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All comments by Danny Kleinman
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Balancing with a double when partner passes while playing Negative Doubles was favored as a selling point to convince oldfashioned players to adopt Negative Doubles half a century ago, answering their objection “But what if I'm a frustrated penalty doubler sitting over the overcaller with six cards and 100 honors in his suit?”

The right answer of course is, “There are several times as many hands for Negative Doubles than for penalty doubles. That's why we play Negative Doubles. So when responder passes over the overcall while playing Negative Doubles, he's several times less likely to be a frustrated penalty doubler than a responder who passes over the overcall while playing penalty doubles is to be a frustrated Negative Doubler.

The ONLY way balancing with minimum opening hands can succeed is by utilizing the tempo and other ”tells" of partner (especially) and the opponents.
Feb. 23, 2013
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A better way to play this 2NT is as showing either a “bad” hand with clubs (partner assumes the worst so you'll then pass his 3C) or a “good” hand with some other intended rebid, so that 3C directly shows a “good” hand, while three of another suit directly shows a “bad” (i.e. merely competitive) hand.
Jan. 2, 2013
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Allan, you are right about bids other than jump bids being tempo senstive. Jeff is right also about an important remedy: irregular tempo must be disregarded by partner, and opponents must be awarded adjusted scores by directors when partner does utilize the unauthorized information.

One example where tempo is relevant and nobody, to my knowledge, has ever been penalized for drawing the appropriate inference. It occurred today (against me, of course). With spades agreed (say), East bids 4NT. Case 1 (about 10 years ago, top expert pair): West replies 5D rapidly, East bids 6S holding three keys and the SQ. After East makes 6S, West, who has one key card, apologizes, “Sorry, I should have replied 5C, I forgot we are playing 1430.” East says, “That's all right, so did I.”
Case 2 (today, amateur pair): West takes a long time to reply 5C, East bids 6S holding three keys and the SQ. This pair was also playing 1430 and didn't forget. I've learned to recognize when a pair is playing 1430 and when it is playing standard RKCB. When playing standard, the reply comes quickly (easy to encode no keys with 5C, one key with 5D). When playing 1430, it takes time to encode the reply, as Teller thinks “Zero is 5C, one is 5D, but I have to reverse this because we're playing 1430.” That takes longer. Many auctions are messed up, but most of the time the pair recovers … by utilizing these “natural” inferences from variations in tempo. Just a thought.
Feb. 11, 2012
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Stephen has it just right! Any rule that makes a STOP card optional facilitates its intentional or unintentional use to convey information about the caller's hand. Any rule that makes a STOP card mandatory makes it redundant and requires penalization by a director when a player makes a jump bid of any kind without using it.
Feb. 11, 2012
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A new thought about the supposed 10-second hesitation rule struck me. Suppose that after opposing preempts I hesitate for different lengths of time on two different boards. On one board, I hesitate for 5 seconds before passing. On another board, I hesitate for 10 seconds before passing. On which of these boards was I thinking about intervening, and on which was my pass obvious and automatic?

Answer: when I hesitated for 5 seconds, I was using those 5 seconds to think whether to intervene, but when I hesitated for 10 seconds, I was able to count the seconds until I got to 10 because I didn't have to think about my call.

So mechanistically imposed requirements to hesitate will not do the job of hiding from my partners whether I have a clear pass or a close pass-or-intervene decision.
Feb. 8, 2012
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The STOP Card has no place in bridge. Players are required to pause and think (or feign thinking) for about 10 seconds following RHO's jump bid whether or not RHO uses the STOP card (or issues a “Skip Bid Warning” when bidding orally). In half a century of play at rubber and duplicate bridge, I have never seen a penalty imposed upon players who call immediately after a jump bid (whether warned by a STOP card, a “Skip Bid Warning” or neither). Some players who want to pass quickly look at the ceiling for what they think is ten seconds (actually seldom more than two seconds). Few players are good enough to feign thought while waiting their two seconds, four seconds, or whatever. The STOP card should be eliminated, as it is just a modifier for the bid, and no more in keeping with the spirit of the Laws than other modifiers, e.g. saying “penalty,” “takeout,” or “support” when making a double or saying “natural” or “transfer” when responding 4H to partner's 1NT opening. Instead, players should be required to pause to think or feign thought in all tempo-sensitive auctions (which are of course not limited to those following an opponent's jump).
Feb. 7, 2012
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4th seat Weak Twos should depend on suit opened. 2S should be either a maximum 1st-seat 2S or a minimum 1st-seat 1S opening. 2H should be either a minimum 1st-seat 1H, or a maximum 1st-seat 2H opening with defense against spades. 2D should be either a minimum 1st-seat 1D, or a maximum 1st-seat 2D opening with defense against both majors (3=3=6=1).
Feb. 7, 2012
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