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All comments by David Yates
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This is why no one plays Roth-Stone anymore.

I think it is very close to double. If my spot cards were better, I might.

It may be perverse, but I think the five hearts is a slight drawback. That reduces the chances partner might make a 4 bid -
which is the big payoff. If he does have 4-5 hearts, they might be bidding 4 now anyway. Something like x Q109x Axx AQ9xx is so much more appealing for X opposite PH.

Of course on this deal, probably partner has Kxxxxx and my teammates want to know why I am not in game. . .
March 19
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I think this sort of hand falls between the cracks in regular standard American. If you Gaz after 1-, you can save a ton of room and get there.
March 19
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Does anyone have any info on the timing of the ruling. The OP seems to indicate that the ACBL might not have made a determination until after the match.

I am not saying it happened here - (it has happened plenty of times in the past) - just curious if “nothing changes” and they are still ducking the ref-ing duties and crossing fingers.

It seems wrong to me that refs would let two NFL teams play the 4th quarter without ruling on a 3rd quarter TD until after the gun sounded.
March 18
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England once held mastery over much of the world - all the time without any way of knowing for certain what was going to happen tomorrow.

For me, “mastery” is a relative term, not an absolute one. It simply implies a high level of skill and the ability to dominate and influence outcomes. Magnus Carlsen cannot say whether a specific opening is guaranteed to W/L/D against a perfect opponent. But he can say with a high degree of confidence whether a specific position is a W/L/D against me. Mastery is not perfect knowledge. Perfect knowledge is omniscience.
March 18
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Re: vacant spaces and %

Since clubs are 5-2, the odds that spades are 3-2 change only slightly. 67.826% vs 66.22% What changes appreciably is that E is now >3x more likely to hold the four than W.

What does change more significantly is the odds the Q is onside. Instead of 50-50, it is now 57.895% with E. However, if we start spades and find E does have four cards, we now have equal vacant spaces between W (5+1) and E (2+4). So now the Q goes back to 50-50.
March 18
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8th round needing to just do OK to Q and you guys draw team that had only a handful ranked higher than in the Vandy. (Yes, Clint, I do feel lucky today. Because now I know what bad luck really is.)

8 was a deep card. At least I think so, but I have been known to be shallow.

Presumably, (a) E could have signaled for a heart with H discard. (b) he/she pretty much has the whole hand after seeing AKJ as far as HCP. So why 8?

We need to consider that if W switched to a heart at t4, W probably missed a chance for sure set if diamonds are Qxx/xxx. If E has three spades (likely given 5-2 clubs), a 4th round of clubs allows E to shed a second diamond and the suit cannot be ruffed out. Lots of defenders might easily miss that, but you drew formidable ops for this match.

Granted, a R/S might be fatal if S was 4243, but I think a W.C. player would realize his W.C. partner would not pitch an early diamond from 8xxx. A heart pitch is e-z in that layout.

I don’t agree with not finessing if E does not cover the 10. This seems like a case where E-W know what is going on and they are too good to screw it up.

I think the best math is not sqz vs fin. You have to decide whether it is more likely that world class players have missed a legitimate opportunity or they are just trying to hose you and give you an incentive to try to ruff out the diamonds.

My BOLS Tip is: “Be paranoid, they really are out to get you.”
March 18
David Yates edited this comment March 18
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Thank you for posting, Ercan. Interesting stuff.
March 14
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Once again, thank you Jan and your merry band of vugraphers.
March 13
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I must say I admire your persistence “for the entire event”.

I tried kibbing TGBH live just once. I gave up the hope of ever seeing his hand after one set.

Meckwell are very tough to watch live too. It is easier to figure out Jeff's hand if you watch one of his ops.
March 13
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Hi Roland,

Let me start by saying that I always try to read your posts. On this subject - UI and tempo - you have some valid points and interesting and thoughtful (as usual) contributions. But I am not in your camp on this issue.

