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Chinese Food & The Big Picture
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It will be humanity’s great loss that I am not in charge of the universe. As it stands, my dominion apparently extends not much further than control of the selection of one item from column B at the Chinese restaurant. Since that selection is always the best part of the dinner, one would think that by now others would take my counsel more seriously.

But noooo.

Consider for a moment Sabrina Miles’recent thread. It is the function of sponsoring organizations to specify eligibility requirements. Our ACBL took this a step further and penned illegibility specifications. Something like “the running MP total on the run of the computer runs for the monthly run, run the month prior to when the event is run.”

The answer, BTW, is ten and half cords. That is how much a woodchuck chucks during the time it takes to decipher the COC - if he could chuck.

I can live with grammatical errors. I make them all the time, so I should hope so. These can be corrected. I can live with errors and omissions. I can live with “the admittedly fuzzy” language of the ACBL alert procedures - even without so much as a half-hearted attempt to de-fuzz it. Smart people make mistakes all the time. Presumably, a smart person should be able to recognize an E/O when it is brought to his attention and thus correct the mistake.

Smart people are no different than dumb people when a smart person refuses to acknowledge reality. Errors can be corrected. But there is no cure for stupid stubborn. More precisely, no cure that is acceptable to local law enforcement.

Lets step back for a bigger picture view of some ACBL policies.

The Grand National Teams

I started playing in the ACBL about when I was in perhaps the 8th or 9th grade. I stopped playing in my early 20s. Bridge was not a good way to meet girls anywhere near my age. I returned to the game some years later. Playing bridge was still not a good way to meet anyone of my age or younger. In bridge, I was the youngster. Even decades after I stopped looking like one.

The biggest change in ACBLand during my hiatus was to add “column C” . The bridge world in the US was previously divided into two, mostly de-emphasized categories; Life Master (LM) and non-LM rankings. Now there were three categorizes: A, B, & C. With more emphasis placed on the player classifications. “Back in the day”, the events were every so often split into LM/NLM fields. I usually would not play that day because I was technically a NLM and who wants to play in that event? My official MP total was 0 because I saw no point in spending money to be an ACBL member, just so I could spend more money buying stamps and envelopes to send the slips in to be tallied. Other than that one day, it made no difference whether one was a LM or NLM. It only made a difference to players who set that rank as a goal. And in that case, good for them. In my view, it was important to have occasional LM/NLM events so that those who spent the time and money to acquire their title could announce when they buy their entry: “Life Master”.

Bridge events had become more segregated. Not to the point of separate water fountains for the players, but perhaps that was only because the host hotels could not accommodate such a request.

Our Grand National Teams (GNT) event is a grassroots competition of teams from the same geographical area. It was originally structured in progressive stages. Club, Unit, District, Regional, and then National Finals, with no strata; everyone competed in a single group. In the early stages, some % of the field would be qualified going forward. For most players, the event was about qualifying for the next level. Much the way trying to Q for the next day of the LM/Blue/Platinum Pairs is a rewarding goal for many in the field.

The ACBL rearranged the GNT into their three new categories by MP totals and ran each flight as a separate entity. (They have subsequently added a fourth - “The Championship Bracket” to protect the ‘A’ players from competing against the really good players.) For our District, there was now a one-day event producing just one winner for each Flight to compete at the NABC finals. (Boring.) The good part - at least back then - was that the winners would get their expenses paid for the trip to the “Nationals”. Nowadays, our District picks up the entry fee and gives the team a stipend that might cover the cost of coffee. Well, not my coffee costs. But perhaps for others. Back then, the subsidy was enticing.

To illustrate how difficult drafting good regulations can be, consider that our NABCs are often called “the Nationals”. I don’t mind this term. Though it should perhaps be called the “Continentals”, since it is "North America" with Canada and Mexico always invited. Basic NABC eligibility has since been redefined to include anyone willing to pay ACBL dues.

If one Googles the definition of “continentals”, it is either:

  1. an inhabitant of mainland Europe.
  2. a member of the colonial army in the American Revolution.

English can be exactingly precise, or sometimes we can employ a term that may be interpreted in such a way as to be off by a whole hemisphere.

