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All comments by Steve Willner
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“What might those artificial sequences be?”

As I wrote, I've never used any, so I don't really know. I'd guess you'd want to use 3, or maybe the cheapest jump shift, as artificial and strong, but it's not clear what the followups should be. The point is to avoid having to make an “executive decision” as opener by getting information from responder.

I don't understand the rest of the comment, but I am not assuming the Harris-Morgan system. With a balanced hand, my one-level openings are limited to 21 HCP. That's only 1 HCP more than anybody else's and not a big problem.

Unbalanced openings are unlimited. That's where one would want some artificiality. Super strong hands are rare, though, so sorting them out is important only for those who find it worthwhile to put in extensive work on system. That is to say, there are many other aspects of system that take priority.
May 19
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“Do NOT pull…”

That would not be everyone's interpretation of “penalty,” and I don't think it's a wise one. See S. J. Simon's writings.

As a practical matter, the double has to cover all hands that are too good to pass but not able to bid.
May 15
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I've played “no forcing opening” in several partnerships, and it works fine at both matchpoints and IMPs. If opener has an unbalanced hand, the deal is not going to get passed out. With a strong balanced hand, it might be, so you have to play 3NT strong (say 24+) and vaguely natural but not too fussy about shape. 2NT should be just weaker than 3NT, say 22-23, and likewise not fussy about shape.

If you want to play at a high level, you'll need artificial sequences for opener's rebid to sort out strength. At my level of play, I've never bothered.

It's great if opponents are aware you have no forcing opening. That will induce foolish ones to pass out hands they should be balancing on.
May 12
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“I see nothing in the Laws about the Director making a ruling in the middle of a hand that a player has UI.”

It's not explicit in the Laws, but it's covered in TD training courses. If L16B2 isn't for the Director to make a ruling on UI, what is it for?
May 12
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Ah, there's the confusion. Calling the Director doesn't transmit anything across the screen. (Once called, the Director will have to ask players on the other side what happened.)

In the “technically” course of events, the player says to his screenmate “I claim the tray came back slowly and that your partner was responsible.” The screenmate objects, of course, and the Director has to be called. In real life, all this is bypassed by calling the Director with no preamble. The purpose for calling – and the purpose of L16B2 – is to see who, if anyone, is under UI restrictions.

If someone as sensible as Christopher can be confused, I suppose the procedure ought to be mentioned in screen regulations. It won't be needed often, but it can solve thorny problems when they occur.
May 8
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Sorry, but I'm having trouble understanding what you don't see.

The conditions in L16B2 are “When a player considers…” and “if they dispute….” Technically, a player who observes the slow tray can ask “Do you agree that your partner caused the tray to come back slowly?” Any awake opponent will dispute this, and the Director will be called. My suggestion shortens the process but ends up with the same result.

There's also the question of what the Director should do once summoned, but the usual answer is investigate whether UI was available and if so, advise everyone of the legal ramifications.

If the above is not clear, it ought to be written into screen regulations, but I don't think it's necessary.
May 7
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Dan's example is a good one. The Director needs to find out what happened at Table 21.

If the board was played in normal form at T21 – Table 20 is the only one that played it fouled – then matchpoint all the results except T20, and use Neuberg to correct those results to the proper top. (With 20+ results, the correction will be small but not zero.) Pairs at T20 both get avg+ unless one of them was responsible for fouling the board, in which case that pair gets avg-, or both of them get avg- if both were responsible.

If T21 played the board in fouled form, you compare T20 and T21. In the ACBL, the better and worse scores each get a fixed percentage. I think these are 65% and 55%, but I may be wrong. (Their average is 60%, as one would expect.) I believe Neuberg starts with three or more results, but it may be four or more with different fixed percentages for three. (It has been a long time since I looked up these rules! As I think about it, I vaguely remember 70-60-50 as the fixed percentages for three results, but the rules may have changed.)

Independent of scoring, if the Director can find out who fouled the board, those responsible get a PP. That's separate from the avg- if it was one of the pairs at T20, though in that case the PP might be smaller.

Rules in Norway may differ, but I think they use Neuberg if there are enough results.

As others have written, boards that differ in any way whatsoever can never be scored as if they were the same.
May 7
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Not hard to explain: the other “permanent beginners” do the same thing, and the experienced players don't bother calling the Director except for the most egregious cases. Overall we opponents probably benefit from the UI (AI to us) as much as the PBs do. At tournaments, the PBs are in the 299er section or something. I'm happy to say I have no idea what transpires there.

