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All comments by John Torrey
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I would bid 3 and be happy.
Oct. 5, 2012
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It's especially important not to play DONT over weak notrumps, when the chance of game your way is vastly increased. Along with that, you probably want overcalls of weak notrumps as constructive rather than nuisance bids.
Oct. 4, 2012
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When double is takeout, I think pass-and-pull needs to be weak. Strong pass-and-pull works in other forcing pass situations because we know something about our fit. It feels wrong to me to bid 5 directly on seven bad clubs and out (or to double on that hand). Direct suit bids have to show values, so we don't need another way to do that.

Of course, you can't have everything. Preempts work.
Oct. 2, 2012
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It's really a two-part question: First, what is standard expert practice? Second, what is best in theory?

Try some terrible hands:

xx
xx
xx
xxxxxxx

xxxxx
xx
xx
xxxx

xxx
xxx
xxxx
xxx

I'd want to pass with all these and have a chance to go right when partner doubles, or pass when partner bids.

With

xxxx
x
xxxx
xxxx

a takeout double rates to work out decently; partner will pass balanced hands. (I started out thinking I could pass, but then I'm stuck when partner doubles.)

The objective is to defend when we have no real fit (or where the level prevents us from finding one), and to find our good fit when we have one. Slam is secondary, though the responder can move if something is known about fit. I don't think that “double with nothing, pass with values” furthers my objectives.

Oct. 2, 2012
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I've now had a chance to examine both types. They seem identical in their opening/latching design - not convenient for fast operation with Dealer 4. And both have the same tight dimension for the D-4 compartment, also not ideal for mass production.

I use Dealmaster Pro for generating and printing random hands. It formats well and the DeepFinesse analysis (now changed to Bo Haglund's program, which is faster) works and formats well. The “user interface” is a bucket of snakes.

I have developed a method that allows me to use Dealer 4 for only the hands I've actually played: higher-numbered boards do not get re-dealt. (Shows how lazy I am, I guess.) I make a pbn file when I use DM Pro. Suppose it has 36 deals and I have a box duplicated for all 36. If I use 27 in a session, I use Notepad to cut boards 1-27 from my file and paste them in a new pbn file.
I use the Miscellaneous menu in DM Pro to import, analyze and print the new file (during the game they are played), and then to deal a new pbn file with 27 boards, which I will duplicate with DM 4 after the game. The next time I use the boards I cut/paste from the 1-27 file and the 28-36 file to make the pbn file I use at gametime. (I've slipped past some details, but the essence should be clear.)
Sept. 24, 2012
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I believe I've used some Imperial plus boards with my Dealer 4. (I'm going by online pictures as I did not order these and don't directly know their brand name. They were purchased in 2012.) I found them difficult to open and shut, and a tight fit in the Dealer 4 compartment.

Eventually I went back to the method I use for regular boards, not opening them at all. (The method may have originated with Jay Bates. You leave the flip gate down and transfer the cards directly from the Dealer 4 to the board pockets.)
Sept. 23, 2012
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Yes, the director can still restore equity. If the declarer had had started with two clubs, for example, there would be no problem doing so. If declarer had played one round of trump instead of two, we could (and should) ask pointed questions about why you trumped with the jack instead of a little one.

An alternative to requiring declarer to show his had would be to ask partner, “So you had five clubs?” The trouble is that you have to be suspicious in the first place, when you have a lot of other things to think about.
Sept. 16, 2012
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It does happen and people do lie. But this was a club game and a bad pair and I'd expect that the dummy had no real recollection. So she backed up her partner. Not honest but not really cheating either. For me “cheating” requires a deliberate decision to be dishonest.

Best example from my experince as player: I was in a small slam and LHO (on opening lead) swooped a small club to the table and returned it to his hand. I called the director, who asked RHO if he could have seen the card: “No way.” I said that I certainly had seen it. The director asked me to whisper the card, and I said, “four of clubs.” RHO said, “AH-HA! You're wrong!” The lead made no difference but I think a “lying to the director” penalty (at a minimum) was in order.
Sept. 15, 2012
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As a director I would view this as a burden-of-proof situation, with your delay in calling putting a very heavy burden on you.

On a personal level I feel that you are almost certainly right. Your history on Bridgewinners gives you credibility with me, and the crazy line taken by declarer undermines the credibility of NS. Maybe a committee could take such factors into account, but as director I think I would be bound to rule against you if there is any room at all for doubt. I will not tell NS (even by implication), “You say one thing and your opponents say another. They're much better players than you are, so I'll rule for them.”

For whatever its worth, that same crazy declarer play tells me that NS are almost certainly not out to cheat you. They are confused, perhaps incurably, but not nefarious.
Sept. 14, 2012
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Off the ethics issue, but… I dislike Ogust (at least as usually played) because it forces you to describe things as Good or Bad that frequently are neither. A first-position, non vulnerable weak two is very wide-ranging (at least as I play). I need to be able to say “normal values” in addition to “just kidding” and “almost opened one”. The hand given looks pretty normal to me.
Aug. 24, 2012
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A thought on penalties. Knockout events are different from pairs, BAMs and Swisses, where a late pair or table delays many innocent others: these need immediate penalties (or the threat of them) to keep order. Perhaps in a knockout we could asses a slow-play penalty in the next match. If a non-final match finishes substantially late, the presumption is that the winner will be penalized. If the winner can present evidence that they were not at fault, the penalty may be waived. There may be problems with the idea of a non-timed KO final, but we could provide a penalty for egregious slow play. (BTW I always like to see penalties and handicaps that include a fraction of an IMP: it cuts down on tied matches.)

As a director I am amused by the “have consideration for the directors” thoughts I've seen. Directors know that KO events normally are the first finished in a session, and that high-bracket KO matches take (much) less time than low-bracket ones. Anyway, I'm a professional - please don't insult me with a player-provided payment for extra time.
July 24, 2012
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Something is wrong with the minutes reported above. A quarter match is 16 boards and takes 144 minutes at 9 minutes per board, not 64.
July 23, 2012
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Thanks to all the many who voted.

I know that actual deals prove nothing, but I also think that in this case the actual deal helps put focus on the important issues we should be considering. (For those wondering, the match was between the only two remaining undefeated teams in our unit's double knockout event. Both teams have some outstanding players and some mere mortals like me.)

On the actual deal your teammates (bless them) brought back a score of -300 in 7 doubled, played well by them. (At their table your RHO's hand bid 2 instead of 2 on his five hearts and seven diamonds; this was probably enough in itself, but South gave them room as well.) I held the problem hand and bid 6, which made seven when RHO led the ace of hearts instead of the ace of diamonds.

Knowing only what we know from the first two bids, we can project that the opponents are likely to have a good red-suit save at the 7-level, and that we have to have excellent chances for 6, with uncertain chances for seven. Stopping at 5 is not a priority. But 5 exclusion keycard will help only in the unlikely case where partner has three key cards. Its downside is that it may not be high enough to keep the opponents quiet, and if partner has two keycards we can't bid seven over their save: we've told them which ace to lead. I think the 5 bidders are kidding themselves.

So I grade 6 ahead of 5 - but for all the marbles I like the grand slam force. If partner bids seven our odds of making are excellent, regardless of who has the ace of diamonds. If not we know to take the small pile if they sacrifice over our six. Finally, it may be high enough to shut them out when 5 doesn't.
July 23, 2012
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I voted Other because I want to duck the club shift. They may clarify the spade position for me, though it's hard to see how East could have the ace and pass. If they shift back to spades I'll find the ace; the heart finesse may become safe when West has the spade ace and two clubs. 2 and 2 may be good spots, but 1NT looks like the normal contract to me, and (as Phillip says) my result is probably not relevant against other contracts.
July 2, 2012
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Play in 4 is interesting: declarer has to lead the heart queen and duck the next round to get the second entry for two spade finesses.
July 2, 2012
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I bid 3, for reasons like Dave Starratt's. I won't bid past 5.
July 1, 2012
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Directors *should* take the Laws into account. Law 12 C 1 (e)(i and ii) say that the adjusted score for the non-offending side is “the most favorable result that was likely,” and for the offending side it is “the most unfavorable result that was at all probable” had the irregularity not occurred. In team events the IMPs from the two results are averaged. Outside the ACBL, “an adjusted score may be weighted to reflect the probabilities of a number of potential results.” (12 C 1 ©)

All such director rulings are the product of consultation; it is very difficult to understand how the ruling as given came to be.
June 26, 2012
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Hand diagram problems: East has 14 cards. South and West have the five of diamonds.

Good article, though.
June 23, 2012
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I actually passed, for lack of a call that I thought would get the minors into the mix. Whatever you do, North will have to bid 5 over West's 4.

I agree with Phillip on a bridge-theory level - and actually this exact distribution is the only one where I really really want to have a takeout for the minors. It's the extreme of a low-frequency, high-reward hand.
June 21, 2012
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It means nothing, but…on the actual hand, partner had

x
xxxx
Axxxxxx
x

6 is a claimer, with an overtrick if they don't cash their club winner. Both tables played in 4 EW for a push at +50 (defense failing to find the club ruff).
June 20, 2012
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