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All comments by Ron Zucker
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OK, for what it's worth, Eric is right on THIS hand. I posted it to find out if my double was a bad action or if I hit bad luck (or both). Given that a number of players join me in doubling, I'm going to choose bad luck. The whole hand:




I chose to double, thinking it likely that they were in a 3-4 or, at worst, 4-4 fit, and that with partner holding the spades and me with strength in the other suits, a trump lead should hold them to 5 or so tricks. Unfortunately, well, not so much. -690 was a cross-field bottom, with 3NT making.

However, I'm still not sure that my double was wrong. I posted it to find out what others do. I feel better now. FWIW, the normal score was 2SX-2. Our East was very lucky to find his partner 6-5.
Aug. 2, 2016
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Just for the record, as the 74 seed, who did beat the 21 seed, I was wondering this exact scenario, but figured I'd find out tomorrow.

And if there was any justice in the world, given my skill level, 74th seed in a field of 64 seems about right for me…
July 25, 2016
Ron Zucker edited this comment July 25, 2016
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Thank you, Kit. It's not about this hand. It's about the next time, and how I should have thought about it. Thank you for explaining your thought process.
May 5, 2016
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I live in DC. There are many AirBnB options, often in easy walking distance to the host site. But do be careful about the last train problem. MetroRail stops running at midnight week nights. Additionally, we are currently going through serious disruptions to service, with single tracking adding a lot of time to non-rush hour and especially weekend trips, since there are significant safety problems due to insufficient safety/upkeep since the system was opened over 45 years ago.

That's not to say that staying in Rockville or Bethesday is a bad option. I think it's an excellent option. DC has a good public transit system, and both have nice hotels very close to Metro available at a competitive price. But please ensure that you make your playing plans aware that the game might force you to RUN to the Metro afterward, or force you to take a cab/Uber home. (Or find a friendly DC local who drove in from the suburbs…)

I look forward to seeing all of you! I hope there will be a BridgeWinners dinner or other social event during the Washington NABC's. There are many of you I'd really love to meet F2F.
April 29, 2016
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Open to suggestions on my thought process, so reporting.

First the auction at our table:

West (me)- East (pard)
1 - 2NT(1)
3 (2) - 3NT (3)
4 (4) - 4NT (5)
5 (6) - 5NT (7)
6 - P

(1) Standard Jacoby, and yes, we all know it's inferior, but fine in an infrequent partnership
(2) Would accept a limit raise. Fewer than 16 HCP, no stiff, no void, no 5 card side suit
(3) Spade cuebid, serious slam try
(4) cuebid
(5) RKC
(6) Two without
(7) Specific King ask, guarantees all the keycards

My LHO (a friend, competent defender and frequent partner) also led a low heart. Opps play UDCA.

I admit that I erred by rising on the heart and got the bad news. RHO (another friend, etc.) pitched a high diamond (discouraging). I've played with both often enough that I'm fairly certain I can trust their early attitude signals, but never their count signals and not necessarily later signals. Moreover, from the trump lead with my only cuebid being diamonds, I'm fairly certain the king is offside just from the lead, to say nothing of RHO's discouraging pitch. RHO could play the 2 here and I still suspect that LHO has the K. I think the Q is a mirage, and I'm not planning to hook it.

I played a heart to hand, rho pitching a spade. If I'm right about the K, I need LHO to hold the club king, so I should play a club hook now, as it gives me some options if it loses to a short club king. I played a club to the T, winning.

Good news, but I still have a problem with the 4th club if LHO has Kx of clubs and I lead the CQ to the next round. However, I decided that if he has Kxx of clubs, to go with four hearts , he can be endplayed. So I pulled a third trump, played a low to a low card from LHO and the A (if RHO was getting cute with Kxxxx of clubs, let LHO err by ruffing air) to which RHO followed, pulled the last trump, noting that RHO now pitched a club, played AK of spades, ruffed a spade (LHO pitching a diamond), and tossed in LHO with a club to lead, perforce, into my AQ of D. With the clubs 3-3, I could have made this MUCH easier by just leading the Q earlier, but I didn't know that at the time.

Basically I decided that LHO being 4-4 in the rounded suits and having the K was more than I could handle, so I didn't play for it. But I'm not sure that's right.
April 17, 2016
Ron Zucker edited this comment April 17, 2016
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So, I'm confused. many people comment that bridge “encourages” playing lower with masterpoint rewards. And I get that. I'll earn fewer masterpoints for for a finish I'm more proud of in my NABC+ event than in an event I'm less proud of.

