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All comments by Roland Voigt
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2. If partner finds a second suit, I will support it. If he rebids his spades (the most likely scenario), I will bid 2NT. Imho the hand is not strong enough for 3NT because of our spade void.
May 10, 2018
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For that to apply, every hand that would overcall 3NT would have to also be a 1 opener.

Yes, that would be the mathematical definition of “meaning” as “set of possible hands”. The problem is, it will virtually never be the case, so this option might just be erased from the lawbook.

I had to make a Comparable Call decision in an event I directed last year. A player passed out of turn, and his partner opened 1. I decided that a 1NT response was Comparable since it denied opening values (using the subset definition - obviously the meaning of the two calls is not Similar). And I don't feel bad about my ruling.

Following your logic, it would be enough to find a single hand in the 6-10 range (without four spades or three hearts) that could be opened. A 3/3 opener comes to mind, hence the subset condition would not be satisfied. In fact I cannot think of a single situation where this definition actually applies.
May 9, 2018
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“Defines a subset” is a mathematically precise term that is either true or false.

The law says “defines a subset of the possible meanings”. “Meaning” (in the context of bridge agreements) is not a mathematically precise term. Can you give a definition, please?
May 9, 2018
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Tom,
although the OP initially asked about the legal obligations following what the director ruled to be a Comparable Call, most of the responses focused on whether 3NT should be treated as a Comparable Call in the first place.

The discussion in this subthread was about whether the director is allowed to use his judgment when applying Law 23A2. I contend that this should be the case; others argue that Law 23A2 must be applied in a rigorous mathematical sense without room for judgment.

My problem with this position is that I find it impossible to maintain. You see, one does not need judgment to decide whether a revoke, an insufficient bid or a lead out of turn has taken place. These are concepts which can be defined based solely on the rules of the game.

But in order to decide whether one set of meanings is a subset of another set of meanings (not “almost a subset” - a subset in the exact mathematical sense), one must first properly define what a “meaning” is.

Henrik - and perhaps others - distinguish between a meaning (in a positive sense) and a negative inference. While this may be practical in many regards, I don't think it can really work consistently here.

For example, playing support doubles, what is the “meaning” of opener's Pass after 1-(p)-1-(2)? Is the fact that Pass denies (or tends to deny) three spades a meaning or an inference? I could produce a dozen similar examples on the spot.

Here comes the catch: If you cannot give a precise definition of the word “meaning” and prefer to work on an “I know it when I see it” basis, you cannot work with exact mathematical terminology either.

But if the director is given some freedom to decide what a “meaning” is, it follows that he must also be allowed to judge what a “subset” is - at least for the application of Law 23A2. The one does not go without the other.

As to what comes beyond the above question (i.e. if the 3NT overcall should be judged to be Comparable to a 1 opening even if judgment is allowed in this context), I am open for arguments. Forbidding judgment entirely simply does not work imho.
May 9, 2018
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Sorry Henrik, this is not going to work.

Your meaning of an initial Pass is just as much a negative inference as the one I gave. It says the hand is not suitable for an opening bid; my definition merely takes more possible openings into account.

You either have to accept all negative inferences or none of them. Pretending that some characterization of possible hands is a “meaning” and some others are “negative inferences” makes this just random.

If you truly want to put this onto solid mathematical ground, you have to accept that the word “meaning” is nothing but a set of possible hands that would make the call in question, taken from the larger set of all possible hands.
May 9, 2018
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Could we not argue that the initial pass has the attributable meaning “not opening values and not suitable for a preempt”? Where do we draw the line?
May 8, 2018
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You are right, the law does not say “almost” a subset. It was my impression (from directors training and from some of the few available guidelines on the application of Law 23) that this was the intent, though. Please believe me, I am not trying to make this stuff up.

All the guidelines I have seen in this context speak of a “liberal interpretation”, with the intent to allow the auction to proceed normally whenever possible in a reasonable sense.

An example I found in one of those guides is the uncontested sequence 1-2, where responder had retracted a Pass out of turn. The idea is that a 2 raise denies an opener, and its attributable meaning is thus a subset of the attributable meanings of Pass.

The author (Gordon Rainsford) writes: “… it could be argued that a 2 raise is not strictly speaking a subset of opening pass hands since there might be hands that would open 2 weak that would nevertheless raise a 1 opener to 2. (…) I think though that we can discount such rare and perhaps contrived examples…”

Don't get me wrong; I acknowledge that these are substantially different situations. My point is, the application of almost any law requires that the director is at liberty to discard some exotic possibilities, in order to focus at the main intent of the law.

It only remains to decide how exotic a particular possibility is, and whether it would hurt the fundamental intent behind the law. This is where I think judgment is virtually always required.

PS: The language of the law is not the language of mathematics. I don't think it is practical to insist that the purely mathematical meaning of a certain phrase within the laws is applied. But your point is taken.
May 8, 2018
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Primary diamonds? Did you hear the 3 opening?

I know what a subset is, thank you very much. I know there are a few hands which might overcall 3NT but not open 1. Directors are allowed to take this into account. To my knowledge, there are no definitive standards for how rare such a hand has to be. This is a judgment call, and the director's judgment - that most 3NT overcalls would open 1 - is not far off at all.
May 8, 2018
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Ask ten directors which bids constitute Comparable Calls in certain situations, and you will get ten different answers. Or perhaps only five. But the point is, the concept has not been studied very deeply yet, and directors have some freedom with its application. Personally I see nothing wrong with the decision that a 3NT overcall is comparable to a 1 opening in the sense of Law 23.

