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All comments by Michael Rosenberg
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Oops. I should try reading. It WAS mentioned that the diamond continuation might be A7 doubleton. Sorry.
March 28, 2011
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I'd like to address some of the comments first - then I'll get to the hand.

Henry, I think you are saying that, if declarer fast-plays from dummy that a defender is not within his rights to take time. I don't know what the Laws says here, or if it is even covered. But, personally, I see no problem with a defender playing fast or slow if declarer fast-plays - I think that that declarer sows what he reaps. Whereas, if a declarer takes time, I think the defender should play in the same tempo regardless of how difficult his problem is.
About 20 years ago, I wrote an article in “Bridge Today” - part of which suggested how trick one might be better handled.

Henry (again), you put in quotes “it is standard expert practice to give sp when dummy has a stiff.” Now, I am not certain who you are talking to here, but it looks to me as if you are “quoting” Shane, who actually said “it is pretty common among experts to have the agreement that when the opening lead is dummy's singleton, all signals are suit preference”. I don't think one can reasonable argue with Shane's statement - I believe it IS pretty common. Whether it is “standard practice” or not could (I think) be argued either way.

Bob and Tom: you both suggest that a singleton lead would be preferable to an unsupported ace lead on this auction. While I might agree about a FOUR-level contract, I think that the ace lead stands out against a FIVE-level contract. You CAN always beat it if partner has the ace of your singleton (presuming your ace lead lives). While, if you lead your stiff, they may just run all (or too many) of the tricks. Obviously, that's why we lead the ace - we can continue, shift to the stiff OR shift to the other suit - we will have a better idea once we see dummy.

Geoff: a good idea to play low from dummy on the heart. Tom is correct that, on this hand, there is no “charge” - but it's still a good idea. Perhaps even a better idea, if declarer HAD Qx, is to play low from dummy and NOT DROP THE QUEEN. If you are a respected declarer, against the right opponents, wouldn't they be sure you had a stiff?
Perhaps an even better idea (than the even better idea) would be to PLAY LOW WITH XX! Could the opponents EVER figure that out?

Now to the hand: The suggestion has been made that, since declarer is likely to guess the heart, that Lauria should have continued diamonds. But I have not seen it mentioned that this STILL may not have solved the problem. How would Versace know that partner did not begin life with A7 doubleton? So how does he know which red winner to cash?
Perhaps Lauria is in the “I would prefer a singleton lead” with Bob and Tom. If so, the heart shift would be 100% for him. And, while I am very far from being in that camp myself, I do see that it solves this hand. So far, I see no solution on this hand with my leading style.
March 28, 2011
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I think that's a pretty good idea, but there are a couple of problems with it:

1. Partner might think you are denying a heart control (you would need advance agreement to prevent this)
2. If partner marks time with 4D, 4H (in Levin-Weinstein) methods would be KC and 4N is a heart cue. Neither seems really satisfactory to me.
March 28, 2011
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Joanna:

“Whenever you have the desire to make an undiscussed bid at the slam level, repress it - your partner will not be on the same wavelength. Even if you think the meaning is obvious, your partner will think it means something else.”

We have already seen some of these in the “Under Further Review” series.

March 26, 2011
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Steve - I won't be earning my pay here, I mostly agree with Kit, ESPECIALLY when he wrote “The key is to have clearly defined rules.”
1S-2D, 3D-3H, 4N.
1S-2D, 3D-3H, 3S-4S, 4N

In both these auctions, the partnership was not clear as to what 4N meant. Now, these guys are so good that they can get away with this but, to me, it is unacceptable to have rules where the meaning of 4N is EVER unclear. It should be clearly defined when it is Quantitative, Takeout, Natural, Moving along, Regular Blackwood or Keycard Blackwood. It doesn't matter so much WHAT the rules are. Misunderstandings cause far more disasters than inferior methods.

Getting to the 3S bid in particular, and advance cues in general I believe, as Kit does, that bids below 3N should be a probe for best game (except 3 of the other major when a major is agreed). I also agree with Geoff that advance cues do not “work”. I again must disagree with Steve (I guess I'm fired). On the example auction 1D-1H, 3D I would not bid 3S as an advance cue - I would just raise directly to 4D to start a cuebidding auction.
I wouldn't say to never make an advance cue. There are some auctions where it is the only chance. For example, after 1D-1H, 2C-3H you have no way to make a “good 4H bid” so you try 3S, hoping for 3N (but unless you hear 3N you are stuck, unless prepared to bid 5H yourself. But here there is no alternative, so I believe AVOID advance cuebids where possible.

Kit's rules for when 3N is non-serious are probably rooted in the fact that he plays a Strong Club. Otherwise, 8-card major (rather than 9-card major) would be the usual way to go. I can't imagine that, in a Standard system, that, say, 1S-2H, 3H-3S, 3N is better played as natural.

