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All comments by Lynn Johannesen
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This is such sad news. Dale and I knew Beth when she was a young player just starting to become a star. She was a tough opponent, but always a gracious one. Away from the table, she was a pleasure to be around. We will miss her.

Condolences to Bill and Julie, and to all her many friends.
Oct. 3
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David said, “In answer to you main question, I will reference Belladonna-Garozzo. When partner has cue bid, you MUST (emphasis theirs) co-operate below the level of game, except when partner has previously limited his hand an you know slam is impossible.”

I'd argue that partner HAS previously limited his hand. He overcalled 1. Most of us don't play absolutely unlimited overcalls. Ours can be pretty strong, but at about an 18 count, we start finding alternatives to a simple overcall.

Thus I don't think the answer to whether advancer should cue bid over 3NT (assuming it actually is a serious slam try) is not so simple. Yes, partner could hold a perfect hand that makes a slam. A couple of previous commenters supplied them. In my experience, trying to be sure you always reach slam when partner holds the perfect hand leads to bidding an unacceptable number of no-play slams.
Oct. 1
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Agree, David. It's quantitative in our notes, too, but it has *never* come up, and I'm not at all sure that straight Blackwood isn't better.
Oct. 1
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A factor no one has mentioned is what suit I hold. I'll overcall more aggressively with spades than with hearts. the 1 overcall actually reduces opener's room to maneuver. A 1 overcall doesn't prevent any rebid but 1, so it should be sounder. Finding a spade fit puts you in a good position in a competitive auction. The opponents will often let your partner know who holds the high cards.
Sept. 25
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Ray, we have always played weak NT, and I played them with my first husband as well. I can't claim that we have *never* been in trouble after a balancing double on two small, but I can say that we are way ahead on balance playing this style. Opponents tend to intervene very aggressively over weak NT openings. It's useful to be able to penalize them when they are wrong, and also to reach your side's best fit when they are right. When neither of your hands is short in their suit, it's typically right to defend, as John Adams has suggested.
Sept. 23
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As someone who is older than Peg and a female, I also object to “girls.” I would strongly prefer Oren's suggested nomenclature.
Sept. 21
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We would play 3 over 3 as forcing, but we play lebensohl. Without lebensohl, I don't know *anyone* who plays 3 forcing. It shows a good hand, but advancer is free to pass it with a bad hand.

In what universe is 3 stronger than 4?
Sept. 19
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Alan, I don't think N-S have an obligation to call the director as soon as the 2 bid is made. For all they know, East has a perfectly normal overcall. It is only when dummy puts down a 4x3 weak hand that N-S know that he may have taken advantage of UI.

IMO, that's when the director should be called.

North could say, after West passes slowly, “Do you agree that West's bid was out of tempo?” That establishes the issue, and also acts as warning to East that his actions may be scrutinized later.

(The only time I said something like this at a tournament, the player who bid something after his partner's long hesitation told the director he wanted to call a C&E committee on me because I had tried to intimidate him. Fortunately, the director told him he thought I was simply trying to help him by warning him that bidding could never gain. If he got a bad result, he'd keep it. If he got a good result, the director would take it away from him–as he did.)
Sept. 19
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Richard, you are probably right that people subconsciously respond to partner's hitches. But all four players at the table are susceptible to the same tendencies, so doesn't that make it a level playing field?

Personally, I wouldn't mind playing on tablets as long as it happened at a specific tournament location. The social features of actual play aren't very important to me, but the socializing that occurs at a tournament is. I suspect I'm not alone in this feeling.
Sept. 16
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@Cornelia: Your assumption that I can't win without my table presence is seriously insulting. I attempted to engage with you in a polite manner. It would be nice if you tried to be equally polite.

@Gonzalo: It's not true that I can't explain what I'm reacting to in the opponents' mannerisms. To name just one example, I can tell with about 80% accuracy whether an opponent finds his hand “interesting”–which usually means he has a good hand, but sometimes just means that he isn't certain what to bid. What I'm responding to is the pace of his eye movements. Some of it also involves muscle tension. People sit up straighter in their chairs when they are interested in their hands. I could name other examples, but you probably get the message.

As for your flat out accusation of unethical behavior: Dale and I go very far out of our way *never* to look at each other during the bidding or the defense. We are almost certainly attuned to tempo variations, but we both consciously try to avoid taking advantage of them. We are both fairly fast players, and that helps. On the rare occasions that Dale hesitates, I do almost always know what he's thinking about. But what he is thinking about is trying to remember what our agreement is in this situation. That doesn't actually help me much.

Our opponents rarely call the director on us for UI. In more than 40 years of playing together, we have had exactly one committee decision go against us.

