When I was first learning bridge as a completely new player, my practice flew around the table in all directions.
It was difficult to find a single aspect to focus on. Instead, I would just head to the table and try playing, or I would go straight for the most complicated bridge books I could find. It was confusing instead of practical.
Do you find your bridge practice hard to co-ordinate?
Choose specific techniques to work on for your bridge-playing practice sessions. Speed, conventions, and following cards with trick-winners are just some of the techniques you can single out.
Find the aspect of the game where you’d say you need the most work. It’s conventions for some, speed for others. I’ve always had weaknesses when it comes to bridge conventions (and things have become better since I chose to focus on it).
Here are 5 techniques you should work on (for better, faster bridge playing)
1. Counting speed
If you’re a bridge player, it’s safe to assume that you’re okay with counting your high-card points. But are you as fast as you could be? If your opponents are faster, they have the upper hand when it comes to assessment of their hand.
Practice your high-card counting speed often; all great bridgeurs do.
2. Suit distributions
Suit distributions are a quick-fire way of figuring out what the cards contained in your hand could mean for the game. Learn how to see, on quick sight, exactly where the game could go with this hand.
Distributions are not hard to count at all, but it’s always a skill that players can learn to do faster. Practice until suit distributions feel completely natural. If you’re from another game (such as poker), you might have to forget what you know about hand assessment first.
Then, I would recommend that you practice some more – here’s a game to help you do just that.
Bridge develops memory, but I would still encourage players to develop this specific skill away from the bridge table, too
Can you take a five-second look at your hand and then recall what it was when looking away?
If the answer is no, any opponent that you play could have the advantage.
Practice recall and memory very, very often. Try to remember your shopping list, leave yourself random notes to remember things; there are many ways to learn to remember better without much effort.
4. Conventions by-sight
Conventions are integral to learning bridge.
The good news is that conventions are not as difficult to learn as people will tell you. It’s worth saying that they are much easier to learn while playing than they are from reading about them!
Can you spot the most common conventions (like Blackwood or Stayman) just from a quick glance?
If not, you should!
5. One move ahead
The best board game players in the world will tell you the same thing: It’s an impossibility to see ahead for an entire game’s moves, and it might be pretty pointless to try.
Practice the skill of seeing one move ahead. Expect a lot of bridge practice, video viewing, and kibitzing in your quest to achieve it.What is the most likely move for your opposing team and partner? Guess it before making your play, and keep a list of how often your guesses are correct.
Which bridge-related skills would you say still need some work?