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All comments by Max Schireson
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It appears that the Bermuda Bowl final was only 96 boards. In my (brief) prior experience with bridge it has been 128 boards. If indeed it was shortened, I am disappointed by the change.

Does anyone know anything about what happened and why?
Sept. 29
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One general thing and one specific thing:
- general: in the past when facing these choices we have put our most aggressive pair against the weak pair, regardless of whether the aggressive pair was the strongest… aggressiveness probably matters more than strength for matchups
- specific: as legendary as Meckwell is and as strong as their butlers were, i think there have been discussions on this site that they are not coming back to the Nickell team in the future… so it is possible that the team might not perceive them as the strongest pair (rightly or wrongly); I certainly would not assume they are perceived that way under the circumstances
Sept. 29
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Yeah your are right I had the auction mixed up in my head. Partner 100% has to be running, thank you.

Now does partner 100% have to have misbid to pull? Could partner have 4 bad spades and a long suit and be guessing that the other suit is better? Should an expert do this? Probably not. But maybe my partner would. Would it be possible that I would go back to spades (esp if, as on the actual hand, I have 6 of them?). I don’t know. My decision to pass is very much easier because of partners tempo. So I think my logic was definitely wrong, but I think I should not pass if partner bids my short suit. Prob ok if pard bids my 4 card suit.
Sept. 27
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On the actual hand partner had a good diamond suit, an almost opening hand, and thought there was a decent chance to make 3N but was worried about a heart lead so thought it was best to just blast 3N.

I think that is losing bridge especially at matchpoints and especially given that I could have opened light 3rd seat. Partner is young and new and creative, and I am happy that she is thinking creatively and considering the cost of giving opponents info for the lead, even if I disagree with the conclusion she reached on the actual hand.

All that apart from the forgotten agreement it wasn’t shocking to me that she would blast 3N here. With other partners where that just wouldn’t be possible, I would think a forget is much less likely because 3N still wouldn’t make sense.

Thus it was more than partners tendency to forget that made be believe she had forgotten here; it was also her general tendency towards creativity and sometimes just blasting that made me think a natural 3N could be possible. This probably contributed to me wanting to emphasize the possibility of a forget, and my strong belief (which also factored UI) that this is what had actually happened.
Sept. 27
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Ok Michael I will bite… the wisdom of publishing something not meaningful is…
Sept. 27
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I definitely agree I am making it complicated, and maybe don’t have to say everything I did.

On a slightly different issue I think UI or not is irrelevant to my explanation, and I must do my best to give correct explanations of our agreements. One example that would be clear to me is if in the given auction after alerted 3N if I bid 4C, and the alert reminded her that her 3N was artificial, then if asked about 4C she must still say it is asking about her shortness (even if she doesn’t have any), and it would be MI for her to say “natural” or “undiscussed”. When she *responds* to my 4C, she treats the wake up as UI, and might eg raise 4C to 5C. So I think it is permissible (and required sometimes) to use UI in giving explanations, but I agree that the hesitation itself is not something to which opponents are entitled to be pointed our or analyzed by me.
Sept. 27
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So in principle they are entitled to my knowledge about my partner (agreements, history, style) and not my inference from the hesitation. I think this includes not just that partner “might” forget, but do they forget always, usually, sometimes, occasionally, etc, if my knowledge of partner gives me a sense of the likelihood.

But practically they are trying to figure out what happened in an impossible sequence: either partner made an impossible hesitation or partner not only forgot a bid but made an impossible bid.

They are asking numerous questions to try to learn about the state of our agreements to assess which impossible thing happened.

In their shoes, I think the precise question that I should be required to answer (but many people wouldn’t) is something like: “Based on your experience with partner, what do you think is the likelihood that partner would bid 3N here without spade support? And based on your experience with partner what is the likelihood that partner would hesitate like that with the hand she was support to have? If it is hard for you to quantify those percentages on an absolute scale, but you have a sense of which of the two is more or less likely than the other that’s really what I am getting at.” In principle I should tell them my best guess at each probability, which could be really wrong, but I have a strong feeling that the first error is more likely than the second. Since that feeling is based entirely on knowledge about my partner, I think my opponents are entitled to it.

