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All comments by Eugene Hung
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Hi Jill –

Thanks for agreeing to be in the Well. With such a large and successful family of bridge players, what have been your experiences in teaching your children to love the game? And how did your parents handle teaching you and your brothers?
Jan. 12, 2012
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Thanks, everyone for your comments! I'll have to check out knockout whist and rook (familiar with the other starter games). I myself learned at 15 but wish I could have started earlier.
Dec. 28, 2011
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In my opinion, there is not even a need for a “friendly reprimand”. Joel was telling us what he considers his favorite bridge memory, from when he was a teenager. Many of my favorite bridge memories from that period include things that I'm not proud of (or that my opponents would not be proud of), but I fondly remember them anyway.

Remember, this thread is in part a celebration of Joel's achievements as well as a chance to get to know one of the world's best bridge players a little better. Just as it would be inappropriate to sling mud at an awards banquet honoring someone, I find it similarly in poor taste to publicly criticize him in this thread, when he has bothered to take time and effort to answer all of our questions. We may not approve of all of his answers, but surely we owe him some courtesy for his graciousness. I applaud Joel for his public candidness and willingness to take time to answer, in detail, whatever question the world wants to throw at him. Thanks, Joel, for doing this.
Dec. 10, 2011
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Hey Joel, congratulations on your annus mirabilis, and hope this is the start of many more to come. Anyway, with a reputation for being one of the more “deliberate” players on the tournament circuit, what is your opinion on the current state of time controls in top bridge events? Do you feel they are too restrictive, or unfair? And if there are problems, how would you design time controls to provide a fair and level playing field?
Dec. 9, 2011
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I have edited the layout to reflect the real-life spade holdings. Thanks Henry.
Dec. 6, 2011
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Title has been fixed to “Match 2”.
Nov. 8, 2011
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I disagree that it's important to always strive for a positive impact in one's score. Take the situation in American football a few years ago, when, leading 10-6, the running back Brian Westbrook deliberately refused to score a touchdown on the 1-yard line so that his team could guarantee running out the clock for a win.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkrRTYbVmpU&feature=related

Good sportsmanship, to me, involves playing to maximize your chance for the overall win. If that involves not increasing your score at a certain point, or even sabotaging your winning margin (i.e., running backwards on 4th down and 20 seconds left, to take a deliberate safety to run out the clock, or intentionally walking Barry Bonds with the bases loaded with 2 outs and a 3-run lead in the ninth), so be it.

Also, in some multiplayer games, it can be right to sabotage your score relative to another player's, because the play makes your closest competitor lose even more. So, for example, let's say you had 20 points, I had 21 points, and everyone else had 5 points. If, for the final play of the game, you made a play that transferred 5 points from the leader (me) to the last place player, and 3 points for the 2nd place player (you) to the 2nd to last place player, it's clear to do it even though it's costing you points, because doing so wins you the game.

I do think it's unsportsmanlike to play to lose if doing so does not improve your overall winning chnces, but you end up choosing who ends up being the overall winner (kingmaking). This can occur in the Round Robin when, in the final round, a non-qualifying team is playing a team on the bubble. I would expect the non-qualifying teams to play to improve their score since the overall win expectancy is the same (zero).

In all of these cases, if you don't like rules that encourage a team to lose to increase their overall chances to win, don't punish the players. Instead, rewrite the rules to incentivize players to win.
Nov. 7, 2011
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I'm still not sold on SJ Simon as an author. I know the 90s book poll well, I bought and read all the books on that poll when I was learning bridge. That poll was not for the most influential book of all-time, but the “greatest bridge book” (which is different than influential). I really enjoy _Why You Lose At Bridge_, but I also really enjoy Darvas and Hart's _Right Through The Pack_. Nobody is nominating them for most influential. To me, a writer is influential if the ideas he writes about contribute to bridge. So somebody like Watson, who wrote the fundamental book on play of the hand, is more influential than Simon, who wrote a good deal about bridge psychology but whose ideas on bidding have not stood the test of time. If Simon is in, he should be in for his contributions to Acol, but I don't think Acol is particularly influential outside the UK. I could live with him on the bottom of the list, I guess, since there are a bunch of great British players who were undoubtedly influenced by Simon, but he should be lower than Reese and Kelsey.

Come to think of it, I'd like to nominate B. Root. His books were a great influence on me personally when learning the game, because his presentation style was so clear. And, he influenced a lot of current bridge players through his teaching and lecturing on the side.

Heitner and Low seem like a paired entry to me. Ideas are critical but implementation is often just as important.

I think the Master Solvers Club is an idea that deserves recognition (it's been copied by bridge periodicals around the world), not sure who gets the most credit for it. Culbertson? Morehead? Moyse? Kaplan?

If Chiardia was the principal theorist behind the Blue Team methods perhaps he should get a nod. But I deliberately omitted Belladonna, Forquet, Avarelli, etc. Great players, yes; great influence, not so much.
Nov. 5, 2011
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Peg,

You may be right about Hamman. I was not aware of his behind-the-scenes contributions to the game. If there are not 52 people who have clearer contributions, then I wouldn't mind having him on there, but I don't think he's a lock. The same applies to Meckstroth (who has done some work on the ACBL conventions committee, a thankless job if I ever heard of one), and to a lesser extent, Garozzo. True, he created Super Precision and Blue Team Club but those seem less influential today than Wei's Precision. The whole concept of a strong club, was I believe, invented by Vanderbilt himself, else I would give Garozzo credit for a great deal more “influence”. Obviosly Hamman, Meckstroth, Garozzo would be on anyone's short list for historically great PLAYERS, but I think there should be a separate category for that. (And indeed, much of the ACBL Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing this category.)

I missed that the original article stated just the past 75 years (1937+ if published in 2012). So that would drop Vanderbilt (who is, in a way, #1, without him there is no game as we know it!) and in a way, lower Culbertson significantly. Wikipedia states he stopped play in 1938 and most of his truly influential work was in the early 30s.

I withdraw Moyse, I thought he was more influential as editor of the Bridge World, but I may be confusing him with Morehead. A second on S. Churchill if his work falls within the time period.

I like Henry's ideas for adding cardplay writers. We take a lot for granted in cardplay nowadays but guys like Watson, Coffin/Love, Ewen set the standard. I'm leaning no on Ottlik (incredible book, but seems to be influential only to the top 0.1% of players). I'd like to include Simon and Mollo, both very entertaining writers but they seem less “influential” than the other writers mentioned.

If the Cavendish was truly the brainchild of a committee of people, then each of the people on the committee get credit for some influence but rank lower than someone who is the originator/driving force of a less influential idea. So I would probably put Buffett (Buffett Cup) ahead of each of those people on the Cavendish committee, and he's on the bubble for me.

Whoever came up with adapting Swiss movement from chess to bridge deserves to be on the list. But right now both M. Low and P. Heitner have been suggested as this person – does anyone know for sure?

As for Patty Tucker, to me she hasn't had enough influence yet to make the top 52 – she's only just started. I hope she'll be on the list in 25 years.
Nov. 5, 2011
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I conflated A. Moyse and A. Morehead. Both should probably be in.

And of course Zia for popularizing bridge not just amongst the Western World, but in the Asian subcontinent as well.
Nov. 4, 2011
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This reminds me of the book, The 100 by Michael Hart, which attempts to rank the 100 most influential people in human history. He said, when measuring influence, it's often a good idea to identify whether things would still have happened without that person. It's also important to note that the earlier people have had a chance to wield more influence.

I disagree on Gates. Gates is famous but he is not particularly influential in bridge yet. I have yet to see many people say they took up bridge because of Gates. Buffett is on the borderline for me as he has made a good start with the Buffett Cup but it is not as high-profile an event as, say, the Bermuda Bowl or the Cavendish.

Also disagree on great players like J. Meckstroth or B. Hamman who have not seen fit to disseminate their skill amongst the masses. On the other hand, guys like O. Jacoby and E. Rodwell were not only great players but influential as well.

My list would include:

* E. Culbertson
* C. Goren
* H. Vanderbilt (inventor of the game and sponsor of the Vanderbilt Cup)
* E. Kaplan (Laws, BW)
* C. Wei (precision)
* M. Work (point count)
* O. Jacoby (transfer principle)
* H. Schenken (weak twos, 2/1 forcing, strong club)
* A. Roth (bidding theory)
* A. Morehead (editor of BW)
* A. Truscott (editor of NYT)
* J. Rubens (editor of BW)
* T. Reese (for his writings)
* E. Kokish (bidding theory)
* M. Lawrence (for his thorough teaching of int/adv concepts)
* H. Kelsey (for advanced cardplay books)
* E. Rodwell (bidding and now cardplay theory)
* M. Bergen (for bidding theory)
* J. R. Vernes and L. Cohen (the LAW)
* B. Wolff (for his combination of journalism and administrative abilities as Prez of the WBF and ACBL)
* E. Kantar (for his beginner and intermediate teaching)
* A. Grant (for her beginner teaching)
* O. Sharif (I think in his time he was a far more effective ambassador for bridge than Buffett or Gates are today)
* F. Gitelman (not M. Clegg, I believe online bridge was destined to occur anyway)
* D. Xiaoping (for getting a billion Chinese to start learning bridge)
* C. Perroux (captain of the Blue Team and president of Italian BF)
* N. Bach (organizer of the Bermuda Bowl)
* some Dutch administrator (for making bridge so successful in Netherlands)
* some Polish administrator (for making bridge so successful in Poland)
* some Polish bidding theorist for Polish Club (Gawrys? Martens?)
* R. Klinger (popularized Losing Trick Count)
* E. Blackwood (Blackwood, of course)
* G. Rapee (Stayman)
* I. Corn (professionalism in bridge)
* K. Woolsey (Serious 3NT, Woolsey, other theory)


Nov. 4, 2011
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Hi Joe –

Thanks for participating in the Well. One thing I noticed in your articles is your “outside-the-box” approach towards bidding. You seem to have a bunch of special treatments or offbeat angles like the psychic 1NT response. What's your favorite bidding treatment that you feel comfortable discussing here?
Nov. 3, 2011
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I added an explanation.
Oct. 22, 2011
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64 here, but around 7% of the 223 people who played the quiz scored over 100. Since the quiz was played 73 times today, I suspect that means some of the people on this site are not only pretty good at bridge history, but modest as well.
Oct. 14, 2011
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Bill, I believe that is the Brad Moss approach alluded to in the article.
Oct. 7, 2011
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Just to confirm Jim's results, I also got 57-58% of the time LHO has a response, he will bid 1H (over 110k deals). This is assuming “mini-Walsh”. LHO has 5+ spades 14% of the time, and 4+ hearts 62% of the time. RHO averages 2.6 spades and 3.2 hearts.
Oct. 6, 2011
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Fred, unlike some couples, you and Sheri obviously enjoy playing bridge with each other, playing several hours every week. Do you have any specific tips for “playing with your SO” or do you see it as just the same as playing with another partner?
Sept. 30, 2011
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I think Josh is right from a theoretical point but I can also understand that there are external, non-bridge factors. Justin Lall alluded to this on his blog recently when he was talking about how pros may be inhibited from taking the correct percentage action because of these external factors. We see this come up all the time in other games. In American football, it may be percentage to go for it on 4th and 2, but if the coach tries and fails too frequently, he'll lose his job – he will never lose his job for following conventional wisdom and punting. In baseball, a manager “has to” save his best relief pitcher for a save situation, even though the leverage of a game is higher when the game is tied. In Wall Street, nobody ever lost their job by buying IBM. And so forth. There are sometimes tradeoffs between the best theoretical action and the action least likely to engender criticism.
Sept. 22, 2011
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Steve – funny you should cite Grant Baze to support your contention that some rules are inviolate. Grant himself would say otherwise.

“I believe the only inviolate rules of bridge relate to decorum and ethics. In fact, my objection to the word “rules,” in a bridge context, is so strong that I prefer to use the word “guides.” Guides are of a technical nature and are tools with which you approach the logic of a particular hand. Judgment, in particular, is not the selection of an appropriate guide; judgment is a synthesis of applicable guides modified by logic, common sense, experience, and intuition. ”

http://www.bridgeaholics.com/tipsandtools/grantbaze_guides.html">http://www.bridgeaholics.com/tipsandtools/grantbaze_guides.html
Sept. 21, 2011
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I tried the active “raise on any hand that apparently has a 4-4 fit, regardless of strength or enemy bidding” style, believing that the LAW would protect me. I stopped after I started going for -800s too often. I think the key factor is whether partner was forced to bid or not. If responder passes and advancer's bid is forced, then I think the old style of only raising with extras is better. But if advancer makes a free bid, guaranteeing 4 trumps and a reasonable hand, raising with 4 regardless of strength works well for me, irregardless of whether opener bids again or not.
Sept. 20, 2011
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