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All comments by Steve Willner
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IIRC – not, alas, guaranteed – there was a brief period about 25 years ago when the ACBL stop card rule was as it is in some European countries: the stop card was left out for about 10 s, and LHO was not allowed to call until the stop card was removed. This wasn't free of problems, but it worked pretty well. I remember using my watch to measure off the 10 s (having nothing else to think about after preempting).

Why the rule was changed wasn't clear to me, but I think it had something to do with BoD members not liking RHO controlling their tempo after a skip bid.
Dec. 11, 2013
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Watching only one hand is impossible?! I do it regularly (well, one plus the dummy once the dummy goes down).
Dec. 11, 2013
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If you play a minor suit invite, opener accepts with a fitting honor and _fast tricks outside_, not based on point count or length in m. (Opener can also accept with length in m and otherwise suitable values but without a fitting honor.) Does that change anything?
Nov. 20, 2013
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In the ACBL, it doesn't matter. Stop card or no, the next player is supposed to wait 10 s after any skip bid. Few do.
Nov. 19, 2013
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I agree with Ed, as usual. One other thing he didn't mention is what Peg was getting at, and I see Henry has also mentioned it: for a bad player, random hesitations seldom transmit actual information. In legal language, they don't suggest one alternative over another. A good example is that some years ago, I played a whole session with a “permanent beginner.” He was a pleasant enough chap, but he hesitated on almost every turn. Out of the hundred-plus hesitations, there were exactly three that I thought told me something about his hand. Nevertheless, three is not zero.

The case in this thread – pausing 30 s after a preempt – would be one of the exceptions that reveals something. Here it clearly shows values of some sort and suggests “don't pass” to partner. That has to be dealt with, as Ed wrote.
Nov. 19, 2013
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When alerts first started in the ACBL, it was legal to ask opponents not to alert. That rule was changed some years later, now probably two decades ago. Since then, there is no provision in the ACBL (or in the EBU) for asking opponents not to alert. Perhaps someone else can supply actual dates. As Ed wrote, the ruling you get from a random ACBL Director may not be according to the actual rules. That we're discussing this subject, by the way, illustrates the need for the ACBL to have clear rules easily accessible to players.

David Burn wrote an article explaining why “no alerts please” is not allowed. I don't have a link to the article, but the upshot was that asking for no alerts is a form of intimidation and disconcerts opponents, as Michael indicated. (David's article is why I happen to know about the EBU.)

To Lynn: when I played a relay system, my partner and I would just leave the alert cards on the table and give them a perfunctory tap for each artificial call. When eventually a natural call came, the appropriate one of us would quickly and ostentatiously snatch up his alert card. When the auction got above 3NT, we'd pick the alert cards up slowly and say something like “The ACBL says you don't get any more alerts, but it's still probably artificial.” This seemed to work and not slow the game down, though it is not the prescribed procedure. Of course at the end of the auction we'd explain everything including inferences (such as they were!) from relaying as opposed to reverting to natural bidding.
Nov. 8, 2013
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The basic rule is to ask or not based on the auction and alerts you see and not at all on the cards you happen to hold.

In practical terms, my suggestion is always ask about alerted calls on the first round of the auction and likewise always when the auction remains competitive. Yes, even with a flat zero-count.

In a high-level event with competent directors, it is safe and in principle best always to ask even when you are “never” going to do anything but pass. This is Kit's position, which I agree with in principle. The only real disadvantage is that it may slow down the game.

In an ordinary ACBL game, once your side is clearly out of the auction, it may be better to avoid asking until it's your turn to lead or partner has made his lead face down. This will on rare occasions cause a problem when you unexpectedly need to know during the auction (probably to consider a lead-directing double), but it will save time and on average save Director calls for UI when the opponents botch their methods.

As I understand it, the EBU has some special problems because of the advice they give players about asking. Someone who plays there may want to comment.

High-level events should of course use screens. Screens don't solve all problems, but they help a lot. They also exact a price by slowing down the game.
Nov. 7, 2013
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I see your point: any improvement would be better than nothing, and “uphill” may be optimistic. I still wouldn't say “suffice,” but I do very much appreciate your effort to push things in the right direction.
Nov. 7, 2013
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Michael got it. As he wrote, we know the intent because the original C&CC/BoD resolution was (IIRC) correctly worded, but the language got botched when put into the GCC. This is just a symptom of the wider problem Stu is trying to address.
Nov. 7, 2013
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Stu

You might want to have another glance at the Blue Book, which I agree is something the ACBL needs. There are 13 pages devoted to convention charts, probably equivalent to 7-8 pages if formatted as the ACBL charts are. The main difference is that the language of the rules is much more explicit and clearer about what is and is not allowed. (For example, the present ACBL GCC declares that a Precision 1C is natural. Who knew?!)

The rest of the Blue Book contains alerting and System Card rules amounting to 12 pages. Title page, table of contents, and index make up the rest of the 32 pages.

The key point about the Blue Book, in my view, is that it contains _all_ the rules a player is expected to know. Noting is hidden in “tech files,” obscure board minutes, or some Director's fallible memory.
Nov. 6, 2013
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Thanks very much for the comments. I see your point on 2. Probably my missing it earlier is one of the (many, alas) differences between you experts and me.

I'm still puzzled by 3. As the deal demonstrates, “showing” game forcing strength doesn't mean opponents actually have it. If a force would exist after, say, 1S-2H-3S-4C-4S-, why should responder's potentially very light or misguided 3D change things? Is it that you play against far better opponents than I do, and therefore their bids are more to be trusted?

Prior to this discussion, I wouldn't have played any passes as forcing above 4S, but it looks as though I'm wrong yet again.
Oct. 23, 2013
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Mr. Gaynor:

Do I have your method correct: pass shows nondescript junk with no good suit and limited strength? And you alert it, explaining only “forces redouble,” which suggests that responder's hand might be strong?

Apologies if I have misunderstood your method. If not, given that you admit this in public, I assume you don't realize how wrong your approach is. The alternative is that you are deliberately trying to achieve an illegal advantage by misleading opponents. I don't think your pass is alertable in the ACBL, and your failure to describe responder's hand types is unacceptable.

If you think it's a good idea for opener to redouble, given responder's possible hands, that's entirely up to you. (It makes no sense to me.) Regardless of that, your opponents are entitled to a full and accurate description of responder's possible hand types, and I hope you will start providing that when the situation arises.
Oct. 23, 2013
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On the question of what explanation to give, David Burn is correct as usual. Advancer is entitled to know what hand types responder can have but not how opener will continue. (Among other reasons for that last, opener's actions and their meaning may depend on the meaning of advancer's pass. Probably won't in this case but could in principle.)

The relevant information can be given either positively by listing hand types or negatively by listing excluded types as Alex suggested, but I think mentioning that strong hands are included in pass (if they are) is required. Another important type is weak 4333; if that's possible, it should be mentioned.

To Richard: yes, absolutely enumerate the hand types with lebensohl. The weak types are most important, and I always list them explicitly. Then I add “various invitational or game force hands, all with a (suit-name) stopper. Do you want to know more?” Usually that's enough, but if advancer wants to know the full list, he's entitled to it. The fact that opener will usually bid 3C is irrelevant and not mentioned.

The real problem types to explain are relays such as Stayman and Blackwood. (Lebensohl is a puppet, not a relay, in careful terminology. Puppets are straightforward, if sometimes tedious, to explain, as the lebensohl example illustrates.) Those two are familiar enough that there's little problem in practice, but it's interesting to contemplate how those should be explained to a hypothetical player who is unfamiliar with them. (Hint: “asking for a major suit” or “asking for aces” aren't, strictly speaking, correct.) Explaining less familiar relays is a matter of describing the hand types they include or exclude, vague as that may often be.
Oct. 21, 2013
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Nice article, as always. I have several questions about the bidding.

1. Why is 2H described as “more conservative” than 3H when 2H shows more overall values? Is this just a terminology issue of what is meant by “aggressive” and “conservative?” (FWIW – not much – I think the choice is close enough that I'd tend to bid 3H over a standard 1S but 2H over a limited, e.g., Precision, 1S.)

2. Why is 3D forcing to game? I'd expect to be able to stop in 3S or 4D. That expectation seems consistent with the actual North hand, which strikes me as rather thin for a game force.

3. Is it wise to let opponents' “forcing to game” affect the meaning of our calls? In the actual auction, partner could have bid 4H if he “just wanted to compete.” I can understand treating 4C as not creating a force above 4H in either auction, but I don't see why their claim to have game values should change anything. Obviously I play against far worse opponents than Kit does; maybe that's the difference.

4. Further to item 3, would the forcing/nonforcing situation be different at matchpoints? If we were going to make 4H, we can't let them play 4S undoubled, can we?
Oct. 21, 2013
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Semi-forcing should be understood in terms of history. The traditional 1NT response is limited to 9 or perhaps a bad 10 HCP, whereas the semi-forcing version can have 11 or 12. The ACBL decided (correctly in my view) that the difference is significant enough to require an announcement. While Dale is correct that “semi-forcing” is an illogical term, it was already in circulation when the ACBL adopted it.

I was unaware and am surprised that the Alert Procedure document says that “semi-forcing” by a passed hand is not announceable. (So Marv is right and I was wrong, which is no surprise at all, alas.) I am also surprised that the announcement refers to opener's future action and not to what the 1NT bid shows. That seems bizarre. Another topic appropriate for this “just shouldn't be” thread.
Oct. 13, 2013
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I wouldn't volunteer to write anything unless there's clear evidence the effort will be welcomed. In the US, there also may be a copyright problem.

Marvin French has written a two-page summary of ACBL alerting.
http://marvinfrench.com/p1/laws&regs/alerts.pdf
While excellent, it is unofficial, and in a quick scan I spotted one thing I believe is an error. (Semi-forcing 1NT response by a passed hand is, I believe, still announceable.)

Not really relevant to this thread, but I've previously suggested a shortened version of the Laws including only the ones players have to know. (Everyone needs to know whose lead it is, but players don't need to know the rectification after a lead out of turn. They just need to know to call the Director.) I've thought this could be a useful marketing tool for people who want to learn bridge.
Oct. 12, 2013
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While I agree not all cue bids are GF, the original question was meant to ask about those that are.

In your auction 1H-1S-2S, I prefer to have passes forcing, but that's a minority opinion. However, that's a different auction type than what I was asking about. It is still an interesting and perhaps related question, though. Suppose responder instead bids 3H preemptive and then doubles 3S. What should that mean?

More generally, if double after refusing to turn on forcing passes is penalty, what hand type does it show?
Oct. 12, 2013
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No relay system would be what I'd expect – responder's rebid after forcing 1NT usually shows shape – but I didn't see anything actually confirming that for the OP's system.
Oct. 10, 2013
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Kevin's first “bullet” applies not only to the GCC but also to the other convention charts and not only to those but to all the regulations (alerts, bid box procedures, etc.). There should be a single source for all rules players are expected to follow, and those rules should be as clear and unambiguous as possible. I don't expect perfection, but the EBU _Blue Book_ shows what can be done if there's a will.
Oct. 10, 2013
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Thanks for the comments so far, but none of them answers the question I was trying to ask. I'm thinking of hands where bidding a new suit is not relevant. Maximal doubles apply when they apply, but I'm asking about cases when they don't apply or were not chosen. A specific example might be
1H-1S-3H-?

Now _for us_, 4H will turn on forcing passes, but 4S will not. (I like this even if it's not standard, but I think it's widely played.) Intervenor is unlimited, so advancer cannot bar him from further bidding (unlike Jeff's example).

What does it mean if advancer bids 4S and then doubles when opponents compete to 5H? Does it matter whether the 5H bid was by opener or by responder?
Oct. 10, 2013
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