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Memorizing at Bridge (3): “Shortcuts”

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Paolo Enrico Garrisi 03Two weeks ago I started a class of bridge at Ascoli Piceno’s Circolo Cittadino (City Club); my three pupils, Cinzia, Giampaolo and Valentina didn’t know anything of the game, it was their very first time at the table. I dealt a deck, turning up the last card, and I started to explain the Whist. I pointed out that it needed to carefully watch and remember any card. Later, at home, I received an email from Giampaolo; he wrote about card memorizing and asked me:
…Are there techniques to develop some specific memory?… Could be possible to make a choice of what might be more useful to memorize?
In my opinion, Giampaolo’s asking dealt with a main key of bridge thinking, and it deserved many responses, not one only; therefore I forwarded it to others. Today the responses from Boye Brogeland and John Carruthers.



Boye Brogeland (Elisabeth van Ettinger)Boye Brogeland  There are probably techniques that might help (the same way there are techniques to remembering texts you read better), but I haven’t used any specific technique myself. My main tip is focus. Focus on the cards in the suits and find out which cards are missing. As a beginner I would limit this to the trump suit. That’s your focus. Then you count the trump suit and try to figure out which cards remain in the suit. If it’s just small cards I would think of this as small cards and focus on the ten, jack, queen, king or ace that might be missing. If you do this every time you play a hand it will become automatic so you don’t have to spend much energy on the trump suit anymore. Then you can start the same drill on critical suits where you have to know which cards have gone and which cards are left. Little by little you will be able to remember more suits and hopefully can count all the suits after a few years (yes, it takes time to memorize the cards as I think it is as much an experience thing as a memory test).


John CarruthersJohn Carruthers  There are indeed techniques serious players can use to help memorize the cards in a bridge deal. Here are some points:

1. Firstly, the word memorize is a bit misleading. I prefer it that I am cognizant of the cards played rather than having memorized them. The key factor is counting the cards, not memorizing them. Having said that, you do need to memorize (or remember) the significant ones.

2. Focus, hard work, practice and repetition are the main ways bridge experts deal with the issue of remembering cards. Counting the cards is imperative.

3. However, little shortcuts are available.

Let’s take one suit at a time. Say your trump suit is as follows: AK43 opposite QJ52. Focus on the cards you are missing: 10 9 8 7 6. These cards are most often divided in the opponents’ hands 3 in one and 2 in the other. Since they are all equals, it matters not, after 2 rounds of trumps, with 2 from each defender, which trump is still outstanding. In this case you need to look to see that each defender follows twice, then realize that one trump is outstanding. That is a simple example, but the idea is to use your own and the opponents’ distribution to help with remembering and counting. Similarly, suppose you have a side suit of A2 opposite K1065 and plenty of trumps in both hands. You play the ace and king and trump one. You need to watch to see if both the queen and jack fall to make your ten good. If they do not, then one of those cards is still outstanding and you must ruff the ten as well.Similar techniques apply to the other suits and, depending upon the bidding and play, can be used on a case-by-case basis.

4. Shortcuts like those are necessary because bridge competitions are exhausting affairs and if one tried to actually memorize all 52 cards in each deal, by the end of a session, you’d barely be able to remember your own 13.

5. Practice makes perfect – it can do no harm and can help, to sit with a deck of 52 cards and turn over a few for a few seconds, then try to recall them. You’ll find that, with a complete effort, you will get better with practice.

6. Visualize the opponents’ hands, then play them out mentally with the opponents as you declare. Do the same for your partner and declarer when you defend. Review and revision is always necessary.



Memorizing at Bridge – by Paolo Enrico Garrisi

Part 3: “Shortcuts”

Campionati del Mondo Transnazionali 2011: registrata la squadra Angelini

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Campionati del Mondo Transnazionali  a squadre Open, Veldhoven (Olanda) 15 – 29 Ottobre 2011. Registrata la squadra Angelini per l’imminente ottava edizione dei Transnazionali:  Fulvio Fantoni – Claudio Nunes, Jeff Mekstroth – Eric Rodwell, Boye Brogeland – Francesco Angelini Paolo Bove (capitano non giocatore). Read the full story

2011 Transnational Open Championship: Angelini team registered

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 World Transnational Open Team Championship, Veldhoven (The Netherlands) 15-29 October 2011. Francesco Angelini participates in the 8th Transnational Open Championship with the following line up: Fulvio Fantoni – Claudio Nunes, Jeff Mekstroth – Eric Rodwell, Boye Brogeland – Francesco Angelini and Paolo Bove (not playing captain). Read the full story

2010 Italian Championships: Angelini disqualified!

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 The decision regarding the final of Italian Club Championships has at last been determined  by the CNG (National Tournament Commettee) after an appeal from the Varese Team. The complaint was upheld, therefore the team of Francesco Angelini has been disqualified. The three Norwegian players who played in the team, messrs Brogeland, Helgemo, and Helness did not have the necessary residential requirements for them to participate in the Championship of 2010. Read the full story

Societari 2010 – Angelini squalificato!

