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All comments by Oren Kriegel
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Is it so clear we want to split? Based on the spots (not) given, it looks like if we play an honor, declarer can win the K and clear the suit for two losers, but if we duck, declarer would need to put in a spot, which isn't automatic, at least without providing some context. Declarer isn't looking at your hand.

Not to mention partner might hold the stiff 9, in which case splitting could be disastrous if declarer needs two tricks in the suit.
an hour ago
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Well if partner is going to double with 5-5 you can't really be jumping to the five-level on a five-card suit…
June 24
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2 would be quite reasonable as a passed hand, which h responder was. 1NT is fine too but 2 isn't wrong.
June 23
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You don't need an artificial solution, just bid 3 the second time (3 should basically guarantee 5-6 imo) and over 3 now 4 is unambiguously a strong 4 bid.
June 23
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It doesn't seem clear to me. There is certainly a case for treating 2 as the equivalent of a reverse, but as against that, failing to get the major in there can result in missing a fit and possibly game.

I think lots of players shade the values required for these types of sequences for exactly this reason. We didn't have an agreement about it.
June 21
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Isn't it a totally different beast in Precision vs. standard? You won't have the “extra values with defense” you might have in standard, so I would think takeout with a singleton in their suit being the expected length makes sense.

That said, having rules and knowing when they apply is a good thing, even though I disagree with rule 1. Even after, say,

1* (P) 2NT (3M)
?

*2+

I would think a takeout double has more utility than penalty. Sure you might have them nailed sometimes, but I would rate a 5-4-3-1 ish hand with mild extras as more likely. What would you do, playing your methods, with, e.g.

x
Kxx
AQ10x
KJ9xx

after a 3 overcall?

It might be difficult to formulate an effective rule, though.
June 18
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Don't know about Meckwell but the typical Meck Lite structure is:

2 = art ask, nominally inv+ but values often shaded
2M = natural NF, opener always pulls with a singleton
2NT = forces 3, either to play or to show a 5-5 GF (3 = majors, 3M = major + diamonds)
3/3/3 = inv+ transfer
3 = 6-4 majors GF

Over 2, opener rebids:

2 = four cards in either major, then responder asks to unwind different shapes/strengths
2 = not the worst, not notrumpy
2NT = not the worst, notrumpy
3 = the worst
3/3/3 = 5-6
June 18
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I'm actually wondering whether being on Vugraph helps. Does Vugraph come with time stamps that allow you to review a session?

As far as I know, it doesn't, so presumably the reason being on VG passes muster is that someone could have been watching and made a note of slowness, but that doesn't seem sufficient to me. Unless someone has the specific task of monitoring a table for slow play (and that would be best done in the room, not on VG), I don't see a VG broadcast as sufficient to allow an adjusted score.

Video feed, on the other hand, would be enough in my opinion, so if score adjustments are made based on slow play, I would like to see the BBO Vugraph language removed in favor of video or time monitor only.
June 14
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Saying a world-class should learn X is condescending enough to begin with, but it's pretty egregious when the remark is wrong or off-base.
June 13
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Sitting around with people, someone says, “I normally hate when someone posts an ‘interesting’ hand on Bridge Winners, but this one actually was interesting.” Not surprising coming from KRosenberg.
June 12
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I don't disagree that sponsors care about that stuff. What I disagree with is that sponsors care about a team withdrawing because they might have wanted to watch the rest of that match.

Whether players are cordial and fun to be around has almost nothing to do with whether they withdraw in various situations and even less to do with whether they might consider the feeling of spectators when deciding whether or not to withdraw.
June 11
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No, they decided to play two more sets and then concede at that point. Their concession occurred after the fourth segment, as they said it would.

I double-checked the initial post by Berkowitz, and he wrote that they planned to play two more sets and then concede, not that they were conceding at that point but they requested 30 more boards as a favor by the Lall team.

Announcing an intent to do something is not the same as doing it. If I am declaring a hand and when dummy comes down I say, “I expect to be claiming by trick seven,” that doesn't force me into claiming at trick seven if something unexpected happened.

Something unexpected did happen–Brod picked up 60 imps against a team that had been crushing them–but apparently it was not unexpected enough to cause Brod to alter their plan. If Brod had happened to pick up 90 imps instead of 60, it is unlikely, in my opinion, that they would have stuck to their plan to concede, because that's just what it was–a plan.

Perhaps Lall would have insisted the pre-concession be binding (but I don't think so), and perhaps the directors would have ruled that it was binding (but I don't think so), and perhaps the player(s) who planned on leaving would have insisted on leaving anyway anyway and therefore forfeiting (but I don't think so).

I think in the latter case the directors would not have allowed a concession by a team down only around 10 imps, but I could be wrong.
June 11
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But they were not withdrawing then. They withdrew after the fourth segment, while informing the directors.
June 10
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Andy,

My reading of the other thread is that the main factor was that players were leaving. I would be curious whether the “honor bound” comment was editorial by Berkowitz or the viewpoint of the Brod team.

Did the player who was leaving want to stay and play but felt bound by the previous comment? I find that unlikely, and I find it especially unlikely that the Lall players would try to enforce something like the courtesy “we're going to quit after two more segments” if the Brod team wanted to change its mind and continue.
June 10
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Tom, you write:

“I think it would be even worse for a team to say nothing and continue playing for two more sets, with no intention to finish the match and the event.”

Really? If a team is down a bunch at the half, say, and they decide to play another set in the hopes they gain a bunch of imps back and if not, to withdraw, does that seem improper to you?

