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All comments by David Morgan
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Paul is absolutely right that a constant state of vigilance is required. A few years ago I played in a major national event in which two of our leading national directors were playing. Both used UI from their respective partners – and were suitably chastened when their infringements were pointed out (and appropriate director rulings made).
June 20
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Thanks for sharing more of your ideas for improving competitive bidding, Kit. My system notes treat X of a preempt then a new suit as a flexible hand but also promise extra strength. How do you show extra strength as doubler if you have such a hand? Or is this just another example of game before slam, and giving up on slam unless one partner is able to show significant extra strength?
June 20
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It's not clear to me why KT9x is excluded from a fourth-best lead (by agreement) but not KT9xx.
May 22
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The method in David's and Tim's book is one I suggested (and which was published in International Popular Bridge Monthly). David tweaked it slightly because he wanted to play 1N-2-2-2 as Baron, so needed a sequence to show INV hands with 4-5-x-y/5-4-x-y.

After opener's response to Stayman, responder could bid:
3 = a shortage in S, H or D
3 = a transfer to H
3 = a transfer to S
3 = a shortage in C

If opener responds 2 then the transfers to a major show GF hands with 54 in the majors (like Smolen). With slam interest opener can accept at the three level, allowing responder to pattern out with interest beyond game.

If opener responded by showing a major then a transfer to that major = invitational strength or slam interest. (You can put splinter raises here or bid them directly, or use both to distinguish between singletons and voids). An additional option, if you think this important, is that either opener or responder can bid 3N to show a 4333, allowing the partnership to stop intelligently when the hands are mirrors.

After 3, opener can relay with 3 to allow responder to show shortness (using whatever method you prefer). It is helpful (but not necessary) to agree that this promises a four-card major, which allows the partnership to find a fit in spades after a 2 response to Stayman. 3N should be limited to a hand with no slam interest, so opener can pass safely; with extra strength responder bids 4 (or 4 with a void, if you wish).

A useful agreement after a shortness-showing bid is that a bid of the splinter suit by either partner shows slam interest (and does not promise first-round control).

If desired, a transfer to the other major after a major-suit response to Stayman shows a slam try with at least 54 in the majors; opener can accept the transfer to allow responder to pattern out.

5422 hands with a five-card minor and a four-card major can also be handled. With only game interest a 3N rebid after 2 is practical; with slam interest you could agree that these hands rebid 4m, whatever opener's response to Stayman (unless they have a fit for opener's major, when they should transfer to that major).

This structure has lots of advantages (e.g. avoiding 3N when responder has a shortage opposite the four-small major opener bids; finding a 5-3 fit when opener has a five-card major and responder shows shortness in another suit).

The memory load need not be burdensome. (For example, for those who use four-suit transfers, an easy mnemonic to remember that 3 shows a C shortage is that spades transfers to clubs; ditto with 3N showing a D shortage.)

Lots of tweaks are possible, depending on other agreements and partnership priorities.
March 21
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It’s not accurate to say that cycling was a level playing field because all cyclists were doping. That ignores the evidence that there were substantial differences in the doping regimes used by different cyclists. In part, this was because of differences in the regimes developed by different “doctors”. But it also reflected the amount of money different cyclists (and teams) were willing or able to pay. One thing was clear: the doping regimes Armstrong used were always world’s best practice, and were tailored just for him.

So it is not accurate to suggest that Armstrong is the tragic fall guy, the person who has suffered most for something everyone was doing equally. There is an element of tragedy – in the sense of a person who was great falling because of personal flaws – but that highlights Armstrong’s ruthlessness (and hubris). That was on display not only in the way he used legal action to harass critics but also in the way he used his power and influence (and, some suggest, his wealth) to secure the UCI’s assistance in avoiding suspension for many years.
March 7
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To be fair to Michael's memory, the hand is at the very beginning of the section on play in the second half of the book. Kaplan effectively combined two books, one for newer players, the other for advancing players, in one volume.
Feb. 21
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My understanding is that EK wrote most of the editorials until he was no longer well enough to do so. I wonder, therefore, if the comment was in one of Jeff's articles. I checked his two-parter on the 64 Olympiad but it's not in that. Nor is it in his report on the 73 Bermuda Bowl. Off the top of my head, can't think of any other articles where he wrote about the Blue Team for The Bridge World; haven't yet looked at the Bridge Journal.
Dec. 28, 2018
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My requirement is very similar: opener raises to three when he has a hand that would have accepted an invitation after opening 1NT, and responding 2M to Stayman.
Dec. 22, 2018
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Steve: You might want to look at Kevin Cadmus's book “BFUN: Bridge for the Unbalanced”. It describes a canape system based on Ken Rexford's book (which others have rightly referenced). It's playable (from a theoretical perspective) and looks like fun (although I haven't played it). It's a strong club, weak notrump (with all 5332 hands included) and pure canape system, so 1M openings are always 4 or 6+cards unless 55. This combination ensures you will be anti-field a LOT of the time.

It uses Symmetric-style relays, but lots of the continuations can be adapted to taste.
Dec. 21, 2018
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There is one other issue that is worth considering: contiguity of ranges. One advantage of opening 1NT with 15-17 is that balanced hands that open one of a suit are either weaker or stronger.

When playing a weak notrump the balanced hands are always stronger. This is often an advantage but, especially when the auction becomes competitive, it can be hard to differentiate between 15 counts and 19 counts.

It's hard for responder to know when to invite, and hard for opener to know when to encourage: is a good hand in the 15-17 range sufficient or does he need 18-19?
Dec. 17, 2018
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David and Zia are right. As Edgar and Freddy argued in their books on the Kaplan-Sheinwold system, opener's “problem” hands are those with 12-14 points and balanced as they have much less playing strength than their shapely counterparts. To improve your constructive bidding it's good to take those hands out of one-of-a-suit openings by opening a weak notrump.