The underlying conflict between laws and UI stems from the fact that, in a perfect world, we would prefer our laws to be as objective as possible. UI becomes sticky because, very often, UI is a subjective matter. We naturally can be uncomfortable in making a subjective ruling.

If East leads out of turn, that is a matter of fact. Here are five options. Pick one. Done.

This is all black-letter law. We are very comfortable mentally with this situation since it is so objectively spelled out.

2NT was slow. What does that demonstrate? The answer is that there is no objective answer. We naturally become less certain in these situations. In fact, the law specifically states “could have”. The word “could” specifies that we need to consider possibility. UI is never an issue of certainty.

In fact - and many bridge players do not seem to appreciate this - a ruling against a pair in a UI case is NEVER an indictment of wrongdoing. If the legal standard for UI was “did” and not “could have”, that becomes meaningless because is cannot be proven.

IMO, the reason the “BIT is not demonstrative” crowd is often wrong is because they are asking themselves the wrong question. The legal question is “could” it have been demonstrative. The minute someone polled says: “my partner could have been thinking of A, B or C” you ignore the most important part of the problem: we are not polling you about YOUR partner.

For all I know, opener was thinking: “I should normally go to game with this, but my hyper-aggressive partner always invites on 7 HCP”. (Oh, he did). I do not know if opener is the sort to rebid 1NT on 1354. I do not know if opener is the sort to try for a MP top with 3M support.

But given the agreements and understanding the partnership has in this auction, it is not much of a stretch to suspect that responder DOES KNOW these things about opener. And what is wrong about “could have been thinking about A, B or C”, is that in all probability, if you have any experience with your partner, that is untrue because the time involved usually indicates that he is not considering at least one of those options.

Which actually PROVES satisfaction of the legal requirement for an adjustment. For example, if my partner is hyper-aggressive about bidding game, we now know the BIT means he was NOT thinking of A-bidding game. Therefore, while in theory it could have been A, B or C, in practice the BIT shows B or C and this can create an issue.

What the BIT in this situation does suggest is that opener had an alternative to 2NT. Otherwise, what is there to think about? It therefore suggests that bidding 3 is now more likely to work than passing would in a non-BIT auction.

This is the problem of tempo variations. It skews risk-reward decisions in favor of those who do not keep proper pacing. If we make pass vs 3 40-60 overall, it surely becomes at least 30-70 with the BIT. Bridge is not a game of certainty. It is a game of high-value risk vs reward decisions. When one pair gets to make 30-70% choices they are at an unfair advantage to the field faced with a 40-60% decision.

What people do not understand is how minds work. People view themselves as rational decision makers. I spent a long time in sales and I can bet the ranch there is no such animal. Sales (and marketing) is the process of influencing the human mind WITHOUT that person being aware of it. (As an aside, the reason people hate salesman in general is that most are bumblers who cannot achieve that end without being both annoying and obvious.)

So plenty of people will look at 40-60 and 30-70 and say “well bidding 3 is still indicated, what is the problem?” Well, for starters there was a chance a player would have taken the 40% searching for a needed top. We have ALL done that. But the chance here is now zero, isn’t it? Moreover, no one has any idea whether the relevant player would have even made the 40-60 decision without the extraneous information.

What players do not understand is no one can say with certainty how they would think a problem with a different set of extraneous information. The problem in this case is everyone THINKS “well, I have UI. So I must make sure I clearly have my next bid. So let me think about this carefully”.

Guess what? That player is probably now thinking about the problem COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY than he might have otherwise!! It becomes unavoidable. Just getting partner to think carefully about his next call has affected things. Plus, the jury can never disregard what they heard.

Tempo problems change the nature of the game. It is impossible to avoid that problem. All we can do is identify when the problem COULD have been a problem an adjust it. Because at the end of the day, what we really want to do is ELIMINATE BITs.

