Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Gordon Bower
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It's not unique to BBO.

Remember when regional KO sessions were 28 boards, and championship sessions were 32?

Of course, unlike ice cream buyers, it seemed a lot of bridge players were happy to get to the bar sooner, rather than sad to see a 16% increase in the cost per board overnight.
June 29
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I agree with Richard Willey inasmuch as I think any proposals for cameras, screen sharing, etc, are security theater.

I disagree with Andy Bowles's comment that we are talking about a “serious bridge event comparable with the Spingold.” The state of bridge security is that even WITH cameras etc etc, no event played online can be taken more seriously than perhaps a regional 2-session open pairs.

No event played from individual players' homes, with whatever software or camera devices, has any business being treated as the equal of a major championship. If it makes good vugraph, fine. But keep the record books and the prize money far, far away.

The MINIMUM acceptable level of security for that type of event is 1) a computer prevented from running any program other than the bridge software, 2) no other electronics in the room, and 3) a real live person in the room, who knows something about bridge, to enforce it.

It's a topic I have a bit of experience with outside of bridge. Let me share 3 anecdotes:

One, let me tell you how the written test for earning a US private pilot certificate is conducted: it's done in a closed room, one person per room, with a window in the walls behind and beside you so the proctor can observe you but not talk to you. You turn out your pockets before you go into the room; you are provided or allowed to bring with you a 4-function calculator, blank paper, pencil, a few other things; not a cellphone, scientific calculator, iPad, not your personal copy of a map or rulebook. It was that way before the cellphone age and it still is. Lots of “serious” tests are done that way.

Two, I work a bit with assessing whether computerized placement tests place students into the correct college classes. Some departments require proctors, some don't. The difference in precision of the resulting placements is…quite noticeable. In an unproctored environment I would estimate something between 10 and 20% of students cheat. “They are only cheating themselves and will have to retake the class if they don't pass,” the departments in question say, and don't care about proctoring. But some of them are willing to try anything that might save them from an extra semester of math they don't want to take.

Three, having worked as a consultant and private tutor on various occasions over the years… I have been approached by people looking to cheat in their classes in all kinds of ways. The honest cheats will pay you to check their work before they submit it. The dishonest cheats will take a screenshot of every question on the test, text it to you, and wait for you to text the answers back. They will pay you very well to help them. They will tell their friends which proctors look the other way and which tutors are willing to play ball. It's not quite a living but it pays WAY better than adjuncting does.

Yeah, none of that is bridge.

Do you really think all those people who cheated in school reformed the day they graduated?
Do you really think bridge players care less about their percentages than students care about their grades?
And in bridge, you aren't “just cheating yourself” on a series of questions with right and wrong answers, you are being compared against others holding the same cards.
June 27
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I moved in the opposite direction, and adopted AUC's way.

I had previously played Polish variations where 1C-1M-2C was clubs (and 2D Odwrotka or Bubwrotka, and 1C-1H-2S / 1C-1H-3C natural and strong.)

After trying AUC I switched to 1C-1H-2C strong without 3 hearts, 1C-1H-2D strong with 3 hearts (Bubwrotka rather than the very specific 6C3H shape in the AUC notes), 1C-1H-3C natural and limited when playing Polish.

You can make the 2C weakish, say 8-13, by pulling down the range of the club rebid after 1C, but all the way to 5-11 would be hard to swing, I think.
June 20
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I don't think you have to be able to give percentages, but you should certainly be able to say “either a raise to 3C, or a game-forcing two-suiter” / “either a signoff in clubs, hearts, or spades, or a game-going hand with a spade stopper”.
June 18
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Since it's a line item on the ACBL convention card, it's a rare-at-the-table sequence that gets discussed in a lot of new partnerships. In mine, the most frequently chosen meaning has been a 4333 13-15 hand (exactly 3 of opener's major.)

I have also played it as 4432 with exactly 2 of opener's major. The one thing I insist on is that it promises a precise length in opener's suit so opener can make an informed decision whether to pass or correct back to 4M.

In more regular partnerships, it's whatever it needs to be fill out the rest of a major-suit-raise package (which means that 1S-3NT often means the same as 1H-3S, if that step is artificial.)
June 14
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I am another person who usually plays a balancing NT starting at 12 (I have had partners insist on 11, but I've not had good results bidding 1N on 11, and have never done it on 10.) Given that I'd be opening all 12s, and in some partnerships all-to-almost-all 11s, that leaves no hands left where I'd want to bid a natural notrump on this sequence… so in all the partnerships where we've discussed this auction, it has been minors.
June 9
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There's an oft-repeated claim along the lines of “inexperienced players feel very uncomfortable having to deal with psyches” but in my experience, that is false: the inexperienced players learn something new about the game, internalize it, and turn around and use themselves very soon afterward. (And it often takes them a while to settle down into a more placid bidding style.)

On the other hand, players of several years' experience who are stuck at memorizing rules out of a book and are no longer continuing to advance – those are the ones who get angry about psyching and howl about it to everyone who will listen.

Some of these same people probably play casual volleyball, and feel that spiking should be banned because it's a shameless effort to catch the other team unprepared and doesn't facilitate a friendly volley back and forth. (Substitute some similar example in your head if you wish — this one comes to my mind as an example of a ploy that is a standard part of a competitive game but is beyond the reach of less-physically-fit casual folk and isn't much fun to defend against if you are in that category.)

The directors and regulators SAY they are doing it to protect the inexperienced. I think even they know they aren't – they are doing it to grease a loudly squeaking wheel – and that's a line they hope will cool off the protests of the psychers when they tell them to quit it.
May 22
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I much prefer to have 1 be FSF (whether we are playing it 1-round or game-forcing) and 2 natural. If I have the classic FSF hand - “I want to play game somewhere but I don't know which one, tell me more partner” - the LAST thing I want to do is blow an entire level of bidding and only be able to set trumps by raising partner's 3-level bid to 4.

The reverse method was fashionable recently but I never did understand why.

Full disclosure - I've always have Walsh/MAFIA tendencies. But even if playing up the line I'd want the cheap bid to be fuzzy and the expensive bid to show something very specific.
May 19
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Shortly after Sabine's 8- or 9-week feat (I forget whether she did in 8 to break an old 9-week record, or she did it in 9 and someone else in 8) the rules were changed to require 50 black points to make Life Master. “To help the clubs,” they said at the time — but really to prevent “how fast can a foreigner earn 25 silver and 275 gold?” racing.
May 4
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One of the things I really liked about adopting the Woolsey double was the ability to both play in one of overcaller's suits (via 2C/2D) or to be able to show my own 6-card major at the 2-level.

In some other conventions this isn't possible at all: playing CRASH, bids in all four suits are pass-or-correct so only overcaller's suits are available at the 2-level. (You could play all 4 suits pass-or-correct over Woolsey, but I think it'd be wrong to do so.)

In others, it's possible but it's less clear when to use it: you can bid your own suit over a DONT double, but you aren't sure that your 6-card suit is better than your partner's.
May 3
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If you play Roth-Stone-like openings, I suppose.

My experience is colored some by having spent a good portion of my life opening the large majority of my 11s. But for anyone who opens all 12s and some 11s, or who has a 12-15 rather than 11-14 range on 1c-p-p-1nt… I would regard a natural 1NT as a logical impossibility, and accuse a partner who bid it of failing to do basic arithmetic.

I would be merely surprised, not shocked, if people chose to play it as natural when one HCP's worth of the original range was still possible.
April 29
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I don't know what is typical in Chris's or Ellis's parts of the country.

The places I've lived, the local club always closes when there is a tournament nearby. Clubs within an hour's drive almost always do.

Yes, the clubs lose some money as a result. This is one of the reasons why a unit's or district's charter has something about using its income to ‘promote duplicate bridge within its geographic region’ - there's an expectation those bodies will do things (subsidize teacher development, buy advertising for lessons, etc) to help support the clubs in turn.
April 29
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Am shocked by all the votes for 1NT.

You won't like what happens when your partner corrects it to 2H. He will, of course, read your passed-hand 1NT bid as unusual, with something like 2452 shape.
April 29
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They only give a wheelbarrowful to the winner of the Gold Rush. The carload is for the tiny concurrent Flight A/X game that gets about 4 times as many as it would as a standalone game, and twice as many as a combined pair game.
April 29
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Put me down for “not interested unless the session length and the card fees are brought in line with ‘real’ regionals.”

As many others have said - that's substantially more per board or per hour than any regional in my part of the world, for an event that costs far less to run. There is supporting the league, and then there is robbing the members blind.
April 26
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At least one of the clubs I'm familiar with has chosen to run 24-board online games.

Ray seems to be the only one where the fee was cut in half, though - all the clubs where I knew the price ‘before’, it stayed exactly the same price online.
April 26
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It makes sense that 1H-1S-2S may be on 3 more often than 1m-1S-2S is, since there are fewer non-hearts in one's hand.

But on the other hand, many of us who will bid 1C-1S-2S with Kxx Kxxx x AQxxx since we can't reverse WON'T bid 1H-1S-2S with Kxx AQxxx Kxxx x - if we are 3514 or 3541 we have an easy 2m rebid.

I think it might make more sense to call 1H-1S-2S-3m “natural” in the sense of showing concentration in a 3523/3532 hand, so partner makes an informed choice among 3NT, 4H, and 4S.
April 25
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I haven't. I've played maybe two sessions of club bridge in the past year. (And suddenly I am wishing it had been none.)

These are clubs in towns I lived in several years ago, but have kept in touch with people there via sectionals/regionals and the internet.
April 25
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I was discussing both. I can't choose where my money goes in the open SYC game (and maybe that is OK - most people will want their money to go where they were playing before the closure), AND I can't choose to where my money goes by choosing which Virtual Club games to play in.

I want to be able to do the latter.
April 25
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I am in the same camp as Mike. I can understand the idea of needing permission of some kind, or a club affiliation of some kind, to play at a club. I DON'T understand the idea of restricting me from supporting more than one club, or requiring me to support the club I played at most recently.

In my case, there are 3 clubs where I have been a member in the past, and have regular partners who are still active in those clubs. Two of them I'd like to be able to support. One of them - the one I will be assigned to automatically, the one that will get my money if I play in the open-to-everyone SYC game - I do not care to support. I voted with my feet about going to their face to face games some time ago, and want my virtual feet to be able to do the same.

Is the current policy counterproductive for revenue? Yes! In my case, NONE of the three clubs is getting a dollar from me - I will only play in these games if I am choosing where my money goes. If I were allowed to donate to any club I wanted to, by playing in that club's games, I would.
April 25
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