Join Bridge Winners
All comments by John Miller
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I'm coming late to this, but can we not just appreciate these young people for who they are … talented bridge players who share our enthusiasm for the game? Let's focus on that, which unites us, rather than bean-counting external characteristics over which we have no control as a means of division.

I had no end of laughs with my kids over the 3 winning the first trick in 7Nx. We couldn't have cared less what the nationality, ethnicity, or gender of the players was. None of that matters to what makes this game the passion that gives us joy and breaks our hearts.
Aug. 10, 2018
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Actually it makes boards equal weight … the overtrick in 1N matters just as much as the six-level competitive decision.

I made the suggestion tongue-in-cheek, but the more I think about it the more I like it. Statistically, it is not much less random than an eight-board match. We want to create viewer excitement. Everyone gets to go home early (unless there is a string of tied boards). Besides, it would be fun to walk in on board 2 being bid and say “Shut it down, xxx won on the first board.”
Aug. 9, 2018
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Maybe we could increase excitement about overtimes by making them sudden death, like hockey or football. Compare after each board, and the first team to win a board wins. If you tell me it's arbitrary, I'll reply it's no more arbitrary than playing eight boards.
Aug. 9, 2018
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But this is not unique to bridge. Warriors beat the Cavaliers 4-0 and everyone thinks they “should” have won, notwithstanding J.R. Smith's brain fart in game one that might have changed the course of the series. They beat the Rockets 4-3, and you can make the case this was as much a coin flip as Rosenthal - Gupta. So what? They are still the champions. To the extent that statistics evens everything out it does so over multiple events played over many years. One of the charming features of bridge is this greater variance. I'd never beat Tiger Woods in golf, but I have beaten Meckwell, and nobody would argue that I “should” have done so.
Aug. 9, 2018
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At the risk of raining a little on this parade, my kids were unable to attend this year as their school year had already started. We had anticipated this problem in Toronto, as the Atlanta NABC was a week later, and discussed it with YNABC organizers. They told us at the time that they recognized the problem and intended to run it the first weekend in Atlanta so as not to exclude those in my kids situation. When the schedule came out, it was on the second weekend. At that point, there was no going back, so my kids had to inform their partners they would not be playing this year.
Aug. 8, 2018
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The real devil is the detailed follow-ups to responder's second bid of 1, 1N, or 2. The rest is pretty easy.
Aug. 8, 2018
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If partner has the K, you must switch now. Say declarer has a stiff heart and you tap the dummy. Now unblock the K, AK and a ruff, draw trump, and the A is the entry back to the two good hearts. Even if declarer has two small hearts and no K, he can make it double dummy on a club switch by flying Ace, but he won't be able to combine chances successfully like he will if you continue a spade. With the T in dummy everyone knows there is no danger in you underleading the K at trick two. There's a good chance he will take the finesse rather than relying on 33 hearts with the Q onside.
Aug. 7, 2018
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Now that I look at the spade spots more closely, the 7 is a tricky one. If partner has the Q it is remotely possible that she has Qxx, but pretty unlikely that she has the K. So, for a club shift to be right I put the Q in declarer's hand. But with the J or T, she should play that if she wants a club shift. If declarer has all three of those cards, he might have rebid 2N. At the table I'd probably be staring at the 7 cursing partner for not giving me a clearer signal; sometimes the spot holdings we're dealt make it a guess. Upon reflection I think I would read it being from JT7.
Aug. 7, 2018
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Count can be default and count is clearly relevant if dummy hits with more than one spade, so should be the signal in that case. Here, though, partner could have two things to beat the slam … 1) Qxx, and 2) K. Count in spades is entirely irrelevant to what you do next. You can have these rigid rules and make partner guess, or you can recognize bridge situations and adjust your signaling priorities. You don't always get it right, but you do far more often than forcing partner to guess.
Aug. 7, 2018
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So, you can have a default signal, and still give a signal that makes sense in context. Here, in my notes, the highest priority is “If tapping the dummy is a plausible defense, then we give attitude.” Here tapping the dummy is clearly plausible to both partners, so trick one is attitude (reverse, apparently, as I also play). Partner would default to tapping the dummy if he didn't want a shift, so a club it is.
Aug. 7, 2018
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1=4=3=5, yes, because of the rebid problems over 1. 4=1=3=5, no, because of the easy 1 rebid.
Aug. 7, 2018
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As someone who has habitually opened 1 and rebid 2 on minimal 4=5 hands playing both strong club and natural systems, I can attest that it is much better than Frances describes. However, it does require some additional machinery after a fourth-suit bid to sort out the wider range of possible distributions. When simply playing a part-score or competing to the three-level in a competitive auction, you land on your feet a surprisingly high percentage of the time. My experience is that you are more likely to be in a silly contract by opening 1 and rebidding 2 with exactly five clubs.
Aug. 7, 2018
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Second time's the charm! Congratulations, guys
Aug. 1, 2018
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Can you let me know who your neutronium source is? Mine stopped returning my emails. Rumor is that he got stretched too thin.
July 29, 2018
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You think Atlanta has a problem … wait until San Francisco
July 27, 2018
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I actually prefer for 1 - 2 - whatever - major suit to show six clubs and four of the major. With five clubs, a four -card major and a GF, we start with the major, then have a mechanism to sort out that hand after the most common rebids.
July 27, 2018
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My daughter doesn't like bacon. And my son doesn't like ice cream. It makes me feel quite guilty for passing on such defective genes.
July 27, 2018
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As a partnership who gives suit preference frequently and count rarely, sometimes it takes a moment to sort out whether count is necessary in a situation. If, as reported inconsistently, I have five small and declarer is leading up to QJTx, count cannot possibly matter to partner's play, so we would give suit preference. I strive to make that judgment at trick one, but I'm not perfect. If 1) partner makes a bridge play consistent with my signalling independent of the hesitation, and 2) we explain that we default to suit preference unless it's obvious to both of us that count is crucial, I think the hesitation, while regrettable, should not create an ethical issue.

I should add that the course of declarer's play also carries inferences about high-card location that inform the signal, and it can take some time to work through those inferences.
July 27, 2018
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Just a side note on John Nash … he was in my mother's high school graduating class and I have her senior yearbook with Nash's photo. As you might imagine, he wasn't very popular in high school, but was quite popular at the fiftieth reunion.

In another peculiar coincidence, Brian Platnick's uncle was also in her high school at the same time. Not sure if it was the same class.
July 18, 2018
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It's possible you're right. There is a tendency, at least in my mind, to ascribe all such bidding ideas to Rodwell if I don't know another source. As a first approximation it's more likely to be correct than any other bidding theorist.

A couple of years before Mike died I was playing against him and a very less experienced player. My partner opened 1N and Cappelletti overcalled something, alerted by his partner. I turned to her and asked sweetly if that was the Hamilton convention. She looked confused and said “No, I think it's called Cappelletti.”
July 9, 2018
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