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 15 August 9.20 for a 9.30 start.
Play & Learn Wed 08 August
A fun set of hands this morning, more than one of them with slam potential – see this week's Hand of the week, coming up below.
 
Congratulations to Helen & Caroline and Kate & Liz, who were equal first, followed by Irene & Jenny in third place.
 
To see what happened when the hands were played in Bath, click here and then on 'Travellers'.
 
This week's featured hand is board 8 – see below.
Hand of the week 08 August 2018

Which slam?

Whenever you have a combined holding of 30ish points, you should be thinking 'Slam?' For 6NT you'll normally need 33 points, but in a suit you can often get away with fewer.

So when partner opens 1 and you have 17 points, as here, you know you could be in slam territory. What to respond? What you mustn't do under any circumstances is raise partner to 4 – this is a weak shutout bid that partner will pass. Bye bye slam! Instead, you need to keep the bidding open and find out more about partner's hand. The simplest way of doing that is to respond with a suit of your own: 2♣ forces partner to bid again and with luck her rebid will give you the information you need.

As indeed it does: partner's 2NT rebid shows 15+ points, which means you're definitely in slam territory. 

But which slam? It's a toss-up between 6 and 6NT. The good thing about 6 is that it's easier to make than 6NT – trumps give you extra protection plus the possibility of making an extra trick by ruffing. On the other hand, 6NT scores 10 points more than 6, so at pairs can make all the difference between a top and an average score. But then on the other other hand, you might not have enough strength for 6NT: if partner has only 15 points, you only have 32 between you, which is probably fine for 6 but maybe not for 6NT.

So if you're playing safe, bid 6. And if you're feeling frisky, go for 6NT.

How does it go?

Have a look at the whole deal. 6 looks pretty straightforward: you have 2 certain spade tricks, 4 hearts, 3 diamonds, 2 clubs and ... where's the 12th trick coming from?

Yes, that's right. You can discard North's losing club on the 3rd round of diamonds and then ruff a club, and there's your 12th trick. That's the beauty of trumps!

6NT, however, is more difficult. North indeed does have only 15 points, so you're a tad under strength. Actually, once you've forced out the ♠A, you can squeeze East in clubs and spades. If you bang out your red suits, she can't keep both her 4th spade and her 3rd club ... but that's a bit advanced for these pages. We can just be thankful that we ended up in 6 instead!

Couldn't I just have gone straight for Blackwood over 1?

No, not really. What if you partner's got a really weak 'rule-of-twenty' opening? You'll end up in 5, which might be too high! Better to wait at least until she's made her 2nd bid.

'I don't do slams.'

Many less experienced players are afraid of bidding slams, thinking that they're something for 'better players'. Which, of course, is daft. Sure, it can be a bit scary waiting for dummy to go down, but so it can be for a simple part-score. If the 12 tricks are there and you play the cards sensibly, a slam's no more difficult than any other contract. You've got to be in it to win it ...

In Box and Bath

In Box, everyone got to 6 (with a bit of bullying from me). Two made and one went one off.

In Bath, 7 pairs played in 6 and 3 preferred 6NT – all making 12 tricks. As did the two pairs who stopped in 4 and 5. Only one pair made 11 tricks and they'd stopped in 3NT anyway.

The Bath result shows the advantage of 6NT (provided you can make it!) over the suit slam. 6 earned those who bid it a score of 50%. The three in 6NT, however, scored 91.6%. Good for them!

 

Hand of the week 01 August 2018

Up the line

Here's the simplest of questions: sitting West, what do you bid in response to partner's opening 1♣?

Well, what they teach in beginners' class is that responder (that's you) should bid 4-card suits 'up the line' – in other words, start with the 'cheapest' suit, the one that takes up the least bidding space. On this hand, that would mean you should bid 1 rather than 1♠. 

Why's that? We're always being told that major suits are much more important than minors, so isn't it better to show the major instead? Not really, no. Imagine that your partner started with 5 clubs and 4 spades (she'd have to have more clubs than spades or she would have opened 1♠ in the first place, wouldn't she?). So after your 1 response her next bid is going to be spades anyway, isn't it – there's never a danger that you're going to miss a 4-4 spade fit. And it might be important for partner to know that you have a diamond suit – if she's interested in no trumps, for example.

Or it might be very important, as it is here.

Take a look at the whole deal. Let's say that over your response (whether it was 1 or 1♠) North bids a preemptive 4, as he did at my table at Bath. If I'm sitting East and my partner's just bid 1 I'm getting a good feeling: we have a splendid diamond fit and I have a hand with just 4 losers: I shall bid 5 and expect to make it.

But if my partner's response was 1♠, I'm stuck. I can't punt 5 – if partner's short it could be disastrous, especially with us being vulnerable, and 5♣ is just as dangerous for the same reason. I can't double for penalties because I've no idea if we can defeat the contract. All I can do is pass.

And what happens? 4 goes just one off for a miserable 50 points, whereas 5 makes comfortably – its success requires the ♣K to be with North, which it is, so that's a lovely 600 points in the bag. The best NS can do is sacrifice in 5, which will now certainly be doubled for penalties and goes 2 off for 300 – not as good as 600 but a good deal better than 50.

Handy things, those beginners' classes.

In Box and Bath

In Box, two EW pairs (possibly encouraged by me) bid and made 5, one stopped in 3♣ and one very lucky NS pair bid 3 and made 10 tricks.

In Bath, not one EW pair got a sniff of a contract. Two NS pairs ended up in 4♠ (after a dodgy 4-point weak 2♠ overcall by South) and the rest were all in 2, 3 or 4, all making 9 tricks. Not much West can say after a spade intervention, but in the other cases no West can have done the simplest thing in the world and responded 1 or surely EW would have reached game in diamonds.

 

Hand of the week 25 July 2018

Open book

Remember all those seminars about declarer "seeing through the back of opponents' cards" by making inferences from the auction and opening leads? With all those specially constructed hands? Well, here's an example from real life.

You're West, declarer in 3NT. (After South's overcall of 1, your partner's 2 rebid is asking whether you have a diamond stop for no trumps – and indeed you have!) North leads the ♠3, down goes dummy and you're off. 

OK. Time to peep through the back of your opponents' cards. Look at the auction, count your points, check out the opening lead ... and there are two huge inferences you can make. One's blindingly obvious and the other needs a moment or two's thought. Have a go before reading on.

What's blindingly obvious is that South has all the missing diamonds: she overcalled, so has at least 5, and you have the remaining 8! So without so much as peeping you can see  A 10 9 7 2 in South's hand. This suggests that you could do worse than lead diamonds from dummy at every opportunity.

The second inference is closely connected. The defenders have just 10 points between them, and South must have nearly all of these for her overcall. She surely therefore holds the only other missing high card: the ♠K. Otherwise, she's making an overcall not only with a thin suit but with just 7 points – ugh! And if that ♠3 is North's 4th highest spade, then the ♠J must be with North.

So it's up with the ♠10 from dummy, South duly plays the ♠K and you win trick 1 with the ♠A.

What now? Well, it's dead easy. You just want to keep leading diamonds from dummy, beating whatever card South plays. You have plenty of entries to dummy (2 hearts, one spade and one club) so off you go. Hearts are the best option, as you want to get rid of dummy's KQ in order to free up the A in your hand. 

So a heart over to the K and lead a small diamond. Beat whatever South plays and go back and do it again. And again ...

At some point, of course, she'll get fed up and play her A, but that'll be the only trick they take, as you'll see if you take a look at the whole deal. You'll have 2 spades, 3 hearts, 4 diamonds and 3 club tricks for a cold 12 tricks. And all because you took a few moments at trick one to make a couple of pretty straightforward inferences – play the ♠Q at trick 1 and you're down to 11 tricks.

A reasonable overcall?

But should South be overcalling at all? Well, she has 8 points and a just-about-adequate diamond suit, but 3 of her points are in a singleton, so it's pretty marginal. Unfortunately for NS, the overcall provides exactly the information a thoughtful declarer needs to make an unbiddable small slam. Without the overcall it's a whole lot more difficult.

In Box and Bath

In Box, everyone reached 3NT (though only once by West) and made 9, 10 or 11 tricks. 

In Bath, 8 of the 11 EW pairs got to 3NT, all making, but only one made 12 tricks. The other 3 contracts were an inferior 4♠ by West making 10 tricks, an extraordinarily underbid 2♣ by East making 11 tricks and an inexplicable 4♠X by North going 7 off for -1700. 


POSTSCRIPT – Hang on a minute ...

... can't South scupper declarer's plan?

Yes, indeed. An alert South can drive a coach and horses through it. But then again, an alert declarer can anticipate South's super defence, counter it and still make 12 tricks.

Can you see (a) South's best defence and (b) how declarer can nullify it?

ANSWER BELOW

South must hold up her A until the third round (so dummy's last diamond has been played). She can then stick declarer in dummy by leading a club. With no diamonds or hearts left in dummy, declarer can't get back to her hand to cash her A or remaining 2 diamonds and so will have to concede a club and a spade trick to North.

How can declarer stop that? She has to hope that South has no more than 3 clubs and 2 spades. Before leading her last diamond from dummy, she cashes her ♣AKQ and ♠Q. Then, when South takes her A, she has only hearts and diamonds left, and so must lead one – giving declarer access to all her winners. Yey!

 

   The previous featured hand – Discretion is ... – is now on the Basic bidding Improvers' Page.   
Click for the latest results
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 15th Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 8th Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 1st Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 25th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 18th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 11th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 4th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Trevor
Calendar
Wed 22nd Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 29th Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Click for the latest results
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 15th Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 8th Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 1st Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 25th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 18th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 11th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 4th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Trevor
Calendar
Wed 22nd Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 29th Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor