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All comments by Boye Brogeland
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Michael. I think it is up to each and one of us to draw our own conclusions based on the material we have in front of us. You might have your “standards” for what it takes to convince you about cheating, which seem to me as something which would hold up in the court of (criminal) law. Other reasonably awake people might take a different approach and believe their lying eyes. Don't forget that FS, FN, PS and BZ would have been the same bridge cheats even if you hadn't been able to watch some of it on video.
Dec. 15
Boye Brogeland edited this comment Dec. 15
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It's well and dandy when there is enough data for the statisticians to say it's one in a million or one in a billion that a player/pair wasn't cheating. It's ludicrous for the game of bridge to keep such a threshold before action can be taken against bad apples.

Someone (not a statistician I hope) might claim that you play for a 3-2 break 68 % of the time while you will choose the finesse 50 % of the time. Any lawyer could find numerous reasons why you on any given day would choose the 50 % chance over the 68 % chance - and claim that such a mistake is only human. A bridge player, though, knows that choosing the finesse whenever that works, and relying on a 3-2 break whenever that is right, is not what the game is about - especially at the top level.

That's why Buratti-Lanzarotti came crashing down on one single hand in 2005, and why Fantoni-Nunes in the end couldn't escape the club ace non-cash in 2015. Incidents like this, and of course the 2015 cheating scandal, have paved the way for a much bigger awareness and understanding of past and present wrongdoings.

In order to clean up the game - I had hoped it would happen sooner than later - facts and true stories need to come out in the open, not hushed up.
Dec. 6
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Christopher and Donald. Helness was not part of any of the teams (two teams from the same club) which turned in a match result of a match they hadn't played. All the players involved (meaning all the players in both teams) got a one year suspension from bridge. Three of the players had won the European Championships for Norway a few months earlier so you couldn't accuse the Norwegian Bridge Federation to go light on these cases.
Sept. 27
Boye Brogeland edited this comment Sept. 27
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Hi Julian.

Thanks for airing your concerns. Hopefully it's just random events which people with better knowledge of statistics than me would be able to break down properly.

If you look at the very last hand of the Europeans in Budapest in 2016, there was a grand slam on a (losing) finesse which swung lots of IMPs in many matches. Again, hopefully it's coincidental, but I would be happy to hear that some statisticians had looked carefully into it.

If it's something we should have learnt the last couple of years it is that we must dare to think the unthinkable.

PS. Congrats to Joe, Brad and the rest of the USA2 team for a fantastic showing, and commiserations to a terrific French team coming up just short on home turf. Also congrats to Julian and the rest of the Bulgarians with bronze, and to New Zealand which reached the knockout stage in the Bermuda Bowl for the very first time.
Aug. 28
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“The ethichs of an organization, the moral climate of an organization is established at the top, it's just that simple.” (Norman Schwarzkopf.)
Aug. 18
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Is it too much to expect the decision makers to represent the game and the players? Is it too much to expect that they realize the need for change? Would you believe that all the Americans voted for more of the same when WBF funding has been a hot potato with the ACBL? Please ask Al Levy, Howie Weinstein and the other Americans why they chose this path. I don't get it.
Aug. 18
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For me this applies to UI sensitive bids and play. If you are planning a final bid or a decisive play on a hand, feel free to take your time (I do for sure!), but the beauty of it is that it only gives AI to the opponents that you actually have a problem (and they can plan their potential counter moves accordingly). I guess alternative 3 might be the closest to this approach.
Aug. 1
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Absolutely, but holding my hand it could hardly be a solid major (and Sementa described it as a good 4 of a major opening). But what exactly does a good 4 of a major opening look like? And are you allowed to bend this a little bit third in hand to increase your chances of buying it in 4 of the major?

Again, we are also back to the unauthorised information (UI) a slow double or a slow pass can give partner whom is still in the bidding (it's not like I am making the final decision where this hand is going to be played). I rather double or pass in tempo and take my destiny. Winning isn't everything.
Aug. 1
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Before playing Bocchi and Sementa we asked for each others methods. They told us about their cardings and that 1 club could be a doubleton (also with 5 card diamonds). We told them about carding, Weak Multi, transfer responses to a possible doubleton club and how we open with 4 diamonds and 2, 3 or 4 clubs.

Yes, I think Sementa (my screen mate) should have told me about the 3 NT gadget. Do I think he tried to conceal their methods to get an edge? Not at all. Either he just forgot to mention it or he doesn't think it's a tricky convention to defend against. I have played against Sementa many times, and he is a terrific player, fun opponent and a gentle guy. I trust him.

So should I take the “Meckwell approach” (denying opponents to play Multi unless they carry two copies of the ACBL defense - or refusing to play against a fairly basic 1 H - 2 D and 1 S - 2 H to show either a bad raise to 2M or GF with the bid suit just because it wasn't written on the front page of the Convention Card)? Hell no. That's not the intention of these rules - the world's best players don't need that kind of extra protection.

I know that even if our opponents told us about their 3NT gadget we wouldn't fine a perfect defense. It's just a very hard convention to defend against since there is no anchor suit and in addition they may decide to play in 3NT as a cheap sacrifise. An effective tool, and no surprise that the Italians have many gadgets in addition to playing almost all doubles for take-out. The same way it shouldn't come as a surprise to them that we love to go for penalties (Paki/Zia style) and are happy to throw in a deceptive bid if the opportunity arises.
Aug. 1
Boye Brogeland edited this comment Aug. 1
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Thanks a lot, Bobby - and even more so for everything you have done and are still doing for our great game.
Aug. 1
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Hi Mike. I didn't want to respond to Stayman (normal Stayman, but 3 clubs will then ask more about partner's shape to find out about 5-card majors for example) as I know my left hand opponent normally has at least 15 points (they don't play penalty doubles, but double as minor+major). So by responding to Stayman I risk playing 3 NT doubled with 14 HCP (not knowing the upper range of my LHO) so may have to pull to 4 hearts/4 spades and hope it doesn't go for 1100. So I hoped that my initital action could lead to something good, but maybe the best bet is to go all in and respond, hoping for this exact situation or to hit partner with a heart fit and survive for 500 (or 800) when lefty has a huge hand.
July 31
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Hi Sathya. When do (most) people say that? It's when they have a problem so partner is going to be alerted (even if that's not the intention). Unless you always say it and take half a minute (or whatever time you feel is appropriate). It slows the game down a lot.

So our rule is: Play in tempo and accept having a bad result now and then. It makes it more fun and you don't have to think afterwards that we may have won the event because of a UI situation. Bridge would be an even greater game if more people took this approach.
July 31
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Hi Phil. Thanks for posting this. I agree that such a convention (3NT for one major) should be pre-alerted as it is quite rare and may require a defense. So maybe I should have called the director, but it's not our style; we try our best based on understanding of similar conventions (with 4 clubs or 4 diamonds as a good 4 hearts and 4 spades opening we know what to do; a direct double is for take-out, while pass followed by a double is a strong hand (and less take-out).

So we had to guess, and I hoped partner would only bid with a 5-card major - and then I could double whatever Bocchi bid. After the 4 hearts for pass or correct maybe Espen should double to show some values and I could pull to 4 spades with a 5-card suit? His 5 diamonds bid could of course be a big winner.

We guessed wrongly, we are grown ups, we take the bad result as men and we move on. This is bridge at the highest level - and we shouldn't bring too many cases to the TD's or appeal committe. We have seen how terrible that has worked in many cases, ruining the fun and ruining the event(s). They understand the rules, but they don't understand the game (was it Bill Shankley putting it that way?).

For the same reason I think that my third hand opening 1NT should be accepted (by my opponents) as part of the top level game. Or we can just start calling the director every time there comes up an iffy situation and we may have to wait many hours after the last hand to find out who really won the event. That's not good for the players, the kibitzers or for bridge.
July 31
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Hi Martha.

On the queen of diamonds lead against 4 hearts there is a bit of a signalling issue. Is it attitude or count when declarer plays low from dummy (and how can partner read that your card is not from Ax rather than Axxx - and even harder if it's just attitude)? It probably should be a count situation given dummy though we hardly play count except in very defined situations. This wasn't one of them, but we may have to add this one to our repertoire.

Espen and I always try to play in tempo in sensitive carding situation. As soon as I start to think when declarer calls for a low diamond (if an insta-play he doesn't get such a “favour” though), partner will know a lot (more) about my diamond holding. That creates a load of UI and easily destroys the hand in my view. So I want to make the play in tempo.

My gut feel is to win the diamond ace at trick one (!) and switch to a spade, hoping that partner has something like Axx-xx-QJ10xx-xxx. That's actually a play, but maybe Sementa wouldn't bid 4 hearts with xxx-AKQJ10xx-x-Qx (and maybe partner would have taken the sacrifice with Axx of spades?). But I don't do it (playing and encouraging 2), hoping that partner may find the spade switch anyhow with that hand. So when partner plays the queen of diamonds (normally denying the jack - or a suit preference in case I have the Ax) I am a bit annoyed with myself that I didn't followed my gut feel at trick one. Again, a hesitation will give partner more of a clue about the diamond holding so I play my potential first trick play very quickly at trick two without thinking the hand through. Though in theory it could still be right playing the ace if declarer has xxx-AKQJxxx-xx-Q, though he would probaly not bid 4 hearts with that hand.

After the hand partner says he thought it was a count situation with his diamond play; from QJ10x he would play the 10 the second time to show three remaining, while the queen shows two or four remaining. Probably that's the right way to play it here, though this is not standard for us unless in clear cut count situations (the first time I read about this was a few years ago in Mike Becker and Aubrey Strul's system file).

Presented as a problem, I think this hand is quite easy, but when you feel you have to make up your mind in 10-15 seconds (and I will do the same next time around - hopefully knowing a bit more about partner's hand after this “discussion”) you could easily miss something (like declarer's potential club void and no spots in hearts - the 432!).

It was a bad play, but there went a lot of (wrong) thoughts going through my head those seconds I had before deciding what to do.

Winning this match was as good as winning the Bermuda Bowl in 2007 and almost as good as winning the Europeans in 2008. It was truly one to remember - every bit of it. It's even sweeter when you can fight back from a cruel third session and beat the odds.

Hats off to our opponents, who played the game the way it should be played; friendly, honest and hard.
July 31
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Spot on.
July 31
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Hi Carol. At the same time (beginning of August) there is the Marit Sveaas tournament in the Opera House in Oslo and the Norwegian Bridge Festival in Drammen. I hope you enjoy your stay in Stavanger and will consider coming back for more!
July 19
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Trusting my intuition has always been an important part of my game. Sure, I am not always right, but I am far more willing to play against the odds than against my gut feel. Maybe I'm just lucky.
March 22
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Of course, Kurt, if you give GIB a (more or less) double dummy problem no human can beat it. Michael's problem shows that there are a lot more to bridge than just putting in general data and think GIB or whatever program will solve it perfectly. And humans normally have around 8 minutes to do so…
March 14
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So it seems fair to say that humans are still ahead for this kind of problem.
March 14
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Hi Kurt. When you do the numbers based on the actual bidding and the defense, you should put in that West has exactly six spades (all vul) plus the ace of clubs (would probably not overcall with six spades and nothing else). What does GIB say now?
March 14
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