For Improvers

Contains learning opportunities suitable to those trying to improve their game...

Card play tips

Book cover

This article covers a range of important tips on card play in Bridge. It relies heavily on Card Play Technique by Victor Mollo and Nico Gardener. I recommend this book for any aspiring bridge player even though it was first published in 1955, and some of its jargon is a little dated.

 

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Johnno's tips for bridge success

Photo of Johnno Newman

At the 2017 Coffs Coast Gold Congress, Johnno Newman presented a talk on "how to climb the bridge ladder". This talk was well-timed as it occurred on the morning after he and Paul Gosney won the open Swiss Pairs event.

Johnno insisted that talent was overrated and that any player could improve their success rate with some relatively simple training and techniques. This included keeping a record of the type of mistakes you make - whether they be due to being impulsive, poor anlaysis/thinking in play, system memory lapses etc - so that you can identify where you need to focus your attention. He also spent a little time helping us collaboratively identify what, for each of us, a good partner would look like - and ended with the advice to not only find such a partner but to be that partner as well.

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Which suit to lead?

In the game of Duplicate Bridge the defence's leads, particularly the opening lead of a hand, are often critical. Here we explore some guidelines as to what suit to lead. Separately we explore the more straight-forward question: the choice of card once the suit has been chosen - see What card to lead.

The objectives are twofold: firstly to maximise the chances of gaining extra tricks (or avoiding the unnecessary loss of tricks), and secondly to give partner as much information as possible about the best strategy for the defence. Of course, declarer may also gain additional information from your choice of leads, but given declarer's advantages the information conveyed will (unless you expect your partner to never gain the lead) generally be of greater advantage to your partner, particularly if it concerns an active defence strategy (ie one that needs to be undertaken before an opportunity is lost).

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Garbage Stayman

Image of garbage collection

You'd better believe it! It's a convention which works well when it comes up.

You can only use it over 1NT or 2NT(20-21). Responder must have a void or singleton club. It can only be used with simple Stayman.

Here is an example: Partner opens 1NT and you hold : S 8643 H 9873 D K632 C 4. You respond 2C and now pass whatever partner bids (2D, 2H or 2S). With your hand and partner's well defined 1NT bid, playing in any of these two level contracts has to be better than partner playing 1NT.

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Which card to lead?

Image of person with question

In the game of Duplicate Bridge the defence's first lead of a suit, particularly the opening lead of a hand, is often critical. Below we explore some guidelines that help the defence maximise their chances and avoid the worst mistakes.

The first question is what suit to lead and this is handled separately. Here we explore the second and more straight-forward question: the choice of card once the suit has been chosen.

The objectives are twofold: firstly to maximise the chances of gaining extra tricks in the suit (or avoiding the loss of unnecessary tricks), and secondly to give partner as much information as possible about your holding in the suit. Of course, declarer may also gain additional information, but given declarer's advantage at the start the information conveyed will more often than not be of greater advantage to your partner (unless you expect your partner to never gain the lead), particularly as it concerns a suit in which you think you have some advantage.

Read more: Which card to lead?