Is this statement true?

September 18, 2009 at 12:44 pm 8 comments

I will get back to psychology next week, I’d like to ask more questions and get some answers out of you!

Meanwhile, I read this statement in an academic paper published in the early 1990s about bridge-playing computers:

Human players seem to reason about single suits first,then combine the plans to form a plan for the entire hand.

That doesn’t sound anything like how I set about playing the hand, but what about everybody else? Thoughts please.


Entry filed under: thoughts on bridge.

Psychology Apportion the blame.

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Peter Gill  |  September 21, 2009 at 2:04 am

    As declarer, I think my first instinct is to consider the suit led at Trick1, then look at other suits that may affect my decision about how to play the suit led. At matchpoint pairs, I think I rarely count winners and losers, but I really don’t know what my mind is doing.

    As a defender, I think I’m more likely to consider the whole hand, having less training (relative to being declarer) in how to approach the suit combinations, but I might be wrong about how I think.

  • 2. Bill Jacobs  |  September 20, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    It’s too subtle a statement for me.

    Experienced players start proceedings by counting their losers and winners. To do that, you look at each suit and mentally play it in order to increment the loser and winner count.

    If that makes the academic’s statement accurate, then so be it.

    But to put a thought chronology into considering say,

    AKxxx opposite Jxx

    and deciding whether that’s to be played for no losers (cash AK) or one loser (ace then low), seems a fairly pointless exercise.

    I.e. Good material for an academic paper.

    Cheers … Bill Jacobs

  • 3. Nigel Kearney  |  September 19, 2009 at 5:48 am

    After counting top winners (and losers) I next consider where the extra trick(s) I need are going to come from. I do that by looking at each suit in isolation first.

  • 4. Jonathan  |  September 19, 2009 at 12:54 am

    I think it depends at what level the statement applies. Obviously we register our combined holdings suit by suit, and note the tricks and obvious possibilities. We then revisit the entire hand and then return to individual suits as appropriate. Is the statement that computer programs do not do this?

  • 5. phil markey  |  September 18, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    “True for me. The first thing that strikes me is the way i’d play a suit in isolation. Then try to attempt to fit that or modify that into a broader plan”


  • 6. Richard  |  September 18, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I think there’s at least an element of truth in it for me, but overall I’d disagree. The planning starts with counting winners and losers, then seeing where the necessary tricks might come from. Knowing how I would play the suits in isolation comes into that last bit, and figures highly in how I might be looking to combine chances on one of those hands where I have multiple possibilities. But it’s not the very first thing to look at, and communications issues override the single-suit stuff every time, so you can’t say it’s the _central_ aspect of the plan.

  • 7. sartaj  |  September 18, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    True for me. The first thing that strikes me is the way i’d play a suit in isolation. Then try to attempt to fit that or modify that into a broader plan.

    • 8. cathychua  |  September 18, 2009 at 3:43 pm

      Sartaj, isn’t Richard’s analysis the standard way of looking at the play? Is it really so that you don’t count winners and losers as your first priority, which will then lead you to smaller elements such as play in suits?


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