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All comments by David Burn
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Nearly voted “other” - it's not that he must double, but he may double. This, however, would potentially have rendered inaccurate a prediction that until now has always been inaccurate but here has a genuine chance: “surely a unanimous panel”.
5 minutes ago
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“Once you tell me you would have bid 4 behind screens, we are done. That is all the poll answer I need.”

Sadly, what you need is irrelevant. What the Director needs is to know not only what call I would make but what other calls I would seriously consider. Some of the latter may be deemed LAs if enough players would seriously consider them and some smaller number would actually choose them.

I think it is incumbent upon me, supposing I occupy the West chair, to try to act as I imagine a group of my peers would act (since that is what determines my LAs). Thus, if I seriously considered 4 before selecting 4 I should now bid 4 because 4 is (obviously) suggested over 4 by UI. And if I think so, then obviously my only true “peers” (who are clones of me) would think so too.

I'm not “using UI to make an abnormal bid”. I'm using my judgement of LAs for me to select one not suggested by UI over one suggested by UI.

If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong. My team-mates might tell me I am an imperial idiot for thinking that anyone but me would seriously consider 4, let alone bid it. They might be right. But all I can do at the table is what the Laws require.
17 hours ago
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It's all right, Michael - I didn't really want to know. I think both of us may be agreed that the best way to improve on the DONT convention is not to play it.
Oct. 20
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I believe I understand your analogy; a better example might help but for the moment I would like to focus on this:

“If you believe you might have thought ‘MUST mean 6=4=0=3’ then by all means bid your ethical 4.”

Well, obviously I might have thought it because I did think it. Not at once with regard to specific distribution, but along the general line “now I have spades partner is trying for game, so I should bid game in spades” (“overlooking” the alternative of 4 just as John Adams “overlooked” the alternative of 3).

I contend that it is possible for other players to think this way at the table, and the evidence here suggests that I am right so to believe. Again, even if I thought partner must be 6=4=0=3 I would bid 4 in an untainted auction just in case she wasn't.

But I don't think the Law allows me to do that in a tainted auction where I know partner has hearts and clubs (and almost certainly very few spades or she might have passed 2 anyway and hoped for the best).

“I would not bid 4 - nor think it in any way fair to force it on someone in Committee.”

Current procedure doesn't involve forcing anything on anyone in Committee. You ask people what they'd do and what they'd consider doing. Then you decide on the basis of the answers what's a LA and what isn't. You don't need many votes for 4 to be considered a LA. (I would be prepared to bet that you'd get enough votes for 4 and not enough for 3 that in reality the score would be adjusted to minus billions.)

“When you have UI, I believe you must make a ‘search’ for your possible actions without the UI, then choose the one you think likely to be least beneficial.”

On that point, you and I are in almost complete agreement.

If this boils down, as I suspect it does, only to the fact that I think 4 is a LA within the meaning of the Act and you don't, then there isn't much more either of us can say. In any given case of this kind, resolution will depend not on generally applicable principles but on the makeup of the panel who are polled. This is undesirable, but may be the best we can do.

Yes, it is true that I am very strict on logical alternatives. This is for one reason: that I believe many actual logical alternatives are falsely claimed to be otherwise, so that much UI is exchanged and acted upon contrary to Law.
Oct. 20
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“You never said here, ‘2 for majors is a really stupid method’, so all conversation about the subsequent auction is pointless.'”

True. I also never said here that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye and it looks like it's growin' right up to the sky. But it has been decreed by no less an authority than the ACBL that attention need not be drawn to what is unsaid. They may have a point.

“I guess you'll go plus in 4.”

I guess so too. You might have a harder job making 3 when partner thinks you must have xxx x J1098xxxx x and passes. After all, how would you bid if you did?
Oct. 20
David Burn edited this comment Oct. 20
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“If you are bidding 4, ask yourself why. Are you doing it to punish partner, or are you doing it because you don't think it's possible for another player to think differently than you on what 3 should mean?”

Good question. As I have said already, I would bid 4 with screens because it's technically right and can't cost even if I believe that partner must be 6=4 and will convert to 4 anyway. For the last-named reason I would consider 4 a LA, and would bid it because that's what I believe the Laws require me to do.

The real reason for bidding 4 is not so much to punish anyone but to go a step further than Michael would go when he bids 3. As he and I both said when no one else saw anything wrong with 4, “you can't ethically bid 4”.

I do think it's possible for another player to think that 3 means something other than I think it means. But as soon as I think it might mean 6=4=0=3, then I might select 4 in preference to 4 because 4 is “logical” within the meaning of the Act if that's what 3 might mean.

