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All comments by Joe Hertz
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The short answer is, you pretend you never heard the mistaken explanation or alert where there shouldn't have been one (or even lack of an alert where there should have been one) and do what you would in that situation. If doing that gives UI to partner, too bad. Now partner has to ignore the UI too.

The point is that UI is almost never the actual problem. It's what you do with the UI that becomes a problem. Heck, you get UI all the time (inferences from the question partner asked the opps, or inferences from the fact partner didn't ask any question of the opps). UI is always there.

But I've had precisely this problem happen, with a Flannery 2 opener, and got rewarded for doing the right thing.

I made my Ogust bid showing a weak hand and a good suit), partner bid 4. We were in a 6-5 diamond fit and a 5-2 heart fit. Both suits behaved, and both 4 and 5 were making on the nose.

But we got to be the only one in 4, so it was a cold top.

Every bid was alerted correctly. The only UI I had was that P thought it was Flannery (and probably thought my 3 rebid was a conventional response showing 3 diamonds and one club). P never had any UI. If they had asked me what his 2NT bid meant, I might have just said, “He wants more information about my hand”, because that's accurate for 2NT responses to Flannery and a weak 2/Ogust inquiry. But that's the only concession I might have made to the “not waking up partner” issue.

Before the opening lead, I explained that we don't play Flannery. Unless that knowledge would have made a difference to the opps somehow at the time it was explained (and it didn't), the top score was ours to keep.
Aug. 4
Joe Hertz edited this comment Aug. 4
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Did that pre-date the Red Ribbon pairs? Coming in 2nd in the 0-300 strat of a Gold Rush pairs event and getting a RRQ is probably the most modern equivalent to that.

I was appalled to find out that I got a BRQ for a bracket-4 2 session B-swiss event.
Aug. 4
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Heh I'm far happier to get cycles per second references than car rental ones.
Aug. 4
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Henry writes:

“In re: the negative inference from the failure to use an illegal convention, I seriously doubt that this could be quantified without some way, electronically, of checking the auctions of every pair. So (to use the illegal 2♦ opening bid), it could then be possible to identify which boards were opened 2M with a narrower range and in that case a case could be made the negative inference through non-use of the illegal convention conferred an advantage to the users.”

No argument. You practically cannot ever quantify it. So stipulated.

So why should the offenders get any benefit simply because we can't do so? We have zippo obligation to try and put humpty dumpty back together, but even if it was possible, they are the ones who broke the gorram egg.

This problem is entirely the manufacture of any offending pair, so it's only fair to give give all of the king's men and horses the night off.

Making a problem too difficult to solve is no basis for absolution of it.

That being said, if it turns out it's easy to show said data and the illegal agreement obviously caused no damage (ex: it was discovered on bid one on the first board played), then fine, we can handle it differently, but any hint of there even being a question? Too freaking bad.
Aug. 4
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Kit is right.

And admit it, we all knew reading this what the hesitator had before opener went slamming, right? Invites after flannery aren't hard. He at *least* had a game forcer.

What I tell my partners is that if you are going to hesitate, come out with a forcing bid or a bid that is to play.

If they really want to say that the UI didn't necessarily imply bidding would be successful, and so they can't adjust the score, I don't think I could disprove that either (like I said, a poll is required), but at the very least, if they knew it was UI, then they also know it was taken advantage of and the procedural penalty button should be pressed really freaking hard.
Aug. 2
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I'm kind of surprised that the Avg+/Avg- worst-case/best-case scenario isn't the default ruling. I've seen that applied in the early 2000's once when someone tried to wheel out a Multi 2 opener in a Flight B event at an NABC (and then penalized for not having the written defense! Oof).

Alan, there's one problem with your position.

Let's say someone is playing an illegal gadget. Say for lulz sake that it's Multi-2. If it gets opened, the director is called and yeah something can be done about it. Want to argue this pair wasn't damaged for whatever reason…sure, for the sake of argument, let's entertain that notion. That's not the issue. I think we agree on how to handle this case.

But what about the other boards they played where they got to use their 2 and 2 openers that showed other types of hands (say an intermediate opener)? Even if the 2 and 2 bids were otherwise legal, the only way they had room for them on the card was because the illegal agreement for 2 had facilitated their presence. Unless they could make a really good argument about how they could play both weak and intermediate openers without the use of an illegal agreement and that every other board they played would not have been impacted by THAT change (hah!), then they clearly had gained an unfair advantage simply by having the illegal agreement at all. It's not enough to say, “Well this was the first hand that it came up” because it very likely wasn't the first hand that it *mattered*.

I think Barry Rogoff's director handled it right. Mistakes happen but an illegal agreement is another matter. It means you've potentially got an advantage nobody else was allowed to avail themselves of. You can't be allowed to succeed at an event while playing illegal agreements. Compete according to the conditions of contest or gtfo.
Aug. 2
Joe Hertz edited this comment Aug. 2
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I've fumbled with a singleton, but I keep my cards face down if I can. So early in a hand, any given card is one I probably have to go looking for.

