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All comments by Henry Bethe
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It is very hard to recognize this position at trick one. During the commentary, no one observed that Hurd should have won the A - it is so natural to win the K at trick one. I only saw it during my sleep that night. Which is why, when I woke up, I decided to write it up.

Thanks for the compliment.
May 20, 2011
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Board 11: 6 by South is actually a pretty good contract, Cold on a club lead and going down only when East has four (or five) QJ.

Board 22: 6 on a spade lead does not look so hot: It needs 3-2 hearts and 3-3 clubs. At least I think it does.
May 19, 2011
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By the way, if you want to become a better bridge player, talk to Cathy or Marc Nathan about renting space at the brownstone in NYC where five of the six Bathurst team members have lived at one point or another during the last four years or so. Promise its cheaper than hiring a professional partner.:) I think there are vacancies, and its clear there is something about the water, or the air, or the neighborhood that is conducive to bridge stardom. ;D
May 18, 2011
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Let me try, in my own disjointed fashion, to answer some of your questions.

1. Is this a game you want to be in? At match points the cutoff, whether vulnerable or not, is 50%. Does this game reach 50%? Strangely enough, when you have two finesses to take through DIFFERENT opponents, both will be onside 38% of the time, both offside 38%, and one will work 24% of the time. Since you have, barring something very favorable, at least three side losers (two diamonds and a heart) you will need both finesses onside, which is 38%. Sometimes even with the K onside you will still have a spade loser. So the game is distinctly less than 50% and is undesirable at match points or not vulnerable at imps. It is probably close to the 37% needed to make a vulnerable game a toss-up in imp expectation whether you bid it or not.

2. What should 2 mean over 2? In my opinion it should mean that if the bidding went 1-3 (or whatever shows a limit raise) the 2 bidder would accept. Accepting a limit raise should normally mean that you are better than a minimum opener, in playing strength if not in high card strength.

An alternative treatment is to use 2 to mean “I would have opened in any seat.” If you do play that way, then this Drury hand should rebid 2 over 2, which should say “You really do need extra values to make game a good prospect.”

3. What should other bids mean over 2? In classic (reverse) Drury, after P-1-2, 2 showed a minimum or sub-minimum 5-4 in the majors, in case partner had 3 and 4. Which, imho, is a good reason to use 2 as the three-card raise and 2 as the four card raise. Bids above 2M are normally used to show slam interest, either short suits (probably better) or suits where high card strength or shortness would be very valuable.

I hope this is helpful.
May 18, 2011
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While commenting, we all thought Justin had (or should have from the posted play) made 6 tricks on board 106. As posted, Greco led a trump, Justin won and continued Ace and a club. Greco shifted to a spade and Hampson continued a second spade which Justin ruffed. He now could have assured a sixth trick by ruffing a third spade in hand. I can only assume that the posted play was wrong.

With all kudos to Greco and Hampson for bidding both grand slams on 118 & 119, the GS on 119 was anticlimactic as the lead was 49 going into that board. The “Fat Lady” was already singing!
May 18, 2011
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One thing the losers could not complain about: the possibilities during the last set! The last time I was down 60 or so going into the final quarter, on nine of the sixteen boards the auction went (effectively) 1N-P-3N with a combined 29 count and two balanced hands. That sure was not the case here. I could not be more pleased for the winners.
May 18, 2011
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Further Junior info. Brad Moss finished fourth, not third in 1991 Junior teams. Zagorin also played the junior pairs in '97. Many of the Bathurst team played in the Junior pairs over the years, with the best finish I could find by Grue (with John Kranyak) 4th.
May 17, 2011
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Dave.
In those long ago days people, at least most people, had shape restrictions on their weak two's also. When I was taught bridge lo these many years ago I was told a weak two in first or second position showed (1) a quality suit: two of the top three or three of the top five cards, six long; (2) no four cards in a major; (3) no voids; (4) no freaks (6-5 shape). In modern evaluation terms a weak two had normally either seven or eight LTC. Weak two's were sort of a constructive action with hands short of the high card strength for an opening bid (in an era of sound opening bids) but with the offensive playing strength. In my “bidding instruction sheet” there was no such auction as 2H-2N-4C because 3NT was always a possible contract. Opener rebid 3H with a minimum, showed a feature with a maximum, or raised to 3N with AKQxxx of the suit. So in the ‘60s, the auction you postulate would not have been possible, at least not in the effete East.

