Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Chris Willenken
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Amir,

Good to hear from you, my friend! We like 1N-3 majors as Al mentions because it rightsides both suits. But otherwise you could bid 1N-2-2-3 with those hands– hearts is already declared by responder, and 5-5 majors don't need the extra space as opener can rebid:
3= Sets spades
3N= to play opposite 55
4m= cue for
4= regressive with
March 18
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
@Dale Johannesen

The Regulating Authority must actually hold the opinion in question, so if all (or most) reasonable people would disagree with the RA's stated position, that would be strong evidence that the RA was merely professing to have the opinion in question in order to bolster an illegal regulation. Law 80 is not a blank check for RAs.

The above is not merely my opinion but rather a basic canon of statutory interpretation. I'll use Wikipedia's concise explanation: “Where one reading of a statute would make one or more parts of the statute redundant and another reading would avoid the redundancy, the other reading is preferred.” Any reading contrary to the above would render 40A3 superfluous.**

@Steve Moese

You have bolded a portion of 40B2, but you appear to have ignored 40B1, which defines a special partnership understanding as one which “may not be readily understood and anticipated by a significant number of players in the tournament.” Most everyone in an open event who can understand and anticipate 15-17 can also understand and anticipate 13-18, so there is no interpretation of the Laws where notrump range would qualify as a special partnership understanding in such events. As I explained above, in limited events I could imagine that an unusual treatment of 1NT would qualify as a special partnership understanding based on the above criterion.


** Law 40A3: A player may make any call or play without prior announcement provided that such call or play is not based on an undisclosed partnership understanding.
March 10
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Steve,

I have not only read Law 80 but I also understand it. The part you have bolded is directly on point– ACBL can establish conditions for bidding and play, but only in accordance with these laws. In other words, no regulation which contravenes any other portion of the Laws is permitted.
March 10
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Danny Sprung writes,

“Kit, you are mistaken. There are plenty of bids that can be, and are regulated. Natural NT openings are regulated; both by range and shape.”

While the ACBL purports to regulate natural notrump openings, it seems quite clear to me that those regulations violate the Laws of Duplicate Bridge. Law 40A3 is straightforward:

A player may make any call or play without
prior announcement provided that such
call or play is not based on an undisclosed
partnership understanding.


There are only two limitations on this right:

1) “The Regulating Authority may designate certain partnership
understandings as ‘special partnership understandings’.
A special partnership understanding is one whose meaning,
in the opinion of the Regulating Authority, may not be
readily understood and anticipated by a significant number
of players in the tournament.” Clearly, with the proper
disclosure, a wide or offshape notrump range could be
understood by all but the most inexperienced players, so
this Law does not justify ACBL's regulation.

2) “A player may deviate from his side’s announced
understandings, provided that his partner has no more
reason than the opponents to be aware of the deviation.”
The Laws specify that repeated deviation may create an
implicit understanding, but the factual question of
whether that has occurred in any given case requires
an understanding of both the frequency of deviation and
partner's general level of awareness. Regardless, this
provision cannot justify ACBL's blanket regulation.

Simply put, if the ACBL is running a bridge game (as opposed to some other game), the Laws limit ACBL's regulatory power. ACBL may not state that a queen beats a king. ACBL may not provide that cardplay proceeds in a counter-clockwise manner. And ACBL may not prohibit a player from making any call he chooses, subject to limitations (1) and (2) above.

As a side note, I have played quite a bit of professional bridge in my time, and I'm confident that the crazy tactics which Peg describes are long-term losing strategy unless partner literally doesn't know how to take a finesse. So, I'd hate to see them regulated even if such regulation were legal– I'd want to give my opponents the opportunity to make the mistake of overcompensating for a partnership skill imbalance.
March 10
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
We play:

1N-2red-2M-?
2N= M + , GF
3= M + , GF

After 1N-2red-2M-2N/3, opener generally accepts the second transfer without support for the M. Now responder has space to show his fragment at the three level with 5431/5530 shapes. We would also pattern into our 2-card suit with a 5521 hand which was not strong enough to get past 3N unilaterally.

If you're reading carefully, you may have noticed that there is one case where responder cannot pattern out at the three level: 5M + with a fragment. So, we use 1N-2red-2M-3 to show that specific hand.

As mentioned earlier in this thread, invitational hands with 5-card start with Stayman and continue with 2 next. Invitational hands with 5-card transfer and rebid 2– we can get our inviational 5-5s in here as well as our 5332s. We can't show 5 4 invitational– we either upgrade to Smolen or downgrade to Garbage Stayman.
March 10
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
One elephant in the room when discussing AirBnB vs. the host hotel is the gross incompetence of the ACBL's booking apparatus. Just after arriving home from the Hawaii NABC, I went online to book a room for the Memphis host hotel. Somehow, there were no rooms available for the second Friday. Any guesses as to where I'm staying?

If ACBL wants people to pay up for rooms at the host, it should be providing a booking experience superior to the lower-cost options.
March 6
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Apologies for the slight thread drift, but I feel compelled to speak up when I see experienced international players peddling interpretations of the bridge laws which would undermine the spirit of our game.

For each player, in any given auction there can be only one possible ‘normal’ tempo. If we decide that a player passing after fifteen seconds does not convey UI, it necessarily must be the case that a hesitation of only five or even eight seconds in the same auction would convey UI from the fast pass. Otherwise, the passer's partner can take advantage of a “fast pass” (five or eight seconds) or a “slow pass” (fifteen seconds) without penalty.

Any interpretation of the bridge laws which allows a player to gain by reading his partner's tempo is incredibly destructive and dangerous. On the auction from this poll, it's easy to imagine advancer wanting fifteen seconds to make the best decision. However, one of the skills of bridge is knowing when to conceal one's own problem at the risk of a slight inaccuracy in order to keep partner unconstrained by UI.
Feb. 26
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Championship flight participation has been hurt by (among other trends) the ever-increasing skill gap between world class players and other experts. That gap is widening for two reasons:

1) Theoretical advances in both bidding and defensive carding give world class players more tools at their disposal, and

2) The proliferation of professional bridge ensures that world class players have ample opportunities to practice and sharpen their games.

As a result, many good players decline to enter the top bracket.
They perceive themselves as having little to no shot against the great players they will face if they do qualify for the NABC stage.

I believe that the lower brackets are dragged down by the anemic top bracket participation. It's hard to get excited about those flights when few people are excited about the Championship flight. We need to find ways to inject more excitement into the world of bridge.
Jan. 31
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Doping in sports is a poor analogy to collusive cheating at bridge for the following reasons (among others):

1) Most sports are not games of honor. For example, we don't expect football players to call fouls on themselves; we expect those players to try to conceal their violations from the referees.

In contexts where the normal ethics of the sport involve pushing the honesty envelope, doping is taking things only slightly too far. The best analogy to bridge would be intentional use of UI. It's something that should be firmly and strongly punished, but it's not a high crime.

2) Doping in sports gains only an incremental advantage. Lance Armstrong would have been a TdF contender even without doping. By contrast, collusive cheating in bridge can turn an average expert pair into a top pair.

This distinction matters because in endeavors where cheating is so effective, the top end of the sport is likely to be filled with cheaters if the punishments are not severe. I guarantee you that if doping could turn amateur cyclists into Lance Armstrong, the punishments for doping in cycling would differ from the status quo by an order of magnitude.

3) A player's viability cycle in sports is very different than in bridge. Most sports careers are under a decade, whereas a bridge player could remain towards the top of the profession for thirty years fairly easily. So, a six year suspension for an athlete caught doping mid-career is essentially a life sentence. By contrast, a pro caught cheating after five years and suspended for the next ten rates to have at least fifteen more years of prime playing ability.
Dec. 16, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Greg,

If anyone thinks it is plausible that declarer could receive and decipher information from dummy tapping his fingers without any prior understanding (at the very least that dummy might at some point try to transmit something), please tell them I have a nice bridge near my place in downtown NYC that is for sale.
Dec. 12, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Brad,

The “first offense” stuff is cheater propaganda. We have almost all of these cheaters dead to rights on many hands. The fact that they have only been caught after they have cheated tons of times does not logically allow them to plead first-time offender. If hypothetically a pair were caught cheating on exactly one hand and enough time elapsed after that hand so that we were sure the hand wasn't part of a pattern, I might agree with you.

As to plea bargaining, OK with me if we don't have them dead to rights. But nobody gets to plead out once they are caught. That such a mechanism exists is proof of our current inability to accurately police high level bridge.

As far as the legal stuff, a better hearing system would be bulletproof. Courts do not like to revisit the results of internal arbitrations. If we can ensure that the process is systemically fair to the accused (expertise and impartiality of decision-makers, a comprehensive process for evidence discovery, fair opportunity to present and cross-examine witnesses, etc.), no court is going to re-examine the facts. That's not my supposition– industry arbitrations are common and accepted in the business world, including in high stakes cases. And courts do not revisit the substantive issues.
Dec. 12, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Paul,

If we could have effective arbitration of cheating offenses, I would be all for upping the standard of proof to “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The problem with the current system is that when the disciplinary board members are significantly weaker at bridge than the players charged, there will always be some doubts in the board's mind based on the potential inability to understand the full extent of the expert bridge analysis.

While I was part of the Anti-Cheating Task Force, I worked with Mark Friedlander (a veteran law partner at a big Chicago firm) and others to develop a framework for arbitration of cheating cases by leading experts. To avoid bias issues, my idea would be to let each side appoint one arbitrator from a list of the most successful players in world play; those two would pick a third by mutual agreement. This framework is very normal for extremely high-stakes arbitrations.

