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Play of the Hand How to lern to play the hands better

#1 User is offline   spadebaby 

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Posted 2014-May-01, 19:27

I seem to be having trouble with my playing of the hands.

Sometimes I do fairly well, others I wonder what happened and why things
went wrong.

I am looking for advice on where I can go to learn how to play the hands better.

specifically: When playing against a suit contract, how do you know when to keep leading a
suit?
If you lead diamonds twice, and you see that the dummy is out of diamonds and will ruff the
next trick....do you keep leading diamonds anyway?

Seems like I always make the wrong choice.

Help

Thanks in advance
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#2 User is offline   karlson 

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Posted 2014-May-01, 21:00

1. Bridgemaster (available on BBO)
2. Bridgemaster (available on BBO)
3. Get a book or two by Kantar.
4. Play more hands and try to analyze them together with some good players.
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#3 User is offline   Antrax 

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Posted 2014-May-01, 21:23

In addition to the above, you can post specific hands here, explain your thinking and get feedback.
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#4 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2014-May-02, 03:06

It is hard to answer such questions in isolation because they tend to depend on the hand in question. The best advice I can think of is to try to visualise the hands and keep a count of the number of tricks each side appears to be making. Sometimes you have to assume certain cards in one hand or another for your play to make a difference. From this you can judge whether declarer still needs to develop tricks, or whether your side does. If declarer has to develop tricks but your side not then leading a safe suit (aka passive defence) is often a good idea. A suit in which declarer has to ruff (but usually not a ruff and discard) is often such a safe suit. On the other hand if your side has to develop tricks then a more active defence is called for and you need to work out where those tricks are coming from. Finally you have the situation where declarer has enough tricks but might have too many losers. In this situation you have to take your winners immediately, cashing out as it is known. Here leading a suit for dummy to ruff is bad.

As Antrax writes, you can post hands here and ask about how it should have gone. If you only post your hand and dummy you can get an idea of the thought processes the better players are following (most will be happy to post this). You could also post the full hand if you just want a general overview from both sides.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#5 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2014-May-02, 08:32

It's hard to answer your question without knowing exactly where you are in your development as a bridge player. So, I will start at the beginning.

If you wish to develop as a bridge player, you have to both study the game and play the game. They go together. You can't do one to the exclusion of the other and expect to become a good bridge player. The study exposes you to new ways of thinking about bridge hands. The play helps you apply those new ways of thinking.

If you're a newer player, sort of been playing by "the seat of your pants", and never done any study, then the place to start is with a good fundamental book on card play. Your first and most important task as a developing player is to get a good grounding in the fundamentals of card play. Ultimately, you want to be where executing the fundamentals of card play are second nature for you. When you become a player who rarely makes a fundamental card play error, you become a tough player to beat.

Fortunately, there are some excellent books available on the fundamentals of card play. Two of the oldest and best are:

Watson's Classic Book on the Play of the Hand at Bridge by Louis Watson
Card Play Technique by Victor Mollo and Nicola Gardener

Watson's book was written in 1934 for a US audience and remains a steadfast part of a player's education here. Mollo/Gardener was written primarily for a Great Britain audience, but also brings up some good and different points about card play. Both cover the fundamentals excellently.

I'll speak about Watson's book. The book is broken down into a Fundamentals section and an Advanced section. Newer players should concentrate on the Fundamentals section. Take your time. Work your way through each chapter and make sure you understand the concepts presented. Then go out and play for several months. Then come back and reread the Fundamentals section again. It will be well worth the effort and you sure to gain an even better understanding of the fundamentals.

(I'll admit to still going back and rereading Watson from time to time after fifty years. It's always worthwhile.)

A digression for an example. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to play with a lady from a slightly distant town in a Pro/Am event at a local regional. ("Pro" was being loosely used to designate a good player. "Am" were basically novices/newer players.) While I was able to provide a couple tips, it wasn't anything earthshaking that would change her arc of development as a bridge player. Two years ago, I noticed she was playing at a regional I was at and she was carrying a copy of Watson around with her. I remember thinking that she's getting it right if she's studying Watson. Sure enough, over the past two years, she's been among the leading masterpoint winners in her ACBL unit among players of her masterpoint level. Occasionally, I play with my local partner at a club where she plays. She rarely makes a fundamental error when playing against us and is tough to beat.

More to follow in other posts.
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#6 User is offline   spadebaby 

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Posted 2014-May-02, 08:48

View PostZelandakh, on 2014-May-02, 03:06, said:

It is hard to answer such questions in isolation because they tend to depend on the hand in question. The best advice I can think of is to try to visualise the hands and keep a count of the number of tricks each side appears to be making. Sometimes you have to assume certain cards in one hand or another for your play to make a difference. From this you can judge whether declarer still needs to develop tricks, or whether your side does. If declarer has to develop tricks but your side not then leading a safe suit (aka passive defence) is often a good idea. A suit in which declarer has to ruff (but usually not a ruff and discard) is often such a safe suit. On the other hand if your side has to develop tricks then a more active defence is called for and you need to work out where those tricks are coming from. Finally you have the situation where declarer has enough tricks but might have too many losers. In this situation you have to take your winners immediately, cashing out as it is known. Here leading a suit for dummy to ruff is bad.

As Antrax writes, you can post hands here and ask about how it should have gone. If you only post your hand and dummy you can get an idea of the thought processes the better players are following (most will be happy to post this). You could also post the full hand if you just want a general overview from both sides.

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#7 User is offline   spadebaby 

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Posted 2014-May-02, 08:52

Thank you so much for your answers. Definitely helping.


Makes it clearer to me.

Just ordered Kantar's play of the hand book....

PLUS...I called a bridge friend who has a ton of points...and asked...and here is what she advised:

If you are leading thru the dummy....then lead thru the dummies strength....

when you are leading thru the declarer...lead to the weakness in the dummy.


Makes sense to me...when I heard it......Plus it gives me a quick little guideline to have in my
head so I can make a better decision at the table.

Am playing this afternoon...will let y ou know how it worked out for me.

And will post that hand when I have time to find it.


Thanks again to everyone.
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#8 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2014-May-02, 09:30

My favorite books for beginner/intermediates are
Bill Root: How to Play a Bridge Hand, How to Defend a Bridge Hand

Also agree with Mollo/Gardener Card Play Technique

I dislike Watson mentioned above. Although the content is good, the presentation to me is too dry and hard to get through. Root & Mollo/Gardener are easier to read and cover mostly the same ground.
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#9 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2014-May-02, 15:52

View PostStephen Tu, on 2014-May-02, 09:30, said:

My favorite books for beginner/intermediates are
Bill Root: How to Play a Bridge Hand, How to Defend a Bridge Hand

Also agree with Mollo/Gardener Card Play Technique

I dislike Watson mentioned above. Although the content is good, the presentation to me is to dry and hard to get through. Root & Mollo/Gardener are easier to read and cover mostly the same ground.

The thing about Watson, for me, is that every time I read it I learn something. That's probably something to do with it being hard to get through. B-)
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#10 User is offline   karlson 

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Posted 2014-May-02, 17:23

Quote

when you are leading thru the declarer...lead to the weakness in the dummy.


good general rule

Quote

If you are leading thru the dummy....then lead thru the dummies strength....


not as much, as declarer will probably want to play the suit anyway.

The best generalization might be to try to lead suits where your side has a good chance of taking some tricks.
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#11 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2014-May-03, 07:58

It is out of print but there are second hand copies on the market, but I like to recommend Victor Mollo's Winning Double. So called because it is divided into two halves. Each half contains an equal number or randomly distributed card play problems. The problem is presented on the right page, with its solution overleaf on the left. None of the problems are very hard. The book is aimed at beginners and intermediates, and illustrates in different hands many of the most common problems that you encounter.

Neither of the sections contains harder problems than the other. To prove this, Mollo lays down a challenge in the foreword: Tackle the two sections in the order of your choice, and he guarantees that you will score higher when tackling the second section. A good confidence booster when it so transpires.
Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

Psyche (pron. sahy-kee): The human soul, spirit or mind (derived, personification thereof, beloved of Eros, Greek myth).
Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts." 9th battalion, King's own Yorkshire light infantry,
2000 years earlier: "morituri te salutant"

"I will be with you, whatever". Blair to Bush, precursor to invasion of Iraq
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#12 User is offline   rmnka447 

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Posted 2014-May-03, 11:42

As long as you're going with Kantar, I'd urge you to strongly consider purchasing Kantar's two books on defense. They are:

Modern Bridge Defense
Advanced Bridge Defense

Modern Bridge Defense is the first volume and covers most of the fundamentals of defense. These include leading, second and third hand play, signaling, and discarding. Advanced Bridge Defense gets more into planning the overall defense and working out the layout of the hand.

Both are excellent. IMO, they should be mandatory reading for every developing bridge player. Kantar does such a terrific job explaining the hows and whys of defending that you can't help but become a better defender. Since you defend more often than you declare and defense is the most difficult part of the game, becoming a good defender ultimately gives you a big edge.

If you can't get both, then concentrate on Modern Bridge Defense. Getting the fundamentals rock solid is just so importamt.


As for quiz books, Kantar's Test Your Bridge Play books are excellent. I can't tell you how many times I've been browsing through the bridge books at a regional when a newer player will come, pick up Test Your Bridge Play, and say to their friend "Get this book, it's really good!" They must have something to get that endorsement.
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#13 User is online   helene_t 

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Posted 2014-May-03, 16:24

I'd recommend Kelsey's Winning Card Play.

It teaches the basic techniques of card play, both defense and declarer play, in a very systematic way, based on logic rather than conventions.
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#14 User is offline   spadebaby 

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Posted 2014-May-03, 21:38

Thanks again to everyone for their input.

Lots of studying for me to do in my future...I can see that!!!

I have all the books written in a list. But will stick to one at a time
so I grasp that author's info...before getting another book and wind up
reading just portions of each.

Was in my first tournament on sunday...and we came in 1st in our "c" class....
everyone under 300 points. So I was thrilled. I made a slam contract, and 2 4H
contratcts and 2 3NT. so felt good about that.
But I had this one hand: 5C....that I don't think I played well. ( cause I saw my partner "wince" as I was playing it)

We were definitely "competing" and willing to sacrifice cause felt they would
make their game and they were vul. and we were not.

Here is the hand:

North:
S Q97653
H QJ743
D
C Q2

EAST

S A8
H A1098
D 10987
C 987

South

SKJ4
H K6
D AQJ432
C 54

East

S 102
H 52
D K65
C AKJ432

I went down 2. Now seeing the hands records, I am not sure 5 was ever makeable...but not sure.

Any comments or suggestions? North lead the 6S.

Thanks again everyone. You are all apprreeciated.
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#15 User is offline   neilkaz 

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Posted 2014-May-03, 23:03

Please use BBO forum software and make a proper hand diagram (this may take some trial and error) and you'll get good responses.
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#16 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2014-May-03, 23:50

You listed two hands for East but none for West. Should we assume that the Club length is held by West?

You did not list the conditions of contest. Method of scoring is sometimes relevant, ie in determining your target number of tricks. At Match Points in particular, your target is not always your contract. It doesn't always make a difference, and perhaps not on this hand, but it is a good habit to get into, specifying it when posting hands. I expect that this was Match Points. On this hand N/S can make 3S but nothing higher, so your effective target here is to get out for one down. If you have a choice of a safe play for one down compared with a play that might make but risks going 2 down then this may influence your strategy.

You did not list the auction. This will often help you to build a picture of the opponents' hands which influences your strategy in the play.

You did not list the line of play that you took. Best defence (and Spade 6 lead is consistent with this) beats 5C by 2 tricks (your result), and if they defend perfectly throughout there is nothing that you can do about it. It is possible that during the play the defenders might have slipped a trick on which you failed to capitalise (or you later chucked it back) but as we do not know how the play actually went it is not possible to comment.

By the way, when your partner winces, he his not always right.


May I commend an app. "Double Dummy Solver" by Bridge Captain to you? It requires Windows (or Windows emulator) and I find the latest version to be a bit buggy on a Windows 8.1 machine (but still functions for its core purpose). It is free of charge (but donations are accepted). You could plug this hand into it and it will confirm the conclusion that I make above, as well as whether it is a phantom sacrifice (ie against a non-making game). It is critical that you appreciate that double-dummy play is not always the most sensible line based on the information available to you at the table, but it still takes some of the drudgery out of the analysis. On the other hand some may argue that taking shortcuts is not a recommended way for a novice to practice the discipline of analysing hands.




Psych (pron. saik): A gross and deliberate misstatement of honour strength and/or suit length. Expressly permitted under Law 73E but forbidden contrary to that law by Acol club tourneys.

Psyche (pron. sahy-kee): The human soul, spirit or mind (derived, personification thereof, beloved of Eros, Greek myth).
Masterminding (pron. mPosted ImagesPosted ImagetPosted Imager-mPosted ImagendPosted Imageing) tr. v. - Any bid made by bridge player with which partner disagrees.

"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts." 9th battalion, King's own Yorkshire light infantry,
2000 years earlier: "morituri te salutant"

"I will be with you, whatever". Blair to Bush, precursor to invasion of Iraq
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#17 User is offline   spadebaby 

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Posted 2014-May-04, 11:27




Learned how to do this todat!!!

Thanks for telling me to do it....

Was a lot easier than trying to type in.
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#18 User is online   helene_t 

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Posted 2014-May-04, 11:44

Just a comment on the bidding:
North should not double. Bid some number of spades or bid 2 if you play that as showing majors.
After North's double, South wants to be in game so he can't bid a non forcing 2 . 2 is the best bid.
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#19 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2014-May-04, 11:52

To add to helene's post, North's second round 3 bid shows a strong hand too strong for an immediate overcall (double then bid). So the auction looks like North has ~17 points and South ~7.

Also, if you click on the GIB button in the diagram you will see a red 2 appear on the 6. This means that with best play on both sides (with all cards exposed) the final result would be -2. As jack writes, sometimes partners do not approve of a perfectly good line of play; sometimes even when you make an extra trick!
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#20 User is offline   neilkaz 

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Posted 2014-May-04, 12:28

Perhaps PD was wincing since you overbid to a phantom sac when 4 is going down.
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