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Smith - playing in tempo

#1 User is offline   gnasher 

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Posted 2011-April-25, 16:44

Recently a good player told me that when you play Smith Peters (Smith Echo) you have a special obligation to make the signal in tempo, greater than the obligaton to make other plays in tempo.

Biting back the short Anglo-Saxon answer that sprang to mind, I asked him why, but I didn't really understand his explanation. However, I believe that at least one top American (Hamman?) has expressed similar views.

Can anyone suggest a reason that tempo when giving a Smith signal might be of of greater sensitivity than tempo in other situations?
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#2 User is offline   bluejak 

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Posted 2011-April-25, 17:51

Sounds a load of rubbish to me. It is normal to consider before making a first discard because planning of the hand is required. In a similar way it is normal to plan before the first attitude signal is made - which may often be Smith.

On the other hand if someone plays count, it is very strange that they need to consider before making their first signal, so I would say the reverse is true.
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#3 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2011-April-25, 19:04

The argument seems to be (when I've heard it) similar to odd-even signals - a careless 3 is encouraging for the first-bid suit (assuming Reverse Smith), whereas an agonized 3 is from 32, and "not encouraging". And in that, I think they're right - but that just means slowing down one's play to trick 2 enough so that the card comes out right.

I have had several people where I could tell when the discard/play was a signal, and when it was just a card, from tempo - and I'm sure their partners could too.

Having said that it's not "more sensitive than" anytime else, but "as sensitive as".
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#4 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2011-April-25, 19:12

Some people worry too much about whether what they're about to do is the right thing. Others worry too much about what some people are worrying about. B-)
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#5 User is offline   CSGibson 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 00:39

taking your time implies that you had a choice of cards, whereas playing quickly might indicate that the card was forced, and not intended as a Smith Echo.
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#6 User is offline   jvage 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 07:31

Bob Hamman argued that Smith-Peter is generally more temposensitive than other defensive signals, which are more often clearcut. If I remember correctly he had an example similar to this:
A fourth-highest 2 is led against 1NT - 3NT. Dummy got 543 and declarers RHO inserts the Jack, losing to declarers King. When declarer now play a suit, RHO got 4 "options":
With Jxx or Jx: A quick negative
With Jxxx: A slow negative
With QJ: A slow positive
With QJx or better: A fast positive
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#7 User is offline   bluejak 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 08:53

Having read the comments I think it all a bit of an invention. I suppose it is true that if you play a card as having information content it is more likely to be tempo sensitive. So Bob Hamman is right: all players should always be required to play their lowest card and never peter or anything thus avoiding tempo sensitive situations.

Suppose you cash an ace at trick one, and then lead another suit at trick two on which partner plays a small card. Now you can infer things from the speed he plays to that trick. So we should ban attitude signals after trick one.

I think some people are just trying to make life difficult for others.
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#8 User is offline   PrecisionL 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 09:35

View Postbluejak, on 2011-April-26, 08:53, said:

I think some people are just trying to make life difficult for others.


From the ACBL GCC: CARDING

.... In addition, a pair may be prohibited from playing any method (such as suit preference systems at trick one [obvious shift? - LPL], when they are deemed to be playing it in a manner which is not compatible with the maintenance of proper tempo (much like dual message signals). This decision may be appealed to the tournament committee.

Although my partner and I are sensitive to this, we ALWAYS pause at trick one and explain to the declarer that this is our standard strategy and tempo at trick one.
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#9 User is offline   cherdano 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 10:55

Hmm. Seems to the lawyers there is no difference between an attitude signal regarding the suit in which partner led, and a Smith echo regarding a different suit.
And of course as always, technically the lawyers are right. Playing upside-down attitude, I lead the ace, dummy shows up with 983, and partner plays a slow 2 - hmm, he may well have JTx. Exactly the same problem as with Smith in the examples above!
Except it's not - players have seen this tempo-sensitive attitude signal many times (I am sure gwnn could find about 537 threads about what card to play with JTx), but have seen each of the more complex tempo-sensitive Smith situations less often. Hence they are more likely to transmit UI. And agreeing to play a method where you are very likely to transmit UI isn't very nice. That's because UI on defense often goes unpunished, and even if it does, it creates work for everyone.

So I concur that if you are likely to have problems playing Smith in tempo, then you shouldn't agree to play it.
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#10 User is offline   bluejak 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 11:29

View PostPrecisionL, on 2011-April-26, 09:35, said:

Although my partner and I are sensitive to this, we ALWAYS pause at trick one and explain to the declarer that this is our standard strategy and tempo at trick one.

I assume this as obvious which is why none of my comments concerned trick one.

View Postcherdano, on 2011-April-26, 10:55, said:

So I concur that if you are likely to have problems playing Smith in tempo, then you shouldn't agree to play it.

There is nothing in this thread about a particular pair having tempo problems with one particular agreement: it is the suggestion that the method should not be played because it will lead to problems compared to other agreements.
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#11 User is offline   Phil 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 11:58

I play some version of Smith in all my partnerships, because I think its a great method. I do encourage my partners to try to play the card in tempo, as well as pause in 3rd seat to give time for the opening leader to make up his mind for the play coming at T2.

The 'tempo problems' (for me anyway) are remembering which type of Smith I am playing :rolleyes:

Playing a Smith echo in tempo isn't really any different from forcing yourself to lead singletons slowly and doubletons quickly. You have to fight your normal tendency and play slower when you have a 'clear' Smith card, and quicker when you have doubt. This tends to even out the tempo.

There are plenty of play situations where you aren't sure what you should play for many reasons. You aren't trying to transmit doubt; but rather you need a little time to work out the right play. When someone takes three minutes to discard something, his partner is in possession of UI, that could be acted on later and thats obviously a rules violation. Yet, when a player takes an extra four seconds at T2, Smith gets singled out. Unfairly IMO.
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#12 User is online   awm 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 12:40

I'd think that a method like odd/even discards where specific cards are assigned specific meanings would be more problematic than smith.

What I see happen a lot is that someone is dealt only even cards in a suit he wants to signal for, or his only safe pitch is a suit where he has only odd cards (but which he does not want to signal for). Typically the slow discard indicates that one of these has occurred.

This seems less of a problem with methods like smith where the signal is based on the relative values of the cards (i.e. high card discourage and low encourage, or vice-versa) since there is never a problem of "I do not have the card I need to make the signal I want" -- only that partner may have trouble reading my lowest card as low in some situations (and vice versa).
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#13 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 13:36

Having played Smith (actually Reverse Smith, but same thing) for years, there is one observation that I have had. It might not be the same for everyone, but it is for me.

Every one of my partners at some point in time has blown up at me, frustrated because I am overly sensitive to UI situations. Meaning, I go way out of my way to not take inference. More than almost anyone. To a fault, perhaps.

So, given my insanity, I feel somewhat qualified to assess my own experience with UI and Smith. I never see it. I see it all the time in other situations, whether count, attitude, or suit preferemce. Drives me nuts. But, not with Smith.
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#14 User is offline   nige1 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 13:42

I agree with Bluejak that, in principle, Smith and odd-even signals are no more prone to UI than other signals, when you get used to them. As with any new signalling method, there may be teething problems and situations that need further discussion. For example, with odd-even signals, if your available cards are of the wrong parity, then you can often recover if a peter in the same parity is equivalent to playing a card of the opposite parity.

The real problem is that some players don't want to play against anything unfamiliar.
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#15 User is offline   FrancesHinden 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 14:17

View Postbluejak, on 2011-April-26, 08:53, said:

Having read the comments I think it all a bit of an invention. I suppose it is true that if you play a card as having information content it is more likely to be tempo sensitive. So Bob Hamman is right: all players should always be required to play their lowest card and never peter or anything thus avoiding tempo sensitive situations.

Suppose you cash an ace at trick one, and then lead another suit at trick two on which partner plays a small card. Now you can infer things from the speed he plays to that trick. So we should ban attitude signals after trick one.

I think some people are just trying to make life difficult for others.


Yes and no.
As a general principle, I agree with your comments. And with the view already expressed that some people transmit UI with their signalling tempo, and some people don't, and the type of signal may not be relevant.

However, the same comments could be made about dual-meaning signals (e.g. odd encourages, even suit preference) and these are specifically banned in the EBU and other places. My understanding is that they are banned because of the tempo problems with them - there is quite a good chance that you don't have the required e.g. 'high even' card in the suit led to trick one.

So the idea that some signals should not be allowed specifically because they lead to tempo/UI problems is already entrenched in some regulations.
_If_ Smith signals do the same, then they should have the same rule.

Aha, but now you are going to point out that Smith signals are fundamentally different. The tempo issue with dual-meaning signals is the chance of you not have the right card to signal with. A Smith signal is either a high-low or not; no different to any other signal. So they should be treated the same as any other signal.

p.s. I play Smith and I never see tempo issues. We screw up sometimes (mainly on whether a signal is Smith or count) but it's always done in tempo.
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#16 User is offline   bluejak 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 14:31

View Postawm, on 2011-April-26, 12:40, said:

I'd think that a method like odd/even discards where specific cards are assigned specific meanings would be more problematic than smith.

What I see happen a lot is that someone is dealt only even cards in a suit he wants to signal for, or his only safe pitch is a suit where he has only odd cards (but which he does not want to signal for). Typically the slow discard indicates that one of these has occurred.

I think odd/even discards do not suffer at all. Because there are several possible suits it is very very very rare to have no suit to discard with. Since the first discard is normally slow anyway, there are no effective tempo issues, unlike odd/even signals, where you have to play a particular suit.

View PostFrancesHinden, on 2011-April-26, 14:17, said:

However, the same comments could be made about dual-meaning signals (e.g. odd encourages, even suit preference) and these are specifically banned in the EBU and other places. My understanding is that they are banned because of the tempo problems with them - there is quite a good chance that you don't have the required e.g. 'high even' card in the suit led to trick one.

So the idea that some signals should not be allowed specifically because they lead to tempo/UI problems is already entrenched in some regulations.

_If_ Smith signals do the same, then they should have the same rule.

No problem with this. My argument is that Smith are not especially tempo sensitive compared - for example - with attitude signals.

View PostFrancesHinden, on 2011-April-26, 14:17, said:

Aha, but now you are going to point out that Smith signals are fundamentally different. The tempo issue with dual-meaning signals is the chance of you not have the right card to signal with. A Smith signal is either a high-low or not; no different to any other signal. So they should be treated the same as any other signal.

Yes, that's my view: Smith is similar to attitude.
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#17 User is offline   kenrexford 

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Posted 2011-April-26, 17:10

Sometimes I wish the rules would allow any tempo signalling you want. People could come up with silent counts to signal precisely what they have. Very sexy methods would be allowed. Fine. At least the playing field would be even and the nonsense would stop. It would be kind of funny seeing how on sync people's internal clocks were, as a fun aside.

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Posted 2011-April-27, 04:56

Isn't this quite simple? I think the gripe is simply that Smith Peters are "on-off switches" hence bridge is nearly never a clear cut decision a slow signal provides substantial addition information. But to address Andy's point does that mean you have to go out of your way to self distruct in a frenzy of speed, no of course not. Give them the Anglo Saxon salute and move on.
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#19 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2011-April-27, 18:11

I don't play Smith, but I do use odd-even in many of my partnerships. While I sometimes don't have a card of the appropriate parity to discard, I think many (maybe most) of my hesitations are due more to trying to decide which suit I really want to encourage/discourage. I would have the same difficulty using standard signals. So I don't think the signalling method contributes much to the UI issue.

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Posted 2011-April-29, 02:45

Imo you can't compare O/E discards with Smith. With O/E you usually have much more information about the hand, and you've had time to think about further tricks as well. Moreover, if declarer is running a suit, you might have to pause anyway to plan all your discards, so you can't take any inference from the pause. Smith however is more complicated: at trick 2 you need to decide what you want partner to do without much information. You see the dummy, partner's card and declarer's card, that's all. The best solution to avoid UI situations is like Phil does imo:

Quote

I do encourage my partners to try to play the card in tempo, as well as pause in 3rd seat to give time for the opening leader to make up his mind for the play coming at T2.

Even after declarer played his card to T1, a pause should be taken so he can't play his next card too quickly.
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