The document covers two things. An analysis that says we would all play better bridge if we stopped immediately try to think – Which card should I play now ? And instead asked ourselves the question – What is going on ?
The second part of the document covers how you can use aaBridge to practice answering the question – What is going on ?, in an unhurried but realistic environment.
As described in an earlier post you have been working through a tutorial or a lin file with a few hands in it.
To make sure some of the other seat settings are not set from a previous use. Look in the Right hand setting column "Seat Choice".
Click the Apply Defaults button (the pink dot IS visible in aaBridge)!
Select the Hide setting (the green dots are NOT visible in aaBridge)
Or if the Show (show Opps hands) is more to your needs choose that.
Enter the Deal
You have pressed Enter the Deal and have gone down "the rabbit hole" and into in that particular deal.
Now you can see the Edit Play and Review buttons. You always start in Review mode. That is why the Review button looks different.
and you are done.Click the cards to play them
Why this works (in case you are interested) is because when you pressed Apply Defaults earlier, aaBridge was set to start the Review with the lead already played and showing.
When you click Edit aaBridge discards any play already recorded from after the position being shown. When you click Play the aaBridge bots will do their best.
You can always just stay in Edit mode and play the cards for all hands.
You can also control visibility (Show / Hide button in green baize area) and or rotate the seat positions "< > " buttons in the upper left.
Hint - If the bots defend badly, you can fix it by ...
Click Edit, Click Undo, Play the correct card, Click Play, and continue.
Cont & 1st
Two shortcuts have been added as a convenience.
Cont does an Enter the Deal and then jumps to the end of any play and goes into Play mode. You are then left to continue the play against the aaBridge bots.
1st does an Enter the Deal and then discards all play except for the 1st lead. You are then left to play the whole hand yourself against the aaBridge bots.
You need to make these two buttons visible before you can use them. On the menubar click Options > Show and now, in the far right hand column and check the 'Cont' and '1st' checkboxes.
More information is in the document, see start of post.
aaBridge is a free program for Win, Mac and Linux. You can download it from http://rogerpf.com/aaBridge . I think of it as 5 different things in one.
1. A "Jukebox" that will play .lin files. It contains a large collection of bridge tutorial .lin files, many thanks to Hondo717, Kia and Karen10. For a sample, from the aaBridge Welcome screen, click on Index of Useful Lins.
More importantly you can re-create how the hand looked to you and your partner to re-think yourself back to when that hand was being played - see this this post. A question to ask is - Now I have more time to think, would I act differently ?
3.Learning to Count the hand - to me, if you think of aaBridge as a goose, this is the Golden Egg.
Inside aaBridge is a .pdf file. Can get to the file from the Welcome screen and then clicking, How to - Defend Like an Expert. The next screen gives you a button to click that will copy the .pdf to your desktop. That file includes detailed instructions and many screen shots. Think of it as a - must read.
To build your counting skills there is also 'hand distribution' training feature. On the welcome page click on Distribution Flash Cards. For instructions - Watch the Video.
4. For Novices and Beginners. aaBridge is good for playing HUGE hands until you get bored with them. So no more 'HUGE hand fright'. From the Welcome screen click on - Play Bridge and Show Deal Choices.
In the right hand column is now a list of the New Deals choices select 37+ 7NT
The main Play Bridge window is also showing. Click the New Board button.
You will now asked to play the hand in 7NT. It will be easy ! When you are bored with this. Reduce the number of points you will be given by selecting a harder option.
32+ 6NT - will produce a few difficult hands. This is where a developing player can benefit. Look for throw-in's and simple squeezes and other end plays. Such end plays are easier to find and practice in high lever contracts where you have a lot of control.
5.aaBridge contains (as internal lin files) all the instructions you need to write you own lin file.
To learn about lin files click on any of the books menus on the menu bar and choose the very last entry, What goes on - inside a lin file. Finally - for New aaBridge Users Please follow the instructions on the Welcome Page, click the Flow button and read all the New user tutorial pages.
Way back in the 1990s, Hans van Staveren wrote a small yet
very powerful bridge hand dealing program.
Later it was taken up by BBO and is now incorporated into their teaching
and partnership bidding tables.
This means that you can write, in just a few lines, a script that
will generate an endless sequence of a particular "difficult to bid" pair of
For example a very strong hand opposite a weak hand with a
Getting such scripts to work exactly as you wish can be a
little tricky. Particularly on BBO where all
they do is tell you ERROR... meaning there is a "problem somewhere". This is where the original dealer app can be
I am not going to give details here in this blog post but
instead direct you to where you can download a zip file which contains
The dealer app (currently Windows only) and documentation as
to how to write scripts and how to debug them. Also included are a number of completed scripts.
You can find more information and the link to the zip file at
Now includes its own Double Dummy Solver (DDS) courtesy of Bo Haglund.
How to use the DDS
In aaBridge open any deal, including one of your own if you have it to hand or follow along with this built in example.
On the aaBridge - Welcome Page - (in the left-hand column) click on the entry "1957 Bermuda Bowl".
A table, of four columns, showing the boards played in that session will appear. Click the entry in the 1st column which has the text "217".
Now, no matter how you loaded the file - Click on the "Enter
the Deal" button.
Avarelli is defending in 4 Spades.
To active the DDS Click where it says "is Off" and the DDS will turn on and show a new buttoned marked "Analyse".
An aside - Mouse wheel - After clicking the 'single forward arrow' button you do not need to kick it again. Just use the mouse wheel. This will do (both forward and reverse) of which ever of the three main movement buttons you last clicked. - Step, Flow or 'single forward arrow'.
As you click the 'single forward arrow' button the play of the cards will be displayed to you as normal.
In addition you will see small numbers against some of the cards in the hand that could be played next. At the start of trick two, Koytchou has to find the Queen of Spades (trumps).
The two small number 10's, each in a green oval, mark the
cards that will kill the Queen. If he leads any other spade then he can only
make 9 tricks. The DDS tells you this is
by marking the other spades each with the number 9 in an amber oval.
Assuming the perfect play from both sides then the numbers in a green oval show plays that cannot unnecessarily lose a chick.
Of course in real life we don't play bridge double dummy so it often not possible to make perfect plays. The DDS is there to give you insight at review time into
things you might have missed such as squeezes and end plays.
The all Contract Analyser
When you click on the Analyse button the bidding area is replaced by a contract table.
The top line shows the par contract and its score.
The columns of the table show the level of make-able
contract in every denomination for every player.
If you click on any of the entries, including the hyphens, you will be taken to that contract and
will be there able to use all the normal aaBridge functions of playing and examining the
contract with, for example, with the DDS.
If you're wondering which card Koytchou actually played then all you
have to do is to follow the link at the top of this post, install aaBridge and see
for yourself. :)
A clearer and more up-to-date version of this post is now
contained within aaBridge. On the aaBridge Welcome Screen click on
How to – Defend like an Expert
This post is about using aaBridge to follow along with previously played hands. You can choose to follow the hand either as the declarer or as a particular defender. When defending, observing the hand being played allows you to concentrate on counting the cards in declarer's hand while the player you are following actually does the hard work of choosing the cards.
First, go to the aaBridge website and check you have the latest version, if not please download and install it.
An earlier set of posts, Counting the Hand covered the basics of using your (or other peoples) played BBO handsto help you learn to count declarers distribution.
This post simplifies and gives more insight in to that procedure. The latest version of aaBridge contains over 1,200 commented deals, sourced from the HondoBridge website. We will use one.
On the aaBridge menu bar click Books then click - Hondo717 - Mentoring 2008
The internal file mentoring080103.lin being the first file in that folder, will open and wish you a Happy New Year (for 2008).
Click the Flow > button twice and Board 1 will display. (see below)
The nine different deals in this bridge movie are shown as the bumps on the black-and-white navigation bar, bottom of the window. Some of the deals are shown with labels like o2 and o3. You can click anywhere on the bar and aaBridge will jump to that point in the Bridge Movie.