Pop Quiz: What is a continental continental?

Answer: Gilbert du Motier la Marquis de Lafayette

A Grand (National) Plan

I was approached by a guy with 1,000+ MP to play in Flight-C GNTs with its 300 MP ceiling. Everett had been accumulating masterpoints like your favorite sweater accumulates lint. But on the month of the month of whatever the cutoff date - and back then is was a few months prior to the event - the monthly computer run put Everett at 299 point something MPs. He was eligible by a fraction, even though by the time the event was held he had accumulated another 700-800 MP.

Everett wanted to team with two guys from Poughkeepsie. A friend described these players to me as “just like you, twelve-time rookies of the year”. Something came up and they were not available for the one-day district event. So we picked up two very smart, young players who could blow up any C-Flight game.

This was all to the consternation of the four guys who arrived from "real upstate" hoping that they were the ringer team. Our district (#3) starts just above New York City. It includes everything north to the Canadian border. To those who live in Manhattan, this entire area is considered “upstate” because NY City folk make no distinction between Yonkers and Plattsburgh, some 280 miles away. ("It's all trees with deer.") These four guys probably played at some two or three table club on the shores of Lake Champlain. Since it was impossible to accumulate many MP in such a small game, they were also undervalued by the ACBL MP classifications.

The very first hand I played Blackwood, partner played quantitative and I claimed three overtricks. This was disconcerting because I thought that even the little old ladies at the OT would get to six. Then I was horrified to see the other boards, all in our opponents direction.

A hand with no fit, 6NT is reasonable but will go down one. Our ops were in 3NT+1. A hand that 3NT seems par and does not make. The ladies were in 2 making 8 tricks. Two shapely hands with a 4-4 fit cannot make game in the major. They stopped in 2 making three. (She played that one well.)

Was it possible that our ringer team was going to be blitzed by the gang who could not bid straight? Our teammates returned to compare. The first board was a loss as I had expected. We completed the comparisons and the rest was a blitz.

For us. Dave & Didi had the most amazing set of results. It turned out that every single subsequent board was a Challenge-the-Champs hand. Dave & Didi did get to a slam. They bid 6 to play the Moysian because - get this - they could figure out from their bidding that only the 4-3 minor fit would produce 12 tricks. They avoided 3NT because “oh, that was not going to make, you have to figure out the 5-2M is right”. And they explained how their bidding gadgets discerned the 4-4M fit had too many losers so they found the ironclad 3NT.

This was Flight-C and Dave & Didi would have crushed any pair in the world on this run of these CTC-type hands. So it was a good thing this was not the Worldwide Pairs. Because when the Premier of some totalitarian state discovered that he was the bridesmaid, he might have had an entire section of bridge players executed.

For the remainder of the Swiss, we lost maybe an IMP after that first bad board. (“Sorry, I was trying to set the contract.”) After the 6 rounds we had 115 out of 120 VP. Five blitzes and 15 against the upstate ringers. There were only 7 or 8 teams competing.

Here is an Idea:

Instead of classifying players A, B, or C depending on total MP won, why don’t we have a Unit TD just certify the players? Let the TD decide whether someone should be eligible for an event. If Sabrina has a note, she can play.

What do you think of this idea?

OMG! That is Horrible!!

That is probably what most will think. Let me save people the time of composing the multitudes of replies whichmight crash the BW server. Perhaps I could post a general all-purpose, composite response that people can simply “like” to show their disdain for my idea and thus set the all-time BW record for likes by disliking.

Dear David Dumb-Dumb,

This is a DUMB idea. Though I am not surprised given that your past posts included championing the cause of “Bridge as an Olympic Sport” and other silly ideas like actually providing a timing mechanism for a KO match. It is amazing they even let you order ANYTHING from the Chinese menu.

The ACBL MP accumulation approach might not be perfect, but subjecting players to an arbitrary assessment of their abilities by a TD who may not even know them very well, or even be qualified to make a proper assessment is inane.

Random, subjective judgments are an anathema to our game. You are forthwith demoted to picking the soup, but only if someone else signs off on the selection.

P.S. Stop getting your meds from cheap, third-world internet pharmacies.

