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All comments by Justin Lall
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Obviously it was totally a catch, just like the week before it was not PI against the Lions. A big part of being a good bridge player is being honest, unbiased, and introspective. A big part of being a good fan is NOT being those things :)
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hi Jay,

First of all, you humbly underrate your contribution to my game. Obviously staying up way too late is bad for a kid but talking bridge with a lot of really good players even while not playing bridge is huge for your development.

I had a lot of people like you who took interest in me and would help me with my game which is a large part of why I became good at bridge. Even now, I play with many different people in national pair games to try and learn the best part of peoples games and incorporate it into my own.

I miss Dave Treadwell, he was a great guy and a young soul. And you totally taught me how to play like a moron and how not to play so thanks ;)
Jan. 15, 2015
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Hi Liam,

First congrats on your great result in the World Open Pairs. I wasn't surprised but I was happy for you!

1) I can't believe it's been 9 years! You just made me feel old lol. I still try to follow the basic theory of play lots, evaluate your play, and plug your leaks. In some ways leaks are harder to find now, but in some ways they are easier. My leaks are less costly now, but the more I play the more I think that I am making bad errors. The more each theme that costs seems like it is really costly.

Last week I played and I raised my partner (Kevin Bathurst) on a really defensive hand when he opened w/r first seat with 3S. Like Txx QJ9xx AJ9 xx. Kevin is really solid but w/r in first seat he is aggressive which I really think is the right way to play. But I just raised blindly. My hand is a terrible hand to raise, my partner does not have the hand I am hoping for at this vul (he would open 4). Meanwhile I have great defense vs 3N or 4h. True 4S could blow them out sometimes but how do you feel when it goes X AP? You have all defense and no offense. I remembered that I have raised him a couple of times when it's silly in that spot. So it is definitely a leak, and it's possible my partner will stop making good preempts since I'm raising on such silly hands. So I told him this is a leak and I'm plugging it, and it felt really gratifying. Every time I learn something I'm doing wrong, it feels like a huge victory.

So yeah I definitely still play a lot and evaluate my game to try and find leaks. There is a lot of noise, you have to figure out if you were unlucky or if you actually are playing badly, but talking over the hands with my peers helps a lot with that. The key is to stay humble and realize you are still learning no matter where you are in your bridge development. If you are arrogant it is easy to chalk up your bad results to bad luck, just like poker.

2) I don't think there is one great agreement or big fix, but I agree top players have really good carding agreements and know the hands earlier than amateurs. The hard part of bridge is not what to do when you know the hand, it's figuring out the hand. I'd say in general things like suit preference in trumps or in solid dummy suits etc are the biggest gains (and doing them consistently). It is not flashy and you know those agreeements, but do you always make those signals and trust your partner do so? If you do, great, if not then get more consistent with them. The early play and signalling is super important and if you pass no info to your partner you have failed. Of course you have to balance that against possibly telling declarer the hand; that is the hard part.
Jan. 15, 2015
Justin Lall edited this comment Jan. 15, 2015
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Hi Frank,

I don't. There is very little money in writing a bridge book and it is a lot of work. It could be good for my career to write a great bridge book, but I prefer to use all that effort to try to improve. Whether or not that will be a good decision remains to be seen!
Jan. 15, 2015
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Haha that's a cool story Scott, some things never change I guess.

1) I play strong club in most of my partnerships. I don't think system matters as much as style, but precision allows an aggressive style where you get in early, open the bidding a lot, and generally disrupt your opps. I think that the side that bids first has a huge advantage, and they should take advantage of that, especially non vul, so I like light opening bid systems and 14-16 NT, which go well with strong club. That being said little old ladies like Levin and Weinstein manage to do well with their sound system; that's one of the great things about bridge, many styles can do well.

B) I'd say the main thing about doing well with new expert partners is not being too theoretical. Sometime you might think a bid or a meaning of a bid is right, but at the same time you know it could be misunderstood and rational players might think differently. If it is not discussed and it is not totally straight forward, DON'T DO IT! It is egocentric to think that your way is the only way a bid might be interpreted. Just play bridge. Make a bid that is obvious even if you think it might be slightly subotptimal, on top of not having major misunderstandings, you avoid the whole battle of who is right or wrong and bad energy. If your partner knows you're trying to make it easy on them, they will try to make it easy on you, and you will win. You will be together.

iii) Romo is not a choker. The only reason the cowboys have been good at all is because of his play. He's good enough to carry a mediocre team to major games. From there too much expectation has been placed on him since he is our star player to be great, and when he messes up people jump on it. In short, Romo and I would be a dynasty.

Edit: Sorry to Scott Stearns, I failed at quoting and replying to your post! Hopefully a mod can undo my error lol
Jan. 15, 2015
Justin Lall edited this comment Jan. 15, 2015
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Hi Daniel,

I don't think I will blog again. When I started blogging it was a new thing in the internet bridge community. I did it because I wanted to talk about untalked about things in bridge in a new medium. I have considered livestreaming bridge or doing video blogging, because that is what is relatively new and uncommon in the bridge world now.

Bridge blogs are common now and great players are doing so, not the least of which bridgewinners.

