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All comments by Mike Becker
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1968 Spring National in Cleveland. I am playing with my dad in the Vandy quarterfinal against Stayman-Mitchell, and blow a 35 IMP lead at the half. About 2:00 a.m., Vic, B. Jay and I walk half a mile in the bitter cold to a diner and go over the hands.

Vic brings up this hand:

I led a heart against 3N from Q852. Vic tabled the J9 in the dummy and Sam took a minute or two and finally played the nine. B. Jay takes three seconds and plays the ten. Sam wins the king and I am back on lead quickly. I know B. Jay has the heart ace from his brief huddle. But I return the heart queen and block the suit, partner having A106. They make the game. Maybe I should know that B. Jay has to have the ace because Sam would play the jack with the AK of hearts. Should I have played another low heart? Vic explained that I would never win anything unless I return a low heart in this situation. He likes me. I explain that I will play my way, and win my way. Obviously my dad should have played faster in terms of what is allowed these days. But back then, this sort of thing was standard – with the old guard. And Sam and Vic would have got it right had the tables been turned. Does do unto others apply? The hand has bothered me for 50 years – dad's tempo, my play and Vic's commentary. I don't know which was worse.

Vic was a believer that huddling when you have a problem and not huddling when you don't have a problem was part of the game. Many of those day's top players (Silidor and Crawford come to mind) adhered to this philosophy.

Vic had a following of young players back then. I recall a hand I played against two of Vic's “students” in 1977.




Playing with Ron, I opened 2C, 11-15. It goes something like -(2S)-3C-(4S)-5C-(X)
LHO leads the diamond 2, low, K, A.
I play two rounds of trump, ending in my hand and lead a low diamond towards the 10.
LHO, who started with Jxx in diamonds, quickly plays low and his partner wins the queen. How did LHO know his partner had the queen? Well, RHO snapped a low spade on the second round of clubs. Snapped was an understatement. You could hear an echo in the room. I called the director, but back then it was difficult to get recourse from a defensive snap.

Edgar Kaplan's Bridge World article in about 1967 spelled the eventual end of the old guard's point of view.
Sept. 18, 2018
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Bob Hamman-Bobby Wolff, Peter Weichsel-Alan Sontag, and Ron Rubin and I played in the 1983 Bermuda Bowl final against Italy. Ron and I played two segments against Belladonna and Garozzo.

There were screens, but no trays. The bids were made using bidding cards. A monitor, Dennis Howard I think, called out two bids at a time. My screen mate was Belladonna. When he made a bid, he placed his bid flush against the diagonal screen, instead of in front of him! There was a crack between the table and the screen bottom. I can't say there was anything going on, but it was unnerving.

After Giorgio made his bids this way for a couple of hands, every time Giorgio placed his bid against the screen, I quickly moved his bidding card to a place in front of him. This went on for several more hands. Giorgio then asked me to stop moving his bidding cards. I told him to call the director, which he did. Maury Braunstein came over and asked what the problem was and Giorgio said, “Mr. Becker is moving my bidding cards.” Maury asked him to show what he was doing, after which Maury replied, “Mr. Belladonna, if you don't place your bidding cards next to the screen, Mr. Becker won't move them back!” One of Maury's many great diplomatic lines. For the rest of the session and the match Giorgio made his bids at the edge of the table. I later learned that, on the other side of the table, Garozzo was crouched in a contorted way so his head was nearly level with the table! This was visible because cameras were used.

Our entire team was sure that this pair was “doing something.” Among other things, we thought it might have to do with Giorgio's smoking. He would light up with a cigarette lighter, clicking the lighter a few times before getting a flame, then exhaling the smoke above the table. We had a case of justifiable paranoia. I was not a smoker at that time, but the second time I played him, I brought a lighter and a pack of cigarettes, and clicked and/or smoked at various times, sometimes when he was or was not smoking, trying to interfere with his clicks and smoke.

