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If partner's deuce of hearts is honest, declarer can't have two spades and five clubs.
May 28, 2012
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Aha! So you were East, not West on this problem? Admittedly it's not 100% that East has the Q. But West tends to assume that when South makes his queen-ask. As long as East holds onto the Q, West knows diamonds aren't running. When East plays it, West can't be sure. Since South knows the diamond position, there is no reason for East not to clarify it for his partner. Taking that logic a step further, West is entitled to assume when East plays the queen that he had no choice. He would have clarified the position by playing another card if he could.
May 28, 2012
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Partner seems to have miscarded when he played the Q. Since I know he has that card, he shouldn't play it unless it's his last diamond. But if declarer started with J10xx, he would have unblocked an honor. That would be a horrendous error, so I'm going to believe declarer. If I win and play a spade honor, I don't see how he can make it unless he has 98 doubleton of spades and four solid clubs. He has at most six black cards. So if he is 3-3, he might take four spades and three clubs; and if he is 2-4 (without 98 doubleton) he might take three spades and four clubs; and if he is 1-5, he might take two spades and five clubs. But that's only 11 tricks. A low spade is wrong, since it gives him four spade tricks if he has 9x. Ducking the heart king might let him revert to diamonds and take twelve tricks. And winning and playing a club is wrong, since I will be caught in a major-suit squeeze if declarer is 1-5-2-5.
May 28, 2012
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2
May 26, 2012
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Perhaps Joe will clarify, but I interpreted his remark differently than you did. When he said he would not sacrifice if he thought he was losing, I assumed he meant for the usual reason: When you are trying to rack up a large score, your goal is to go plus at both tables. Sacrificing, and thus guaranteeing a minus score, is usually not a good idea. In general, sacrificing is a strategy for avoiding large losses rather than for finding large pickups.
May 24, 2012
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Correct.
May 21, 2012
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I'm curious where you encountered Culbertson's Rule. I don't recall seeing it in print except in Culbertson's books. There are all kinds of gems like that in his books. Since he counted honor tricks rather than high-card points, visualizing potential hands for partner was actually a little easier in his methods, and he had a lot to say about this kind of “plastic valuation” as he called it.
May 17, 2012
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The only thing I seriously object to is playing the double as ambiguous. I want to know what suit opener is short in (and if it's clubs, responder's two hearts should be natural). To clarify Jeff's suggestion (as I understand it), he believes opener's double should be specifically short clubs. With short hearts, opener can usually afford to pass, anticipating that responder has a trap pass and will reopen with a cooperative double. I see the merit to this suggestion, but it does violate one of my general principles: Whenever possible, you should define doubles to mean the same thing from either side of the table. If a direct double is take-out, a reopening double should be take-out.
May 17, 2012
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I was hoping no one would ask that, because my answer is out in left field.

First of all, remember that we are playing weak notrumps and four-card majors. So we raise diamonds more frequently than standard bidders. That means if the auction starts 1-1-P, there is fair chance that responder's longest suits are hearts and clubs, and an ambiguous double of 2 by opener would nail responder to the wall. He will probably want to pass but will be afraid to for fear that clubs is opener's shortness. By requiring the double to show club “support,” we allow responder to pass freely, which is probably what he wants to do anyway.

As you point out, this does give opener a problem with a 4-3-5-1 pattern. One possibility is to bid an imperfect two diamonds. Another is to bid two hearts, defined as a non-forcing take-out of clubs. As Lowenthal used to say, “Often the best place to play a misfit is in the opponents' suit. If trumps split five-one, the opponents can't crossruff.”
May 17, 2012
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It wasn't a computer simulation. It was a factor analysis of hands from the World Championships that tried to quantify the effect of various features (suit quality, side defense, seat, vulnerability, etc.) on the results obtained from pre-empting. The analysis reached a number of counter-intuitive conclusions, the fact that holding the ace of your suit was a plus rather than a minus being one of them. I was never entirely comfortable with my methodology, however, and the study is some 25 years old at this point. I would love to see someone do it again, preferably someone who understands better than I do how to do this kind of analysis. I nominate either Henry Bethe or Dick Zeckhauser.
May 13, 2012
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“I would suspect” is conditional mood, appropriate because I am speculating about a hypothetical state of affairs (that a pair has called the director and has asked that a penalty be waived because they think the law is unfair). “I suspect” is correct in your sentence, because there there is no hypothetical action. You are speculating on the reason for something that actually happened, (the writing of Law 81C5).
May 12, 2012
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I can't find anything in the Laws to support the notion that players have the right to waive penalties on their own without the consent of the director. In fact, Law 72 states specifically “duplicate bridge tournaments should be played in strict accordance with the Laws.” (Actually, that law seems pointless to me. If someone thinks he has the right to ignore the laws, he would naturally think he has the right to ignore that one, too.)

And it does not appear that the director has the right to waive penalties willy-nilly. Law 81 says he can waive them “for cause.” While that is open to interpretation, it sounds to me as if there needs to be extenuating circumstances, like the noisy room in my example or the health problems in John's example. I would suspect that “the non-offending side does not wish to enforce the law because they think it's a bad law” would not be sufficient reason.
May 12, 2012
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Law 81.C.5, under “Director's Duties and Powers,” gives the director the authority “to waive rectification for cause, in his discretion, upon the request of the non-offending side.” I'm not sure what “for cause” means, but it suggests he needs some kind of reason. The one time I can remember doing this, Debbie and I asked the director for permission to reshuffle a board because our opponent had misheard the auction (and had already tabled the dummy, so there was no way to back the auction up). In this case, there were extenuating circumstances. Because we were in a large room and the matches had just begun, the room was unusually noisy. Perhaps the director decided that mishearing the auction was due more to a hostile environment than to the player's inattention, and this provided the requisite “cause.” I'm just guessing. But that kind of distinction (assuming it is the director who makes the final decision) seems reasonable.
May 12, 2012
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Correct. That provision is written into the Laws, so I can hardly object. I do wonder, though, what guidelines Directors use in deciding whether or not to to allow one to waive a penalty. Or even if they've given the matter much thought.
May 10, 2012
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Yes. In fact Debbie and I did exactly that once. We offered to reshuffle the board after an opponent misheard an auction. But, since it was a 3-way knockout match and the third team might be affected by our generosity, we did call the director and ask for permission.
May 10, 2012
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Only assuming you think the government will spend it wisely. Personally, I think society is better off if you take the deduction you are entitled to and spend it yourself.
May 9, 2012
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You give excellent reasons for your point of view, Steve. And, as always, I respect your opinion. But I do wish you would acknowledge that it is possible to disagree with you for entirely principled reasons. If you wish to call my point of view ridiculous, so be it. Perhaps it is. But I take umbrage at its being called self-serving. It derives from my conception of fairness, which requires that the same rules apply consistently and universally to everyone without ad hoc exceptions. Others may define fairness differently and so reach different conclusions.

And, yes. Conscience comes before laws. If the Laws of Bridge, for example, required me to insult my opponent if he revoked, I would not do so. But applying a trick penalty is not something my conscience questions. On the contrary, waiving the Laws and so presenting my opponent with an advantage others in the field might not have WOULD bother my conscience. As would accepting a waiver that benefited me.
May 9, 2012
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What if you were West and your opponent allowed you to pick up your five of spades and play a heart? Now you won the event. Could you live with THAT? I could not. I would feel I had won an event that I was not entitled to win under the Laws.
May 8, 2012
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How can I answer such a question? It is irrelevant what I think the law SHOULD be. And, for that reason, I haven't given it a lot of thought. The closest I can come to answering your question is to discuss in general terms what I think makes a “good” law or a “bad” law (a matter I have thought about). That is what I tried to do in the previous comment.
May 8, 2012
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How is it relevant what I think the rules should be? But, to answer your question, I don't think it matters all that much what the rules are so long as you apply them consistently. If you are consistent, no one has an edge. Therefore, I am in general leery of rules that require you to read someone's mind in order to apply them. There will certainly be cases where there is an ambiguity as to whether a misplay was a mental error or a mechanical error, and this ambiguity will necessarily lead to inconsistent application.
May 8, 2012
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