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All comments by Kit Woolsey
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I didn't realize that Ron. That makes sense. But as I read the report, it said:

The committee felt there was not much substance to the appeal but didn’t think an AWMW was warranted.

That would seem to imply that the appellants really didn't have a case. Considering that I disagree with the ruling itself, and even if I'm wrong there is certainly plenty to think about, I believe that saying there was not much substance to the appeal is very misleading. There was clear UI. It takes quite a bit of analysis to come to a conclusion about whether the hesitation suggested the diamond shift, whether the diamond shift was clear or not, and whether declarer should have easily made the hand anyway. Members of Bridgewinners are having plenty of debates on these issues. I would bet that the committee members didn't come to an instant decision on the ruling. So, to even imply that the appeal doesn't have much substance seems to me to be way out of line.
May 17, 2012
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I don't see why signaling isn't a bridge play. Suppose partner leads a diamond, and you can see that he will follow your signal – if you encourage he will continue, if you discourage he will shift to a club. Why should you not be permitted to take the time to work out which defense is best? This is in effect no different from if you were on lead trying to determine whether it is better to lead a diamond or a club.

Of course if you do take time to give a signal there is UI. And if partner doesn't follow your signal, he better be making a 100% play. This is why I disagree with the ruling of the committee. But a player should always be permitted to think if he has something to think about.
May 17, 2012
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I am very glad to hear that Ron. The committee focused on the right things. I happen to disagree with the conclusion that that the UI couldn't have caused East not to continue hearts, but that isn't important – differences of opinions make horse races and committee decisions. What is important is that the committee sticks to the relevant issues, which apparently it did.

Incidentally, that concept that this appeal (or any of the 3 appeals from the trials) is without merit is ridiculous. An appeal without merit should be just that – one where the ruling is blatantly obviously correct. The fact that there is any debate at all about the rulings is itself sufficient to demonstrate that the appeals have merit.
May 17, 2012
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I do not agree that East is making a grand slam try. He is the limited hand. His 5 call simply says that he is accepting partner's slam try, and that he has first round heart control in case his partner is interested in a grand. There is no reason why his first round control should be a void rather than the ace. Sorry, but my conclusion hasn't changed one iota.

May 17, 2012
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I don't see why it is so clear that East wouldn't continue hearts. From East's point of view his partner could have J10xx of hearts (the argument that North would never open an 11-count is nonsense – anybody might open an 11-count), in which case the heart continuation is the only way to beat the hand legitimately. Thus, the heart continuation is a very logical alternative to the diamond shift.

Does the unauthorized information suggest the diamond shift? It certainly does. If West had J10xx of hearts, there would have been no problem playing the 3 of hearts. The slow 3 of hearts suggests that this isn't West's hand, so it does suggest the diamond shift.


Thus, assuming the facts about the unauthorized information are accurate (and apparently this wasn't disputed), it seems clear to me that the diamond shift should not be allowed. I think the committee was completely wrong on this one.
May 17, 2012
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I was one of the players polled on site. Bidding 6 wasn't even on my radar with either explanation of the 3 call. Why should I hand over what is likely 800 or 1100 on a hand where I would guess that slam is down more often than it makes. Furthermore, if my teammates don't bid the slam, which is quite likely, then the odds on taking the save become terrible. Assume we go for 800 and slam isn't bid at the other table. If I am right we lose 5 IMPs (800 vs. 620) instead of losing 13 IMPs for an 8 IMP swing. If I am wrong we lose the same 5 IMPs instead of gaining 12 IMPs for an 17 IMP swing. Laying what might be 17 to 8 odds that slam is making is a bad bet.

As for the chance that the 6 will stampede the opponents into a grand, I would estimate that at zero. The opponents have no idea what they have to begin with, and they are short on high cards. They simply aren't going to bid a grand. The actual hand is a good illustration. West doubled rather than making a forcing pass. And if West had made a forcing pass, do you think that East would have bid the grand? No way. Both opponents are doubling.

I will grant that without the proper explanation bidding 6 becomes more attractive (or, to be more accurate, less unattractive). Perhaps it turns the call from a 10% action to a 20% action. I don't know what the proper threshold is for the mis-information to make a difference, but it feels like it should be higher than that.
May 16, 2012
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South's first double is clear. He fully expects to defeat 5 or 5, and N-S may be making 4. Pass would not be forcing. North might have 5 small spades and nothing else.

South clearly thinks he can also defeat 5 when he doubles 5 – after all, South did open 1NT. The double of 5 creates a force. If North has a yarb with 5 small spades it is his job to double 5. Therefore, his pass says that he is willing to compete to 5. He should not double in front of South, since South might have only defense.

