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All comments by Danny Kleinman
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No reading of Passell's intention at the time of the fouled board should be necessary. Indeed, I do not see how anyone could have known his intention with any confidence. However, once informed of Passell's actions, the director had a simple remedy: reconstruct the deal with the correct E/W hands and determine the most favorable plausible result for N/S at the other table. Assign an adjusted score, just as one might do in the case of a failure to alert, or misinformation about the meaning of one's partner's call. The unfavorable adjusted result serves as a deterrent to deliberately fouling a board and provides an incentive to take care not to foul a board inadvertently. Should a procedural penalty have been tacked on as well? Not if the opposing pair also failed to call the director upon noticing the fallen card.

I'm amused that political considerations arose in the discussion (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian). Even more extreme political differences (such as those between pro-capitalists and pro-communists) than those can be bridged with a bit of intelligence: combine the egalitarian ideals of communism (reading Marx and Engels would convince you of their good intentions) with kind and sensible mechanisms of achieving them (incentives and deterrents) and you get (at last) a workable economic system. There is likewise a workable way to formulate and enforce the laws and ethics of bridge. Pursue the goal of “restoring equity” by providing deterrents and incentives, and you sidestep any need to answer the often unanswerable questions “What was his INTENTION?” and “What WOULD HAVE happened in the absence of the irregularity or offense?”
Aug. 18, 2015
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I first heard of Sam Hayakawa about 60 years ago when he was a university professor known widely for his book on Semantics, “Language in Thought and Action.” Some 25 years later, when he was a US Senator, in a debate about “returning” the Panama Canal to Panama, Sam said, “We stole it fair and square, we should be allowed to keep it.”
I never discovered whether Senator Sam was being sincere (my best guess, as Republican politicians usually are) or ironic (as any semantically aware person would be). So in the bold tradition of Senator Sam I now say, of Cokin and Sion, the Italian Racecars, their predecessors Zucchini and Machete, Reese and Schapiro, the pre-War Austrian Team whose unerring opening leads S.J. Simon (who was certainly semantically aware) facetiously admired:
“They cheated fair and square, they should be allowed to keep their titles.” After all, if cheaters are stripped of their booty, it will hardly be worth the effort for them to cheat at all.
Jan. 11, 2015
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Congratulations, Bill, on picking a good acronym!
April 8, 2013
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Let's see what you and I can come up with that is better, Bill. Here's a start: UM (coincidentally, the card that I most often observe to be called by opposing declarers from dummy at Trick 1) doubles, but here an acronym for “Unbid Major” doubles and also a reminder that what we used to call Negative doubles also meant, “Um, I really don't what else to do with this hand.” I see one flaw in calling them “UM” doubles: the acronym doesn't apply to 1S-2H-double and other doubles when there is no unbid major.
April 8, 2013
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I'm with you again, Bill, in preferring descriptive names for conventions. Trouble is, “Responder's Takeout Double” doesn't describe the convention well, as it doesn't suggest that 1D-1S-double promises four (or more) hearts but says nothing about support for clubs, or than 1C-1D double promises both majors. So, alas, sometimes no descriptive name is apt.
April 8, 2013
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One more plus side to Goren (or Culbertson), David, which is better learned without even such commonplace conventions as Stayman, Jacoby Transfers and Blackwood. Other methods can be defined in terms of the simple natural bids of Goren (but the opposite is not true). So the best way to teach beginners is to start with Goren, then introduce some favored conventions by defining them in terms of what natural bids they replace and justifying them by saying what is gained and what is lost by such replacement.
April 6, 2013
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Al Roth, introducing this convention (originated 20 years earlier by Lou Scharf of the Bronx) in 1957 called Negative Doubles “Sputnik” a better (because not misleading) name for them. I'm with you, Bill: let's restore that name!
April 6, 2013
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1. 4NT never any form of Blackwood.
2. Transfers/NT openings (all suit responses through 4D)
3. Void splinters with 3NT response to 1H or 1S showing a void in the other major.
4. Strong artificial 2C and 2D openings in tandem with weak 2H and 2S openings.
5. Michaels Cue Bid (two top unbid suits)
6. Unusual 2NT Overcall
7. Top & Bottom 1NT Overcall
8. Super-Natural vs. opposing 1NT opening (double shows spades and another suit, three of a minor shows that minor and hearts)
9. Negative Doubles at low levels
10. 2NT response to 1H or 1S showing forcing raise with no void and initiating cue bidding when opener cannot show void via void-splinter bid.
April 5, 2013
Danny Kleinman edited this comment April 5, 2013
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In his book on 2/1 GF about two dozen years ago, Mike Lawrence called 1D-2C auctions “the Black Sheep of the Two-Over-One” family, then outlined two structures for continuing, plus a third structure guest-authored by Eric Kokish. I had been using a much simpler structure for many years, and I after reading Mike's book, I gave it a name, Baa Baa Black Sheep. With nothing extra, opener rebids 2D (“alert!”) as a neutral rebid that does not promise extra diamond length (S-Axxx H-Axxx D-KQx C-xx qualifies). Then responder's 2NT rebid (balanced 11-12 HCP) permits the auction to end in 2NT, 3C or 3D. I learned recently that Al Roth used this treatment, perhaps before I did. So simple!