If you don't do that then you want to open them one of a major, which preempts the opponents, as well as your partner.
Dec. 17, 2018
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I was at the next table . . . EW's argument was that 1S showed a hand too weak for a 1N response (which would be 9-11) or diamonds. West decided 1N was where he wanted to play opposite 5-8 BAL with no 4M: there was no game; while he knew there was an 8-card minor-suit fit there was no way to be certain to find it; and his major-suit singleton was an honour, albeit a minor one. (The event was an IMPs Swiss Pairs, so this was “just bridge” not matchpoint greed.)

When E showed a hand with long D, W was too good to bid only 2D. I didn't hear if this had occured before in the partnership's experience or whether the description of 3D was E's assumption of what W had.
Dec. 17, 2018
David Morgan edited this comment Dec. 17, 2018
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FWIW, the director who made the ruling was the principal author of the alerting regulations.
Dec. 17, 2018
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While a number of Canadians have favoured three-card major-suit responses, it's worth taking into consideration the risks associated with such a style. If the opponents fail to compete then the partnership can sometimes save itself. If they intervene then life gets trickier.

One risk is that you need to play support doubles or abjure three-card raises by opener, so as to avoid 3-3 fits. This precludes using double to show a strong BAL hand, something many weak notrumpers find advantageous in competitive auctions (so as to convey the information about strength their strong notrump counterparts have already shown by opening 1N).

Another is that competitive auctions become significantly more difficult for an opener with four-card support, who cannot be sure whether the partnership has a real or partial fit.

While experienced partnerships can cope with these issues some of the time, it requires a lot of additional agreements and understandings that can be avoided by playing 1N as 5-8 (or a bad 9).
Dec. 15, 2018
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For anyone who is unfamiliar with the rationale of KS I strongly recommend “The Kaplan-Sheinwold System of Winning Bridge” (the 1963 book). KSU (KS Updated) – to which Patrick refers – is the 1973 monograph that fills in more of the details and adds a number of refinements. But it assumes readers understand the rationale.

Even if you have no interest in playing KS or a weak notrump, you should read the book: it was the first system book to explain the “why” of a bidding system and remains one of the best system books, if not the best.
Dec. 15, 2018
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Perhaps, but there are a number identified in “Monty Hall in the Wild” (https://putanumonit.com/2018/06/03/monty-hall-in-the-wild/).

More importantly, the article shows how much better pigeons are compared to humans in making evidence-based decisions (. . . which segues in my mind to the great line in The Economist about a decade ago which referred to “policy-based evidence-making”.)
Dec. 5, 2018
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@ David Yates “I was also hoping to go over all of the 1958 hands as there was controversy. Alas, I could only find a few hands and a lot of scuttlebutt . . .
The 1958 edition might be one of the more interesting events to analyze board by board. The Americans had a pair on their team that was actually what we today would consider a real partnership. It would be interesting to see how Al & Tobias fared relative to the other American pairs. If anyone knows where those hands might be found, that information would be appreciated.”

If you want to read a detailed analysis of the 1958 BB check out the five-part series of articles in The Bridge World by Edgar Kaplan starting in the September 1958 issue. Kaplan apportions “charges” for errors and credits good plays, as well as identifying the luck factor. (This is a forerunner of the approach Kokish took to some future BB finals.) Kaplan doesn't analyse the performance of pairs but the individual players, identifying the stellar performance of Belladonna, with Rapee not far behind.
Oct. 24, 2018
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Re DB's calculation of the odds and why looking for a club ruff may be better: in 1998 when Cathy Chua was preparing to publish her book Fair Play or Foul? Ch**ting Scandals in Bridge she asked to me review a number of the deals. I ran this deal through the then-current version of GIB more than a dozen times and it chose a club lead frequently, but not all the time. Its decision was based on 200-deal samples of deals consistent with the opponents' bidding, so the difference in odds that David calculated was reflected in enough of those 200-deal samples.

Of course, whether this is what was running through the mind of Pabis-Ticci when he chose the lead we will never know. It was not the answer he gave when asked about his lead.
Sept. 29, 2018
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There are two different problems I have experienced with ACBL masterpoints as a foreign player who has no interest in playing pro. When I was living in Canada as an Australian diplomat I was given no credit for the small number of ABF masterpoints I had. That meant I finished second in the ACBL Rookie of the Year contest, even though I was a moderately good player, and denied a very talented local (Mike Gamble) the rightful recognition as the Ottawa region (and Canadian?) rookie of the year.

I've since travelled to two ACBL nationals and experienced the almost opposite problem: despite a number of reasonable performances in national events in Australia, my partner and I were only given 2000 ACBL masterpoints for seeding purposes. That meant we drew Cayne, Lauria, Versace, Lorenzini and Bessis when we made the R64 of the Vanderbilt (not a problem: great to play and lose to a really good team) but it restricted our ability to play in a decent bracket of a KO.
Sept. 21, 2018
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The book bid is 1 but none of the Polish Club books I've read discuss continuations in any detail, except what happens if you play Magister (2 is an INV+ checkback). In theory, if partner makes a non-forcing bid (such as 2 or 2) you are required to bid 3, which only promises 15+. But there's no guidance on how to sort out whether the hands are 15 opposite 7 or 18 opposite 7 or 15 opposite 10 or . . .

My suggestion, based by four year's experience, is to rebid 2 on these hands (15-17 with 4S and 5+C). Responder bids 2 with 10+, otherwise shows his shape with 6-9. He can bid a NF 2, for example, with 4=4=x=y and now you can find your spade fit and know that responder's strength is limited.
Aug. 21, 2018
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