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E’ arrivata l’attesa sentenza del CNG (Collegio Nazionale Gare) in merito al ricorso della squadra Varese. Il ricorso è stato accolto e la squadra di Francesco Angelini è stata squalificata:  i tre giocatori norvegesi della squadra Angelini (Brogeland, Helgemo, Helness) risultavano privi dei requisiti atti a permettere la loro partecipazione al Campionato Italiano Societario 2010. Read the full story

Societari 2010 – Ancora ‘sub judice’ lo Scudetto Italiano

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Le fasi conclusive dei Campionati italiani a squadre libere, i societari per interndersi, si sono svolti a Bologna dal 23 al 26 settembre 2010. Al termine del secondo turno di gara il Team Varese avanza un reclamo contro la partecipazione di tre giocatori norvegesi nella squadra Angelini: Geir Helgemo (HLR004), Tor Helness (HLR005) e Boye Brogeland (BRY021), che risultano tesserati il data 15 settembre presso la Federazione Italiana con la S.S. D. Angelini Bridge s.r.l. Read the full story

2010 Italian Championships are still sub judice

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The final phases of the Italian Teams Championship took place in Bologna, 23-26 September 2010. At the end of the second round Team Varese submitted a complaint against the participation of three Norwegian players in the Angelini Team: Geir Helgemo (HLR004), Tor Helness (HLR005) and Boye Brogeland (BRY021), all of whom enrolled to the Italian Federation on the 15 September via S.S. D. Angelini Bridge s.r.l. Read the full story

Campionati Italiani Societari: al via le finali!

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Sono iniziate questo pomeriggio a Bologna le finali dei campionati italiani societari. Nell’open si contendono il primato le squadre Angelini (Roma), Varese,  Allegra (Lavazza – Torino) e Villa Fabbriche. Read the full story

Helgemo Helness & Brogeland registered with Angelini Team

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HLR004 – HLR005 – BRY021. These the  codes with which the three Norwegian champions are registered with the Italian Federation Bridge (FIGB) with S.S.D. Angelini s.r.l Bridge on September 15, 2010. Read the full story

Helgemo Helness & Brogeland tesserati con l’Angelini Team

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HLR004 – HLR005 – BRY021. Questi i codici con i quali i tre fuoriclasse norvegesi risultano tesserati presso la Federazione Italiana Gioco Bridge con la S.S. D. Angelini Bridge s.r.l in data 15 settembre 2010Read the full story

Giorgino Duboin’s column

Italian style 02The Neapolitan Club staff is honoured to welcome a new illustrious contributor: Giorgino Duboin. The great Italian champion will write a series of articles mostly dedicated to his international bridge activities. Duboin’s Column »

Norberto Bocchi’s column

MyWay-logoThe great Italian champion Norberto Bocchi contributes articles on a regular basis to Neapolitan Club. Norberto refers in his column ‘My Way’ to political issues which may arise in the bridge world and sometimes he describes interesting hands. Read Bocchi’s column»   Read Bocchi’s interviews»

Rhoda Walsh Notes

Rhoda_WalshWalsh No Trump Notes by Rhoda Walsh: a study on No Trump openings with their developments  in uncontested and contested auctions. Table of Contents »
Annotations by Rhoda Walsh on the 1 Notrump game forcing  response in the "2 over 1 game forcing system" (Walsh System).Table of Contents»

Simply the Best

Best articles by Paolo Enrico Garrisi: open »

Let’s talk to the Champions!

Best interviews run by Laura Camponeschi: open »

Momorizing at Bridge

Are there techniques to develop some specific memory? Could be possible to make a choice of what might be more useful to memorize? Read what the champions say: open »

Silvio Sbarigia


SILVIO SBARIGIA is a pharmacist; he was born in Rome and lives there. He has won the European championship in 1975 with legendary Blue Team, runner up at 1974’s and at Olympic games of 1976.  Sbarigia is member of Neapolitan Club Technical Commettee. His bridge problems aren’t difficult; just we need to think on a plan and to avoid the instinctive playing. Bridge quizzes by Sbarigia »

Laura Cecilia Porro

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