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All comments by Max Schireson
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If only Justin's view were more universally held. I was very sad to open a copy of The Bridge World not too long ago and read an editorial endorsing the view that it is permissible to take ones “normal” action.

I couldn't bring myself to cancel my subscription, but I write the only letter to the editor I have ever written in my life.

So sad that after Edgar Kaplan's “Black Magic” article (well before my time!) TBW is now injecting uncertainty into the laws and in my view providing intellectual cover for players who take advantage of their partners tempo.

I can't like Justin's post above enough. Once I know the answer to an unclear problem, it is just beyond me to know what I would have decided.
9 hours ago
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Two places:
1. Intellectual honesty
2. Sometimes circumstances make it clear

Going back to original context, you used “sloppy” to describe experts who were doing things “if they think they can get away with it”. I agree that the behavior you describe goes beyond sloppy, even if in specific instances we may not be sure if a particular expert is “sloppy” or “slimy.”

In the same way, if I drive my car into someone on the sidewalk and they die, it does matter if it was an accident, in which case you might call me “reckless”, or I did it on purpose in which case you would call me “murderer.” Even if I am the only one who can know which with total certainty, circumstances might give hints, and people would endeavor to find out which case it was.

As we discuss hoth deliberate cheating and ethical violations of various types, I think it is important to distinguish these cases.
Sept. 17
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I should add that you described them doing it “if they think they can get away with it”. I would say this case is deliberate, so I would call it slimy. But I agree with you we don't always know which is which.
Sept. 17
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I never heard Michael say he could tell the difference. That doesn't mean that the difference doesn't exist.
Sept. 17
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I agree strongly with Justin (who plays professionally, I do not) that professionalism is not the problem. My experience has been that many professionals have excellent ethics and many playing for pleasure do not.
Sept. 17
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I should keep a file of all the crazy plays I make that did't work so that eventually when one works I won't be accused of cheating!
Sept. 16
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Justin:

“my whole life has been built towards becoming the best I can be”

No cheat can take that away from you.

“the results are a joke”

Yes - and they would be without cheating unless the matches were 600 boards or more (even then they could not reliably distinguish small differences in skill, but would at least be somewhat more reliable with big differences).

“The game is a joke”

No! The results being compromised (by both cheating and randomness) does not destroy the game. I now dedicate as much as I can of my life (limited by other obligations to being less than you can dedicate) to being the best I can be (which is optimistically 1% of what you are).

I am not naive enough to think that the game will be clean because of fundamental human goodness. I think I am cheated in obvious ways every day I play by crappy players at the club, and likely sometimes in national events by experts who are smart enough that I don't see it.

I am not saying I don't care about being cheated - we need to do everything we can to reduce it - but I refuse to let them steal my joy in playing and learning the game. They can steal a result, but results aren't the reason I play. I can still find joy in getting the defense right to the contract they cheated to achieve, regardless of the score.

I know this is easier for me to say and feel than for you: my results don't impact my livelihood, and I am too crappy a player to win even if the game was fair. If I were good enough to win a major event, it would suck more that they weren't fair.

In my view the cheaters first and foremost are cheating themselves out of the joy of a beautiful game. Second they are cheating the rest of us out of a fair contest - which is disgusting and awful for sure, and impacts the best players disproportionately. But if they chase us - especially someone like you - from the game, then they have taken even more from us. They may be able to “win” decades of Bermuda Bowls, but I refuse to give them the much larger victory of taking the game we love away from us.

Don't stop dreaming of being as good as your idols. Bob Hamman was cheated, hopefully you will be cheated less. They can take your titles but not the greatness of your play.
Sept. 16
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Mark,

I suspect the younger crowd at NABCs is a mix of highly committed folks who are willing to miss some work to play in top events, and people who are optimizing for weekend play.

Can you explain how moving the Silver Ribbons to the weekend and the IMP pairs to Sun/Mon would improve the experience for either of those groups of younger players? It seems to make things worse for both.

Is there another play pattern you expect fits the younger demographic for whom moving secondary open events away from weekends and into conflict with premier events?

I agree 10000% with trying to entice younger players, and I am glad to hear that was a goal for this change. I am young by ACBL standards myself, and have volunteered in some of Debbie's Silicon Valley Youth Bridge programs that you referred to. I just worry that this change might have had exactly the opposite effect, and despite your good intentions looks very much like the “more of the same” we all want to change.

If my comment above seemed a bit cynical, it was because of that appearance and what I expect will be a negative impact on the newer players we all want to emcourage. Sorry if I missed the intention, and very happy to be wrong if this change does help that group in a way I can't see.

Edit: just realized that in the threading the comment I referred to as “below” was above. Fixed.
Sept. 12
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What about Sat-Sun for IMP pairs? That way there is no Vanderbilt conflict.

For those playing in Platinum pairs, if you Q to day 2 but not 3 you have one day without a national event. Same if you Q to day 2 of the Platinum pairs.

That schedule is imperfect, but right now someone who is a non-senior with sufficient platinum who wants to play the Vanderbilt (and not in 10k events) would have *3* days without an event. In my proposal they would have only one day. Or, for the half of the Platinum field that doesn't Q, they have 2 days without an event.
Sept. 12
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This all makes sense except that we are neglecting the folks playing in the Silver Ribbon Pairs, which is a large 2 day event starting Friday.
Sept. 12
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I almost posted about this earlier.

