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All comments by John D'Errico
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Sorry. No, I did not want to say that. (I was trying to quickly wrap up this response before I ran off to play bridge.)

I honestly don't think there is a good solution in terms of the HOF, as long as we are stuck with separate womens events, which is what has caused the problem. Separating one group of people to “protect” them always has some good and often many bad consequences for the group we split off. Sadly, it often hurts that group in unintended ways. Problems in getting into the HOF are one of those ways. So as long as we need to live with the facts of women's events in bridge, we must live with those consequences.

I am happy to see anyone get into the HOF, and hope to see more women get in there by their own merits, both in terms of their record of play, as well as their work away from the table.
March 3, 2015
John D'Errico edited this comment March 3, 2015
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Perhaps we are all looking at this from the wrong direction.

Fact: The ACBL will never eliminate women only events. This is because of income reasons, for the ACBL, as well as from pros that must earn their living playing with sponsors that realize they cannot as easily compete in an open event. Also, as long as there is a women's world championship, the ACBL wants to offer strong women's teams.

I'll readily admit that this is a distasteful fact. But it is fact.

One option would be to create a separate women's HOF. To me that is even more distasteful, helping to perpetuate the system that keeps women in back of the bus.

The analogy has been made to have a Gold Rush HOF. And there are those who will always be able to play in Gold Rush events (or any flight B events) and who will gladly continue to do so. They can do so because the flight B upper boundary (and the upper limit for Gold Rush events too) will continue to creep up. But nobody would argue there should be a Gold Rush HOF, any more than a flight B HOF.

Given all this, we have a situation where many women who surely deserve the nod of respect that a HOF would accord them, cannot get in, based purely on their playing credentials. The fact is though, their playing credentials have not merited inclusion. It is also fact that HOF admission is not always fair. Not every worthy player gets into their HOF in a timely fashion. (This is why there are always people who get added after they have passed away.)

The only viable solution seems to me is to look for ways to admit some of these top women players, via the complete set of their contributions to bridge.
March 3, 2015
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The team letter appears to have missed the point completely. Yes, I think everyone completely agrees that the spirit of the competition was wonderful. I have the greatest respect for everyone who played in the cup and those who worked to make it happen. All of those who participated in this event in any way deserve our admiration and our thanks. These games generate publicity for bridge and help the game that we all love.

So where is the disconnect? There are several ways that we are able to learn what is happening about this event. We can read about it several months after the event in print magazines, we can see it online from the Buffett cup site (sorry, but I found that site to be running a few days behind when I checked. When I had looked, no bulletins were posted. I did find bulletins when I checked just now.) Where else? We can read what is posted on BridgeWinners. Finally, we can hope to see real time coverage on BBO. So where do you think we want to look? This is the decade of immediate satisfaction, so we look for the real time coverage.

Hey, publicity is the goal here, right? So to say that “BBO is not a god given right” misses the point. It should have been a major priority, as one of the best ways to make this event available to the bridge playing community.

Next, that someone complained on the internet is nothing new. People are always complaining about something online. But that someone complained about terribly poor BBO Vugraf reporting merely says that those who wanted to see the action ended up seeing very little, often nothing at all. (Personally, I tried watching for a bit, but found the vugraf to be so spotty that it was a waste of my time to do so. Compared to the normal vugrafs found on BBO, the difference was immense. The wrong contracts were shown, no contracts at all, incorrect or obviously wrong play, tables were up and down at random. At best I was able to check the scores the next day on BridgeWinners, to the credit of that site.) So you should be surprised about people who wanted to watch but could not, that they griped in the only place available for them to do so? That people WANTED to watch is a credit to the event. This is a great thing.

We must all recognize that anytime a large group of people view some event and are given the opportunity to provide comments, that SOME of those people will have been disappointed at what they saw. Read the reviews that any teacher gets for a class they have taught. There will be a few negative reviews no matter how well they taught. In any case, the goal should be to learn from those reviews to improve in the future, not to get upset when there are poor reviews. Don't kill the messenger, but do remedy the problem.

Again, credit is due to those who participated. They are due our thanks and complete appreciation. The only failure was to take best advantage of the tools available to them, to make this event even greater than it was.
Sept. 14, 2012
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Lots of practical issues here. For example, would this apply in the first round of the Spingold? 30+ matches going at once, lots of information ferried between tables. How is the info transmitted? To get the kind of action you describe, each board must be played at the same time at each table.

I can see this working more easily in the final rounds of an event like the Spingold where it is on vugraph, but is the vugraph operator the person to transmit that information to the table? I've seen vugraph operators make a mistake on the scores. What if they tell the table the wrong result for the last hand, and this in itself causes a swing because someone now takes an unusual action?

What if one table falls behind? If that happens, you lose the real time aspect you are looking for anyway.

This will surely slow things down just a wee bit more, adding a few moments of extraneous conversation as the news arrives after each hand.

