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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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Kit,

To me, there is a world of difference between trying to figure out how to make tricks by brute force, and signaling. I can sometimes figure out a defense which does not involve partner at all (or hardly at all). Whereas in man-made (signaling) bridge the whole issue is getting partner to ‘do the right thing’. Signaling, like any other conventional agreement, is not an intrinsic part of the game.
To put it another way, I can imagine playing bridge with NO signaling - indeed, at various times in my bridge life I have had to. Whereas I can't imagine bridge where I'm not playing with the mindset of maximizing my tricks.
I guess I can't convince you that signaling is different from a ‘real’ bridge problem. Ultimately, for me, it's a question of ‘feeling’. It just ‘feels’ a little wrong to me that I think about a signal, partner knows I'm thinking about that signal, and then does the right thing. Maybe I'm in a small minority - I don't really know.

One of my goals has long been to lessen the effects of tempo in signaling. It is a big part of our expert game to communicate with signals. What I want is not to have communication with signaling PLUS tempo. If I have a signaling problem after trick one, I prefer to give an incorrect signal (and often do) than to alert partner that “this is going to be a signal”.

I did say that 30 seconds at trick one might not be long enough - I'd be happy to accept 60 seconds. I just think there are too many players that this would drive a little nuts. But maybe I'm wrong.
In any case, whatever the time limit, there is nothing to prevent declarer and defender playing faster. There just can't be any complaints. That's my idea - to avoid complaints, accusations and players taking advantage of the current ‘non-rules’.

It's true that the later advantage tends to lie with whoever has won the last trick. And overall, this may be to declarer's advantage. However, often you will have a legitimate bridge problem during an earlier trick, and can give more time to the whole hand, if the originally allotted trick 1 time was not enough for you.

I'd just like to play in a game where (say) the ace is led and dummy has a stiff, and I can feel confident things would be ‘the same’ whether 3rd hand took 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds or 60 seconds to play the same card. I want a uniform or “Standard” trick one approach.
June 29, 2014
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Why not just say that 2 asks partner to pass with a weak 2 and do something else with a weak 2? If they want to know what else, they can ask another question.
June 28, 2014
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A good question arises out of trick one. Did East consider his play at trick one? If he did, at what point (if any) is declarer entitled to know he was thinking about the bridge on that trick, and not about signaling on that trick, or about the whole hand?

More than 20 years ago. I suggested the following: after dummy comes down, nobody plays until some pre-determined time (I gave 30 seconds as a possibility). Then declarer must call a card - unless thinking about what card to play from dummy. Then third hand plays in tempo - unless thinking about what BRIDGE (not signaling) card to play on that trick.
Declarer may call for a card before the 30 seconds is up, but then third hand has the right to wait for the ‘bell’ before playing.

My theory is that if you can't figure out how to signal on a hand within 30 seconds, you need a new signaling system.
Taking time over a signal carries insoluble ethical problems.
It wouldn't bother me if the time was, say, 60 seconds - but I think some players couldn't stand being compelled to wait that long.

It seems crazy to me that we've been playing bridge for this long, and we still have not resolved this (and other) ethical issues. Instead what we have, and will continue to have, are complaints, people taking advantage, and accusations (often behind players' backs).
Maybe after bridge has been played another 90 years, we will have finally resolved this issue.
June 28, 2014
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Without giving a long answer, I would say that, on this auction, a major suit lead is generally preferable to a minor suit lead. Because West is likely to hold many small major suit cards, I think the information from the lead is negligible.
June 24, 2014
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While we're picking on Frances, I don't think it was Kit who DID mention the percentage play in diamonds….
June 24, 2014
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Correction: my last two lines above are an error. The show-up squeeze only works if East covers with KJxxx - and then only for the overtrick.

Presuming no cover, there is no squeeze - no count rectification. So, after the second , declarer would cash the hearts (unless 5-1).
Then must try to read whether to endplay West in clubs (having squeezed him out of any extra spade length) or just play ace and a club and hope to find East with CQ or that ten will drop. Not sure which is better…
June 24, 2014
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Ok, let's clear it up. For THREE tricks, losing at most one:

If 3-3 running Q loses to any K third with West, and gains against any K third with East. Break even.

