Hand 7

Hand 7 is an adaption of a column by Frank Stewart in the ACBL Bulletin. His column presents just the trump squeeze.

Supposed someone asked you for help on a trump squeeze problem and you were a wise and experienced tutor. You would first make sure your student understood a regular simple squeeze. Then you would move to the criss cross squeeze, and only after your student understood the criss cross squeeze would you try to explain the trump squeeze.

That is exactly what my program does. Obviously, Stewart does not have room to do this.

As it turns out, Stewart gave only the lead at the table. With a more difficult lead, the trump squeeze becomes a little trickier to execute. I give visitors a chance to practice their trump squeezes against the more difficult defense.

Finally, Stewart mentions in passing that a particular lead defeats the hand. In fact, it is a particular lead and then a clever defense on top of that. Stewart did not have room to explore this. I do -- visitors can try to beat the contract.

So Stewarts column targets a particular skill level. My program can help visitors with less skill and offer more challenge to visitors with more skill.

Stewart's column includes an interesting story, with words of wisdom tossed out as the story progresses. The interesting-story part of a column does not translate well to the computer format. Conversely, the actual play of the hand does not work so well in the reading format.

Hand 6

Hand 6 is presented in the ACBL Bulletin as bridge problem -- you are given the opening lead and asked to say how you would play the hand. There is a small problem with this in the reading format in that you might not know how much detail you have to explain. This is avoided in the computer format.

There is another potential problem. The goal is to make the hand against almost any distribution. But the answer to the problem necessarily must show only one particular distribution. Typically, this is the most difficult distribution to handle. But the fact is, you can misplay this particular hand and still make your contract against the given distribution. In contrast, at Level 3 of my program, you must play the contract correctly to make it -- no matter which way you finesse, you will lose to the queen of diamonds.

In my program, visitors start at Level 1. On Level 1, any reasonable play will work. So visitors are appropriately rewarded for possessing the skill to play the hand reasonably. But Level 1 also assesses their ability. If the visitor plays the hand correctly the first time, the cards are rearranged to reward that play, and the visitor is essentially told there is nothing more to do.

Suppose a visitor does not know how to play the hand correctly. That visitor is the primary target audience, right? In a column, that person fails to answer the problem correctly, then reads the correct answer. Again, my visitor starts out with a success. Then they have to play Level 2, which lets them play and replay the hand until they get it right. In other words, they can learn from experience. They end with a success, and they cannot accidentally succeed with an incorrect line of play, because the computer will shift around the cards so that any incorrect play is not rewarded.

On Level 2, help is available. It turns out that the correct play of the contract involves (a) winning the first heart lead, (b) taking a "backwards" finesse in diamonds, and (c) getting to the board in spades, not clubs. When help is activated, the visitor is offered explanations if any of these errors are made.

The final component to playing the hand right is taking the diamond finesse on the first round. This is left out of Level 2 for a good reason. The primary message of this hand is that if you win the first round of hearts, and if you take the diamond finesse into the safe hand, and if LHO has no way to get to partner, then you are safe even if the diamond finesse loses. To teach this experientially, the visitor has to lose the diamond finesse to LHO. So on Level 2, the diamond finesse always loses.

That leaves the subtle point that diamonds should be finessed on the first round, in case RHO has Qxxx. If on Level 2 the visitor takes the first-round diamond finesse, they know what they are doing. They are still offered the opportunity to play against that distribution (in Level 3). If the visitor is first cashing a high diamond, they now need to play against the more difficult Level 3, which does not allow any errors.


These two hands illustrate the benefits of the computer format over the reading format:
  • The format of play is more natural
  • Help can be offered when needed
  • Extensive help can be available
  • Multiple versions of the hand can be offered
  • The hand can be adjusted during the play to accommodate how it is being played
  • Users can learn from experience
  • Users can can start and end with a success