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All comments by John Brady
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“The only reason to pass over the double is to give partner a choice of bidding game or not.”

I disagree.

East has several problems to consider. For example, There are several ways to get to 4. East has to consider what other ways to get to 4 might suggest to partner. If they don't have a firm agreement about what a direct 4 or a new suit bid like 4 mean, East might choose to bid pass then 4 over 3 because that way East can keep control of the auction.

Another problem: If you pass over 3 doubled, West bids 3 and North bids 4, will you be willing to pass that and invite partner to double? Suppose South does the unexpected and bids 4 and West doubles. Are you willing to pass? If you'd be willing to defend 4 doubled, you can't get there if you bid 4 directly.



Aug. 9, 2013
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One problem I have with director and committee rulings in these situations is that,\ decisions are frequently made without regard to the methods of the players involved.

Of course, that's wrong. In a normal setting, if you give a group of players a bidding problem and ask them what the right bid is, they'll all ask: “What are our methods?” or “What would such and such mean?” In fact, Law 16 provides that the players' methods must be considered.

But on this thread, and in practice, we see the attitude that any statement the players make about their own methods is considered “self-serving.”
Aug. 9, 2013
John Brady edited this comment Aug. 9, 2013
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I don't find East's comments to be self-serving.

East is vulnerable at imps against not with a 56. Partner is known to have an invitational hand with at least 3-card support and opening bid count. The opponents have about 18 or 19 HCP, and a 9 or 10 card fit in your void. The opponents have bid and raised your void suit strongly, so your partner probably has little or no wasted strength in that suit. A bidding panel would conclude that the chances either of making a vulnerable game, or bumping the opponents up to 4H or 5H doubled, dictate bidding the hand the way East did.

There was a long thread on Bridgewinners about letting Monaco play in the Spingold. Many of the posters complained loudly about unequal treatment for stars. I didn't agree with that specific incident, but one area where I do agree is director's rulings and appeals committees.

If a star pair, like Meckstroth-Rodwell for example, had bid 4S with the East hand, I suspect directors and appeals committees would have found that bidding game was clearcut.
Aug. 9, 2013
John Brady edited this comment Aug. 9, 2013
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I think a partnership would have to play a lot of sessions before it gained an advantage, if any, from Gitelmoss 2.

One purported advantage of using a strong 2 with “natural” one-level bid systems is that they require fewer artificial sequences. For that reason, you have fewer artificial sequences to remember in constructive auctions. You also have fewer sequences that require a new set of artificial responses to untangle if opponents interfere. Since you usually bid what you have, in theory you got most of your message across already.

But as the number of artificial sequences in a “natural” one bid/strong 2 system proliferate - and elaborate 2C structures are just one example - perhaps we should reconsider our decision not to start with a strong 1 framework to begin with.
Aug. 8, 2013
John Brady edited this comment Aug. 8, 2013
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Some of the comments on this thread have moved away from Asymmetric partnership bidding onto a different topic - describing tendencies to downgrade and upgrade in terms of HCP ranges.

I have the same concerns as Yuan. I play 15-17 NT, but I frequently upgrade 14 hands with a 5 card suit and good spots. So far it sounds like the range should be described as 14+-17.

But wait. I also downgrade 15 HCP hands with 4333 and mediocre spots far more frequently than most players. My hand evaluation at the table approximates KnR hand evaluation. 14+ to 17 seriously misleads the opponents about my tendencies and hand evaluation. They'll never expect a 14+ to 17 NT hand to have 15 balanced if it hasn't opened 1NT, and they'll expect a 14+ to 17 HCP NT to open 1NT with 14 far more frequently than I do.

What to do about that?

Perhaps the ACBL's current attitude about describing a NT range that might be upgraded can be traced to pairs who often upgrade but NEVER downgrade. I've noticed that pairs who like to play 14-16 NTs tend to upgrade so frequently, sometimes with no visible justification, that it amounts to a partnership understanding that the range is really 13 to a bad 16. Many of those partnerships upgrade 12 HCP NTs with a 6-card minor, further morphing the range into 12 with any 6-card suit to a bad 16.

What to do about that, indeed?

Aug. 8, 2013
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Keep things in perspective. What harm was done here?

Some of the suggestions in this thread seem like a solution in search of a problem.

If a team of little known players showed up at 7:30 and tried to enter, and were turned away, that would be bad behavior by the ACBL.

The solution to bad behavior isn't to treat everyone badly, it's to treat everyone well.

Aug. 5, 2013
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Looks like the ACBL published two different deadlines.

The special conditions on the ACBL site at http://www.acbl.org/assets/documents/play/Conditions-of-Contest/Summer-SpinGold.pdf
say “prior to the evening session on the day preceding.” But the evening session doesn't start until 7:30.

The tournament schedule says “preregistration required by 4:30 pm Sunday, August 4.”

If the ACBL has confused things by publishing two different deadlines then it should resolve any problems in favor of the team trying to enter.
Aug. 4, 2013
John Brady edited this comment Aug. 4, 2013
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It's one of the fascinating parts of bridge that there aren't enough bids available to describe all the different hands each of us might hold. One of the arts of the game is to use the bids available to tell partner as much as he might need to know to decide on the strain and the level, but no more than he needs to know.

So you need bids to describe the difference between hands with 3 and 4 card support; between preemptive, mixed, invitational, and forcing strength levels; between hands that have a good suit and a fit and hands that have a fit but no good suit; and between hands that are balanced from hands that have a short suit somewhere, but invitational strength, hands with a short suit but just game forcing strength, and hands with a short suit but extra strength and slam interest.

The reason the commentators made a point of a non-competitive method which combined the invitational and forcing raises is because it runs counter to trying to describe the different types of hands you might hold to partner.

Competitive auctions aren't parallel to constructive auctions because, in competition, there are fewer options available to the opening side. Q-bid showing a limit raise or better isn't accepted because it's good but because, by many natural bidders, the other options are considered worse. The options involve giving up one or more natural useful bids such as a natural 2NT or a natural bid in one or more of the other suits.
July 24, 2013
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Question for everyone with experience playing against Multi:

When you play against 2 Multi, are your results showing a net plus or minus?

When you play against the 2M bids that opponents who play Multi use instead of natural 2\2 weak, are your results showing a net plus or minus?

Do you use one of the ACBL defenses or something else?
July 16, 2013
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From Christina's experience it seems that the major benefits of Multi come from (a) playing a wide 0-10 range, and (b) opponents not having agreements how to handle unfamiliar sequences.

I would expect that the 0-10 range creates swings both ways, like any wide-range preempt. It creates problems for the opening side as well as the opponents.

I'd also expect that the gains from opponents not having agreements about how to handle unfamiliar sequences disappear when you play against opponents who see Multi all the time. That's not unique to Multi. Lack of familiarity with anything causes problems until people become familiar with it. As we gain familiarity with any convention, we often can't understand why we had ever had problems with it to begin with.
July 16, 2013
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We have to respect Kit's experience with the method but … didn't Meckwell give up Multi? That suggests that one of the most successful pairs in the world didn't find Multi was showing a profit against World Class competition, at least not in the context of their system.

Most ACBLers have limited experience against Multi. Here's mine. Some of my partners and I played weak NTs. Like Jack, we found that playing an immediate double of 2D as a balanced weak NT (or some very strong hand with its own suit), worked well. We could use our normal bidding structure as if our weak NT had been overcalled with any kind of 2D. The amount of disruption from Multi was minimal, and the amount of specific sequences that needed discussion negligible. If the auction went 2D-P-2M then our normal methods over a 2M preempt worked well enough. If 2D-P-3M (pass or correct), we found that suits natural, double for takeout, pass and double showing cards, seemed to work pretty well. Turns out our methods of handling competition over a weak NT were very similar to some of the approved defenses to Multi 2D.

Multi didn't seem to cause any more headaches than a normal weak 2-bid, except that we got an extra bid for our balanced weak NT hands to boot.

I wonder if Fantunes 2-bids would be another story.
July 16, 2013
John Brady edited this comment July 16, 2013
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Double risks a misunderstanding here. Is it responsive or for penalty? If partner thinks it shows tricks, he may guess to pass when we should be bidding. I play double in many situations where they bid and raise one suit is responsive, and in some situations just shows cards and no clear direction. Because my hand is behind the opening bidder, and the opponents are vulnerable at the 3-level, I would play this double as penalty.

If you haven't discussed the exact situation, I think the best strategy is to avoid making partner guess. Make an unambiguous bid and discuss this specific sequence after the hand is over. Every time I assume that a bid “must” mean “A” because it's like situation “B” where we have an agreement, I find in the post-mortem that partner thought it “must” mean “X” because it was more like situation “Y” where we have a different agreement.

If double was clearly for penalty, and I could be sure that partner was 1435, I'd certainly prefer to make a penalty double and lead trumps. Doubling 3 for penalty would be reasonable matchpoint aggression.

But on this auction, I wouldn't be surprised if the opponents had 10 Spades. There aren't enough HCP to go around, so one of the opponents and partner probably have compensating distribution. Even repeated Spade leads might not be enough to beat 3. Doubling a 9 trick contract when the opponents have 9 trumps is iffy, but if they have 10 trumps, it's a long term loser.

I'll settle for 4. If partner moves over that, we'll make game. If partner passes, we can be reasonably sure of going plus if the dummy has 4 and might go plus if it only has 3.

Besides, as Bruce says, there's always a chance one opponent will bid 4.

