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All comments by Christopher Monsour
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Forget the humor. I can't understand the syntax.
April 20, 2016
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If you want anyone to believe there was a legal restriction 30 years ago on a minimum point count for agreeing to make a natural response to an opening bid, I'd like you to cite evidence. Herbert negatives were/are problematic not because they can be on zero counts but because they aren't natural bids. Bergen raises were invented in 1982, so 1M-3M on a zero-count goes back at least that far. I'm not aware the the ACBL or any other bridge organization has ever put a legal floor on hand strength for making a one-of-a-suit response to an opening bid.
April 20, 2016
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Or perhaps to make the point more clearly, when playing Precision with my favorite partners, I would pass a (1st seat, neither) 1 opening with xx Jxx Kxxx QJxx but respond 1NT with xxxx xxx xxx xxx. And neither of those bids would be a psych, since the partnership agreement is that we can pass if there is almost no hope of improving the contract and no promise of a good fit (and thus can pass some hands with up to 7HCP), and that we can respond 1NT (semi-forcing) and later preference if we have good support but a hand too weak to make a single raise and inappropriate for a preemptive raise.

Similarly, if playing a canape system, I would pass 1 with xxxx xxx Axx xxx, but bid 1NT with xx xxx xxxx xxxx, which would virtually guarantee playing in an 8-card fit rather than risking a 6-card fit. And, again, neither of these bids would be psychs.

Just because the decision on whether to pass can't be stated purely in terms of HCP or playing strength does not make it a psych. It just means, in these cases, that partnership agreement refers to more than just HCP or playing strength, but also to the degree of fit, the hope of game, and the chances of improving the contract.
April 20, 2016
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Rainer, a gross misstatement means a gross deviation from partnership agreements. Most modern players have agreed to respond to minor-suit openings with hands like the one Oren gave, so it isn't a gross misstatement of values at all. It's simply their partnership agreement, which they will happily explain correctly. It has nothing to do with a psych. If someone truly had the agreement that they only respond with 6 HCP, then, OK, responding on that would be a psych. But who has that agreement these days?

To sum up, you are being as ridiculous as someone who claims that just because opening 2 on xx KQJ10xx xxx xx in 1950 would have been a psych, that anyone who plays weak twos today is psyching. They aren't. They just have a different agreement than people had 70 years ago.
April 20, 2016
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And why shouldn't 3 by South show spades and 3 by South show the “cue-bid”? Is there some reason not to be using transfer advances here, with the obvious exception that if the transfers would normally straddle 3NT, then 3 becomes the “stopper-ask or strong raise” bid and 4 of a lower ranking suit becomes natural?
April 19, 2016
Christopher Monsour edited this comment April 19, 2016
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OK, so I had an experience with an opposing psych when I was a relatively new player in a major competition. It just had a somewhat different outcome.

It was the 1996 Chicago Invitational Pairs. (When I got the postcard invite in the mail, I actually called the organizers to ask whether there had been a mistake. But evidently since I had won a flight A event at a Chicago sectional the year before, I qualified even though I wasn't yet a life master.)

So Mark Donovan (also a non-life master) and I are playing, and midway through the first session we sit down against Len Ernst and someone (a decent player, I just can't remember who, possibly Dick Bruno), and Len opens 1 on my right, and I have a good hand, but not quite strong enough for 1NT nor the right shape to double, and without a long suit, so I pass, and it goes 2 on my left, 2 on my right, 3 on my left, pass on my right, and their card says “2/1”. So I ask Len whether his partner's 2 bid had been absolutely game forcing or whether they had exceptions. He says it's absolutely game forcing. So I thought for a little bit and realized that acting now would be dangerous but that there was a very good chance they were in an inferior contract (e.g., right strain, but wrong level…perhaps they belonged in game, since responder was unlimited, perhaps a partscore battle would have ended in a contract more favorable for them than 3, like, say, 2). So I passed and we set them for an above average board.

