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All comments by Avon Wilsmore
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Further to US-initiated bans…

Peter Gill wrote in the Banned in Bali posting:

“The number of bridge players banned from obtaining visas to go to the 2010 World Championships in Philadelphia was 32, ref http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/last-world-championships-for-the-us/. That link was written by Jason Feldman, Immigration Attorney and expert bridge player….

In 1989, Australia banned one of the USA's Bermuda Bowl players from obtaining a visa, so he didn't come here.

In 1999, USA banned various players and one npc from entering USA for the World Junior Championships in Fort Lauderdale. I should know, as I offered to fill in as unofficial npc substituting for the missing npc, and was accepted, but I had little to do in that role, given that the team had only 4 players left after their other players had also been banned from obtaining visas to USA.”

Mr Yates (previous comment) is spot-on:
“It probably would have been good for more US bridge players to have raised a fuss to help out those kids out back then. That way, at least we would look consistent when we rally for Migry.”

As well, Mr Lel writes above:
“Well after Boston obviously the USA is out as a venue. So where do you suggest it be held?”

So, the matter looks to be a little more complicated than, “So-and-so has been banned! Let's move the event away from that terrible country!”
Aug. 7, 2013
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My observations of the corporate world lead me to conclude that any time we are told that some office holder says he wants to “spend more time with my family”, the auditors are not far behind.
Aug. 6, 2013
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On concessions and playing on: I like Sydney player Michael Courtney's approach.

He says, “If I'm getting smashed-up by some team, the last thing I want to to is concede. I want to see more boards and more of what they're doing right that I'm doing wrong. I might learn something useful.”
Aug. 6, 2013
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Jack Futrell: “ok, now your just being silly”
Michael Kopera: “… Thx for clarifying”

I would point out that Mr Futrell did NOT say “ok, now you're just being silly”, so this is hardly a clarification.

Mr Kopera should have asked, “My WHAT is being silly?”
Aug. 6, 2013
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There was an amusing “other side of the coin” in Sydney some years ago.

Richard Cummings, bridge columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, wrote up a hand with some fancy criss-cross triple-lutz ending that was given to him as having been played in a local rubber bridge game.

A friend of mine enjoyed himself no end by going to the source of the hand with a Mollo book and remarking at length on an astonishing coincidence: Two identical intricate deals played exactly the same way, card-for-card!

RC was furious…
Aug. 2, 2013
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Mr Sapire:
I did not mean to suggest that the hand was not dealt while you watched. By “looks like”, I meant, “looks to be of the same quality”, not “looks to be taken from”.

Yes, I don't think it matters how declarer returns to hand. The early strip of the diamond looks neater to me, but that's a matter of taste.
Aug. 2, 2013
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This looks like a 60s par hand and Mr Bethe's line looks like the official solution.
Aug. 2, 2013
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But is it Your Master's suit?
That is the question…
July 31, 2013
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Yes, I recall Eric Murray's psyche. I am digging further. Wish I was home with my books…
July 30, 2013
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You are required to lead a spade but don't have one? Obviously, this is a revoke.

You must lead another suit, perforce. If your side wins that trick there is a two trick penalty, otherwise only one.

(Please, no sermons and lectures. You might not find that amusing but that was the intent)
July 30, 2013
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If double would have asked for a spade lead then South “may not choose from amongst logical alternatives one that might have been suggested by the hesitation”.

Since no lead is a stand-out, there are other “logical alternatives”. Find another lead. If he keeps up the huddles, find another partner.
July 30, 2013
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Like Mr Kopera, I “have no idea what is suggested by partner's question, no idea why I should call the director, and no idea why partner chose that particular time to ask that question.”

I will make the lead I would always have made. Not doing so on the basis of such ephemeral data seems unnecessarily virtuous to me.

Should an opponent have a gripe with any particular matter, they are, as always, welcome to summon the director.

I agree with the comments that partner needs a quiet word on the timing and nature of questions.
July 30, 2013
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Mr Rosenberg:

You ask about the methods of Avarelli and Belladonna. I quote from their “The Roman Club System of Distributional Bidding”, 1969 revision.

