Bridge is a partnership game. Given that fact , let partner help you. Single handed guesses are just that . You either guess right or you guess wrong. If you allow partner to help you , you can change guesses into certainties. Also proper hand evaluation is a tool to assist you in your biddingWithout proper hand evaluation , you are not bidding , you are guessing. If you are an experienced player who does not evaluate her hand properly , you are an “experienced guesser” rather than a good bidder. You have developed good guessing skills due to your experience but if you do not use hand evaluation you will be wrong far too often. Bridge judgment must be a combination of experience & hand evaluation skills. Good guessing skills needs good luck. Bidding skills needs less reliance on luck .

Patterns are a hand evaluation tool. By thinking in patterns , you change guesses into certainties. Bridge bidding , play & defense is above the guess. Like a detective , you should change a guess into almost a certainty by gathering all available clues. Patterns are the “finger prints” that get analyzed first by the Crime Scene Investigators. Everything else comes later.

HCP’s are the “training wheels” of Bridge. As you learn hand evaluation skills , being a slave to HCP’s diminishes. HCP’s are just a guide to help Bridge players guess. Hand evaluation skills change the odds to your side in these bidding , declarer play , defense & opening lead guesses. Bad players are bad guessers as they rely too much on HCP’s. Do not be a slave to HCP’s or you will just be a guesser & not a bidder.

The auction against Perry goes:


1NT-P-P-P ,

you hold AKJx 9xx Kxx QJx  & lead the spade king. The board hits with 10xx AQxx 10xx xxx  , partner plays a small spade so what are the spades around the table ? Review the bidding to get your answer. Partner had two chances to bid 2 & did not so with only 6 HCP on the board , partner is marked with HCP’s ( at least 7 or 8 HCPs as you see 20 HCP between your hand & the board ) .  Why did partner not bid?  Because she is short is spades & is probably stacked in hearts . You switch to the heart 9 , declarer puts up the queen & partner the king. Partner returns the heart jack , declarer shows out discarding a club . Declarer ducks so partner returns a spade. You win the spade , switch to the club queen so declarer wins his Ace. Declarer knocks out your diamond , you now cash 3 club tricks for down two vul & a top board. Partner , in actuality , guessed  to continue spades so Perry got the top.

We were defending 1NT & partner had a guess in the end position between a club or a heart to return. She cashed her 4th and 5th spades , partner did not discourage in hearts when he had the chance. Partner is on your side so it would be a crime if he did not discourage in hearts when he had two chances. Partner guessed  to return a club so they made 1NT instead of down two for a top our way.

Drawing inferences from what a disciplined partner did or did not do is partnership Bridge & prevents guessing. The auction goes 1, LHO doubles & you have xxx xx 10xxxx 10xx so you find a pass. They bid 2partner passes so they bid 2 which gets passed around to partner who bids 2. This gets doubled so you run to two spades, they bid 3so what do you do ? Partner could not double or bid freely over 2, so what is the strength of his hand ? Probably just an opener so you are out of here. You guessedto play partner for a huge hand so you double with your 5 trump & they made 5. The field was in 3NT for –630 so you turn a top into a bottom. Inferences are everywhere in Bridge . Positive inferences & negative inferences are ready to be interpreted. Tuning into them instead of guessing is playing partnership Bridge. As Sherlock Holmes said “why did the dog not bark” . Why did partner not bid, why did partner not discourage in hearts , why did partner play the deuce , why did partner not bid over 2 ?  The clues are there if you just trust partner tune into them.  Guessing just means you missed clues evident from the bidding.

A tormentee failed to pick up one of the most common negative inferences in Bridge tonight. This is the why did partner not re-open with a double type of inference ? The answer is that she is not strong enough for a penalty conversion by partner. This inference is missed time & time again by non experts for some reason. Jxx QJxxx QJxx so you hear partner open 1 & they overcall 2 which of course you pass. Partner re-opens with 2 so bells should start ringing. Partner has a weak hand & is re-opening only because you play negative doubles. She did not double or bid 3. You have a horrible hand , so 2 is high enough. You cannot bid 2NT as that should be highly invitational to game opposite a known weak opener.

Tuning into inferences is where playing with a weak or undisciplined partner really hurts you. You cannot draw inferences from what they did or did not bid, or what they did or did not signal or how they are defending or bidding a hand. They do not apply hand patterns or count the opponents HCP’s. They just guess , so you do not develop the skill of relying on partner for clues. You either guess yourself or trust the other side to defend or bid a hand. You are not playing partnership Bridge. This single handedness is devastating to your Bridge game. You are just guessing all the time.