Put it this way: several commentators above agreed with my view that 3 very likely showed more spades than hearts and could not show fewer. Some of them even agreed with it before I'd expressed it. They might carelessly bid 4 rather than the superior 4 based on that view; if polled in accordance with the practice nowadays, there would be enough of them that 4 would enter the lists as a logical alternative for the purpose of a ruling under Law 16.

Michael Rosenberg, we know from experience, would think it possible that people might do all manner of stupid things in the play of a hand; only if convinced that they wouldn't do any of them would he allow a dodgy claim. Michael Rosenberg and I are of one mind on this subject: we may be the only two people in the world that are, but he isn't a bad person to have on your side (of course, he might not reciprocate this sentiment).

To Michael Rosenberg I humbly submit that 4 isn't close to being as stupid as the stupid things people might do so that you and I would rule against their claim. 4 is a careless or inferior bid compared to 4 (or to 3 for that matter). You wouldn't bid it. I wouldn't bid it. But I think (and opinions here bear me out to some extent) that it really is L for the purposes of arbitration.

That's why I really would bid it at the table. After all, the resulting -1700 might cause partner to abandon DONT altogether, and a minuscule advancement in the human condition will have been registered.
Oct. 20
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Have occasionally wondered about that. Since in DONT you can (I assume) bid 2 with the minors, you don't have to use 2NT to show the minors also. Instead, you might use a direct 2NT to show the majors in a hand considered too strong for 2.
Oct. 19
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Would pass. After all, from the OP it looks as though this pair never makes any attempt to reach game after a 1NT opening by the opponents.

To be honest, if I had (say) a 4=5=0=4 good hand and realised that I had to start showing it by bidding 2 hoping that partner would bid 2 so that I could bid 3, it might dawn on me that I was playing a pretty stupid method.
Oct. 19
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Thanks for this and welcome to the forum. The reason we ask these questions is simply that things may be relevant that don't seem so. For example, when South bid 3 to show values West didn't double it, so maybe the heart finesse is better than 50%.

Also, I think most people prefer South to be declarer in play problems; here it seems that North is actually playing 6. So I assume that East led 3 and West (not South, who hasn't got it) played 9.
Oct. 19
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What was the bidding? What spot cards were contributed to the first trick? What carding methods do East-West play? What is truth and what is fable? Where is Ruth and where is Mabel?
Oct. 19
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Fair enough. I don't think we're actually in disagreement over anything except the details: if 4 would occur to me then it's a LA for me and I'll pick it; if it would never occur to you then it isn't one for you and you won't. With 4=6=something I would bid 3, but you don't have to if you don't want to.
Oct. 18
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Michael R:

“Therefore, I don't see any reason to make the ostrich-like bid of 4 when, having already shown preference for spades, I can (and would) cover my bases by looking for hearts.”

I guess this is the fundamental difference between our approaches.

If I have UI I see every reason to make a careless bid (4) if there is some chance I would have made it without UI. Here there is such a chance: convinced as I am (or might be, as some others are) that partner cannot have more hearts than spades I can easily envisage bidding 4, and have put forward arguments that have at least partially convinced at least some people.

4 is not, to me, sufficiently obvious in an above-board auction that 4 is not a logical alternative. But if you got UI you gotta be a ostrich. To me you gotta be a 4 ostrich, not some rinky-dink 3 cassowary.

Of course you can bid 2 for the majors and then 3 with 4=4=0=5 and a good hand. You have rather more chance of being able to carry through this plan than one starting with 2 for the majors. Not that you have much chance of carrying through many two-step plans playing DONT. This does not prove very much.
Oct. 18
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3 still looks like someone trying to get out alive, rather than someone who ought to be committing felo de se. Michael, would you really not contemplate the notion that partner is simply trying for game in spades now that she knows I prefer spades to hearts?
Oct. 18
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I think you did too. I guess I found an even less convenient call (4) that would have been as far off your radar as Kit's.

But I can imagine 4 not even occurring to me (just as Kit can imagine 4 not even occurring to him). I have set out the arguments in detail above and below, but if this sequence actually happened at the table I would readily think “hey, now I've got spades partner's got a game try - 4”.

Just as John Adams admitted he would never think of 3 but would always bid 4, I would never think of 4 but would always bid 4. To dismiss 4 from the set of logical alternatives is… well, I wouldn't want people who would do it ruling on anything.

To avoid confusion with another post, I would of course bid the no-cost 4 at a table with screens, if I were certain that nothing in the tempo (tray-passing, scribblings the other side, all the stuff that's not supposed to be UI but really is) had happened. Otherwise I'd take my -1700.

