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All comments by Steve Willner
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The first paragraph is OK. The second one is a bit severe for a club game but legal. The third… well, not so much. It's the Director's job to work out what would have happened if the various infractions had not occurred. (Directors should always consult on judgment rulings, of course.) After 3S, P-P-x-AP is certainly “at all probable,” and it looks “likely” to me. (See Law 12C1e.) One's bridge judgment can differ, so give a different result if you like, but there's no reason to give an artificial score here. Doing so is a self-admission of bad directing.

After the slow penalty double was pulled, there's no problem at all. That easily leads to 3Sx= (unless your bridge judgment is that pass wasn't a logical alternative).
July 27, 2013
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If the pause before the double was that long, and the hands were the ones shown by Aviv, passing the double is certainly a logical alternative, and pulling the double is suggested by the long pause (UI). That makes 3Sx= a simple and obvious ruling.

The Laws don't give any clear procedure when there are multiple infractions by one side, but generally the idea is to give the non-offenders the best of any combination of “had the irregularity not occurred.” There are other routes to 3Sx, but I don't see anything better for the non-offenders.
July 27, 2013
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Option 3 is technically legal (Law 12C1d), but it is horrifically bad directing.

In some circumstances 3S= (undoubled) would be possible, but if the hands are the ones Aviv Shahaf reported, I don't think that will apply here. West is never going to let 3S play undoubled at matchpoints.

I like Steve Bloom's point 4, but a “5-10 second pause” is an eternity. More like 2-3 s is normal, at least where I play. The basic point, though, is that an in-tempo double has to be neither too fast nor too slow, and tempo that would be normal in a non-competitive auction will be too fast in this one.
July 27, 2013
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Thanks! I'm a bit slow but have put this into a spreadsheet. I thought the VPs never quite reached 20, no matter how big the margin, but now I see they do, e.g., at 30 VPs for a 4-board match.

My spreadsheet is generally consistent with the USBF scale at page 31 of http://usbf.org/docs/COC/General%20CoC.pdf , but there are a few anomalies. For example, for four boards and a margin of 6 IMPs, I get 13.28 VPs but the USBF gives 13.29. That doesn't seem needed to fix the “decreasing margin” problem. Anyway, thanks again for the information.
July 27, 2013
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I think “separate or combine” is the wrong question, at least in competition. In that situation, it seems to me more important to indicate whether forcing passes are on or off. (This seems to be what Robson and Segal are saying, too.) A simple version is a) cue bid shows balanced raise, not necessarily to game, but forcing if opponents bid above wherever we stop, and b) 2NT shows an unbalanced raise, possibly but not necessarily with game values, but not forcing even if opponents bid 4S over our 4H. (I think it has to be forcing at the five level, but I like more forcing passes than most people.)
July 24, 2013
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To be fair to Mr. Stewart, I was wrong about exactly what he wrote. He didn't say Line 2 is better, only that most humans would choose it and that it would work on the actual layout. No surprise, the column showed AJx with West.
July 24, 2013
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Rainer is referring to Thomas Andrews' “fifths count,” which is quite good (double-dummy) for balanced hands considering 3NT.
July 21, 2013
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“If a bid is conventional, that fact does indeed make the bid alertable, unless it falls on a list of specific exceptions”

The quoted statement is correct, but a double is not a bid. In the ACBL, only “highly unusual and unexpected” doubles require an alert. As I wrote before, support doubles used to be in that category but arguably no longer are.

Negative and takeout doubles are conventions under the 1997 definition, which as far as I can tell is what the ACBL Alert Procedure is based on. So are support doubles, of course. Penalty is the natural meaning of double, even though hardly anyone uses it any more. :-)

Ed and Michael are right about negative doubles being alertable for many years. The decision to change and make penalty doubles alertable was controversial at the time, but now everyone is used to it.
July 21, 2013
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Neither takeout nor penalty is alertable. The traditional meaning was penalty, but I think takeout has become more common, perhaps depending on the exact sequence.
July 21, 2013
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Kit's point count is almost identical to Alex Martelli's “BUM-RAP.” That one is 4.5, 3.0, 1.5, 0.75, 0.25 for ace through ten. It is intended for suit contracts and (as I'm sure Kit would agree) needs adjustment for honors in long versus short suits.
July 18, 2013
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This sort of work has a long history – at least back to 1950 or so when Charles Goren paid a bridge-playing actuary to derive an accurate point-count method. It's no surprise that 4321 count plus distributional adjustments is pretty good.

Double-dummy simulations have been used for more than 15 years. Key names are Thomas Andrews
http://bridge.thomasoandrews.com/valuations/
and Alex Martelli
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.games.bridge/M6ImupkkWA0
Some of Martelli's work was published in _The Bridge World_, 2000 Jan and Feb, but there may be more articles that my quick search didn't find.

Tysen Streib has evaluated the evaluators and, IIRC, incorporated adjustments for distribution. (I may be confusing Streib's work with some of Martelli's.) Unfortunately I can't find any reference in a quick search. Zar Petkov has published yet another point count, but in the last version of his work I saw, the method he used was wrong, and I don't trust his results. (I think Streib's work also deprecates Petkov's.)

The overall concept of these studies is simple. One wants to find the values of coefficients a, b, c… in the equation
Tricks = a*(#aces)+b*(#kings)+c*…
that minimizes the difference over some set of deals between Tricks calculated from the formula and tricks actually made double dummy. This simple statement hides a lot of detail, so see references (and look for others) if you are interested. In particular, the statement about “some set of deals” is important: the coefficients differ depending on whether one is talking about balanced or unbalanced hands and on the potential level of the contract (part score, game, slam).

In my opinion – and I have certainly been wrong before – there is little of practical interest to be learned in further double dummy simulations. The new frontier is examining single-dummy simulations to allow for the well known – and perhaps still unknown! – biases in the double dummy results. Kurt Schneider has pioneered that approach, but I have some doubts about what I've seen of his methods and assumptions. I thought he was going to publish an article in _TBW_, but I don't see it indexed yet.
July 18, 2013
Steve Willner edited this comment July 18, 2013
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I think Charles has it right, as usual. My one worry, as I think someone else mentioned, is that if West is a super player, the heart discard may be a “Greek gift” intended to put declarer off the working simple squeeze.

The argument for the double squeeze would be even stronger if East had had a weak 2D bid available.
July 17, 2013
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There's no doubt that support double is a convention. The question is whether it's alertable. I've always alerted it, and everyone I know does likewise, but I don't find that actually stated in the document. (I could, of course, be missing it, but if so, I have lots of company.)

I think what may have happened is that support doubles (and redoubles) were “highly unusual and unexpected” when the document was created many years ago, and nobody has thought to update the document to make it say one way or the other.

One thing that definitely has changed is that pass when support double is available – therefore denying 3c support – used to be alertable but no longer is. I'm not sure exactly what changed to make it so.
July 17, 2013
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I very much appreciate all the informed discussion this topic has generated. Here are some related questions.

If 2D weak-only unspecified major (“Wagner”) is good as an opening bid, how about after RHO opens 1C? If your side buys the contract, it usually puts the strong hand on lead, which should be good. If this use of 2D is good, how would you organize the rest of the bids and in particular 2M?

What about over 1m “could be short?”

The above two uses are GCC except over 1C that is short only with specifically 4=4=3=2 shape. That 1C is considered “natural” as of a year or so ago, so “weird methods” aren't allowed. Another use of 2D=unspecified major is over 1NT, but that use is Midchart.
July 15, 2013
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Thanks, Kit and Danny. I'm especially interested in when responder should pass 2D, which we have never yet done. After a double (perhaps showing 13-15 or very strong), should responder pass with any 4+ and short in at least one major? (With 3-3M, I'd normally bid 3H. Is that a mistake?)

What about if RHO passes? Should responder pass with, say, a 1=3=4=5 10-count? Or perhaps even with shorter if not vul?
July 13, 2013
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Matt is a great guy, but I haven't run into him for some years. Glad to know he's still around bridge.

Our club allows anything you want provided you can explain it to the opponents in a reasonable way. Also we don't play the weird stuff against beginners. Nobody worries about bringing an extra system card showing the GCC methods; beginners don't look at the system cards anyway. I'm sure this sounds far too vague to work, and I don't recommend it in a tournament setting, but it's fine where the players mostly know each other. In practice, hardly anyone plays anything not GCC-legal because there are too few other chances to play it. There is one exception, come to think of it: quite a few pairs play 2D over 1NT showing an unspecified major. That used to be GCC-legal but was made illegal several years ago.
July 12, 2013
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Law 21B1b: The Director is to presume Mistaken Explanation rather than Mistaken Call in the absence of evidence to the contrary."

But it's not relevant here. The committee found Mistaken Explanation. The error was failing to consider what would have happened if a correct explanation had been given. Instead the committee took a dislike to something South did and ruled against him for irrelevant reasons. This approach is all too common but still wrong.
July 12, 2013
Steve Willner edited this comment July 12, 2013
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My experience is far less than other people's who have commented here, but before reading the study and seeing Richard Pavlicek's results, I would have said that _if dealt a hand suitable for multi_, you would prefer not to be playing it. That is, I'd have expected the multi itself to be a net loser, but you make up for it with better use of the 2M openings.

Having now seen the results, my initial idea appears wrong as regards the weak-only multi (also known as “Wagner”). I'm surprised by that and would like to understand why Wagner is better than natural, weak 2M. I'd have thought giving the next opponent one (with hearts) or two (with spades) extra steps would be a loser for us, but evidently the uncertainty in the suit somehow makes up for that. RP's data should show why, but I haven't done the analysis.

My partner and I (in rather less than world-class competition) have found the Tartan Twos not very useful. We have switched to using 2M as natural with a minimum-range opening bid, the hand normally shown by 1M-1NT-2M. This has worked well, including when 2M not used, but we have too little experience to be certain how good it is. With 5-5, we just open 2D, replacing the 2M we would open if not playing Wagner.
July 12, 2013
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Can anyone explain to me why so many people are reaching so hard to blame South for doing something wrong? There seems no agreement on just what it was he did, but half the posters here are sure there must be something. Why?

And why is there so much sympathy for EW, who gave misinformation? I'm sure it wasn't through evil intent, but the AC found a clear infraction. Nobody revokes on purpose (at least almost nobody), but we all expect to pay the penalty when we do so accidentally. What's different about accidentally giving MI?
July 11, 2013
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It's not a matter of having an agreement, but the fact is, the opponents are playing 2H = natural if no question is asked but question-then-2H = club raise. If you ask them, they will tell you truthfully that they have no agreement, but somehow the overcaller always “guesses right” about which hand type is being shown.

In a club game, or if someone persuades me to play in Flight B, I actually don't mind opponents using this method. What I do object to is the ACBL's telling me that _we_ can't base _our_ methods on which hand type the opponents have shown, even though everyone at the table knows what it is. Complaining about the ACBL is, of course, common enough.

In a Flight A event, it's a different story. The problem is what can be done in practice. Years ago, I wrote to Edgar Kaplan about this problem. His reply was to the effect that partner's asking or not asking a question was UI, but that doesn't get to grips with the practicalities of ruling on an isolated case. The opponents always claim “no agreement, and I had to guess,” and rare are the TD's who will think about “logical alternatives” and “suggested over another.”

There are many analogous situations, some of which have been dealt with by regulations. When bidding was oral, saying “double” for takeout and “I double” for penalty was heard from time to time. (“I double your 3S” meant “Partner if you pull this you die.”) The modern version is a red card with “X” for takeout and a different red card with “DBL” for penalty; someone wrote about that not long ago. One sees the occasional 2S = strong, stop-card-then-2S = weak. And so forth.

I don't have any good answers except to report it to the TD when it happens. Good luck.
July 10, 2013
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