It looks like they have created two tracks of national events:

Silver Ribbon->IMP Pairs->Mixed Pairs
Platinum Pairs->Vanderbilt

Scheduling an open national event opposite the Vanderbilt is a pretty serious move to make it less competitive.

Maybe the next step would be to hold some of the secondary national events at a different playing site - perhaps a cruise ship that is at sea for all of nationals?

First masterpoint inflation, now national title inflation…

Idea: why not just run some 2 day AX regional events at nationals? Then everyone who gets knocked out can play against a decent field… oh, wait…
Sept. 12
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I have the following rules:
1. No competition
Then the following sequences are minorwood
Either:
A. Immediately after partner bid 3m showing support
B. Jump to 4m after an inverted raise start
C. Transfer to a minor after a 1N opening

There may be other cases where minorwood is useful but we always know if it is minorwood or not.

Edit: fixed a mistake
Sept. 8
Max Schireson edited this comment Sept. 8
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That would be a big improvement.

That said it is also quite late in the process to make these changes.
Sept. 3
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I don't know what the price was in the past but per day it is very high if you don't expect to advance. Moving to price per day played would probably be a positive some of the teams that don't expect to survive until late in the event.
Sept. 2
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I think one question the group needs to address is how people feel about competitors who won't play in an event they won.

I agree with what you said about fairness, but I don't think it is complete. There are at least 3 elements of fairness, all of which have value and which can come into conflict with each other:

1. Unbiasedness: the event does not have bias for or against any individual. You addressed this and I agree this is not a problem with either of your proposals. It would be a problem with a hypothetical trials that was only open to players deemed worthy by a committee, for example.

2. Relevance: the event should select teams based on factors that will be relevant to the event. This is where your proposals are imperfect. Yes, one pair will only impact a team so much, but tell that to the team that finished second and believes they might have won if only eg Sylvia and Dan who played brilliantly that week were on their team instead of being on the team that narrowly beat them. In principle if only 4 players from the trials need to intend to play in the relevant event if they win, why not allow a foreign pair, or a pair that does not meet the age or gender requirements for the event, on the team? Of course there is less (zero?) offsetting reason to allow this than what you suggest (where there is a good offsetting reason, see below), but the feeling of “not fair” could be similar to members of other teams.

3. Inclusive: the event should include as many as possible of the top candidates to maximize the strength of the selected team. An event held in Antarctica would fail this test, as would a two month long event with 600 board matches. In practice a pairs trial probably would too, because some strong professionals probably would not play without being paid to do so. In my opinion forcing top female players to choose between womens and mixed before either trials has taken place creates a major problem here.

All the solutions you have mentioned are unbiased and inclusive, but all are flawed on relevance because they allow competitors who may not continue on. Inserting enough time in the schedule for either womens or mixed results to be known in time to form credible teams for the other has no relevance issues, but may be somewhat less inclusive than what you proposed.

I actually don't know whether the greater inclusiveness of your solutions are worth the cost in relevance, which is why I suggested a solution (for future years) that could improve inclusiveness significantly (though not as much as your proposals) without allowing players who don't intend to compete in the relevant event.
Aug. 28
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It seems like the cleanest solution would be a significantly longer time between the womens and mixed trials, at least in future years.

This might not be the “best” solution that fully maximizes the player pool for all events but it avoids issues around the perceived fairness of players entering events after having won a different event.
Aug. 28
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Yes under either of Sylvia's proposals a player could earn an extra pay check, even for an event they don't intend to compete in.

That said, I do think her concerns are real issues that interfere with the ability of the USBF to field the strongest team possible. It seems that forcing players to choose in advance which of the womens and mixed trials to enter really could weaken the team for both events.
Aug. 28
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One issue with pairs qualifiers is that they aren't easily compatible with sponsored teams.

I can envision approaches to solve this but they are cumbersome; eg each pair could designate itself sponsor, pro, or amatuer. Either the top sponsor pair and top two other pairs, or the top 3 pairs excluding pro pairs, would be selected, based on some total score across the 3 pairs… but there are lots of problems with this. I am sure others have thought about this issue more than I have, but it seems hard.
Aug. 28
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Christina,

Men say a lot of absurd things, especially about their own awesomeness, and it seems some of my gender get even more inflated views of ourselves when women are involved.

80% games sounds about as likely as some overstated male estimates of other, ummm, things I probably shouldn't go into here… but at least the claim of 80% games could potentially be checked and the actual score publicly reported.
Aug. 28
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I am relatively new to bridge, and even newer to WBF events, so forgive me if this issue is known already to much of the community.

I am surprised by the lack of clarity around conditions of contest. It is not possible to read them and determine with certainty what events one is eligible to drop in to, for example. Nor is the format specified as a function of the number of entries.

Al and others work hard to communicate behind the scenes and answer questions as best they can be answered, but this seems unnecessary. I can read an ACBL CoC for the Spingold and know the exact event format for any number of entries, for example. Same for USBF.

I have also heard that the WBF reserves the right, which it has used, to amend the CoC even after the event has started?!

Does the WBF have a goal to publish clear, comprehensive and fixed conditions of contest in advance of the event?

If so, who is working on it and what is the status?

If not, who made the decision not to and to whom are they accountable?
Aug. 28
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