Peg.
We have such a rule in place: a player is generally expected to take 5-10 seconds in high level or competitive auctions. Perhaps that is too short a time, but there it is. Whatever the “free” time allowance is, there will be some amount of deliberation that will be beyond it. If we mandate 10 seconds, where does the clock for possible UI start? at 20? at 30? It has to start somewhere. Somewhere in the consciousness of a player there should be a self-test: I would like more time to consider my action; is it worth taking the extra time when it may - depending on the action I eventually choose and partner’s hand – restrict partner's choices.

May 17, 2011
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Correction, mea culpa. Apparently Kevin B did go to Ghent for the Junior Pairs in '95 and his partner was – ta da – Daniel Zagorin! Thanks to the diligent person who found this out for me.
May 17, 2011
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Peg,
A player has an infinite (well not infinite but as much time as needed) to make a call. No one restricts the time a player may take. But when a player takes more than about 10-12 seconds, sometimes more than about seven seconds, it is clear to all that the player was considering alternatives. In most auctions, even behind screens, it is clear which of the two players took the time. What the Law says, not regulation, is that the partner of the player who took the time is not allowed to know the information not conveyed by the call itself, that is not allowed to know that alternatives were considered.

This is then translated to restrict the courses of action available to the partner of the time-taker when the fact that alternatives were considered suggests that one course of action will be more successful than another. If your partner takes a long time to act and emerges with Blackwood, there is no onus on you. If you bid Blackwood and your partner takes a long time to respond, it is clear that they were considering some other call, almost certainly whether to disclose a void (but possibly whether to show the trump queen with extra length).

You know all this. We could do away with the annoyance of committees by permitting inferences to be drawn, and indeed bridge was played that way in this country until the early-to-mid-sixties and longer than that in much of the world. In my youth I played against a couple of old-timers who had a hesitation auction, got it wrong, and the partner of the hesitater said, “how could I play you for that after your huddle.” In the late sixties I played against a pair who had the auction 1N-2C-2D- cards placed firmly face down on the table 2N-P. I objected when it turned out that the 2N bidder had a six count and the opening 1N bidder a full 17 with a five card suit. “What did you expect?” asked the committee chair. “That's what the auction shows!”

I am told that one of the famous old-timers used to teach his students the difference between many forms of double: the quick double, the five-second double, the fifteen second double, the quick “I double” … all the way to "I double “. I was told that he also taught the difference between opening ”a club,“ ”one club“, ”I'll bid a club“, ”I'll bid one club," and so on. Including whether club was said on a rising or firm inflection.

I for one do not yearn for a return of those days. But if we don't want them, committees are a necessity.
May 16, 2011
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Okay. If that is the explanation, that is the explanation. I still find it hard to believe that North would psyche a 5 cue bid rather than cue 4 – and it would be interesting to know when hearts became the agreed trump suit.
May 16, 2011
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Quite right, Barry. typo, not ignorance, I think. Eric played from ‘93 to ’99, and was still eligible in ‘01 but chose not to play. Joel was on a team in every year from ’95 to '05, six straight!
May 16, 2011
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Bob, Denial Cue Bidding (a concept developed by Dave Cliff) uses a sort of sweep idea: instead of cue bidding the controls you have, you bypass suits in which you have a control and bid suits in which you do not. So 5 in this auction would be a cue bid, announcing controls in hearts (did not bid 4), spades (did not bid 4), and clubs (did not bid 5) but not diamonds. Wholesale disclosure, as it were, rather than retail.

And no, I do not agree with the 7 bid.
May 16, 2011
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Sven, I only looked back at the teams. I did not check (and I am not sure one can check) participation in pair events.
May 16, 2011
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Why, Jacco?

