~ Bridge is a game of mental energy. Trying to learn lots of conventions all at once may give you too much to think about, wear you out mentally, and degrade your performance
~ Experience teaches you what is pertinent on a hand and what to ignore. When you learn to focus on the truly key points and stop spending mental energy on irrelevancies, your game will improve
~ A good bidding system doesn’t result from cobbling together a bunch of inconsistent/overlapping conventions. You need a comprehensive system with conventions that complement one another
~ Do not let an occasional bad board or poor session detract from your concentration or overall enjoyment of the game. The bad boards you have recorded are history. Letting them upset you will only serve to add to the list.
~ There are no re-deals in duplicate bridge. If you pass out a hand, score it & move on to the next board. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the 1st round, do NOT re-deal. In scoring the board, please put zero (0) in the N-S & E-W columns to aid the director’s data entry.
~ The bidding box Stop card is analogous to a verbal call of Skip Bid. Please Wait.
You wait about 10 seconds before calling. It’s immaterial when the Stop card is put away.
~ Note that these tips are called tips, not rules. In bridge, many recommendations are labeled rules, when in reality, they are guidelines or rules of thumb, be they bidding conventions or card play observations
~ The trouble with playing bridge too quickly is that, by the time you realize you’ve made an error, it is often too late to recover. Playing on autopilot is not the path to your best game.
~ The value of high cards goes up or down depending upon the position & distribution of surrounding cards. You should make appropriate adjustments if the bidding reveals the likely location of these cards.
~ A cornerstone of bidding is: if game (/slam) is still possible, keep the auction open; if not, stop as quickly as possible in as sensible a contract as possible
~ A good rule of thumb is to assume that any defense supplied by a preempting partner is a bonus
~ High cards in short suits—too bad, especially Queens & Jacks—time to devalue. High cards in long suits—yes, that’s the way we like it.
~ Thinking of bidding higher in a competitive auction with fewer trumps than the Law of Total Tricks calls for? If so, you need extras elsewhere, namely decent trumps, a side singleton or void, quality points, and no slow trick(s) in the opponents’ suit(s)
~ Counting may be painful, but it needs to become 2nd nature
~ If you count only one thing at the bridge table, make it high card points, especially when on defense, or as declarer after an opponent has revealed an opening hand by opening the bidding
~ There is no excuse for not counting each hand; try it with 2 suits—the suit led and the trump suit. When you can up it to 3 suits, you automatically have a count on the 4th! And shame on the impertinent defender that leads a trump. Doesn’t she know you need to get a count on the hand, and that you’ll lead a trump when it’s appropriate?
~ To elevate your game to another level, observe & remember spot cards
~ The person who is short in the opponent’s suit is the one who should strive to take action in the auction
~ After your side has opened/entered the bidding and opponents preempt, you may bid 1 level higher than you would have without the preempt
~ To maximize the time opening leader and declarer have to make and respond to the opening thrust, opening leader should concentrate on & make the opening lead. Only then, while declarer is studying the lead & dummy, should opening leader write down the contract. As opening leader, take the time you need for the blind opening lead, but do it before you write down the contract.
~ Experienced matchpoint players covet plus scores and know they don’t have to bid every close game. Often, winning the contract and making game-level tricks brings in a good result
~ If you count only one thing, make it high card points. They will often tell you who has what. Obviously, start with your own before you bid. Next, listen to the bidding for clues. Third, but by no means last, immediately count dummy’s points.
~ In the history of bridge no one has ever:
Been vulnerable on Board 1,
Had a 2-way finesse for a King
~ If a player says, we were 3 “boards” better than average, a “board” is considered to be average on a board, not top on a board
~ At IMPs
, possible Team and Partnership strategies are: 1) one Pair plays steady while the other Pair “goes for it;” 2) in the Partnership, stretch to invite but not to accept
~ Although Billy Welu was talking about delivery & release of a bowling ball when he said, “Trust is a must, or your game is a bust,” he could have been talking about bridge partners
~ In general, five-card suits headed by 100 honors should be treated as six-card suits
~ When everything looks straightforward, consider what bad developments might occur
~ When there are two choices—duck or win—consider them both. When you can play either high or low, analyze both
~ Once you have made an assumption about the location of an important honor, that assumption may help you to place another important honor (or honors)
~ When no legitimate chance is apparent, resort to a little trickery
~ One way to unblock a suit is to discard the blocking card(s)
~ Play of the hand may be the most fun, but great play in the wrong contract usually matchpoints poorly. Don’t neglect working on your bidding.
~ Working on your bidding should be a never ending process of continuous improvement with each of your partners
~ Aspiring players’ hand-record-assisted post mortems should, at least occasionally, include analysis of the opponents’ successful bidding methods
~ Partner is sometimes stuck for a bid, especially on his 3rd call. Allow for a little deviation
~ Short team matches (say 6-8 boards) such as Compact KOs and regular Swiss Teams, require disciplined bidding
~ When you lack the tools for delicate exploration of the best contract given the bidding so far, bid what you think you can make
~ When you’re in a situation where all bids are imperfect, think of the subsequent auction and go for the bid that will help partner the most
~ The alert system is for the benefit of the opponents—it is unauthorized information for you & partner. The flip side is if you become the declaring side, you must inform the opponents before the opening lead of any misexplanations or disagreements. If you are defending, wait until play is over and then explain. If declarer feels damaged, he/she should call the director.
~ The bidding box Stop card is analogous to a verbal call of Skip Bid. Please Wait.
You wait about 10 seconds before calling. It’s immaterial when the Stop card is put away.
~ When you hold ace-king-ace, open the bidding unless you have a balanced hand and will be bidding a weak suit that you don’t want to suggest as the suit for partner’s possible opening lead
~ Playing Standard American with game invitational values as responder, if your 1st bid was at the 2 level, you’ve already shown at least game invitational values, so you may make a minimum rebid. But if your 1st bid was at the 1 level, you must rebid 2NT, or 3 of an already bid suit, or 2 of a new suit.
~ In the uncontested auction 1♥
is invitational. If you bid 3♣
with less than 10-12 points, you may get too high when 2♦
is the limit. True, you may land in a low-percentage making game (due to poor defense or a lucky lie of the cards), but this kind of hit-or-miss bidding does not lead to consistently good results.
~ You hold game values, respond at the one level in a 4-card major to partner’s opening bid and receive a single raise; consider bidding 3NT in case partner raised on 3-card support
~ If RHO
overcalls just before you can make a splinter bid, you may still be able to show that stiff or void if you can make a jump cue-bid at a safe level. A jump cue-bid is a splinter
~ Learn to avoid overbids on weak, shapely hands. Especially if you haven’t found a fit
~ If RHO’s
1st seat preempt forces you to bid at the 4 or 5 level, bid when you can hope to make opposite a balanced hand with scattered moderate strength, but not when you need specific cards
~ Bridge bidding isn’t meant to be a guessing game; avoid unilateral action when partner has a bid coming and is likely to know what to do or at least have information to share
~ When your side has bid only a minor, a cue bid of the opponent’s suit shows a good hand and uncertainty about either the strain or the level
~ It often pays not to be too aggressive against pre-empts because the suit breaks tend to be bad
~ Do not rebid a five-card suit unless you have nothing else sensible to do
~ If the opponents never make a contract that you’ve doubled, you’re not doubling enough
~ Penalty doubles are in the arsenal of every good pair/player; they yield a lot of tops. If they aren’t in your
arsenal, you need to risk some bottoms while you learn what makes a good penalty double
~ Wild distribution can overcome a good penalty double. Even the best pairs double contracts & then see them make, but they continue to double so the opponents won’t rob them blind
~ When you hold “soft” values, be even more leery than normal of doubling freakish hands
~ Save making close doubles and bidding close games for the weaker pairs; against good opponents, be wary
~ When 3 players are bidding vigorously, the 4th player with a strong balanced hand should proceed with caution: the others may all have freak distributions. It will often be better to support partner than to double for penalty.
~ A good rule of thumb in deciding whether to double or not, or to bid on or not, is to assume that any defense supplied by a preemptor is a bonus
~ In a competitive auction, do not make a premature penalty double with an undisclosed fit for partner. First, show the support, then double if the opponents persist
~ You seldom double a partscore for penalty when partner has not bid
~ Ironically, it is often safer to double low-level partials than high-level voluntary bids
~ Low level penalty doubles of suit contracts, or low level passes of partner’s takeout doubles, are based on trump length and strength, not
high card points
~ When a 1 or 2 level takeout double made by your left-hand opponent has been converted to penalties
, “redouble” by either player is a cry for help
~ Trump leads are generally effective against doubled partials
~ After one partner opens the bidding and the other redoubles, either the opening side buys the contract or the opponents play in something doubled for penalty
~ After you open the bidding and your LHO
doubles and partner redoubles, any subsequent double by either you or your partner is a penalty double—even at the one level
~ After partner opens and second hand overcalls 1NT, double for penalty with 9 or more HCP
. You have them out-gunned unless you frequently open light, including Rule of 20
openings. In that case, tread a little more lightly, but mostly rely on partner to pull the double.
~ If an opponent makes a long pause during the auction, before you bid, consider what the pause means. If he then passed, was he thinking of bidding game? Was he thinking of rescuing his partner? Was he wishing you’d bid, simultaneously rescuing his partner & walking into a juicy penalty double? Think twice before stepping in with a bid.
~ Partner opens a major where you hold 3 cards and game-forcing values. RHO doubles. Show your game-going values with 3-card support by redoubling and then jumping in the major
~ Your opening suit bid is doubled, redoubled, and RHO bids. If you pass, it’s forcing. If you double, it’s for penalty, promising 4 cards in the doubled suit. If you bid, even with a jump, it shows a minimum hand with good offense, but poor defense
~ If your opening suit bid is doubled, redoubled and RHO passes, your pass shows a full-value opening bid and keeps the possibility of a juicy penalty double alive
~ Experience suggests that penalty doubles of strong 1NT openers without a source of tricks, just scattered high cards, are dubious
~ Bidding a new suit after a Redouble is forcing
~ If the opponents bid and support a suit to the 2-level and then pass, re-open the bidding with a delayed overcall, delayed double or delayed 2NT
~ The double of any artificial bid is a penalty double and strongly invites the lead of that suit. Do not double an artificial bid if you are likely to be on lead. It will probably help declarer more than the defenders.
~ “Don’t save me from my bad bid.” If a good player jumps into the auction in your stiff or void suit, don&rsquot rescue him prematurely. If doubled, he may SOS redouble or rely on your judgment whether to sit or run.
~ Rescue partner once but not twice; this typically applies on misfit hands whether doubled or not; don’t be a hand hog and don’t be a masochist—let him/her suffer the agony of defeat
~ The takeout double is a useful, flexible bidding tool, but it is dangerous to double when short in spades
~ In response to a takeout double, an unpassed hand bids the lowest level with 0-8 points, jumps in a suit with 9-11, and que bids with 12+. For a passed hand, the ranges change to 0-7, 8-9, 10-11
~ In response to a takeout double, 1NT shows 7-9 HCP
, 2NT 10-12 HCP
, and 3NT 13-16. These promise 1 stopper, often 2. (Over 1♥
, DOUBLE, you may shade 1NT to 5-6 HCP
~ Hands with 4-4 in the majors should respond to a double by bidding spades 1st to facilitate rebids. Doubler should not expect 5-4 distribution. Doubler should also note that a spade bid does not deny hearts, but a heart bid does deny spades. Considering implications such as these can only help your bidding.
~ After a major-suit takeout double, with 4 of the other major and an opening hand, cue bid their suit in case partner has a strong hand without your major but with their suit well stopped. Partner should recognize your cue bid does not deny 4 of the other major.
~ Doubles through 4♥
are for takeout. A good reason to remove a double of 4♥
is a long spade suit
~ Stretch to bid a 6-card suit (vice defending or being shut out) opposite partner’s takeout double
~ If partner doubles a high-level preempt, tend to leave it in with a flat hand and pull it with a shapely hand
~ A reopening bid of 2NT after the opponents have found a major suit fit is a minor suit takeout
~ After partner opens 1♣
and second hand overcalls 4♠
, 4NT is for takeout. Blackwood doesn’t exist after a minor suit opening and a 4♠
~ If RHO
makes an artificial bid & you have a good holding in that suit (preferably headed by the A or K at least), strongly consider a lead directing double. It may take partner off an otherwise difficult opening lead decision.
~ If partner doubles a “normal” slam contract in a suit, he’s asking you to make an unusual lead. This is called a “Lightner” double, named after its inventor, Ted Lightner.
~ When making a Lightner slam double, you should be confident of beating any other slam the opponents might run to
~ The most important call for handling a pre-emptive overcall is responder’s negative double
~ When most of your strength is in the opponent’s suit, avoid a negative double. It is very misleading. Either bid notrump or pass
~ A negative double followed by a 2NT rebid shows 10-12 HCP
and is invitational, not forcing
~ Opener’s rebids after partner negative doubles a 2-level overcall: 2NT shows 14-16 HCP
; 3NT, 17-19; non-jump bids show minimums; jumps are invitational; the cuebid is a game force
~ The responsive double at a high level, like a negative double at a high level, must deliver some High Card Points in case partner wishes to convert to penalty
~ With a void in partner’s major & less than 6 HCP
, pass. Do not use 1NT forcing as the first step of a rescue. If partner gets doubled, SOS redouble to escape or bid your long suit if you have one
~ On the blind opening lead versus a suit, avoid underleading an unsupported Ace, i.e. you don’t also hold the King. Avoid it even if partner bid the suit in response to your takeout double. Once dummy is in view, it’s easier to know if the underlead is warranted. One time you might risk it is when you are certain dummy holds the King and both opponents have at least 2 cards in the suit.
~ The Jacoby 2NT Forcing Raise promises at least 4-card support and game going values (& up). Typically, it also denies a singleton or void because a splinter would be available.
~ A splinter bid, normally a double jump, shows 4-card support, a game going hand, and a stiff or void in the suit bid. Do not splinter with a singleton King; avoid splintering with a bare Ace.
~ After an uncontested 2♣
(natural), what do responder’s 3♥
show 5-7 points with 3 or more trumps.
show 0-4 points with 4 or more trumps.
With 0-4 points and only 3 trumps, 1st bid whatever your negative is, and await partner’s call.
~ You need to take negative inferences as well as positive. This applies to the play as well as the bidding. For instance, you’re on lead after an uncontested 2♣-2♦
-3♠-3NT. Partner didn’t double either artificial red suit. Leading either suit might be right, but don’t expect a dynamite holding in partner’s hand.
~ Opening chunky 4-card majors on balanced hands in 3rd & 4th seat is a long-term winner: you preempt the 1 level, direct a lead, can pass any response, and a 4-3 fit plays well by absorbing ruffs in the short trump hand
~ When you have a big minor-suit fit, strive to play in NT, especially when the method of scoring is Matchpoints
~ When you have 2 stoppers in the opponents’ suit, you should probably look for a NT contract
~ Opposite a strong, artificial and forcing two-club opening, two aces normally equal a slam if a fit can be found
~ With two balanced hands opposite each other and full-weight high-card values for either game or slam, it is often better to play in NT where you avoid a possible bad trump break or a ruff in a side suit that is breaking badly
~ When you have 4 card support for partner’s major, give an immediate raise in your methods. It will be the wrong strain only once every few years. If you show support belatedly, partner will assume 3 cards.
~ Don’t be a slave to point count. If you open a minor holding a balanced 18-19 HCP hand with a 4 card major and partner bids that major, bid 4 of the major with 19 HCP or 18 HCP and a ruffing value. Do not bid 2NT. With 18 HCP and 4-3-3-3 you have a choice of 2NT or 3 of the major. Aces and Kings tend to be better in suit contracts; Queens and Jacks are better in NT. Evaluate your hand and bid accordingly.
~ With a choice of help suit game tries, usually you bid the weaker suit
~ If partner opens the bidding and RHO gets in the auction and you have some values, try to find a bid so partner knows you’re not broke
~ When your fit is a minor, be reluctant to bid past the magic 3NT, especially at matchpoint scoring
~ Scattered points are overvalued on a misfit. Don’t look for thin games on a misfit unless you have a known source of tricks. Count tricks, not points, when evaluating a misfit.
~ Passing smoothly with a good hand when you and partner have a misfit may reap an unexpected windfall if an opponent can’t resist bidding once too often
~ Whenever you have a minor-suit fit (and not a 2nd fit in a major) and only have game-going values, aim to play in 3NT if reasonable
~ Opener should not rebid a 5 card suit, not even to deny a short minor, unless he has absolutely nothing else to do
~ Rebidding a suit already bid by your side, even with a jump, is not forcing
~ A new suit by an unpassed responder is forcing unless the opener or responder has limited his hand by bidding 1NT
~ If you are going to bid (and make) a pushy slam, you need a source of tricks
~ A key rule of Blackwood is if one Ace/keycard is missing, bid six. If you plan to sign off at five when an Ace/keycard is missing, do not wheel out the Ol’ Black
~ Weak responding hands that have 4 cards in a major along with 5 nondescript diamonds, should respond in the major lest it get lost if there is adverse bidding. With 11+ HCP
, bid normally
~ When partner opens one of a suit and rebids 1 NT, 4♣ is ace asking, allowing 4NT to show 18-19 HCP
and be invitational to a NT slam
~ Do not use Blackwood if too few Aces from partner will be in a higher suit than your “fit”
~ Do not use Blackwood when you need to know which Ace(s) partner holds not how many
<~ Do not count a void as an ace when responding to Blackwood at the five level. Never! With a void and 1 ace jump to 6 of the void suit
~ When heading toward a suit contract, a leap to 5NT asks about your honor holding in the last bid (trump) suit. If you have 2 of the top 3 honors, bid a grand slam. If heading toward NT, a leap to 5NT is quantitative, guaranteeing 6 and inviting 7. You need to be confident partner also knows whether you’re planning a suit or NT contract.
~ While there is still bidding room, don’t unilaterally place the contract unless you are absolutely certain of the level and strain to play