The worst thing the lawmakers did is make the score adjustment subjective. The UI decision is unavoidably a subjective determination. The score adjustment should be objective to insure uniformity. But I will save that for another day
March 12
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I really wish the grave of our two million dollars had not reared its ugly head.

On another thread, I was chiding our English cousins for screwing up a four table tournament. The difference is the EBU had a chance of succeeding and our ACBL venture had ZERO. So now, instead of mocking someone for blowing off a pinky for playing with a firecracker, I have to issue a mea cupla because on this side of the pond, we were messing around with weapons grade plutonium ($2M worth) withoiut a clue or a plan and are dismayed to discover it did not work out well.

The following is for people who have no idea about technology, but at least a working knowledge of bridge.

I spend much of my time yelling at retirees for grabbing dummy’s diamond at the opening lead. “What are you doing?!”

“I have only the two and the three, what difference does it make?”

“Did you count your trumps? Did you count your immediate winners and immediate losers? Did you decide how many extra tricks you may need and how you are going to manufacture them? DO YOU HAVE A PLAN?”

Bridge is 13 cards in a hand, a minute to play and the fact remains that WITHOUT A PLAN just proceeding nilly-willy will often lead to disaster. Compared to this grain of thought, a computer program like ACBLSCORE+ is a mountain range to be traversed. Consisting not of a few seconds consideration, but tens of thousands of man-hours of labor. Hundreds of thousands of lines of code.

And our ACBL proceeded down this path WITHOUT A PLAN.

Because that is what the program specification is. One needs only common sense to understand the absurdity of what Joe was told. “If you’re a director, what it does should be obvious".

If what it does is obvious, it should be obvious that it does it. It should be equally obvious that no reasonable person reinvents a wheel to perform a job that is already being done. One rewrites a program, not to do what it already does but because there are problems or limitations to the existing software. Telling Joe that it “should be obvious” because he is a director is like telling a secretary it should be “obvious” how to build the new corporate headquarters because she works in the old one.

What Richard said is also spot on. Especially “…Hammond's involvement and his choice of language had very little to do with the eventual success/failure of the project.”

Without a blueprint, the project is always doomed.

Here I was making fun of the EBU CoC. But at least they had one!!! (I should leave and slink back to our mother country in shame, but they won’t have me now.)

I would add that I would not blame a contractor for taking a job without a blueprint. One thinks that: “OK, I’ll start building a foundation and framing things out. Eventually they will come to their senses.” (But if there was ever a group that might never come to their senses, it is our ACBL). I have no direct knowledge of conversations between NH and ACBL. I do have plenty of experience dealing with this sort of situation because years ago I installed and developed networked database systems for small and medium-sized companies that had no previous computer experience because they never had computers before.

These companies never appreciated the importance of the specifications. As a contractor, I’d protect myself by being paid hourly. That and a pile of correspondence from me detailing the pitfalls of proceeding in this manner. Eventually, they would come around. There really is no other way to proceed when the customer wants to do something but has no idea of what they need to do to be successful.

From my view in the cheap seats, the ACBL had vastly more experience with computers than noobs just breaking into things as the PC age emerged. The ACBL went through their learning experience with the original program. Which was developed piece-by-piece on the fly. This is how everyone starts. Everyone. But you are supposed to have enough sense to learn that when you develop software in this manner, it eventually becomes an unsupportable Gordian knot that can only be managed - with much difficulty - by the original programmer.

What you now have should be obvious and it should be obvious not to repeat the process.

But the ACBL did.

The analogy is Rome. The city evolved over centuries into a metropolis that know one could have possible imagined. But it was a hodgepodge of jumbled function pieced together over time. The difference is that Romans LEARNED from their experience. They built hundreds of subsequent cities. And every last one of them had a master plan. They laid out the streets in straight lines. The baths went here, the theaters there, the aqueduct came in over there. The Romans learned how to build and they knew that success always starts with a blueprint.

