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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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With 3-3-2-5 and no spade stopper I would choose 2, so obviously I would choose 2 with 2-3-3-5 and no spade stopper. This does not show both minors in my view. It just shows clubs, saying nothing about diamonds.

Yes I would rebid 1NT with xxx AJx KJxx Kxx. So if partner has the Jxx KQxx AQx AQx I'll get to 3NT. That's life in the big city. But with a worthless doubleton in spades, I don't like a 1NT rebid. I don't think responder should need to Q-bid for the purpose of checking on a spade stopper. When opener rebids 1NT responder assumes a spade stopper (or at least a partial stopper), and if opener doesn't have it that's just too bad. Responder has other things to be worried about. Of course responder can use the Q-bid on his GF hand to get some idea of how proud opener is of his spade stopper.

I play 2 of a major is a negative free bid, but 2 of a minor is a 1-round force (though not necessarily strong). We have found that 2 of a minor negative free bid is too unwieldy, and is not valuable since you don't buy it there anyway.

I play that the 2 Q-bid is a balanced game force without a spade stopper. I have never tried a structure involving transfer advances. I know other pairs do, and it might well be better.
Sept. 24, 2012
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No, the 10 to 6 IMP odds are not misleading. They are a statement of the IMPs I gain when I bid the game (vs. not bidding it) and game makes vs. the IMPs I lose when I bid the game (vs. not bidding it) and game goes down. That doesn't change.

Those odds have nothing to do with the probability of making the game. Obviously if the probably of making the game isn't good enough, you would rather stop below game. But that is an entirely different matter. The IMP odds you are getting from bidding the game are 10 to 6.

To illustrate: Suppose you bid a 30% game which is not bid at the other table. Let's suppose the hand is played 10 times, and game makes 3 of those 10 times. Then:

3 times you gain 10 IMPs for a total of +30 IMPs

7 times you lose 6 IMPs for a total of -42 IMPs

Your net is -12 IMPs, or an average loss of -1.2 IMPs. Thus, when you bid a 30% vulnerable game on balance you have cost yourself 1.2 IMPs.

Note that you were still getting those 10 to 6 IMP odds. Unfortunately the chances of making the game were too small even with those good IMP odds.
Sept. 23, 2012
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Fair enough Kevin. Let's examine the possible scenarios when I go down 2.

If my counterparts stop in 1NT and there are 7 tricks available, my loss is 200 + 90 = 290 = 7 IMPs instead of 6 IMPs (100 + 120 = 220) if I'm down 1.

If my counterparts are in 2NT (which they might well be) and there are 7 tricks available, they go down 1, so my loss is 200 - 100 = 100 = 3 IMPs instead of 6 IMPs if I'm down 1.

Thus, going down 2 will either cost me 1 additional IMP or save me 3 IMPs depending on whether the other table is in 1NT or 2NT.

Suppose I go down 3.

If 1NT at the other table, I lose 5 IMPs (-300 vs. -100).

If 2NT at the other table, I lose 3 IMPs (-300 vs. -200).

In both cases I do better than if I am going down 1.

Conclusion: After I bid 3NT, if I am told that it will not make on balance I would prefer if I had to go down 2 or 3 than down 1. The possibility of going down more than 1 helps my odds rather than hurting them, since the other table may be going minus also. It is the 1 trick set (which means the other table gets a plus score on my cards if they stop) which is most costly.

This is a common phenomenon. How often have you bid a bad slam, gone down, but breathed a big sigh of relief when you saw that the lie of the cards is so unfavorable that game won't make.

What about when I am doubled in 3NT (which, as we both know, is a low frequency occurrence). Well, sometimes they are wrong and 3NT doubled makes. Let's again suppose those wimps at the other table stop in 2NT and see what the odds look like:

3NT makes: +750 - 150 = +600 = 12 IMPs

3NT down 1: -200 - 120 = -320 = - 8 IMPs

So I'm still getting 12 to 8 odds – not as good as 10 to 6, but well above 50-50.

I'll grant that when the vulnerable game gets doubled and goes down more than 1, that is a little more costly. But it isn't nearly as bad as people think. To illustrate, suppose they stop at 1NT at the other table, and you bid 3NT and are doubled. Further, suppose that when 3NT goes down it goes down 2 tricks. Then:

3NT makes: +750 - 150 = +600 = 12 IMPs

3NT down 2: -500 -90 = -590 = 11 IMPs

So even on this assumption, and on the assumption that the other table is able to stop in 1NT (obviously you don't do as badly when the other table is in 2NT going down), you are still getting even money odds on bidding the vulnerable game.