Once North passes, doubling 5 by South is definitely wrong. He has aces in RHO's suits rather than secondary junk. He also has a good spade fit. whether he should bid 5 or 6 is anybody's guess. On this deal 6 is the winner, but North would have bid the same way with the queen of diamonds instead of the king or with 6-4 shape instead of 6-5 shape, and then 6 would have no chance.
May 13, 2012
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While I did bid 3 at the table, I no longer think it is a percentage action (obviously I did at the time or I wouldn't have made the call). But I do believe it is a close decision, so don't worry – I'll still be out there.
May 12, 2012
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While nothing is perfect, here is an idea which will get rid of the ridiculous appeals while still having committees rule on appeals which have some merit:

Have the director (or directing staff) determine whether the appeal has any merit. If they judge that it does not, the ball stops there – the ruling stands, no further appeal. If they judge that there is some merit, even a tiny amount, the the committee hears the appeal.

I believe that our better directors can make this decision accurately. Of course they might discuss the situation with experts if there is possible bridge judgment involved, as the do now. As long as the director isn't pigheaded and blindly convinced his ruling is right (and I don't think most directors are that way), when the director does conclude that the appeal really has no merit it will almost certainly be the case that the appeal has no merit.
May 11, 2012
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My point is that bidding 4 is not a “conservative” action as far as risk-taking goes. It is just as risky as moving towards slam. Anything he does risks a 13 IMP loss if wrong. Bidding 4 and being wrong is just as likely to lose 13 IMPs as moving towards slam and being wrong. This is a very common misconception
May 9, 2012
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No, West also splits, and when he wins his spade trick he gives East his heart trick. The defense 2 tricks before declarer gets 12.
May 9, 2012
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I don't think it is quite so simple. Suppose East splits, and Zia wins the ace of hearts and plays back the jack of hearts. If West wins this trick then yes, East gets squeezed. But suppose East ducks the jack of hearts. Now the count can't be corrected, since if Zia ducks a spade West has a third heart. Zia can still make by playing a spade to the ace, cashing the diamond, club to the queen, and throwing East in with the heart if East hasn't discarded a club. But Zia better read the position right – East might have started with 6 hearts and the clubs 3-3 all along.

A better play would be to duck if East splits. Assuming the queen of spades is singleton, East will be end-played. A club shift gives Zia the whole club suit, and a heart continuation lets Zia finesse and the heart-club squeeze now succeeds.

Both of these lines of play depend on East actually having the KQ of hearts when he splits. If East is clever enough to “split” without both honors, Zia might be going down in a cold contract when the clubs were 3-3 all along.

In addition, the squeeze is successful only if East has at least 5 hearts. If the hearts are 4-4 both defenders can guard hearts, and there can't be a squeeze.

The alternative of ruffing the third round of clubs in dummy gains when East has a doubleton club, although admittedly this isn't likely if the queen of spades is singleton. Otherwise, Zia would have to decide whether to ruff high on the third round of clubs, with ruffing high working if diamonds are 3-3 but ruffing low working if clubs are 3-3. If declarer judges that East would forget to falsecard with the jack of clubs if East started with Jxxx, then when the jack appears he could believe it and ruff small – otherwise ruffing high. Of course East should find this falsecard some percentage of the time, but many would fail to do so.

All things considered, I have no idea if Zia took the percentage line or not. I was one of the commentators, and I admit I did not consider his approach.
May 9, 2012
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Why do we know that partner can't have Kxxx KQx KJ QJxx. Perhaps the problem has is whether he should bid 2NT (which I believe they play as forcing) or 3NT, when 3NT maybe shows extras (or maybe it doesn't). In fact, if I had to guess I would guess that is the problem partner is having. He surely doesn't have 5 spades (unless that's what the 3NT call shows), since he could have taken a slower approach to get a 3S preference from me.
May 9, 2012
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Of course they do. But I'm sure there is no such agreement. My partner and I play multi, and we have no such agreement. The partner of the multi bidder is in complete control. The multi bidder just follow instructions.
May 9, 2012
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I do not agree that if asked what “pass” meant that the 2 bidder would say: “length in diamonds”. The pass is not a descriptive bid. The partner of the 2 opener is captain. All that can be inferred from the pass is that, for whatever reason, the partner of the 2 bidder judged that pass was his best action. It does not say anything specific about his diamond length or his hand.

If South chooses to pass 2 for whatever reason (including a read of the opponents) on whatever hand, that is entirely his business. There is nothing remotely unethical about it. He simply took what he judged to be the winning action.
May 8, 2012
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I do not agree with Andrew's statement that Meckstroth bid 4 in order to avoid a swing. How does he know that slam won't be reached in the other room, which would make signing off the swinging action. He simply thought it was the best bid.

