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All comments by Steve Zolotow
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Even if thankyou is meaningless, the smile & air of confidence that accompany it are clearly deceptive.
Sept. 8, 2013
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I think the ACBL's failure to make bridge attractive to young players has been its most consistent failure. Other countries manage to do it. There are many rich sponsors, who love bridge, and yet no meaningful promotions take place. In Atlanta Gene Saxe pointed out that the bulletin's In Memoriam section would soon be longer than the new Life Masters section.
The selection of which methods to approve seems relatively random. No multi-2 bids and no transfers over very weak no-trump seems absurd.
Aug. 7, 2013
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I have always been mystified by the venue choices of bridge organizations, especially the ACBL and the WBF. But since great mysteries abound in other areas, such as science and history, it is only just that bridge have a few.
Aug. 7, 2013
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This mehod only applies when signaller has a long suit (usually he has overcalled or pre-empted in the suit.)
Jan. 16, 2013
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Hi Bobby
Thanks for thoughtful reply. Certainly would be great to get some non-playing sponsors (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet ?) to sponsor bridge teams. Wearing logos in bridge not worth much to corporations, since pictures of players don't get shown to a wide audience. (Although Lancia got a lot of PR from their team.) Sponsors would also be a help in getting bridge into schools. unfortunately much of America seems so far to the right that even chess has trouble being accepted, let alone bridge or poker. Studies have shown that learning these games has a positive effect on test scores & real world abilities. Instead there is a big push to allow Creationism to be taught as well Evolution…
Z
July 31, 2012
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I love casual partnerships and bidding muddles. First, they make for exciting bridge. Second, they make us all feel better about our numerous idiocies. Isn’t this kind of situation more fun to try to puzzle out at the table than trying to recall page 157 of your partnership notes, which might have covered some of this auction. I think Gary & David are both clearly insane both for playing golf (why take up a gambling game, where the most important skill is lying about how good you are?) and for trying to justify an auction which won them a close match. Someone, probably Gary, should have q-bid clubs earlier to stop a club lead, since AD lead might be a big help, and then jumped to 7 (maybe he felt that was too obvious & would probably guarantee a club lead.)
I vote the insanity prize clearly has to go to the opening leader, who led a trump when holding 2 aces. Since diamonds Q-bid twice and clubs only once, late and reluctantly I’d lead a club, especially seeing all four hands.
July 31, 2012
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I seem to recall a lot of decusion of this in the Bridge World back in the day when sponsorship first came on the scene. In those days the thought of a rich ‘amateur’ competing in a world championship was initially treated as a crime against bridge. For a while, US teams were determined from the top pairs in a pair trial, which favored the best pairs, but seemed to often create incompatible teams that produced poor results. (I’m sure you remember and were actively involved in all of this. Didn’t it become very political, with, I think, Mathe loved by some & hated by others?) In reality, money motivates many players to attempt to increase their skills and create very effective partnerships. Without the lure of becoming a world champion, many sponsors might be less eager to spend as much as they do, and without that spending the level of bridge as a whole, and US bridge in particular, would start to decline.
July 31, 2012
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It has always seemed to me that bridge could best be promoted among young people by having attractive younger bridge players as promoters-spokespersons. It is vitally important to get away from the stigma of bridge as an ‘old people’s game.'
July 27, 2012
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Did Helness tell Levin, who I presume was his screenmate, that XX was to play? Assuning he knew it was recue & looking a a minimum dummy isn't it clear to go for a 4 digit penalty. I can't imagine not trying to cash 5 spades (can't declarer misguess if pard has Q9 and assuming one of my queens would be an entry if we couldn't.) Also I'd be afraid declarer might scamper home with 1s, 2 clubs, & 4 hearts if he has KJTx.
I'd also expect Steve to cash a 2nd Diamond, hard to imagine Geir had 3 and didn't run to D rather than redouble. Of course when Ks held, Geir had to be a little crazy to play D, & not to try and take his tricks ASAP. If Steve held QT xxx AQJx Qxxx, the diamond play would have converted a make back to down two.
July 27, 2012
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Interesting post & comments! I want to make a number of comments, most of which don’t relate to each other.
1. Bridge is a timed event, and it should be, but it is much more difficult than say chess to allocate time penalties (perhaps future technological means will be discovered.) Systems, carding, alerts and explanations have gotten much more complicated over the years, and the time allocated per board has not expanded enough to compensate. This is especially true in pair games where 2 slow torturous hands may occur together. Then one is forced to play too quickly or play through a break (the aging male players need all the bathroom breaks they can get.) Clearly more time should be allocated to the bridge and less to the uselessly long dinner breaks.
2. In poker, any player has the right to ask that a clock be put on another player. This very seldom happens in important situations, but if someone hesitates in trivial situations or is generally irritating for some other reason, a clock will be called.
3. The directors are occasionally poorly trained and make very bad decisions. Committees haven’t done that much better. The rules and situations requiring rulings seem more common and less clear. Every ACBL bulletin and most issues of Bridge World contain a column, editorial or letter relating to rulings. Committee rulings have been collected by tournament. I can’t think of another game or sport that regularly devotes so much time and effort to discussing rules and rulings, and all have occasional bad rulings.
4. Almost everyone wants to eliminate committees. My suggestion is that each pair or team entry slip have a checkable box that reads – directors decisions are final – no appeals. If both teams check the box, the director’s decision is final. If neither does, they have the right to go to committee. If only one checks the box, then at least initially, either has the right to ask for a committee. This eliminates the situation where a team that may not like the use of committees still takes a free shot when they have lost a match.
5. The ACBL has done a poor job of promoting bridge and recruiting young players. The only thing it has done well is convincing players of the importance of masterpoints of various colors. Most of our elected representatives seem more interested in what they can do for themselves than in what they can do for bridge or for ACBL members. But as with the current inept US Congress, we have no one to blame but ourselves-we keep electing them.
July 27, 2012
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A lot depends on alerts. If it is clear that redouble was rescue then looking at that dummy I try to crush him all 5 spades and some other assorted tricks. If redouble shows strength, then defense hopes for any set, which makes what happened seem less crazy.
July 26, 2012
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Attempt to Clarify My Position on Mastersolvers
Clearly most people disagree. Perhaps I might have made my case more strongly by including an example of the type of problem that I find annoying. May’s Bridge World’s problem A gives an auction of 1N X 2S 3S, P 4S P ?
You have S- H KJ98 D AJ6542 C QT8
A large group passes on the premise that 4S was natural. (You don’t Q-bid in response to a Q-bid in forcing auctions.)
Another large group thinks pard is trying for slam in a suit. (He would have bid 3N with long, solid spades to avoid the ambiguity that 4S might cause.)
A third group doesn’t seem really sure what’s happening, but doesn’t want to risk a disastrous pass. (When you don’t know wtf is happening, don’t risk a total disaster.)
Note that both of the first two groups also state this is going to be really bad if partner isn’t on the same page. Each group presents a useful principle or guideline, even though the guidelines conflict. Supposedly I’ve learned something from all this discussion. But have I really? Let’s examine the principles. Maybe you shouldn’t Q in response to a Q, but players do it and their partners have to keep it alive as a possibility. If you shouldn’t, then how can the majority now bid 5S – a Q in response to a Q made in response to a Q!
Maybe he would have bid 3N with long solid spades to avoid confusion, but I’d expect 3N to be more like S KJT H Ax D xx C AKJxxx. The last principle: try to avoid disaster seems clear, but I’m really not sure how to avoid one if we disagree about what 4S meant.
Yes, it is interesting to learn what experts are thinking, but I also feel that some of the problems with expert bidding may come from overthinking problems that are either simple or unsolvable. There was a recent hand in the team trials that highlighted this. One hand had something like x AKQ x AKQJxxxx opposite a hand with one ace. It seems routine to open 4N, learn about the ace and bid 6c. Amazingly 4 great pairs held these hands. Two managed to reach an embarrassingly low 5C. Yet both won IMPs when one of the others got to 7C and the last got to some even goofier spot. On another hand this website devoted a lot of discussion to, two top pairs reached 7D off the ace of trump. I’d guess all of the six pairs involved in these disasters have at least 100 pages of notes and has spent thousands hours playing together. I don’t actually blame mastersolvers for these disasters, but perhaps they foster complicated ways of thinking that occasionally proves to be counter-productive.

May 21, 2012
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I think Jacobs has a solid team without any partners who are filing for separation or already divorced.
April 28, 2012
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Note that choice A is listed as 4H splinter, in real life I'd be afraid that pard might (rightly?) assume I was 5-5 with no slam interest and pass…. oooppppps-3clubs has to be natural and forcing even if it overstates clubs
March 2, 2012
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Nicely done. Kyle has been one of the best all around games players of the last 40 years. He is not only an expert bridge player, but was also a top backgammon player and a very successful poker player when Gardena was the poker capital of America.
Feb. 29, 2012
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I think this thread feeds into the bigger question of how ACBL tournaments should allocate time to events with 2 or more sessions. I find it very annoying to play in a pairs game against a variety of systems, both bidding and defensive, which require a lot of explanations and thoughts about inferences, then be rushed by the director and the next opponents. Often bathroom breaks evaporate as pairs try to catch up (for an organization with a lot aging members, bathroom breaks are important). Then after 2 and a half or three hours of rushing, we faced with an incredibly long and useless dinner break. It makes much more sense to start a little earlier, allow more playing time, shorten break to 45 minutes or an hour, then resume. This would also enable players to have a leisurely dinner with cocktails or wine and not worry about being ineffective afterwards.
Nov. 20, 2011
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I think it is a little too simplistic to talk about both contracts going down. 4H may be down, and one of your contracts may make, but will you always get to that contract? Let's say you double, then pass 4S,deciding to play unless doubled,it is possible that spades will fail when 5 of a minor would have worked. It is probably right to bid, but not as clear as this analysis makes it seem.
Nov. 20, 2011
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PET PEEVE: This was a great hand, but the discussion of always sitting North & East brings up one of my pet peeves. Why do columnists and other bridge writers insist on saying after 3/4 of the hands that positions were changed to make it easier to read. WHO CARES ??? Change positions if you want, but don't tell me about it. I have probably read some variation on the sentence 10,000 times. Imagine all that wasted ink, space, etc.
June 8, 2011
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I am puzzled by the fact that “2h would show invitational or better values with 6+. 1s would show fewer than four spades, which caters to some common problem hands encountered during such an auction.” What problem hands does this help with? A lot of hands with fewer than 4s will be able to bid nt, a minor or q-bid, so it seems comfortable to have the double show 4 and 1S show 5 or more. I don't know how to do the math after 1C 1H, but I'd guess that when 3rd hand has spades, it has 4 just over 40%, 5 just under 40% and 6+ 20% or less. Since 2h shows 6+ with a least invitational values, double has to show 4, 5 and a weak 6+. Against aggressive opponents, this seems convoluted, and asking for trouble.
May 28, 2011
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Michael & Kit,

Without giving away trade secrets, could you post a list of suggested fall-back or catch-all understandings that you think a partnership, especially a new partnership should have? (It is fine if there are some situations where you state it is necessary to have a rule, and then suggest several logical possibilities.)

Let's say I was to play with one of you for the first time, and we fill out a convention card, which basically means we have covered openings & responses & some competitive bids, but not much more. What generic rules would you add to avoid confusion and disaster?

Z
March 26, 2011
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