Friday, 3 March 2017

Roger on Squeezes

There is now a public Google Drive share for this blog, called unsurprisingly Musings on Bridge.

In that shared folder are two files both of which play on aaBridge.


The first file is a collection of hands that I found interesting.

The second file is the subject of this post.


It is short.  So far it contains just the first chapter.  It is my take on trying to get Squeeze Play to be less scary.

It makes a good accompaniment to Hugh Kelsey's book, Simple Squeezes.


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Chinese Characters in aaBridge

I was asked by at Chinese player if  aaBridge could support Chinese characters.

As of today, it does.  So NOW should you wish to write your own lin files in one of the many built-in Java supported non-latin character sets, you can.


Monday, 6 June 2016

Improve Your Bridge - a How to

This post is here to encourage you to read the pdf file below.

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.

aaBridge can be downloaded from 

Friday, 3 June 2016

Learn to Visualize Hands with aaBridge

As is normal this short post is available as a .pdf file.

One of the hardest skills to develop as a Bridge player is to visualize what a hand will look like after a particular trick or tricks have been played.

Hardest of all is to correctly imagine the cards that will be remain in the hands you cannot see.

The document gives an approach to practicing these skills.

A Visualization Example hand in built into aaBridge.

On the aaBridge opening page, left hand column, named Visualize you will find it just below the "---Examples---" divider.

aaBridge can be downloaded from

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Play an existing deal in aaBridge

This post is available with more detail and with larger images as a pdf file.

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.

Click   Edit
Click   Play

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.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Seat Choice and that Pink Dot

The aaBridge Seat Choice settings (on the right.)

The Seat Choice options control the visibility and position of the displayed hands as you Flow through a hand.

In particular they are most powerful when you are inside a deal having pressed the Enter the Deal button.

Most of the settings only apply in when you are inside a deal.  An exception is the settings at then end, all shown as red.

These let you change the visibility and rotation even when you are playing a tutorial.

This way you can choose see more, or less, than that the author of the tutorial intended.

What is the Pink Dot all about ?

The pink dot is there to remind you that the  Apply Defaults button will put everything, all the seat rotations and seat visibility "back to normal".

If you hover the cursor over it (the real pink dot) more information will be shown to you.

You cannot click the Apply Defaults button too much.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Memorize Suit Distributions - a How to

This post is a teaser for the short pdf file below.

PLEASE read the full document.

The core of the method is to learn tables like you learnt your multiplication tables as a child.

The structuring is important and is explained in the pdf.

Using aaBridge to test your knowledge is also covered in both Training and Exam mode.

Or see the YouTube video

On the left is   Suit Distribution Exam Mode ruining on aaBridge.

You can get aaBridge (free) from

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Down the Rabbit Hole

This post is available with more detail and with larger images as a pdf file.

The core idea is that the Enter the Deal button takes you down into the deal.

Just like Alice going down into Wonderland and the Back to Movie Button restores you back to EXACTLY where you were.

Much more and better diagrams are provided in the pdf file.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

What is aaBridge ?

aaBridge is a free program for Win, Mac and Linux.    You can download it from .     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.

2.  An after play (postmortem) Hand Analyser. If you have played on BBO you can get your hands into aaBridge see the post  How do I - get a BBO hand into aaBridge.  Now you can use the Double Analyser - see this post.
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.

Friday, 18 December 2015

How do I - Enter (Type) Hands into aaBridge

A pdf file is provided so you do not need to re-visit this blog post.

You have a bridge hand on paper or on some format that might as well be paper (like in a .pdf file) and you want to get these hands into aaBridge.

In,brief, you create a .lin file  just a text file with a .lin extension. And type in the suits 

The format of a hand is basicaly as shown below

qx|o1|rh||ah|Board 1|md|1SHDC,SHDC,SHDC|sv|O|sk||pg||

A full explanation is given in the supplied document.  It is all much easier that you might at first expect.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

How do I - Get aaBridge hands up to BBO

A pdf file is provided so you do not need to re-visit this blog post.

The link will either download the pdf file or display it depending on your browser settings.  It is is shown to you can can choose to save it from the inside that viewer app.

The pdf file contains clear images and gives a full account including how to convert a deal on paper into a lin file that can be easily uploaded to BBO.

The ultra short version is
         First login to BBO, go to Hands and Results and create a folder.
My BBO > Hands and Results > (blue button) Create new folder
Click the (blue button) Import LIN file (a dialog will appear)
Click the Select button for the folder you want to fill.
Click the (white) Choose file button and select the .lin where ever it is on your computer. (not shown)

Click import (purple dots)

To add hands that are not in a lin file see the post

         How do I - Enter (Type) Hands into aaBridge

Monday, 2 November 2015

How do I - get a BBO hand into aaBridge

There are three ways to get a hand from BBO to aaBridge   (labeled   A, B, C)

A.   The hand is under "Hand Records"

You recently played a hand on BBO (or watched one being played) and now you want to get that deal and see it in aaBridge.      Go to:

and if needed, login to BBO.
On the next screen select the name of the user who played the hand and select the dates between which it was played.

Here the BBO username entered is that of Bridge Teacher Hondo717.

Click the   Get hands   button  (not shown)

You will now see a table of played hands, like the example below.

Click on the   Lin   link
            for the hand you want.
That lin file will now be downloaded, as your browser normally downloads files.

The left image shows Chrome.

Windows users can click on the file name.
Also Win, MAC and Linux users can all click on the drop down box and then click on Show in folder.

In the now opened folder you can  Drag and Drop  the file you want on to any open aaBridge window.

or  Drag & Drop the  lin link  on to  aaBridge

Also with many Browsers (but not IE) you can Grab the lin link and Drag and Drop it on to any open aaBridge window.

aaBridge will then download that lin file and show it to you.

B.   The hand is still in "My Results"

You are playing or watching on BBO and the hand finishes and you can see the deal in the My Results area (bottom right).

Here is how to get that hand quickly into aaBridge.

1.  click the  Options  button

2.  hover over   Export deal

3.  click on   Handviewer link
Once the  Handviewer link  box is showing (takes a couple of seconds).

Select the full line of the URL text (shown in progress here).

Do   Ctrl-C   or  use your mouse button (menu) to do a  Copy  in the normal way.

Now in the  green baize   near the   Step and Flow   buttons.

Do a  Mouse Right Click.

You can think of this right click as an  aaBridge   Quick  Paste.

That deal will now open.

On some laptops a light   "two finger tap"   gesture will do a "Right Click".

under File there is a Paste option

Note     You can save the link, in a text file, for later use.   Later you can use a more normal Drag & Drop  to drop that text into aaBridge.

C.   You have saved the Hand on BBO

You already have the hand on BBO either by uploading it as lin file  or  by using the BBO hand editor to make it  or  by saving it directly to BBO from "My Results" as in
  Options   >   Export Deal   >   Save deal as ...

Now you want to download that deal into aaBridge.

  My BBO   >   Hands and Results

click the (blue) "Show"  button for the BBO folder that holds the deal you want to get into aaBridge.

Select the actual deal from the deals in that folder and then Click the  Options button.  Now you can follow the instructions given in  section   B.  above.


Thursday, 10 September 2015

Debugging BBO Bridge Dealer Scripts

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 hands.

For example a very strong hand opposite a weak hand with a void.

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 very useful.

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


Scroll down until you see  - OCP Dealer Scripts for BBO

Once you have a working script you can copy it to a BBO teaching or partnership bidding tables and use it to generate hands for you and your partner to bid.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Double Dummy Solver added to aaBridge

The free aaBridge (which runs on Windows, Mac's and Linux) is available from
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.

Last Thought

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.   :)

Friday, 19 December 2014

Learning by Watching and Thinking

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 hands to 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 (red dot). 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.