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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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Andrew:

1) When I first read your article (before knowing what the Laws said), I found myself feeling queasy with the idea of looking directly at your opponents, with the purpose of watching for tells.

2) My personal feeling on the subject of your article is that I accept all “tells” that come my way (and there are many). But I do not seek them out. I avoid looking at my opponent (except when I have the feeling he does not know it is his turn to act), and I never even glance at my partner while he is involved in a hand.

3) What prompted my original comment was that I felt some readers would inevitably believe, and act on, advice that I believed was, in places, inappropriate. Especially the fact that you specifically stated that staring was okay.

4)You say that I omitted the part of your post where you apologized for what you termed your “flippant” use of the word “stare”.
However, YOU omitted the fact that I clearly stated that you had edited your post. You also omitted that my point was that your original wording did not appear to me, and I imagine many others (who you now describe as irony-impaired), to be flippant.

5) You say “watching intently does not imply rude staring. I can watch my opponents intently while I look at my own hand. I don't need to stare”
Firstly, I think your use of the word “rude” is subdolous. It is staring that is being attacked here, not “rude staring”. Secondly, you may not be aware that most of us mortals don't have your superhero-type powers of vision. I, for one, am not able to watch intently somewhere, while looking somewhere else.
I can't see the macro-expressions in their eyes, let alone the micro-expressions.

6) Regarding The Laws, I apologize for (in my original post) quoting only a part of 74C5. I should have at least added “…” to show there was more to the extract. You now quoted the complete sentence.
I agree with you that we cannot be certain of the intent of the lawmakers. However, I think it's strange to think that because 74B mentioned “as a courtesy” (even though a couple of them are, in my opinion, a lot more important than that) that this should extend to 74C5. Indeed, I think it would be more rational to take the opposite position - 74B is “Etiquette”; 74C is “Violations of Procedure”

7) Another Law was mentioned in the comment thread. Law 74A2 states “A player should carefully avoid any remark or action that might cause annoyance or embarrassment to another player or might interfere with the enjoyment of the game.”

Looking at your article, you spoke of playing against an “American expert” saying “He was aware I was watching him”. This whole thing just feels wrong to me - I think looking at someone and creating this unease is against the spirit of 74A2.

8) I'm glad you wrote this article. It will cause me to speak to the Laws Commission, who I hope will clarify these matters.
Personally, I'd like to see a law that reads something like “watching another player for the purpose of gleaning information is illegal”. Maybe the best word is not “watching”; maybe it should be “looking at” or “studying”. I know what my intent is, but have not yet found an entirely satisfactory way of verbalizing it.
Basically, I believe a player's eyes should be on the cards he is legally allowed to see; raising his eyes slightly to see the bidding and play.

9) Finally, you complain that I have made a mountain out of a molehill. However, I would point out that it was my original post that played a part in your removing your words which stated that staring was okay. So, while you might regard it as a molehill, I believe I assisted the readers of Bridgewinners.

Now, if you would just state that maybe this watching thing is not clearly a great idea, you could help also….
Aug. 4, 2012
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Andrew:

1) You now say:
“I never intended to suggest staring at anyone was OK”. But, before you edited your post, you didn't just suggest it, you flat-out said it was okay to stare.

2) You now say:
“You certainly should not stare at partner”. Whereas, before you edited your post, you said that it was okay to stare at partner.

The above two examples do not seem to be a correction of casual or flippant remarks.

3) You say (in the comment thread):
“ watch the manner of your opponent intently”

4) You say (in the comment thread):
“Watch their hands as they remove the card they play”

5) You say (in the comment thread):
“watch their faces, especially their eyes, as they look at the dummy and their own hand.”

I would regard the advice you give in examples 3-5 to be inappropriate, and in contravention of both the spirit, and the letter, of The Laws.
And I don't see how you can do any of these things without staring - especially number three.
Aug. 4, 2012
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Bob H.,

You earlier said (discussing my hypothetical hand where opener has no club control):
“Also, the hand you suggested for West included AQJ of ?s, which makes the double of 4? extremely weird”

That was why I said:
"What is weird about a double of 4S with the king over the (likely after the 4S cue) ace? Nothing.”

Your idea that the double of 4S might have been a psyche so that Kx might not be a control seems totally bizarre to me.
Aug. 3, 2012
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Steve C.

I believe you are falling into a common trap here - ascribing a meaning to an auction based on your hand rather than the auction itself.

BTW, opener did not promised first round D control (until he bid 5S).

Clearly, the question “who has a club control” must be sorted out before we can bid slam. Had 4S not gotten doubled it would be mandatory for opener, with first OR second round control, to cue or bid KC or bid a slam.

Once 4S got redoubled, it now became responder's responsibility. He must cue or KC with a control.

If David had a different hand with SK and/or DA in place of CK (and xx in clubs) THAT is when he would bid 5D.
Aug. 3, 2012
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Whereas I blame West for thinking that the 5N and 6C bidding cards were equivalent
Aug. 3, 2012
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The need for GSF has mostly been obviated by Key Card Blackwood and Exclusion Blackwood.
My rule is to play that I only play GSF if it is responder's first bid or opener's second bid. Probably not optimal, but at least it's simple to remember.

