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All comments by Avon Wilsmore
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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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6 ! Goodness, you have frisky partners.

You remind me of a Dame Edna Everage performance I attended some years ago. She was doing her routine of quizzing the audience and making some joke out of it….

Dame Edna: And what sort of bed do you have, dear?
Lady: A king-sized bed
Dame Edna: Oh, that's wonderful, dear! I *do* love to meet an optimist!
July 28, 2013
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Yes, clearly the next best line…
July 28, 2013
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Good line.
July 27, 2013
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Mr Bluthman:

On, “Or how issues min (sic) your club game in Australia proves anything about world champions.

They do not. Regarding the Buratti-Lanzarotti affair, Mr Brady asked, ”What would have happened if LHO held the Q stiff and the jack ran into it for down 1?“

My comment regarding the rubber game was to demonstrate that, had the queen been bare (ie, the ordinary play would work), no signal would have been given.

This is in accord with John Swanson's Inside the Bermuda Bowl: ”They only cheat when they have to“.

Example:
Italy ran second to USA in the qualifying rounds for the 1973 Bermuda Bowl. Before the final, British bookmakers had Italy at 21/1 on. Historically, weight of money carries far more clout and is a much better guide to the facts than any amount of debate and discussion.

Yes, I have proved nothing against Avarelli. Proof is hard to come by. Hard evidence (Sion-Cokin), conclusive notes (Don Oakie kibitzing Reese-Shapiro), and Truscott's observation of a 100% hit rate on 75 opening leads (Manoppos) are rare events.

As for ”respected magistrate“, I must give that little weight. We have Supreme Court judges who have been jailed in Australia. One of them had to return his Order Of Australia medal.

We agree he ”won twelve WBF world titles“. The question is, HOW?

You write, ”No charges were ever brought in any “official” bridge forum against Avarelli.

Mr Wolff has written in a blog:
“With what has been written up to now and will soon be completed, I am intending to mention the Burgay tapes and from them the long term President, Godfather and cofounder of the WBF (1958) Jimmy Ortiz-Patino in 1976, after he confirmed the authentication of the tapes with the American CIA and together with the Executive Council of the WBF barred every member of the Blue Team from ever participating again in the World Championships these episodes will be covered and soon released in his book, World Bridge History. He relented on two occasions (1979 and 1983) and I, as Chairman of the Credentials committee, relented in 2005, but only in the Senior Bowl. I recently interviewed Leandro Burgay during the Shanghai WC in 2007 together with the current totally honest coterie of Italian champions who volunteered so much new (at least to me) information, all corroborating what, as you say many people have known for years. (back to you, but perhaps, if this complete post is read, I will not need to)”

It appears that “World Bridge History” became “The First Fifty Years of the World Bridge Federation” and was given an almighty sanitizing. What was in the original? Looks like we will never know.
July 27, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment Aug. 2, 2013
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Mr Bluthman:

You write, “I noticed how, from one version of the hand to another, it has changed. First, two spades and no clubs, and later, two clubs and no spades.”

For that I have already apologised; I got the first account of Avarelli's single from one particular source. When Mr Pokorny asked for the full deal I found Mr Wolff's text as written above.

You write, “And then the stated result went from down four (800) to down five (1100). But even that is stated wrong, as holding declarer to five tricks in 3Dx is only down four”

I cannot see why "holding declarer to five tricks in 3Dx“ is not -1100.

Mr Brenner has already dealt with your ”out by only one card“. It is a fallacy whether it matches the current deal or not.

I remind Mr Bluthman of Mr Brenner's earlier reply:
”Given Avarelli's hand and assuming nothing but 7 with LHO, out of many deals:

In 295 deals partner has 12-15hcp and 3/4, 3/4, 0/1, 3-5?
In 229 deals partner has 16+ hcp and 0/1.

So the classical takeout double hand seems clearly more probable than the other hand you specified. That said, I admit to having no idea why you figure those are the interesting cases to consider. Did I overlook a message in which someone said the doubler might have a singleton heart but only in a strong hand? Is there some reason that we ignore the hands of whatever strength in which doubler has two hearts such as AKQx,Kx,x,Axxxxx? Or 4423 hands? “

Mfr Bluthman writes, ”This hand is proof of good, independent thinking by .“ It may well be. But upon what was it based?

I quote from my reply to Mr Pokorny:

”Garozzo's first choice was 4
Garozzo's second choice was 5
Garozzo's third choice was 6
.
.
You have yet to account for the fact that, prior to hearing WHO passed, Garozzo preferred 4, 5 and a jump to slam.“

I agree entirely that none of this is ”proof“ of cheating, unlike the Sion-Cokin case, or the amazing Oakie evidence against Reese-Shapiro, or, perhaps the th 100% opening lead record of the Manoppos, discussed above. I am with Bertrand Russell in that proof is far harder to come by than most poeole suppose.

Further from my reply to Mr Pokorny:

”If I understand your reasoning (and very likely I do not), it goes something like this:
“After a vul 3 partner has doubled for takeout. I have seven hearts, therefore partner has hardly any. This is terible! Even though I have no trump trick and at most one defensive trick I should pass before I get into real trouble”.

I think the following:
“Partner, for his takeout double, probably has a takeout double. With seven hearts, it's off to the races! A youth player on Ritalin would drive to the small slam, find dummy with:
AKQx
KJ9x

xxxxx

and yell at his partner for not kicking to the grand. Ah, youth! I shall just settle for game, miserable coward that I am.”

I am trying to get my simulator sent to me (currently away from home). If Mr Bluthman and and Mr “power-double with spades” Pokorny have some hand definitions and constraints that they wish to have considered, please let ke know. If I am able to do the job, I will provide the results and conclusion.

Avon Wilsmore
July 27, 2013
Avon Wilsmore edited this comment July 27, 2013
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With partner a passed hand I might bid aginst weak players, but I don't want a strong declarer to gain in the play. Quite apart from any risk of going for a number, I would pass against a good pair for that reason.
July 27, 2013
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Mr Pokorny:

You write:
Although unusual, pass is an expert bid here."

Garozzo's first choice was 4.
Garozzo's second choice was 5.
Garozzo's third choice was 6.

It was when he heard the IDENTITY of the player AND was told of their action that he finally approved of pass.

With the hand you supply you have FAR MORE defence than the hand with a side 7-card suit. Yet you never consider pass (nor would I; pass is absurd with both West hands).

You write:
Bidding pass with that 0742 hand means - preventing problems.

Well, it all depends what you call a problem. Personally, I dislike -670 and -650.

If I understand your reasoning (and very likely I do not), it goes something like this:
“After a vul 3 partner has doubled for takeout. I have seven hearts, therefore partner has hardly any. Even though I have no trump trick and at most one defensive trick I should pass before I get into real trouble”.

I think the following:
“Partner, for his takeout double, probably has a takeout double. With seven hearts, it's off to the races! A youth player on Ritalin would drive to the small slam, find dummy with:
AKQx
KJ9x

xxxxx

and yell at his partner for not kicking to the grand. Ah, youth! I shall just settle for game, miserable coward that I am.”

You have yet to account for the fact that, prior to hearing WHO passed, Garozzo preferred 4, 5 and a jump to slam.

At least we agree on, “Be serious, man”.

BTW, I am currently away from home and am making an effort to get my hand simulator sent to me. If I succeed I will let you know the results…
July 27, 2013
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