Friday, April 17, 2009

Makin' movies

There's a free product from Fred Gitelman's Bridge Base Online called Handviewer. You can use it to build deal diagrams. It shows all four hands, and if you can click on "next," it will show you each card played, in a trick-by-trick fashion -- it's a movie! You can make your own! More on that in a minute.

I played at the club Wednesday night with Mark, an expert partner, in a Swiss Teams game. This was my hand and the bidding:

Whew! What an auction. I play that my pass of the double of 4 is stronger than an immediate retreat to 4. This was the first time we'd played together, so I wondered if we were on the same wave length. Was his 4 a slam try, or some kind of bid saying it's our hand and he needed help deciding what to do if/when the opponents compete further. Maybe I should have made a 5 control bid. So many questions, and one more: Why do problems like this always happen when I'm playing with a new partner?

One of the adages of bridge is "Don't bid five over five." It's not a rule, but more of a maxim that indicates I shouldn't bid 5. Normally, it's better just to should double and take the plus score.

If you think further, however, the opponents have both red suits, so my club holding must be gold. Also, Mark had a chance to double, but passed the decision to me. I've certainly underbid up to now, so I bid 5, and that was certainly high enough:

West led the A K and shifted to a heart to East's J. Partner ruffed, drew two rounds of trumps, and took stock. East had two spades, and rated to have seven hearts (West should have at most three) and three diamonds.

He played the K and low to the jack and claimed -- nicely done! Making five was plus 650. When we compared, we found that our teammates were plus 450 their way and that was worth 15 IMPs for us.

Note that we can take only two aces against 5, and if we don't cash them at tricks one and two, they go away.

What does the Law of Total Tricks say about all this? We have 10 spades and they have 10 hearts, but there are 22 tricks available (11 for each side). Well, of course. The fact that each side has a double fit means there are more tricks out there.

You can read more about what the Bridge World says about the theory behind The Law, if you click here.

Books have been written on the subject. Two of the best ones are by Larry Cohen, and you can find out about them here, or here.

The diagram presented above (low cards are approximate) is via Handviewer, a free product from Fred Gitelman's Bridge Base Online. Click on "next" to see how the cards are played. It's very cool, don't you think?

You can read more about it if you click here.

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