The blame for the failure of ACBLSCORE+ lies at the top and only the top. Any assertion to the contrary is a lie.
March 12
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Whatever the “history”, it began when the ACBL decided to construct a building without a blueprint. Not surprisingly, it was unsuccessful. Anyone with a systems background could tell the ACBL it was doomed from the start. (Is there a shortage of systems people in the bridge world?)

Apparently Joe did just that. I would not be surprised if he wasn’t the only one. David’s account above demonstrates the deaf ears, in his meeting with the ACBL when he writes: “It was made very clear to me that nothing would change until the money ran out.”

Although in fairness to our ACBL, they gave David more notice than my ex-girlfriend gave me.
March 12
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Great job!

But Steve, Bobby still isn't going to show you the secret handshake.
March 11
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Ian wrote the accurate shorthand version.

What drives me crazy is “this is how we do things”. This lack of thought process is pervasive in our ACBL. But overall, it is more prevalent on a social level in England than in America. We Yanks are the offspring of the revolutionaries. Thus, we are more likely to question and challenge the underlying.

In England, people accepted things like primogeniture for centuries because “that is how we do things”. So the second born gets a military commission or enters the ministry regardless of who is best for the job. “This is how we do things” is exactly why bridge has been dying in America. It may be why bridge is not as vibrant in England as opposed to other European countries like France and the Netherlands, though I have no direct knowledge.

“This is how we do things” is antithetical to success. The universe does not stop changing simply because our minds become fixed. Eventually, what people will be doing will no longer be relevant to circumstances if one's mind does not move with events.

I read the thread in amazement. This is the selection process for England’s National Ladies Team. How do you screw up a 4-table event? It seems impossible, but they managed. Yet no one (a) wants to admit the underlying CoC was wrongheaded (b) adjusting actual results to hypothetical possibilities is contrary to the purpose of actually staging a contest.

Yet no one wants to scream “this is insane!” We look at the data (meaningless), make assumptions (bias), and try to build some logical selection based on a tragically flawed process that no one is willing to question. Because, lets repeat: “this is how we do things”.

I suspect the RR was there because, once upon a time, there may have been quite a few more teams entering. But here the organizers were presented with a MAGICAL number of FOUR entrants. And they cannot figure it out, because (repeat refrain) “this is how we do things”.

England is selecting a team that needs to win several long KO matches to emerge victorious. Any duffus like me would seed the teams, play 1 vs 4, 2 vs 3 with the winners advancing to the final. The loser would play a match for the “bronze”. (It is a National Championship, even if the game is dying because we keep doing the same things despite all evidence to the contrary.) This allows the other two teams to gain high-level play experience as well. Plus, everyone is still playing for a goal of impressing the selection committee with their play, in the hopes of being the added pair.

There isn’t any law against deciding to select the 3rd pair from the 3rd or even last placed team, if it is apparent that they played well. In any event, bridge players like to play.

Running a RR with 4 teams to declare a winner based on which team collectively scores the most IMPs is only marginally dumber than adjusting the scores to reflect what you think would have happened if someone else was playing.

Yet it must be too “impolite” to mention the obvious. And if it is not completely obvious why a RR is satisfactory only in so far as culling the field for head-to-head contests, perhaps one should just accept that is precisely what they will be doing at the next stage.

The problem with the RR results is simple. You are trying to decide if A is > than B by determining how well A & B performed against D & C on an entirely different set of boards.

To demonstrate, I will postulate that AR, ARF, DG & DB is probably England’s best Mens foursome. I can put together a couple other capable teams. Say I construct two others. We can look at our three-team field. We give AR, ARF, DG & DB a first round bye, ‘B’ & ‘C’ teams slug it out to play in the finals. We rather expect our ‘A’ team to prevail. If they are dethroned, I know Andrew & Tony very well and they will be the first to congratulate the victors. The ‘B’ or ‘C’ team did what they needed to do to win. Cheers!

