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Welcome to Bridge @ Box
  The next Play & Learn session is on Wednesday 27 March 9.20 for a 9.30 start.

Kingswood Charity Duplicate Bridge Day 2019

Saturday 11th May 10am–4pm @ Kingswood School, Bath


Enjoy a great day's bridge with coffee, lunch + a glass of wine and afternoon tea, all for £25, while supporting a really worthwhile charity. 

All proceeds will go to the Open Arms Infant Home in Malawi.


Contact Jenny Opie: jro@kingswood.bath.sch.uk or 01225 734200.

Hand of the week 20 March 2019

Double take

If you hadn't come across it before, you might well do a double take of your partner's X in this otherwise entirely NS auction. I mean, is it for take-out? For penalties, maybe? Surely neither: NS, after all, seem to have game-going points, so your partner can't have more than 9 or 10 points. So what's going on?

Here's a clue: when you double for takeout, you're doubling a natural bid (eg they open 1 and you double); similarly, when you double for penalties, you're doubling a natural bid (eg they end up in 4 and you're sitting behind declarer with AQ10x).

But here, your partner is doubling a 2 response to an opening 1NT. This isn't a natural club bid, of course: it's Stayman. It's an artificial (or conventional) bid and has nothing to do with clubs at all. Which gives defenders a very useful little tool:

Doubling an artificial bid shows that suit.

So the meaning's simple: your partner has a club suit. Normally it'll have at least 5 cards and it'll have some good high cards. Why do it? Usually, it's to suggest an opening lead: lead a club, partner. Alternatively, it might indicate a possible suit in which to sacrifice. Either way, it's a cost-free way of giving your partner useful information. It's risk-free, too – they're hardly going to want to play in 2X, are they?

Fine, but that's not going to happen very often, is it? Well, yes it is, actually. For example:

  • As well as 2 Stayman, 2 or 2 in response to 1NT are also artificial bids – they're transfer bids. A double would show that suit.
  • The responses to Ogust (2NT in response to a weak 2 opener) are all artificial and therefore vulnerable to this kind of double
  • The responses to RKC Blackwood are similarly artificial.

A useful tool for your defensive arsenal, then: if they make an artificial bid and you have a decent holding in that suit, double.

So what happens here?

Well, you might have been intending to lead your ♣J anyway (although with only 4 points I'd be tempted to try to find a major suit in partner's hand – leading the ♠6, maybe). But partner's X seals it. You lead your ♣J, partner cashes his ♣AK, dropping declarer's ♣Q (as you can see if you look at the whole deal), leads you back a small club ... and the defence take the first 5 tricks for one off.

(As you'll see below, some declarers made their contract in spite of getting a club lead. How come? West knows declarer has the Q (if partner had it, she would have led it instead of the J!) so the only chance of dropping it is to cash the K at trick 2. Leading back a low club is fatal as the Q becomes declarer's 9th trick!)

In Box and Bath

In Box, two were in 3NT, one making and one going off – both on a club lead. A third pair were in 4 – and made it!

In Bath, everyone was in 3NT: six went one off and 3 made – club leads notwithstanding.

Hand of the week 13 March 2019

It's simple – if you remember!

As we discovered in last autumn's seminar on not missing game, it's often responder's 2nd bid that makes or breaks an auction. On this hand, sitting East, it's simple enough to bid 1 in response to partner's opening 1, but what do you bid next, over partner's 1 rebid? 

It's pretty obvious that you'll now want to show your club support. With a minor fit, you're interested in no trumps, of course, but so is your partner – if she's got the diamonds covered she'll no doubt let you know. So what's your bid?

If your answer's 2, you've probably just missed game. Why's that? Well, each bid you make gives information about two things: shape and strength. If your first bid is a change of suit, as here, that says little about your strength: merely that you've got more than 5 points. You could have 6 or you could have 20. Your 2nd bid is an opportunity to tie that down a little. So how do you show partner that you have not 6, not 20, but 10 points? Simple: raise her to the three level: 3. Now she has no problem finding the right contract: 3NT.

So what's the 'remember' bit in the title all about? Well, imagine West had opened 1. With heart support and 10 points, you'd have raised her to 3 in your sleep. It's exactly the same in the current auction. Nothing's changed. You have support for partner's clubs. And you still have 10 points. So you still want to raise to the three level. And that's what a lot of responders forget on their 2nd bid: they want to show their fit and forget that they haven't yet said anything about their strength. It happens time and time (and time) again.

The whole deal

Have a look at the whole deal. 

Your partner has a very pleasant 17 points. She'd like to tell you that on her 2nd bid, but she can't: a jump shift to 2 would be absolutely forcing to game, and for all she knows you only have 6 points. So she crosses her fingers and hopes you won't pass her 1 rebid. If you now say 2, she may well conclude that you're hovering around 5-7 points and simply pass 2. She shouldn't, of course, because she's strong enough to bid 2NT – in which case you'll (luckily!) have a chance to correct your mistake and raise her to 3NT. But if you end up in a part-score it'll be at least partly your fault.

How does it go?

North may prefer to lead her J (leading through dummy's suit) rather than her J (leading round to declarer's suit). If not, she'll certainly switch to a heart lead when she comes in with her K. Declarer must, of course, cover with dummy's Q, limiting South to just three heart tricks. Leaving declarer with nine tricks – 10 if North never leads hearts.

In Box and Bath

In Box, everyone was in 3NT, all making.

In Bath, things were more varied. One pair managed to fade out in 2♣ – making 11 tricks! – while another somehow managed to stop in 2NT (making 10 tricks). Most of the others were in 3NT – all by West – but a couple of Wests, tempted by their 5-loser holdings, tried the club slam, which goes off as the ♣K is wrong.

Hand of the week 06 March 2019

Just in case ...

You're sitting East with the hand shown. On the auction so far, what are your thoughts on your partner's hand? What's her holding in the minors? And in the majors? And what about her point-count?

Well, she must have at least 4 diamonds. Let's assume just 4. What about her clubs? If she only had 4, she'd have opened 1 instead, wouldn't she? So she must have 5 clubs. And if she happens to have 5 diamonds, then – by the same reasoning – she must have six clubs. Either way, she's got a maximum of just four cards in the majors. 

And the point-count? Well, she might have 16+ or (as she's clearly an unbalanced distribution) an ordinary opening hand with 6 losers.

So what next? We're all trained to prefer NT to a minor suit contract, but on this holding I'm not so sure. The opposition have at least 17 cards in the majors (though presumably there are no 6-card suits, as no-one has thought to come in with a weak 2) and the right major lead through the right hand could prove disastrous.

How would you do it? You could bid 3 to show your heart stop and if your partner has a spade stop she'll bid 3N ... which means that a possible heart lead will be coming through your Kx. Eek! Alternatively, you could (as Trevor recommends, and most did in Bath) simply coolly bid 3NT and hope for the best – if you can get away with trick 1 you're probably OK.

If you don't fancy NT, you could bid 5 – with your 16-count, you don't want to settle for less than game. But then ... hmm. If no trumps do come in, they'll surely make 10 tricks or more, for a score which'll beat 5 into a cocked hat. So if we're going to get a bottom anyway, let's try for the slam*. We have, after all, a splendid double fit – and only 12 losers between us, which ought to mean that 12 tricks are on ... With that spade holding, Blackwood's not a great deal of use, so why not just go for glory and punt 6?

How does it go?

Have a look at the whole deal. It all comes down to the location of the A ... which happens to be perfectly placed for both diamonds and NT. In NT, on a likely J lead, declarer will take the first 11 tricks and lose the last two (it would be foolhardy to touch spades until the contract's in the bag). In 6, declarer has to attack the spades for her 12th trick ... but luckily for her it works.

In Box and Bath

In Box, 3 pairs were in 3NT, making 9 or 11 tricks; the other pair stopped in 4♣.

In Bath, 7 pairs were in 3NT (mostly by East), making 11 or 12 tricks and two felt safer in 5.

So ... why didn't anyone try for the slam? Well, it's not a great slam to be in, depending as it does on a finesse. But the pairs in 5 got a wretched score anyway, so they might as well have bid it just in case ...


* For another example of punting a minor slam for the same reason, see the HOTW 3NT ... or look for 6♣? in the Beyond basic bidding section, back on 14 January, 2015.

   The previous featured hand – Two options – is now on the Declarer play (in a suit) Improvers' Page.   
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Calendar
Wed 27th Mar 2019
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