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Pre-Alerts ACBL

#1 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2011-December-25, 10:40

One of my partnerships makes the following pre-alerts at the beginning of each round:

(1) We play a strong club system.
(2) We may open very light in the majors.

The first of these is not a required pre-alert, and in fact most other strong club pairs do not pre-alert it. The second is a required pre-alert.

My experience (playing in all different levels of event from club games to national tournaments) has been that no one is really interested in pre-alert (2). I've never seen opponents discuss a defense, or decide to do anything particularly differently. However, the first pre-alert has often lead to discussion of defense to strong club, or questions about how short our 1 opening could be (which then sometimes leads to discussion of defenses there too). It seems to me that requiring us to pre-alert (2) is basically a waste of everyone's time; keep in mind that we have to alert these bids during the auction as well, so inferences that opponents may be able to draw in play/defense will still be available to them. On the other hand, requiring a pre-alert of (1) might be a good idea.
Adam W. Meyerson
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#2 User is offline   akhare 

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Posted 2011-December-25, 11:09

Our experience is very similar. There's little actionable information in 2) (unless they decide to change their balancing decisions based on it) and since a large portion of the 9-15 range overlaps with the "standard" range, the opening will likely be duplicated at other tables in a majority of cases.

We pre-alert both anyway in the interest of full disclosure, but I do agree that requiring the former makes much more sense.
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#3 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2011-December-26, 10:29

Another one is the supposed pre-alert about light 3rd seat openings. I have rarely seen anyone pre-alert this (the one pair I've met that does plays an arguably illegal agreement to open all hands of less than about 9 hcp in 3rd!) I'm also fairly sure that the vast majority of ACBL directors would never adjust a board for failure to pre-alert or alert this, instead saying that opening light opposite a passed hand is "just bridge." So why even have this pre-alert requirement? Having rules that (almost) no player follows and (almost) no director will enforce just seems dumb to me.
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#4 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2011-December-26, 16:48

View Postawm, on 2011-December-26, 10:29, said:

Another one is the supposed pre-alert about light 3rd seat openings.

Where do you see this? I don't see anything specific to 3rd seat openings in the Alert Procedures. Are you referring to this?

Quote

If it is your partnership style to routinely open hands with fewer than 11 HCP ... the opponents must be pre-alerted.

I think the concensus is that if you only do it in third seat, this doesn't fit the "routinely open" criterion, since that is indeed "just bridge". So you only have to pre-alert if you do this often in other seats.

#5 User is offline   Mbodell 

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Posted 2011-December-26, 22:32

I have to admit I don't have a good feel for the light pre-alert. And I agree very few people prealert it (I'm probably guilty of not prealerting it in one of my partnerships - although it depends a little on what routinely means, we pass maybe 1/3 of 10 and 11 point hands, does opening 2/3 of them [and maybe 1/4 of 9 HCP and 1/10 of 8 HCP hands] count as routinely opening?).

What does "routinely open" mean in context? If you open all unbalanced hands with 10+ points (but not balanced or semibalanced hands) does that count? Doesn't 95+% of people open AQxxxx xx x Axxx, the majority at the 1 level, since it meets the rule of 20? If you play a mini-nt in certain seats or colors (half time) is that 10 point balanced hand frequent enough to count as routinely, or is the half the time you pass balanced/semi-balanced 10 and 11 point hands enough to make it not frequent.

Part of the problem to is the 11 HCP means very different things as some 10 HCP hands are better than other 12 HCP hands.

I think many would open KJT9xx KJT9xx x - even though it has only 8 HCP (is this 11 HCP hand really much better A65432 A65432 K -). Heck, if you think it is "strong" you could probably legally open 2 with some directors!
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#6 User is offline   FrancesHinden 

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Posted 2011-December-27, 03:31

As an outside observer I can suggest two explanations for two things that seem slightly odd:

- The fact you play a strong club system should be immediately obvious from your system card. I know the problem in the ACBL is that you often don't get a chance to look at oppo's card, but in theory it's right there at the top of the card so you shouldn't ned to be pre-alerted to it. The light major suit openings (or the one I pre-alerted when I once played in an ACBL event - the very light pre-empts) have nowhere obvious to show on the card, so it might come as a surprise that you play them.

- The choice of what needs pre-alerting is (almost) certainly not the result of some detailed analysis of what people might play, and what might cause problems, but rather a reaction to complaints. If the relevant committee receive multiple complaints about one particular thing that some people play, they will be inclined to write a regulation to cope with it. If no-one ever complains, nothing will happen.
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#7 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2011-December-27, 09:31

ACBL card actually does have a place to mark very light openings (or separately, preempted) right below the spot for "general approach."
Adam W. Meyerson
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#8 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2011-December-27, 10:50

View PostMbodell, on 2011-December-26, 22:32, said:

I have to admit I don't have a good feel for the light pre-alert. And I agree very few people prealert it (I'm probably guilty of not prealerting it in one of my partnerships - although it depends a little on what routinely means, we pass maybe 1/3 of 10 and 11 point hands, does opening 2/3 of them [and maybe 1/4 of 9 HCP and 1/10 of 8 HCP hands] count as routinely opening?).