The reason I like 5N as PAS unless otherwise agreed (and I have other agreements) is that I think it is the only way to ensure the partnership is on the same wavelength. This time, almost certainly not optimal, but avoiding disaster is more important than having ‘perfect’ agreements.

In fact, my notes say that the partner of 5N bidder cannot bid grand.

The desire to play in another suit is not uncommon. Sometimes, you have been crowded and the first agreed fit is not the best fit. Sometimes, you want to play in a 4-4 fit with your agreed 5-4 fit providing a discard.

I have no particular rules as to what slams are being suggested. It needs to be based on logic. On the actual hand, it seems pretty clear to me that opener was being given a chance to clear up whether his 4D bid was actually based on a suit.
Aug. 3, 2012
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Bob H.

1) “ If David was really interested in playing 6? instead of 6?, maybe his initial response should have been 2? rather than 3?.”

Maybe it should, and maybe it shouldn't. There is no universal agreement as to whether responder should show support or bid his suit here. But I don't think it's reasonable to think that “maybe he should” translates into ‘he can’t want to play in diamonds, so now 5N can't be pick-a-slam' (not a quote).

2) With the spade ace, West would have two choices over 4S doubled; redouble or KC. Anything else would (at least for the time being) deny the spade ace.

3) What is weird about a double of 4S with the king over the (likely after the 4S cue) ace? Nothing.

4) Which is the greater risk?:

a) that partner will respond 5S over 4N - a total disaster when it happens;
OR

b) That partner will assume a cue in the opponents' suit below 5 of the agreed suit shows the ace rather than just a control.

I consider myself to be a thoughtful player, but I doubt if (b) would have occurred to me.

5) “Even if partner is looking at two small ?s and solid everywhere else, Kx may not be a helpful holding with partner declaring.”

As John Mcenroe would say, you cannot be serious! After the double of 4S, I'd make the odds of the vulnerable overcaller holding the club ace as way over 99 to 1.

6) “If David is too chicken to bid blackwood over the redouble, then he should bid 5? or 5?, not 5?.”

But the whole point is that those bids would DENY a club control - and if partner needs one, I am giving up on slam.
Aug. 3, 2012
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Andrew:

Law 74 C5 states “looking intently at any other player during the
auction and play” is a violation of procedure.

You stated “Yes the rules do allow a player to stare to try to pick up a tell”.
You also suggest observing facial expressions; as an example, you say you “may interpret a curl of the opponent's lip”.

It seems to me that this is a clear and wilful contravention of the Laws. I believe you need to either:

a) Retract what you said and apologize for the damage you have done by disseminating false information;

OR

b) Explain how staring is not a Violation of Procedure

If it's not already obvious, I think you are totally wrong here - and am horrified that you are not just suggesting, but actually encouraging and attempting to promote, staring at an opponent.
Aug. 3, 2012
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Gary,

True, nobody promised natural diamonds. But your 4D bid did not DENY diamonds - you would certainly bid it as a red 2-suiter. Indeed some of the comments have suggested that you should have preferred 4S.

I certainly don't see how “It was much more likely I had spades since 4spades seemed to excite me.” Your redouble of 4S was virtually mandatory with the spade ace (unless you were going to bid 4N yourself).

Also true that your 5N over 5H would have been pick-a-slam - though I find it a little strange that you think your partner would 100% read that, whereas you did not consider that his 5N was pick-a-slam.

Five spades by you made it clear, for the first time, that you were trying for seven. But, as I said earlier in this thread, I see nothing illogical about one player trying for grand and then his partner suggesting an alternate strain for small slam.

I play 5N is always pick-a-slam - unless otherwise defined (e.g. a king ask in Blackwood). That's the sort of agreement that tends to avoid disaster.
Aug. 2, 2012
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I think David thought it unclear - or at least that 5N was clearer.
Aug. 2, 2012
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let's say, on an entirely different West hand, the right contract was 6D, and the match was lost because David bid 6H over 5S. Wouldn't there be many who said he was totally at fault for not getting his side to 6D after partner bid 4D?
Aug. 2, 2012
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Actually, it was gary who had to pay me to limit my analysis to DAVID'S bids.
I don't see how it is reasonable to describe David's 5C bid as a psyche. What do you think he should have done?
Even if YOU think Blackwood was safe - that partner could not have a 5S response - surely it is not unreasonable for David to worry about that and feel 5C is safer?
At any rate, I think calling 5C a psyche is plain unfair - in fact, it is the bid I would have made.
Aug. 1, 2012
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Maybe you can tell the difference. Maybe you can't. Wouldn't it be better to be certain? And to know what is a grey area, and what is not?
July 31, 2012
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Gary:

Some might play you might have passed 4C with no control. Others might think you are not in a force, so that might be a little risky.

It's not really fair to say you made 2 slam tries - since redouble is virtually obligatory with SA. Anyway, I think you might make 2 slam tries with, say, AQJ, Q10xxxxx, A, xx.