If we had world top-100 players (guaranteeing competence) and a good method for picking a panel which is fair to both sides, we'd still get convictions under a reasonable doubt standard in all of the cases so far.
Dec. 12, 2018
Chris Willenken edited this comment Dec. 12, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Dave,

Would you accept that a teacher who commits a sex crime against a child (the most extreme crime possible in that professional context) could receive a lifetime ban from the teaching profession?

Also, you state that disgorgement is a “diversion” but offer no argument in support of your claim. You suggest that sponsors might be able to sue. Fine, but lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming. Doing a couple of days' investigation and telling someone that their application fee is X (our best idea of their profits off bridge) is easy.
Dec. 12, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Michael,

We would ask the sponsors for an accurate accounting. We might not get it in all cases (so the disgorgement number could be low in some cases), but it's not a structural barrier to asking for a charitable donation in that amount before a readmission application could be considered.
Dec. 12, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Thanks, link fixed above.
Dec. 11, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
One issue which should be made clearer IMO: the defined terms in the Convention Charts affect neither the meanings of those terms under the Laws nor the players' alert obligations.

For example, the Convention Charts treat a 1 opening which promises 3+ clubs or specifically 4=4=3=2 distribution as “Natural”, meaning that the same Convention Charts restrictions would apply to that pair whether 4=4=3=2 is included as a possible shape for 1 or not. That definition is for the purposes of the Convention Charts only. It does not render the potentially 4=4=3=2 1 bid actually natural under the Laws or under the Alert Chart. Thus, the bid must still be announced (as per the Alert Chart), and it is still subject to regulation as an artificial bid by the ACBL at some future date.

This is a point that will be obvious to attorneys, virtually all of whom are used to working with defined terms. Instead of talking about “Natural” bids, the Convention Charts could just as well talk about “Sausages” bids– a defined term is just shorthand for the complete definition and does not imply any relation to the ordinary meaning of the word. However, I'd bet heavily that pretty soon we'll be seeing some pairs fail to announce the potentially 4=4=3=2 1. And it's hard to blame a layperson for thinking that “Natural” and natural are the same thing.
Dec. 8, 2018
Chris Willenken edited this comment Dec. 9, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Perhaps declarer in 5 should lead a trump to the nine. I don't imagine many defenders would insert the ten from KT74, even though it is probably the right play looking at that dummy.
Nov. 1, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Bob,

I find your assertion that the second-place teams in these events were “imaginary winners” completely incomprehensible. First, here is a thought experiment:

Imagine that Levin-Weinstein accidentally enter a limited masterpoint pair game. The error isn't discovered until the end of the game, and Levin-Weinstein not surprisingly have the highest score. What happens now?

I cannot imagine that anyone in their right mind would think that L-W should be listed as the winner of the game (asterisk or no). Furthermore, most rational people would think that the pair with the second-highest score should be declared the rightful winners of that pair game.

Now, it's true that if L-W hadn't been in the game, that second place pair might not have won. Perhaps L-W gave a couple of bottoms to other pairs who would have come out on top. Is this situation fair? Of course not– even if they themselves are disqualified, we can all see that L-W may have distorted the entire event. But it's the best we can do.



Second, remember that having cheaters in the main events had a strong distortive effect on events which the cheaters themselves did not win. For example, perhaps cheaters who lost in the Spingold semifinals one year defeated the team which would otherwise have ended up winning the tournament in an earlier round. So, if you are looking to the results of any of these events for an answer to the question, “Who would have won event X if cheaters had not entered?” you will not find an answer regardless of whether the cheaters cheated all the way to the top.

This distortion is why having cheaters in these events is so incredibly bad for bridge. We can't undo the harm they have done simply by disqualifying them; their actions ensure that we will be unable to sort the legitimate competitors with our customary accuracy. But we would be needlessly intensifying that unfairness if we decide that there should be less total satisfaction and glory for the rightful competitors by having events with no declared winner.
Oct. 15, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Bob,

None of us who has been cheated out of medals or titles cares one iota about the masterpoints. We care about someone looking back at the results and thinking that team X was superior to us at bridge in events where team X was merely cheating.
Oct. 13, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Running from 1Nx seeems completely routine with this hand, as the tricks are too slow for notrump when the opponents hold the balance of power. Anyone interested in developing this type of judgment for themselves can look at partner's actual hand, which was 4333 with queens and jacks. In general, that type of dummy is very notrumpy, but here we can see that 2 could be cold on a good day, whereas 1NT would go down at least two on a heart lead. And imagine if dummy had zero points– declarer might take only one trick in 1NT on a really bad day.

As a side note, the light 1N overcall was probably influenced by the fact that opener was in third seat favorable. Overcaller didn't want to miss an easy 25-26 HCP game. Every strong player is going to be adjusting for the possibility of a light opener here, although I wouldn't adjust by this much.
Sept. 18, 2018
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
.

Bottom Home Top