Archive for June, 2010

Victorian team wins VCC

Well, practically.

Simon Hinge-Kim Morrison
Jamie Ebery-Leigh Gold

Jamie no longer lives in Melbourne but he’d be the first to say he’s still a Victorian at heart. And as for Kim, it transpires that three Victorians can get a Sydney-sider home (!)

The only genuinely Victorian team to win the VCC was 1991 S.Hinge R.Fruewirth W.Scott B.Thompson.

There have been a couple of teams with three Victorians and an alien, last time was

1983 R.vanRiel C.Hughes O.Olssen W.Scott

and now 2010.

I say send the whole team to South Africa and have them join our squad. Fancy for once in my life I’m somewhere I can watch the World Cup at the civilised hour of 7.30pm, and hence wide-awake for every excruciating moment of Australia’s 0-4 loss to Germany. If I’d been back in Melbourne I would have dozed through it, having a vague idea that it could all be going a tad better…

Are we a chance? Somebody give us an opimistic take. It looked hopeless to me.

June 14, 2010 at 7:25 pm 7 comments

Questions of style.

Towards the end of comments on this post, this interesting exchange took place (comments 10-14):

Peter Gill:

I must be a lunatic then. With North being a passed hand, I agree 100% with E and W ‘s actions. The likelihood of a re-opening double is so high that W’s Pass seems best.

You have to be careful about criticizing E and W here, just because they have a different bidding style from you. Plenty of BBO commentators, post mortemers and appellants make the same error. Diversity – different styles of bidding – should be praised and appreciated, not condemned as lunatic, in my opinion.

Ben Thompson:

“Style” is a very dangerous word. It lets you say “that’s not my style” when you disagree without having to justify it.

The argument that North is a passed hand, so that East is therefore likely to be able to reopen, so that West is therefore ok to pass over 2D as he is likely to be able to defend 2DX, is worthy. Style doesn’t enter into it, it’s just a reasonable argument (and I happen to think that the EW hands are on the wrong side of the margin).

A reasonable context for style is “we do [whatever] because of [whatever] so we therefore have to [balance with a X in these situations]“.

An unreasonable context for style is “we do [whatever] because it’s our style”.

When I hear an argument including style, it’s almost always the latter type, not the former.

Cathy Chua:

I think this comment is 100% true in its general observations about the idea of style and how people use it, but given that you suggested EW were lunatics and invited them to bid against you in this way as often as possible, you are in fact attributing a style.

On the other hand, I suspect there IS some style involved here. At relatively low levels this partnership is far less likely to pass in direct seat with slightly imperfect hands for entering the auction than other partnerships. So the balancer did not have to be as concerned with partner having ordinary opening hands as other balancers might have had to be. I guess that increases the chances of partner having what he had.

Ben Thompson:


Actually, this comment about EW entering frequently with ordinary but imperfect hands is a very good argument for the balancing double.

I take it all back. I think the “enter with ordinary imperfect hands” approach has upsides and downsides, but it’s not provably wrong, and it’s quite playable (if you’re prepared to accept the increased volatility).

With the context, the balancing double is quite reasonable.

On the one hand, I completely agree with Ben. There is that thing where your teammates come back with -50 on their grandslam hand and tell you ‘that’s our style’, like okay, well, pardon me for asking.

At the same time, may we not say ‘this is our style’ as a shortcut method of explaining, yawn, our system. Eg now and again a teammate might say ‘but shouldn’t you have upgraded that hand to a 1NT opening?’ and might one not wish to reply ‘that’s not our style’ rather than having to say, ‘Well, it’s like this. For reasons that we think justify the idea, we prefer not to use invitational bids. These reasons include the desire not to give away unnecessary information to the opponents and the wish to utilise the bids saved as a consequence for lowlevel slam enquiries which we find to be useful. We think this tradeoff is worth it. As a consequence we bid aggressively to game opposite 1NT openings. Because we do this, we find it is dangerous to upgrade hands the way other people do. It is to our advantage that we sometimes get lucky as responder and find that declarer actually has a good hand for his bid. Thus the whole concept of upgrading is not our style.’

In this case, although I did put forward an argument for our partnership (refer to the link at the top of this post) being more comfortable than others might be that partner has trap passed, I think the argument is a little dubious as the two level is almost too high for free-wheeling auction entry. But then, maybe it depends very much on the opponents and their ‘style’ of weak twos, ie the less disciplined their action, the less disciplined we should be.

Then again, maybe it is about the circumstance. Suppose you are a couple of Australian patzers playing Versace. How do you beat him? Well, in my opinion, the action we took is very likely the best approach. Do others disagree on this?

Yet again I think the thing we really have to be aware of is how incredibly complex bridge is, the situations, and how and why we deal with them as we do. I hope this doesn’t sound trite, it isn’t meant to.

June 9, 2010 at 1:03 am 13 comments

Too irritated for words. Drugs in bridge. Groan.

Well, you know. Not that irritated, but.

The fiasco goes on where bridge desperately tries to join the corrupt marketing exercise known as the Olympic Movement and it will do anything it has to succeed.

(1) Is there anybody out there who actually thinks it would be a good idea to be accepted into this movement? If so, please do explain.

(2) Let’s talk about the drug side of things. In case you didn’t know, in order to be defined as a sport you have to have a drug policy. Bridge, of course, doesn’t have one, and if it did, it would be completely dishonest. The only drug I know that is clearly performance-enhancing for bridge is nicotine. Is the WBF or the ABF going to ban smoking, either because it is cheating to smoke and play or because it is bad for one’s health and, hey, this is all about the health and happiness of the athlete. I hope that doesn’t make you laugh until you can’t finish your fag. Bridge, we know is mostly about dinner and drinks, we even organise our schedule at nationals around it these days. Athletes? Pardon me.

You probably haven’t done this before, but do go here to take a look at this absurd document.

Note in particular:

Natural or synthetic Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and THC-like cannabinoids
(e.g. hashish, marijuana, HU-210) are prohibited.

That would be ummmmmmm. Because they are performance enhancing? Not unless one of the sports is standing in front of the biscuit section of the supermarket at 2am deciding what to buy. First one to get to the checkout wins.

Compare alcohol:

Alcohol (ethanol) is prohibited In-Competition only, in the following sports.
Detection will be conducted by analysis of breath and/or blood. The doping
violation threshold (haematological values) is 0.10 g/L.
Aeronautic (FAI)
Archery (FITA)
Automobile (FIA)
Karate (WKF)
Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) for disciplines involving shooting
Motorcycling (FIM)
Ninepin and Tenpin Bowling (FIQ)
Powerboating (UIM)

They do jest, please tell me. Alcohol is only banned in the sports where they think you might actual kill somebody if you performed drunk, while marijuana is banned because WHAT? Ah, because it is bad for you and the Olympic movement is so interested in the health of the contestant. That’s right, I was forgetting. Whereas alcohol, well, we wouldn’t consider that the biggest legal health and safety issue in the countries in which it is legal, would we?

It gets even funnier, look at this:

Unless otherwise specified, beta-blockers are prohibited In-Competition only, in
the following sports.
Aeronautic (FAI)
Archery (FITA) (also prohibited Out-of-Competition)
Automobile (FIA)
Billiards and Snooker (WCBS)
Bobsleigh (FIBT)
Boules (CMSB)
Bridge (FMB)
Curling (WCF)
Golf (IGF)
Gymnastics (FIG)
Motorcycling (FIM)
Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) for disciplines involving shooting
Ninepin and Tenpin Bowling (FIQ)
Powerboating (UIM)
Sailing (ISAF) for match race helms only
Shooting (ISSF, IPC) (also prohibited Out-of-Competition)
Skiing/Snowboarding (FIS) in ski jumping, freestyle aerials/halfpipe
and snowboard halfpipe/big air
Wrestling (FILA)

Yes, dear readers, there’s bridge!!!! What a joke. Because chess, unlike bridge, has a professional attitude to what it does, drugs have been tested unofficially in that sport for a long time and players came to the conclusion not that beta-blockers couldn’t be performance-enhancing, but that you had to get it so precisely right, otherwise affecting your performance either way adversely, that it simply wasn’t worth it. Is this why we see on this list that bridge players may not use beta-blockers but chess players can???!!

So, as things stand, just to summarise, the WBF has no meaningful drug policy. It doesn’t permit the use of a clearly performance disenhancing drug group, why? It and the IOC don’t mention nicotine at all, why? Well, we know it is because there would be general havoc and rebellion, but all the same, why? It is plain dishonest to permit cigarette smoking as an Olympic exercise.

To see the development of the WBF’s plans over the years, go here.

I can see one reason why bridge might want to be part of the IOC, but chess shouldn’t. Chess has a meaningful Olympiad of its own, when you play in a chess olympiad you find out the population at large is actually interested in chess. It takes over a town or city, everybody knows it is on, people go to watch, they stand outside your hotel to get autographs. Bridge has nothing to compare. Nobody could give a flying fuck if a bridge olympiad is on in a town, it generates no interest whatsoever. I gather from recent discussion here that nobody thinks this matters, that bridge is obscure and excites the average mug in the street about as much as noughts and crosses – actually, probably less to be fair – but if this is the case, why on earth are we bothering trying to become an Olympic sport???!!!

Thoughts please.

June 5, 2010 at 7:50 am 21 comments

Scottish Cup denoument

PS: The bid I made, when asked, was 4S. Why are the 4NTers not taking a bid that says that same thing and keeps everything lower with a useful 4NT bid for partner???

Dealer East
EW Vul









Pass……Dble…….All Pass


In the other room:

2H………4S………All Pass


I was watching on BBO and, at the end of 64, it was announced that John Holland’s team had won by 6 IMPs. In fact, however, a score had been put in the wrong way and the match was so far a tie. I wasn’t the only one who missed the ensuing excitement, thinking it was all over. Another eight boards and then another two and then another two. Finally that produced a winner, Les Steel’s team by 3 IMPs.

When shown this hand and thinking exactly the same way as everybody else, show your two-suiter, I figured I’d better ask Les what his thinking was. He was concerned about the idea that a club ruff in diamonds was more likely than a diamond ruff in clubs.

There is also the worthy point to consider that bidding this high MEANS you have a two-suiter as a passed hand, so partner, if highly unsuitable, should be able to correct as a matter of general principle. I think this idea has much merit, though I never see it discussed in bidding theory. Have I missed something?

June 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm 12 comments

June 2010
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