Luise Lee

Would you need to peek at the answer?

I’ve been working through level 3 of Bridgemaster 2000 to test my declarer play.  I’ve been trying as much as possible not to look at the answer and to try to figure things out on my own, but this hand stumped me and I had to peek:

West leads the 7 into 3NT.  What is your plan?  (opponents were silent throughout the auction)


10 4 3 2
A K J 5
3 2
A 3 2
4 3 2
Q J 10 9 8

The advantages of playing with robots…

In some ways, its nice that bridge is a 4 player game.  It can be an enjoyable social evening (provided, of course, that you enjoy spending time with the other three players).  However, I am finding that in my quest to become a “BRIDGE PLAYER”, (as apposed to just a “bridge player”…  Judy understands what I mean :), the fact that I am limited in my learning by not having a regular bridge partner to play with is becoming increasingly evident.  It’s nice that Linda offers to play with me when we are both online and available for an hour or so, but there are many, many other times when our schedules just don’t seem to mesh very well.  I have started to realize the many, many benefits of renting a robot as a bridge partner.  Here are my top 8:

8)  Robots are FAST!  I never have to sit around and wait for someone else’s thinking process to complete

7)  Robots will never, ever complain when **I** stop to think for a minute about a challenging (IMO) hand!

6)  Playing with robots is wild and unpredictable (therefore, fun!) — you never know when they are going to go completely crazy, have a few screws loose and bid a grand slam and go down 5 or 6 tricks 🙂

5)  Robots are always available when you want to play

4)  Robots don’t care when you have to get up walk away in the middle of the hand because your two-year-old comes to your desk covered head-to-toe in her Daddy’s shaving cream!

3)  Robots don’t leave in the middle of a hand when they get a bad result, or when their partner makes a really stupid and outrageous bid.

2)  Robots are easy to beat…  When you are still just learning the game, it’s refreshing to see a + on your side of the IMPs rather than a very, very big negative number.

And my #1 favourite reason for playing with robots:

1) Robots will never, ever notice your mistakes! They don’t remember, and you will never have to explain your line of reasoning (however flawed) with robots when your logic falls short of perfection.

I see the light…

I’m going to take a break from my bridge adventures for a moment to talk about a project I’ve been working on for the past few months.  It has seemed like this project would never come to an end, but I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel!   We’ve been developing a new website for the sale of bridge ebooks online.  I am not a very patient person, once I make up my mind to buy something, I want it instantly. So it’s comforting to me to be able to purchase a book, pay for, download, and start reading immediately without having to wait for the order to be processed, the book packaged, mailed, transported and delivered to my door.

I’m excited that the project is nearing an end.  I have SOOO much work to do before Monday, but barring any unforseen circumstances, like me getting hit by a truck, the power going down in my city for a week, all of my computers being fried by a massive power surge (note to self… make lots and lots of back-ups RIGHT NOW), or other disasterous acts of God, the site should be finished  and online by This Monday.  (hmm… that’s only 5 days away, isn’t it?)

Oh my gosh, I have a ton of work to do… I better get to it!

New years resolution

I’ve always found it comforting to think about the new year as a final end to the time that’s past.  Being a perfectionist, it’s been difficult for me to stop thinking about past mistakes, errors in judgements, or just not living up to expectations that I precieve that others have of me.   I always found comfort in the thought that the new year brought an opportunity to leave all of that behind.  The new year is a time to reflect over what has past, and make a resolution to recognize your weaknesses but take action to improve yourself for your own benefit and also for the benefit of the people in your life.

There are always the common standards that come up.  This year I’ll go on a diet and lose that extra baby fat…  This year, I’ll start exercising regularly…  This year I’ll eat healthier…  This year I’ll floss every day…  This year I’ll keep my house neat and tidy… Those are all nobel and worthwhile goals, but I’m starting to recognize that they are only things on the surface, and I don’t really think that they work as a new year’s resolution. 

As I was reflecting over the past year I was thinking about what my new years resolution should be.  And as I was ponering this thought, my perfectionistic tendencies surfaced and I realized what my new years resolution must be:

1)  I resolve to always strive to be the best me that I can be in all of my identities (mother, wife, daughter, aunt, friend, artist, photographer, programmer, house keeper, and bridge player).

2)  I resolve to be good to myself and not be critical or judgemental *when* (not if) I slip up on resolution #1.

3)  I resolve to take time for myself to do the things I love and am passionate about.

