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Bridge is a game of mathematical probabilities. Yet I have heard many experienced players claim that one treatment or other works most of the time with no statistical or mathematical evidence. Recently our club’s master of insults and results told me that he always follows the 8 ever, 9 never rule “because it works 80-90% of the time.”

Just yesterday, a well respected commenter said he makes a specific lead in a specific situation because not doing so cost him a win in a national competition. I’m guessing that humor was intended here, but I also believe that our emotional memories make our brains terrible calculators.

One of my great joys was reading Mel Colchamiro’s suggestion to finesse against the opponent you like the least. Shortly afterwards, I faced a two-way finesse situation with no logical preference, so applied this Law of Relative Enmity and it worked. While I make no pretense that the Law is valid, I do find that it pops into my mind every time I face the situation. If the Law wasn’t clearly a joke, I might have convinced myself that it works simply because of the pleasure it gives me when it does succeed.

My question is how good you think we are at guessing the success of conventions, treatments or rules that we use but which have not been tested or measured. Let’s use as an example whether you open 1NT with 5-card majors. Experts disagree on when to do it even if most agree that it is justifiable in some situations. You have undoubtedly heard many opinions, and while I am not particularly interested in your preference to the no trump openings, I am curious about your confidence based on experience in situations like this.

Vote as many times as you want. After all, this isn’t a democracy.

Please select up to 7 choices.

I’ve been doing the same things for many years. I am quite certain I could guess my success rate within about 10% in most cases..
I would like to think that in most cases I could guess within 10%, but I wouldn’t be shocked if in some cases where I have followed a guideline for years, I might be off by 20-30%.
I think the bridge world is full of life masters who are off by 50% or more on at least one issue that comes up every game. I just hope I’m not one of them.
Players that don’t trust their instincts are doomed to fail, so I don’t worry about whether I’m right or wrong on specific issues as long as I get good game results most of the time.
I frequently wonder if there isn’t a better rule to follow in certain situations.
With regular partnerships, it’s (almost) more important that partner knows what I’m doing than whether it is right or wrong.
Other, because comments are usually better than the actual polls.

Sorry, to answer polls. Registered users can vote in polls, and can also browse other users' public votes! and participate in the discussion.

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