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All comments by Nigel Guthrie
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Guess… Win lead with Q and lead 7
– LHO might have cashed an ace against a slam and
– if RHO rises with A, then he can't force an early decision.

When LHO wins K with A, you have some and squeeze chances but should probably take the finesse (eventually).
Aug. 16
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment Aug. 16
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Bridge rules are fragmented into WBF laws + WBF minutes + Regulations of each RA + Conditions of Contest + ….
  • Eliminating the latter would save a few Amazon rain-forests, level the playing-field, and simplify life for peripatetic players.
  • Many current rules are too sophisticated, over-subjective, unnecessary, add no value, and should be eliminated. For example “Pro Question”, “Protect yourself”, “Mechanical error”, “Insufficient Bid”, “Outcome weighting”. “Most system regulations” and so on. Scrapping them would discourage careless infraction, result in fewer controversial rulings, and save paper.
  • The law-book is a mess. It's often hard to find what rules are relevant to a particular infraction. The rules should be drastically simplified and organised as a decision-tree so that more players and directors could understand them. Admittedly, this might add a few pages.
July 25
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Ed Reppert
I looked for ten second sand timers a while back.
Ed Judy
I don't know why it isn't technically easy to employ a timer at trick 1, preferably on a bridge mate.
We can't rely on RAs to make sensible regulations. Much better if the WBF laws incorporate sensible rules – at least as defaults.

IMO, there should be automatic fixed-length mandatory pauses e.g.
  • Before the opening bid
  • Before the opening lead
  • After dummy is exposed
  • After a skip bid.
  • In other defined tempo-sensitive contexts.

I agree with Boye Brogeland that Bridge would be more fun if players tried to learn and to abide by the rules. However players should always …
  • Call the director when they suspect an infraction and
  • Appeal rulings that they believe are wrong.
July 25
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Allowing players adequate time to peruse and check detailed provisional scores (their own and those of other competitors), goes some way to establishing the facts. But the process must not take forever. Guaranteed perfection is a vain aspiration. The director must soon be confident enough to report definitive official results.
July 24
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  • In my experience, large events are almost always miss-scored or involve appeals. So, after detailed provisional scores and rankings are posted, there should be a reasonable correction period for players to check them.
  • When corrected provisional scores are posted, there should probably be a further correction period.
  • When official scores are posted, however, they should be final.
July 24
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Unless a private individual is willing to pay for it, nobody expects an NBO to devote an enormous amount of time and effort. Nobody has suggested complete fairness as a feasible target.

There are likely to be more cheating scandals, however, so it would obviously be worthwhile to appoint a committee to devise a clear and simple way of restoring a reasonable semblance of equity.

Luckily, an analogous problem has arisen many times in the past, so there is plenty of case-law, upon which the committee could draw ….

Sometimes a team has to withdraw and directors must repair movements and competitions, as best they can. Please notice that …
  • The withdrawn team is not usually designated as the winner.
  • Nor are places often left vacant.

Whatever solution the committee decide is appropriate, it should be published as the future default legal procedure for handling cheating, in that kind of competition.

That would not prevent quibbles about retrospective application but would defuse complaints about future redress attempts.
July 21
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Depriving cheats of their ill-gotten gains is the first step in the right direction.

It's harder, but more important, to provide their victims with redress. Honest players have been deprived of fair competition, for which they paid. Some have been robbed of placings and awards. Arguably, an official, who refuses to take the trouble to alleviate their predicament, might be in breach of contract and in collusion with the cheats. Anyway, in such a context, inaction seems slothful and malevolent.

Nobody can be sure what would have happened without cheating but officials must try to restore equity in the best way they can.
July 21
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NBO's seem to go to any length to avoid hassle. Hence, it's no surprise that they suck up to cheats. They are even more timid than Bridge law-makers. Arguably, WBF laws reward infraction and eschew deterrence. Nevertheless, at least, they embrace so-called Equity (attempting to restore the status quo – however crudely).

