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All comments by Randy Thompson
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Chris:

Yes – there is NO doubt that it was far easier.

Perhaps as important as the influx of Euro pros was that back in the day, many highly seeded pros were trying to carry dead meat clients on their backs, while today many/most of the highly-seeded teams have patrons who (IMO) are REALLY good bridge players. In 1983, we beat 2 pro teams (and a third “amateur” team seeded in the high-40's that contained several players who later won NABC championships) and the two patrons of those teams were just too heavy a load to carry.
Sept. 12, 2013
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An example of your point: In 1983, we got 11.45 masterpoints for making the round of 16 in the Vanderbilt (which are now considered only black points, just the same as online points scored in robot games). BTW, our team had fewer than 5000 aggregate MPs at the time.

I like Adam's idea of only considering Platinum Points scored in the past ten years for seeding purposes and of expanding the events for which seeding points are given. For KO events, perhaps IMP Pairs wins should count.

To offset the alleged bias towards us geezers, I think the way to go is to permit discretionary re-seeds by committee of more than one grouping of anyone who has won an NABC+ event and who has been a member of the ACBL for less than ten years (or else upgrade their total by taking their average per year in the past five years and inflating it to a ten-year total).

Sept. 12, 2013
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Excellent choice. Good Luck in Bali. May you play as well as you did in the Trials!
June 12, 2013
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Henry: Opporunity cost dollars are just as real as other cash. Each stands to win or not win a bonus and the money difference is VERY real, not imaginary. In effect, they are “betting their bonuses” on the outcome of the finals. Those bonuses may very well ride on not only pure skill but also the location of two kings in 64 deals so there IS at least an element of gambling – surely as much of an element as at Bridgebig.

BridgeBig presumably is also not an ACBL event. Maybe the Cavendish too is barred from any booth, fliers, etc. at nationals and maybe they don't care as their clientele all know when where and how much w/o being recruited.
March 1, 2013
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So, does this mean that professional players who receive performance bonuses from their sponsors are violating ACBL policy? When the finals of a KO event see two pro teams with performance bonuses on the line isn't that EXACTLY what is going on? Is the Cavendish illegal under the ACBL policy? I'm not by any means saying these bonuses or the Cavendish should be outlawed by the ACBL; I'm just pointing out their hypocrisy. Good luck in changing the minds of the ACBL dinosaurs.
March 1, 2013
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1H-4C* *showing a void and a limited GF hand
4N-5H* *2 keycards w/o QH
6H-Pass

The hand values to 13 in support of hearts, has 2 quick tricks and is a 7-loser hand – of course it's a game force. Our methods would show a STIFF and a limited splinter raise via 3OM, so the jump to 4X is freed for voids. With a hand too strong to be comfortable letting opener stop in 4M, we would start with 2N instead of the limited splinter (whether 3OM or 4X). Once you are counting 5 for a void, it doesn't take much more strength than this to be TOO strong for 4C – this hand is perfect. Opener knows that he has a gigantic hand opposite four hearts, 12-15(or so) in support, counting 5 for a heart void. That makes this an easy auction and hearing of the two keycards makes this at WORST on a spade hook for 6 hearts.
Feb. 6, 2013
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Playing "Three-way-Immediate-Non-Drury will solve all of these issues – plus the ones where there is a preempt to 2S rather than a meek 1S overcall. In this method, if you open the bidding in 3d seat, then you have an opening bid! With less than an opening bid, you make an immdediate weakness-showing bid of 2D/2H/2S and increase the problems you give the opponents. Reverse upside-down five-way fit-showing drury still leaves you at sea if they bid 2S over your partner's 3d seat 1H opener. With say Ax Qxx KJxxx Jxx you will have NO idea what to do if your partner's drury-addicted opening bid can be a joke on a four-card suit or an actual opening bid.
Feb. 4, 2013
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Vs 2C or 2D for the majors, we play that double shows a desire to double at least one major suit and invites partner to double the other one, with game forced if we don't double them. Bidding a major shows the corresponding minor and at least game invite values; 3m is just competitive and 2N is take-out for the minors and 3M shows a stopper in M and asks partner to bid 3N with a stopper in OM or to bid 4C/4D on a pass-or-correct basis (as responder surely has a minor he expects to run vs 3N).