Finally, I see no reason why it is a logical impossibility for one player to make a GST and then the other to offer a choice of strain for small slam.

Barry (and Dror)

There certainly could be advantages to playing in D. Let's see - a heart loser could go on a spade. Or there could be a 2-way guess for HQ - easier if D are trump. Or there might be a D ruff if hearts are trump. Or hearts might break unluckily. Maybe someone else can think of more.
July 30, 2012
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“It should be quite clear that when I recommend a bid or play in this series I am giving my opinion. I am not stating it as a fact.”

If I thought that were true, I would not have an issue with you.
in this article you describe 2N as “pretty clear”. I would say that 2N is very clear - a lot clearer than whether there exists in the universe a hand that does not ‘fit’ an opening bid or a preempt.

But I think a reader could be forgiven, on reading your article, for thinking that if 2N is “pretty clear” then passing this hand second seat with all vul would be just plain wrong - not as opinion, but as virtual fact.

Obviously there are more examples of “clarity” in cardplay, when there can easily be a 100% play than in bidding, where there is usually room for argument.

But I don't think one should say ““There is no break between a 1-bid and a 2-bid” with the same authority as one might say, for example, ”one should be more aggressive competing for partials when nobody is vulnerable" - which is (more or less) an established fact.

You may think this is all a matter of semantics. To me, it's more a matter of education.
July 30, 2012
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Let's look at only East's actions:

1) 3C. Certainly normal and reasonable

2) 4S. Too much to sign-off. Can't bid KC because can't stand a 5S response. Wants to leave KC in the game, and doesn't want to bypass what could be a critical spade control. So 4S seems obvious to me.

3) 5C. Partner might need a club control, holding xx. Still can't KC because of 5S response. Again, I see no real choice.

4) 5H sign-off. Obviously can't be part of the problem.

5) 5N. In most expert partnerships, 5N is pick-a-slam if that is possible. While 4D might not have promised D length, it certainly doesn't deny D length. So it is natural to try to get to 6D, especially having bid 3C with only 3-card H. While a simple 6D might have been more direct, it probably seemed ‘safer and nicer’ to East to bid 5N and pass 6D, than put his partner under pressure by bidding 6D.
However, this is to me the one questionable action in an unpracticed partnership - 6H would certainly be ‘simpler’.

But I can't see giving much blame for that - certainly not 19% - I basically have no criticism of East's actions.

I also have sympathy for North-South
July 30, 2012
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“There is no break between a 1-bid and a 2-bid”

To disseminate this statement to BW readers as if it were a pure fact does a great disservice. Just because your religion states that bidding is always better than passing, this does not make it actually true.

To an atheist such as myself, there are many hands which do not ‘fit’ a 1-level or a 2-level opening (or any other). The actual hand would be one for me.

- If I open with a 1-level bid, I may well get too high (I would feel better about it if my ace was with one of my 3-card suits).

- If I open with a preempt, I may no longer be able to reach our best strain.

Now, I'm not saying it is a fact that it is wrong to open 1H or 2H. I'm saying that I THINK it is an inferior action - just my opinion.

However, I AM stating that it IS wrong to state as a fact that you MUST open something on this hand. There is no evidence for this, and my experience (and, I believe, the experience of many other experts) is that this is not true.

Where the evidence is not clear (or non-existent) beliefs should not be stated as facts - especially not to those you are attempting to edify.
July 30, 2012
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Partner COULD have a running suit - and be using your system to help reach the optimal contract.

He could have a hand with solid diamonds. Had you shown a stiff SPADE, partner would look to play 5D or 6D. When you show a stiff DIAMOND his best shot is 3N.

I agree your seventh heart is clearly more useful for 4H. However your two aces could be just what partner needs for 3N - two fast tricks (or the club ace could make partner's clubs running). Whereas, if partner has ‘only’ 8 tricks in his hand, 4H and 5D may both fail.
July 24, 2012
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I would pass 3N. I do not know, in fact I CANNOT know what I would have done without the BIT. Human beings are not able to totally block out thoughts at their convenience.
The BIT expresses doubt. It is likely that my hand is more suitable for whatever partner had in mind other than 3N.
Partner should have foreseen this and thought before he bid 3D. THAT BIT is much harder to read.

If I were serving on a Committee, I would rule against the 4H bid, and revert the contract back to 3N. That is the “message” I wish to send.

Having said all that, if my opponent bid 4H I would simply ask the opponents if they agreed there was a BIT. Then, when I finally discovered what the 4H bidder held, I would let it go. I only ask for redress for BIT if I am very confident I have actually been damaged. Here, the seventh heart is sufficiently unusual that I would not feel sure.
I'm not willing to send the “message” when it's in my own self interest.

Bridge is a difficult game - and I prefer to focus on the cases that seem clear to me.
July 24, 2012
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I'd be interested to see those hands. To spare the readership here, you can, if you like, email one or more to me at microse59@gmail.com
July 2, 2012
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