Which hands would overcall 3NT here? Either strong balanced ones, or some with a long running suit, most likely clubs. This means, overcaller's hand will either look something like Kx AJxx Kxx AQ10x, or something like xx Axx Kx AKQxxx. Either hand type is a 1 opener in this partnership's methods. The retracted 1 opening says very little which the 3NT overcall does not say as well. This is the idea behind Comparable Calls.

It is true that a few hand types can be ruled out, for example a balanced hand in the 14-16 range (an aggressive 3NT overcall, but still possible) or perhaps a stronger balanced hand with a weak five card major on the side. These hands are quite rare. If the director judges that the OS took advantage of this additional knowledge, he can still apply Law 23C later.
May 8, 2018
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I took it from the OP that the player who asked just became declarer, so asking for partner's benefit was not an issue.
May 8, 2018
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Bidding style is part of a partnership's methods, so you are fully entitled to make such an inquiry. The question is reasonable and appopriate - unless, of course, its primary purpose is to get an incorrect response and later nail the opponents down on it.
May 7, 2018
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I think the first response (8+) was appropriate, unless the explanation specifically gave the impression of an unlimited hand. Of course there is an upper limit - I would treat this as general bridge knowledge.

The second inquiry should be viewed as a request to shed more light on the opening style of NS, to understand what this upper limit is. It is frequently said that the opponents need not ask the right question, and this applies here. The refusal to give a more precise response violates the idea of Full Disclosure.
May 5, 2018
Roland Voigt edited this comment May 5, 2018
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Maybe the partnership has a history of forgetting the agreement (even if only very few times). If so, this constitutes an implicit understanding, which must be disclosed as well. It is wrong to assume that only explicit agreements must be disclosed, and this is in particular relevant in case of two-suiters by means of bids that can easily have a different meaning.

If this is really a one-time forget, there is nothing you can do. But the director should thoroughly investigate, in particular in light of EW's subsequent bids.
May 5, 2018
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We have bid our hand. It's not like partner has shown any enthusiasm. His typical hand is 5-2-2-4 or 5-1-3-4 with no extras.
May 1, 2018
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Even at this vulnerability I think we have enough to preempt. (The heart suit is not a deterrent - I don't care about missing a superior heart contract opposite a passed hand.)

Putting the opponents under pressure, even if just a little, tends to work in my experience. Whatever they can make, it will be harder for them to find out with some of their tools removed from their arsenal.
May 1, 2018
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Ignoring for a moment the possibility of technical issues, we must ask ourselves which of our actions we can take slowly at all, without fear of being accused of impropriety.

I don't think it can be in anyone's interest if intense thinking is entirely banned from bridge. In the thread Peg is referring to (or maybe it was one of the related threads in my UI series), there was this hint at “tempo-sensitive” situations. Of course, giving the animal a name does not answer the underlying question. It only shifts the problem: Which situations are tempo-sensitive?

I had a pretty clear image in my mind, about situations where a BIT can clearly be seen to point in a certain direction. Hesitation Blackwood is the model case. Slow rejections of invitational bids are also good examples. I am sure there are many more.

(A favorite of mine are the so-called “game-forcing Bergen raises”. Some play that the 1M-3 Bergen response - which originally shows something like 10-12 points - can also be made with hands that want to bid game anyway but without suggesting the strength of a Jacoby raise. Given the very real possibility that opener might think about his decision a little, I wonder if this is playable at all.)

Currently there seems to be a motion to extend the concept of “tempo-sensitive” situations, from cases where a hesitation can only point in one direction to scenarios where a BIT can mean all sorts of things.

From those who support this motion, I have seen no good definition. In fact, they make it sound like any situation where partner has to make a (somewhat important) decision later should be labeled as tempo-sensitive.

As you must be aware, I strongly oppose the above interpretation in highly ambiguous UI situations, such as the sequences 1NT-2NT or 1-1-2-3. The rebid 1-1NT-2NT from the OP is only slightly different, and in my opinion, the BIT can still be caused by various (bridge-related) reasons.

Another example: In an uncontested auction that starts with 1m-1M, opener takes a while before raising to 2M. It has been suggested that the BIT is often based on a three card raise, typically with a (31)(54) shape or the like. People then argue that opener should plan his rebid from the start, to avoid these implications.

Let us think this through. If we demand that opener bids 1m slowly and then 2M fast, will people not at some point claim that the slowness of the opening bid points to a rebid problem (since people usually recognize a 1m opener when they see one)? Does it really solve the problem, or will it just lead to more creative arguments why the UI can still be exploited?

And how many different developments is a player supposed to anticipate? Can we impose a list of “sufficiently basic” bidding situations on other players, forcing them to have their rebid ready if a sequence on the list comes up? What about opening leads, defensive plays? As I see it, this is not a practical approach in the slightest.

Cheaters have harmed our game a great deal already. To handcuff all players, to demand that they must avoid simple acts such as thinking over a call or play, to criminalize them following everyday occurrences just because an unethical partnership might take similar steps - this will ruin the game entirely.
April 30, 2018
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Yes, it is a poor practice. But it does not change the fact that his accusations about intent are completely out of place.
April 30, 2018
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Excellent point. People sometimes equate BIT with hesitation, which is not accurate. “Break in tempo” simply means deviation frmo normal tempo. Of course it means that, in order to understand whether a BIT has occurred, “normal tempo” must first be determined. Some situations are so complex that the expected tempo is more than two seconds, in which case a faster action is a BIT.
April 30, 2018
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For me the auction always changes if I move the mouse over the 3 bid ?!
April 29, 2018
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Aviv specifically alters the scenario under discussion and then argues that my claims are incorrect. I will not get into this any further.

The answer to your question lies in the word “meaningful”. Basically, it would carry us back to the beginning of this discussion. I will not get into this, either.

If you want to start this all over, count me out.
April 29, 2018
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