It gets more complicated when 2H shows the majors. Double is once again the penalty hand and 3m is competitive, 3M shows a stopper and 2N take-out for the minors, but now 2S is invite+ with an unspecified minor. Over 2S, opener bids 2N to decline in both minors, 3C to decline in clubs but not diamonds and 3D to decline in diamonds but not clubs (pass or correct style) and 3M accepts in either minor and shows a stopper. 3N accepts in either minor and shows both M's stopped.
Jan. 22, 2013
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I bid what I would/should have bid on the prior round – 4H. RHO must hate Guessing Michaels as much as I do and must not be playing Leaping Michaels over 1M. Partner should work out that I would have converted his double to penalties; otherwise my 4H bid here is insane. If partner is 3-5-4-1 with some extra values, as seems most likely, we should be making 4H. We were never going to take more than 2 tricks in the round suits vs 3S, so I don't see us getting rich there, even on two trump leads. Now if pard has Axx and a lot of imagination, he might duck the first spade so that we can lead them three times and that would ring the bell and get us a few club tricks and a very large number.
Jan. 21, 2013
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For a several years, I've been exprimenting with eliminating the HCP requirements for DONT bids when nonvul against Big NT openers. We also eliminated the distinction between good and bad hands for 2S bids (using the bidding-room-expanding double only for the other three suits). We treat any 4-4 as a two suiter and any 6 card suit as a one-suiter, so that we pass ONLY with some 4-3-3-3 or 5-3-3-2 distribution. Our HCP range for any of these bids is 0-25. It has worked very well. The way it has worked is that the opponents are goaded into overbidding – a doubling pattern leads to one opponent thinking game is forced when the other doubled on some 6 count and a trump stack. Sometimes when the second suit is unknown they just bid on and you cash the suit. They can usually no longer invite games so they just overbid to them. You do NOT steal from the opponents – they give you stuff.

It may seem counterintuitive to some, but we reel in these wild bids at PAIRS, not at IMPs. At matchpoints, getting doubled and going for 300 when they have a part score is a zero; at IMPs it's 4 IMPs; or going for 500 when they have 420 or 450 is also a zero at matchpoints but only 2 IMPs at IMPs. What you get in return for your (rare) small losses are frequent plus scores when teammates (or others in IMP Pairs) stop and go plus while we defend a game for a plus score. You must be confident in your ability as a partnership to defend, because if you let those overbid games make, then THAT is a disaster. Oh, and it appears based on our experience that just the (rare) times you make the doubled partscore more than offset the IMPs lost from too many doubled undertricks on some (equally rare) hand.

Playing these methods, it has been a winning strategy to lead the unknown suit after an auction such as 1N-2D-3N-all pass rather than the suit bid (diamonds in the given auction). The only reason to lead the first-bid suit is if it is 5 cards long and the higher suit is 4 cards long.

The side benefits of having this method arise early in an IMPs match or as the first board of a round are signficant. The opponents will assume you are wild and crazy bidders in every type of auction – even if you are very conservative in most of your approach. Once opponents get a feeling that you are giving him/her problems that others won't face at the other table(s), they become headhunters, out to “make you pay” and thus much easier oppoents to play against. It's like the joy of being caught bluffing in an early hand of a new poker game – they'll be calling your good hands with trash a lot that evening.
Jan. 15, 2013
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Sorry, that was indeed confus(ing/ed) –if 2X is available, then partner's overcall would have been 1X. The methods treat all overcalls the same. 3X is always a preemptive raise with 4 cds, whether 2X was available or not. 2N is always a mixed raise with 4 cds and cuebid is always game invite or better with 4 cds. The redouble takes on all 3-card raises other than weak with 3 cd suppt where 2X was available – there we get right on 2X ASAP. When 2X is available that redbl shows three-card support and too much stuff to bid only 2X. This lets partner have a shot at pounding them if they bid too much.

