Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Hank Youngerman
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Here is my belief:

1) While there is indeed MI on the hand, our side being told that 3C was nonforcing would not have improved our position. They've already reached the primo contact and avoided having to play the ill-fated spade contract.

2) I don't think they actually had an agreement. They had three chances to tell us they did; (a) on the convention card; (b) by alerting; © after the final pass when asked. I think that in practice they improvised the “2N only forcing bid” agreement.

3) As they were on highly shaky ground, the long tank made it much easier to pass in an uncertain situation.

If you believe that they actually had a “2N only force agreement” or that the tank doesn't demonstrably suggest passing, case closed. They get to keep their good result.

If you believe that they improvised the agreement and that the tank helped them decide that doing something unusual was right, then you have to impose a rebid on opener, probably 3S, and then determine a likely result or range of likely results.

I haven't played bridge much the past 10 years, and haven't been to a single NABC in that time, and I know they don't have actual committees anymore, but when I aggregate my own experience in committees as a party, the casebooks, and comments on similar situations in The Bridge World, I think at least THOSE adjudicators would have said that the EW statements about their agreement are self-serving and don't outweigh the unmarked convention cards and non-alert, and that it's much easier to find a brilliant unusual bid after a long tank than after an in-tempo bid.
June 9
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I'll chime back in here. There is no MI issue on this hand. Only UI. Did the hesitation demonstrably suggest anything? I think that, especially for players who are on shaky ground about their agreements, it suggests doing something unusual.

Nobody actually says to themselves “Because of the tank, I will think about doing something unusual.” But in real life, an in-tempo 3C leads to making the normal response. But an out-of-tempo 3C leads you to consider alternatives.

The only possible results on the hand are:

1) If 3C is passed, NS -110
2) If East bids 3S, NS +150 against 3S or +50 or 100 against 4C(x?). North's 12-count includes AJx of clubs and he pretty much knows the spades are stacked unfavorably for EW.

Under the old rule I'm sure it would be -150 EW and possibly +150 or +100 NS. Personally I'd make the odds of the possible scenarios:

S doubles 3S 50%, W runs to 4C 100%, N doubles 75%
S passes 3S, W runs to 4C 40% (he already took his shot), if he runs N doubles 50% (he doubles less often than when his partner didn't double).

This gives:
3S - all pass 30%
3S - P - 4C - P 10%
3S - P - 4C - dbl 10%
3S - dbl - 4C - dbl 37.5%
3S - dbl - 4C - pass 12.5%

I'm sure others will disagree with my percentages, but these are all the rational scenarios.
June 9
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I misspoke in the original post, but I think people picked it up, they said that 2N is the only force and 3C was non-forcing.

Of the comments so far, I most agree with Mike Shuster's. Most people reading this site have played enough bridge to know that IN PRACTICE, an in-tempo 3C is forcing and a slow 3C is not.

One problem we have in bridge now is something like this. Imagine that you have a basketball rec league. The secretary is responsible for booking court time, handling signups, maintaining the website, scheduling games, handling the money, etc. However we would be quite unlikely to ask him to referee the games unless he had expertise in this area. In bridge we assume that all the other directing skills go along with being able to implement the laws in UI/MI situations and make sound bridge judgments. (Many of them don't even know enough to conduct a poll, and even when they do, a typical club game is very short on pollable players.)

I left out the other hands because I didn't want to muddy the waters about the adjustment. If E rebids 3S then NS will get at least a better score; if he passes NS get a zero. S has KQ987 of spades and a side Queen. If E bids 3S and S doubles, W will clearly run to 4C (since he intended to play clubs all along) and NS will get +50 or +100 if they double. If S doesn't double, W might or might not bid 4C and 3S will probably go down 3. Under the “old” rule, I think it's definitely at least 1/6 likely that EW would be -150 and it's kinda close whether to give NS +150 or +100. Under the new rule you're supposed to try to figure out the likelihood of all the plausible outcomes and weight them.

