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All comments by Jürgen Rennenkampff
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Right - I am neither complaining nor proposing changes. Changes affect bidding and play and the forms of competition and, therefore, must be gradual, sound and consensual.

I am reacting to two endless concurrent threads. One person expresses ‘outrage’ because he disagrees with eligibility rules, the other describes a ‘debacle’ arising from the fact that according to one conversion table he would have won by 3 points, according to another he would have lost.

In both cases the entire organisations, USBF and ACBL, are being vilified. Undoubtedly both have many flaws, but their most important function is running top-level tournaments and this they do well, so far as I have seen and heard.

In particular the bit about winning according to one curve and losing according to another makes no more sense than a complaint about a roulette ball landing on black and not red. Hire a lawyer, sue the casino!

Randomness is an essential element of many games and how much is too much is largely a question of taste.
June 9
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I haven't read every word of this discussion but it appears that the obvious culprit is being ignored, as usual.

Bridge is not by nature a team game. Qualify pairs, not teams, and all of the problems raised in this discussion go away.

Of course, if you do that, another problem arises and this other problem is the elephant in the room that nobody seems to want to see.
May 29
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Yu: Yes, that makes a difference. I would guess that depending upon the strength distribution losing the first round can be an advantage. That it can be a disadvantage - e.g. all teams equally strong - is clear.
May 25
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The advantage of “coming from behind” in Swiss-system matching is well-known but concerns only the last round. If you lose in round 1 and your competitor in round n, both winning the other matches, both are on the same footing in round n+1, if there is a round n+1. In all earlier rounds the earlier loss gets you weaker opponents on average.

Swiss-matching is universally used in Chess tournaments that are too large for round-robin. Ratings are used for pairing in round 1 and also for pairing in subsequent rounds within subgroups with the same score.

Traditionally in the first round No.1 plays No. m/2 + 1, 2 plays m/2 + 2, etc, where m is the number of players. In large tournaments this can make the early rounds meaningless because the difference in strength is so large that the weaker player has no chance. To account for that, pairing within 2 or 4 groups segregated by rating is used in round 1. Pairing randomly in round 1 is not much better than rolling dice.

The ability to organize meaningful tournaments is the strongest argument in favor of accurate ratings. The only disadvantage is that everybody finds out what a Patzer you really are.
May 25
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@Roy

The F/N case is unambiguous. The CAS decision was an error. Everybody who paid attention agrees.

What the outcome of the suggested protest will be is not predictable. Let's hope that in retrospect it will be seen to have set the healing process in motion.

Nothing decisive has happened and several years have passed. It isn't obvious that the WBF and the EBL in their current form are able to handle such a problem. Setting up a committee isn't enough. There is actual work to be done.

Making each team member accountable for the transgressions of all team-mates is worth considering because the team-mates have the best view of the proceedings.

I don't see that you have any reason to be ashamed.
May 8
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"…players that in my circles, EVERYONE KNOWS was cheating.“

I don't know who knows what.

But I do recall that you claimed not to have known that your team-mates, Smirnov and Piekarek, cheated.

Brogeland says he didn't know that Fisher and Schwartz cheated, although they were his team-mates for years.

Zimmermann was offended when Fantoni and Nunes were accused.

Mme Lavazza presumably knew nothing.

Zmudzinski and Balicki were defended in a pseudo-scientific screed by Jassem.

What do you mean by ”everyone knows"? Usually it simply means that there is a rumor about.
May 7
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Of course, it goes without saying that the facts of each case must be taken into account. However, if the goal is to be ‘equal justice’, we need laws that remain constant and judges that are not swayed by the momentary mood of the crowd.

I agree completely that in the current situation one should not play with or against the convicted cheaters. But that doesn't solve the problem. What happens next time - and there will inevitably be a next time - when the case is, perhaps, more ambiguous?
May 6
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In order to prevent someone from accidentally detaching a fruit on Shabbat, the Sages forbid smelling a fruit that is attached to a tree. (Orach Chaim 336:10)

But if you observe your neighbor thus defiling the Shabbat it is not up to you to punish him.

That justice is meted out equitably by appointed judges and juries according to previously established and published laws is a hallmark of civilized societies.

That the decisions of these institutions are respected, even when in error, is a necessary prerequisite for the functioning of civilized society.

A reliable mechanism for replacing incompetent and corrupt judges and other governing officials, before they can do extensive damage, is the most important advantage that representative democracy has over other forms of organisation.

A group of bridge players appears ready to ostracize an individual, who in this instance almost surely deserves it. But what about the next case? Suppose the next case is your friend or your team mate, whom you never suspected of cheating? Or your worst enemy, whom you might not treat fairly? Are you sure this action brings you closer to a resolution of the underlying problem?
May 5
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Poker declined along with other social games. Women played bridge Wednesday afternoon, men played poker once a month, with neighbors or colleagues or relatives. That has become rare.

Bridge and poker in their current form appeal to a different crowd than they did 2 generations back.