However, it turns out that I have been deported back to England. I get three buddies to form team ‘D’, which the London Bookies make 1000:1 for good reason. In a KO, we would get annihilated vs # ‘A’ in the first round. ‘A’ would then move on as before.

The problem with a 4-way RR is it is quite easy for ‘A’ to defeat all comers and yet not emerge as the overall winners. This is because when ‘A’ played ‘D’, the boards were rather dull and the set went 11-9. Team ‘B’ crushed ‘D’ and outscored ‘A’ in overall VP/IMPs despite losing the tête-à-tête. (I have come in 2nd & 3rd in Swiss events without ever losing a match.)

Thus, my analogy of deciding the best heavyweight be giving credence to how they performed against middleweights.

Now if you want to post back that in Merry Old England, they have the Selection Committee so they can pick whom they want despite the results, I can only say is that is why we armed ourselves.

Sorry if the humor did not resinate. I will try to add the ‘u’ next time. But I wanted to keep it lighthearted to avoid screaming that this was probably the dumbest process I have witnessed in bridge history.
March 11
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Nice to know that they had no agreement about a very slow 1 rebid. (And obviously 1-1-1-1 has NEVER come up).

If N was the pro, the slow 1 would seem skanky since if he were playing with a competent partner, he would have no problem bidding 2 as 4th suit.

If N was the client, it seems to me the slow 1 is just someone looking for a forcing bid and deciding to manufacture the spade bid.

I suspect N was the pro, but I have been wrong before.
March 10
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It has been a rather brutal week, and I must say this thread has given me the need to amuse myself. Quite possibly at the expense of my English cousins. But I cannot help myself because this thread just drips with Englishness.

What the reader needs to know about my cousins is that they are all highly educated, thoughtful, civilised (with an ‘s’), infused with a sense of fair play and respect for proper authority and most of all, procedure. The English are always looking to apply the rule of law with an impartial trowel.

On this side of the pond, we Yanks are about to start our annual “March Madness” college basketball tournament. It is run by the NCAA. An organization which is corrupt and rotten to the core. There have been arrests, firings, all sorts of academic fraud, cheating and rules violations. The FBI investigation is ongoing.

You know what? We are going to put on a GREAT tournament. And when the brackets wind down to the “Final Four”, the one thing we are not doing is holding a round robin to award the National Championship to whatever team scores the most combined points. We are also not going to imagine what points would have been scored had a player not been injured.

To lean on Hamman’s analogy, the English are endevouring (with a ‘u’) to ascertain the best heavyweight boxer by giving weight as to how they performed against middleweights.

In short, my cousins can be quite mad. They have always had this proclivity and this was the reason for our rather messy divorce nearly a quarter millennium past. It is not that we Yanks do not like our relatives. We adore you, despite the certainty that you will never change your ways. The English tend to accept the given - as for example, with tradition - and then use their keen minds and analysis to build upon those assumptions. This usually produces scenarios that hold Mr. Bumble guilty for the destruction of the trinkets.

Dickens’ observations are nearing two centuries ago. And yet, nothing has changed. The English are all too highly evolved to ever change. In fact, Charles Darwin needed to board a ship, sail halfway around the world to find some remote, tiny, uninhabited islands unencumbered by English rule to discover that CHANGE IS POSSIBLE.

Here in America, we Yanks question basic assumptions. We are also rather messy and uncivilized. Hell, we cannot even spell uncivilized correctly. But when we settle things, we settle them. We strap on our pistols, walk out onto main street at high noon and see who prevails.

The best part is the loser does not complain.

Perhaps no complaints in England, either. Stiff upper lip and all that rot. But that does not mean your selection process was not positively daft.

Was it really too hard to say to the teams: “look, at this juncture, the data and our silly CoC means that either you ladies strap on pistols in a head-to-head, or both teams now rely on someone else and their ouija board to pick”?

