This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


What's the best way to warm up for the upcoming big tournament?

Imo, it's to play lots and lots against opponents of the same caliber you will play against during the big tournament.  If you don't have many of these players available locally, you will have to go online and/or travel a bit to play against them.

What are the common warm-up mistakes?

1) Using magazine "bidding contests" to practice bidding - these hands are the exceptional hands, not the meat-and-potatoes of 99% of non-competitive hands.  Even worse, in these contests, even when the opponents bid, they never jam.

2) Spending too much time on "Partnership bidding" practice close to the tournament.  This is important months before, but you need to have your system in place and locked down before the big tournament.  At most 20% of your bridge time should be allocated to this practice before a big tournament, and it should be rapid-fire practice, running through lots of hands just to ensure both are on the same page at the same time.

3) Doing too much kibitzing  - you want to play, play, play - get your stamina up, and treat rote hands with little mental energy.  Kibitz lots if you will be a commentator at the big tournament - play lots if you will be a player.

4) Switching horses - if you are playing with an expert partner in the big tournament, then don't practice with weak partners - you will end up driving the bidding and defense as necessary for these players, and then end up doing over-steering with your expert partner.

5) Playing against weak players - if your upcoming big tournament is loaded with good players, it is counter-productive to warm-up by playing against the weaker players at your local club.  If in the big tournament all your opponents will know when and how to hold up tricks, don't warm up at the local club where hold-ups are rare and never made smoothly.

6) Doing complex bridge problems - in warming up your declarer and defensive play by doing book and magazine problems, focus on problems that can be solved in five minutes or less - much like you will face at the table.  Don't waste your time on tackling just a few problems that each take hours to solve - when you go to play live you will squander too much energy in judging each hand trying to see if it might be one of these horrendous types.

7) Changing system - this is the worst - never change system just before the big tournament - low benefit, high risk!

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Speaking of changing system, the South African pair Tim Cope-Glen Holman have changed their system between the 07 and 08 World Championships - of course they would have done this months before, not right before the Mind Games this October.

They used to play a standard base with 15-17 notrump.  They have now moved to a Welland-and-partner (Roy Welland of the US)/Garner-Weinstein (Howard Weinstein - Steve Garner of the US) approach (played lots elsewhere too - I reference the US players as readers will be most familiar with these):

1NT is 14-16
1C handles balanced hands outside the NT range and below 20: 11-13 or 17-19.
1C-1red is a transfer, and 1C-1red;-1NT shows 17-19 balanced without a 4 card fit for responder's major, staying low
1D is natural unbalanced

Another interesting pair to watch in just a few weeks!


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