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All comments by John Portwood
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Quick question Richard.

Suppose a pair agree that to qualify for a ‘strong’ Acol opening the hand must have 16+ points i.e. the 12-15 5 controls option is ignored.

When the bid comes up the blue book says that you must announce it as “Strong, forcing” or “Strong, not forcing” - you are apparently expressly forbidden from adding “16+ HCP” - and you cannot alert. So opponents are going to assume that the second option is still viable.

Equally, of course, if you decide to open an ‘intermediate’ 2-level bid then opponents should be made aware that this could include a 15-point hand with 5 controls. - but how?

This does not seem to me to be the best way of proceeding.
2 hours ago
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Any combination of ‘strong’ hands is legal. The full definition is:-

Opening Bids from 2 to 3 Inclusive
These may be played as one or both of (a) and (b) below

(a) Any meaning or meanings as long as they all show a strong hand (16+ HCP, or 12+ HCP with at least 5 controls), and/or

(b) At most one from the following four options:
…(i) One or more meanings which all show at least four cards in the suit opened, or
…(ii) One or more meanings which all show at least five cards in the same one specified suit, or
…(iii) One or more meanings which all show at least 4-4 in the same two specified suits, or
…(iv) Any combination of meanings that show either or both of
…… 1) At least five cards in a suit, specified or not, which must not be the suit opened, and/or
…… 2) At least 5-4 in two suits, either or both of which may be specified or not, but both of which must not be the suit opened.

So your definition falls within (a) and b.iv.1
3 hours ago
John Portwood edited this comment 3 hours ago
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As this is new to EBU members, it seems fair that we discuss ramifications, possibilities and inconsistencies that may arise.

It would also have helped if you could have defined “intermediate” and “weak” with regards to (jump) overcalls. We can presumably think by default that.

“Weak”: 9 or fewer HCP
“Intermediate” : 10-11 or 12 - 15 HCP without 5 controls
“Strong” : 16+ or 12+ and 5+ controls

Obviously players can make their own definitions BUT if an ‘intemediate’ hand COULD have 5+ controls and 12 points then I think that the partnership would have to announce the strongest it could be. e.g. 11-15 HCP, any number of controls, otherwise they would be giving MI.
3 hours ago
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We'll have to see how it goes, of course. Just because a hand is defined as ‘strong’ in the Blue book does not mean that you have to treat it as ‘strong’ in your own system. You can make up your own definition providing it at least meets the official one.

I think the definition (and the ER25 definition) was an attempt to stop people saying that a hand was ‘strong’ when they meant ‘strong offensively only’ e.g. Namyats The examples given in the Blue book may make this clearer.

In ‘Benji’ Acol the 2 call is often used to define “8 playing tricks in any suit” and frequently had the word ‘strong’ attached.

Note that there is now no definition of what ‘playing tricks’ means (even though the index in the book says there is!)

Thus : AKQJT987 32 32 3 is a Benji 2 opener - although it has poor defensive strength.

To permit “8 Playing tricks in ANY suit”, the partnership, by agreement must mean 12+ HCP and 5+ controls. To include the word ‘strong’ the partnership agreement must be 16+ HCP.

HOWEVER the EBU also permits

“Any combination of meanings that show either or both of
1) At least five cards in a suit, specified or not, which must not be the suit opened”

Thus you could extend your definition to “8 playing tricks in an unspecified suit that is not Clubs” (for the 2 opening bid) - and the hand then need not have 12+ HCP and 5 controls or 16+ points.
13 hours ago
John Portwood edited this comment 13 hours ago
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There are many types of ‘strong hands’ so any call that is used to define a ‘strong hand’ does not need to go into a description of why the hand is strong.

So an allowed conventional call may describe (This is part of allowed meanings of 1 or 1)

(ii) Forcing, with any meaning or meanings as long as they all show at least 16 HCP or 12+ HCP with at least 5 controls


For all its faults ER25 did give a reasonably good definition of a ‘strong hand’ (the line had to be drawn somewhere).

Note that (if the definition above is correct)

AKQJT98765432 - - - is now, presumably not a ‘strong hand’.

(Just to confuse matters - the ‘strong’ option in a multi 2 must have 16+ points)
14 hours ago
John Portwood edited this comment 14 hours ago
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Hmm - If there wasn't ‘split stakes’ then the action wouldn't be cheating would it since when you played at opposing corners, you and your partner's net loss would be $0 and in effect there would be a single winner and a single loser - so the other two players haven't been cheated and neither of you have an incentive to play badly? (You have no incentive to play well, either, of course.)

Bob, of course, can try and hide the scam by agreeing to play at the fixed stakes on a regular basis, only dropping them part of the time.
July 21
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I don't like an initial 2NT opening call from East (you need West to be able to respond to a 1-level bid before you can make game), so have no objection to a 1 opening call.

A 2NT rebid (showing a balanced hand and not quite a 2NT opening call) works well here - but it could prove very expensive.

Personally, I think this is just one the times when a lucky action by opponents came off.
July 21
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So it's a cross that we all have to bear.

At least the first EW aren't ever going to be in a UI position, whilst the expert EW could be in that position (especially as they have the extra duty to ‘protect themselves’, providing such protection doesn't pass UI. I HATE that edict from the EBU (and have yet to see any appeal ruling where it has been decided that the danger of passing UI warranted not asking about a call - it is as if everyone ‘knows’ the duty, but forgets the caveat)
July 20
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Of course if you played a simpler system then you wouldn't have to make as many alerts . . .

