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All comments by Henry Bethe
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Let me attempt to address the Laws issue with respect to tempo at trick 1. The relevant sections of the Laws are:

Law 72A2: Calls and plays should be made without undue emphasis, mannerism or inflection, and without undue hesitation or haste. But the regulating Authority may require mandatory pauses, as on the first round of the auction, or after a skip-bid warning or on the first trick.

Perhaps it should, but the ACBL does not mandate a pause at trick 1.

Law 73C: Player receives unauthorized information from Partner
When a player has available to him unauthorized information from his partner … haste or hesitation … he must carefully avoid taking any advantage from that unauthorized information.
Law 73D. 1. Variations in tempo or manner
It is desirable, though not always required, for players to maintain steady tempo and unvarying manner. However, players should be particularly careful when variations may work to the benefit of their side. Otherwise, unintentionally to vary the tempo or manner in which a call or play is made is not in itself an infraction. inferences from such variation may appropriately be drawn only by an opponent and at his own risk.
2. A player may not attempt to mislead an opponent by means of a remark or a gesture, by the haste or hesitancy of a call or play (as in hesitating before playing a singleton), the manner in which a call or play is made or by any purposeful deviation from correct procedure.
E. Deception
A player may appropriately attempt to deceive an opponent through a call or play (so long as the deception is not protected by concealed partnership understanding or experience).

Now I have always understood these laws to apply equally to declarer and to defenders. Which is to say: (1) If declarer has no problem playing from dummy at trick 1, since the ACBL does not mandate a pause declarer is not entitled to an excessive pause. Nor is he entitled to a pause before playing from hand if there is no problem AT THAT TRICK. I understand that this is not the common “wisdom” but the Laws seem to say that declarer and defenders are entitled to know when there is a problem and that you cannot conceal a later problem with an earlier pause (since it might deceive the opponent into thinking that you have a problem at that point). They specifically say that you cannot deceive an opponent through tempo of a bid, that partner may not gain information from tempo, and that although the opponent draws inferences at his own risk, that is in the context that you can't deliberately create misinformation for the opponent.

It also seems to say that the third-seat defender IS NOT ENTITLED to plan the defense before playing to trick one if he has no problem at that point. He is entitled to leave his card face up and refuse to let play continue after trick one has been completed. Within reason.
March 29, 2011
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I seem to recall that none of the four tables reached 6, and all four went down in some slam (at least one in 6).

I think Mike was wrong in his line: he loses by ducking only if the lead was a singleton and trumps are 4-3, but wins when the lead was from the K (not fifth) or when they win the K and cannot immediately get a ruff.

On balance, I think the suggestion by Herrmann is right. It loses only when the HK is offside and hearts are 5-1 and the S9 is off.
March 29, 2011
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Actually, Shane, they are not. Within their rights I mean. And somehow my opponents seem to vary their tempo whether I pause at trick one or not.
I also do not believe that “it is standard expert practice to give sp when dummy has a stiff.” Sometimes you just want partner to continue the suit led to attack dummy's trumps. Sometimes you have nothing in either side suit and don't want partner to blow a trick by shifting. And sometimes you have cards in both side suits (and know that partner can not have anything in either) so you do not want a shift.
March 28, 2011
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Peg, for what its worth I would assign Kelsey 25%, Bundy 5% and Brigidda 70%. SHE obviously knew that you had just read Kelsey (SHE is, afterall, all knowing) and could not resist throwing temptation your way on a hand where it would be less than optimal. Including giving your partner a 3-card Drury with a stiff diamond. A cruel goddess She is. :)
March 26, 2011
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I will add a little more. In 1970 or 71 there was a Juniors event sponsored by the WBF. I was a year too old. I know the NY winners were Alan Sontag and Steve Goldstein. Actually there was a lot of great young talent in the late 60's: in NY there were Alan, Steve Altman, Mike and Steve Becker, Peter Weichsel, Jeff Rubens who retired from active bridge much too early, and a little later Dave Berkowitz, Marty Bergen, Larry Cohen – I am forgetting too many. All of us were in our twenties or late teens at the time. I should not forget the Washington group: Woolsey, Robinson, Lipsitz, Roger Peies, Ed Manfield … or Mike Passell and Eddie Wold and Mark Lair. And especially Kyle, who made a splash very young.

England had a talented group in the late 80s and 90s, including Andy Robson, Glynn Liggins, the Treddinik twins, and eventually the Hacketts. Barry Rigal was just a little too old. Tommy Townsend and David Gold were still to come.
March 23, 2011
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Jeff and Eric R. are a little older (very little) than Levin. All are in their mid 50's at this point. Steve is, I believe, just short of 50. Fleisher (and Kamil) are of the same approximate vintage as Levin, I believe.
Meckstroth and Rodwell made their entry into the top tier a little earlier than the others, and remained more consistently in the top tier through the eighties and early nineties. Levin and Weinstein made sporadic “splashes” in the pool, but have become dominant players only more recently. Hamman is, of course, nearly twenty years older.

