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All comments by Christopher Monsour
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25 years ago, playing with Sandy Kutin against Mel Lawhorn in a club game near the University of Chicago, Sandy and I had a complex slam auction. Mel overcalled early in the auction. Several rounds later his partner (who may not have been paying Mel but certainly should have been) inserted a 4NT bid. After a bit of a tank, partner and I continued our slam investigation, ending at the six level, but after two passed Mel's partner bids 6NT, duly doubled. In total the auction was ten rounds. I remember writing this on the blackboard in my office the next week. I should have sent an email instead and I'd still have the exact auction! I am quite confident it will never be duplicated. To make matters more bizarre, the sac was a phantom–our slam, though sound single-dummy, would have been down on normal play as the cards lay.

Amazingly this was not the only time in my life that an opponent has sacrificed in 6NT. The other time made marginally more sense and resulted in an opening lead problem I once presented on r.g.b.
Jan. 9
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But when you pull to 4 or 4, how do you distinguish a mere correction from a slam try in the suit?
Jan. 9
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I should also add that we didn't put more effort in to the follow-ups because they don't come up as often for us as for most relay pairs. That's because we do more up-front work boxing our hand. For example, with unbalanced hands we have shown medium (usually 8-11-) vs strong (11++), and for balanced hands have shown 8-11-, 11+-14, or 15++. The last may be overdoing it, but we'd have to plug unbalanced hands into our 1 (balanced positive) response to leverage those bids in some other way. And that would mess up the captaincy transfer that we have over 1-1 for when opener is 4441 or 5431 or 5440, where we let responder relay out opener's shape instead of the other way around, because responder will better be able to select the right game (knowing his high-card holding opposite the shortness). We also let opener break the relays entirely and go back to natural bidding if he is wildly distributional, and again it helps to have responder's first bid not have been a potpourri of everything when that happens.
Jan. 9
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I'm amazed. For all teller knows he is inviting slam in notrump opposite a balanced hand (especially if teller himself has a balanced hand). Surely we ought to box ourselves in a tighter HCP range before talking controls?

On a separate note, with most shapes I am able to show extras before we get to 3NT with AK/A and out, so I'd need at least a good 13 HCP to pull 3NT to try for slam (though I might have a tad less with extreme shape, meaning 11 cards in two suits or a 7321 hand).
Jan. 9
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And I missed that last point, or I wouldn't have commented what I did.
Jan. 9
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I think there's something incredibly wrong about asker marionetting teller to bid 3NT. It's hard to win any matchpoints when they can defend 3NT double dummy.
Jan. 8
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We usually have exchanged quite a bit of information. Our relays don't distinguish 55 from 65, or 64 from 74, unless you ask for the short suit (then you find out that the short suits only contain two cards rather than three). The reason we have all those special bids is that 3NT bidder might have elected to skip asking about short suits. If it weren't for that, we'd really only need a bid to say which long suit is longer when we have 65xx. We probably should handle that full information situation quite differently…like 4 is low suit 6+ and 4 is high suit 6+ in that situation and 4 is the only break in others. That would leave a 4 terminator puppet for weak freaks that need to sign off in a 7+ suit, and bids starting with 4 (or 4 in the 65xx situations) for something else, but it's hard to say what would really be useful…it's late in the day for the teller to start asking….maybe those bids should show short-suit honors, since that will often radically change asker's playing strength.
Jan. 8
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For Dan and I it depends on whether the known pattern includes 10+ cards in two suits. If not, 4 shows extras and asker can try to re-sign-off with 4 marionette to 4, but teller can break with 4 or 4NT to show extra extras or extra extra extras. If asker decides to cooperate his four cheapest bids other than the marionette are set a suit and inquire (in our case, about keycards).

If teller may have 10+, he can bid 4 as above (which would always be his move with 6421 or 5521 shape), 4 with a void, 4 with the lower void if two had been possible (we should compress this out if only one void were possible, but haven't yet), 4 with 1-1 and extra length in the lower suit, 4NT with 1-1 and extra length in the higher suit (when 6-4 has been shown we probably don't need this step since we show 6511 as a 55 hand…so the extra length must be in the longer suit), and jumps to 5 are natural with distributional freaks. Compressing just one of the shortness / extra length bids would leave us room to stop in 4 of a very long major, so it would probably be worth the extra complexity.
Jan. 8
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New lists to post every month. Isn't that what masterpoint races are for?
Jan. 8
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Well, I was a beginner when I read it, so I wasn't positioned to critique it from those perspectives, but it got me thinking about the game in a way that most books on defense didn't (until I read Kelsey, of course).
Jan. 8
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Another underappreciated Mollo gem is “Case for the Defense”. They aren't all animal books.
Jan. 7
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Does this mean the bidding regulations can't be based on (high-card) points? Sign me up!
Jan. 7
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Have you tried Mollo and Gardener's _Card Play Technique_ with your students? Watson has some serious numerical errors, if I remember it right.
Jan. 6
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But do they know the difference between Mozart and a valved horn?
Jan. 6
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David, I think the argument for enforcing Law 16 is similar to the argument for using authentic musical instruments in performance. To quote Roger Lass complaining about modern orchestral performances, “If you don't like Mozart played like Mozart, and prefer to hear him played like Tchaikovsky, why not just listen to Tchaikovsky, and stop pretending that you're hearing Mozart?” Here, Mozart stands for partnership card games, and Tchaikovsky can stand for poker, though some might prefer tiddly-winks.
Jan. 6
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Also, I am not a lawyer, but doesn't a contingent term longer than life of the author plus 21 years really mess up contracting in common law countries?
Jan. 6
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Really? You want to represent to the opponents that they have a 12 card club fit? What if opening leader has few enough clubs to know better?
Jan. 6
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US is in step (with the Berne convention) since 1989. However, the getting in step was only retroactive to works produced in 1978 or later.

I suppose 95-year-expiration, even in the United States, is mainly relevant to works published in the United States, since the 95-year rule is unlikely to apply to them otherwise (unless the author or publisher registered the copyright in the United States).

About the only good thing I have to say about the Berne convention is that at least it provides consistency across countries. When the UN or WTO comes up with a world registry of death certificates, then it will actually be workable. (The Berne convention makes the copyright term life of the author plus xx years, where xx must be at least 50 and is 70 in many countries.)
Jan. 6
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Also, the eminent mathematician Emile Borel (Borel sets, Borel-Cantelli lemma, etc.) wrote _The Mathematical Theory of Contract Bridge for Everyone_ (1940) where I believe he introduced the law of total tricks. (He also joined the resistance shortly thereafter.)
Jan. 5
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If you need another book that shows that bridge is an intellectual pursuit, try Roudinesco's _Dictionary of Suit Combinations_. What's the best way to play a suit for four tricks, for five tricks, for the maximum expected number of tricks, etc., all in very mathematical notation because there are so many combinations.

Squeezes are another very mathematical topic, and the original edition of _Bridge Squeezes Complete_ exudes this. (Clyde Love was a math professor.) Unfortunately the modern edition effaced his lucid prose and obliterated his lovely acronyms, including using “BLUE” as an acronym for the elements of a squeeze. (Statisticians, economists, and mathematicians should recognize that acronym for a different reason.)
Jan. 5
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