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All comments by Max Schireson
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@Peg,

One principle I look to when I have a disclosure question is that I should give my opponents all the information I have about partner’s tendencies so that they should be as well placed as I am (apart from bridge skill and being able to see my hand) to make inferences from my partners action. I think that is the spirit of the laws, and how I try to read them when in doubt about their letter.

That said, I don’t think my opponents are entitled a) to have me follow my agreement in every instance or b) for either partner to know each other’s tendencies exactly. They should be in as good a position as my partner to understand my actions, which isn’t perfect.

If I agree to play 15-17 with an expert partner from China who is totally unfamiliar with me and I am totally unfamiliar with him, and I choose to upgrade a pretty good 13 in a Swiss because my opponents can’t defend to save their lives, and my partner is as surprised as my opponents at the end of the hand, I don’t think they are entitled to redress. Similarly if I play upside down, but I think my partner can likely infer declarers length in the suit - or partner can infer that I can’t possibly have any card higher than a T - and I choose to falsecard partner knowing they will figure it out based on their hand, again I don’t think they are entitled to redress.

Is it different if I think it is safe because partner never pays attention to count signals anyway? To the extent that I am never actually giving my partner count, it’s misleading to say it is upside down or standard, we should say “none”.

What about “15-17” with extreme unnoticed upgrades? Here there is an argument that we do have an “agreement” of 15-17, even if I often deviate from it, because partner uses it as the basis for their raises. If partner winds up declaring a 55 invitational hand, “15-17” can be used to accurately infer the strength of their hand. If it is actually our agreement, it’s not clear to me that our opponents should get to have more information about my hand than partner.

All that said, if I were playing with Bob and taking Eddies style,I would tell him what I am doing so that he can disclose it. I think not doing so in a long term partnership feels wrong, but it’s not clear to me that it actually violates the laws.

@Brian,

I think the idea that opponents should be able to assume without risk, unless specifically warned, that we simply count HCP and don’t exercise judgement is a silly one… but I am happy to warn them in areas where they expect to be warned. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg; if some players say “14+”, then it becomes more reasonable to assume that “15” doesn’t mean 14+…
Jan. 4
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I wish there was clearer guidance in the regulations for how to handle this. I think it’s a hard problem.

Consider two styles of upgrading:
- Only exceptional hands like Grainger’s 14 count get upgraded
- Half or more of the 14s get upgraded: anything with a 5 card suit, and anything with more than average As/Ts/9s

Certainly the second style should announce 14+ to 17. Should the first? On one hand not announcing the first style of upgrade could cause an opponent who is counting points on defense to go wrong. On the other hand announcing the first style could do the same; a defender could see a couple 10s and a 9 and two As and decide that maybe their partner has a card that leaves defender with a 4-3-3-3 14 count that the actual player would never have considered upgrading.

Of course in theory the defender could ask “how aggressively does your partner upgrade, and what type of features make a hand upgrade worthy”, and should get an honest answer.

In practice most defenders aren’t that thoughtful about constructing full hands, and those that are probably know to ask when they need to know.

I do think a few checkboxes for upgrading style: very rare, occasional, frequent would help, and I think the issue comes up frequently enough that it is probably worth the space.

One interesting ethical question, which I am sure will generate fireworks: say Eddie the expert is playing with Bob the Bozo. They agree 15 to 17. Eddie opens any pretty good 14 1NT and some excellent 13s. Excellent 18s and pretty good 19s go into 20-21.

Bob never notices Eddies upgrades, and responds as though Eddie has 15-17. In fact he is so impressed by Eddie’s success declaring that he has started raising to 3 on flat 9 counts and inviting with every 8 and some 7S. Eddie nevertheless accepts most invites - all of them when the defense rates to be subpar.

When asked about upgrades, Bob says “I don’t notice them myself so often, but sometimes opponents have pointed them out, so I guess probably he might sometimes.” They played together weekly for a decade.

