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All comments by Jonathan Mestel
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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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Louis - That must be it - many thanks.

The other phrase van der Wiel taught me was less repeatable (and less useful at the bridge table)…
Oct. 6, 2016
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In 1982 I was playing bridge with the strong Dutch chessplayers van der Wiel, van der Sterren and Ligterink. Once when dummy came down, declarer let out a cry which I was informed was an “angstschrijk”.

I thought this was a marvellous word - 8 consecutive consonants, tailing off into that despairing Dutch “ij”…is that not a perfect description of the muted shreak of angst with which one greets some dummies?

But looking online, I can't find this word - the closest I can see is angstkreet. Have I misremembered all these years?
Oct. 6, 2016
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That's better than “done himself in!”

Am I right that this article is only available to ACBL members? If so, the only contribution I can offer is linguistic piffle of this ilk.
Oct. 5, 2016
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I take it “topped himself” is a piece of UK slang which has not made it over the Atlantic…
Oct. 5, 2016
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I take your point. According to 15C the board should have been cancelled the moment the opening bid differed. I have no idea whether the rules have changed since then, or whether this was the director's (sensible, but possibly illegal) attempt to get as much normal bridge played as possible.

Incidentally, do the laws specify what one is supposed to do if the director instructs one to do something one thinks is illegal?
Sept. 30, 2016
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Yes sorry. It was the responsibility of both pairs to ensure they had the right opponents - we were waiting for a pair to turn up, and just assumed it was the right one.
Sept. 30, 2016
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Last millenium, you're playing in an event spread over a number of rooms in a Midlands hotel where both pairs move. You sit down EW and after a few minutes an international pair turns up, sits down confidently and swiftly bids 1-1NT;3NT-P.

You're about to lead when another pair turn up, looking late, lost and languid, and claim they should be playing you. The director instructs you to try to play the board unless you feel the UI makes it impossible.

Your new (weaker) opponents bid 1-1;1-P and you wonder whether to protect. You have a hand on which almost no sane person would bid 2, and yet you know that you would have considered it.
Rightly or wrongly, you tell the director you don't feel able to play the board, and you get an ave-, for trusting the original Mancunian miscreants to subtract 2 from 31 correctly.

So I think that follows Frances' criteria for active ethics - you would certainly have gained from and “got away” with not making a risky bid, even though the UI made it suicidal. But to qualify under David's more cynical criteria, you also have to brag about it…
Sept. 30, 2016
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