It was a desperately close match, with more than 20 lead changes. We had a team meeting with 32 hands to play and decided that Bobby, who knew Giorgio best, would go to Giorgio and tactfully ask him for a clean, last 32 boards. Bobby did, and Giorgio promised. On the next to last deal, board 175, Belladonna and Garozzo had a Blackwood misunderstanding, and bid a slam off two aces. We took the lead by 3, and held on to win by 5. I believe this was the last world event that Belladonna and Garozzo played in as a pair.
Sept. 18, 2018
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About 30 years ago, David and I played together in a NY regional pair game. I was, and still am known as a master of the 55% game. I make few errors but don't step out enough; my opponents play well against me.

We played my way the first session, and I played my usual game and we scored my par. At dinner David said we have to play his way. We scored 65% and tied for first.

David, you have a terrific record in pair games. What do you do that other experts don't do that give you an edge in pair games?
Aug. 27, 2018
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I gave up reading the CoCs a few years ago, but appreciate those who do. Jan does such a good job that the rest of us are usually irrelevant.
Good catch!
Aug. 25, 2018
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Here's a story about the sharing of bridge columns among bridge writers in the olden days.

My father, B. Jay Becker, wrote the bridge column for King Features Syndicate from 1956 until his death in 1987. He took it over from Eli and Josephine Culbertson. I don't remember how it started, but after several years of writing original columns, B. Jay began swapping articles with Terence Reese, Fred Karpin, Alfred Sheinwold and perhaps the ghost writer of the Charles Goren column, who might have been Harold Ogust at the time. Every now and then he would receive a carton of columns sent from another writer, and would ship his columns back to them. All the columnists were primarily looking for themes. If B. Jay used a hand that came from another's published work, he would change the wording, the suits, the bidding, etc., so the article would look and for all practical purposes, be, original. Occasionally a famous hand would be written about, where the hand had to remain the same but the write-up would be different. I would guess that B. Jay “recycled” one out of every thirty hands he received (he was finicky). I'm sure none of the columnists involved considered it plagiarism. I don't.

In 1965, B. Jay, Dorothy Hayden and Alan Truscott, accused Reese and Shapiro of cheating in the 1965 Bermuda Bowl in Buenos Aires.

After that, B. Jay and Reese continued to exchange columns for many, many years! Like nothing happened!

Does the practice of exchanging hands with other columnists exist today? My brother Steve, who began co-writing my dad's column in 1981, continues to write it today. He does not exchange hands with other columnists.
Aug. 4, 2018
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What if, in the 6-card ending, Jeff has the diamond Q, heart Q and Qxxx in clubs and Eric has three diamonds, 2 hearts and a club? Declarer may think Jeff was squeezed but he was not. Jeff would be forced to pitch a club from Qxxx on the last trump or next to last trump.

This assumes some crafty discarding earlier by Jeff, (baring his diamond Q early or pitching a club early) but he is a great player, in this type of situation in particular. But,…it would also involve Eric leading the diamond 7 from J1097 or QJ97 (depending on which diamond Jeff kept). Now that would be quite a play, and could cause defensive problems when declarer has two diamonds and three clubs. I don't think Eric would lead the 7 from that holding.

Also, after a long match it's easy for defenders or declarers to be running on fumes. So it's likely that the defenders are playing honestly.

All that said, few players are good enough to think of all these inferences at the time, but running all the trumps is automatic. Sometimes things show up that you did not see initially – you fall into the right line. We'll never know…

So it's not a sure thing, but it's almost a sure thing to play to drop the club queen.

It was a great match.
May 21, 2018
Mike Becker edited this comment May 21, 2018
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No Cuba Tournament was held.

The descriptions of the players are spot on!
May 14, 2018
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The theory is that sequestering is necessary to avoid dumping or the appearance of dumping.

It could be to the advantage of a team or teams assured of qualifying to dump to a “poor” team or teams on the cusp of qualifying in a effort to eliminate a good team or teams fighting to qualify.

