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All comments by Dan Wolkowitz
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Bart Bramley likes to say that people who don’t open 12-counts get very unlucky later in the auction. I wonder how lucky it is to pass a 13-count.
Aug. 22
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Read the title as a news report of a poll
July 26
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If you're confident that spades are 3-2, you might do even better by pitching on the third diamond if East follows. If you get overruffed by Tx you'll only take ten tricks, but if you pitch I think you always make 11.
April 26
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True. Upper left corner. But it's also not alertable!
March 3
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I expect partner will pull with a 6-5 hand
Oct. 10, 2018
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Jonathan,

As a former president of your club (2006-2009) I must say I'm not shocked that this has happened. We had all sorts of trouble with the club in those days. I think the normal way to get what you want at Harvard is either to have some faculty or alumni connection, donate a bunch of money, or just keep banging away until they give you what they want. This is true for academic things, housing things, you name it. It's silly and instead of doing something like “preparing you for the world” it does things like “fomenting hate for your institution.” Just keep bothering them, as silly as it is.

Two other things. First, do you still have the set of metal boards we used to have? If not, I can try to help you track them down. We had a square black box with ~16 boards in it. There was this comic http://dilbert.com/strip/1992-03-11 on the box, but it might have finally fallen off. Second, while I was there we applied for some money to buy bridge books for a bridge library, which was housed in a portion of the Lowell House Library. There are some good books there, from introductory books to a few World Championships books. Hopefully they haven't been lost or destroyed.
Sept. 26, 2018
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I think if partner can have a hand with 4-card support and 0 points and you’re immediately ~75% to make a slam, it’s probably worth a jump shift.
Sept. 13, 2018
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Why doesn't this event start on Saturday? People could try playing the Platinum Pairs day 1 and drop in without missing anything. Virtually no one who makes Day 2 of the PP wants to miss the Vanderbilt.
Sept. 11, 2018
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I personally wouldn't have splintered on this hand. Despite the fact that partner won't play you for >15 HCP, you don't have more than a 3H bid. If partner accepts game on virtually every hand with 5 hearts, then you're not going to miss many reasonable games and there are plenty of bad games you want to avoid on the hands where partner passes. And you could clearly have a much stronger hand:


QTxx
AKT9xx
AQx

is worth 3. That has a much strong trick source from the diamonds, a better third suit card, and more significantly, better trumps.
Sept. 11, 2018
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He's saying that if you give South the 8, 9, or 10 of clubs (which are the only possibilities and which West knows, considering he can see all the other spots) then there is no way for South to lose any club tricks. South cannot take a second round finesse since the 7 isn't high enough to beat the 8 or 9, and there are no more entires to dummy, so the only hope is to drop the remaining intermediate club offside.

This hand is a great example in people being afraid to write about players making mistakes. People should get over themselves. If bridge were baseball, Sportscenter would put blurry spots over centers when people dunk on them or outfielders when they drop fly balls. Now things are so crazy, we're afraid to say which commentators incorrectly guessed what the players would do!
Aug. 7, 2018
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Who cares? The only thing I dislike is if someone posts on Facebook that they made the final day of the LM pairs without specifying that it was the 0-6000 or 0-2500. That feels like an overstatement of accomplishment. Once someone is at an NABC they’re committed to playing, and if they want to play against good people, they know where to do that. In their heart of hearts, they know that points won in the VZ’s are way more valuable.
July 30, 2018
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I think he meant Kenneth Lay (Enron) but I could be wrong. I wouldn’t purport to be one of the smartest guys in the room.
July 30, 2018
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I bid 3N, planning to bid 5 over 4C, but this could be too much. Either way, you're probably not making a slam if partner bids 4. However, what if partner bids 4 over 4? Does this mean that they merely have no heart or diamond control (good) or they don't have much of anything (bad)? It's not clear whether you should bid over 4 just because they didn't bid 4. On the other hand, if you underbid bid your hand and partner bids 4, now you know they at least have a good hand with a club control, which is very likely the ace. In this case you might get too high, but you're probably ok at the 5-level. If partner doesn't have the ace, you need everything outside the diamond suit or else most things and a doubleton heart, which is hard to locate.
July 12, 2018
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David, this is also why you can never have a break even level when East has an even number of available spaces (prior to subtracting 3 cards from East and 2 from West).