Many experts live in fear of the 5-level, since going down in 5 of a major looks so bad. However, going down in 5 of a major is no more costly then missing a making slam or getting to slam down 1. The East hand simply has to make a judgment as to which is more likely – slam making or 5 down 1.

If the East hand does make a slam try, it doesn't matter much which move he makes. West either likes his hand or he doesn't. There should be some partnership agreement about what East's bids mean – what is RKC for hearts, what is RKC for spades, what is just a slam try.

At the other table, the final grand call was badly judged. If there were a grand, West would have bid 6 rather than 6.
May 8, 2012
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If South did alert the 3NT call (which indicates that he did interpret it as showing 5 spades), and if they were able to produce notes showing that this was the partnership agreement, then I don't see what the issue is. Passing 3NT would not be anything resembling a bridge bid. Whether South should bid 4 or 4 of something else might be debated, but he definitely shouldn't pass. Therefore, South was simply bidding his cards. Pass isn't remotely a logical alternative, and there should be no adjustment.

Even if it weren't clear that this is the partnership agreement (say South didn't alert this until after the fact), it still isn't clear to me that there should be an adjustment. Suppose you held the South hand, heard the bidding go as it did (along with the hesitation), and the rules were changed so that you were permitted to take advantage of any unauthorized information. What would you do? It isn't at all clear to me. Thus, it isn't obvious that the unauthorized information even suggests bidding 4. And in fact it didn't, since responder had only 4 spades.

Suppose the action had been the same (including the huddle), but South passed 3NT. This time North has 5 spades, but a bad split dooms 4. Might not a committee now decide that the huddle (along with the partnership agreement) suggests passing, and that South should be required to bid 4? It can't go both ways.

For the record, North happened to have Ax of hearts and AKJ of clubs. If it had been the other way around North probably would have made the same 6 call, and now the slam wouldn't have made while 3NT would have been the winning contract.
May 7, 2012
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Nice concept Joe. However, you don't say much about what happens after the Grue 3 bid, particularly when the 3 bidder has a real club suit as opposed to just trying to get to 3NT. If his partner bids 3NT it is easy, of course – he just bids 4 and nature takes its course. But what if his partner is unable to bid 3NT?

What I would suggest is that if the partner of the 3 bidder is unable to bid 3NT, he bids as though the 3 bidder has made a natural club call. Thus, he bids 4 as a club raise (not showing a club suit). His other calls are as natural as possible, but deny club support. This way the 3 bidder will be better placed to continue the auction sensibly.
April 26, 2012
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While everybody's calculations are correct, I think a more interesting question is: How might one come up with the answer at the table. Unless you are a whiz at mental arithmetic, you need a methodology to get a decent estimate. Here is how I would tackle the problem.

What is the chance of 7-2-2-2 vs. one of the 6-3-2-2 shapes? I don't know, but clearly it is pretty small, since 7-2-2-2 distribution is a lot less likely than 6-3-2-2. I'll give it a 10% estimate, leaving 90% for the 6-3-2-2's.

Assuming 6-3-2-2, how often will the tripleton be in hearts? Obviously less than 1/3 of the time due to your heart length, but how much less? Ratio of 35, 35, 30? No, it feels like the bias will be greater than that. Ratio of 40, 40, 20? No, that feels like it is overemphasizing the bias. So, somewhere in-between. Take a guess at 25%, midway between 20 and 30. If that is right, then the answer would be 25% X 90% or a little less than 23%.

As it turns out, my estimate was off by about 1%, which isn't surprising. One needs to do the detailed calculations to get the precise answer. However, this does illustrate that with the proper methodology and sensible seat-of-the-pants estimates one can get in the ballpark pretty well.
April 24, 2012
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I cannot imagine any hand where an opening 1NT bidder would correct a natural 4 call to 4. Even with 5 spades and 2 hearts, it would be an automatic pass.

So, what is the interpretation of the “impossible” 4 call. As I see it, there are 3 possibilities:

1) Partner thought 4 was a transfer.
2) Partner did something weird (perhaps mis-sorting his hand), and that is the reason for the correction to 4.
3) Partner really likes his hand for hearts, and decided to risk a 4 Q-bid.

while 1) is probably most likely, responder isn't allowed to make that assumption after the alert unless it is the only conceivable interpretation. Between 2) and 3), I would consider 3) far more likely. That is at least a bridge reason for the call, even if improbable and perhaps wrong, rather than a mechanical error.

If partner's 4 call is a Q-bid slam try, then South is certainly making the correct bridge bid by signing off at 5. Therefore, I believe that call is justified even with the unauthorized information. 5 is South's proper bridge bid. Passing 4 is not.

Once North bids 6, it is clear that the wheels have come off in some way. Clearly South is justified in passing this.

Thus, there should be no adjustment.
April 24, 2012
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