Is there any “agreement” other than 15-17? Can Eddie continue “deviating” from their “agreement”? If Eddie is fine with Bobs responding style, does he nevertheless have an obligation to describe his style to Bob solely for his opponents benefit?
Jan. 3
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It depends on style, some might overcall 1H favorable on something like 9xxx QJTxx x Qxx. Others might want to have more high cards.
Dec. 29, 2019
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Steve, DJ blows an undertrick for no gain if partner doesn’t hold the T, because dummy’s K is doubleton.
Dec. 26, 2019
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Craig,

If the book is truly aimed at expert defense then to not at least say that you should think carefully about whether partner can figure out which suit you want - with the given hand being a good example of one where they should be able to figure it out - is pretty ridiculous. I should have said “probably” an overbid without knowing that.

FWIW if they are vul I would be even more tempted to go for the extra undertricks with a partner where I am hopeful but less certain. Same if I think the contract is likely duplicated at the other table.

Seems like Jxxx without the 9 opposite AQT should get down 3.
Dec. 26, 2019
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Without having seen the whole problem, or knowing the target audience for the book, I think ridiculous is an overbid.

Beating 3N a trick could be win 4 (say the other table is in 3C), and letting it make could lose 7, a swing of 11 IMPs. Partner should expect the “correct” play to win 1-3 IMPs at nobody vul. At matchpoints you could be risking most of a board to gain a small increment. Are you 80-90% confident partner will get it right?

There were half a dozen respondents who played a heart; perhaps more would have if the comments didn’t make the right play clear and Kit and others hadn’t already voted for a diamond. I think some of those who played a heart are clearly much stronger than an “average” player reading a book.

With an expert partner it seems safe to play the 4th spade before cashing the diamond. With the partners most players have it is a different story.

Playing with most of my partners I would play the spade, but I have a mentee who is a decent player by club standards with whom I would cash the diamond, and I would sure as heck tell her to cash the diamond when playing with her regular partner!

Still it is an interesting situation and I understand your objection to the advice given. The D7 is a cute twist, even if 2524 seems unlikely.
Dec. 26, 2019
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Hey, we don’t know where the heart spots are so maybe the lead doesn’t give anything away that declarer can’t get for himself :)

But if you don’t lead a heart and declarer picks it up probably you need to hold your cards a bit more hidden!
Dec. 23, 2019
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Very cool hand.

This “just” seems like a repeating squeeze without the count to me.

- If RHO gives up diamonds, then on the last diamond he is squeezed again into either giving up clubs or giving up spades.

- If instead RHO pitches even a single club, then that produces an 11th trick in clubs; when that is cashed then there is a spade diamond squeeze.

Nabil if they give up diamonds then I think the potential endplay is an illusion. If they pitch even a single club after cashing 8 red tricks you can come down to AK, -, -, KQx and play a club off dummy; the SJ in dummy is a red herring as a Khokan points out. (Actually you don’t even really need the 4th spade, since if RHO gave up spades you would squeeze him in the minors on the third spade.)

It is very cool though!

Edit: corrected spelling of Khokan’s name.
Dec. 23, 2019
Max Schireson edited this comment Dec. 23, 2019
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Sure, and I am telling them that. But telling them that alone when based on partnership experience I plan to pass seems like the lie to me.
Dec. 22, 2019
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funny kind of “lie” when I am about to pass
Dec. 21, 2019
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On day 3 of this years Reisinger I watched a world class player get +600 in a club contract the hard way - passing 2C and letting their opponents play in their 2-1 fit.

Funny way to push a board by taking 11 club tricks! (Not actually sure what happened at the other table but 5C seemed normal).
Dec. 21, 2019
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Craig,

If you have reason (beyond opponents questions and manner) to suspect a psyche, and you disclose it in response to their question (eg, “ostensibly natural and forcing, but I have seen partner psyche here before”), it seems to me that you are free to pass.

What seems not kosher is explaining it as natural and forcing, then proceeding to pass when you had reason (apart from info from opps) to suspect a psyche.

?
Dec. 20, 2019
Max Schireson edited this comment Dec. 22, 2019
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Agree with both: I play same as direct overcall, so it is the same for me, and I think Pegs point is very good and with a wider range I am not sure what I play is actually best. I do know that I can remember it though:)
Dec. 19, 2019
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Agree with the sentiments about thanksgiving being an important family time, and also a weekend not just a day.

As far as *why* I can offer a few possibilities (though clearly they are conjecture!)

