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slow play slow bidding and general slow playing

#1 User is offline   kenimler 

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Posted 2020-January-06, 10:17

Why are there so many players that are not just slow, but uncommonly slow?
I find this especially true at casual tables and for players who are listed as advanced or expert.
This is now just frustrating, but is also rude and makes me want to find another Bridge On Line venue.
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#2 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2020-January-06, 15:55



The bidding goes 1N from North (15-17), passed out. As East, you lead 5, dummy playing the K and the remaining cards as shown. Dummy leads 4 to your K. You play standard signals, the 3 probably attitude and 2 probably count. What do you play now?

You figure partner must have 6-8 high card points from the bidding, given declarer has 15-17.

You don't know who has the 2 (this is a mandatory falsecard situation for any knowledgeable declarer), so you don't know for sure if partner has Q or not. The only holding consistent with having the Q would be Q32, whereas any holding with 3 or 4 out of J873 is also possible, so chances are partner does not have the Q.

If partner has one high spade, a spade lead isn't helpful and might hurt, though if partner has both high spades, a spade lead looks good.

Partner can't have AT; declarer wouldn't have played clubs in that case, but partner could have one of those.

If partner has A, a diamond lead won't hurt as declarer has a spade entry (since partner can't have A AND AK) and a club entry to lead diamonds through partner twice. If partner has Q, with or without the J, you might need the diamond lead to set up diamonds before declarer runs his tricks in a black suit. If partner has only J, declarer also has 2 entries to run the finesse twice. You can't lose the K by leading diamonds because partner without a high diamond would have two entries to lead both red suits.

Partner having only 6-8 points, he is more likely to hold one useful diamond card than both useful spade cards, so it's best to lead a small diamond.

If you can run through all that analysis in your head in less than two minutes, you're a much better bridge player than me. Sitting in front of computer waiting for someone else for two minutes is a long time, but if you're trying to play well, you're going to need that kind of time at some point on most hands.

If you're playing fast, chances are high that you're playing a good deal worse than you could be.
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#3 User is offline   manudude03 

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Posted 2020-January-06, 18:16

Define uncommonly slow. Most bridge clubs run at about 7 minutes per board. Sorting cards usually takes no more than 30 seconds of that. Do you complain that that's too slow? I'm sure most people in the forums have stories of taking a really long time to play a card. My personal record is about 10 minutes (on vugraph!). I remember watching someone on vugraph thinking for 25 minutes in the middle of the play. Sucks for the others, I know, but sometimes you just need the time to think.

Edit: and as an aside, people complaining at the table that it's slow is more often than not making the problem worse.
Wayne Somerville
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#4 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-January-07, 09:48

View Postmanudude03, on 2020-January-06, 18:16, said:

Define uncommonly slow. Most bridge clubs run at about 7 minutes per board. Sorting cards usually takes no more than 30 seconds of that.

The OP is clearly talking about BBO, not face-to-face bridge (they mention player levels and "another online venue"), so I've moved the thread to the General BBO Forum.

#5 User is offline   manudude03 

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Posted 2020-January-07, 21:29

View Postbarmar, on 2020-January-07, 09:48, said:

The OP is clearly talking about BBO, not face-to-face bridge (they mention player levels and "another online venue"), so I've moved the thread to the General BBO Forum.


I know. The point is that bridge online is almost always faster than 6.5 minutes per board. I don't have any hard data, but tonight, I was getting practice with my partner and taking it very seriously, and we did 36 ish boards in 3 hours, something which would never happen in real life.
Wayne Somerville
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#6 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-January-08, 08:29

View Postmanudude03, on 2020-January-07, 21:29, said:

I know. The point is that bridge online is almost always faster than 6.5 minutes per board. I don't have any hard data, but tonight, I was getting practice with my partner and taking it very seriously, and we did 36 ish boards in 3 hours, something which would never happen in real life.


A six board TCR90 tournament usually seems to take about 31-32 minutes, or slightly longer if that is necessary to make me miss the Goulash tournament B-)
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#7 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-January-08, 09:02

View Postkenimler, on 2020-January-06, 10:17, said:

Why are there so many players that are not just slow, but uncommonly slow?