If opening is more the rule than the exception, I'd call it "routine". If you use Rule of 20, then it takes significant extra shape to open these weak hands, and it's not routine. I think the point of the regulation is to address players who open light WITHOUT such compensation.

And while it doesn't say so explicitly, I expect that they didn't intend to include balanced 10 counts when playing mini NT, since those are announced.

#9 User is offline   Cascade 

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Posted 2011-December-27, 14:11

View Postbarmar, on 2011-December-26, 16:48, said:

Where do you see this? I don't see anything specific to 3rd seat openings in the Alert Procedures. Are you referring to this?

I think the concensus is that if you only do it in third seat, this doesn't fit the "routinely open" criterion, since that is indeed "just bridge". So you only have to pre-alert if you do this often in other seats.


Its not "just bridge" to open light in third seat. Everyone doesn't do it.

In many places including the ACBL it is illegal to have a partnership understanding to open light. In the ACBL the border between legality and illegality is 8 hcp. 8hcp being legal and fewer than 8 hcp being illegal.

Here is the relevant statement on the General Convention Chart:

Quote

Disallowed

#6 Opening one bids which by partnership agreement could show fewer than 8 HCP. (Not applicable to a psych.)


Many players site "just bridge" or "psych(e)" when they in fact have a partnership understanding (possibly implicit rather than explicit) to open these light hands. They claim "psychic bid" when they know that partner has a propensity to make these (very) light openings. These situations are low frequency - third hand after two passes and we hold a very weak hand. Even more infrequent if we don't consider these actions at certain vulnerabilities. Many of these players believe the low frequency justifies them ignoring the laws and regulations. The reality is that if you would always, nearly always or even just a significant minority of the times you are in these situations open these light hands in third seat and you play in a regular partnership or even just have an understanding (explicit or implicit) of partner's tendencies in these situations then you have a partnership understanding that is disclosable and subject to law and regulation.

Many players don't disclose and hide behind "just bridge" because to disclose would subject them to regulation. That is the regulations provide a disincentive for proper disclosure. Its much easier to say (and pretend) that every one does it than to acknowledge that what you are doing is contrary to the laws and regulations.

Thus we create two classes of players 1. Those that justify what they do by saying that everyone does it and 2. Those that attempt to follow the laws and regulations as written. And consequently an uneven playing field based on how willing one is to bend and break the rules.

In my mind the disclosure and system regulations need to be clear in what is allowed and disallowed and the rules need to be enforced as written.
Wayne Burrows

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#10 User is offline   bluejak 

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Posted 2011-December-27, 14:45

It may be illegal to open super-light, but that does not mean it is illegal to open light. Suppose you pick up a 4432 8-count. Do you open it? Well, if you do, you are opening light. In England it is legal to open it in third hand but not first hand: in the ACBL it appears to be legal to open it in either. But it is important to disclose it if it is part of your partnership agreements.
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#11 User is offline   Mbodell 

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Posted 2011-December-27, 19:55

View PostCascade, on 2011-December-27, 14:11, said:

Many players site "just bridge" or "psych(e)" when they in fact have a partnership understanding (possibly implicit rather than explicit) to open these light hands. They claim "psychic bid" when they know that partner has a propensity to make these (very) light openings. These situations are low frequency - third hand after two passes and we hold a very weak hand. Even more infrequent if we don't consider these actions at certain vulnerabilities. Many of these players believe the low frequency justifies them ignoring the laws and regulations. The reality is that if you would always, nearly always or even just a significant minority of the times you are in these situations open these light hands in third seat and you play in a regular partnership or even just have an understanding (explicit or implicit) of partner's tendencies in these situations then you have a partnership understanding that is disclosable and subject to law and regulation.


I think some frequency has to come in to play. Say you are white versus red at teams and in 3rd seat where your partner would have opened the vast majority of 10 point hands in 1st seat. You hold 0 HCP. This is a very low frequency event. A significant percentage of this very infrequent time you may choose a psyche of some sort (1nt, 1 of your longer major, 1 of your shorter major, 2M, etc.). Maybe it isn't even the majority of the time, and maybe the psyche changes, but I do think that this can be "just bridge" to some extent. It is possible that your partner expects you to have your bid and bids like it because 99+% of the time in this situation (from their perspective) you have your bid, even if 50+% of the time (from your perspective) you'd be psyching.

To put it another way that is more extreme, if your personal tendencies would 100% psyche 1nt with any 4333 super Yarborough (no card above an 8), and otherwise are the Walrus and always and only open 1nt based strictly on your HCP with no adjustments I don't think you are playing an illegal agreement.
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#12 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2011-December-27, 19:59

View PostMbodell, on 2011-December-27, 19:55, said:


To put it another way that is more extreme, if your personal tendencies would 100% psyche 1nt with any 4333 super Yarborough (no card above an 8), and otherwise are the Walrus and always and only open 1nt based strictly on your HCP with no adjustments I don't think you are playing an illegal agreement.


