Bridge @ Box
 
Pages viewed in 2018
 
Hands galore!
Many previous hands of the week can be found on the Improvers' pages.

We have tablet scoring. 

Your teacher is Chris Jones, who came back to bridge in 2003 after a lengthy absence, and hasn't looked back since. Click for more ...
 
  The next Play & Learn session is on Wednesday 28 February, 9.20 for a 9.30 start.
Play & Learn Wed 21 February
Just seven pairs this session, but the sit-out each round provided an opportunity to discuss the hands not being played – and we managed to finish 5 minutes early! Congratulations to Peggy & Phyllis, who came first with just over 60%, followed by Helen & Ainslie with 58% and Jackie & Moira with 52%.
 
To see what happened when the hands were played in Bath, click here and then on 'Travellers'.
 
This week's featured hand is board 10.
Hand of the week 21 February 2018

Quantitative 4NT

To make 12 tricks in no trumps, it's reckoned that you need a combined total of 33 points (37 for the grand slam). If the 7 missing points happen to be AK in the same suit, you're going off, but nearly all of the time they won't be. 

This makes NT slam bidding over an opening 1NT fairly simple: 

  • If partner opens 1NT and you hold 21-22 points, for example, you know that you have a combined 33 points even if partner's a minimum 12 points, so you can go straight to 6NT.
  • If you have fewer than 19 points, you haven't got enough for the slam even if partner's a maximum 14 points, so you just raise to 3NT.

But what if you've got 19-20 points? Now it depends on how many points your partner has, and that's when you bid 4NT. It ain't Blackwood – rather it means 'Partner, please bid 6NT if you're a maximum and pass if you're a minimum.' It's an invitation to the slam in just the same way that a raise to 2NT is an invitation to game: partner passes with a minimum and goes for it with a maximum. 

And so it is here. North starts with Stayman, in case partner has 4 cards in either major, and on seeing the negative 2 response, bids 4NT. Should South pass or bid 6NT?

Well, she's neither a maximum nor a minimum but bang in the middle with 13 points. So South has to decide whether she has a 'good' 13 or a 'poor' 13 and act accordingly. What makes a 'good' 13 would be a reasonable 5-card suit and/or good 'intermediates' (a sprinkling of 10s and 109s). South has neither, so should pass. Have a look at the whole deal.

Does the slam make?

No, not against decent defence. West will lead her ♣K (a sure way of creating at least one trick for the defence without giving anything away), and South can count 4 heart tricks, 3 spades (4 if she's lucky and the spades are split 3-3), one club and two diamonds (3 if she's dead lucky and the Q is in a doubleton). That's 12 if both bits of luck come in – which will happen well under 10% of the time (I can give you the maths if you're interested).

As you can see, the big bit of luck comes in – the Q is in a doubleton – but that's as far as it goes, and only 11 tricks are available. How come (see below) that some declarers made 12, then? It's all down to defence. West can see 4 spades in dummy, and so must ensure that she keeps 4 spades in her hand – if she discards 2 spades, dummy's ♠4 is going to be worth a trick. Similarly East (who has that rarest of hands, a true Yarborough), has to be alert and hold on to her 4 diamonds (opener hasn't got a 4-card major, remember, so may well have 4 diamonds) as well as 4 hearts if possible. If she discards a diamond, that crummy little 7 in declarer's hand will become her 12th trick. Never make the mistake of thinking that with a rubbish hand you have no role to play in defence!

​​In Box & Bath

In Box, just one pair was in the slam, but 2 of the 3 declarers made 12 tricks. (Were you defending? What went wrong?)

In Bath, 5 of the 9 tables got to 6NT, greedy so-and-sos, but only 1 made 12 tricks. It's interesting to note the other contracts. 3 stopped in just 3NT – why oh why didn't the Norths try the quantitative raise to 4NT? And – a lesson to those who overcall on tram tickets instead of a sensible suit – one West overcalled 2♠, only to be doubled for penalties by North and go four off (vulnerable!) for a penalty of 1100. Almost as bad as EW bidding and making the slam against you!

Hand of the week 14 February 2018

Empty trump suit

I've cheated a bit here. With a 6-loser hand, East's 2nd bid should really be a jump to 3♠, after which West, with just 7 losers, will raise to 4♠. Still, no one in Box bid the game, which is just as well as it doesn't make! 

But the point of the hand is not the auction but the play. You've got an 8-card spade fit, but missing all the honours except for the ♠A it's pretty thin. Let's say South leads the ♣9, won by North's ♣K. Not wanting to set up dummy's clubs, North now switches to a heart, won by dummy's J. What now? Do you attack trumps or not? 

Yes. You must. You have winners in all the side suits and you don't want them ruffed. If you fail to take out their trumps they may make each one separately on a cross-ruff – a nightmare. Cross your fingers and hope the spades are 3-2 and lead ♠A and then a small one. Excellent – they were 3-2 (as they will be around 68% of the time). When you come in again, don't bother to knock out their remaining trump – it's a winner anyway. Instead, force out their A and you'll have made 9 tricks, losing just one club, one diamond and two trump tricks.

'But what if the trumps are 4-1?' Well, what if they are? You're going to lose 3 spade tricks now instead of 2, and effectively you'll be playing in NT, but that's fine too: you have a spade trick, a club trick, two diamonds and four hearts: that's still 8 tricks.

Moral: Don't be put off clearing trumps just because you have an 'empty' trump holding. It's fun watching all their high honours crashing on the second round! Fail to lead trumps and you risk a defensive cross-ruff which will cost you dear.

​​In Box & Bath

Everyone in Box was in spades but no one made the 9 available tricks, which suggests that declarers were wary of clearing trumps. Two made 8 tricks, two made just 7 and one made 6. Yikes!

In Bath, most EW pairs were in spades, including four who bid on to the unmakeable game. But seven of the nine pairs made their 9 tricks, while the remaining two made 8. 

Hand of the week 07 February 2018

'Acologic'

Question: What's the difference, from opener's partner's point of view, between an opening 1NT and an opening of 1 of a suit, say 1♠? 

Answer: an opening 1NT describes partner's hand pretty completely in one go: it's 12-14 points and balanced (= 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2 or 5-3-3-2). An opening 1♠, by contrast, is wide open: it could be one-suited, two-suited, balanced, unbalanced and anything from 10 points up to 19 or even 20. 

Which is why, if you're not simply going to raise partner's suit, you need to know more. And the obvious way to find out more is simply to change the suit. In Acol, a change of suit is forcing and it's opener's second bid that really brings her holding into focus.

On this hand, sitting East, you know you should be in game, but should it be spades, or maybe hearts, or no trumps? You need to know more about partner's hand. So a simple change of suit ... Ah! A problem! Uniquely in Acol, a 2 response to an opening 1♠ requires FIVE hearts, and you only have four. And hearts is your only biddable suit. How, then, to find out more about partner's hand?

The answer is to 'invent' a bid that will achieve your aim: 2♣. How will partner rebid? There are a number of possibilities:

  • With a balanced 15+ she'll rebid 2NT, which would suit you fine – you can always check for 5 spades by bidding 3♠ on your way to game.
  • With a one-suited spade hand she'll rebid spades, at an appropriate level. Problem solved. You bid 4♠. (If she jumps straight to 4♠ herself, you might want to explore for a slam.)
  • With a two-suited hand, she'll show her 2nd suit. If she bids 2, she has at least 5 spades and at least 4 hearts: you have a double fit. (Go for the hearts: the more balanced trump holding will possibly score an extra trick). ...
  • ... or she'll bid 2, or maybe raise your clubs. In either case, she's now known to have 5 spades, so you can go straight to 4♠.

Two points here. One, your ad hoc strategem of inventing a club suit isn't going to misfire – you're either going to end up in spades or NT and either suits you. Two, if partner does raise you to 3♣, are you really sure that means she has 5 spades as well? Well, yes. It's all down to 'Acologic'. You can take it on trust or read on below ...

Acologic at work

OK.Take it slowly. Let's imagine that partner has just 4 spades. Must be her longest suit. And let's imagine that she has 4 clubs as well (she can't have 5 or she'd have opened 1♣ to start with!). That leaves 5 other cards to be shared between hearts and diamonds. They can't be 5-0 (same reason as with the clubs). Nor can they be 4-1 – there's no 4-4-4-1 holding that opens 1♠. So they must be 3-2. So partner must have 4-3-2-4. A balanced hand. But she didn't open 1NT. So she must have 15+ points: she's opened 1♠ with the intention of rebidding No Trumps, then. OK so far?

Right. So when you bid your 2♣ over her 1♠, she's going to rebid 2NT, to show you a balanced hand with 15+ points. She's not going to support your clubs – who's interested in clubs when no trumps is a possibility?

Therefore, if partner DOES support your clubs, she can't have the balanced hand above with just 4 spades. She must have an unbalanced hand with at least 5-4 in spades and clubs. QED. 

So you're safe to jump to 4♠. End of auction.

​​In Box & Bath

After all that, it turns out that 4♠ is far from easy to make. West has opened on a 'rule of 20' 11 points, and though everyone in Box found the spade fit (and 3 out of 5 went to game), only one pair made 10 tricks, some only making 8. 

In Bath, nearly everyone was in 4♠, but only 2 pairs made it. 6 more made 9 tricks and a further 4 just 8 tricks. So although you should certainly be in game, if you went off you're in good company!

How to make the contract?

Have a look at the whole deal. As you can see, the ♠Q is in a doubleton, so it drops; you can finesse in either direction, so you just need to guess it right. Say you do. You have 5 tricks in spades, one in diamonds, one in clubs (lead small towards your ♣K and the ♣A is conveniently placed with South), and – as luck would have it – three tricks in hearts, because the Q drops on the second heart trick, giving you the 10th trick with your J. The other chance for a 10th trick is the 'long' diamond, after the defence have taken their two diamond tricks.

But it's far from easy, as a glance at the Box and Bath results will show!

   The previous featured hand –  Taking your 9 tricks – is now on the Declarer play in NT Improvers' Page.   
Click for the latest results
Starting on January 8th 2018 ...
Starting on January 8th 2018 ...

another weekly session of Assisted Play, with Chris, Trevor and Christine

Monday evenings, 7.00 till 9.30 at Bath Bridge Club, Monkton Combe

The format will be similar to that here at Box: 14 boards played as duplicate pairs with assistance on hand from an experienced teacher. All welcome.

Cost: £5 per person, including coffee/tea and biscuits


Click here to be taken to the Bath Bridge Club website.

Hosted daytime bridge ...
Hosted daytime bridge ...

... at Bath Bridge Club


Gentle Duplicate
Thursday mornings 10.00–1.00
A 'no fear' version of the real thing under the friendly guidance of Rita James and John Whittleton


Social Duplicate
Tuesday mornings 10.00-1.10
The gloves are off ...


Come and join us, with or without a partner.

Results
Wed 21st Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 14th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 7th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 31st Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 24th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 17th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 10th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Calendar
Wed 28th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 7th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 14th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 21st Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 28th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 4th Apr 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 11th Apr 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Click for the latest results
Starting on January 8th 2018 ...
Starting on January 8th 2018 ...

another weekly session of Assisted Play, with Chris, Trevor and Christine

Monday evenings, 7.00 till 9.30 at Bath Bridge Club, Monkton Combe

The format will be similar to that here at Box: 14 boards played as duplicate pairs with assistance on hand from an experienced teacher. All welcome.

Cost: £5 per person, including coffee/tea and biscuits


Click here to be taken to the Bath Bridge Club website.

Hosted daytime bridge ...
Hosted daytime bridge ...

... at Bath Bridge Club


Gentle Duplicate
Thursday mornings 10.00–1.00
A 'no fear' version of the real thing under the friendly guidance of Rita James and John Whittleton


Social Duplicate
Tuesday mornings 10.00-1.10
The gloves are off ...


Come and join us, with or without a partner.

Results
Wed 21st Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 14th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 7th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 31st Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 24th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 17th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 10th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Calendar
Wed 28th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 7th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 14th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 21st Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 28th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 4th Apr 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 11th Apr 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris