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All comments by Bart Bramley
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I saw a way to make when West is 1=8=1=3. A, A, ruff, J, ruff, Q, ruff, ruff, two high spades. Ten tricks despite 4-1 trumps. But I still can't see a way on actual distro and best defense.
July 28, 2017
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I have fond memories of John going back to when I was just getting serious about the game. He was one of the first real players to befriend me and my group.

A great memory was attending a Rolling Stones concert with John in Madison Square Garden in 1975. It was a fabulous show. In his understated way he really rocked out.

He was one of a kind.
March 26, 2017
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John was tall and thin with disproportionately long legs for his height. When he walked with his usual long stride he appeared to be hopping.

Yes, “grasshopper” was his full nickname, but nearly always shortened to just “The Hopper”. Enough said.
March 26, 2017
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LH: As soon as dummy hits, both defenders can see that diamonds is the key suit. Giving count in the black suits is almost certainly irrelevant to the defense. Similarly, as declarer on this deal I would be reluctant to trust any count signal except for the opening lead.
March 23, 2017
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Michael,

The purpose of the 4-way is to qualify 3 teams for the next day, not as a free-for-all to determine seeding based on one or two short matches. If you survive you retain your seed, or possibly improve it if a higher seed was the loser of the group. The 4-way is regarded as a single match among four teams. One survivor cannot improve its seed at the expense of another survivor.

The only way to improve your own seed is to eliminate a higher seed, which is why upsets in head-up matches DO reward the survivor with a theoretically better draw.

The concept of constant re-seeding has occurred elsewhere, but not in bridge (to my knowledge). It was tried in the NHL for a few years, where a team that upset the top seed in an early round then had to play the SECOND seed in the next round. The NHL wisely scrapped that method.

Having a fixed draw has a certain elemental appeal, as it makes the event much easier to follow. Consider the NCAA basketball tournament, or most tennis tournaments. Seeding for those events is based on a long enough record to establish a pecking order among the contestants, but once the draw is determined every contestant knows who its potential opponents are, and when.
March 22, 2017
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Michael B.:

I disagree strongly. Seeding should be based on a multi-year record of performance, not on the most recent half-day.

For the same reason, seeding should not be based on one or two days of Swiss play, which effectively produces random seeding when it is used to seed the whole field.
March 22, 2017
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I doubt that Ilya's scenario occurred as described. The Vanderbilt and Spingold have not used 3-way matches for about 15 years. More likely it was a 4-way match with 3 survivors. If a higher seeded team lost its afternoon match it could still survive by winning the evening match, and would retain its original seed that way.

In a 4-way, a team improves its seed only if the eliminated team was originally ranked ahead of them, regardless of which teams won the afternoon matches or the evening match.
March 22, 2017
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On Kit's problem the club return is vital not just when declarer's diamonds are J10x, but also when they are Jxx, 10xx, J10, Jx or 10x. In all of those cases declarer must worry about a singleton diamond with East, and he could go wrong.
March 22, 2017
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I look to baseball for something comparable, specifically the American League in 1916. In an 8-team league, Washington finished seventh with a record of 76-77, 40 games ahead of last-place Philadelphia at 36-117, and just behind Cleveland at 77-77. The Boston Red Sox, with young Babe Ruth as their star pitcher, went 91-63 to win the pennant.
Feb. 5, 2017
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I remember this hand well. I was playing with Mark Feldman and we were also in contention. Dealer opened 3 in front of me. I had:

xx
AKTxxxxxx
xx


I chose to overcall 4, and next hand bid 5. Mark had:

AKQJxx
Q
KQxx
Ax

He bid 7NT, and who can blame him? I certainly couldn't, at least not until we got doubled!

Opening leader clearly should have guessed between spades and diamonds, but after long thought the lead was… the club king. If hearts had run we'd have had the first 16 tricks, but when RHO had jack-third we only had nine. That was -1100. On a spade or diamond lead we probably would have been down only 500.

My recollection is that the other results included -2800 (not -2200). Declarer at that table not only redoubled, but falsely claimed after the club lead and got stuck with down FIVE. (No, I don't see how that ruling is possible.) Anyway, Mark and I were worried that -1100 against our own slam would knock us out of contention. Instead, it was only a small loss, and we went on to qualify for the team.
Jan. 23, 2017
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I may be resulting here, but I don't like the diamond discard on the fourth spade. Keeping three clubs is less likely to be useful than keeping three diamonds, as the actual play showed.

I see that West can foil me by saving diamonds, and possibly his erroneous at-the-table pitch of a diamond was caused by “following” declarer's discard (and he may “follow” my suggested club discard by pitching a club). But if he pitches a diamond then it's curtains for him. Even if he pitches a club, East must remember to put his diamond jack under the queen when I lead to dummy.
Jan. 10, 2017
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Nik makes a key assumption that is unfounded: “We all remember what we scored on the hands.”

Maybe you do. And I would too, with enough supporting info to jog my memory, such as what we ACTUALLY scored on the hands. (Contracts, directions and outcomes help too.) If the scores provided at the break are wrong I am unlikely to spot the error unless I can compare it to something that is right, like my private score. That takes a lot of extra mental energy that I would rather use playing the game.

Nik is a self-admitted poor scorekeeper, so of course he'd rather have it done for him. I'm an excellent (and efficient) scorekeeper, so I'd rather keep doing it myself.
Dec. 16, 2016
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Count me out. This solution is worse than the problem it is meant to cure. Note that it requires breaking a lifetime habit, one which until this post has never had a stigma attached to it, while imposing a major inconvenience on all players. No thanks.

Keeping score is essential. And that means not relying on electronics or anything else. A personal scorecard is by far the simplest method of reconciling errors that may occur in the centralized scoring system that the no-scoring advocates would have us use for later getting all our scores.

All but beginners know that a personal score is supposed to be kept private. Players in major events are extremely unlikely to be flashing their scores; they know better. As some have noted, wires are more likely to be obtained from good hearing than from good eyesight.
Dec. 15, 2016
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@Alan:
More trivia. Kleitman was Lebensold's thesis advisor (1969).
Dec. 12, 2016
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Ken Lebensold has an Erdos number of 1, if you count the “Erdos-Lebensold Constant” as connecting them sufficiently. (I would, though I don't think they actually wrote a paper together.) Many bridge players, including myself, have played with Lebensold; maybe one of them has a better Bacon number than I have.
Dec. 12, 2016
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Note that a hypothetical pair that finished 3-4 in the Senior KO (53.20 master points) and second in the Blue Ribbon (142.50 points) would have earned more points (195.70) than Meckwell earned for WINNING both events (190). No matter what you think of drop-ins, this would have been a ludicrous outcome. Indeed, the actual effect on the Player-of-the-Year race was ludicrous as well.

During the Blue Ribbon I observed that the top players “all” say that they don't care about points; now they get to prove it.

Yes, I know that I was a beneficiary of the drop-in rule for the Blue Ribbon, but I was a strong advocate of drop-ins long before then. This is one area where the WBF does it right.
Dec. 7, 2016
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His infectious grin can light up a room.

He is my best partner ever. We have played exactly two sessions together, a regional pairs win in Ohio many years ago. One of the sessions was a 475 on a 325 average, six boards over, the biggest matchpoint session of my life. It was a stanza movement. In the first half of the stanza we had all plus scores… and our second half was even better!

Get well soon, my friend.
Nov. 3, 2016
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Steve is correct that you can survive not cashing when LHO has Txxx and spades are 3-3, by running spades and guessing the ending. This picks up about 25% of the cases where spades are 3-3 and an opponent has Txxx (LHO has the hearts half the time, declarer guesses the ending half the time), which I had at 10% above. Thus, not cashing loses only 7.5% of the time. If declarer guesses the ending more than half the time, as I suspect most would, then not cashing gets even better.

Cashing loses only 6.5% of the time against an RHO who never falsecards from Qxx and Txxx or x. If RHO finds the falsecard even as much as about 25% of the time, the odds swing in favor of not cashing.

I've changed my vote: Don't cash the spade king.

I still prefer not cashing AK until after ruffing a spade, which is even more strongly indicated when not cashing the spade king. My (current) line: A, A, trump to hand, ruff. If the Q has dropped, draw trumps and claim, saving AK for the last two tricks. Otherwise, AK now, trump to hand, etc.
Oct. 10, 2016
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I agree with Roger that (1) the most critical decision is whether or not to cash the spade king before ruffing a spade, and (2) cashing it is better.

I also agree that not cashing loses 10% of the time (spades 3-3 and hearts 4-1). I get that cashing loses somewhat less than 6.5% of the time (a little under 5.5% when RHO has 2 small spades and 2 or 3 hearts including the ten, plus a little under 1% when RHO has Qx of spades and 4 hearts including the ten).

But those calculations assume that RHO never falsecards from Qxx. I disagree about that not being profitable. If RHO does drop the queen I then have to decide whether to guard against RHO's Qxx along with Txxx on EITHER side (ruff a spade with the 9) or RHO's Qx and Txx or Tx (ruff a spade with the ace). The former occurs about 4%, the latter about 2.7%. Therefore, except against players who always find the falsecard, cashing the K is better.

I also think it's close whether to cash AK after the A. This costs when clubs are 6-1 and spades were coming in with one ruff, but gains when LHO has two small spades and a doubleton club.
Oct. 10, 2016
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Your last example reminds me of a great bid made by my partner Rich Friesner in a late-round Spingold match many years ago. He had:


AKQxxx
x
AJTxxx

Rich Me
1 2
3 3
3 4NT
??

Rich judged that he had massive undescribable extra values and that I was a big favorite to have the diamond ace and club king, so he jumped directly to 7.

I had:

AJx
xxx
AKJxx
Kx

The contract is good but not cold. Rich made it on a fancy squeeze.

This deal is featured in the book The Hidden Side of Bridge (Bird & Reese), but unfortunately the authors neither show the bidding nor do they credit my partner by name for what was an impressive all-around display.
Sept. 28, 2016
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