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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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This story sounds contrived to me. In particular, the line
“ North/South had detailed notes that showed responder's offers of alternative contracts above 6 of the agreed trump suit are always to play and cannot be overridden”…

I'm not saying it couldn't happen. But I'd like to know the N-S hands…I know the author said he wasn't at the table, but presumably he can discover them.

I have one point to make, but I'll wait until the hands are provided.
Oct. 8, 2013
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I doubt the wisdom of using the ACBL convention card as a paradigm of things being done properly. However, since you brought it up…

1) 4-card overcalls - fair enough

2) 3rd seat 4-card major openings - there is a box - but no indication of how frequent they are (btw, I check 4 AND 5 because they are extremely rare for me - I think that's the best I can do (with only checking) to provoke the question.

3) 5-card weak 2 bids. No specific mention of these, though there is space if someone chooses to write that (and not something else about weak 2 style).

4) I could probably come up with a style question for EVERY line on the card

5) I could probably come up with a thousand style questions for bidding and/or card play issues that are NOT on the card.

I think style questions are legitimate. I also think the Laws say they are legitimate (you have not responded to my prior quote of the relevant Laws).
You are free never to ask style questions if you choose not to - but I think you are supposed to answer them to the best of your ability if you are asked.
Oct. 8, 2013
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Let's say dummy has KJx and I have xx, and the auction is one where an ace lead seems quite possible (say 1m-1M, 2N-4M).
It happens that, if I play the K and it wins, that I am cold for the contract; if I play the jack and it loses to the ace, I have an x% chance to make, depending on other factors (obviously, it matters what x represents, but let's leave that alone).
So what should I do? Let's now say that my opponents happen to have made the agreement to ‘never’ underlead aces (you can pooh-pooh that idea if you want, but I believe it has been made by partnerships in the past - including the English team that won the Bermuda Bowl in the 1950's.). So my RHO, on a different hand, would ‘know’ with Q9x to play the 9. Why am I not entitled to ‘know’ to play the jack against this partnership. Or to ‘almost know’ if the truthful answer is “we discussed and said ‘almost never’”

Yes, there may be a coffee-housing danger (although there should not be if the question is properly phrased and honestly answered). But the question is as legitimate as any other question about style; do you ever open a weak 2 with a 5-card suit? Do you frequently overcall with 4-card suits? Do you often open 4-card majors in 3rd seat?
Oct. 8, 2013
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From the evidence presented, there is little doubt that 6 was bid BECAUSE of the UI. That being the case, I would disallow it's success - as long as I can find some reasonable route to failure.
Asking for the queen is not just reasonable - it's clear. Showing the queen is reasonable. Bidding grand now is not just reasonable - it's clear.
So this is easy - 7 down one. I was disappointed I couldn't find a 7N redoubled down 6 hand, but you can't have everything. However, maybe just the 7 down one ruling will make this North (and anyone reading my ruling) think twice before blatantly and ‘unthinkingly’ taking advantage of UI.

There should also be some sort of record of North's action - so it can be accessed in the event of a repeat occurrence.
I might not be too hard on North if I thought they did not know much better (possible - you'd be amazed at what some people don't know). But I sure would want to be ‘hard’ if it happened again.
Oct. 7, 2013
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Wasn't the Hamman auction a 2-level bid?
Oct. 5, 2013
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You gave 6 options, but failed to give what I consider the Standard one (whether playing strong Club or not): One Round Force - can pass 3D or 3S.
Oct. 5, 2013
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I gave an example before of KJx in dummy facing 10x, and mentioned that one probably would be better off not asking any questions, so as not to alert RHO to the possibility of playing the Q from Q9x(x).
HOWEVER, let's say I have KJx facing xx. Now, if I play the J, RHO will discover I don't have the ace anyway. So it costs nothing to ask the question about underleading (whether it will ever gain anything is unclear).

As to asking the question WITH the ace (OR THE QUEEN!!!), I've thought for years that we should stop thinking of such questions as inappropriate. You should be able to ask any questions about the opponents' methods and/or tendencies - as long as the form and timing of the question are correct.

