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 20 June 9.20 for a 9.30 start.
Play & Learn Wed 13 June
A tricky set of hands this week - difficult to find the right level on some of them - see this week's HOTW. Suzanne & Helen found the right level more than most, with 66.7%, as did Helen & Ainslie with 59.5% and Margaret & Pat with 56%. Well played all. 
 
To see what happened when the hands were played in Bath, click here and then on 'Travellers'.
 
This week's featured hand is board 12 – see below.
Hand of the week 13 June 2018

Unlucky

This is just one of those deals. With 25 points between them, NS are going to end up in 4 or 3NT (if I'm sitting South I'm going to insist on 4 but some won't). Both of which go off. 

On the auction shown, East doesn't come in with 2♠, though she well might: her suit isn't very good, but she has opening points. Shouldn't affect the final contract, though, or the result.

So what happens? On the auction shown, East leads her ♠A and her partner encourages with the ♠6. Then the ♠K, with West completing the 'peter' with her ♠4, confirming a doubleton. Then a spade ruff by West, and with the trump Ace missing it's all over for declarer.

If East intervenes in the auction with 2♠, South will bid 4 and become declarer. West will lead her ♠6 (partner's suit) and the outcome will be the same: two spade tricks, a spade ruff and the trump Ace for EW.

And in 3NT? EW take the first two spade tricks, declarer taking the 3rd. And when East comes in with her A she cashes her two remaining spades for one off.   

So are NS wrong to bid game? Not a bit of it. With 25 points that's where you want to be. On another day, the spades will be 4-4 or 5-3 and North will have the doubleton and declarer will bring the contract home.

So no recriminations when you go off. It's just hard luck. Most of the time game will be on - and on those occasions you need to be in it. Remember that most of the other NS pairs in the room will be in it too. So when it makes, you'll get a respectable score. And when it doesn't, it's not disastrous as most other pairs will be going off too.

Let's see how it panned out in Box and Bath ...

 

In Box and Bath

Hmm. Two pairs stopped in 3, which makes. Lucky them! Should have been in game, though. On another day, a part score will look pretty manky compared with other NS pairs' 620 for game bid and made. The other two ended up in 3NT. One went one off (see the above defence) and the other was allowed to make (even though a spade was led). Which is another reason for bidding game - even if it's not on, you'll sometimes make it through a defensive error. 

In Bath, it was a bit different. Three pairs ended up in part scores, making (2NT, 2 x 3), but the other eight all bid to game, either 3NT or 4. All were kept to no more than 8 tricks in NT or 9 tricks in hearts (except for one pair who didn't bid to game!). Unlucky for them - but on another day it'll be another story.

Hand of the week 06 June 2018

Split honours

There are a couple of far from basic issues that might arise from this 16-point (!) slam, one being how on earth to bid it (the auction shown is pure invention on my part - see below for a half-baked explanation of it). There's also the question of whether it's a 'good slam to be in' - in other words, what are the odds of making it? (Again, see below.)

But for you, sitting West as declarer in 6, there's a more basic concern: how am I going to make it? How about it? North leads the ♠K and you need 12 tricks. How do you play it?

Well, you're missing the QJ5 of trumps, so you really need the hearts to split 2-1 - don't worry: most of the time they will. And then there's the diamond holding. You're going to lose a diamond trick for sure. But you can't afford to lose a second. And there's the rub. After winning trick 1 and clearing trumps, how do you approach the diamonds?

Well, you finesse. But because you're missing both the K and the Q, you have to finesse twice. What you're hoping is either that North holds both honours, or that they're split - one in the North hand and one in the South. How does it work? Go over to your hand (ruffing a spade is a good way) and lead a low diamond to the 10. It loses to the Q. No matter. Get the lead back and lead a second low diamond from your hand to the J. If it holds, you're home.

Have a look at the whole deal. As it happens, the diamond honours are split: South takes a trick with her Queen, but that's all they get. Provided you play it properly, of course. Let's sum up the 3 elements:

  • First, clear trumps!
  • Take a diamond finesse, expecting it to lose.
  • Take it again, expecting it to win.
  • And to do this, you need ENTRIES. You have to be able to get to your (pointless!) hand TWICE, once for each finesse. You can do this with 2 spade ruffs (you can also get there by leading a low trump, but why waste them?)
     

So is it a 'good' slam?

Right. Here come the numbers. For the slam to make you need two things:

1 A 2-1 trump split  The odds for this are 78%. So far so good.

Luck with the diamond distribution   ... but not that much. The odds are 52% that the honours will be split, 24% that North holds them both (which would also suit you fine) and 24% that South holds them both (which wouldn't). So you're only losing one diamond trick 76% of the time. Which is pretty good.

However, you need BOTH of these to happen for the slam to make, so that means a bit of multiplying is in order. And 78% x 76% comes to 58.3%. The slam will make nearly 60% of the time - not bad odds. But you have to play it right!
 

