Saturday, August 17, 2019

Factors to Consider When Playing IMPs

I'm going to be teaching about team game strategy this fall and so will start writing some posts on factors to consider when playing IMPs.

Here is an old, updated post originally entitled: Playing The Opponents 

Playing in a bracketed Swiss team game recently, I was faced twice with the same tricky card combination, both in the club suit:  KJ9xxx opposite a singleton.

Both times I was in game and needed to get it right to make my game.  Each time I "played my opponent".  Did I score up my games?  Read on!

1.  Playing against a strong team, both vul., the bidding went pass, pass and I opened 1 in third seat:

♠ A1098x
KQxxx
♦  Jx
♣ x

Partner bid a forcing notrump and I rebid 2.  Pard jumped to 4 and a heart was led:

♠ xx
AJx
♦ Qx
♣ KJ9xxx

♠ A1098x
KQxxx
♦  Jx
♣ x

Clearly a light game, but at least I had chances on a non-spade lead.  I would need for something good to happen in the club suit to have any chance.

I won the heart in my hand and threw my club on the table.  LHO played low and I paused to think.  LHO was a very experienced player who would not duck the probable setting trick--ever.  I therefore inserted the jack and RHO won the ace!  She returned a heart which I won on the board.  I then cashed the K and ruffed a club with the suit breaking 3-3!  4 clubs, 5 hearts and 1 spade added up to 10 tricks and I scored up 620.  I was pleased to learn that this netted our team 12 imps.

2.  In the final match I picked up this hand and opened 1 in third seat, none vul.:

♠ Kxx
AJxxx
♦ AQxx
♣ x

LHO overcalled 1, partner bid 2, I bid 2N, LHO paused before passing, and pard bid 3N, ending the auction.  A spade was led.

♠ A
x
♦  K10xxx
♣ KJ9xxx

♠ Kxx
AJxxx
♦ AQxx
♣ x

I can count 8 tricks (5 D, 2S, 1H) and here I am in the same situation--needing to guess the club suit correctly to make my game.  OK--what was the meaning of that hesitation by LHO? 

I know the player to be a good, experienced player.  Surely he wasn't thinking about bidding on.  He must have been contemplating a double.  Why would he do that?  Conclusion:  he must have most of the outstanding high cards and thinks he can get in often enough to set up and run his spades.

I win the spade on the board and lead a diamond to my hand.  The moment of truth.  I lead my club, LHO plays low smoothly and I call for the king.  It holds!  That is my ninth trick and I score up my game.  It seems that I read the hesitation correctly.  Plus 400 gains an unlikely 12 imps.  (I'll have to ask my teammates what happened at their table.)

Be present.  Consider the skill level and propensities of your opponents.  Play close attention during the bidding and play to gather all possible information and use it to your advantage.

And, of course, bid close games and keep improving your declarer play!

See you at the table!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Bridge Tournament Handbook News

Baron Barclay is now carrying Bridge Tournament Handbook (baronbarclay.com).

Their blast email, which came out today, featured it in the New Book section.  Here is the description:

With decades of high-level tournament bridge experience, Jennifer Jones knows what skills are essential to tournament success. She presents this impressive collection of tips on key bridge topics with clarity, illustrating them with her own exciting tournament hands.

Packed with outstanding bridge resources, plus hundreds of great tournament tips from Jennifer and other bridge teachers and experts, this handbook will lift your game to a new level.

The "Secrets of the Experts" section presents valuable bids and concepts not ordinarily included in bridge classes and books, and the section on Counting is quite instructive.

Experienced players can refresh their recollection of fundamental concepts such as Losing Trick Count, Restricted Choice, Rule of 11 and the table of suit-break odds, while newcomers can study the types of pair and team games played at NABCs in the appendices.

Jennifer's personal account of her focused approach to a session of tournament bridge is enlightening, as are the descriptions of her thoughts as she bids and plays challenging and interesting hands.


*Joanne P., a Silver Life Master from my Santa Rosa club sent me a nice comment on the book:

I stopped in Vegas last month on a planned trip to the East Coast where I played for a day and a half in the Nationals.  And, to treat myself, I started to read your book on my short flight over.   I thought it was AWESOME.  So much valuable information was packed into that small booklet!  I devoured it (not sure I'll remember any of it) and got through most of it on the flight (and loved the meditation suggestion!).

Thanks Joanne!

See you at the table!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Why Buy Bridge Tournament Handbook?

An reader asked me point blank today why he should buy the Bridge Tournament Handbook.

"Two compelling reasons." I replied.
  • First, it is a great value.  It contains much of the material for advancing players covered in my private bridge coaching programs.
  • Second, it contains literally dozens of valuable bridge tips and expert advice for intermediate players that you won't learn in other lessons. I always thought it would be fun to write a book containing "expert secrets" not taught in lessons. So--I included some of them in this book. Most of the concepts are illustrated with my own bridge hands played in tournaments.
    1. Check out the section on Five Level Bids Asking about Holding in Opponent's Suit.
    2. Study the section on "Positional Considerations" and "Working Values" and tell me where else you can read/learn about these concepts.
While Bridge Tournament Handbook has an opening chapter encouraging newer players to attend the Fall NABC, 95% of the book is aimed at intermediate players striving to become better players.

For example, here is a great tip from teacher Gerry Fox:

1      The two keys to efficient discarding when declarer runs a string of winners are a) paying attention and b) partnership cooperation. 
  As declarer runs a long suit, the defenders will be forced to part with several of their cards. Knowing which ones to save can be an agonizing affair, but here are some simple rules to guide you:
1)  Use discard signals to help each other. Playing standard carding, a high spot card on the first discard means you have values in the suit and can protect it; a low spot card means the opposite, suggesting possible values elsewhere. 
2)  Try to keep equal length with what you see in the dummy or what you know to exist in declarer’s hand. If, for example, declarer has bid spades, he must have at least four of them; holding four yourself, you should retain all of them. 
3)  If your partner is saving cards to protect against a certain suit, you can abandon that one. Conversely, if partner has abandoned a certain suit, you should try to protect it, if possible.
 

To reach your goals at bridge and move to a higher level, it's time to add this book to your library!


See you at the table!