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Linguistic problems in Bridge Drink deep from the Pierian Spring

#1 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-February-28, 00:55

In a recent post https://www.bridgeba...wheres-3hearts/ elsewhere someone noted that the explanation provided by GIB during the bidding did not exactly correspond to what was in its hand. https://tinyurl.com/sa2jn3p
I gave this a bit of thought and decided that my response could be considered a little 'off-topic' so I have placed it here. The original post link is 3H what 3H - see above. I'm retired, so take anything I say with a pinch of salt.
As far as bridge goes, others know more than me, but if I were to interpret the bidding in a simplistic linguistic way, it would go like this. When I was training, I was taught never to give people bad news first or they will not listen to anything else you say. The opposite is also true. Too much good news can over-excite. In bridge, and in this auction, in particular, I think that the GIB partner responded with a very exciting 2 after the bid of 1, indicating a 2/1 game going auction. According to the GIB system, this means bid slowly but do not stop below 3NT (i.e. game in something). It did not necessarily mean bid to slam. I think the same problem of over-estimating or misunderstanding the meaning of others also happens when people make a takeout double and then on discovering an apparent fit they force partner up to unreasonable levels. I believe that the first bid has the most accurate information. Everything that comes later is much harder to interpret. In this case, I think the aim of the 3 bid was simply to return to game in hearts rather than steer towards 3NT. A human partner may have just bid 4. Interestingly, the same is true in human conversation. The answer to the first question that we ask is the one that sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Of course, I use the terms 'you' and 'think' advisedly in the context of robots. The 'challenge' we seem to face is that with any language we need to pack a huge amount of information into an often inadequate space. When a doctor says 'retrosternal chest pain' on a ward round, she/he does not mean maybe the patient was punched in the chest. They are alerting their audience that the person has had a heart attack and that's what the rest of the 10-minute story is about. That's also why they don't say 'heart attack' in front of the patient - they don't want to scare anyone (doesn't work quite as well these days :-( ). Language is a curious and volatile thing. Words can rapidly change their meaning when handled differently. I once attended a lecture where a Chinese Art Professor complained that when learning English he found it strange that he could read that a house could burn down one day and burn up the next.

Here is a typical example from a hand that I played where GIB is telling me that it has the Q, which as you can see, is in my hand! I simply interpreted it to mean that: yes, a slam was on. Unfortunately for me, I underbid - but that's another story.
Posted Image
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#2 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-February-28, 04:12

View Postpilowsky, on 2020-February-28, 00:55, said:

Here is a typical example from a hand that I played where GIB is telling me that it has the Q, which as you can see, is in my hand! I simply interpreted it to mean that: yes, a slam was on. Unfortunately for me, I underbid - but that's another story.

Q1: Why did you even bother asking for the trump queen when you were not interested in the answer?
Q2: Are you aware of the widely-understood rule that you show the trump queen in a RKCB sequence when there is a known 10 card fit? That would seem the obvious interpretation of GIB's call.
Q3: Did you consider posting this in the forum dedicated to all things GIB?
(-: Zel :-)

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#3 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-February-28, 04:52

Thank you for that response Zel.
It is not exactly on the topic of linguistics. Nor is it on the topic of how GIB responds to bids which is what the post is about. Instead, it is a series of three off-topic interrogatories.
Linguistically, this suggests that either you have failed to follow the purpose of the post or that you wish to make some other sort of point. One way that people usually make points when they communicate with each other is by making actual statements instead of asking questions. Give it a bash.
Since we are having a discussion of linguistics, here is a legal test known as the 'Policeman at the elbow test'. Let's say you're driving home and a policeman pulls you over and asks you for identification. Would you respond by asking him:
1) Why did he bother to pull you over?
2) Is he aware that the man over there is driving very quickly?
3) Do I really have to go through all this palaver?
I wouldn't, but maybe it works better in your jurisdiction.
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#4 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-February-28, 08:12

View Postpilowsky, on 2020-February-28, 04:52, said:

Thank you for that response Zel.
It is not exactly on the topic of linguistics. Nor is it on the topic of how GIB responds to bids which is what the post is about. Instead, it is a series of three off-topic interrogatories.
Linguistically, this suggests that either you have failed to follow the purpose of the post or that you wish to make some other sort of point. One way that people usually make points when they communicate with each other is by making actual statements instead of asking questions. Give it a bash.
Since we are having a discussion of linguistics, here is a legal test known as the 'Policeman at the elbow test'. Let's say you're driving home and a policeman pulls you over and asks you for identification. Would you respond by asking him:
1) Why did he bother to pull you over?
2) Is he aware that the man over there is driving very quickly?
3) Do I really have to go through all this palaver?
I wouldn't, but maybe it works better in your jurisdiction.

It seems to me a perfectly acceptable response to ask "Is there a problem, Sir?" while handing over your license. But your analogy is fatally flawed because the officer has a position of authority on the streets that you do not possess at the bridge table. Perhaps if this was posted by Mike or Justin such a level of authority could be assumed but I do not think you are playing in the BB quite yet. :P

You are probably right though that I am not understanding your reason for posting. I look at your screenshot and I see a completely normal auction from North's perspective, assuming they possess 5 spades. As the hand is covered we cannot really assess GIB's actions for the specific holding. Against that, we can see that South has clearly misbid, so asking about that does not seem unreasonable. If it were actually Mike or Justin posting I would also ask the question in the hope and expectation of learning something.

All that is left is the linked thread from lycier. This is a known GIB issue, that it sometimes steps out and deviates from agreements in strange ways due to the hand sampling sims it performs. But that is an issue for thew GIB forums and nothing to do with linguistics. So I guess I still need to ask what aspect of linguistics you want to discuss. GIB's language seems to be fairly clear.

In terms of human conversations, you see the effect you mention most often in political interviews, when the interviewer will sometimes start by asking the "home team" speaker a question they know will elicit a pointed response that they can pass over to the "away team" representative and then use their position to control the narrative and keep the pressure on. One of the arts of political interviews is in halting a specific line of questioning and turning it back to more palatable topics. The Right is considerably better at this than the Left in the USA, although sometimes doing it in a way that is so objectionable that it must surely turn off watchers more than wooing them (see Kellyanne Conway).

In bridge I think that taking this in the same vein is usually an indicator of an inexperienced player. Good players look at inferences from the whole auction, not just the first bid or two. Again here, I do not really understand what that has to do with linguistics rather than just indicating the level of the players involved.
(-: Zel :-)

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#5 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-February-28, 09:36

Quote

The 'challenge' we seem to face is that with any language we need to pack a huge amount of information into an often inadequate space.

Indeed, this is one of the things that makes bridge bidding interesting. We have a very restricted language, but often quite a bit of information we'd like to transmit.

#6 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-February-28, 16:14

Many years back there was a cartoon in the acbl journal that I wish I had saved. A player was explaining "My discard of the spade 7 was meant to tell you that if you had such and such then you should switch to a heart, but if you had..." This went on for several lines and then finished with "It was kinda hard to say all of that with a 7"
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#7 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-February-28, 17:32

What can I say? OK I've walked the poodles and thought a bit more and I think I can add this.
"Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden." Phaedrus by Plato. So too with language and bidding in bridge. Sometimes when we make a bid it can have a multiplicity of meanings. Sometimes the meaning is obscure and we must announce or 'alert' it. At other times, it is supposedly so obvious that it is 'self-alerting'. Those of you that have watched James Duane's lecture on not talking to the police will now understand how dangerous it is to use terms such as 'obvious' when referring to language and communication. Here is a great example that just came up in practice with robots. West opens 1NT. My partner North bids 2 which is alerted as Cappelletti - I am well trained and know that the default response is 2 which my partner can pass or correct. But before I can bid, East hops in with a bid of 2 alerted as a Jacoby transfer to hearts. The robots, like me, play 'system on'. What to do? well, with a human partner I would play system on and double to indicate 2 which is what I did. As you can see GIB (not sure now which part is alerting which) alerts this to mean that South (me) has the KQ which I clearly don't. The point is that I don't care, I just wanted to convey a particular meaning and any reasonable human partner would know that is what I am saying. The result was +3.3 to NS - at the moment. Here's the link. https://tinyurl.com/ud4ehbl.Obviously it's all just GIBberish really, the computer does its thing and we get to participate. Fun and instructive though.