March 22, 2011
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From a relatively middle-timer's perspective, some of the other stellar performers are also “youngsters:” Marty Fleisher, Mike Kamil, and yes, Bobby Levin and Steve Weinstein; Eric Greco and several of his teammates were all playing Junior Bridge in the 1990's . Certainly they are all a bridge generation or two younger than more historical stars like Meckwell and Hamman. But I agree, it is good to see newer talent rising to the top.
March 22, 2011
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I am always interested in the performance of the distaff side of open bridge events. I do not know the composition of the first day, but on Saturday there were 8 mixed pairs and 4 ladies pairs. Just over half the field qualified, and there will be four mixed and two ladies pairs in the finals. So eight of sixteen ladies qualified after Saturday. As close to half as you could get.
March 13, 2011
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In terms of following the law, I was not so much thinking about your situation at the table as what you should do on a committee. There I think the appropriate action is to follow the Law, and write, as it were, a “concurring opinion” saying that you think that the law is wrong under these circumstances for these reasons.
You are always free as an individual to exercise your right to “civil disobedience.”
March 8, 2011
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Jeff. The opponent's alert is AI. It has to be.
Second point: Once the Laws Commission says “this is the correct interpretation of the Law” you must accept it whether you agree or not. You can suggest to the Laws Commission that they reconsider, that they had not sufficiently considered an issue, but until they change the rule you cannot (or should not) substitute your opinion for theirs.
March 8, 2011
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Mike: I am basically with you. What woke you up was partner's explanation of 3N, which as I understand it is solely for the opponents' benefit. In a sense you are not allowed to hear whether your partner alerts or not. Nor can you “hear” partner's explanation of the alert. So my feeling is that if either the fact that partner alerts (or does not) or partner's explanation could have woken you up we should assume that it did.

I think, by the way, that your opponent does have the obligation to clarify if you persist, e.g. say “not over 1H” or “You are looking at the wrong part of the convention card.” I do not think that your partner is allowed to help, although Edgar would have disagreed.
March 8, 2011
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Piotr:
I never said that Multi was not common in other parts of the world. I watched the Camrose last weekend. Of the 18 pairs United Kingdom based pairs in the competition, I think 11 played multi in some variation. Does that make Multi “standard” or “common?” Many years ago I had the good fortune to play in the “Circolo Bridge de Roma.” Roman Club was standard. Other systems were barred! Bridge authorities in various parts of the world (properly) cater to local custom.
“People build their systems around Multi.” Since many if not most of the American pairs who have adopted Multi play it as a weak two only, and several simply use it to distinguish between very weak weak 2s (opening 2) and constructive ones which open 2M. Many other pairs use Multi to allow two suited weak hands to open 2H (hearts and another), 2S (spades and a minor), or 2N (both minors). This is not “designing a system” but providing for more ways to enter the auction with weak hands.
The US is unusual in that its major tournaments routinely attract experts from around the world. Does that mean that the US should in addition open up its tournaments to all the systems and conventions played in various parts of the world? For a number of years strong pass systems were common in New Zealand and Australia, and i believe played by several leading Polish players. Does that mean that the US should have allowed strong pass systems in pair games?
The US allows Multi in team events where the segment played against a specific pair is six boards or longer. It does not allow Multi, or any other “mystery” opening, when the encounters are shorter. It also allows local jurisdictions to be more permissive in local tournaments provided it is made public in the pre-tournament publicity.
March 7, 2011
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Kit, I am confused. If your construction is correct: partner has the spade King and clubs missing the Ace, how can it be right to double? Surely you should bid 5H and let partner bid a slam with a diamond control. If your construction is wrong, still 5S must be pretty good: partner can't have more than 2 diamonds. So why double 5D? My guess is that opener did not work out the curve ball, and in the confusion decided to double.
March 6, 2011
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BTW, this position is known as a “croc”, as in “is it a crocodile or a croc”. A crocodile is when you have to swallow partner's singleton honor to prevent losing the second trick your side owns. A croc is when declarer persuades you to think its a crocodile but it is really a croc(k) of …
March 5, 2011
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Seems like you were too smart for your own good. When the bridge gods deal me an AK long I really see little reason not to lead the suit. Unless, of course, you are looking for a good story. :)
March 5, 2011
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Personally, I think that rebidding 1N routinely bypassing a four card spade suit should be disclosed before the opening lead is made, just as real Walsh players should disclose that 1C-1D-1N may conceal either or both majors in a balanced hand.
You have your experience, I have mine. Mine is that responder has 4-4 (or 4-5) in the majors when responding 1H frequently enough to justify rebidding 1S rather than 1N with balanced hands. But then I do not have experience playing 1N with a concealed 4 card spade suit that was also not disclosed after the auction. (I do have experience playing against it, and I find it annoying but not a great problem.)
March 3, 2011
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If I am still an “expert,” not clear in my own estimation, then not ALL experts would bypass spades over a 1 response, even with 4-3-3-3. To cite an extreme example, if opener is 4=3=3=3 and responder 4=4=1=4 with a weakish hand, Bob's partnership will end up in 2 or 2 instead of 2.
March 3, 2011
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Are squeezes or strip and throw ins really so obscure? I suppose so. Good article, Mike.

We should all remember Hamman's second rule: “If you need a specific hand, I don't have it.” I think his corollary is , “If I need a perfect hand, you had d**n well better have it.” Of course, there are more perfect hands for Hamman than for most of us. :)
March 2, 2011
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Sometimes partner raises to 2 with Jxx, sometimes with KQxx. By bidding 1N you are committing yourself to 2 opposite virtually all minimum opening bids. I'm not sure that is wise.
So I'll offer you a cup of tea the next time we meet, but not much sympathy.
March 2, 2011
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Kit:
I am surprised that you use 1C-1D-2N as 20-21. I found, years ago when I played a forcing club in a serious partnership, that one of the advantages of strong club was the ability to stop in 1N or 2M with 19-21 opposite 0-4. It does not come up often, but it does often gain when it does.
Is the gain from using 1H as natural worth the cost of not using 1H as the start of stronger strong clubs?
Feb. 27, 2011
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