4)  I resolve to remember that life is not perfect — people are not perfect — everyone makes mistakes.  It’s okay to not be perfect.  It’s more than okay — it’s expected.

5)  I once heard a wise man say “you wouldn’t worry so much about what others think about you when you realize how little they actually do”.  My final resolution is to remember that fact when I am worried about how I am perceived by others.  Recognize my feelings for what they are — my inner voice telling me that it is not happy with my behaviour.  I resolve to figure out what my inner voice is trying to tell me, and take the necessary steps to resolve the inner conflict so my judgemental, critical voice can be silenced for good.

Racing heart after 1H contract…

After my recent success in playing through the first level of Bridgemaster 2000 the other day I thought I’d try my luck at BBO today.  First hand out of the box, I picked up:

K5 Q95 KJ3 AK1052

I’m in the hot seat.  I’m not really ready for this, I start panicking… its my turn to bid already and I haven’t even counted my points yet.  I quickly count — 16 points, good suit.  1 it is.  Click.  Oh wait.  I should have bid 1NT – I have 16 points and my hand is balanced.  Why didn’t I bid 1NT?  Now I’m panicking.  I messed up already on the very first bid.  I don’t know what to do now.  RHO said Double.  Do I bid again?  What would it mean if I bid 1NT now?  I don’t know how to recover from my inadequate first bid so I just pass.  I can feel my heart in my chest start to beat stronger and faster.  LHO bids 1 and that’s where we end up. 

Partner leads a club.  Here’s dummy:

J 9 4
A J 6
Q 10 8 6
Q 6 3
West East (me)
  K 5
  Q 9 5
  K J 3
7 A K 10 5 3

Still trying to recover from my earlier mistake, I still think we’re playing in 1NT, so I’m not even thinking about cashing the AK to give partner a ruff.  Instead I opt to give up a trick by playing the 10 which loses to declarer’s J.  Declarer leads a heart to the J and I win the Q and clear the club suit with the AK, partner pitching a diamond on the third club.  Now, still thinking I’m in NT, I continue with clubs thinking I’m cashing two more tricks.  I lead the 5 giving declarer an opportunity for a ruff-and-sluff.

As it turned out, this last play didn’t actually cost us a trick since Partner ruffed with the 10 and declarer failed to over-ruff with the A but instead pitched a diamond from both hands.  However, as you can imagine, now I’ve realized that I’ve been playing this contract in NT the whole time so if my heart wasn’t racing before, it certainly is now.

I stop to take a moment to breathe…  Just breathe… relax – its only a game!  You’re playing with strangers who you’ll probably never see again so who cares about a silly mistake or two that you make on one board?  

After a few deep breaths of relaxation my heart starts to slow and is under control again.   But obviously I still need to work on my desire for perfection in everything.

Level one complete!

We dug out our old copy of BridgeMaster 2000 the other day. Once again, I went through the first 36 deals on level 1 fairly quickly. A couple of the hands near the end tripped me up momentarily. I need to remember to count points and remember the bidding on a hand to gain clues as to the holdings of the opponents.

It felt good to see the check-marks beside all of the hands on Level 1 when I was finished. It makes me feel as though I am making progress in my quest to learn the game properly. But I wonder, how does one get into the habit of using all of the information available to them in order to figure out the deal? I was so busy in counting my tricks and losers and figuring out where I can find that extra source of tricks that I didn’t notice how many high-card points the no-trump bidder showed up with, or how many points the passed hand revealed. I suppose a lot of that comes with time and practice.

I’m looking forward to the challenges that Level 2 will bring.

My first underbid


I was playing a few boards with my father on BBO the other day… Here was my hand:





Nice hand…  10 HCP, 6 card suit, singleton.  Not as strong as the last hand I picked up that I didn’t get to play because we lost an opponent and the remaining one switched seats to see his partners cards and we had to skip the deal… but an interesting hand none-the-less.

So my father opens the bidding with 1 heart.    Nice!  We have a heart fit.  I have a really nice hand, and I want to show my shape.  I could bid 3  right away to show him our heart fit.  Or I could choose to delay showing our fit and bid my diamonds…  I’m not sure what steered me to that decision, but I opted to say 2.  So now LHO chimes in with 2 to which my father jumped to 4.  The bidding thus far has gone:


West North


East South


Pass 2 2 4
Pass ?    


