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All comments by Jonathan Mestel
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Pity the spot cards aren't reliable - they are the interesting part of the “deal”…both the red suit hands can make 1NT, but the black suited hands can't. That 5 is a good card.
Even if all 4 players claim it was dealt properly, most people would believe a substitution had taken place somewhere. While we know each deal is equally likely, we also know that this kind of hand is much less likely to occur naturally than as a result of a “joke”.

Likewise A1062 J73 Q84 K95 is almost certainly an unshuffled ordered deck. Suppose you pick up this hand, and suspect everyone else has the same pattern. Do you say something (a) at the start (b) at the and of the auction (if any) © after dummy goes down with the same pattern (LHO opens a 10-12 NT) (d) during the play, as every card fits the pattern (e) only at the end of the play (f) never (after all it's as likely as any other deal)?
Dec. 7, 2015
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But David - you usually argue here that the written rules are absolute and sacrosanct, rather than a slightly arbitrary conglomeration of poorly phrased but well-meant prose attempting to axiomatise common sense in the face of manifest human stupidity and deviousness…

I am reminded of what we named “The Octopus Rules” in chess. If you touch one of your pieces, you are required to move it if possible; if you touch one of your opponent's pieces you are required to capture it if possible. If you simultaneously touch one of your opponent's pieces and one of your own, you must if possible take his piece with your own. If you simultaneously touch two of your own pieces and one of your opponent's pieces, you must if possible capture that piece with one of your own unless you touched your king and rook and may legally castle with them….for a brief period a list of all possible combinations of simultaneously touched pieces was compiled and formed part of the official rules, but it has, I think, been withdrawn. Perhaps because they discriminated against octopodes…
Dec. 3, 2015
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A small point, but wouldn't it be annoying for West to find declarer with xx AKxx Kxxxx KQ or xx AK Kxxxx KQJx. People sometimes do this, and there is no real gain in holding up. But East has no excuse for petering (without a singleton!)
Nov. 18, 2015
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I'd have asked whether they have a specific method to show two aces and a void. Either declarer has realised he gave the wrong BW response or he has a void he hopes will be of use and a source of tricks. I believe partner would have doubled with DA, and declarer may have a heart suit he hopes to run. So I'll try a club.
Nov. 16, 2015
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Nick - you're right, people don't play their spots at random. For example, when defending with David holding 10753, it's a mandatory false card to drop the 7 on the first round, so that declarer knows that Mr Burn would have no reason to hold up his ace…
Nov. 13, 2015
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I don't see why the theory of restricted choice shouldn't apply to life partnerships…
Nov. 13, 2015
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I suppose this is a restricted choice problem. If I duck, declarer has a 50% guess as to with whom to place A10xx. If I win the ace, there is only one stiff ace but 3 stiff small cards partner could have held, so he should play me for 10xx.

I thought at first that this would be a “play the ace less than 1/3 of the time” position, and was all set to explain how I always hum “The beautiful blue Danube” under my breath when defending, and that I play the Ace only on the first beat of the waltz. But on second thoughts, I suppose if I ever don't win, declarer will get it right. So this 2nd paragraph was entirely gratuitous
Nov. 13, 2015
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No insult is intended. I have taken it as read that the moment my hand is tabled everyone and their pet gerbil can see that all the tricks are there unless I as declarer have hallucinated. All that is necessary is a comment to make it clear that I am still compos mentis, asking you to “trust me”. If there is, or might be, a player at the table who might not see what's going on in a flash, then I agree it is rude not to spell it out for them.
On a related thread “lots of tricks, lots of communication” was deemed by many an adequate claim, though it also doesn't state a line.

In the last week fairly strong players in the UK Premier League have claimed against me with:

“I'll take the safety play in diamonds” which doesn't specify what that is, it just said “I'm still awake and I know you can play this hand as well as I can.”

“I'll take the -finesse for an overtrick,” neglecting to say that declarer would cross safely to hand in a solid suit rather than unguarding a side suit.

“Either there's a squeeze or there isn't”. The line was obvious, and there wasn't.

“I'll make 8 tricks unless something good happens.” Again no line was specified, but it was clear he would have made 9 and we gave them.

Many of us prefer to play in this slightly more relaxed claiming environment. If asked to be more precise, declarer of course gives a line at once. But no one else is forced to.
Nov. 5, 2015
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Because I'm a chatty sort of person and it is an absolutely trivial play. It means “I'm not going to insult you by explaining it, I'm just letting you know that I am awake and aware of the tiny point of this hand so that you surely won't feel uncomfortable about conceding. If you want further details, feel free to ask for them.”

But that would be a bit longwinded.

Nov. 5, 2015
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I should have been clearer that I was drawing a personal line. By all means draw your own elsewhere.

My experience is that in practice claims (and acceptances) are sloppier about overtricks, a point I thought worth making.
Nov. 5, 2015
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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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