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All comments by Ben Thompson
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It probably gets me to file a recorder form.

I don't go for the double shot (ie I do my normal thing; I don't pass and try to get it back in court if that was wrong). In my view players who try that sort of thing on are no better than the dodgy hesitators.
7 hours ago
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My general agreement in unanchored auctions is that bidding a suit they MIGHT still have is natural, but bidding a suit they have established they DO have is … whatever our other agreements say it is, but typically a raise or a stopper ask/show.

In this auction, the 2Der's suit hasn't been established and 2H is kind of the opposite of natural. So 3H for me is natural (upper limit will depend on your defensive method to 2D)
April 19
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With a 6 card suit, it looks more like a play hand than a defend hand to me.
April 18
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The real question is “what's your default rebid after 4th suit?” That is, when you don't have: a stopper in the 4th suit, 5 in 2nd suit, 6 in your first suit or 3 (Hx) in pard's first suit, what do you do?

I bid the thing my partnership has agreed is the default rebid. That way everything else is clearly meaningful, and only the default needs to be viewed with a degree of suspicion.
April 13
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This is a bit of an opportunity for Smith signals. North clearly doesn't have a S honour but they did start with 3 of them

In this situation I would play North's (negative) Smith as “I have a better idea”, and the “positive” Smith as “I can't thunk of anything better for us than to keep playing your suit”

That's probably enough to encourage South to continue a low one rather than cash the bullet
April 4
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Bidding (grand) slams with two strong 6 card suits is notoriously difficult.

You might start 1H-2C(2/1)-3H which I play as a non-minimum with a 6+ suit that will play for 0-1 loser opposite a singleton. AQJ432 does not qualify.

That you think you have a ripper suit doesn't end all other options. So over that:
3NT = I heard you and I don't like it. Let's try this
4C = my C are better than your H (0, maybe 1, loser opposite a void; AKQ432 does NOT qualify)
3S/4D = cue for your thing
4H = I heard you and I'm not that keen. Let's try this

So we might proceed 4C-4D (cue for CLUBS) - 4H (CUE should be the K; the shortage is already known) - keycard for CLUBS - answer - some grand

7H might be the better choice, eg if South has xx K Axx AKQxxxx because the super solid H's mean you can ruff a C
March 26
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This is one of many auctions where I prefer 2NT to be “2 places to play”.

In theory I make the distinction between “2 places” and Lebensohl based on whether it's a length or a strength situation. For example on this one after (1C)-1H-(1S)-P-(2S)-X-(P), EW have both done some bidding, North passed when they could have easily had a go, and we have plenty of suits that we might want to play in. This is a situation where landing in the right fit (ie establish length) is much more likely to be the issue than figuring out whether or not to bid game (ie establish strength). Therefore, 2NT is much more useful here as “2 places”

In practice, it's easier and a lot more reliable to have a rule (or a few) that details situations where specific options apply, and a default option that applies in any situation not specifically covered.

In my case, I don't play a lot of Lebensohl. My rule is that it applies if and only if:
1) we open, overcall or X 1NT and the next hand bids at the 2 level
2) they open a natural weak 2, we X and next hand passes
3) they open a multi, we X, the auction gets back to that hand below 2NT with pard passing, and our Xer doubles again

I also play 2NT is a raise in some situations, and even (shock!) natural in a few specific situations.

Every other time, 2NT is 2 places.
March 17
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Bill processed a bunch of our 5-5 competitive hands a few years ago and concluded that showing the shape was materially more important than distinguishing the strength in detail.

That said, I still prefer to bid some medium strength control-light 5-5s out rather than go via the 2-suiter bid just to avoid this kind of mess where no-one makes anything and the 2-suited overcall endplays partner into a misjudgment (broadly, I prefer to back partner over the opponents to make the right decision with better information).
March 15
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Kate's comment reminds me of a lesson I learned from the late great Bobby Richman - give them the last guess.

Sometimes they get it right - but if you force anyone into a series of guesses you win on average
March 15
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Partner might also have something like xxx - K10xxxx xxxx. Competing with a flexible bid (here, X) is much better … when you have a flexible hand.
March 13
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Ravenna showed the way to success. He gave false count on Pellegrini's A lead (I checked their card - they play reverse count in this situation).

Pellegrini “knew” Ravenna wasn't going to be overruffing a , so he just cashed K and tried Q hoping Ravenna had the K … which he did.