“DOUBLE – optional. In principle the optional double is informatory but should have sufficient top tricks to ensure a penalty if partner has a suitable hand. In general, it is made on 14 to 18 points, 5 to 6 losers, and a hand playable in two or three suits.

e.g., over 3, double on:
AKxxx, xx, QJxx, AQx, or
AKxxxx, x, AQxxx, Kx, (sic) or
AKxx, x, Axxx, Kxx

Partner either:

(a) Bids a suit at the lowest level, with a weak hand. With two at-least-four-card-suits, the cheaper is bid.
e.g., after 3 - Double - Pass, with
Axxxx, xx, xxx, xxx, bid 3 ;
xx, xx, Axxx, Qxxxx, bid 4

(b) Bids game directly, with a one-suited hand, assuming partner has an average double.
e.g., after 3 Double - Pass, with
AQxxxx, xx, Kxx, xx, bid 4.”

I am guessing that the hand with 14 cards is meant to be a 5-1-5-2.

Quite a divergence between point (b) and Avarelli's pass of 3X. Great judgement!
July 30, 2013
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Mr Shen:

You write:
“They advanced their short-suit over a double. Different style. So what?

Kaplan's 1958 write-up is essential reading for anyone, pretty much.”

1. If Kaplan's 1958 write-up is essential, so must be Belladonna & Avarelli's 1969 write-up that I quote above.

Again:
“The requirements for the double are 12 - 16 points with 4-4-3-2, 4-4-4-1, 5-4-3-1 or 5-4-2-2 distributions, where the long suits are not the same as the suit opened.

4-3-3-3 and 5-3-3-2 (with the doubleton in the suit opened) are also permissible.”

Do you have an explanation for Avarelli's astonishing system violation? In the BW article where Avarelli passed a take-out double of 3 (and their notes call the double ”informatory“) with seven hearts and no trump trick we were told so much about his wonderful judgement. Is this simply another example?

2. As for, ”advanced their short suit“, this is a red herring. I quote from my reply to Mr Pikataival:

”By contrast, my concern is with the 1=4=4=4 takeout double of 1 in a commonplace scenario such as the following:

1 X 2 ?
What is Belladonna's action on:
KQxxx
xx
Qxx
xxx

…If they doubled a major with a singleton in the other major, by what means did they untangle hands such as the one I provide above? I dunno.“

You call this ”a different style“. It was unique. NO ONE ELSE has ever played it.

So, what is YOUR call with the hand I provide? Is your ”judgement" as good as the Italians?
July 30, 2013
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Mr Pikataival,

Thank you for taking the time to research this matter.

Some points:
1. As for “hints”, you will find some pointed ones in Kaplan's Bridge World analysis of the USA-Italy final of 1973. That is the event where Italy was second in the qualifying and was rated 21/1 on by British bookmakers to win the final.

In the real world the weight of money is a far stronger guide to what is going on than any opinion. No one has ever yet come up with a clean explanation of how 21/1 odds were on offer in a two-horse race.

2. Here is a quote from “The Roman Club System of Distributional Bidding” by Avarelli and Belladonna, 1969 revision.

“INFORMATORY DOUBLE IN SECOND POSITION OF A SUIT BID

The auction after an informatory double by the first of the two defenders on the first round follows.

The requirements for the double are 12 - 16 points with 4-4-3-2, 4-4-4-1, 5-4-3-1 or 5-4-2-2 distributions, where the long suits are not the same as the suit opened.

4-3-3-3 and 5-3-3-2 (with the doubleton in the suit opened) are also permissible.”

You are doubtless aware that “informatory double” is an obsolete term for “takeout double”. Clearly, Avarelli's double is a grotesque violation of written system.

3. Thank you for the example you provide, where Avarelli bid his seven card suit. It can be viewed as what Reese called “an agricultural bid”; a fairly typical 50s flyer. No matter what, he was assured of at least an 8 card fit.

By contrast, my concern is with the 1=4=4=4 takeout double of 1 in a commonplace scenario such as the following:

1 X 2 ?
What is Belladonna's action on:
KQxxx
xx
Qxx
xxx

4. As for “Ayatollah's Correct Bidding Lessons”, it is NOT my assertion that, “Everyone must play the methods of which I approve”.

- The Italians racked up many world championships playing this style
- NO ONE has ever played as the Italians did.
- If their method was any good at all SOMEONE would be playing it.

If they doubled a major with a singleton in the other major, by what means did they untangle hands such as the one I provide above? I dunno.
July 30, 2013
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I agree with Mr Bluthman - the term for a score possible on some ultra-extreme double-dummy layout is not overly useful.

I saw a hand the other day where 3NT made with AJ bare opposite a singleton, yet an ace needed to be knocked out. Simple! One player had KQ bare. Analysis and review of such situations is hardly educational.

If “par” is 6NT by Belladonna then we need an “achievable par” (or some such) for realistic contracts within the bounds of what can be done at the table.
July 29, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment July 30, 2013
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On the actual hand it WAS a problem to find the “double superfit”.

At the other table West passed with the 1=4=4=4 14 count and North bid 4 on his 7 card suit. All pass. That's what actually happened.

But this is quite irrelevant and has nothing to do with my point.

The question is not, “How do you find this wonderful slam (yes, Italy bid and made 6) on this particular hand”, but rather, “How can one cope in real life with making a takeout double with a singleton in the unbid major, modest values and no long suit?”

Imagine a startlingly radical auction such as:
1 X 2 2
Pass ?

Having snookered oneself, what next?

Is this method really playable? If so, HOW? How did it work for Italy for 20 years and for nobody else?
July 29, 2013
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I do not know if Avarelli-Belladonna were cheating. There are those who are adamant they were and many who think they were super-great players to be admired.

For any uncertain proposition it is wise to seek and evaluate relevant evidence.

Take, for example the USA-Italy World Championship hand (I am away from my library and do not have reference to the whole deal) where the Italian West doubled a 1 opening for takeout. He had a 1=4=4=4 14 count.

That's right, he had ONE SPADE for his takeout double of 1. Mirable dictu, he hit his partner with 6-5 in the minors.

It's no good saying, “That's the way they played” for that is little better than a tautology.

As we know, this extreme off-shape takeout double style was never used by any other “name” pair in the world. How could it be? By what magical means could one keep a competitive auction under control with a singleton in the UNBID MAJOR, modest values and no long suit? It's plain impossible.

But that's the way they played for a couple of decades. No one else has ever tried it and it's not hard to work out why.

So IF it were to be that something “untoward” was going on, it could be as simple as “My shortest suit is…”.

That can account for the 0=7=4=2 pass of 3 doubled and the 1=4=4=4 takeout double of 1.

Still, Mr Heitzman reminded us that Edgar Kaplan wrote on “That old black magic”, where to “help” one's partner with intonations and physical cues was regarded as de rigueur in the 50s and 60s. Maybe there is a bit of that in these pre-screen auctions. I don't know.
July 29, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment July 29, 2013
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Thanks for the clarification. Yes, “whilst minimising the risk of failure” must necessarily bring in some form of estimation.
July 29, 2013
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I am unclear as to the correct view of the term “par”.

I think Mr Rosenberg and Mr Bethe use it to mean “the absolute best possible score given the best possible actions by both sides”.

Well, at golf there have been holes-in-one, but there are no holes with a par of one.

Moving to bridge, Wikipedia has this to say:
“Optimum contract and par contract are two closely related (and sometimes confused) terms in the card game contract bridge.

The optimum contract is the one which offers the best chance of gaining the most scoring points whilst minimising the risk of failure…

Where there is competitive bidding (i.e. both sides are bidding) the extra dimension of sacrificial bidding is added, and the theoretical optimum contract can be overtaken by the par contract. The par contract on a deal is that contract which results from optimal bidding by both sides and which neither side could improve by further bidding”

I draw attention to the phrase, “whilst minimising the risk of failure”.

This seems to discount double-dummy “pars” such as 6NT on the Avarelli hand; any pair bidding that while knowing for sure that South had no diamond to lead has more than my admiration.

Of course, an assertion in a Wikipedia entry does not make it so, so I am open to enlightenment.
July 28, 2013
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