The extra SPs offered to a team performing well in the RR usually does not make any difference to setting the K/O bracket.
Oct. 17, 2017
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There is only one #1 team. Not one #1 team one way and a different #1 team another way.

I agree with Peter that seeding rank should be determined by the PPs that a team earned to get their deep bye, if there is a deep bye. Seems pretty clear to me.
June 27, 2017
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FYI - my 4-eligible-player team has earned a R16 bye, but will not use it (Aubrey and maybe others not playing)
March 11, 2017
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Congrats to Jeff. Everyone on this ballot deserves to be in the HoF, based on comparisons of their records to the records of those who have been elected. Sorry another one or two did not get in. Unless the rules are changed, these people are unlikely to make it into the Hall anytime soon.
Feb. 20, 2017
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Hi all. Long time no type on anything.

We have a rule where, if you enter a USxBC you do so with the intent of representing the U.S. if your team wins. That's not relevant here, but the spirit of it is relevant – re: W/D in the middle of an event. In the past you could not withdraw in the middle of an event for a foreseen reason. Is that right?

We would not have this problem if the USWBC did not overlap with the USBC. So I agree there has to be some compromise, and support the new rule.

There should be some discussion (I presume there was), about scheduling an overlapping USBC and USWBC. There are obvious financial, logistical and organizational benefits. I guess that the women who play in our USBCs do not play in the USWBCs. Is that so? If so, end of that discussion.

Regards to all.
Feb. 12, 2017
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Our team qualified 5th. Top carryover was 3.81. We had 1.5 and scored 14-15.5 = 29.5 on a 27 ave to win! 31 is an incredibly low score. The last two Reisingers were won with 34 and 33.5
Dec. 5, 2016
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Back in the day, Ronnie Rubin and I played a relay system with a big club and limited openings.
After many years, we evolved into psyching 1M at F.V. in 1st and 3rd position. When it happened more than occasionally, we put it on our convention card and (I think), also alerted our 1st and 3rd position 1M openings at F.V. Basically, 1M showed an opening bid or it didn't. We had no requirements for a psyche, and no obligation to psyche. We would psyche about 1 in 100 hands. The beauty of psyching in first position was that partner, with a GF hand, would bid 2C, and opener could escape into his long suit by bidding one under a relay bid, like 1S-2C*-2D*-2H*-P!, leaving the rest of the auction to the opponents. It was a weapon. And fun!

In the early 90's, we had the misfortune to play Steve Weinstein and Fred Stewart. We psyched three times in one session! and killed them on those hands. They protested. They explained that we can't do that. They had done this sort of thing and found out that it was illegal. They knew the rules and we didn't. We were penalized 27 IMPs for our misdeeds. The committee explained that we cannot by agreement open less than 10 point hands. We could no longer psyche in ACBL events.

Dial ahead to the ‘93 Bermuda Bowl. They allow these sort of bids there. We submitted our system, with the psyche stuff, and provided good defenses to our psyches, and mentioned that we might play partner for a psyche if the auction suggested it. For the WBF, Eric Kokish reviewed our system and convention card for the BB and it was approved as a “Blue,” a big Club, system. We had a merry time. Maybe 6 psyches in 8 or so days. We thought we had done nothing wrong. But after we lost, we were called before Kaplan and Wolff, making an inquiry for the WBF. They explained that we were playing a “Red system,” and our convention card was mis-marked, “Blue” for a strong club. We had no idea! We never felt we had done anything wrong because Kokish had approved our card as Blue.

Honesty, in both these instances we just did not know the rules.

