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Acol what defines it

#1 User is offline   euclidz 

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Posted 2015-April-02, 14:45

When is Acol not Acol?

I play Acol. I know there are many other systems and I am vaguely aware of the defining features of Standard American (SAYC). I would describe the defining features of Acol as 4cm and WkNT and the defining features of SAYC as 5cm and StNT. Can you play 5cm and StNT and say that you are playing Acol?
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#2 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2015-April-02, 15:10

SAYC is a very well-defined system. It is not just 5-card major and strong notrump - there are 100s of such systems but only one SAYC system. For example, it is part of the SAYC definition that transfers do not apply in response to a 1nt overcall but they do apply in response to a 1nt opening.

Acol is a somewhat vague concept which different sources define in different ways and there is no single authority that can unambigously be said to be "the" Acol authority. Maybe back in the days when Acol was invented the Acol club in London was "the" authority, but the system has evolved a lot since then, and in somewhat divergent directions. In the Netherlands "Acol" implies that you play strong NT and that you open the lower of two four card suits (although, to be fair, textbooks tend to call this style "Dutch Acol" rather than merely Acol). Similarly, Swiss Acol is 5-card spades and 4-card hearts.

On the British Islands almost everybody who call their system "Acol" play weak notrump but in my experience most do not see the weak notrump as a defining characteristic of the system. This is because historically Acol was played with a variable notrump.

Historically some of the features that distinguished Acol from Standard American were:
- light openings
- limit raises (1-(pass)-3 was forcing in SA back then)

But today, SA has adopted limit raises as well, and many open just as light as the English do.

If we limit the discussion to English and Scotish Acol, then 4-card majors probably is a defining characteristic of Acol. While some players may call their system Acol even if they play 5-card majors, I don't think there are any major textbooks that do so.

If someone call their system "Acol with 5-card majors and strong notrump" you might wonder why they don't just call it SA. Maybe the defining characteristic of Acol would, in that case, be the low forcing character of 2-level responses:
1-2
2*
would be forcing for most SA pairs (certainly for those who play according to reasonably modern textbooks) while nonforcing for almost all Acol pairs.
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#3 User is offline   RMB1 

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Posted 2015-April-02, 16:04

I think a distinguishing feature of Acol is that 1M-2m is only forcing for one round (forcing to 2M).
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#4 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2015-April-02, 17:32

View PostRMB1, on 2015-April-02, 16:04, said:

I think a distinguishing feature of Acol is that 1M-2m is only forcing for one round (forcing to 2M).


I think so too. I do not really use labels, but when I play 5-card majors/weak NT I would, if pressed, call it 5-card Major Acol.
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#5 User is offline   euclidz 

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Posted 2015-April-03, 07:17

I recognise, understand and accept all that's been said here all of which matches my (Acol) Bridge life experience i.e. that many people playing Acol are playing with slightly different values yet all believe that they are playing 'standard' Acol. For example I played in an interclub comp some years back where I was drawn with another player and during the game it became evident that this person played 2 over 1 with 8hcp and a 5 card suit and she insisted that this was standard Acol and that she had been playing that for 10 years. (Note: I suggest that an Acol 2 over 1 response e.g. 1 2 promises a minimum of 10hcp with a minimum 4 card suit).

So yes, I accept that there discrepancies on what the values are for calls in standard Acol but there must be a boundary beyond which it is not i.e. there must be something(s) which are so fundamental to Acol and any other system which must be else you are can't be said to be playing that system. For example I would argue that if you are playing a StNT you cannot describe the system you play as Acol.

Why is it important? I believe that the EBU rules require anything that is a partnership agreement should be alerted i.e. if your are playing with values that are outside the range of standard Acol it should be alerted. If that is correct there must be something that defines what is and what is not standard Acol.

I also note that BBO has an 'Acol' Club and that the rules of that Club are that everyone playing there must play Acol which implies that Acol must be definable?
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#6 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2015-April-03, 07:21

I wouldn't go so far as to say that you absolutely need 10 HCP for 2/1. But with less you should have an excellent suit.
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#7 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2015-April-03, 07:29

View Posteuclidz, on 2015-April-03, 07:17, said:

Why is it important? I believe that the EBU rules require anything that is a partnership agreement should be alerted i.e. if your are playing with values that are outside the range of standard Acol it should be alerted. If that is correct there must be something that defines what is and what is not standard Acol.

No, the EBU alert rules do not refer to "Acol". There are plenty of styles which are not Acol and which are not alertable. For example, a 1 or 1 opening promising 5+ cards in the suit is not alertable.

It would be nice to know what it means when opps put "General approach: Acol" on their CC, though. But I think trying to establish a uniform meaning of the word "Acol" is a futile excersize. By the way, it's not any clearer if they state "SA" or "Precision" as their general approach.

As for the strength of a 2/1 response: I believe 8+, 9+ and 10+ are all well within what is commonly understood as Acol style. I must say don't quite understand the 10+ criterion, though. Don't you want to be in game opposite a balanced 15-16 with most 9-counts?

By the way, if someone tell you that their 2/1 responses show five cards they are probably not telling you the truth. In Lawrence's original style, a 2/1 response promised an unbalanced hand so it would always be 5+ cards except that 1-2 could be 1444. But that's a 5-card major system in which 1M-2NT is 13+ and 1M-1NT is 5-12. In Acol you can't play that way so you have to make 2/1 responses on balanced hands sometimes.
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#8 User is offline   euclidz 

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Posted 2015-April-03, 09:01

View Posthelene_t, on 2015-April-03, 07:29, said:

No, the EBU alert rules do not refer to "Acol". There are plenty of styles which are not Acol and which are not alertable. For example, a 1 or 1 opening promising 5+ cards in the suit is not alertable.


Could it not be argued that Acol is a system of 4cm's i.e. it is a system that presumes that a player opening 1 or 1 will hold a minimum of 4 cards in that suit and that any partnership playing Acol who have agreed that they will not open 1 of a major with less than 5 cards in that suit (i.e. they play 5cm's) must alert it?
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#9 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2015-April-03, 09:43

View Posteuclidz, on 2015-April-03, 09:01, said:

Could it not be argued that Acol is a system of 4cm's i.e. it is a system that presumes that a player opening 1 or 1 will hold a minimum of 4 cards in that suit and that any partnership playing Acol who have agreed that they will not open 1 of a major with less than 5 cards in that suit (i.e. they play 5cm's) must alert it?

If they only open 5-card majors, then they're not really playing Acol, it seems. But that's really irrelevant as regarding alerting. You don't alert a bid just because it doesn't match the "General Approach" system, you alert bids that your jurisdiction's alerting regulation says you must alert. So unless the alerting regulation says that 5-card major openings must be alerted, you don't alert them -- it doesn't matter what you call your system.

#10 User is offline   euclidz 

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Posted 2015-April-03, 12:53

I would argue that the reason that the law makers require certain things be alerted is because they require that the game is played with full disclosure AND that when there is a situation whereby a call or play is presumed to be 'x' because that is the norm within that system where there is a partnership agreement that it means 'y' it should be alerted. See below . .

White Book 2014 – Players
10 July 2014
1.3.1. A player must alert any inferences drawn from partnership experience or practice which have a potentially unexpected meaning. A call with an alertable meaning arising from an implicit understanding must be alerted.
A player who is not sure whether or not a call made is alertable should alert it. If there is no partnership understanding about the meaning of the call, the player should say so rather than say how is going to treat it.

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#11 User is offline   steve2005 

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Posted 2015-April-04, 07:51

View Posteuclidz, on 2015-April-03, 12:53, said:

I would argue that the reason that the law makers require certain things be alerted is because they require that the game is played with full disclosure AND that when there is a situation whereby a call or play is presumed to be 'x' because that is the norm within that system where there is a partnership agreement that it means 'y' it should be alerted. See below . .

White Book 2014 – Players
10 July 2014
1.3.1. A player must alert any inferences drawn from partnership experience or practice which have a potentially unexpected meaning. A call with an alertable meaning arising from an implicit understanding must be alerted.
A player who is not sure whether or not a call made is alertable should alert it. If there is no partnership understanding about the meaning of the call, the player should say so rather than say how is going to treat it.


has no relevance to alerting a 1M opening. a 4-card/5-card major is not an unexpected meaning. Even people playing 5-card majors do open 4-carders on occasion.
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#12 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2015-April-04, 09:23

You might find this thread from a year ago a useful read - you will see there that the first version of Acol I learnt was 5 card majors with a 16-18 NT range, so yes this is possible.

Also, you mentioned that it is a rule in the Acol Club that everyone must play Acol. That is also not true - I have played all of Strong Club relay (many times), 2/1 (once) and SA/SAYC (a few times) there. What is true is that you need to ask opponents if they are comfortable with that - if not then you need to either play Acol or leave the table and find other opponents. In practise no opponent has ever objected, which given the highly artificial nature of the forcing club system we played says something about the tolerance of the membership.

Finally, you state that the EBU alerting regulations specify alerting non-Acol calls but this is untrue - some standard Acol bids must be alerted and some non-Acol calls should not be. And no, you should not alert 5 card majors, nor 3 card minors. You can visit the EBU Laws & Ethics page to read more about alerting rules, either in summary form or in full using the Blue Book link.
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#13 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2015-April-04, 09:40

FWIW, I do put 5-Card Majors in the "General Approach" area. When I sit down against opponents I tell them, "5-card majors, weak NT (strong in 3rd if I am playing teams), three weak 2s." I think that it should be part of your general disclosure, because opponents might want to be prepared for your minor-suit openings, whatever they are.
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#14 User is offline   euclidz 

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Posted 2015-April-05, 04:41

View PostZelandakh, on 2015-April-04, 09:23, said:

Also, you mentioned that it is a rule in the Acol Club that everyone must play Acol. That is also not true


In fact, I don't know what the rules are or if there are any rules; does the Acol Club have any rules? It does seem a little odd that someone would form a 'Club' and call it the 'Acol' Club where it is not necessary to play Acol!

Why, when there is a 'Main' Bridge club and many other 'Clubs' playing many other systems (e.g.)SAYC would anyone who plays SAYC want to slot themselves amongst a group playing Acol?
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#15 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2015-April-05, 04:47

The majority of people go to the Acol Club to find a partner that plays the same system as them. They are not so worried about the system of their opponents. There are almost certainly some that prefer to play exclusively against Acol too - therefore the requirement to ask the opponents if it is ok to play another system. The other part of playing in the Acol Club is a different social atmosphere from the Main Club. The membership is comparably small so you get to know the regular players there and for the most part the tables are also more stable.
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#16 User is offline   mgoetze 

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Posted 2015-April-05, 07:35

View Posteuclidz, on 2015-April-03, 09:01, said:

Could it not be argued that Acol is a system of 4cm's i.e. it is a system that presumes that a player opening 1 or 1 will hold a minimum of 4 cards in that suit and that any partnership playing Acol who have agreed that they will not open 1 of a major with less than 5 cards in that suit (i.e. they play 5cm's) must alert it?

You could argue that but you should ask yourself what the purpose of your alert system is and what you are hoping to accomplish. The fact of the matter is that noone plays a different defense to 1 showing 4+ hearts than 1 showing 5+ hearts. A 1 overcall will show spades, a 1NT overcall will probably show a balanced hand with a heart stopper, etc. But if my opponents play a 1 opening as showing 4+ spades, as it does in Moscito, then that is something I need to know immediately, because I for one prefer my 1 overcall to not show spades in that situation.

So what you accomplish by making 1 showing 5 alertable is that whenever I hold a hand suitable for bidding 1 over a 1 opening showing spades, I need to ask right away what 1 meant, then pass in the 99% of cases where it was alerted simply because it showed 5.

On the other hand, what have you gained? Nothing, really. For judging competitive situations, I might still need to ask, because those playing 4-card majors up-the-line will have a 5-card major much more often when opening 1 than those playing 4-card majors with a majors-first style. And for defense, I can ask at the end of the auction, and I might not need to - if the bidding goes 1-1NT-2 I will know that opener has 5 spades regardless of whether he initially showed 4 or 5 (assuming canapé is alertable).
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#17 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2015-April-05, 13:41

View Posteuclidz, on 2015-April-05, 04:41, said:

In fact, I don't know what the rules are or if there are any rules; does the Acol Club have any rules?
They do have rules, and they do publish them, as here

http://www.acolatbbo...ay/indibids.php

They may claim some proprietorial interest in the definition of Acol that is not justified. But given that no-one can prove ownership of the term or its definition who can really complain?

The main criticism that I would level at the club is its opaque constitution. The decision-making process about what is or is not Acol, what is or is not permitted (such as psychs), what in fact constitutes a psych, what is alertable and so forth, are all handed down by diktat from a coterie of club officials, with no evidence of consultation of the members, whose opinions they presumably regard as unworthy of consideration.

A friend once related to me a conversation held at a table in an Acol club tourney. He had (successfully) registered to play with a robot. Generally, robots are denied entry in Acol club tourneys, but on this occasion the tourney setter had (in error) not set the flag. My colleague's opponent, who happened to be a regular acol club TD and official, passed a comment at the table on how robots would not normally be allowed. When challenged that this was presumably because the robots do not know/play Acol (which incidentally I think would have been a valid objection), the response was no, it was because the members did not want to play against robots. When asked when the members had actually been polled for an opinion on the matter, the response was .... silence.
Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

Psyche (pron. sahy-kee): The human soul, spirit or mind (derived, personification thereof, beloved of Eros, Greek myth).
Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

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#18 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2015-April-05, 13:55

Jack, the link you give is for indy's. To play with a robot one would have to enter a pairs tourney. For the pairs tourney there doesn't seem to be any restrictions other than the general clause that "all our tourneys are restricted to Acol players ..." (whatever that means, maybe Acol players who occasionally play Moscito are allowed?)
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#19 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2015-April-05, 14:00

View Posthelene_t, on 2015-April-05, 13:55, said:

Jack, the link you give is for indy's. To play with a robot one would have to enter a pairs tourney. For the pairs tourney there doesn't seem to be any restrictions other than the general clause that "all our tourneys are restricted to Acol players ..." (whatever that means, maybe Acol players who occasionally play Moscito are allowed?)
Yes I was aware of the qualification to Indies in the documentation. I think that the same principles are in practice applied to other (pairs) tourneys (with the obvious exception of subs). The restriction on robot partners is a software restriction. They do not have to impose a policy, just to prohibit by the software the possibility of registering with a robot.
Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

Psyche (pron. sahy-kee): The human soul, spirit or mind (derived, personification thereof, beloved of Eros, Greek myth).
Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts." 9th battalion, King's own Yorkshire light infantry,
2000 years earlier: "morituri te salutant"

"I will be with you, whatever". Blair to Bush, precursor to invasion of Iraq
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#20 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2015-April-05, 15:29

View Posteuclidz, on 2015-April-02, 14:45, said:

When is Acol not Acol?


I think that Acol is not so much a system as it is a state of mind...
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