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Welcome to Bridge @ Box
  The next Play & Learn session is on Wednesday 20 March 9.20 for a 9.30 start.

Kingswood Charity Duplicate Bridge Day 2019

Saturday 11th May 10am–4pm @ Kingswood School, Bath


Enjoy a great day's bridge with coffee, lunch + a glass of wine and afternoon tea, all for £25, while supporting a really worthwhile charity. 

All proceeds will go to the Open Arms Infant Home in Malawi.


Contact Jenny Opie: jro@kingswood.bath.sch.uk or 01225 734200.

Hand of the week 13 March 2019

It's simple – if you remember!

As we discovered in last autumn's seminar on not missing game, it's often responder's 2nd bid that makes or breaks an auction. On this hand, sitting East, it's simple enough to bid 1 in response to partner's opening 1, but what do you bid next, over partner's 1 rebid? 

It's pretty obvious that you'll now want to show your club support. With a minor fit, you're interested in no trumps, of course, but so is your partner – if she's got the diamonds covered she'll no doubt let you know. So what's your bid?

If your answer's 2, you've probably just missed game. Why's that? Well, each bid you make gives information about two things: shape and strength. If your first bid is a change of suit, as here, that says little about your strength: merely that you've got more than 5 points. You could have 6 or you could have 20. Your 2nd bid is an opportunity to tie that down a little. So how do you show partner that you have not 6, not 20, but 10 points? Simple: raise her to the three level: 3. Now she has no problem finding the right contract: 3NT.

So what's the 'remember' bit in the title all about? Well, imagine West had opened 1. With heart support and 10 points, you'd have raised her to 3 in your sleep. It's exactly the same in the current auction. Nothing's changed. You have support for partner's clubs. And you still have 10 points. So you still want to raise to the three level. And that's what a lot of responders forget on their 2nd bid: they want to show their fit and forget that they haven't yet said anything about their strength. It happens time and time (and time) again.

The whole deal

Have a look at the whole deal. 

Your partner has a very pleasant 17 points. She'd like to tell you that on her 2nd bid, but she can't: a jump shift to 2 would be absolutely forcing to game, and for all she knows you only have 6 points. So she crosses her fingers and hopes you won't pass her 1 rebid. If you now say 2, she may well conclude that you're hovering around 5-7 points and simply pass 2. She shouldn't, of course, because she's strong enough to bid 2NT – in which case you'll (luckily!) have a chance to correct your mistake and raise her to 3NT. But if you end up in a part-score it'll be at least partly your fault.

How does it go?

North may prefer to lead her J (leading through dummy's suit) rather than her J (leading round to declarer's suit). If not, she'll certainly switch to a heart lead when she comes in with her K. Declarer must, of course, cover with dummy's Q, limiting South to just three heart tricks. Leaving declarer with nine tricks – 10 if North never leads hearts.

In Box and Bath

In Box, everyone was in 3NT, all making.

In Bath, things were more varied. One pair managed to fade out in 2♣ – making 11 tricks! – while another somehow managed to stop in 2NT (making 10 tricks). Most of the others were in 3NT – all by West – but a couple of Wests, tempted by their 5-loser holdings, tried the club slam, which goes off as the ♣K is wrong.

Hand of the week 06 March 2019

Just in case ...

You're sitting East with the hand shown. On the auction so far, what are your thoughts on your partner's hand? What's her holding in the minors? And in the majors? And what about her point-count?

Well, she must have at least 4 diamonds. Let's assume just 4. What about her clubs? If she only had 4, she'd have opened 1 instead, wouldn't she? So she must have 5 clubs. And if she happens to have 5 diamonds, then – by the same reasoning – she must have six clubs. Either way, she's got a maximum of just four cards in the majors. 

And the point-count? Well, she might have 16+ or (as she's clearly an unbalanced distribution) an ordinary opening hand with 6 losers.

So what next? We're all trained to prefer NT to a minor suit contract, but on this holding I'm not so sure. The opposition have at least 17 cards in the majors (though presumably there are no 6-card suits, as no-one has thought to come in with a weak 2) and the right major lead through the right hand could prove disastrous.

How would you do it? You could bid 3 to show your heart stop and if your partner has a spade stop she'll bid 3N ... which means that a possible heart lead will be coming through your Kx. Eek! Alternatively, you could (as Trevor recommends, and most did in Bath) simply coolly bid 3NT and hope for the best – if you can get away with trick 1 you're probably OK.

If you don't fancy NT, you could bid 5 – with your 16-count, you don't want to settle for less than game. But then ... hmm. If no trumps do come in, they'll surely make 10 tricks or more, for a score which'll beat 5 into a cocked hat. So if we're going to get a bottom anyway, let's try for the slam*. We have, after all, a splendid double fit – and only 12 losers between us, which ought to mean that 12 tricks are on ... With that spade holding, Blackwood's not a great deal of use, so why not just go for glory and punt 6?

How does it go?

Have a look at the whole deal. It all comes down to the location of the A ... which happens to be perfectly placed for both diamonds and NT. In NT, on a likely J lead, declarer will take the first 11 tricks and lose the last two (it would be foolhardy to touch spades until the contract's in the bag). In 6, declarer has to attack the spades for her 12th trick ... but luckily for her it works.

In Box and Bath

In Box, 3 pairs were in 3NT, making 9 or 11 tricks; the other pair stopped in 4♣.

In Bath, 7 pairs were in 3NT (mostly by East), making 11 or 12 tricks and two felt safer in 5.

So ... why didn't anyone try for the slam? Well, it's not a great slam to be in, depending as it does on a finesse. But the pairs in 5 got a wretched score anyway, so they might as well have bid it just in case ...


* For another example of punting a minor slam for the same reason, see the HOTW 3NT ... or look for 6♣? in the Beyond basic bidding section, back on 14 January, 2015.

Hand of the week 27 February 2019

Two options

Here's a tricky contract: East leads the 7 against 4 and you're in the hot seat, sitting North. How do you maximise your chances? What are the opportunities – and what are the dangers?

Well, you've got 8 top tricks: 5 hearts, two clubs and the A. Where are the other two coming from? There are possibilities in two suits:

  • DIAMONDS. There's a 50% chance that West has the A. If so, your troubles are probably over – you win trick 1 in dummy, lead a low diamond towards your K. If West rises with the A, you can now cash your K and ruff a diamond in dummy (with a high trump, just in case). And now you clear trumps and attack the spades ...
    Note  Obviously you must deal with the diamonds before you clear trumps or you won't have a trump left in dummy to ruff a diamond with!
  • SPADES. If East has the A, never mind – you can still eventually engineer a diamond ruff in dummy – but now you will need two tricks in spades. As we've seen in several previous HOTWs, the way forward is the 'double finesse', which has a whopping 76% chance of succeeding (see below). Lead a low spade toward dummy's 10, expecting to lose. Then repeat, towards the J, this time expecting to win. 

So how does it go? Take a look at the whole deal.

  • West does indeed have the A: say she wins trick 2 and returns her partner's club lead. You win in hand, cash the K and ruff your last diamond with the K.
  • Now clear trumps, ending in your hand, and the stage is set to try for the overtrick ...
  • Finesse the 10, losing to the K, ruff the return and you're ready for the coup de grace ...
  • Lead a low spade towards the J. It wins and you now have 11 tricks. Lovely!

The double finesse

How come the odds are so good for the double finesse? Well, there are four ways the spade honours can lie: (1) Q with East and K with West; (2) the other way around; (3) East has KQ (4) West has KQ. You're only going to lose two spade tricks in layout (4). In layouts (1), (2) and (3) you lose just one spade trick.

For more on this, see Split honours (Declarer play in a suit, 15 Jan 2014); Split honours (Declarer play in NT, 24 May 2017)

In Box and Bath

In Box, 3 pairs were in 4, one going off, and the other was in 3NT, making. No-one made 11 tricks.

In Bath, only 3 pairs reached 4 (making 9, 10 and 11 tricks). Most of the others were in 3NT.

   The previous featured hand – 'Aces are for killing Kings' – is now on the Defence Improvers' Page.   
Results
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Calendar
Wed 20th Mar 2019
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Wed 27th Mar 2019
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Wed 3rd Apr 2019
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Wed 10th Apr 2019
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Wed 17th Apr 2019
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Wed 24th Apr 2019
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Wed 1st May 2019
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