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How to form a visual picture of the hand

#1 User is offline   forestcat 

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Posted 2018-June-22, 13:57

I am an intermediate player hoping to improve my game and for the past 6 months have been working on trying to keep everything I know about the hand in my head:

- Count and distribution of suits
- Location of honors
- Know what thtae various leads and plays mean

I find that I can do one thing each hand, but to try to add more info fries my brain. Can anyone suggest a strategy on which information to keep in my head first and then as I improve, layer other info on to it, and what is the best order of things to start to remember?

Thanks.
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#2 User is offline   FelicityR 

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Posted 2018-June-22, 14:43

The first thing on my list is to try to work out what the distribution of the hands are. Probably a bit easier if taking into consideration competitive bidding, but easy enough when you can see two hands, either as a declarer or a defender: your own and dummy's. If you can work out the likely possible distribution of the other hands as a start, then other things like honour cards and high card points will hopefully fall into place. The trick is, I believe, is to take each stage as a bite-size chunk, not to try to take on board trying to remember everything all at once.

I remember, I think, it was an American player who always worked on distribution first before anything else. It helped me enormously to think about how the other suits are distributed, and it's only a matter of subtracting each suit's visible cards from a total of thirteen and dividing the remainder.
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#3 User is offline   Tramticket 

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Posted 2018-June-22, 16:15

Start with how many tricks do I have / how many tricks do the opps have? This will help you work out what is important to know. It might be that you can now work out whether distribution in a particular suit is important. Or distribution of particular high cards is importamnt. If you can't keep track of everything (I can't), then try to figure out what is important to track.

Good luck.
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#4 User is online   manudude03 

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Posted 2018-June-22, 16:24

The way I visualise hands is when the auction is over, I get a quick template in my head of what I'm expecting one of the hands to have for the bidding. As play develops, I make small changes to that template to keep it consistent with what's going on. I find doing it that way makes the template very close to the actual hand by around trick 6 at which point you can hopefully start being able to play or defend double dummy.
Wayne Somerville
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#5 User is offline   Phil 

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Posted 2018-June-22, 17:23

A good friend of mine claims that every good player uses the four handed 'newspaper diagram' matrix.

Personally I do better when I think of hands one at a time, and then maybe validate by constructing the other unseen hand. I think of them in a string, something like AQ9xx KQx ???(x) A(xx)?
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#6 User is online   pescetom 

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Posted 2018-June-23, 09:48

View PostPhil, on 2018-June-22, 17:23, said:

A good friend of mine claims that every good player uses the four handed 'newspaper diagram' matrix.

Personally I do better when I think of hands one at a time, and then maybe validate by constructing the other unseen hand. I think of them in a string, something like AQ9xx KQx ???(x) A(xx)?



I wish I could mentally envision a four handed matrix: one of my partners can do it during the game, I can't manage it even if I read one in a newspaper and then close my eyes!
But if it was an interesting hand where I was declarer then I can write down all four hands fairly accurately, even a few days later, which is much better than when I started.
The good news is that even those of us who find such things difficult will improve over time and can speed things up with exercise.

One way is to deal a pack into four hands, then sort them (if possible get somebody else to to this).
Now look at a hand and then write it down.
Don't despair if at first you only get the distribution and the honours right, xxx is better than nothing.
When that gets easier start looking for a shorter time, or looking at several hands before writing them all down.

It's useful (and more practical) to do such exercises without physical cards too.
If you play a short tourney on BBO, then at the end write down all the hands you can remember and then compare to history.
If you get hand diagrams after a real world tournament then take time to study them and revise your play.
Then put the diagram aside and write down the interesting hands.
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#7 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2018-June-23, 18:58

Years ago I played for a while with an expert mentor. After the game we'd go somewhere and talk about my mistakes. :-) He'd say "board 12. Do you remember your hand?". "Nope," I say. "You had ..." and he'd rattle it off. Then "Do you remember the bidding?" "Nope". It went... and he'd rattle it off. Eventually I got to where I could at least partly get it right. I also concluded that if I didn't leave a session with a headache, I wasn't working hard enough.

I'm better at remembering now, but still not as good as he was.
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#8 User is online   pescetom 

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Posted 2018-June-24, 05:54

We have one player who can remember every hand (all 52 cards plus board number and vulnerability) he played in the last few weeks. Occasionally somebody will forget to shuffle and he will complain "but this is board 11 from Tuesday, only I was in West".

Of course the various types of memory are only a part of the problem, some of us have good short term memory but a poor capacity to visualise. But I've found it is easier to improve memorisation than visualisation - half a cake is better than none.
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#9 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2018-June-24, 14:25

One thing to learn is that there are a few common patterns in distirbutions of 13 cards. The most common are 4333, 5332, 4432, 5422, and 4441. You see this in the distribution of the suits of a hand, as well as the distribution of a single suit around the table. Get used to remembering these patterns. If someone is known to have a 6-card suit, their hand shape is often 6331 or 6322.

And once you imagine these patterns, start filling them in as cards are played. If everyone follows to 3 rounds of a suit, it was obviously 4333. If someone shows out, some of the distributions are no longer possible.

#10 User is offline   HardVector 

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Posted 2018-July-08, 14:53

View Postforestcat, on 2018-June-22, 13:57, said:

I am an intermediate player hoping to improve my game and for the past 6 months have been working on trying to keep everything I know about the hand in my head:

- Count and distribution of suits
- Location of honors
- Know what thtae various leads and plays mean

I find that I can do one thing each hand, but to try to add more info fries my brain. Can anyone suggest a strategy on which information to keep in my head first and then as I improve, layer other info on to it, and what is the best order of things to start to remember?

Thanks.


This is a skill you need to work on. First, start with shapes and keeping track of the cards in one suit (trump). Note the fall of honors and significant spot cards, work on doing this with all 4 suits. This is mostly a matter of just paying attention. Hand shapes all add up to 13, so something that is easier than keeping a running count to 13 in one (or all) the suits, is to work out the hand patterns. The patterns you see in your hand in all 4 suits are the same patterns that will exist in each suit for the 4 players. So, let's say for example you have 5 hearts and bid them with the opponents ending up in 1nt. Your partner leads a high spot heart and you see 2 hearts in the dummy. Now build a shape in the heart suit, you have 5, you see 2. It looks like partner lead a high card, so probably 2, or 3 weak. So you think that the hearts are probably 5-2-2-4, or 5-2-3-3. As you work on this, you will begin to do this with all the suits, and the patterns will become familiar and easier to track.
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