That's an interesting opinion

Herman DeWael has advanced almost the identical line of arguement and been told specifically that its wrong.
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#13 User is offline   aguahombre 

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Posted 2011-December-28, 01:15

Hey, Mods: pls throw in a + on Wayne's rep; since he became a Yellow I can't :D .

Post #9 was a work of art.
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#14 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2011-December-28, 15:28

View Postaguahombre, on 2011-December-28, 01:15, said:

Hey, Mods: pls throw in a + on Wayne's rep; since he became a Yellow I can't :D .


Neither can I. :)
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I have come to realise it is futile to expect or hope a regular club game will be run in accordance with the laws. -- Jillybean
Factor in Alzheimers, and I can not recall a bad result from aggessive action in this situation. -- Aguahombre
When I look through the hand records after a club evening, the boards I didn't play are always the ones where I would have done great. -- Cherdano
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#15 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2011-December-28, 23:22

View PostCascade, on 2011-December-27, 14:11, said:

Here is the relevant statement on the General Convention Chart:

I thought we were talking about pre-alerting. If an agreement is not allowed in the first place, why would you need to pre-alert it? So that the opponents can call the director and remind you that you can't do it?

#16 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2011-December-28, 23:48

I do not think the point was about pre-alerting illegal agreements, but rather what the boundary is for legal agreements that require a pre-alert.
--------------------
I have come to realise it is futile to expect or hope a regular club game will be run in accordance with the laws. -- Jillybean
Factor in Alzheimers, and I can not recall a bad result from aggessive action in this situation. -- Aguahombre
When I look through the hand records after a club evening, the boards I didn't play are always the ones where I would have done great. -- Cherdano
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#17 User is offline   PrecisionL 

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Posted 2011-December-30, 17:54

ACBL ALERT PROCEDURES:

"3) SYSTEMS THAT MAY BE FUNDAMENTALLY UNFAMILIAR TO THE OPPONENTS

Players are expected to be prepared for the vast majority of systems that they may encounter at the bridge table. Common methods include either strong or weak notrumps with or without five-card majors. The forcing opening bid will most often be an artificial forcing opening of 1 or 2 .

When you play a system structured along different agreements than these, you should draw the opponents attention to your convention card before the round begins. In short, if you play a system that most players would not immediately recognize (such as a canapé system) or one the opponents may wish to discuss before the auction begins (a 10-12 1NT range with distributional requirements for minor-suit openings, for example), you are required to pre-Alert the opponents."

I play with 3 other partners a Strong Club System with canapé openers (sometimes canapé responses to 1).

We have a laminated strip for ACBL Required Pre-alert for Canapé and a Courtesy Pre-Alert for our Strong Club system.

We do open good 10 hcp hands (no pre-alert) and distributional hands with 8+ hcp (no pre-alert).
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#18 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2011-December-30, 21:41

Looking at the examples ACBL gives, it's fairly clear that canape is a pre-alert (in fact I think that's the example given of a pre-alert) and that a vanilla strong club system is not a pre-alert.

Another instance where a pre-alert is required is systems based on very light openings or other highly aggressive methods or preempts.

Note however that this is the "changing laws & regulations" forum. My belief is that it would be worthwhile to require a pre-alert for any non-standard general approach (since ACBL players are not in the habit of exchanging system cards before the round, and the current non-required warning of a strong club system has very often lead to discussion). However, I also believe it would be best to strike the requirement of pre-alerting light openings or overcalls (while continuing the currently also-required alert during the auction), since this pre-alert wastes time and basically never leads to serious discussion of defenses.
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#19 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2011-December-31, 00:45

I think most established partnerships have agreements on defenses to strong club systems, and don't need to discuss; ACBL's rule that "Players are expected to be prepared for the vast majority of systems" essentially requires this. Even when I'm playing with a pick-up partner I usually agree on something (it doesn't take long to say "Mathe vs strong club, ok?"), unless it's a really last minute partnership and we didn't have time to discuss much more than just "2/1, 1430, standard carding, ok?". And in that case, I'd probably try to check the opponent's card each round, so we could quickly agree on something if we encounter strong clubbers.

#20 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-January-02, 08:17

View PostFrancesHinden, on 2011-December-27, 03:31, said:

I know the problem in the ACBL is that you often don't get a chance to look at oppo's card, but in theory it's right there at the top of the card so you shouldn't need to be pre-alerted to it.


In the EBU we tend to "pre-alert" everything. It is maybe one time in a hundred that I am not told what the opponents' basic system is at the beginning of a round (sometimes I have to ask, sometimes they have to ask me, but in any case the information gets transmitted.)
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