Regarding the Ish-David auction, Kit was wrong about the 6C bid. North definitely intended it as looking for the void. But I think it was also looking for the trump Q. So I don't understand John Kranyak's contention that South could bid 6D with club void. Ish told me afterward he thought it would be 6D no Q and 6H,6S,6N as heart, spade and club void respectively (how he hoped to survive the club void is not clear, but he might facing, say, Jx, AQJxx, AQ10xxx, —)

The important thing is that the Rosenberg Slam Rule was violated. And, when both players violate it on the same hand, disaster is almost inevitable.




March 26, 2011
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David:

It was teams, not pairs
March 18, 2011
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So even though it seems certain I am acting on UI (based on my question regarding 2C), you would be willing to see me get a good result by using the UI and doing my best to win at all costs. I don't think that's what the majority of ethical players would want.

I'm not sure why you are so anxious to “avoid having to figure out what a player was thinking and dealing with potential self-serving statements.” After all, don't we do this routinely? When a player says “I was always going to bid” or “my plan all along was to cue and bid again”, we basically ignore that and go with the actual evidence (the hands, system notes, etc.).
I'm guessing the difference, for you, is that in a case such as mine, there is no provable infraction. However, since I believe one should, in cases of doubt, rule against the side that committed the infraction, I would extend this to (in a case of doubt) ruling against the side that created the problem. Why should the innocent side do worse than they might have?
Of course, as it stands now, I could have bid 4H and said I was doing nothing wrong (using the ACBL interpretation). I'd like to see that changed.
March 9, 2011
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I do believe the rules could have been interpreted differently at that Committee. And so, I dissented from the INTERPRETATION. I would not, in Committee, dissent from a rule.

To some extent, we need (and want) to trust players' integrity. But we should not do so blindly. For example, had I bid 4H over 4D,I could have said I meant to bid 2H or 3C, thus claiming that the UI was irrelevant to my 4H bid. If it were then pointed out that my previous action (asking about 2C) showed I thought partner opened 1N, I could say I initially thought that, but realized my error before bidding 3N. Now a Committee would have to be pretty dumb to swallow that, but the point is that it cannot be that “what I was thinking” is not open to question. And you can't sensibly avoid this by burying all cases in which this is a factor.

Kit said “Debbie's alert and explanation…(did) not give him the information that he (had) misbid.” That may be true, semantically, but it DID give me the impetus to relook at the auction and discover what had happened. Had there been no bidding boxes I, on hearing her explanation, would have asked for a review and discovered the truth. But this would be just as tainted with UI as the actual case.
Had there been screens, I doubt if I would ever have realized she opened 1H. Therefore, I should not be able to use the UI of her explanation to do so. Anyway, that's how I see it.
March 9, 2011
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Kit (continued):

Which is the “lesser evil”? To give a player who has made some sort of error a bad result, or to allow a player to possibly profit from UI? You think the latter. I think the former.


March 9, 2011
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Steve:

I “take the worst of it” when there is a law I would like to see changed. I hope (but in no way expect) that others, seeing me do this, will do the same. The more it becomes prevalent, the greater the likelihood that there will (eventually) be some movement in getting the law changed.
I tried, long ago, going through official channels to change the revoke penalty, but got nowhere.
Regarding the bullying, you have it backwards. I was bullied as a kid. I'm confused as to what this does to your theory.

Kit:

In your screens scenario, I agree that, if those are the only three possibilities (and I also agree the psyche has basically zero probability, so really only two possibilities) that I would never pass 4D. However, there is a fourth possibility; that I would remain in my fog, not think anything clear, and pass.
I believe the single most likely of all the possibilities (including my 4th) is your no. 1. So I perhaps “should” have bid 4S. Now Debbie, with no club control (in our style, 4D does not categorically deny a club control) would bid 5H, and I think that would be sufficient to wake me up. So it's possible I actually could have extricated myself reasonably.
I thought if I bid something, I MIGHT escape. I It was for this reason that I stopped my analysis at the table, and did what I was sure would be bad - because that's what MIGHT have happened with no UI.

The mind-reading part of your post I find troubling. I think Committees are often compelled to ignore self-serving statements about what a player was thinking. If they had to believe everything in that area, it would open a can of worms.
March 9, 2011
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Jonathan:

I don't think there is anything new in not alerting to “avoid giving (partner)UI and waking him up. I have seen this several times before. For example, a player bids Drury and his partner doesn't alert. He then doesn't alert his partner's rebid, hoping his partner will wake up on his own (and if he just forgot to alert, it wouldn't matter).
Whether the player who acts this way is ”really acting in their own interest“ depends on the particular situation. With an ethical partner, you are helping yourself by NOT alerting.
Of course, there are also cases where a player makes a conventional bid, partner does not alert, and then they permanently hide the fact that partner forgot the system (they can do this if their hand in some way matches, in a natural sense, the bid they made).

