Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is the Cat Dead or Alive?

I've never heard of anyone using this method, but an idea occurred to me for a method to better teach some aspects of Declarer play.  Suppose you are teaching someone how to find the missing Queen, with the point of the lesson being to avoid the guess by using a throw-in.  Maybe you have KJx opposite A10x in the trouble suit, and the point is to throw someone in, where the guess is solved by the opponents being forced to break the suit.

The traditional approach seems to be to use question marks.  "Who has the Queen?"  RHO has ?xx and LHO has ?xx.  That seems confusing.

Why not do it the way we really think?  I am convinced, sometimes, that both opponents have the Queen.  I cannot prove my theorem, but quantum physics seems somehow involved.  The point is that whoever I guess to not have the Queen actually has it, no matter what logic tells me.  They both have it.

So, why not present the problem as if the opponents actually both have the Queen?\

The position ends up like this:

AJx
x

Qxx                                                 Qxx
A﻿                                                    K

K10x
x

If you gave the problem this way, as a double-dummy problem, people could work out the problem.  You exit your side pip.  West wins and plays a third best from the Queen, forcing East to rise with the Queen, won with the King.  Now, ﻿simply finesses against West's second Queen, winning three tricks in the suit despite the opponents both having the Queen.

This may seem like silliness, but the idea can be expanded, and it starts to approach a concept that better players grasp and use all the time.  In essence, the learning player has a lot of question marks all over the place, and that makes life rather confusing as a Declarer.  The advanced Declarer, however, kind of juggles a set of likely hands for East and likely hands for West simultaneously, and he caters to as many possible actual positions as he can.  In other words, compare layouts:

Learning Declarer

AJx
x
?xx                                        ?xx
?                                           ?
K10x
x

AJx
x

Qxx                                                xxx
A                                                    x

Qxx                                                xxx
x                                                    A

﻿xxx                                               Qxx
A                                                  x

xxx                                               Qxx
x                                                   A

K10x
x

The second layout is how the advanced player "thinks."  He sees all four layouts, in his head, and he caters to each.  The developing player thinks about all the question marks and tries to work out what to do.  The question marks get confusing, both on paper and at the table.  The juggled specific examples, however, reflect the real possibilities and express, in a sense, how the better player starts to think about these things.  So, who not teach using this type of layout?﻿  Why not teach/write bridge using layouts that reflect an expert way of visualizing layouts, and thereby teach people to think that way, instead of using the layout method that best reflects what actually occurs in the mind of the learning player?

1 comment:

Daniel Skipper said...

This is a good way of thinking about things. I tried something similar with a monte carlo playing program to see if it improved it's playing strength. It certainly did on hands there was a genuine end play available. To conclude it's a good way to think for both beginners and computers!