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All comments by Bart Bramley
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Given that you always intend to play West for the club ace, why not start clubs from the South hand? When West does have five diamonds you (slightly) improve the chance for three club tricks, and when diamonds are 4-3 the club guess is basically random. Exchange the club ace and jack on the actual deal to see randomness at work.
Nov. 2, 2014
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I learned this variation from Mark Feldman, except that the meanings of an immediate 2 and a delayed 2 were flipped (so 2 always showed some invitation). I think he devised it, though others may have had the same idea.

By the way, I did NOT invent Bart. It is the creation of Les Bart.
Nov. 2, 2014
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At a New York regional in the late ‘60s I had a 215 (12 top) to win my section. That’s not remarkable, but FIFTH place was 196, which is well over 60%.

I remember one hand from that session. With both vul I had xx-xxx-Axx-Axxxx. RHO (Jim Hand) opened 1. I was in my Animal Acol phase, so I overcalled 2. It went pass-pass-double-all pass. (I had a sense of foreboding before I passed and should have bailed to 2. Too late.) LHO, Walt Walvick, led the club king, and dummy greeted me with Jxxxx-x-xxxxx-xx. A ruffing value! While I pondered at trick one Walvick said “No clubs, partner?” I checked my spots and saw that my best “x” was the eight, so I quickly called low from dummy and, sure enough, RHO showed out. I did the prudent thing: I won the ace, CASHED THE DIAMOND ACE, and lost the rest. Minus 1700.

However, when the scores went up, we had a matchpoint! There was a minus 1860. The player with my hand obviously doubled 6 and led the CLUB ace. He did NOT cash out the diamond ace for minus 1660. I earned a matchpoint because I DID cash out. A friend who heard the story said “No wonder you had 215. You got a free matchpoint on every board!”
Sept. 13, 2014
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East-West make 3NT with perfect guessing, which is mainly playing South for AJx of clubs. Best defense is to lead hearts and hold up clubs until the third round. (Declarer must win the heart ace and pass the first round of clubs.) After winning the club ace South continues hearts, but declarer holds up until the third round and runs clubs to strip-squeeze South in spades and diamonds. South must either unguard one of those suits (declarer plays on the unguarded suit) or throw his last heart, in which case declarer has several ways to take two more tricks. No other defense is better.

And declarer may well work out to play South for that hand on the bidding. South must have all of the significant high cards, and North's 3 bid marks him with 4-4 in the majors. The toughest guess is South's minor-suit shape, which could be 3-2 either way. If South leads the heart ten and declarer assumes it to be honest, then North has the heart jack and South pretty much needs ALL 18 other HCP to justify his bidding, marking the winning line.

Easier in hindsight, of course, but all plausible.
Sept. 5, 2014
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Excellent report.

On the choice-of-slams deal with 5-2 spades and 5-3 clubs: 6 can be made when spades are 5-1, as long as clubs are 3-2 and the A is onside. Win the heart lead, draw trumps, cash four spades pitching hearts, ruff a SPADE, and lead a diamond up. In the 3-card ending you are 2-2 in diamonds, with a trump in hand and a heart in dummy, with the lead in dummy. What does LHO save? He must save two diamonds, else you can lead a low diamond to drop the ace. Thus, he must be down to one heart, so ruff a heart and lead another diamond up. Of course, you have to read the ending.

Note that when RHO has the spade length, it is necessary to ruff a spade first, squeezing LHO on that trick.

Therefore, six clubs makes more often than six spades.

However, if you KNEW that your counterparts were in six clubs, bidding six spades might be better imp-wise. You gain 2 imps close to 84% of the time (3-3 or 4-2 spades) and lose 14 imps at most about 5% of the time (bad spade break AND 3-2 clubs AND A onside AND they get the ending right). Imp expectancy is greater in 6. Would teammates understand? Hmmm…
Aug. 20, 2014
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The strongest reason to finesse is not mathematical. Playing for the drop means that North, with a blind opening lead, chose to lead from 74 rather than from 7642. On that basis alone, North is a large favorite to hold the spade queen.
July 30, 2014
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I have published the solution in a separate thread.
June 30, 2014
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A few years ago I saw a construction in which South is COLD for 4 and East is COLD for 5, on the same deal. (No, that's not a typo.) Care to take a crack at it? I will reveal later.
June 25, 2014
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Like Kit, I think 1 is so anti-percentage even for a shooting action (vul vs not, bad short suit, good defense) that it was caused by a mechanical error rather than calculated intent. A missort is one possibility. A stronger one is that he missaw the auction and thought that his PARTNER opened instead of his LHO.
May 21, 2014
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Sorry for getting here late. I agree strongly with Jonathan Weinstein (below). My own version of Lightner doubles is: “I have a surprise. Hit me.” Surprises come in many forms. The concept that the double tells leader to lead his own (leader's) suit is from the Goren era and almost never valid. In the present case the doubler HAD A CHANCE TO RAISE SPADES and didn't. He didn't know that opener was going to bid 3NT, so if he had spade support he risked losing a partscore swing by not raising. Any hand that thought it could beat 3NT based on a spade lead would almost certainly have raised spades. Thus, the double LOGICALLY asks for leader to hit doubler's own suit. This is logic, not a convention, and applies to many doubles of 3NT. BTW, Kit gave me this situation in person and I gave the above explanation without any prompting about “conventional meanings”.

I have a gripe with the designation “non-offending side”. IMO, declarer was a much bigger “offender” than the non-volunteer for the defenders. I consider calling the cops here after the fact to be abuse of process. He tried to game the system and got lucky. Directors are too generous with complaints of this type. When I was commenting for casebooks a few years ago my standard term was “hopeless whining”.

Screens create numerous opportunities for non-matching explanations, because both partners are giving meanings, not just one partner. Trying to catch the opponents in a mismatch is highly distasteful. The directors should not have bought it so readily.
May 17, 2014
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This was a Grosvenor. If East ducks the club you will lose to the queen. The defense will give you a second heart trick, getting you up to eight. No play.

And East might well go up with K1098x of hearts to prevent you from stealing the ninth trick when you have the spade queen and AJ doubleton of hearts.
April 10, 2014
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I played this hand. I saw it all the way, especially the part about ruffing with the king to lead my good spade. I was hoping that Martel WOULD ruff low so that I could reach that ending.

Earlier, I knew the spade count and I was pretty sure about the club count, so East had to be 4-3 or 3-4 in the reds. If he has three hearts I can make much more easily by splitting the trumps instead of ruffing a diamond. But that would be down TWO if East has FOUR hearts. My whole line was based on safetying down one against 4-2 trumps while preserving the make against 3-3. I was safe for down one if West followed to the third diamond (meaning East was now out of diamonds) by ruffing high and leading a good spade (East ruffs low and gets two trump tricks).

I could not find a winning line if East had four trumps. For example, I could not cross to the diamond queen and pound high spades through East. He can ruff high and stick me in my hand with a trump, since my remaining trumps were KJ9 and dummy had the eight. Nor could I cross to the diamond queen and lead my LOW spade. East pitches his last diamond while I ruff in dummy and he must score two trump tricks.

Around this time I was regretting not having inserted the trump NINE on West's trump shift, retaining KJ6 opposite dummy's eight. Now if I cross to the diamond queen and play a high spade, East cannot ruff high and play a trump, because I win in DUMMY, pitch my low spade on a high diamond, ruff a diamond, draw the last trump, and cash my good spade. Nor can East ruff low, because I overruff and cash two good diamonds, pitching my last two spades. East gets only one trump trick. However, he might pitch his last diamond instead of ruffing. Then, if I lead my last high spade he ruffs high and leads a trump, leaving me with a spade loser. And if I lead my low spade he pitches a club, transposing to the same losing position as at the end of the preceding paragraph.

So apparently there is no way to make against perfect defense when East has Q10xx of trumps. Does anyone else see a way?
March 30, 2014
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I strongly agree with the principle of allowing table results to stand if at all possible. Avoid assigning artificial scores. To not even attempt to play the board violates that principle immediately. The director can always decide to assign an artificial score later, if he deems it necessary.