Nigel:

I have no desire to ”conveniently resolve my ethical problem". What I want to do is to make sure that I gained no benefit from UI - and to set up the rules so that, as far as possible, all players will do the same.
March 8, 2011
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Michael S.

I would never dream (and don't think I suggested) that a player should be punished for following the rules. As long as they are within the law, everyone must follow their own moral code.
March 8, 2011
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Andy:

There is no argument that partner would have broken the law with such comments. What is not clear to me is what would be done about it. Would the score be adjusted? Or would it ‘merely’ be disciplinary action?
Again, this is all in the context of the ACBL position regarding the auction on the table. If I had my druthers, it would all be UI to me, and the score would be adjusted.

Henry:

I agree with following the law (both in bridge and life), with one exception. If I think the law is incorrect AND it is against my own self-interest to violate it, then I will not follow it.
Fortunately for me, there are, at present, only two laws (in bridge) that fall into such a category. This one, and the automatic penalty for an illegal play (such as a revoke).
March 8, 2011
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Edgar might not have disagreed (as Debbie pointed out to me). He might have said that my partner's comments came as a result of observing my confusion - and that such comments, based on UI, were an infraction. However, I guess the punishment for that would be unclear (all this under the ACBL presumption that the bid on the table is always AI)
March 8, 2011
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I agree that you are very likely to make this hand, even against the greats. And defending these hands is really tough - you need partner to be thinking just like you. Very few pairs would be up to even making this hand a tough guess for declarer.

On a different note, the trump lead seems pretty strange. I would basically never lead a trump no matter what I held as West. Hope I found a club lead (or a diamond from xx(x) or Hxxxx)
March 7, 2011
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That's REALLY good, Kit. Presuming you are correct (and I have no evidence you are not), you will always make, even against “good” opponents. But what about a great one?
I like to say that a great play is one that defeats a good play - in other words, there can be no “great play” unless it involves a good play (or plays) by an opponent.
So here, the great play would be for the opponents to pitch down to 2-2 in clubs (how could you ever play for THAT!). Or maybe go for a mind-blowing D pitch from a 3-card holding.
March 7, 2011
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Mr. Currie says he “can't come up with a 9 count that'll make 3NT certain”. I think he lacks imagination. How about this FOUR COUNT? 109432, A2, —, 985432. 3N is 100%. Admittedly, you'd probably prefer to be in 7C.
March 7, 2011
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Kit:

You say: “If you want to say that if you really have no preference whatsoever (i.e. you can't make any determination about which shift is likely to be less damaging) then instead of flipping a mental coin you lead low, I have no problems with that.”

That, of course, is EXACTLY what I have been saying all along. And, basically, all that I was saying. I agree it is a rare situation. I just don't see the problem in covering it - and, apparently, you now say don't either.

March 6, 2011
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What you are saying does not make sense to me.
If I have 95 left wit h “a mild preference for the higher suit”, I play the 9 - just as you would. When I play the 5, my partner knows I have lower preference or no preference. When YOU play the 5, your partner thinks (possibly incorrectly) that you have lower preference.
Basically, we always play the same card except when you randomly play high with no preference.
My partner ALWAYS knows my preference - if I have one. Your partner does not.
So, I still don't see the harm in having a default with no preference.
Your agreement sounds to me like one that might be superior when partnering a non-expert.
March 5, 2011
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Kit:

My notes say “with xx remaining, low-high may be neutral”. So, in your example, the 9 is SP for higher and the 5 is low-high or neutral.
Your somewhat ostrich-like approach to the no-preference possibility seems pretty silly to me. Since both cards are SP, doesn't it make sense to have a default where one card CAN be no preference? How does that hurt?

To take a far more detailed situation, your partner leads an obvious singleton, dummy has J10x and you have AKQ sixth. You are going to cash AKQ; there are 6 ways to play; what do they all mean? Well, you might think QKA is strongest for lower ranking, and AKQ is strongest for higher-ranking. But you need to recognize that you normally want to play the Q on the first two rounds, so that partner knows he has TWO discards coming (which means only 4 ways). Here's what my notes say:

Q, A, K = Neutral (win cheap, cash high is the ‘normal’ way to play
Q, K, A = Strongest for lower-ranking
A, Q, K = Strongest for higher ranking

The only other order which allows Q to be shown is K,Q,A. I would think that was slight preference for clubs.

These are not the only possible agreements (although the first three seem the most logical to me). The important thing (as usual) is to make sure you and your partner are on the same wavelength.


March 4, 2011
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