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All comments by Shawn Drenning
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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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Jason: is there any (non anecdotal evidence) that “team chemistry” leads to more success? Perhaps the reason the USA 2 team and the Dutch team did so well had nothing at all to do with team chemistry and more to do with the fact that they are really good at bridge? Perhaps team chemistry matters, but there are plenty of examples of successful sports teams that did not have “chemistry” (for basketball fans, Shaq and Kobe hated each other)

David: it seems bad to me if the format we are going to use is a team trial to not let one of the pairs on the winning team play. Also, what do you do if they all play the same number of hands (if i'm a sponsor I'm going to make sure I play enough hands so that I am on the team if I win). Or imagine a scenario where a really good team wins each match in a blowout and their opponent withdraws after two quarters each time and as a result, the anchor pair (who always sits out either the first or second quarter) does not qualify?
Dec. 19, 2011
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I have neither the money nor the bridge skill to qualify regardless of the format, but as a “bridge fan” would prefer to see a format that would reduce the chance that a decent, but not world class, player with a lot of money could represent the US in international competition.

I do understand that the bridge pro could not exist without the bridge client and for this reason the existence of clients may increase the competitiveness of US bridge, but this does not mean we should be forced to select wealthy sponsors for our international teams (the Italians seem to manage).
Dec. 19, 2011
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Are transfer responses to 1 club general chart in the ACBL?
Dec. 17, 2011
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I just don't think it makes good business sense for a bridge pro to talk about how he and his friends “laugh long and hard” about how terrible his opponents play. If I hire a pro, I wouldn't want to think my play is going to be the butt of his jokes later (not saying that this is necessarily the case with Joel).
Dec. 10, 2011
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so this supersedes this:
Nov. 24, 2011
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I also do not view it as personal bookkeeping to write down the final contract, but rather an attempt to protect myself (and my team) if there is a dispute over the final contract. I was involved in a district GNT final where our margin of defeat was less than the number of IMPS we lost on a hand where there was a director call over whether a contract was down 4 or down 4 doubled. Perhaps the end result would have been the same, but it certainly would have helped if everyone at the table had immediately written down the final contract. This doesn't necessarily mean someone can't lead and then write the contract down, but I understand if someone wants to write it down as soon as the auction is over and certainly don't view it as rude (and if it is an imposition on others, then I can argue that anytime declarer stops to think about his line of play when I have nothing to think about, it is an imposition on my time).
Nov. 16, 2011
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With regards to Michael's comments about not taking advantage of meaningless revokes, is this considered acceptable (I personally think it should be)? At one point I suggested to some fellow bridge players that I would be hesitant to make an impossible contract by means of a penalty card (for example, dropping the non-singleton offside trump king in 7 spades). Most people I asked disagreed with this sentiment and thought I should try my best to win (if for no other reason, for the sake of my partner/teammates) and some even suggested that, contrary to my intentions, it would be against the spirit of the game NOT to.

From some of the stories I've heard regarding Meckstroth, I can't imagine he'd return the favor if you revoked against him in the team trial finals . . .

Nov. 5, 2011
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Mr. Boo,

First off, congratulations on all of your recent successes.

What is it that you like most about being a bridge pro? Least?

In an interview in the Bridge Bulletin, Jeff Meckstroth (perhaps the most successful bridge pro) said something to the effect of that he is glad his children did not follow in his footsteps and in particular, he is happy that they went to college and finished their degrees. With that in mind, what advice would you give a young aspiring bridge pro looking to emulate Joe BOO? Did you have a backup plan if the whole bridge thing didn't work out so well for you?
Nov. 3, 2011
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My point with using the expression “real bridge” was not that I think bidding differently is not a part of matchpoints, but rather that I thought the way Leo and others bid in robot tourneys (opening practically everything NT) was in part to declare more often, but also a deliberate attempt to exploit the fact that the robot defenders do not seem to cope well if you don't bid according to its system (they can hemorrhage tricks on defense if you don't have the shape you've shown). Perhaps this is fine and exploiting this weakness is just an aspect of the game that doesn't exist when playing against people (but it feels different to me). Overall I agree the robot plays solidly and certainly your average club player has more weaknesses that can be exploited.

I should emphasize that I have played a lot of these tournaments and I like them for all the reasons Fred mentioned and think they've helped my game a lot.

Oct. 13, 2011
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I think some distinction should be made between online points earned playing against actual people as opposed to playing best hand tourney's with the GIBs. I see no reason why the former should count any less than offline bridge. Having played lots of tourneys with the robots, I can see why people are skeptical of masterpoints earned playing with the bots. Ultimately better bridge players will do better than bad bridge players, but if you watch (say) Leo play against the bots, I think you'll find his bidding doesn't resemble “real” bridge.

Why did the “protecting the integrity of the masterpoint” ACBL sanction robot games? I'm not necessarily against robot masterpoints, but I could see why it could bias people against online MPs.

On another note, the ACBL president came to our university club and within a few sentences of telling us the average age of the ACBL was 75 (or whatever it is), was very dismissive of online bridge. I think his main objection was that a lot of the social aspect of bridge was lost by playing in front of a computer, but it did strike me at the time how out of touch a powerful member of the ACBL seemed to be.

Oct. 12, 2011
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I think I read somewhere that someone analyzed a large number of hands and concluded that opening hands that have a good 8 card major and 12-15 HCP range at the four level instead of the one level was a long-term winner. I think the conclusion was that on hands like #5 the times you miss slam by open 4H are made up for by the times they have a good game/sacrifice and can't find their fit. Curious if anyone else has heard this and/or has any hard data.
Oct. 9, 2011
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On board 19, if 2S is just suggesting a place to play, how do you show a hand that has 5+ spades, but too strong to overcall?
Sept. 13, 2011
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Interesting article. I would also be curious to hear thoughts on opening 1NT with 6 of a minor. A problem hand my regular partner and I never can agree on how to bid (along with some of the ones discussed in this article) is one with around 16 or 17 points and a not very good 6 card minor suit.
Aug. 22, 2011
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As a casual bridge player it seemed to me that the first seven sets determined which team was the better team and the last segment had little to do with bridge and more to do with one team being unwilling to accept they were outclassed. I don't mean to attack the players at the table though as I know they are (?) paid to be there and this is a national event, not a club game.

I won't detract from thread if I'm outnumbered though (if you vote my comment down enough it will disappear I think :)).

May 17, 2011
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Congrats! Well deserved victory.

I thought maybe the Diamond team could have been a bit more gracious in defeat rather than playing the way they did in the last set.
May 17, 2011
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