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All comments by Marc Zwerling
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Ben,
Not wanting to concede a trick on the go, I too was attracted to the passive club lead. But, the fact that I had most of our sides assets caused me to worry about the end play threat. In retrospect, the actual layout breathes life into that concern and provides support for Oren’s recommended S lead.

Are you sure that after a C lead you can beat the hand either the ‘old fashioned way’ or even double dummy? Assume that Declarer wins the C lead and plays 3 more rounds of Cs. What do you discard and what is your plan?
June 5
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Hey Dave,

As I noted, my reply was not intended to be responsive to MR's ask - Rather, I just wanted to respond to what I took as an inquiry that up to that point was being ignored. That acknowledged, here's my response to MR's ask.

For the following reasons, I would play the junior for abandoning clubs early:

First, I generally don't get involved in poker games at bridge. So, I am not about to delve into the psychology of junior's discards. Was his initial club pitch intended to persuade me he had long clubs, or was it a double-think hoping I would suspect he had short clubs because on its face the discard would suggest long clubs. Or was it a triple think. As a general matter I find I gain little from that type of gamesmanship endeavor. Similarly - and I think Kit was joking - I am pretty sure junior was concerned about beating the slam and not about the beer card.

Second, based on MR's description of the players, I expect from early on junior saw that I had 5H, from the auction he inferred that I likely had 4S, and he was focused on what he needed to do about the minor suits. By the time his partner switched to the S 10, I expect junior was sure I was 4=5 in the majors and likely held 2=2 in the minors. He also knew his pair had both of the minor suit Queens and he either knew or assumed that declarer did not have a finessing position in the minors. So, by that time, I could not rely on juniors carding. It could could all safely be aimed at me.

Third, if I were playing with junior, I would be eager to communicate what minor suit I was planning to hold. I don't know for sure that junior would receive my message but I think he would be watching. So the order of my play when I followed up the line to hearts would have been intentional with the hope that junior would play me for either club high cards or length. Of course the same information would be available to declarer, but I think it a greater danger is that without help junior would err as compared to declarer correctly reading my carding in a way that actually made a difference.

So, I am playing junior for 4=2=4=3 by cashing the Club Ace and playing spades. Unless either my spade or dummy's club becomes good, I look to score the last three tricks in diamonds. Either way I plan to speak with junior later to find out what he was thinking and to wish hm good luck

By the way, I think I owe you and Anne a dinner. When can I pay off?
March 28
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Bill,

It seems to me that if you assume RHO has 4S and is 4-3 or 3-4 in the minors, 6N was cold with no further assumptions or guesses required. Here's how:

Don't cash the minor suit Aces. Instead play the fifth heart and pitch dummy's second spade. At that point, RHO will have had to make 3 discards on the hearts - the two minors he already pitched and one more. If he choses a spade, your spades are high. If he pitches a third minor, you cash the K and A of that minor and then the balance of your high spades. Everyone will now be down to 3 cards; one of RHO's must be a high spade and one of LHO's must be a high card in the minor RHO abandoned . After LHO plays, Dummy pitches its now useless card in the suit of RHO's last discard. So Dummy's remaining Kxx in a minor opposite declarer's Ax must be running…..Of course MR stipulated no critiquing the play so far, so this comment is not responsive to the ask.
March 28
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Hendrik

Here there seems little question that North's balk communicated unauthorized information to her partner and that the unauthorized information suggested South bid 4H on her second opportunity. Assuming you agree, the proper ruling appears to hinge on the two questions That follow:

First, as applied to this rather unusual situation is this the applicable rule: Would it be illogical for a regional quality player playing in a moderately practiced partnership who was sufficiently concerned about four black losers that she passed the first time to again pass after the 3S balance?

Second, if that is the applicable rule, how should a committee decide the case?

I would welcome your thoughts.

The Directors ruling raises an additional question. In the absence of either a relevant poll of comparable players or some other probationers evidence that passing 3H the second time around would be illogical, should the Directos simply make their best call, or should they routinely rule in favor of the innocent side. For the practical reasons described below, the answer to question is significant.

Although I was involved neither in any of the questionable calls nor in summoning the Director, I thought doing so was appropriate. However, given the desparity in strength between the two teams, neither I nor anyone on my team (nor I suspect anyone on the other team) was willing to accept the disruption and likely ill feelings that would have inevitably have occurred had we insisted on a committee that would have had to be held immediately before the next match. So, whatever appeal rights either side may have had, the Directors ruling was likely to be - and was - determinative.

