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All comments by Mike Bell
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High enc is always better. Low enc invites you to huddle because you cant afford to play the high card you want to discourage partner. I find low encouraging just as unethical as O/E

And when discarding:
I really have never understood why you want to weaken a suit you are supposed to get tricks in. Yes, you can encourage in another suit, but sometimes you have no choice but to keep your suit
Oct. 7, 2015
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I suggest we crowdsource to find out if B+Z use the losing trick count
Oct. 6, 2015
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Kieran's comments most closely reflect my thoughts.

What would you think if I presented this alternative point count?

Ace = three points
King = three points
Queen = three points
Jack = no points

Doubleton = three points
Singleton = six points
Void = nine points

This is simple LTC in a nut-shell - one trick is worth about three points. One improvement suggested elsewhere is counting Axx as 1.5 losers and Qxx as 2.5 losers, which redresses the balance between high cards. That comes to ace = 4.5 points, king = 3 points, queen = 1.5 points which we know is about right for suit contracts.

The fundamental issue is that LTC overestimates the importance of shape compared with high cards. The assumptions are basically -

- We'll assume partner has no high cards wasted opposite our shortage
- We'll assume we've enough trumps to make use of all of our shape
- We'll deduct two tricks from our total to try to compensate for the assumptions above

How do we deduct two tricks? Well, you'll notice that two seven-loser hands are supposed to make ten tricks. Isn't that pretty similar to saying that two *six-winner* hands will make ten tricks?

In short, LTC gets you to underbid balanced hands, and overbid unbalanced hands with inadequate trump fits. You can apply all sorts of adjustments to try to make the method work, but it will never be as good as a method that doesn't assign ridiculous values in the first place.
Oct. 6, 2015
Mike Bell edited this comment Oct. 6, 2015
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Nick may be referring to my post on BridgeBase Forums, I've reproduced it here, with edits for context.


I much prefer standard carding to UDCA.

In some situations, standard attitude is clearly better.

On the lead of an ace, you can nearly always afford your second highest card from a queen-high holding. There are plenty of situations where you can't afford your second highest card to discourage from jack-high holdings. In the context of the small differences we are talking about, this one is significant.

Also, as previously mentioned, there's the “unblock but encourage” position that is particularly relevant when there is a singleton honour in the dummy - you want to play the ten from QTx to unblock, and you want it to be encouraging.

Switching situationally is obviously fine in theory but many find it difficult in practice.

Sometimes you can only afford low discards

In my experience, if you can only afford a low, discouraging discard, partner tries to work out what to switch to from what they know already. This is desirable; by this time you've usually got a lot of information about the hand. A high discard, made relatively rarely, serves as a wake-up call to partner.

If you can only afford a low, encouraging discard, partner is far more likely to take it as a strong signal, and switch aggressively to the suit you have encouraged.

I agree with Nick that a low, “almost neutral” discard, basically suggesting partner continue with the obvious defence, is useful in other situations too.

Confusion over following with an honour

Even playing UDCA, there are many positions where an honour should be encouraging. An obvious one is when partner leads an ace and you follow with the queen from QJ, but there are more subtle ones.

- Partner leads the ace. Dummy has QT98. Playing UDCA, what do you play from J7? What do you play from J73?
- Partner leads the ace, which you know is likely to be AKxxx. Dummy has T9xx. What do you play from J2? How can partner distinguish this from Q2?

I offer these situations as evidence that the jack should still be played from a doubleton as an even/encouraging card. (Would any UDCAers out there describe this as “standard”?)

- I seem to remember that a top English partnership had a misunderstanding about what should be played from QT9 or similar, in the Gold Cup final stages perhaps? Maybe one of the English players here can confirm the position.
Oct. 6, 2015
Mike Bell edited this comment Oct. 6, 2015
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I can't find an appropriate response listed
Oct. 5, 2015
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Everyone else is starting from a different point, Piotr.

*If B+Z are clearly guilty*, there most definitely is harm in letting them play the round-robin. How are the other teams supposed to react when they don't know if the match vs Poland will even count? I've not checked, but I'm guessing many will play the odds and rest their strongest pair. This will disadvantage them if the scores vs Poland are allowed to stand .

If B+Z are not clearly guilty, they should be playing in the event themselves.
Sept. 29, 2015
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I don't.
Sept. 28, 2015
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You'd think so, but so far only one in four have folded.
Sept. 28, 2015
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Yes, if a zone can't field a replacement then Europe get the spot
Sept. 25, 2015
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Why couldn't it be a pair from one of the substitute teams?
Sept. 25, 2015
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I disagree with the whole premise of your article. The worst-named convention in bridge is the Grand Slam Force.
Sept. 22, 2015
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South will bid pretty much the same opposite a 2S good raise, regardless of whether it shows 3+ or 3= trumps. Why? Because North will nearly always push on to 4H if he has an extra trump…
Sept. 20, 2015
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Also, that argument rather loses any validity it had to start with when you use your ‘methods’ vs opponents you believe to be playing ethically.
Sept. 20, 2015
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I voted natural - which would certainly be true if they open 1C on all balanced hands - but it has now occurred to me that many RHOs would be promising 5C4D for this sequence. A tricky one.
Sept. 17, 2015
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The weak card player didn't win the World Mixed Pairs, Georgiana. Patrick's clue was a red herring.
Sept. 15, 2015
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The two-level openings are the controversial area of the system. The accepted wisdom is that a Precision 2C opening should show six cards because including 5C4M gives you too many guesses. Admittedly a Fantunes 2C opening has narrower range of strength, and is weaker on average, but it adds 5C4D to the mix. The 2D opening is worse still, as you've now lost your 2D relay!

I would think it's clear that the 2m openings are worse constructively than the 2M openings, as you can have a four-card major on the side. At least when you open 2M it has a decent chance of being the right contract (assuming you're not too high already). If you have found that the 2M openings don't fare better than the 2m openings in terms of IMPs won/lost, I'd suggest that's because they are often “scoring up” against a 2+/3+ card 1m opening at the other table, whereas the 2M openings are being compared with a 5-card major. Force your teammates to play Acol in future :-)

Oh, I almost forgot. The other controversial bit of the system is playing e.g. 1C-P-2S as nat GF 5+cards. Do you play that or have you scrapped it?
Sept. 14, 2015
Mike Bell edited this comment Sept. 14, 2015
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I've not actually watched the video, but I believe the correct response is - “Just how many cameras were on you?!”

Edit: Bah, too slow
Sept. 14, 2015
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One of them was only the second best player in the world.
Sept. 14, 2015
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