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All comments by Matthew Kidd
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DONT seems good enough against strong notrump. With many partners, I play that 5-4 is okay NV, but essentially never on 5-4-2-2 shape. Much more inclined to be 5-5 at IMPs.

I think Mohan is the best defense to weak notrump, achieving equity versus the times when neither you nor your partner can safely come into the auction. But Mohan only works if partner understands the full defense, and can defend 2x* well. Andy Stark has a good rundown on Mohan at the end of his book The Weak Notrump: How to Play It, How to Play Against It.
Nov. 4
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I disagree with most of the sentiment here. My experience is that players of all levels usually like the instant feedback. Beginners may just take comfort from knowing they reached a contract that is normal, i.e. reached by lots of pairs they know are competent. Better players might be interested in the par contract both in terms of absolute par and realistic par. Strong players may be interested in subtle what ifs, e.g. a sacrifice is phantom but only because QTx of trump is too much defense; swap the T with declarer's 8 and the sacrifice is now a good one (real example from a recent game).

Many studies of learning indicate that rapid feedback aides learning. Rapid feedback is also part of what makes video games, one of our competitors for younger folk's attention, so addictive.

It's so much easier to learn now if you are willing to take the time. When I started playing, most clubs didn't even have hand records. Hand records alone made tournaments special. Now hand records are standard at all San Diego clubs. The largest local club, Adventures in Bridge, shows the results and hands on their BridgeTab system and posts the results online. We do the same for the La Jolla unit games. If you want to keep people, you have to make it fun.

Of course player education and the occasional reminder is important. When we introduced the BridgeTab (on Kindle Fires) for the unit game a year ago, I cautioned players to not discuss the hands loudly, the importance of vagueness (“I could have switched when in to defeat it” being much better than “a spade switch at trick two is the only way to defeat the heart slam.”), and the utility of pointing to the screen and saying look at that rather than saying out loud exactly what it is. By and large most of our players respect the game well enough to handle seeing results and deals immediately after the play. I don't find it has slowed down the game. We even capture the opening lead and still finish in 14 minutes (two boards) or 21 minutes (three boards) per round, same as before the BridgeTabs were introduced. A round countdown timer is very helpful.

Players also need to understand that double dummy analysis is not single dummy play, that normal actions can still result in unexpectedly poor or good scores, etc. This too complicated for a short speech but good players should always help newer players understand how matchpoints is scored and be willing to explain how to interpret different type of results.

Tournaments are different. Minimizing discussion in regional open pairs events is a important.
July 23
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Steve, this issue has occurred to me too. And again Bridge Results does it right. All the results for all boards are downloaded in a single page load and the board displayed at a particular time is controlled by a dollop of JavaScript as one clicks on the board navigation.

The only drawback with the Bridge Results approach is that you can't generate a board specific URL if you want to point someone to a specific board. However this functionality could easily be added by allowing a parameter in the URL that specifies the initial board to show.

All the clicking you mention IS inefficient for the ACBL Live server. They should fix it but doing so will be more complicated than the issues I listed.
July 18
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Speaking of that survey, it's funny that the ACBL will send out a survey which includes a text field for suggestions but cannot find the time to respond to suggestions e-mailed directly to them, even carefully worded ones that include screen captures marked up to indicate exactly what I'm talking about. I don't expect them to act on the suggestions immediately or even soon—all software projects must prioritize—but I would like an acknowledgment that a suggestion has been read and considered and placed into some category (even “will not fix”) and given some sort of priority. Bug tracking systems are designed to facilitate exactly this and there are good open source ones.

I prefer what Phillippe Lamoise has done with Bridge Results (http://www.bridgeresults.net/res_event.cgi?eventid=39947">example presentation) but ACBL Live is okay and directors are now uploading results promptly. Anyway I included the suggestions below in my survey response. Take a look. If you agree, you might include them in your survey response too.

1) Show board results across all combined sections in an event.

2) Eliminate separate N-S and E-W displays for Mitchell movements (it's redundant, except for case of rare split scores which can otherwise be indicated).

3) Contracts should not be missing (okay this is not an ACBL Live issue per se but rather sloppiness on the part of directors who do not always upload all the Bridgemate/Pad/Tab BWS files).

4) Numerical columns (raw score, matchpoints, etc) should be right justified instead of centered. Also add .0 to integer matchpoints, if only integer and half integer matchpoints; add .00 to integer scores if some matchpoint score have two decimal place due to factoring in ACBLscore.

