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All comments by Steve Willner
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Ed: I admire your touching faith that ACBL regulations are written with attention to such details. However, even if the regulation does nothing but establish correct procedure, a violation of correct procedure that damages an opponent still merits redress. Compare such Laws as 41D or 46A. No one would think of penalizing a violation _per se_, but opponents are still protected from damage.
Oct. 26, 2014
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For those who think the original ruling was terrible, do you really think it likely that “usually denies a four card major” was a correct explanation?

I agree the Daily Bulletin article failed to make clear a legal basis for the ruling, but that doesn't mean no such basis existed. We're all – at least all of us not in the hearing room – guessing as to the facts, but it's not hard to imagine facts and bridge judgments that would make the AC ruling correct.

That the further appeal is being heard by the A&CC and not the LC, combined with the regulation Kit quoted, suggests that the basis of the appeal is bias not known at the time. That seems surprising, but the appellants are entitled to make their case, at least if the appeal was timely filed.
Oct. 24, 2014
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In fact, the ACBL has a regulation saying that players must know their agreements in “to be expected” auctions (ACBL's quotes, not mine). It seems to me the effect of that is to make the ruling for misbid the same as the ruling for psych.

Whatever the ruling is, it applies equally to psyching or misbidding Flannery or any other artificial opening.

By the way, the EBU has a specific regulation that in case of an illegal bid, the board is cancelled, and the sides get artificial scores (avg+/avg-). The ACBL has no such regulation, so over here we'd try to give an assigned adjusted score as the OP suggested. If that's impossible, we fall back to Law 12C1d and give artificial scores after all. (A bad habit of some ACBL Directors is to give artificial scores when there's no reason to do so.)
Oct. 24, 2014
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I don't personally care who gets the medals (except that it shouldn't be cheaters or their teammates), but the legal basis for changing the final match outcome and not others would be that only for that match was a valid complaint made within the appeals period.

As others have written, nobody knows what the brackets or results would have been without the doctors.
April 9, 2014
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The official WBF report of the disciplinary hearing is at
http://www.bridge.nl/documenten/Hearing21-22March2014.pdf
April 3, 2014
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“Before the spring NABC” won't help some of us who would like to play the new methods before then, specifically in the GNT qualifier. The changes were announced months ago, and I don't see why new documents weren't in place on Jan 1.
Jan. 20, 2014
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I'm surprised by Henry's second paragraph, Or rather, surprised to see him writing it, though I've seen the argument before.

For me, preacceptance shows an honor in partner's suit and fast tricks outside, _not_ necessarily length. For example, I'd preaccept clubs but not diamonds with AKJx Axx xxxx Kx and refuse both with AQx Kx Kxxx Kxxx. Henry must do something else, but I can't see what it is.

Notice that in my version of preacceptance, there's no lead value, and it will be fine if partner plays 3m when he has a weak hand.
Jan. 11, 2014
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If you are going to play Henry's suggestion, it looks better to me to play 3M-1 as the “2.5 raise” and 3M as the full-value raise. That lets you put some GF hands into 3M-1, passing 3M with the 2.5 raise but bidding on with the game-force type(s). Responder may need to be a bit careful about how to show a game-acceptance and shouldn't automatically jump to 4M.
Jan. 11, 2014
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Just to clarify, the “at his own risk” applies when the player who hesitates _has_ a demonstrable bridge reason, but an opponent guesses wrong what that reason is.
Jan. 11, 2014
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As of earlier today, there's no mention of 2H showing “hearts and another” on the Midchart nor any entry in the Defense Database. Anybody know what's up?

When my partner and I played multi (with no strong options, i.e., “Wagner”), we found the 5-5 hands rare. Instead we used our 2M opening to show a minimum-range opener with 6+M, hands that would open 1M and rebid 2M over a semi-forcing 1NT response. That frees 1M-any-2M to show hand types other than a minimum opener with 6+M. Exactly what those hand types should be depends on other methods and on what responder bid, but for us, 1M-1NT-2M showed 6+M with extra values. That keeps the bidding lower in case of a misfit while still showing opener's extras. I don't know that this is a huge improvement over standard bidding, but it seems better than wasting two opening bids for hands we rarely got dealt.

If dealt 5M-5m, we just open 2D or pass, depending on the usual factors that would affect a standard 2M opening. (trivial typo fixed)
Jan. 6, 2014
Steve Willner edited this comment Jan. 7, 2014
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Great article, as always.

The _Journalist Leads_ book says that when leading a spot card from an even number in a suit that has been bid and supported (as hearts here in effect), lead the highest spot one can afford instead of third high. I think the main gain is from something like xx32, leading an x shows immediately that leader has even count where the 3 could be lowest from odd with declarer concealing the 2. It doesn't work so well here, where H-9 could be from Q9xx or 9xxx.

Any opinions on this as opposed to straight “third and low”?
Jan. 1, 2014
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How about some discussion about third seat? I agree 10-12 NV first and second makes a lot of sense, and so does strong in fourth seat. If you are dealt a mini NT in fourth seat, someone else is almost sure to open before the auction gets to you. There's no point in reserving an opening bid to show 10-12 balanced. Even 12-14 will be uncommon after three passes.

In third seat, it's not so clear to me. 1NT is still preemptive, and preempting is more useful if fourth seat is strong. There's probably a bit more risk in using 10-12 or a bit wider range, but NV it seems tolerable. In practice, I got good results playing 10-12 in third seat NV, but that was at a much lower level of play than Kit's.

One other observation is that in the ACBL, even some quite good players (below Kit's level, but that can still be pretty good) don't know what to do against a weak or mini NT. Presumably that's just lack of experience, but why not exploit it?
Dec. 29, 2013
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In the ACBL, changing systems during a session is normally illegal, but I've never heard any restriction on changing systems between sessions. Where did you find that?

In a Swiss, each match is a separate session, so you can change systems (or indeed partnerships) between matches.
Dec. 29, 2013
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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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