In this context, equity requires the replacement of cheats with their victims in competition placings. Criticism is inevitable, whatever an NBO does, but it should make some effort to do the right thing.
July 21
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A pollee said he'd bid 4 and South said he would have made that bid before the opening lead. Hence, IMO, the director should at least include 4= in his weightings (resolving some doubt in favor of the victims rather than rewarding EW for their infraction).
July 20
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment July 20
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_the_Third_Age">The university of the 3rd age is another relevant organisation
July 19
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Had the cheats not played, we can't be sure what would have happened. But that's insufficient reason to deny their victims redress. The authorities should still do their best to restore a semblance of justice. Crude, their efforts might be; but surely better than deliberately penalizing the honest teams.
July 19
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Thank you, Ping Hu. IMO, the Law of total tricks is a useful rule-of thumb and your fresh viewpoint is interesting and illuminating.
July 19
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Thank you, Bruce Evans, for your painstaking statistical efforts, that expand and confirm Jean-René Vernes's basic conclusions from World Championship deals in the 1950s, described in later articles and his 1966 book, “Bridge moderne de la défense”.

http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/VA051022/Tripod/Interview.html">Vernes interview
July 19
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Another argument for a long Swiss or Round-robin instead of a KO.

Nevertheless, the KO problem is exaggerated. Losing semifinalists can play each other for 3rd/4th. If that is impractical, then the team with the better round-robin performance would be designated 3rd. And so on.

Admittedly, even if the better team always won a match, a losing quarter-finalist might be the 2nd-best team (i.e. the best when the cheating team is disqualified). But that fault is inherent and unavoidable in the (arguably, inferior) round-robin + KO-format.
July 19
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment July 19
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moved
July 19
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment July 19
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Teams/Pairs with convicted cheats should be deprived of placings/titles Other teams/pairs should be moved up the pecking-order and awarded vacated titles. Organisations which fail to do this are depriving cheat's victims of legitimate rights.

Of course, there are difficulties in retrospectively doing this, especially in KOs. In future, however, such procedures (however crude) should be defined in COCs, so that players know what to expect and have less excuse for quibbles.

Advantages …

  • Players would have a better chance of being awarded the placings/titles that they would have won, in fair competition.
  • If reporting cheats had more effect, victims would be keener to do it.
  • Sponsors would take care, when hiring professionals.
  • Players would be chary of playing with suspected cheats.
  • Teams with cheats wouldn't be embarrassed by undeserved awards.
  • We would respect authorities for taking an interest in cheats' depredations.
  • Justice would be better seen to be done.
July 19
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment July 19
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Ian Hodges
Soon it will be illegal to lock a machine learning program in a dark room.

That might result in Mathematical and Metaphysical innovations :)

Shakespeare, Hamlet, scene V
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy
July 15
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Hank Youngerman
“Go was thought to be unsolvable, but AlphaGo proved that wrong. But bridge is still different than games like chess, backgammon, reversi, etc. in that it's still a game with unknown information.”
A computer dominated professionals at no-limit Texas Holdem. AlphaStar (developed from AlphaZero) beat top professional StarCraft players. Both are complex games, with unknown information.

Hank Youngerman
“Additionally, bridge is far more subject IMO to different strategies based on the opponent.”
I don't think the Poker-bot varied its game, although you would expect it to do so.

But what about partner's style? IMO two bots, playing Bridge together other, each with a copy of the same program, would have almost perfect rapport – better than identical twins. Without any illegal communication, each would be able “imagine” itself in its partner's situation and, to a large extent, duplicate it's partner's thought processes. This natural empathy would aid their bidding and defence understandings, endowing them with a significant advantage.

Experienced partners with similar styles don't speculate “What could the ox opposite hold to make that bid/play”. Instead they can ask themselves “If I did that, what would I hold?”
July 15
Nigel Guthrie edited this comment July 15
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The two cases illustrate the same principle. A BIT usually suggests extra values and expresses doubt. Often, almost any action is suggested over a pass.

IMO, the director and committee got it right in the latest case.
July 13
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With no financial incentive, Poker is boring, so Humans would probably play even worse.

Unless you include some version of “morality” in the AI program, it's amoral. Whereas some humans seem essentially evil.
July 13
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