Of course they didn’t ask that question exactly, but when they are persistently asking questions I think I have to give them the full extent of knowledge about our “agreements”, which includes not just that partner could forget, but as close as possible to my own knowledge of how likely it is that partner would forget.

The reality is I know what they are trying to figure out, and based on my knowledge of partner it is a trivial inference for me to be quite confident… so I can either try to find a way to get them the same level of knowledge about my partner, or just give them the answer.

So I agree in theory that they aren’t entitled to what I said, but practically speaking I did what I think Steve Bloom said I have to do.

This subtlety is why I abstained; I thought my answer was somewhere between the first and second choice (recognizing that I would *never* get a penalty for disclosing just the possibility of a forget without emphasis).
Sept. 27
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Partner is rapidly learning and generally remembers the things we have been playing for a while, but tends to forget the new stuff. Agree we shouldn’t play stuff that I expect partner to forget as a steady state.
Sept. 27
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I like Johns auction.

At our club our opponents played 5D and rather than a zero it was worth 57%. Would have been nice to collect all the match points for defending 5D but we got a normal-feeling 43%.

Of 15 pairs in the open section:
6 pairs played 3NT from the W, all down 1 (I suspect mostly on Johns auction)
4 pairs played 5D all making exactly
5 pairs played 3NT from the E (making 11-13 tricks)

FWIW in the limited section all the NT contracts (about half the field) were played from the E, also taking 11-13 tricks.
Sept. 27
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That’s the worst.

In theory they are entitled to this information and often don’t get it. Then they get it and it was superfluous on the actual hand, and could have steered them wrong.
Sept. 27
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Theoretically I could make a case that I have fulfilled my obligations by saying it’s a new agreement and she has a history of forgetting but I feel like it’s hard for them to know how seriously to take that possibility… so I should just tell them that based on my knowledge of partner and what we’ve all seen it really seems like she forgot.

That feels like the only practical way to put them on equal footing to me in terms of knowing my partner, which I think is their right (even if it is infrequently actually given).

Technically they aren’t entitled to the knowledge of the hitch or the inference from it but they almost certainly saw the hitch and the jference felt so clear given what I knew of partner, so I think practically it’s just partner info I am giving them when I synthesize. But it’s messy/murky.
Sept. 26
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To be clear I don’t think the standard of what most club opponents would do is useful, and I didn’t intend to ask that question.

What I thought made it blurry is that that inference was available to me based on a combination of:
1. My knowledge of my partner, both that a forget was possible and an “impossible” 3N was possible; in my view it is unambiguous that opponents are entitled to this info.
2. The bridge knowledge that she should have never have reason to think over 4S; my opponents are not entitled to this inference. Imo this raises the likelihood of a forget - maybe 20% a priori - to something like 80-90% (because there is something like 2-5% that she would just hesitate for no reason, so most likely the hesitation is the misbid case).

The question is whether I can just leave it at “possible she forgot” which feels like a generic throwaway when he is persistently asking about other possible agreements, or do I need to go further (as I did at the table) which gives him (a simple) bridge inference to which he is not technically entitled, but may have made (perhaps subconsciously) anyway.

If I were playing against an opponent that I knew would easily make that inference then I think I must explain it as I did, because he is entitled to my knowledge about partner and already has the other half of the puzzle. I shouldn’t force him to say “what might account for the think” that I know he is trying to understand. But if the opponent doesn’t catch the impossibility of the think, do I then need to go the extra mile in emphasizing the likelihood of a forget? That is murky for me.
Sept. 26
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A sum of independent events approaches a normal distribution over the long term… I don’t think the individual swings are very closely approximated by a normal distribution because of the idiosyncrasies of game bonuses etc which make certain swings more common than others, but the sum of many of them will be pretty close and my instinct is that 200 boards is comfortably enough for this to be a good approximation.

I don’t think this methodology is perfect but I think it gets us enough in the ballpark to understand that differences of eg 0.1 or 0.2 are probably in the noise and eg 1.0 or 1.5 are probably real.
Sept. 26
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Danny,

Appx 5.5-6 IMP typical single SD in even matches (I have seen this in various places, not sure the original source)

For 200 boards total SD sqrt(200) * single board SD gives about 80 imps, which is about 0.4 per board

This would also say that a theoretically even match would be +- about 40 imps over 60 boards, which feels ballpark right to my experience.
Sept. 26
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Steve,

Yes, this partner is a bit forget-prone (similar forgets in the past).

