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A teams hammering

#1 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-September-22, 15:58

Finished a 20 board friendly teams match earlier this evening. Another huge hand bias the other way on our table (declared one hand in the first 15 boards). The opponent's bidding was crazy at times e.g. reversing on minimum opening hands, overcalling at the three level on JTxxx and finding dummy with AKxx in support. Here are some of the hands we suffered major losses, I'm not sure whether we (more specifically I) could have judged better.

We were playing 5CM, weak NT, multi 2C/D, Muiderberg twos, 2NT=7 card minor, pre-emptive.

Round 1:

Board 1:
My opening was Muiderberg, 5+,4+m. When 5 came back to me I considered bidding 5 on the much more shapely hand and partner being marked short in diamonds, but thought better of it because if I am going to re-preempt I'd better be right, and it looks like partner might be stacked in hearts so both 5 and 5 could be down. I was half right, we got 5 well down but teammates allowed the opps to play in 4X+1, so that was a big swing out. Should I have bid again?

Board 6:
2NT shows a 3 level pre-empt in one of the minors. The West overcall is what I mean by strange bidding that somehow either worked or we didn't/couldn't punish them for it. Teammates were one off in 4. It didn't help our defense that I judged partner more likely to have clubs so led the queen, eliminating declarer's potential loser in that suit.

Board 8:
Couldn't touch this one. Partner led a heart which helps declarer pick up the suit. Teammates stopped in 3.

Board 9:
Opps bid to 3 and we made it in defence. 9 imps in but should one of us find a double?

Round 2:

Board 2:
2 was either a weak 2 hand or an Acol 2. Needless to say we couldn't get 2 down. Opps on other table were in 3= so a partscore swing out.
Board 6:
Self inflicted. I couldn't see a better bid than 2NT showing a flat 11-12 HCP with no major and a diamond stop (maybe partner will hold a ten or jack to contribute a second stopper). I don't think partner should be bidding 3NT with a minimal opener but what can she do? Of course both black finesses are wrong so I go two down. If she can find a double or maybe I can if she passes it round to me we should get it at least one down, hopefully more. Teammates went one down in 3 so that was 6 imps out.

Board 10:
I don't know if this was system induced or my poor judgement. When partner showed a weak two in diamonds or a big hand I was reluctant to respond 2 in case she goes back to diamonds, and then we are in a bigger hole. The opponents managed to find the correct place to play (3=) so another partscore swing out.

-33 imps at the end of it all. I should have remembered the outcome last time I played in one of these friendly matches before signing up to this one. At least I enjoyed it despite getting pushed around on most of the boards. The 3NT we took down where I knew how to defend almost from when the dummy went down, and I ended up locking declarer in dummy forcing him to concede the 5th defensive trick to my partner was very satisfying.
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#2 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 09:36

Round 1:
Board 1: here in the Netherlands 'Muiderberg' means "Exactly 5M, 4+m". With 6=4 hands players are encouraged to bid a multi 2, and with even more extreme shape you take more aggressive action. Your hand is a serious departure from what I would call Muiderberg. I am happy you did not bid again - it is seldom correct to bid again over your own preemptive opening bid. Just make the right opening bid the next time (for me 4, but some would choose a conservative 3, or even multi 2 in the absence of a natural 2 intending to bid diamonds after, hoping partner will understand). Also note that if you were tempted to bid again it would have been better to bid immediately over 4, instead of fish for the opponents to enter and then guess again.

Board 6: the bidding is outright suspicious. West has a very easy pass into takeout double of 3. The lead is tough luck, that is the price you pay for using ambiguous preempts (that, and 4X looks only one off, but it depends on two finesses).

Board 8: I hate leading trumps, but the spade jack is the real blunder on this hand. Just return a diamond.

Board 9: East did everything wrong. The 2 bid is wrong. West's 3 raise is normal, although some would prefer being passive with values in the opponents' suit. Running the heart jack is a no-win play, finessing the jack of diamonds is silly, and the uppercut is a nice finish to this disaster. I would not have found a double, and I think against more skilled opponents it would be wise not to double auctions like this one.

Round 2:
Board 2:
West should open 3 in my opinion, expecting to go down (or, in this case, North bidding 3). Third hand at favourable vulnerability it pays to bid 3m. That being said, opening a weak 2 in diamonds and then passing 2 is also a very normal result, and in fact 3 should go down (losing a spade, a heart, two diamonds and a club). You were unlucky to receive a partscore swing.

Board 6:
2NT is not crazy, if discussed you can bid 2 with only 3-card club support, but absent this agreement 2NT is the right bid. North and East lost the plot after that, 3 is crazy, and East has no business bidding the hand twice. If you insist on taking action a takeout double is the best description, but I would just pass.

Board 10:
You would have bid over a weak two in diamonds, so you also must bid something other than 2 now. It sounds like you haven't discussed the followups - i.e. will partner always bid 3 with the weak hand? Would 3 over 3 be forcing? If you don't know the followups to conventions they might well be anti-percentage to play in the first place.
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#3 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 10:12

View PostDavidKok, on 2021-September-23, 09:36, said:

Board 8: I hate leading trumps, but the spade jack is the real blunder on this hand. Just return a diamond.


I was hoping partner had the queen and we could set up a spade trick. If declarer has it, the contract is rock solid and I didn't know what else to play for at the time given how the play had gone. On the layout game is cold (5 hearts, 2 spades, 4 clubs), so I'm not sure how exactly I blundered.
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#4 User is offline   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 10:55

Good point, I miscounted declarer's tricks. Playing for 1 off is the right move, you could have tried the nine of spades to discourage a cover but it probably would not have mattered.
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#5 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 11:44

Boards 1 and 2 are so strange that I’d consider reporting the opps. Not accusing them of cheating: two hands are not enough.

However, if these opps are a regular partnership, I’d want to see say 300 hands they’ve played together.

If I saw 15-20 similar hands, on which very unusual actions caught perfect dummies (or on play, weird defences hit partner’s cards) I’d recommend charges.

It’s not the making of terrible calls that is the key. It’s the making of terrible calls that appear likely to work on a single dummy basis (I.e. based on partner’s hand…the lie of the opps’ cards can still lead to a bad result for the cheaters) while never taking a weird call when doing so would not hit partner’s hand

So, if an opponent routinely overcalls in a sp4 card suit with a classic takeout double hand, he’ll sometimes hit shortness and play in a terrible fit. But if every time he does it he hits 4+ support….that’s so improbable as to justify an accusation IF but only if there are a lot of hands looked at.
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#6 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 12:42

View Postmikeh, on 2021-September-23, 11:44, said:

Boards 1 and 2 are so strange that I’d consider reporting the opps. Not accusing them of cheating: two hands are not enough.

However, if these opps are a regular partnership, I’d want to see say 300 hands they’ve played together.

If I saw 15-20 similar hands, on which very unusual actions caught perfect dummies (or on play, weird defences hit partner’s cards) I’d recommend charges.

It’s not the making of terrible calls that is the key. It’s the making of terrible calls that appear likely to work on a single dummy basis (I.e. based on partner’s hand…the lie of the opps’ cards can still lead to a bad result for the cheaters) while never taking a weird call when doing so would not hit partner’s hand

So, if an opponent routinely overcalls in a sp4 card suit with a classic takeout double hand, he’ll sometimes hit shortness and play in a terrible fit. But if every time he does it he hits 4+ support….that’s so improbable as to justify an accusation IF but only if there are a lot of hands looked at.


Thanks, I'll consider doing that, I will get the opinions of a couple of the club senior players (one of which has directed at county level) first. Is it possible to report some time after the event, and who on BBO would I report it to?
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#7 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 13:11

View PostAL78, on 2021-September-23, 12:42, said:

Thanks, I'll consider doing that, I will get the opinions of a couple of the club senior players (one of which has directed at county level) first. Is it possible to report some time after the event, and who on BBO would I report it to?

I’m not sure. Try abuse

Do you know the opps in question? If so, do you know their NBO? For example (recognizing this is likely inapplicable) if they play within the ACBL you could seek a recorder form and submit it online (I think)
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#8 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 14:04

View Postmikeh, on 2021-September-23, 13:11, said:

I’m not sure. Try abuse

Do you know the opps in question? If so, do you know their NBO? For example (recognizing this is likely inapplicable) if they play within the ACBL you could seek a recorder form and submit it online (I think)


I don't know them, I only know their club, and it is in England. Maybe asking the EBU for advice is the way to go?
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#9 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 14:43

View PostAL78, on 2021-September-23, 14:04, said:

I don't know them, I only know their club, and it is in England. Maybe asking the EBU for advice is the way to go?


"Members are reminded that the proper way to report concerns about the actions of members online (whether in EBU events or not) is to contact the secretary of the Laws & Ethics Committee at lecsec@ebu.co.uk and not to make public allegations on social media or elsewhere."
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#10 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 15:01

View Postpescetom, on 2021-September-23, 14:43, said:

"Members are reminded that the proper way to report concerns about the actions of members online (whether in EBU events or not) is to contact the secretary of the Laws & Ethics Committee at lecsec@ebu.co.uk and not to make public allegations on social media or elsewhere."

I think AL78 is ok here. He didn’t so much as hint at improper conduct by his opps, and no other poster (for whom he ought not be held responsible anyway) has done more than point out unusual actions with, in m6 case at least, a clear explanation as to why there is no basis, on the evidence here, to call anyone out for improper conduct.
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#11 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 15:48

View Postmikeh, on 2021-September-23, 15:01, said:

I think AL78 is ok here. He didn’t so much as hint at improper conduct by his opps, and no other poster (for whom he ought not be held responsible anyway) has done more than point out unusual actions with, in m6 case at least, a clear explanation as to why there is no basis, on the evidence here, to call anyone out for improper conduct.


Wasn't suggesting otherwise, just quoting the policy of EBU which AL78 implicitly asked for.
It would probably be correct to comment out the usernames and make no further comment if a report is made.
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#12 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 15:51

View Postmikeh, on 2021-September-23, 15:01, said:

I think AL78 is ok here. He didn’t so much as hint at improper conduct by his opps, and no other poster (for whom he ought not be held responsible anyway) has done more than point out unusual actions with, in m6 case at least, a clear explanation as to why there is no basis, on the evidence here, to call anyone out for improper conduct.


All I've done is give an opinion that the opps bidding during the match was crazy at times, which isn't a direct accusation of anything improper, so I don't think I have crossed any boundaries as far as the EBU is concerned.
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#13 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 17:14

View Postmikeh, on 2021-September-23, 11:44, said:

Boards 1 and 2 are so strange that I'd consider reporting the opps. Not accusing them of cheating: two hands are not enough.


Really!!!!!???? Mike, I don't think you play enough in weak/mixed fields to realize how often people perpetrate weirdo/nutso/simply bad bids that you are way too quick to suspect malfeasance.


I don't think these are suspicious whatsoever. To me it is 99.9% these are weak players who don't know WTF to do especially against uncommon artificial preempts relative to their area (2nt as unspecified minor and Muiderberg aren't commonly played in a lot of areas, especially in lower level competitions), rather than they are maybe cheating.

To me, I think real cheaters aren't going to do it by making totally weirdo bidding (by good player perspective), they'll do it by subtly getting all their close judgment calls right (because they know partner's hand or if partner is min/max) and their lead guesses right when they don't have some "obvious" lead. These people are just inexperienced players faced with novel situations for them and try something, they don't know it's weird because they haven't learned it yet.

I am a strong advocate of Hanlon's razor.

As for the match in general: some boards maybe you should have done something more, but to me it looks like mostly bad luck and need to get better teammates/partner (or just accept their limited level and not get too frustrated when you lose). There were bunches of boards where partner/teammates clearly should have done something better (e.g. double 5h, defeat 3D, not bid 3nt over 3d) to push boards/reduce the damage.
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#14 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-September-23, 18:10

View PostStephen Tu, on 2021-September-23, 17:14, said:

As for the match in general: some boards maybe you should have done something more, but to me it looks like mostly bad luck and need to get better teammates/partner (or just accept their limited level and not get too frustrated when you lose). There were bunches of boards where partner/teammates clearly should have done something better (e.g. double 5h, defeat 3D, not bid 3nt over 3d) to push boards/reduce the damage.


It did feel like our result was disappointing given I didn't think I played that badly, apart from one or two poor bidding judgements in the posted hands, and it is normally much less enjoyable during the session when I get a bad result. On paper we should have scraped a win, but teammates missed a couple of games in the first half plus two weird boards put us 15 down and we lost similarly in the second half. I/we didn't choose these teammates, the format of these friendly matches is we declare our interest as a pair and are then teamed up with another pair, so it is pot luck who we play with.

There were seven teams playing in total. Summed over all teams, we scored more imps than them but they beat us on VPs, overall it was a close contest.
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#15 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2021-September-24, 16:18

View Postmikeh, on 2021-September-23, 11:44, said:

Boards 1 and 2 are so strange that I’d consider reporting the opps. Not accusing them of cheating: two hands are not enough.

