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All comments by Sabine Auken
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James, I totally disagree with you and I thought I had made that very clear. Everything else being equal replacing a weaker player/pair with a stronger one will obviously make the team stronger. But most of the time not everything else is equal. And if the new stronger team member does not know and/or accept his or her role in the team, then I believe the team with the supposedly stronger player can easily make the team weaker as a whole.
May 20, 2015
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James, I honestly fail to see what your question has to do with my post.

Thank you, Tom, for pointing that out already.
May 20, 2015
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FWIW in order to further the discussion I would like to copy an extract of what I wrote about 10 years ago in a book that was meant to explain why I am so crazy about this game. I am sorry it is so long.

If you belong to those that believe the best team is the one with the six best individual players or the best three pairs, you may find yourself terribly mistaken. My mind is very clear on this point.There can be no doubt: The best team is the one where every member has a role and, more importantly accepts that role and does everything to fulfill it as well as possible.
In teams with three equally good pairs, there will always be a very high risk that they will end up fighting for position and prestige, causing team members to lose focus on the task at hand, namely winning. It is the coach’s job, termed the non-playing captain in bridge competition, to make sure that every team member has a clearly defined role that suits his or her personality, temper and skills. What a job! It goes without saying that for a team to function well, the non-playing captain has to be someone who is respected by every single member.
Sport psychology uses the term team cohesion; you and I would probably call it team spirit, but let’s stick to the technical term here. There have been several studies trying to examine the correlation between a team’s success and team cohesion. There are two forms of cohesion, task cohesion and social cohesion. Task cohesion is what I have described above, every team member understanding and accepting his or her role within the structure of the team. Studies have shown that a high level of task cohesion is very important for a team’s success. Then there is social cohesion, which means team members having mutual respect for each other and accepting one another's faults;,in short they like each other.
Interestingly enough, studies also show that social cohesion is not nearly as important as task cohesion for a team’s success. At times, it may even have a negative impact. When everybody is having a good time and enjoys being together so much that they take their eyes off the ball and forget the task at hand, the social aspect becomes more important to them than the competitive aspect. Ideally one prefers teammates to like one another, but success is possible without social cohesion, as long as everybody shares the same goal and task cohesion is high. There are many well-known examples for this in the sports world, where team members really disliked each other and yet were very successful. If I am not mistaken,we can find them in the bridge world, too.
Taking it a little bit further, these findings also explain how it is possible for professional teams with a playing sponsor to be so highly successful, at times even winning world championships. Participating in high-level competition with a sponsor is a phenomenon unique to the bridge world; to the best of my knowledge, it cannot be found in any other kind of sport. In most cases, the sponsor’s bridge skills are several levels lower than one would expect of a champion player. One may find it almost incomprehensible how it is then possible for such a team to hold it’s own in expert competition and consistently win major events.
Are the pros so much better than the rest of the field that they can overcome the sponsor’s shortcomings? No, that’s not it at all. The explanation is that in those teams every member has a very clearly defined role. There is no haggling for position; the team’s hierarchy is firm and easily understandable. There is no disagreement or infighting about who is to play in what sets and how much, because there is a very well thought-out strategy for when to play the sponsor. The two professional pairs will play the rest of the time; it’s as simple as that. The members of such a team may not always be the best of friends, but they do have a common goal besides winning, the financial aim of trying to make a living. The better the team performs, the better the chances for a good income. Everybody is aware of that. I am convinced that it is the combination of these factors that constitutes the secret of success for these teams, allowing them to show up in the winner’s circle again and again.

May 19, 2015
Sabine Auken edited this comment May 19, 2015
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This feels just so very right. Many congratulations, Michael! The Hall of Fame must be so proud to have you.
March 2, 2015
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Christina, did you already forget there actually was a Danish participant in Sanya winning a world championship title? ;) I wonder what the format in the computer championship was. There didn't seem to be too many complaints about it.
Nov. 4, 2014
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Mike Ma, you may be right about the price structure. All I know is, when one is playing from 9.30/10 am till 8/8.30 pm for 14 days in a row, there is a limit for how far one is willing to go to find a cheap bed and dinner for less than 40 euros. I can assure you those places weren't just around the corner.
Oct. 27, 2014
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1993, sweet memories. First prize was 5.000$. There also was a KO team event paying 3.500$ to the winners Grant Baze, Dan Morse, John Sutherlin, Hugh Ross and Bart Bramley.
Compliments on your excellent memory, Dale.
Sept. 5, 2014
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They may or they may not be. I just answered the questions of the test and that was the result. So if I am not ENFJ both my brain and my senses tell me that either I did not answer the questions correctly or the questions did not get the intended job done. I may be missing something of course. As stated above I think it's a fun and entertaining test, but personally I am not much for categorization and stereotyping and prefer to view every person as an individual.
Aug. 13, 2014
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ENFJ (11%, 50%, 25%, 11%) Maybe I answered some of those questions wrong or maybe I am a chameleon. Thanks Gabrielle, really fun test.
Aug. 13, 2014
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Did you remember to put that down on your convention card? “We play Jack denies and occasionally use it to deceive declarer.”
April 21, 2014
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Ok, I throw one in there. I really dislike Jack denies on opening lead unless dummy is known to be short in the suit. I find it tends to help declarer more than partner.

Daniela and I used to play Jack denies specifically only when it was obvious from the bidding that dummy was short in the suit. That's when it is really helpful for partner.

For the rest I very much agree with the comments saying the most important thing is a partnership knows what they are doing. Every convention can be a winner now and then and none can claim to be a winner always.

Also sometimes a convention has to be viewed in the context of the whole system. It may not be the best stand alone convention, but taking the whole system into account it can be the least of all evils. At least that is my excuse for playing Flannery these days. :)
April 21, 2014
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Over the past couple of days I have received many thoughtful and compassionate messages. There was one in particular that struck me as quite possibly the best description of Jens I have ever seen. It came from Bill Pencharz from England, who through many years was Jens' friend and colleague on the EBL Executive Committee, and I would like to share it with the bridge community. Bill wrote:

Jens was a top bridge player, a top lawyer, the father of four beautiful sons and the lover of many beautiful women.

But I shall remember him for another quality which is special and very rare. He was the best “non-executive director” I ever had the privilege to work with. In the Executive Committee of the EBL it was Jens who would always put his finger on exactly the right point. And when he said something was WRONG, it was wrong.

In addition, he was a man of complete integrity. The Bridge World is a poorer place for his passing.
Jan. 20, 2014
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Before climbing out of the Well, I would like to thank everyone for sending all of those kind comments and intriguing questions. I really love the Bridgewinners site and I hope they continue to grow and be a voice, a source of information, and a meeting place that allows us to share the game we all love. I will be leaving the Well now and look forward to the continuation of the series. Good luck everyone with all your bridge adventures!
May 4, 2013
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Al, if any commentator could do it, it would be you. You know our system better than we know it ourselves! :)
May 4, 2013
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Danny, we would have the choice of treating (13)45 as balanced after opening 1C or we could rebid the club suit, which could have some appeal especially with good suit quality. Actually it is my impression that quite a number of pairs treat this distribution as balanced, if they open 1C and their partner responds in their singleton suit.

I've learned not to say “never” playing with Roy, but I don't think we would open 1D with 4 diamonds and 5 clubs, unless it was a third seat opener looking for the lead.

I hope it is not too disappointing that I was not involved in the invention of the beer card. It has existed for as long as I have played bridge. It is great fun! Roy is trying to get the hang of it, too. He still sometimes gets surprised when I triumphantly flip the D7 across the table at the last trick. But that may be, because he is a wine guy. :)
May 4, 2013
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Hi Henry,

Great job with that new scale. I haven't really studied it in depth and it probably wasn't the prime objective, but I perceived that it rewards just winning a match slightly more than the old scale did, which I think is a good thing. I heard Roy mention to someone that a similar scale is being used in the American trials and that it's so much better never getting “pipped” in a match.

I didn't hear any comments in Japan except for repeatedly: I don't think I am ever going to know that conversion table by heart. :) I didn't hear anyone complain they didn't win because of the new scale. So I would say you are entitled to feel your project has been a success. :)
May 4, 2013
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In high level competition there tend to be relatively few errors in the card play, pretty much everybody there knows how to play the cards. A much higher percentage of swings occurs because of differences in bidding judgment, especially when being put to a guess at a high level. And let's not forget those pesky opening leads! If I had to put a number to it, I would guess that at most 20% of the imps change hands because somebody made a card play error.
May 4, 2013
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I am glad you liked the book, Richard. It is always nice to hear that one's work gets appreciated.

Your question is difficult. In a way it was surprising the appeal created such a furor. First I thought it was a function of so many high-profile players being involved. Then I realized that the true cause was there being various parties using the appeal to further their own (political or other) agenda and to that end the facts often were misrepresented or distorted. I do not have a very high opinion of such tactics. Some of the things that were said might have been more upsetting, but winning the event was such a wonderful and thrilling experience that nothing could overshadow what really was a dream come true.
May 4, 2013
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Actually H means all the way down to the 10. So with 108x we would play the 8. However, we would play the 10 from 109x, as we would play the J from J10x and the Q from QJx.
With Hxxx we play the third-highest and also with HHxx. With all 5-card holdings we play the lowest.

That would indeed have solved the defensive problem in your article. Third hand would have played the 5 from Q52, which would have been high enough that it could not be mistaken for the lowest card no matter what card declarer contributed. By the way nice point in your article that declarer should drop the jack from J9x on the second round!
May 4, 2013
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Thank you, Eugene, your question is very flattering. I am sorry for taking a long time to answer it. I was stalling, because you actually hit a soft spot.

First of all I don't think what you describe is realistically possible without any help at all. I will admit I had the ambition of both being a successful bridge player, have a professional career and lead a happy family life. To have any chance of success such an approach requires careful planning and, as just mentioned, a lot of help. I had this help in form of my parents. I used the entirety of my vacation time off work for playing in international championships and my parents always came along to take care of the children. Jens Christian was 3 months old when he attended the European Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal and 6 months old when he landed at Beijing airport to help his mother win the Venice Cup. Maximilian was 10 days old when he checked out Malta to see whether his mother could win a European title. At all these events Daniela and I basically were playing every single session and careful timing was needed, as the baby needed to be nursed during sessions. It would have been impossible without my parents. The frenzy continued for several more years. My parents were always there making sure the children wouldn't suffer too much from all the tension that surrounds tournaments like that.

After those years I eventually realized that with all the glory there also were victims, and they were my children. I decided to drop any ambitions of a professional career and quit working and I will never regret that decision. My younger son benefitted most from this decision, it was a bit late for his older brother. Luckily he still turned out a simply wonderful and adorable human being despite my shortcomings. I still feel guilty about it and that is why you hit a soft spot.

So I guess my answer to your question is: better think twice before you attempt something similar. The price you will have to pay may just be too high.
May 3, 2013
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