Also this partner is “creative” enough to possibly bid 3N natural here (which should be impossible).

With other partners I might know it wasn’t a forget because they would never bid an “impossible” natural 3N here.
Sept. 26
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Marty,

If a top pair has an expectation of +1 per board, sometimes they will land at +1.4 and sometimes they will land at +0.6. They might then be at the top or near the top. The Butlers will usually (but not always) confirm what we expected.

However when an average pair has a great event and winds up at +0.8 right up in with the top pairs, it can easily be a fluke. Since there are quite a few average pairs, we should expect that many of the unfamiliar names near the top (or familiar names that are not expected to be near the top!) are there through luck.

If you have a reasonably accurate prior view of where pairs belong, you will find that view is often confirmed… but that doesn’t mean that surprising results mean you should change your views; it is exactly the surprising results that are most likely (but not certain) to be flukes.

Interpretation of noisy data is hard.
Sept. 26
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A few thoughts on Butlers:

1. Over 200 boards, I would expect the standard deviation to be around 0.4 imps per board. Butlers of eg +0.7 probably mean better than average and -0.7 probably mean worse than average but even that isn’t certain. The difference between eg +0.8 and +0.5 is mostly meaningless, but the difference between eg +1.1 and -0.8 is very very likely to be real (but still could be a pair of flukes where one average-ish pair had a *great* tournament and another average-ish pair had a poor tournament.
2. Opposition matters a lot.
- in a Swiss it’s *much easier to get a good Butler on a poor team because your opponents are less strong
- in a RR format like the BB, strong teams may play their weaker pairs against weak opponents and make sure their strongest pairs are playing in the matches against other teams in contention - not only are imps in close matches worth more VPs, but swings against other teams in contention effectively count double.

So while I don’t think they are totally meaningless, they definitely need to be viewed with some significant caveats.
Sept. 26
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I would also like to add that restricting the strongest players may also drive away other players who want to compete against the best.

Our youth NABCs are great learning events, but not serious events that the strongest eligible players are excited to win. Each year that I see strong players not enter it makes me sad. There the issue is both masterpoint limits and event structure so it’s not a perfect analogy, but I do worry that limiting eligibility based on skill/experience drives away more than just the ineligible players.
Sept. 21
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I have mixed feelings, but (like my feelings about any event I will never be eligible for) not strong ones.

I think junior bridge is great. The participants seem to have a blast and many of them grow into being top level competitors; some are while they are already eligible for juniors. Players who have won or are played in the Bermuda Bowl play U26, and last year we had a Bermuda Bowl veteran play U21 (!).

I think this is fine. I just wonder, given that U26 already has world class competitors, whether it makes sense to have a U31. Funding and mentoring for junior bridge is not unlimited, and I worry that this would come at the expense of other categories.

Sure, it would be great to see some of our young pros in the U31, but we might also see them in the Bermuda Bowl. We might also see fewer U26 or U21 teams sponsored by their NBOs to make room for the U31 teams, and I am worried that that tradeoff won’t be a net plus.

As for Peg’s idea of limiting it to newer players, I do think there is something to be said for serious events for newer players. This is especially true for new players who are not eligible for any age or gender restricted events. That said I think it’s hard to implement that limitation well today, and I wonder if a new-ish player event might be more useful than Peg’s contemplated new-ish U31 event. (Disclaimer: I might be eligible for the first but wouldn’t be for the second, so I may be biased).

I feel like the grinch for not jumping for joy about more junior events, but I do have concerns.

I am curious how three groups feel about this:
1. Players currently planning to compete in U26 who expect they would instead play U31 despite eligibility for U26, because they want to compete at the highest/most prestigious level of junior competition (this assumes U31 takes off and becomes the strongest and most prestigious junior event).
2. Players currently planning to compete in U26 who expect they would continue to do so (unless perhaps to their surprise they made a U31 team)
3. Players who are no longer able to compete in U26 who would be eligible to compete in U31

This doesn’t capture the resource issue I worry about, but it does get to potential dilution of a long established U26 event, which I also worried about.
Sept. 21
Max Schireson edited this comment Sept. 22
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John,

Do you have specific continuations agreed?

Why does partner do with a good spade raise?
Sept. 9
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