Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Steve Willner
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6 is alertable: see several messages below. If opponents ask any question, all information about suit lengths should be included in the explanation.
17 hours ago
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If I'm reading the minutes right, the number of teams for BB and related events will go up from 22 to 24. Any comments on the reasons? I'd have thought the desirable direction of change would be downwards.
18 hours ago
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Heh! As standby players, the robots don't pay, but they aren't eligible for the “free play” coupons to the winners. However, if they wanted to play in games where they weren't needed to fill the movement, I expect they'd be charged the usual entry fee. :-)
Sept. 27
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Yes, the robots do surprisingly well some weeks. They are ineligible for masterpoints, so they always appear at the bottom of the posted rankings. I suspect anyone at our club who would care hasn't noticed how the robots do. If our Director started giving them the free plays, I suspect people would notice.
Sept. 26
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Or the caddy fouls a board or some other accident that's no player's fault. Ed's point was that in the ACBL, avg+ to both sides happens a lot because it keeps the customers happy.

On Vigfus' original question, that view has not yet reached North America, at least so far as I am aware.
Sept. 26
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Simple rule for kickback is that if either of us has bid spades naturally, kickback is off, and 4NT is the ace-ask. Call it “coward kickback.” It may leave open whether 4NT is keycard for hearts or for spades, though, and also whether 4 is to play or a control bid for hearts. Those problems are the same not playing kickback at all, so you haven't lost anything except the extra memory required.
Sept. 26
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Coming late to this, but why do so many people think the “class of player” footnote in L70-71 means the exact opposite of what it says? In effect, it says class of player doesn't matter for a claim ruling because even the best player can have an oversight or moment of inattention. After a claim, such carelessness is considered normal.

I do wish the ACBL would adopt a “top down” rule for order of play within a suit (with, of course, an exception when a finesse position exists and the missing card drops). As in so many things, Australia seems to have it right.
Sept. 25
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Our club uses a robot pair to avoid sitouts except in a few special games that prohibit it. A robot pair is not ideal but better than a sitout.

If you use robots, there's a trick to the setup to avoid showing a hand from the next deal to a player who shouldn't see it. I don't know what it is but can put people in touch with our Director.
Sept. 25
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L40A2 seems relevant. In effect, the second-to-act pair makes a contingent agreement: “over strong, we play X, over weak, we play Y.” The first-to-act pair makes a call, then has to explain what the call has shown.
Sept. 24
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I thought the ACBL has an explicit rule disallowing varying one's system during a session. If there is one, it applies only at ACBL tournaments, not at clubs nor in other jurisdictions.
Sept. 24
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In the ACBL – and please, folks, put your location into your profile – the practical answer is that clubs can do whatever they want as long as they pay their sanction fees. That would include an extra 5 points for a spade contract or 53 cards in a deck. At least I've never seen any evidence the ACBL would care.

As to system regulations, I'm pretty sure there is an explicit regulation saying clubs can do what they want. The club I play at has in the past done exactly what Hank is proposing: allow multi but not against the beginners. (We know who the beginners are.)

If Robin Barker says something about the Laws, I'd want to see a very strong argument before believing he's wrong.
Sept. 24
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Richard: no one claims the fert problem is “insurmountable,” but unless the fert is 1, it's a real problem because it takes away bidding space that's needed to find one's own contract. I'd happily play against a 1 fert with nothing more than a pre-alert at the start of the round, but I'd want advance notice with a full bidding system description if the fert is higher.

Likewise the forcing pass isn't a problem; just bid 1 when you would have doubled a forcing 1 and otherwise bid the same. What is a problem is if the “strong” bid starts at 13 points instead of the more usual 15 or 16. “Forcing club” artificial and starting at that strength would be just as much a problem as forcing pass.

What should be regulated is, as others have mentioned, a subject on which reasonable people can disagree. History matters perhaps as much as logic. However, it does no good to conflate different issues.
Sept. 19
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Tim: that was you? Thanks! I thought EMBA reverted to GCC later on, though.

Ray: my partner and I played weak-only multi in one or maybe two of those events. I never saw anyone else playing it, but I think a few pairs played other MidChart methods. We gave up multi because it was too much trouble to play different methods in pair and team events.

At the club, where multi is legal, I think only one pair besides us has played it. I expect it would be more if people could play it elsewhere.
Sept. 19
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Open both with a one bid. Do whatever you do now with 18-19, maybe the same with 20 if it looks bad. With the higher range, jump shift or bid 3NT or raise partner to an appropriate level. Something like 3 artificial would probably help, but as I wrote above, I've never bothered.
Sept. 13
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Bill: of course if dealt a hand worth a strong 2 opener, I'd prefer to be playing that convention. That's true of almost every convention. The question is whether the frequency and likely gain outweighs some other use for the 2 bid. What I can say from experience is that the losses from not having strong 2 are rare, and other uses for 2 show gains when they come up. I can't prove other uses show net gain overall, though I believe they do. I am pretty sure the difference one way or the other is small.

The losses I've seen are, as you say, less room to explore on strong hands. Artificial methods after the opening bid would no doubt help, but I've never bothered. I use 2NT=22-23, 3NT=24-27, neither too fussy about shape. Usual methods seem OK, given how rare these hands are.

Rainer: the philosophy behind something other that 2 waiting is “responder describes, opener sets the contract.” Some expert wrote that, not me. I'm glad we agree on item 1.

I think you are right that being passed out at the one level is more likely with higher-ranking suits. Mike S-S gave an example above of 1 being passed out despite opponents having 22 HCP. Their fit was in clubs, but I don't know whether that mattered. I personally haven't seen a one-bid passed out when opener is unbalanced, but take my statement as the “bridge version of never” rather than the literal version.

One advantage I haven't mentioned is that in a casual partnership, you don't need to agree or remember how to respond to SAF 2 if you don't play it. Misunderstandings in such auctions, often seen in competition, are likely to be expensive, and avoiding them is worth something. If you play 2 as, say, a weak two, you are unlikely to have a misunderstanding at all, and it's less likely to be expensive if you do.
Sept. 13
Steve Willner edited this comment Sept. 13
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Ed: quite right. The usual advice is “more quick tricks than losers.”

Stefan: it's not an assumption, it's experience. Admittedly it's only a few dozen unbalanced hands that I would have opened 2 on but instead had to open at the one level, but none of those has been passed out. And that's not because we respond particularly light. If a one-bid is passed out some day, I'll still be ahead overall from my alternative use of 2 and from opponents' having failed to balance when they should have for fear I had a strong hand. Even on the board where it happens, I'll probably have a plus score, game may not be bid at other tables, and if it is bid, it won't necessarily make.

Michael: were any of those passed-out 1-level openers unbalanced hands? Can you reconstruct any of the deals? I'm surprised there were so many.
Sept. 12
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How about 2-board rounds in Open+ and 6+-board rounds in Open? Open was supposed to be like the former Midchart, which allowed multi (with or without strong options) in rounds of 6+ boards. That got taken out of the Open final draft with no public discussion or indication it was being considered.
Sept. 11
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You're welcome to play it at the club I attend (the MIT club Richard mentioned below). Some have. Nobody is doing so now because it can't be played in (most) tournaments.
Sept. 11
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A few unrelated comments on the OP:

1. I doubt anyone has enough experience with strong 2 to have a sound opinion on what response scheme works best.

2. despite 1, responding by HCP steps works badly. I think 2 “waiting” works badly, but I can't prove it. “Waiting” delays responder's describing his hand. Steps based on 2-1 points (“controls”) seem good. If using steps, I'd probably use 3 and above for specific hand types that are hard to describe otherwise, but see item 1.

3. the OP's rule that responder to 2 cannot use Blackwood is a good one, though not a new invention. I think the rule can be improved by allowing responder to use Blackwood after opener supports responder's suit, including support by implication when opener shows a balanced hand (e.g., after Texas transfer).

4. in the US, a common (not universal) requirement for opening 2 is “more controls (meaning 2-1 points) than losers.” That can be improved by taking suit order into account: for any opponent's bid that comes back to you, you must either be able to bid over it and expect to make or double it and expect to set it. (“Expect” doesn't mean “guarantee.”) The effect is that you can open 2 slightly lighter if your suit is than if it's something else.

5. it works fine, even at IMPs, not to have a forcing opening bid. With an unbalanced hand, you won't be passed out at the one level. (If anyone has experience to the contrary, I'd love to see a report.) With a balanced hand, a one-bid can be passed out, and you need to provide for that. Simplest is to use 2NT and 3NT (and probably 4NT, though I never get dealt that many points) as strong and balanced, not too fussy about shape.
Sept. 11
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“… full of people whose first priority at the table is…”

Thanks for the comment, but how does their priority affect your enjoyment? In other words, what is it that these people do that affects you? No one can know for sure what someone else is thinking, so their “priority” must be communicated in something tangible. That's what I'm trying to understand.
Sept. 9
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