Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Jonathan Mestel
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If I were playing this in 6NT I would not feel obliged to say “cashing A” against anyone reasonable who knows I'm not a moron. If they tried for their 30pts (and probably no extra IMPs) on the grounds that I might be careless, though they knew I wouldn't, this being such a familiar position, then I would remove them from my friends list.
Change it to AQ9xx opposite Kxxx and I have no objection to them taking their 30pts with J10xx onside. That is a holding where you might go wrong if careless, but AQ10xx and K9xx you would not in my view go wrong even if careless. And I should have been aware that I might have a loser in the latter case.

If I were in 7NT, then I would definitely say something, but it might be oblique, e.g. “I think you'll trust me to make 13”.
With AQ9xx/Kxxx I would specify K explicitly. Or I might say to RHO
“I make unless you have all 4 clubs,” which is the same to me.
If oppo said nothing with AQ7xx K98x then I would take down -1.

Chess players are brought up to resign in hopeless positions. It's not a rule, it's just generally accepted that that is how the game should be played. I knew a moderately good player once who would never resign. On one occasion his International Master opponent was so annoyed that he accidentally stalemated his opponent a queen up.
Once, in a lifetime of poor etiquette. Does that justify this guy's rudeness? He did nothing untoward except hope his opponent did the equivalent of revoking.
Nov. 5, 2015
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As I understand it, a bid which can be either weak or strong and may show suit A or suit B is not permitted by the EBU without specific license such as the MULTI. But I may be wrong about this.

I have in the past played 2 showing either weak or strong and 2 either strong balanced or strong with before, but not for long.
Oct. 27, 2015
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I made a similar suggestion above.

One thing that has since occurred to me is that if I'm 20 up in the last set and I reach 7S with AQ9x opposite K10xx.
I cash the ace, everyone follows small, and I now claim, “drawing trumps”.

If Jxxx are in one hand I halve my potential loss on the board, which is a “good” safety play at the score.

Clearly that has to be prevented. So there would have to be a clause that if I had reason to believe a weighted score could work in my favour I don't benefit.

There's so much potential for poor ethics; that's why I'm not totally happy with “If the rules permit it, it must be ok” approach to the game.

Reverting to chess, a while ago, in an effort to reduce the number of “grandmaster draws”, it was suggested that players should only get 1/3 point each for a draw rather than 1/2. It didn't seem to occur to the proponents of this idea, that three people could agree to win and lose once against the others!
Oct. 26, 2015
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It seems to me that a lot of the bad feeling about the 7NT-1 stems from the magnitude of the penalty. I am assuming that the rules do not permit a split score for inexact claims, but it might be better if they did. Then an appeals committe could award 0-1 IMP for going down a few per cent of the time, rather than the “all or nothing” status quo. KJxxx and A10xxx could perhaps score 50% if trumps are 3-0. The default position could still be 0%/100% but I am all for allowing common sense greater reign.

I personally would not have asked for a ruling on this claim. I might conceivably have asked “Sorry, what's your line?” and judged from the response whether to pursue the matter.
Oct. 25, 2015
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For non-native English speakers: in Britain we say something is double-Dutch if we can't understand it, usually because it's in a foreign language.

The other idiom we use is “It's all Greek to me” - which I think comes from Shakespeare.

Interestingly, the Greeks (in Cyprus, anyway) say, when baffled, “Are you talking Turkish?”

The Turks I believe regard French as obscure. The French say incomprehensible things are Hebrew. Hebrew dismisses things as Chinese, and the Chinese say such things are “heavenly writing”.

Maybe this is an increasing sequence of complexity, with English at the bottom…
Oct. 23, 2015
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A long time ago at a pairs night in Manchester, the club suit round the table was something like

……………….J10
A76542……………………K93
……………….Q8

At every table 5 was led against 3NT by South, which was quickly two off, except when two strong players sat East.

One of these won the K and deliberately returned the 3, trying to give the impression the suit was 4-4 or 6-2 to tempt declarer to win with A8x and lose a finesse into the East hand. This ploy was not a success.

Paul Hackett, partnering a beginner, was the other unsuccessful East. He duly returned 9 at trick 2, but after winning A his partner continued with the 2 and Paul found himself on lead with the 3. “It was the best thing that happened all evening,” was his comment.
Oct. 22, 2015
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I choose 3, which may elicit a 3H return try/last train bid.
Oct. 22, 2015
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I am terrified of this contract making, and either A or 4 could easily let it through. Partner was probably in a forcing pass position, and does not always find the best lead. With 6 hearts and values 3 is a normal bid. Qx KJxxxx KJx xx for example? Ax KJxxxx Qxx xx? Kx KJxxxx Jx xxx? I am surprised so few switch to A.
Oct. 21, 2015
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No, I'm Ishmael!
Oct. 20, 2015
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I think South will get strip squeezed in the minors won't he? Run the trumps and then cross to HA. Dummy has Q10 x
Oct. 20, 2015
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I like to show sources of tricks here - 4D does not deny a black cue. Is this to do with a non-alerted transfer ruling?
Oct. 20, 2015
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I was only ever about 7kyu at Go (minus-7 Dan). So take anything I said about it with a pinch of salt. To bridge players, Go also “suffers” from opening theory of course.
Oct. 17, 2015
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Michael R: That sounds like 1970? It's Robert Bellin, by the way. There's a picture of you in http://www.chessscotland.com/history/glorneycup.htm
Your ex-teammate Roddy McKay asked me about you recently at a European Chess Problem solving event.

