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All comments by Max Schireson
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Michael,

“I disagree. If you thought you were making a non-alertable bid then the UI is clear.”

IMO it depends. There are two types of mixups, and the answer depends on which type is in play.

1. “Totally forgot convention”: A partner just forgets that a convention is in play at all. For example, it goes (1C) 1H (X) and advancer intends to show diamonds, and bids 2D, which is actually by agreement a constructive raise of hearts. Here advancer has lost his mind, and an unexpected alert would wake him up.

2. “Unclear if convention applies”: Both partners know that a convention *might* apply, they just aren’t sure if it actually applies to this specific auction. For example it goes (with no interference) 1D - 3S, now opener isn’t sure if minorwood is on. If minorwood is on, then 4N is quantitative, otherwise it is keycard in diamonds. Now opener bids 4N. Both partners might be very aware of the potential for mixup; even if one remembers the notes verbatim they may not be sure (often based on experience) that their partner does. Now say responder is in the habit of alerting as Kit suggests, and alerts 4N. Their explanation if asked will start with “we play minorwood in some auctions; if 4D was minorwood then 4N would be natural and quantitative, but if 4D is not minorwood then 4N is keycard in diamonds. While we do have a written agreement that makes clear which situation we are in, based on my experience in this partnership it is possible we are not on the same page about which situation applies. Would you like me to explain our agreement about whether 4D is minorwood in this auction?”

If responder alerts like that whenever this type of situation arises, then all that opener hears is that responder sees this as a situation where there is a possibility they are not on the same page. Opener very likely already knew that, and could have confidently predicted that partner would alert, even if opener (correctly per the agreements) intended the bid as natural, and responder took it as such.

My view is that this situation feels like #2, and therefore Kit’s approach - if consistently applies - greatly reduces the UI transmitted.
Feb. 6
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I like Kit’s solution.

If you consistently alert bids where you have an alertable agreement that *might* apply, and your partner knows you do this, there is very little UI transmitted about whether the agreement applies to this case.

As for following the letter vs the spirit of the regulations when they diverge, I think don’t mind if truly top level players do what they think is right.

That said, I think those decisions are very hard to get right; while I agree that my comments to Michael were probably overthinking, at the table it is hard to know what is overthinking vs. necessary analysis of possible unintended consequences. I think the rest of us should follow the laws, and take Michael’s comments as an indication that perhaps the laws could be improved in this area.
Feb. 6
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Michael,

We are all human, but when your partner sees your failure to alert they should banish any possible doubt from their mind and proceed as though a non-serious was a completely ironclad agreement. If you alert, they should strongly consider hedging if it is at all possible you are not on the same page.

In that context judging what you think is to your disadvantage seems dangerous.

Of course when you fail to alert and partner hedges, you can lose a ruling… but what if your failure to alert causes your partner to act with confidence, and you have the auction you should have had, where partner might have hedged behind screens arriving at an inferior contract, and therefore felt duty bound to do so when you correctly alerted? Now you have actually benefited from UI, with your partner having done nothing wrong and basically no chance to lose a ruling.

To be fair, very few players will actually recognize their obligation to hedge at the table when you alert if they might have done so behind screens, but I would hope that many would recognize their obligation when you fail to alert… so perhaps in practice with an exceptionally ethically aware partner you might benefit, but with most normal partners it will come to the same thing, unless they take advantage of the UI from the non-alert in which case you are likely to take the worst of it (at the table or in a ruling).

A further perversity: imagine that your partner, having read this post, sees you not alert, and from that surmises that you do think it is non-serious (as partner intended), and decides that they might have hedged behind screens, and now feels obligated to do so, and it turns out to be winning. Good luck with that ruling!
Feb. 6
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Grainger found it below imo.
Jan. 28
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Naren,

Whichever black Q partner has I will come down to Jxx in the other suit.

If partner has the CQ, declarer can’t afford to lose a club trick to partner. When I get in with a spade, my club will be good.

If partner has the SQ, when I come down to Jxx it looks like declarer can set up a spade but it is stranded. I think the fact the pitch of the 4th spade is a bit of a red herring here, since they block. The spade blockage is why I think you can’t afford to cash HA before playing the club, much as you might want to.
Jan. 28
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I think this question is the most interesting thing going on.

I think taking the heart can also cost if partner has Qx of spades - which is right down the fairway of possible hands - and declarer decides to play partner for Hx spades… a third spade trick is declarers only hope and I don’t see another choice.

It seems you need to weight the odds of this being the layout and declarer finding this line against the odds of partner getting in with the CK and not cashing.

From partners perspective with that hand, the losing cases for cashing look like you having QJxx of spades and declarer can pick up the hearts and remaining clubs, or you have KQT of hearts. The losing case for not cashing is when you have HA, and declarer has SQ, or a 5th club, or maybe you have SQ and KQ of hearts but then declarer is a bit light (but maybe with a 5th club?)

I think there are more layouts where it costs to not cash than to cash, but I don’t know that it is by enough to make in clear at the table and partner could easily get it wrong.

I would really wish that I could cash the HA, but I think I can’t afford to pay off to partner holding Qx of spades, so I think I have to leave partner to their problem.

???
Jan. 28
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Thanks, I will look for it.