I just checked the boards you've played in the past week. Most of them took 3-4 minutes. The longest were 6 minutes, there were only 3 of them.

What do you consider slow?

#8 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2020-January-10, 14:07

If it is true, it might just be another consequence of anonymity. People are often nasty to each other online because they know from the safety of their keyboard, they are not going to get their face smashed in. With online bridge, there is no-one to call them out on slow play face to face, and they gain an advantage from long thinking time, so they do it, whether it is right or not is irrelevant. In a physical club, the director can have a polite word if it is a problem.
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#9 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-January-12, 23:12

Another thing is that it's easy to get interrupted by other things going on in the home. Or while waiting for your turn you look at another window and don't come back right away.

Basically, when you're playing online, you're often multitasking. But f2f you're single-minded on the game.

#10 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 09:13

View Postbarmar, on 2020-January-12, 23:12, said:

Basically, when you're playing online, you're often multitasking. But f2f you're single-minded on the game.

Come visit my f2f club someday :)
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#11 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 13:49

View Postkenimler, on 2020-January-06, 10:17, said:

Why are there so many players that are not just slow, but uncommonly slow? I find this especially true at casual tables and for players who are listed as advanced or expert. This is now just frustrating, but is also rude and makes me want to find another Bridge On Line venue.

Many Scottish experts regularly complain about slow play. I'm a slow player but compared to some of them, I'm greased lightning. The tortoises seem to believe their reveries are justified by difficult problems that require profound analysis. Tanks by other players are just time-wasting :)

Bridge would be more enjoyable, if every call and play were timed with the equivalent of chess-clocks. This would help the director adjudicate cases that involve breaks-in-tempo. Also, when a table exceeded a time-limit, it would ensure that the correct pair were penalized. A mobile-phone or Bridge-mate could easily be adapted to do this.

Even more drastic: change Bridge-rules so that
  • A player must wait before each call or play for a set period (say 5 secs).
  • He must complete his call or play within a further short interval (say 5 secs).
  • Before the dealer's first call there would be a longer set pause for players to evaluate their hands and plan the auction (say 30 secs).
  • Before declarer's first play play from dummy there would be a longer mandatory pause (say 60 secs),

Slower Bridge-players (like me) would learn to adapt by utilizing other players' thinking-time (as chess-players do).

BBO could easily experiment with such a protocol, to establish appropriate timing and to assess player reaction.
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#12 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 14:37

View Postnige1, on 2020-January-13, 13:49, said:

Bridge would be more enjoyable, if every call and play were timed with the equivalent of chess-clocks. This would help the director adjudicate cases that involve breaks-in-tempo. Also, when a table exceeded a time-limit, it would ensure that the correct pair were penalized. A mobile-phone or Bridge-mate could easily be adapted to do this.

Even more drastic: change Bridge-rules so that
  • A player must wait before each call or play for a set period (say 5 secs).
  • He must complete his call or play within a further short interval (say 5 secs).
  • Before the dealer's first call there would be a longer set pause for players to evaluate their hands and plan the auction (say 30 secs).
  • Before declarer's first play play from dummy there would be a longer mandatory pause (say 60 secs),

Slower Bridge-players (like me) would learn to adapt by utilizing other players' thinking-time (as chess-players do).

BBO could easily experiment with such a protocol, to establish appropriate timing and to assess player reaction.


I agree with your basic point but am skeptical about the proposed implementation. I think that online play like BBO could implement better protocols than this, in particular hiding think time from other players by a combination of random delays and context sensitive (not fixed) timeouts (I made a post about this in the discussion topic about online laws).
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#13 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2020-January-13, 17:55

View Postpescetom, on 2020-January-13, 14:37, said:

I agree with your basic point but am skeptical about the proposed implementation. I think that online play like BBO could implement better protocols than this, in particular hiding think time from other players by a combination of random delays and context sensitive (not fixed) timeouts (I made a post about this in the discussion topic about online laws).

Your proposals are fine. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

BBO is an ideal environment to experiment with promising protocols, automatically collecting reliable statistics.


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