Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Max Schireson
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I'd suggest a tweak to this.

Having been in the “I can't wait to win” mindset, the problem is learning bridge takes a long time. After a year or so, the waiting becomes frustrating.

Instead, if they can get into the midset of “I may not be able to make correct plays often enough to win, but I can learn to make them more often, and feel good when I make them”, I think that would be healthier than eager anticipation of winning.

I am not sure I agree with “yes they can”, at least with any frequency, for some players, but I absolutely believe they can improve their play and get things right that they would have previously gotten wrong. That is a great feeling, and if they can learn to recognize it and enjoy it hopefully that will provide motivation.
Feb. 22
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I don't have a problem with neing practical as long as the same practical bid is chosen regardless of partner's alert.

I do have a problem with bidding 3N to keep things simple most of the time, but bidding 5D to keep things simple when pard fails to alert and bidding the normal 3D if the words “game forcing” come out of partner's mouth.
Feb. 22
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I think I should not have called the information from partner's correct alert and explanation “UI”, because I think it doesn't qualify umder law 16's definition of “unexpected alert”. However using that information is clearly probibited under 73B1 “Partners may not communicate by means such as… alerts and explanations given or not given”, so the usage of that information is clearly prohibited, even if it shouldn't be called UI.

Anyway Michael explained my point more clearly than I did.
Feb. 22
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Unfortunately you have other options if you aren't careful about your use of UI.

If your partner alerts quickly and confidently (or even better says game forcing in his explanation) your worry about mistaken agreements fades away and you can bid 3D.

It's the perfect crime. You might not even realize why you did it, and it's next to impossible to be penalized for that 3D bid, since as this poll shows “everyone” would make it, and anyway all partner did was alert and explain correctly as required, so who could prove you had UI?
Feb. 21
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As someone midway through the journey of learning to keep track of what has happened during a hand, not long ago I had a aha moment that has helped me to be both (more) patient with myself, more confident that I will get there, and more productive in working towards it.

The realization was that remembering what had happened was primarily an *effect* of being a better player, though of course it also helps.

Humans remember stories. I find that when I understand whats going on with a hand, each card is part of a story and I remember it.

If the hand is finding a missing Q on a two way finesse, the story is about how you will get data to help with that guess.

Some stories are hard for me to see and some are easy. But if the lesson I take from the expert is not “wow, they noticed everything” but “oh, for them this hand was about trying to figure out which way to guess the diamonds”, I may notice a similar situation in the future. Even if I don't make use of all the clues an expert would, I am at least trying to solve the right problem, and tbinking about it in a way that gives me my best chance to see the clues.

I hope that this approach can help others take something productive away from these situations.
Feb. 21
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I am not really trying to argue in favor of 5D or 3N, but I felt that without encouraging masterminding a little bit I couldn't test the UI.
Feb. 21
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Thanks. I wasn't sure how to word it, and thought that by wording it this way I made relatively more likely someone might choose something other than 3D, which I felt was giving my opponent the benefit of the doubt.
Feb. 21
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Yes, I think the fear of 3D being passed was rational, and I intended to make that part of the context.

But you picked 5D, which only gains at matchpoints when it takes 3 tricks more than NT, and can sometimes lose even when it takes 2 extra tricks (430 vs 420). I might have picked that if partner bid rebid diamonds but not over 2NT. What led you to mastermind with a 5D bid rather than 3N?
Feb. 21
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Which wording? I am curious because you are the first one.
Feb. 21
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Yes opener would be unbalanced for me too.
With 4153 and just the SQJ and DA I can take 12 tricks if they make the wrong lead… but that's a different situation :)
Feb. 21
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You might believe that your agreement that 4th suit is forcing is solid, but that after that things are shaky.
If that were the case, you might hope to hear heart support from partner, in which case you raise to 4H. If partner rebids his diamonds, then you will raise to 5D, and if partner bids 2N you raise to 3.
Using fourth suit forcing solely as a checkback for major suit fit isn't optimal but it might be a practical approach if you think partner will forget what else is forcing later.
In such a partnership, I would comsider 3N the normal bid.
Feb. 21
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So as some of you may have guessed from what looks like a pretty boring poll, the 2C call wasn't alerted.

I thought 5D by E was a blatant abuse of UI. Zero votes in tbe poll seems to comfirm that.

To be fair to my opponent:
- I think the respondents who bid 3D may be underestimating the risk of 3D being passed out in this partnership
- I don't know the details of their fourth suit forcing agreements; it is possible they have discussed it, and that could effect their action, though I can't see how it would make 5D a clear action or anything close

Thoughts? The 5D bidder was not at all flight C; he was a playing professionally with a client.
Feb. 21
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Cornelia,

That attitide of learning is so important and so hard.
I am continually impressed and inspired by kids who are able to totally ignore getting terrible results and enjoy themselves and learn

Two recent inspiring examples:
A little over a week ago a team of beginners including my daughter (12 years old) and a high school pair entered our district GNT C. With few masterpoints they drew the top seed in the first match. Despite losing 177-22 in a 28 board match, they had fun.

Saturday the high school pair came to the club with a third even less experienced player. The directors allowed them to rotate, sharing boards with one of the three sitting out. Despite there being a 99er and the 3 of them having about 10 masterpoints total (almost all held by one player), they elected to play in the open section. They had a 26.79% game and enjoyed themselves.

I am inspired by their attitude and hope to emulate it, or come as close as I can.

– Max
Feb. 21
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I have a very clear opinion on this, at least based on my own experience.

I find bidding *much* easier to learn than cardplay.

I have been playing a little over 2 years. I am far from expert, overall probably flight B, but I think my play is B- and my bidding is probably B+/A-.

I believe that part of the reason the play is so much harder to learn, at least for me, is that it requires you to track everything that has happened to date. During the auction you see all the calls on the table, but when play begins those are removed, and the quitted tricks are not visible. It still takes me a lot of mental energy to remember what has happened to date before I can start to properly consider my options.

As far as improving bidding goes, I am pretty sure that any top pair playing SAYC would outbid me by a mile even though I have more (but not a ton of) gadgets. I would not focus on system; consistent execution of any reasonable system with good judgement will IMO put you miles ahead of most club pairs.

Bridge is hard. I aspire to make normal bids and plays. Both are hard, but making the normal plays, especially on defense, is in my experience harder.
Feb. 20
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One other point that hasn't yet been mentioned and is worth thinking about: in some cases play skill is required for bidding, or at least helps a lot. Here is a simple start to a non-competitive auction:
1H 2H

As opener, I held
AQ
KQ87x
A
AJ7xx

I am thinking about a slam. Should I make a try? What sort of hand will give a positive response to 3C? What sort of hand will make a move over 4D? For me the bidding became an exercise in giving partner hands and thinking through whether they were terrible, decent, or great slams. For example a better card player than me could figure out more accurately and more quickly than I could what our pospects were if partner held

xxx
Axx
xxxx
KTx

For example.

Do this for an assortment of hands quickly and accurately and you will know how to bid my hand. I believe experts can do this effectively, and I struggled to get a clear picture.

In this case I felt the solution to my bidding challenge was improving my play. Which skill exactly was at issue here?
Feb. 20
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I recall another thread where this was deemed illegal in a sanctioned game by the acbl. Too bad imo, it seemed like a great idea. Seems like something that should be allowed even if it required a specific rule to make it legal.

If you can't make that work, what about memtoring for tne pakrs? Let the C partnerships play as such, and have expert discuss hands with them afterwards?
Feb. 20
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I have looked through my good and bad results and on first glance it appears that there are more large swings on the bidding than on the play.

At first this would indicate that bidding is more important, but I think this analysis is incomplete.

Bidding errors produce changes in actual outcome that are often much higher than the change in expected outcome. Let's say its a team game to keep things simple. Say I bid a 40% slam that my expert opponents correctly avoid. 40% of the time I get a great board, and 60% of the time I get a terrible board. There is an 11 or 13 imp swing. But the expected value that I lost was just 20% of that. Lets say in a very long match I do that 40 times, half the time vul. A total of 480 imps change hands because of my bidding errors, and the net cost to me is 96 imps.

Now consider a play error. Lets say that a situation arises where I can guarantee a game contract by ruffing out a side suit before taking a finesse. If I fail to find the endplay, I am still 75% to make the contract. Again in a very long match, I make that mistake 40 times, costing myself 10 times, for a total of 120 imps.

Other than this lets say there were no swings.

If I do the analysis of where the imps were won and lost, I will find that the bidding accounted for 480 of 600 total imps exchanged. However the bidding accounted for the minority of the net imps I lost.

While this example is artificial and it is true sometimes poor plays gain, it is much more frequent in my experience that poor bidding gains than poor play. Because of this asymmetry, I think it is important to peel back another level of detail and look at the decisions that where made and their expected gain or loss.

In that analysis, I believe my net losses from poor play are greater than my net losses from poor bidding.
Feb. 16
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With a 3 card fit I will make a 2/1 then support; the question is which 2/1.
Feb. 7
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Nice article Oren.

It is good to see such quality analysis and writing in the intermediate forum.

I also applaud your choice to write about getting the basics right. I am quite sure that I have lost far more matchpoints and IMPs mixing up simple things that were well within my ability than on missing subtle inferences and complex plays.

That said I would have been very tempted to win the A and clear the hearts, figuring that a spade return would be more likely…

Edit: finished the last sentence after accidentally posting the comment, finger slip…
Feb. 7
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