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How to practice online in "helpful" setting When I join a "casual bridge" table, I frequently get kicked o

#1 User is offline   RufusVan 

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Posted 2020-June-22, 09:53

The best way to learn to play is by playing ... but unfortunately, I keep ending up on tables that I am not ready for. I've done all the practices, and my playing is pretty good ... but my bidding is horrible. I have a sheet I use, but it only covers the opening and first response. I get lost after that and have frequently passed when we get to game, when we should have been at a small slam.

Any suggestions welcome!
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#2 User is offline   FelicityR 

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Posted 2020-June-22, 10:13

I see this frequently at the bridge table. People who have good card sense and can play and defend reasonably accurately, but are less accomplished in the bidding stakes.

You are perhaps wrong in saying that the best way to learn is by playing: the best way to learn is to play and read books or research online these days. Having a one-size-fits-all bidding sheet won't get you far as you have found out.

If you are newbie to the game, even with some practice time behind you, you cannot expect to be in the optimum contract on every board. Some consolation is that this also applies to advanced/expert players, too, but percentage-wise they are more likely to be more accurate finding the right contract as their bidding skills and knowledge have been honed over many years.

Enjoy the game for what is. There will be plenty of other players who have played for years and be in the same boat, so to speak, arriving in part score contracts when they should be in game, and missing slams too. It's part of the learning process. And good luck!
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#3 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2020-June-22, 10:31

It's nearly impossible to learn bidding by simply playing IMO. Locate a good beginner book. Perhaps Kantar's "Bridge for Dummies", maybe the ACBL's "Bidding in the 21st century" book by Audrey Grant/Betty Starzec.
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#4 User is offline   spotlight7 

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Posted 2020-June-22, 14:59

View PostRufusVan, on 2020-June-22, 09:53, said:

The best way to learn to play is by playing ... but unfortunately, I keep ending up on tables that I am not ready for. I've done all the practices, and my playing is pretty good ... but my bidding is horrible. I have a sheet I use, but it only covers the opening and first response. I get lost after that and have frequently passed when we get to game, when we should have been at a small slam.

Any suggestions welcome!


Have you tried the relaxed club? It tends to have mostly new players and a more 'relaxed' game.
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#5 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-June-22, 20:33

Hi
It's a big problem (or challenge as they say). It also depends on what sort of system you want to play. The other problem is that other players will be playing different systems so there is no end of difficulties to cope with.
Eventually, I decided to join the Prime club several months ago so that I could start out with a simple 2/1 system and bid and defend against it with each bid explained for me. At $4.99 a month, this seems a pretty good deal. I can then try out what I learn in the robot daylongs without offending real people. Although in Face to face I play SAYC with various gadgets. Most of the time it's guesswork.
Next, I read various books on "judgement" I think that Judgement is a code word in bridge circles for what to bid and when. There's a lot of good stuff out there. I'm getting some lessons at the moment and reading what the experts say on the Forum all of the different views are helpful as I work out where to go next.
Good luck partner
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#6 User is offline   JohnnyKGB 

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Posted 2020-July-17, 07:37

I agree, Kantar's book is great. Ive almost worked through it once. I plan on giving it a second pass as well. Takes time but I think it will be worth it
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#7 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-July-17, 15:35

There are so many. Each writer has a 'voice' that different readers will prefer even if the information is similar. Additionally, bidding is a partnership agreement. Even 2 can have different meanings to different people. What do you guys think of Mike Lawrence's "Judgement at Bridge 2"?
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#8 User is offline   wuudturner 

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Posted 2020-July-23, 06:02

I like all of Mike Lawrence's books. Judgement and the one on Hand Evaluation are two good ones. Also the several he wrote where you watch over his shoulder. But not everybody learns best by reading. Some people need to absorb from playing it. Those lessons seem to sink in better.

But to learn by playing is a difficult thing, because if you play at a weaker table, then you learn from weaker players, who may themselves offer incorrect advice. And there are many things you can do against weak opponents that will get you crushed in a stronger game. So there is much you can "learn" that in time, you would best un-learn if you are to get better. I can even think of several people who were ones to avoid from the various clubs I have played in. While they were happy to offer advice to anyone and everyone, they were also terrible bridge players.

It is good if you can find someone to mentor you. And there are many ways to mentor. For example, with one pair, my regular partner and I will sit at a table, then play random hands against the pair we are mentoring. After each hand, we will have a good constructive discussion of how they might have chosen to bid and play the hands. I'll often take one of those hands afterwards where there were many questions and send via e-mail a lengthy analysis of every bid made, as well as how to play the final contract.

With another person who I know has a habit of unfocused play, playing too fast without thinking a hand through, I mentor differently. We will sit at a table with two bots as defenders. She sets up the table, so it is owned by her. We will bid to the final contract, if I am the declarer, then I immediately stand up from my seat. She then takes my seat, and declares the hand. Once she sits, I'll take her original seat. So she declares every hand we play.

As declarer though, I first prompt her to analyze the hand. I ask her what tricks she has, winners, losers, etc. I ask her who has various cards, based on the opponent bidding, on the opening lead. I'll ask her to tell me the plan she has to play the hand. Does she have any contingencies in case of bad splits, etc. Only after a couple of minutes of advance discussion do I then let her play the hand. When we defend, I will prompt her, asking her to describe what she has learned about my hand from the bidding and from my leads and discards.

As far as a good place to play? I might suggest the BIL - a club where there are many people in the same boat as you. As well, there are mentors who are there for the purpose of helping new players. To me, this seems a great environment in which to learn.

https://www.bilbridge.com

Having a place or a person you can ask questions of is good. Forums like this are wonderful, as long as you are willing to field the criticism that can sometimes arise too. Finally, remember that advice freely gleaned from a forum can sometimes be worth every bit as much as you paid for it. :)
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#9 User is online   pilowsky 

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Posted 2020-July-23, 06:35

I could not agree more.


The Prime area is an excellent facility for doing just what you suggest.


It is particularly valuable because you can import specific hands to practice.
That way you and your partner can practice opening 1NT, playing Stayman all sorts of things. Many times quickly and easily.
It is amazing how the underlying reasons associated with maxims become apparent when you do this.


Simple stuff like what happens if you lead away from an Ace in a suit contract or why you need a particular point range for a particular bid. All becomes much clearer.
Paul Gipson 'paulg' - and others - have made some great youtube content. I have made a short presentation also - about how to get onto BBO and use this stuff.
WARNING: I am one of those weaker players whose advice about play you should not listen to. But I know what a strong player looks like.
I do not work for BBO. I do know how to learn stuff and I do play in the BIL - it's a very friendly Club.

Knowing how to ask the right question is the key to all learning.
Remembering the answer is the path to knowledge.
Using that knowledge wisely is the secret to success.

Good luck partner
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#10 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-July-23, 19:57

View PostStephen Tu, on 2020-June-22, 10:31, said:

It's nearly impossible to learn bidding by simply playing IMO. Locate a good beginner book. Perhaps Kantar's "Bridge for Dummies", maybe the ACBL's "Bidding in the 21st century" book by Audrey Grant/Betty Starzec.

I learned bridge by playing against myself. If you combine playing with analysis then it works well enough I think.

View PostRufusVan, on 2020-June-22, 09:53, said:

but my bidding is horrible.

To be honest I would not worry too much about this. The average level of bidding on BBO generally is terrible. Most likely you will receive advice from partners along the way and it will not be better than 50-50 whether it is correct or not. The general recommendation for new players arriving on BBO is to consider joining the BIL (Beginner Intermediate Lounge), where you will not only receive training courses but, perhaps more importantly, can find a partner at a similar stage of development and improve together.

If you decide against this then try to find someone nice that is not too much better than you and play with them as often as possible. Look back at the hands later and see if you would have done things the same way. If not, consider whether their approach is an improvement. If in doubt, you can always ask here and find out what the advantages and disadvantages might be. In this way your bidding will improve and you will at the same time greatly improve the partnership as you will develop a similar style. That is a decent place to start from even if you find you have to make adjustments later on for other partners.

Most of all though, make sure whatever you are doing is fun. Do not try to force a style of learning on yourself that you find tedious. You might improve your learning rate but you will end up giving up long before you reach a level you are comfortable with. If you are having fun then it does not matter if everything is not completely optimal as you will just end up playing more, which will more than offset any advantages you could have had.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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#11 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2020-July-24, 00:32

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-July-23, 19:57, said:

I learned bridge by playing against myself. If you combine playing with analysis then it works well enough I think.

How did you learn what standard bids mean? If you are playing just with yourself (against software?) then you have to hope the software is relatively close to your country's std methods before you can go out and find local partners. If BBO then you have to deal with GIB's system being super-buggy, and too complex for a beginner IMO.

Play/defense I suppose can be learned from just playing but IMO it's super slow unless extremely naturally gifted in card play.

I think in general learning just goes a lot faster with some books to refer to, to show you the basics and how a good player thinks about hands. Books have the advantage that for the most part you get very reputable information from national champ/world champ level authors, much less likely to steer one wrong than random people you play with online or in real life. Then you just practice for thousands upon thousands of hands, reading more books along the way and hopefully finding some good compatible partners preferably better than you are.
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#12 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2020-July-24, 05:41

View PostStephen Tu, on 2020-July-24, 00:32, said:

How did you learn what standard bids mean? If you are playing just with yourself (against software?) then you have to hope the software is relatively close to your country's std methods before you can go out and find local partners. If BBO then you have to deal with GIB's system being super-buggy, and too complex for a beginner IMO.

No, I really mean playing only with myself, bidding and playing from all 4 hands in turn. My basis system came from the same place that I learned the rules - the local public library where I picked up Culbertson's White Book and a short paperback on Basic Acol. This is actually where my interest in the game comes from - it seemed to me an interesting mathematical exercise to codify hands using just the available bidding sequences and it seemed to me that neither of the books was offering an optimal method.So I was cobbling together the parts of each system together to form my own ideas and then applying my own before I had even met another player and before I even knew that a squeeze or endplay could even exist.

Luckily, most of what I worked out moved me in the same direction that Reese and co had and my ideas ended up very similar to ordinary UK Acol. Arguably closer in fact than the ideas of my first real partner that I met at university - we matched quite well. B-)


View PostStephen Tu, on 2020-July-24, 00:32, said:

Play/defense I suppose can be learned from just playing but IMO it's super slow unless extremely naturally gifted in card play.

I do not think I am naturally gifted in card play and see it as a fundamental weakness in my game. I agree with you completely that to get good here requires reading and/or advanced lessons. But we are talking about reaching a level to be able to play with ordinary casual bridge players without it being an issue and for that you pretty much just need to follow a few basic rules and not throw obvious tricks every hand.


View PostStephen Tu, on 2020-July-24, 00:32, said:

I think in general learning just goes a lot faster with some books to refer to, to show you the basics and how a good player thinks about hands. Books have the advantage that for the most part you get very reputable information from national champ/world champ level authors, much less likely to steer one wrong than random people you play with online or in real life. Then you just practice for thousands upon thousands of hands, reading more books along the way and hopefully finding some good compatible partners preferably better than you are.

Clearly the more resources you have, the better. Not everyone has the time or inclination to use these aids though. If a person is learning in a way that is not fun then they will just end up giving up the game and moving over to something that requires less effort - like poker or Settlers of Catan. It is not like I am saying that they cannot be useful. But you use what you have, what you can afford, and what holds your interest. Even with just yourself and a pack of cards (and I suppose a copy of the SAYC booklet, online Modern Acol summary document, or equivalent), you can teach yourself enough to play at a level that is competitive with ordinary casual players if you are dedicated enough.

I think one critical feature of development that is underestimated is having a regular partner to be able to have a baseline for analysis. I think this was one of the advantages of the approach I started with, in that every call was clearly defined (in my notebook) it was easy to analyse and see where it was good and what was bad and to compare. With a regular partner also, sequences are constant and so you can start thinking about optimisation rather than just whether you might get passed. When you are only playing with PUPs you basically have no baseline for comparison and so the learning value on the bidding side becomes close to zero. Similarly for card play, with a regular partner you have signals and, over time, a basic understanding of the style of leads that your partner likes. It means that playing pick-up bridge you are really only training your declarer play - the rest is essentially just wasted time in the grander scheme of things.
(-: Zel :-)

Happy New Year everyone!
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