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All comments by Ron Zucker
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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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That is an EXCELLENT point, and one I hadn't considered. Yes, mixed raises are alertable. Perhaps rolling it back to 3 would have been the proper ruling.

That said, in a separate email from partner (who reads BW, but who has forgotten his password, so can't comment, he said:

“1) My card agreed with yours. I was mistaken.
2) I had my 4S bid, given my hand's shape in any case.
3) There were several other tables where 4S was doubled and making. I strongly suspect that if I had bid 2S and then 4S, E would have doubled, and that would have been the end of it.
4) Thus, our below par result was totally my fault, but…
5) E really was trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Heads he wins, tails we lose.

But see point number 4– my actions certainly gave him the chance to do that.”

So it seems to me that this is a simple situation of partner forgetting our agreements. Again, I think equity was restored I take at face value my opponent's claim that, absent the statement that 3 was preemptive, he would have passed, but thought he needed to double to get 200 to protect his +140.
Sept. 24, 2015
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Yes, over 1. But over 1, the old K-S world (a tiny, TINY, world, vaguely reminiscent of de Saint-Exupery's little prince) was split between people who responded 1NT on 6-9 and those who responded 1M. Given that this small world, which mostly went away with the switch to 5 card majors, is now mostly confined to some old rubber bridge and Chicago for money players, I think it's become a more and more unusual agreement.

As to the weak jump to 3, as far as I know, they never played that over 1, though K-S was the first system I know of with inverted minors.
Sept. 22, 2015
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As others have pointed out in other threads, I disagree with the “No blame” wording. It's not about the diamonds. It's about overall value of the hand. I think South undercounted the value of QJxxx of clubs. I would make a game try, and might still not get there unless my game try is short suit here.

But I think this is as close an ATB as it gets. I would not be upset being +170 at MPs here, even though game is cold. I will get an average minus, along with most of my peers. A few peripatetic bidders will get to game, and that's the way of the world. At IMPs, especially red, I think it's more culpable, but I'm still not convinced we should be moving on. Let's just say that I wouldn't be particularly hard on partner if I held either hand and we were running the boards afterwards.
Sept. 22, 2015
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Interesting. When playing a weak NT, 4 card major system – basically, as Normand Houle pointed out above, 1950's era K-S – one partner and I play that 1M can be as few as 3 cards (alerted, of course), since we prefer to have 1NT show 8 to a bad 10 in response to a (4+ card) 1 opening, allowing the opener to rebid 1NT (15-17) wherever possible. I've been playing this way (“full Walsh”) for many years, and have never had a director call against it. It's very rarely three cards, but it is alerted as a possibility. But it seems to be illegal.

I'm not exactly certain WHY it's illegal, especially since most players play that (1m)-P-(1M)-2M is natural. I don't think it hurts anyone. It just makes our constructive bidding a tad easier, with the caveat that we will sometimes find a two level 3-4 fit when opener holds a raise with 15-17 playing points (i.e., a distributional raise or a strong NT), and that opener NEVER is allowed to raise on 3 cards, because sub-Moysian stories are fun to tell, but not fun to play.

In other words, we get to some sub-optimal contracts to protect our strong hands and natural bidding on other hands. It's a trade-off we're willing to make, not least because it reduces memory strain, but it seems it might be illegal.
Sept. 22, 2015
Ron Zucker edited this comment Sept. 22, 2015
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Bob, someday, I'd really like to meet you in person. Not just because I often agree with your comments on bridge – indeed, I think you might have convinced me to change my vote to pass as the least of evils here – but because you're the only bridge player I've found who's consistently less optimistic than even I am.

1 is 4 or more the overwhelming amount of time. I've seen quotes from Larry Cohen and others contending that it's only about 3% of the time. (I'm not sure how to do the proper vacant spaces calculation, so I can't confirm this, but I've seen it from enough players I trust to believe it.) Playing for partner to have only three diamonds seems to be too pessimistic, bordering on paranoid.

As I said above, I think the reason for bidding 1 is twofold. Partner doesn't HAVE to bid 1. S/he could have done something helpful. Even 1NT, leading to, at worst, a 5-2 heart fit, would have been fine. But the argument that you fear a 3-2 diamond fit seems wrong to me, and focuses too much on what can go wrong with passing instead of what can go wrong with bidding.

If I had better cards, even if still nominally a 5 count, I would prefer to keep the auction open for partner. But I don't. I'm really thinking that it's their hand, and want to get out ASAP, hoping it will still be cheap enough to suggest a bad hand with hearts later. Either passing or bidding might be right on any given hand, but I don't think that partner being specifically 4-4-3-2 is why.
Sept. 17, 2015
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A good argument for passing 1 in a strong NT structure with a bad non-fitting 5 count. If I pass and then suggest hearts if they reopen, I'm showing a good approximation of my hand. Having chosen 1 (I don't think that's awful, mind you, but I would have preferred pass), I can't leave partner in a known 4-2 fit with little or nothing to help her/him. It's not the first bid that gets you if you don't plan ahead. If partner had held a raise, all would have been dandy. But foreseeing a problem suggests passing 1, imho.

That said, I think you're right that most players would bid 1 here. And who knows how much of my reaction is based on the wire. Partner had 4 non-jump bids available. (1, 1NT, 2 and 2), and only 1 gave me a problem. Of COURSE s/he had the hand that gave me a problem. But your chances were good when you bid it.
Sept. 16, 2015
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