Under that condition, after the subtraction, East will necessarily have an odd number of available spaces left, which cannot be exactly 2x the number of available spaces West has left. This constraint does not exist for West, since you can have an integer that is twice an odd or twice an even integer.

The whole >2x or not decision is not based on initial available spaces before tackling the suit. It's based on available spaces remaining given the assumptions that need to be made in order to have a chance to make and for it to matter choosing line 1 vs. 2.
June 12, 2018
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Kit,

The most charitable assumption for favoring the two cases of the 5-2 split is that we know no cards in either hand besides this (rather than the 2-2 spade split that we have already seen). In that case, the weight of the 5-2 split is:

13 * 12 * 11 * 10 * 9 (the possibilities of a 5-card suit)
* 13 * 12 (2-card suit)
* 7choose2 (combinations)
* 2

and the single 4-3 split is:
13 * 12 * 11 * 10
* 13 * 12 * 11
* 7choose3

after cancelling out various numbers we get:
9 * 21 * 2 vs: 11 * 35
simplifies to 9 * 3 * 2 vs. 11 * 5

so the single 4-3 seems to win by a ratio of 55:54


If instead we said that two spades were already known in each hand, then it would be:
7 * 21 * 2 vs. 9 * 35
7 * 2 vs. 3* 5

which yields a ratio of 15:14 for the single 4-3.

This means that the chance of Q9 + the chance of J9 is less than the chance of QJ9 (albeit by a very small margin)
May 22, 2018
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It depends when you decide to assess. If you look at the bids themselves, East has a suit that is a likely source of tricks and a sure entry on the side. That probably makes bidding fake worthwhile even with only 9 high. West has a little too much in the trump suit, but they have a 9-Carr sit and a ruffing value that might get used twice. As is, the hands don’t end up fitting together so you can say. It’s a lucky make, but they could have bought much better and I’d imagine that we would see many more votes to blame one or both sides.
May 13, 2018
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Nice article. Notice on page 4 that after ruffing the third round of spades high and crossing to the J, declarer can simply ruff his last spade and concede a diamond and save all that energy of counting that hand out. Also, if West had led the T from T9x there would still be a guess later in the hand after the actual diamond off dummy.
May 7, 2018
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“so I toyed with a fake minor reverse”

3m is not a reverse, it's a jump-shift. It's game forcing, so what you're saying there is that you have 17 points, no guarantee of a fit, and you want to force game because partner might have three hearts. Presumably partner would have already raised to 2 with 3 of them and a large chunk of their point range, so the hand you imagine is unlikely if even possible (what does your 1-2 auction show?)

“I also considered if I should upgrade the 17 count”

Do you open 1N with a balanced hand and a 5-card major? If so, you've already upgraded this 17-count out of 1N. Bidding 2N with 17 is an upgrade. You've seen that this hand is better than some random 17.

“…given Teams”

In general, don't upgrade twice in one bid. You're upgrading this 17 to an 18-19 balanced by bidding 2N. If you bid game with your 17-counts, then presumably you'd also bid game with 18-19, which means you need to assign a new meaning to 2N, since you're never going to have the confidence to bid it at teams, lest partner pass. As mentioned above, partner also knows it's teams. They aren't passing any 7-counts when you show 18-19. They're only passing 6 or less (I hope partner isn't pasing 1 with xx xx AJxxx T9xx)


Overall, I think you're getting lots of angry/frustrated comments because people think of bridge as a dialogue/communication/partnership where partners have a cooperative discussion. The way you're thinking about this auction would be infuriating in an established partnership because it seems like you don't trust your partner to do sane things. The reality may be that you haven't fully learned what the bids in these auctions mean.
May 2, 2018
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Nice job Zack Grossack, bidding an insufficient 2 on board 3
May 1, 2018
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I'm surprised that you say 3D is making. If West leads his singleton it looks like it's down two. Otherwise it looks like -1 unless E/W manage to never kill your club trick despite having ample time to signal.
April 30, 2018
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