July 11, 2013
John Brady edited this comment July 11, 2013
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The ACBL Alert Chart specifically lists “Opener's 1NT rebid, if strong” as a bid that requires an alert.

http://www.acbl.org/play/AlertChart.pdf
July 2, 2013
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I agree. You are entitled to ask to confirm your suspicion that an alertable call has not been alerted. One of the remedies for failure to alert is to roll back the auction to give your side a chance to make the bid or play they would have made with the proper information.

As soon as you confirm the failure to alert, it's your obligation to call the director immediately to preserve, as much for the director as for your side, one of the corrective measures prescribed by the laws.
July 2, 2013
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We can't be sure of opener's intentions with 3 and we should try to allow for several possibilities. Partner can be looking for the best game or have a fit and some slam interest. In these probing auctions, investigating game comes before slam. I think voters interpreting our partnership's bids as slam first have it backwards.

3 doesn't have to promise 3-card support. With no doubt about either s or s, and no fit for , opener would bid 3NT to play.

But as far as opener knows 3 is just looking for the best game with an unbalanced pattern. He doesn't want to go past 3NT with cards opposite your shortness, but he does with no cards opposite shortness. So with doubt about either s or s, opener would try to show which suit he had doubt about. Opener would bid 3 as a waiting bid with s stopped but either no stopper or the wrong kind of stopper, like Axx. With cards opposite your shortness, he could bid 3 to show you that he had s but doubt about s.

If you bypass 3NT over 3, he'll know you have shortness. He'll correct to the right strain on the next turn.

I don't think the right strain can be s. Opener can't be 3523. If partner had 5s - or even 4 good s and an interest in a 4-3 fit - he would bid 3 over 3 to cater to a 5341 pattern in your hand.

With a hand that wasn't right for 3NT opposite shortness in either or s, opener doesn't need you to start Q-bidding. If you bid 3NT now to show a card, and he has some slam interest in s, he will Q-bid himself on the next round over your 3NT.

But there was only one way for Opener to suggest NT with cards and a weak holding. That was 3.

3NT by responder now allows for all possibilities.
July 1, 2013
John Brady edited this comment July 1, 2013
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Similar to John A, except I think Q should show extras, forcing to either 3NT or 4 of a minor, not necessarily to 5 of a minor.

I don't like 2NT as a relay with a minimum hand in this situation. The reason you want to compete without extra high cards is either a fit for Clubs, or good long Diamonds without a fit for Clubs. It's critical that you show partner which it is … NOW. If you don't, and the opponents bid over your good-bad 2NT, on the next round your partnership will be guessing where to play, how high, and in some cases, whose hand it is.

Also, if your side belongs in NT at all, using 2NT as a minimum relay may wrong side the NT.

I think standard is for Opener to show extras by a Q bid, and weakness either without a fit or without an independent suit by passing. Stoppers can wait. I don't think 2 to show either a limited hand with a stopper or a GF is standard.
June 24, 2013
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Instead of the double of 3, what would it have meant if partner had bid 3 in your methods?
June 24, 2013
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It seems, however, that my ideas weren't definitively recognized until the day when Larry Cohen published his first work on what he called “The Law,” attributing the origin of the idea, quite honestly, to me as the author.
June 21, 2013
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The analogy of bridge conventions to chess openings has a flaw: Chess requires no communication with partner. Bridge does. Therefore bridge requires agreements beforehand about how to defend against a particular convention, AND all its follow-ups, AND variations. Unlike chess, you cannot work out a plan at the table.

However, I don't think that's a good argument for the current restrictions on conventions. Although there are a large number of conventions in bridge, there are only a limited number by type: e.g. two-suiters/unknown suit/transfers; weak/strong/multiple meanings; artificial/natural. While in theory it may be best to have a specific defense for every treatment or convention, and every follow-up, it's impractical. A simple plan is to have common defenses for each type.

For example, if opponents' convention shows a known two-suiter, always play unusual over unusual. If they play a transfer opening or response, play the same defensive methods whatever the transfer opening is or whatever the transfer response is. If you like your methods when you open 1NT, use the same methods when you overcall or balance with a natural 1NT or 2NT. If you like your defense when they open 1NT, use the same system when they overcall 1NT. If you have a favorite method against a Precision Diamond opening, use the same defense against a Polish Club, and against a transfer Walsh Club. Use your defense against one under preempts against two-under or three under. A defense to any artificial unknown preempt type might be: double by an unpassed hand shows cards - the higher the opening artificial bid the more cards you show, NT shows more cards, suits are natural, later bids are takeout. double of an artificial opening bid by a passed hand shows that suit.

Bridge seems to be thriving in other countries with a looser attitude towards conventions. It's stagnant or dwindling here. Innovation is one of the attractions of the game for young people. Time to loosen up.
June 21, 2013
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Great hand, and great analysis Adam. Thanks for sharing.
June 11, 2013
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