a trump (not the suit in question) and East shows out so the suit is 5-0. You also know that West holds the AK of whatever suit. So East has 13 empty spaces and west has 6. You should still play for the drop.

Based on this analysis, I think that a rule of thumb would be when one player has opened the bidding and his partner can have at most a queen, don't finesse unless you have a complete count and know it is onside; otherwise, play for the drop.
Oct. 13
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Running the 10 is, in isolation, a better way to bring in the whole suit, but it leaves you with no certain entry to the dummy for the three red winners.
Oct. 13
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