Squeezing The Dummy

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Back to Basics

Every time a big tournament is coming up, I really try to focus and get into the zone. It is not enough to have the capacity to play well, you need to actually bring your A game. If I am not completely concentrating and ready to kill, I can't do this. As mental preparation I usually get my mind prepared for war. I review books on squeezes or deceptive play or system notes. For this upcoming regional though, I am going back to basics.

The only time I ever really review the fundamentals is when I am teaching them. It is always good to have a refresher course on beginning declarer play. All too often we get ahead of ourselves and fail to think about the most basic elements of the game because we are planning our next squeeze. The following will probably not be news to anyone as it is in most major beginner textbooks, but it will be useful to take a look at again.

In suit play:

  1. Count your losers
  2. Figure out how do eliminate the losers. This can be done by ruffing, finessing, or discarding.

In notrump:

  1. Count your winners
  2. Figure out which suits can promote the most tricks and play them immediately.

Yeah, I really meant basic. We all do step 1 consciously, but often step 2 is done subconsciously. I think this causes us, or at least me, to overlook some very basic things. So during the regional I am going to go over this list before I ever play a card on every single hand. Sound silly? Maybe it is, but if nothing else it will help my focus and concentration level and cut down on any blind spots I may have. I will modify the list slightly as well.

In suit play:

  1. Count your losers and winners. Sometimes for cross ruffing or dummy reversals, counting winners is more beneficial. Also for squeezes.
  2. Figure out how to eliminate the losers. This can be done by ruffing, discarding, finessing, endplaying, or squeezing. In cross ruffing cases, figure out how to get 10 winners (I assume I will be in game, lol).

In notrump it will be the same except counting losers as well.

It will be interesting to see whether or not this makes a difference in my game. It could have an adverse effect on my game, in which case I will revert to letting my subconscious take over.

Also, in accordance with my theme I will be following some great advice Mike Passell gave me once. I played with him in a sectional and he told me to always have a reason for every card that I played. This advice is absolutely wonderful, but consciously I still do not do this. So I will be thinking before every card "why am I playing this?" If I can actually do this it will force me to really focus and not be lazy or make any careless mistakes.

The last basic I will remember to follow is non-stop counting. Luckily I am used to this one so it won't be a problem. Counting is like breathing; even if I'm being lazy I count. I will still focus intently on doing this as it is easily the most important thing to do in bridge.

Some people have new years resolutions, I have regional resolutions. I am going to hold myself to these and hopefully will be able to see and think clearly. I have a good feeling about this one.

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6 Comments:

  • Another excellent post, now if I just follow the darn rules here.

    By Blogger mike, at 6/28/05, 9:55 AM  

  • Yes, another good piece of advice. I'm probably too old to change my ways now being an ancient 46, but I remember when learning was still possible, I found it liberating to review the basics before a big event. I actually found it better to read over fundamental material rather than to try to answer some fiendish set of problems by Kelsey or whoever - if I did that, I found myself starting to look for obscure positions when the answer might be staring me in the face. Sometimes knowledge can be a dangerous thing if poorly applied.

    By Blogger Peter, at 6/28/05, 12:32 PM  

  • "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" - John Wooden

    Thanks for publishing some of the great intangibles about this game. Here's my personal list I try to focus on during a tournament:

    1) No heavy meals between sessions. I don't drink between sessions, but haven't had any problems having some after the game, as long as I can get enough sleep.

    2) I can play 3 sessions for a few days straight, but I tend to avoid the AM KO's if I really want to do well in the main event. There are certain pros like Passell that play the AM games and still do well in the big events. Maybe its because he's been doing it for so long, I don't know.

    3) Post mortems are kept to a minimum. I can't think of any exceptions for a regular partnership, except to accept blame for disasters, if you think you contributed at all to a problem. This lessens the tension at the table and boosts morale.

    4) Like you, I like to read up on my system notes. I expect all of my pards to do this, especially when we play a non-standard system, and/or we have been playing for a relatively short amount of time.

    5) Within an hour of the event, I just gel. I learned this from test taking in college. Nothing you do within the hour of the event is going to change the outcome, so just satisfy yourself that you have prepared as best you can.

    By Anonymous phil, at 6/28/05, 12:43 PM  

  • What about basics in defense?

    I read this tip somewhere. While defending, before deciding to win a trick, try to figure out what card you will play next.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/28/05, 9:33 PM  

  • Here's what I do.

    1. Avoid the mornings. Get proper rest. Playing a forcing club tired is just begging for issues.

    2. Eat a nice breakfast, but watch out for dinner. Eating a large dinner just kills me.

    3. I have to read a declarer's play book, and review the agreements I have. Clarify those that haven't come up in a while.

    4. Discuss any foulups AWAY from the playing site, and NOT when teammates are involved.

    5. I eat Skittles before gametime. It's a ritual of sorts. Find some habit and just do it. I don't drink alcohol.

    6. Lastly, enjoy the successes and remember the close losses.

    By Blogger the keylime, at 6/29/05, 5:08 PM  

  • Great to see a talented player put up a good post about game preparation.

    By Anonymous Catherine, at 3/1/12, 6:58 AM  

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