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All comments by David Burn
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They are playable against people who do not know what they are doing. By and large, people who play “card-showing doubles” do not know what they are doing.
16 hours ago
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They don't have to “figure it out”. If they have a spade fit, opener will double and responder will pass. If responder has spades, he will pass initially just as he would if his partner had opened in a suit (or he can transfer to spades if unwilling to risk a pass).
16 hours ago
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You can't really pass with hearts and clubs when your LHO may have a trap pass of spades and your RHO a penalty double of spades.
20 hours ago
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A C? By no means - A- at least, for picking the better line for something very like the right reasons. Well it was said by the bard:

The match of Hell and Heaven was a nice
Idea of Blake's, but won't take place, alas.
You can choose either, but you can't choose twice,
You can't - at least in this world - change your class;
Neither is alpha plus, though both will pass.
And don't imagine you can write like Dante,
Dive like your nephew, crochet like your auntie.

W H Auden, Letter from Iceland
22 hours ago
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“The bidding was pretty close to 1S on his right, 2H on his left; 2S on his right; 3S by LHO and 4S on his right. It certainly looks right to try to deal partner ruffs and that is what he did. Only he started with his SHORTER suit, clubs. Needless to say that was right.”

It was indeed. Chance that partner has a singleton diamond is about 13%, chance that partner has a singleton club is about 9%. But if a diamond lead is to result in two ruffs the opponents' diamonds must be 4-3, which is a 62% chance making the overall chance of success via diamond ruffs around 7.8%. If partner has a singleton club on the other hand the contract is almost certainly down, so a club lead was actually the percentage defence.

Not that anyone knew this at the time, of course. Or indeed at any time until (perhaps) now.
Sept. 22
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Opener’s double is “penalty or takeout”. If aggressor passes, responder assumes takeout.
Sept. 22
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One of the easiest and also one of the most effective ways to bid when partner's 1NT is overcalled is to play double as takeout of what they just bid, regardless of what that bid showed.
Sept. 22
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Whilst I fully support saying no to cheats, I do not support in any way racist comments about Italians. Can we say no to those as well, please?
Sept. 22
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Cashing A, crossing to dummy, and finessing in spades succeeds when West's trump holding is:

Q - 2.82% minus a bit for the chance that you will suffer a ruff when you try to cross to dummy.
10 - 2.82% minus a fair bit more because you now need to cross to dummy twice. We estimate the chances of success against those trump holdings as about 4.5%.
xx (where an x might be the ten) - 20.34% minus a bit for crossing to dummy once.
xxx (where an x might be the ten) - 13.56% minus the same bit as above.

That isn't 50%. That isn't even close to 50%. Heck, that's not particularly close to 40% what with all those bits to be subtracted. Call it 38.5% to be generous.

Following your line succeeds when:

West has the singleton Q (2.82% as above).
West has the singleton 10 (perhaps 2.82% as above, though you did not specify what you would do if the ten fell under the ace). Call this the same 4.5% as above and then forget about it, because it is common to both lines.
Either opponent has Qx - 27.12% as you calculated.
A hand with Qxx also has three or four clubs - or, what is the same thing, a hand with xx has two clubs or one.

The fourth of those chances is what Jeff Rubens calls a “short-short” - you need an opponent to be short in two suits. Without going into too much detail, the chance of a short-short depends primarily on the parity of the opponents' combined lengths in the relevant suits. Here they have five cards in both spades and clubs, so this is an “odd-odd short-short” with a chance of about 40% (an “odd-even short-short” is about 22% and an “even-even short-short” about 12%).

So, if your line succeeds 31.6% of the time by picking up the trumps - West's stiff honour or someone's Qx - plus 40% of the rest of the time (someone's short-short in the blacks) then it must be much better than 50%, let alone much better than 38.5%, right?

Wrong. That 40% for the short-short covers all cases including some that are excluded on the actual deal. For a start, clubs aren't 5-0, which removes some of the short-short distributions. Further, spades have to be 3-2, not 4-1 or 5-0, which removes some other short-shorts. That 40% is getting down to 25% once these factors are taken into account.

Still, 32% plus a quarter of the remaining 68% is 49%, much better than the 39% or so for the trump finesse approach. If, as Rubens might say, you would make adjustments for the failure of either opponent to bid when they had between them AQJ-eleventh and each had an opportunity to open the bidding, or for West's opening lead of 2, feel free to do so.

Bottom line: your play was justified, but your bidding was not; moreover your calculations, though relatively correct, were absolutely wrong. For all that, you did not deserve your poor result, and I am sorry for it.
Sept. 21
David Burn edited this comment Sept. 22
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No. You consider your partners and your team-mates, and you do your best to ask yourself whether they would do what you are about to do, or whether they might do something else.
Sept. 21
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Oh, I wasn't suggesting that Sheehan was wrong - perish the thought. I was merely attempting to defend the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate against charges of terminological inexactitude.

One might perhaps distinguish between a “layer” - one who sets out odds at which he is prepared to accept wagers on a variety of outcomes - and a “backer” - one who places wagers at those odds on one or more of the outcomes. Then what the “layer” does is to lay odds, while what the “backer” does is to lay bets; in the former case the verb is akin to “lay out” for perusal, in the latter to “lay down” on a gambling table.

Of course, it would be a splendid thing if everyone knew what everyone else meant when anyone said anything. But there are splendours to be found in the contrary situation also, which is perhaps just as well.
Sept. 20
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To “lay” in the sense of “to make a bet” has been in common English parlance since the 14th century. The specialist sense in which to “lay” means in effect to bet against an occurrence by taking (or offering to take) someone's wager that it will occur is not recorded until the 19th.
Sept. 20
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No, but I think he might have one after trick one.

However, if the defenders are playing a deep game it is possible that not taking the trump finesse will fail if East wins K from Kx and gives West a heart ruff. Never bet against Michael Rosenberg.

Mind you, if the hearts are as they appear to be then taking a club finesse is truly cuckoo - yet another attempt to run into a desperately unlucky 3-2 trump break.
Sept. 20
David Burn edited this comment Sept. 20
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Oh, I didn't say you could play DI without disaster - there is no bidding method in the world of which that could be said. I merely observed that you could play it without cheating.
Sept. 19
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KSU may stand for Kaplan-Sheinwold Updated, a system created by Edgar Kaplan and Alfred Sheinwold (and presumably updated).

DI may stand for Declarative-Interrogative, a use of 4NT not to ask for wholesale or specific controls but to show general slam interest. It may or may not have been the invention of Eugenio Chiaradia, and formed part of the Neapolitan Club methods used by some of the Blue Team.

It is possible to use both of the above methods without cheating. Whether it is advisable to use them at all is another matter.
Sept. 19
David Burn edited this comment Sept. 19
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At my table East opened 1 after two passes. I chose to double, West bid 1 to show spades and North bid 1NT. I bid 2, raised to three, and should now have offered partner a choice of games with 3NT, which was cold. Foolishly I bid 4 instead and received a club lead.

I won the ace and, with entries on the thin side, elected to play a spade to the ace and run Q. I hadn't decided what to do if this was covered, but it lost to West's king and a spade was returned.

I cashed J and believed the fall of West's 10, so that ruffing a spade in dummy was bound to fail. Instead I drew the last trump, cashed J (sometimes West doesn't have four spades for this sort of bidding and if he did, I wanted to give East a chance to pitch a diamond) and with fair confidence exited with Q, expecting East to have both top honours for his opening bid (ducking would not help him since he had thrown a diamond on the third spade).

Of course, he didn't have both diamond honours - he had opened a balanced eight count for some reason or no reason, so West won K, cashed his spade, and led a diamond to East's ace for the same one down as everybody else.

But the full deal had been


A65
Q53
J82
KJ85
10972 Q8
K10 762
K109 A654
9742 Q1063
KJ43
AJ984
Q73
A

and West had thrown a diamond on the third round of trumps. I don't know why he had done this, but it meant that if I hadn't cashed J I could have made the contract by force after establishing a diamond winner.
Sept. 19
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I confidently expect partner to put down A and AQxx. If the fool has AQxx instead, that's his fault (though I may still make if East has four spades and A).
Sept. 18
David Burn edited this comment Sept. 18
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It would not have been an error to overcall 1NT if that showed 15-17 - as Steve says, you can be stolen from quite easily, and while 1NT is risky, so is pass.

But this 1NT was an error because it showed 16-18.
Sept. 18
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Perhaps South, with the assistance of a clue from West, realised that 1NT had been an error and that damage control should be attempted. I don't see anything particularly sinister.
Sept. 18
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Avon, if you're going to keep quoting Danny Kleinmann you should start spelling his name correctly.
Sept. 18
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