gamerfreak
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October 19th, 2020 at 12:18:41 PM permalink
Any bridge players on the forum?

It was something I always saw old women playing at the local country club, and the complexity of it always intrigued me. I made a few half hearted attempts to learn, but the rules make very little sense on paper.

Recently I was on vacation and had some time to devote to learning Bridge, and I found this fantastic app called Tricky Bridge https://www.trickybridge.com/

Unfortunately I think it is iOS only, but I am sure there is something similar for android. It took me about 2 hours to go through the tutorials and get to a point where I think I could play the game at a novice level.

It's fascinating the amount of depth and complexity achieved by a game with a simple deck of cards. The actual card play of trick taking is not super hard, and I may be wrong but I would say about 90% of decisions are fairly obvious. Contract bidding is a whole other part of the game that is probably the most difficult, hundreds of books have been written on that subject alone. And keeping score is an entirely different matter, the rules for scoring are not straightforward.

Some interesting facts about bridge....

Bridge is categorized in the family of Trick Taking games, and is a variation of a trick taking game called Whist, which dates back to the mid 1700's.

Harold Stirling Vanderbilt is credited with creating the rules in 1925 for the modern variation of bridge played today.

The number of people playing contract bridge has declined since its peak in the 1940s, when a survey found it was played in 44% of US households. The game is still widely played, especially amongst retirees, and in 2005 the ACBL estimated there were 25 million players in the US.

Bridge and chess are the only "mind sports" recognized by the International Olympic Committee
AZDuffman
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October 19th, 2020 at 12:48:17 PM permalink
As a kid I saw it played on TV shows which means I heard the name and nothing else. One year I got a "50 card games for kids" book that had how to play and I could not follow it not that it mattered as there would be nobody to play with.

At this point my main chance of learning is if I end up in Club Fed and have hours a day to kill.
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ThatDonGuy
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October 19th, 2020 at 12:53:45 PM permalink
In my opinion, the "secret" to contract bridge is having a partner and working out details on what bids mean what. Most bids are meant to be signals. For example, Three No Trump is usually a request for your partner to tell you how many aces they have (IIRC, 4 clubs = none, 4 diamonds = 1, 4 hearts = 2, 4 spades = 3, and 4NT = 4).
gamerfreak
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October 19th, 2020 at 12:58:38 PM permalink
Quote: ThatDonGuy

In my opinion, the "secret" to contract bridge is having a partner and working out details on what bids mean what. Most bids are meant to be signals. For example, Three No Trump is usually a request for your partner to tell you how many aces they have (IIRC, 4 clubs = none, 4 diamonds = 1, 4 hearts = 2, 4 spades = 3, and 4NT = 4).


Yes, I believe SAYC is the defacto standard bidding system

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_American
charliepatrick
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October 19th, 2020 at 1:30:42 PM permalink
I started playing bridge at school many years ago. Initially I should recommend reading a few books to understand the basics of bidding and some on card play (defence and declarer). In normal times you'd then try a bridge club and find a partner or go to evening classes.

In the UK most people use Acol but some strong club systems are also used. Online and in the US there is a thing called SAYC (Standard American Yellow Card). I play on BBO ( https://www.bridgebase.com/v3/ ) and you can join for free and have a look around - even watch other tables. When you're ready there are free competitions, note robots play SAYC. (SAYC is slightly more complicated so don't worry about learning it all - I haven't bothered as you can click on a robot's bid to understand it and your own to understand what the robot understands by your bid!)

There are various levels you can play at so start out aiming towards club standard. This means you get to know the basics and only add a few bells and whistles.

One lesson I recently learnt is as opener your hand can either be flat (you tend to bid NT) or distributional. Your job is to convey that to your partner. With a flat hand you either open NT (1NT: 15-17 points etc.) or with 12-14 your second bid is in NT and 18+ you jump in NT.
e.g. 1 major - 5-card suit (your second bid is NT with 12-14 flat hand 5332).
1 minor - either 4+ cards or 2/3 if 4-card majors (your second bid is 1NT with 12-14 flat hand unless you can bid 1 major).

With a distributional hand either you have one or two suits (or sometimes three), so open one of the suits and then either bid one of the others or rebid your long suit. This is more complicated than NT hands, so I'll leave the book to descibe your options.

Then you get to what the responder does - fun fun fun!!
gamerfreak
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October 19th, 2020 at 1:34:54 PM permalink
Quote: charliepatrick

I started playing bridge at school many years ago. Initially I should recommend reading a few books to understand the basics of bidding and some on card play (defence and declarer). In normal times you'd then try a bridge club and find a partner or go to evening classes.

In the UK most people use Acol but some strong club systems are also used. Online and in the US there is a thing called SAYC (Standard American Yellow Card). I play on BBO ( https://www.bridgebase.com/v3/ ) and you can join for free and have a look around - even watch other tables. When you're ready there are free competitions, note robots play SAYC. (SAYC is slightly more complicated so don't worry about learning it all - I haven't bothered as you can click on a robot's bid to understand it and your own to understand what the robot understands by your bid!)

There are various levels you can play at so start out aiming towards club standard. This means you get to know the basics and only add a few bells and whistles.

One lesson I recently learnt is as opener your hand can either be flat (you tend to bid NT) or distributional. Your job is to convey that to your partner. With a flat hand you either open NT (1NT: 15-17 points etc.) or with 12-14 your second bid is in NT and 18+ you jump in NT.
e.g. 1 major - 5-card suit (your second bid is NT with 12-14 flat hand 5332).
1 minor - either 4+ cards or 2/3 if 4-card majors (your second bid is 1NT with 12-14 flat hand unless you can bid 1 major).

With a distributional hand either you have one or two suits (or sometimes three), so open one of the suits and then either bid one of the others or rebid your long suit. This is more complicated than NT hands, so I'll leave the book to descibe your options.

Then you get to what the responder does - fun fun fun!!


Is it considering cheating to have some kind of reference card for bidding conventions when playing online?

I think this is the “official” reference
http://web2.acbl.org/documentlibrary/play/sayc_card.pdf
billryan
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October 19th, 2020 at 1:50:08 PM permalink
My parents taught me as a teenager and I played quite a bit. It took awhile to get the bidding down, and it seemed to me you pretty much need a steady partner in order to bid properly. One thing I never got down was how to score. It seemed to me that the scoring was overly complicated and I never put much time into it. I played some in college and in the Army but mostly I switched over to Hearts as it was easier to get up a game.
I enjoyed bridge and wouldn't mind taking it up again, although I'm sure I've forgotten more than I knew.
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Mosca
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October 19th, 2020 at 1:51:43 PM permalink
I used to play, but back in the '70s there was this thing about criticizing peoples' play during the game. It wasn't fun, so I stopped. My dad said I was pretty good.

My father was a Gold Life Master, he and his friend Stan played against some of the all time greats and held their own. They were playing in the ACBL Nationals, some time around 1970 or so, and if Stan would have led the 3s they would have advanced to the finals. He didn't, and they didn't. For years afterward, my father would give him the 3s: closed in a book he loaned to him, or in a Christmas card, or he'd make a deck out of all 3spades and the first hand Stan would get thirteen 3s of spades. They were lifelong friends, Stan died last year at 95, and my dad died a couple months ago at 92. Playing cards kept him pretty vibrant, he played bridge until he had a stroke in '19.

They used to have bridge problems in the newspaper. I could solve about half of them, as long as they were play related rather than bidding, even though I didn't play. It was fun to trap people who had better cards, but couldn't use the advantage.
Last edited by: Mosca on Oct 19, 2020
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billryan
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October 19th, 2020 at 2:03:00 PM permalink
Goren on bridge was required reading in my house and my parents often quizzed us on the column. I was mildly disappointed to find out it had been ghostwritten for many years.
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gordonm888
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October 19th, 2020 at 5:01:23 PM permalink
I have played bridge and decades ago I even played in a tournament. However, it was always (for me) a game that was easier to read about than to find a foursome to play.

Strangely enough, I believe its the one common card game that our Wizard has never learned.
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October 19th, 2020 at 6:28:48 PM permalink
Quote: AZDuffman



At this point my main chance of learning is if I end up in Club Fed and have hours a day to kill.



That is awesome and probably the same for me.
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SOOPOO
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October 20th, 2020 at 6:31:55 AM permalink
Quote: ThatDonGuy

In my opinion, the "secret" to contract bridge is having a partner and working out details on what bids mean what. Most bids are meant to be signals. For example, Three No Trump is usually a request for your partner to tell you how many aces they have (IIRC, 4 clubs = none, 4 diamonds = 1, 4 hearts = 2, 4 spades = 3, and 4NT = 4).

. Ummm.... No! You are confusing 3NT , which is generally a last bid stopping at ‘game’ from ‘Blackwood’ which is 4NT!

And yes, bridge is the ULTIMATE team game! You MUST know what your partner means with every bid.
Torghatten
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October 20th, 2020 at 6:56:24 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

. Ummm.... No! You are confusing 3NT , which is generally a last bid stopping at ‘game’ from ‘Blackwood’ which is 4NT!

And yes, bridge is the ULTIMATE team game! You MUST know what your partner means with every bid.



This, and today its more common to use the king of trump as the "5th ace". 5C= 0 or 3, 5D=1 or 4, 5H = 2 without trump queen, and 5S=2 with trump queen.
charliepatrick
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October 20th, 2020 at 7:36:17 AM permalink
If you starting out it's best to stick to a few conventions and keep everything simple. You can always add other things later on.

This is based on UK Acol, but I imagine the same applies to 5-card majors/Strong NT system/2 over 1.
1 NT - Stayman (add transfers later on)
2 NT - Stayman or Baron
2C - strongest bid (2D negative, 2N 2nd negative)
2DHS - strong (2N negative) (add Benji, weak 2's etc. later on)
3x - Pre-empt
3N - Strong (this has a different meaning in Acol - long minor)
4x - Pre-empt
4N - Strong (this has a different meaning in Acol - direct Ace asking)

4N Blackwood: 5C=0...5N=4 aces. 5N asks for Kings, 5 unbid major says stop in 5N. (Use 4130 or similar system later.)

Cue Bidding - only use when agreed a suit and reversing probably come later.
teliot
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October 20th, 2020 at 8:34:29 AM permalink
Quote: gamerfreak

Any bridge players on the forum?

Played bridge since age 5 -- that's when my dad taught me the game and somehow it stuck.

For many years I competed in duplicate bridge tournaments regionally and nationally. I also helped start OK Bridge with Matthew Clegg, maybe 1992/1993 or so, back in the day when we played online using an ASCII board and the interface required a Unix telnet connection. We all encouraged Matt to quit his day job and turn OK Bridge into a professional product. There were so few of us that Matthew even programmed special features just for us, like if this one player Worf bid 3 Hearts then up would pop "Putz Alert!" It was a lot of fun.

My one most lucky event was in Las Vegas in maybe 2002 -- I was hired to teach a course on blackjack card counting to the bridge players at the tournament and they invited me to play in the master+ sectional. I had a partner I picked up and somehow we got lucky on every board and won the whole thing. Everyone wanted to be my partner the next day, but it was just pure luck as my results the next day proved.

I quit playing bridge in 2002 after my partner (who was from Egypt, looks middle eastern and has a strong accent) kept getting horrible things said to him and all sorts of penalties for things he didn't do -- in the wake of 9/11. I figured out who these bridge players were, most of them, and that was enough for me to quit for good.
Last edited by: teliot on Oct 20, 2020
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billryan
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October 20th, 2020 at 10:17:00 AM permalink
I never played in a tournament, but am very curious about what sort of penalties you can get and who calls them? Does your opponent make a complaint and officials make the calls?
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teliot
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October 20th, 2020 at 10:33:12 AM permalink
Quote: billryan

I never played in a tournament, but am very curious about what sort of penalties you can get and who calls them? Does your opponent make a complaint and officials make the calls?

Yes, your opponent usually makes the call of a penalty, the tournament director listens to the claim and makes a decision. The typical decision on a board that goes against you just has you getting a "bottom" on that board. But other things can happen.

I'll tell the story of the last case that led to my quitting bridge. In it our opposing team called the director over claiming that my opponent was taking too long to make his decision and was giving me information in how he looked at me, which was upheld by the T.D. and we got a bottom. Under our opponent's breath, I heard her as she mumbled "damn Arabs!" I lost it. She was making claims just because she hated my partner. I called her racism out right there in the hall, creating a bit of a scene, and then I called out all the other people in the bridge center who had expressed similar sentiments about my Egyptian partner. You could hear me shouting at them in the next building over shouting, "you're all a bunch of f*king racists! It got to be a huge shouting match, and they tried to push me out of the hall. When they put their hands on me, I called the sheriff to make a battery claim and when he interviewed a few folks they all claimed that I had been the physical aggressor, which was total b.s. The sheriff said to me that "I've got a room full of people in there who said you started this, what do you want me to do?" So, I dropped my claim and quit bridge. There was a formal hearing, but my partner didn't show up, so that went against me. Then I got a certified letter from the ACBL, which I declined to receive (Twice) -- I can only imagine it was a permanent ban and not an apology.

Now that I work & volunteer for the P.D., I understand that my actions were a 415 p.c. -- so it could very well have gone the other way. But, in 2002 the world of bridge was full of 60 yr. old plus entitled white folks who hated Arabs because of 9/11 and I had enough.

Truth is, they also hated us because we were two young smart players who used systems they didn't fully understand and often got first or second place, winning the points and money prizes. All these nice old ladies didn't much care for the young arrogant bullies. We tried to be nice and respectful, but they hated how we actually played the game, it was just too hyper-modern for them to tolerate.
Last edited by: teliot on Oct 20, 2020
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Hunterhill
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October 20th, 2020 at 1:29:33 PM permalink
I know nothing about bridge so excuse my ignorance. From what I’m reading certain bids tell your partner what you need or have, so doesn’t the opposing team also understand those bids and therefore also know what you are communicating?
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gordonm888
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October 20th, 2020 at 2:39:42 PM permalink
Quote: Hunterhill

I know nothing about bridge so excuse my ignorance. From what I’m reading certain bids tell your partner what you need or have, so doesn’t the opposing team also understand those bids and therefore also know what you are communicating?



Yes, so those bids help your opponents to plan a defense if your team gets the bid.
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charliepatrick
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October 20th, 2020 at 3:00:59 PM permalink
Quote: Hunterhill

I know nothing about bridge so excuse my ignorance. From what I’m reading certain bids tell your partner what you need or have, so doesn’t the opposing team also understand those bids and therefore also know what you are communicating?

Unlike poker, it usually pays to tell the truth. A simple auction might be 1NT, 3NT. This means the defence need 5 tricks before declarer can make 9. All the bidding has shown is the the opener has 15-17 points and dummy has 10+.

Sometimes in bidding it's best to bid quickly rather than giving out too many clues (i.e. making more bids). So with say S AKxx H Kxx D xxx C xxx you would tend to raise 1NT to 3NT rather than ask (via Stayman) whether partner had 4 Spades.

Also in defence you have to agree a signalling method. Typically you might play or throw a high card to encourage that suit and a low card to discourage it (other systems are available!). So on Partner's lead of an Ace you tell partner whether that suit should be continued. (A reasonable play is if dummy only has a singleton, i.e. partner will need to switch to something else, then a high card says play the higher of the remaining suits, and low means lower. This is known as McKenney.)
Hunterhill
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October 20th, 2020 at 3:51:38 PM permalink
Thanks for the detailed response Charlie.
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ThatDonGuy
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October 20th, 2020 at 3:59:33 PM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

. Ummm.... No! You are confusing 3NT , which is generally a last bid stopping at ‘game’ from ‘Blackwood’ which is 4NT!


Blackwood is 4 NT? It has been a while since I've played (seriously - I'd say early 1980s).
SOOPOO
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October 20th, 2020 at 4:13:18 PM permalink
Quote: ThatDonGuy

Blackwood is 4 NT? It has been a while since I've played (seriously - I'd say early 1980s).



Yes. But it can also be ‘keycard Blackwood’ as described a few posts earlier. It just has to agreed upon by the team in advance.
Deucekies
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teliot
October 21st, 2020 at 12:15:27 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

Yes. But it can also be ‘keycard Blackwood’ as described a few posts earlier. It just has to agreed upon by the team in advance.



Yeah, unless you are very explicit with your partner beforehand, your bid of 3NT is going to be met with a pass almost every time. 4NT is what you want.

I've played Bridge with my family since I was ten, but stories like teliot's are exactly why I will never play the game at any sort of competitive level. I find the game to be very fun, and I want to keep it that way, so I'll keep it to the kitchen table.
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Mosca
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October 21st, 2020 at 1:01:02 PM permalink
I went to school in upstate New York in the early 70s. Most of the bridge players there were from New York City and Long Island, and the general practice was to play a hand and then one of the partners would berate the other over supposed misplays during that hand, often very loudly and using crude language. That sort of play probably wasn't limited to those geographic areas, but it was hearing all that in the New York accent that made it even worse for me personally.

I stopped playing.
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billryan
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October 21st, 2020 at 1:38:37 PM permalink
Quote: Mosca

I went to school in upstate New York in the early 70s. Most of the bridge players there were from New York City and Long Island, and the general practice was to play a hand and then one of the partners would berate the other over supposed misplays during that hand, often very loudly and using crude language. That sort of play probably wasn't limited to those geographic areas, but it was hearing all that in the New York accent that made it even worse for me personally.

I stopped playing.



New Yorkers do not have accents. The rest of the world speaks funny.
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racquet
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October 21st, 2020 at 2:37:13 PM permalink
Quote: Mosca

...and then one of the partners would berate the other over supposed misplays during that hand...



There are traditionally two parts to the berationing. The bidding, when a wrong bid communicated the wrong information, and then the play of the hand, usually between the person who won the bid and his partner (the "dummy") about how the declarer should have known better.

In a session with married couples, the spouses were usually at each other's throats, adding a whole other level to matrimonial strife. Surprisingly, they kept at it, returning week after week for another session at the bridge table.

Contract bridge was a regular topic in Sports Illustrated, with Charles Goren being the consensus expert. I recall there was even a Saturday afternoon syndicated show with play-by-play and state-of-the art graphics - for the 1960s.
theoriemeister
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October 21st, 2020 at 8:31:23 PM permalink
I learned bridge in grad school and absolutely loved it. We'd play every day at lunch. A couple of my buddies also learned it, and fairly regularly two of us would go visit the local bridge club on Monday night and compete against the other folks there. Back then we were definitely the 'young whippersnappers' in a sea of white hairs, but every once in a while we'd actually win! (This is playing duplicate.)

But once I graduated and got a job, and moved, I rarely played again. So here it is, 25 years after grad school, and I still read the bridge column in the paper almost every day. Sadly, it isn't popular like it used to be. I have hopes of teaching it to my friends, but bridge isn't something you can teach people in a single evening. And these days it seems that no one wants to learn a game that takes a lot of thinking. There's a local bridge club where I live, but I hate to say that at 61yo, I'd probably still be one of the younger players.
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October 22nd, 2020 at 12:23:44 AM permalink
As for me, bridge-playing is similar to art that is not common for everyone.
Not everyone could become an artist, not everyone could be a bridge player!
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Mosca
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October 22nd, 2020 at 8:23:02 AM permalink
My brother and I took what we learned from bridge and used it to become really good at euchre. We played a game of euchre that could only be defined this way: since every transgression has a penalty attached to it, all transgressions were acceptable behavior, as long as you accepted the penalty when you were caught. So we would very commonly steal the deal for example. (Being the dealer at euchre is an extremely powerful position.) Or if you were in a tight spot and the only way out of it was to reneg, what the hell; reneg. It costs two points. Or change the score, which is kept with two cards adding to 10. Get caught, it's -2 from where you should be.

As long as everyone is playing by the same book, it is MUCH more fun this way... let the other guys steal the deal, and right before they flip the card, ask for the deal back. They reneg? Toss your hand and claim 2.

Bridge play can be applied to the play of the hand as well. I haven't played in probably 20 years, and my brother Jim passed in 2009, but we could make book out of a high bower and a side AK, plus a couple low trump opposite. It's all in when you cash.
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Mosca
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October 22nd, 2020 at 8:23:16 AM permalink
Deleted, double post.
Last edited by: Mosca on Oct 22, 2020
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October 22nd, 2020 at 2:50:52 PM permalink
Years ago I used to play a game from TSR that was loosely based on the Lord of The Rings. There were a number of rules, but the one that caught my attention was buried deep inside another one. It said that under certain circumstances one was allowed to lie and even cheat if the situation warranted it. I'm not sure why they wasted their time with any other rules as this was all one needed.
We must have played it a dozen times and the ring never got out of the Shire.
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October 22nd, 2020 at 4:18:37 PM permalink
I recently read an old (2016) article in the New Yorker discussing Bridge cheating at the top levels of play. It's longish, but does examine the player's dilemma of ethical play...

Quote: The New Yorker

Expert poker players often take advantage of a skill they call table feel: an ability to read the facial expressions and other unconscious “tells” exhibited by their opponents. Bridge players rely on table feel, too, but in bridge not all tells can be exploited legally by all players. If one of my opponents hesitates during the bidding or the play, I’m allowed to draw conclusions from the hesitation—but if my partner hesitates I’m not. What’s more, if I seem to have taken advantage of information that I wasn’t authorized to know, my opponents can summon the tournament director and seek an adjusted result for the hand we just played. Principled players do their best to ignore their partner and play at a consistent tempo, in order to avoid exchanging unauthorized information—and, if they do end up noticing something they shouldn’t have noticed, they go out of their way not to exploit it. Unprincipled players consciously take advantage of such information. And, occasionally, they go a great deal further than that.


Full article here.

-----------------------------------

Speaking of the The New Yorker...

Quote: billryan

New Yorkers do not have accents. The rest of the world speaks funny.



Here's a famous cover from the mag showing a New Yorker's world map...



It seems that New Yorker's have actually heard of Las Vegas.
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