Ted's Bridge World Tips and Tricks

About Average Joe and Average Jane

Some bridge players take the game quite seriously, some attend the club more for its social aspects, while others might be there just to pass the time of day.  All players are creatures of habit; and the less skilled ones can be counted on to do their normal things day in and day out, hand after hand.

We love Average Jane and Average Joe, of course; for there would be no bridge club without them.  Ours is a mental game, however; and savvy declarers are fully entitled to capitalize upon A.J.'s foibles in order to rake in extra tricks.

ASSUME THAT A.J. IS FALSE-CARDING

Perhaps the bridge player's most destructive habitual behavior is a proclivity for automatic false-carding.  Obviously this is an utter waste of effort; for not only does A.J. give himself away by this inane maneuver, but much of the time the only one to be fooled is his partner.

When holding QJ doubleton and declarer is leading the suit, A.J. invariably follows with the Queen first.  The same applies to JT doubleton and KQ doubleton.  Similarly, if you take a finesse toward an AJT combination and A.J. wins the Queen, assume that the King is onside; it nearly always will be.

When following suit third-hand, A.J. still plays the higher of equal honors most of the time.  How and where these folk have gotten the notion that such routine false-carding is a good strategy is one of life's great mysteries; yet it is so ingrained in their natures that most probably never will change their ways — even after reading this page!

Note: As declarer, A.J. tends not to squander values or play much of anything out of order.  She doesn't play games with her spot-cards; when she ruffs in with the high trump, you can bet that it's her last one.

ASSUME THAT A.J. WILL GRAB MOST OPPORTUNITIES TO WIN A TRICK

If you lead toward a suit headed by the K-J early in the hand, A.J. nearly always will grab the ace to your left if he has it.  Having not yet made the effort to consider what card he will play when that suit is led, he is leery of possibly losing the trick, and probably has given himself away by a hesitation in any case.  The sooner you lead that suit, the better.

Similarly, a suit combination of Qxx opposite Kxx tends not to be worth two tricks — that is, unless A.J. leads it.  Often as not, her partner will grab the ace, having not considered the entire position.  If you must lead the suit yourself, tend not to lead an honor; lead toward one instead.  The ace might pop up for you.

ASSUME THAT A.J. IS NOT COUNTING MUCH OF ANYTHING

As you might well know, when a Prius comes to a stop, such as at a traffic signal, engine activity temporarily ceases (or seems to), awaiting a further call to action from a press of the accelerator pedal.  Most Average Joes and Average Janes own such a vehicle, or so it would seem from their behavior at the table; for they suffer from what I call the Prius Syndrome.  During the play, when declarer is considering what to do next, A.J.'s brain frequently stops spinning.  Seemingly having nothing to think about, he sits there in a semi-dormant state, awaiting his own call to action — namely, his next turn to play a card.

The point is not that A.J. is good at impersonating a zombie, but that he is not doing his job of counting those things that might help him with the subsequent defense.  Even if he were to try, his partner might already have false-carded him once or twice, his awareness of played spot-cards has dimmed, and the partnership's carding rapport may have expired with the first discard.

As declarer, you can be comfortable with the probability that A.J. has not counted either your points or your distribution.  Should he obtain the lead, he invariably will cash any available winner, right or wrong; otherwise, he will just be pushing cards to the end.

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