5) Tighten results display by shrinking width of Matchpoints column so that Pairs information fits on one line). Can gain space by reducing border to the left of the deal display and the right of the matchpoints display on each hand. Or Matchpoints column can be suppressed. Matchpoints is relative to the top and therefore not meaningful on its own. Players care about percentages on each board.

6) Add option to display summary of board results for big events, e.g. each row is: contract, by, score, matchpoints, %, frequency, e.g. 4 E 450 38 67 15x

7) For two session events where each session is weighted equally (i.e. typical regional open pairs events), ignore Section and Carry Over jargon for results. Instead show percentage in first session, percentage in second session, and average percentage.

8) Indicate basis of masterpoint award in some manner. For example, highlight the average percentage if the average percentage ranks in the overalls. Highlight one of the session percentages if that generated the award. Note: sometimes it is necessary to highlight both overall and a single session in the case of a mixed payout, e.g. 3.2 red, 0.6 gold where the session award would have been 3.8 red but the overall was worth 0.6 and so part of the award is the higher ranking pigment.
July 18
Matthew Kidd edited this comment July 18
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I'm all for web movements. We have used them in our unit games when appropriate for several years. But this motion seems like micro-management. Couldn't some NABC committee just instruct the directors to use web movements whenever appropriate in terms of fairness? Isn't that what happens when the convention committee makes small tweaks to what's permitted in each chart or what must be pre-alerted, alerted, announced, etc?
July 9
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The correlation between masterpoints and skill for any single player is poor. But averaged over an entire field it does a lot better because you tend to naturally average over players who ground their way to gold LM, truly strong players, promising players with relatively few masterpoints, etc. In ACBLmerge I calculate both the arithmetic and geometric averages. The geometric average does reasonably well at least in the sense that if I were to subjectively rank various club (i.e. given session at given club), unit, sectional, and regional events in the San Diego area, my ranking would match the rank ordering based on the average geometric field strength of the those games.

Can one do better than the geometric mean given just masterpoints and who is paired with whom? Almost certainly. For one, I suspect the geometric mean is less effective for players in the 0-300 MP range. With enough data one might derive a function f(mp) that is better than log(mp) for the averaging, or even f(mp1, mp2) where mp1 and mp2 are the masterpoints of each member of a pair. I probably have enough game files to make a reasonable effort for f(mp) though perhaps not f(mp1, mp2).

Moreover, the masterpoint awards shouldn't simply be a linear function of whatever SoF calculation one does. This too needs to be calibrated and there are ways to do it.

Regional differences might be a factor. I'm under the impression that the clubs on the coasts hold more charity games to run up the masterpoints given that the extra dollar per player is a smaller fraction of the average card fee. But the ACBL could generate some sort of adjusted masterpoint total for each player, roughly recalculating charity games awards at clubs as ordinary club game awards, and use the adjusted MP total for SoF calculations.

SoF doesn't have to be perfect to be meaningful. It only has to be substantially better than the many hacks that indirectly and only somewhat effectively implement SoF at present. It can always be improved and doing it right is an interesting analysis problem for at least a half dozen volunteers, perhaps more.

Incidentally, Bahar Gidwani had an interest in SoF and had approached some of the usual suspects about matter. I put it off because I was out of the country for several weeks and then had a lot of catching up to do when I got back. Just as I was about to return to the matter… poof! … Bihar was gone without explanation.

Note: this sort of thing makes it hard to work with the ACBL in a volunteer fashion. The SoF problem is interesting and I have some ideas about how to approach it, but a serious effort means writing a bunch of code, doing a lot of simulations, analyzing the data, writing it up carefully, following up on the many questions, etc. If there is a 50-90% chance it will come to nothing at the ACBL level, I'm more inclined to do it on my timeline than on an accelerated timeline that might help the community.
July 7
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Sigh… regarding 3.1 on the top of page 4 of the PDF. If we just factored in strength of field (SoF) we could eliminate about ten rules of this nature. No one has ever explained why this is so difficult of a concept. Is it change in general? Or is it concern over how accurately the strength of field is determined?
July 6
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It's not just intermediates who ask when they shouldn't. This is from last month:

82 Q8 KJ32 AK632
64 AK AQT754 954 (me)

After the uncontested auction, 1 (me) 2 (GF); 2 3; 3 4; 4; 5, RHO starts asking about my heart bids even though he isn't going to be on lead. He is a decent player who knew damn well that 3 was showing a heart stopper or suit rather than a singleton or void. He was clearly just trying to get his client, who was probably paying card fees and maybe a little extra, to lead a spade. Sure enough the defense cashes two spades. Just as I'm about to claim down one and move on, probably without calling a director, RHO continues with a third spade! Maybe it wasn't professional, but I just laughed at him and exclaimed, “you're really giving me a ruff-and-sluff? That's the only way I can make this contract.” I wanted to make sure the client fully appreciated her partner's stupidity. Then I tossed my hand on the table. No doubt the 15 pairs in 5 down one were scratching their head over the one 5 making.
June 15
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1. Sucky clueless competitive bidding.

Twenty years back my team lost IMPs on nearly every part score in a seven round Swiss. This was so inconsistent with mere bad luck that I immediately began reading Mike Lawrence's Overcalls and Balancing books. This helped a lot.

2. Failing to use multi-suited bids often enough: takeout doubles, negative double, reopening doubles, Michaels, Unusual notrump, etc.

3. Rushing to 3NT without bidding out significant shape.

I used to play with a nice lady who wasn't a bad Flt C IMPs partner because she at least bid her games. But she would run to 3NT no matter what. “Gee, if I could picture you with 4=1=6=2 shape, I'd have put us in the cold diamond slam.” This combined with #2 made her a terrible hand hog.

4. Blackwood über alles

At least explain which auctions should be quantitative. Followup with control bidding auctions later.

5. Not understanding matchpoint scoring

For example, I've seen a partner not finesse Qx opposite Axx in 3NT when it was 100% safe. That was a bottom.

6. Not appreciating a long weak suit.

Many players don't appreciate the merits of an Axxxx side suit. Regardless of the holding on the opposite side, the fifth card can often be set up for a discard with a bit of planning.

7. Running to 2NT from partner's double with a stack

Another top converted into a 20% board.
June 15
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For U526, the annual revenue is about $27,000 as I stated above. Our assets are about $34,000. Operationally, in terms of covering leases and other expenses in advance of revenue and such for sectionals, I'd consider $5,000 as a minimum and $10,000 as comfortable.

It's my understanding that sometime in the late 1960s, there was a $25,000 donation to the unit and that's basically been our reserves since, i.e. it has decreased considerably in inflation adjusted dollars. (Incidentally for a long enduring non-profit is non-profit defined as the inflation adjusted asset value or the non-adjusted value?)

In the last few years we've made some investment income which holds down unit game card fees, improves sectional hospitality, etc. Our expenditures for our teaching effort at the local high school are minimal because it is a volunteer effort. Maybe we should spend some of our assets advertising the game. If anyone had thoughts on the most bang for the buck approach, I'd certainly take notes.
June 14
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The $27,000 goes right back out in expenses. We're a 501©7 non-profit social club.

STACs are okay but they don't draw the same crowd and field strength as an ordinary sectional. Also, D22 is polluted with STACs that are scored across the district, possibly even multiple districts (I'd need to review exactly how the Great Western STAC is scored). So some pro takes a client to a small club in Big Bear or Hemet, blows away the field and further benefits from the high variability of low table matchpoints to win across the district.

For several years the units and the largest club in San Diego, Adventures in Bridge (AIB), didn't suffer much from the inherent tension between clubs and units because AIB was big enough to hold a sectional, had plenty of parking, and had a landlord with adjacent unoccupied space that could be rented daily at a modest rate to handle overflow on the largest days of a sectional.

In much the way that the U.S. recycled petrodollars from the Saudis in the 1980s by building roads and other infrastructure to California standards, AIB recaptured much of the lost income via rent and profit on services that were too convenient to refuse, e.g. board duplication, soda supply, etc. Given that this club was normally closed on Sundays, it probably recaptured at least 70% of its lost profits. And what it didn't recapture, it got in advertising—half the players don't know much about units and districts and probably just figure that where all the sectionals are held must be the important club that somehow makes it all happen. Perhaps having three units worth of sectionals at AIB got boring for the players but it sure was convenient for the tournament managers (that would include me).

But San Diego continued to grow and eventually developers noticed that the dumpy Grantsville neighborhood was the last underdeveloped place close to downtown. AIB's landlord offered five figures to break the lease a few months early and understandably AIB took the offer. It was hard for AIB to find a new space, availability of parking in a city dominated by cars being a major issue. And the adjacent businesses aren't thrilled with all the people who show up for four hours during the middle of the day instead of doing their business and leaving in a half hour. The club continues to draw players despite a sardine like packing. But it's too small to hold a sectional.

The La Jolla unit went back to hosting sectionals at the Soledad Club which is just big enough and a great venue though not as convenient operationally as a full time bridge club. The San Diego unit started holding sectionals at Marina Village where they could find enough parking but it's logistically complicated, inconveniently located, and they've been losing a small amount on each sectional.

