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All comments by Richard Willey
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While I very much agree that Muiderberg should be a GCC convention, I don't think that the BoD should be messing with the convention charts.

I'd go so as to say that I hope that this motion fails because I think that process is more important than the special case.
Nov. 4, 2013
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> ACBL regulations resemble statutes. Writing them in an
> unambiguous manner is an awesome task in the first place,
> and the “political” process inevitably makes things worse.
> Some of our “factions” prefer an “anything goes” approach,
> others want severe limits on what agreements can be
> played, and others favor other approaches which,
> unfortunately, often involve writing the regulation to
> allow their favorite conventions but disallow other
> conventions. Ambiguity is almost essential to enactment.

If we were dealing with complicated boundary conditions, I might have some sympathy with this point of view; however, the ACBL can't even get the basics right.

Case in point: Is a Muiderburg type 2S opening that shows 5+ spades and 4 cards in either minor legal at the GCC level.

I have completely contradictory rulings from senior folks at the ACBL. Lord help you if you ever have to deal with a local TD.
Oct. 13, 2013
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> Jeff wrote, “How can you possibly explain ‘conventions
> whose primary purpose is to destroy the opponent’s methods'
> in a way that people will agree on whether a particular
> convention is disallowed?” What the committee would need to
> do is turn this guideline into specific rules, such as
> “Bids which do not show game-invitational or better values
> and which do not show any distributional features are
> disallowed.” I don't want to argue about wording here, just
> to suggest that it is possible.

I agree that its possible to write such regulations, however, the ACBL seems incapable of doing so. Most of the time, I believe that this is simple incompetence. When I'm feeling conspiratorial, I start wonder if the ambiguity and confusion is a deliberate design goal. (It gives folks the opportunity to pull a lot of bullshit)

Personally, I think that the best option is to outsource the whole kit and caboodle to the Brits and adopt their system regulations and take advantage of their communication channels.
Oct. 13, 2013
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Personally, I think the ACBL’s greatest failing their manifest inability to provide consistent and coherent guidance to members, directors, and club owners.

The organization sponsors multiple semi-official communication channels that provide contradictory and, at times, illegal guidance. Mean while, the officials in Memphis responsible for rulings provide radically different answers to simple questions.
Oct. 10, 2013
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Few quick observations

• I consider Our Game’s offer to be highly problematic. The combination of poor service for non-English speakers, requests for exclusivity, and highly questionable software isn’t a recipe for success. If the WBF accept’s Our Game’s offer, it will represent a major setback for Vugraph.

• WBF events are few and far between. The WBF is the wrong organization to be making decisions with respect to broadcasting Vugraph. If at all possible, the WBF needs to be cut out of the loop. The best way to do so is to develop an open standard for broadcasting Vugraph’s and demonstrate how thing’s “should” be done.

• I continue to believe that major championships will use more and more electronics. I think that migrating to an electronic playing environment is the eventual end game. There are too many advantages wrt security, record keeping, and broadcasting to keep with the pasteboards.

In an ideal world, I’d like to see the development of a standardized interface for broadcasting events. Anyone who wants should be able to connect into the raw feed. Individual software providers can compete on the quality of the user interfaces for watching said broadcasts. Commentators (or groups of commentators) can compete based on the quality of their observations.
Oct. 1, 2013
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Nicely written
Sept. 29, 2013
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Here's an example from way back that folks might find illustrative / amusing.

BBO displays a flag which identify player's nationality. Back in the early days of BBO I asked Fred if he'd add Mordor onto the list. Fred's position was that this was an amusing request, however, broadening the definition of country seemed like a bad idea. Too much chance of ugly political arguments breaking out. BBO's policy was (I believe) that it would stick with whatever the UN decided and not get invovled in any kind of extraneous debate.
Sept. 18, 2013
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Good decision by BBO.
Sept. 17, 2013
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> Turning a bridge competition (or discussion board) into a
> political forum is unnecessary and inappropriate.

To the winners belong the spoils. Personally, I have no problem if people want to use their moment in the sun to draw attention to whatever cause that they feel is important.

Its entirely possible that I'll decide that I'll lose respect for said individuals based on their beliefs but that will depend on their specific beliefs rather than the decision to express them during an awards ceremony.

Personally, I'm going to find it very interesting to see how the IOC handles the upcoming Russian summer games. Could be some very interesting parallels…
Sept. 16, 2013
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The protest in Shanghai didn't disturb me in any way, shape, or form. Nor did it change my feelings about funding USBF teams. I also approve of the way in which the incident was eventually resolved.

To the extent that I have issues with the way the ABCL and the USBF dealt with things, it was with their original bellicose idiocy.
Sept. 15, 2013
Richard Willey edited this comment Sept. 15, 2013
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Spearman's rho is our friend

arguable you might want to weight things based on the ordering. (Its more important to get the top seeds right rather than the bottom)
Sept. 12, 2013
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I'm sure that the following suggestion will get me lambast, but the economist in me says that we should auction of seeds to the highest bidder. Use the funds collected to fund a prize pool.

Teams with rich sponsors might overbid, but they would (essentially) just be subsidizing the rest of the participants. Teams lacking sponsors simply don't bid, accept low seeds, and have a positive expected value for entering the tournament.
Sept. 12, 2013
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I don't disagree. At the same time, I think that the primary advantage of this sort of system is matching people for short periods of time. How do I find a player who I can stand partnering for a dozen boards on BBO?
Aug. 29, 2013
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Thanks for the thoughtful reply. FWIW, I'm not sure whether the existing Bridgewinner polls would (necessarily) provide the most interesting results. These polls certainly identify hands where there is some doubt regarding the best course of action. At the same time I'm not sure how common the hands are. In contrast, basic questions like

Would you chose a 1NT rebid or raise partner's major with three pieces?

