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All comments by Liam Milne
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I love bridge enough to have made it my living. Why would I not play for fun, as well as for a crust?

I played professionally for part of the NABC in Toronto and had a bunch of work lined up in Sydney for when I got back. In between, I played a 3-day Australian event with some of my closest friends and had a blast. It would've been crazy not to!
Aug. 16
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Nice hand! You beat me to the punch :) I heard about this hand in Toronto and likewise thought it was fantastic.

I gave it to Bart Bramley at the baseball game the day after I heard about it. After about 10 minutes I said, alright, I'll let you have it. “No, let me work it out. I'll get there.” A minute later he had the solution. Better than I did when given to me!
Aug. 3
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Not wrong at all. You are right that East could have played K at trick one which would certainly have woken West up.
July 18
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Having thought a bit more about this, I'm inclined to agree and have updated the article accordingly. The win cases for ducking are pretty easy to spot, and I'm not sure there are many loss cases at all if the defence plays well. Good eye.
July 18
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Well, I do think West should have switched. East's underlead of the diamond is the clue. This layout is very findable given that Q with declarer makes 4 likely cold.

I think this hand is very interesting from a defensive point of view as well. It's often hard for the defence to appreciate declarer's problem - so often it is right (and hard enough!) just to work out what is going on. But on this type of hand, how the defence plays and what they discard often swings declarer's decision.

IF East held xxx and Qxxx, for example, they should definitely pitch a club at the end to lure declarer into trying to drop the Q. And the same goes for other layouts where the defence can try to mislead declarer as to the true layout. East might have pitched a heart on the actual hand, for example.

I didn't consider a possible heart shift from West, only a club. Hearts are obviously riskier but declarer is unlikely to play the defence to underlead the Q unless they are really desperate. Interesting idea!
July 18
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Thanks Peter. I think I agree with you.
July 18
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It is truly one of the best books on defence - and bridge in general. I really love this book! Good luck Johnno
Feb. 8
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Hi Tom. Actually, no - this came up at the table with no tempo issues. I thought 4 was clear, but it didn't work this time. Some of my peers thought pass was clear. Hence the post.
Feb. 5
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And thank you, David, for your kind words.
Jan. 31
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You're right. So declarer must judge whether the chances of a mis-defence are worth a moderately decreased chance of success in the club suit.
Jan. 31
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Hi Kevin, you're right - I didn't analyse that variation. Declarer is definitely down if East ruffs immediately and continues with hearts, ruffed. But As Steve pointed out, pitching (a diamond) saves the day. Nice find.

I've often found in these hands where something cool happens, that on a different variation, usually a different cool thing happens. Another example!
Jan. 31
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Thanks, Steve.

When clubs are Q-x-x either side (30% each side, a priori, assuming clubs are 3-2), you are correct that the only way to make the hand double-dummy will be by taking a finesse. Declarer wasn't happy to do this, seeing as guessing which way to hook was still inferior to simply playing for the drop (~40%).

The part I most liked about the line chosen was that it picked up Q-x, but preserved significant chances of a misdefence if the Queen didn't come down - as happened at the table.

If West had held Q86 (and give East the 2), there would still have been opportunities for the defence to fall from grace. Imagine declarer takes the indicated line, but on the third round of clubs, dummy gets over-ruffed by East's Ace. East must continue the heart tap, and South wins and starts running clubs through West.

West, down to J3 10 J103, has only one winning defence: to discard exactly two diamonds before ruffing the fifth round of clubs, forcing declarer to either draw all the trumps (and have East win the rest with hearts) or suffer a diamond ruff. Even double-dummy this is not completely obvious defence!
Jan. 30
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I'm flattered, Barry :)
Jan. 30
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My pleasure, Rowland!
Jan. 30
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Thanks, Okan.
Jan. 30
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Thanks for your very kind words, Marshall!
Jan. 30
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And perhaps just as importantly, it would help to eliminate the appearance of wires as well.

You can't stop someone who is determined to steal your bike, but you stop the opportunists by putting a bike lock on. And you can't stop people who are determined to cheat at bridge, but you can stop people accidentally seeing a score-sheet then being tempted to use the info later (the ‘opportunistic bike thief’).

At least with your proposed solution, if you do run into a wire near the end of an event, you could be fairly sure that it was pre-determined effort rather than someone flashing their scores around.
Dec. 15, 2016
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I read the e-book version of Battling the Best before the paperback became available. It was so good that I will be buying the paperback version as well.

Sartaj has carefully chosen some of the most exciting and instructive hands of his recent bridge career. The book spans several themes, so every player will find something here to make them think - and maybe even use in their own game.

In addition, Battling the Best does an excellent job of capturing the atmosphere of a top bridge tournament. Whether you are a bridge enthusiast or a world-class expert, you will find Sartaj's takes on psychology, momentum and table feel thought-provoking and refreshing.

I would recommend Sartaj's book to anyone who loves bridge.
Nov. 21, 2016
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I thought for about 3 minutes and still hadn't worked out what to think about.
Nov. 8, 2016
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I wish I could take credit for it, but the solution was spotted and pointed out to me by Nabil Edgtton - not bad for a guy who plays one tournament a year or thereabouts :)
Nov. 2, 2016
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