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All comments by Doug Murphy
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Chris, you obviously read the SportAccord website, but you must have missed the page where they asked their 50+ member organizations for statements of support of this declaration. In any other circumstances, what the WBF board did in ratifying this would be normal and almost unnoticed. (And nobody would care.)

But this is different.
Oct. 9, 2015
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Interesting… the SportAccord declaration was released on April 13, 2015.

If the WBF was so supportive of the integrity declaration, why did it take almost 6 months (and everything that has happened since) for them to announce it.

And equally interesting… According to their website, SportAccord was founded by the UCI (cycling's ruling body). Not exactly the pristine example of enforcing integrity in its own sport…
Oct. 9, 2015
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There are a lot of good ideas floating around. But consider this… Significantly more than 95% of 2x/week and 3x/week golfers wouldn't be able to tell you the math behind their handicap. They just know that there's a formula, and if they get 2 shots on Tuesday because their buddy Jim is a little better than they are, they're happy with it.

Bowlers too.

And more importantly, most golf league secretaries don't even try to explain the math… Maybe we shouldn't be so hung up on theneed to explain it all.
Aug. 4, 2015
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To clarify…

This year in Omaha, we still had two sets of overlapping KOs – the first on Mon-Tue, Tue-Wed, and Wed-Thu. And after the Swiss, the Fri-Sat KO overlapped a 3-session, all-day Sat. KO.

The Thursday Swiss just substituted for one day of the KOs.
July 28, 2015
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Wish you all could have been here.

One cool thing this year was that the schedule had an open 2-session Swiss on Thursday rather than the overlapping Thursday-Friday KO. I think this made the Friday-Saturday KO fields stronger because there were no top teams finishing up the previous KO and all started anew on Friday. I liked that!

It had a side benefit for intermediate players too – if we were lucky, we were able to play a round against some of the name pros that we'd never see in the usual KO format. Two rounds, in our case. Chris Compton in particular was modest, patient, and the consummate gentleman when we played him. (I knew we were playing a pro, but I didn't realize it was him until my partner told me between rounds.)

July 28, 2015
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Gordon and Peg, thank you for coming to our regional. Let me add to Gordon's facts.

As someone who was assisting Marlene at the Omaha regional partnership desk, I can confirm that the “non-pro” 5-person team in bracket 3 of the Fri/Sat KO had at least one member who had a slip at our desk on Friday morning (and maybe more I think – but I'm not sure about that). It looks like Marlene might have made a 5-person team out of two partial teams, or that two pairs decided to be nice and play with the 5th player.

So in reality, all of the “intentional” 5-6 person teams included pros; the only exception appears to have been a last-minute arrangement.

As an aside, I played the KOs in the Omaha regional last year on an “intentional non-pro” 5-person team. One member of our usual team was going to have surgery two weeks before the regional and would be unable to play. His wife found a new partner and practiced with her for 2 or 3 months. At the last minute, Jim found out he would not need the surgery, but it wouldn't be right to just drop someone at the last minute, and so we played 5-handed.

July 27, 2015
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I missed the earlier discussion, so bear with me.

I don't see where an agreement that a 1NT opening could be unbalanced is ‘prohibited’. (Mike Flader's word.) I would agree that if an agreement exists, it has to meet the requirements of the GCC, and 1NT must be alerted, but it is definitely not ‘prohibited’.

This appears to be a case where the ‘Rulings FAQ’ quoted in the article contradicts the GCC. The ACBL GCC specifically lists under “Allowed Opening Bids” the following:

“2. FORCING 1NT OPENING BID (15+ HCPs) indicating a strong hand, balanced OR UNBALANCED.”

This is ‘specifically allowed’ according to the GCC.

I would have discussed their failure to alert the possibly-unbalanced 1NT bid with the director, however.
July 31, 2014
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Just got the BB today.

Mike Flader also suggests a nice addition to the phrasing for the classic director question, “Did your thumb slip, or might you instead have been momentarily confused about what you wanted to bid?”

In my experience, directors too often ask only the first clause of this question, and so many coffee-housers are let off the hook using the ‘mechanical’ excuse.

The portion of Appendix G that states, “…and the player corrects or attempts to correct his mistake WITHOUT PAUSE FOR THOUGHT…,” almost never seems to be enforced. A critical reading of this sentence implies only a few possible scenarios – either an immediate correction action or total obliviousness that the bid wasn't what he intended.
July 31, 2014
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What a shame.

I was one of the few who had the opportunity to kibitz at the 2012 Buffett Cup, and as an intermediate-level player, it has been one of the highlights of bridge for me. It is just so sad to hear of the 2012 cancellation, when I remember the professionalism of the players, captains, and directors – not to mention Peg and her faithful reporting.