Sept. 23, 2012
Kit Woolsey edited this comment Sept. 23, 2012
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I don't understand your point Kevin. If a vulnerable game makes, I do 10 IMPs better by bidding it than I would have done by not bidding it. If it goes down 1, I do 6 IMPs worse by bidding it than by not bidding it. This is true regardless of whether or not the game is bid at the other table. Thus, I am getting 10 to 6 odds in my favor when I bid the game.
Sept. 23, 2012
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In my view, the right way to think about a Precision 1 opening is that it really says nothing about diamonds. It is like opening a zero notrump bid with the range which isn't in your 1NT opening range (11-13 here, since 1NT opening is 14-16). It becomes 1-level Stayman, since partner bids a major at the 1-level if he has one. Yes, the hand might be unbalanced, and yes you might have 14 or 15 if you are unbalanced, but until proven otherwise partner assumes you have an 11-13 zero notrump opening.

Now look at South's rebid in this light. You have opened a zero notrump. West overcalled 1. Partner made a negative double, showing 4 hearts. If partner had 5 hearts he would have bid 2 in response to your zero notrump. This would be non-forcing, just in the same manner as the auction 1NT-(2)-2 is non-forcing. The negative double asks for the best description of your hand, in the context that you have already opened a zero notrump.

Given that, why would 2 in response to the negative double show both minors? You haven't even shown 1 minor. 2 is simply your best suit, on a hand where you thought it a more accurate description to bid a minor than to rebid your zero notrump.
Sept. 23, 2012
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The reason South redoubles rather than bidding 2NT is that he wants notrump played from the North side if North has any help in spades.

2NT would not allow partner to pass. The 2 call is game forcing. Stopping in 2NT on this sort of auction is losing bridge in the long run, even though it turns out right on this deal.
Sept. 23, 2012
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I have no objection to rebidding 1NT without a full stopper if that is the most natural bid. However, I don't think North should go out of his way to do so.

The argument that West didn't raise spades goes both ways. It might mean that the enemy spades are 6-2, which could make notrump even worse.

You complained about all the hoops that N-S had to go through to get to 3NT. I don't see what the problem is. N-S simply had a careful auction, aided by West's double, to try to get it played from North's side if North had a piece in spades and to avoid notrump if North had a singleton small spade, since South's auction clearly indicated that he had doubts about notrump. With the actual pair of hands there was never any danger of not reaching 3NT.

Suppose South had something like Jxx KQxx AQx AQx. Be honest now. If North rebid 1NT, would South even consider anything but 3NT? If South would really have to do something else just in case North has rebid 1NT on 10-doubleton, that is what I call going through hoops. However, after the 2 rebid there shouldn't be much difficulty getting to the good 4-3 heart game. Nobody will ever bid notrump. At some point one partner will suggest hearts as a possible strain, and the other will accept.

Suppose South has a weaker hand, something like xxx KQxx Qx Qxxx. He will pass the 1NT rebid, and watch the opponents rattle off 5 or 6 spades and 2 aces when cold for a club part-score. If North bids 2 South can pass, or go to 2 with the minors reversed.

I would agree with the 1NT rebid if North had a tripleton spade, particularly if North is 4-3-3-3. But with North's actual hand I see no reason to bid something North doesn't have when he can bid something he does have.
Sept. 22, 2012
Kit Woolsey edited this comment Sept. 22, 2012
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Oh how horrible! We reached a vulnerable 24-point game, getting those fat 10 to 6 IMP odds on making. And it happened to be a poor contract. We must be terrible bidders.

Well, I have news for you guys. Take a look at the most successful pairs, and you will see that they are routinely bidding 24-point vulnerable 3NT games and often making them. If the game goes down, they shrug their shoulders and go on to bid the next thin game. If the worst thing my team does in a match is to bid a game such as this, I guarantee you we would win the match. As Meckstroth says: They still pay that vulnerable game bonus, don't they.
Sept. 22, 2012
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I would surely NOT bid 3. East's hearts are so weak that a partial stopper in the West hand will not suffice. West does not figure to have a full stopper, since with a full stopper he probably would have either overcalled 2NT or bid 2NT over 2. Therefore, the hand belongs in diamonds, and the issue is whether or not to bid game. East should make this clear by bidding 4. Now West can look at his hand and make an intelligent and probably correct decision. On West's actual hand, passing would be easy. West knows he is off the first 2 heart tricks, and there will be trump promotion danger on the third round of hearts as well as a potential loser in one of the black suits. If East had all this covered, he would be bidding game himself.
Sept. 17, 2012
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As I discussed, I think that North should have rebid 2, not 2. But that is only because North has 5 clubs. I believe North should rebid 2 on virtually any 6-4 hand unless the hearts are extremely weak compared to the clubs. Keep in mind that this is a Precision structure. North doesn't have that 16 or 17 point 6-4 hand with which 2 followed by 3 would be right in Standard. North doesn't know this is a slam hand at this point. From North's point of view, it is a part-score hand or a question of getting to the best game. If South has something like AQxxx xx xxx Kxx, South will not take a false preference to 2 over 2. South will pass, knowing that there is no game and expecting that clubs will be at least as good a trump suit as hearts, maybe better since opener might be 5-5. Also, knowledge of the sixth heart may be what South needs to make a move towards game. Major suits are where the games are.

So, from South's point of view North could easily have something like x AJ10xx Ax KQxx in which case slam will be pretty good. North will know if he has the right cards when South makes the slam move. If North accepts, slam doesn't figure to be any worse than a finesse and it might be a lot better.
Sept. 16, 2012
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Maybe you are right, since East happens to hold the king of hearts and the queen of diamonds. But South doesn't know that East holds these cards. More important, whether it is reasonable or not for East to cover, the fact of the matter is that East did cover at the table.

You may not agree, but I believe that just about any good player would cover with king-doubleton. It is more a psychological matter than anything else. Covering doesn't appear to be an error, since everybody “knows” that declarer will finesse if he has AJxxx as that is the percentage play by a lot. However, if declarer should happen to have A9xx, impossible or not, then failing to cover would be a huge error, giving away a no-play contract. Players just aren't going to take that kind of risk.
Sept. 15, 2012
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It is great to hear things from the operator's point of view. While I have done my fair share of commentating, I have never tried being a VG operator. Even with my bridge knowledge, experience, and familiarity with computers, I think I would find it very difficult to do competently.

It is true as Debbie says that I tend to trust what I see on the vu-graph, even when it might seem strange. This may lead me to criticize a play which was never made. So be it. If a bid or play appears to me to be truly unlikely I will try to check with the operator to see if it really happened. However, strange things do happen at the bridge table, even among experts. Also, sometimes the expert outplays the commentator who can see all four hands. I have seen plays which appeared to me to be so absurd that I thought they must have been an operator error, yet upon close analysis these plays were not absurd at all – they were the correct plays!

Here are a couple of suggestions which I think might help:

When the operator loses track of things, as simple ltp (lost the play) typed to the commentators and kibitzers (which would take only a couple of seconds) would be of big help. It is frustrating to sit and watch what appears to be a huddle by a player over a play which looks trivial, when in fact what has happened is that the operator made a mistake or failed to see some cards and is unable to recover. When that happens, the operator can do nothing more than wait for the hand to be completed so he can get the number of tricks taken. If the audience is informed that this is what happened, the commentator can now concentrate on forecasting how the play is likely to go (which a good commentator will get right most of the time), which will be a big help to the audience.

Also, I think it would be a good idea if the operator were shielded from private chats from the kibitzers, with the exception of the commentators. As a commentator I don't mind fielding private chats from kibitzers and I attempt to respond to them if there is time to do so. However, these can only be a distraction to the operator who must focus on the play. However, if the operator does make a mistake, there is a good chance that a commentator will guess correctly that a mistake has been made and tell the operator via a private chat in time for the mistake to be corrected. Perhaps this is already done. It shouldn't be difficult to put into the program, I wouldn't think.

There is no question that the quality of the VG operators for the Buffet cup was not as high a quality as we have seen for other events. I don't know where the operators came from, but perhaps it is worthwhile for a sponsor to shell out a few dollars to get the best operators for an event such as this.

