Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Larry Lang
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David,
In our case, we added a lot of new ACBL members through EasyBridge!. EasyBridge! emphasizes polite behavior, have fun, and learn at your own pace. It was very successful. Then we wanted to integrate them with the regular crowd, but unfortunately the regular crowd was not brought up the same way. They can be grumpy, very competitive, and not as welcoming.
We set up a mentor program to facilitate merging of the 2 groups and as a way to retain people who weren't learning as fast.
It failed on both accounts.

I think Michael Bodell and others have good ideas for a “Mentor game” equivalent. There are some ACBL issues here, but do one or more of the following:

run a barometer style game
allow talk after each hand
allow any player seeking advice to go to another player and ask for advice right then and there.

Now you have an instant mentor, when you want it. You can still play with people that you enjoy playing with, and, hopefully they enjoy playing with you as well.

And also, we emphasize what Bridge is supposed to be all about. Having fun, but also experiencing the joy of learning, at a comfortable pace, as an extra bonus
Feb. 22, 2017
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I was going to nominate Gene Saxe for a Bridge Winners award. It sounded like he had some how set Dave Corn straight, which I thought was impossible to do. Alas, it is not so.

Mentees come with all sorts of motivations and egos. But many want Nirvana. They want to win more often. They want a kind caring friend who will make learning painless. No books, no teaching, no deep analysis. No counting out the cards. Play with your mentor, he gives you THE SECRET on how to win, and voila, you're home free.

In short, mentees usually don't have a realistic idea of what they want. So there is no point in asking them.

Much has been made about the joy of learning. A mentor is an inefficient way to learn, and it often sends people away. That's a basic idea of EasyBridge! which is very successful.

In EasyBridge! A beginner calls you over to the table and says, “What do I do?” You ask, “What do you want to do?” He says, “I want to do X.” You say – that's a good idea, try it.

Later, if they want to talk about it some more, you talk about it. Meanwhile they are playing with a peer and enjoying the game. That's a good way to mentor.

In my opinion, it's the only way.
Feb. 22, 2017
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Ken,
We have. And with all that training, most are better than I am.
Let me put it this way. I play with novices quite a bit, and try very hard to be nice. But sometimes I feel I should put a paper bag over my head. My jaw may drop, a frown may pop out.
It's tough.
Feb. 21, 2017
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I just want to add to what Giles said. We tried a similar format as well and gave it up for similar reasons.

The danger with mentor games is that the chemistry is unpredictable. We actually lost some newer players even though we matched them with people they thought they wanted to play with.

And Cornelia Yoder is correct, the best time for comments is after the game is over. But that's hard to do. Usually, after the mentee plays with their mentor, the mentee is exhausted, and goes home. Many don't really want comments and this leaves the mentor in an awkward position. If they don't want comments, what's the point?

I really believe we gave mentor games a good try with the best of intentions. But we lost more than we gained.

I'm not saying others can't make it work, but I don't know how. Be very careful.
Feb. 21, 2017
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We tried several mentor formats. They all failed. I'd give it up.

Mentoring is okay for real serious players, but they'll play anyway.

Social players really don't want a mentor. They want to have fun, not a berating. There are so many good books, why would they need a mentor?

Our next attempt will be to buy a dealing machine and join the Common Game. Maybe hand records and commentary can act as a mentor instead.
Feb. 20, 2017
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Starting this year, table count will decline 5% per year, every year. I can't prove this, but if you look around, and at the health of all the players, I think you'll come to the same conclusion.
Feb. 7, 2017
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I resent Gene's catty remark. John is raising a question and asking what other's think. Nothing wrong with that.
Oct. 1, 2016
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I fear the hand where partner and I are both interested but with bad hearts between us.



One possible option:
Immediate move past game = 1st control and POWERHOUSE
4 = no control, minimum hand
** = 1st round control (but not powerhouse)
Pass = either extra values or 2nd round control or both

If you want to get fancy, Responder replies to a pass as follows:
4 = interest in slam, but opener should pass without 2nd round control.

** = I have at least 2nd round control in hearts, but don't go past game unless you have extra power

Also, the pass and redouble can be 2-way bids if you prefer, offering more options.

** and then bidding on past game shows extra values (and 1st round control)but not powerhouse

passing and then bidding on past game shows 2nd round control, POWERHOUSE.
Aug. 29, 2016
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A double victory.

Tracy has given up on ignoring me, and Dave Corn will go mute. Life doesn't get any better than this.
Aug. 3, 2016
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Last paragraph is a private joke between Tracy and I.

I would actually never say that, but you might.
Aug. 3, 2016
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The “rules” are ambiguous. There is one page of the rule book that essentially says it is never right to do anything that might offend the opponents. I presume it is okay to upset the opponents by giving them a bottom, but such is not specifically stated.

There are ACBL pamphlets that talk about “active ethics”, and how the opponents are entitled to know everything about your bidding style and even past history that might affect your bidding style. But if you try to rigidly follow these guidelines you will often cause problems in the process.

There are rules that only set the “spirit” of the game, but there are no hard and fast rules for every situation.

In my experience, the best directors understand this. Their goal is to leave the table with both sides as satisfied as possible, within reason.

One thing is clear. The opponents are entitled to understanding of what your bids mean. But sometimes asking questions causes more heartache, so sometimes we are reluctant to ask, especially if an inference can be taken from the question.

Anyone can cheat at Bridge. In my opinion you are on your honor to be as ethical and fair to the opponents as possible. And if this means that some rules are more flexible than others – so be it.
July 29, 2016
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Hi Tracy,
Still raising controversy I see.

I think it depends on your goals, and who you are playing against.
If your goal is to win at all costs, go strictly with the rules, and always interpret them to your own advantage.