You feel free to accuse of us bad behavior even though you don't know us and have never played against us, solely on the grounds that I argued that table presence is a legitimate part of the game. Your comment is even more insulting than Cornelia's was.
Sept. 16
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When we were in Rome, our daughter, who lives in New York City (!) found it terrifying to try to cross the street on foot. I told her I'd decided the only way to get anywhere was to close your eyes, start into the street, and hope that nobody was feeling homicidal.

The same thing was true in Saigon, except that you had to evade more motorcycles and scooters than cars.

In Amsterdam, the problem isn't the cars. Their drivers seem to follow the traffic laws. The bicyclists, however, come at you from all sides, and they believe THEY have the right of way. (My Dutch friends assure they're wrong.)
Sept. 15
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Cornelia, “reading people” actually involves both analysis and logic. You observe a mannerism. You then analyze what the mannerism is likely to suggest (for example, is the player nervous? unhappy? uncertain?). You then deduce what holding would be likely to result in that state of mind.

Players who don't want others to be able to do that should work on controlling their own “tells.”
Sept. 14
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To expand a little on Michael's answer, I suggest that one of the major advantages of the weak NT is the ability to reach 4-4 fits when responder would be too weak to respond to a strong NT. Giving up that advantage makes weak NT openings a doubtful proposition.

Playing weak NT has real costs, as I'm sure you know. You can't afford to give up any of the real benefits. (Note that I think so little of rebidding 1NT with 4-card support that I wouldn't even vote for it as my second choice, and I've played weak NT for 40 years.)
Sept. 4
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We have agreed, in a weak NT context, that a 3NT rebid by opener shows a *solid* or near-solid 6-card major suit and stoppers in both unbid suits. It's not stronger than a 2NT rebid, it's just different. We believe that this hand type is exactly the one on which it may be better to play in 3NT in spite of an 8-card major suit fit. Our 3M rebids show similar spade suits but are either stronger or more suit-oriented.

In a strong NT context, we'd play about what Geeske suggests.

Regardless, this auction consumes a *lot* of space. It should therefore be tightly defined. A fast arrival jump here would leave a strong responder with no room to find out what he needs to know for slam.
Sept. 4
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We play that the in-between step accepts an invitation, and bidding the suit rejects it. However, we play weak NT, so we would often rather have responder play the hand when he has slam ambitions, since he will typically be stronger. If opener accepts and responder has invitational values, we are probably going to play 3NT, and opener will be declarer regardless. If responder has the weak variety, he is typically bidding preemptively rather than constructively, and we haven't found it matters too much which side declares the contract. We're usually going down.:-(

Playing strong NT, I suspect it's superior to play that bidding the suit is the acceptance. It's true that responder will have to play the contract when he has a weak hand, but opener will play it when he has slam ambitions, and that's probably more important.

Many of us learned “in-between step accepts” many years ago, when 4-suit transfers first began to be played. Since I doubt that it matters a lot either way, we just continue to do what we learned years ago.
Aug. 26
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Stefan, RKC has not made the GSF obsolete if opener holds a void. Note several example hands given below.
Aug. 25
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@Michael: I'm not sure sure you are only losing out “slightly.” When Dale and I were first learning our T-Walsh structure, we decided to switch to unbalanced diamond and short club, but leave the rest of our methods intact.

We scored 75% in a regional pair game (admittedly, it was an exceptionally weak field). We were dealt a lot of 1 openings, and we won a lot of matchpoints on ALL of them. Sometimes it was because the method allowed us to bid to the correct contract, including competing to the right level to push the opponents higher. More often, the unbalanced diamond gained by letting us count hands on defense much earlier in the play. If partner opened 1 and it became clear he couldn't have 5 of them, we would know he had 4441 shape. If it became clear he had exactly 5, we knew he had another 4-card suit.

It's really a form of “lumping.” if both minor suit opening bids can include balanced hands without real length in the suit opened, responder faces a lot of guesswork. If that's only true of 1 openings, responder may face even more guesswork after that opening, but he'll be in much better shape after 1.
Aug. 25
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For the last SF NABC, Dale and I parked at that municipal garage. (It was a little cheaper then.) It worked fine, and it was certainly cheaper than most other options.
Aug. 23
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Steve has illustrated mathematically a simpler rule of thumb I follow:
More matchpoints are available for making a game than you can score by holding down undertricks. You can never be sure the entire field will be in the same contract.

Note that the same rule works for defensive decisions. Unless I can be more than 90% sure that a contract can't be beaten, I try to beat it, even at the cost of giving away an overtrick. More matchpoints are available for beating a game than you can score by holding down overtricks. You can never be sure the entire field will be in the same contract.
Aug. 22
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Sorry, Richard. I should have made clear that I was talking about U.S. introductory textbooks, and “Standard American.”
Aug. 21
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