Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Shawn Drenning
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I abstained although I would go with 4 spades and a heart stopper at the table I think. A secondary question seems to be what should opener's priorities be with both spade support and a heart control. If responder has no spade suit or heart stopper, but values, double might be the best shot at 3NT.
May 7, 2012
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It's not clear to me what the best way to do this, but it seems like something is wrong when Meckwell is not on either Bermuda Bowl team. The top players will talk about the importance of “team chemistry,” but you'll have a hard time convincing me that the US would not have had a better shot of winning this year if Meckwell (or another top pair) replaced one of the pairs with a sponsor playing.

Of course money is a factor and some top players have said they would choose not to represent the US if the conditions of contest changed. Personally I'm inclined to say let them go–I'd rather root for a weaker team that wants to play over a stronger team that will only play if the money is right.
April 27, 2012
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Here's the complete list of teams: http://usbf.org/index.php?option=com_entries&event=28&task=list

There are quite a few very strong teams not listed in poll that I don't think anyone would be too shocked if they won, so I might bet on the field versus any one of the individual teams listed (but would bet on one of the five teams listed winning over one of the other thirteen teams winning).
April 16, 2012
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A good book on this sort of thing (written by a bridge player who is a mathematician) is http://www.amazon.com/Expert-Bridge-Simplified-Arithmetic-Shortcuts/dp/097534191X/ref=pd_sxp_f_pt

I believe Rubens suggests that taking into account the effect one suit breaking well has on another suit breaking well is way too complicated to do at the table, but the effect is small enough that it is safe to only use the information if deciding between two lines that appear to have very similar odds.
April 2, 2012
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I suspect it is the same hand. A friend asked me about it–I posted because I was surprised that a lot of people he asked thought 2S was the “normal” bid. I think either pass/2D I could live with, but don't see what 2S bidders are hoping will happen.
March 27, 2012
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I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but I would bid 1H without too much thought. Perhaps you should make this a poll.
March 26, 2012
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This is in response to Jerry and others.

I don't know the exact details of what happened this time other than that when the board came up they called the director and said pair did not have required defense. When this came up in the past against the Singapore team (this was what I heard, but I was not there so correct me if I'm wrong) I believe the Singapore pair told Meckwell ahead of time they were playing multi, but were unable to print a defense, but had written one down by hand. They asked if this was ok and were told “we'll see if it comes up” and as soon as they opened multi the director was called and Meckwell said the defense was unreadable/unacceptable etc.

Certainly I think everyone agrees that just because Meckwell have won 50+ national championships that doesn't mean they aren't entitled to have the defense/have the rules enforced. The question (as I intended) is whether, if you accept that Meckwell don't actually need the defense (if they do they should get it), do you approve of them calling the director (either to get in opps head or prevent them from playing multi)?

Personally I would never do something like this (because I don't want opponents to think I am a jerk), but typically I am playing with my friends to win bracket #7 of the compact knockout, not professionally to win the Vanderbilt.

More generally, it is interesting to me whether people think players should follow the rules as they are literally written or follow their spirit? It seems that a number of people (~40%) have no problem (or approve) of the tactic Meckwell employed in the Vanderbilt. On the other hand, I suspect (to give one example) that far fewer people would approve of a pair that took advantage of UI whenever they thought they could reasonably get away with it and let the directors/committees decide if there was a violation (it seems to be almost a matter of pride among some bridge players I know to make the worst bid they can think of when they have UI so as to appear ethical).
March 23, 2012
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It seems to me if they show both majors, often we will want to try to play in 3NT and there should be some way to diagnose stoppers (e.g. bidding 2H/2S shows a stopper in that suit, but not the other).

@Josh: I'm curious what your followups are over 2H/2S or 3C/3D. Can opener then cue a stopper?
March 14, 2012
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I have no idea what the best way to bid this is (hence the poll). My initial reaction was to bid 3NT, but that seemed poor (for reasons similar to those mentioned by Jonathan). I voted for 4NT planning on bidding 6D if partner has two keys and play 5D if he has 0/1 (and if he has 0, wish I had not bid 4NT).

I should have included 3C in the poll, it sort of occurred to me but wasn't fully on the radar.

At the table, one pair opened this a precision 1D (their 1C promises 16+) . . .
March 5, 2012
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In my experience, many regionals/sectionals/clubs do offers discounts to juniors, but I think it is up to whoever is in charge (?). Many people I have interacted with think “it's so nice to see young people playing” and are happy to offer a discount. I know the crotchety segment of the ACBL is out there, but many of the tournaments I've been to keep them well hidden.