As for the commentary, my personal preference is the typed commentary to the audio. I find it difficult to coordinate with another commentator so we aren't both talking at the same time. With the text commentary, this is not a problem of course. Also I am a very fast typist (at least I got something of value from my high school education), and I find I can analyze better when I am typing than when I am thinking. Other commentators prefer the audio. Which is fine. Having both is good, and the members of the audience can see/hear either or both as is their preference.
Sept. 14, 2012
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Partner's 1 response is unlimited. He could have a very strong hand. 1 is forcing, just as it is in Standard.
Sept. 9, 2012
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Thanks for catching the typo. It has been corrected.
Sept. 8, 2012
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After the auction is completed, if our side is the declaring side and I think there is any possibility that we have had a mixup I will pass the written notes I have given my screenmate under the screen to be seen by my screenmate's partner. Since dummy is out of the picture once the auction is completed, there can be no issue of unauthorized information from doing this. I don't know if this is “legal” in the WBF, but I would do it anyway and I would think that my opponents would welcome knowing what has happened so we can have the result properly decided at the bridge table instead of by a committee if at all possible.

When this hand occurred it was pretty clear that there was a mixup, and the opponents were informed what both of us had thought. So there was no damage to the opponents due to mis-information since they clearly wouldn't have bid differently.
Sept. 5, 2012
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If partner were 4-4-1-4 with a stiff small diamond, he would not be jumping to 3NT regardless of his strength. The jump to 3NT shows a notrump oriented hand as well as the specific strength. He would want to make it as easy as possible for me to show a 4-card major.
Sept. 5, 2012
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Had I received a club lead, I would have gone up ace of clubs and relied on the heart finesse unless at the table I picked up that West was underleading the king of clubs. So yes, a club lead probably would have defeated the contract.

While the club lead would have been successful this time, I do not think it is a good lead. The auction was clearly hit or miss, and for all West knows the club lead may be the only way to allow the contract to make. Since the jump to 6C was apparently based on a mis-interpretation of South's auction, North might not have the strong club suit that he has.
Sept. 5, 2012
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Maybe that's what he “should” have. But one could argue just as easily that he can't have that hand since with it he certainly “should” have bid 3 instead of 3NT. That's the whole point of the problem. There is no hand partner can have which is consistent with his sequence given the partnership agreements of the meanings of the bids. Something has gone wrong, and it is your job to make the call which is likely to be the best recovery taking into account your hand and the information you have available. One must be practical. You want to win at the table, not in the post-mortem.
Sept. 4, 2012
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No, I do not agree. The opponents would be in 2 of a major if North had a 5-card major. If they want to flounder around in the hope of finding a 4-4 major-suit fit which they might not have, they are welcome to do so. Bidding 2 gets them out of 1NT which they are probably making and perhaps pushing them into something which goes down.
Aug. 26, 2012
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I do not think that a pair can hide behind the “no agreement” excuse when somebody makes a conventional bid. It is clear that in the mind of the 2 caller the agreement was that it was a transfer, as otherwise he would be nuts to make the call. Therefore, unless there is definite evidence to the contrary, which there isn't, the assumption is that their agreement is that it is a transfer.

The committee blew this one big time. Saying that North caused his own problems by failing to double 2 is nonsense. For all he knew the 1NT opener had interpreted 2 as natural (which is indicated by the failure to alert 2), and doubling would save the opponents from an accident. The director made the correct ruling, with a reasonable adjudication.

I also do not agree that the 2 bidder has no obligations. As discussed, in his mind the call was a transfer to clubs. Therefore, once the auction is concluded and before the opening lead is made, since his side is the declaring side it is his responsibility to inform the opponents that there was a failure to alert his 2 call. This will protect the opponents from damage during the play, and the director may do other things such as allow the final pass to be retracted if so desired (I'm not sure exactly what can legally be done along these lines, but that is the director's job to know that).

If it is true that the 2 bidder made a mistake and they really aren't playing transfers, then it is correct that he should not say anything. However, the burden of proof would fall on the E-W pair to demonstrate (via their partnership notes) that the 2 call was a mistake. Their say-so is not sufficient – that is just self-serving.

How should this have been handled? The 1NT opener should have alerted the 2 call. When asked, he should say something like: Had there been no interference, 2 would be a transfer to clubs. However, we have not discussed what we play over the 2 call showing both majors. This would be a full and accurate description of their agreements, and everybody would be on a level playing field. If more players would understand this, there would be far fewer committees needed.
Aug. 25, 2012

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