However, if these opps are a regular partnership, I’d want to see say 300 hands they’ve played together.

If I saw 15-20 similar hands, on which very unusual actions caught perfect dummies (or on play, weird defences hit partner’s cards) I’d recommend charges.

Here is a hand that might make the list. This is another that looks fairly weird but whether they gained an advantage from it is another question. Another for the weird but landing on feet category. Did you mention 4-card overcalls? Or how about those non-forcing advances? Well, except when they're not. Invites? who needs an invite? WJO with a side 5 card major? WTP! Would you lead from 8642 in the unbid suit or Q2 in Dummy's second suit? Who says Acol handles 4-4 club fits better than SA? This and this were played on consecutive boards. Offshape takeout doubles aren't just for the 1 level.

Against that, there are a small number of hands that actively suggest that they are not cheating.

Sometimes I was just confused - can anyone explain to me what was going on in this auction?

Just a little mix of selected hands from the last month. It is notable that together they have a record of +1.33 IMPs/bd, a fairly normal score for a solid regular pair and significantly less than one would expect from cheating. Comparing that with the record playing with other partners though, -0.47 IMPs/bd, and the difference certainly might be one that warrants investigation.
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#16 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-September-24, 16:35

View PostStephen Tu, on 2021-September-23, 17:14, said:

Really!!!!!???? Mike, I don't think you play enough in weak/mixed fields to realize how often people perpetrate weirdo/nutso/simply bad bids that you are way too quick to suspect malfeasance.


I don't think these are suspicious whatsoever. To me it is 99.9% these are weak players who don't know WTF to do especially against uncommon artificial preempts relative to their area (2nt as unspecified minor and Muiderberg aren't commonly played in a lot of areas, especially in lower level competitions), rather than they are maybe cheating.

To me, I think real cheaters aren't going to do it by making totally weirdo bidding (by good player perspective), they'll do it by subtly getting all their close judgment calls right (because they know partner's hand or if partner is min/max) and their lead guesses right when they don't have some "obvious" lead. These people are just inexperienced players faced with novel situations for them and try something, they don't know it's weird because they haven't learned it yet.

I am a strong advocate of Hanlon's razor.

As for the match in general: some boards maybe you should have done something more, but to me it looks like mostly bad luck and need to get better teammates/partner (or just accept their limited level and not get too frustrated when you lose). There were bunches of boards where partner/teammates clearly should have done something better (e.g. double 5h, defeat 3D, not bid 3nt over 3d) to push boards/reduce the damage.

I didn’t accuse anyone. I was very careful to point out that one CANNOT ‘prove’ anything from two hands….one needs to examine a significant number of boards, literally hundreds, and one looks at all the boards to see if one can detect a pattern

If players are prone to weird actions, so be it. The key is whether there is a very strong correlation between the weird action and partner’s hand…in a way that cannot be inferred from the auction.

If there are a significant number of such boards, and no similar weird stuff that doesn’t match partner’s hand, then one may infer cheating…but even then the suspected pair must be given a chance to explain themselves.

As for weak pairs….I’ve seen a lot of weak players. I’ve also reviewed thousands of hands played by people suspected of cheating.

You are very naive if you think that cheaters are subtle. Most of them are greedy or lazy.

I’ve seen, for example, opening 1N on a 6421 hand with 21 hcp. Not to worry, partner responded stayman with minimal values and they found their spade slam!

Or overcalling 1D with 1S holding 4=4=1=4 13….with 10xxx in spades and AKxx in hearts…partner was 5=2 majors.

Same player overcalled 1H with an almost identical hand later….partner held 1=6 majors

And so on.

On many of the hands I’ve examined, one has to laugh out loud at the audacity of the cheating.

Yes, an expert would choose differently…using the info only as a tie-breaker when guessing a lead, or making an aggressive/conservative call…basically not to make a master bid or play but instead to avoid making a losing guess.

But the majority of cheaters are bad players, just as are the majority of honest players. And they get lazy or greedy.
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#17 User is offline   cherdano 

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Posted 2021-September-24, 17:33

View PostGilithin, on 2021-September-24, 16:18, said:


You should send a report to abuse@bridgebase.com
The easiest way to count losers is to line up the people who talk about loser count, and count them. -Kieran Dyke
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#18 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2021-September-24, 17:45

Gilithin's set is definitely a ton more convincing that something hinky is going on and should be reported.
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