But I stopped with the pass because it's simple in this case that if you allow the pass NS get a bad score and if you force E to bid again NS get a good score.
June 8
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I haven't gone to an NABC in 10 years, but decided to go to Vegas this summer. The rate at Cosmopolitan is fairly reasonable in that there's no resort fee, and VERY reasonable on the weekend. But THERE ARE NO ROOMS! I went to make a reservation while Memphis was still going on and pretty much all the tournament nights were SOLD OUT. Four months before the tournament!

There is probably no one LESS affected than me, because I'm a regular at Orleans, which is pretty close to Cosmopolitan, and I get a good “casino rate.” But I'd still rather stay at Cosmo just to have a place to relax between sessions without taking an Uber back to Orleans.

But how could they mis-estimate the room requirements THIS badly?
April 14
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TBH I didn't try to dissect the entire auction and explanation but I do know that you ARE allowed to be woken up by an impossible bid.

This happened to me in a nationals about 20 years ago, 2N by partner alerted and explained correctly as weak with both minors. 3C by me, drop dead, no choice. 3D by partner. Laughter all around the table. The impossible 3D bid told me that partner wasn't playing 2N weak for the minors, at least not on that hand, and I could use my judgment (which of course was to play partner for a balanced 20-21).

If N thinks he is playing Kokish - whether it's on the card or not - 3S is a wake-up that S doesn't think they're playing Kokish. My feeling is that he's allowed to take as much time as he needs to work out what's going on, trusting that partner will ethically not even guess what he's thinking (and with Jeff as partner I know that's true).
March 31
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I feel somewhat strongly that bridge could be a very viable high school activity, like debate. I was a competitor/coach/administrator in debate and Model United Nations for 6 years, winning national championships in M.U.N. in both high school and college. Kids love to compete, and the brainy kids can't drain the 3. There's no way to keep participating in these after graduation, and opportunities to compete are limited and require a lot of travel. Debate requires a level of preparation comparable to bridge. And the number of high school debate sponsors who actually know enough to coach is quite limited - most just drive the kids to tournaments and that's it. By comparison, we have a surfeit of people experienced enough to teach bridge in the ACBL, almost all of whom are free at 3PM to meet with the local high school bridge club.

We never had to tell the junior high students that debate was “good for them.” We had to tell them that it's a competitive exercise requiring brains, not brawn. We lost a lot of them because of how much specialized work was required.

When I was at Georgetown (Yes this was a long time ago), the Washington Forensics League had about 6 one-day tournaments a year, with four divisions, drawing a total of about 90 pairs, competing in what would be comparable to a four-round swiss of 12 board matches. That was in addition to the competitors in individual speech events, and the team I coached went to about a dozen major out-of-town tournaments. I don't see any reason why there couldn't/wouldn't be comparable interest in bridge.

Except for the fact that “Oh, my grandmother plays bridge.”

Or school administrators hearing the word “Bridge” and thinking “Poker - gambling - EVIL.”
March 26
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Good point!
Nov. 17, 2018
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I don't think it's at all weird to key start times to local time rather than somewhere between PDT and EDT. Yes, the first day you're there could be challenging - I remember some years ago struggling in the final few rounds of the Life Master Pairs in Vegas (I live in the east). I fly cross-country every month and I've learned to deal with jet lag.

I personally despise the “daylight” events. I'm retired and my alarm it set for 10:30AM in the morning. But no organization can make everyone 100% happy 100% of the time.

As for the top-level issue, should we have an NABC in Hawaii, I remember similar discussions about the NABC in New York in 2004, and in a difference vein, in Winnipeg in around 1985. Again, some people want one close to home, some want one in an exotic location, some would be happy in an underground bunker with a good food court.

When I used to go to NABC's I went through a patch where I always stayed at the host hotel, then I started playing with a travel agent (remember those?) who would always find me alternatives, then I started booking mostly on Priceline.