Re 1D-2C auctions. When we make that overcall of 2C (or a jump to 2D over their 1C), partner alerts it and explains that it is VERY undisciplined (and offers to give the gory details of just how undisciplined they can be, especially if nonvul). He's also very leery of raising to 3C on a weak hand with only 3-card support. You don't need to jack the auction to mess with them big time – pard has already been there and done that! This is one of those auctions-from-hell for big no trumpers and unprepared weak no trumpers so we feed it to them as often as possible. When the opponents bid 2om over our 1m openers, we play double and all bids of 2X as transfers (with 4+ of the suit shown if it is a major and game invite or better opposite a big NT or else 4+ HCP and 6 cd suit). That holds up pretty well when partner is either distributional or has 15+ HCP, (certainly better than negative doubles or negative free bids and Lebensohl, all of which we've tried and found lacking). I make no claims that it is even playable if partner's hand could be a weak NT, 18-19 NT or distributional. NOTHING is perfect here, but for weak no trumpers this may be the most effective way to try and stay alive. When playing strong NTs, I just make some offshaped neg dbls and pray to land on my feet, or else pass and hope others do worse by abusing some choice of bid.

Re redoubles with Qx – you either do or you don't. I expect my partner to lead his suit that he bid at the two level most of the time without my helping him along any. Now if they CUEBID his suit, I play as you do – doubling the cue tells pard to underlead at NT and when they cuebid the odds that we will be anywhere other than defending are slim.
Dec. 1, 2012
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I've played weak no trumps for over 40 years and this topic has long been an obsession and my methods have evolved over the years.

We use only two calls for escapes – pass and redouble – and all other bids are “system on” but now promise invitational or better values.

Redouble… commands 2C and shows some 5+ suit and less than invitational values.

Pass…commands opener to
bid a 5 cd m (or 5 cd M if sys permits one)
bid 2H w 4-4 in majors (if sys forbids 5 cd M in wk NT)
Redbl w 2 (or rarely 3) 4-card suits, at least one of which is a minor if 2H would have showed 4-4 in majors)
Pass with 4-3-3-3 (in which case his range goes up one point as we subtract a point for 4-3-3-3 when opening)
Responder's pass is not ALWAYS an escape – it could be a game-invite or better hand with no interest in playing a major suit game.

If opener redbls then responder:
bids his cheapest 4 cd suit
If he is 4-3-3-3, he passes unless we have no chance of a combined total of 19 HCP, in which case he bids his 4 card suit if it's a minor or bids 2C if it's a major. If he bids 2C on 4-3-3-3 or 3-4-3-3 and a yarborough, and they double and opener shows 4 clubs by passing, then he redbls to get opener to bid his other four-card suit and if it's a major, they can't be sure we don't have a LAWful 8-cd fit – at worst we trade one 4-3 fit for another.

Notice that this structure (other than the runout to a 5+ suit by responder or to 2m by opener) tends to isolate competitive pressure on ONE opponent. If the doubler is heavy and advancer is very weak, advancer has to fear that opener will pass out the doubled 1N – and with a point added to the top and bottom of his range. If the doubler is minimum and advancer has values, then when opener redbls, doubler has to fear that responder will leave it in.

This structure maintains our normal methods if we have game interest so that some skinny conventional double doesn't destroy us in some testosterone-charged attempt to play 1NXX when it isn't a possible contract. We don't have to worry what their double means – our bids still work for us and let us find such things as 4-4 fits in clubs or diamonds that we otherwise would have missed.

Note that this structure permits (and threatens) playing in 1N doubled or 1N redoubled, in each case when one of us is 4-3-3-3 and the other has no 5 card suit so that 2X rates to play no better than 1N.

If responder passes the double then later makes a double of their runnout or a free bid, he shows a game-going hand with no major suit interest.
Dec. 1, 2012
Randy Thompson edited this comment Dec. 1, 2012
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So, your cuebid raise can be either 3 or 4 cards; your 2N raise can be either preemptive or mixed. All this to show honor-x. And if that honor-x is Qx and partner has AJ? Didn't help much to double and get him off to the wrong lead, did it? If you confine it to Ax or Kx, where an underlead can never hurt us, you are painting that bid into even more seldom coming up. Every time you redouble it's on a hand where had you passed they would be FAR more likely to wind up in the wrong strain, so you help them more often than you help partner lead – in fact YOU will often be on lead (vs their best strain) after you double and opener (gratefullly) passes. I think it's better to play

After (1M)-2X-(X)-??