I enjoyed my time blogging and got great feedback. If I'm not too lazy I think a video format will get equally good feedback and have strongly considered doing that. Something like a twitch stream playing robot duplicates on BBO or whatever.
Jan. 14, 2015
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A shot of Jack Daniels. For instance “I had 2 Jlalls tonight” would be 10 shots of JD
Jan. 14, 2015
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Hi Chun-Ming,

A lot of the pro-euro style people would like to attribute the American style (or lack thereof) to system regulation. The truth is while the ACBL is very restrictive for lower level play, almost all events top players play are midchart or superchart which are not very restrictive. For instance, I played multi and transfer preempts with my dad but we decided they were losers long term against people who knew what they were doing.

The truth is American style has evolved differently from Euro style. I do not think one is right or wrong but both have merits.

I think the top US players who play natural have invested a lot of time into reverse auctions. I don't know if European style is different or how, but I think maybe the problem is a lot of the top US pairs who are on vugraph play precision (myself included).

As far as Madala, he is a truly great player and also roughly my age. We have not competed much against each other but he and his team did beat me by 1 this summer which was really brutal! I have nothing to say about him other than that he is a great player and a great guy.
Jan. 14, 2015
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Hi Steve,

1) Actually, my parents made me go to the club because their friends who “knew me” since I was born wanted to see me. I was 10. I ended up getting roped into a supervised 0-5 game with no bridge experience (today, it seems like a setup!). I ended up third, and as a 10 year old I couldn't understand how I could lose to people old enough to be my grandparents! I had played lots of hearts and spades so understood cardplay but had no experience with bidding.

Anyways, I went home and read five weeks to winning bridge. My dad ended up playing with me at the club and gave me one rule: don't pull my 3N. Naturally the first time he bid 3N I had 8 clubs and pulled it. So it goes. I pursued the game because I loved it and I sucked!

2) My long term goal is to be the best player in the world. Lots of great talented people have that goal so it's a lofty one, but it's the one that keeps me going. I believe I am far from it right now but I am young and I am learning and I out of necessity believe I will achieve it one day. My shorter term goals are winning major team events and representing USA in open competition.

3) Bidding has a long way to go. I believe a lot of transfer auctions and competitive innovations have not been realized yet. Simple things like 1H X 2C 4H, that should be a transfer to 4S, maybe something like xxx clubs where you don't want to bid 4S and get a club lead. It's simple but no one plays that yet. I think transfers in competitive bidding are the future (even though a lot are already here)

4) I don't know, but college kids are attracted to things like money, all expenses paid trips, meeting other likeminded people, and competing at a high level/being respected. I would market those parts of the game. In USA there is a great junior program with great benefits and those should benefits should be aggressively promoted IMO. The junior program gave me some of the best experiences in my life. From that a lot of people will just love the game and continue with it. But I think it's the wrong strategy to market the benefits and beauty of the game, those are great but they are not selling points. Those are retention points.

5) Advanced players try to get too fancy. They read too many atypical winning plays/fancy stuff. Top level bridge is actually 99 % of the time boring. We count. We do normal things. That 1 % is what you read about though and it isn't representative of real grinding top level bridge. Do what is nromal and right all the time and you will be a really really good bridge player. What makes advanced players good is that they know what is normal, but they try to deviate from that out of boredom or out of ego to show they know great plays or whatever, and it's the wrong spot. Try to always do the percentage thing, the difference in great and good is the knowledge of when to go against the percentages but that is such a minor thing, just like the difference in good and great is.
Jan. 14, 2015
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Just so everyone knows, Bill is THE COOLER! I hate to say it but I have never won a match with him watching. I like him enough that I don't bar him, but I secretly pay him to kibitz my enemies/rivals.

Cooler, I will be playing some MABC's but no chance I let you know which! Despite that, if I see you I'll happily buy you a drink lol.
Jan. 14, 2015
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Jdonn!

Your first question is really open ended! But for those who don't know, the joke stems from my sister (Jessica)'s friends calling her Jlall. I never knew this and she didn't know I was jlall so when she came to a national it was very amusing when people were yelling “jlall!” and she was looking around very confused.

I then went to LA where she lives and her friends called me “little Jlall.” A big debate ensued, she said she was older, and I said I am more famous as Jlall. I would say this debate ended when I was recently in Dublin and I was at a random bar (called Flannery's amusingly enough) and a cute girl came up to me smiling. I felt great about myself and she said “Are you Jlall's brother???” Turns out one of my sister's friends was in Dublin at the same place as me and recognized me. So to answer Josh's question, I'd have to say my sister is the real Jlall. Hopefully she doesn't read this.

As far as the optimal way to eat a pringle, there is only one way. The side with the flavor should be down, so your tongue gets a burst of flavor. The other way, saddle side up as they say, is clearly inferior.

