Bridge: stay focused and keep learning
The week has somewhat slipped away from me and rather than rush through a column I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk a little bit about bridge in general and then close with the customary good wishes.
So, a few random thoughts.
You can't improve if you don't look back at what you did right or wrong in your last game.
If all you do is turn up for the game, wait to see where you have finished, and then not think about what you did and just show up for the next game I can guarantee you two things – first, “where you finished” will rarely be top four and second, you'll probably be playing the same mediocre bridge 20 years from now, or possibly worse as advancing age will combine with your lack of learning to pull you down even further. Not a great new year's thought, but there it is.
Bridge is not a game of perfection ... simply to get to the most reasonable spot and don't second guess yourself if the lay of the cards makes your bidding look not so good.
Stay disciplined — never pass a forcing bid. When a partner makes an invitational bid, actually look at your hand before automatically bidding game, always lead partners suit unless you KNOW (not think) something else is better, don't make bids that you understand because you are looking at your hand and are unlikely to be understood by partner.
Use the approach of “fast arrival” with a bad hand and “slow arrival” with a good hand once you are in a forcing sequence.
Put pressure on your opponents as much as you can in the bidding especially before they have mentioned a suit. If you have a lot of trumps with partner, bid your hand up.
Try and have at least one regular partner with whom you discuss some basic bidding and defence rules: do you open a no trump with 2-2 in the majors I suggest not.
What do you bid over the opponent's 1NT openings with various hands? I suggest DONT or CAPPELETTI (look them up).
Does that system apply in the pass- out seat? What kind of Blackwood do you play? Do you give count in defence? (Up the line with an odd number, down the line with an even number).
From Ace King do you lead the Ace or the King? What sort of discards do you play (I like LAVINTHAL – look it up)
When you are declarer and it all looks good, search hard for what can go wrong and protect against it . When you are declarer and you are in a horribly thin contract, play it to make if all the cards are lying perfectly for you.
Once you have described your hand, give control to partner. For instance, when you open a 15-17 NT you probably have the best hand at the table but partner knows more about your hand than you know about hers, so partner should be “captain” in placing the final contract.
I could go on, but this should be enough to kick off 2016 for you in good style. Happy new year to all of you and may you get the luck you deserve at the table. To quote Gary Player: “Funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get!” See you next week.