Looking at Board 1 you can see that the contract is 2 hearts by North, Howard (hondo717) is sitting South and is dummy (which shows slightly darker) and that the declarer sitting North is Kia (nome). We are all indebted to Howard for his bridge teaching and to Kia for producing these many hundreds of Bridge Movies.
Now you can play this Bridge Movie (.lin file) in the way intended by the author. Just click the Flow > button and watch the play develop and read the commentary.
But the point of this post is that with aaBridge you can do better. Yes of course you should play through the hand as the author intended but first, I suggest you step through the deal looking only at one hand and dummy and so getting no clues from the commentary or other visible hands.
The way to do this is by using the Enter the Deal button but before you do that there are a couple of things to set up.
Viewing only one Seat and Dummy
Click on the Seat tab in the right-hand panel to make the Seat options visible. If the right-hand panel is not showing drag the right-hand slider to the left.
Click on and so set the two options shown with red dots.
Now you can choose your viewing seat. Select LHO, RHO or Declarer.
The image above shows the Declarer radio button being clicked.
Clicking the Declarer radio button changes the display so that the declarer's hand is now shown in the bottom zone. Click on the Enter the Deal button and you will enter the deal (image below) and see only the declarer 's hand, the opening lead and the dummy. The declarer will now show in the more normal position of the South zone.
Click on the Flow > button to watch the hand trick by trick as declarer.
A great way to improve your bridge is to go slowly through the hand, thinking all the thoughts that the declarer has to think. How would you plan the play? Maybe you can see a better way to play it than the declarer did? Can you work out what the opponents have in their hands?
In this mode you have much more flexibility than when you are stepping through the main Bridge Movie. You can change the visible hand by just clicking on any of the name bars OR show them all by clicking the show button. You can move backwards and forwards in the play of the hand by using the navigation bar at the bottom of the window. Just click the Back to Movie button to return to the main Bridge Movie.
A more challenging way to go through the deal is when you are viewing it as one of the defenders. Click on the Back to Movie button and in the 'Enter the Deal' question select RHO as your seat of choice (reddot). Again click the Enter the Deal the deal button.
Now you are viewing this deal from the point of view of declarer's right-hand opponent. Just like at a real table, the declarer (nome) is on your left and dummy on your right. Your partner sitting opposite has led the king of spades.
This is an ideal way to practice the many defender skills, such as working out where declarer's high card points must be and declarer's initial suit distribution?
If you are someone who prefers to study defense problems with the style of diagram found in newspapers and books, where declarer is always in the South zone and the defenders are always left-right then aaBridge can do that for you too.
Go back to the main movie using the Back to Movie button and in the Seat panel change the answer to the 'In a Movie' question to Declarer (see the red dot).
Now once again go into the deal with the Enter the Deal button. This time you will see that the declarer (nome) is in the South zone, while you the RHO, right-hand opponent are unsurprisingly on declarer's right.
You are of course free to choose whichever style suits you most. However my recommendation is that you try to see if you can to get used to studying defense problems with yourself in the South zone, as that gives a far more realistic experience when compared with playing bridge for real, be it at a actual table or online.
Summary of the Procedure
Move forward in the normal Bridge Movie mode, as soon as you see a new deal immediately look down and click on the Enter the Deal button this avoids seeing any cards in the 'hidden' hands.
When you have viewed as much of the play as you wish to, click the Back to Movie button and return to moving forward in the Bridge movie.
(Very occasionally you may find that you will need to move forward in the Bridge Movie for a few clicks until you get to a point where you can Enter the Deal.)
That's it, now all you have to do is to find the time to study.
Tidying Up and Other Hints
Once you have completed a session using the Hondo717 Mentoring files, you might like to set the two Seat panel questions back to their default values. The default answers are are the first radio button of each question.
Large Computer Screens
If you have a large computer screen and you want to run aaBridge at a large size so that you can more easily read the text then you may find that the bridge diagram of the hands becomes unnecessarily large. You can counter this effect by using the Size & Font tab and by selecting Tiny (red dot). This will produce the layout shown below.
Stopping the Red Hint arrows
If you find the red arrow hints getting in your way then you can switch them off.
Select the Red Hints tab and uncheck the four boxes.