Saturday, April 29, 2006

Play with an expert if you can

The other day I was talking with a friend who said that he'd never played with an expert partner, but had played against a few. He worried that he might be intimidated. Emotionally I can relate to this. I remember the feelings of total panic in that seat, and your brain shuts down and you're too nervous to really enjoy the experience or learn something from it. Emotionally, I get it. But intellectually, I think that there's so much to be gained that if you have the chance, you ought to take it. BBO is really interesting in that you do have the chance. It's often as simple as looking at the partnership desk for a Tourney (Home Base is always a good choice.) You might have to pay their card fee, but really, it's worth a dollar, isn't it?

I think that in the 45 minutes to an hour and a half that you're parked across from this expert (or advanced or whatever other adjective adds up to good player) the most important thing to learn is what to do when things don't go right. And even for the world class players things don't always go right. The thing is, if it's a mistake you put it behind you. If it's a misunderstanding you discuss it, and if it's something you didn't know then when this good player points it out, you now know something you didn't, and you can be pretty sure their advice is good and their criticism is constructive and warrented. Maybe the biggest lesson is that if you're going to play bridge you're going to have bad boards, and it's ALRIGHT. Bridge is more fun when not every negative score is a tragedy.

Meanwhile when I'm not steering people to the partnership desk, I'm trying to really learn to count cards. And learn is a strange verb here, because in theory, if you can count beans or apples or from one to fourty you can count cards. In theory. I find while I'm counting points and suits and winners and losers and how many imps I'm behind, I get mixed up. But I have been assured, people have promised, that this gets easier. And one day I'll be able to count cards the way that people count change. Maybe.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Do it. Do it not now, but right now.

P preempts and you think you might raise. Raise immediately.
Played this morning in the BIL play with Luis Tourney (my favorite hour of the week, and the only thing better than playing with Luis is playing against him) and partnered with Luis who bid 3c. I had 11 points and the atx of clubs. I passed. They bid hearts I bid 5c and we went down one. He pointed out that had I bid 4c the auction was likely to end there.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yesterday this excited me.

A jump shift when p opens is different depending on whether you're a passed hand. Go figure! So, what does it show? Maxish pass and support. Wow. I had no idea.

Today's debacle went like this...
I hold Axx of h. Declarer plays singleton h from dummy and I play low. And never take my ace. I'm going to bed with honors too often. I need to rethink something.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Well, the other night, I trumped p's winning trick. I have no idea why. He asked if I really wanted to be on lead. That's as good an excuse as any.

Other fugue moments recently include brilliant plays like Leading the ace when declarer and p are both out of a suit. If p wants to over ruff he'll over ruff. Meanwhile why set up dummy's suit. Of course, if I lead low, then declarer needn't ruff... but unless p wanted to play a forcing game, and I was unaware maybe it doesn't matter.

I had 47 thousands hearts, dummy had 47thousand hearts to the AkqjAqk. In Nt. No outside entries. I... um... lead a heart. I didn't occurr to me that no one else had them. Perhaps if I'd counted.

Why am I telling the world I'm an idiot? Maybe writing it down will trigger a long term memory and next time I'll remember to count hearts, not beat p's tricks etc. Course maybe not. See post below.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Mind like a steel sieve

Last month I was quite proud of myself for having learned something new. I even wrote it down so I'd always remember this new thing. Now I look at it and think: Huh? Anyone? What's this? :

1W-x-p-1Z-p-2Z. 2Z is a strong raise. I don't know how it happens but really basic things get lost in the shuffle of the whole learning process.
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