Thursday, September 20, 2012

More focus on defense

It's about 8pm and I'm on a flight to Portland now with a lot on my mind but let's start with the most immediate annoyance. Airlines are making us pay to see movies and tv shows in flight? There's a decent selection of movies and tv reruns on this personal entertainment console but every time I try to watch something it asks me to pay. $1 for one rerun of a tv show or $6 for a movie. What a rip off. I want the overhead tvs back with a movie on. I'm not giving in. I'll just have to be content with writing this and email drafts and listening to music on my phone. I didn't even bother bringing my laptop which has a lot of entertainment even sans Internet - it is almost 4 years old and has a battery life of maybe 30 minutes.

Now for the bridge portion of this post.

When I play bridge, I estimate scores (at least in matchpoint games), and mark errors by myself or my partner.

When my partner is someone of comparable bridge skill to me, there might be 5 or 6 total errors on average. The majority of these probably go in the bidding category. And a lot the time we have intelligent discussions and realize that both the winning play and the chosen play were reasonable for various reasons. For some reason, there are fewer times experts get stumped in the card play than in the bidding. To put things in terms of matchpoints given lost by these errors, my research has shown only 20% of the lost matchpoints come from defensive errors while about half are from bidding.

However, as I've played with a lot of players who will someday be good players, I've kept the same kind of records. Their bidding is way more competent than their play and defense. I mark down on my score sheet all the errors, well into the double digits, about 60% of which are defensive, 20% declarer play and 20% bidding. I may only mention a small portion of the "errors" because many are simply beyond what they can handle or at bidding treatments they haven't learned. At the top levels there is more variance in the way players bid while at lower levels there's more variance in the way players play the cards. I'm sure part of this can be attributed the fact that experts have such complex bidding systems and therefore sort of have more options while card play always has the same finite set of options.

People want to learn conventions and fancy bidding systems when they still don't have a solid foundation for taking tricks. I feel like I already bombard my students with more defensive lessons than normal but at the same time they are all far weaker in defense than any other part of the game so I am thinking I need to focus on it even more.

A lot of times I ask the advancing beginners why they chose to play a certain card. It's not that i am trying to put them on the spot and don't necessarily expect them to have to right reason but having some reason to show they are thinking about bridge rather than just throwing cards around is worth a lot. I guess I'm saying faulty reasoning in someone trying to learm bridge is is better than no reasoning. Does that make sense?

Sent from my iPhone

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