I have a business convention coming up where the sponsor reimburses hotel costs, but only for rooms at the host hotel and at the negotiated rate. I guess that's their deal.

I'm sympathetic to the ACBL for scheduling an occasional NABC in a location that will appeal to a sizable segment of the membership and to not being able to figure out in 2011 what would happen to booking accommodations by 2018. You couldn't pay me enough to serve on the ACBL board.
Oct. 17, 2018
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Unless I'm mistaken, the Laws permit the sponsoring organization to specify how inquiries are handled. So they could specify that the bidder self-alerts and explains. I think it would be best to NOT have both opponents answer. If the opponents are having an accident, you should be able to tell from the way each explains their own bids. And unless a player describes an agreement that doesn't conform with his hand (and we're allowed to deliberately bid in violation of a partnership agreement), I'd be inclined to say that in most cases being on a different wavelength is its own punishment, and additional penalties for MI would be much rarer.
Oct. 16, 2018
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I wish these were required reading for all club directors. Although TBH I found the older casebooks when there were actual committees much easier to read.

I had a funny incident this past weekend, playing against a newcomer to the area I mentioned an extremely controversial ruling from an old NABC, without remembering that my opponent was in fact the (highly-criticized) protagonist in that particular drama.
Oct. 16, 2018
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If partner wants to set up a force, he has to bid 4.
Oct. 16, 2018
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When bidding boxes first came into common use, I remember Doug Grove ruling “A call is made when the bidding card is removed from the bidding box, with intent.”

I find it's not uncommon for me to pull one extra card, for example, when I mean to bid 2S I pull the 2N card. As soon as I see it, which is usually well before it hits the table, I tend to put the edge of the stack on the table and angle my hand so that the top card becomes detached and replace it in the bidding box. So the 2NT card may be visible, but it's clearly not what I meant to bid or ever meant to bid.

Now, say after 1S-Pass you hold:

Axxx
x
KQJx
Axxx

and you pull the 4H card out of the box, it's visible but not placed on the table, and as you are doing it you realize you have agreed with partner that a splinter is limited to 13HCP, so you place it back in the box and bid 2NT - I feel like that's very different.

I think the cards can often speak for themselves. First, there's a difference between pulling 2N when you meant 2S and pulling 4S when you meant 2S. I'd even say that pass vs. double is unlikely to be a mechanical error because we all know that the hand motion of pulling a pass card is different from a double or redouble. Almost everyone has their hand directly over the bidding box to pass but has their hand at a kind of right angle to the bidding box to double. But if partner opens 1S and you hold:

Kxxx
xxx
Jxxxx
x

I'd be extremely reluctant to force a 2NT bid on a player who said it was a mechanical mistake and that he meant to bid 2N. Now 3S vs. 2S for a pair who play 3S as preemptive, that's a different matter.
Oct. 12, 2018
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I'm going to reply to the narrow question of custom-written software.

About 30 years ago, when LOTUS 123 was the hot thing, my mother was the treasurer of a ladies investment club. I wrote a more or less complete accounting system for them in 123. It wasn't super-sophisticated, I don't think I had WYSIWYG reports and such. She didn't use it because she found a program from the National Association of Investment Clubs.

I think home-grown software COULD work if the author (a) is a true EXCEL/VBA genius and (b) is committed to it as a labor of love, not a profit center. I'm not saying they couldn't/shouldn't be compensated, but if there's a fix needed the answer has to be “Sure, I'll work night and day until it's done” not “It will cost $15K and take 6 weeks.”

More recently, but still a while ago, I inherited a program for managing online backgammon tournaments. It also had an Excel base. You didn't have to know how to create a formula to add two cells in order to run it, and most of our TD's didn't. I fixed up stuff in it to do things that hadn't been done before, like random assignments, random byes, export of results, flighting, etc. At one point, the group I was managing had its turn to run the site-wide “Tournament Of Champions” and I spent a good 6-10 hours just programming the ability to reference an eligibility list rather than the TD's having to refer to a separate page or sheet to see if the person was eligible. It was worth it to me just to show that “Our tournament tool is better than your tournament tool.”

