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All comments by Hank Youngerman
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What a rarity.

An appeals book from the 1990's that didn't have my name in it! (Although I think I only played 2 days.)

Is the Fall 1995 book coming eventually? I lost an appeal there and I've been trying to recall the entire hand ever since.
3 hours ago
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It would normally be, but since an opening 1N would be 10-13, a balancing NT can't be 10-13.
23 hours ago
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The diagram shows a ? for East's call, but that's not at all the focus of the post. The auction is over; I should have included three passes.
May 27
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We do play support doubles. In KS, a double by opener here would have said “I have a strong NT.” However (a) KS uses a 12-14 NT, so the double shows 15-17, which really is not that much different than 14-16, and (b) KS long preceded the support double, which was invented mainly because double in this position was almost useless as penalties.

However, the player holding this hand tends to use a lot of judgment rather than adherence to specific rules. One can hardly fault them for bidding 1N with a 4-card holding headed by the A in the opponent's suit and 4-3-3-3.

We do play good/bad 2N, but for simplicity, we play it only by opener at their second turn, when their RHO has acted and we have not found a fit. 2N would not have been available by responder.
May 27
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My own notes say that “An unusual jump above the Kickback suit is exclusion; an unusual jump to 4NT is exclusion for the Kickback suit.” I don't play precision so it's not clear that we have “agreed” on diamonds, but if your 2D bid agrees diamonds (subject, I expect, to being able to play NT instead) then 4S would be exclusion.

Still, this is a subtle auction and I don't think there's a universal treatment.
May 24
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On the actual hand, 4H is cold. Opener's hand is AKQJx JT9xx Q Ax. It's clearly not a jump shift; in standard methods the only sensible bid is 2H.

I agree with the comment that with a weak 6-4 I wouldn't have introduced 's.

But would I have bid over 2? Probably not. Would you?

I think it's a tough hand. How would you get to the cold 4. (4 is about as good although with a higher risk of a ruff.)
May 23
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In my regular partnerships it would be Kickback. But if I was yanked into being a substitute in a national event because someone's partner had become indisposed, I'd treat it as a splinter. If his next bid was 4NT I would treat that as Exclusion RKCB.
May 21
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I haven't played in one of those extended team events in many years, but - if they are alive and viable in other places - I would hate to see them go. Yes, they were social and fun. I remember playing in one at at attorney's office one October evening, and during the break between halves seeing a ball dribble between Bill Buckner's legs. I remember another session against Mike and Susan Cappaletti where we had 3 scores of +250 - I forget exactly what sequences they played comic NT in, but it came up several times.

I think the statement “Since the masterpoint formula tops out at six sessions of play, there is no real reason to plan to play more than that.” There is (WAY) more to life than monsterpoints.
May 21
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I play that 2 is negative (0-1 controls, unwilling to force to game), 2 is semi-positive (0-1 controls, game forcing), higher bids through 3 show more controls, 3 and higher are always suits.

I think this is the worst possible system of responses, except for all the others.

An added complication of my preferred system is that a 2N opening is weak with both minors. This means that a 2C opening, if balanced, could be as little as 20. That unfortunately increases the number of times responder might bid 2N, showing 3 controls, which cramps the auction and potentially wrongsides a NT contract.
May 20
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I agree of course with the second point. I used to play a lot of online backgammon, and people would claim the dice were non-random. One reason was often that they misperceived the dice (“My opponent rolled 7 doubles in a row” was in fact 5 out of 7 on inspection of the dice log, still unlikely but 525 times more likely than 5 of 7); the other was that they confused “Once a week” occurrences with “Once in the cosmos” events.

Statistical significance is usually defined as 1.96 standard deviations from the mean, which on a one-tail test is 2.5%. I would certainly not want to convict someone based on a 1/40th chance that something occurred randomly. I would trust a committee to use its judgement. Also, the software should be looking for multiple types of suspicious activity, and it would be more convincing if there were multiple types of violations. The history of recent cheating scandals tells us that a limited amount of information was transmitted, but it's more difficult to do so at a live table than online where you could simply message an entire hand.
May 20
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I have two comments.

1) I hope that tournaments experiment with Swiss pairs. By “Swiss” I refer to the method of pairing, not in any way to IMP play. This is extremely difficult to do F2F, but should be fairly simple online, and would be a much better format of competition.