But you are very ethical. And as you know, different locales, and different events, have different expectations about what is standard and what is not.

If you are playing with a less established partner, who is more likely to get jogged back into your way of thinking because of an alert, then don't alert.

If you are playing against top notch players that understand exactly what is to be alerted and what isn't – don't alert.

But if you and partner are solid, and if the opponents might make false assumptions about your auction – I think you should alert.

In the example given, if one of the opponents objects, I would inform it that either it is an ignorant dufus or a fat cow, depending on gender. But I might feel bad afterwards.
July 29, 2016
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I agree with Paul. You can see that South has 5 spades, but imo is more likely to double if he holds 4, hoping North has a decent hand and is willing to defend.
Others, like Cohen, teach that low level doubles are for takeout. And despite the disdain for Bridge Bulletin Standard, it is very similar to Larry Cohen Standard.
And then there are others who feel that we should always pull the first low level “penalty” double if we have a void, and we should avoid doubling with the North hand because we have a void.
As much as I hate it, I think South is best off passing.

Opening 1H and then passing with void, KQJxxx, Kxxxx, Jx is asking for trouble. If you open a crazy hand like that, then you have to follow through, and bid the next time, and the next time after that. You can't open such a freak, and then pass the second round hoping partner will make the right decisions.
June 26, 2016
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Well, I'm of a similar mind. Changing the subject, slightly, I like to play weak no trumps not vul. But every time I think I've got the opponents in a bad contract, if I double, they go somewhere else.

It's a lot like the redouble when they make a takeout double. In theory, redoubling every time you have 10 points or more is great. In practice, redoubles suck unless you've got all bases covered.
June 24, 2016
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North wasn't insulted. When asked what he thought my double would be he said takeout. That's the style around here. All doubles at the one and two level are takeout even when it doesn't make any sense. I can't explain it. 20 years ago most doubles were penalty unless obviously takeout.

Perhaps I should mention that at club games most people know I double aggressively. They have an irrational fear that I can somehow put the hex on them, so they bid conservatively. The most successful opponents “walk the dog” on me. I fall for it more than I should – doubling a part score only to find the opponents are 5-6 and they make 2 over tricks.

In IMPS I probably won't double for a one trick set. At match points the difference between setting the opponents one trick for 100 points or 1 trick doubled for 200 is like night and day. I'll double a vulnerable opponent in a part score even if I feel he has one chance in 3 of making his contract. I don't do that at IMPs.
June 24, 2016
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The problem is that it doesn't always go that way.

For example, it could go 1 – (1) – pass – (2)
pass – (pass) – ??

I want to double, but partner will never figure it out.

Or let's say it goes
1 (1) pass (pass)
??

Partner is almost required to protect me with a double no matter how bad he is. I leave it in and they make 1 doubled – at least on this particular hand.

The hand is troubling because they probably have an 8-card fit and points are divided equally. I don't like defending at the 2 level when they have a fit, and I hate it at the one level.

I very seldom get burned playing one no trump at favorable vulnerability, so why not play there?

I don't think I'm under any obligation to have perfect shape when I bid 1NT. Partner doesn't care that much as long as I have 2 hearts. I prefer to mix it up a little bit and keep the opponents off balance.
June 23, 2016
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I like it. “Waiting in the weeds” doesn't work well for me, either. Partner never figures it out. It seems likely the opponents have 8 spades, so I don't mind committing myself and bidding 2NT for takeout when it seems right – especially at match points.
June 23, 2016
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Michael,
I'm all for South passing if South is willing to play in 1S doubled. But I don't see how passing helps clarify the auction in future rounds.
For example:
1- 1 - Pass – 2
Pass- Pass - Double

Is it clear that the double is penalty? I don't think so. Maybe it is, but my partner would have pulled. Would not penalty be more strongly suggested if South bids 1NT and then doubles?

I like to set the stage as quickly as possible. If I have 8 to 10 HCP, and am unwilling to defend their one level overcall, I bid 1NT. I realize this is not the “text book bid”.

The problem is that no matter what South does on the 2nd round of bidding it is unlikely that North will leave the double in. So South is almost required to pass their 2 bid.

The way to “solve” the problem is to have North always double 2 with shortness. But this causes another problem. South is likely to leave the double in with 4 spades, and because North has a void, the double could be wrapped around the neck of North/South. After all, they do have an 8-card fit and the points are distributed equally. If North doubles with a void, they might have a 9 card fit.

Perhaps this is a case where the fish slid off the hook, but they do that occasionally. I, South, was hoping to set them by two tricks, getting them for 200. But partner and I didn't manage to find the optimum defense. (I need to ruff a club). This is one of those minority hands where they have an 8-card fit and we have no fit.

In hindsight it's always easier to find a better bid. But I'm not sure anyone erred on this particular hand.
June 23, 2016
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I'm glad we agree. Penalty double by North would be very strange.

And I don't think a balancing double in the auction shown is clearly for penalty. I think many would play the double as takeout.
June 23, 2016
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Thanks all.

Here is my take, even though I admit I'm still confused.

I open 1 with the North hand religiously, although some would not.

I, South, did not want to penalize 1, I was hoping they would bid 2 and then I could hit it. I don't think passing the first time and then doubling in balancing position clarifies the situation any. In my opinion, the auction then becomes more confusing. At least that's true where I play. 1NT limits my hand, and possibly lays the ground work for a juicy penalty.


I like Nigel's list, but it's not clear to me that #5 works if they settle into a good fit at the 2 level at match points, especially if the player in balancing seat passed the first time.

And yes, they always pull the double. Yuan Shen is exactly right. So perhaps there is something to be said for passing and hoping to get them 2 tricks.
June 22, 2016
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