This situation isn't good for AIB or the units. I'm viewing it darkly as a sign of the fading relevance of bridge. Combined with 0.44 year / year increase in the average membership age, it's one-two punch.
June 11
Matthew Kidd edited this comment June 11
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For our unit (U526), the ACBL kickback to the unit is about $1,100 on total revenue of $27,000 from unit games and a sectional, i.e. 4%. That's not negligible but it certainly wouldn't affect who I'd vote for as district director. And if the kickback went away, the unit would survive without difficulty.

There is something to be said for Chris Compton's proposal to give more back to the new member recruiter if membership growth is the focus. But I advocate paying it over a five year period, e.g. set some amount, pay maybe 40% of it immediately, and the remaining 15% for each year the recruited member remains an ACBL member. If you can get someone to play for four years, chances are you have them for decades.
June 11
Matthew Kidd edited this comment June 11
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I'm doing my best to educate them. All the unit presidents certainly know at this point. I've encouraged them to contact their district director about the stunning lack of transparency.
June 5
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I second Bridge Humor. Also very funny in a darker shade is Roselyn Teukolsky's How to Play Bridge With Your Spouse… and Survive (2002). The Jerry Machlin book that Dale Johannesen mentions below is funny too and a look back at how the game was when everyone was younger. Machlin directed a club game at a Jewish community center where I regularly played chess as a teenager. Once when I was getting into bridge I stopped by his game and recognized him but I didn't say anything because I was just a twenty-something passing though. I regret that now. Who knows what stories he might have told me.
June 5
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Trust me it costs… just maintaining a unit website without a web 2.0 social component isn't cheap if I were to actually factor in the cost of my time. And though the individual AWS expenses seems cheap they charge for every little thing and it adds up quickly.

The SendGrid expense is annoying though unfortunately understandable in today's unfriendly internet climate. Have you contacted Spamhaus and related services to see if they will whitelist you?
June 4
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I have a few opinions: https://lajollabridge.com/Articles/EssentialBridgeBooks.htm">Essential Bridge Books
June 3
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I'd start with #2, the social / fun aspect. The depth that is appealing to smart people (#1) and the competitive aspect (#3) will become apparent soon enough even without saying anything. I played for hours at a time in college in the 1980s just for fun and to put off doing classwork. We didn't know about the ACBL, had only a vague awareness of tournaments (which perhaps only existed in distant New York City where Alan Truscott occasionally referred to them in his newspaper column), and seldom read bridge books, the shear number of which I would never have guessed at the time.

Maybe I'd be a slightly stronger player today if I someone who really knew the game had stumbled upon our group back then. But there is real value to just playing. Sure you do a lot of crazy things but you also learn what can happen, e.g. the blocked suit, and have a greater appreciation later for why what you would learn in a formal class makes sense and just as importantly when you can operate outside the box. I don't regret the path I took and the interesting people I met along the way even if I did have to shower at 2 am to remove other player's cigarette stench so I could fall asleep.

Any activity that hopes to survive needs a large prenumbra of the less serious, the people who can follow a bridge / chess column in the newspaper, who interact with diverse groups rather than just other bridge players and say to others, “I bet you'd like bridge,” or just mention they do the activity or that others they know do so that it seems like a normal thing to do, like say drinking coffee as adult.

Bridge generates interesting stories. I used to play chess. There is beauty in the game itself and some interesting weirdos but I don't think chess will ever have a Victor Mollo. Poker generates stories too but because you go it alone they're mostly of the bad beat variety. The partnership aspect of bridge makes the stories much richer. Twenty plus years on I still remember how “Down Ten” John got his nickname.

P.S. I disagree with Matthew Weingarten. I've been involved with high school bridge teaching. They get into it and they are competitive. I also watched a tournament we set up for a group of junior high kids that another group had taught. Those kids were into it too. It's just that they want to play with their peers rather than a bunch of adults. So go find your peers and get them interested. Take them to a club when you feel ready. If that is five years later, so be it.
May 8
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Philadelphia will henceforth be known as the city of brotherly board service.
May 3
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It's interesting how many of these district directors are from small districts. Based on the district population numbers from 2016 that I have https://lajollabridge.com/Articles/RedistrictingProposal.htm">immediately available, only one of the eleven largest districts (D16) is represented on the committee. These eleven districts contain 61% of the membership. You might get the impression that Bahar's great sin was pushing for a redistricting of the national board.
May 2
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