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All comments by Eugene Hung
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While I have sympathy for 1NT I prefer double, for the reasons Bill stated. The downside of 1NT comes when we play in notrump. With just one likely stop in my hand, notrump is unlikely to play better than a suit when partner has no help for us in spades. If my spades were KJx I would bid 1NT, because now I have a chance for two stoppers in my hand alone, and it's significantly more annoying for the defense to set up the suit. With just KJ tight, they can simply duck the first spade in many layouts to set up the spades.

Bidding 1NT wins when partner has a bad hand with at most 3 cards in a red suit and exactly 4 clubs. In most other cases double feels better, as you will find an 8-card fit, or notrump if partner has the needed spade help. We can raise whatever partner bids on the second round to show our extras so we won't miss our vulnerable games. (I'd pass a non-competitive 2 advance, though, as the downside seems bigger than the upside.)

(1) X (2) P (P) is not a trouble auction for double. I have an easy balancing double showing extras, and now I really don't want to play notrump unless partner can bid it.
Feb. 22, 2012
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Peg – I think there's still a problem. Many of the people in this thread are interested in playing in a bracket tailored to their skill level, but the masterpoint system grossly undervalues their skill. They are not interested in playing in the top bracket, which would be too hard, but neither are they interested in playing in their masterpoint-assigned bracket, which is too easy. While it's somewhat common for directors to grant bracket 1 exemptions, I have yet to see directors allow players to “move up” on a consistent basis.
Feb. 22, 2012
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I never said North has 5 hearts, just that I would bid 2. Partner already knows we failed to make a support double, so Kx is well within our range here. With just 4 hearts, he knows there's a better spot and can keep bidding.
Feb. 19, 2012
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Jim, I think we all agree with your points 1-3. Where we disagree is in the implementation. Specifically, point 4.

From what I know of standard bidding, a negative double followed by a new suit does not show a hand “stronger than a free bid”, unless you are playing negative free bids (non-standard). A free bid is forcing, so why would you need a negative double to show something stronger? It's more common for a negative double followed by a new suit to show the equivalent of a negative free bid with extra length. Here's an example:

1C (1S) X (P)
2C (P) 2H

Responder is not showing a hand _stronger_ than an immediate 2. He is showing a hand with long hearts yet too weak to force partner to 2NT or higher if there is no fit, such as xxx KQT9xx Jxx x. This bid is non-forcing.

Obviously if you and your partners agreed on points 4 and then 5-6 (which are an extension of 4), then perhaps the whole system is playable – you'd gain on handling some hand types (free bid … new suit = cue-bid could be useful on some hands), but lose on others. But I would not call such treatments standard and expect people in a bidding poll to understand it.

Also, in an earlier comment, you specifically mentioned that you negative doubled with the plan of passing a non-competitive rebid of 2. It's a bit unilateral to use a negative double for hands “stronger than a free bid”, but then decide not to show partner your most important hand feature (the 6 diamonds – what if partner has 3 diamonds?). I prefer to take control only when I know I'll be able to guide the partnership to the right spot. On a hand like this, I find it's much easier to solicit partner's help by showing my suits and asking his opinion.
Feb. 19, 2012
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Agree with Adam Kaplan. Basically, when you don't have a (slow) trump trick, the side-suit tricks that you take on defense are also likely to be taken on offense. The four baby clubs have potential to be a nuisance, but also could be completely irrelevant if declarer is playing in a 6-2 or 7-1 fit – your weak clubs indicate that declarer has most of the big trumps.

So without extra tricks from clubs, if you are going down in 2, you are not likely to beat 2 (and -100 beats -180). And if you are beating 2 without club tricks, you are likely making a contract of your own (although +200 beats +110). I would thus classify passing the double as a high-variance action. You win more when it's right and lose more when it's wrong. When a decision is close, I prefer the lower-variance action, because I can usually get a bigger edge in the cardplay later. So I bid 2. And who knows, maybe they compete to 3 and put us in a dominant position relative to the passers.
Feb. 19, 2012
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If you visit the Peanuts Museum in Santa Rosa, CA, you can get a poster of your favorite. Helen and I already have a poster of Cartoon 7 in our house.
Feb. 18, 2012
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Jim, you are correct that our hand could play badly opposite a misfit. You are also correct that negative doubles are unlimited. However, I feel the double is not right because it does not communicate enough about our hand to partner in time. All the sequences you cited are dependent on the opponents staying quiet. But in the modern game, opponents with 8+ combined spades tend to act.

Say you double and the auction continues (2) P (P). Partner's pass is not helpful: we know he has spade length, so about all he's telling us via the pass is that he has no 4-card minor (big surprise) and he can't rebid hearts at the 3-level. What do we do now? Pass is too wimpy when we could be cold for game opposite a minimum in any of four strains. 3 shows a hand too weak to bid 2 on round 1, so that's out. 4 bypasses 3NT. 2NT is confusing and misrepresents the relative minor-suit length. And double may lead to defending 2-X when we have a 9-card diamond fit. Wouldn't you pass a reopening double of 2 with: KJ10x Axxxx KQx x?

That was only 2. What if we're playing against pairs who show their 9-card fits immediately and drive to the 3-level, via mixed or preemptive raise? Partner is unlikely to bid 3NT when he has 3 good diamonds and a spade stop because he thinks we only have 4 diamonds, not 6, so he'll likely pass. Now we're guessing whether partner has a diamond fit + stopper for 3NT. The problem is that we didn't communicate the key feature of our hand, the long diamond suit, in time. And given our singleton spade and partner's failure to open 1, these bad scenarios are fairly likely.

Now consider what happens if we start with 2. If they interfere, partner will now support/bid 3NT with 3 diamonds, which is exactly what we want – we won't miss our 9-card fit. And if partner still passes, we now have an easy club rebid over whatever they bid. This shows at least 5-5 with primary diamonds and keeps almost every game in play, so partner will frequently get us to the right strain. If we get a little high but play in the right strain, well, that's what cardplay is for. But no amount of cardplay can make up for defending at the 2-level when you have a 9-card fit, or playing in 2 when we belong in 5m or 3NT (when partner fits one of our minors but doesn't know it because we didn't show 5-5).

Finally, have you considered the auction has improved our hand? Given that partner has opened 1 (denying exactly 55), he now only 3 hand patterns where we will have a misfit: 4612, 5611, and 5602. A quick simulation shows this happens around 6% of the time, while we are double-dummy cold for game opposite 50% of minimums, most of which do not have a 4-card minor. I don't think it's worth catering to misfits when we are missing a lot of vulnerable IMP games in the process.
Feb. 18, 2012
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While transfers are cool, I agree with what Adam Kaplan wrote. A natural 2/1 system doesn't have a problem here, 2 (forcing) with the intention of following up with clubs (at the 5-level if need be) works just fine. This hand is worth a game-force, so start by bidding your suits. You show at least 10 cards in your suits, you indicate that diamonds are at least as good as clubs (so partner will preference correctly with equal length in the minors), and you drive to a vul game with 3 likely working cards and great shape. As the Fifth Seat Action poll last week showed, people frequently overcomplicate matters with a negative double when they can simply start by bidding their longest and strongest suit.

The problem with Double followed by a jump in diamonds showing 6-5 is that the auction probably won't allow you to do so and stop in 3NT. For example, say LHO makes a simple raise to 2, passed back to you. Now if you jump to 4, you bypass 3NT when partner has a hand like AJ10 Axxxx Kxx xx. And if you balance with just 3, it sounds like a different hand type (a hand too weak to bid 2 directly). In fact, almost any likely auction besides P 1NT P is going to lead to difficulties – if partner fits one of our minors, we'll almost certainly see further spade bidding by the opponents. So why not start things off with your best suit?

If partner was truly 4631 he shouldn't open 1 but call the director (14 cards). Remove any x, and I'd be very unhappy if he DIDN'T open. Passing 13-HCP hands with 5 controls and 9+ major-suit cards is not winning bridge. To show how non-minimum this hand is, I'd open the hand without _either_ jack (Axxx Axxxx Kxx x is an opener). Even opposite that hand 3NT needs a 2-2 break, which is just fine with me at IMPs.
Feb. 16, 2012
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Thanks Richard. Fixed.
Feb. 13, 2012
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Hi Robert –

Welcome to the Well. Masterpoints are a great marketing tool for encouraging repeat attendance, especially amongst the older generation, but I feel the ACBL is beginning to realize that they are not a substitute for a true ranking system. The legitimacy of our game is put in question when the metrics used to evaluate performance are flawed. Also, younger players, used to instant feedback and reward mechanisms from modern video games, may not appreciate a long slog of years of playing to be highly ranked in a system that doesn't really measure skill but longevity.

With the advent of the Web, we have access to even more data about skill: cards and bids can be recorded, simulations can be run to determine the effectiveness of a particular line of play, and results can be weighed based on relative strength of field. Are there any efforts underway to develop a better ranking system, or to integrate the vast amounts of data available into an analytics engine for evaluating player performance?

Thanks in advance for your time and I look forward to hearing your response.
Feb. 9, 2012
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Hi Michael –

Let me make it absolutely clear that I have utterly no problem with any of your comments in this thread so far. You are more than welcome to disagree with others, or say that a previous argument is false. However, there is a difference between discussion and personal attack.

“Your argument is incorrect/false.” is perfectly acceptable.

“You are a liar.” is not.

“X found the shift to a diamond.” is acceptable.

“X is a cheating scoundrel.” is not.

Thank you for telling us your insider viewpoint of Shanghai. As long as you state your disagreements politely and without personal attacks, feel free to keep posting away, and the community will tell you if they find it interesting or not.
Feb. 9, 2012
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I have flagged the last comment as inappropriate given what I said earlier. I don't care if you're right or wrong, joking or not, don't call other people names in public. Take this to e-mail/private messages.
Feb. 8, 2012
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I don't see why we have to complicate the auction with a double when we have a simple, natural 2 bid available. 2 shows the 5th spade and reasonable values, which we have. Partner must have at least 4 diamonds or 4 spades, so we've got a guaranteed 8-card fit. Worst case, he has a light opener with 4 diamonds, but I'm more than happy to play 3 opposite a vulnerable third-seat 1 opener. If partner's style is to open hands in 3rd where 3 risks going for a number opposite a great dummy for diamonds such as this one, I find a new partner.
Feb. 8, 2012
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Hi, as a site administrator, I'd like to weigh in here. Please keep comments about other people polite, respectful, and positive in public. When a rude or negative comment is posted, it doesn't matter if it's right, or not – such comments have no place on our site. The reason is we want this to be a community where all feel welcome, not a community where people feel free to sling mud at each other. Thank you.
Feb. 7, 2012
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There is a minimum age. It's 60, which is why Berkowitz went in two years ago on the first ballot, but why Larry Cohen is not in the Hall (yet).
Feb. 3, 2012
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Disagree strongly that the Hall of Fame belongs to the dead. It's really great to give recognition to the players while they are still around to appreciate it. In baseball, it is seen as a great shame that they were not able to induct Buck O'Neill into the Hall of Fame before his death. That being said, sports hall of fames have it much easier than bridge, because sports have a long retirement period.
Feb. 3, 2012
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Hi Hanan – I understand that you find “followers” inappropriate. But I personally read no negative meaning into the term: a follower, to me, is just “one who follows”. We cannot cater to everyone, as it's difficult to find a consensus word that is appropriate. If you personally find it so evocative of negative imagery, we would appreciate it if you could offer a suitable alternative.
Feb. 1, 2012
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And, if you want to find “new” content, go look at the Latest Posts tab, next to the Main Feed (beneath and to the left of the video).
Jan. 31, 2012
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Lynn, try clearing your cookies for Bridge Winners.
Jan. 31, 2012
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It seems untenable in practice for the laws to say that the director has to determine equity. So I think the laws simply say that both sides get AVG+ when the director fouls the movement. It may not be equitable on a particular set of boards, but in the long run it will work out.
Jan. 31, 2012
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