Signed,

Subjective Subverts Substance

Dear S.S.S.

Hold that thought. . . .

Gotcha!

I have decided that since so many prefer to disagree with me, it would be better if I supported the decision that I do not want. I tried this out last time when we were ordering food: “Oh please, please! General Chow’s chicken!”. Fortunately, that was now unanimously voted down - by the people who always order it.

This reverse psychology stuff works. Also for the record, I never said this was “my” idea. Only that it was “an idea”.

My question is, if you think the idea of TDs looking at you and then deciding what entry you get is wrong, why do you support a laws system based on this very same idea?

North
A7
J102
3
AQJ10953
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
X
3
3
4
4
X
P
5
P
P
X

There was a very long BIT before the X of 4. Followed by a pull to 5. I polled this and last time I checked, it was 61-4 to pass. (https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-2-lb9etsqpc3/?cj=682603#c682603)

The TD (who is a reasonable player and usually does better) decided that pass was not a LA. The poll seems to indicate that bidding might not be a logical alternative.

TDs vs. “Pro” Players

For you alert types who want to dig through the archives and post back: “Hey, Yates. Didn’t you post something about “not needing no stinkin’ polls”? Aren’t you glad we have them now? What’s the problem? The poll requirements address the TD limitation.” Except that is not the problem, it is the conflict.

I would also point out that I wrote that “I” don’t need no stinkin’ poll. And I want some controversy here on Bridge Winners! Why are our BW site operators trying to create one tiny island of civility within the world wide web cesspool infested with internet trolls? I am going to push the boundaries and state unequivocally that “Pro Players are smarter than TDs”!

I figure, hey. . . what are Gavin and Steve going to do, dispute this? Oh, wait. I am opening myself up to them posting back: “what might be true for a group is not necessarily true for an individual, especially when Yates is involved”. Their post would then break the record for likes.

So let me qualify my statement and back it up with scientific method in the process.

Who is faster, Usain Bolt or moi? No contest. Lets suppose that before our match race, someone kicks Usain in his thighs for an hour. How fast can he run now? I can probably stroll to the finish line.

There can be plenty of TDs who start offat game time smarter than I. But the difference is that I have just one crazy person to deal with. TDs have a whole room full of crazy people, all kicking the poor TD in his head.

BTW, for you foreign readers, this might not apply to your country. Aussies always seem like party types. Scandinavians seem to be civilized and well-mannered. Canadians are always great. But then maybe only nice Canadians travel. My observations are limited to bridge here in the USA - your country may vary.

My IQ is dropping arithmetically but theTD'sis falling geometrically. “It’s too hot.” “It’s too cold.” “We need some air.” “It’s too drafty in here.” “Why is there no yogurt today?” “I was always going to bid five diamonds.”An hour later - ta da! - I am smarter. For the record, I am not bragging about my intelligence. An hour into a bridge game, I often wonder why I am dumb enough to do this. But this “getting kicked in the head” principle was scientificallydemonstrated.

I won a bet with Stephen Hawking and proved this very point. After he directed a bridge game in the USA, I could remember more about Physics than the eminent professor. It did take directing two sessions and one appeal before he lost his mind. Proving that Hawking was really, really smart. But the next day he told me: “All I could remember was F=ma because it felt like I was literally getting kicked in my head. I also remembered sound pressure dissipates as a square of the distance and I was desperately attempting to calculate how far away I had to go to get away, but I was trapped!”

Back to the hand and the real problem.

Time to Adjust

So lets say, that we roll the contract back to 4-X on account of the poll. Here is the dummy (in the East).

North
A7
J102
3
AQJ10953
Dummy
K108432
53
Q875
8

3 lead, Q-K-A. Spade to your ace and. . .??

Either a heart or a low club. One will work and one will not.

Under the old adjustment procedures, the answer was 100% objective. The offending side did not get the benefit of guessing correctly. Under the new adjustment procedures, the adjustment is subjective and TD has to judge the probabilities of each choice. Now the offending side does get the benefit of the doubt.

Here is the truly goofy part. TPTB (The Powers That Be) have decided that TDs are not proficient enough to accurately determine what this particular player considered bidding. And that could be true, kicks in the head and all. Yet, TPTB assign to that very same TD the task of determining what THAT SAME PLAYER would have done in the play of the hand!

