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Welcome to Bridge @ Box
Christmas / New Year Schedule
Christmas / New Year Schedule

  Wed Dec 19th     Play & Learn + Mulled wine & posh biscuits

CHRISTMAS / NEW YEAR BREAK

Normal service will resume on     Wed Jan 2nd  
  The next Play & Learn session is on Wednesday 12 December 9.20 for a 9.30 start.
Hand of the week 05 December 2018

Putting your oar in

9-card suits don't come up that often but when they do, things can go a bit wild. What's your assessment of the situation here? 

Well, if you've got an 11-card (at least!) fit with partner, you can be pretty sure the opposition have got a decent fit as well, probably in a major - and from the auction, spades could be it. They've got more points than you, too. So as sure as eggs is eggs, they're going to be ending up in some game contract or other, probably making. Unless you put your oar in and get in the way.

Give South something to think about. Make her guess. Bid 5. You'll probably get doubled and you'll probably go off, but not by much, and it'll be cheaper than letting them make game themselves.

If you have a look at the whole deal, you'll see how difficult this makes life for South. She's got spade support, sure, but only 9 points, and from her perspective 5♠ looks distinctly dodgy. She's more likely to double you for penalties instead. But if you bid a feeble 3 or a tentative 4, they're going to find their spade fit no problem: and once South has shown spade support, North will surely go up to 5♠ if required. And as you can see, 5♠ makes with ease.

Try the scores for size: 5X going 1 off will cost you just 100. 5 making, on the other hand, will cost a nasty 650 - and if West doubles it, which with Qxxx and two aces she might well, you'll be out to the tune of 850 - even worse.

You could, if you like, regard this hand as being extreme example of 'bidding to the level of your fit' - a sound mantra if you've fewer points than your opponents, especially at favourable vulnerability. Here your partner, having opened 1NT, is known to have at least 2 diamonds. Added to your 9, that comes to 11, so bid to make 11 tricks: 5.

 

In Box & Bath

In Box, nearly everyone was doubled: bizarrely, the ones who were doubled in 5 actually made it - how I'm not sure - and the two in 5X made that as well.

In Bath, 8 of the 9 tables played in 5, by no means all doubled, and three somehow made it. Only one NS pair found 5♠ - and they were richly rewarded as they were doubled and made an overtrick for a 1050 top.

Hand of the week 28 November 2018

Impossible slam

What do you open on East's hand? 1 is fine, but I think it's probably worth 2, as it's probably worth 9 playing tricks. West's 2 response is positive, showing 7+ points and a 5-card heart suit and you now show your suit - 3. Your partner now bids 3NT, showing that she also has values in the black suits and you ... pass? bid 4? 5? 6?

Pass isn't a bad option: you've only 18 points and your diamonds will earn you tricks galore. I don't like 5 much, as it's a sign-off and will surely earn you less than 3NT. 4 invites partner to look for a diamond slam and 6 just punts it. Let's suppose you punt 6. According to 'deep finesse' it only makes 11 tricks when played by East, but the impossible sometimes comes off ...

What to lead?

Put yourself in South's seat. What will you lead against 6? Let's try a few alternatives:

A. An ace is often a good lead against a slam, but here it's disastrous. Declarer ruffs, clears trumps, goes over to dummy's K and discards her two spade losers on the KQ. She's now only a club finesse away from 13 tricks. 'But how was I to know declarer had a void?' you wail. Um, well you know dummy has 5 (she bid them!) and you have 6, so that's only 2 hearts for North and East ...

7. Well, partner might have the A and then a club ruff gets them off. A pretty long shot, as they're in a slam and therefore unlikely to be missing TWO aces. Sure enough, it doesn't work and declarer can set up 5 club tricks (if North rises with the Q) or a spade discard on dummy's top heart (if she doesn't).  

To defeat the slam, you have to start with a spade or (better) a trump. The trouble is, the A and 7 are just so tempting.

While the final outcome of the hand is, in the end, a matter of luck, it still carries a big underlying lesson: when you're certain to be making overtricks in 3NT, it's absolutely pointless bidding 5 of a minor suit - you're just heading for a bottom. Better to punt the minor suit slam instead - if it doesn't make, you're not much worse off, but if it DOES make, you're quids in.

In Box & Bath

In Box, 3 pairs were in 3NT, making 11, 12 or 13 (!) tricks. The remaining two pairs were in 5, one making the slam and one going off. 

In Bath, just 4 out of 12 pairs were in 3NT, the rest being in various levels of diamonds (mostly 5 and 6 , with one 3 and one 7). Just two pairs made 11 tricks, all the others making either 12 or 13 - including the lucky declarer in 7, who duly ruffed South's A lead and made all 13 tricks. 

Hand of the week 21 November 2018

The joy of transfers

Ain't transfers just wonderful? Not only do they tell partner about your 5-card major, but – because your partner has to make a bid herself – you then get another bid to describe your hand further.

Here it works a treat. North's transfer tells opener that she has 5 hearts, and her next bid – a forcing 2♠ – completes the picture: I have 5 hearts and 4 spades, partner, and points. What do you want to be in: hearts, spades or no trumps?

With 3 hearts, South prefers hearts, but with a minimum 12-count, is content with 3With 15 points, North now raises to the heart game. End of auction.

Why is 2♠ forcing?

Because if North is 5-4 in the majors and is weak, she'll use 'weak Stayman' instead: she'll pass 2 or 2♠ and if opener responds 2 (no 4-card major, partner) will sign off in 2

With this strong 5-4 holding, Stayman doesn't work well. Opener responds 2 and you end up in an inferior 3NT – the 8-card heart fit is never found.

So where are your 10 tricks coming from?

West leads the 6♣ . You can count 5 trump tricks, 3 spade tricks and one club trick. Where's the 10th?

Or put another way: you're going to lose one club, 2 diamonds and (once you've cleared trumps) your 4th spade. How do you avoid losing 4 tricks?

The answer to both questions is the same: you avoid losing your 4th spade by ruffing a spade in dummy – the short trump hand. But of course you have to do that BEFORE you clear trumps – otherwise you won't have any trumps left in dummy to ruff with!

So win trick 1. Cash the K, play a low spade to the A and ruff a spade. There's no need to 'ruff high' as ALL three trumps in dummy are 'tops': you hold all the top trumps down to the 8. Then you clear trumps, not caring a jot that East has 4 of them, and you come to 10 well deserved tricks.

But you have to plan it from trick 1!

In Box & Bath

Very telling results in Box: 3 out of 4 reached 4, but only one made 10 tricks (and that was because of a defensive error) – should have gone to Trevor's seminar on Declarer Play! One pair missed the hearts (probably via Stayman) and went one off in 3NT.

In Bath, 5 pairs were in hearts (one, strangely, stopping in 3), four making 10 tricks. The other three were in 3NT, all making.

   The previous featured hand – Egg on my face – is now on the Beyond basic bidding Improvers' Page.   
Results
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Calendar
Wed 12th Dec 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 19th Dec 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 2nd Jan 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 9th Jan 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 16th Jan 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 23rd Jan 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 30th Jan 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris