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MP defence struggles

#1 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-June-21, 16:16

Another evening where I didn't know how to defend. This was my effort on the first board:

https://tinyurl.com/yzd4hqgu

What do you lead from the East hand here? I just led a diamond and hoped partner had a useful card, she didn't. Let them make eight tricks when we should get them off. How do you defend at MPs with a hand like East where there appears to be no good lead and you are getting in most of the time during the defence?

https://tinyurl.com/ydzl5h8a

This one I managed to set up heart tricks for declarer by getting too active.

https://tinyurl.com/ygr3sffk

Leading a suit partner has bid in the absence of anything looking better turns out to be an awful lead. Sets up a club for declarer to throw the losing heart.

I think the following two 25% scores were unavoidable:

https://tinyurl.com/yz5ol65d
https://tinyurl.com/yhajbujz

50% overall, but only 44% on defence.

I'm struggling much of the time to come up with a plan at the table which has the best chance of either working well, or working least badly. There is a lot of if-then-else but can't seem to put it all together to defend solidly. Can any of you experts give me some inspiration please.
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#2 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2021-June-21, 21:23

First - what's your carding?

View PostAL78, on 2021-June-21, 16:16, said:

Another evening where I didn't know how to defend. This was my effort on the first board:

https://tinyurl.com/yzd4hqgu

What do you lead from the East hand here? I just led a diamond and hoped partner had a useful card, she didn't. Let them make eight tricks when we should get them off. How do you defend at MPs with a hand like East where there appears to be no good lead and you are getting in most of the time during the defence?


I would lead a spade, because that's the suit declarer doesn't have, and if you're giving up a finesse, it's likely a finesse declarer can take for themselves anyway.

But that's not why you didn't set the contract. Your partner's failure to lead a diamond at trick 7 is pretty bad (though maybe you could've helped by signalling with the 7 at trick 4, assuming standard signals). Of course, declarer's failure to insert the K of spades at trick 6 (he's down anyway because of the diamond lead through if the spade ace is off) to make is even worse.

Quote

https://tinyurl.com/ydzl5h8a

This one I managed to set up heart tricks for declarer by getting too active.


Eventually you learn to lead the 7 in this situation - then declarer has to guess. There's a reason some people play 2nd from a bad suit rather than top, though that causes other problems. Here you'll just learn with enough experience that the T is too valuable a card in this kind of situation to waste as top of nothing. (Also, I think you should hold up the ace of clubs one round, though it really doesn't matter.)

Quote

https://tinyurl.com/ygr3sffk

Leading a suit partner has bid in the absence of anything looking better turns out to be an awful lead. Sets up a club for declarer to throw the losing heart.


Meh - sometimes you get unlucky on the opening lead. I think this one is unavoidable. Of course, in an Acol field, I would hope some folks are avoiding this bottom by opening 1N.

Quote

I think the following two 25% scores were unavoidable:

https://tinyurl.com/yz5ol65d
https://tinyurl.com/yhajbujz

50% overall, but only 44% on defence.


Yeah, unavoidable.

It's hard to figure out why you're going 44% on defence. Sometimes it's because you're playing in a field where declarers frequently cock up (or overbid hopelessly), and you weren't the lucky recipient of a couple of them. Sometimes it's because you should have bid one more instead of defending. And sometimes it's because you didn't defend well.

Quote

I'm struggling much of the time to come up with a plan at the table which has the best chance of either working well, or working least badly. There is a lot of if-then-else but can't seem to put it all together to defend solidly. Can any of you experts give me some inspiration please.


Defending is the part of the game that takes the most mental work. You need to count out the hand and figure out where the cards are most likely to be, and then figure out what to do based on that (or figure out what play caters to the most possibilities of where the cards are). There are hands where you really do need to keep track of and figure out all 52 cards. There aren't general tips - you have to make all the inferences from the bidding and the play so far. If you can rely on your partner to signal correctly and make sensible plays, it helps a lot (but there is a skill to defending solo).
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#3 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2021-June-21, 21:30

From long ago, I wrote up what's essentially a defence lesson (in response to a complaint about slow play):

https://www.bridgeba...__1#entry987547
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#4 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-June-21, 21:32

You should spend less time looking at your score. Spend even less time trying to take all the blame yoursef. You are unlikely to improve until you become a more objective analyst.

On the first hand, you had a difficult decision, and the diamond lead seems routine.so why give yourself a hard time.

Declarer gave it a decent shot with the club from dummy. Basically playing for doubleton Ace or else a 3-2 break with the spade ace onside. Your partner made an unusual play of the Jack, since now declarer can take 5club tricks if he has Axx, but probably wonít since heíll assume your partner has the Queen.

Anyway, the Jack was weird but inspired and she made a good play with the diamond.

Here, you have a problem in that you canít be sure where the diamond 8 is. If partner has it,myopic need to bang down the diamond Jack, but declarer is favoured to hold that card. So you switched to a spade, which could be horribly wrong but so could anything else you do. It would have been useful to be playing udca and have partner play the 9 on the opening lead and then the situation would be clear to you when she returned the 8 at trick three.

You guessed a spade and declarer has a guess. Playing the king would work well, and at imps one might do it since youíre probably down a zillion anytime the ace is offside, and ducking basically destroys any hope of reaching those clubs

Now all partner has to do, and itís trivial, is to play the third diamond.

She knows by then that declarer has at most one hcp in the blacks and at most AQJ in diamonds, so declarer is favourite to hold AQxx in hearts.

So on this hand, everyone had guesses to make. Declarer went badly wrong in spades and then your partner made a very, very bad play when she switched to hearts. You did nothing wrong.

Until you can look at a hand like this and understand where mistakes were made, youíre doomed not to improve.

On the second one, you did make a mistake. Why did you lead the heart 10? I understand a heart, but what were you thinking when you led the 10?

Iím not beating up on you. You need to think about why you led the 10...what were you thinking might happen?

Lead a low one.

Think about what your 10 suggests to partner. Assume your partner lacks the 9. Where do you think she thinks the 9 is, given that you led the 10.

On the third one, what do you think you did wrong? I donít mean, what play did you make that cost a trick. I mean what bridge mistake did you make? I donít see one and I bet you donít either. You just see a bad result and seem to think that bad match point results can only happen by someone making a mistake. Keep analyzing like that and youíll never improve. Youíll make normal plays, get a poor result and conclude that your normal play was a mistake...so next time you make a worse play.

Iím not going to discuss the fourth hand other than to repeat the basic question....what the heck do you think you did wrong?

On the last board, Iíd expect good N-S players to at least try for the extremely good 6H slam....bidding 7 is silly since it needs two things to work, but
the small slam is excellent. Bidding 4H over 2H shows little understanding of the game...the hand is far too strong. At least bid 3C, which is ostensibly a game try....but of course one is bidding over a rejection.

South has wonderful cards accepting a help suit or long suit try.it is a good rule that when accepting such tryís, one cues an ace if one has it, so responder can bid 4D (3D would be denying help in clubs but showing a good raise with diamond values....4D is a cuebid on the way to 4H just in case opener has a slam try.

Ok, most pairs wonít bid slam. Iím not confident I would every time either. But with 13 top winners, I have trouble understanding how you scored below average. Again, look at your attitude towards analysis. Weíve seen this in many of your mea culpae. Stop thinking that every poor result is your fault.

My suggestion: quit focusing on poor results. Look at EVERY hand and try to think about bridge logic. Iím willing to bet heavy odds that some of your good results are the result of you and/or your partner making horrible bids and plays but youíre blissfully ignorant of those mistakes because you equate poor results with playing badly and, I suspect, at least like to think that good results come and come only from good decisions and/or mistakes by the opps. One of the great things about bridge, and why possible to so,etimes get good results against far better players, is that thereís an element of randomness.

Say you take a 30% line because you donít see the better line...the expert takes the better line, giving him a 60% chance. Your line works, his fails. You get a good result, he gets a bad one. Who made the right play? He did. And I suspect that youíd never see your error because you look mainly or entirely, in terms of being critical, at your bad results. Many of which are not in any way your fault.
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#5 User is offline   Stephen Tu 

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Posted 2021-June-21, 22:58

Defense is the hardest part of the game for almost everyone. I would recommend the following books for most players, more or less in order:
-Bill Root, How to Defend a Bridge Hand
-Eddie Kantar, Kantar for the Defense, volumes 1 & 2 (quiz books with a lot of defense problems)
-Hugh Kelsey, Killing Defence at Bridge

If you devour these and assimilate as much as possible this will be a very good foundation. It's all about drawing logical conclusions from the bidding, prior play (from both declarer and partner), and counting everything out about the hand obsessively.

Also maybe a book on leads like Mike Lawrence's.

That said, some points on the hands in question:
-When there are very few comparisons (only 3 tables your game, apparently?), you don't really get as good an idea of how bad your play was as when the board is played like a dozen+ times, you don't see how much your play is replicated. You have to learn how to think about the defense (which the books help with), and analyze whether you (or partner, or both) made a clear error that should have been deduced at the moment or not.

- the 3nt hand you should probably hold up on the clubs to give declarer one less option to go back to dummy (and a sweat about repeating a spade hook). When you shift to heart, T is only catering to partner holding AQJx. It might be right at IMPS, but at MP I think you should realize that other holdings like the one partner had where you can create a disaster making partner think/hope you have the 9 are far more likely than them holding AQJx exactly.

- there is only so much you can do if partner is going to be defending very badly. Not returning a third diamond and shifting to a heart was pretty terrible on the first board. On the 3nt hand, she also made a spectacular error by covering J with Kxxx with AQT9x in dummy staring her in the face. It's like she learned the common adage "cover an honor with an honor", but never really learned *why* one does this, and when it should be obvious *not* to. It didn't technically cost a trick on the board, because declarer can prevail by double squeeze anyway for the rest of the tricks, but the idea is to force declarer to find the position and proper order to cash out to accomplish it, rather than make it so easy that any novice can just cash obvious winners. (plus with so few comparisons, it turned out the 2nd overtrick didn't cost you any additional MP). Point regular partners to the same books and study them together!
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#6 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 04:36

The first board, is it too far fetched to suggest your partner should find the spade switch when in with J to kill the club suit, he pretty much knows you have AQx and no more than 5 diamonds.
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#7 User is online   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 06:00

View PostStephen Tu, on 2021-June-21, 22:58, said:

Defense is the hardest part of the game for almost everyone. I would recommend the following books for most players, more or less in order:
-Bill Root, How to Defend a Bridge Hand
-Eddie Kantar, Kantar for the Defense, volumes 1 & 2 (quiz books with a lot of defense problems)
-Hugh Kelsey, Killing Defence at Bridge
I fully second the recommendation of Hugh Kelsey's book. I haven't read the Root one, thank you for the suggestion. The Kantar books never did it for me. Instead I'd suggest 'Partnership Defense' by Kit Woolsey and 'Positive Defence' by Terence Reese and Julian Pottage.

View PostStephen Tu, on 2021-June-21, 22:58, said:

Also maybe a book on leads like Mike Lawrence's.
My leads improved significantly after reading(/devouring) Bird & Anthias' books on leads. Their method has a thousand and one caveats, and you can't just spring this on an unsurprising partner. That being said I still think their books are some of the most instructive ones on opening leads. When I get far enough down my reading list I intend to pick up copies of Mike Lawrence's book, along with those written by Tony Sowter, Krzysztof Martens and Robert Ewen (and possibly also the book by Easly Blackwood, although in previous discussion someone mentioned that Ewen's book is superior).
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#8 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 09:27

Second board you persuaded partner you had 9 by leading the 10, lead the 7 or a small one.

3rd/4th boards, no blame.

5th board you seem to have got a 25% score for opps not bidding a "one of 2 finesses" slam
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#9 User is offline   eagles123 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 12:58

View Postmikeh, on 2021-June-21, 21:32, said:

You should spend less time looking at your score. Spend even less time trying to take all the blame yoursef. You are unlikely to improve until you become a more objective analyst.

On the first hand, you had a difficult decision, and the diamond lead seems routine.so why give yourself a hard time.

Declarer gave it a decent shot with the club from dummy. Basically playing for doubleton Ace or else a 3-2 break with the spade ace onside. Your partner made an unusual play of the Jack, since now declarer can take 5club tricks if he has Axx, but probably wonít since heíll assume your partner has the Queen.

Anyway, the Jack was weird but inspired and she made a good play with the diamond.

Here, you have a problem in that you canít be sure where the diamond 8 is. If partner has it,myopic need to bang down the diamond Jack, but declarer is favoured to hold that card. So you switched to a spade, which could be horribly wrong but so could anything else you do. It would have been useful to be playing udca and have partner play the 9 on the opening lead and then the situation would be clear to you when she returned the 8 at trick three.

You guessed a spade and declarer has a guess. Playing the king would work well, and at imps one might do it since youíre probably down a zillion anytime the ace is offside, and ducking basically destroys any hope of reaching those clubs

Now all partner has to do, and itís trivial, is to play the third diamond.

She knows by then that declarer has at most one hcp in the blacks and at most AQJ in diamonds, so declarer is favourite to hold AQxx in hearts.

So on this hand, everyone had guesses to make. Declarer went badly wrong in spades and then your partner made a very, very bad play when she switched to hearts. You did nothing wrong.

Until you can look at a hand like this and understand where mistakes were made, youíre doomed not to improve.

On the second one, you did make a mistake. Why did you lead the heart 10? I understand a heart, but what were you thinking when you led the 10?

Iím not beating up on you. You need to think about why you led the 10...what were you thinking might happen?

Lead a low one.

Think about what your 10 suggests to partner. Assume your partner lacks the 9. Where do you think she thinks the 9 is, given that you led the 10.

On the third one, what do you think you did wrong? I donít mean, what play did you make that cost a trick. I mean what bridge mistake did you make? I donít see one and I bet you donít either. You just see a bad result and seem to think that bad match point results can only happen by someone making a mistake. Keep analyzing like that and youíll never improve. Youíll make normal plays, get a poor result and conclude that your normal play was a mistake...so next time you make a worse play.

Iím not going to discuss the fourth hand other than to repeat the basic question....what the heck do you think you did wrong?

On the last board, Iíd expect good N-S players to at least try for the extremely good 6H slam....bidding 7 is silly since it needs two things to work, but
the small slam is excellent. Bidding 4H over 2H shows little understanding of the game...the hand is far too strong. At least bid 3C, which is ostensibly a game try....but of course one is bidding over a rejection.

South has wonderful cards accepting a help suit or long suit try.it is a good rule that when accepting such tryís, one cues an ace if one has it, so responder can bid 4D (3D would be denying help in clubs but showing a good raise with diamond values....4D is a cuebid on the way to 4H just in case opener has a slam try.

Ok, most pairs wonít bid slam. Iím not confident I would every time either. But with 13 top winners, I have trouble understanding how you scored below average. Again, look at your attitude towards analysis. Weíve seen this in many of your mea culpae. Stop thinking that every poor result is your fault.

My suggestion: quit focusing on poor results. Look at EVERY hand and try to think about bridge logic. Iím willing to bet heavy odds that some of your good results are the result of you and/or your partner making horrible bids and plays but youíre blissfully ignorant of those mistakes because you equate poor results with playing badly and, I suspect, at least like to think that good results come and come only from good decisions and/or mistakes by the opps. One of the great things about bridge, and why possible to so,etimes get good results against far better players, is that thereís an element of randomness.

Say you take a 30% line because you donít see the better line...the expert takes the better line, giving him a 60% chance. Your line works, his fails. You get a good result, he gets a bad one. Who made the right play? He did. And I suspect that youíd never see your error because you look mainly or entirely, in terms of being critical, at your bad results. Many of which are not in any way your fault.
.


this is one of the best posts I've ever seen on this forum.
"definitely that's what I like to play when I'm playing standard - I want to be able to bid diamonds because bidding good suits is important in bridge" - Meckstroth's opinion on weak 2 diamond
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#10 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 14:14

MikeH responds with a fantastic post which is a wake-up call for me.

Prior to a few years ago, I used to be reasonably competitive at the club, in that I could mostly get above average and had a fair chance at coming in the top three, but over the last five years or so I have regressed, and now it seems I have to bust a gut to get to 50%. This has destroyed pretty much all confidence in myself, so I am inclined after a session where I feel we should have done better to point the finger at myself. This is backed up by the fact that when the partner I was playing with here plays with other people, she tends to do much better, which adds evidence to the theory that it is me dragging my partnerships down (to use an analogy, if you can't get on with everyone you interact with, it is not them, it's you, to high probability). I am also aware of my frustrating lack of ability to acquire all inferences when defending and put them all together to come up with the play that is most likely to be best. I either miss one crucial piece of information and/or I end up with two possible lines, A and B, which require play C or D, and if I get it wrong I blow the defence. Hence I think getting hold of one or more recommended books by responders here (thanks for the suggestions) would be a good idea, I feel I am missing something at the table every session.

I need to stop the self deprecation and accept that occasionally my partner could have done better, we got stitched up, got the wrong pair at the wrong time, or had a difficult decision/guess to make and got it wrong.

To answer MikeH's questions:

"On the second one, you did make a mistake. Why did you lead the heart 10? I understand a heart, but what were
you thinking when you led the 10?

Iím not beating up on you. You need to think about why you led the 10...what were you thinking might happen?"

I was undecided between the ten or a small one, and was trying to figure out the layouts where each one would be right or wrong, and then from that figure out the probability that either lead would be right. I kind of lost the plot trying to do that so just decided to hit and hope with the ten. Had I remembered what happened the last time I played top of nothing with a high spot card I would likely have led a low one, but yes, by doing what I did, I directed my partner toward a losing play.

"On the third one, what do you think you did wrong?"

I seem to recall somewhere on here that if playing 5CM with a short club, and partner opens a club, don't take it as lead directing and it is not necessarily good to lead a club. At the time, I couldn't see anything better, and even playing a short club, the majority of the time partner opens 1C it is a genuine suit, so I thought it was at least as good as any other lead.

"Iím not going to discuss the fourth hand other than to repeat the basic question....what the heck do you think
you did wrong?"

I don't think I did anything wrong on the fourth hand. We have only four defensive tricks and we took them. We got a poor score because there were only two other pairs, and one of them overbid to 4S. All the EW's took four tricks in the defence.

MikeH is correct that I (we) occasionally get away with errors. There was one board from that evening where I was playing in 3C and I did something wrong (can't remember what), RHO had got in, I had to knock out the DQ to get home, but on best defence I am forced in trumps before I can do it, and I should go down. Instead of forcing me in trumps, RHO cashed the DQ setting up my hand before forcing me, so I just made. On the other hand this one (https://tinyurl.com/yfl5mysw) was a train wreck, I think I should make 5H but got a spade ruff against me because I didn't expect them to be 6-1.

There was this 25% board that I didn't previously include. I don't think we could have done better on this, unless you think I should have strained a bid over the Michaels or partner should have done something over 3H?

https://tinyurl.com/yhurzcwk
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#11 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 14:27

Your partner has plenty of extras on the hand you added, if anybody is going to do anything it has to be your partner. Note you can only make 4m/3N from your partner's hand and only because the club finesse works, S has no entry and (in the case of 4m) N is 4-5 rather than 5-5 in the majors so there's no spade ruff.
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#12 User is online   DavidKok 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 16:26

View PostAL78, on 2021-June-22, 14:14, said:

There was this 25% board that I didn't previously include. I don't think we could have done better on this, unless you think I should have strained a bid over the Michaels or partner should have done something over 3H?

https://tinyurl.com/yhurzcwk
Is a 2 on 5-4 standard? It leaves South in quite the predicament, although in this case they got a good score. I think I would have doubled 2 on the East hand, to make sure partner can take sensible action over their 2M (and it also helps over 3/4M). I hope this doesn't promise 4 clubs.
If 2 typically shows 5-5 I think I would have bid 4 with the South hand, which would have gone for quite a number on the actual layout.
Lastly West should have done something over 3. I like double - partner often has three hearts on the auction and might be able to pass, and partner's preference for 4m might be better than my own preference.

That being said, they did well to put it to you with two somewhat aggressive bids. Next time South may have only 3-2 in the majors and you eat them for 1100, the 2 bid looks risky to me.

P.S. For a long time I frustrated myself to no end in the post-mortem, because I claimed all the failures as my own and attributed all the successes to my opponent's failures. This is obviously counterproductive - at the end of the day you always win some and lose some, and it pays to learn from all games and not just the sub-50% ones. So be careful with posting 7 games that went wrong and trying to learn from them all at once. Maybe include a few good boards too. Most likely they also contain some mistakes, but also prevent you from correcting away from normal actions that just ended up not working out.
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#13 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 16:35

View PostDavidKok, on 2021-June-22, 16:26, said:

Is a 2 on 5-4 standard? It leaves South in quite the predicament, although in this case they got a good score. I think I would have doubled 2 on the East hand, to make sure partner can take sensible action over their 2M (and it also helps over 3/4M). I hope this doesn't promise 4 clubs.
If 2 typically shows 5-5 I think I would have bid 4 with the South hand, which would have gone for quite a number on the actual layout.
Lastly West should have done something over 3. I like double - partner often has three hearts on the auction and might be able to pass, and partner's preference for 4m might be better than my own preference.