What prompted my OP was one of the egregious cases. I was on the AC, not at the table, but there was no doubt about what happened. Yet nobody could explain to the player why she was being ruled against. That's why I was hoping for an official document.

I haven't checked the EBU Blue(?) Book. It's not official here in the ACBL, but it is a great resource nonetheless.
May 2
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If you aren't sure what caused the tray to come back slowly, you can (unless screen regulations prohibit it, which they shouldn't), call the Director and ask for a ruling under L16B2. The Director should then investigate and say who, if anyone, is restricted by UI.

Depending on methods, I think the right bid absent UI is probably 6. If partner was slow, and depending on what you think the slow 5 suggests, that may not be legal. I don't think pass is a realistic option with a better suit than you might have had, a void in opponents' suit, and undisclosed great support for partner's first suit. (I take it you didn't have a fit jump available – or did 4 already show club support?)
May 2
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Thanks for all the comments. I should have been clearer about the target audience: it's mainly the “permanent beginners” who play at the club. They use UI probably a dozen times per session. Once a year they get ruled against and can't understand why. I was hoping for something official to show them. Such a document might also be useful for the last meeting of the novice class.

After posting, I realized I'd written something myself in 2012:
http://web.mit.edu/mitdlbc/www/articles/UI.pdf
It's probably too long for the present purpose, though.

Below is what I've synthesized from my own ideas plus comments above. Further comments welcome, including whether this is a useful exercise at all.

A major element of the game of bridge is drawing inferences about
where unseen cards are located. Information for these inferences
comes mainly from the cards in your own hand, the auction, the cards
already played, and the opponents' explanations of their partnership
understandings. You are also allowed to use other information from
the opponents: their gestures, facial expressions, questions, and
other behaviors. You are, however, not allowed to use anything your
partner
does other than partner's calls and plays. That includes
alerts and explanations as well as “body language” and remarks.
After all, bridge would be a boring game if partners could use such
methods to signal their cards.

Bridge is also a thinking game and one that's played by humans, not
by machines. Sometimes partner will take time to think or will act
too quickly or make a remark or do something else that tells you
something about the cards he holds. If partner shows doubt about his
action or shows he had an easy choice, or if he mis-explains your
call or does anything similar, it is “unauthorized information”
(UI). You are not allowed use UI to draw inferences.

The “not allowed to use UI” is not merely a pious hope. It is
mandated by specific Laws of bridge, primarily Laws 16B and 73C. The
latter provides “When a player has available” UI from partner, the
player “must carefully avoid taking any advantage.” There are two
important things to notice here:

1. the phrase “has available” means the UI was available to be
noticed. Whether you actually noticed it or not is legally
irrelevant.

2. the phrase “carefully avoid” means that if you have a decision
that some people would choose one action and others something else,
if one choice is made more appealing by the UI, you must choose the
one that is less suggested by the UI. In particular, you are not
allowed to make a bid “because you always were going to bid that” if
other players similar to you might have made a different choice.

If you think an opponents' action might have been affected by UI, it
is proper to call the Director. When the Director arrives, just
explain the facts: what actions you observed that might be UI and
what calls or plays were actually made. The opponents may, of
course, do the same with regard to your actions. In either case, the
Director will (or at least should!) gather the facts from all
players, consider the matter, and deliver a ruling. UI rulings often
require difficult matters of bridge judgment, and the Director may
take some time to consider and may consult other players or other
Directors.

UI situations are tricky, and if we play bridge long enough, we will
be ruled against no matter how hard we try to do the right thing.
We will also revoke, lead out of turn, and do lots of other illegal
things. Try to avoid them all, but realize none of us will ever be
100% perfect if we are normal human beings.
May 2
Steve Willner edited this comment May 2
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Many agreements are possible, especially if you are willing to give up natural 2NT. Without specific agreement, I'd say advancer has hearts only if strong enough to bid them later. That gets advancer's second suit into play without necessarily losing hearts. Of course there might be a problem if “later” comes at the 5-level. That's why people make specific agreements.
April 27
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The “Kaplan question,” mentioned in some of the followups above, is not what the OP asked about.

We can distinguish three types of dubious questions:

1. the informatory question: "that doesn't really show clubs, does it?" This is and always has been flagrantly illegal.

2. the pro question: asking for partner's benefit. That's what the OP asked about, although the timing is also relevant in the OP case. The pro question became illegal in 2007 and still is (L20G1).

