Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is it so hard to teach visualization? (bridge)

I read the ACBL Bridge Bulletin to kill time. Some of the contributors are great, including Cohen, Kantar, Stewart and Bird. Some I just don't bother to read. How is it that Karen Walker is still on habit 9 of her 12 habits dissertation? It seems like that thing's been going on forever. Then there are some that I read even though I strongly dislike what they're teaching.

One of those in the last category is Marty Bergen. I don't think he's been relevant to real bridge for a long time now, and I think the rule of 20 is one of the worst bidding ideas that hit the bridge world in the past decade. I believe that the key skill for successful bidding is the ability to visualize partner's range of hands and bid accordingly. I know it's hard for the I/N player, but I don't think what Bergen is teaching them instead is any better. In this month's article, Bergen discusses re-evaluating after a fit by using his Bergen Points. To calculate the Bergen Points, one only needed to do "adjust-3" (i don't know what that is, but it consisted of counting 5 upgrades and 1 downgrade on his example hand), then adding/subtracting points for "quality suit", "length points", "short suits", "6+ trumps", and "side suits". How is learning, memorizing, then calculating all these things for Bergen points easier than learning to correctly visualize how partner's hand might mesh with yours for trick taking purposes?

I just find it irresponsible that a famous bridge teacher continues to teach things that don't help improve the students' actual bridge game.

1 comment :

wildman said...

I finally took at look at that article by Bergen...and honestly I couldn't even get through it. I guess for people who do better with hard and fast rules rather than judgment, this is a way that they can muddle through. As a side note, for people like that, I always think that they would do better playing precision which is much more cut and dry about what bid is right in all situations (save when you get preempted I guess). It is a wonder that so few of them choose to play a strong club system.