Chess endgame theory doesn't change significantly from year to year. You can to a large extent avoid mainstream opening theory too, if you choose to avoid popular lines. Is my analogy with bidding theory far from the mark? You can get by very well without having too detailed a system, but there is an advantage to having clear and reliable agreements.

Good to hear from you, Jonathan
Oct. 17, 2015
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I rarely notice the vulnerability anyway, so not much point telling us…
Oct. 16, 2015
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David - Sit down, sit down, sit down, you're rocking the boat!
Oct. 16, 2015
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There are 3 games of which I have some knowledge and which I regard as comparably difficult - Bridge, Chess and Go. I shall try to distinguish below between what I regard as incontrovertible and what is my opinion.

Chess & Go are perfect information games, in principle exactly analysable. In practical play, they each have a great mix of long-term strategy and short-term tactics. Computers are now fantastic at the tactics. In chess, this has got to the stage that they now begin to appear to “understand” what humans regard as strategy, or positional judgement. In Go, the size of the board has so far precluded this. However, the immobility of the pieces in Go means that it much more static than chess and I believe the apparent arithmetical complexity of Go is to a large extent an illusion; the obstacle to computation is I believe, artificial. The long-range interactions between stones, though subtle, are of limited power.

Bridge has the unknown distribution and the partnership elements. If you remove these, and just consider the double-dummy mechanics of the game, what can happen is vastly less complicated than what may befall on the chessboard. This is undoubtably the case. I say this even though I marvel at Ottlik & Kelsey, and am completely unable to understand (let alone solve) many double-dummy problems. There just isn't the wealth of possibilities available that there is in chess. Someone such as Don Smedley who is expert in both chess and bridge problems would I am sure agree with me on this. @Paul Barden: you are a double-dummy ace and you doubtless attribute your perceived lack of chess skill to your finding chess problems harder than bridge ones. No, chess is actually harder than double-dummy bridge!

One might think this is because of the various chess pieces, so I will strengthen the statement to the point where it becomes contentious, perhaps outrageous: I believe even chess endings with only kings, rooks and pawns contain more depth, tactical ideas, variety and surprisingly elegant possibilities than all bridge double-dummy problems. I expect many of you will not believe/agree with me about this. But let me add the following: no human being has ever been capable of winning all winnable positions with king, rook and one pawn against king and rook! Of course every strong player can win almost all winnable positions and can hold almost all drawable ones. But there are a relative few (but still many) positions which defy all but the most careful analysis. (NB there is a database of all possible chess endings, so we can be certain about this. One can set grandmasters “exams” which they fail, to their great annoyance!)

Whereas, if we consider all 5 card bridge end positions, double dummy, some are very hard to solve, but very many, if not all, BW readers will be able to fathom them all given a little time. Likewise the harder double-dummy problems can be dwarfed by insoluble chess tasks.

HOWEVER, all the above compares chess and bridge problems. Playing the games is very, very different. Obviously, placing opponents cards, communicating (legally!!) with partner, and choosing the best percentage action in an uncertain framework, risk management in both bidding and play, relying on opponents' uncertainty, fears and ignorance etc is a whole new kettle of fish and/or ballpark. My point is really that if you wish to argue the superiority of bridge as a game, you must not reduce it to the number of possibilities available (e.g. as Max jokingly does above). @Olivier: I am flattered you find that so surprising! Each move you have more possibilities - even more “sensible ones” - than on most bridge plays. It doesn't take many moves before you find you've missed an idea.

Bridge has so much going for it - unlike Go & Chess it can't be reduced easily to arithmetic. Don't try to!
Oct. 16, 2015
Jonathan Mestel edited this comment Oct. 16, 2015
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Paul C - “not correlated” is, I think, a bit overstated. I would expect there to be a reasonable correlation between chess ability and all kinds of things, e.g. a healthy diet, literacy, the ability to speak Icelandic or contributing to this forum even. But there is certainly no causal relationship nor, I imagine, exceptionally strong correlation.
David - people's tendency to study chess opening theory to the point of futility has an easy parallel in the discussion of bidding systems for circumstances which come up less often than the frequency with which the agreements are forgotten….
At one point I was one of the world experts in the chess variation known as the “Dragon”. But even then, I could have a position which I thought I knew backwards and after two moves by both sides I was on my own again. Likewise, even bridge players who really know their system well can be thrown by an unexpected development as early as round 2 of the auction…
At the other end, you can improve your play at chess or bridge by studying, respectively, rook endings or squeeze theory. But still you are (meaning “I am”) surprised by unexpected nuances appearing in positions you thought you understood. Long may that continue!
Oct. 15, 2015
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I described this incident as I recall it in the thread about Emmanuel Lasker.
Oct. 15, 2015
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That reminds me of an anecdote about Che Guevara and chess. Perhaps I'll start another thread about it.
Oct. 15, 2015
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Jon doesn't play much (bridge) any more and neither does Julian so far as I know. Various international British chess players who played bridge well include the late Simon Webb (author of “Chess for Tigers”; he lived and died tragically in Stockholm a few decades ago) and Tony Miles who was beginning to take it up when he died in 2001. Other ex-British-chess-champions who now play bridge seriously are Peter Lee and Paul Littlewood.
Oct. 13, 2015
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