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All comments by Roland Wald
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Peter, there is one huge difference between this and the nationals/trials. Her name is Jan Martel! She is second to none, she works tirelessly around the clock and trains the operators she needs.

Most of the time she is lucky enough to have people who have tried it before (Joe Stokes is a fine example, another is JoAnn Stansby), but even when she can't get the best and an operator faces a problem during the broadcasts, Jan somehow manages to be at two tables at a time and gets things sorted in a split second. She even has to deal with horrible connections in most hotels. How stressful is that on top of it all?

Sadly there is no Jan in Omaha. Rumour has it that the organisers of the Buffett Cup hoped that she would be there, but that she did not want to travel because Chip was not invited to play. It's just a rumour, I have no evidence.

No matter what, the organisers were naive when/if they thought they could just find the required people on the spot, with no training whatsoever. That will never work, and it's a bad signal to send to the rest of the world.

As I wrote in another thread, it is disappointing beyond compare that the richest country in the world can't put up a good show. Let's face it, from a technical point of view the 2012 Buffett Cup has been a disaster.

Let's hope that everyone involved has learned from the mistakes. On the positive side, we all know that USA *can*. Don't let us down and show us what you are capable of next time round!
Sept. 13, 2012
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It's the same every time we're in USA. They try to eat more than they can chew and for some reason select quantity over quality.

I think we all prefer four or even two tables with quality operators rather than eight with random inputs. If you can't get enough qualified people for all the tables you wish to broadcast from (fair enough), then give the audience quality at fewer tables.
Sept. 13, 2012
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All organisers should pay attention to Debbie's words of wisdom in her two posts above. They do in most parts of the world, but sadly not in USA. The ‘you can’t teach us anything, we know better' mentality strikes again. Let me add a couple of points.

There was a reason why Nick Fahrer from Australia, on behalf of BBO, wrote the comprehensive ‘Manual for Vugraph Operators’ back in 2005. Did the organisers and operators read it? It's a rhetorical question.

There was a reason why Fred Gitelman and I in 2004 wrote the comprehensive ‘Standard BBO Vugraph Guidelines’ for every organiser to read. Let me post just a single quote:

'The most critical factor in determining the success of these broadcasts is the quality of the operators. It is vital that these people become familiar with the software before the actual broadcast takes place. The software is easy to learn and it is subsequently easy to use, but operators should spend at least a couple of hours practising before the actual event.'

Did that happen in Omaha? Again it's a rhetorical question, because everyone could see that the operators had not been trained.

It takes planning and a lot of hard work to produce a successful vugraph broadcast. They were prepared to do that in Ireland and Wales in 2006 and 2010 respectively; they were not in Kentucky (2008) and Omaha 2012.

If the budget has no room for ‘professional’ operators, then follow Debbie's advice and hire an onsite coordinator. Give him or her time to plan everything in detail, train keen operators among many important issues, and you will notice the difference.

I helped the organisers in Wales in 2010, but I retired a few weeks ago. However, there are other good people out there, most notably Jan Martel in USA. If USA can't deliver, then look elsewhere. May I suggest Traian Chira, Dave Thompson, Nick Fahrer (all of Australia), Francesca Canali (Italy), Michael Clark, Roger Bryant (England), Stephen Peterkin (Scotland), Jan Nielsen (Denmark), Bas van Beijsterveldt (The Netherlands), Eamon Galligan (Ireland), Simon Richards (Wales) and Hervé Lustman (France).

We are back to ‘you get what you pay for’. The vugraph presentation has not been an important topic for the American organisers … until it was too late to recover. It's a fact no-one can deny. Please note that I do not blame the volunteer operators; they did the best they could under the circumstances. It all falls back on the organisers who must take the responsibility for the poor result.

I am flabbergasted how the richest country in the world cannot get such a relatively simple operation done. I am sorry that I have to say this, but I think the reality is that they don't care.

'The organization of the public presentation this year is shameful', Henry Bethe wrote. It has been, but perhaps we can get something considerably better in four years. One can always hope.



Sept. 13, 2012
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Peg, perhaps you could ask Paul Hackett why the operators must be volunteers without training. According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Warren Buffett's fortune is $44.3 billion (give/take a few million), so if he can't afford to pay top-class people to operate, they are seriously overpaid for the four days in Omaha :)

Regarding this event, is there a budget available for the public to see? I also think the public would like to know which of the people I mentioned in a post above do not live up to the ‘conduct and behavior’ that is required to be selected.

When the Buffett Cup was held in Wales two years ago, everything ran smoothly, thanks to Simon Richards and his team. They were well prepared, because they logged a massive number of man hours - starting several months in advance.

Sadly that has not been the case in Omaha. Henry Bethe used the word ‘shameful’. He could have used a few other appropriate words, like ‘shambles’ and ‘disastrous’. I am a nice man, so I'll join the Debbie and Barry camp and write ‘unwatchable’.

I did two sessions with voice last night European time, and one typed this afternoon (last team match). I can't know how things progressed in the other two matches, but the match with Fantoni-Nunes + M and T Bessis against Hurd-Wooldridge + Berkowitz-Sontag was a disaster.

Due to several scoring errors, it was impossible to tell what the real score was. ‘Unwatchable’ it is.

(Rant over)
Sept. 12, 2012
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What do you mean, busy schedules and families? So do the golfers in the Ryder Cup, and they don't have a problem with taking part. Please note that they don't even get a euro or cent to play in that event.

As I pointed out in one of my earlier posts, although I have not counted his money, I have a feeling that Mr Buffett has the funds to make bridge players happy if there is a financial issue involved. If not, maybe the organisers should find a wealthier man.

Bill Gates?
Sept. 12, 2012
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With all due respect to the players in this edition of the Buffett Cup (some of them belong there, no doubt about that), it is not brain surgery to figure out that both teams could have been much stronger. I don't know the reasons why some of the pairs below are not there, but it can't be for financial reasons with Warren Buffett as the sponsor, can it?

Personally, I would have been honoured if I had been selected to represent my country or continent. Why don't we see some of …

Team USA:
———
Meckstroth-Rodwell
Levin-Weinstein
Greco-Hampson

Team Europe:
————
Helness-Helgemo
Balicki-Zmudzinski
Bocchi-Madala
Lauria-Versace
Duboin-Sementa
Muller-de Wijs
Brink-Drijver
Sept. 12, 2012
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Henry, for a person who takes it as a personal insult if people (I was one of the sinners for a long time) can't pronounce your surname correctly, one would assume that you found it appropriate to check how Verhees is spelt. The official website had his first name as Luke for a long time. It has now been corrected to Louk, but in the process another error sneaked in.

Louk's partner is Ricco, with a double c. In fact, his real first name is Cornelius, but for practical reasons he uses a shorter version, or a nickname if you like.

As an aside, no-one outside Denmark can pronounce my name, first as well as last name, correctly. No big deal, I am used to it.
Sept. 12, 2012
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Debbie is absolutely right. If Mr Buffett wanted to get the best operators, I have a feeling that he might be able to afford what it costs to get Jan Martel (USA), Joe Stokes (USA), Traian Chira (Australia), Hervé Lustman (France), Jan Nielsen (Denmark) and Bas van Beijsterveldt (The Netherlands).

The actual operators were indeed better Tuesday than they were Monday, but it still was not good enough. And it is an insult to consistently have Trend and Kara up as player names for Trendafilov and Karaivanov. How would Hamman like to see Ham as his name I wonder.

Furthermore, it took the operators 24 hours to realise that they are not from Sweden, Indonesia or India. Then finally they edited their profiles, so now we have six operators with Omaha, USA.

As for the organisation, I have the following points to make:

The number of boards in the teams was reduced from 12 to 10 at the last minute (I don't know why). We know that the change was made very late, because all files have 12 boards in them.

Screens are not in use. How you, in 2012, can play a serious tournament without screens is beyond me. Therefore, my conclusion, in combination with the first two paragraphs in this post, is that it is not a serious tournament.

They added an extra set (#5) to Tuesday's programme, which in turn means that the schedule Wednesday and Thursday is totally different from what it shows on the BBO schedule web page. BBO was not informed (at least not yet), and the commentators were not notified (at least not yet).

I am sorry to say (and I should know what I am talking about in this context) that from a technical and organisational viewpoint the worst vugraph presentations, by miles, come from USA. If my intention had been to be rude, I might have added that perhaps it's worth considering that the Buffett Cup in four years when USA is the host again is moved to Rwanda or some other hi-tech country. USA should really be able to do better than this!
Sept. 12, 2012
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Meckwell and many more have had 40 years to prepare a defence against the Multi. Gamesmanship it is, trying to intimidate and make the opponents feel even more uncomfortable than they are as it is when they sit down to play this formidable pair.

