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Dear Emily Postnews

by Ian Crorie, Scotland, UK


[With acknowledgements (and apologies) to Brad Templeton, original creator of the Emily Postnews series]

Emily Postnews, foremost authority on proper net behaviour, gives her advice on how to act in


Q: Dear Emily:
I've just discovered that some pairs only need 12-14 points to open 1NT, instead of 15-17. Would you recommend I post an article saying which method is better? --

A. Dear Religious:
It's strange, but despite the fact that NT strength is a vital part of a bidding system, no one has ever sat down and worked out which NT strength is best. It has certainly never come up on r.g.b., so you'll earn the undying respect of the group if you become the person to start the ball rolling.

Oh, and after the short investigation that produces a conclusive answer that everyone accepts, you might wish to move on to strong club versus natural, 5 card majors versus 4 card majors, std signals versus reverse and the Buenos Aires Affair. You'll have to come up with your own topics for the day after that.


Q: Dear Miss Postnews:
I've seen hand diagrams in a number of different formats. What is the best way to present a hand? -- Diana Agram, Layoutsville

A. Dear Di:
There are a number of issues involved. The first is that it is vitally important you show off your new word processing software. A formated table comprising non-ascii control codes unique to your new WizzyWord® package will impress the hell out of everyone in the newsgroup. If they complain that it messes up their screen, tell them to buy a copy of WizzyWord.

If you cannot manage non-ascii control codes, the next best thing is to send your WizzyWord file as an attachment (around a Megabyte in size should be sufficient). If you don't have an obscure WP package, how about using a Web Browser? It is normal to send 2 copies of your article this way, the first as normal text and the second embedded in a mess of html formatting commands. Your article is the most important thing posted on Usenet this year: your readers will appreciate at least 2 copies of it. Note that when someone else posts an unnecessarily long article that you like, you should immediately post a follow up quoting the original in full and adding "Me too, I agree" at the end.

Getting down to detail: which of these would you say is better?

-------------- 1:
AQxxxKJxxx IMPs, Dealer West, Both Vul
North leads DK, plan the play.

-------------- 2:
    AKx     Qxx

Me: 1S RHO says no bid and after pard splintirs (LHO passes to) I TRY SLAM. SHOULD i HAVE MADE THIs? I did when the finnesse was right but partner said I was a moron.


I think we can all agree that 2. is better. 1. is boringly regimented with no sign of individuality (13 cards in each hand is so predictable). 2. gives the reader a puzzle as well as a hand (two problems for the price of one). Thousands of Usenet users will enjoy the challenge of reconstructing the original hands.

A few other key points emerge from 2. above:


Q: Dear Miss Postnews:
I can't wait to tell about a worrying incident that happened on okbridge last night. In 1NT I took a heart finesse and went down when it lost. At the end of the hand West, a guy I'd never met before, told me I could have made it if I'd played to drop the Queen.He must have had a wire on the board to know that. Should I warn other bridge players about him? --

A: Dear Suspicious:
Of course you should! Make sure you use the word "cheat" a number of times in the article and refer constantly to "other boards"that worry you about this guy. That'll make it impossible for him to defend himself. Use the phrase "no smoke without fire" at least once. Include the guy's home address and phone number and make sure his work and family get copies of the article. At the end of your article, put in a disclaimer to the effect that "in the unlikely event that he's innocent, then I withdraw these accusations". That'll stop anyone thinking that you're being unfair or anything.


Q: Dear Ms Postnews:
A friend recently told me about a program called a 'spell checker'. Can you explain what this does? --

A: Dear Doctor:
Spell checker programs have no part to play in the posting of articles to r.g.b. The related activity of proof-reading is also deprecated. What your friend fails to realize is that the r.g.b. audience is simply desperate to read your latest pearl of wisdom. It is a vicious form of mental cruelty to deprive them of your article for a second longer than is necessary. So forget about correcting mistakes; in any case, they'll make you seem more down-to-earth. Good grammar and style, on the other hand, will make you look superior to other posters. Nobody likes a smartass.


Q: Dear Emily:
Every time I post an article asking how a pair of hands should be bid I get dozens of responses, most of which contradict each other. Which ones should I believe? --

A: Dear Confused:
Remember that variety is the spice of life. Think how boring it would be if only people who were any good at bridge were allowed to post in r.g.b. Having said that, there are a few rules of thumb for evaluating these responses:
  1. Some people, Henry Sun and Don Varvel for example, will post reasoned, thoughtful and polite follow-ups. So despite years of experience, they obviously have learned nothing about the proper way of doing this sort of thing on Usenet. Ignore them. A good reply will contain phrases like:
    • "6H is a no-brainer, wtp?"
    • "If he really bid that way, I'd get myself another partner"
    • "Anyone who thinks that's a 1D bid is from another planet"
  2. Be suspicious of people who give more than one bidding sequence. For any pair of hands, there is only one correct sequence. That's assuming the original poster reported the opponent's hands of course; if not then alternatives are allowed. For example:

    • "If the spade hook is working and clubs are 3-3, my partner and I would bid it this way: 1C-1H-4D-5C-6H. If not, it would go: 1C-1H-4H. An easy hand for our system."


Q: Dear Ms Postnews:
I posted in last week and someone called 'bobs' posted a technically correct but self opinionated and rude response. --

A: Dear Hurt:
Join the club.


Q: Dear Emily:
I'm thinking of posting my first article to r.g.b. Do you have any advice? --

A: Dear Virgin:
I'm very disappointed with you: you used the words "thinking" and "posting" in the same sentence. Go back to the beginning and reread this guide.


Editor's note:

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