In another arena, we in the US had a glaring example of an “artificial score” earlier this week in Game 3 of the World Series. The game ended on an umpire's decision to overturn the actual result of the play and substitute his own judgment of what should have happened. In this case the Rules of Baseball strongly supported what he did (in my opinion; others disagree, some violently), but that does not make it a desirable outcome. In all endeavors we want the result to be based on the actions of the principals, not the decisions of a third party.
Oct. 31, 2013
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Rodwell calls his method “4-4-keycard ask” (how mundane!) in his Bridge World interview (2010). He says that the 4 signoff came from a Polish theorist whose name he forgot, and that he added the rest himself. Chris Compton invented the name “Mulberry Bush”, later shortened to “Mulberry”. I got these tidbits directly from conversations with Eric and Chris.
Oct. 31, 2013
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A similar missort happened to me about 25 years ago, when I was playing with Lou Bluhm in a national pair event. I opened 1NT with xx-Axx-Axx-AKxxx and partner bid 2, transfer. I glanced at my hand again and discovered I actually held VOID-Axx-Axx-AKxxxxx. If I bid anything higher than 2 it would be a super-accept for spades, so I bid 2 and prayed. Partner now bid 4, splinter, slam try in spades. That was much better. I considered cooperating, since I had a lot of controls and tricks, but I also had that trump void and I didn't want to press my luck, so I signed off in 4, happy to have survived. And it was the top spot, from MY side! He had something like AKQxxxx-QJx-Qx-x. Better to be lucky than good…
Oct. 28, 2013
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A spectacular defense is available even if declarer is much stronger. Suppose he has AKQJ9xx-xxx-x-Qx. (Yes, he might have opened 4 with that, but bear with me.) On the second club you pitch a count card in diamonds. Partner, envisioning this layout, shifts to his diamond, the only way to retain a chance. (Otherwise declarer simply ruffs high, draws trumps and cashes three diamonds.) If declarer plays a heart immediately, partner pops jack to play a trump, retaining his second trump to kill the diamonds. Instead, declarer plays a second diamond himself, ruffed and overruffed. When declarer exits with a heart, partner wins and NOW plays a third club. Declarer ruffs high, but you pitch your last diamond. Then, heart ruff, diamond ruff high, heart ruff, and finally declarer must promote your 10 with his next play from dummy.

THAT would be a newspaper-worthy defense!
Oct. 17, 2013
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2012 was a great effort by Canada despite a loss in the round of 16. They made the KO stage of the Olympiad Teams (or whatever it's called now) and led Monaco by 18 with one set to go before losing.
Sept. 23, 2013
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I was watching this. Bakhshi (third seat defender) squandered the 10 for no apparent reason. Then Gold (opening leader) squandered the 9 similarly. In the ending, after the first heart trick went J, Q, K, A, Gold could not avoid giving declarer the heart seven for the contract trick. He had to hope that his partner had the seven, which is why he underled rather than squash it under his eight.

Discarding the heart ten was bizarre, since at the time Bakhshi didn't know the location of the nine or eight. And discarding the heart nine was equally bizarre, as it should have been obvious to Gold by then that it could cost a trick.

Bakhshi made another strange play when he followed with the diamond eight on the second diamond trick, creating a tenace position where none previously existed. That's probably why he thought he had to unblock hearts to avoid a potential endplay.
Sept. 23, 2013
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The main reason to include professionals on committees is that the vast majority of the best players in the world are professionals. (They may not all be full-time players, but they derive substantial income from bridge.) In order to have the depth of bridge knowledge necessary to make good committee decisions on cases involving top players, we must have other top players on committees. Therefore, we must have some professionals.

The alternative, as far as committee makeup, is to use only second-tier players. While those players may be capable of rendering fine decisions, when high-profile cases have been decided by committees thus comprised (and it has happened more than once in recent history), the constitution of the committee has routinely been seized upon by critics as one reason to castigate the decision.

You can't have it both ways. Either we have to settle for a lesser level of expertise on committees, or let the professionals serve. To me the latter is obviously preferable.
July 24, 2013
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Here we go again. The periodic effort to eliminate committees reminds me of similar goings-on in Congress these days. But I digress.

I am strongly in favor of keeping committees. Most of the arguments raised against them are specious:
1. Conflict of interest? Well, letting one set of directors decide the merits of a ruling by another set of directors strikes me as at least as large a potential conflict of interest as any that we have now.
2. Timeliness? Sorry, there is no way to achieve the proper level of discussion and interaction without having all of the parties in one place at one time. This can be done only AFTER the game, not DURING the game. And to Mike Whitman: No, 10% more travesties would NOT be worth it, nor would we eliminate most of the other things on your list, either.
3. Division of duties? “Let the players play and the directors direct.” No, as Robb Gordon pointed out, baseball umpires need not have been great players to make their judgments. But making complex bridge rulings often requires fine bridge judgment. Moreover, baseball rulings are based on VISUAL evidence that is immediately available. No such comparison exists in bridge, which is a MENTAL sport. Even if a director were kibitzing he couldn't be sure that a foul had occurred.
4. Committees like to justify their existence by overruling the director? I doubt it. Every committee that I have ever served on was just trying to GET IT RIGHT. Furthermore, in close cases my own tendency is to let the table result stand, whether or not that means upholding the director.
5. Look at all the money we could save. Really? Committees make peanuts. Besides, our premier events deserve the best decisions we can get, even if it costs a little more.

Every time we have a controversial committee decision we have the same call to get rid of committees. But many of these controversial decisions have been hotly debated without yielding a clear “right” answer. That's certainly true of this year's Vanderbilt case.

Letting directors comprise the committees would almost certainly INCREASE the number of bad decisions. All we would accomplish is to get them faster.
July 23, 2013
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