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Always ask? Not very convenient

#1 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 08:41

This afternoon we played against a pair who bid (1)-P-1. The 1 bid was alerted because it could have been two (yes, it's a shame it's not an announcement but maybe in future...), and the 1 bid was alerted too.

I asked about the 1 bid and was told it was spades; when I then passed partner had the UI that I was considering overcalling 1. He claims that the only way I can avoid giving UI is to always ask in this position.

I don't like this, because I don't feel that I should I be under an obligation based on the opponents' methods? Also, what if they told me, or I saw if on their convention card, while partner was coming back from the bar? Must I still ask? This seems ridiculous.

So... should I find this treatment on the opponents' convention card before the round begins? That seem like a pain. Every time I sit down for a two-board round I have to take the CC from under the bidding box, unfold it, open it in case the method is not mentioned on the front under "Aspects of the system that opponents should note"... It just all seems rather annoying. While it's true that sometimes players forget or neglect to tell/ask about the basic system, I think that players who are playing something that will cause problems such as this for the opponents should definitely mention it at the beginning of the round.

Anyway. Interested in hearing what others think is a good solution.
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#2 User is offline   Trinidad 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 09:01

Your partner is right. I pretty much always ask if a bid is alerted, unless:
- it is obvious that I know the meaning (e.g. because I just looked at the CC)
- we are further in the auction and it is fairly certain that I will not want to enter it (because I have passed the previous four rounds)
- I play against people who don't know what they are doing. I don't want to give them a UI problem from their explanation just to prevent my potential UI problem.

And how much time does it really take?

1 - Alert - "Yes?" - "Spades"

Virtually none.

Rik
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#3 User is online   paulg 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 09:06

View PostVampyr, on 2012-April-07, 08:41, said:

While it's true that sometimes players forget or neglect to tell/ask about the basic system, I think that players who are playing something that will cause problems such as this for the opponents should definitely mention it at the beginning of the round.

I don't think there is a good solution. We have pre-alerts in Scotland and the ACBL has a codified pre-alert mechanism, but these all eat into the time for a two-board round.

While the EBU maintains that there is no requirement for pre-alerts, as the system card is deemed sufficient, there is no reason for a pair to mention anything that may cause problems. Indeed doing so could be considered dangerous, as you will not cover everything and your view of 'problems' may be different from your opponents.
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#4 User is offline   axman 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 09:37

View PostVampyr, on 2012-April-07, 08:41, said:

This afternoon we played against a pair who bid (1)-P-1. The 1 bid was alerted because it could have been two (yes, it's a shame it's not an announcement but maybe in future...), and the 1 bid was alerted too.

I asked about the 1 bid and was told it was spades; when I then passed partner had the UI that I was considering overcalling 1. He claims that the only way I can avoid giving UI is to always ask in this position.

I don't like this, because I don't feel that I should I be under an obligation based on the opponents' methods? Also, what if they told me, or I saw if on their convention card, while partner was coming back from the bar? Must I still ask? This seems ridiculous.

So... should I find this treatment on the opponents' convention card before the round begins? That seem like a pain. Every time I sit down for a two-board round I have to take the CC from under the bidding box, unfold it, open it in case the method is not mentioned on the front under "Aspects of the system that opponents should note"... It just all seems rather annoying. While it's true that sometimes players forget or neglect to tell/ask about the basic system, I think that players who are playing something that will cause problems such as this for the opponents should definitely mention it at the beginning of the round.

Anyway. Interested in hearing what others think is a good solution.


It seems rather straight forward to give the CC a once over at the beginning of the round. It also seems prudent to keep it in your lap so that you can give it a glance when you need it.
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#5 User is offline   gnasher 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 10:19

View PostVampyr, on 2012-April-07, 08:41, said:

This afternoon we played against a pair who bid (1)-P-1. The 1 bid was alerted because it could have been two (yes, it's a shame it's not an announcement but maybe in future...), and the 1 bid was alerted too.

I asked about the 1 bid and was told it was spades; when I then passed partner had the UI that I was considering overcalling 1. He claims that the only way I can avoid giving UI is to always ask in this position.