Again, I would appreciate your view.
Oct. 14, 2017
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Hendrik
I agree with your comment about the 3S bid. Also, once the hesitators partner bid 4H, I am critical of overcallers failure to bid 4S. With those acknowledgement, what impact if any do you think those bidding decisions should have had on the ruling?
Oct. 14, 2017
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Thanks for your thoughts. Here's the rest of the story.

The Director allowed the bid after consulting the other available Directos including one of our leading national Directors. The reason given was that bidding 4H was clear notwithstanding the fact that South bid 3H only at her first opportunity. No appeal was taken despite the fact that with no adjustment, North-South won he match by 2 imps; it just didn't seem worth the bother to East-West.

Although it never factored into the decision, perhaps Wests holding was relevant. After further query, I have learn that his hand was slightly different from what I reported about ve. He held AK10654, 5, 10832 and 96. So perhaps his failure to bid 4S was culpable. 4S Xed goes for either 100 or 300.
Oct. 10, 2017
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Yes, you are correct. The initial hand given is South's. She bid 4H the second time around. The issue is should the Director allow the 4H bid to stand. I am sorry I didn't make this clearer in the post.
Oct. 6, 2017
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Michael,

I don’t plan to revisit all of Jonathan’s comments but here is one example: In an August 19 post about Mark, Jonathan commented to describe what he claimed were “very clear” facts “even if not published and no hearing has been held” and then characterized Mark’s actions as an “ethical infraction” that Jonathan thought was “relatively minor” because it was “a crime of opportunity in the heat of the moment.”

This was a false statement - as reported in my post, the EOC dismissed all charges of ethical violations against each of the charged parties – and it was disparaging per se. Moreover, the gratuitous statement was particularly egregious for the following reasons:
- Jonathan knew that a hearing was pending before the EOC and that no decision had as yet been rendered. He must also have known that the publicity he generated was likely to influence the proceedings to Mark’s detriment and that with the case pending Mark would be reluctant to publically respond.
- As a former member of both the board of Directors and the Appeals and Charges Committee, Jonathan must have been aware that CDR 3.4 sanctions “accusations of unethical bridge conduct at an ACBL sanctioned event, not made privately to a tournament director or other tournament official.” As a sophisticated person, Jonathan was undoubtedly also aware of the laws relating to liable.
- Jonathan published his statement on Bridge Winners during a blizzard of interest about the Denver controversy that included other false and disparaging comments. Plainly he intended that his former positions with the ACBL would bolster his credibility among the Bridge Winners readers and thus cause maximum impact.
- Jonathan’s comment was one of a series that he published about the Denver incident that continued despite another comment in the same August thread that cautioned him about trafficking in gossip.

In fairness, Michael, I want to acknowledge that in some of his posts Jonathan went out of his way to distinguish what his posts claimed Mark did from collusive cheating. Also, Jonathan was nowhere near the worst offender on Bridge Winners. But, when Jonathan says, as he did today, “I certainly don’t believe I have posted any false factual claims” or “I am making no charges against any of the players involved,” the only rejoinder that comes to my mind is “Oh really?”
Jan. 18, 2017
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Jonathan,
Generally, I take no issue with people being skeptical. I just wish you had been more skeptical of all the false factual claims you posted about this case based on undisclosed, biased sources. All the while you knew that this matter was being aggressively pursued and all sides would get a fair hearing before the EOC. And, I wish you were a little less skeptical of the EOC's informed finding that none of the charged parties had “engaged in a deliberate effort to claim Victory Points they had not properly earned.”
Jan. 17, 2017
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McKenzie, you have perceptively smoked out that there is more to Wolfe's story. So here it is:

Less that an hour after incident Wolfe reported, he and I had a second interaction with Mark. This one demonstrated both Mark's unusual respect for the game and his kindness.

Going into the last session of the Imp Pairs, Wolfe and I were leading. To avoid getting caught up in the excitement, we agreed not to look at the results during the last session that were being reported Barometer style. When we finished the last board, we were hopeful - With the exception of the hand on which Mark’s daring bid defeated our 3Nt , and one other board where a mechanical error turned a huge gain into a significant loss, we had done well. For sure we thought we were in contention for a medal, perhaps even gold. For the first time that day we went over to check the Barometer screen. To our dismay, the directors’ computer had temporarily crashed; neither the last 3 rounds nor the prior standings were available. It was at this point that Mark noticed our manifest anxiety and came rushing over.

Now it is important to understand that neither Wolfe nor I had previously been especially friendly with Mark. Although over the years we had occasionally played against him, neither of us had ever played either with him or on one of his teams. Prior to Philadelphia, I don’t recall ever having socialized with him away from the table. So what was it that Mark wanted? At the time I thought probably he had had a big session and was trying to figure out where he had finished.