At this point, I’m looking at my hand.  I like my hand — shortness in the opponents suit, fits with dad in both of his suits, a long strong diamond suit as a bonus.  So here’s the kicker  — I sign off in 4


After I clicked the button I realized I had made a mistake.  When Dummy came down I apologized immediately – yes, I was afraid of that.  Sorry partner!  Only -4 imps, but I should have known better…  Actually, I did know better, but I clicked too fast and the possibility of looking for slam didn’t occur to me until it was too late.

For your interest, the full hand is shown below.  With no system, with only sayc as your convention, I wonder what the optimal bidding (on all 4 players) should have been…  


Dealer: South

Vul: All

West East
Q543 AK109876
9852 Q
875 J6
63 J94


 The f inal result:  The opponents failed to lead a spade and we wrapped up 4 plus 3.

New tools for BridgeBlogging

I have just released a new editing tool to all of our bloggers here at BridgeBlogging.  This tool is available to anyone who is using the wordpress editing tool to compose their posts.

What to expect:

If you log in at your blog and click to “write a new post”, or click the “write” menu button, you should notice that the toolbar for editing your posts is a little different from what you may be used to.  (Note: if you don’t see the changes right away, hit F5 to refresh your browser window).

The new toolbar includes better  control and editing features for formatting your posts.  Also included in this update is a “Bridge Elements” button, signified by a spade suit symbol, which contains pre-formatted bridge diagrams, auctions and suit symbols.  Clicking the spade suit button will bring up a window with more options.   Simply click on the image of the element you wish to add and it will appear in the body of your post.

All comments, suggestions or bug reports on this tool are welcome.  Please send your comments to:

I hope that this tool will help to make your bridge blogging easier!

My biggest stumbling block

I was thinking about this today — what is the real reason that has held me back from this journey for so long?  I believe all boils down to my competitive nature.

I like to be good at things.  Correction:  I like to be great at things.  I like to be the best!  I like to win.  Were I to compare myself to the bridge players around me, I’m nothing.  I’m a pawn staring up at the great kings and queens all around me.  To be surrounded by such greatness is a very humbling and intimidating feeling.

The few experiences that I had with the game of bridge were not great ones.  I always felt nervous and self-conscious.  Every bid I made, every card I played, was a source of potential failure. I was constantly worried that I was going to make a bad bid, an outrageous play, an unthinkable lead. 

And of course I punished myself for every mistake that I made.  “How could you play the Q and not the A?  You knew the K was still out there;  what were you thinking?”  One simple mistake playing a contract and the carefully thought out 9 tricks quickly dwindled to only 6.  I was so devastated that I had to excuse myself from the tournament room to go have a cry in the hallway!

If I am ever going to be good at this game, I need to loosen up.  Give myself permission to screw up now and then.  Recognize the fact that I am going to make mistakes.  A LOT of mistakes.  They are unavoidable. 

This will be a good lesson for me.  If nothing else, it will teach me that I’m not perfect — that it’s okay not to be perfect.  In the world of bridge, even the great masters make mistakes once in a while.


My first exposure to the game of bridge is a typical story that I’m sure you’ve heard before…  Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa are all sitting around a card table: from the outside looking in, it appears to be quite a normal friendly evening game of cards.  That couldn’t have been further from the truth.  Bickering, shouting, arguing over bidding, declarer play, defense, scoring, closely followed by insults, tears, cards flying across the table — this was all par for the course on any given night.  I often wondered, why do they bother to play this game?  They can’t possibly be enjoying these evenings of conflict…  Could they? 


My father tried on numerous occasions to teach me the game.  “He must be joking” I would silently reply.  Why would I possibly want to subject myself to that criticism, judgments, ridicule and nit-picking?  I  successfully dodged any attempts he had at assimilating me into the wonderful world of bridge. 


So why now, after almost 20 years, do I find myself strangely drawn to the game?  I resisted for a long time, and it took a lot of exposure to steer me back into the positive.  The comradery at University of my fellow Mathies always looking for a fourth wasn’t enough.  My insane competitive nature and love of playing cards wasn’t enough.  Marrying into a bridge playing family wasn’t enough.  Not even the constant feeling of being left out of conversations over dinner starting with: “you hold…  the auction thus far is… what do you bid?”  was enough. 


So what tipped the scale?  I think the combination of all of the above, plus the added desire to restore my brain to its original liveliness and vigor after the mind-numbing haze of pregnancy and motherhood. 


I have resisted for so long… but now I realize that resistance is futile.  In spite of my past efforts to avoid it, I am becoming a bridge player.  If I am going to learn the game anyway, I might as well surrender completely and do it properly.  

I guess the first question I need to answer is who will be my teacher?