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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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Hi Ish,

Congratulations on your well-deserved success.

What year would you say you became a serious bridge player?

From that time to the present, have you observed a major change in your own ethics? In the ethics of Australian bridge? In the ethics of players around the world?
April 12, 2012
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Bob H,

Yes, of course, weaker hands are more common than stronger ones. And when partner thinks and bid 4S, the most likely alternative he had was pass.
But when he thinks AND BIDS 3N, I think it is less than 5% that he was considering pass. With the hands that would bid 3N, slam thought is more likely, and 4S is hugely more likely.
I had actually thought about mentioning pass before, but thought this was obvious so tried to save some words. Silly me - failed again.

Returning to the non-ethical problem of pulling, you say

“A lot depends on what kind of good hands responder will bid 3N on rather than 4?. I maintain that partner will usually bid 3N when in doubt, because 3N doesn't rule out 4?”

But this is the whole point! If it were true that partner still wants me to use my judgment after 3N, neither I (nor anyone else)would be arguing that you “shouldn't” pull. And, obviously, you are free to make the agreement with your partner that 3N here is a ‘choice-of-games’. But that is NOT STANDARD. It certainly was and (I hope) still is, Standard that 3N ends this auction.

Consider these two auctions.

A) 2S-3N
B) 2S-2N, 3x(whatever it means)-3N

In (A), 3N ends the auction. In (B), opener still has the right to correct to 4S. That is a Standard understanding.

In the case of 3S-3N, we cannot do both and I believe the expert community long ago decided (sensibly, in my opinion) to go with meaning (A). If not sure, responder guesses 4S rather than 3N.

Obviously, you are free to go the other way. But I recommend you discuss with your expert partner in advance - I think he is unlikely to be on the same wavelength.
April 11, 2012
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Nigel:

You say “ some partnerships like the suit of most vulnerable pre-empts to be headed by at least two top honours.”

First, i don't think vulnerability was ever mentioned in the original poll. In fact, my understanding of the Bridgewinners presentation is that we are NV - I could be wrong.
Second, if you already have an agreement in place about suit quality that obviously is another consideration. However, it just makes my point even more forcefully. If you HAVE the 2 top honours (British spelling in deference) promised, you will NEVER pull. If you don't have the 2 top honours promised, you have violated your agreement and should not have opened 3S.
That's why I said earlier “Assuming the 3S bid was reasonable, it makes no sense to me that you should pull 3N”. I don't think it's reasonable to violate your agreements.

And, yes, I know you did not say “promise” 2 of top 3, but said “like the suit to have 2 top honours”. But I think a ‘maybe’ or ‘usually’ agreement really falls short here - especially as a slow 3N now becomes a sort of asking bid - “do you have 2 of the top 3”?
April 11, 2012
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Bob H,

Yes, if you want to bid a slow 3N with an ethical partner whom you want to pass, that will succeed. But I doubt that particular partner will want to play with you too much longer.

If a player is basically ill-intentioned, he can probably get away with quite a lot. We have to hope there are very few of those.

Looking at your example hand, there is a philosophy that one should never preempt at the two or 3-level with a void. Assuming you do not subscribe to that philosophy, I still see that removing could backfire badly if partner has
A) no fit - e.g. —, AQ, J10x, AKQJ10xxx
or
B) A fit - e.g. Axxx, QJ10, QJ10, AKJ

On (A) with 3N almost cold, you're probably down two or three in 4S
On (B) with 3N cold, you're down one or two

Obviously, you can construct hands where removing is the winning action.
But my point remains that partner knew your hand pretty well when he bid 3N, whereas you know NOTHING about his hand - except that he wants to play 3N.
April 10, 2012
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Assuming the 3S bid was reasonable, it makes no sense to me that you should pull 3N. Whatever hand you have, your partner knows A LOT more about your hand than you do about his or hers.

Bob,

I disagree that the tempo of 3N is irrelevant. While it is true that you don't KNOW what partner is considering, I believe that the single most likely reason for the BIT is a choice between 3N and 4S. Therefore, I think that pulling a slow 3N would be a non-ethical action.
April 10, 2012
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Nigel,

If you open three spades on 8-0-0-5 you have THREE voids - two in your hand, and one in your head
April 8, 2012
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Very nice hand.
April 6, 2012
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I know it's “wrong” to save at matchpoints, but I really feel like this is making. My opponents also know I “won't save” so they must think they might make - and LHO bid it on an overrule. My hand, and my partner's failure to double confirms LHO's opinion.

Obviously, against unsound opponents I would pass - but for the sake of the problem, I presume sound opponents - who also know the form of scoring.

My construction? How about RHO with A98, Qxx, AJ, AQJxx; partner KQxx, AJ, KJ9xx, xx; LHO xx, K10xxx, —, K10xxxx.

There, I go two down and they make. Even if I go 3 down, I'll save SOME matchpoints if they make. And I have an additional hope - that LHO passes 6D and RHO bids 6H - now I can double for a club lead.
April 3, 2012
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My congratulations, and best wishes for health and happiness to all your family
April 3, 2012
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If declarer had begun life with Qxx of diamonds, and he needed entries to dummy, how could the diamond queen still be in his hand after the first trick?
Of course, had he played it…..
April 3, 2012
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I am not a mathematician. When I want to know something, I have always figured things out by brute force - sort of like Kit's last explanation.
For the record, I think Kit is correct, and what he says corresponds to what I have understood for the last 30 or so years.

But I think it would be nice if someone could explain to Ethan what is wrong with his analysis. If he is wrong, either his equations or his calculations are in error - I'm sure he'd appreciate knowing.
April 2, 2012
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Kit

you say “ players don't always lead honest cards vs. slams.” Obviously a true statement. However, I think a more accurate statement is that players SAY they are likely to lead false cards against a slam, but ACTUALLY do so rarely.

Good article - my first instinct was to follow Billy Eisenberg's Bols bridge tip and play low at trick one - but then I got worried that West might have underled and resolved to play the king, partly because, as Charles points out, I have the “wrong” spade spot.

West's lead was superficially attractive, perhaps hoping contract hinged on spade guess. But let's say hands were x, AKxx, Ax, AKJxxx facing KJxx, —, QJ10xx, Qxx. True the low spade lead will “fool” declarer and beat the contract, but a trump lead and flying SA to play another trump will also work.
March 26, 2012
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Regarding the cellphone issue as it relates to the cheating factor (as opposed to the annoyance factor), my position is that we should not be overly concerned with PREVENTION. People who want to cheat will probably always find a way. I think we should focus on DETECTION.
If our goal is to discourage cheating, we should make our detection methods public. If our goal is to catch those who cheat, we should keep our detection methods secret.
I believe cheating is a relatively minor issue. We have a lot more problems with inferior ethics (either deliberately, or due to lack of knowledge) than we do with actual cheating.
March 12, 2012
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Danny:

I don't think it's a fair analogy to compare trying to prevent someone blowing up a plane to someone having a cellphone in a bridge tournament.
Is your cellphone concern more about disruption or more about cheating?
March 10, 2012
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Danny:

1) Like it - anything that lengthens the Trials (our premier all-American event) is good with me.

2) Like it - I think it's an improvement over the current method. It wouldn't bother me if there was NO seeding (though I know I'd be in a small minority (VERY small, among “top” players/professionals)

3)Love it - the Reisinger should be lengthened IMO - and I like your method a lot.

4)Agree. With the exception of juniors, I think players should only be “separated” by strength - Flight A, B, etc. So now the seniors AND the women can hate me.
Maybe if the cutoff age for Seniors were higher (say 70 or 75), I would feel differently.

5)Don't care much - but this goes in conjunction with (6) where I do care.