The first thing I remember Mark asking was “How were your last couple of rounds.” I told him they were OK - probably small gains on each board - but nothing special. Mark asked if he could see my scorecard. I gave it to him and he immediately left. That seemed strange to me but maybe 5 minutes later he came back with a huge smile on his face. I was sure he had won.

Well, he hadn’t; Mark’s last two rounds had been poor and he had slipped down the overalls to 14th. But rather than feeling glum, Mark was ecstatic; he patted us both on the back and said, “I can’t be sure, but I am pretty sure you guys won. Congratulations, I am so happy for you.” He reached out his arm to shake my hand, but then quickly pulled it back. “I don’t want to jinx you.” Wolfe and I were simultaneously startled by what Mark told us and taken aback by his attitude. Can you imagine at a moment when this bridge professional and his partner had to be feeling deeply disappointed, Mark had the sportsmanship and good will to reach out and be delighted for two guys he hardly knew?

Yes, I may have been shocked by Mark’s attitude then but I’m not now. Having spent much time over the last year working on this case with Mark and his charming and always insightful wife Sally, I have come to understand that Mark was not doing anything special; he was just showing the person he is.
Jan. 17, 2017
Marc Zwerling edited this comment Jan. 17, 2017
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Phil,

Actually, what I suggest - and have played with good success for quite a while - is to have all 3 level bids show specific, good 2 suiters along the lines of Pin Point Astro [3H shows majors and 3S S and D; With the blacks, we couble 1N and to have all 3 level worthy 1 suiters start with 2N. The benefit of the 3 level bids is obvious; partner gets to choose how high to bid before opener gets to express his opinion, and the fact that 3m is non-forcing puts quite a bit of pressure on the opponents. A collateral benefit is that overcaller can show a 2 suiter at the 2 level more aggressively because partner will not stretch to raise.

Using 2N to show a 3 level worthy one suiter has pluses and minuses. On the plus side is that against a strong N, 3C by advancer can ask for a transfer to overcaller's suit . On those hands where game is in the picture, having 4th chair be declarer can often make the difference between going plus or minus. . Leaving games aside, the net effect of delaying identifying the suit when holding a 3 level worthy one suiter has not proved clear to us. Since the 1 suiter is on lead, he will likely know what to do if the opponents bid 3N before he gets to clarify. Also, not knowing what our suit is can prove awkward for the opponents. On the other hand, if partner has a good fit and some distribution, our side might wind up defending 3N when we have a good save. As far as the increased preemptive of bidding naturally beyond 2N, we have found that to be largely a negative. I know that view is contrary to conventional wisdom, but our experience has been that it is not so difficulty to bid when the opponents jump to 3 of a suit . Double, as an artificial balanced force is always available as is 3N , and in our partnerships so is Texas. Obviously high level interference makes slam and 5m auctions more challenging, but they would be similarly as problematic over 2N, especially since the opponents don't have a Q-bid available.

These are, of course, low frequency auctions. In the circumstances, you can judge for yourself whether the significant gains when the bids occur warrant the memory load in any particular partnership.
Dec. 23, 2016
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Phil,

Your desire to be able to show a good 2 suiter immediately over 1N is understandable. But why are you exclusively focused on the majors?

Let's say you rearranged the hand you gave to xx, AJ9xx, AQxxxx and void. That's a likely game opposite a hand with Kxxx of Hs or Kxxx of D's that also has either a singleton S or a high S honor. And the save possibilities are obvious. Given your concerns, don't you think you can do better than what you propose?
Dec. 22, 2016
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Whatever partnership meaning 3D has, surely it sets S as trump. {If not, then perhaps a system change is indicated]. If over 3D partner signs off in 3S, I can continue with 4D. Again, whatever partner thinks about this, he or she will know that I lack a C control and will Q-bid 4H or higher if he has one.
Dec. 14, 2016
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Marc = I bid 2C puppet stayman]followed by 4C - 5-3-3-2 slam or grand slam try with 5D - Based on your comments to others partner presumably bids 4D as RKC and then uses the second step to ask for Kings which are shown naturally up the line with Nt substituting for the highest King. Partner uses the second step for the King ask because his possession of the trump queen allows him to skip the first step trump queen ask. Since I am prepared to force to 6N once partner chose to RKC with 4D, he will in time find out that I have 3 Kings and which kings they are. That might not be enough information to fully evaluate a grand slam if partner has a 5 card side suit that he needs to run to be able to count 13 tricks but it's the best I can do.