Oh - and in the first auction - hasn't West asked a question for the sole benefit of East? That is improper.
July 20
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It is quite possible, of course that opener is merely rebidding hearts to show a 6-4 hand. But on appeal we would have to ask “why did you bid 4

“To show 6-4 and give partner a choice of games.” OR
“Well I knew that partner wasn't happy raising spades” OR
“We play -ve doubles so I know partner only has 3 spades”

And we have to decide whether pass was a LA - yes I agree that polling two players who may not belong to the class of player concerned is not ideal, but we do not know the strength of the hand.

And we have to decide whether the pause demonstrably suggests that LHO had additional strength or was wondering whether to pass 2

(Which is why we need appeals - to elicit information from the contestents without as much time pressure.)
July 20
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Would you prefer to bid under the pressure of actual UI or bid without knowing what the opponents' calls mean.

Always (or even randomly) asking for an explanation (or just looking at the convention card - do you have them where you play?) minimises UI. However - giving UI is not an infraction.
July 19
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1. Any extraneous information from partner that
might suggest a call or play is unauthorized. This includes remarks, questions, replies to questions, unexpected alerts or failures to alert, unmistakable hesitation, unwonted speed, special emphasis, tone, gesture, movement or mannerism.
July 19
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I don't like 5 Diamonds - you are contributing one trick to the pot and have a lot of losers (8). If partner has 8 losers then you are going 3 down, if he has fewer then you may make 4 tricks. (Diamond, couple of Spades + partner's extra strength)

Sometimes you can have too many trumps. 4-card trump support when partner has 6 or 7 trumps, is of doubtful value - unless you can use them. I don't sacrifice on a balanced hand (one with no singletons/voids).

In other words 5 exchanges a probable -ve score to a certain -ve score - how is that going to benefit you?

Other pair : -50
Lose 11

doesn't sound too good, does it.

With regards to double - that is subject to partnership agreement, but it must tell partner that you have some defensive strength as well as diamond support. (And it doesn't really give them that many extra bids, since they have to end up in 4 at least - they may make/ bid a slam but - is that likely with KQS in your hand (one trick) and partner overcalling?)
July 19
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The thing is - that a pass is a LA (which it is) is only part of the process - you have to decide whether the 3 call is suggested over it by the questions/ BIT raised. IMHO nothing West did or said suggests that he has good spades (he could have had 5 hearts on the bidding)
July 19
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There was a case in the EBU casebooks where an appeal was allowed on the argument that because the appealer was a young, aggressive player, passing was not a logical alternative to him, although a poll by the TD (of older, possibly wiser, players) found that it was (to the pollees).

There is nothing anomalous in finding that one player has no LA and yet another player does. That happens very often in auctions where there is only AI. The result will be different scores e.g. a game goes down instead of a partscore makes because to one person the hand was a clear invite and to the other a clear pass.
July 19
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To cut to the quick, I cannot see how 3 could be demonstrably suggested over any other call by the BIT. If anything the call that could be demonstrably suggested would be ‘double’ - for take-out.

(Note that in the 2017 laws the phrase is : “is demonstrably suggested” rather than “could be demonstrably suggested” - I thought that was the change discussed.)

NS are fully entitled to ‘object to the call’ if they think they have been damaged - it does not matter if they got 0%, 61.5% or 90%. (Yes it would have been better if they had had EW agree that the pause after the jump bid was much longer than required by regulation at the time or that East was in possesion of UI from West's questions, but to call the director later is not an infraction).

And whether NS would emerge with 62% overall and win the tournament or 61% and come (presumably) second is totally irrelevant.

The ‘illogical logical alternative’ argument - soon to vanish should be considered within the definition of what is a logical alternative.

(b) A logical alternative action is one that, among the class of players in question and using the methods of the partnership, would be given serious consideration by a significant proportion of such players, of whom it is judged some might select it.

Thus if someone makes an (to the general bridge population) illogical alternative call then he is just a member of the class of players who would regard the call as being a logical alternative.
July 19
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The better John plays, the more he wins as well. (Otherwise he would not participate (willingly or unwittingly)

Basically the ‘scammer’ has developed an insurance policy against losing (rather than just trusting to his skill).

I suppose the only risk (other than losing a large rubber with his patsy) is that his (non-accomplice) partner wins a large rubber e.g. plays contracts.
July 18
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Yes - with the caveat of course that you mustn't deliberately hesitate to try and persuade opponents that you have a better hand than you actually do. The key point is that you haven't communicated anything to your partner.
July 18
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If you hesitate then partner's action derives from that hesitation and thus only your opponents can take that into account. You cannot make any inferences.
July 18
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The thing is - there is an ‘OR’ between each section - and section d) deals with information available before the cards are taken out: i.e. that partner is an ethical player.

Reversing my opinion, I think law 73 may preclude the use of this knowledge

"It is desirable, though not always required, for
players to maintain steady tempo and unvarying manner. However, players should be particularly careful when variations may work to the benefit of their side.Otherwise, unintentionally to vary the tempo or manner in which a call or play is made is not an infraction. Inferences from such variations are authorized only to the opponents, who may act upon the information at their own risk."

This means that you are not allowed to draw any inferences from variations in tempo. It does not say ‘partner’ or ‘directly’
July 18
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