If 4-2, running Q gains against Kx with East (4 cases). It's true that the other play makes TWO tricks if West has Kx - but 2 tricks will only be enough if you make 3 club tricks.
Also Q does better against KJxx with East (2 tricks without loss) than ace then low to Q does against KJxx with West (since West can win K). Although that might not matter much in practice.
Other 4-2 breaks are break even, Result on 4-2 is a clear gain for leading the Q.

If 5-1, running Q loses to one holding (stiff K with West). Some counterbalance if KJ fifth, since again running Q gains 2 tricks without loss. Result on 5-1 is a small gain to ace then low to Q.

Overall, running Q is clearly best in the suit.
June 24, 2014
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There are two issues here: the right play in the suit; and the right play of the whole hand.

The first is easy. Even without 7 in dummy, I think leading the Q is best for 4 tricks. Since we only need 3 tricks, the lack of 7 is irrelevant, and this play is clearly best.

Whatever play you take in the suit, you might face a problem as to what to do next. If Q or to 9 holds, does East have KJxx or Hxx (more on this later)? If you play A and to Q does West have Kxx or KJxx?

Kit believes that East will have harder time ducking Kxx if he runs 9 than West will after to 9. I don't see why. Ducking with Kxx by East is automatic for any tough player looking at that dummy. I think the type of player who would win the K from Kxx is also the type of player who might cover the Q from KJxx or Kxx or Kx.

But there are other problems with running the 9, and assuming that West has KJxx if it holds. Aside from West holding KJx which Kit mentions (also, I think, an automatic duck) what if East ducks with Kxxx? And what if a TRULY expert East ducks with Jxxx!
That brings me back to a to the 9. If that wins and you're NOT cashing A, it's not just Kxx with West you need to worry about - it's also Kxxx and (against Zia) Jxxx.

One can argue forever about the best psychological play, and so far I'm totally leaving out the issue of playing hearts to try to improve the odds in .
But I think that, mathematically, the right approach is Q and try to make 4 tricks in diamonds. If that fails, and you're still alive (KJ fifth with RHO or K with LHO and Jxx(xx), then fall back on club finesse/squeeze, Q10x or whatever you need.

In other words, sort of what Michael Bodell says above, except that I would tend to continue after Q and A bring small cards.
This is where the playing majors to discover shape comes in. If East is short in majors, then the club finesse becomes a better bet than the third .
I guess after A, Q, to A, you can cash hearts (if not 5-1) pitching , play A, to Q, A and then decide in the 4-card ending. I believe, ceteris paribus, that the break is a better chance than the club finesse.
But maybe that's wrong because some 3-3's are excluded? Time for the mathematicians to chime in. Maybe Michael Bodell has it exactly right.

Most fun make for me is if RHO has x, xx, KJxxx, 10xxxx - you make on a show-up squeeze. Sadly, that 9 lead does not look like 9 fourth or fifth…..
June 24, 2014
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The other line I think worth considering is A, K, A, ruff hoping for Qx-5-Kx-4 or Qxx-5-Kx-3.
If all follow low to third spade, then need to decide (basically) if opener has Qxxx, Kxxxx, K, AJx or Qxxx, Kxxxx, x, AJx (the missing tens might matter).
If they play a ‘solid’ style, try to drop KN. If not, I guess the finesse becomes percentage now.
One advantage of this line is that you don't go 2 down
June 23, 2014
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If the A doesn't drop the king, and East follows to 3 spades and has 3-card then the A MUST be doubleton. So I think the worry about entries is almost a mirage.
I say “almost” because - as you point out the spots can be relevant. If RHO is xx-5-Kx, AJxx then my line fails if dummy has AQ2 - or if dummy's spot is lower than my lowest spot.
My answer assumes it is not - I'll need to rethink if it is.
June 22, 2014
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Nick M,

I don't think you “missed” it. I don't see that it was ever stated that 1 was a limited opening. But it is clearly true that South's bidding 4 is ‘better’ in a limited opening style (although I still would not bid it - i just wouldn't think it horrendous.)
June 21, 2014
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David Y.