How does this make any sense?

There should be an adjustment. And the proper adjustment is to change the laws back to something that makes sense.

For the record, if you want to weasel out and ignore the issue by saying "run a poll":

  • Still ignoring the problem - if that worked my life would be perfect.
  • Polling complicates matters.
  • Everyone polled is tainted by knowing the hand.
  • The laws make no provision for such a poll.
  • One cannot base it on what happened at other tables.

In the last case, what happened is the field was pretty much in 5(Xor not) or from the other side. This is because my partner was the only player who did not open a 1st seatunfavorable weak 2. The bidding at the other tables was typically 2-P-4-5. Because who is not bidding 5 now? Someone always bids 5, but the spades are now being played from the other side and the defense is entirely different.

In any event, that ignores the question of why the person who is supposed by the laws not to be a reliable standard for determining what a player was thinking during the bidding (kicks in the head and all) is now supposed to know exactly what that same player will be thinking in a play problem.

“Restoring Equity”

This is not an idea, nor an argument, nor a goal. “Restoring equity” barely qualifies as a campaign slogan.

I like Ike, too. So what? “Two chickens in every pot” - Hoover’s slogan - was not a description of a policy. Forget about the chickens, people ended up without the pot to piss in.

If “restoring equity” is a goal, how does one explain the provisions for adjudicating claims? A questionable claim is always ruled against the claiming side if failure is an option. The Laws specifically state that is the outcome absolute “... if there is an alternative normal line of play that would be less successful.”

Suppose a declarer in notrump claims with the lead in South:

West
J9
KQ
North
K62
9
East
97
74
South
10
AJ
A
D

Three or four tricks? The “restoring equity” answer is 3.67 tricks. I came to this answer by applying the new criteria for an adjusted score. Starting J is not logical. So 10 or one of the aces. If one starts with the A, the only logical next card is A. After the A as start or A-A, bingo. Declarer cannot really go wrong. But he can go wrong if he starts a heart.

Since 2/3 of cases produce 4 tricks and 1/3 of cases produce 3 tricks, why isn’t the answer 3.67 tricks to RESTORE EQUITY?

Even if you want to nitpick the analysis, one ends up with what, 3.5 tricks? The fact is that Random Randy or a monkey will often make more than 3 tricks cashing out. If one can produce a result of x% to lead a heart and 1-x% to lead a club when defending 4-X, why does the claimer not receive the same consideration for making an oversight that an offender does for committing an irregularity?

The answer is apparently because TPTB would like to penalize players for merely trying to move things along, but we want to protect the players who injectUI into our game. Wonderful.

Stayman Eats Crow(hurst)!

The heading has nothing to do with the overall picture, does it? (More about this heading at the end.)

The root of many issues in ACBLand is losing sight of the big picture. When the kitchen is run by 28 Chef de Parties and no Chef de Cuisine, the menu and food is never going to be consistent.

A leader can provide direction and consistency. The largest US corporation by market cap is Apple. The guy most responsible for that success was Steve Jobs. Jobs has been described as “a visionary” and perhaps more unofficially as “that big jerk”. But Jobs did understand that everything at Apple needed to be an expression of Apple’s underlying principles of what the company was about. Jobs understood marketing right down to a mania for the color of the walls.

One can accomplish a lot with a driven, lunatic visionary at the helm. Look at what Alexander the Great did. But an army headed by 28 captains and no general is going to march in all sorts of different directions; often at once. Various cliques form around minor, micro-sized issues. Things happen, but without any regard to larger considerations

The macro issue for Sabrina Miles’ situation is not what “the month of the month” means. My question is why is the cutoff date the month before the event? The macro issue is what the ACBL is supposed to do is promote bridge. In my book, everything that is done is supposed to be an expression of that thought.

I tend to make last-minute plans. But most people plan in advance. If the cutoff date is that close to the event, how does one actually make plans? If the person wants to play in the Sally Young Pairs, or the Red Ribbons and is dangerously close to being “too qualified”, then what will they do in the interim? The answer is probably stop playing tournaments in the meantime, so they don’t ruin their Continental plans. Is that what we want?

