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Ten Things Every Winning Bridge Player Must Know

Apr 17, 2008
I have played nearly every kind of card game in nearly every part of the world. Always I have played for money, and sometimes for a lot of money. I have had a chance to observe, in action, nearly every type of card player.

Some of these have studied their favorite games for a long time and know a lot about them, and yet they lose. Why? Usually it is because of just a few habitual mistakes that they make over and over. Yet they could correct these mistakes quite easily if they knew what they were.

I have tried to analyze the mistakes that the average good player makes most often and finds most costly. Usually a player can easily avoid such mistakes if he knows the few basic and generally simple principles that govern them. Pay attention to these principles and you will speedily change into a consistent winner.

1. It pays to bid a vulnerable game when the odds are 8 to 5 against you; when not vulnerable you need a 50-50 chance.
2. It pays to go down 400 or 500 (depending on vulnerability) to prevent an opposing game.
3. It is worth going down as much as 200 to prevent an opposing part score.
4. To bid a little slam you need a 50-50 chance; to bid a grand slam you need at least 2 to 1 in your favor.
5. An opening major-suit bid should show at least a five-card suit or a strong four-card suit.
6. Bid your strength whenever possible the suit you want to have led.
7. Don't overcall at the two level unless your trump suit is at least five cards long and very strong.
8. Don't make a light third-hand bid if you can't stand a lead in the suit.
9. Bid more cautiously when you suspect a misfit
10. Take a moderate set rather than risk having a big contract made against you it's insurance.

The advice I give you will follow the theories I follow myself.To begin with, however, I must make it clear where I stand on the most discussed and most disputed points of the day.

Point-Count Valuation All the point-count systems, Goren or any other, in nine out of ten cases will arrive at the same result So will mine. However, I believe it to be slightly simpler and in some cases more accurate.

My high-card count is the same one you are undoubtedly using: Ace 4, King 3, Queen 2, Jack 1.
Add 1 point for a fifth trump, and an additional 1 point for each trump over five.
Add 1 point for a four-card side suit or 2 points for a five-card side suit, but do not count more than one side suit in the same hand.

You will note that this gives a value of only 1 distributional point to the 4-4-4-1 hand pattern, whereas Goren gives it 2 points. It gives only 2 points to the 5-4-4-0 pattern, whereas Goren gives it 3 points. I don't fhfafr these hands deserve any higher valuation than I give them until your partner has responded. They are hands that can lead to serious misfits, if your partner has nothing but a long suit and it coincides with your singleton or void Slightly undervaluing such hands at the start guards you against making some dangerous borderline 12- and 13-point bids.

Every point-count system has to have a slightly different schedule of points for raises and for revaluation of a hand that has raised. I have gone over the various suggestions and my conclusion is that they are all about 90% correct and in the other 10% will result in some degree of overvaluation or undervaluation.

In my experience it is a mistake to try for 100% accuracy in Bridge valuation; in the effort a writer has to make so many exceptions to his basic point count that it confuses the student, and by the time he gets through there are still numerous hands that the system doesn't quite fit. I am content to take any one of the popular methods and rely on the law of averages to make it fit most hands, and on intelligence to recognize the hands that it doesn't fit.

Opening One-Bids In recent years bidding has become more competitive than it used to be, with both sides bidding and with many more pre-emptive bids. Therefore, the trend is to sound opening bids, for your partner must often depend on you to have sound values and not the very light hands experts were opening seven or eight years ago.

Rather than the opening-bid requirements that are usually published, I recommend the following:
13 points may be opened;
14 points should be opened, but it is not obligatory; 12 points may be opened only on rare occasions.

Follow these tips and you will find you are far more successful at Bridge!
About the Author
Malcolm Blake has done extensive research into the field of games of all genres including modern games on Zune .
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