Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Chris Willenken
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3 followed by 4 should definitely be natural, some hand without sufficient slam interest to raise immediately. Responder might have been looking to pass 4 and or 3N. The actual hand has strong slam potential, so I prefer a direct raise to 4.

After the raise, I'm passing 4, which by my lights denies real diamonds. (If responder couldn't underwrite at least 5 opposite 6-4, he should take a preference to 3 instead of raising diamonds.) For me, opener's 4 over 4 would show pattern, so it seems trivial for responder to drive to slam after that auction– even a rock bottom (sub)minimum such as Axx AKQxx KQxx x makes slam almost cold.

To answer your secondary question, if you bid 3 and opener patterns into spades, only 4 sets spades. It is not necessary to confirm/deny a control in clubs because opener must be short there.
July 13
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Adam,

I have been down this road already with the USBF, and there has not been much interest in making the suggested changes. I think it can be very difficult for people to envision a better product which they haven't yet seen.
May 6
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Adam,

If I were in charge of writing the guidelines, you can imagine from my post above what they would look like. If you ask pairs to answer 33 different bidding questions on the SSF, you will get tons of sloppy answers and outright omissions. In fact, I would guess that not a single pair entered in the 2019 trials answers all of those questions on their SSF. By contrast, if you ask pairs to answer six or eight questions, there is a good chance that most everyone will do a good job.
May 5
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While I enjoy the Gatlinburg regional, I don't think that there is anything particularly great about the place itself as a regional destination. A big regional is a draw to folks who want to compete against top-flight competition and also to those who want to receive maximum masterpoint compensation for lower bracket achievements. Gatlinburg's main appeal is simply that it is the biggest regional. I call this aspect Gatlinburg's “legacy draw,” an attractiveness to attendees based on history rather than fundamentals.

I believe that ACBL should attempt to build five to eight additional large regionals per year. Sites would be chosen with some rough geographic diversity in mind, but each should be relatively easy to reach by air. Each should also have cheap, attractive, and plentiful options for food and housing. These tournaments would run unopposed.

The idea would be to build these events into legacy draws. In my view, this consolidation would stand a good chance of increasing overall regional attendance substantially. People will attend because the tournaments are big. There would probably need to be some profit-sharing between districts that host these large events and ones that do not, but I am largely ignorant of the finance side of regionals and would defer to those with more expertise.
May 5
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Currently, most information that appears on a well filled out convention card is for the benefit of that side, not for the benefit of the opponents. For example, there is no reason for the opponents to care in advance whether you play 1N-3 as a splinter or 5-5 majors– they will find out when they need to know via the alert procedure. Having two identically filled out cards helps to establish what your actual agreements are in potential misinformation situations.

Here is a mostly exhaustive list of the convention card information which the opponents should rationally care about, in rough order of descending importance:
1) leads and carding, including mid-hand
2) artificial openings and responses
3) general approach including notrump range
4) methods over our 1NT
5) two-suited overcalls which are non-standard
6) proclivity for extremely light actions in certain situations
7) forcing pass agreements

What I'd like to see is a version of the card with sections for each of these areas in addition to all the normal sections. No penalties or recriminations for failing to fill out the other sections– the ‘offending’ side is only hurting itself by failing to establish evidence of their actual agreements. However, any errors or major omissions from parts one through seven above would lead to automatic penalties and a presumptive score adjustment if the opponents can make out a prima facie case for damage.

This card could and should also be used in major NABC events. The ACBL convention card is suitable for average players, but it does not allow for efficient disclosure from expert to expert.
May 4
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No adjustment for sure. South would not have a problem to this trick whatever remaining trumps he held (stiff quack, QJ doubleton, void), so there is no reason declarer should be pulled one way or the other by the knowledge that South has already decided which card to play.
May 4
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Looks like declarer probably has Jxx AQJx AQx Jxx .
If I win, declarer has a risk-free diamond finesse for his ninth trick. If I duck, declarer must guess whether to hook the diamond. He probably will have a good idea of the count by decision time, so the diamond finesse will look attractive.
May 1
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1) Development of a comprehensive and mandatory process for handling collusive cheating allegations. From the moment a credible accusation is levied, there should be a step-by-step procedure which cannot be affected by any bigwig putting his finger on the scale. If the end result is a guilty verdict, the players involved should be banned for life, with no exceptions.