But again, most of the people who've thought I've hitched, didn't pay attention until that very moment (or thought I owed them an “honest tell” like Bart Bramley described).
July 31
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Mr. Gordon-

I wish it was Zero Tolerance. I personally have never seen at ZT penalty enforced at a regional or national event, despite many cases where I thought they should have been.

Probably the best example I can recall is this one (which I'm sure you can find in your files since the player memo was filed at an NABC).

New Orleans NABC 2010, during a KO after an opp said “Oh you are a complete idiot!” to me after I called the director due to the 3rd time said opp had tried to claim by facing his hand without stating a line of play (this time on defense!). My response was, “And now we have a Zero Tolerance issue for the director to address as well”.

The director told him that his exclamation was “unhelpful”. The opp “apologized” by saying, “I'm sorry…You're not a…*complete*… idiot”. The qualifier wasn't missed by anyone.

No ZT was applied (fortunately not necessary as we stormed back from 20+ imps down to win that KO round – for some reason I play better when I'm righteously indignant).

I filed a player memo before I went home, but I didn't know the culprit's name – Just his partner's. The TD who got me the player memo (I can name him if you want, alas, I didn't get the first one's name) said that was fine and that your office deals with that all of the time. The delay though resulted in your office not being able to find him though, and even the fact I filled out the player memo in pencil was blamed to a degree (sorry, that's what they had in the playing venue).

I later googled the guy. He's no longer alive, but had at one point appealed to his unit board upon his behalf as well as “all of the other bridge players” who have “been unfairly banned” from local club games. His unit told him what any unit board would: We have no authority over club games.

So yeah, I think an opportunity got missed a few times alone here.


Heck, just this month in Reston VA, I had the auction go 1N (P) P (2S) and then an unsolicited explanation of “Spades and a minor” on my right.

I asked RHO to only alert these bids and not explain unless we inquire. He asked if I was going to call the director, and I said I didn't think that was necessary. His response, “Then you should keep your comments to yourself”.

My partner called the director. No ZT. I'd have smacked one of my 199ers with one for this, but apparently that isn't how we do things in Bracket B-2 of Regional Sunday Swiss. I guess it wasn't clear if the comment was an attempt to abuse or intimidate, and that constituted some sort of doubt about the issue? At least the director told him I was right about the alert regs.

Not for nothing, LHO had to correct that explanation as in 4th seat the agreement was natural.


The closest I've ever come to seeing a ZT violation in a non-club game was when someone complained to the director that they thought I was being rough on my partner (I was the guaranteed partner in a sectional swiss). I thought the assessment was nuts but I told the TD I'd check with my partner and apologize to her if necessary (I officially was given a warning).

I asked her if I was being hard on her

"No, why?

So I told her what transpired and she spontaneously hugged me she felt so bad about it (again, I'm the GP. We'd not known one-another's names 2 hours earlier). We've played together 4 times since. I went to the recorder over that because I felt that the only thing worse than a ZT violation is a bogus ZT complaint.
July 30
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 30
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This was my longer response. The shorter one was above. :P
July 30
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At the Washington DC Nationals that same year I found myself playing in the 0-2500(??) Pairs because I was too late to get into the LM-5000(???) pairs. Traffic was awful that particular day. The event we wanted didn't have a half table, but the other one did, and so they were willing to accommodate us. We were legitimately too late, and took what we could get.

If this is the sort of thing that happened, it's unfortunate, but I get it. Is it that sort of thing?
July 30
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Meh. Context Matters.

Were they under-credited with seeding points?
What were the point totals of their teammates?
Who were in those other two brackets above you all?
Were they a sponsor of said world championship team or a hired gun?

The day after I made Life Master, I found myself in bracket two, competing against someone who had just been bounced out of the GNT Open flight during the semi-finals (playing with a client I gathered). My partner was someone who made LifeMaster a year before. It was our pickup teammates that had the points.

We won that round.

I'm totally okay with this when it happens to me.
July 29
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Golf on TV is boring. Yet…

Seriously. They'll like it when they play it.
July 29
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These days, everyone knows who the political references are being made about when Eugene chimes in to say this. If only said reference played bridge.
July 29
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 29
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I almost wrote a longer response about that Alan.

I have a tinnitus that makes a harmonic noise (something very close to the background noise on the bridge of the original Star Trek is what I hear all the time), so I'm always playing in tempo. Just it's *that* tempo. And I have a drummer's sense of rhythm anyway.

I figured you cannot always play at max speed, so you shouldn't ever try. Doing so would give away data on that trick, or by inference on the tricks where you clearly did not (and have demonstrated that it happens at least some of the time).

I try to time it so every trick is played in the same tempo on the hand, whatever that tempo is (MY tempo, not anyone else's). I even try to do it in the same motion on each trick.

I will also keep my cards below the table too because I'm not very tall. This makes me, at a minimum, need to look to find the card I want to play, even if I knew what card that was ahead of time. So I can never play instantly. This time to find the card could be used to decide which card I wanted to play as well – I do this in part to deny ANY data at all to anyone at the table. Did I just need to find the card? Was I thinking as I was going through the hand to look for it? I figure that if nobody can tell anything about this, then I've done it right.

And because of my drummer's sense of timing, it's all very consistent within a hand.

But you wouldn't believe how many people think I've hesitated because I didn't play it in the tempo THEY thought was “in-tempo”. Or rather, they weren't paying attention to how I played my earlier tricks. I'd wager my variance in the time it takes me to play one card to the time it takes me to play the next is in the bottom 1% of bridge players. I'm that regular. I probably would have problems in playing out of tempo even if I actively tried to do so.

So I'm like the last person anyone should think played out of tempo, yet it happens to me.

That being said, yeah, people throw their cards sometimes. So what? To me, it's not an “obvious attempt to deceive”. Did the opp really think that people purposely go out of their way to tell you if it was their last card of the suit?!?! If anything, that's an obvious attempt to avoid giving that data away. It's been done to me dozens, if not hundreds, of times and I've never complained about it.

It's like how it's okay for them to play fast IF they have the card you are trying to finesse (trying to look someone who didn't have it). It's just not okay to play slow (as if you do have it) when you actually don't.
July 29
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 29
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“…did in at an inappropriate time in an inappropriate manner.”

Which I'd submit makes calling the director about it a legitimate response, at which time the opp needs to either deliver his complaint to the TD or apologize. This sort of comment is up there with, “Well I should call the director about this irregularity, but I'm not (because I'm a nice guy, see!)…”.

Personally, I've gone so far as to ask an opp what they were thinking about at a particular trick, with the intent of calling the director if they said “nothing” (but being totally cool with a response of “which card to play”).

But going there with a casual aside, with the opps still at the table? That would be unthinkable to me.
July 29
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Regardless of how people feel about this event, things you find questionable but can't tell for sure are precisely what recorder forms are for. The recorder gets to see if this is part of a pattern by virtue of him being the recipient of said recorder forms. Recorders exist to resolve those questions that arise.

I'm curious though how the national recorder (who would have jurisdiction here) can determine if this is a pattern without asking the recorders on the offender's district and unit level for input.
July 28
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I'm curious about one thing. IF it were to be banned, what would be the basis for banning it?

Sure, that 1 opener could be defined better, but it seems to be compliant with the rules.

If you want to make new rules to require even more disclosure, go for it. That would be splendid.

Maybe a requirement for all entrants into NABC+ events have entries in a searchable online database of their system notes, and freeze them at least 72 hrs before the event. This lets every participant familiarize themselves with what they will see ahead of time. Now just put Google Ads on it and the Meckstroth/Rodwell page alone would make it so we could have NABCs in Hawaii all the time without raising entry fees.

Yes, I'm joking…but I more than understand the desire to respond to Mr. Gordon's inquiry with an open letter on BW. If you're going to question the legality of a system I play with banning it getting mentioned as a possible outcome, I'd sure want the planet to be able to watch that process in real time. It's the bridge equivalent of live-streaming a traffic stop.
July 26
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 26
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Yes, but it would still show up statistically as an outlier.

I'd imagine a statistical analysis of Helen Sobel's ability to find missing Queens could get her flagged by such an algorithm (She'd hike her skirt up. The man with the queen would intently look at his hand, the man without would look at her legs). I wouldn't call it cheating but I wouldn't exactly call it passive observation either.

I suppose two telepaths playing together might constitute an illegality as they are using information that wouldn't be available to their opponents but you'd never know what they were doing. Just that the data would say they had some edge.

My point is that if some bridge player comes along who is 10 times better than the best bridge player that ever lived, relying on the raw dataset alone would be more likely to have him expelled than put into the hall of fame. So as was stated above, the suspicious data alone isn't what you use to convict them. It's what you use to decide they need to be watched. And it might be what need to be able to explain.

The data alone is grounds for the warrant. Not the conviction.
July 19
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 19
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I agree Randy. For all you know your masterpoints will be declared forfeit tomorrow or that the Spingold will be moved up a day. Why believe anything the ACBL says, right? The well-being of children whose parents plan to spend money at your event (and are gun-shy after the last time) would never ever make anyone doubly certain about how they go forward, so why bother hoping for anything different. We should know how this story ends.

I mean, everyone just sucks– and our lives would be far easier if we would just admit that. Hell, did you know there are actually some soulless club owners out there that don't want to learn CPR for fear of liability issues coming up if a player happens to go into distress? They'd just call 911 and hope for the best and everything else they think isn't their problem. They value their money over others well-being! This view is totally consistent with that too – I mean, it's nothing but heathens out there!

Seriously man, if you're not going to see the point or even address it when (or if?) you do, why should anyone else bother? At the point that becomes clear, the best we can do is to have fun seeing how adeptly we can talk around you.
July 15
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 15
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True that, Ed. Although I've had people reply to me when I asked that one with, “Standard”.

(In this case, he misheard and there was a language problem, but he also seemed to think he was entitled to know what the question I had was if it wasn't about his carding).
July 12

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