The

*most important concept*by far in Bridge is**“thinking in patterns”**. Patterns are the**DNA of Bridge**. Bidding , opening leads , defense & declarer play**evolve from patterns**. What do I mean by that ? Years ago when I was teaching my wife how to improve her game, I told her Bridge players must be obsessed with the**number 13**. Counting is too boring & tiring in Bridge so we just apply**memorized patterns**instead. When counting a suit you have the pattern partially filled in as you are looking at the**dummy**&**your hand**. You only have a few patterns out of 39 that exist with that constraint. There are only 39 combinations of 4 suits that**add**up to 13. Also , there are only 39 combinations of one suit distributed over 4 Bridge hands that add up to 13. I made up a series of flash cards to memorize the more**common**patterns that add up to 13. These were a fill in the blanks tool . Each card had a Bridge distribution on it with one suit missing . I had every possible common suit distribution on those cards ( there are not that many in reality ) One card would have 5-4-1 and she would have to say 3 to fill in the pattern . No subtraction or addition to 13 allowed .**Just rote memory**. Another card would be 4-4-3 and she would have to say 2 . All distributions should be so*deeply implanted*in a good Bridge player that it is even**beyond second nature**. You*think in patterns*on*defense*, on*bidding , opening leads &**play of the hands*. Good defenders are always**in their minds to get a***reviewing the bidding***theoretical pattern**on which to base their defense. When the opponents have**opened a spade**,**rebid hearts**the pattern is 5-4-2-2 , 5-4-3-1 or remotely 5-4-4-0 . Expert players go one step further and throw in the**HCP’s**also .With partners showing proper count & reviewing the bidding , experts should never be caught on a pseudo squeeze

**in any defensive error. The pattern is determined at an***or***early stage**so declarer is just wasting everybodys time by running her tricks . When you do**not think in patterns**, you would have to have a**prodigious****memory**to keep track of things ! You might even hang onto the 13th heart in a pseudo squeeze situation or otherwise bungle the defense ! These are the most common patterns with their probabilities of occurrence ( table below ) .

*Not that***many really**. The 4 , 5 & 6 card patterns are the most frequently used & that is*only 16 patterns*. 60 % of all patterns are the 4 & 5 card suit variety.**Memorize them !**This is a**to be an expert player .There are only***must have skill***3 patterns**where a 4 card suit is the longest. There are only**6 patterns**where a 5 card suit is the longest & only**7 patterns where a 6 card**suit is the longest. There are no patterns in the 3 series as 3+3+3+3 =12 & we would have to call the director that a card is missing. 4 is obviously the minimum suit length when adding 4 suits or hands up to 13. Memorize these patterns backwards , forwards & then some !!!Note the frequency of occurrence of these hand distributions from the table below. If you memorize 4432 (21.5 %) , 4333 (10.5 % ) , 5431 ( 12.9 %) 5422 (10.5% ) 5332 ( 15.5%) 6421 (4.7%) , 6331 (3.4%) , 6322 ( 5.6%) , 5521 (3.1%) & 4441( 2.9 %) you have

**90 % of all possible hands covered !!**These are only**10**patterns to memorize to cover**of all possible hands ( 39 hand patterns ) .***90 %**Get with it !*Note how the

*table below*is**organized.**The patterns are categorized , by the**longest suit**in the hand pattern. There is a reason for this . Pre-empts at the**3 level**bring in the*7 series*of patterns as the starting point of a**. Weak two’s or overcalls bring in the***tentative count**6 series*of patterns as a**starting point**. Playing**5 card majors**brings in the*5 series*as a start to the tentative count.**Balanced hands**may only have the*4 series*of hand patterns. Organize your**like the table below. Work out the patterns of 8 card or longer suits at the Bridge table.***thought process* 4441 2.993219 4432 21.551176 4333 10.536130 | 5530 0.895203 5521 3.173900 5440 1.243337 5431 12.930705 5422 10.579668 5332 15.516846 | 6610 0.072340 6520 0.651056 6511 0.705311 6430 1.326226 6421 4.702075 6331 3.448188 6322 5.642490 | 7600 0.005565 7510 0.108509 7420 0.361698 7411 0.391840 7330 0.265245 7321 1.880830 7222 0.512954 |

After you have memorized the patterns , train you self to

*recognize the triggers*in order actually apply them at the table. The 1^{st}trigger is whenever somebody**shows out of a suit**. This is a show stopper so stop &**apply a pattern**! When you are**on lead**, translate the bidding into a pattern . When you**lead**, partner must translate your**spot card**into a pattern .**Count signals**are another trigger to apply a pattern. When somebody**pre-empts**or overcalls or opens the bidding, that gives you some information about their length , apply a pattern. It may take you years to*perfect*the**, but***habit***your game will jump at least one level.***believe me* I learned to

**“think in patterns”**back in the early 1970’s so its 2^{nd}nature to me now. I can tell if*partner does not**apply patterns*in their defense as they are “lost” while defending & have no plan. They defend**by instinct**& experience which is usually OK but in the crunch , they will*properly. I played with a keen beginner the other night & this hand came up as the*__not defend__**dummy**. ♠**xx****♥****xxxx****♦****Kxx ♣Qxxx**. We were defending 3NT , declarer cashed the A & K of clubs with everyone following & then led the diamond queen . My partner eyed the queen suspiciously & considered ducking it with her Ace. She thought a bit but decided to take the trick. Disaster ! as declarer now made 3NT. She had 5 clubs & did not know to count 5 plus 4 from the dummy equals 9 , so both partner & declarer having two equals thirteen.**This type of counting is tiring & not much fun**. It is*so simple*when you have 5-4-2-2 memorized & you “think in patterns” . You duck the diamond*automatically*as you**know**declarer cannot get to the club queen for the 9^{th}trick.

“Counting out a hand “ is a Bridge term to describe the

**application of hand patterns**. Here is a hand in the world championship when a declarer did not**“count out a hand**” so butchered the declarer play.

**♠ Axxx ♥ xxx ♦ x ♣ Q109xx**

**♠ KQx ♥ AQx ♦ AJx ♣ Axxx**

LHO

**overcalled a heart**& the final contract was 3NT. The diamond King was lead so declarer ducked. The diamond queen was continued , declarer won the diamond Ace. How do you continue ? A**DNA analysis**is required. Determine the building blocks of the opponents hand at the**“cell level”**. LHO bid hearts so give her**5**or**6 hearts**. She led the diamond king & continued with queen so give her at least 3 diamonds. 6-3 or 5-3 in the reds ? Using our microscope let’s get the exact**DNA structure of LHO’s hand**. We cash the K & Q of spades & over to the Ace with LHO following to 3 of them ! 6-3-3-1 or possibly 6-4-3-0 ? Either**one club***or***no clubs**isn’t that interesting ? You are on the board with the spade Ace so you lead the club 10 & let it ride. RHO had KJx of clubs so you take 4 spades , 4 clubs , 2 diamonds & a heart for +660. Our declarer went 3 down vul when RHO had 6 diamonds & she played the clubs wrong starting with the Ace giving her time to establish the diamonds. Just a 14 IMP swing at the world championship level for*not counting out a hand*before**!***attacking a key suit* Bob Crosby

Over the years in my coaching & mentoring days I have written 1500 articles like the above. People I am mentoring are subjected to one of these a day. For the EBC members , I plan to post one article a week. I will keep the "off the wall" or advanced articles to myself

ReplyDeleteBob Crosby

If only it were as easy as Bob makes it sound. Articles like these make me want to quit bridge because they trivialize the challenge of counting and visualization. After 25+ years I still can't do it. :(

ReplyDeleteThank you thank you thank you for explaining so clearly and succinctly what it is the experts are thinking about when they play!

ReplyDeleteThat at least gives me a fighting chance.