By the way, on hands where there may be a grand slam in more than one suit, isn't it better to describre what you have and let the strong 1Nt Opener do the driving? - For example, imagine partner holds 5 Cs to the QJ and KQ doubleton of D's plus the major suit aces.
Nov. 16, 2016
Marc Zwerling edited this comment Nov. 16, 2016
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David - I agree that using 1H as a relay after a negative to a strong club is by far the best approach to these auctions. However, I think the most efficient and effective continuations are via artificial relay. This approach. which puts Opener in charge and usually results in Opener becoming declarer in a game without describing anything about his hand, caters to the fact that once Responders pattern is known, Opener has room to explore Responder's limited HCP information and then generally settle into the partnerships best contract. Since competition is unlikely after the opponents have been silent for the first two rounds of the auction, I think that only laziness can explain the failure to proceed via relay.

There are many relay possibilities. Some can include substantial complexity but that is up to each individual partnership. My partnership uses responses of 1S to show any 0 - 5 HCP. AFter a negative, Opener can continue the relay with 2C bid 1N to show a relatively balanced hand with less than enough to force to game opposite most 4 or 5 counts, bid 2D or 2N(H) as a suit asking bid, 2H and 2S as NF and 3C through 3S as strong two suiters. Of course after Opener's NF continuation, REsponder may make a forward going descriptive bid .

All other rebids by Responder after the 1H relay artificially show 5+ to 7 HCP . Opener then uncovers some much of the hand pattern as he needs and then either signs off in game or initiates a more natural sequence to uncover REsponders specific high card holdings.

Please note that with sufficient strength to force to game Opener always rebids 1H except 1S is nearly forcing and may be canape style; 2S and 2N(H) are suit asking bids and 3C through 3S show 2 suiters. Opener does not have to be balanced to rebid 1H. He only needs sufficient strength to force to game opposite most 6 or 7 HCP hands.

I hope this gives you food for thought.
July 10, 2016
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Nigel - I agree with your list of priorities but would also highly rate the value of minimizing the disclosure of information to the opponents and right siding the final contract. A further factor, though in my mind of lesser significance, is avoiding large penalties.
May 24, 2016
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I answered “cordial, I would do it” but only because there wasn't an option for “If the opponents said they planned to report a normal score if it turned out not to make a difference, i would. as a courtesy, neither object nor bring up the hand to others unless I was forced to. If forced to discuss the hand, I would not lie.”
Jan. 4, 2016
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"opposite a stiff spade and 3 clubs, grand's likely to be laydown'

Oh really? How do you make a grandslam if your team is off the third round H control? And 5D seems plenty high opposite K, Jxxx, QJxxx and Axx.

Yes, Responder's complete distribution is important, but on this hand multiple other factors also weigh heavily into the slam decision. Methinks, your decision to keep on trucking with the relay on this hand overlooked the importance of those factors.
Sept. 5, 2012
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Bill,

Relay systems work well on a large assortment of hands but not so well when particular kinds of high card values are necessary and you lack room below a safe level to find out about them. Essentially, that's the pitfall into which you fell on this hand. By staying with the relay so long when the nature of partners HCP was likely to be critical, Opener deprived himself of the opportunity of inviting Responder to communicate the quality of his assets and reduced the final decision to a guess.

Given the constraints of your problem, my guess would be to gamble 6D for similar reasons to those expressed by Bruce and John below. Having said that, guessing on these kind of hands seems antithetical to the reason people invest the time and effort to devise and employ relay systems. I think your methods warrant reexamination.

On this hand, two possibilities for involving partner loom large:

1. If 4C is going to inquire about controls then 4D might better be used as an artificial invite in some suit.

2. On flat hands with an abundance of trump , converting the auction to a natural one early would both alleviate partner's concern about weak trumps and focus both partners' attention on the specific honors held by each other. Say, for example, 3D was natural, set trump and asked about Responders trump honors. A Q-bid auction could then follow where Responder would feel secure about the joint trump holding, Opener would learn much more about Responders precise honor card holdings and Responder would be able to communicate if he held extras.

Alternatively, you could adopt a necessarily more complicated - and artificial - relay system that would more efficiently disclose both shape and strength thus creating more room to look into specific honor card holdings. Of course this latter course has its costs.
Sept. 5, 2012
Marc Zwerling edited this comment Sept. 5, 2012
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Bill,

I assume that by the time the auction reached 3S, Opener knew Responder's exact shape. To respond to your query, it would be helpful to know (1) the precise meanings of the 4 level bids, and (2) what alternative(s) Opener had besides bidding 4C. More specifically, I expect that at some point Opener had the option of confirming that he was bidding in support of Diamonds and soliciting cooperation from partner rather than merely relay responses. Please identify what options he had.
Sept. 5, 2012
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