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All comments by Joe Hertz
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Awesome work.
Aug. 10, 2015
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I know this is beating a dead horse, but it's not even about proper UPS setups or “drive corruption”.

Nobody should blame the ACBL for not being a very good web-hosting provider. It's not a skill anyone should expect them to have. Much of it sounds simple, but 99.9% uptime takes an awful lot of work. The ACBL runs a non profit organization that runs duplicate bridge events. Not server farms.

GoDaddy? DreamHost? RackSpace? I'll blame them mercilessly when they go down. This is their core competency. They exist to be hired by companies like the ACBL. FAIK it would get a sweet deal from these companies via tax status,.

The ACBL running it's own webhosts only furthers the perception that there is a not-invented-here issue in Horn Lake. It shouldn't try. Every time I hear about “our servers going down” or “suffering a glitch”, I face-palm…not at the problem, but that the problem is being filed under “stuff happens”.

No, it doesn't. Or it shouldn't. Really.

Don't complain about the servers having an issue. Ask why people in Horn Lake are trying to wrangle the web servers in the first place.
Aug. 10, 2015
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I know of at least one person who checks the box for “4” as the minimum expected length for a 1 opener even though he does *not* play a short club opener. His reasoning is that the 4432 hand that opens 1 is a <3% occurrence, and the wording on the box is “expected”, not “promised”.

This makes sense to me, but I'm fairly certain that it's not how the majority fills out their cc's.
Aug. 8, 2015
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George Retek was President and had a high level WBF Position, 13 years ago or so. No outcry then.
Aug. 8, 2015
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I'd so play in your club, John. I suspect that people would either drive quite a ways to play…or avoid it.
Aug. 7, 2015
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I've heard of similar stories. 1NT (2) 2

Then 4th seat turns to the inexperienced 1NT bidder and asks if 2 is a transfer. 1NT bidder says, “Oh, I think youre right!”

4th seat was holding 8 spades, and pulled off a Jedi mind trick coup.

Aug. 6, 2015
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“I think your opponent was entitled to advanced warning so he would know whether he was playing his strong ♣ defense.“

I don't believe precision (with its strong club opening) requires a pre-alert, so I doubt this to be the case…but in this instance, we were playing Fantunes, which has transfer responses to a 1 opening and that treatment most *definitely* requires a pre-alert, which we gave.

If ”We play transfer responses to our 1 opening" isn't a clue you should ask questions about what 1 shows before you start bidding to avoid confusion on exactly this sort of issue, then I don't know what is..

But even if he didn't ask then, the way this opp handled it was totally out of bounds.
Aug. 4, 2015
Joe Hertz edited this comment Aug. 4, 2015
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The TD said, “The players in this room are not equipped to handle bidding tactics like that” which isn't so much a legal ruling as an ad-hoc statement of policy.

I actually was hoping he *would* get ruled against so we could take it to a committee. Most of my list of worst director rulings I've experienced (even to this day) happened at NABC's when I played in the NLM room (often in the name of “trying to be nice” which actually was doing the people no favors at all). I wanted to make a point of the newbies deserving better than to get bad antecdotal data from directors about how to play the game.
Aug. 4, 2015
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It was the winning of Platinum points within his first 20 and winding up on a Flight B District GNT Squad before making LM that I was trying to make sound impressive :-)
Aug. 4, 2015
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Hamish -

I'm sure that could be true when the rules don't concern themselves with ethics, but bridge rules try to do that (even if organizations like the ACBL don't do a good job of explaining what those rules actually are to the new player).

Thats why I make the distinction of needing to know it is unethical when you do it. For most bridge players, they only find out what UI is when they took advantage of it the first time and found out they werent supposed to do so. An example of that is hearing partner mis-explain your 4 bid as control showing when you meant it as Gerber, and bidding the slam anyway despite the response, if gerber, telling you to stay out of it. If you knew the rule about your obligations with regard to UI and chose to do it anyway, you should get hit with some sort of sanction. What else would one call intentionally not following the rules?

What would you give as a bridge example of “Unethical but within the rules”?

