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 bidding .  Without 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. Patternsare 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 goes:

West North East South
1Diamond Suit 1Spade Suit Double Pass
1NT Pass Pass Pass

You hold Spade SuitAKJx Heart Suit9xx Diamond SuitKxx Club SuitQJx  & lead the spade king. The board hits with Spade Suit10xx Heart SuitAQxx Diamond Suit10xx Club Suitxxx  , 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 2Spade Suit & 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 and 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 1Spade Suit, LHO doubles & you have Spade Suitxxx Heart Suitxx Diamond Suit10xxxx Club Suit10xx so you find a pass. They bid 2Club Suit,  partner passes  so they bid 2Diamond Suit which gets passed around to partner who bids 2Heart Suit. This gets doubled so you run to two spades . they bid 3Diamond Suit so what do you do ? Partner could  not double  or bid freely over 2Club Suit , so what is the strength of his hand ? Probably just an opener so you are  out of here . You  guessed to 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 2Club Suit ?  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. Spade SuitQ Heart SuitJxx Diamond SuitQJxxx Club SuitQJxx so you hear partner open 1Spade Suit & they overcall 2Diamond Suit which of course you pass. Partner re-opens with 2Heart Suit 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 3Heart Suit . You have a horrible hand , so 2Heart Suit 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.