Key to playing better bridge is eliminating mistakes
The other day I was talking to one of the players from the Bermuda Bridge Club and she said: “I just have to play more to get better.” Hmm, I thought, not quite!
Bridge is not like tennis or golf, where that may be a bit more true – those sports have a repeatable motion so one can actually improve by playing a lot more. And even there, golfers spend a lot of time practising on the range and tennis players usually have a good warm-up before starting a match, all of which helps a lot.
Bridge is not like that – players turn up at the club a few minutes before the session is a about to start, they then play 24 tension-filled hands without much space in between and then, once the results are announced they dash away and next think about the game the next time they play – and that pattern repeats itself again and again.
Where in all of that is there the chance to improve? Nowhere, is the answer. The way to improve at this game is to learn how to eliminate mistakes and that doesn’t happen at the table.
That is why I encourage players and pairs who want to improve to take some time after the session, or during the next day, to go through each hand and see what they could have done better, either in the bidding, declarer play or defence. That then sets them up for better results the next time they sit at the table.
This week’s hand (see Figure 1) requires declarer to show a modicum of technique and is one where players will often see where they went wrong after the hand is over. The bidding is shown in Figure 2.
West led the Queen of clubs. Declarer called for a low club from dummy and, after the Queen held, West continued with the Jack of clubs. When that also held the trick and West played a third club, declarer ruffed East’s Ace of clubs with the ten of trumps, carefully preserving the 5.
Declarer next cashed the Ace of trumps and then led the Queen of trumps to dummy’s King, pleased to see that the outstanding trumps were two-two. A low diamond was led to the queen and, when that held, declarer played his carefully preserved five of trumps to dummy’s six.
After repeating the diamond finesse with a diamond to the Jack, declarer cashed his Ace of diamonds then ruffed a diamond to bring his total of tricks to eight. The Ace of hearts would be his ninth trick and the jack of spades his tenth.
The main lesson for intermediate players is to unblock trumps (by ruffing the third club with the ten) if there is no danger of creating a trump loser, especially if it may clear up some entry problems in the process. In this case, doing so paved the way to take advantage of the two-two break in trumps when East began with at least three cards in diamonds headed by the King.
Not that easy, and this is one of those plays that you will get wrong a few times before you start looking far enough ahead to see the need for the unblock to create the entry to dummy.
So don’t think to yourself: “Oh, I would never see that!” You will if you map out the play far enough ahead, and that comes with experience.
BRIDGE CLUB RESULTS
Friday, July 8
1. Lorna Anderson – Joyce Pearson
2. Wendy Gray – Richard Gray
3. Gertie Barker – Martha Ferguson
Monday, July 11
1. Wendy Gray – Richard Gray
2. Charles Hall – Misha Novakovic
3. Molly Taussig – Sheena Rayner
Tuesday, July 12
1. Wenda Krupp – Jane Gregory
2. Tracey Pitt – Desiree Woods
3. Barbara Elkin – Neil Gilbertson
1. Jean Schilling – Mark Stevens
2. James Fielding – Phui Jing Lee
3. Sandra Ogden – George Ogden
Wednesday 13 July
1. Marge Way – Charles Hall
2. Peter Donnellan – Joe Wakefield
3. Wendy Gray – Richard Gray
1. Pat Siddle – Diana Diel
2. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith
3. Martha Ferguson – Judy King
Thursday, July 14
1. Marge Way – Misha Novakovic
2. Elizabeth McKee – Linda Pollett
3. Sharon Shanahan – Claude Guay