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All comments by Jonathan Ferguson
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I passed, with a possible working 0 count, no preemptive value for 3, no lead directional value for bidding.

I could well be convinced that bidding some number of has a higher EV and would certainly bid 3 if I thought 3 would be passed out or if I thought I could buy the hand for 3.

My 2nd choice was 4.
Aug. 31, 2012
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I have never been accused of trying to win a popularity contest before, Bob. Thanks! :)
Aug. 31, 2012
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On the first hand, if I weren't thinking ‘How am I to make this?’ I would certainly not be thinking ‘Why aren’t we in ???' and might be thinking ‘Why on earth didn’t pard bid 2?'

I really enjoy your stories, Polly. Keep 'em coming.
Aug. 31, 2012
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I voted double because I thought it would be the popular choice. Double's always supposed to show my exact hand type in these auctions and it's partner's fault if he goes wrong. Color me unconvinced.

It's a very close call for me between double, 3 and 3. I guess 3 is a possibility as well, but I'm less attracted to that call than to the other 3.
Aug. 30, 2012
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If the SJ were the ST I would not cue (but I would cue if partner now bids 4.) If the SJ were the SQ I would definitely cue.

I don't feel strongly about it one way or the other with the actual hand.
Aug. 29, 2012
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I'm actually a little surprised the voting is SO lopsided. I don't hate double, though the 2-card disparity between majors ultimately made me reject it. If the hand was kqt2 q9875 3 q52 I'd always double rather than bid 1.
Aug. 29, 2012
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I'd argue it would be a much less fair competition. If I played early rounds against stronger pairs, you played early rounds against weaker pairs, the weaker pairs dropped out and the field reshuffled, it's hardly fair to me.

As for ‘silly bids’ I think you'd be incentivizing them in the early rounds, as people can then just drop out if they don't work. (Much as you'll often see people go all-in with marginal holdings on the first deal of hold-em tournaments.)

I hate that at the end of the day I can never know for sure if that guy who found the brilliant play or ‘inspired’ lead online is worthy of highest praise (because he found it legitimately) or the harshest condemnation (because he got a wire on the hand from his buddy in the peanut gallery.) I don't think the comparison to ‘poker cheats’ holds any water, as cheating in bridge is far easier, and more difficult to detect, if one were so inclined.
Aug. 28, 2012
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Obviously if I have the ‘double says I want to bid on’ agreement, that would be ideal (partner could still go wrong, I don't think double promises 9 solid.) I'm going to assume I don't.

What do you call a solid 9 card suit? When in doubt, bid one more. Don't put too much pressure on partner.

All these point towards bidding, so I bid.
Aug. 28, 2012
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I'm sorry, Larry, I had just downloaded Richard Pavlicek's beginner class (which starts with a 16-18 NT) and I conflated the two. My bad.
Aug. 26, 2012
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I'm curious to what extent Larry is designing his system around what he thinks new players will already have been taught (which would require them ‘unlearning’ something) or if this is his best stab at teaching something to someone who has never played bridge.

For instance, if someone's never played bridge, teaching them udca would be auto, I should think.

As I understand it, he's teaching 16-18 NT, hoping to pivot to 15-17 when they get better (reasoning that until their declarer play improves they will be more comfortable there.) One of my big pet peeves about the Audrey Grant series was the 16-18 NT. I'm really not sure it's a good idea to start with that and I'd rather see them go down in cold contracts a few times, but who could know.
Aug. 26, 2012
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I remember (from the recent mind sports doo-dad, perhaps the semi-final) trying to prod the BBO commentators into discussing 3rd hand's ethical obligations when opening leader took quite a while (assuming the vugraph operator was awake) to lead a diamond against a suit contract and dummy had kqxxx and he had axxx and ducking was advantageous, and he ducked. I'll try to find the hand.

Thanks to Mike Cassel for finding the hand for me (I even got it a little wrong and he still managed.) It's board 88 http://t.co/IHoqrD4u Page 6.

In a hand like this, how long can West think (before leading) before East isn't allowed to duck? Or is East always allowed to duck here?
Aug. 26, 2012
Jonathan Ferguson edited this comment Aug. 30, 2012
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Just don't put the N word in my mouth, please. :) All I said was my assumption was that his was the inexperienced pair at the table.
Aug. 26, 2012
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When it's not at all clear what a cuebid shows (as here) then there is no such thing as a ‘highly unexpected meaning’ because there is no expected meaning.
Aug. 26, 2012
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That's hilarious, Paul. I had assumed precisely the opposite (that N/S were experienced (in fact I thought I had a pretty good idea precisely who N was merely from the description)) and that E/W were inexperienced (from the 2 bid itself and from the way E fielded the question.) (I'd have said ‘we have no agreement, but I’ll tell you how I took the bid if you like.' I'm not saying that's legally required, but that's how I tend to approach this situation.)

Knowing the disparity in experience levels would likely have made a difference to my thinking and I would have gone with a split ruling of some kind if I could find some kind of justification for it in the laws (I'm a ‘restore equity’ kind of guy.)

I think you did your best to arrive at a good decision (even those who think you failed would concede that they've seen at least one far worse decision (in a far more cut-and-dried case) at recent nationals) and you did it in spite of having a personal friendship with N/S. Then you posted on a forum frequented by experts to see what you could learn. You're exactly the type of person we need on committees.
Aug. 26, 2012
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I'm with the committee on this one.

N knew (worst hand diagram ever, btw) 2 wasn't intended as natural and was 2-way shotting. Unlucky.

E didn't alert a cuebid. They obviously didn't have an agreement. Is it true that cuebids are alertable now? News to me.

*alert*

yes?

we have no agreement
Aug. 25, 2012
Jonathan Ferguson edited this comment Aug. 25, 2012
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But Michael … he didn't send it back! :)
Aug. 24, 2012
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Is it utterly inconceivable that partner has T KQxx AQxx AQJx or some such?

Most self-serving statements in committee begin with “It is obvious …” (okay, mild hyperbole, but you get the point.)
Aug. 24, 2012
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(And that wasn't “off the top of my head”, exactly, but it took a few seconds to work out in my head.) I think that part of your suggestion is pretty silly, tbh.

As for dropping out because you're losing, I think that's terrible. Imagine if people left in the middle of a game because they were having a bad set. Ugh.

Bridge definitely needs to join the 21st century, and money bridge would be great. To do that, it needs to be played on-site on electronic devices. (All wests and norths report to room 1, all souths and easts report to room 2. Have fun all.) Breaks in tempo would be indisputable. The system could automatically (and somewhat randomly) delay bids or plays that were ‘too fast.’

People tempted to cheat would have every bid and play recorded for all time.

Would that reduce the social aspect of the game? Sure. I don't see that as a big downside, however.
Aug. 24, 2012
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Is it 1720? Let me check …
Aug. 24, 2012
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Speaking of cheating/ethics, now I think I've seen everything:

http://t.co/NiSVyRSO

(Link is to yahoo, formatting of the original link by this website seems to make it unusable.)

It's gotten so bad that a couple of years ago at a nationals, George Mittelman wanted to give me a laudatory write-up for merely acknowledging a break-in-tempo.
Aug. 23, 2012
Jonathan Ferguson edited this comment Aug. 23, 2012
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