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All comments by Marshall Lewis
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The form of scoring makes 3D an easy choice for me. While it is obvious that we might get too high, or to the wrong game, or have a bidding misunderstanding about what my eventual sequence shows (e.g. 3S over 3H), these potential downsides do little to affect my comfort level in making the call that gives us the best chance to hit the brass ring if there is one available. First of all, IMPs strategy is very simple – bid games & go down when you must. Secondly, if there is ambiguity in partner's mind as to whether my sequence is forcing, that factor is considerably more likely to work in our favor than hurt us. Thirdly, one of the wiser morsels of the motley lore known as “received wisdom” is that when a MILD overbid (and 3D here might not even fit that description) would maximize your chances of selecting the right strain at the potential slight cost of ending up with a minus, then the prospective game is worth the candle, especially at IMPs.

The only other call I would even consider is 3S, but it is too likely to miss a game or to get to the wrong one. That call highlights one suit and suppresses virtually all other info about alternative playabilities, so if partner only has three spades we are likely to play right here when one or two other games might fetch. Sadly there is no direct and adequate way to underscore my potential trick source (clubs) as well as general distributional compatibility with NT – bidding 3C here even in a lebensohl context simply does not do justice to this hand (which at other colors might be viewed as a borderline tactical opening bid). I can however, via the envisioned two-step campaign, convey a hand with multiple valences, and if I am not raising hearts then the alternate strains I have in mind will obviously be NT and/or clubs (with the latter almost certainly the basis for the former in any case). This seems an exceedingly accurate, if slightly bullish, depiction of my assortment.
Dec. 19, 2016
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Dec. 19, 2016
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That is probably a test for something, granted. But “since I am highly uncertain” of what, and in any case the stated conditions stipulate a relatively unfamiliar partnership, perhaps there is insufficient terra firma to rely on this criterion, given that I doubtless have much less idea than I otherwise would of what this particular partner would do with my hand.
Dec. 19, 2016
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Sorry, if partner has the hand you described, why would we end up defending 5DX ? Not saying it is impossible, but on the face of it ….
Nov. 24, 2016
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reprimand is nowhere near enough. penalize them to the full extent of the law. that is the only possible way to have any chance of avoiding repeat perpetrations of this utterly appalling but lamentably widespread violation
Nov. 23, 2016
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With such a polyvalent hand, one is not thrilled with 2C, but the longer I think about any hypothetical alternative calls the more unthinkable they become :):)
Nov. 23, 2016
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Kieran has made the case for Pass quite effectively. It will surprise nobody, though, that I am nevertheless going to X. Partner is I believe a statistical favorite to have a Major and even if he is, for example, 2335 he might well bid 3H. In any case he is not going to be eager to pass at IMPs – the takeout double would be far more dangerous at MP scoring – and the fact that the adversary are red suggests that the pre-emptor has quite a strong suit, thus further reducing (though certainly not eliminating) the likelihood that he will either pass or try 3N. I have lost bets before.
Nov. 23, 2016
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Especially at these colors, the scenario you envision is in my opinion much too remote to play any significant role in our deliberations.
Nov. 23, 2016
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IF partner has both Majors, then surely Double is a better choice because a 3M contract has a far higher expectancy of a plus score than does 4M
Nov. 23, 2016
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It's just a board. Several ways to win by bidding, one way to lose. Obviously relative likelihoods of those various outcomes is the crux of the deal, but every bid is a bet and I am going to give them the last guess, hoping it IS a guess
Nov. 22, 2016
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What Brad said. Partner is solid favorite to have a 4-card minor, and LHO is not very likely to bid 3H which could prove very awkward if he were to do it
Nov. 22, 2016
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how could I possibly be on lead against 1N ? First time in my life I have abstained on a panel question
Nov. 22, 2016
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Really this decision could be swayed by non-technical factors such as how we are doing in the match, how good is partner as a defender and how resilient in adversity, i.e. can partner handle the occasional -670,
Nov. 22, 2016
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There is no practical alternative to double. Of course we can all imagine hands where it might not yield the optimum result. But the same is true of every blue chip call in the bidding box. We don't stop opening 1N with a 4333 sixteen count just because it might lead to an unfortunate outcome.
Nov. 22, 2016
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I don't have strong feelings about X vs. 1S on the first round, but 1N is for me a gross underbid and it would not even occur to me to consider it. The doubleton heart is a flaw for X as partner (and opponents) might make it rather awkward for me in the near future. My tendency would be to overcall but can live with double, particularly since it is MPs so this call will have a lot of company. In the actual sequence we have to guess … we might have nothing or we might make ten or eleven tricks in clubs (among a host of other possibilities). But since we are wildly unlikely to bid a game after this start even if we can make one, it is easy just to pass and hope for 200 which almost surely has a hefty MP expectation if available, even when it is not our theoretical par.
Nov. 22, 2016
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For me, the mode of scoring makes this simple. Much harder if it is IMPs. Apart from preferring plus scores to minus scores – and even that is not automatically in favor of pass since it is not difficult to construct hands for partner and layouts where 3H fails and for example 3N makes – the most important consideration for me is the following. Pass is either right or wrong. But if it is wrong, I still have to figure out what to do instead, and it is extremely likely that one of the alternative options is a winner but the other is not.
Nov. 22, 2016
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I am never afraid to be in a minority, even one that is vanishingly small. I know what has always worked for me at the table and I follow some simple precepts that are proven commodities. For me, the single most important principle is this, especially at MPs: whenever you hold a minimum-range opening bid, strive to open in a suit where you'd welcome the lead – and all the more so when short(ish) in spades – if this can be done without serious distortion of the hand. Of course the cherished mainstream desideratum is making the PREPARED bid and in a sense that is perfectly appropriate – but the mainstream application of that concept has to do with an apparently tacit assumption that this is going to be our hand, so we need to choose a call that is best prepared for further bidding by our side. What about being PREPARED for partner's opening lead, which is going to be the fulcrum of the deal a substantial percentage of the time when we have a minimum opener and are short(ish) in spades/majors, our above-average allotment of HCP notwithstanding? This is all the more critical at MPs where we are going to rebid NT with a miscellany of shapes anyway. I am willing to be persuaded, by actual empirical evidence, that the various length-based dogmatic approaches to minor-suit opening bids are better than my case-by-case maximum-flexibility creed, but as of even date I am still waiting for a reason to regard the currently fashionable approaches as having any at-the-table edge, rather than just being among the innumerable heap of conventions and treatments that look so good on paper and sound so good in theory, but what proof is actually furnished by the empirical pudding?
Nov. 22, 2016
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I am not sure if the following has been stated before in any of the BW threads devoted to the assorted vicissitudes of this cause celebre, mainly because they have become so long and convoluted that one cannot easily be sure one has read everything. So readers will hopefully forgive me if what I'm about to say is already well-covered in prior posts. Pray bear with me, too, through the next paragraph which is meant to provide a personal background context for what will then follow in the remainder of this blurb.