Do you prefer to rebid 1NT or show a 4 card major with a balanced hand after 1C - 1D?

What do you prefer to open with 5-5 in the blacks (I thought this one was settled until I saw “In the Well” last weak)

What do you open with 5 hearts and a 5332 15 count?

What do you open with 5 clubs and a 5332 14 count?

What do you open with a 3451 15 count?





Aug. 28, 2013
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The terms are placeholders. I'm fairly indifferent what expressions get used so long as there aren't any value judgements associated with them. I've seen far too many arguments start because people don't agree with their skill levels and insist that they are experts rather than intermediates. It seems a less likely that someone will get bent out of shape because they're classified as a meerkat rather than a bison…. (With this said and done, there was a particularly memorable episode of Better Off Ted in which Veridian Dynamics experimented with team building…)

With respect to the actual classifier… I haven't trained a classifier for bridge largely because I don't have the necessary corpus of hands to work with. I've done this for other problems which are very similar to this one. I'm quite convinced that the methodology is valid. However, I don't have the necessary raw data to work with…

Aug. 28, 2013
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Here's my “pipe dream”:

I'd like to see the ACBL (or any NBO) partner with BBO to develop a mechanical Turk for analyzing questions involving UI and the like…

1. “Bob” is a tournament director in Newton, MA. Bob is directing a team’s event on Friday evening. Bob gets summoned to a table to deal with a bidding irregularity. There was a hesitation in the bidding. Bob needs to determine whether 6H is a logical alternative. Bob needs to generate a decision tonight, since the team that loses doesn’t want to show up at 9:00 AM just to find out they aren’t playing.

2. Bob would like to poll a bunch of players; however, he can’t interrupt the game in progress. Moreover, Bob is knows that most people are going to blow right out of the Marriott as soon as the game ends. Thankfully, BBO provides a solution…

3. Bob copies the auction and marches back to his laptop. Bob logs into his ACBL account on BBO and enters the hand record and the auction onto a web page. Bob also indicates that he wants 100 tables to duplicate “this” hand. The web page communicates with the BBO server and places the hand record into the queue.

4. BBO distributes the hand to a large number of tables. Each time the hand gets played, the information gets sent to a secondary process. This process (automatically) excludes each and every hand that doesn’t match the “Newton” bidding up to the hesitation. Eventually, the process notes that it has 100 hands that DO match the “Newton” bidding. The process then sends Bob and message and indicate that 75% of the pairs bid 6H, 20% of the pairs passed, and 5% of the pairs bid 6C.

5. Bob is now able to use this information to determine that 6H IS a logical alternative, despite the hesitation…



Aug. 28, 2013
Richard Willey edited this comment Aug. 28, 2013
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The academic discipline of game theory differentiates between “pure” strategies and “mixed” strategies. Pure strategies are deterministic. Players choosing a pure strategy follow a predictable course of action. In contrast, mixed strategies deliberately incorporate random action. The simplest example of a mixed strategy in bridge is probably restricted choice where a defender will randomly chose which of two cards to play.

Mixed strategies can also be applied to the design of bidding systems. Players applying a “pure” bidding strategy will always chose the same bid bid with a given hand. In contrast, players employing a mixed bidding strategy allow deliberate randomization. Consider the following example taken from Bridge My Way by Zia Mahmood. You hold

S AQJ3
H K5
D 873
C A653

The auction starts

1H – 1S
3S - ???

and you need to chose a rebid. Zia advocates a bidding style in which players should randomize between 4C and 4D cuebids. Zia never goes so far as to discuss probabilities, but hypothetically he might chose a 4C cuebid 80% of the time and a 4D cuebid 20% of the time.

Few if any Zonal authorities incorporate mixed bidding strategies into their regulatory structures. Instead, regulators attempt to sidestep the issue using the concept of a psychic call. Regulators and players pretend that psychic calls are “deliberate and gross misstatements of honor strength or suit length”. In actuality, so-called psychic calls are a subset of a more complex meta-agreement involving mixed bidding strategies.

I argue that neither players nor regulators are served by this pretense. Complete disclosure can never be achieved unless the regulatory structure matches the actual strategies employed by players.
Aug. 23, 2013
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Is the variance associated with a method reasonable grounds for restricting sanction?

Assume that you have two different 2H opening bids.

• Both bids have the same expected value per board
• The complexity of the suggested defenses is comparable
• The variance in the board results is significant higher for method A compared to method B

Is it reasonable to restrict approval for method A because its use can disadvantage stronger card players / defenders?
Aug. 23, 2013
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Does it make sense to replace the legal construct of a “psyche” with the game theoretic concept of a mixed strategy? (This question applies to both disclosure as well as regulation)

On a meta level, can a legal structure operate effectively if it is using constructs that don’t accurately describe player’s behavior?
Aug. 23, 2013
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> What happened to our ability to use our booking power
> to get fabulous room rates?

The market got more efficient…

Hotels (and for that matter airlines) are much better at selling “surplus” rooms. The rise of travel sites like Orbitz and the like provide a much more effective way for the hotels to price discriminate.
Aug. 22, 2013
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