2X = 3-cd weak raise (could be scared preemptive 4 cd raise at unfavorable vul)
xx = 3 card raise (and if 2X is available, stronger than 2X)
2M = strong 4-cd raise
2N = 4-card mixed raise
3X = preemptive 4-cd raise
Jump shifts = fit
2Y = to play with 0-1 of X and 6+ of Y (fear leave in of dbl)

After redoubling to show a 3 cd raise (or a stronger-than-simple 3 cd raise if 2X is available) if overcaller passes their bid, you can show more values than you had already shown by now bidding 3X or by doubling to show a LOT more values than already shown.

If X is hearts, then we will as often play the hand at the three level as they do, as their fit rates to be in a minor far more often than in spades (tho a 6-2 is still possible). If X is hearts, passing with Hx is X makes opener's guess as to strain with any 5-3-3-2 pattern a potentially very expensive and UnLAWful one, while letting him pass your XX tells responder that he's 5-3-3-2 and maximizes their chance of playing in their best strain.




Dec. 1, 2012
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By FAR the most likely situation is that this is a competitive part-score hand or one where if they do bid a game we might want to sacrifice nearly as often as defend. If we put all our eggs in the defending basket by using Rozencranz redoubles here, we leave partner no way to know how high to compete. All this to tell him he can lead his suit from say AQxxx(x)? To me that doesn't seem worth the price. By using redouble as a 3-card raise, it lets us inform partner of the degree of our fit – on this bid and on simple raises of his suit or cuebids showing a raise. In this day of trying to use the LAW to our advantage, I think that's a lot more valuable. If we have enough to bid something when partner has made a two-level overcall, I don't see why they are more likely than we to have a game. In this specific situation where partner's suit is clubs, then we are likely to get outbid more often than not – but at what level. If we've pushed them up too high, we might can survive partner not leading from AQxxx of his suit, even if that would be best.
Nov. 30, 2012
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My partner and I play this (over all negative doubles at the two level) as a three-card raise. When 2 of partner's suit is available, this shows a good three-card raise, while a bid of 2 of partner's suit is a weaker 3-card raise. That leaves 3 of partner's suit as preemptive with 4 card support and a cuebid as stronger with 4 card support.

In the auction given, where we can't bid 2 of partner's suit, we have no weak way to show 3-card support, but we continue to have two ways to show four-card support. How to divide “weak” from “strong” raises in this auction can vary in different partnerships – but, with all 4 hands bidding and both likely to have a fit, this can help partner decide whether to pass/double/bid when they compete to the three level.

It seems dysfunctional to me to have this NOT be a raise. If you don't have a fit, why give opener the option of passing and letting responder pick a strain? Imagine opener with say Jxx Axxxx Ax Kxx. If you pass, he has a Mastersolvers' nightmare choice to make; if you redouble, he can get a green card on the table in whatever tempo is consistent with his awareness of ethics. The less support you have for partner, the more likely opener is to have length there that limits his available options; the more support you have for partner, the more likely it is that opener will have an easy choice anyway, so redoubling won't necessarily help him a lot.
Nov. 30, 2012
Randy Thompson edited this comment Nov. 30, 2012
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2D…waiting
2H…immediate dbl negative (0-3 HCP, no King, no QJ in same suit, fewer than 4 hearts, no 3 hearts and a stiff/void.)
2S…Immediate dbl negative(0-3 HCP, no King, no QJ in same suit, fewer than 4 spades, no 3 spades and a stiff/void, but DO have either 4 hearts or 3 hearts and a stiff/void)
Other bids…undefined

That's it for now, although I'm trying to get pard to agree that 2N should show a 3-suited hand with 8+ HCP and all 3 suits stopped – which makes this hand declarer in NT when opener has a one-suiter in his short suit and makes opener declarer in all other strains when he bids his cheapest suit over 2N and responder bids 3N or 4N quantitatively if that is his short suit or cuebids if opener bid one of his 3 long suits and if opener bids a new suit over 3N or 4N, it is forcing and that suit is trumps. If responder is 4-4 in the majors (or 4-3 with shortness in a minor) then the 2D waiting might have 0 HCP (but is still a good dummy if opener has a major one-suiter). The length/ruffing value are not only potential tricks, they are entries to dummy to lead to opener's tenaces.

