Bridge @ Box
 
Pages viewed in 2017
 
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 ...
 
Friendly Duplicate @ Box Bridge Club

Our Friday evening club has now closed. We had a pretty good run, but sadly all good things eventually come to an end. We'd like to thank all our members for their support over the last five years and hope to see you at alternative Friday evening venues (in Bath, Chippenham or Devizes).

  The next Play & Learn session is on Wednesday 22 November, 9.20 for a 9.30 start.
Play & Learn Wed 15 November
Some pretty dramatic boards this week – made me wish I'd played at Bath the night before. A close result, too: the winners were Sue & Kate with almost 58%, less than 1% ahead of Mark & Sue in second place, followed by Margaret & Stephanie with 54.3%. Well played all.
 
If you'd like to see what happened when the hands were played in Bath, click here and then on 'Travellers'.
 
This week's featured hand is Board 1 – see below.
Hand of the week 15 November 2017

6 spades or 6NT?

Here's a great hand to start off an EW evening's bridge. A balanced 18 points opposite a balanced 16 – and a spade fit, too. Thing is, would you rather be playing in 6♠ or 6NT?

As so often, it all boils down to the final trick. In either contract, you've got 11 tricks off the top – 4 in spades, 3 each in clubs and hearts and one in diamonds – so the question becomes: where's your 12th trick coming from (a) in 6♠  and (b) in 6NT? 

Well, if the K is with South, it's a doddle in either contract: you simply lead a low diamond towards the Q and there's your 12th trick. If you're in spades, it doesn't matter where the K is. You can give up a diamond trick and then ruffing a third round of diamonds in dummy gets you your 12th trick.

But what do you do in 6NT if the K's wrong? Well, then you have to hope that the clubs are split 3-3. Or that the ♣J's in a doubleton. Or that the ♣J can be finessed.

I can't work out the odds exactly (though better players than I, of which there are very many, will be able to do just that!), but I'd say that the chances of making 6♠ (K with South OR trumps 3-2 or in some cases 4-1) are at least 85%. which is pretty good. And the odds of making 6NT (K with South OR clubs 3-3 OR the ♣J get-at-able) are near enough the same.

So since 6NT earns you 10 points more than 6S, maybe 6NT is the place to be. 

Maybe? Well, yes. 'Cos there's something else going on here, and that's how easy it is to get it right (a) in spades and (b) in NT. In spades it's fairly straightforward: take a couple of rounds of trumps, then attack the diamonds and get your ruff (OK, if the trumps are 4-1, you have to be a bit careful). But in NT, it's much trickier. For a start, do you try the diamonds first or the clubs? (Answer: the diamonds, because they necessarily involve you losing a trick.) And how do you work the clubs? Do you try to drop the ♣J? Or try a couple of rounds and then if it hasn't appeared try to finesse it?

You see what I mean? NT are worth more, but more difficult to play. Spades are worth less, but are easier to play. So the answer is: it's up to you! 

The full deal

If you look at the full deal, you'll see that the K is wrong. As we've seen, this doesn't matter two hoots if you're in spades: just give 'em a diamond trick and ruff the 3rd round of diamonds.

But in NT, it's a different story: you test the diamonds and your Q loses to North's King. Now you have to get the clubs right to succeed. And as you can see, if you simply bang out your ♣AKQ, the ♣J doesn't drop ... and that's you one off. To succeed, you have to cash your ♣A, then your ♣Q (noticing North's ♣10 dropping) and then finesse the ♣9 – not at all obvious. In fact, it comes down to a guess. [Actually, a good strategy after losing to the K is to bang out all your winners in hearts and spades before touching the clubs. It may be that a player holding ♣Jxxx will carelessly discard one, not realising what's coming!]

​​In Box & Bath

Given the foregoing, you won't be surprised to learn that in Box, all the pairs in spades made at least 12 tricks, whereas the only pair in 6NT went one off. 

And it wasn't much different in Bath: all the pairs in 6♠ made 12 tricks, but only ONE of the five pairs in 6NT made their contract. It's just one of those hands!

 

Hand of the week 1st November 2017

That's bridge!

Take a look at this EW holding. Pretty good, huh? In spades, all being well you should be making 3 club tricks, two each in hearts and diamonds and 7 trump tricks. That's a grand slam plus one! Or if the trumps unkindly split 4-1 you'll only make the small slam *. It's a bit awkward to find – and I have no particular fondness for the auction shown, which is a bit of a 'punt' – but any pair having seen both hands will be disappointed if they've failed to find the small slam at least. 

But the bubble is about to burst. South leads a heart, which you (East) win with your singleton A. You lead a spade to dummy's Queen at trick two ... and North shows out. The trumps are split 5-0. Ouch!

There are layouts where a skilled declarer can salvage 12 tricks in spades even when South holds ♠J9762, but sadly this is not one of them. 

So what happens at the post-mortem? To help you, here are the probabilities of the outstanding trumps splitting 3-2, 4-1 and 5-0:

3-2    This happens 68% of the time.
4-1    This happens 28% of the time.
5-0    This happens 4% of the time.

So with this particular holding, EW will make a grand slam a hefty 73.5% of the time ** , a small slam (with or without an overtrick) 96% of the time and 11 tricks just 4% of the time.

  • I don't think anyone will get into trouble for not bidding the grand slam, even though it's odds-on to make. A small slam will usually net a good score. That said, the grand's the place to be, and can be reached if West bids 4NT Blackwood over East's 4♠ and East replies showing 4 keycards.
  • No EW pair in the room should be in less than 6♠. Stands to reason: if you bid 6♠ you'll get a good score 24 times out of 25.
  • So any EWs who are congratulating themselves on stopping in 4♠ (OK, understandable in the circumstances) should actually be working out how it was that they failed to reach the slam and make sure they bid it next time they have a similar holding. After all, bidding the way they just did will get them a bottom 24 times out of 25 – they were very lucky to get away with it this time!

So spare a thought for Peggy, who sniffed the possible slam and asked for my help in getting there. We duly did ... and they ended up with a whacking bottom – all because they got to the right contract!  To misquote Alex Ferguson's famous remark after nicking the Champion's League off Bayern Munich, 'That's bridge!' 

​​In Box & Bath

In Box, all EW pairs were in a major game (mostly spades) except for Peggy & Phyllis, who were in 6♠. Everyone made 11 tricks.

In Bath, most of the room was in 6♠, and various pairs were also in 7♠ (well bid!), 6 and 7X, all making 11 tricks, as in Box. One doubly unfortunate pair ended up in 4NT (I suspect a Blackwood bid misunderstood by partner) going 3 off – odd, when EW have 10 tricks off the top.


* unless the singleton is the ♠J, in which case you'll still make 13 tricks.

** That's 68% plus an extra 5.5% of hands when the  ♠J is singleton (see * above).

   The previous featured hand –  The only thing it can mean – is now on the Beyond 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 Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 8th Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 1st Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 25th Oct 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 18th Oct 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Trev
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 11th Oct 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Trev
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 4th Oct 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Calendar
Wed 22nd Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 29th Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 6th Dec 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 13th Dec 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 20th Dec 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 3rd Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 10th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
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 Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 8th Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 1st Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 25th Oct 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 18th Oct 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Trev
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 11th Oct 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Trev
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 4th Oct 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Calendar
Wed 22nd Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 29th Nov 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 6th Dec 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 13th Dec 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 20th Dec 2017
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 3rd Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 10th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris