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Wessex League


Our Wessex League team were brought down to earth with a 17-3 loss to Witney, despite holding a very narrow lead at half time.

The season began well with a resounding away win against Frilford 'B', and continued two weeks ago with a close victory over Oxford 'E'. Tonight's result leaves the side just above the middle of the table.

See the full league table by clicking here.

Hello Stephen!
Hello Stephen!

A very warm welcome to our new TD. We all know and love Stephen of course and it's not easy this TDing stuff. He handled everything so well on his first night in charge. It didn't help that the centre's WiFi was down but the results were still in the player's boxes by 11pm. Very well done Stephen! 

Am livid because you went to bed with an Ace!

Chief Host Angel !
Chief Host Angel !

Our club has always been a great advocate of 'everyone gets a game'.
It is one of the key policies of the Bridge for All programme.
It particularily suits people graduating from courses who have yet to find a regular partner and people new to the area who want to try our club (good choice!)

Following an appeal for Host Angels we had a great response and a rota has been set up.

Our lovely Maureen has voluntered to be our Chief Host Angel.  Her task is to allocate volunteer hosts to session dates. She looks a bit shocked here actually:-)

Sue's next cruise
Sue's next cruise

The Oceana. Cruise number E501
January 2015

Round trip cruise to Caribbean - no flights
Click to get details.

Announcing this that and the other
Announcing this that and the other
We have all got used to 'announcing' the range of partners opening bid of 1NT. Now the rules have been extended to announcing the range of the opening bid of 2NT.
Subsequent transfers and Stayman also require an announcement.
Additionally those of us that play 5-card major suit openings, a minor suit opening that could be two cards or fewer should be announced even if it is non-forcing. 
Bad Weather Cancellations
Bad Weather Cancellations

If the weather is a bit tricky a decision whether the session will be held will be taken no later than 5pm on the day of the session and posted here on the website.

Recent Updates
Home Page
20th Nov 2014 16:12 GMT
Aylesbury Vale Bridge Club
Aylesbury Vale Bridge Club

New to Buckinghamshire and played a bit before?
Or maybe played ages ago and want to get started again.
Or perhaps you play at another local club that plays on a different night

Whatever your reason visit our friendly club. You will be more than welcome.
We promise it won't be like the cartoon.
We meet every Tuesday evening at 7.30pm. Town centre location. Bags of parking space.
A partner will be found, no need to pre-book - or bring your own partner.
 EBU affiliated. Instant scoring with hand records.
Our club specialises in newcomers and improvers.

New!  Commentary of the session's hands will be emailed to the players after the session. By the time you get home the commentary will be in your inbox. This includes suggested auction and some play and defence points on each of the deals.
Contact sue@aylesburyvalebridge.com - and lets see how we can get you started. Or just turn up!

    We are just so friendly - honest!

The Way we Were
The Way we Were

Sue looks back at how things were when she first started at a bridge club nearly forty years ago (I know!)
Somethings never change of course. There are still 52 cards in a pack. And still the odd joker down at the club.
But the way we access our information has transformed the way we view things.
Click on the picture to read the story.


National Treasure RIP
National Treasure RIP

Tony Priday who died this week was one of the last of the greats. It was such a privilege to spend time with him last year .

Dinner with a national treasure is always a treat. On board ship was Tony Priday and his wife Vivian. We heard great stories of legends such as Stan Stayman and Omar, Reese and Schapiro.

Tony with his wife Vivian beat everyone in sight in the daily duplicate and even gave us all a seminar on hands played. 

Farewell Mike and Jeanne
Farewell Mike and Jeanne

We are so sorry to see you go - but we wish you much love and happiness in your retirement and new life in Somerset

Our Club Says Thanks Mike!
Our Club Says Thanks Mike!

Forty four people turned up to say goodbye to Mike on his last night at the club. A cut glass fruit bowl engraved with ' More Than Just A Game - Aylesbury Vale Bridge Club' was presentated on behalf of our club by Sue, Richard and Ian. In presentating the bowl Sue said that we all loved him and will all miss him.

Opening 3NT

A classic Acol 3NT opening by East here. This hand came up (board 4) in Tuesday's duplicate.
A 3NT opener is a long solid minor with nothing on the outside.
They don't come round that all that often.
You don't expect to play there of course. The idea is to barrage at a high level so that the opposition are forced to enter the auction at the 4-level.
Some of our players got into trouble when 5
 was doubled. A very expensive 'save' against a 'sometimes but not always' 4 contract the other way.
Had the vulnerability been more favourable (green versus red) 5
 would have been a great 3rd seat opener.
As always with barrage bidding once 3NT is opened East should stay silent now and leave it to partner to take any further initiative.

The Opening Bid of 4NT

Well! Who would have thought? You can open 4NT and it is not Blackwood - it is something completely different and exclusive as an opening bid.
Rather than asking how many Aces It asks which Aces.
This deal came up at our duplicate session on the 16th September.
One of the primary objectives of this bid is its preemptive value. If you are massive in one suit with a modest amount of points there is every chance the opponents  have a similar hand their way in a different suit. I think that you will agree that it makes life hard for them when they have to enter the auction at the 5-level!
It is also useful of course for pin pointing top controls in the other suits to determine whether there is a slam. Our deal here shows that there are two cashing aces missing and so 5♠  is the limit.

It is a very rare opener indeed but useful with our sort of hand or maybe something like this:

♠ A
♣  -
or this ..

♠ AKJ109876543
♣ ..
This hand is only a twelve count but if we can find partner with the A  we can make a grand slam.
The responses after 4NT opening bid are as follows:

♣  shows no aces
5 shows the A 
5  shows the A 
5♠  shows the A♠ 
5NT shows two unspecified aces
6♣  shows the A♣ 

caption competition

All caption suggestions on a postcard please!

caption competition
Board Five Tuesday

Interesting board this and very competitive. With favourable vulnerability E/W must sacrifice to 5 to get a good board. After all you can afford to go three off doubled if N/S is making a vulnerable 4.

In fact they are making 4 with an over trick. Our Aussie visitors sacrificed 6 over 5 (am presuming the auction) Even though they are doubled they managed to keep it to two off beating all those who passed 4.
It is worth remembering that in match pointed pairs the contract is irrelevant. You are always playing for the best score. If the vulnerability was reversed 5
doubled can only afford to go one off now (which it does) but margins are very fine.

I did a hand commentary on boards 1-12 from Tuesday's duplicate primarily for my 3rd term beginners to enjoy and also sent them to the club players with one or two advanced bidding options.
This has proved so popular with our club players that I intend to do hand commentaries every week for our Tuesday session and email them to the players the next day.
Am absolutely sure that some of you will have your own ideas on how to bid a hand too which may well differ from my suggestions. There is often no right or wrong. It will simply be my own interpretation of the deals.
I do hope that this gives added value to our club and that our less experienced players benefit as a result.


Board one Tuesday

East opens 2. Partner responds 2 (relay) and East rebids 2NT showing 23-25 points and a bit in every suit.  West has got some bits and pieces - but can’t count the combination for the magic 33 points needed for a small slam – settles for 3NT.

Although loathed to lead away from isolated, lonely honours into a strong hand South may still lead the 2 and East wins.
North has a job to do here. When wondering what to throw on the long clubs he MUST keep diamond length otherwise declarer will make some very expensive overtricks. A top priority for defenders is to keep length with what you can see on the table or what is known to be in declarer's hand.
On best defence Declarer can make 11 tricks.


Rule of Fifteen - Passing Out
Rule of Fifteen - Passing Out

Don’t you just hate it when you open in fourth seat after three passes and then the opps pinch a contract?
RO15  assists on whether to open in fourth seat after the other three players have passed.
It works like this:

It advises that a hand should only be opened when in the pass-out seat if:

  • the total of the high card points in the hand
    the number of spade cards add up to fifteen or more.

And so with a hand like this where you would open 1♣ in any other seat...

♠  10
  9 7 4
  A Q 8 2
A Q 9 6 4

Applying RO15 it is best to pass. You are likely to suffer competition on your left if you open 1
They will find stuff they never thought they had. Bridge would be lovely if it wasn't for the opponents!



Try Everything - board 4

I don't get to play much at the club but I managed to play one hand last night just to stand in for a late arrival.
Using RO20 Derek was quite right to open the bidding with the North hand.
With two five-card suits he opens 1
  the senior of the two long suits.
East overcalled 2
 . I double showing length in the unbid suits. Derek responded 2 .
Note that if I responded 2
 after the club overcall I would be denying four heart cards. 
I absolutely do not want to be in 5  if 3NT is making the same amount of tricks and so I cue bid 3 . This asks partner if he has a club stop.
Derek now responded 3
 . I know he cannot have four heart cards because he would have responded hearts immediately after the double.
His heart bid also denies a club stop.
So it is just a matter of now bidding 5
 . Most people get there. On the lie of the hand 6  actually made.


Hand Evaluation

Points don't make tricks. It is all to easy, and a bit lazy to use exact point counts
to evaluate the hand.
Upgrading and down grading hands should all be part of your armoury.

Take this hand from this Tuesday Pairs at our club. Board 6.

9 8 7 6
A 5 2
A J 3

Are you really going to open 1on this and rebid 2NT after a 2-level response from partner?
With six of your points in a short suit where are your tricks going to come from.
Better to downgrade the hand a point and open 1NT.

Click to read more about hand evaluation




This is one I made earlier!
This is one I made earlier!

It was twenty years ago this May that Condover Bridge Club in Shropshire was formed with beginners from my class.
It is still going strong.
Members celebrated with a glass of champagne and a lovely birthday cake
President Sue Maxwell (I know!) in a speech toasting the success of the club noted that looking in the archives of The Times
20 years ago the Euro Tunnel opened - Four Weddings and a Funeral was playing at the Odean and Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.
But they omitted the rather more important event of a new bridge club opening in Shropshire.



Stinky cheeses, custard tarts and crispy croissants were purchased at the French Market at Waddesdon Manor on Sunday morning. 
Aylesbury Valers enjoyed a break drinking coffee and eating yummy cakes in the sunshine. Graeme was also there but ended up directing the traffic!
The trip out was part of the Beyond the Vale thing for our members. Bridge gets a bit boring from time to time. It is so nice to do other stuff too.

MAY Beyond the Vale
MAY Beyond the Vale

Beyond the Vale is a social grouping for our members and guests. Every month we have a few visits to local attractions.
It is all on a casual basis and everyone pays for themselves.

The Waterside Theatre needs to be pre booked of course. I will need numbers for that and then book us online.

April 27th Sunday morning 10.30am
French Market at Waddesdon Manor.

Enjoy a spring stroll around the gardens and take a look at the French Market. With a variety of goods including breads and patisseries, pancakes and cheeses, Provencal soaps, leather handbags, olives, saucission and pate from Normandy and basket-ware.
Meet up for coffee first at the Stables Café and maybe go to the pub across the road after for a Sunday roast (Rosbif!)
Normal charges apply i.e. pay your own entry fee.


Please note that the entry fee including parking and shuttle to the gardens is £8. Free if you are a Trust member.

Friday May 2nd

Buddy tickets

Buddy: Waterside Theatre 7.30.
Meet in the foyer for drinks at 7pm
Forget feel good, Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story is feel great! Experience the drama, passion and excitement as a cast of phenomenally talented actors and musicians tell Buddy Holly’s story, from his meteoric rise to fame, to his final legendary performance at The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa

Wednesday May 7th

Lunch at the Bugle Horn

Gift cards by post, email or text
Turn up at about 12.30 finish at 2pm
Chat about anything but not bridge:-)

May 25th Sunday afternoon

Tessa's Diary Date



Tessa’s Bridge Drive at Weedon Village Hall in aid of Macmillan.
It is Chicago bridge with tea.
See Tessa to buy entry.


10 -Card Suit! Board Four
A K Q J 10 9 6 4 3 2
7 6


East was minding his own business on Tuesday evening and picked up this hand.
Yes a ten-card suit! What are the odds of holding a ten-card suit.
The priori chance is 0.000017. Not an every day occurance then.
Don't ask what priori means. I looked it up on Google and it said it was a face cream.
So, What do you do when partner opens 1

Smart Boys :-)

Board 2 April 8th

East opens 1NT. Some Wests will blast 3NT. The thing is with such great shape you may miss the diamond slam. A jump bid of 3shows at least six diamond cards and a lot of shape and the potential for a slam in diamonds.
With just five diamond cards and a flatish hand you would indeed sign off in 3NT.
It is now important to support partner's diamond suit even though it takes you past the 3NT level.
Some may even bid a sort of super-accept 5
showing four diamond cards and close to max points.
We have used ordinary blackwood here but Roman Keycard Blackwood would give the extra security of locating the K
Note that 6NT goes off. There are only 11 tricks available. The diamond slam concedes a heart for +920.
Some intrepid Souths may overcall 2
.  A 3response now would be totally forcing - it is not a sign off.
The best lead against the diamond slam is probably a trump as you do not want to risk underleading the major suit kings into a NT hand. The slam makes on any lead however.

Well done Peter and Stephen!

In the slammer again -board 10

Whilst East has not got 23+ points he is well worth a 2 opening. This hand is enormously powerful with it's two fab pointy suits and should be treated as a game force.
West relays 2 and now East has got all the time in the world having announced his great hand with a 2opener. So he responds 2
. This is now totally game forcing.
West, with his outside ace clubs is too strong to sign off in 4 and so responds 3. Note that this is a stronger bid than 4.
After a round of Blackwood East now bids 6.

Very well bid E/W winners Gay and Jill and also Paul and Alan for getting to the rightspot.

South leads the Aand is disappointed when the K doesnt stand up. But then that is why East added value to his big hand when he opened 2


Slam Happy 4th March

Most players got to 6NT on this hand on Tuesday evening down at our club. There are various ways of bidding it.
For sure West will start with 2.
This shows either a game forcing hand or 23 points plus which is not yet game forcing.
Acol is starting to pinch Standard American ways of using a 2relay with any holding in response to 2.They call it a 'waiting' bid. Quite descriptive.
It keeps the bidding low and uncomplicated whilst giving the star of the show plenty of space to further describe his hand.
After our star rebids 2NT showing a fairly balanced hand with a 23-25 count East can now embark on all the gizmos that he would use opposite a 1NT opener such as Stayman (some use puppet stayman) or transfers.
In this case he may use a simple quantitave raise to 4NT. Note that in this sequence this is not Blackwood - just like it wouldn't be opposite a 1NT opener.
It simply is an invite to go to 6NT depending on the range of West's 2NT rebid. Given the added value of the lovely diamond holding East may bash on to 6NT straightaway anyway.

On the lead of the Q declarer can count 12 tricks if the diamonds break unkindly or 13 top tricks if they do.
Well done to everyone who bid it.


Friday Teams

This was the auction at our table and some pairs make 3NT on a heart lead.  After West opens 1 East has an easy response with 2 (10 points +  and some diamonds) A nice easy rebid of 2 from West shows at least four heart cards and five spades cards.
Is 3 by East now forcing?  Had she been a bit stronger she could have bid the fourth suit - this would be game forcing. The fourth suit is always artificial and asks for further and better details about partner's hand - such as has she got clubs stopped or has she got a fifth heart or if all else fails support the diamonds.
West has got a bit of a stop with the Q but once the defenders lead a club (the unbid suit) they get in again with the ace hearts and clear the suit for one off.

So back to the question of whether the 3 bid is forcing. East says no and who can argue with that.

Learning Bridge Onboard Adonia
Learning Bridge Onboard Adonia

The card room was full to bursting with people wanting to learn to play bridge. We start them off with minibridge and progress to 'big boy's bridge'. They are obviously grand masters by the time we return to Southampton! 

Click for the latest results
Christmas schedule
Christmas schedule

16th December – Christmas Party
23rd December – Mince Pies
30th December - Last of the Year

6th January      – New Year Pairs

Children in Need
Children in Need

£130 was raised from our club on the Sim Pairs night

Farewell Mike
Farewell Mike

Our club will forever be grateful for Mike's friendship and loyalty.
His contribution to the club has been immense and cannot be understated.
He and Jeanne were founder members in 2004 and Mike went on to be a very capable and charming host/TD.
He also took on the captaincy of our club in the Wessex League and guided us to promotion in the first year and consolidated our position in the second year.
So thank you Mike!  We never say goodbye - just au revoir

New Beginner's Classes
New Beginner's Classes

Start at the very beginning - a very good place to start:-)
Brand new beginner's classes starting on Wednesday evenings in September.
sue@aylesburyvalebridge.com to find out more

daft but nice :-)
daft but nice :-)

Am always looking for new clip art images for the game. When you enter bridge into the search engine it pops up with all sorts of images with no relevance to what we do. Pictures of bridges mostly!

Anyway I thought I would share this one with you. Totally useless of course but brightens up the day.


Tessa held a charity bridge drive for Macmillan on Saturday 24th May
Our own lovely Keith Smith won the overall prize with the highest score 

Bridget is Eleven years Old!
Bridget is Eleven years Old!

Many of you will remember lovely Bridget. In fact she was named by student poll. She's just had her eleventh birthday! These days she spends most of her time with Mel and Richard Czpaski although she comes home to her birth mother for her holidays.
Her interests include bird watching, she is an authority on the subject. When she comes to my house she watches football and is an expert at knocking bidding boxes off the card table. She also enjoys eating. Quite accomplished!

Where Do Our Members Live
Where Do Our Members LiveBuckinghamshire - Oxfordshire -Bedfordshire
Aylesbury. Whichurch. Leighton Buzzard. Buckingham. Wendover. Oving. High Wycombe. Chinnor. Long Crendon Haddenham. Berkhamsted. Mentmore. Tring. Monks Risborough. North Marston. Thornborough. Great Kimble. Gawcott. Bicester. Chesham. Gt Missendon. Ibstone. Brill. Bierton. Haydon Hill. Weston Turville. Marsworth. Aston Clinton. Winslow. Cublington. Waddesdon. Gt Brickhill. Steeple Claydon. Little Horwood.

AVB specialises in seminars for coaching groups, clubs and cruise ships. Anything from 2-hour topic sessions to two-day full seminars. The theme for most of the seminars is how to deploy basic systems such as Acol and SAYC more effectively. With the use of projector and screen, complex issues such as responding to partners overcall, handling big hands and deploying barrage bidding properly are made simple and fun. At a recent 2-day seminar in West Wales, Chairman of Haverfordwest Bridge Club Judith Graham-Jones commented

"so many thanks for your wonderful presentation. Everyone was thrilled with it and asking for more! So many complimentary remarks about YOU. The visuals in particular were marvellous and such fun".
A full programme of seminars are booked well into 2014 with Fred.Olsen and P&O cruises. To find out about dates for these cruises or to enquire about a seminar for your club contact sue@aylesburyvalebridge.com
Mini Bridge Booklet
Mini Bridge Booklet

Mini Bridge is a simple intro to the game used by all good teachers. In fact it is a very good game in its own right. Most established bridge authors don't much bother with the subject, preferring to stick to the intricicies of the big game.
Many of the existing publications are joyless and dire.

Very Easy Mini Bridge is a 20 page full colour, spiral bound, laminated publication. As you would expect from this author, it is full of fun, humour and is very, very easy to understand.
This booklet is ideal if you want to teach your children or grandchildren the rudiments of the game. 
Bridge author, Andrew Kambites comments 'this booklet is typical Sue Maxwell - and that is a compliment'
If you would like a copy, email Sue at 
20% discount applies to all members present and past of AVB, P&O cruisers and EBUTA teachers.

18th Nov 2014
Tuesday Pairs
Director: Richard Plummer
11th Nov 2014
Children in Need Sim Pairs
Director: Richard Plummer
10th Nov 2014
AVB v Witney Butler Ranking
Director: Mitch
25th Nov 2014
Tuesday Pairs
2nd Dec 2014
Tuesday Pairs
9th Dec 2014
Tuesday Pairs
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