March 21, 2013
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For the first few hours after I read about Bergen Raises (almost three decades ago) I was so favorably impressed that I thought to adopt them (in a modified form that I devised on the spot) with my one duplicate partner (I played rubber bridge almost exclusively in the 1980s). Then I went to the Cavendish West and played rubber bridge that afternoon. I opened 1H on the first deal and my partner raised to 2H, where I played. Soon the defenders had gathered four tricks and I was in, knowing from the first five tricks that my LHO had 9-10 HCP in the plain suits, with 4-4 in the black suits. Holding H-AK10xx opposite H-Jxxx, I cashed the HA getting low hearts from both defenders. Lead the HK or cross to dummy and finesse? With no more losers in the plain suits, only an insignicant 30-point overtrick was at stake. I cashed the HK dropping LHO's doubleton HQ, as I figured he'd have balanced with a double holding 4=1=4=4. Had he done so and pushed me to 3H, I'd have finessed. Either way, I'd take nine tricks. Moral: it's better to be pushed than jump to three. I abandoned my plan to teach Bergen Raises to my lone duplicate partner. Kit and Bud are right on target!
March 20, 2013
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You're right, Richard. My friend Bruce Altshuler presented a scheme that was based loosely on what I proposed years earlier. My scheme differs from Bruce's in being simpler, with no special boards needed. Like the English scheme mentioned by Henry, my scheme uses the board number to determine partscores. The units position of the board number determines which side gets the partscores, e.g. 2 for NS, 5 for EW, 8 for both. The tens position determines the size of the partials, e.g. 40 for Boards 2, 5, 8; 60 for Boards 12, 15, 18; 70 for boards 22, 25, 28; 80 for boards 32, 35.
March 20, 2013
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Marty, even the ACBL Bulletin's letters to the editor are controlled by the ACBL leadership. Some address the issues the leaders would like to see discussed; most are fluff (“How wonderful we are!”).
March 12, 2013
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As in chess, a rating system must take into account the ratings of the opposition, and each event must put a player's rating at stake in the sense that it can go up or down. At matchpoints, partner's rating compared to the ratings of other players sitting in your direction must affect negatively how many rating points you may win or lose. To a lesser degree, the ratings of the pairs you play against should affect how many rating points you may win or lose positively.

Percentage score as well as standing (e.g. 5th in a field of 13) should be taken into account in adding or subtracting rating points.
March 10, 2013
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An addition to worthwhile projects: a director's search engine for rulings. The director enters the situation (e.g. insuffucient bid) on an iPhone or similar hand-held device, and the search engine produces the applicable rule, letting the direct read it to the players or show them the display.
March 10, 2013
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Jim, neither you nor BBO Help can redefine terms in common usage like “expert” and “World Class,” but especially in an era of hired partners, success in pair or team events cannot be a criterion of expertise. Skill and knowledge are the defining characteristics, though these are vague terms. Nor were Kelsey Petterson and Malcolm Brachman, for example, World Class.
Feb. 23, 2013
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Good point, Michael! I would add that the duration of the hesitation is almost invariably disputed by the huddler, perhaps sincerely, as a player who has a problem is thinking about his call and not looking at his watch to count the seconds or chanting “one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten-NOW-can-I-pass?” to cite an actual occurrence decades ago in NYC. I would add also that the actual number of seconds consumed before calling is a poor measure of the tempo-information conveyed by a huddle, as it varies greatly from one player to the next, and few players can feign contemplating for ten seconds. The best for which I can hope is that my own tempo and body language are unreadable, and that I can disregard the unauthorized information that invariably comes to me from my partners' mannerisms.
Feb. 23, 2013
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I had the pleasure of partnering Marshall at Bridge Week 1976 (the first year it was held in Pasadena) during seven sessions of a Team Knockout Championship when the event lasted 6 days and attracted a large number of strong teams. During those seven sessions (about 204 boards) Marshall played better bridge than I have ever observed for a comparable stretch even by world champions in international matches.
Feb. 23, 2013
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It depends on the quality of the suits, the strength of the hand, whether the suits are touching, and my planned rebids.
Feb. 23, 2013
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Asymmetric bidding is unavoidable when two partners have different bidding skills. What is avoidable is concealment of information from opponents. I have a partner who hires me to be his student, but I'm a terrible student and have not mastered his lessons on hand evaluation. So I inform our opponents by marking my convention card appropriately, footnoting our 15-17 HCP range for 1NT openings with:
“DK may have A10 J1097 KJ108 A109 or KQJ KQJ QJ432 KJ, partner may have QJ KQJ QJ32 QJ32 or 109 AJ10 AK109 AJ109,” citing the extremes. This has silenced the directors and others who previously scolded me for allegedly out-of-range notrump openings, while satisfying me that our opponents KNOW WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT EACH OTHER'S CALLS (which is what bridge ethics requires).
Feb. 23, 2013
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When I shop for eggs at the market, I can't find any small or medium ones, only large, extra large and jumbo. I suppose that if I were to come back to life a century from now, I wouldn't be able to find jumbo eggs any more, only humungous,gargantuan and brobdingnagian. Likewise, I won't be able to find any advanced or expert bridge players any more, only supergenius and intergalactic class.
Feb. 23, 2013
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