1. The actual holiday is on a Thursday every year, and Friday is also a holiday. This means that there will always be a 4 day weekend, which makes for convenient travel. Most other US secular holidays either occur on a fixed date (eg, 4th of July), or on Mondays (Labor Day, Memorial Day, MLK day, Presidents’ Day…). A predictable longer stretch makes it easier for families to travel.

2. The nature of the holiday (revolving around giving thanks, and a meal) lends itself well to family get togethers (vs, eg, a celebration of civil rights or work rules or war veterans).

3. Putting aside this specific secular holiday, the US has many households that are of mixed backgrounds, or non-religious. Extended families tend to be even more mixed. If an extended family doesn’t share a common religious background, it might make more sense to build family get togethers around secular holidays instead of religious ones.

Richard, as I said this is just conjecture, I don’t really know why Thanksgiving is such an important holiday for so many families, but I suspect that all 3 of those reasons contribute to Thanksgiving somehow becoming the primary time my extended family gets together each year.
Dec. 19, 2019
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Personally I am 100% in your camp, and Adam’s. For me thanksgiving is not just a day of holiday, but a long family tradition of spending time with extended family, many of whom travel to be there, and it doesn’t feel right for me to leave on Friday either.

That said, I recognize that others have different constraints.

I was also going to suggest experimenting with scheduling some without overlapping Thanksgiving, but it occurs to me that we have some data that could help inform a decision:

Some things worth looking at:
1. How is attendance over thanksgiving weekend vs the second weekend? How does this compare to other (non holiday) NABCs? Can we look at it by event and see if we think the difference relates mostly to the holiday or in significant part to the events offered?
2. Is there a significant cohort of players that attend most or all of spring/summer NABCs but skip Thanksgiving weekend? I am in that group but I don’t know how big it is.
3. Is there another group that regularly attends over thanksgiving weekend, and doesn’t reliably attend NABCs otherwise - perhaps attending more on weekends than during the week? How big is that group?
4. What are the demographic differences between group 2 and 3 above? Does that effect how we prioritize? If for example the two groups broke even from a raw table count perspective, group 3 was much younger than group 2, we might decide it is in the long term interest of competitive bridge to prioritize group 3.

Hopefully some of this analysis has already occurred and someone from the ACBL can sure the results, which presumably support the current schedule?!
Dec. 19, 2019
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Yes, I was between the first choice and second choice for the same reason.
Dec. 11, 2019
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Marty,

I think having the Blue Ribbons completely overlap the Swiss is problematic, otherwise I would agree with your suggestion.
Dec. 5, 2019
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Brian,

Your suggestion is logical even if I personally hate it :)

The issue I have is that I can’t play bridge over Thanksgiving weekend due to family commitments. I don’t know how many others have similar conflicts.

In some ways it’s a non-issue because some event will lie over that weekend, but it’s worse for a premier event than a 2 day. For me it’s even worse to lose an event that is personally significant - it was the first national event I ever played in, the first event in which I ever made it to day 3, and for a time the only 3 day pairs event for which I was eligible.

While all of this may sound specific to me, because each 3 day event qualifies differently I suspect that I am not unique among ambitious new players in starting with the Blues.
Dec. 5, 2019
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The Soloway is a great event (even if I can’t play in it).

The watering down feels noticeable and is very disappointing.

We have Spring, Summer, and Fall nationals.

Why not create a Winter nationals? Make the Soloway the premier team event there, and return to a matchpoint/BAM focused Fall nationals? Perhaps a 3 day IMP pairs to go with the Soloway in the new winter nationals? (Yes, IMP pairs is more random, but I think having one serious event of that format on the calendar might be popular). The new nationals might need a bit of time to build but would be a lot of fun.

Fall and Winter would each have their own distinct character. I suspect that most who regularly attend nationals would be happy to have another to attend (even if schedule/cost would not always allow everyone to attend all 4).

Am I crazy?
Dec. 5, 2019
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John,

Sorry if my comment missed your main point.

My intention was to respond to your question about whether they are afraid, and I think that may likely play a big role.

I understand that being on the cusp of eligibility for along time can be really frustrating and I didn’t intend to minimize that, sorry.
Dec. 4, 2019
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