6)Love it. But I would add that you also can't bring your own written defenses. There should be NO written defenses at the table, and no requirement to suggest a defense. A convention should either be legal or illegal.
In what other game or sport is it mandated that you suggest methods or provide materials to the opponents about how they should best defeat you? To me, it seems ridiculous.

7) Like it - at least for the time being. We need to entice juniors.

8) Like it - and I think the CC is most important where it relates to carding. Actually, how about Directors enforcing ALL the rules. There are many incidents that should result in “zero tolerance” penalties that nothing is ever done about.

9) I don't know enough about this to have a valid opinion. But the rules and atmosphere felt less Draconian to me when cell phones were allowed, but not allowed to be on - and there was only a penalty if they “went off”.
I don't worry about the cheating aspect - especially in this day and age where we can have cameras observing.

10 and 11) Don't care much.

On the whole, I think you made a great king. You left out only one thing that really bothers me; the lack of screens in our major events. To me, it's an embarrassment that we don't have screens in the round of 32 in the Vanderbilt and Spingold. In the WBF World Mixed Pairs, with about 520 pairs, there were screens at every single table throughout the entire event.

March 10, 2012
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Peter,

The reason I was not permitted to play in London was that I was very young and I wasn't considered to have the necessary financial circumstances. In NY it was simpler than that - the other professionals saw no reason to allow me into the game.
March 2, 2012
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Steve's article made me nostalgic. I used to love money bridge - and I've played basically none for the last 15 years (when I moved out of NY city).

When I was about 21, I quit my schooling in Glasgow, and moved to London to play rubber bridge full time. I wasn't allowed to play in the club that Bob H. speaks of (then it was called the Eccentric Club). I played every day at a place called Stefan's (which no longer exists). It was the most enjoyable bridge experience of my life. In 1978, I moved to NY city and played at the Cavendish and Mayfair clubs. I was not allowed to play at the high stakes game at the Regency, when that started.

Whether I'd still like money bridge as much as I used to, I don't know…
March 1, 2012
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Nick,

If you look again, you will see that I said “this is impossible, because Kit's partner would have opened 3D”. I didn't say it was impossible for any bridge player. If you ask Kit, I'm certain he will tell you that his partner would have 100% opened that hand with 3D. In fact, in Kit's case, it's even possible he would open a vulnerable 3D.

I saw the auction going 1H(2D)-3H(5D), Double all pass. Opener can visualize that partner might have a stiff D, and might take the money.
Having said that, there is a definite possibility that opener will go wrong and bid 5H. But I think there is also a definite possibility that, in an uninterrupted auction, East-North might get to 5H or even 6H - diagnosing that mirror diamond holding might be really tough.
I don't know how to quantify the relative possibilities of getting too high. My point was that, even catching that huge fit, bidding 2D could not clearly be seen as an equity gaining action.
Feb. 29, 2012
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Congratulations, to Kyle. In addition to being a great player and teammate, Kyle always has a cheerful disposition. He is a tough opponent, but never unfriendly - a pretty rare combination these days.
Feb. 28, 2012
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Nick,

OK, let's say we switch West and North (We'll leave aside the fact that this is impossible, because Kit's partner would have opened 3D). Now you are quite likely to finish in 5D doubled, going down three for a 4 imp gain. And most of the time the spade jack is offside, you would go down 4, for a 4 imp loss.

It is true that it might be better, since opponents might bid 5H (or 6H) over 5D (partner should not save in 6D). But usually, without any exotic shape, they take the money.
But it might be a lot worse, since it's not totally impossible that, left to their own devices, opponents might get too high, being unable to diagnose the diamond duplication in time.

Obviously, one hand proves almost nothing, but I find it noteworthy that even finding this amazing fit does not show a clear gain for bidding.

A further point; bidding on such a hand may lead to partner having a decision over, say, 4H. Partner will go wrong a lot more often if hands like this are possible.

Kit,

Excellent point about rotating the declarer being the way to think on this hand-type. I find this principle very useful when defending (especially a low-level, or silly contract). I have even used it on opening lead.
Feb. 27, 2012
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