I wish every bridge player could see what it's like to play bridge at the highest level. The Buffett Cup could have been a vehicle to that end.

Every growing sport has media exposure, and its top players are recognized by its followers. (How many million young men and women were inspired to play basketball by seeing Michael Jordan!) We will not grow and thrive until we are visible.

Many ACBL members have no clue who our national team is, or what they look like (despite photos in the ACBL magazine). Until the Buffett Cup, I was one of them. I only could have identified about 2/3 of our team – and only three of the Europeans.

Everyone involved on both sides of this issue is throwing away yet another chance to improve the image and popularity of our game. The Buffett Cup has always been an exhibition, not another international championship to rival the Bermuda Bowl.

I have waited to comment because I had hopes that things could be mediated and saved, but I guess not.
July 6, 2014
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Peter - thank you for the link. It was broken, but close enough that I was able to find the card on the eCats site. (The Buffett cup tournament site only has the front page.)
Sept. 16, 2012
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I want to quash this rumor, since I heard it several times.

I was there watching on lunch hour every day, and for the last match (after work) the first three nights.

I only saw one VG operator that I didn't recognize (or later learned who they were, e.g. Mrs. Cheek). Most I've played against in the clubs locally. The one I didn't recognize worked all four days, and while I didn't see his work, I would assume he wouldn't have volunteered for all four (and they wouldn't have let him continue) if he wasn't a serious player. I only watched at his table for one individual match on Thursday.

A couple operators were only intermediate-level players though. And here in the states we have a lot less exposure to alternate bidding systems. That may have led to an impression of the operators that then led to a rumor. But I can confirm that every operator I saw was a duplicate bridge player – at least at the local level.
Sept. 15, 2012
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It was reported in the Omaha World Herald on Friday that Mr. Buffett had the final one of his 44 chemotherapy treatments for his cancer on Thursday, without reducing his normal workday at Berkshire Hathaway.

I did not see him at the tournament, but I assume he attended some of the social events, particularly the opening dinner.

After reading the article in the paper, I understand why his presence and influence at the tournament may have been less than we might have wished.

For those overseas who might see the above comment and wonder… Berkshire Hathaway owns Borsheims Jewelry outright and has a 9% stake in Wells Fargo NA, the parent of Wells Fargo Advisory. Also, Warren is close friends with the Simon family who own Omaha Steaks. I do not know much about SCA promotions.
Sept. 15, 2012
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On Monday, the VG operators were about 6 inches from the corner of the screens. They sat on high barstools or stood, with their desks maybe 18 to 24 inches above the table, or slightly below the top of the screens.

When the screens were removed they were moved back about 3 feet from the corner of the table. I don't know why they were moved back. I do know they had to ask, “How many tricks did they claim?” more often after that.
Sept. 15, 2012
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Unless I actually saw the event in person, I would have thought the same thing. But sometimes this is how the professionals play – far above us. Often (not always) the play goes like this:

After the opening lead, they all pause to figure it out, then they play a few tricks until a defender makes the first discard, they all pause once again until any remaining doubt clears up, and then declarer claims.

I would guess maybe half the hands were played this way, and a much higher percentage of the games and slams. To me, it seemed that 1- and 2-level contracts were usually not as clear and had to be played out, probably because such contracts are often an ugly scrum for tricks.

The claim is the key, and the transcriber doesn't often hear it. I know because they were asking the players what the result was. As a kibitzer, I could hear the claim when it was by one of the players near me, but not when it was from the other side of the table.

I have had the same frustration before, but now I understand. Players at this level see things with so much more clarity than we do.
Sept. 15, 2012
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As a local Omaha player, I want to again thank both teams for gracing us with a week of amazing bridge. I just wish there were more people to appreciate your skill in person and reward you with the accolades you all deserve.

I can't imagine how hard it is to be at the top of your sport and have an audience of less than a dozen.
Sept. 13, 2012
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I re-read my comments, and they were much harsher than I intended them to be. I didn't intend to pick on one player. I know Jacobus is an excellent player by reputation and one prior observation – far better than I will be in a hundred lifetimes. And maybe part of my response was disappointment because I was expecting an “A game” from everyone and particularly those I had seen play before. It was at the end of the 3rd day, and maybe he was tired, or couldn't focus. Or maybe just mortal.

Please consider this a public apology, and I will be editing out the offending paragraph of the original post.

John, I would fit right in as one of your students, because I know I make errors on almost every hand in a session. That's why I'm kibitzing and they are playing.

Sept. 13, 2012
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FYI. The screens were used – but on Monday only when the transcribing was worse. The third (individual) event is being run even more loosely than an ACBL sectional with a ton of UI because all of the Europeans use different systems and none seem to remember what's on the common card.
Sept. 13, 2012
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Screens were in use on Monday – just not the rest of the week.
Sept. 13, 2012
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Interesting discussion… I'd like to share several other points of view – as one of the (few) kibitzers in the room. (I'm the guy watching Claudio in the picture of the Grue/Moss match from Monday.) I am just an intermediate-level player and who happens to work a few blocks from the Hilton and could kibitz over lunch hour and after work.