And I have to say that everyone with whom I've ever played in an event serious enough to be behind screens would not even ask whether that was the right thing to do.
Oct. 18
David Burn edited this comment Oct. 18
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I think that the forcing 2NT enquiry was available only to the responder to 2. I doubt that after (1NT) 2 (Pass) 2 (Pass, overcaller actually had 2NT available as a forcing enquiry.

Mind you, overcaller ought to have it available as something (I mean, if you're going to bid 3 anyway you might as well be able to bid 2NT anyway). It would seem useful in the context of the present enquiry to have 2NT show 4=5 in the majors. After all, you gotta survive…
Oct. 18
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In China at a tournament for elite women players. Gave the problem just now to two of my team (lest puzzlement should ensue I am a non-playing captain, not a non-binary player). They both bid 4 in half a second and looked at me in bewilderment.

“You see..”, I said. But they had run out of wine to accompany their bidding practice, so I was sent to do something meaningful.

In passing, whatever discussions are conducted here I'd like to pay tribute to the OP, who posted in a genuine spirit of enquiry and whose subsequent contributions have been helpful in ascertaining the facts.

We hand you back to Burn contra mundum, though I seem to be picking up the odd potential convert.
Oct. 18
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This is love all at BAM, and you play DONT with (presumably, given the OP's decision not to try for a game facing the majors) the philosophy that you take your best shot at the best partial.

Even given that philosophy, at BAM I could understand bidding 2 with 4=4=0=5 (you hope to hit a 4-4 major fit and make your contract, rather than bid 2 to show clubs and another and then guess what to do over 2, or worry that partner passed 2 with 5=3 in a major and clubs).

But I don't understand suddenly abandoning that philosophy. When you bid 2 with your good 4=4=0=5, partner could have passed it. So, you were prepared to play 2 facing, say, 2=2=4=5.

Instead partner bids 2, which gives you cause to hope that you have at least more spades than the opponents, and may even have landed in the 4-4 fit for which you wished.

Now you undo all this good work by bidding a non-forcing 3? That's ridiculous.

As to 4=5=something, partner might barely have that, and you might bid a smug 4 catering for that while knowing all the time that partner actually has nothing of the sort.

My contention is that partner's sequence is very much (several orders of magnitude) more likely to be something like Axxxxx AKxx None Qxx than some 4=5 shape.

We (perhaps foolishly) bid 2 rather than (double or) 2 in case partner has one spade and four or five hearts; we were prepared to suck it up if it turned out that 2 was a better contract facing whatever partner actually had and passed; but when partner showed spade preference we made a game try showing club length in case he had such as Kxx xx Jxxxx Kxx.

Of course, even if my construction is right I can bid 4 without risk because if partner has what I think, partner will convert to 4 anyway. The reason I never would is that I know from the UI and my own “ridiculously good” hand that partner really has hearts, clubs, and rubbish. The only thing I would “know” from the AI is that 4 is almost certainly the right contract and even if it isn't, it will probably make. So I would bid it in the given circumstances.

Of course I would bid 4 behind a screen. What Kit and John and Jeff Rubens and an awful lot of people who ought to know better don't realise is that in cases such as this, what I would bid behind a screen is more or less irrelevant.

Kit Woolsey describes the fortunate coincidence of what you would bid with the UI and what you would bid without it as “happenstance”. Michael Rosenberg and I think that you should not seize on happenstance without looking further for ways in which you might carefully avoid the benefits that might accrue therefrom. He is dead right (and by extension so am I, but only because I am stubborn).

I would not bid 3 unless playing with Michael Rosenberg. But I would not bid 4 playing with anybody.
Oct. 18
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I won’t be in 4, Paul - that’s the one bid I have vowed never to make. I will be in 4 doubled, vilified both for my shocking grasp of ethics and my shocking grasp of bidding.
Oct. 18
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Since 4 is also suggested by the UI (it might make opposite a weak hand with hearts and clubs) it is, as I have said, illegal.

Even 3 and raise partner’s increasingly panic-stricken 3 to four also stinks. To me, people advocating this path should affix the title of the thread to their posts. (On the actual hand, panic-stricken partner would pass 3 with a sigh of relief, and no one would have a clue that the contract ought to be rolled back to 2).

3 is just another way to take advantage of the illegal knowledge that partner doesn’t have the spades that 2 said she had. This 4=4=0=5 stuff is complete hogwash - nobody bids like that.
Oct. 18
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Well, at BAM (or matchpoints) non-vulnerable people bid very often over non-vulnerable opponents' 1NT openings. There is a good reason for this, which is left as an exercise for the reader.
Oct. 18
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