Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Steve Bloom
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Sinbad had a wonderful comedy sketch in a McDonald's. He orders a meal, total = $4.95. Hands over a five. Clerk pushes the little button but nothing happens. Pushes it again. Nothing. Bangs on it. Nothing. Stares at the screen, stares at the $4.95. Stares at the five. Panics.

Finally, he opens the register, tells the comedian to walk around, and says, “Here, you figure it out.”
June 18
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North committed an infraction. How is a ruling like down one inequitable to North?
June 17
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Agreed. The real key is the speed of play. If East played before declarer had a chance to correct the play, I vote +110. But if East really paused for two full seconds, and no word was said, the trick stands.
June 17
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Need to know more about the timing, but, this sounds like dummy played a card, a few seconds went by, and declarer did not correct this. Then East won the trick, and played to the last trick.

Dummy should not play a card until it is called. If dummy did play such a card, declarer must correct the play, saying, perhaps, “no, I have not called a card yet.”

Here, it seems like dummy, and probably declarer, both lost concentration. They don't get to turn a likely guess into a sure thing. You commit an infraction - the non-offenders get any benefit of the doubt.
June 17
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Over-preempting seldom collects the big number. As you said, facing a good hand, the opponents are usually forced into a double.

This hand is a fine illustration: Four spades bought the contract. Three spades might easily have led to East balancing with four hearts. That's 800 away.
June 17
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We still play one of a major non-forcing over a double, and, in practice, the gains outweigh the losses.

Responding woodenly in your major suit, simply because you would have bid that without the double, gives up on lots of numbers that are just sitting there, waiting to be nabbed.

Finally, I can't understand why this poor sequence is being blamed on methods. In this auction, South knew partner had a strong hand, and knew partner had at least five spades. So South had an easy and obvious four spade call. Now let's shift over to the modern world, where everyone plays one spade as forcing, as showing only four spades, and showing only 6+ points:

The auction starts out
1 x 1 3 (take-out, clubs and hearts).
Now what? I can easily see defending four hearts doubled on this auction.

Please don't blame methods simply because they are not your methods. Various treatments have good days and bad ones. Here, the old-fashioned strength-showing redouble was having a good day. South blew it at the end.
June 17
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I was in an honors group in high-school, and way over my head in most courses. These students were much better than me in History, in English, in Latin. Then we hit Calc. They slaved like mad memorizing every single formula in the book, and still they struggled. I didn't memorize a thing. To me, there were simply three basic concepts, and everything flowed logically from one of those. Easiest course I took.

Funny how minds work. When we teach beginners, we stress the logic of bridge over the rules and memorization.
June 17
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Not anymore. Retired now.
June 17
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Start with the spade queen.
Case 1: North shows out. Run trumps and North will be squeezed without the count in the minor suits, but I will need to guess the shape.

Case 2: East shows out. Start on diamonds. I need North to follow to three rounds.

If both follow, try the spade jack.

Case 3: North shows out. Play as in Case 1.

Case 4: Both follow or South shows out. Play as you hint.
June 17
Steve Bloom edited this comment June 17
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That is just wrong. Again, if we run this as a simple statistical problem, there should be 400 top lawyer players for every single top math player. The real numbers are not anywhere near that.

Try it this way: 1 in a 1000 people have the amazing Martian gene.

90 of the top 100 players do not have the Martian gene.

Conclusion: The Martian gene must be bad for bridge ability.
June 16
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Well, in the US, there are a little less than 400 lawyers for each mathematician. So, if you counted out top bridge players, setting aside lawyers and mathematicians only, you'd run through a couple of hundred lawyers before finding your first math/bridge player.

The observation - There are more lawyers playing bridge than mathematicians - means absolutely nothing. Sort of like - most members of the ACBL are human.
June 16
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Upgrade decisions are always based on the ease of the auction. Here, it depends on who has hearts. If partner, we want to investigate strains, and probably stop low. That is not possible if I open one club.

If the opponents, I can get all three strains in with a take-out double. I can do this by starting with one club or with one diamond. Still, if they bid quickly to four hearts, a double might sound like cards, not take-out, so I will still be slightly better off opening one diamond.

All told, it is right to open one diamond. And I would open one diamond with the club jack as well. Sometimes you downgrade to keep the auction fluid.
June 16
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Auction looks normal. I gave the East hand to Betty, and she considered raising, but chose pass. That seems like the right evaluation. The J9x 10x might be worth a couple of tricks, but, in the long run, game won't be great.
June 16
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And so it is. What else is it supposed to mean after a redouble?
June 16
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The general public equates math with arithmetic. They are not the same.

Math is not memorizing multiplication tables, and Calculus is not memorizing integration formulas, even though that is what most students learn.

It is much more fun, and satisfying, to figure out an integration problem by breaking the problem into tiny steps, approximating each piece, and putting it all together. Likewise, bridge is much more fun, and satisfying, when you find the winning defense by working out why declarer did this, rather than that.

There are hundreds of thousands of “bridge players” in the country who play by following rote rules, and never think through a hand. There are a few thousand players who really think through a bridge hand. And there are fewer people who understand “math”.
June 16
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These inferences aren't simply missed by weak players. I vaguely remember a hand bid by the Blue Team years back. East bid hearts, showing hearts or spades. South doubled, cards. West passed, and North cue-bid three hearts. South bid, and North tried once more for a slam with four hearts. There he played.

It did not occur to South that partner would sit for two hearts doubled with strong hearts.
June 15
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All this discussion about five, six hearts being natural, is bizarre. Let's say that North had a strong six card heart suit, and wanted to show that suit over a quantitative 4NT. How else could North bid? Oops, easy. Pass 1 doubled.
June 15
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I agree with you, Kit, but I have no idea how to construct such a poll. South does not know what 3NT shows, but South does know much of the system, and can rule out a 2NT opening bid, a 1NT rebid, …

The 3NT call is not defined, but, logically, there aren't many hands that would bid 3NT. You would have to construct the poll saying 3NT is not discussed, but …

Likewise, we don't know that South had no idea what the double meant. I suspect that South knew what a call like 1 or 2 meant. So, here too, double was not defined, but had to fall within a range of hands.
June 15
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I just don't get it. Whatever South showed, North showed a hand too good to rebid 1NT. North has some hand outside the normal 17-19 range typical in Precision. Please construct such a hand where I don't want to (at least) invite a slam.

South has 12. North has shown 20+, either in high cards or in playing strength.

The explanation is UI. The failure to bid the normal 1NT is not.
June 14
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“It seems doubtful they did have that agreement, since it seems S continued on to ask for kings missing an ace!”

OK, I'll bite. Which of the five aces in this particular deck were they missing?
June 14
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