On my hypothesis, that N did not psyche 5 but that it was a DCB denying a first or second round diamond control but promising first or second round control of all the other suits, N could have A/AJxxxx/xx/Kxxx. That hand would be consistent with the previous bidding and would make checking whether North had a first round or a second round spade control important. I think one should always assume in this kind of discussion that the players' bids were consistent with their methods and not psychics. A denial cue bid is a form of cue, so the statement that both 4D and 5D were “cue bids” is not incorrect information, just incomplete.
May 16, 2011
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Bob, we do not know whether hearts or clubs was the agreed suit. The evidence of the auction is that hearts was agreed.

North did not have the heart suit to insist on hearts (he would have needed at least the Queen in addition) if no grand was to be bid. If 4 agreed clubs, North could not know that South did not have a club grand try, say KQxx/x/Axx/AQxxx where the stiff spade A would be gold. In addition he did not have an additional heart feature.

You might argue that the fifth club, or the third round diamond control were features, but not that AJ10xxx of hearts was an additional feature. He had already announced that.

I would suggest that the information that 2 suggested a stronger hand in high card strength is not only interesting but critical: South was expecting an additional card and was looking for it. I think he might have bid the grand himself, which would be on 4-3 spades if N was 1-6-2-4, and various very favorable spade divisions opposite 0-6-3-4. Assuming hearts were 2-1.

May 16, 2011
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All but one of the players here “cut their teeth” in World Junior competition. Platnick, Diamond, Moss, Hampson and Gittelman were all on teams that participated in 1993. Platnick and Diamond were on the winning team, Hampson-Gittelman playing for Canada were second and Moss third. Greco started his WJC career in ‘93, Wooldridge in ’95, Bathurst in '99. Hurd and Grue joined in 2001, Lall in 2005. Joeboo won three WJCs, Wooldridge, Hurd and Lall two each and Bathurst one.

I would also note that the Fleisher team is also relatively young: only Stansby is eligible for Senior play at the moment.
May 16, 2011
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Schermer-Chamber's announced system is that 2 is “intermediate”, 10-13, not weak. 2 is a weaker weak-two in either major. So Schermer could hardly have less than he did, although he could have had a much less suitable hand. Their System Summary offers no information about responses and continuations. If the auction contains no psychics, perhaps the 5 bid said “I have a heart control, a spade control and a club control, but no diamond control.” A sort of “denial cue bid,” which is a useful concept for hands that rate not to have not that many controls to show. In that case, 5 would be looking for something extra, like the Q or possibly the singleton K, both of which would be possible in the context of the previous auction, and both consistent with the opening bid: either K/AJxxxx/xx/Kxxx or x/AJxxxx/xx/KQxx and both of which would make the grand essentially cold. A slow 6 then would be consistent with “I do not have either of those but I do have an additional feature somewhere,” which can only be additional shape.
I suspect that the question of whether there was a BIT was in part resolved by testimony from the VG operator. It should be. I was not commenting at the table at the time, but those who were seemed to be agreed that there was, and not surprised that there was a director call.
May 16, 2011
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The eight straight are also a record since the defending champions stopped having automatic invitations. Forquet and Belladonna share the record of 10 straight (57-59, 61-63, 65-67, 69) with Rodwell who played in 91 and 93 as well as his string on the Nickell team. Anyone care to bet that he won't become the first with 11 straight if Welland happens to win the trials?
May 14, 2011
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Marty,
I am really pleased for you.

Let me offer a comment on being a “sponsor.” There are in my view two types of sponsor. One I call the rich player type. Harold Vanderbilt was apparently the first of those. A person who had money, was a top flight player in his (or her) own right, and wanted to play with the best. If his chosen partner/teammates could not afford to play with him, for whatever reason, he would make it possible. I have the greatest respect, admiration and affection for those sponsors. I would have been one if I had ever had enough money (and had been good enough).

The other I call the buyer type. These are people whose bridge skills are not top flight but use their “embarrassment of riches” to play with partners and teammates who are clearly out of their peer group. While I have no fundamental problem with this choice, I do regret - if that is the right word - their success. I think it is bad for bridge.
May 12, 2011
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