3. the Kaplan question: this is a question after opponents have already given misinformation, clearing up the MI. This is probably now legally the same as the pro question, though opponents are not in a strong position to complain. Standards of disclosure have improved since Kaplan wrote his editorial.
April 27
Steve Willner edited this comment April 27
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I formed my opinions before reading any comments, then read them.

I'm passing 4 regardless of tempo, along with everyone else.

If partner passes in tempo, I'm bidding 5. LHO has promised a minor suit, and I don't think it's clubs. :-) This looks like a massive double-fit deal. I think partner would have bid 4 if that's the right contract, but 4 is certainly a reasonable bid. I am pleased to see KW takes the same approach, though he likes 4 a bit more than I do. His reasoning is – no surprise! – more sophisticated than mine.

If partner passes slowly, I have a problem. I am convinced that passing is wrong, but is it a logical alternative? I went back and forth a few times in my own mind, then decided I probably was obliged to pass. Comments here seem to bear that out, though I personally (absent UI) wouldn't give passing serious consideration.

Bonus questions: what if partner doubles, either in tempo or slowly? I think a slow double is easy: I have to pass. What to do after an in-tempo double might be the hardest problem of all. I think I'd probably pull (to 5), but I'd want to know more about opponents' understandings about the sequence and (if possible) what their competitive habits are. Also something about partner's habits.

Some other comments:
1. there is no way partner has only a 5c suit. I'd expect seven a lot of the time.

2. if opps have discussed the actual sequence compared to a 3 bid by RHO on the prior round, the actual sequence ought to be stronger. Strong hands can afford to wait and act later, while weak hands have to show their support immediately. However, most pairs haven't discussed this, and some would treat the table sequence as the weaker one.
April 26
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One thing not mentioned above, I think: even if South's play is the worst “extremely serious error” of the decade (which is nowhere close to being true), and even if the error is “unrelated to the infraction” (which isn't the case either), the Director should still adjust the EW score. This is Law 12C1e(i).
April 25
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Thank you, Nicolas. I missed that.

For those who wonder why this matters, the result is that in an auction such as (unopposed):
2C - 2D
2NT - 4red
the last bid is a delayed alert, not an immediate announcement. I hope the new committee will take a fresh look at this and its implications.
April 25
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Nicolas: where did you find an official statement that “All announcements are alerts?” I agree that the mechanism for announcing is much the same as for alerting, but that isn't the question.
April 24
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From Tom above: "This delay does not apply to alerts of passes, doubles, or redoubles, or to any announcements.“

I wish it were so, but it's far from clear. The ACBL's ”Alert Procedure“ document has been botched in a recent edit (about a year ago, I think). It now says, with reference to delayed alerts:
”Once the auction has progressed to the point that the opening bidder has had the opportunity to make a second call, conventional calls at the four level or higher are not Alerted until the auction is over."

Aside from seeming to say that delayed alerts start after rather than at opener's rebid, someone has changed the previous “bids” to “calls.” I'm sure that's a mistake, but no contact I've made has gotten it corrected.

Despite the text quoted, an example does make clear that delayed alerts start at opener's rebid, not after.

Another botch is that in the competitive auction 1-P-1, bids of 2 and 2 are “not considered cuebids” despite fitting the definition. They are said to be non-alertable whether they show the suit named or are two-suited takeout.

As to announcements, I've asked for but never received an official answer on whether they are considered alerts (and therefore may be delayed) or a different category (in which case they should always be immediate). It probably makes little practical difference.
April 23
Steve Willner edited this comment April 23
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The ACBL has its own peculiar definition of “relay system.” Among other requirements, it applies only after an opening bid of one of a suit.

I don't have any doubt that Stayman in any form is a relay, but in the ACBL, it is never part of a “relay system” regardless of the followups.

For amusement, the mama-papa auction 1suit-4NT-5something-5NT- does fit the ACBL's definition of “relay system” and is therefore not GCC-legal. I don't recommend trying to get this enforced.
April 23
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If you had a distributional raise available, then the 2 bid shows a power raise. In that case, pass should be forcing at all levels.

If your methods don't offer a distributional raise, it's reasonable to play the pass non-forcing, though I wouldn't wish to.
April 22
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In the ACBL:

If the 2 bid is game-forcing and not followed by a second relay bid on the next round, it's legal on the GCC. (Relay systems are banned, not single relay bids.) It's legal on the Mid-chart regardless. (for example, you might include invitational hands with long clubs in the 2 bid.) I believe the same rules will continue to apply with the future Basic+ and Open charts.

Methods that are legal on the Mid-chart but not GCC require pre-alerts, silly as that is in this case.
April 22
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