🇫🇷 This article is also available in French at http://adrienrahier.com/blog/quelques-conseils-pour-progresser-immediatement-sur-funbridge/
As I said in my Funbridge interview (in French) not too long ago, I have noticed an interesting fact: I perform better or worse depending on the time of day that I play.
So, paradoxically, it’s at the end of the evening that I play my best contracts. However, intuitively, I ought to be more tired and play the deals less well.
What’s up with that?
Bridge player and blogger.
#1 Taking a step back
Actually, during the day, as I am working, I don’t generally have much time to spend on bridge. I settle for doing the minimum and not pondering over the individual situations too much. In short, I play semi-automatically.
On the other hand, at the end of the evening, as I am much more relaxed, I take more time to do things and concentrate (the winning combination!).
My first piece of advice is to analyse your way of playing.
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula. Even if you play 2,000 deals of bridge, if you don’t take the time to understand what you can improve on, you will not progress.
To help you, here is a list of questions you can ask yourself:
- At what time of day do you play your best bridge?
- What about tournaments: are you better at MPs or IMPs?
- Which types of deal consistently land you at the bottom of the rankings?
- Card play or bidding: what gives you the most problems?
In my own game for example, I’ve worked out that the area in which I can improve the most is defence and just card play in general.
#2 Play more slowly
Another determining factor for me has been taking more time to think.
The advantage of an app such as Funbridge is obviously its fast handling: no more adding up HCP at the beginning of the round, instant results and very fluid card play.
Unfortunately, these advantages can also become huge disadvantages. As everything seems so easy, it is tempting to play the deals very quickly… and to let lots of things pass you by.
So take more time. A good indicator to keep in mind: in “real” tournaments, the minimum amount of time allowed for a deal is 7 minutes.
#3 Play every deal to the best of your ability
It was in discussion with Christophe Grosset that I realised this important point: in bridge, every deal is interesting to play.
In fact, seeing as I have already played thousands of deals on Funbridge, it is tempting to think things such as: “It’s always pretty much the same. So I’m not too bothered about thinking overmuch”.
The magic of bridge is just always having new problems to solve.
Furthermore, though I imagine you already knew this, it is the small details that make the difference in bridge.
#4 There are moments of bad luck
The main thing is not to linger on a deal
And yes: from time to time, you may well have played perfectly but, for whatever reason, your result won’t live up to your expectations.
Never mind: the important thing is to move on to the next deal without thinking back to the previous one. My English friends never miss the opportunity to remind me: C’est la vie!
#5 We take actions according to the vulnerability and the scoring (imps or mps)
Another point which seems obvious when you think about it but is worth being reminded of. When you are bidding, it is very important to consider your vulnerability as well as the type of tournament you are playing.
I have also noticed that on Funbridge, the robots had more difficulties in handling an aggressive or psychic bid when it was made as a first bid…
#6 Watch other people play
This must be one of the best discoveries of 2018.
Thanks to the videos posted by Christophe Grosset, Peter Holland and Milan Macura, I have progressed enormously in terms of my mindset whilst playing.
I shall let you judge for yourself:
#7 Even the best make mistakes
To follow up on my previous point, it is refreshing to see that even players of a very high level can make big mistakes. This helps to stop you from feeling guilty when you miss something obvious!
#8 The textbook bid is not always the best
Every now and then, it can be the case that the “textbook bid”, or, in other words, the one you have learnt, is not the best bid. The shape of the hand, its distribution and its intermediate cards are examples of extremely important criteria to be considered.
As a general rule, force yourself not to play on auto-pilot. Everything should be questioned.
#9 Be extremely analytical
Naturally, when I have to make a decision in everyday life, my instinct tends to play a considerable role in making it, compared to the other more factual elements that I have at my disposal.
Unfortunately, in bridge, this works a bit differently. Although you might occasionally have bursts of genius, in the long term, being rigorous is what works. So, try to always have a logical reason behind the decisions you make. Then, if the options have an equal chance of working, use your instinct.
Bridge ≠ Poker!
#10 Count, count everything, recount everything
Bridge players have taken to saying that getting good is not complicated: it is enough to be able to count up to 13.
Despite the rather condescending nature of the expression, you need to take one thing on board: in Bridge, visualising the other players’ hands is paramount!
You will therefore progress immediately if you get into the habit of counting the hand. This goes hand-in-hand with the point that “there are no deals that are uninteresting”.
Besides (spoiler alert!), I borrowed this advice from Geoff Hampson (who, along with Eric Greco, is a member of one of the best partnerships in the world).
Click on the video below to hear his other pieces of advice:
As every player is unique, the advice I have given you above will naturally resonate differently with each of you.
The important thing is therefore to understand what will be useful for you.
More generally, I realise that progressing in bridge happens most often by changing one’s bad habits. This is difficult, slow and sometimes frustrating. So do it little by little. You will see that you do get better in the long term.