The other reason why the close cutoff date is dumb is that we want to actually promote the event. The organization is supposed to be contacting several months in advance and try to soft-sell them on the idea of attending the NABCs. (It is called “marketing”.)

“Hello Sabrina! Congratulations on your swift and steady climb up the ranks. Many bridge challenges will await you on your journey, but we calculate that this might be your last year of eligibility to compete and make your mark in the Sally Young Pairs in Atlanta. This is to extend an invitation to you and a qualified partner to compete in this prestigious event and we hope to see you there!”

In my universe, Sabrina is not supposed to take the initiative to find out if she is eligible to play, the organization that is supposed to be promoting bridge should be telling her far enough in advance that she is eligible and try to sell her on the idea of entering the event.

The COC is supposed to be an extension of the big picture, not a collection of arbitrary regulations to answer microscopic questions.

Big Picture on GNT

The GNT once earned the winners a spot in the international team trials when teams needed a prequalifier to participate. The number of teams competing in the GNT has dropped substantially despite somewhat stabilized membership rates. (Note: at least by my observations and from what I have been told for our District. Perhaps someone has specific data for the whole country?)

The ACBL revamped the GNT structure into A, B, C flights and then structured the event to be totally contrary to the underlying theory of their own principles.

The big picture on having separate flights and super-sized MP awards is - supposedly- to provide more rewards and encouragement to more players.

Once the field was divided into three groups, it was no longer necessary to run three stages to cull the herd. The strata definition shrinks the pool and there are no longer enough contestants in each group to run it progressively. Under the old system of progressive stages, HALF of the field is rewarded on the first stage. These teams have Q’d for the next level. Players went to the event to get that Q and many emerged as happy winners because they leave having achieved their initial goal. If they are in the high O/A, that is even better. But many teams have won.

Now the GNT qualifying is run as one and done. (At least in our District). This changes the focus of the event from “how far can you go” to “can you beat everyone today”. Instead of many winners, the event is winner takes all and everyone else loses. Second is no joy because everyone is playing for the big prize.

The problem is that no matter where the MP limits and boundaries are, there are not going to be many teams that have a legitimate chance of topping other teams within those specifications. On my GNT-C venture, there were only two teams that would ever finish on top. Us, or the guys from the North woods. Before “The Championship” flight was added, there was only one team in Florida that was really going to be the District-9 Flight-A qualifier. That would be the team with Meckwell et al. I think they won the whole event like 9 times or so. I have D9 in another window on VG as I am writing and they are crushing it.

Other teams realize the futility of winner-take-all, one-and-done. Soon, they stop showing up. My analogy would be the high striker game at the carnival. Plenty of people are willing to whack it with a sledgehammer, few will ring the bell. But it is fun for many to simply see how high up one can raise the puck. The ACBLGNT version of the high striker is nothing happens.

“Did the bell ring?”

“No. The puck just sat there”

“Wasn’t that fun? You can go home now.”

One can still have flights and structure the progressive qualifying. Have everyone play the first two stages in a homogeneous group just like a normal Swiss, Q by flight and break it out to KO matches in a later stage.

“But you are making such a big deal out of this.”

Exactly! This is supposed to be ABIG DEAL. What salesman would not make a big deal out of something they wanted to promote and sell? It is called marketing. But the ACBL inevitably acts contrary to the big picture. When one has 28 line chefs stewing about,they will often end up arguing about something trivial. The big picture is the menu as an extension of the philosophy of restaurant. Someone has to sweat the details, but the details are supposed to be a derivation of the overall picture, not drive it.

GNT “Championship” Bracket

BTW, adding a “Championship” bracket to remove a few top teams from Flight-A was the micro-view and a reflexive reaction to the drop in Flight-A GNT attendance. The problem is not that Meckwell was playing. But if yet another bracket to remove these guys from the Flight-A equation is “the answer”, then obviously the ACBL views proficiency in the game as “a problem”.

How can marquee names be a problem? When in Atlanta, you could buy tickets to see the Braves vs Dodgers. But maybe Kershaw will be pitching for LA. Who wants that?