That said, Access or another SQL-based application might be better. I don't know. I was an ace Excel/Access/VBA programmer 15 years ago. I'm not anymore.
Oct. 12, 2018
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I open 2N, which I play with all my partners who will allow it, as weak with the minors.

I think an opening 4N is Blackwood. If it wasn't then I'd open 4N.

If I have to open in a minor I'd open 3 and compete in 's.

Against some of the players at my (weak) club game, I could end up defending a slam in a minor.
Sept. 12, 2018
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Combining Kit and Michael's comments, the solution is to play with tablets or the like. When this will apply to events at what level is above my pay grade, but computers/tablets solve some problems not even solvable with screens.
Sept. 10, 2018
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I've long had a view on this. When I was in high school, I competed in debate and Model United Nations. Top-flight debaters put in quite a lot of preparation, and have to learn a new debate topic in depth each year. Model U.N. is much easier. But the point is, they are academic competitions for really no other reason than the desire to compete in a thinking game.

Both of these have limited applicability once you get to college; without getting into detail, just consider then number of high school basketball players who aren't good enough to play in college. (That was my status in debate but not Model U.N.) And once you're out of college, unless you are one of the few who becomes a teacher at some level and coaches, it's not a part of your life at all.

It has always seemed to me that bridge could follow this model. When I was in college I coached a debate team in Fairfax County VA, and the monthly league competitions (including D.C. and all of the suburbs) would draw upward of 100 pairs in four divisions, plus individuals competing in individual speech events.

Now, it's going to be exceptionally difficult to persuade 14-year-old kids to take up this card game that their grandparents play. Bridge has a bad vibe in that way. And you could become a bad debater or Model U.N. delegate with limited study, much less than is needed to become minimally competent in SAYC.

But I still feel like, with the right combination of factors, we could get high school bridge clubs, competing against each other, and it wouldn't be something the kids would be forced to give up just because they graduate.

I feel like college is too late to grab people's attention. Bridge has the look-and-feel of an extracurricular activity, and nobody in college participates in as many extracurriculars as they did in high school.

One thing we do have now that we didn't 10 or 20 years ago is, we can put a bridge-teaching app on every kid's phone and tablet. What if 5% of the addicts to Candy Crush Saga or Angry Birds got addicted to bridge instead?
Sept. 10, 2018
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In the ACBL, we have a “General” chart, “Mid” chart, and “Super” chart. On the mid chart, some conventions are allowed only in rounds of 6 boards or more. Multi falls into that category, as does the 2S bid. The 2H bid is mid-chart for 2-board rounds, probably because it's vaguely similar to Flannery and therefore a pair could defend effectively against it if they can defend against Flannery. However these three conventions can only be played in mid-chart and superchart events. Clubs and tournaments can allow or disallow what they like, but the default is mid-chart in regional events for players with 1000 monsterpoints or more and of course national events, and general chart otherwise.
Sept. 8, 2018
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I play that 2 is a “Weak Opening Michaels” with 5-5 in the majors (5-4 being an acceptable deviation) and 2 is a weak or a good 3-level pre-empt in a minor with 3m being the other characterization. I've found these very useful, although I've never played the “good/bad weak 2” treatment so I have no comparison. I do recall a KO match where on the first board my partner opened 2 and I had a clear raise to 7, which was cold. And the good/bad minor preempts can get you to or keep you out of 3N when it's right. I define a “good preempt” as one willing to play 3N with Jx in the suit and stoppers outside. So you can show a good preempt with, say, KQxxxxx and a side K, and a bad preempt if you take away any of the honor cards. (“Willing to play” doesn't mean “must be cold.”)
Sept. 8, 2018
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I play that double of any major-suit overcall below game is pass or correct.
Sept. 8, 2018
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Original post corrected.
Sept. 6, 2018
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