This is not the first time this has happened as far as Meckwell are concerned. And it does not make it any better to go on and on about a mere detail.
March 24, 2012
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Bertheau v Gordon as Match A
O'Rourke v Diamond as Match B
March 23, 2012
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In my experience Michaels does not work well with intermediate hands, but you may of course argue that this hand qualifies as weak since it drives partner to the three-level on a possible misfit-hand.

It is even more significant after a one-level opening. If 2x after 1x can be weak, intermediate or even very strong, it is not easy for partner to judge how high to bid/compete, and the problem with an intermediate hand is that you don't know what to do, when partner gives simple preference. The thing is that you can't tell whether you have a fit or not, so should you bid again after 1D (2D) pass (2H) on say a 14-16 count?

This is the reason I prefer a 1S overcall after 1D if I have an intermediate hand and 2S on the actual hand after 2D. However, I am happy to listen to other views, so perhaps Brian, Kit, Jason and others like to comment on why Michaels is good with any strength (if that is what you think works best in the long run).
Jan. 19, 2012
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P.S. I bet Mike can find a logical explanation as to why Boye Brogeland doubled 7H on board 18 at ….

http://www.bridgebase.com/tools/handviewer.html?linurl=http://www.bridgebase.com/tools/vugraph_linfetch.php?id=21653

Ignore names (sadly they don't change in a pairs event). Brogeland was North, Gillis (England) South, J Hop and T Verbeek (NL) East-West.
Jan. 19, 2012
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Mike is also a brilliant vugraph commentator. A sharp and quick analyst, but most importantly he is extremely nice towards players and fellow commentators, also when they/we make blatant errors. He is one of few who can put himself in a declarer's or defender's position and explain why he or she “erred.”

When asked to comment, by email or via a private chat message online, I always get a polite reply, close to apologetically polite when he is not available. I wish he had more time to be of service to the audience. I am convinced he enjoys it, but I realise that he is often cramped for time.

Congratulations on the award, Mike. No-one deserves it more!
Jan. 19, 2012
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Eric Jannersten was the founder of the largest European bridge equipment manufacturer, Jannersten Förlag AB (Ltd), but Nordenson was the man who invented the box. Read this excellent article by Gavin Wolpert at …

http://www.bridgewinners.com/index.php/general/237-the-bidding-box August 9, 2010.

Eric Jannersten's son, Per, now runs the family business.
Nov. 8, 2011
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The bidding box was invented by Gösta Nordenson of Sweden in 1962 and first used at the World Bridge Championships in Stockholm in 1970. Eric Jannersten bought the patent in 1970, thus being attributed by some as the inventor. However, the patent is disputed by the Swedish Bridge Federation.
Nov. 8, 2011
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I agree with Victor Jusner, Henry Bethe and Joshua Donn, I don't belong there, but perhaps Victor could have been less arrogant when he writes:

Ronald Wald? (my name is spelt correctly 5 cm above his post).

Please, let’s be serious when trying to answer this question (maybe Andy Bowles was serious when he wrote his post).
Nov. 5, 2011
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How do you keep your cool regardless of situation, at and away from the bridge table? The dream partner in all walks of life (Sheri nodding I presume). Please give us the recipe so that we can make this a friendlier world to live in.
Sept. 28, 2011
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It won't be an issue because we don't have multiple languages at the same table – at least not until it will be possible to have separate channels so that you can choose the language of your choice for oral commentary.

As for written comments we also have the policy of not mixing languages at one table. Say we have a match between USA and China, then we will offer English written commentary in the open room, Chinese in the closed. Consequently, it will be possible for them to have voice as well of course, but that's an asset not a disruption.
Sept. 26, 2011
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With voice commentary (VC) now up and running and expected to become more widespread, I have so much on my plate that I have arranged to be released from my duty of coordinating written commentary. However, no matter how successful VC is or will become, we have no plans to give up the written commentary and someone else will take over.

My current plan is to select one event every week where VC will be offered. As we get more experienced and various bugs are eliminated, VC will become more frequent. For your information, I have selected for the near future the Italian Club Team Championships this week, the English Premier League the week after and then of course the World Championships, Oct 16-29.

I think this new feature is fantastic, and till now I have got nothing but appreciative messages. We realise that this is far from perfect yet, but I am confident that we will be become much better eventually. One step at a time.
Sept. 19, 2011
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Italy, USA1, NL, Sweden, Israel, Bulgaria, China, Poland in the quarter-finals. Italy vs USA1 in the final would be the dream scenario on BBO vugraph. Italy win, NL take the bronze against Israel.

What did I win? ;)
Sept. 12, 2011
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