I don't like this, because I don't feel that I should I be under an obligation based on the opponents' methods? Also, what if they told me, or I saw if on their convention card, while partner was coming back from the bar? Must I still ask? This seems ridiculous.

You're under no obligation. You have a free choice: ask (or look at the card) every time and avoid giving UI; or save your breath and tell your partner to live with the UI problems.

I don't see any real benefit to not asking anyway. At some point in the hand, either you or your partner is going to need to know what 1 meant, so all you are doing is deferring the question.

Quote

So... should I find this treatment on the opponents' convention card before the round begins? That seem like a pain. Every time I sit down for a two-board round I have to take the CC from under the bidding box, unfold it, open it in case the method is not mentioned on the front under "Aspects of the system that opponents should note"... It just all seems rather annoying.

At the start of the round, didn't you exchange convention cards with your opponents, as required by the regulations? That would be a good time to note the noteworthy aspects of their system. Transfer responses to 1 should definitely be listed as such.

Suppose that you had looked at front of their card, and transfer responses weren't mentioned. Suppose further that you were of the school that asks only when it needs to know. (Whilst I personally think this is barking mad, it is, inferentially, recommended by the EBU.) You could legitimately argue that your partner received UI because the opponents hadn't filled in their convention card properly. If the constraints caused by this UI affected your score, you would be entitled to redress.

You seem to be saying that you want to (a) not read the "Aspects of the system that opponents should note" section of their card, and (b) not protect yourself by routinely asking about alerted bids. You can do that, but it seems unreasonable to expect not to suffer any consequences.

Quote

While it's true that sometimes players forget or neglect to tell/ask about the basic system, I think that players who are playing something that will cause problems such as this for the opponents should definitely mention it at the beginning of the round.

The rules don't require you to announce your basic system at the start of the round. In the EBU the proper way to disclose your basic system is to hand over a convention card.

This post has been edited by gnasher: 2012-April-07, 10:27

... that would still not be conclusive proof, before someone wants to explain that to me as well as if I was a 5 year-old. - gwnn
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#6 User is offline   FrancesHinden 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 13:54

The convention card has a section on the front specifically for 'aspects of system' that the opponents should be made aware of. It doesn't exactly take a long time to look at that and see that they are e.g. playing transfer responses to 1C.
I agree with gnasher that if that isn't on the front of the card, you have been misinformed.

p.s. I have seen a TD give a ruling based on a something fairly fundamental, like that, not being on the front of the card. It is the EBU version of a pre-alert.
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#7 User is offline   FrancesHinden 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 13:55

View PostVampyr, on 2012-April-07, 08:41, said:

This afternoon we played against a pair who bid (1)-P-1. The 1 bid was alerted because it could have been two (yes, it's a shame it's not an announcement but maybe in future...), and the 1 bid was alerted too.


I can't see any reason to add an announcement for a 2-card club suit. There are so many ways of playing a short 1C opening that it doesn't stop you (possibly) needing to ask.
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#8 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 14:03

View Postgnasher, on 2012-April-07, 10:19, said:

At the start of the round, didn't you exchange convention cards with your opponents, as required by the regulations?


Well, you know what it's like. You're EW, you arrive at the table, and the opponents' convention card is under your bidding box. Yes, I could take it out and unfold it and look at it, but it seems like too much hard work.
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#9 User is offline   mgoetze 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 14:34

View PostVampyr, on 2012-April-07, 14:03, said:

Well, you know what it's like. You're EW, you arrive at the table, and the opponents' convention card is under your bidding box. Yes, I could take it out and unfold it and look at it, but it seems like too much hard work.

In Germany, we have a format which does not require any unfolding, and I prefer to use that. We also have a format which is essentially a translation of the WBF card, which is prescribed for 4th league and higher play. That's the one I hide under the bidding box because my opponents don't want to see it anyway.
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#10 User is offline   mgoetze 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 14:35

BTW it strikes me that playing more Howell movements would facilitate the implementation of the regulation about exchanging CCs at the beginning of the round.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
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#11 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 15:00

View PostFrancesHinden, on 2012-April-07, 13:55, said:

I can't see any reason to add an announcement for a 2-card club suit. There are so many ways of playing a short 1C opening that it doesn't stop you (possibly) needing to ask.


I find myself needing to learn more about a short club during the auction very infrequently, so I find it kind of annoying that I often have to ask in case it is a strong club or Polish club.
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#12 User is offline   AlexJonson 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 15:20

View PostVampyr, on 2012-April-07, 14:03, said:

Well, you know what it's like. You're EW, you arrive at the table, and the opponents' convention card is under your bidding box. Yes, I could take it out and unfold it and look at it, but it seems like too much hard work.


I'd go a bit further. There's no requirement to examine the opponent's card. And in the world of announcements and alerts, a lot to be said for getting on with it. An alert at this stage in this auction means you can ask. I hope no TD would be tempted to consider UI when you do ask, and I don't think your partner needs to think about UI.
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#13 User is offline   aguahombre 

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Posted 2012-April-07, 18:29

First-round alerts, or alerts when we are competing, seem more prone to the appearance of giving UI when we ask and then pass. For that reason, it is probably a good idea to just consistently ask. I have been playing with better half for more than 20 years, and still don't know what she is sure enough about that she doesn't need to ask, nor does she me.

Nevertheless, IMO, your partner made a big deal about nothing. All he has to do is not use whatever UI he thinks he has.
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#14 User is offline   gnasher 

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Posted 2012-April-08, 01:30

View PostAlexJonson, on 2012-April-07, 15:20, said:

I hope no TD would be tempted to consider UI when you do ask, and I don't think your partner needs to think about UI.

I hope (and expect) that any TD would rule according to the laws, and Stefanie's partner will play by the rules. Law 16 says it's UI, so it's UI.
... that would still not be conclusive proof, before someone wants to explain that to me as well as if I was a 5 year-old. - gwnn
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#15 User is offline   jallerton 

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Posted 2012-April-08, 02:13

View Postgnasher, on 2012-April-07, 10:19, said:

The rules don't require you to announce your basic system at the start of the round. In the EBU the proper way to disclose your basic system is to hand over a convention card.


Before August 2006, there was a requirement in England for the pairs to tell each other their basic systems at the start of each round. This normally took about five seconds.

Since August 2006, this requirement has been abolished. Yes, the only requirement now is to exchange convention cards but I do not consider this to be a "proper way to disclose". In practice:

1. A lot of players do not look at the opposing convention cards.
2. When all four players do look at the opposing convention cards, this takes much longer than the simple verbal exchange of information. This is a particular issue for players who like to use up the whole of the time allowed for the round for the bidding and play.
3. It is common for at least one of the four convention cards to be missing (some partnerships did not start with two convention cards and even when they did: EW: "I left it at another table"; NS: "an opponent has walked off with my covention card").
4. Worse still, sometimes a previous opponent's convention card is left at this table resulting in an unfortunate misunderstanding.
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#16 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2012-April-08, 02:28

View Postjallerton, on 2012-April-08, 02:13, said:

Before August 2006, there was a requirement in England for the pairs to tell each other their basic systems at the start of each round. This normally took about five seconds.

Since August 2006, this requirement has been abolished. Yes, the only requirement now is to exchange convention cards but I do not consider this to be a "proper way to disclose". In practice:


You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but the law says that the RA gets to define the proper way to disclose, and the EBU has done that.

View Postjallerton, on 2012-April-08, 02:13, said:

1. A lot of players do not look at the opposing convention cards.
2. When all four players do look at the opposing convention cards, this takes much longer than the simple verbal exchange of information. This is a particular issue for players who like to use up the whole of the time allowed for the round for the bidding and play.
3. It is common for at least one of the four convention cards to be missing (some partnerships did not start with two convention cards and even when they did: EW: "I left it at another table"; NS: "an opponent has walked off with my covention card").
4. Worse still, sometimes a previous opponent's convention card is left at this table resulting in an unfortunate misunderstanding.


Some of these may be real problems, but as for the first, it seems to me that if a player screws something up because he didn't look at a convention card, that's his problem. For the third, if somebody has left his card behind, he should go get it, and if somebody else walked off with it, he should ask the TD to retrieve it for him (although if he knows who took it, he can retrieve it himself).
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#17 User is offline   jallerton 

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Posted 2012-April-08, 02:34

View PostVampyr, on 2012-April-07, 08:41, said:

This afternoon we played against a pair who bid (1)-P-1. The 1 bid was alerted because it could have been two (yes, it's a shame it's not an announcement but maybe in future...), and the 1 bid was alerted too.

