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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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Michael B.

Absolutely you should be able to take a break if you ‘play fast enough’. The problem, under the current system, is that there is likely to be an argument as to whether you actually pl;ayed fast enough.

Chris G.

It is true that problems are not evenly disrtibuted. But it is the same for (say) both North-Souths in a KO match. And this sort of thing should tend to break even in the long run. The job of each pair would be to stay within their allotted time.

Ed R.

Bathroom breaks would be up to the pair. It's on you if it's your side's ‘turn’. I guess opponents could agree to split the time and go together.
Director calls should probably ‘stop the clock’, unless and until the Director decides one side is ‘causing’ the problem.
Actually, the biggest logistical difficulty I see concerns system. Whose time should questions and answers go to? Perhaps there needs to be some sort of ‘bank’ for that.

Nigel K.

You are incorrect to think that time gamesmanship is not a part of chess. In fact, I think players tend to think too much about it - playing fast or for complications when their opponent has little time, instead of just trying to make the best move.
I actually believe there would be less of this in bridge than there is in chess…

To all,

I believe in attempting to construct rules that, as far as possible, do away with arguments over who has behaved ‘properly’. The current system, with it's unwritten laws, is inherently ‘argument-prone’. People will not agree on what is appropriate, and the endless arguments will continue.
If everybody had their own time, one would no longer feel pressure to play fast to help the opponents avoid a penalty. I think that is as it should be - among other advantages.
Aug. 28, 2014
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Kit,

While I basically agree with everything you have said (though, due to blockage, I don't know to what, exactly, you are responding) I think one other thing should be mentioned - the human element of self-interest.
When a BIT points in a certain direction, it is human nature for many (perhaps the majority) to think that the suggested action now becomes the percentage action (perhaps the ‘clear’ percentage action).
When a BIT gives a player a virtual ‘lock’ this seems to me unfair - if the non-suggested action seems possible (even if not percentage).
Bridge is not a black-and-white game (which you have made clear). BIT's should be discouraged - especially in ‘bad’ situations (sign-offs, penalty doubles, etc.) The way to discourage them has been, and still is, to tend to rule in favor of non-offenders in gray areas.
Screens solve some of the problems. Perhaps you have noted (as I have) that players' judgment tends to be inferior behind screens - since short BIT's are less obvious. Also, disasters following a misunderstanding are much more common behind screens. Without screens, the player often ‘figures out’ what is happening.
Aug. 28, 2014
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Mike M.

You certainly could play double as arbitrarily asking for a lead (that's why I said “at least”. Not sure I would choose clubs. But, in any case, there is a bit of a flaw with that idea. Unlike the double of 2 (which carries the risk of 2 doubled or redoubled), 2N doubled or redoubled seems like a greater risk.
In other words, with KQJ109 and out, I'm willing to double 2, but doubling 2N is just too risky for me - and if I have to run, that's probably not good either.
Aug. 28, 2014
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Assuming SNT, I think there is no “Standard” here (over WNT, Standard is just “good hand”), so it really comes down to making an agreement. I see (at least) 3 possibilities:

A) Double is TO of , with second double as stronger TO. Pass then double is penalty.

B) Double is “Unusual” - + M. pass then double is TO

C) Double is TO - either less than opening values OR about 16+. Pass the double is “medium” TO.

I think each of these methods has merit. You pays your money, and you takes your choice. Personally, I prefer (C) at imps and (A) at matchpoints.
Aug. 28, 2014
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Not to mention illegal. You are not allowed to know the scores before completing play…
Aug. 28, 2014
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Not only do I think it would work, ultimately I think it's the only fair way to solve time problems - and end arguments about who is responsible.
Aug. 27, 2014
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I'm pretty certain there were other rules. Obviously, you wouldn't be allowed to leave the playing area and have theoretical access to electronic devices. I feel pretty confident that no junior left the playing area and smoked during a session in Istanbul.
Aug. 27, 2014
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There seem to be three issues here; gamesmanship, politeness and time.
As to gamesmanship, I strongly advise the author, and every junior, to train yourself not to be affected by such things. Don't worry about ‘momentum’. Let your opponents do what they do, and resolve to remain tough and focused. In fact, if you think someone is attempting to upset you, use that to become even tougher and more focused.
Regarding politeness, I see no harm in leaving the table - as long as the leaver finds a replacement to play the dummy. if there is no replacement, one should only leave if there is no choice - e.g., cannot wait to go to the bathroom. Or, I suppose, if you are certain that none of the other three players mind your leaving (but I don't see how you can be sure of that).
That leaves us with what I regard as the most important area - time. If leaving causes any delay, it seems totally wrong to me that the opponents suffer. This highlights to me (in the same way that slow play does) the need for each pair to have it's own ‘clock’. It is unfair that a player has a bathroom break (or comes late to the table) and, as a result, the opponents now have to speed up to finish on time. But, if each pair had it's own clock, only the partner of the missing player would be affected. The opponents could calmly wait, knowing that this in no way affects them or their time.
You can feel relaxed, knowing their clock is ticking.
Aug. 27, 2014
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Nigel K.

“In any case, the regulation does not prohibit smoking immediately before the session. Or even during the session if the player happened to leave the playing area for another reason, e.g. they went to the bathroom and had a smoke before returning.”

I'm not certain to which regulation you are referring. But I can speak to the recent WBF-run Youth Championships in Istanbul.
Once a session began, smoking was illegal until the session ended. This does not contradict Adam Grossack's article, since Adam was talking in a general way about smoking breaks.
No area was designated for smoking. The bathroom area was specifically stated to be part of the playing area. And it was specifically stated that no player could leave the playing area in order to smoke.
Aug. 27, 2014
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Two things I'm not following here.
First, in your Case 2 (dummy has QJ8) you give A. as xxx - K10 and 109x - Kx and say that if you always cover, you'll “win a trick in all of A.” But when you go to declarer's viewpoint with A9xxx, you say that if covered, you would lead to the J (just as in case 1).
Second, in case 3 (dummy has QJ7), I didn't see you mention the one total disaster in ducking - partner has 1098, and declarer is forced to succeed in an ‘impossible’ task. I don't know whether this affects the game theory of how often one ought to cover, but I thought it should be mentioned.
Aug. 27, 2014
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Dave W.

I think you're suggesting that a player might deliberately huddle on a ‘classic minimum’ hand to (unethically) elicit a pass from partner. Possibly you are referencing a comment from someone I have blocked. In any case, I'll tell you this story:

At some point many years ago, ‘new’ laws came out. I forget the specifics, but Terence Reese wrote a letter to the Bridge World pointing out why he thought that these new laws were pointless and/or ineffective. He said that those who wanted to cheat would find a way around them. In response, Edgar Kaplan wrote something to the effect that it may be true, but the laws were not designed to prevent cheating - they were designed to make things fairer for those who did not cheat. (And, I believe, he mused about why Reese thought it was about cheating.)

Back to the hand. What I think you're suggesting would probably be more applicable to a penalty double situation. Double slowly with a lock, double in tempo if willing to have partner remove. But it could apply to this and other situations. What to do about that? Well if it's an individual preying on partner's good ethics, hopefully that partner will realize it and quit partnering him or her. If it's a partnership code then, like another code, it would need to be ‘cracked’ to catch the pair.

This kind of stuff can be gotten away with once or twice. But if a pattern developed, it would probably be ‘caught’.

I think the laws should be set up to provide equity (redress) when an opponent displays questionable ethics. But when it comes to cheating, the cheater needs to be ‘caught’.

Thankfully, I believe this sort of stuff is not only non-prevalent, it's basically non-existent. At least, I hope it is.

When I first saw the problem posed, my first thought was I might have GFed, or shown an invitational hand in clubs (if that were an option). My next thought was “what if partner has the ‘same’ hand as I do - AKxx, KJxxxx, xx, x?
That would be a ‘fast’ 2 bid, and I'd rathyer get no higher. But (as I said), for the range of all possible 2 bids, I'm pretty clearly better off by showing ”good 3 bid".
Not that it's a lock to bid. Partner could have, say, a light 5-6 hand that was thinking whether to bid 2. But, overall, I think bidding is more likely to be improving your chances with the huddle than without.

Two other points:

1) It matters to me WHAT is bid. If the bid is 3, or better (worse?) yet 4, I would regard that as a clear indication that the player was trying (not intelligently) to take advantage of the huddle (as opposed to 3 or 2).

2) If somebody successfully ‘guessed’ to pass the slow 2 then, assuming there was no code involved. I would not feel damaged. I believe that passing is contra-indicated by the huddle, and would just think the player was attempting to be ethical, and got lucky.
Aug. 26, 2014
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Dave W.