But I see it more like Leo. There will be those who will chase the masterpoint reward system. I'll never have as many MPs as they do, and that's fine. I prefer to chase a different reward. Obviously, I am a very different person than those who chose MPs. I'm not upset that they have more MPs than I do.

In other words, I think you choose the reward you're after. I'm after enjoying a game I love. I don't care if I win or lose. I do care if I played well or poorly, or if I learned from my mistakes. I measure success in the number of hands I'm going to preface with the words, “You hold…” in the next few weeks, the number of hands I can post here to learn from.

I don't resent other players having other goals. The beer card. A backwash squeeze. A great bamboozle. Who among us has never led a card and wanted to (though I hope never actually done) get up and do a little dance while saying, “Winkle!!!!” Those are all goals, too.

My goals are more esoteric than masterpoints. but I don't resent those whose goals are masterpoints. Indeed, given that I want to play top competition wherever I can, I welcome any event that pulls out those who don't. I love, as we do locally, an A-X flight and a B-C-D flight. I don't care about the strat. You could just run an A flight and B-C-D strat for all I care. But it gets rid of players with 1800 points who don't want to play against the best.

So, while I agree with Jeff Ford's comments above about not being able to play in the top bracket (and I do understand why the directors don't always want to let us play up, and the late Henry Bethe made an excellent argument about it on this site, but it's still annoying), and it's why I rarely attend regionals, I also think that the ACBL is supposed to represent its members, and people vote with their feet.

It's hard to argue with larger table counts. Comments like this can come off as simply disliking change. And while I bow to nobody in my willingness to be a crabby person, I'm ok with change. And with meeting our clients' wishes, as demonstrated by higher table counts.

As for those who have said that they wish there was one day of a huge pairs event with no KO running, we tried that in this area with the Machlin pairs at our regional. 1 session qualifying, 1 session Barometer final. No new KOs, though those who had started the day before finished their KOs. Many more pros in the field.

You know the rest of the story. We had to go back. We barely got two sections. Just nobody showed up.

I'm all for reminiscing about the good old days. But I refuse to wear blinders. Let those who want to chase MPs play down. Let me play the open events. I'll see you at the NABCs in Washington. I'll be the one trying my hardest in the open Spingolds. I won't win, but I sure will enjoy it!
Jan. 6, 2016
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No. Of course not. That's why I think a per diem is reasonable. It was the size that stuck in my craw, not the existence. $71 was a bit much, especially when connected to $200+ per session rates.
Dec. 22, 2015
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As a former unit tournament chair, lucky enough to live in an area with a lot of full timers, the director's fee/per diem does get quite expensive. Our total director fees for our 350-400 table sectionals were well over $4,000, and if we ran an event that needed an extra director, such as the annual Flight A BAM with a concurrent B-C-D Swiss, could push $5,000.

While I take a back seat to nobody in my admiration for the directors, knowing that I could not have possibly chaired the tournaments without the work they put in before, during and after the game, the routine recommendation from the overseer of directors that I needed 3 directors per session on the weekends with rates ranging from $125 to $225 per session was difficult. The fact that I also had to pay per diem even to those only working one session when the farthest any of them traveled was about 30-35 minutes felt like a bit much.

At the same time as I was paring back everything from food budgets to finding new playing sites (our rent for a weekend is routinely about $4,500) the per diem and directors cost did stick in my craw. I understand a per diem. And certainly, they should be able to get some breakfast on the way, since they can't easily wait for what we provide, and a decent meal between session. But yeah, $35.50 per session, which was the rate a couple of years ago, for directors who I knew lived closer to the playing site than I or most of the players did seemed a bit extravagant. Dinner and coffee? Sure. $71 per day? Not so sure.

And again, as a player, I LOVE our directors. Chris Miller, who commented above (and who, I'll note, turned down my offer of being DIC when I ran the sectionals, but is doing it now, not that I'm insulted or anything) is great at rulings and wonderful at making sure the event all happens. I could not have asked for a better partner in creating a welcoming, fun and competitive event than him, or Terry Lavender, or any of the other local directors.

I recognize that skill comes at a price. But when I'm struggling to not lose money on our events, it is difficult to justify. Adding in a per diem for a group that lives close to the site really does make it hard to swallow.
Dec. 22, 2015
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I think that's a good argument not to make “twist” bids, Josh, but not necessarily a good argument about what the agreement should be. Opening 2 suggests that hearts should be trump. Opening 3 suggests <strong>really strongly</strong> that hearts should be trump. Opening 4 says that hearts are trump in my book. If it's a disaster, we'll take that one up later and discuss judgment, but, well, my partners are allowed to take unilateral actions if they think they're right, and I won't overrule that.

Note that, of course, 4-(X)-4 should, I think, be natural, with a XX being to play, and that obviously 4-(P)-P-(X)-P-(P)-4 is to play. But without any input from them? I'll trust that partner is right about his/her choice of trump.

Now, admittedly, most of my partners are going to take more unilateral actions because they've seen me declare. They figure that there are now 3 ways to win. They could preempt their RHO out of spades, preempt their LHO out of spades, or just keep me from declaring!
Dec. 22, 2015
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This happened at the Unit Game. I am lucky enough to live in an area with a good Unit game. If I were to submit one (and I think the comments here have convinced me not to), it would be for the Unit, to the Unit recorder.
Dec. 20, 2015
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I removed the name, and thank you for pointing that out. I'll try to be more careful in the future.
Dec. 20, 2015
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So, a couple of things. First, I edited the article to remove LHO's first name. I honestly wasn't thinking. I should assuredly have been more careful in the original posting. While fixing it, that doesn't help for those who have already read the article.

But the second issue I wanted to follow up on shows that either I don't understand the system, or I'm misunderstanding some comments.

People have commented that, if I felt coffeehoused, I should have called the director. But here's the thing. At the table, and especially after the first board of a round, it's awkward to call the director on these issues. Though I felt coffeehoused, I didn't feel CHEATED per se. I had an inkling in my head, since confirmed by actual analysis, that low to the ace was the right play in the first place. And, though I don't know the rules that thoroughly, it is at best tacky to blame a misplay on anything other than my own mistake.

Right or wrong, I didn't think that the director could, or should, adjust the score. I felt that there was a line of play that would make the contract, and that I should have found it, and LHO's tempo is not the reason that I'm not a good player. I've read articles on this site discussing whether a certain decision cuts the causal relationship between a violation by one side and the result for the other. I felt that was the case here.

Certainly at the table, I am not alone in blaming myself for all the bad RESULTS, whether or not we were escorted down the road to the bad decision.

It was my impression, though, that the recorder form is a different thing. The recorder form, as I understand it, suggests that I am accepting my bad score as my own fault. There is no rule violation implicit in the filing. However, as a first step, the recorder will speak with the player and tell him/her that there has been a concern, and perhaps explain the concern.

Moreover, if this is an isolated incident, it ends there. However, if this is a pattern of behavior, it can support later claims of similar behavior. No more, no less.

People here seem to think that I should have asked for an adjustment, and then, if, as I think it would/should have, the ruling goes against me, it's done. I don't think that I should have called a director because I don't believe I'm entitled to an adjustment. I don't WANT a score adjustment. I want to know if this is the sort of behavior that should be recorded, or if this is just something that's part of the game, and I should ignore it.

The overwhelming majority seems to think the latter, but many commenters further imply that I should have called the director in the first place. Am I wrong in not thinking this is worth a Director call, but might be worth a recorder form, and further in thinking the latter a much lower level of concern than the former?

Thank you for all the feedback!
Dec. 20, 2015
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In theory, I believe Kibbitzers are good for bridge. I've enjoyed kibbitzing some excellent players, and have learned. However, late in a weeknight session, when I'm struggling to keep my focus, I find they can discombobulate me, giving me one more thing to distract me.

However, if I mention that I don't like being kibbitzed, most are willing to kibbitz one of my opps instead (especially since, let's be honest, at my level, they're not really there to watch ME!). And I don't see how someone watching my RHO should bother me.

And yes, this is more likely to happen at the club than at a sectional or regional. At a sectional or regional, I would never care. I'm there to play, and kibbitzers are part of the environment. But after a tough week of work on a Thursday night? Yeah, I might ask.

There is one other thing that can happen, but it relates to a specific situation. One local player is not just an excellent player, but the fastest (competent) player I've ever seen. (I'm fast, but not competent. I know some others like that. He is not just fast, but an exceptionally skilled player.) At a regional last year, at the final round of a pairs event, when we were having a good game, he came by to glance at our last boards, having finished.

I knew from his presence that we or our opps were in contention, as was he, with the 1 or 2 round to go score up. I also knew that we had been handed more than a few gifts in the second session, had finished 3rd after the 1st session, and had given few gifts away, so I suspected it was us.

It didn't bother me. But I wonder if it was unfair to our opps. Seeing him standing there certainly helped me bear down. We all know that we play better, with more attention, when we know it might be the difference between 1st and 2nd or 2nd and 3rd than between a 53% session and a 52% session.

So perhaps it's unethical to only kibbitz the last round?
Dec. 15, 2015
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Ah. I missed that. For some reason, I saw “No more specific requirement to alert unusual ranges for natural NF 1M openings” in the original post and did not see that in the PDF. Thank you. I'm glad that was unchanged.

(Tempted to delete my post to protect my claim of not being a COMPLETE idiot, but I am clearly, at best, an incomplete idiot.)
Dec. 5, 2015
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I'm surprised at (and not charmed by) the removal of the prealert for weak 1M openings. I don't mind the 8-16 method that some people play, and it's not a huge deal, but especially given that there's no space for a point range (thank heavens) on the card for a 1M opening, if it's not alertable or announceable, I have no reason to expect it either in bidding or in my declarer play. I mean, I know I'm supposed to protect myself, but that seems a bit much to expect. Am I now to ask every time someone opens 1 (to avoid giving UI, I'd have to ask EVERY time) what the opening range is?

Am I out of line here? Am I asking too much? I do glance at a card to see if they play Precision, after all, so maybe I need to add this to my glances, but where would I even find it?
Dec. 5, 2015
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There is an underthought part to this, and I don't have any answers. I just have a comment. I think we are underestimating and underemphasizing the social aspect of bridge.

When I learned to play, I was in college. And I admit that I was interested in the game quickly. But it didn't hurt that a cute girl was one of the players. Nor that some people I knew from their interest in science fiction played. I learned to play in part because I simply liked the bridge group. (Hi, Meg! Hi, Ken! Hi, Ted! Hi, Bruce! Those are all people who STILL play, who I knew from other walks of college life.)

I learned to play in a bar that didn't check IDs for age very closely. We played bridge and pinball, we hung out, and that group is still some of my closest friends.

And it meant we were willing to go to the local duplicate, because, y'know, we had people our age to hang out with. Yes, most of the players were old (hell, most of them were over FORTY!!!! :-) ), but we could still have fun.

I don't know the solution to that problem. We were having fun and hanging out, like ya do in college. None of us thought this was going to become a hobby for the rest of our lives. We just thought it was fun to hang out with our friends.

Part of the thought has to be about how to re-create that atmosphere. It takes a critical mass, and we had that. It meant that we had a progression from first learning the game to playing with better players to learning “Bridge Club Standard” bidding to going to the Baltimore Unit Game. But it started with hanging out with friends who played.

In the heyday of bridge, that was how the game spread. You hung out with friends, and you became interested in the game. Now, the emphasis seems to be on getting interested in the game and then making friends in it. That seems backwards to me.

But I don't know any solutions. I can identify a problem, but that's not enough. I hope we identify solutions someday.
Nov. 25, 2015
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My plan is to claim illness and let Sean play it!
Nov. 18, 2015
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Great, Michael. Because it wasn't already stuck in my head as I read this thread over lunch. I'm SURE I'll get that song out of my head now before I go to sleep tonight. Or maybe not.

Nice to know I'm not the only fan, though.
Nov. 12, 2015
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Yes, that's a fine translation of Ron-ese, to, well, English. Even though we've never played together, I'm impressed that you speak whatever you want to call my language…

With that said, the problem with xfering to clubs is that you STILL might want to be in game. If I'm not getting to game opposite the most likely hand (4 or 5 spades), I should just pass 1NT, right? It's IMPs. Even if clubs plays better, do I want to get there?
Nov. 9, 2015
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True, but, as the perpetrator of the bids in question, I also hate having those conversations that start with, “-200.” “-90. Lose 7. How did 15 opposite 7 get to game again?”

I sort of agree with Chris. I saw the world with rose colored glasses, but, prima facie, partner's expected heart length is 3 cards, and his/her expected spade length is 4 cards. A lot can go wrong, and I was aiming at a pretty narrow window. The upside is significant. (Who DOESN'T love the conversation that starts with “-120.” “+620. 10 IMPs in.”?) I know that. But I don't think it's quite worth it.
Nov. 6, 2015

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