“both declarers were not paying attention” - its a hard game. That’s why I love it - and also why I take the under on whether a defender with KT is more or less than 83% likely to play the K.
Jan. 27
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I am assuming that when both declarer should played the 5 off the board in The NY Times deal, they had some reason to suspect shortness on their right? Otherwise they made a clear error in not catering to a stiff 6 or 7.
Jan. 27
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Avon,

It appears there is nothing new :)

Well, if the choice of what to do was split in a deal in NY Times column, and Belladonna would still be at the table thinking (in a somewhat different situation) it is at least reasonable for me to think that one should finesse, and also reasonable for me to be unsure!

Still quite cool imo that with the 4 rather than the 3 this issue doesn’t exist.
Jan. 27
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Thanks!

Being new to bridge I had heard vaguely about a famous KT hand in the Bermuda Bowl but knew no details. I also didn’t get the Kantar connection (I just assumed that this play was in one of his defense books).

As for math, finessing here when you play small and see the K is right if your RHO plays the K less than 83% of the time.

Richard estimates (roughly) than an expert would play the K in the Kantar situation about half the time.

It’s not clear to me whether this hand (which itself is incomplete, not stated which hand is declarer etc) would be very different, but my instinct was that it would be the majority of the time but less than 83%. You have much much more knowledge of what plays actually get made in top level competition, so I am curious what you (and others) think.

However, based on my instinct that an opponent would play K from KT less than 83% of the time, it is profitable to play low to the J and then finesse for the T if the K appears when you don’t hold the 4.

Playing this way you pick up stiff K, K7, K6, and K4, all of which you lose to if you (correctly) run the Q holding the 4. You correspondingly lose to KT (when they play K), KTx, and KTx3.

My observation that the winning holdings are entirely flip flopped is, however, an overbid; I neglected the stiff T on your left, which is picked up either way. Anyway still quite a change.
Jan. 27
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I should have spotted that issue myself. Such things are more common among immature writers.

:)
Jan. 27
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Ah, that’s the Kantar heroics.

You have reached the crux of the issue in my opinion.

If you play low to the J, you don’t have to pay off to the K from KT tight; you can always opt to continue with an honor to pick up the KT. But should you?

By paying off to K from KT tight *when they play the K*, you can pick up a stiff K, and all the KT tight cases where they don’t play the K. Except possibly against the very best opponents I would rather let the hero’s score their KT, while picking up the stiff K, and the KT held by non-heros. I thought the non-heros would outnumber the (very very small) difference in frequency between KT and stiff K.

Edit:typo (bad, do vs don’t)
Thoughts?
Jan. 26
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My concern is that the U26 has been the “main event” in junior bridge. Will U31 now become the main (most prestigious) event, and will U26 be diluted? Or will it be unclear because there wasn’t funding for U31? If there had been funding for both would our strongest players that are eligible for U26 have wanted to play U31 instead? Or would it depend on what the top juniors from other countries are doing?

There are really really strong players competing in U26 today - players who are competitive in top level open events. I think those players, when they play junior bridge, probably want to compete against the world’s top juniors?

For this reason I would preferred to have the age range for U26 extended rather than having another event (if a change was going to be made). That said I am far too old to be eligible for either so not sure what participants think.

Edit: typo corrected
Jan. 26
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It’s certainly right to play as you suggest with AJ842.

What do you think you gain starting with the Q when you lack the 4?
Jan. 26
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I don’t think they have an obligation to show their hand but I also don’t think it is wrong to ask them to, because doing so facilitates faster claims and helps everyone.
Jan. 23
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Even asking is “wrong” in some sense, it isn’t the same level of “wrong” as giving false information to which opponents were entitled.

It is in everyone’s interest to claim when nothing remains to the play. If the laws don’t allow a claiming player to see the cards, the laws are suboptimal. In such cases it is natural - and improves the game - for players to claim when the remaining cards are irrelevant to that hand, and for opponents to voluntarily show them. I don’t think it is wrong to suggest this to opponents.

I don’t think it is “wrong” for opponents to decline, but I do think that it is “wrong” for them to lie. (I think lying is generally “wrong”, with exceptions that include but are not limited to things like bluffing in poker or false cards/psyches in bridge).
Jan. 23
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I think it’s pretty standard that the next step is the Q ask. When that step is above 5 of the trump suit, then asker should have all the keycards and 6 of the trump suit denies the Q and I think it is normal to show a K as part of a positive response. Partner is interested in a grand but might not have a cold grand just based on the Q. With the Q and no K to show you can bid 5N, to respond positively without misleading partner about Ks or committing to grand (this could also be a K that is above the trump suit; whether to actually bid above 6 of the trump suit to show that K specifically is a matter of judgement). Of course if you know you have a grand you can bid it, or bid above slam looking for 7N.

When 5S isn’t a Q ask or otherwise defined, many people use it as a request for partner to bid 5N to play. Some may have agreements about what 5S then bidding over 5N shows.

If you made 5S the K ask then 5N in response could show the SK. The trade off is that when partner has to ask for the Q with 5N rather than 5S, 5N is no longer available as a Q ask response, so you la very helpful step to show Ks along with the Q without going past 6H. It helps on this hand and would hurt on others. Not clear at first glance how it nets out.
Jan. 23
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Good point re no room for Q ask, so not relevant here, teach me not to comment late at night, but a useful gadget when there is room.
Jan. 23
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It is not more deceptive, but it is an area where deception (as opposed to not providing information) feels unethical to me.

Is it ethical to lie to an opponent and tell them that their mother is in ill so they will be distracted?

I don’t think bridge is the sort of game where we should have to be worried about our opponents lying to us, other than with their bids or plays.
Jan. 23
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If double is penalty then I don’t think partner will think I have a spade stack if I pass.
Jan. 23
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