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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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It isn't. My last comment is nonsense. I stick with my original analysis.
March 4
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Let’s try this again. I ruff in my hand, lead a spade from my hand to dummy, and then take the diamond finesse and can take two spade finesses.
March 4
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If East has the king of diamonds, this defense is so bad I don't want to think about it. We can take to the bank that West has that card. This gives East the KQ of spades for his opening bid.

Why did East continue clubs instead of shifting to his singleton heart? He can't see our hand, and he doesn't know we don't have a heart loser which can be discarded on the club play.

The only possible explanation is that East doesn't hold that singleton heart. Considering West's 3 call, this means East's distribution must be 4-0-4-5 and West 0-5-4-4. That is reasonably consistent with everything. East's play of the jack of clubs was intended as suit-preference for hearts, but West didn't read it that way.

So, I will ruff with the 6 of spades, lead a diamond to the queen, and try to slip the 5 of spades past East. If East is on the ball he will split his honors and get his two spade tricks since I won't have adequate dummy entries, but he might fall asleep at the switch.
March 4
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An interesting question is: Assuming West chooses to falsecard from QJx, which honor should he play or does it matter?

I think he should play the queen. The reason is that from queen-doubleton he has a trivial and forced play of the queen in case his partner has Jxx. However, from jack-doubleton there is no technical reason to play the jack. I'll grant that he should play the jack to keep the QJx possibility alive in declarer's mind, but at the table would any of us even think of the need for this?
March 4
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No specific formula. Just use your judgment. Obviously vulnerability makes a difference. What would be a non-minimum at favorable vul might be a minimum at unfavorable vul.
March 4
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That depends. If you are a computer, you should take the play which risks the contract in order to get the overtrick. But if you are a mere mortal, you must consider:

The mental strain involved calculating the probability that the risky line will fail, efforts which could be better used for more important decisions.

The extra time taken double and triple checking your calculations to make sure the risky line is, in fact, the percentage play. It is this sort of thinking which gets players into time trouble.

The devastating psychological effect when that 1 in 20 layout pops up and you go down in a cold contract. That is likely to affect your future play, making the real cost more than the 10 actual IMPs lost.
March 2
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Suppose you are in a normal 4 contract at IMPs, and there are two possible lines of play. You have calculated that:

Play A is 100% to take exactly 10 tricks

Play B will take 11 tricks 95% of the time, but 9 tricks 5% of the time.

Which play should you take?

If your answer is: I never made that calculation, then you have answered the problem correctly. Once you determine that the contract is cold on play A but at some risk on play B, your thinking should be done. You take play A without worrying about just how much jeopardy is involved with play B or how likely play B is to produce an overtrick.

That is the proper thought process at IMPs.
March 1
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If this kind of intervention were truly dangerous, then I would agree with you that it isn't worth it. But in real life it just isn't that dangerous. You are only contracting for 8 tricks. In order for you to suffer a loss, you would have to go down 4 when the opponents have a game, or down 2 or 3 when they don't have a game. The vulnerability goes a long way to protect you.

It is true that if the opponents always punished you when you run into the wrong hand then bidding would show a loss. However, the opponents do not always punish you. They don't know when you are in trouble, and with the carrot of the vulnerable game waving in front of them they will usually not be able to double you.

The actual hand is a good example. Clearly both 2 and 2 go down at least 4, maybe 5. But what will happen? If East opens 2, he isn't going to play 2 doubled. South will just bid 3NT. Or if South doubles, North isn't going to pass. Also, suppose after the 1 opening bid West overcalls 2. North is going to bid 2, and E-W will be out of the woods. Even if North doubles, showing some cards, will South be willing to sit the double knowing he is cold for a vulnerable game? I don't think so.

The real truth of the matter is that interventions such as these don't get punished any more than perfectly normal preempts or overcalls. If you run into the misfit and the auction and hands time out so they can double you and sit it, they get you. Otherwise, you are off the hook.

If you don't believe me, try the following experiment: Agree with your partner that when you are non-vulnerable and have less than an opening bid, you will always open a weak 2 on any hand with a 5-card suit, regardless of suit quality or anything else. See what happens. You will get some good results and some bad results, but you will seldom go for a number.
March 1
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What if East wins and returns a trump?
March 1
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Yes, there are hands with 3 controls where North has the right fillers and slam is good or even cold. It is a matter of percentages. Most of the time North has 3 controls slam will be poor, and even 4NT may be in jeopardy as on the actual hand. You aren't going to get them all right.
March 1
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You are forfeiting the fourth club trick when the lead is from 108x. Thus, playing a club at trick 2 isn't free.

I don't think West is going to be breaking the spade suit. He heard declarer push to 4NT opposite dummy's known doubleton spade. It would be hard to imagine a layout where a spade shift would succeed.
March 1
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There are 9 top tricks, so a diamond ruff in dummy is #10. This seems like the straightforward line of play. Unless something bad is happening in one of the black suits, this fails only if diamonds are 6-2 or hearts are 4-0. The silence of the non-vulnerable opponents vs. the strong 1 indicates we aren't getting either of these bad splits.

Leading a club to dummy in order to lead a diamond to the king risks West having the ace of diamonds and a doubleton club. West returns a club, and now we are in serious trouble due to the threatened trump promotion.

As between leading a small diamond versus the king of diamonds at trick 2, I prefer a small diamond. It is more important to control which opponent wins the second round of diamonds, as that is when they are more likely to do damage. For example, East's shape might be 4-3-5-1, including the ace of diamonds.
March 1
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The problem with that is that declarer doesn't know where the ace of clubs is. If East has the ace of clubs then West will have the ace of diamonds, so it will be right to go up king of diamonds on the small diamond shift. For that reason, it is necessary to find out which defender has the ace of clubs.
March 1
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Just following the fundamental principle of discarding: Keep winners, discard losers.
Feb. 26
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First discard: 9 – discouraging (so, looking at that dummy, logically showing spade strength).

Second discard: 3 – standard current count (if you play upside-down current count, then 7)

To ace of hearts: smallest remaining heart. Partner will know you have the king of hearts. If you had the queen but not the king, you would have played the queen. If you had neither, you would have played your highest heart.

Partner now knows you started with 6 hearts to the king and spade strength, With that information, he should have no difficulty doing the right thing, whatever the right thing is.
Feb. 26
Kit Woolsey edited this comment Feb. 26
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A similar situation can happen in backgammon. A player rolls a bad number which is a forced play, but it is likely that he is about to be cubed and he will have a problem whether or not to take the cube. In principle, the player could delay making his forced move in order to gain himself 12 seconds of thinking time about the cube.

In practice, I have never seen anybody do this. I'll bet it wouldn't happen in bridge either. Players have a lot more to think about than how to save a few seconds thinking time.
Feb. 24
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Having 4 be Stayman is wrong IMO. Even if you hold the perfect hand for it, such as the actual South hand, it is far from clear that bidding 4 is better than passing. 9 tricks are easier than 10, and with partner overcalling 3NT you figure to have 9 tricks.

We play 4 asks about strength and hand type (i.e. balanced or long minor).
Feb. 24
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For backgammon tournaments, we use clocks with a time delay. These work as follows:

For each move, a player has a specified amount of free time. If he goes over that time, then he starts using the overall time bank. A typical time control for an 11-point match might be:

12 seconds free time per move

22 minutes in the time bank.

The clocks also have a pause button, which stops the clock when necessary, such as between games or if a die is thrown off the board onto the floor and has to be found.

Most moves in backgammon are made relatively quickly, and will be made within the 12 seconds, so the player doesn't lose any time on these. Only the difficult moves which take some time for thought eat into the player's time bank. This time control keeps things moving at a reasonable pace, avoiding the 10 minute huddles on a move, while mostly not causing a player to lose a match on time.

A nice feature about the time delay is that if a player gets into time trouble, he can control it. Any player can find a decent move in 12 seconds, although it might not be the best move. So, if a player is running short of time, say he has 30 seconds left in his bank and there are a couple of games to be played, it isn't a disaster. All he has to do is avoid long huddles, and he will be okay.

Another feature of the time delay clocks is that ploys to take advantage of an opponent being in time trouble don't really exist. As seen, the player in time trouble can play reasonably normally without going into his time bank.

Bridge is similar to backgammon regarding time issues. Most bids and plays are made relatively quickly. Occasionally a lot of thought is needed. When this situations occur, the player goes into his time bank.

It would take some experimentation, but my guess is that something like a 15 second time delay and 25 minutes in a pair's bank for a 16 board segment would be about right.

Anybody who has played in knockout matches with time issues has been in the nightmarish situation where there are 3 boards to be played and only 10 minutes on the clock. It is a mad scramble, often having nothing to do with bridge, to get these boards played in time or close to it. Also, when the table does run out of time there is the whose fault was it issue, for which there is currently no adequate resolution. With the time delay clocks, this problem doesn't exist. If a pair is in time trouble they can still play relatively normally, just not going into any long huddles. Also, their opponents can play normally. And, most important, there is no issue as to fault.

In backgammon and other games, the player punches the clock signifying completion of the move. That won't work too well in bridge, since there are 4 players and one's hands are used to handle the cards. A time monitor would be needed. If the monitor is slow in punching the clock after each play it won't matter, due to the time delay. Only the long huddles will make a difference. Also, the monitor will hit the pause button when the hand is complete, and start the clock again when the bidding for the next hand is started. In addition, the monitor will hit the pause button when a player is asking or answering questions about the meaning of bids and plays. Yes, a player could use asking questions as a way to save time when thinking, but in practice I don't believe this will happen much or make a real difference.

It is also important for the time remaining in each pair's bank to be easily visible to the players, so they know where they are at.

As to what penalties should be, anything reasonable is okay. Perhaps 3 IMPs per minute over the bank.

I believe the above approach will alleviate the time problems in team matches. It wouldn't be effective for pair events.
Feb. 24
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Perhaps it is declarer who had the complaint. After all, the defenders could probably see that the squeeze would work, so they could have saved time and conceded the rest of the tricks.
Feb. 24
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No rules or methods. Simply listen to the bidding and decide which information will be more valuable to partner, or more harmful to declarer.
Feb. 23
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