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All comments by Jonathan Mestel
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Jonathan - that's very interesting. Thanks.

I originally included the 8-0 perturbation to make the problem more interesting. It didn't occur to me that it might actually rupture the solution topology. Your solution (always cross to table with KQ7x, and only half the time with KQ10x) is even further from conventional wisdom and practice than mine!

On reflection, I think what I was describing is actually part of a dynamical process in which (p,q) are continually adjusted. Starting from the assumption that most Easts play the 9 too infrequently, declarer crosses to table always. As East learns, and p increases towards 1/3, presumably the dynamical trajectory gets close enough to my proposed equilibrium strategy for the 8-0 possibility to become significant, whereupon the trajectory heads slowly off towards your genuine static solution. Do you agree?
Jan. 12
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Be careful, Michael. if you make this Grosvenor with probability greater than a third, declarer will play you for it! But this way lies madness…
But the paradox remains: now that I have publicly declared that I play the 9 from J9xx with p=1/3, there is arguably no reason not to lead KQ10x from hand against me. There's every reason to lead towards KQ7x, especially if I'm partnering a Grosvenor addict.

Perhaps I should have made it clearer that the entire discussion was intended as theoretical.
Jan. 11
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Maybe because it's an attractive suit to make trumps? Or maybe because it's purer theoretically and more interesting when it's not safe to cash side suits and discover the actual lie…
Jan. 11
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I wasn't aware of that article - but I'm glad we agree on the outcome! I do find the paradox, whereby you gain on the hands you don't actually hold, appealing.
Jan. 11
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Why do we assume declarer it is ok for declarer to lie about his intentions? He intended to play 10, and should admit this, and it should be played however he called for the card. If we even admit for a moment the possibility that declarer should “get away with it” because of his form of words, we are encouraging dishonesty, in my view.
Nov. 16, 2016
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Even when it's partner's lead?
Nov. 16, 2016
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Declarer knew which card he intended to play (presumably D10) and on being asked by the director should admit it. He would only discover the contract when he tried to lead from table at the next trick. Surely declarer did not deny that this was his intention?
If declarer were to lie about that, the ruling may be harder, but wouldn't that be base cheating?

Suppose partner leads A in which dummy is void. Dummy plays a heart, while I and declarer follow small. Declarer now leads from table and I play. We then ascertain that hearts are not trumps. Is my card a penalty card? Does declarer suffer any penalty for doing this?
Nov. 16, 2016
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I would like to see East's hand and to know the meaning of the 2nd double, and as director I would ask him why he doubled. If I am satisfied his call was reasonable opposite a natural 4 bid, then adjusting back to 4 must be right. If however East opines “I could tell a wheel had fallen off” or similar and produced a speculative double with say x Kxxx AJxx KJxx, then I think he has forfeited his good score. We don't really want East to have 4-n in the bank and so be at liberty for a wild gamble.

It's not clear to me that North has forgotten their system as opposed to it not having been properly defined in the first place.
What constitutes an agreement? An unpracticed partnership may agree double jumps are splinters, without specifically discussing 1S-4H. One partner considers this to be an exception to the rule and views to pass it. If asked, he may say “We have agreed double jumps are splinters, but we haven't discussed this sequence and I don't think that applies here.” Should he nevertheless alert 4?

Or maybe they agreed “double jumps are splinters except in competition” and disagree about whether the double constitutes competition. Or they may have a conflicting agreement such as “Game bids are always passable.”

Doubtless on the next board the sequence “2-X-5” occurs. And on the next one, 1 (could be 2)-2(natural)-4
Nov. 8, 2016
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Thanks for comments and votes. As I write the voting's very close. At the table I chose to pass. It felt a bit wet.

Declarer mishandled the play for -400; with a bit of thought he'd have managed 2 down. I don't think either of them would have run
(Jx AQJ9x Qxx AKx and 10xx x AK9xx QJ9x)

However with spades blocked 5NT can be made, and on a different hand it might even be biddable and cold. There is also the possibility of one or the other of them having had a mechanical error, though my screenmate (the 5C bidder) gave no sign of that.
Nov. 5, 2016
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At the table, I'd bid 7. My mummy told me 5-0 breaks are less common than 5-1.