A substitute was allowed. But then you want to “adjust” the actual result to conform to your expectations regarding the quality of the partnership. When this partnership “over-performs”, rational people might also suggest that an alternate explanation might be that coupling might have produced the BEST partnership.

“Ah ha!”, you retort. “You know nothing of these players” (admittedly, I do not). “And the fact remains that we know this is not a true measure of the partnership strength because the number of boards played were not sufficient to statistically validate your conclusion!”

Hmm. But the number of boards was magically statistically sufficient to support your extrapolations? And, BTW, why are we playing an admittedly insubstantial number of boards?

I see confirmation bias. I see ridiculousness.

The first time I was picked up on a “pro” team, it was for the regional New York Swiss. After seeing the results of the first two rounds, I concluded that with our client - a really nice, wonderful person and really bad bridge player - we were basically stuck 10 to 15 IMPs each round. So I went on a rampage. We had a Precision auction of 1-1; 6-(X) but they did not find the winning lead. I bid a skinny game, got X’d, sent it back. Found a way to make it. My partner was just as aggressive. We were lunatics trying to manufacture IMPS. At the end we, were finished second or third. The client won enough gold points to make her LM and never hired another team. (So yes, I am that dumb to excel myself out of a job.)

I suspect that perhaps a top English pair, knowing that it is do or die, might also switch gears trying to cover their now weaker mates. A conclusion that the “substitute over-performed” is not substantiated by anything other than an assertion without a thorough examination of every single board. And by the time you perform that task, they could have held a playoff.

I can think of dozens of reasons to explain why the new pair “over-performed”. Starting with you have no idea of how the other pair would have performed on the same set of boards. Plus, you are comparing one set of boards to another. How valid is that? I mean, besides not.

Here is a little thought experiment. I gather three little old ladies from our club to team against Robson, Forrester and the two Davids. (One is hopefully still jet lagged and depressed from being KO'd). After numerous boards, England prevails and Britannia rules by four IMPs. Is my team near world class?

Or did Andrew never pick up and hand that was not 4x3? Tony never had a tricky game to land and neither of the two Davids ever saw a hand that they would not give to a beginner’s bidding class.

Thank you, chaps! I now have the courage to turn on the news and see what silliness we are perpetrating on this side of the pond. I feel like such a fine and dandy Yankee doodle that I might even go out and buy a gun to celebrate.

“..and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience…”
March 10
David Yates edited this comment March 10
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I draw two conclusions from this post.

First, Greco-Hampson play MP as well as any pair in the world. Secondly, they must have stopped making ribbons for dot matrix printers.
March 9
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Re: “In practice you can almost never win a ruling when someone instabids, or takes 3-4 seconds when their other calls in the auction have been near instant, because both are judged ”normal tempo“.”

While I agree with this statement, I also find it much easier to read fast tempo players. One of my partners has never spent over 11 seconds contemplating a bid in her life - and that was only because of a skip bid warning. But if I wanted to, I could pick off ten seconds and pass vs 10.5 vs the full 11. Without a skip bid, most actions are between 0.1 and 3 seconds. I could pick off her tempo all day long.

Much of the time, I rest my head in my hand looking down at the table. Players come to the table and ask me what is wrong. I normally just tell them I am tired. Which is almost true. I get tired of accidentally having UI because I was sitting normally and she bid in 2.67 seconds. . .

On the other side, I have another partner who is frequently deliberate and sometimes slow. I can NEVER figure out what he is thinking about. And the reason I used to try is because he is a very smart guy and a good player and I just wanted to know WTF he was thinking about for 20 seconds because one always want to know how your partner thinks about problems. While I have confidence in his judgement, I found found no correlation (for me, anyway) between his speed and the nature of the problem.
March 9
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Hence, your choice is restricted to the losing option.
March 9
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It depends. Club players lead doubletons all the time without much regard for their trump holding.
March 9
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