Marquee names are a problem only if one is clueless as to how to promote something. The FIRST DAMN THING that they did on the World Poker Tour was turn a handful of unknowns into rock stars. The whole poker world started lining up for a chance to lose money to Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu. Meanwhile the ACBL is telling Jeff and Eric: “You guys need to go play in a separate room ‘cuz you are scaring the old folks”.

There were still plenty of teams still entering the Spingold when Nickell won 6 of 7 starting in 1993. There were 110 entries in 1999 and guess what? Nickell won again. Precious few entrants had any real chance of winning the event. But most teams enter the Spingold for the competition to see how far they can go.

But, as usual, the microscopic view of what was happening to GNT attendance - actually due in a large part because of the fragmentation of the field - led the ACBL to conclude that the answer was to further partition the field.

The ACBL then assigned “Championship” Bracket to the new fragment, just to remove any doubt that they know pretty much nothing about promotions.

This is a DUMB NAME. If one calls the new bracket “Championship”, then by implication, the other brackets are not. This undermines the credibility and promotional value of the other flights. If you do not understand why, then I will explain reality using an altered script from Heartbreak Ridge:

Colonel Meyers: Are you new to marketing, Major?

Maj. Malcolm A. Powers: Yes, sir. Just came over from accounting.

Colonel Meyers: Were you good at that?

Maj. Malcolm A. Powers: Yes, sir!

Colonel Meyers: Well then, stick to it because you're a walking cluster f$#% as a salesman.

If the mission statement is to “promote bridge”, everything is supposed to be an extension of the marketing concepts. If we are to create a separate drinking fountain for Meckwell, then call it “The Super-Flight”. Or “The Grand Tier”. “Limitless”, “Unlimited” or “Infinity”. Anything that still allows me to tell C-players that their event is still a real championship.

It would even feel like a REAL championship if players were playing against the big boys and girls in the early qualifying stages. The presence of what should be marquee names is not going to directly effect any C-players ability to march forward. You want the C-Teams to learn not to be afraid of opponents, especially if they are to represent the District. Marquee names should add to the prestige and hype of the event. When the event breaks into KOs, remaining teams are head-to-head in their own championship flight.

But if one presents a big picture view, 28 naysayers are going to nitpick microscopically.

“Well, it isn’t ‘FAIR’ that some C-team might randomly draw Meckwell in the R-R”.

Screw that micro thinking. This is a championship. Meckwell may well be playing in the LM pairs. No one is BAM against them for the whole event. One only needs to Q in top half (maybe even 2/3) of one’s own flight to move forward. Stop being such a whiny little weenie.

It is only a big event if we make it BIG. The ACBL must have learned anti-marketing. Let's make events smaller and less significant with nearly everyone a loser. Then wonder why no one is interested in playing. Nowadays, the GNT feels like “let's get this over with”. Sort of like one’s in-laws are coming for a visit.

Back to The (Dumb) Law Changes

The recent law changes are symptomatic of scores of Sous Chefs all nitpicking the broth. What happens in a leaderless group is that various members have diverse, minor agendas. They become concerned about small little issues that have nothing to do with the big issues. The group is incapable of tackling important matters in an effective manner.

So, am I talking about the US Congress or the ACBL? Either or both. It does not matter how smart the ACBL Board members are. Or whether we have smart Congressmen. At the end of the day, three geniuses is often the equivalent of the Village Idiot. This is not to discuss politics on the site, merely to show that we in bridge-land are hardly immune from political forces. We have entrenched, micro-view interests running things, who will doubtless be re-elected.

Sound uncomfortably familiar? It is the same problem when there is no leadership and only micro-view special interests lobbying for narrow policy changes.

Once upon a time, the Laws Commission had a defacto CEO. His name was Edgar Kaplan. He was enough of a force to insure some logical consistency to our laws. Now we have various forces working to support micro-views like “fairness” and “restore equity”. Logic and consistency be damned. Lets pass out some peanuts and maybe no one will notice how fast we are losing attitude.

BTW, the big picture knows that structural changes do not create, by themselves, sensible policy. For every Steve Jobs creating a juggernaut there is at least one Stephen Lay. A great leader like Charlemagne can create countries and unite people. A strongman like Mussolini can destroy a country.

