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All comments by Ron Zucker
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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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Well, reverse drury, so we can still stop in 2. As to the why, see above.

It was a funny discussion. We played a different 5 card major-weak NT system for 7 years, and then decided to switch to MW Lite-ish. When we were building the new system, I suggested going back to either 2 drury or two-way. Partner was completely honest. To the extent we could keep bids meaning the same thing, it would be better when we were tired, since, after 7 years, we had habits. 2 as one way drury was one of those habits. It doesn't make a ton of system sense, but since it's precision, so fairly narrow anyway, it's well worth the memory savings to us.

This is, and I'm being honest, why one should rarely pick up someone else's card, whether Meckwell, which I don't think one could do, given the huge number of specific auctions they have, or even a more standard card, and agree to play it. I think most partnerships have idiosyncrasies that trade efficiency for memory holes. You have to decide which ones you have. I would NEVER recommend this treatment to anyone else playing precision, and especially not ours, in which 2 is a 6 card intermediate diamond bid. But it's right for us.
Nov. 6, 2015
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Mostly, 2 is Drury to conserve memory. Before we switched to precision, we realized that, with 2 as a weak bid, there were a lot more hands that wanted to show a natural club bid than a diamond bid. I agree that there is less utility in precision, but we'd rather have a step less efficient system than risk forgetting our agreements.

As to partner's 3rd seat openers, there's less to worry about in precision as, with the limited opener, 1st seat is unlikely to bury you. As such, 4 cards are possible. But they're a LOT more likely by me (a more, uhm, I prefer creative to undisciplined, bidder) than by partner. And if it's 4, it'll be in a good suit.
Nov. 3, 2015
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Interestingly, undiscussed (which, itself is interesting, since we've been playing together for 8+ years and this system for almost 3), Mike and I both decided that's what it should be. But even then, how does one measure the stiff king? Make it x 9xxxx Kxxx AQx and I'd just bid 4. But a stiff king is better than a stiff deuce, but it depends on what partner's cards are how much better.
Nov. 3, 2015
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Not partner, but teammates.

Shortly after I moved to San Francisco from the East Coast, I found a partner for the upcoming Swiss at the Sectional. He found us teammates, an excellent pair of wonderful people, one of the top pairs in the district, Sid and Vicky. I knew that we were far outgunned in terms of talent, but he told me they were nice and it would be OK.

As he was the more experienced of us (I was not yet a life master), we settled on a simple card, mostly with his choices if I knew them. One of the things on it was Drury.

First board out of the box, playing against two then-local (now national) pros, he opened 1 in third seat. Pass to me, and holding a 4-4-3-2 10 count, I wheeled out 2. He passed.

Before dummy came down, I alerted opponents that there had been a failure to alert and that 2 was Drury. We called the director, and, after consultation with both players, we were told to play on. Despite knowing I didn't necessarily have clubs, and that partner didn't reopen, Cameron chose to lead a side suit. I scrambled home 7 tricks with some helpful misdefense for -100.

After the match, we went to compare. “Board 1, +100.”

With a happy smile, I said, “Push!”

“Yeah, it's hard to stay out of that game red at IMPs.”

Whatever you want to believe, teammates. Whatever works for you. But to protect myself, I got up, threw away my scoresheet and told them I'd spilled coffee on it, purely so they couldn't look and find out we'd played in 2. I didn't want them to know how bad I am.

Forgive me teammates. I lied to you then, and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Nov. 3, 2015
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In fact, 3 *would* have been a fit jump. That's something that didn't occur to me. But, while I didn't want to prejudice the votes, the fear of spade competition was exactly why I chose not to bid Drury. It's good to see it mentioned.
Nov. 3, 2015
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One more. When I decided to get a bit serious about bridge, I wrangled an invitation to the IMPs for money game in Oakland. Three 10-board matches a night, cut for teams, $2/IMP plus 6 IMPs ($12) for the win. They all understood that these were my lessons, and were on board with helping me become a better player. One night, having played there for about 6 months, I cut the inimitable Harvey Brody, a West coast pro and old school player.

I managed to mangle the play in a slam, going down one vulnerable. After the match was over, knowing that I'd cost him 13 IMPs, and most likely another $12, so close to $40, I felt horrible.

“I'm so sorry, Harvey. I should really stop playing here. This isn't fair to you or our teammates. I'm not in the same league as the other players here.”

Harvey looked up. “You can't stop playing here.”

Now, Harvey is not exactly quick with a compliment, and his caustic tongue had at times been unleashed on even his favorite, most able partners. I brightened immediately. “You mean you think I'm getting better?”

“No,” said Harvey, laughing. “You're still awful. But I have a 4/7 chance of you being on the other team!”
Oct. 23, 2015
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Lead is the ONLY question. After that, everything is very sensible. South wins and thinks North didn't lead a club away from the A or AQ. Returns a club. North can tell that S has one or three clubs, cashes and finds one, cashes the second club (more likely with no club raise and no forward move with the AK) and issues a club ruff. S is endplayed and cashes out (arguably wrongly, as a heart return might have been better if he plays partner for having two hearts, since declarer can't both set up the spades and return to dummy to enjoy them).

So outside of the offbeat spade lead (and I assume they play MUD conventionally for the spot card), I see no problem here. Not sure I'd find the spade lead, but I don't see a problem (and, FWIW, a club lead ends up with the same tricks, I think, but I could be wrong.)
Oct. 22, 2015
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