Or are you saying it's different if one or more team members plans on leaving and will be unable to play beyond a certain point and that influences the decision whether or not to withdraw?

I think the first case is perfectly normal and the second case not so outrageous to be considered improper. If a player or team cannot continue under any circumstances, then that creates an issue if they are in a position where they might need to withdraw down too small a number, and technically they should not enter the event.

But especially if a team rates to be an underdog to get to a certain point, I don't think it's a mortal sin to enter and deal with the consequences if a rare situation arises. Whether any of the above applies to this specific case remains to be seen.

Whom do you think they were supposed to inform of their decision to resign (or to probably resign) after two more segments?
June 10
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Michael,

“Would you (pay to) watch an NFL/Basketball/Soccer game with a team that already lost?”

Did you (or anyone) pay to watch the USBC? It's one thing for sports that rely on advertisements and corporate sponsorships and ticket sales to require teams to play the whole time, but bridge isn't like that. And even in sports where the above is true, teams do not always play all-out the whole time. In the NFL, it is quite common to pull starters if the result is already decided, to avoid injuries. Does playing less than the A lineup rob fans who have paid for tickets?

The potential sponsor hypothetical strikes me as quite weak. I doubt whether (m)any sponsors base their hiring decisions on players' decisions with regard to spectators.

A more likely scenario is that the withdrawing players might fear their withdrawal might raise doubts about their commitment to see matches or events through to the end. But that isn't because spectators might have wanted to see the conclusion of a match.
June 10
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Without knowing any details, it's possible that the plans were in place and chosen not to adjust those plans in light of the 100-imp deficit.

These events are very long, and one cannot (reasonably) object to players making plans in case they are eliminated at various stages of an event. Plenty of people book multiple (refundable) flights, and it would be reasonable to make plans contingent on being eliminated at a certain point.

I made plans for the weekend of the semifinals/finals of the Open USBC, knowing I would have to cancel them if my team were in the semifinals. Those plans involved leaving the evening of the round of 8 if we were out by then or the morning of the semi if we lost in the round of 8.

Would it be improper for me to have a lower threshold for withdrawal if I could catch my train than I would have if I had plans?
June 9
Oren Kriegel edited this comment June 9
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Andy,

No, I don't think they were only there for the money, but I think their only grievance with the situation is a monetary one. As workers, they have a financial stake in things. To whatever extent they are there in a capacity besides to make money, then they are spectators, and as I have mentioned, I don't think spectators should be able to dictate how players choose to play.

And no, money is not the only factor of why I play bridge or even why I play when I play professionally.

My gut reaction to your various references to contracts is, “that's viewing the situation through an overly legalistic lens,” but then I remembered that the players signed a competitor's agreement. I looked over it, and I didn't notice any language that might apply to a situation like this, with the possible exception of a requirement to adhere to behavioral standards. Certainly no contract between players and directors

So then I looked at the general conditions of contest for USBCs. Under the section on withdrawls, I found: “During the KO stage the DIC may grant a withdrawal if the request was made because the team is substantially behind.” which makes it clear that the directors must approve potential withdrawals, and if foul play were suspected, the staff could compel the players who planned on leaving to stay and continue to play or face disciplinary consequences. The directors did not exercise their right to do so, and therefore they tacitly condone the actions by the teams.

This is not a pure rubber-stamping process. Several years ago in a USBC, a team wanted to withdraw from a USA1 match (the final I think) with two segments to play to rest up for their future matches. The directors did not think the margin justified this decision and leaned heavily on the team to continue playing.

Further, I infer that the arrangement between these teams was reasonably open knowledge based on how it has been discussed on BW. I rate it as unlikely that the directors did not know the circumstances under which Brod requested its withdrawal.

Also, there is the (to me) obvious fact that a “pre-withdrawal” is not binding, and it is just a courtesy by one team to another. There is no reason that Brod needed to inform Lall of its intention to withdraw, and doing so does not constitute a contract between the two teams. It does not relieve Lall of the responsibility to play bridge in the third and fourth segments, and if Brod happened to be in the lead after four sets, surely a withdrawal would not have been granted even if it had been requested.

There is precedent for this sort of thing also. Recently, a team was down by a score of something like 112-2 at the half in a Spinderbilt match. The trailing team wanted to withdraw, but they thought it would be bad optics to have scored only 2 imps in the match, so they decided to play a third set to get into the double-digits, then withdraw. Of course, if they had picked up 80 in the third quarter, they would have played on, and telling or not telling the opponents of their plan to withdraw doesn't change anything.

—-

It is possible that the USBF will want to examine this incident and create rules for this sort of situation. That does not in itself mean that the teams involved did anything improper, and it does not appear (to me, at least) that they tried to do anything covert.
June 9
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Jim, you said:

“The USBF is not about bridge, representing the United States, and always serious competition; only the players matter.”

But the people playing the bridge, representing the US, and undertaking serious competition… are the players, and only the players.

If you believe that the USBF should be about spectators' ability to watch bridge against the wishes of the players, then we will have to agree to disagree.
June 9
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Melanie,

There's a difference between not planning to finish an event and having to scramble to change plans if your team survives longer than expected. This may have been the case for the Brod team.

If so, they had a chance to assess the situation when they were down by 100 after two segments and decided that their minuscule chance of coming back did not outweigh the downsides of whatever consequences would have arisen if they had played the entirety of the match. That, in my opinion, is their right.

That they made up more than half of the deficit and were down by “only” 40 imps, they were still a big underdog to win and apparently did not view this development as significant enough to change their plan of withdrawing after the fourth segment.
June 9
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