2) Transparency regarding all administrative and operational costs.

3) Published minutes (including voting records) of all Executive Council meetings as well as all subcommittee meetings.
May 1
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Ray,

If the opponents were forced to pass throughout, your analysis would be accurate.
April 30
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I like a heart at matchpoints, the one suit I know declarer does not hold. It provides almost as much safety as a club with far more upside– if dummy doesn't have hearts, this is quite likely to be best, and it might be ok even then. Diamond jack way too dangerous for me.

Diamond at IMPs hoping for the simplest beat.
April 29
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Additionally, opening a balanced hand with some number of notrump has the highly desirable effect of limiting the hand in strength and shape immediately. So, you'd rather your wider balanced ranges actually be notrump openings rather than notrump rebids.
April 29
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In the Rosenblum, the top 16 pick from the bottom 32. The remaining matches are determined by original seed.
April 29
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I think $15 per session is still way too high. When I started playing bridge at age sixteen, Jeff Bayone had an incredibly student-friendly policy in place at the Manhattan Bridge Club. I believe it was one free entry per week plus dramatically reduced card fees. Without that policy, I would not have been able to afford to throw myself into bridge, and ACBL might well have lost what will hopefully be six figures worth of lifetime entry fees.

It is fairly ridiculous that anyone is worrying about student pros beating ACBL out of a few thousand bucks a year when the stakes are so high, both in terms of future revenue streams and the ongoing health of the game. My proposal is this: figure out the marginal cost of additional players and charge students that amount. Publicize the reduced rates at colleges and bridge clubs. Set up a social networking mechanism for student players to work out room-sharing arrangements. We need to do everything we can to ensure that the next generation gets hooked on bridge, and IMO playing the big national events is the surest way to get hooked.
April 29
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Of note in this thread is that virtually all of the more vociferous opponents of drop-ins possess two characteristics:

1) They have rarely or never entered the Blue Ribbon, and

2) They purport to speak for “the people” against “the elites” without providing any evidence of what “the people” actually want.

By contrast, I believe that literally every single poster who rates to be adversely affected by a drop-in policy (unlikely to make the Soloway quarterfinals, but might qualify for the third day of the Blues) has spoken in support of the policy.
April 26
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A more general point: making events weaker to address attendance problems is a quick apparent fix which is incredibly costly in the longer term.

It is easier than ever to succeed at regionals, yet regional attendance is declining at an even faster rate than ACBL membership. Why? In large part because, IMO, the luster of regional success has been dulled by the proliferation of events. 25 years ago, there was one main event every day, and I always knew who had won it. So, as an aspiring amateur player I was excited about working to win one myself. Nowadays, there are so many KOs/Swisses/pair games going simultaneously that nobody notices anyone else's results. How are aspiring players going to get that first big thrill which converts them into lifetime ACBL members?

It is possible that a weakened Blue Ribbons will draw extra participants for a couple of years due to the ease of doing well in an ostensibly prestigious competition. Sooner or later, everybody will adjust to the new normal where the BRP is a side event, and folks will begin to lose interest.
April 21
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The argument that drop-ins are unfair to potential other qualifiers is tautological nonsense. There are many ways to qualify for the first day of the Blues (high finish in regional/national, top 100 masterpoint holder, world champion). We don't view the existence of these different qualification methods as unfair– each is valid in its own right.

Similarly, if ACBL allowed drop-ins, there would two different ways to qualify to the Blue Ribbon semifinals. Each would be valid in its own right.

I understand the policy argument against drop-ins. Many entrants prefer not to compete against the Soloway quarter-finalists– they like the idea of an easier event. Fair enough; I'd personally agree with that view for random pair games such as the Silodor. However, I'd disagree for the Blues, which cannot continue its claim to being a premier event if the field is largely devoid of premier players.
April 19
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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
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@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
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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
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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
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