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All comments by Phillip Martin
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“Suppose declarer's shape is 2-5-1-5 with Qx of spades. If you return a trump, when you get in you can lead another trump, and declarer will be unable to avoid the loss of a club trick. However, if you lead back a spade and partner fails to find a trump shift (likely he will try to give you a spade ruff), declarer can score 8 trump tricks, 1 club trick, and 1 spade trick.”

Even a trump shift by partner won’t work. He is caught in a Morton’s fork. If he doesn’t cash the diamond ace, he loses it. If he does, the defense loses its chance to lead a second trump.
June 16
Phillip Martin edited this comment June 16
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Four of a major is usually the better game when most of the high cards are in one hand. The lack of communication makes 3NT problematic.

Even if your hearts were AQx instead of AJx, it's probably right to play in the major. Partner averages less than half the remaining high cards, and the opponents have as many hearts as partner does. So he is less than 50% to have the K.
June 3
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Since I'm probably going to have to guess diamonds to make this, I might as well play them now. Playing them now has two ways to win: (1) It's possible I can't afford to lose the lead twice. Playing diamonds now is the only way to avoid that. (2) I have some slim chance to make this even if I misguess diamonds. That chance is better if I haven't conceded a heart trick.
May 28
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I agree with the symmetry argument when the choices are “takeout” or “penalty,” but I don't think there is anything wrong with playing “co-operative” in one position and something else in the other. It certainly makes little sense to play “co-operative” from both sides of the table.
May 15
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Multiple choice answers should partition the universe.
May 15
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I can’t say for sure. But perhaps East decided his partner would have played the x from Ax42? That means I made another error. I should have concealed the 3 when I ducked.
May 14
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I agree it's likely my play didn't matter. But “surely” is an overbid, so it's still an error. Look at it this way: If I said, “I led a heart honor and West ducked,” you might shake your head in disgust. But wouldn't you be fairly certain that the honor I led was the 10?
May 13
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And, as is almost always the case when they forget to include “other,” that's my choice.
May 13
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If it's not a matter of partnership agreement and partner doesn't ask your opinion, you never say anything.
April 23
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Why would it be unethical, in the absence of unauthorized information, to choose a bid or play that you think improves your chances of winning the event?
March 2
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Ira Rubin would be horrified at all the passes.
March 1
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I have no recollection of posting this problem and no clue why I posted it. I presume I had some weird theory about what the right opening lead was. But we'll never know.
Feb. 18
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I'm dummy. At trick three, I'll play whatever partner instructs me to play.
Feb. 5
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You're arguing against the converse of what I said.
Feb. 2
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For it to be right to bid over an opponent's 1NT at IMPs, you need to take at least two tricks more in a suit contract than you can take in notrump. That is unlikely to be the case when your hand is balanced. Look at it this way: If partner opened a 6-8 HCP 1NT, would you pass or employ a garbage Stayman auction to get to a major?
Jan. 31
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I’m surprised 2 is the plurality choice. I thought the choice was between 2 and pass. Surely pass is right unless you have a game. If you aren’t going to try for game, why not just defend?
Jan. 28
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Isn't the club king at trick two better than the diamond king?
Jan. 25
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Doubling is more than a suggestion.
Jan. 24
Phillip Martin edited this comment Jan. 24
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I have no reason to believe the opponents have 8 spades. I have no reason to believe we have a 9-card fit. I have no expectation of making a game. I suppose one could bid anyway on the principle that it's painful to go through an entire auction without bidding anything, but I prefer to have a more constructive reason.
Jan. 23
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Unless those x's are actually X's, I doubt a passive defense is going to beat this. I think I need to go after a minor-suit trick before declarer can establish a spade for a pitch. The Q seems to offer the best chance. Obviously the queen could gain over a small one by deception, but it could also gain on technical grounds.
Jan. 21
Phillip Martin edited this comment Jan. 21
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