That being said, they did well to put it to you with two somewhat aggressive bids. Next time South may have only 3-2 in the majors and you eat them for 1100, the 2 bid looks risky to me.

P.S. For a long time I frustrated myself to no end in the post-mortem, because I claimed all the failures as my own and attributed all the successes to my opponent's failures. This is obviously counterproductive - at the end of the day you always win some and lose some, and it pays to learn from all games and not just the sub-50% ones. So be careful with posting 7 games that went wrong and trying to learn from them all at once. Maybe include a few good boards too. Most likely they also contain some mistakes, but also prevent you from correcting away from normal actions that just ended up not working out.


Quite a few people play X as "I want to make a penalty double of one or both majors", would need to know what X meant.
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#14 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 16:48

View PostDavidKok, on 2021-June-22, 16:26, said:

P.S. For a long time I frustrated myself to no end in the post-mortem, because I claimed all the failures as my own and attributed all the successes to my opponent's failures. This is obviously counterproductive - at the end of the day you always win some and lose some, and it pays to learn from all games and not just the sub-50% ones. So be careful with posting 7 games that went wrong and trying to learn from them all at once. Maybe include a few good boards too. Most likely they also contain some mistakes, but also prevent you from correcting away from normal actions that just ended up not working out.


That sounds like good advice. Look at all the boards, not just the disasters. I don't feel comfortable with attributing blame to partner. If I post a bad hand with a "look what partner did here!" attitude, I could end up looking very stupid when it turns out I was at fault, so preferable to assume I could have done something better until proved otherwise. I still think there are many things I am doing wrong given the last few years of mediocre to poor results, too long to attribute to randomness. I'll take MikeH's advice and practice analysing hands properly, and if one looks like I messed up, ask for advice on here how I could have avoided the mistake at the table.
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#15 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2021-June-22, 20:02

From what I have seen from your posts, I would judge that you were a competent player. Not an expert or anywhere near it, but competent. I don't know what the standard of bridge in England is, but here I would think you would have no trouble being over 50% on a consistent basis in most clubs.

So I'm wondering - is the decline in your scores due to your club getting better?

I've played regularly in club games where, if I were playing with a similarly skilled partner, I break 70% regularly and would be disappointed to not score 60%. I've also played in club games where I was the worst player in the room and regularly scored 40%, averaging maybe 45% or so. At this particular game (which was an evening game), some of the weaker players stopped coming because they no longer wanted to drive at night, and then other weaker players stopped coming because there were few or no players at their level, and when you're one of two usually competent pairs playing in a game with 4 tables of experts, it's not much fun. So the game dwindled down to the best 4 tables in the small city and no one else.

View PostAL78, on 2021-June-22, 14:14, said:

I was undecided between the ten or a small one, and was trying to figure out the layouts where each one would be right or wrong, and then from that figure out the probability that either lead would be right. I kind of lost the plot trying to do that so just decided to hit and hope with the ten. Had I remembered what happened the last time I played top of nothing with a high spot card I would likely have led a low one, but yes, by doing what I did, I directed my partner toward a losing play.


I'm wondering here why you "lost the plot" because it affects the kind of advice we should give you. If you lost the plot because you were mentally lazy and didn't want to take more time to think, then there isn't much to say here other than take more time and get in the practice of thinking hard (and make sure you are usually well rested and well fed when you play). If you lost the plot because thinking about all these possibilities is simply way too overwhelming for you, then you have to accept that, learn the standard guidelines, not try to go beyond them unless you're really sure, and accept being a competent but mediocre player. Frankly, most of the club players I know are in this position; some even can't remember the standard guidelines properly. There's a middle ground where you could think through it if you knew how to organize your thinking; that's the middle ground where studying some bridge books can help.

All the expert defenders I know are able to figure out what the reasonably possible layouts of the cards are and their rough probabilities, figure out what the right play(s) are for each possible layout, and put all this information together to decide what to do. That's a lot to keep track of, and while experience and practice help some, most people simply don't have the brainpower for that. Lots of competent bridge players hoping to get better at defense want to be taught some method for finding the right play without all this calculation, and they have to be gently let down and helped to find something that works as well for them as possible given their abilities, which isn't necessarily anything similar to what works best for experts or potential experts.
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#16 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2021-June-23, 01:16

View PostAL78, on 2021-June-21, 16:16, said:

I'm struggling much of the time to come up with a plan at the table which has the best chance of either working well, or working least badly. There is a lot of if-then-else but can't seem to put it all together to defend solidly. Can any of you experts give me some inspiration please.

Working through every logical possiblility is often not practical. But what you can do on every deal is to guess the (approximate) layout based on the information you have so far. That should help you in forming a plan.

For example, on board 7:


Opening lead: 6

Guess the layout.
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#17 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-June-23, 06:31

View Postnullve, on 2021-June-23, 01:16, said:

Working through every logical possiblility is often not practical. But what you can do on every deal is to guess the (approximate) layout based on the information you have so far. That should help you in forming a plan.

For example, on board 7:


Opening lead: 6

Guess the layout.


This is how my thinking would go:

1. Declarer is limited by the initial pass, but has enough for a 2/1 response, giving them 9-11 HCP and probably balanced or semi-balanced.

2. Partner also passed first time, so they have less than 12 HCP. There are 18 HCP between declarer and myself, which gives 22 HCP for partner and declarer, since neither of them could open, they must have exactly 11 HCP each.

3. If both unseen hands hold 11 HCP and couldn't find an opening bid, they are balanced or a bad 5422 shape.

4. Declarer holds a doubleton spade. With three they would be playing in spades, with one they would be unbalanced and likely opened light in their long suit. Therefore partner holds four spades.

5. The club lead looks strange, it is clearly from shortage, a doubleton or top of nothing given the six is the highest of the spot cards held by the hidden hands. Normally my partners lead the unbids suit against a NT contract, but this lead looks like an attempt to be safe holding a broken heart holding not wishing to lead into a tenace. Partner wants me to push a heart through declarer. The clubs are most likely split 2-2 in the unseen hands (declarer with a singleton club and 11 HCP might have opened light).

6. I estimate based on the above declarer is 2452 shape and partner is 4342 shape.

Plan:

I think partner and declarer hold broken honor holdings in both red suits. It looks like our tricks are coming form there but care is required. If declarer holds a doubleton club and two spades to an honor, they have a communication problem when trying to set up winners in both black suits so I duck the opening lead, if declarer continues with clubs, win the second one, then it depends on declarer's heart holding. Do I play low or push the ten through, it depends on where the nine and the eight are. I think playing the ten is more likely to set up a slow extra trick in declarer's hand so I play low (4th best), hoping partner has one of the eight or nine, and will only have one of those if they only hold three hearts. The problem is if the layout is as I estimated, partner might be endplayed on winning the heart.

Am I even remotely close?
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#18 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2021-June-23, 06:52

Not a bad assessment, I'd have opened the south hand so playing against me, you might have switched to a diamond placing partner with the 10 and probably the 8 as well, but a heart switch is very reasonable, you need to realise what leading the 10 does to partner though, unless he has the 9, he will think you do, so it's really bad when declarer has it.
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#19 User is offline   AL78 

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Posted 2021-June-23, 14:44

View Postakwoo, on 2021-June-22, 20:02, said:

I'm wondering here why you "lost the plot" because it affects the kind of advice we should give you. If you lost the plot because you were mentally lazy and didn't want to take more time to think, then there isn't much to say here other than take more time and get in the practice of thinking hard (and make sure you are usually well rested and well fed when you play). If you lost the plot because thinking about all these possibilities is simply way too overwhelming for you, then you have to accept that, learn the standard guidelines, not try to go beyond them unless you're really sure, and accept being a competent but mediocre player. Frankly, most of the club players I know are in this position; some even can't remember the standard guidelines properly. There's a middle ground where you could think through it if you knew how to organize your thinking; that's the middle ground where studying some bridge books can help.


"Losing the plot" means bringing together the information in my mind piece by piece, then at some point running out of storage space in my mind so adding another piece of information involves forgetting an earlier one, so it is like trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle whilst accidentally losing pieces on the floor. I ultimately resign myself to guessing because I have to do something and I can't sit there thinking all evening, and I guess wrong.
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