What matters is the focus. Steve Jobs wanted to change the world. Stephen Lay wanted to beat quarterly earnings expectations. Which leader saw the big picture? Neither needed to be correct, but only one had a chance.

Conversely, 28 people are way better than 8 or 1 when it comes to data, feedback, points of view and ideas. It is in the formulation of plans and policy and the ability to create effective change that a cauldron of cooks will fail. And BTW, nothing against the people who try to make a difference and donate their time. It is just that, IMO, the system is structurally doomed to failure regardless of who is there. It will either fail fast or fail slowly depending of the quality of the people. That the ACBL has been failing slowly indicates quality, in my view. But I doubt we avoid the inevitable cliff.

Stayman Eats Crow(hurst)!

Just some odds and ends. First, this is simply my “Onion-Style”, stand-alone headline with no story. Only that I was sitting in for a hand against my bridge buddy, Rob Stayman. His partner forgot they played Crowhurst. Rob was explainingbefore the opening lead the failure to alert and his partner started to kick herself for forgetting. (Hopefully not in her head, for that would turn her into a bridge pro or a TD.) Rob pointed at me and said: “you cannot forget Crowhurst with him at the table, David will write some Bridge Winners article mocking us.”

They weren’t in a bad contract, though she might have tried notrump instead of the major had she remembered the additional info. A pretty good title popped into my head on the way out the door and I thought I would have some fun with Rob. Maybe make his eyes pop out when he reads it. "I'll teach you to make funny jokes at the table, Rob!

GNT Results

A funny thing happened to our free trip. We finished 2nd in Flight-C. The COC specified something like a 14-board KO between the top two teams after the Swiss. This was because they were trying to cram it into one day and not pick the best team. The real upstate guys almost withdrew rather than playing us because they had a long ride home. We played a match of the most boring hands of all time. We passed out three boards. Everything was a nothing hand. The deciding board was a random game swing due to system and gave them the 'W' by a couple IMPs.

This happened, BTW, because no one would listen to me. We had seeding rights and Everett wanted to change ops from our Swiss match because he preferred not to play against a weak NT as one of their pairs played K/S. I wanted the original lineup because Dave & Didi played a weak NT and there would be no system swings.

But nooo...

So the upstate guys got the trip, since the focus of the COC was apparently only to get this over with as fast as possible. I really hope the USBF will consider 14 board KOs. It would improve my chances of beingUSA-1 for the Bermuda Bowl.

Our consolation prize was the upstate guys apologizing for winning. (We would have won easily if the COC provided a carry-over.) I ran into one of them a couple years later and asked about the finals. He told me they Q’d in the first day Swiss, went out in the first KO when they went up against the big ringer team that won it all. Four guys who moved here from Taiwan or Poland. He said that we could have matched up against them, but they never really had a chance. My other consolation prize was he said it was fun going to the NABCs. It really would have ticked me off if they hated the trip.

The funny part was hearing from some of our District leaders complaining at one point how no one enters the GNT and that our teams never do very well in the GNT finals.

We have a COC format (flights separate) handed down from above that discourages attendance. Then the District sets forth specifics that work against selecting the strongest team. The District cuts the subsidy because “we have fewer teams competing in the GNT to provide revenue.” Less subsidy causes less interest and also feeds the downward spiral. Then they wonder, because. . .??

For me, the big picture is bridge in the USA has been headed towards big crash for quite a while and mostly all we get is silly, contradictory, minor changes. Lets pass out more peanuts and not look out the window. Also, just so everyone knows, I plan on complaining about these nonsensical "restore equity" rules until TPTBwake up and change it, which should be... lets see... probably forty years. I should live that long. If I make to Thanksgiving, I shall have lived to see the ACBL finally implement something that can be described as “not insanely restrictive to thought” for their Convention Charts. It took only about a half century for that.

Meanwhile, if someone at Apple decided to paint his white office wall in an orange, green, blue, and yellow checkerboard pattern, how quickly would that get changed back?

More on how the world should work later. The delivery guy is here and I need to get my crispy pressed duck before it is all gone.

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