First, being able to kibitz this week was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am so thankful for it. Others have made the Ryder Cup analogy. For me, shadowing Claudio on Monday was like walking the course with Tiger Woods. Better, in fact, because my golf game has gone downhill with age. Claudio, if you read this, Grazie!

Second… not all of the BBO issues are the fault of the operators. And especially not their supervisor, Sue Himel, who has worked far and above the call of duty. From what I observed, the operators were trying very hard, Part of the issue is timing of the matches, and the limitations of the tournament format. The hand records are given to Sue on a flash drive only minutes before the start of a round, and she must load them onto all 6 computers before the operators start. There were cases where teams played rapidly and completed two hands before the operator started, and the poor operator was working from memory and was lucky to get contract and score. In one case Monday, all the computers decided to download Windows patches during a break and rebooted themselves. But the operators are not innocent. If you have to ask the players how to spell “Fantoni” when you could read it on his shirt just five feet away, and then ask Claudio to write both their names down because you can't hear or understand them, you shouldn't be transcribing. I'm not kidding…it actually happened! But I don't blame the operators. They were trying their best. Rather, I blame the people that selected them. Also, if the pairings for each match were distributed Sunday night, why couldn't a copy have been posted at each table to the transcriber wouldn't have to ask?

I also do not blame the commentators. I had always thought that the commentators were watching the match live, the same as the transcribers. They are not. All they see is what you do on your computer screen. When the pros play three tricks, think for 5 minutes, and then claim 7, concede 3, and return their cards to the board in an instant, it's too fast.

I found it absolutely refreshing to see the Dutch team resurrect and put a modern twist on the Blue Club that I liked 30 years ago. Tuesday, I shadowed Louk, and refreshed my memory a little bit. (Anyone else in Nebraska want to give it a go? please contact me.) (Louk, I'd love to see your system notes.)

An earlier poster commented that he/she found the different convention cards confusing. I think that far too many American players are not exposed to alternate bidding concepts, since almost everyone at even an intermediate level plays either 2/1 or American Standard. (At the Omaha regional, 76 out of the 79 pairs/teams we played against did – just 2 pairs played Precision and one the old Vanderbilt Club.)

To continue the golf analogy… We all can appreciate Tiger or Phil hitting a draw shot with an iron to intentionally hook a ball around a tree, and still keep enough backspin on it that it lands a few feet from the hole and “sticks”. Can we even imagine how to do it ourselves? No. But the golf broadcasters have the ability to communicate far better than our amateur transcribers and commentators. I believe that with the right commentators, the average bridge player could appreciate Fantunes or Meckwell the way an armchair golfer appreciates the PGA Tour.

I wish you could have seen the way Claudio made his unmakeable 6NT slam Monday evening against Sontag/Berkowitz to recover from a bidding misunderstanding. Better than Tiger's famous draw shot!

Where I believe the local Omaha organizing committee fell down was getting the support of the local bridge community as a whole. So much more could have been done. Selection of volunteers was kept within a small politically-connected circle within the Omaha bridge community. Apparently no regard was given to an understanding of the game when selecting operators– as at least one operator asked the players on Monday what the screens were for. Or computer skills, as few (none?) were touch typists.

Publicity was effectively absent. As far as I know, it went unmentioned at the ACBL Omaha regional held three miles away in August. Or posted in the local clubs. My regular partner did not even know it was happening until he saw a poster in the club last week and asked me about it. He plays several times a week in both large Omaha clubs and in the main Lincoln club. Not a hint that the Cup was coming soon, or that they wanted volunteers.

Yes, there was a formal dinner Sunday night, but who was invited?

Golf tournaments often have Pro/Ams the day before the tournament to stir up interest. Wouldn't it have been great for one or two of the pairs that arrived early to visit our local clubs, and play a session with us? I know that would have raised interest.

And perhaps the most incriminating indictment – where were the top local players? I saw none of the top 10, although Cookie Hoberman and Minna Lou Mercer (from the next 10) were involved. When the PGA comes to town, the local golf club pros are given perks so they support the tournament. Next summer, Omaha is hosting the US Senior Open in golf, and they are already promoting the outreach activities that the touring pros will do while here – clinics, etc.

Finally, I can only hope that all of the visiting pros enjoyed their stay in our city as much as this local player enjoyed watching, and that you would return to play in our ACBL Regional some year (usually late July or early August).
Sept. 13, 2012
Doug Murphy edited this comment Sept. 13, 2012

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