The classic case is on the K lead. Some think it improper to ask any questions, WHEN HOLDING THE ACE OR QUEEN, to attempt to discover what they lead from AK or KQ. I do not.
You are entitled to know what your RHO knows. You are entitled to know, if you duck the ace, whether RHO knows you have it (or might have it); you are entitled to know (with the queen), whether RHO knows the situation. Of course, asking “what do you lead from AK?” is not really appropriate when holding the ace.
The appropriate form of the question is “what are your leads?” If the answer does not include a clear explanation of what the king lead can be from (as, incredibly, it sometimes does not - people say “3rd and Low” or “Standard”), THEN you may ask a more specific question.

But perhaps we'd be better off not demanding perfection of the questioner, and just allow any question; with any inference taken at the opponents' risk. That would at least be simpler. Although, it might lead to some ‘poker’ games.
Oct. 3, 2013
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I'm proposing that, if you wish your written notes to be taken in consideration, they be submitted online in advance to the organizing body, and be accessible to your opponents.

This would have two uses. First, it would prevent a pair from submitting, post facto, the set of notes that say what they want to say for the particular situation. (I don't really think this is happening - but I do worry about it.)

Second, it would give others the right to peruse the notes and find a disconnect between a table action and a ‘requirement’ in the notes.

For example, as it stands now a pair might have an agreement that, with a singleton or void in overcaller's suit, that opener MUST reopen. And they might use their notes as proof that the action was ‘required’ - even after partner broke tempo. However, that same pair might NOT reopen - if partner seemed to have no problem - and nobody would be the wiser. if the notes were submitted in advance, there would at least be the POSSIBILITY that some eagle-eyed opponent would find the agreement, and notice the disconnect.

At the very least, I think pairs who have submitted their notes would be pretty careful about using ‘that old black magic’ to violate them - knowing that their agreement is open to be read. And, if they did not submit them, they would not be allowed to use them as proof.

Problems relating to slow doubles would be one area that I think could be improved by doing this.
Oct. 2, 2013
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That might be good general advice, but I don't think it's applicable here. I think there is no hand with 3 aces that would jump to 4. Meanwhile there are many hands with no aces that might be facing your particular construction. One might be —, 1098xxxx, Qxxx, Qx.
Oct. 2, 2013
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As far as I am aware, the word ‘style’ is not used.

Here's what the Laws DO say:

Law 20 F.

1. …..(a player) is entitled to know about calls actually made, about relevant alternative calls available
that were not made, and about relevant inferences from the choice of action where these are matters of partnership understanding…..
2. ….At his turn to play from his hand or from dummy
declarer may request an explanation of a defender’s call or card-play understandings.

Law 40 A

1a) Partnership understandings as to the methods
adopted by a partnership may be reached
explicitly in discussion or implicitly through
mutual experience or awareness of the players.

Law 40 B

1b) Whether explicit or implicit, an agreement
between partners is a partnership understanding.

* * * * * *

In my opinion, that is pretty explicit (or is it implicit?) that ‘style’ is relevant. ‘Implicit understanding’, “mutual experience” and ‘style’ seem to go together.

Of course, if the Laws DIDN'T say all that, I'd just say they should….
Oct. 2, 2013
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Kit goes far, but I don't think he goes far enough.
Let's say they have written notes that they are required to double with this hand. Or let's say the situation is entirely different and written notes can show some more likely type of agreement?
Now let's say the pair DOESN'T take the ‘required’ action. WHERE IS MY REDRESS? It doesn't exist - because the question never even arises.

I have been saying for over 20 years that written notes should not be allowed as ‘absolute proof’ of an agreement, UNLESS THEY ARE SUBMITTED IN ADVANCE. One day, the powers-that-be will recognize that this needs to be the way things are done. (Alternatively, we could move to a form of the game where opponents never have to tell you anything - I hope that never happens….)