This structure does not interrupt opener before he has had a chance to tell responder just why he opened 2C (major one suiter with 9+ playing tricks, minor one suiter with 10+ playing tricks, or 22+ HCP) except to deliver some VERY bad news about toxic waste. This also permits a different structure after a 2N rebid over an immediate double negative. 3m is to play; 3H is to play if the response was 2S; 3H is a transfer to spades if the response was 2H; 3S is pick-a-minor, usually with 5-5. Also, because 2D has no min point value (despite using immediate dbl negs), it does NOT alert the opponents that we have a nearly certain slam before we have found a fit – something that control or quantitative responses both do. Because the immediate dbl negative that shows heart length does not involve bidding hearts, the strong hand can be declarer, at least if it has a heart fit.
Sept. 15, 2012
Randy Thompson edited this comment Sept. 15, 2012
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I love being able to check in from time to time when top level bridge is presented on BBO. But can anyone really sit and watch some player in a trance for 10 minutes over an overtrick in a part score hand? Much as I love to play bridge, it is just too slow a game to ever be popular as a spectator event. Glitches in presentation pale in comparison to the snail's pace of so many top players. If BBO “movies” are available, that's the way to watch these events. That way you can move through at your own pace (like skipping commercials and dead ball time in a recorded football or basketball game) and if there is commentary along the way, then it can be very instructive to serious-but-not-world-level bridge players.

By the way, there is just no point to having commentary if the commentators don't know the bidding methods in use at the table. Without “Big Train” to translate, watching Meckwell's auctions sometimes would tell you as much about what was going on as reading the preface to a book on breeding goldfish, written in Sanskrit. With his explanations, suddenly the sequences actually relate to the cards held. The WBF convention card requires extensive disclosure – at least the commentators should have that available to them. Not at this last event, but in one prior, a lot of wheels were spun commenting on a “cuebid” that was really a “last train” bid.

Thanks to BBO for putting big matches online live for free.
Thanks to commentators, whether paid or volunteers.
Thanks to vugraph operators, whether paid or volunteers.
Thanks to Warren Buffet for footing the bill for an interesting event.
Thanks to the players who donate time for such an event.
Sept. 14, 2012
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The following works pretty well unless both our suits are minors and both their majors (which is unlikely, since they might cue 2C with both majors after 1C-P-1D-??). A bid of the lower ranking of their suits is invitational or better in the lower ranking of our suits; a bid of the higher ranking of their suits is invitational or better in the higher ranking of our suits; bids of either of our suits are just competitive. We use this as a meta agreement ANY time the opponents have bid two specific suits (e.g. 2D Cappelletti over 1N, michaels over our 1m; etc.) Double always forces game if we don't pound them (and the double promises that we will surely double at least one of their suits).
Sept. 13, 2012
Randy Thompson edited this comment Sept. 13, 2012
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Let's stop for a moment and add the points – at least 15 on the right, at least 6 on the left, then there are the 16 we can see. That's 37 if both opponents have their minimum (and RHO probably does have a min), which leaves partner's max at 3. Don't they have to be magic cards in the minors for us to have a 4H game? If he has as many as 3, won't LHO have a stiff heart that could spell four or five hearts on our right? If we double, won't partner surely leave it in with his 4-5 card spade suit? Even as a lifelong overbidder, I think it's time to go peacefully (if not happily) into the night with a pass of 3S.
Sept. 12, 2012
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With partner's only 4-card suit hearts (and if he has a 4-card suit then he has seriously misbid the hand, something we should never play him for), I don't understand the search for a 4-3 club fit with a 1N bid. If partner has either 2-5-3-3 or 3-4-3-3, bidding 1N will very scientifically lead to a 7-card club fit rather than an 8-card diamond fit. Just bid 2D and we will always play in our longest fit (perhaps a 5-2 that ties a 4-3 club fit where we will soon find our 4-card suit tapped out).
Sept. 12, 2012
Randy Thompson edited this comment Sept. 12, 2012
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