Main     Guide 7M42 by Richard Pavlicek    

How To Use These Deals

A FUN way to improve your game!

Since 1987, the American Contract Bridge League has held an annual Instant Matchpoint Game in September, including analyses booklets by this writer. If you’ve played in all these events, great — you can stop reading now — but most people have not. The good news is that you can still play the deals at home, and derive the same benefit as from the original event.

Play the Deals First

Choose a year that you have not played (or read about) the deals. (If you haven’t played in any, you might as well start with 1987.) On the first row (Separated hands) click on the year desired and save the file. Then click the same year on the second row (Matchpoint awards) and save the file. Both files are in PDF format and will print easily on any printer. Do not study the hands (no fair peeking) but put them aside until you have four people ready to play bridge.

The “Separated hands” printout has four sheets, one for each player (North, South, East and West) as designated in the upper left corner. Each player should keep his own sheet private and out of sight from anyone else. Also give each player his own separate deck of cards (this requires four complete decks) preferably sorted into suits for convenience.

Start with Board 1. Instead of dealing the cards, each player selects his hand from his own deck of cards to match the hand shown on the sheet. Put the unused cards aside. Bid and play the hand as usual, according to the dealer and vulnerability given on the sheet, and jot down your contract, result and score (e.g., 4S N +420) so you can later find your instant matchpoints. Cards should be played in duplicate fashion (i.e., placed in front of each player and not tossed in the middle) so each player’s deck can be restored for the next deal.

Proceed as above for as many boards as you wish to play (each set has 36) before finding your matchpoints. It is most convenient to play 12 boards, then compare, since each award sheet contains 12 deals. (If you prefer to play six, you could cut the award sheets in half for convenience.)

Instant Matchpoint Scores

The award sheet gives all scores and matchpoints relative to North-South. For example, if East-West bid 3 S and make it for plus 140, you would look up minus 140 (the North-South result) on the award sheet to find the matchpoints for North-South. To find the East-West matchpoints, simply subtract the North-South matchpoints from 100. For example, if North-South get 38, then East-West get 62. The winner is determined by adding up the matchpoints of all boards played.

Read the Analyses

After you’ve finished playing a set of 36 deals, you should read my analyses*, which will often provide instructive points and tips to improve your game. This is especially beneficial when the deals are fresh in your mind. Who knows? You might even beat my predictions, or discover something new.

*Some of the deal analyses have been expanded slightly for clarity (or edited for style consistency) since their original publication.

There are two ways to read the analyses: Choose the line that says “Analyses typeset” for a printable version, or the line that says “Analyses HTML” for an on-screen version. In either case click on the appropriate year.

But most of all, have fun!

Multiple Tables

Another way to use these deals is in a home duplicate game. On the line that says “Hand records” click on the year and download the file (no peeking if you will be playing). The best way to run the game is to have someone who will not be playing make up the boards ahead of time — perhaps an opportunity for a young teen to earn a few extra bucks. Then, simply use those boards in any duplicate movement — and be sure to remind everyone not to shuffle at the start. See my page of Duplicate Forms for excellent movements for small games (2-4 tables).

The best way to keep score is to cut up the award sheets so that each board is on a separate small piece of paper. Fold each piece in half, mark the number on the back for convenience, and place it in the North pocket of the appropriate board. Then players can find their scores immediately as they finish each board.*

*Alternatively, the game could be scored as a regular matchpoint game (based on actual results). Then the only reason for using premade deals would be to have the analyses afterwards.

It would probably be too much trouble to print out copies of the analyses for each participant, so just give everyone the URL of the analyses, and they can read them online at their leisure.

RBN Files

Also available for the technically savvy is an RBN data file for each 36-board set. This includes all the information (deals, recommended bidding, instant awards, analyses, etc.) in a structure suitable for software manipulation. Details of the RBN file format can be found on my Bridge Utilities page.

Another way to enjoy and benefit from these deals is to play them with a bridge computer program such as GIB or Jack. Deals must be converted from RBN to PBN (use the Bridge File Converter in my Bridge Utilities) to be read by these programs. Keep track of your results to find your matchpoint scores, then read the analyses afterward.

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© 2006 Richard Pavlicek