However, the chance of partner having QJ, or KQ, or Q and K, redresses the balance a little, but not enough. Against this, We can often cope with 5s with LHO in 7. Also, 7NT is more likely to be two down than 7. So I'll stick with 7.
Oct. 14, 2016
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He's entitled to his angle, as am I to my reflex response, even if it's a cute one.
Oct. 13, 2016
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When people overcall on 4-4 vulnerable it is worth trying to catch them. Even here, on a trump lead you will take them for 500 most of the time, even though East has working 10s. And you don't always bid these hands to 5. Accept your -180 this time. Your day will come…
Oct. 11, 2016
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In the UK, one can ask for a time monitor if opponents have been very slow, but I believe measurement takes place only from then onwards, closing the stable door after the horse has taken a leisurely stroll around the farm, eaten a few oats and trotted off gently.
Oct. 10, 2016
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Apologies. Actually, most chess-players are surprised that top-level bridge does not have clocks. If we all end up in separate rooms with a terminal, doubtless that will happen too.
Oct. 10, 2016
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I did not mean to imply that Bridge authorities were being negligent in this regard - I have no knowledge about this. I was merely attempting to illustrate how, in the chess world, well-intentioned measures can be detrimental if not properly thought through.
Oct. 10, 2016
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Perhaps I should have spelled out more of the background.

I'm afraid chess was hit by an electronic cheating scandal 6 years ago involving a Western national team. Not last year.

My negative attitudes refer to the haphazard and ill-thought-out manner in which the measures were introduced at this Olympiad. There are things which can and should be done, but not in this ineffective manner.
Searching the loos before play starts and having metal detectors on the loo doors is sensible, for example. Trying to accompany 1000 people to the loo as you suggest is not.
Sweeping people before a game is reasonable. Sweeping someone while they are at the board and short of time is ludicrous. (EDIT: In the incident I cited, the grandmaster in question was on his way back to the board, not actually sitting down at the time - apologies for giving the wrong impression.)

Chess players have always tried very hard to arrive on time, as their clocks are started. In the past, people have been defaulted under the “no tolerance” rule for being held-up by security police, or for being locked for a few minutes in the loos. Not for staying in bed till midday. Losing 15minutes thinking time is not something one would opt to do.
Oct. 10, 2016
Jonathan Mestel edited this comment Oct. 10, 2016
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It basically just needs a 3-2 break.

Give West xx AKQJ109 xx xxx say, or xx AKQJxxx xx xx and you have 11 tricks either by ruffing a on table or by a dummy reversal. For example, you ruff the , play a to the K and A, ruff a 2nd , cross to 10 and ruff a 3rd with the Ace and draw trumps, overtaking Q. This works even if RHO manages to duck K.

Whether making the contract is the only concern, depends on the form of scoring.
Oct. 7, 2016
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Michael - I agree with all that, but people for whom considering a -discard isn't 2nd nature, probably also play against people for whom “I couldn't decide whether to bid 2 or 4 so I bid 3” is plausible. That's why I mentioned “down the club”. At my club very few Easts will duck a to the K smoothly and I don't think we're in danger otherwise. Some may have A as West (I admit I didn't notice they were NV. I also didn't notice your 2713 example - that's neat; Thanks for pointing it out.)

My real point is that when dummy has a strong trump holding like KJ10 one should give some thought to accepting the force; often you end up with a high cross-ruff. From a pedagogical point-of-view, teaching about discarding is spot-on. Next you tell them to consider ruffing anyway. And then maybe you discard after all, if your opponents are reasonable….
Oct. 7, 2016
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Nice hand - I never find these “control” problems as easy as they first appear.

Discarding at trick 1 is a natural communication-cutting reflex, but it's not absolutely risk-free - if West has say x AKQxxxx Axx xx you go down if you let them have a heart trick as opposed to ruffing and leading a diamond. Or x AKQxxxx x xxxx, likewise.

At matchpoints, given the reasonable chance of 11 tricks, I imagine discarding is wrong, and even at Imps, I suspect ruffing and leading a diamond is best down at the club, where we're likely to be able to read the lie. The main difficulty is if they manage to duck the first diamond smoothly, as we won't be sure how to continue.
Oct. 7, 2016
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I don't play Precision, but if I did, I would want to be able to make a picture bid of 4 on this hand. So I will.
Oct. 6, 2016
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