We went on to win the event (by a relatively narrow margin), and poor Len was the editor of the _Kibitzer_ (the unit newsletter) at the time and had to call me a few days later to ask me for an interesting hand to include. Fortunately for him, there was a more interesting hand (where we collected 300 on a partscore deal against opponents which was greatly aided by their playing Cappelletti–but that's a story for another post).
April 19, 2016
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However that may be, a psych is by definition not part of a partnership agreement, nor known to partner, so 40B6(a) doesn't apply anyway. Or, to put it another way, if 40B6(a) applies, then what we have is not a psych but a convention or a treatment….
April 18, 2016
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Did I understand right that if RHO opens 1 then with 5+-5+ in the majors you have to show it by bidding 2NT and even then partner only knows you have two of the three unbid suits but not which two? Please clarify if I misunderstood, because if I understood correctly, my interest in such a system is absolutely zero.
April 18, 2016
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I guess those people who can't stand psychs want the rest of us to leave in a Hough.
April 17, 2016
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I am less likely to psych against inexperienced players but more likely to double them for penalties, to risk my contract against them in order to swindle an overtrick, and to avoid slowing the tempo of the table in any situation where I don't want to hint to them that it might be good for them to reflect on their next action. I don't think any of these things are controversial, and they are a lot more effective than psychs, so why do people complain about psychs so much?

If the problem is good players beating up on weak players, then ban pairs events and just play teams. Pairs events are designed so that the good players have to beat up on the bad players in order to win the event.
April 17, 2016
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Well, I assume Randy included the phrase “or even how many he had” so that Kriegspiel wouldn't be the answer…
April 17, 2016
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I'm surprised by your comment about a quick 4 being almost equally likely to be doubled. From your article it sounded like you were implying that East hand in question would likely not be doubling a quick 4 bid.
April 17, 2016
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Umm, I do think that, for people who played that way, either opener's 1 rebid did in fact show hearts, or 1 had promised an unbalanced hand and some bid cheaper than 2 showed hearts. So it wasn't quite as bad as you're making it sound.
April 17, 2016
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I suppose there's no harm in that in the typical situation of an opening preempt, since that's the only time partner would lead his suit opposite a pure penalty double anyway, so you can combine it with penalty.
April 17, 2016
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Bill, I agree with your point, but I hate seeing the phrase “mass extinction event” in reference to bridge players. Let's not push our luck by even talking that way….
April 17, 2016
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In some Christian denominations, the godparents face east while answering the “do you believe in God? etc” questions and west while answering the “do you reject Satan? etc” questions. I have never heard anyone use the word “orientate” in this regard, even though the root is particularly appropriate to the symbolism (facing the rising sun [solis ortus] vs the setting sun [solis occasus]).

I have to admit that now that I think about it the juxtaposition of the five letters of “ortus” to the nine of “orientate” just makes “orientate” seem even more barbaric.
April 17, 2016
Christopher Monsour edited this comment April 17, 2016
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There's a big difference between an auction like (1)-P-(1)-2-(2)-P-(2NT)-P-(3NT)-P-(P)-Dbl- and an auction like 3-(P)-P-(3NT)-P-(P)-Dbl-. On the first of these, partner is highly unlikely to have a penalty double, so double asks for a lead (which lead depends on your partnership agreements). On the second of these, partner might even have a stronger hand than RHO; double is pure penalty. (Note that unless your suit is quite good, you should lead something else–partner's hand is strong enough that if he had a decent holding [Qx or maybe even xx or K] in your suit he would likely have bid 4. But the double doesn't specifically forbid the lead of your suit, and it doesn't point to any other suit in particular.)
April 17, 2016
Christopher Monsour edited this comment April 17, 2016
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If you don't know the opponents, do you ask them whether they are weak players? If so, have you ever gotten a ZT penalty?
April 17, 2016
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CRaSh-like bids aren't as bad vs strong 1 or strong NT, but against strong 2 any gains are more than outweighed by the extra overtrick declarer often takes…. I'd much rather just pick one of my suits and bid it, and let the rest of the hand be a surprise. So LHO opens 2, partner makes his CRaSh bid, and I decide we're likely headed to a bad result if they get to the normal contract, so I successfully tried to pick off their suit, and they got mired in 3NT instead.
April 16, 2016
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CRaSh vs the opponents' strong 2.
April 16, 2016
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