ISBN: 978-0-9828874-6-2

Expert Hand Evaluation

Augie Boehm

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142 pp.

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If bidding were as simple as counting high-card points (HCP), most of us would have lost interest in bridge a long time ago. What keep us coming back to the tables or the lessons and literature are the infinite variety and life-long challenge of a game immune to mastery. The best experts continue to make errors or misjudgments, more in the bidding than the play, and the top computer programs often cannot cope with advanced bidding situations. What experts try to hone, and computers hope someday to emulate, is good bidding judgment.

Judgment is largely based on experience. A youthful bridge prodigy may possess deep knowledge of complex card play technique and an arsenal of advanced bidding systems. Most of this can be learned from books and lessons. What the prodigy has yet to acquire is fine-tuned bidding judgment -- when to stretch one's values, when to pull in a notch, and how to handle decisions when the auction becomes competitive. Often, there are no textbook solutions. Instead of black and white, the palette turns gray. One must play a great many deals to develop a flair for choosing the winning course a high percentage of the time. Experience becomes the best teacher. Make no mistake; to become a strong player, you must analyze your results, especially the poor ones, and study the game away from the table.

Judgment can be acquired. This book's aim is to help you develop bidding judgment by refining and improving your hand evaluation. Proper hand evaluation is the bedrock of good bidding. Mechanical point-counting and applying a "rule" are merely a first step. Of course, it is necessary to learn the requirements for everyday sequences, such as a limit raise shows 10-12 points and support. This process demands time, dedication, and a certain amount of memorization, and it will suffice to solve a great many situations. However, this is not enough to separate you from the crowd of similarly inclined duplicate players. The defining difference comes when a borderline hand falls into the gray zone. Then, it is important to understand what your hand is worth. And that's the main point of Part I of this book.

Part II explores using judgment for potentially problematic bidding sequences not neatly resolved by routine conventions. Applying the hand-evaluation judgment learned in Part I will help you think outside the toolbox.

Now, let's get to work.

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