As far as optimal temperature, as my bridge partners know at a hotel 65 is standard and it's really still too hot. Some places go down to 60 and it's nice. At home it seems different, mainly because you have to pay for the AC. I don't know what my optimal temperature is then so I enlisted the help of my girlfriend Stef. She said 69.
Jan. 14, 2015
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Hi Gary,

Bob and I played the next cycle after that win. The highlight was being third in the Reisinger. We were nowhere and the Zimmerman team was like 4-5 boards ahead of us with one session to go. This event is a barometer, and from nowhere we had a shot with 1 round to go. Unfortunately we did poorly in the last round; we couldn't win but we could have been second. Still, I was proud of third in such a tough event.

Unfortunately the imp events didn't go so well for us lol.

I am not sure if I remember any hands from the Plat Pairs win, but I do remember in the last round we played the pair in second, my good friends Ishmael Del Monte and Thomas Bessis. Thomas tried to hide his honors so that Bob would not know to drop the stiff K of trumps, but Bob knew based on that that it must be stiff K of trumps and dropped it! Bridge at the top.

It is really an amazing experience to be Bob's partner and see him in action. He has seen it all and really just seemingly effortlessly makes the right play.
Jan. 14, 2015
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My father and I once discovered that with AT9xxx opp Q8x the correct play is low to the 8 (if it loses to the jack, low to the ace).

This was interesting because at the time the Bridge Encyclopedia and I believe Roudinesco had it wrong. It is different from AT9xx opp Q8xx for an obvious reason.

Anyways, always check your work. You read a website on the internet and believed the leading the Q was better in the 5-4 spot than the ace. You analyzed that this would mean that KJxx onside is more likely than KJ offside. If you understood that this meant that a single 4-0 combination is more likely than a single 2-2 combination then you would know that is ridiculous.

One instance of the most even break is more likely than another instance of a less even break. People get confused by this because they are like BUT 3-1 is more likely than 2-2! Well, that is true because it means 3-1 or 1-3 is more than 2-2. But in analysis like this it's a specific 2-2 vs a specific 3-1 (vs a specific 4-0!). That is why after running the Q it is better to play for the drop, stiff K on our right is more likely than KJ doubleton because of that rule it's a specific 2-2 vs a specific 3-1.

Lastly, to add a funny story, my friend and I call AT876x opp Kx “THE combo.” We know it, we talk about it, it never comes up. A very attractive lady was kibitzing me once, and I actually had this suit combo. But my LHO had 6 of a side suit (RHO 1), so the likelihood of QJxx and stiff 9 was greatly diminished. On top of that, if I played K then A (I was in dummy) and got the bad news, I had play in a side suit.

So it seemed percentage not to cross to my hand to lead the ten and leave all of my eggs in that basket. I did not do that, and it was stiff 9 and QJxx with the long hand, the other stuff went bad and I went down. I of course tell Joe Grue this and he says “I don't care in that spot I lead the ten since it never comes up and I want to show off.”

Touche.
Nov. 19, 2014
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I have always gotten INTJ and just took it again and got INTJ, so you pegged me
Aug. 16, 2014
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Hey Walter I thought you played awesome and were worthy winners of that match…my dream was to say you beat us in a spin gold we won!! Haha it was not to be but it was a pleasure to play against you
Aug. 13, 2014
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—Anonymous. O wait
March 16, 2013
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Weinstein and jlall in the field? The other people should withdraw its ovaaaaaaaaaaa
March 16, 2013
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Who would win in a fight between equally matched people if one had a bat and one had a knife?

How many five year olds could you take down in a fight before they would beat you.

Ok, BW community probably will not understand these questions but they are standard for people in the well on 2+2.

Seriously though, I have no questions but I am happy for your success in the bridge world, you have worked hard and deserve it.
Feb. 26, 2013
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Gitelman in every country since he is the creator/face of BBO and people from all countries play on it
Sept. 19, 2012
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The truth is, it is a huge advantage to be a very good bridge player if you are going to operate on high level bridge.

Many people, even if they play bridge a lot, are thrown off/surprised that at the top level the typical hand involves a tank at a key point (where declarer or defender is going to decide what course to take, and from there the play is automatic), followed by rapid play and/or a claim.

Claims are often made by throwing your hand in without anyone showing their cards (because everyone basically knows what the hand is) and moving on.

And, typically no hand or very few handds are played out to the end, there is a claim at some point (with no line stated or anything).

If you are a very good bridge player or have played top level bridge before, not only will you be used to this, you will realize when someone is in a 5 minute tank what their options are and what will happen after that, so it will be easy to not lose the play since you know what is going to happen once the key decision is made. And during the rapid play portion, you will be ready for that and almost wouldn't even need to see what they are playing.

It is not a coincidence imo that people often mention Jan Martel or Joe Stokes as great operators, they are also very good players with high level bridge experience. Unfortunately, most of the time good players will not want to be operators.

When you are overwhelmed, things like spot cards are going to be the first thing to go, you're just going to follow with a low spot trying to keep up. Also, the subtle suit preference implications of the order of the spot cards are not going to mean anything to inexperienced player operators, but to a top player they will recognize the significance and be more likely to notice which low cards are being played, or if someone cashes a suit K A Q rather than K Q A etc.

It is just much easier to get these things right if you understand the play, the tanks, the spot cards, the patterns, and what is about to happen.
Sept. 14, 2012
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