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Fred Gitelman Advice - 1 - 1NT doubled
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Preamble: BW's very own Eugene Hung has a treasure trove of expert advice from Fred Gitelman collated from BBO forums while Eugene was an intrepid graduate student. You can find them here:

The articles might appear to be badly formatted, but you can do the clever thing of "copying and pasting" the text files into any word-processor. (I discovered this recently).

Nonetheless, I have obtained permission from Fred Gitelman to publish the articles (with some formatting and spell-checking) on BW.

If there is some BW support for seeing more of these, I am happy to copy-and-paste for you.

The first article (by my choice) is entitled "1NT doubled" and are some musings of Fred's on the worth of expert advice, less technical than some of the other files. They are in his own colloquial style, written in first person.

One day several years ago, I had some hand like the following (the exact hand
doesn't matter):


My partner opened 1NT (range doesn't matter) and RHO doubled for penalties. Whatever I did (I forget and it doesn't matter) I did, but I did not have any strong convictions that my action was right.

So I gave the problem to a much better and much more experienced player than
me: Jeff Meckstroth.

His response was something along the lines of:

"If you are doubled in 1NT and you are thinking about running, my experience
strongly suggests that you should run".

I suspect that if I asked him "Why?" the best answer he could give would be
something like:

"Because I have seen this situation many times and my judgment suggests that I
would have lost more IMPs had I sat for 1NT doubled".

I suspect that if I asked him "Why?" again he would look at my like I was an
idiot, walk away, and not be inclined to answer any more bidding questions from
me in the future.

Whether or not I am right about how Jeff (or any other very successful player)
would have responded to these whys is not the point.

The point is that such answers, even though they do not constitute "proof" are
meaningful. There may not even be any "right" answers to questions like "Should
I run from 1NT doubled?", but if there are then surely it is the case that a
strong opinion by a random top player is more likely to be right than the best
guess of a random less experienced player.

And the more top players to have a given strong opinion about a given matter,
the more likely that this opinion is "right".

Wouldn't you prefer to have an answer that is likely to be right than no answer
at all?

Ever since this incident, when I have been in this situation I have thought
back to what Jeff had to say and I have followed his advice. After such hands I
tend to think about what the result would have been if I had Passed 1NT
doubled. Now I can say that my experience also suggests that Jeff is right (big

I don't know *why* he appears to be right and, frankly, I could care less - if
your goal is to win the bridge tournament then it really does not matter that
you understand everything that you do. What matters is that you make the most
successful decisions that you can.

This is just as well since many things in bridge are too complicated for anyone
to really understand (unless perhaps they want to devote a massive amount of
time and effort into something that is likely not important, may not be
solvable at all, and for which sound advice rates to be easily available).

Great players do not necessarily know all the whys. One of the things that
makes these people better players than the masses is that their internal
software for remembering, categorizing, and drawing conclusions about bridge
hands and bridge situations tends to be better.

This software does most of its processing at a subconscious level. I can't
explain how this works, but that doesn't mean it is not real. It is real and
the more data you feed this software (iethe more experience the player has)
the better it works.

If you have little respect for bridge players who draw conclusions based on
their experience, then I believe it is likely that you will never come close to
realizing your potential as a player. There are simply too many things in this
game that you can only learn by asking better players what they think (or maybe
playing a TON of hands yourself and using your judgment based on this
experience). In many cases the only way that the experts will be able to
rationalize their answers will be: because it seems to work for me.

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