Aug. 4, 2015
Joe Hertz edited this comment Aug. 4, 2015
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Yeah, I saw that possibility too, but the opp he did it to happened to be NLM of the year in our unit. I would argue that if any NLM could handle it, it was her. Afterwards, her reaction was, “Yknow…I'm going to have to start doing that!!!”. It really was the only way to stop the cold slam.
Aug. 4, 2015
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At the 2009 DC NABC, in a Swiss in the NLM room, there was an auction that went

P - P - 1 - X
P - 1N - P - 3NT

Was cold for 6. The 1 opener (a teen named Emmons) had 4 spades and 0 HCP. The doubler had a balanced 26 count.

The opps called the director, who said, “I need to think about it”. There wasn't anything to think about though. He wanted the psycher to sweat it out. The ruling was “Result stands but the player is warned to take his psyches somewhere besides the NLM room”.

Mind you that Emmons only had about 20 master points at that point but some of them were platinum for winning part of a round in the Spingold that week – and would eventually go on to win the National NLM Pairs and while at college the next year, wind up on a Flight B GNT Squad…all before making LifeMaster.
Aug. 3, 2015
Joe Hertz edited this comment Aug. 4, 2015
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I don't know if it's strictly “cheating” but I really think there is a special place in hell for people who take advantage of people's desire to be good sports.

Examples I've encountered-

1) Looks Like Novices but they're not: At an NABC BCD BAM event, opponents keeping score on the back of a No-Fat card…then having them open a weak NT, asking to see their convention card, only to find out they didn't have one filled out. Wonder how much slack people had been giving them.

2) This time in an open game against obvious Flight A caliber opps (playing a canape system).

Opponent asks us our signals.
Upside Down P tells them.
“So what is that card?” (pointing to the face up card I had just placed in front of me).
Partner says, “It's a 4”.
“Is it encouraging or discouraging?”
“If he has the 2 or the 3, it is discouraging. If he does not, it is encouraging”.
“You arent answering my question”
At this point I pipe up, “Because youre not entitled to any more of an answer to that question. You do know that don't you?”

3) But wait there's more.

In that same round with the Opp who would later ask about Puppet Stayman:

Partner and I wind up in an auction that's headed for 6 with the opponents initially overcalling in . Partner winds up making a Spade bid of his own (a western Cue).

The eventual puppet stayman inquirer asks, “What kind of hand can he have for that bid?”.

After the end of the session with the context of that opp intentionally trying to give UI to their partner, I realized how much of a piece of work that opp was.

I was lucky. I knew the response to that question was just to explain what ALL of my P's bids meant and say, “That's what he should have so far. I do not know why he is asking about a stopper. Presumably because he thinks knowing if I do might help him”…

But say I tried to be nice, just because…well, I try to be nice. I think most people try to be nice.

Say I answered he question with some example hands and turned out to be incorrect (good chance I would be as I'm not a mind reader).

Then not ONLY have I given my P Unauthorized Information, I've given my Opp Misinformation. And I'd know a director call would come. It's a total catch-22 that people who want to fully disclose like the ethics guidelines suggest, and don't want to feel like a jerk, can screw themselves over.

Sure enough on that CC check I made later, I found that I not only played Puppet, but the WQ bid too with that very same opponent (and now former partner – I did not tell them why though).
Aug. 3, 2015
Joe Hertz edited this comment Aug. 3, 2015
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The line I think you are pointing out is obvious cheating vs not-so-obvious cheating.

You could know nothing about bridge, but you'd know stacking the deck would be cheating. As would be coughing to get signals across to your partner.

But it would require a bit of knowledge of bridge to know that you arent supposed to hesitate without a good reason (Poker is all about doing that stuff). Or that Asking questions solely for partner's benefit isn't kosher.

The only way unethical behavior isn't cheating is when didn't know it was unethical. It's against the rules, but in some games the tactic is proper…say like arranged draws in Magic The Gathering.

But if you do something unethical and *know* it's unethical when you do it? Totally cheating.

Yes, there may be a gray area between honest mistake as to what is legal or not – but we're assuming omniscience here on the part of the judge in this discussion.
Aug. 3, 2015
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The problem with the Puppet Stayman questions were that the questioner knew *exactly* what what the bids were.