After reading Jeremy's story, I think those advocating for junior bridge should try to share stories like his rather than talk about the “young stars.” As a fan of US bridge it's exciting to see them doing well, but it seems many of them either dropped out of college to play bridge or never went at all and I'm not sure this is a good selling point for parents trying to decide whether or not to get their kids involved with bridge.

I will add that one junior program the ACBL does continue to support is the yearly collegiate tournament. I believe it took place last weekend with close to 100 players participating and I believe it is effective at getting new converts (the first live tournament I ever played in was the collegiate final. Our team had fewer than 100 combined masterpoints (albeit with one foriegn bridge veteran) and all of us have continued to play since then)
Feb. 22, 2012
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If you play an entire national that means you can afford to pay for airfare, hotel for ten days, meals out for ten days etc., but all of a sudden paying the full entry is a dealbreaker? Seems to me that people who can afford to take a ten day vacation are doing ok. Maybe the reduction should be offered to all full-time students (I always found it annoying when I was 26 and a student that I had to pay full price, but my 25 year old partner working in finance and taking one course didn't), but it seems very unlikely this is going to cause fewer juniors to play bridge (which seemed to be the initial objection).
Feb. 21, 2012
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How many juniors does this actually effect? I can see raising the number of masterpoints, but how many juniors attending NABCs with 500 masterpoints are there? How many will stop playing bridge because of this increase?

I was a recent junior/student, so I understand how helpful it is to be able to play at a reduced rate, but someone with 500 masterpoints (this is more masterpoints than 70% of ACBL members have btw) is probably already hooked. Perhaps the ACBL should offer the discount as a courtesy, but I don't see how failing to do so is not compatible with the ACBL supporting junior bridge.
Feb. 20, 2012
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What does money that goes to the USBF from junior fund get used for? It is my (uninformed) impression that this money mostly gets spent to help a handful of juniors play internationally.

Why is it in the interest of the ACBL (I'm not saying it's not) to groom the stars of tomorrow (as oppposed to promoting the game in general)?
Feb. 20, 2012
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It doesn't seem like too much changes if I'm a relatively inexperienced junior (the demographic it seems like the ACBL should be going after). It doesn't strike me as a huge deal.

It might be nice if the ACBL somehow advertised this discount because as a recent junior, I had no clue this program existed and might have played had I known (for instance, there was an NABC in the city I lived when I first started playing).
Feb. 20, 2012
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Interesting article. With regards to opening 1NT with a five card major, what are your planned rebids with

xx AKJxx xxx AKx
xx AKxxx Axx Axx

Do you have anything in your NT response structure to try to recover 5-3 major suit fits when you open 1NT with a 5 card major?
Jan. 25, 2012
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Henry: Certainly you would know better than I would. I just noticed in several places people seemed to feel strongly about who should be able to vote on matters (perhaps you have enough stature that they would let you vote, but I didn't get the impression that people were too eager to extend this privilege to too many others).

I DO think it's reasonable for the the ACBL to fund the things you mentioned. I misunderstood and thought money from the ACBL was being used to help support our international teams (pay for airfare etc.). If that were the case, I would support the ACBL withdrawing THAT support unless they had some say in the selection process.

I don't want to give the impression that I care about this more than I really do. I enjoy watching the US trials and certainly think we are picking strong teams that are enjoyable to watch. It just seems strange to me that the people who decide the method by which the team is selected are the players themselves (I don't think this is the case in most olympic sports anyway). A pairs format is perhaps not the answer, but a format that allows sponsors to play in a world championship seems broken (and I don't think it's likely to change if the players are the ones voting). The entire idea of teams preforming and then competing for a spot seems particular to bridge (foreign players aside, we aren't going to let the Dallas Mavericks represent the US in the Olympics next year just because they won the NBA championship and have “team chemistry”).

Dec. 21, 2011
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I joined the google group and read some of the conversation and what struck me is that most of the “name” pros believe the only people who should have a say in the process are active participants in USBF championships. It seems a little backwards to have only the people who might be biased for various reasons make the decisions. Perhaps this is how it should be, but if that is the case, I agree with Steve that the ACBL should not fund the USBF: no more NABC surcharge, do not sanction international fund game etc. (Henry has said the trials are self-funded, but I think this still means the winners of the trials benefit in some way from ACBL dollars).

I DO think we should strive to fund international bridge though, but think the important decisions regarding selecting teams etc. should be made by objective, non-interested parties (perhaps elected by a wider group of people?). I don't know how feasible this is.
Dec. 20, 2011
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