The teams already have comparisons after each quarter of a match. That is enough, at least for me. Anyone playing in those events is capable of estimating their probable score on most hands.
July 30, 2012
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But therein lies the problem. To force my body to play at what it perceives as 1am is also cruel and unusual. I'd happily be sound asleep for nearly 3 hours by then, and wanting to wake up in only a few hours more. This is one big reason why I'd never want to play in a West coast game. Even on the East coast, a game that ends at 11:30pm is pushing it for me.

No schedule will make everyone happy. If you can, arrive at the site a day or so early to at least help alleviate jet lag issues.
July 8, 2012
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An interesting feature of most of those who use these systems is an interest in tinkering with systems. Everyone seems to have chosen slightly different variations, customized to their own styles and preferences, rather than the broad brushstrokes of “2/1 partner”?

There are two possible sequences implicit with the heart relay. 1-1-1NT, and 1-1-1-1-1NT. The latter offers a breakout, into a long suit with a weak hand. (It seems best to make this is a transfer breakout if you use it.) Now, on which hand type is it best to break out? If opener has a 17-18 point hand, I may be more in need of an escape with a weak hand. If opener has the 19-20 point hand, then with a weak minor suited hand we will be more likely to be safe at the 3 level. So breakouts are better used over the 17-18 point hand, and use the direct 1NT rebid to show the stronger range.

BTW, we have found one important useful followup over our breakouts, a simple Ogust-like structure works well here.
June 23, 2012
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Basically, you are saying that having a solid set of agreements is a worthwhile thing, especially when you play any system that is not completely natural. If you have a strong hand, then an auction that starts out with the sequence 1-1-1, which immediately asks partner for more information is better than a sequence 1-1-2. The first sequence starts you looking for a slam (or to stay out of one) one round of bidding lower. Even if on average you save only a few steps, the room for investigation is crucial, since there are many questions to be resolved. Should you be in 3NT, 5 of a minor, or a slam?

Another benefit of transfer sequences is to right side contracts, with the stronger hand hidden more often.
June 23, 2012
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Transfer precision really is the only way to go, as then you can start investigating in slam auctions at the one level on some hands. Interestingly, it seems that most people have chosen to build their own systems, with subtle differences. For example, we like to use the 1 response to a club to show a hand with 8-14 points, no shortness and no length. Now 1NT asks responder to clarify their hand.
June 23, 2012
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So in 4th seat, you are roughly as likely to see three passes to a weak 1NT as to a strong 1NT. But which bid will likely result in a positive result for you, like getting to a game? Clearly that is the strong NT. The weak NT has some merit of course, as you will probably play the hand there, but the strong NT makes more sense, ESPECIALLY at IMPs where that game bonus is worth looking for.
May 4, 2012
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As I said, start by playing the 8 at trick 1. This tells nothing about your heart length. You could still even hold the jack. Once you start drawing a true picture of your hand here, nothing is going to stop a good declarer from looking at your hand as if it was laying face up on the table.

Next, when you get in with the spade queen, you have two choices. You can lead a third spade back, This removes an entry to dummy. But it also tells declarer a lot too. It suggests to declarer that YOU know partner has no diamond values, else you might try playing partner for a diamond honor or so. After all, this is imps. Beating a game contract is worth a shot. So my point is, leading that third spade was a give up play. Once you play as if your partner is broke, declarer can infer the same thing.

If you do continue with a spade, declarer has now fingered you for the points. So she leads diamonds. In the back of her mind she is still deciding if she will hook you in clubs. She sees a cold 9 tricks by setting up diamonds, and at imps, this is the automatic priority. Once partner has played the 9 then the 6 in diamonds, she knows you have the ace and ten remaining. Your partner has also discarded the 4 of clubs early. You have the king, and she can see it clearly in her mind, as well as your 3442 shape.

The alternative to a spade continuation is therefore a diamond switch, the obvious switch. I'd consider switching to the 7, or even better, a smooth 10. Will this confuse partner? Who cares? Keep things as ambiguous as possible. You know partner is broke anyway, but declarer does not know if he is ducking the ace, perhaps from Axx. Declarer will win the diamond switch, but now must decide how to play, and must do so with less information about your hand. If you did lead the diamond 10, then maybe they will waste a return trip to dummy and take a hook to the 8 of diamonds, playing you for the 9! Even a fool of a random partner will not play the 9 under your lead of the 10.

The idea is to paint a picture of a hand that you don't have. This is not always easy, especially if your partner does not help. If declarer realizes you have led the 10 from AT73, they will realize you are under pressure, and again deduce why.
Feb. 17, 2012
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Yes, once you helped to gift wrap the hand up for declarer, they did read you. And never throw a free 2 imps away as declarer. You helped to put yourself into that position, although declarer may have found a way to earn those imps anyway.