It's fine to ask for an explanation for the purpose of finding out what we are doing. What is NOT fine us to ask for an explanation for the purpose of getting your partner informed. This is why it is a rules violation to ask questions about a bid where you already know the answer.

“Puppet Stayman” was an acceptable answer for the person who asked. That person knew what Puppet Stayman was. The problem was that person didn't know uf partner knew what it was, so he/she clarified the answer they received, “Asking about a 4 or 5 card major?”

And if that wasn't enough proof that's what they were doing, before the questioner's partner put his card face down to lead, the questioner then explained OUR OTHER ALERTED BIDS TO HIM. He has to ask those questions himself if he wants to know the answer.

The Fantunes problem isn't unique to fantunes. It's like Jeff Lehman's NT example. The guy on my left wanted to use his strong club defense (I believe the bids showed shortness now that I think about it), but apparently was worried his P would take it as a natural overcall, so he was *desperately* trying to get *us* to clarify the situation for them.

At best, these are very improper things to do.
Aug. 3, 2015
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I've gone up against two things that I should have called the director on. In both cases, I had an opp intentionally try to create AI for partner via prohibited means, even if not coughing, cold deck insertion or horribly egregious stuff. I wonder how often it does happen though.

1) With someone I had partnered with a few times sitting LHO. RHO was a NLM and first time partner for LHO.

Opps passed throughout

P opens 2NT

I bid 3C (properly alerted in those days).LHO inquires. P says “Puppet Stayman”. LHO says, “Asking about a 4 or 5 card major?” P says,“Yes”.

I bid 3. Alert. No Inquiry.
P bids 3. Alert. No Inquiry.
I bids 3NT.

Then before RHO is on lead, LHO says, referring to each of us, “He (Me) has Spades. He (P) has Hearts”.

Sure enough, later on when I found my old CC with the LHO, we played Puppet too. Obvious intent of the question by LHO wasn't for their LHO's benefit, but for RHO's.


2)

I open a Fantunes 1 opener. P alerts it.
LHO inquires, P explains it as “15+ balanced or 14+ with 's”
LHO: “So it's strong?”
:I think to myself “wtf?”:
P again explains it as 15+ balanced or 14+ with 's
LHO: But is that strong?
P: I guess you could all it that.

LHO Bids something, RHO alerts it as Mathe or something. Clearly the “Is it strong?” was an attempt to clarify if their strong club defense was on.

Upshot: I will refuse to characterize any bid ever.
Aug. 3, 2015
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They apparently play a weak NT opener. 1NT rebid is 15-17, per the post. Least as of now…
July 31, 2015
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I think what we've discovered in this thread is that regardless of what the standards of ethical behavior are, they need to be applied universally. Like Sylvia says, arranged draws in M:TG are common. I once saw someone refuse an arranged draw very late in the going, simply because “he didn't believe in them” and shocked the field (and all of the people dependent on the results of the match and the ripples thereof). Bridge people would never do that. MTG people do. To each their own code of ethics.

Some though are clearly better than others.

Didn't we all laugh at the Olympic Badminton scandal where contestants were intentionally dumping to improve their position in the KO rounds? I know I thought at the time, “Just give the top 4 spots their choice of opponents from 8-16 like we do in bridge! Then nobody gains from dumping!”.

Sometimes though this happens in bridge even without thought being donated to the matter.

Ever gone 6-0 in 2 session round-robin swiss, guaranteeing first place with a round to go? How well do you play in that last round? Whose fault is it if your brain refuses to respond now that the pressure's off? Your actions…or inaction will impact other teams. You are now an agent of chaos if youre not careful. Is this a problem? And if so, whose fault is it: yours or the computer that assigned you the opponents in that particular order?

July 30, 2015
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Thank you, I went through nearly the exact same thought process. I hate 2, but passing it was not an option.
July 25, 2015
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Having already played 2/1, I was *very* disappointed with that book. There are some gotchas that it doesn't cover. Makes it an easy read though.

It's dry but the best book on the subject imho is Max Hardy's "Standard Bidding for the 21st century
July 23, 2015
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