Not true for me, because my bid would be to get us to 3 - also likely an improvement over the 5-1 fit.
whatever the reason for the huddle, my showing a good 3 bid vastly improves my chances of a superior result. The time that showing a good 3 bid would decrease my chances of a good result is when partner has a minimum 2 bid with a stiff club - and THAT 2 call would have come in tempo.

Also, I think what you suggest is possible for a 5-10 second huddle. But, in my experience, long breaks of tempo almost always contain ‘extra’ values.
Aug. 26, 2014
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It's not clear, but I would have likely bid 2 (which I play as a better 3-level bid) without the UI (I would not consider raising, hence my answer to the poll). With the UI, I'd feel constrained to pass. This may not seem right to some, but this is a ‘bad’ huddle - and deserves to play 2 with 6 making.
Make your partner's, opponents' and director's life easy. Plan your auction. If you don't, bid in reasonable tempo anyway. There's no excuse for a 2-3 minute thought here.
Aug. 25, 2014
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Given how Kramnik performed in the recent Olympiad in Tromso, I think I'd rather play a la Kranyak….
Aug. 25, 2014
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I remember this hand, but I thought South, not North held the 10.
Aug. 22, 2014
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That's what a person pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving in Britain was asked to say by a policeman - before the existence of the breathalyser..
Aug. 18, 2014
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I enjoyed that - thanks. Insightful, well-spoken and informative. I especially liked “Listening… instead of talking so much” (hope that's the correct quote).

Also the last words - “there is nothing like it” That's something I tell many people - especially non-bridge players. I've played many games, and none cover as many areas of life, or come close in overall fascination and complexity.
Aug. 17, 2014
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I agree with Kit that 2N as FSF is better than 3. But Josh's suggestion of 1-2 as 6- card with less than invitational values, leaving 1-1, 2-2 a FSFG seems to me to be clearly better still (and happens to be what I play).
I used to play Strong Jump Shifts (at some points as a 2-way bid) but scrapped them long ago as a waste of time. I cannot recall a single hand where a SJS was necessary. Perhaps Kit has had a different experience. And it may well matter that he plays a Strong Club structure - because partner might make some space-consuming rebid over 1 (such as 3m showing 5-5 concentrated) that might hinder responder's ability to develop the auction.

Btw, playing 1-1, 2-2 as FSFG frees up 1-1, 2-3 for something else. 3 possibilities are (a)5-5 GF (b) Sound invitational raise to 3 (with direct 3 being more of a ‘keeping’ it open raise © Natural NF - probably 4-6.

I prefer (b) - but only in a Standard structure where the 2 rebid has a far wider range than it would for Kit.

1-1, 2-3 should be GF in Standard (with an invitation you have to respond 1N, or make a direct invite if 3-card support is permissible. Or you could play Josh's inv.+ transfers - though I think combining invitational and GF hands often leads to problems.

Aug. 17, 2014
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“Stopping in 2 shows a significant gain only when you can make exactly 8 tricks, and then the gain is only 5 IMPs.”

Presumably from this sentence you regard 5 imps as ‘significant.“ My first thought was ”what if partner accepts our game try and we can only make 9 tricks. Isn’t that also a significant gain?“ Then I saw you mentioned that two sentences later.
So I don't understand your ”only" in the above quoted sentence.

Another significant loss for inviting can occur when, I an effort to make 3, we go down three - whereas playing in 2 it is normal to make 7 tricks - lose 5 imps.

Another (very) significant loss can occur when we stretch to game and get doubled due to a foul break. If 3 down in 4 doubled that might be 12 imps.

Of course, there are some ‘hidden’ gains also. For example, playing in 3 I might be forced to take a chance and make 140, gaining an imp when the declarer in 2 plays safely for 8 tricks.

I'm not discussing the merits of inviting. I just think that the sentence I quoted at the top is not accurate.
Aug. 17, 2014
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I don't understand this comment. If an opponent will always lead (or play) the J from QJ, then the percentage play is to play for the drop, since QJ doubleon is a priori a more likely holding than J singleton.
Of course, if this opponent plays the Q, you are now 100% to finesse. But you score no gain there, since finessing was percentage anyway. Your gain from their failure to vary comes when they play the J - you now get to win against the more likely holding.
Aug. 17, 2014
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