Not really biddable, though, is it?

No, not really. My auction, for what it's worth, was:

N 1♠  -   Rule of 20 opening bid.
E 3♣   -  Ghestem, showing at least 5-5 in hearts and diamonds.
S 4♠  -  A perfectly good raise to game, with 13 points and 7 losers.
W 5  -  No points but 5 hearts! A sacrifice (both pairs vulnerable, so can afford to go 2 off).
N Pass  -  she's already bid her rather weak hand.
E 6  - What the hell? Why not go for it? I've got the ♠A and partner's obviously short in spades; I'm void in clubs. And I've got two great red suits.
S X  -  Huh! They're not getting away with that ...!
 

In Box and Bath

In Box, we had two EW pairs in 4 and one NS in 4♠. Neither of the heart declarers made 12 tricks.

In Bath, no one bid the slam either. About half the contracts were NS in spades, and half EW in hearts. But 5 out of the 6 heart declarers made 12 tricks. They know their double finesses @ Bath!

Hand of the week 30 May 2018

Between the eyes

Ask five experienced bridge players what they'd bid with this hand and you'll probably get five different answers. But there's one thing they'll ALL agree on without a moment's hesitation, and that's – what? 

Answer: that you need to be at least in game in hearts.

Did the same thought hit you between the eyes? If so, your 'feel' for the game is coming on nicely. Never mind the high cards – the shape itself is enough to suggest game, isn't it?

It's not just an 'instinct' thing, though – there's plenty of hard evidence that you have a powerful holding opposite a 1 opening. Sure, it's only 10 points, but you also have:

  • 5-card support for partner's suit – at least a 9-card combined trump holding
  • a void in the opponents' suit (that's 10 out of the 40 points – ♠AKQJ – that you don't need, then!)
  • a lovely side-suit to develop (and plenty of ways of getting over to your hand to cash your diamond winners)
  • a 5-loser hand with hearts as trumps.

So what do you bid over North's 2♠ weak jump overcall? Well, it's more a question of what you DON'T bid. Since you know game is on, you obviously MUSTN'T make a bid that partner can pass. So whatever you do, don't bid 3 – if partner passes it out, the missed game will be entirely down to you. 4 isn't a great bid – few of those above-mentioned five experienced players will bid it – but it has the virtue of guaranteeing game, and that's GOOD! 3, on the other hand, is disastrous.

So what would they bid, then?

Well, it comes down to the '5 losers' bit. Opposite an ordinary opening hand, a 7-loser hand is normally sufficient for game. But here you have only five losers. You should be sniffing not only game but also a possible slam. There are various possibilities that are 'stronger' than a direct raise to 4. One is to cue-bid their suit – 3♠: this shows sound support in hearts and for some pairs will signal a shortage in spades. Another East might prefer to start off by showing her diamonds with 3 (new suit at the 3 level – forcing to game) intending to support hearts later. Yet another might jump straight to 4NT – RKC Blackwood – though with a spade void that's not ideal. And there are other possibilities.

Whichever 'strong' response is chosen, as you'll see if you look at the whole deal, the result will be that with an 18-count herself West will now look for the slam – which makes easily. In fact, as the trumps happen to split 2-2, you're making not 12 but all 13 tricks. 

But isn't West going to raise 3 to game anyway?

As it happens in this case, yes. But on the other 9/10 occasions, when West has just an ordinary opening hand, she'll pass and game will be missed.

But it's still disastrous, isn't it? Because when West sees 3 from her partner, all ambitions for a slam disappear – she'll raise to game and that'll be it. Slam missed!

In Box and Bath

In Box, everyone ended up in 4. No disgrace in that ...

... especially as only ONE pair in Bath bid the slam. Hmm. I wonder how many Easts said to themselves 'Well, I've got 10 points but my trumps aren't very high' or some such twaddle and slid a 3 bid on the table ...

   The previous featured hand – Pick a major – is now on the Using conventions Improvers' Page.   
Click for the latest results
Play & Learn at Bath Bridge Club
Play & Learn at Bath Bridge Club

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 is 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 13th Jun 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trev
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 6th Jun 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 30th May 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 23rd May 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Sat 19th May 2018
Kingswood 2018
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 16th May 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 9th May 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Calendar
Wed 20th Jun 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 27th Jun 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 4th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 11th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 18th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 25th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 1st Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Click for the latest results
Play & Learn at Bath Bridge Club
Play & Learn at Bath Bridge Club

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 is 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 13th Jun 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trev
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 6th Jun 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 30th May 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 23rd May 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Sat 19th May 2018
Kingswood 2018
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 16th May 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 9th May 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Calendar
Wed 20th Jun 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 27th Jun 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 4th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 11th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 18th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 25th Jul 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 1st Aug 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris