Monday, January 30, 2006

this is so basic

With 4/5 5/5 or I suppose even 4/4 in the minors with no fcM when responder bids 1M do not bid 1nt. Should open a d rebid 2c.

If the auction goes 1m-p-!s-p-1nt-p-2h pass or bid 2s. It's just preference. Neither forcing nor invitational.

Next monday I'm venturing out into the world to play at the Culbertson Club in Manhattan. I'm terrified about revoking, misbidding or missing an alert. Scary.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Utter Frustration

After playing for hours a day, and watching for hours a day, reading about bridge every day, and dreaming of bridge at night, I'm still aspiring to be bad at the game some day. I truly doubt my intelligence and wonder if this is a form of masochism. Perhaps I'm just not smart enough for this game. But I still want to play.

On the other hand, I think maybe this is a natural stop on the learning train. I'm clearly not a bridge prodigy. So, maybe I just need to work harder.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh MY

I had sort of a big day yesterday on BBO. Bob held an inpromptu discussion on weak twos. He made the interesting point that not only are we taking a bidding level from the opps when we preepempt but we're taking away a big part of their convention card. One of the things he said that I liked best was: If you bid a weak two in first seat you're only preempting one partner but two opps.

I played with Bob in an Abalucy open tourney and it was so much fun. Of course, I made mistakes, and felt especially embarrassed. Bob was a total sweetheart when I did, and after we reviewed the hands that went awry. For me the most exciting moment was when I picked up this hand:
H: X

And RHO bid 1c. We'd been talking some about bad doubles. I think doubling here is a lie A huge lie. So, I didn't I passed, thinking surely I'll have another chance to do something, even if it's just take a lot of tricks on defense... but I worried too, that they'd play in 2h or something, which would make me sad. P balanced with 1s, I replied 4, Bob made 5 and all was right with the world. Except, I felt like I wanted to have a larger vocabulary in that situation. I KNEW I could trust him to balance.

Later, I played against Hannie and Cherdano. I played with szuetam, who was totally a doll. I thought it was really sweet of them to be willing to play with me. I think I learned something about aimless and pointless false carding.
You can't just throw an innappropriate card that doesn't really address declarer's questions in hopes that it will just confuse him. Especially if he's a better player than you are.

This week I'm reading Bergen's book on hand evaluation and Jim Jacoby's Jacoby on Bridge. I'm enjoying them both, and they both say many of the things that Bob says about hand evaluation. But even though everyone is saying the same thing, I think it's not redundant. It' s good to hear it rephrased, so hopefully it sinks in, repetition is good. Course Jacoby wrote this in 87 when people still played 16-18 nt as a rule, and he advocates a four card major open that just scares me.

I'm venturing with more frequency into the main club. I have mixed feelings about that. I suppose there are arguments for playing in BIL and playing in the main club, but one thing that's always true is that in BIL people as a rule are friendly and polite, and seem to be enjoying themselves. And that's a nice way to play bridge. Bob suggests that I make it very clear from the start that telling people when they sit that it's a friendly game if they don't want to behave they can go elsewhere. I have my speech on the matter preprinted and ready to post.

Finally Claire is back from Vegas, and I'm thrilled to have her back. Claire is my mentor. And she's just lovely and wonderful. I think it takes a special person to be a great mentor. It's a lot like any type of volunteerism, where the idea of donating one's time is far easier than actually doing it. I think this may be especially true with online bridge, where when you log in your mentee is there, and I think mentor's feel compelled to be there and on, all the time. That doesn't happen as much with live bridge I'm sure. And it's a lot of pressure. Most mentor's quit after a few sessions (this is what I heard talking with other billies.) I had a mentor before Claire who never wanted to play with me. But Claire's not given up on me yet, even though I'm sure I try her patience.
I've been really lucky to have had really great players and teachers make themselves available to me, and I feel a little like I'm cheating on Claire. But as long as she doesn't feel that way, all is right with the world.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The blind leading the lame, or is it the lame leading the blind? Anyway...

My friend Prim let me talk him into trying bridge base. He played socially in college, but hasn't played for a few years. So, I've fallen into the role of explaining conventions and treatments that he's forgotten or that have evolved or come into fashion since he played. All I can think is Poor Prim. I don't feel particularly qualified, but I think while it may not do Primus much good, it's forcing me to clearly think about what means what. I'm thrilled that I converted him back into the fold. And he agrees, that bbo is light years from Yahoo.

Today I played in the BIL play with a star tourney. I got to play with Ritong. Not only is he a great player, he's absolutely charming. What a lovely man. We played in 2s making 5. Opps made some mistakes, and he capitalized on them so smoothly, it was fun to watch.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I think, all takes longer

A few days ago, Bob did a class on Short Suit Game Tries (alertable.) At the heart of the theory on how to evaluate you chances of sucess is the 30 point deck. So, I'm wondering if the thirty point deck applies to ssgt. does it also apply whenever your side has a known void or singleton.

I also noticed that while I can recite the way several conventions work, once I have cards in my hand it's much harder to apply this knowledge. I'm really confused.

Also, if you say you play a convention but never remember that you play it, do you really play that convention? I never remember about new minor forcing. Maybe it's time to start saying: no, I don't play that, thanks.

Partnership bidding is a great place to test what you think you play, but it's a little disheartening too, when you start to realize, that all the stuff you thought you knew you have only a nodding acquaintance with.

Finally, hand evaluation. Each hand I ask myself the six questions and I come up with a number of plusses and minuses. So if I have 15 points and +--+++ How do I translate this into a number. And once p bids I might think oh, well that's good, or that's not so good, but again, hard to pick a number to assign.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Your bid got good technical marks, but it sounded a little forced to me

Below I noted that Rich said that 1c-1d-1h-1s is not forcing. This isn't true. He said it's not forcing TO GAME, but it is certainly forcing for one more round. Bobh2 pointed out that what I said was not correct. And then he went on to teach us the coolest thing. The above auction is not forcing to game, but what if you have a game forcing hand and want a bid that is 4th suit forcing? You bid 2 spades which deny's four spades and forces to game! I adore that Bob. Not only because he's willing to share the cool things he knows, but because he forces me to think and understand what he's telling me. And he doesn't put up with carelessness.

Dear Diary, Tonight, for the first time, I did it

Tonight's Rock Around the Clock, was pretty exciting. I finally got a gambling 3nt hand, that I got to open. Well, we ended up in five x down 29,000,000. Turned out to be an average. -.1 I think Or something like that. They had a h game, so overall not a bad sac.
Then last round we played against a star player. That always scares me. My blood gets cold and I can feel my iq dropping, physically feel it. Well, I held
S: Jxxx
H: QT963
C: 52
The star player sat on my left. Rho opened 1c -p-1h-p-1s-p-2c (checkback stayman) -p-2h(max open 3hearts)-p-4h-p-p-...
Well I looked at my hand and I knew x had to be right, right? But I also knew that this woman could outplay me in her sleep. And I could imagine Rabbit cringing when I x'd. But it had to be right, right? Well, down 1 and we made 4.7 imps against a star player.

Speaking of star players, here's a hand that I saw at Essess's table last month that still intrigues me:
He sat north and held:
S: AJ986
H: 108
C: AJ10974

The dealer was west who opened 1h, Essess overcalled 2h, east bid 2n -p-p-4c. I was fascinated by his 4c. I mean I would have bid three every day of the weak, but 4? So, I assume the man has some idea what he's about, not only does he have a star next to his name, he has a good sense of humor. So, if we take it as a given that 4c is better than 3c why?

And EW went down three x in 6d for -.27 for NS. I think, it got a good result, if not in imps then at least in getting ew to play in a lousy contract. But why 4 rather than three? So, the best I can come up with is this, his hand has no real defensive value. And opps stopped short of game with no obvious fit, so p can be counted on to show up with something. And game contracts score more points than partscores (unless they don't make.) Just a really interesting bid. If anyone can explain for me, I sure wish you would.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

All the cool kids say:

What's the problem? I want to work it into my vocabulary too. Also looking at whether to work in another use for 2d. I'm happy with it as is. But Rob and Rabbit would like have it do more. Flannery doesn't seem to be that exciting really. Some people swear it's the greatest thing ever, but it seems like you get to exactly the same place without it. Rabbit and I will try out multi. If we hate it, then we'll stop. Can't hurt to know how things work.

Today at the table, I was asked to explain my pass. I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my seat. I didn't know what to say... I settled on, "not forcing." And he said, I just wanted to check how many cards you have.

Some fourth seat forcing issues, have come up lately. First was the auction 1c-1d-1h-1s, which is not forcing. I was fairly sure that it was not, but not positive. Rich confirmed that it is not forcing. Tonight at the table we had an auction that looked like this... 1d-1h-1s-2c. Absolutely forcing. But for some reason I thought I had opened a club... I guess the big bidding record there in the center of the table wasn't flashing neon or something. I was so upset I made five on a hand cold for six. Argggghhhhh.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Te Vejo Manana

I hate bridge. I quit.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Finally... a reason to pass

I like the idea of a strong pass. This comes from tonight's lesson in BIL. Susan Doty did a class on what happens over x and xx. So, over a xx if your rho bids, they're just picking a suit. There are no points left for them. If you pass, it's not weak, it's strong. If you were weak you'd find a bid and say, hurry and pick one of my suits, I opened min and I don't want to defend! Pass is stronger. I like this strong pass thing. It's like over 2c where 2c-2whathaveyou-p is stronger than 2c-2whathaveyou-x. Strong passes are the most fun.

I should point out, to avoid future confusion (most likely my own) that after a redouble and a bid from rho passing isn't the only way to show strength. Don't pass only because your hand is good.

Friday, January 13, 2006

What looks large from a distance - close up gets bigger

Last night Wabbit (kaninunge) and I played against a star player in a Rock Around The Clock. (We came in 12th of 28, and were quite happy with that.) Playing against someone with a yellow star really gave me a bad case of performance anxiety. (I guess that shows, women can get that too.) Three hands with my heart in my throat. First hand we went down .15 imps. Second we made 1.77, and the final we were down .69. And let me tell you, I feel like a bridge player! Actually we had a bidding accident on the hand we went plus on, that worked against the opps. I opened a major, and opponents x, Rabbit bid 2nt and I wasn't sure if it could be jacoby 2nt over interference, so instead of bidding my singleton, I bid a second suit. We found our contract and made for 1.77 imps, and thank you very much - against a star player. I just like saying it.

The thing is, or one of the things is, that playing bridge, affords you the opportunity to have brushes with greatness. Especially online. Luis Argerich of Argentina gives lessons in the beginner intermediate lounge. As an aside, Rob (Mortinii) and I are thinking of buying clothes from bridge tournaments -with pictures of cards on them - and shaving our heads and following him around.

Bobh2 who is a very fine teacher has been very kind to me. Much of the knowledge I'm recording comes from him. Two ideas that I'm incorporating (Ripstra and not bidding a new four card suit over a t/o x come by way of Bob. Aside from being very nice and very smart, one of the really pleasant things that came by way of my aquaintance with Bob was a chance to remember John Lowenthal. I actually got to play with Mr. Lowenthal a couple of times. This was years ago, when I took up bridge, and before I put it down again for eight years. I have a great regret about that experience. I was too busy feeling stupid and apologizing to remember anything but the agony of my own stupidity, which is a total waste. Maybe not a total waste, as I remember how kind it was of him to play with me at all, and I remember him very fondly. Bob has a great story about playing against him and duplicating the boards. Apparently, John did it, with all the cards face down, like a magic trick. If you see Bob on line, you can ask him to tell you the story. He tells it better than I do.

I can't talk enough about how much I love bridge base online. There are free classes in BIL. There are free classes in I-ABC. This week, Yoder did two tourneys and classes focusing on card combinations. How to play with missing the King and Jack with A and Queen and separate hands. It matters where the Queen is. With the Q opposite A10 lead the queen or low to the Q. With QT opposite the ace, Lead the Ace first then low to the ten. And of course how to play missing jxxx and Jtxx which is in yesterday's post. Bob's doing a series on hand evaluation. Bob's becoming the voice in my head as I look at my cards these days. And tonight at Yoder's tourney I played opposite Hannie, who did a lesson on counting that has made me a much better player, in one hour, I think. I count everything now.

Bridge Base's wonderfulness lies not only in the classes, there are also the forums, and the sense of community. I wonder if the pope would cannonize Fred Gitelman.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Getting Started

Bridge must be one of the hardest games in the world. It takes years to become mediocre. When you begin, it feels a bit like swimming in goo. Nothing makes any sense. They give you a thousand rules and then much like learning a langague, you find lots of places where there are exceptions. Dialogue at the table goes like this:
P: Why did you____?
You: I dom't know.

Then there's this epiphany and suddenly you're playing bridge. You feel smart! It doesn't last. As soon as you figure one piece out, you realize how many are still missing.

This week I feel on the verge of a break-through. Maybe just wishful thinking.

With so much to learn, and since I seem to be learning something new every day, this seemed like a good idea to record some of the lessons.

What I've learned this week:
Evaluate your hand.
As the bidding progresses, keep reevaluating your hand.
When missing the jxxx in your trump suit, Win first in the hand with two honors
When missing JTxx win first in the hand with one honor.
The problem with capp is that it has very little preemptive value in most of the bids.
Don't x 1nt with a hand that can be opened 1nt, x with a hand that can beat it.
Don't throw away good cards, signaling for a lead.

What I didn't learn this week:
That pass isn't overrated.
That passing is fun
That passing is not a cop out.
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