Here's the screenshot:

Posted Image




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#8 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-February-29, 18:04

My human understanding is that the double of 2 diamonds shows length and strength in diamonds, enough so that I am not worried about 2D being passed out to pay. I would also think of it as a warning that partner, if his suit is spades, might want to forget about bidding them. But you again bring up the police, and this is the area where we discuss such matters as that more than we discuss bridge agreements. I agree that talking with police requires care. When I was 14 I was hitchhiking, a cop I had not noticed before said "You will get there faster if you walk". Naive me, I thought he was just making a friendly comment so I replied, "Yeah nobody is willing to give a guy a ride today". This somehow set him off, but he still gave me another chance to start walking before taking me "downtown".Well, hitchhiking was illegal and he was a cop and he did let me go, I am not really complaining.
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#9 User is online   smerriman 

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Posted 2020-February-29, 18:57

View Postpilowsky, on 2020-February-28, 17:32, said:

.. will now understand how dangerous it is to use terms such as 'obvious' when referring to language and communication..

.. any reasonable human partner would know that is what I am saying

That is indeed a good example, since I wholeheartedly disagree with the second sentence, despite your dangerous use of 'reasonable'.
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#10 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-February-29, 19:17

View Postkenberg, on 2020-February-29, 18:04, said:

I agree that talking with police requires care. When I was 14 I was hitchhiking, a cop I had not noticed before said "You will get there faster if you walk". Naive me, I thought he was just making a friendly comment so I replied, "Yeah nobody is willing to give a guy a ride today". This somehow set him off, but he still gave me another chance to start walking before taking me "downtown".Well, hitchhiking was illegal and he was a cop and he did let me go, I am not really complaining.


Pretty funny! You really need to watch Duane's talk and read his book. He points out that not only should you never talk to the police, but that the most at risk group are children. The safest group of children are the children of lawyers and police officers because they are taught at a very young age to never talk to the police.
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#11 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-February-29, 19:30

View Postsmerriman, on 2020-February-29, 18:57, said:

That is indeed a good example, since I wholeheartedly disagree with the second sentence, despite your dangerous use of 'reasonable'.


Hmmm. I'm shocked, distressed, and horrified to discover that you disagree with all your heart. Posted Image. And that you believe my use of the term 'reasonable' is dangerous. I meant it in the sense of 'what the average person might think'. I don't believe that is dangerous, but we come from different backgrounds so perhaps our construction of what is 'dangerous' is also different! That's linguistics for you.
I notice that you like to accept friendly challenges. Here's one: I challenge you to not make any posts that include strong phraseology such as 'dangerous' or 'crucial', 'the best' or 'the only possible' for a week. In fact, I would like to offer all the regular 'posters' 100 posterpoints and you can then deduct 5PP's every time such a word or phrase is used in a post. Barry can be the arbiter/director, and whoever has the most points left at the end of the week is the winner. Use of rude words leads to a loss of 10 points. What do you think?



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#12 User is online   smerriman 

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Posted 2020-February-29, 21:14

View Postpilowsky, on 2020-February-29, 19:30, said:

And that you believe my use of the term 'reasonable' is dangerous. I meant it in the sense of 'what the average person might think'. I don't believe that is dangerous

Dangerous in that if you say something is obvious, or would be what the average person might think, you might turn out to be completely wrong.

And I'll pass on your challenge, since there are too many occasions where it's crucial those words are the best (and sometimes the only possible) words to use.
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#13 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-March-01, 00:17

View Postsmerriman, on 2020-February-29, 21:14, said:

Dangerous in that if you say something is obvious, or would be what the average person might think, you might turn out to be completely wrong.

And I'll pass on your challenge, since there are too many occasions where it's crucial those words are the best (and sometimes the only possible) words to use.


Words are a big problem aren't they! Feel free to send me a friend challenge of any format as often as you like. I'll always accept :) you say!
Who will you pass on my challenge to?
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#14 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-March-01, 08:00

I have decided to lose some weight. I think that's all of the self-discipline I am up for at the moment.
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Posted 2020-March-01, 08:38

View Postbarmar, on 2020-February-28, 09:36, said:

Indeed, this is one of the things that makes bridge bidding interesting. We have a very restricted language, but often quite a bit of information we'd like to transmit.


What is needed is a King with a middle finger extended - a wild card that can be played in unison with a normal card but one that adds the extra meaning of, "Partner, you suck"" But then, I guess it could also be saying, "F$#K it, I didn't know what else to play," or, "F#%king Arsehole, how did you know to endplay me?" Come to think of it, maybe we need lots of new cards. :blink:
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