People have found other forms of entertainment. The games that have lasted through the ages all have simple rules and simple equipment and survive without mass appeal. Bridge is too complex for a sudden revival.

Anybody who likes to play nontrivial games is a candidate for recruitment. For years I used to play poker with a group mainly from the chess club. They also liked ‘Jass’.
April 30
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Here are four effects that will play a role in the near future.

1. The birth rate peaked in the U.S. in 1957. There will be fewer retirees from now on. The decline is drastic - about 30% in the next decade followed by a steady downward trend.

2. Most forms of social interaction declined beginning in the 60's. The decline of Bridge follows this pattern. The descent from the days when Bridge was a real fad, when about 1 of 3 adults played, is astonishing. However, other similar activities declined on a similar scale. (read Putnam, “Bowling Alone”.)

3. Few of the current and future retirees played cards when they were young, so Bridge is not an obvious choice of pastime for them.

4. The collapse may be precipitous because there is strong self-reinforcement as clubs close. Already now, most club games are not accessible to people who work during the day.

Time will tell.
April 30
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Monaco is not a ‘country’. It is in fact a small town in France, population 35'000, with a license to provide financial and other services that are illegal in most parts of the world, specifically in the rest of France.

In the context, observe that 3 of the pairs recently excluded from polite society were employed by people who co-opted ‘national’ teams, the most egregious being Mr. Zimmermann's construct in Monaco.
April 29
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Seriously: The choice of venue is not irrelevant and Reno is sub-optimal in my opinion. But what do I know?
April 28
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April 28
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I am sure that when you wake up tomorrow morning you will see that this reasoning is flawed, so I won't explain it again.
You can also find exactly this example on p.19 of Reese & Trezel.
April 19
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Given that an Ace was lead, the probability that the hand has no other Ace is ~3/7 and not 1/2, with a small error resulting from the fact that the splits are not precisely 1/8.
If you exclude, as you seem to have done, the possibility that West has all 3 Aces, then 1/2 is right because there are now, due to the presence of the third card, as many two-Ace combinations as there are one-Ace combinations. In the simplest restricted-choice setup there is 1 two-card holding but 2 one-card holdings.
In any such case, the way to avoid error is to actually do the calculation using the Bayes formula.
April 19
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The trouble with the right method is that it gives the wrong answer. Check it against the restricted choice situation.

This is the sample:
After giving West the 2 red cards, deal out the 24 remaining cards;
now eliminate the deals where West holds 2 greens;
among the remaining deals, determine the frequency of East holding 2 greens or exactly one green card.

This represents the known information, viz. LHO has KQ of clubs and, since he has not opened, not both an A and another K.
April 19
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That's a good way to make the point:

Among all Smith's with two children, one of whom is a boy,
how many have 2 boys?
April 19
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Two cards are out, one opponent is known to have at least one, how often does she have both? Your argument gives 12/25. That's the restricted choice fallacy.
The easy way to see this is to consider that there are 3 cases, namely A/K, K/A, -/AK.
April 19
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For all questions of this kind the ultimate authority if Fowler and he says this:

“Most Latin words in -us have plural in -i, but not all, & so zeal not according to knowledge issues such oddities as hiati, octopi, omnibi, & ignorami; as a caution the following list of variations may be useful:
gladiolus, -li;
hiatus, -tus (long u);
Venus, -neres;
octopus, -podes
corpus, -pora;
genus, -nera;
ignoramus, no Latin plural.”

Similarly most Latin words in -a … but that's enough for today, I think … there are also -ex, -er, -o, &c.
April 15
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“I look at far fewer articles in ”A New Bridge Magazine“ than I did when its predecessor was published in hard copy form.”

This is an interesting phenomenon that I have also noticed and can't fully explain. I used to buy a newspaper every morning and spend an unreasonable amount of time reading it.
For a number of years now I have been reading the same paper in the same format by downloading an electronic copy from the local library. I find I spend much less time reading it than I used to when it was material.
I think this has to do with the fact that once accustomed to electronic sources of reading material you become more critical, because there is so much fluff and nonsense, which you learn to ignore and click through.

For publications like the ACBL Bulletin (which I haven't seen in many years, so I don't know what it looks like today) the advantages of publishing electronically are so obvious and so great that it would be absurd to list them. However, the ACBL does have an age problem.

The U.S. Chess Federation had this same discussion about 20yrs ago. The difference is that their magazine, Chess Life, was also sold on news stands and by separate subscription and had a circulation (mostly?) among non-members. I just looked at their subscription model. It looks like this:
- $40 rather than $49 p.a. for opting out of the paper magazine
- Senior rate = same discount but including the paper version
- various junior and scholastic discounts, down to $17, with and without the paper magazine (I believe they lose money on these).

Another point that I think is important: Make the electronic magazine an integral part of the website and make it openly accessible. What does the login gain? And, for God's sake, find somebody who can design a friendly, modern, informative, inviting website. It isn't very hard any more. The current front page is absolutely repulsive.

Incidentally, here (in Germany) they distribute the Bridge magazine by bulk mailing to the clubs.
April 5
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