The idea of ‘secret’ agreements is inconsistent with current law.
Oct. 1, 2013
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Fair enough
Oct. 1, 2013
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Greg H:

You said “my personal opinion is that (3e) is *NEVER* an acceptable answer”

Just playing devil's advocate, what if a pair had a discussion and agreed that, in all ‘style’ situations, to do what they think is correct?
Oct. 1, 2013
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So, is what you want to pass a law making ‘style’ questions illegal? I don't think you are being clear about what you want…
Oct. 1, 2013
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Peter,

So what you are saying is YOU (as 3rd hand) gets to know what is likely to be correct with Q9, but declarer does not get this same information in determining whether to play the J or K. Seems totally wrong to me.

BTW, you might think it “sharp practice” to ask as declarer. Well, with 10x, I would think it ‘stupid’ practice - alerting the defender that he should be playing the Q from Q9.

If declarer had Ax(x), I could see someone saying it was “sharp practice” to ask (perhaps that's what you meant - though you were not clear). If the intention were to try to induce the play of the Q from Q9, that WOULD be sharp practice.
However, if the intention were to determine whether playing low at trick one could ever ‘work’, then the question is legitimate.
There are many areas in bridge, as in life, that don't ‘bend’ to an easy answer. I think this is one.
Oct. 1, 2013
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Just to be clear, declarer should be in the same position as you were BEFORE THE CURRENT HAND. Declarer is not entitled to whatever you have learned about partner's predilections from the current hand….
Oct. 1, 2013
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Ellis,

In general the answer WILL be 3(e). But, if asked the question, an honest answer should be given.

The goal should not be to conceal information, or to prevent declarer getting this particular hand right. The goal should be to put declarer in the same position as you are, regarding both your agreements and your experience of partner's style that your partner knows you might know.

The answer SHOULD be whatever is true in the particular instance.
Oct. 1, 2013
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Geoffrey S. Jade,

You said “lead style is not an appropriate question”. So basically you are saying it is fine for partner to benefit from his or her knowledge of your lead style, but the declarer is not entitled to that knowledge.

I completely disagree. Whatever your partner ‘knows’ through experience, is also information that should be given to declarer IF THE QUESTION ASKED.

So the first question “leads and carding” should be answered with your systemic agreement. However, if there is a further question about STYLE, that is also a legitimate question which should be answered to the best of one's ability.
Let's say declarer asks, “what is your style as regards underleading aces”, possible honest answers could be:

1) We specifically agree we would never do it, except in a desperation-type situation, e.g. underleading against a slam with a side-suit void.

2) We specifically agreed that we might well do that

3) We've had no specific discussion and:

a) I don't remember ever seeing him do it
b) I haven't seen him do it, but we are not a regular partnership
c) I've seen him do it, but rarely
d) He does it quite frequently.
e) We have no ‘rule’ - we do what we think is correct

Note the two parts, which should be included in every ‘style’ answer. First, specific discussion. Second, your observation.
The answer should bear no relation to your holding.

Of course, style questions do not have to be limited to underleading aces. They could relate to leading from jacks, leading aggressively, leading from 3-card suits against NT, falsecarding, preempting (for some reason, THAT question seems to be universally accepted as ok), making game tries, accepting game tries etc., etc.

When you ask a ‘style’ question, you should not expect a helpful answer. You will rarely get one. Usually the answer will be 3(e) above. Often that answer will not be truthful, but there is nothing you can do about that.

Once the question is asked, a poker game may ensue. Again, there is nothing that can be done about that. The question is legitimate, and the answer should be honest. But, if it is not, there's not a whole lot that can be done about it.
I guess that is why these questions are not frequently asked - and why some people believe they should not be asked.

However, allowing partner to benefit from knowledge of your predilections, while depriving declarer of the ability to discover this information, just seems plain wrong to me.
Oct. 1, 2013
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You didn't mention through and bough….
Sept. 25, 2013
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Sorry, I really shouldn't write stuff when I've just woken up. Ignore what I said about dropping the K9.
Sept. 25, 2013
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