In recent years, I’ve played against big club players who open light. I learned without them telling me that “14 to 16” means 13 to a bad 16; good 16's are opened with a strong club; “We open all 11 HCP hands” means, “We open some 10 and 9 and even 8 point hands,” especially in third seat. When they do this regularly, they have an edge because I don't know as much as they know about when and how often they deviate from their written agreements. I have always wondered if these pairs fall into the rule that you can't open the bidding on less than 10 or so points.
Sept. 21, 2016
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The 2016 Supplemental CoCs say: The Teams are divided in groups, formed according to the criteria and procedures established by the WBF Management Committee and effected by the Wroclaw Championship Committee appointed by the WBF President.

According to an insider I was told the following:

Neither the “Management Committee” or the “Wroclaw Championship Committee” met as a committee to effect the seeding rules. Rona and Di Sacco chose the criteria and procedures and then did the seeding. Some others might have been consulted.

My take from this:

If I am wrong about what I was told, someone in authority can correct me. If I am right, the rules of seeding established by the WBF have not been followed. I hope I am wrong.

The method chosen by Rona and Di Sacco has been mentioned previously. It has terrible flaws, IMO. It is not too late to seed this event according to the current WBF rules – these committees can meet and decide how to seed the field.
Aug. 25, 2016
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It's silly to seed the field using only one or two recent events.

Good performance should be measured over years of play. The WBF MP method, which decays by 15% a year, measures performance over many years, accenting recent years, and is indisputably (IMO) a better method than basing seeds on one or two recent events

The WBF MP method could be tweaked a little to include WBF Placing Points or titles, but it is good enough as is.

To be transparent, who participated in deciding that this method be used?

How have WBF RR's been seeded in the past? [I know 2010 used WBF MPs, but don't know about other, more recent RRs)
Aug. 24, 2016
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Like you, I wrote as a player. At the time (and until I read your well written postings), I did not know such a letter should be submitted thru my WBF rep. Anyway, I would have thought this to be a mere technicality. You and I have some stature in bridge and that should be enough to get attention from the powers that be.

In my situation, my letter found its way to the CoC chair, the late Ernesto D'Orsi, and presumably he took over from there. I thought my letter could prove to be an embarrassment to the WBF, so I assumed (rightly or wrongly) that the relatively new WBF President, Rona, chose to not forward it to all the Council members. Everything goes thru the President…
Aug. 23, 2016
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After the World Bridge Series ended in 2010, I wrote a letter to the WBF on the running of the tournament. Many topics were covered, including seeding and rules. At that time, the seeding method used in the Rosenblum was based on WBF MPs.

The letter can be found at:

The letter was addressed to the President, the WBF Council and the new Players Committee. Despite my additional efforts, the WBF Council was never given my letter, although it was shown to some Council members. That my letter was not delivered to all the people I had addressed it to spoke volumes on how the WBF was run. Since then I have not followed up, but some issues brought up in my letter were addressed for the better.

Dialing ahead to the present, it seems to me, still as an outsider, that little has changed in the tournament management philosophy of the WBF.

It is obvious that excellent objective criteria can and should be used to seed WBF events.
It is obvious this was not done here.
I am very disappointed but not surprised.

Why isn't this team event seeded by WBF Masterpoints? WHO did the seeding? Until more is known, I have to wonder (and doubt) whether ALL the appointed committee members in charge of making decisions on seeding were actually contacted and gave their input and consent.

I also wonder what do our WBF reps and the WBF Players Committee think of the seeding of this event.
Aug. 23, 2016
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If Mike P is to be believed:
Is it possible that the card found on the floor was never returned to the board – it had fallen to the floor next to the played board? It's almost impossible for a card to fall out of a metal board, so this is a more likely scenario.

Mike was South. If this card was the spade jack, was that card on the side of the table where Mike stored the played boards? No. Mike kept the boards on the West (left) side of the table, and the spade jack would have almost certainly fallen on the East (right) side of the table.

It is much more likely that the card that Mike P found on the floor was West's small diamond from the QJ10x of diamonds, since that was the card that was switched with the spade jack.
May 26, 2016
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I would expect a statement from Cezary to contain a declaration of innocence or confession of guilt. Was there any wording along these lines?
Nov. 5, 2015

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