In some earlier contributions here I was highly critical of the putative evidence cited by the aggrieved Spanish team. For starters, I confessed astonishment that the three hands they cited in the Open Letter had apparently struck them as so suspicious that it inspired some sort of larger research project on their part. And in particular, I was flabbergasted that they called into question the subsequent actions of the PARTNER of the Light Opening Bidder (for convenience, LOB). Moreover, I went on to express shock, dismay and something like rebuke that they failed ever to specify the size of the RELEVANT database perused en route to composing their brief – saying you looked at 300 or 1700 or 1,875,234 hands means very little unless you provide the number of deals in the database in which THE RELEVANT CONDITIONS OBTAINED (i.e. third-seat NV or favorable, or whatever).

Now, thanks in large part to further activity primarily by (one presumes) disinterested parties wishing merely to act as friends of the court, it appears a larger database has been examined. But so far as I can see, the research still has not been adequately pursued. Granted, IF there is or was a CLEARLY-STATED prohibition – whether in the Laws, the general Conditions of Contest, or the specific CoC for the event in question – against opening hands below some CLEARLY STIPULATED strength threshold (and that is a VERY substantial IF, in my view), then the percentage of times that such a hand is opened (i.e. instances divided by the number of RELEVANT cases) is indeed important all on its own in relation to the question of whether THIS PARTICULAR regulation was violated.

But that statistic alone is very far from being sufficient to establish the vastly more serious accusation leveled in the plaintive Spanish manifesto that the pair in question have an illegal private understanding with respect to the operative partnership principles determining which hands get opened in the relevant circumstances. In order to make that case, a proper research protocol would endeavor to do EXACTLY what the Spanish tried to do at the very outset – demonstrate a pattern of actions by the PARTNER of the LOB which would be difficult to explain without such covert knowledge. The fact that – in my own opinion at least – their statement failed spectacularly to achieve this goal in no way detracts from the fact that IF they wanted to establish the existence of an undisclosed agreement then the sort of case they were TRYING to make is exactly the general TYPE of argument that would need to be made.

Coming finally to the central point, I want to stress here that NO MATTER HOW MANY deals are examined, the most crucial research question FOR THE PURPOSES OF DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT AN UNDISCLOSED UNDERSTANDING IS IN EFFECT is most emphatically NOT “Did he open light?”, but rather “Did his partner then do something that is difficult to explain using only familiar world-class reasoning and/or pragmatic principles?”

In other words, poring over the newly adduced archives of Lall-Bathhurst in action in top-flight encounters is not going to shed much light on the question of any putative illicit agreements UNLESS PRIMARY ATTENTION IS PAID TO THE ACTIONS OF THE PARTNER OF THE LOB. Obviously if one's main obsession here is whether or not some fatuous regulation that stipulates ironclad criteria for an opening bid has been breached, then one can ignore the subsequent reaction by the LOB's partner. But this latter question pales in importance compared to the question of whether a pair has an illicit understanding.

Thus far I have tried to maintain strict neutrality in my exhortation to analysts that they must focus on potentially suspicious actions by the partner of the LOB. In my closing remarks, however, I will make a somewhat partisan prediction that if and when these more appropriate research procedures have been encompassed, the reputation of the US pair Bathhurst-Lall will emerge completely untarnished.
Oct. 23, 2016
Marshall Lewis edited this comment Oct. 23, 2016
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I must be missing something. I have now read the posting by GG at the top of this particular thread and it looks to me like a farrago of non sequiturs. Thought I saw a modus tollens there too, but am having so much difficulty trying to get a grip on the basic reasoning that I won't go there.
Sept. 27, 2016
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David W – It appears on closer inspection, both of your reply above and the original post of yours to which I had responded – that your views actually dovetail with mine very strongly. If that is the case, I apologize for being so obtuse the first time around.
Sept. 25, 2016
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“NOBODY expects the Spanish Motivation. Among our weapons are …”
Sept. 25, 2016
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