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2NT with small singleton

#1 User is offline   bixby 

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Posted 2019-July-07, 03:51



In an ACBL regional event yesterday, North opened 2NT with a small singleton club. I don't know what he was planning to do if South bid 3NT -- presumably pass and take his chances. As it happened, N/S got to 4S making 6 for a slightly below-average score. Almost everyone was in the same contract. A few pairs reached the slam, doubled E/W in 5C, or, sadly I'm sure, played it in 1D.

Is the 2NT opening bid legal in the ACBL? If not, what would the ruling be?
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#2 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-July-07, 04:19

View Postbixby, on 2019-July-07, 03:51, said:


Is the 2NT opening bid legal in the ACBL? If not, what would the ruling be?


If the NT opening bid promises 20+ HCP then it is legal at the Basic+ level or greater.
(The Basic+ chart permits any opening at the two level or greater than is "very strong")

I do not see any language that would permit an agreement to open 2NT at the Basic level with a 4441 pattern that contains a small singleton.
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#3 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2019-July-07, 04:53

View Posthrothgar, on 2019-July-07, 04:19, said:

If the NT opening bid promises 20+ HCP then it is legal at the Basic+ level or greater.
(The Basic+ chart permits any opening at the two level or greater than is "very strong")

I do not see any language that would permit an agreement to open 2NT at the Basic level with a 4441 pattern that contains a small singleton.


I have no idea about the US regs, but here if your 1N (not sure about 2N) can contain a singleton you announce that. Do we know if it was their agreement, or a semi psyche ? because if it's as unexpected to his partner as it is to you, then clearly it's legal.
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#4 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2019-July-07, 08:27

Here in Italy an agreement to open NT with shapes less balanced than 5332 is legal but must be alerted.
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#5 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2019-July-07, 10:01

View Postbixby, on 2019-July-07, 03:51, said:

In an ACBL regional event yesterday, North opened 2NT with a small singleton club. I don't know what he was planning to do if South bid 3NT -- presumably pass and take his chances. As it happened, N/S got to 4S making 6 for a slightly below-average score. Almost everyone was in the same contract. A few pairs reached the slam, doubled E/W in 5C, or, sadly I'm sure, played it in 1D.

Is the 2NT opening bid legal in the ACBL? If not, what would the ruling be?

Which of the four convention charts was in effect? If you don't know that, what kind of event was it? Was there a masterpoint limit?

For a Regional, the following charts apply:

Pair Events and non-Bracketed Team Events
Basic Chart:
Applies in any event where the upper limit per player is 750 or less.
Basic+ Chart:
Applies in any event where the upper limit per player is 3000.
Open Chart:
● applies in any 1-session event with no masterpoint limit (includes Side Series);
● applies in any restricted event with a masterpoint limit above 3000;
● applies in any 2-session event with no masterpoint limit if there is no 2- session event of the same type with a masterpoint limit on the same day
Open+ Chart
● applies in any 3+-session event with no masterpoint limit;
● applies in any 2-session event with no masterpoint limit as long as there is a 2-session event of the same type with a masterpoint limit on the same day

Bracketed Events
A single bracket event always uses the Open Chart.
For bracketed events with more than one bracket, the Open Chart is used in most brackets with these exceptions:
Basic Chart: Any bracket where the highest team averages less than 750 masterpoints per player;
Basic+ Chart: Any bracket where the highest team averages 751 to 1500 masterpoints per player;
Open+ Chart: Top bracket (regardless of team masterpoint holdings), and any other bracket where the lowest team averages more than 3000 masterpoints per player.
In all types of events, when the directors allow a team to play in a higher bracket than its masterpoint holding would qualify the team for, that teamís masterpoint total is ignored in determining which Chart applies.

As Hrothgar points out, a partnership understanding to make this opening is legal unless the basic chart governs the event. Whether this particular opening is legal when the basic chart governs depends on whether the pair has an (explicit or implicit) agreement to open 2NT with hands like this. One hand is not sufficient to answer this question, the director will have to investigate.

If the pair are determined to have an illegal agreement, Law 40B4 applies: When a side is damaged by an opponentís use of a special partnership understanding that does not comply with the regulations governing the tournament the score shall be adjusted. A side in breach of those regulations may be subject to a procedural penalty.
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#6 User is offline   weejonnie 

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Posted 2019-July-08, 07:50

View PostCyberyeti, on 2019-July-07, 04:53, said:

I have no idea about the US regs, but here if your 1N (not sure about 2N) can contain a singleton you announce that. Do we know if it was their agreement, or a semi psyche ? because if it's as unexpected to his partner as it is to you, then clearly it's legal.

You don't need to announce that 2NT could contain a singleton - somewhere in the Blue Book which I can't be bothered to look up.
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#7 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-July-08, 09:01

View Postbixby, on 2019-July-07, 03:51, said:

Is the 2NT opening bid legal in the ACBL? If not, what would the ruling be?

There aren't really many regulations on legal/illegal bids. The convention charts generally address agreements. You're allowed to deviate from your agreements, although if you make a similar deviation often enough with the same partner, it may result in an implicit agreement.