2) I endorse the creation of basically an online cheating committee, but I couldn't discern what authority the committee would have to act on information provided by BBO. For example, if you preempt with 7 cards, your partner should have on average 2 (of the remaining) 6 cards in the suit. It should be fairly trivial to calculate partner's average length in such suits. Say it is 2.8 cards, or that it is 0-1 cards less often than indicated by the probabilities and that the differences are statistically significant, the committee should have the authority to initiate action. I think the odds of finding a void in partner's hand when you have a 7-card suit are about 7%, but if someone made 100 preempts and never found a void opposite, that would represent odds of 1 in 1500, and I'd be easily persuadable that monkey business was going on. Especially if there were other oddities. And I'd think this would be easy stuff to track.
May 19
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There was a nationals in Toronto in the mid-1980's. I wasn't even a life master. I was playing in a Flight A Swiss teams, and on one hand I hesitated when following suit with 3 small cards. The real reason I hesitated is that I had just switched to upside-down signals, had never played them before, and I wasn't sure which card to play. The director was called and our team was penalized 1 VP for my infraction. So that's at least one case where this kind of hesitation WAS penalized.
May 19
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My answer is “no” but I do use them sometimes at “casual” tables if I'm working out a new partnership. In particular, the virus has caused me to start playing online with someone I've known for 20 years through online backgammon but had never played bridge with, as well as to renew a partnership with someone from another country that I lived in briefly.

I also keep the Kaplan-Rubens point count calculator open, but I never use it until a hand is over. I find that far more useful. TBH it would be the extremely rare hand that I played live that I would have cause to run through KR, and I have only ever known one person who can do the calculation without a calculator.
May 12
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I know I'm an outlier but I don't like weak jump shifts; I play Soloway jump shits at the 2-level and invitational at the 3-level.
May 11
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This entire thread assumes that the BBO online games are bridge. They are a first cousin to bridge, but not really part of the immediate family. People do weird stuff, and if it's speedball you simply accept that you aren't going to get it sorted out.

I once went wrong because the opponents signaled with a low card. I looked at their convention card and it was one of the BBO stock cards using right-side up. Turns out that the player's profile said UDCA and that's what he was playing. TD told me I should look at their profile. In a F2F game I'd look for the card and if they didn't have one (which is effectively what this pair had) I'd ask.

You just can't hold the ACBL games, especially speedball, to the same standards. If I were playing in an online regional, I might have a different attitude.
May 9
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Remember that there are some players out there who still value the Precious Holy Monsterpoint.

With a nod to Groucho Marx (“I would never join a club that would have me for a member”), I'd happily pay $15 or more for an event that is so strong that I have little chance to win an appreciable number of monsterpoints. For an event like this, nah.
April 27
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To me, it depends on the statement. I always make a claim statement on BBO if there is ANY doubt, particularly if a trump is outstanding. Without a statement we don't know what declarer thought. What if he thought the outstanding trump was high? Then his normal line of play would be to ruff a and play the (good) T. If the trump is low, he wants to ruff a and play the trump T.

I think the law says a trick cannot be conceded if it cannot be lost by any normal line of play. So if your last 3 cards are the trump AK2 and you're in your hand and neither opponent has 3 trumps, it's “abnormal” to play the 2 first, so you win all three.

But… I don't know the dramatis personae. I don't know if these are all friends, if they are all high-level players, if the defenders believed that declarer knew the trump position, etc. Usually at a F2F table there is some table action or body language. In this situation, I would typically toss the spade 7, T, and heart T on the table, in that order, indicating that I'm playing them in that order. (Although as a defender, I'm more careful about casual claims, particularly when it's not my turn to play. When appropriate, if declarer has a guess that he can't get right, I won't claim but I'll flash my cards at him.)

If the EW pair said that they absolutely believed declarer knew the trump position, then I think the host should accept that and not overrule his teammates' desire to be good sports.
April 25
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I'm going to assume that no one will play in these games principally because they award the highly-coveted black points.

I know that my local club is starting a game next week, although TBH I doubt they'll get enough players to form a game. I don't think our local players are BBO-savvy enough. I've asked my regular partner, who lives 150 or 2000 miles from me, depending on the season, to play with me. Fortunately he was in town last summer and we played a couple of games (his daughter lives somewhat near me). However, I have also renewed an old partnership with a friend from Bermuda, who I have not played with F2F since I left Bermuda in 2013. If the Bermuda club has a “SYC” game, I'd happily play with him, and I'm sure he'd return the favor, but is this illegal? If so it's the height of absurdity.

The ONLY reason to play in these games is to basically donate money to the local clubs. I sort of get that clubs shouldn't be poaching other clubs' players, but is this really happening with any frequency? I have another partner from New York, but honestly if he asked me to play in a game to support Honors, I would say “Um, let's play in something else, I don't feel a need to pay an extra fee to support that club, which I've played at maybe twice in my life.”

And I kind of echo Linda Trent's comment, what business does the ACBL have telling me which clubs I can and cannot play in?
April 24
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I haven't read the cases yet, but I miss the days of real committees and expert panel reviews.
April 22
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I'm surprised at the 4 votes. 4 does almost nothing for partner while 4 helps him a lot. If you bid 4 he will not continue without a diamond control (very likely the A), but if he continues over 4, showing the A, you are thrilled.
April 21
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