I asked about the 1 bid and was told it was spades; when I then passed partner had the UI that I was considering overcalling 1. He claims that the only way I can avoid giving UI is to always ask in this position.

I don't like this, because I don't feel that I should I be under an obligation based on the opponents' methods? Also, what if they told me, or I saw if on their convention card, while partner was coming back from the bar? Must I still ask? This seems ridiculous.

So... should I find this treatment on the opponents' convention card before the round begins? That seem like a pain. Every time I sit down for a two-board round I have to take the CC from under the bidding box, unfold it, open it in case the method is not mentioned on the front under "Aspects of the system that opponents should note"... It just all seems rather annoying. While it's true that sometimes players forget or neglect to tell/ask about the basic system, I think that players who are playing something that will cause problems such as this for the opponents should definitely mention it at the beginning of the round.

Anyway. Interested in hearing what others think is a good solution.


Your partner is right that if you always ask in this position then the fact that you have asked does not provide any UI. However, if you already know (or think you already know!) the meaning of the alerted call, then there is no need to ask. When you don't ask, the only UI provided to partner is that you (think you) know the meaning of the opponent's call already. It does not give partner any UI about the contents of your own hand and consequently does not put him under ethical pressure.

The only problem you might have with this practice is when someone asks for a ruling not realising that you always ask independent of the contents of your own hand. "Always ask" is still officially not recommended by the EBU.

By the way, it is not just the defending side which becomes disadvantaged by the rules. I sometimes play transfer responses to 1 and have had the auctions:

1(alerted)-Pass-1(alerted, no questions asked)-1 = natural; whilst for the same opponents:

1(alerted)-Pass-1(alerted, asked and explained as 4+ spades)-1 = take-out of spades.

One suggestion I made to the EBU L&E a few years ago was to abolish alerts on the first round of auction and to have a rule that all conventional calls on the first round are replaced by a brief announcement instead. So here it would go:

1(announced as "could be 2")-Pass-1(announced as 4+ spades).

Now everyone knows what's going on immediately and a lot of time and hassle is saved.
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#18 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-April-08, 03:19

View Postjallerton, on 2012-April-08, 02:34, said:

One suggestion I made to the EBU L&E a few years ago was to abolish alerts on the first round of auction and to have a rule that all conventional calls on the first round are replaced by a brief announcement instead. So here it would go:


This is quite a good idea. This could be extended above 3NT too, so that Texas transfers are alerted. We pay these, and recognise that the opponents have a similar problem when it goes 1NT-4, not even alerted.
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#19 User is offline   AlexJonson 

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Posted 2012-April-08, 03:39

View Postgnasher, on 2012-April-08, 01:30, said:

I hope (and expect) that any TD would rule according to the laws, and Stefanie's partner will play by the rules. Law 16 says it's UI, so it's UI.


I don't see that Law 16 is an issue in this case.

I may ask because I am thinking of bidding or because I may need to know to understand any bids partner may make.

I may not ask because I already know.

I can't see that I create UI.
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#20 User is offline   lamford 

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Posted 2012-April-08, 04:02

I agree with everything frances, jeffrey and gnasher wrote on this one. In, I think, 39 rounds, only one opponent asked to exchange convention cards. I do not know if the opponents (friends of ours, and very ethical) had transfer responses to 1C on the front of the card, but I would guess they did. I would also guess that the percentage of pairs exchanging convention cards is less than 10%, based on my sample. But it clearly avoids the problem, and I shall do so in future.

On the actual hand, I had xx xxxxx Kxxx xx. Dummy had AJxx 10xx J10xx Ax. Declarer had xx AKJx AQx KQ9xx. I think the best lead is a spade, but thought a heart was an LA, so led one. When I won a diamond, I thought a spade (necessary to break up the black-suit squeeze) was best, but that passive defence was an LA (declarer could have had K10x), so selected the latter, and the declarer wrapped up 12 tricks. I would rule against myself if a spade had been led on either occasion.
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