You said, “The ACBL regulations specifically state that no announcement of 1NT is necessary by a PH unless the bid specifically cannot be passed.”

I'm not arguing with the statement's factual veracity (I have no knowledge here).
But it does seem strange to me if, as I believe, that “Semi-Forcing” is one of the possible announcements after partner responds 1N.
If, as a PH, responder's strength can be anything up to less than an opening hand, it seems as if the announcement passes that information - whereas saying nothing would be the ‘normal’ 6-9. (And alerting would be something else, e.g. Kaplan Inversion).
June 21, 2014
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“If you weren't playing 10 or 9 shows 0 or 2 higher, partner would be leading the J from KJ10x. Now it wouldn't be so clear to play the queen.”
I don't see why.

Also I can't imagine any responding hand where game is cold - I think South is far from accepting. I can imagine many hands where game has no play. I'd be worried about making 3. My hand would probably be better if my K was in the minors. At least then, facing a stiff spade, I might have a ‘perfect fit’.
Whether North should bid game or not is a function of opening bid style. Playing a sound style, I would think it clear to bid game.
If not playing a limited opening system, it's probably a good idea to give up responder's natural 3 response to have two ways to raise to 3 (in addition to having 2 ways to bid 3 AND to make various slam tries in hearts).
Playing a limited opening system, the value of this method is less clear, since slam is so unlikely - and game facing a hand is less likely.
June 21, 2014
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In that structure 1N is usually forcing or semi-forcing - which is an announcement. Once that is made, there is no need to alert 2.
I guess if 1N was 6-9 (and thus not alertable), then maybe 2 becomes alertable?
June 20, 2014
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Dear Mr. DY

1) No, I would not “assume or accept that explanation” (I do not understand your grammar, but I'm assuming I know what you mean).
What I was pointing out is that the POSSIBILITY was not considered by Mr. Frank in his comment. I can imagine being on a Committee and ‘knowing’, in that particular case, that the West player was sleeping through the entire hand. And, if that were the case, I would abhor the assignation of a PP (which, admittedly, I am generally against).

2) Due to the Twilight-Zonish nature of the auction, I did not think too much about the play. Nor will I, unless and until I am convinced the facts make sense. “4 very experienced players at the table.” - something is WAY off.

To me, the decision re egregious error can rarely be made without knowing something about the particular player. Obviously, a revoke qualifies. Beyond that, in general, I tend toward non-egregious. Nobody plays this game very well.

This hand does bring up a general question I find fascinating. Are you required to notice that a player is a PH, if the player's partner does not? Or is it reasonable to take an (incorrect) explanation at face value? I lean toward saying you ARE required, but am not sure - and am willing to be convinced otherwise.

In any event, my comment was more of a general one - to make the point that just because partner can't have what you said, it doesn't mean you will ever wake up. It's possible you might think partner psyched - until the post-mortem. I'm not disagreeing with you that, if one has reasonable doubts, one need not accept that explanation.
June 17, 2014
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There is a big difference between the thrump auction and 1N(2M)-3N. In the latter case, responder should not hold a minor 2-suiter - there should be some other systemic way to show that. So, there, 3N rates to be a 1-suiter, and opener (if pulling) should tend to bid 4
June 17, 2014
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I think 40C1 only covers a repeated psyche - or if the director judges there was foreknowledge
June 17, 2014
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I did not know that. I thought that MIGHT only happen in the case of a REPEATED equivalent psyching situation.
Is that a law you are quoting?
June 17, 2014
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Isn't it POSSIBLE that West never “figured it out” - but simply thought the whole time that his partner had psyched?
June 16, 2014
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You can define double as thrump if you like - but you have to accept it will be bid on a wide variety of hands. First duty is (normally) to show a stopper. Otherwise, I guess just “do your best” - and here 4 looks like that.
Probably, I'd want a way for responder to show 4-6 now - I guess that would be 4. Now opener can bid 4N with slam interest and 5m as a suggestion to play. If responder bids 4 and converts 5 to 5, it now means 4 was a slam try after all.
June 16, 2014
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