An agreement to open this hand 2NT is not allowed in the Basic or Basic+ charts. I don't think it's prohibited by the Open and Open+ charts (they have some restrictions on 1NT openings, but not 2NT). But again, you have to find out whether this bid is in accordance with their agreements, or is a deviation. You're probably not going to be able to find any evidence from how the auction went on this hand, since South would undoubtedly get them to 4 regardless.

#8 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2019-July-08, 09:29

View Postbarmar, on 2019-July-08, 09:01, said:


An agreement to open this hand 2NT is not allowed in the Basic or Basic+ charts.


This is explicitly sanctioned in the Basic+ chart which allows any strong opening at the two level or higher
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#9 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2019-July-08, 09:33

View Postbarmar, on 2019-July-08, 09:01, said:

An agreement to open this hand 2NT is not allowed in the Basic or Basic+ charts.

Allowed by Basic+ #7 under "opening bids" provided the minimum HCP is at least 20.
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#10 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-July-08, 09:45

View Postblackshoe, on 2019-July-08, 09:33, said:

Allowed by Basic+ #7 under "opening bids" provided the minimum HCP is at least 20.

OK, missed that.

Which basically means that you can agree to open 2NT with any shape, as long as it's that strong. But if doesn't show a natural NT, you need to alert it.

#11 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2019-July-08, 12:03

Yes.
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#12 User is online   nige1 

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Posted 2019-July-08, 12:19

Trying to prevent an agreement to open notrump with a singleton illustrates the problem with most system-regulation.
If a player (and perhaps his partner) regularly open notrump on hands with a singleton, but the partnership refuse to discuss this propensity, then they are unlikely to be ruled against.

If anybody does remark on their habit, then they can claim it to be a psych.
If there is only a 1-card difference from a normal notrump opening, then they might even claim deviation.
Many argue that such opportunities arise with insufficient frequency to be deemed an implicit partnership agreement.
If a player self-imposes further restrictions (e.g.the singleton must be an honour) then,the doubtful opener will be even less frequent.

Another similar notorious example is the Herman : Always open 1, with less than, say, 8 HCP, non-vulnerable, in third seat.

The offending regulations inhibit honest disclosure and reward dissimulation and prevarication.
They add no discernible value and should be scrapped.
Cascade pointed this out, on BBO, many years ago,
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#13 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2019-July-08, 13:31

View Postnige1, on 2019-July-08, 12:19, said:

Trying to prevent an agreement to open notrump with a singleton illustrates the problem with most system-regulation.
If a player (and perhaps his partner) regularly open notrump on hands with a singleton, but the partnership refuse to discuss this propensity, then they are unlikely to be ruled against.

If anybody does remark on their habit, then they can claim it to be a psych.
If there is only a 1-card difference from a normal notrump opening, then they might even claim deviation.
Many argue that such opportunities arise with insufficient frequency to be deemed an implicit partnership agreement.
If a player self-imposes further restrictions (e.g.the singleton must be an honour) then,the doubtful opener will be even less frequent.

Another similar notorious example is the Herman : Always open 1, with less than, say, 8 HCP, non-vulnerable, in third seat.

The offending regulations inhibit honest disclosure and reward dissimulation and prevarication.
They add no discernible value and should be scrapped.
Cascade pointed this out, on BBO, many years ago,


Well for once it seems that only England is really out of step here. The logical attitude IMO is to impose an alert, because NT with a singleton needs to be disclosed, which in practice is what happens in Italy and we learn even in USA. No reason to prevent such an agreement, but no reason I see to consider it obvious either.

The problem you note about insufficent frequency and implicit agreements certainly exists and is relevant here, although I don't think it has anything to do with prevention. I tried agreeing with my partner that we might open with a singleton, which is allowed but needs alerting, it never happened in 6 months and we scrapped it to keep things simple, also with opponents. I concede that I might still do it if the hand looked right, and wouldn't be shocked or upset if partner did the same, although my responses do not take account of it. If it happened twice I would rethink our agreements.
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#14 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-July-10, 08:19

View Postnige1, on 2019-July-08, 12:19, said:

Trying to prevent an agreement to open notrump with a singleton illustrates the problem with most system-regulation.
If a player (and perhaps his partner) regularly open notrump on hands with a singleton, but the partnership refuse to discuss this propensity, then they are unlikely to be ruled against.

This is the problem that recording of psychs is intended to solve. But it's not really a workable solution. It requires that all psychs be reported and recorded, there has to be a consolidated database that all directors can consult, and directors need to be able to access this in real time during games and tournaments. While it might be technically feasible, it would be a huge undertaking (how would you even describe psychs in a way that someone could search for something "similar"?). And do we really want to play in the shadow of Big Brother?

#15 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2019-July-10, 10:39

View Postbarmar, on 2019-July-10, 08:19, said:

This is the problem that recording of psychs is intended to solve. But it's not really a workable solution. It requires that all psychs be reported and recorded, there has to be a consolidated database that all directors can consult, and directors need to be able to access this in real time during games and tournaments. While it might be technically feasible, it would be a huge undertaking (how would you even describe psychs in a way that someone could search for something "similar"?). And do we really want to play in the shadow of Big Brother?


It will easily become a workable solution once all play is electronic. Describing psychs in a rules-based way is simple and it would be enough to spot where there is smoke - then a human or AI could look for patterns that determine if there is also fire. I don't think many (honest) players would object to such scrutiny, the problem is rather that such esoteric rules are likely to deter people from playing this game.
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#16 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-July-11, 09:42

View Postpescetom, on 2019-July-10, 10:39, said:

It will easily become a workable solution once all play is electronic. Describing psychs in a rules-based way is simple and it would be enough to spot where there is smoke - then a human or AI could look for patterns that determine if there is also fire. I don't think many (honest) players would object to such scrutiny, the problem is rather that such esoteric rules are likely to deter people from playing this game.

I think you're underestimating the enormousness of this data gathering and analysis.

Remember, a psych is a deviation from agreements. So it's not enough just to record everyone's bids, you need some way for everyone to upload their partnership agreements in a way that the software can compare the bids against them.

And who's going to pay for all of this development and infrastructure? This is the kind of technology that goes into things like Amazon's recommendations and targeted web ads. They do this because there's enormous amounts of revenue available when you get people to buy more things. There's no money in analyzing bridge player habits.

#17 User is offline   sanst 

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Posted 2019-July-12, 01:42

View Postpescetom, on 2019-July-10, 10:39, said:

It will easily become a workable solution once all play is electronic.

Maybe - probably? - Iím too old, but I hope that we will for a lot ng time to come play the game sitting with four people at a table and with cards. Bridge is basically a social game, thatís played for the fun of it and I donít get that enjoyment sitting alone looking at a screen. It might be necessary for top level tournaments to go electronic and maybe my grandchildren will think it normal, but I wouldnít like it.
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#18 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2019-July-12, 06:53

View Postsanst, on 2019-July-12, 01:42, said:

Maybe - probably? - I’m too old, but I hope that we will for a lot ng time to come play the game sitting with four people at a table and with cards. Bridge is basically a social game, that’s played for the fun of it and I don’t get that enjoyment sitting alone looking at a screen. It might be necessary for top level tournaments to go electronic and maybe my grandchildren will think it normal, but I wouldn’t like it.


Probably I'm neither old enough or young enough - I see it as leading to a better game, but I agree I will miss the social aspect of playing face to face. In any case it's inevitable. There will also be hybrid situations of course, where you play on a screen but still in the same physical spaces as companion(s) and opponents, but I suspect they too will soon die out except at high levels of competition.
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#19 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2019-July-12, 07:54

View Postbarmar, on 2019-July-11, 09:42, said:

I think you're underestimating the enormousness of this data gathering and analysis.

Remember, a psych is a deviation from agreements. So it's not enough just to record everyone's bids, you need some way for everyone to upload their partnership agreements in a way that the software can compare the bids against them.

And who's going to pay for all of this development and infrastructure? This is the kind of technology that goes into things like Amazon's recommendations and targeted web ads. They do this because there's enormous amounts of revenue available when you get people to buy more things. There's no money in analyzing bridge player habits.


And I think you're overestimating the difficulty, just as you sometimes do with requests to modify BBO software.

I don't know about ACBL, but my RA already holds almost all my hands played and scores obtained in a relational database. Within this year I will also be able to define and publish my agrements within the app. Once actual play is digitalised it will be simple to add bidding and card play to the same database. At this point a rules based sweep for apparent psyches can be quickly implemented and (like all the system) fully automated. The technology involved is stone-age SQL and a few lines of script.
Now in a tournament North has opened 1 with 0733 shape and explains "I psyched". Director clicks table 7, North, Psyches, This Partnership, History. If he reads "Violations=0. Inspections=1. Apparent=3. Certain=0. Frequency=VeryLow" then he hits Report, Board 5, 1, then nods and says no problem. If the numbers are higher, then he looks at what this player has done in the past and with other partners.
It might take Amazon or Google to replace the human Director, but just empowering him like this this requires little extra money.
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#20 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2019-July-12, 08:54

View Postpescetom, on 2019-July-12, 06:53, said:

Probably I'm neither old enough or young enough - I see it as leading to a better game, but I agree I will miss the social aspect of playing face to face. In any case it's inevitable. There will also be hybrid situations of course, where you play on a screen but still in the same physical spaces as companion(s) and opponents, but I suspect they too will soon die out except at high levels of competition.

Actually I would expect it to be the opposite. In high level competition it's most important to segregate the players, because security is paramount. It's also more feasible because there are only a few tables.

A bridge club couldn't put everyone in separate spaces -- if you have 10 tables you'd need 40 rooms. A sectional or regional with 50 tables, where would they put hundreds of players? The first day of the LM Pairs, with over 100 tables, forget about it.

Basically, I wouldn't expect to see this except in the kinds of events that currently use screens.

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