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All comments by Joe Hertz
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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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I don't see this as a stated line of play. He counted tricks he was winning based upon a false assumption of the Jack dropping.

Since he thought that assumption was true, then it follows that if him playing that way wouldn't block the other tricks he says he is going to get, then it's not irrational for him to make his mistake now while the defense can still score their hearts.

So he has to play a club to the ace, and then the jack doesn't drop. Is he required to play another round of clubs when he sees his error? This is where I get hazy about what's irrational vs careless. If so, he loses that and 2 more hearts.
July 10
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I totally sympathize for your plight there. In fact, I more than think that's the primary cause of the damage – which means there's no reason to adjust the score. Your opps did nothing to warrant taking away their -200.

Any hesitation East made was due to him being rightly concerned something bad was going to happen if they kept bidding (wild guess: you pulling out the X card). So either West took advantage of “UI” that told him to bid…except that wasn't ever actually transmitted to him), or that he simply did the 2nd time what he should have done the first time. South gave away the story. East's hesitation was, if anything, in conflict with that story.

South made the correct bid the 2nd time. It was just too late to prevent West from sussing out the situation.
July 10
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 10
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Yes, once you think about it for the first time, you realize you have no dilemma. But if youre relatively new and this happens, you might not get it right (like I didn't).

I once had my partner announce(!!) my 2NT bid as 20-21 even though it was making an unusual 2NT OVERCALL(!!!) of a 1 bid she hadn't noticed.

When the opps asked me what her 3 bid meant — well, me, you and everyone reading know I'm supposed to say it is a preference to clubs, UI for my partner be damned. But my newbie self…not knowing what my ethical responsibilities were at the time, but knowing I did in fact have them… I incorrectly thought I should say “She intends it as stayman” so as not to unduly wake her up.

Wrong? Yep. Totally. But ask a newbie what they should do with a gun pointed to their head and this is the sort of stuff that happens.

Nobody teaches the novices this stuff. We all learn the rules through the time honored-method of accidentally running afoul them. These are my stories :Cue Law & Order Theme Downbeat:

But it was AFTER the experience I had there that I realized how many innocuous sounding questions are soooo potentially loaded. The “Ace from AK?” without me holding the King tells me my partner has it. Or if my partner lead it from Ax, he now “knows” I have the King…because If the declarer had the King, and he asks that question in that way, then he's done something bad.

My vocabulary of questions I ask has gradually been pared down to “Carding?” “Leads?” “Signals?” “Discards?” and the sole sacred request of, “Please Explain”.
July 10
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 10
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Re: The recorders. Yep.

My understanding is that the Units can ask to have their own recorders be appointed as Asst Recorders for the district (and that the district “Shall” appoint them as such) but that's where the primary disciplinary authority is getting moved to.

My first reaction was that it sounded like meddling with units' autonomy, but otoh, maybe that's not so horrific. If someone goes on a CDR 3.7 rampage at a Regional or Sectional, their history at both the unit and district level is worth having in the same set of files.

I'm also sure there is probably at least one unit out there that (for lack of a better description) has “Roscoe P. Coltrane, Unit Recorder” and Unit Boards/Disciplinary committees made up entirely of Boss Hoggs, and so for their members, this would be a relief operation.

But yes, this deserves its own post.
July 10
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 10
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I've had partner lead an ace from Ax when I had the king. Now they ask about our leads. I said standard just to get them to ask ace from ak or not. If they really wanted the misleading but truthful answer to the question, fine, but I didn't want to be accused of trying to push them to that bad assumption by volunteering it.

Later when I explained my dilemma, the way more experienced opps says I “should” say ace from ak or from Ax. But volunteering that all but says who has the king, which isn't a thing they can or should expect.

I then realized that if people are going to ask questions like that just to make you give up the locations of other cards, I'm just going to just give out the entire agreement the same way every time, and make them call the director if they think they were damaged by my refusal to participate in their inquisition.

I do this to a degree anyway because of my hearing loss I don't always hear the question right, so I just state my agreement, rather than say yes or no. I might be unresponsive but I will never mislead you. This has saved me during director calls more than once.
July 10
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 10
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The witness in this case is hostile, no?
July 10
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Lol. I did something like that once. I remarked that my partner and teammate who was sitting out all played the same cards. On cue, this happens

1h-3h-

And I've got a good hand and am wondering if I should move towards slam. Then it hits me. “Excuse me. Almost the same card. Alert”. We played Bergen so I knew to stop in four. Without remarking on the observation aloud, I would haven't questioned the thought
July 9
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 9
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Total agree. Saturday my partner led a queen. Might have been the power lead vs nt but the king was in the dummy.

Declarer asks, “top of sequence?”. I hate that type of question. If an opp is looking to claim MI, they give you the option to try to see through the cards and be wrong. I said, no unusual agreements. Because if I said it was a top off a sequence, with my luck, it would be an inexplicable but also standard Queen from Qx. I have to tell him our agreements. I shouldn't have to tell him who has the jack. It was probably innocent but but didn't know the guy..

And three years ago at this same regional, I got told the story of one bidder in fourth seat, holding six spades, see the bidding of (1n) 2d (2h) and asked if it was a transfer. Inexperienced opener now thinks she screwed up and says yes. The people victimized didn't know that warranted a director call. I told them when I heard this that there are no Jedi mind tricks in bridge
July 9
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 9
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Open pairs are the truth and the way…for pairs. I've just never truly gotten Zen with match point strategy as a yard stick. 90 vs 100 vs 110 can be a wonderfully hard problem to have to solve, but it's not the one I want to use to measure any bridge player with, starting with myself
July 9
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 9
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I had a case in the nlm Room at an nabc where they combined the <50 and <300 games. A rank novice pair opened one nt and I had 19 with six clubs to the akq. Passed around to me, I doubled. opener bid 2d was raised to 3 and I doubled again with aqx of diamonds and played there. I won the club lead, and my second club is ruffed by the nt opener.

After I put my eyeballs back into my sockets I asked about their 1nt agreement. 15-17. What shape? Any shape. Even with a stiff or void? Yes. I ask opener if he agreed with that explanation of their agreement. He confirms it

I call for the director. I have clearly been damaged by an illegal agreement. but he won't give me an average plus as he doesn't believe that could have been discussed by the opps prior even as they told me they played that because they are novices. The director points out I can't make 4c, so he offers to Solomonically take away my double but won't let me defend as if i passed the 1nt bid instead.

Somehow in this, I wind up being regarded as the jerk who wants to take advantage of their inexperience for an infraction nobody believes they really made, resulting in them continuing to play their illegal agreement. I'm in the i/n room too and I don't want that favor being done for me. If you don't teach us the rules, we won't ever learn them. I said it then and I still say it now.
July 9
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Total agreement. I don't think pass is reasonable either, but I'm trying to understand what South was thinking. 3 isn't an invite, right? So he wanted the auction to end there… And if he got his wish, he still gets the 200 he just got so there would have been no damage.

N/S apparently wants West to bid once and only once. None and Twice are unacceptable because they only result in a score of +200. “Option: None” doesn't save him from his own initial blunder and and “Option: twice” is a problem because he failed to double.

I want to know why South failed to bid 4 the first time. Without evidence to the contrary, limping in with 3, then bidding 4 looks like someone who realized his own error and failed in his attempt to fix it.
July 8
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 8
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The whole adjustment question presumes that the BIT implies East was thinking about bidding, implying that west bidding would be more successful than passing.

And here said hesitation was soooo concerning to South that instead of taking action and bidding a lawful 4 hearts at favorable vulnerability immediately or later doubling the 5 rebid (thus obtaining a better result better than 4 making would have been) he decided to limp in with a non-invitational 3 bid which, if that had been passed out (like a 3 bidder would presumably be hoping for), then his side gets that same 200 they got anyway…but no… that's no longer enough? And… instead… he… how can I put this? HE. WANTS. AN. ADJUSTMENT?

Why? Because East hesitated and so we clearly have no other choice but to fire up “Old Sparky”

I hope the committee keeps the deposit and goes drinking with it.
July 8
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 8
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When a NLM, I was routinely that guy who pissed off people in low brackets. “You guys have so many more points than we do!?” (which wasn't really true. It just felt that way). I was like “You can't go any lower than the bottom bracket”.

In some ways I miss that that time of my bridge career because it was probably the only time in my life that I had opps that would routinely say stuff like, “Oh no, we're in trouble” when we showed up.

I still laugh about my first KO event ever, a compact in NYC 2004. I was there with Eddie Timanus, who was the blind guy who went on Jeopardy! and became famous for being a five time champion before Jennings or this Holzhauer guy.

We figured we'd have no problems at the partnership desk. Yeah, we only had 20 pts apiece, but if you were gonna take a chance on novices, wouldn't you pick Eddie? He was a celebrity. And got that celebrity status for being provably smart. There was an article about us (mostly him) in the November 2002 bulletin. Surely we had a chance to defy the default perceptions, right? Did it work?

Heck no.

“Oh I want to play in the top bracket”. “Oh, I need to ask my partner”. We were getting pissed off at the snobbery. We finally found two guys who had 500 and 1000 points respectively who thankfully didn't care about points and so we got to play in bracket N minus 1 which was actually up for us. This was where we would begin to realize that for the first time that playing “up” was actually a better experience. Yeah it wasn't a high bracket at all, but it wasn't rank novice bridge either. Our opponents for once didn't need every little thing explained to them and weren't as glacial as the people we typically faced in our regular club's 199er game.

So yeah, we were mad and motivated. We wanted to decapitate some life masters. Ideally same the people who poo-pooed us. We made it to the finals of that bracket. So after every round, would would win and pointedly told the opps “We only have 20 points!” and of course they were like, “But you're good!”.

We lost in the last round because of a board that made 6 but our teammates were in 6 while the opps at our table stopped in 3N. They told us that one of their people just made LifeMaster because of the first overall gold points, so we shouldn't think nothing good came of the experience – and so we cheerfully replied, “Oh we don't feel bad at all! We only have 20 pts. This was our first gold”. “Really?! But you guys are good!”

Little did I know what a theme I'd be in for or the next mumble years.

So to a degree I agree with pissed off folks in bracket-n to a point about the issue. I would have loved to play in a higher bracket and not play against them either…but I didn't know the people who played in those higher brackets to team with them, and when I finally did get to do that, I typically pulled them down a bracket (when there was more than one of the people like me, it was more than one bracket). It still happens today.

Will I win in bracket one? Heck no. But there's no option to ask to be rated as if I had a certain number more points than I do. It's either bracket one, or live where I am now.

I ain't happy about playing against palookas. The palookas aren't happy about having to play against me.
July 8
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 9
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The cause and effect may be backwards here. There are good B and C flight players. They just play up and you never knew they were B or C. When I was on the GNT-C squad for my district, the most frequent comment we got from people when they read about it was, “How can none of you be lifemasters!?!?!”. And not all of the teams were all that at the national level. In the round of 16 (8vs9), we had the other team use their seeding rights in the first quarter after hearing the explanation of what the “Walsh Style” part on our card's “general approach” box meant.

But I'll be honest, every now and then I'll get curious, and so I'll offer myself up as a guaranteed partner or something in bracketed B event (and I'm only now closing in on 1000 pts so it winds up being a low bracket even for B), or offer ourselves up to fix a half pair problem in the B pairs game with my usual partner…you know just to see what it's like there.

And invariably I want to run screaming back to the relative sanity of A/X games.

Ex: I'm playing at the Reston Virginia Regional right now.

Twice this week I've seen Aces underlead in suit contracts. Once it worked against us because we didn't think they'd do that.

But in bracket 4 of 5 of a KO (3 people with less than 1K that play A/X by choice, and one because she's in that point category), my partner got suckered declaring 3NT with the only heart stopper being the Kxx in the dummy.

He ducked and the Jack was lead. Oh well, he's likely dead…but not the way you think he is.

Then he ducked again hoping the ace pops out, but nope…

At trick three, THEN the Ace was lead. And then two more hearts. I've done stuff like that but never off the opening lead. And I certainly didn't expect to see it happen for the first time in bracket 4. For plowing through an otherwise impenetrable wall, I'm calling that the “Hey, Kool Aid!” maneuver.

THAT team was actually good. We all exchanged contact information.
July 6
Joe Hertz edited this comment July 6
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Free plays to hang out in bracket 1? Sign me up!
July 4
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