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All comments by Jonathan Mestel
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6 could have more chances e.g. KQJxxx AJ10x x Ax, but surely at pairs 6NT is clear?
April 21, 2017
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For me, it shows a 2nd suit, so 4 must be better, involving partner in future discussions.
April 21, 2017
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I was sent this hand independently, and was informed that in fact the big hand had passed slowly. Partner felt constrained to pass.

My view was that being a passed hand, partner should act even with the UI.
April 20, 2017
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6 could well make opposite a stiff and a non- lead, but I'm content with 5, quite possibly doubled. LHO doesn't know about their heart fit. If he bids 6 I shall double, but if they reach 6 I will try 6. I don't think I should redouble 5
April 7, 2017
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Well, here's something NOT to do:

When I was younger and having an off patch at chess, on occasion I would bemoan my stupidity in front of people who, even on their best days, played considerably worse. It was only when the slump wore off that I realised my insensitivity. (For clarity - I'm not suggesting you're doing that! Just something to be wary of. This was in my original post but in square brackets, so it got missed.)

At bridge, one's bad spells correspond to simultaneously playing poorly AND being unlucky. At least one of those will wear off soon - statistics don't lie, they just get misinterpreted! So even if you do nothing, things will improve… (Cue twee motivational quotation.)
April 6, 2017
Jonathan Mestel edited this comment April 6, 2017
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Well, rebidding 2 over a 2 response isn't ideal.

Tempting as it is to blame our current predicament on our previous (in)action, it would still be a bit awkward if partner had opened in 1st seat.
April 6, 2017
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Nice article. I have played a version with two relatively inexperienced players South and West wherein I would bid North and East. One of them would declare (if necessary swapping hands with their “partner”) and I would then defend with the other. This works quite well educationally, as you can teach bidding, play and defence. It is also surprising how often you can control the play to reach an interesting end-position without it being too obvious what you're doing. You can then hold a post-mortem on the entire hand. I recommend trying this - though it can be quite intensive!
April 4, 2017
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I think a trump is clear. To me the only question is whether Q might be better than 10, which may deny declarer a convenient entry to dummy to lead a singleton through partner. Regrettably, I think it's just about possible partner has a stiff K. And I suppose I might want to ruff with Q on the 4th round of spades some days. So 10 it is, but if 10 is right, there probably would not have been much discussion…
April 3, 2017
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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, 2017
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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, 2017
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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, 2017
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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, 2017
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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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