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All comments by Paul Holmes
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I don't see that there's anything that constrains East from asking. But East is disallowed from knowing that South has a hand that doubled in the withdrawn auction. So East does better NOT to ask… by asking, East has made it harder for himself to comply with the expectations the law places upon him.

Perhaps for this reason, the director ought to suggest that he is better off not knowing what the withdrawn auction would have meant… but I don't see a specific prescription against East's question, ill-founded as it might be.
May 25, 2013
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Sounds to me like you did everything right, and the director and committee got it wrong. Continue to do the right thing, and trust in bridge karma.
May 18, 2013
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Assuming we're in ACBLand… we can ask:

(1) Was East misinformed? (It appears the answer is “yes”, the actual agreement is that 2C is artificial.)

(2) Were E/W likely damaged by the misinformation? (It appears that they were. East could have doubled, and it looks like if East doubles, the outcome will likely be better for E/W.)

So we need to remedy the situation. Life is MUCH harder now. What would have happened if East had been alerted… but we maintain, I assume, that South and North continue in their beliefs that 2C is natural? It appears to me that no sensible result is possible now.

I would assign A+ to E/W, A- to N/S. I would also admonish N/S to remember their agreements.

East also should not have asked about 2C. I would warn East that procedural penalties could ensue if he continued to ask about ostensibly natural bids. Would I assign a PP to East? Probably not, given the whole mess.

One last thing: give West a pat on the back for not leading a club. :)
May 17, 2013
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It's also possible there were UI problems because of the failure to alert. While on the face of it, the ruling doesn't appear appropriate, the writeup is incomplete, so it's not possible to make a full judgment.
May 10, 2013
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From the ACBL Tech Files, LAWS.101 (Page 12):

NATURAL NOTRUMP BIDS WITH UNBALANCED HANDS

The following is the response that John Harris used to answer questions sent to him on Notrump bidding.

1. The bid of a natural notrump MUST promise a balanced hand. No agreement, either explicit or implicit, that the bid may be made with an unbalanced hand is legal; also illegal is any set of agreements which force certain hands to be opened 1 NT with unbalanced distribution.
(Example: A forcing club system with 5-card majors and diamond openings promising 3+ may force 1 NT on 4-4-1-4 or 3-4-1-5.)

2. A range of not more than 5 HCP, or two non-consecutive ranges of 3 HCP, or less, is permitted as a natural call. Use of a wider range, or a lower limit of less than 10 HCP, is defined as a conventional opening and NO conventions (including Stayman) are permitted in responses or rebids. These limits apply to NATURAL NT overcalls as well as openings.

3. Point count ranges for natural NT bids above the 1-level are not defined, but the restrictions of (1) above apply.

There is not now, nor has there ever been, any regulation which prohibits a player from opening (or overcalling) a natural NT with a singleton if sound bridge judgement dictates doing so. What IS prohibited is any agreement that such bids do not promise balanced hands.

Repeated openings with a singleton by any player will tend to create this implicit and illegal agreement with his partner, and he may be proscribed from the practice if his reputation precedes him. Also forbidden is any set of agreements which force opening NT without a balanced hand, as mentioned in (1) above.

Players may use their bridge judgment to open or overcall a notrump with a singleton provided that: It is a rare occurrence (no more 1% of the time, partner expects you to have at least two cards in each suit, and there are no agreements which enable the partners to discover a singleton.

When a NT opening hand contains a singleton or void, the Director needs to look into the overall system to determine whether an infraction has occurred. Petitions such as “I just felt like it” or “It seemed the right thing to do” should be looked at askance, and the burden of proof that the action was “good bridge” is on the bidder. If these tests fail to support the bid, then the opponents should be protected from damage. It would be appropriate to assess a procedural penalty for violation, particularly if the offender has a history of transgressions of a similar nature.
April 14, 2013
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1 was 14+ any shape; partner upgraded for the nice 6-card suit. Your dbl showed values, but not enough to force to game. The real question is, why didn't you raise his natural spade bid?
\sarcasm
Feb. 23, 2013
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What meanings can be assigned to pass and redouble in this sequence without them becoming “conventional”?

This may be useful:
ACBL Tech Files, ALERTS.103 (Page 5), Part II: Conventions:
“A convention is defined as any call which, by partnership agreement, conveys a meaning not necessarily related to the denomination named or, in the case of a pass, double or redouble, the last denomination named.
Examples of calls deemed to be conventional are: showing support for a previously bid suit and shortness in the bid suit (such as a splinter bid) and bidding your worst suit for takeout.”

I'll leave it to the (bridge) lawyers to make sense of that.
Jan. 20, 2013
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The double is alerted as takeout and game-forcing.
Aug. 6, 2012
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Double's a little aggressive, but it's probably a good bid. 5 spades looks fine. Real culprit: playing precision. These things happen sometimes when you open a strong club. It's the price you pay for having limited openers. Life goes on, next hand.
Aug. 6, 2012
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“VIII”, not “XIII”, I think.
June 13, 2012
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