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All comments by Ron Zucker
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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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I showed up to play barely on time to a ridiculously early event recently. I had left home and forgotten to zip my trousers. My partner (I won't name him, as he's another user on this site) politely pointed it out before we started, saying, “I'm sorry, but I don't want to be part of the director call when they ask how I knew that you REALLY like your hand.”

And, as an aside, with all of the pain recently regarding bridge, this topic and the many wonderful stories, was EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you, Mr. Luttrell, for starting it. If we ever run into each other at a tournament, there's no need to win the last trick with the 7; I already owe you a beer!
Oct. 22, 2015
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I've shared this before, but it's still my favorite.

Before the days of bidding boxes, LHO and pard passed. RHO heard 1 from another table, so holding 4-4 in the majors and an opening hand, he doubled. I hadn't been paying attention, looked at my hand and counted 10 HCP, so I redoubled. LHO called the director.

“What seems to be the problem,” asked the director.

“We're playing in redoubled,” replied LHO.

“What redoubled,” the director asked, a bit impatient with the lack of information.

“Nothing. Just redoubled.”

We both got AVG-, them for making an illegal bid, me for trying to accept it.

Another wonderful memory was when the late Paul Soloway started playing with Bob Hamman. Some mentors of mine were personal friends of both players. I wasn't playing one day at my first NABCs, having not made the finals of an event, at the first nationals where they paired up, and they introduced me to them so that I could kibbitz the title cup event instead of playing a Regional event. I sat behind Soloway.

Before the game started, he said that there was no reason to sit behind him. After all, he said, he now had the easiest job in bridge. His job, Soloway claimed, was to be dummy in 3NT. Sure enough, the second board out of the box, he held a reasonable looking, but not superior, with no 5 card suit, 8 count when Hamman opened 1NT, 14-16. He bid 3NT without a lot of visible thought. Hamman made it. He turned to me and smiled. “Easiest job in bridge…”
Oct. 21, 2015
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I am NOT a tax lawyer, but when I won a trip, I had to fill out a form with my tax information and received a tax statement (1099-MISC?) to show the income. I could, of course, have retained my records of hotel and flight and run that against it as hobby expenses, I suppose. That would have been better. But I didn't. So I paid my minimal amount of taxes on my $700.

But it wouldn't have occurred to me, having gotten a form that showed the income, not to report it. Then again, I tend not to worry too much about my taxes and just pay them. I've decided that my time has value, too, so if recordkeeping and entering the amount into the software is going to take me more time than the value I'd save, I'd rather just overpay. Again, your mileage WILL vary.

But if you're paying attention…

Say I hire a bridge pro for lessons on BBO, which I have. I pay him via a check. Do I need to report that and withhold and pay Social Security? Is that the same as nannies? Or is s/he an independent contractor, and that's all his/her problem?

Never occurred to me until just now. If you're willing to answer, though it's far afield from the initial discussion, that would be great. And it would be fine if you want to DM me an answer to avoid taking this too far from the original topic. THANKS!!!!
Oct. 20, 2015
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One of my friends was, until recently, a stay at home dad, since his wife had a more lucrative profession than he, and it made sense for one of them to stay home. He won the Flight B trip to the nationals a few years ago, and that was his only income. So when he filed his taxes, he put on his tax return, for the $700 or so he was provided, “Bridge Player.” He is certainly the cheapest bridge pro *I* know.
Oct. 20, 2015
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I've actually had strangers comment to me, when seeing my name and the BW logo on my printed up convention card, that they liked my profile comment. As a non-expert, non-famous (nor even, in these sad days, infamous) player, that was quite rewarding.
Oct. 13, 2015
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While I would certainly open this hand 1, I can't guarantee that ALL my partners would, so I didn't abstain. Like you, I play 2 as constructive but non-forcing, so we're on the same wavelength.

I think 4 has to involve at least a tolerance for spades. With a known misfit, I'd pass and let partner do whatever it is partner is going to do. After all, I only have one extra club.

What's that you say? 2 may be on only 5? Well, I STRONGLY prefer that 2 always always always shows 6. I've been known to lie about my hand if I think it's right, so I've done it with 5, but partner expects 6 and will give me neither room nor latitude for my lie. As such, it's only one extra club, and I can pass 3D with a hand not interested in some game over 2.

I have to have a pretty unusual hand to take a free bid after a limited call at the 4 level. This 5 loser hand certainly counts. If I didn't open 1, I'll take my shot here to express it.
Oct. 7, 2015
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The main reason is for consistency and ease of memory. You NEED 3 as a retransfer for the hands where you have drek and five or more hearts, since you still want partner to declare. So while 4 as a splinter makes sense, it becomes the only suit in which you can make a splinter. That strikes me as… odd. Not unplayable, but difficult to remember, and more difficult to work out from first principles at the table.
Oct. 2, 2015
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Thank you. I think I'm like most players. I'm not terrible. Indeed, on the number line of bridge players, I'm a lot closer to expert than to beginner. Yet I have no idea what I'm doing all too often. That's both the frustration of bridge and why I play and love this game.
Oct. 2, 2015
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First, I agree with you about 2 over 2 and 2!NT over 2 as the only super acceptances. I think that's a much better agreement, and it's a nice space saver. This is, however, a common agreement.

Second, I am writing less about how to handle a 6-6 freak than how to proceed when you're not certain you and partner will be on the same page. It's wonderful in the partnerships where I have detailed system agreements. Even if I forget it, I am reminded when I look back at the hand that I should have known what to do, and I can study our agreements again until I know what I'm doing.

But that's not how I play most of my bridge. Most of my partnerships are casual, because I value my friendships a great deal. My partner on this hand is not only a good player. He's an incredibly nice, smart and funny person. I think most of us are like that.

It's nice to get better at bridge. But it's also nice to learn how to handle panic moments.
Oct. 2, 2015
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And this is why I'm thinking (and I hope that I remember to do this around January) of different awards, sort of like the Oscars. I think either the Schwartz team forfeiting their titles or Kit's post entitled “Fantuni-Nunes: The Videos Speak” are clearly the most important in terms of bridge news. But there are a lot of other ones.

I hope a few people will help me comb through the site in January to come up with a list of nominees.
Sept. 29, 2015
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Bingo. And I couldn't figure out which poll option reflected this. If someone does, I'll change my vote from abstain.
Sept. 29, 2015
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I don't believe that his claim was that there was a forcing pass. I think his claim is that he was not willing to defend with a 5th spade. He bid 3, ostensibly to make, but was willing to bid 4 when he feared their 4 was making. It is not unreasonable to make a constructive, but limited, bid, but to bid on when there is extra shape on the hand when partner is silent. I think we all claim not to do it. We all *know* it's probably not good bridge. And we all break that rule sometimes. This happened to be his turn.

Because of that 5th trump, 4X was not unusual, as many South players simply bid it over 2. Partner, forgetting our card, thought he had a better way, systemically, to bid the hand. If I didn't take another move, and if his bid had meant what he thought it meant, he would have been happy to play 3. 4 simply said he'd rather play 4 than defend 4 opposite a minimum 1 opener that didn't want to bid game at MPs opposite a mixed raise. Even after forgetting our agreement (which, remember, he was unaware of at the time he bid 4), I think he's entitled to make that judgment.
Sept. 24, 2015
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Thanks, Martin. Fixed it.
Sept. 24, 2015
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Sorry. Fixed the text. Thank you!
Sept. 24, 2015
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