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All comments by Max Schireson
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I have been taught that with sufficient extra length (10 cards total) to give a positive reply when asked about the queen. This always seemed logical to me.
Sept. 10, 2016
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What I have heard is “standard” is that 5N shows the queen and a king that is too high to show. This meaning obviously doesn't make sense when spades are trump. In the absence of any specific agreement I would bid 5NT as my default bid to keep grand in the picture and 6S only if I fear giving opponents information. I would not presume some more specific meaning for either bid without discussion.
Sept. 10, 2016
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First I agree that declarer should have asked.
Fair point that there might not be room; there is enough room on mine so I circle both and note K from AKx at 5 level+ but my agreements are pretty simple and for some there may not be room. Your marking of ASK also seems like a good solution.

While I voted for North should mark their card I agree this is common and I agree with the ruling. But not needing a ruling would have been better, and having learned quite recently I am (perhaps overly) sympathetic to players who don't know what agreements are normal.
Sept. 5, 2016
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No, and imo declarer should have asked, but it also isn't that hard to circle both A and K on the card and note K at 5 level or higher.
Sept. 5, 2016
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Chris, yes that is an important distinction, thanks for pointing it out.
Sept. 4, 2016
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Ray,
Re:1 That was never in doubt.
Re:2 The issue was not an explicit agreement, which was never alleged. The director agreed that having such an agreement would be illegal but still said it was OK that the opener could consider whether responder asked, which seemed illogical to me. Reluctantly believing the director, I wrote an article that described how the scenario Paul mentioned briefly above could arise to see if people thought it was problematic. I learned that the rules already prevent it, at least in theory - but perhaps not in practice.
Sept. 3, 2016
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Perhaps what made the article confusing is that when I wrote it I was reluctantly accepting the directors statement that the laws allowed opener to use responders failure to ask to interpret their 2D bid. I then created some scenarios to show the (obvious to many) problems that could arise from this being legal.

I learned from the comments that it is not legal (either the director misspoke, was wrong, or I misunderstood.
Sept. 3, 2016
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Ray,
I am distracted from your other remarks because it appears that you are accusing my partner of unethical conduct at the regional? Is that what you meant to do?
You can dislike my writing or not understand my question all you like, but I have a problem with you questioning my partners ethics.
Sept. 3, 2016
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Sounds so sensible.

I think I would have written a much shorter article, or none at all, if we had been able to get a director to even reluctantly agree that there is possibly an issue with taking inferences from partners failure to ask, even if they ruled that the specifics of this case did not merit and adjustment.

Anyway I have learned a lot from this discussion, and in particular I will be more diligent about always asking what the alerted 2C bid is prior to acting - even if my call is clear regardless of the answer.
Sept. 3, 2016
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I have gotten private messages from ACBL employees from threads on bridgewinners before. These forums are pretty well read so there is at least a chance. Nothing would make me happier than hearing that this was a misunderstanding.

I was quite surprised as was my partner who is very experienced. We spent quite some time with the director specifically about the broader issue of the propriety of using partners failure to ask in your decision process.

I will say that our opponents appeared to be quite emotional about the issue and that may have created an environment where everyone's ability to communicate was impaired by the emotional temperature of the conversation. This could have led to me to comeing away from the conversation believing the director expressed an opinion that they would not hold if we presented the same facts in an environment free of emotion. The impairment could have hindered my clear expression, the directors understanding, the director's clear expression of their opinion, or my understanding of the directors opinion, or some combination.

Also contributing to potential confusion were the multiple issues swirling around, the fact that I had played 3 sessions that day and it was late, and perhaps the director was tired too.
Sept. 2, 2016
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Chris, since there is some discussion about what actually happened at the table that inspired my hypothetical I want to be explicit that it us not at all clear to me that at the tabke they took advantage of the lack of asking to have a two way bid. Their explanation of why they were sure the bid was a transfer suggested that they did. Later they clarified that they always play transfers on, so perhaps they just chose an ill-advised explanation thinking it would increase my partners confidence rather than arouse her suspicion.
Sept. 2, 2016
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Jeff,
Perhaps if they are reading the thread and feel that our explanation at the event differed from what I described here they can share what they heard and what they thought they said.
Note that I did clarify that our opponents at the regional did not have the agreement that the 2D bidder depended on the meaning of the 2C bid, but they did cite their partner's not having asked as a reason for certainty.
Anyway my point was not to malign an individual or organization but to seek clarification as to whether what I thought I had been told was viewed as a good policy or bad policy or was not really the policy; I believe I got a clear answer that it was not really the policy, which helped me.

Regarding your universal statement that players never correctly remember the name of a director who gave a bad ruling, I would say that what you know with certainty is that players never correctly remember the name of a director who admit to being the one who gave a bad ruling. I am aware of cases, and I think others are as well, where players do remember the name of the director who gave a bad ruling but I don't think we want to play “name that director”. In general I have found rulings to be usually fair and directors to be usually good.
Sept. 2, 2016
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Yu,
I agree with you that it is very hard to be sure and often you won't be sure and the decision might be based on a combination of feeling unable to ask and seeing some benefit in allowing an accident to unnfold.
I thought the Seattle appeal decision made a lot of sense and in many cases you would likely have enough concern about asking to justify not protecting yourself; my comment (perhaps unfairly) addressed primarily the (perhaps unlikely) pure case where that concern was not the driver of your decision.
Sept. 2, 2016
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Yes, that is possible. I neither recall their names nor think it appropriate to name them if I did. Certainly we tried our best to explain it. I think I am fairly clear and my partner is much more experienced, very articulate and understands these issues very well so I think the explanation was clear but perhaps it was less clear than I thought.
Sept. 2, 2016
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John,
If I passed for that reason I would feel completely comfortable asking for redress. But if I selected the pass hoping they were having a bidding accident that's different. Even if both factors contributed I could claim I was damaged by the failure to alert. But if I *knew* and wasn't worried about the UI (which I think is how the problem was presented) I could not bring myself to ask for redress.
Sept. 2, 2016
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If not a procedural penalty I would have expected the director to at least explain that reasoning was improper. Being told it was no problem confused the crap out of me as a player too new to really know but too logical to think it made any sense for that to be ok.
Sept. 2, 2016
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That is a very clean solution.
Sept. 2, 2016
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That system makes sense to me for pairs that have well defined agreements and try to be ethical. I am sure if you had that agreement you would do it that way and I would have no problem whatsoever with that, whether the 2D bidder asked or not.

Now I will get a bit cynical:

In the real world agreements at a regional it can be very blurry. 2D bidder has a bunch of hearts and doesn't ask and partner announces transfer, the card says systems on. What do you do over a 2C call that includes a heart suit? We haven't discussed it but I assume transfers are still on. System document? No such thing, we just play a few times a year. Yesterday we played against pairs that hadn't discussed that a reverse should show extra values. A large portion of the pairs make a lead and I ask about leads and they say “standard”. “Fourth best?” Blank look. “Do you have any agreement about which spot card you would lead from length?” “Yes, standard”. Nothing checked on the convention card.

In that blurry world the only time the 2D bidder asks is when he has a stack of diamonds. Oh crap, 2D is a transfer. Wait, is it still a transfer if the 2C call includes hearts? That wouldn't make any sense. I don't have many hearts maybe my RHO has them, let me ask. Oh, good, I can bid my diamonds. Opener hears the whole discussion about the 2C bidder having hearts, thinks a bit and decides it is more logical that the diamond bid is natural.

The only time 2 is for the majors and both partners play 2 as a transfer neither of them have asked - because they have no specific agreement about it being anything but a transfer so why bother to ask or think about it when you have hearts?
Sept. 2, 2016
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Jonathan,

Regarding the actual situation, their system was not explicitly based on whether there was in enquiry, but they did offer that as part of the explanation. What they later said was that their system is to always play systems on, even transfers into suits bid by the 2C overcaller.

There is a part of the CC which describes it but it is very short and just says “systems on over 2C and X”; however because the space is so short that is the same that it would likely say if they had an agreement that transfers were off if the overcall showed the potential transfer suit. Usually these more detailed agreements just go in separate notes, but many players don't have written notes so it is difficult to adjudicate these issues.

It is quite possible their agreement really is to always play transfers on, and the explanation about partner not having asked was just some “extra” reason why it really really couldn't have been a natural diamond bid.

I'm not at all worried about the decision on whether taking the 2D bid as natural and bidding 5D over 4S was a logical alternative given all the facts and circumstances, what bothered me much more was the idea that one could use pard's failure to ask a question to help you make a bidding decision. I am very relieved to hear that people don't agree with that.

To be fair the directors did not think a system that explicitly depended on an enquiry was acceptable, but they didn't see partner's lack of enquiry as UI or the statement that they knew partner meant it as a transfer because partner didn't ask about the 2C bid as problematic.

– Max
Sept. 2, 2016
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It seems completely ethical to me to allow your opponents to have a bidding accident without interference.

Your opponents alerts and lack of alerts are authorized information to you. If they don't alert and that contributes to your belief that they are having a bidding accident that seems like you are doing nothing wrong.

Having done that, it seems like you don't have a case if you later try to claim misinformation. You actually knew their agreement so you were not damaged by the misinformation. The damage to you was caused by your decision to try to let them have an accident, not by a lack of knowledge of their unalerted agreements.

Feel free to let them have an accident but if the accident results in a bad score for you that's how the cookie crumbles.
Sept. 2, 2016
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