Giving false negative attitude on the A lead works just as well
March 13
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In principle I prefer to play against tough oppos. I quite like what Stephen & Pele did - had David Appleton sitting in both oppo seats. The dedicated oppo just needs to remember to be realistic in what they do.

However, Renee & I both have mixed up schedules and we often only schedule practices last minute, or have to shuffle them around last minute. So even though bots are inferior, they are convenient for us.
March 12
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I like Helene's willingness to bid 3. There are reasonable reasons for a preempter to have another go, and this is one of them.

I think 4 would be natural as well. It doesn't make much sense for a preempter to bid solo by showing shortage - in practice you're only having a 2nd swing because you have a secret side suit to bid (so just bid it to the approrpriate level) or secret extra length in your original suit (so just bid it to the approrpriate level)
March 12
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Sorry all, this article is intended for a forum, not the main page
March 12
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Leading the honour out of hand can work too - eg if you can make it look like you are trying to create an entry to the board. As usual with “fakes”, the earlier you try it, the more likely you are to get away with it
March 11
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Renee also opened 1, which I'm ok with. Despite the piles of points and aces, my hand has a lot of holes so I gave it away at 4 when Renee showed zero interest.

Then Renee played it nicely to make 11 tricks legit on their best lead - a . Basically, she drew trumps, cash 's, and exited A, J which endplayed West.
March 6
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You can mix it up by round, so each group of boards get played with the same oddball rule around the room.

eg:
- boards 1-4: we play anticlockwise
- boards 5-8: we use bowers (ie the trump J is high, and the same-colour J is 2nd highest)
- boards 9-12: diamonds are a girl's best friend (and rank highest)
- boards 13-16: lead for the next trick comes from the partner of the hand that won the previous one (creates some interesting entry-management problems - and solutions)
- boards 17-20: upside down cards (2 is high, A is low) - this one is harder than you would think
- boards 21-24: no takeout doubles
- boards 25-28: the beer card is to be taken very seriously!
Dec. 21, 2018
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I would like to see a strict protocol for readmitted cheats, with the onus for more or less everything on them.

General:
- you will only ever play at a table with screens
- you must not bring any paraphernalia to the table
- you must not leave the table while any boards remain incomplete (except to go to the toilet accompanied by tournament staff who will accompany you at their convenience only)
- your table will be under video surveillance at all times, and may be under additional surveillance

While the cards are out:
- you must not say anything (if you need the director you may put your right hand in the air and say the single word “director”; the director will take you away from the table to explain)
- you must not write anything with the screen up
- you should be very careful about making any sound
- you must hold your cards below the table, including while sorting
- you must place your bidding cards strictly starting from the left, against the same edge, and with the same spacing, throughout the tournament

As a defender:
- you must keep your hands below the table except when in the physical act of playing a card, or lowering the screen in order to write something
- you must grasp the card you play with the same grip, and release it in the same manner, throughout the tournament
- you must only play a card by placing it in a small tray/box that we will provide for this purpose and which your screenmate will place on the table in front of you after the bidding is complete
- you should be careful not to make any unnecessary movements

Consequences:
- if you break this protocol on any board, you will receive a procedural penalty of 3 IMPs (or equivalent in pairs)
- any IMPs you gain on a board where you break protocol will be cancelled
- you will not be afforded any extra time to comply with this protocol and if your table runs late, you will automatically be assessed with all time penalties
Dec. 19, 2018
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Likewise, how did East expect to make 3NT if West was x AKJx Axx xxxxx? That is, West with a slightly less helpful hand in the ordinary range, tried to keep the NS spades out of the auction by jumping to 3D, East had a fly at a light game, and South turned the cube against a known-to-be-light game.

Does East valorously stick it and risk a big out, or discreetly retreat to 4D?
Dec. 17, 2018
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Well, the book could be done. I have his system notes obviously. I built my own summary tables, which would be suitable for book form, and which Russ liked.

I know what Russ wanted to do with the book. He didn't want a dry system book. He wanted to highlight key features of the system and illustrate them with hands from actual play. And ideally weave it in with his story in bridge.

Weaving in his story now would be the hardest part I think. Getting hands to illustrate features would be achievable - some have been published in various places and I'm sure old partners would be more than happy to supply suitable hands, and anecdotes.

On the more mundane side, it'd need someone to pull it together (I'd at least consider it), a publisher, and some sense of an audience. It'd be nice to have approval from Russ's family too. And photos. Photos are always good.
Dec. 13, 2018
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