Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Jonathan Mestel
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Not to be confused with EEEC, which is Beethoven's 5th symphony.

David, you make me realise how old I am.
Sept. 28, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
And all the world over, each nation's the same;
They've simply no notion of “playing the game”!
They argue with umpires, and cheer when they've won.
And they practice beforehand, which ruins the fun…
Sept. 28, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
As she mentions Mathematics, I hope Frances won't mind me revealing that she achieved one of the best undergraduate Maths results in her year at one of the top UK universities before leaving academia for the Business & Bridge worlds.

Note that I did not have to qualify that with a “male or female”. It would be unthinkable to have gender-segregated examinations and degrees. It was in 1890 that a woman first came top of Mathematics at Cambridge, though she was not permitted to receive a degree. In a dynamic, truth-seeking academic environment rapid change is possible, and by 1948 (sic) women were finally permitted to graduate. And in the 1970s, the Swiss actually allowed them to vote. I'm straying off topic - the point is that even obvious social improvements can be painfully slow.

Even today, girls and women assuredly have extra obstacles to overcome in a Mathematical career. Expectations of family, schools and peers of both genders to start with. About 1/3 of Maths undergraduates are female, and the proportion declines as one looks up the scale with PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, lecturers and professors. Just as it does with top bridge (or chess) players.

Why is this? If the abilities of all groups of people are normally distributed about some mean, the extremely good (or bad) is an exponentially small proportion. Given two groups with the same mean the slightest difference in the variance of the distributions will have a massive effect in the relative number of each group at the top end. So to those who say “Oh come on, teenage boys being mean (for example) isn't going to put many girls off,” I would reply that at a later time such things really could have an enormous effect statistically at the top end. We don't really know - we only have one set of data, the real world over a short time-period. We make what improvements we can now, and hope for a better tomorrow.

30 years ago I remember two (otherwise basically decent, Western, male) chess grandmasters taunting others with “How does it feel to be beaten by a woman?” and “How can a grandmaster lose to a Chinaman?”
Neither of these questions would make any sense today. Chess has quite a good objective rating system, and such overt prejudice is suppressed. It will take longer in Bridge, because the partnership and random elements obscure objectivity. But role models such as Frances & Sabine, and uniform junior coaching will have their effects in time. There seems to be a spreading out of the female achievement distributions which bodes well for the future.

Incidentally, there is also such a thing as “women's chess”, for which the arguments pro & con are similar to Bridge. Even Mathematics has seen fit to introduce a “Girls Maths Olympiad” in an effort to encourage more female participation, but only at a junior level. I hope it doesn't prove retrogressive.
Sept. 27, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Is it even true? 3.25-3.25-3.25-3.25 or 4-4-3-2 I could understand.
Sept. 22, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Touché! I should have included “(sic)”.
Sept. 21, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Only a real pedant would complain about the superfluous “the” in
“the hoiPalloi”, and we don't have any of them here.
Sept. 21, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
There are some similarities with the main post, so I'll give a few details of this case.

The faulty scoring occurred at my table. This was last round of a qualifying event for a final several weeks in the future. My team had no chance of qualifying, but our opponents (NS at my table) and another team did.
My opponent North asked me whether I wanted to check the boards one at a time or at the end of the session. I agreed to do it at the end - this is common practice in the UK.

At the end, North entered the last board and handed me the Bridgemate to check. Rather than hang around as he should, opponents rushed off to score with their teammates. Looking over the entered scores, I saw he had neglected to enter one board. As opponents had vanished, I called over a director. He instructed me to enter the result, which I did, carefully. The Bridgemate then flashed up “End of Session”, and I was no longer able to see/check the other results. I informed the director of this and he joked “As long as it says End of Session, that's good enough for me.” An unfortunate quip, but understandable as in the last round of such an event, a big worry is players disappearing without recording the scores.

So we went home, wondering how the weekend could have gone so badly. Our opponents did qualify. There the matter would have rested, had not our diligent NPC checked the published scores against his records. He found that our opponents had entered a game we made in their column (NOT the score I had entered). In a double cross-IMP event this has a massive effect. In fact, another team should have qualified in place of our last round opponents.

I contacted the EBU and the captains of the two teams concerned. Though technically it was outside the appeal period, it was obviously impossible for the team who lost out to have known about this scoring error. Having supplied all details to all concerned, it was no longer my responsibility. I expected that the team who had qualified because of their scoring error to withdraw in favour of the other team.

Of the rest I have no personal knowledge, but I believe that the team who had unjustly benefited did not withdraw. The reason given was that they had had an outstanding appeal against a 4th team. Upon hearing that they had qualified, they had withdrawn their appeal and gone home. As it was no longer possible for this appeal to be heard, and they thought they might have qualified anyway, they felt justified in keeping their place.

So obviously, North at my table was mostly at fault, but both I and the director could have prevented the mess. It's worth remembering that this kind of thing probably happens hundreds of times, and only occasionally does it lead to problems. However, I suspect undiscovered mis-scorings are more common than we know.

But this is why for a while I wore a false beard when visiting a certain County.
Sept. 20, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I'm not sure that pitch would be relevant, whether Q is ruffing down or is a trick.

Kit's argument is based on the assumption that West will not lead a if he holds the K, even though he knows the hand almost double dummy and can count 10 tricks for declarer. At the table one might take this view against some opponents and some tempos, but I don't think it holds water against good defence. If Kit were defending against himself, clearly he would switch to a spade with Kxxx Jxx xx AKQx, a play which can only gain. The logic behind “West will never lead a spade because he can see that it won't gain if I play the Q. Therefore if he does, I will play A,” is questionable.

The interesting case is when West holds Jx (or less obviously xxx). Then he can see that declarer may obtain a surprise 3rd round entry to hand, and it may be important to lead a 3rd club to entice declarer to ruff low. Give declarer xxx 10xxx xxx xxx. If the defence lead a 3rd club, instead of the “obvious” -shift, would you ruff high, to enter hand with 10 and take the “marked” -finesse? For me, this heroic line for an overtrick would be similar to declining the -finesse if West switches to a !

(Edit) I forgot to say of course in theory the best strategies are probabilistic. If West leads a , we should play the Ace with probability p, and the Queen with probability (1-p), just as from hand n West should lead a with probability q_n and a club with probability r_n. The difficulty is that in practice we only play the hand once. It's a useful argument when we misdefend to claim that “the best defence requires me to do this 4% of the time, and it happened to come up” but I have yet to find a partner who accepts this…
Sept. 19, 2016
Jonathan Mestel edited this comment Sept. 19, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Kit - if we hold Kxxx xx xxx AKQx we can count 10 tricks for declarer without -finesse; 4 diamonds. 5 trumps and A. It is only if partner has a double diamond guard that the contract might fail, and declarer can then take the -finesse later anyway. The fact that some very strong players are going to forgo the -finesse makes it clear that the -switch is the best defence.

In your last example hand, if we lead a spade declarer is hardly going to enter hand with the 4th round of trumps and risk going off. And if declarer has J he can ruff high on table on your -continuation and still make all the rest of the tricks.
Sept. 17, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Why should he defend any differently with K? He knows you don't need the finesse.

At some stage, one of us should ask Frances what NT opponents are playing.
Sept. 16, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I think of it like this. At Chess your fate depends on one dangerous lunatic, whom you see in a mirror. At Rubber, two such characters control your destiny, while at IMPs it's four. At matchpoints, things are decided by several dozen unpredictable miscreants, most of whom you have never met.

Talking of race tracks, someone once described Tigran Petrosian, the ex-world-chess-champion, as a Chieftain tank in a Formula 1 race. His style was such that he drew too many games to be in danger of ever winning a tournament, but with a casual shot he could also prevent anyone else he chose from winning.

I hope this helps.
Sept. 16, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
That article's fairly accurate. Although it's not trivial to change the Nation you play for, there are many examples. I recall once all but one of a US team and its NPC were Russian speakers. When a team meeting to discuss tactics began to take place in Russian, Grandmaster John Fedorowicz, a bluff plainspeaking boy from the Bronx, lost his cool somewhat…
Sept. 14, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I don't believe an “expert” partner would double with a stiff spade and poor defence without discussion.
Mind you, experts come in all shapes and sizes. Just like “standard” agreements.
Sept. 8, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
@Steve: I take your point, but the cases are not the same. If I am at the 5-level I can only have been thinking about slam (unless we are in auction which could die in 5NT, I suppose, but forget that.) That is not the case here when we are below 3NT.
I think there are enough people in each camp here to show the issue is not entirely trivial.

I think people do not always take sufficiently into account is that in-tempo bidding can ALSO convey UI. If partner leaps to 5 without thought, there are hands with an unexpected void which are probably worth a raise, and not raising could be taken to be using the UI that partner did not have an alternative call to consider.
This is the flip-side of Dave B's (over?) simple “fast => pass” algorithm, but rulings are seldom made in this case.

Some (and I mean no one in particular here) would be affronted if it were suggested that not appearing to have a problem, in a situation where most hands would have to think, conveys UI.
Sept. 7, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
A quick anything shows that he knew that “anything” was the right bid. A slow “anything” shows that he didn't. Some people need time to work these things out, and it does not always imply one should bid on. Weren't there 3 top losers?
Sept. 6, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Of course he was thinking of both 3NT and whether his hand was strong enough to invite slam, and possibly whether the auction could die in 4. That's what he would be thinking about if he'd bid quickly too, but come to a faster conclusion. If he's like me, unable to assess the value of his hand instantly, he would be constructing possible hands for partner. He has perhaps reluctantly decided that investigating 3NT was not worth it or too murky and he has bid 5 in what we assume is a discouraging manner. Why does this encourage us to bid slam?
Our hand gambled, and struck lucky. Opponents get an unlucky bad result. It happens.
Sept. 6, 2016
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
It is crucial that hesitations should suggest a certain action; they should not get penalised automatically. I do not think 5 suggests he was thinking of slam at all.

It is not clear to me what partner's 5 shows. Therefore, it will not have been clear to him. Obviously he had other calls to consider, and I would expect him to think before bidding it on any hand. Therefore, no UI. Therefore no penalty.
Sept. 5, 2016
.

Bottom Home Top