When your opponent plays a hand well, compliment them, then learn something from the experience.
Feb. 17, 2012
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The hearts are known to be 4-4 at trick 1. Why duck? Why tell declarer that partner can't have a 5th heart? Ducking only tells declarer a lot about the hand. Its a show off play. You have figured out that declarer has the stiff ace. Good job. But don't pass your knowledge on to declarer.

Next, declarer plays two rounds of spades. When the 10 pops up from partner and you then win the trick, it looks like you are 3-4 in the majors. Your passive defense of a spade return does give some information away too. It says that you know the diamonds are not worth switching to, but with 3 small diamonds in dummy, if partner has room for some values in their hand, at imps you might still be trying to defeat the contract. So your non-switch to diamonds says that you know about the KQJ too.

Next came diamonds. Of course, you played low, but partner fatuously played the 9 under the jack. Now when declarer plays the king, you cannot even win the ace and continue a small diamond. Why duck the ace there? The only reason is you don't wish to be endplayed into leading any of hearts, diamonds, or clubs. Any good declarer will have read your hand as an open book, with 3442 shape and all of the points. Partner helped in the process as a combined effort, but really you did most of the work.
Feb. 17, 2012
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Splendid set of videos Gavin! And a splendid game too, winning a big event. Definitely do this again, perhaps with a KO against a strong team. There are many subtle differences in strategy at IMPs that are worth discussing, especially over a longer match.
Oct. 13, 2011
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1. Would you legalize the multi in the ACBL?

2. Where do you prefer to live in the bidding spectrum, between scientist and naturalist?

3. Is it wet down there at the bottom of the well?

4. How do we get new bridge players to climb out of their own wells? I.e., I find that many new bridge players tend to stay in the 99'er games, not wishing to graduate up. In your opinion, does the prevalence of stratified, flighted games hurt bridge as much as help it? How can we convince students to “play up”?

5. Will you teach your daughter to play card games as she grows up? Would you encourage her to learn bridge?

6. As a playing pro, how much time will you typically spend after a game with a client going over the hands?

7. What aspects of the game for an aspiring player tend to need the most improvement to grow as a bridge player?
Aug. 25, 2011
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Expensive, with the exchange rate adding in a few percent more. Amazingly, I found relatively few people from the Rochester/Buffalo area there, considering it was an NABC within short driving distance. This says that others must have thought the same, and either chose not to go or to make their stay a relatively short one.

Good food is a plus in general, but not that important to me when I'm playing bridge.

Split sites that far apart was a terrible idea. Not for me so much, as I played at the Royal York on all but the first day there. The exercise was good, for me anyway, since I like to walk. Even so, I found many people wandering around who had booked their stay at the Royal york, and wondering where the morning games were. How did they know that they had accidentally booked their stay a half mile away from the game? The little old lady who was wandering around the playing area at the RY at 9:45 had no appreciation of the difference between a nationally rated event and a regionally rated one, or a 99ers side game. She was just looking for the 10 am game.

Completely lacking were large signs in the RY playing area directing those looking for a side game to the other site. The tiny letters “SC” in the bulletin listing were insufficient as a hint.

I never noticed the shuttle, but I did see people looking for the shuttle. If there was one, it was not well advertised.
Aug. 2, 2011
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Henry - your displaced persons list looks like a pretty solid team as it is. Maybe they should join up.
July 14, 2011
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Kitty, I've felt since doing some minor teaching of my own that pattern recognition is an important skill in bridge. The ability to see the classic characteristics of a hand that cries to be played as, for example, a strip & end play is valuable since then you know how to play the hand almost automatically.

I think we do many such things in bridge by pattern recognition, and that as our skills at bridge grow, one way they do so is by expanding the set of different patterns we recognize. There are subtle differences in strip & end plays, partial strips, how you manage the throw in, etc. Once you can see a hand as one of the variations that your mind now recognizes as a “book” line, you no longer need to expend time and mental energy to work it out.
June 23, 2011
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Should we outlaw banks, because the presence of banks encourages bank robbers? Hmm. No, that won't work, because then the robbers will just go about mugging people for their money, or steal their mattresses. Ah, yes! We should outlaw money. But then people will trade pieces of gold, and be mugged for that.

You can't stop the determined cheater. You might persuade the potential cheater to not cheat by establishing penalties. You CAN teach people that ethical bridge is worth playing.
June 21, 2011
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Keep it up Gavin! Bridge players at many levels will find something to learn from your efforts here.
Jan. 29, 2011
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When you play precision as we do, you tend to open many (even most) 11 point hands. We also play a 11-13 NT opener in some seats, so we have the means to open most of our 11 point hands. This would leave us rarely using Drury. So we changed things a bit, modifying the name along the way.

We now use Mr. Baph, which stands for Major Raises By A Passed Hand. Thus 2 shows at least a Constructive major suit raise, with 3 card support, roughly an 8 to a bad 11 count. Similarly, 2 shows the same 8 to a bad 11 point range, with 4+ cards in support of the major.
June 24, 2010

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