Each bid is displayed as it is made in standard bridge publication format with these possible exceptions:
N = Notrump
P = Pass
D = Double
R = Redouble
Many bid entries in the database have disclosures which are displayed in the white box in the middle of the screen when the program bids.
There may be multiple entries which make the same bid, but with different types of hand specs. Disclosing only the specs for the matching entry would provide more information than a player is entitled to, so disclosures include the specs for every entry which matches the same bid.
Scanning the disclosures for every entry matching the bid made lets you see the exact, various specifications for making the bid, but scanning this list is not the most efficient way to get a general overview of what it takes to make the bid.
For a general discussion of a bid, you can double-click on the bid's Convention Name, if one is shown. Not every bid has a convention name, and not every convention name has a file for it, but most do. If the NOTE part of the Disclosure shows a file to view for more information, you can also double-click on that file name to view it.
Specifying Starting Bids
To practice a specific type of opening or against certain bids, check the Start with box and enter the Prior Bids you want the computer to find deals to match. You can usually start with the first non-passing bid in the bidding sequence unless a Pass influences the later bidding.
If you are practicing responding to an opening bid, then you should select North as a dealer and check the Keep box so that N is always the dealer.
For example, the 2-Over-1 Forcing convention is only on in response to 1 and a pass by RHO with responder being an unpassed hand. We don't have to worry about South being an unpassed hand since North is always the dealer and only deals in which he opens 1 or 1 followed by a pass by RHO are shown.
So to practice 2-Over-1 Forcing system, you should enter "1H-P, 1S-P". If you want to practice situations in which 2-Over-1 is off because of RHO's interfering, just enter "1H, 1S".
To practice responses to overcalls of 1N, just enter 1N in the box. If you don't want to practice bidding over RHO's interference bids, enter 1N-P.
Note that it doesn't work to enter "1N, 1N-P" because it would find a match with "1N" before it ever got to "1N-P". And if you put "!N-P" first, then when an entry started with a 1N bid, it wouldn't match "1N-P" and would advance to the next spec, "1N" and match that. Once it's found a match, it will use that deal no matter what the next bid is.
To practice responding to overcalls, takeout doubles, or cue bids, make West the opener and enter something like 1-D or 1-2N or 1-2, etc.
To practice slam bidding, enter 4C, 4N(t), 5N(t) where t is the trump suit if needed. For example, enter
4N(H) if Hearts is the agreed upon trump suit, then enter 5N(H) to ask for Kings.
For KickBack Blackwood or Grand Slam Force, enter #x(t) where # is the level, x is the suit bid, and t is the trump suit. Example: 4S bid with Hearts as trump, enter 4D(H) or 4H(S).
Obviously, whichever conventions you want to practice have to be activated on the grids in the BidBase Editor and they should not have the same bids for different conventions which are activated. For example, you can't have 4H(S) be for both Kickback Blackwood and Grand Slam Force, so only one of those two should be activated.
At this time, the Bidding Practice program only promises enough rounds of bidding to cover the system or convention being used (usually 1-3 rounds). Let's say that North opens 1H, RHO passes, and South makes a Splinter bid of 4D, the bidding is over as far as that convention is concerned. Presumably, the player should know what to bid once partner has shown a game force and that he has 4+ trump support and a singleton or void in the suit bid.
Full computer Bridge games use Double Dummy Analysis to decide on bids to make which are not hard-coded into their software, and if they were to use BidBase for system/convention-specific bids, their DDA would take over where BidBase ends, such as whether to bid 4H or 4N after the 1H-P-4D-P sequence. Usually, bids at this point would be pretty obvious, which is why the conventional bidding sequence ends.
There are very, very few entries for making passes, and these are ones which are part of a convention. For example, if you play Negative Doubles after something like 1-2, then if you expect to set 2, you cannot double, so you have to pass and hope that partner will make a balancing double which you will leave in.
So if you see a Pass in the bid display which is clearly wrong, assume that there were just no more entries in BidBase for that bidding sequence. You can always add more entries for the sequence if you wish.
Of course, once a series of bids has ended in BidBase, entering the next entry in the series will extend the series by one, but the next player in the practice deal will also pass because BidBase has no more entries for the bidding sequence.
The Vulner. button lets you change the vulnerability for the deal. Vulnerability isn't a factor for most of the bids in bidding conventions, and since BidBase is all about conventions, you won't see a lot of entries specifying vulnerability.
Normally, you should keep vulnerability on none since that is the default for the database, and the purpose of the practice hands is to build up the database with new entries.
Changing the vulnerability does not start the bidding over, but you can do so with the next button.
Dealer Button (Alt-L)
The Dealer button lets you change the dealer for the same deal. For example, if South is the dealer, but you would rather see how South would overcall with the same cards, you can make East (or North or West) the dealer instead. Or you may want to change the dealer to see how a hand is opened in third or fourth chair. This option also starts the bidding over, of course.
A checkbox with the work "Keep" to the right of it is for keeping the same dealer until you change it. For example, if you want to practice responding to opener, you will probably want to keep N as the dealer.
Deal Button (Alt-D)
The Deal button starts a new deal. It displays the upcoming deal number so that you can change it to a specific deal number if you wish.
When bidding, after 3 consecutive passes (or 4 when nobody opens) and you have clicked Bid's OK for the 3rd Pass, the Bid's OK button caption changes to Deal. This is for convenience and has the same effect as clicking the actual Deal button.
Repeat starts the deal over with the same dealer and vulnerability.
If you edit a bid, the program will rebid the current hand to allow your new or changed entry to take effect, but Repeat begins the bidding over completely.
Alongside the Repeat button are buttons to let you scroll back and forth through the deals.
Having deal numbers does not mean that there are a limited number of specific deals. Instead, the number is what is used to "seed" the Random Number Generator which determines how cards a mixed up before dealing. The deal number also lets you replay any deal since it will seed the RNG the same way every time.
If you are not using a notebook, you won't see this, but notebookers will see Batter Left displayed to the right of the deal buttons.
Bid's OK (Alt-B)
When the program bids, the bid is displayed and the program waits for you to click Bid's OK before continuing with the next hand. This gives you the opportunity to edit the bid's entry or to have the program rebid the hand and show you the analysis.
The Bid's OK button's caption changes for different situations, but its purpose is always the same -- to cause the program to stop waiting and continue on.
The Edit button sends the current hand and prior bids to the BidBase Editor, just like clicking on a bid in the Bid Box except that the Bid Box also sends the bid you click on.
Click the Enter Hands button to manually enter 1 or more hands for a deal.
If you enter just 1 or 2 hands, the computer will randomly assign cards to the others. If you enter 3 hands, the computer will give the remaining cards to the 4th hand, so you never have to enter more than 3 hands.
Having entered hands, you can then have the program bid each hand while you watch, or you can bid the south hand while the program bids the others.
Rebid With Analysis
The Rebid With Analysis button lets you specify one or more bids to have analyzed when the computer is searching for the best bid. This allows you to see why the computer is rejecting a bid which you think should be made.
After you click the button, you will be asked to enter a bid. Say it is the opening bid and you want to see why the computer is not bidding 1H. As the computer tests each of the 1H entries in the database, it will show you where/why the current hand failed to meet the specs of each entry.
If a bid of "1x" is shown for an entry, it is because the same entry's specs apply to more than one suit, including the suit you entered.
When a rejected entry is displayed, you can click the Continue button to continue searching, or you can click the Cancel button to discontinue the search.
You can enter more than one bid at a time to watch, such as "1S,1N", or enter "all" to watch all bids.
It may seem odd to see the descriptions of entries in the Disclsure window such as "Bid requires 3rd position and you are in first position" but the point is to be able to examine any entries making the bid you specify to see why the program rejected the bid entries.
Save Deal (Ctrl-S)
This menu command appends the current deal to the "SavedDeals.Txt" file in the Notes folder. The purpose is to save interesting hands for later review, it is not for saving a deal which can be reloaded into the program again. To replay a past deal, just make a note of the deal number, click the Deal button, and enter that number.
This quits the Practice program, saving the last deal number, dealer, and other program options which will be loaded the next time you start the program so that you can continue where you left off.
When checked, the program bids all four hands and you just watch. This is the fastest way to just check out and improve BidBase.
When not checked, you bid the hands first (if all hands are visible) and the program then tells you what it would have bid. If only South's hand is visible, you bid the South hand and the computer bids the other hands. These are the best ways to practice the bids you have selected for use in BidBase.
If you and BidBase disagree on a bid and you keep going with the bidding using your bid, BidBase's subsequent bids may not be correct because BidBase believes your bid shows a hand different from what you actually have.
In this situation, you should either edit BidBase to agree with your bid, or change your bid to agree with BidBase's.
If you choose to change BidBase, you must change not only the current bid, but you must also change any entries for subsequent bids for the reason just given -- that the subsequent bids assume that the hand meets the specs in the original entry. This is obviously no longer true once you change (or replace) the original entry.
Hide Hands (Ctrl-H)
When Auto-Bid is turned off, as noted in the previous section, then if you check Hide Hands, you will be able to see and to bid only the South hand and the program will bid the other 3. With Hide Hands unchecked, you can see and bid all the hands and the computer will tell you what it would have bid.
If Auto-Bid is turned on, then Hide Hands is automatically turned off.
See the info about the Enter Hands button, above. The only thing the menu offers is the ability to start the Enter Hands process by pressing Ctrl-E.
Mix Up Cards (Ctrl-M)
Select this option to mix up the cards among 2 to 3 user-specified hands while keeping the same cards in 1 or 2 hands.
Sometimes a bid may appear to be bad (or good) because of the specific lay of the cards. This option lets you see how the bid would fare against a different lay of the cards.
For example, you may choose to keep your cards and have the remaining cards reshuffled and redealt to the other three players. Or both you and your partner can keep your cards and have only the opponents' cards redealt.
Re-Mix Same Cards (Ctrl-R)
Once you have specified the hands to mix using Ctrl-M, you can repeatedly press Ctrl-R to keep re-mixing the cards in the same hands. This lets you quickly see many variations of distributions for the same set of cards in 1 or 2 hands to see how the bidding is affected.