Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Bridge Tips When "Stuck" at Home, Part II

Now that we've had over a week without going to the bridge clubs, many of us have taken to online bridge at bridgebase.com. I have never been a huge fan of online bridge and haven't played in online tournaments for years, but am becoming reacquainted.  I prefer being physically "at the table" with the opponents as I'm able to pick up a lot of information during the bidding and play. On the other hand, playing online in the quiet of your home eliminates the noise and chaos of the clubs.  I had a great hand yesterday which I'll share in a moment.

Here are some additional bridge resources if you have extra time for reading.

1. There are some great bridge blogs out there.  Many of the top bridge writers have compiled rich resources:  Larry Cohen (larryco.com), Richard Pavlicek (rpbridge.net), Eddie Kantar (kantarbridge.com), to name a few.

I also enjoy checking out the material at the Bridge World website: bridgeworld.com.

2. Need some new bridge books (or other bridge supplies)?  I received an email from Baron Barclay this morning that they are offering Free Shipping on books! They agree that "It's the perfect time to stock up on new reading material." (baronbarclay.com)

3. Play exercises:  The quintessential Bridge Master play program is now available for free at the bridgebase site. (It used to cost a pretty penny to purchase.) You can find it under the sign-in page of bridgebase.com and play hands without signing in.  I love to practice playing tough hands before a big tournament.  Bridge World has some great exercises on their site as well--on play, bidding and defense.

OK--back to my amazing hand from my first online outing at the Daily "Support Your Club" ACBL Black Point Games at bridgebase.com.  There are 3 daily games for $5 each, with $4 going to your own bridge club.

Tracy Bauer and I were having a decent matchpoint game when I picked up this hand:


As I sat there admiring this dramatic hand, my partner opened a surprising 2NT!

Wow--what to do?  Even though my initial thought was getting to 6, I took the typical meandering route. I started with 3, puppet stayman, in case there was a spade fit.

Partner, not unexpectedly, bid 3, showing a 5-card heart suit (and no help).

Without a lot of agreements or exotic conventions to fall back on,  I then bid 4--hopefully natural and forcing!

4 from partner.  I had been hoping to maneuver the auction into a position where I could ask for aces or key cards, but hadn't found a way. Unwilling to risk a bidding accident by making an obscure bid, I simply jumped to 6.

Let's see.  The K was led and the dummy looked good.



I won the A, pitched my losing club on the A and led a diamond off the board.  The J came up on my right and I was in good shape as I won the A and LHO followed.

I left the high trump outstanding and returned to the board to pitch losing spades on the high hearts.  "Nice bid" said partner, and it did, indeed, feel like a good score.

When the next round started the scores appeared and we got a 100% board--a nice feat with over 400 pairs!

Hope to see you online!  My user name is Jenn.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Bridge Tips When "Stuck" at Home

A warm hello to fellow bridge players!

Although most of us love our homes, we really love going to our bridge club, seeing our friends and trying to play our best!  Is there anything we can do to enjoy bridge and keep our "edge" while the bridge clubs are shuttered?  Tired of moping and cursing fate, I fired up my trusty computer and put on my thinking cap!

What can we do to stave off boredom, and maybe upgrade our game at the same time? For starters, this can be a good time to catch up on our bridge reading and do some playing online.

Bridge Reading

Bridge Bulletins:  Most of us have several Bridge Bulletins at home and they are a wonderful resource - entertaining and instructive for players at all levels.  Sometimes it's challenging to keep up with our reading, including the Bulletins. The interactive features are great: The Bidding Box, It's Your Call and Challenge of the Month can keep us busy for a while and give us plenty to think about.

The interesting and talented contributors can help us improve our game.  I always turn first to George Jacobs because his columns are so entertaining!

With extra time at home we can peruse the tournament reports and admire the excellent, creative and bold play of the top experts at tournaments--and maybe pick up a few tips.

Bridge Books:  Most of us have good bridge libraries.  We can pull out our old favorites and refresh all aspects of our game:  Bidding, Play and Defense.We love bridge books--we're just usually too busy to read them!

Flash cards: A good time to pull out our flash cards and study card combinations.  Nothing can improve your game quicker than good play!

Play online.

I enjoy the Just Play Bridge feature from the ACBL website.  It is easy to play several hands quickly.  The bridgebase robots are generally only average bidders, i.e., you often get to the correct contract. (Don't expect adequate defense, however!) Here's a hand I played recently.

I picked up this amazing hand. None vul.  My robot partner passed and RHO opened 2. My bid.


I can't make any fancy two-suited bids with the robot as my partner, and can't risk not getting to game, so, with this great 3-loser hand, I simply jumped to 4 - a practical bid.

LHO bid 4 and it was back to me. Not finished, I now bid 5, LHO doubled and you'll never guess what my robot partner did. The robots aren't reliable about taking preferences when it's indicated, so my expectations were not high.

7!! bid the robot! Pass, pass, double from LHO!

7x was the final contract. To say I was shocked by the bidding was an understatement.  OMG was my actual thought-- I hated to see the dummy--to see what kind of trouble I was in.

The 4 was led and I couldn't believe my eyes.



Incredibly, it looked like the contract had chances--particularly with the double of my 5 bid by LHO, followed by the final double of 7. I drew a round of trump, then played the K which was covered and ruffed.  A heart back to my hand drew the last trump. Now I laid down the J and held my breath.  It was COVERED and I ruffed high, both opponents following.  Now the high clubs would draw the remaining clubs and my hand was good.

Now here's a score for you:  Plus 1770!

I closed my device and quit while I was ahead.

While we're "sheltering in place" (stuck at home), feel free to send me hands, questions or comments.

Stay well!


Monday, March 9, 2020

As The Auction Proceeds

One of the most interesting aspects of bridge is curiosity about how the auction will proceed.

As dealer, I picked up this hand yesterday in the first match at the Santa Rosa sectional team game.


Was it a good hand or not?  Maybe I only have 6 tricks.  My minor suits could be worthless.  Let's see how it goes.

I opened 1 and LHO overcalled 2.  Now partner made the greatest bid--a negative double!  This shows cards in both minors--just what I'm interested in!

RHO bid 3 and I knew just what to do, vulnerable at IMPs.  I jumped to 4 rather confidently!  All passed and I awaited the dummy.



Bingo!  This should be easy--even though LHO started with the K, followed by the A.  Even if there is a diamond ruff lurking, the contract should be safe with a reasonable trump break.

The 4♠ contract made easily and we were rewarded with a double-digit swing and a big match score. This kicked off a good day which resulted in a second place finish.

It pays to stay alert to how the value of your hand increases or decreases during the course of the auction.

See you at the table!