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Welcome to Bridge @ Box
  The next Play & Learn session is on Wednesday 22 May 9.20 for a 9.30 start.

Just checking

Oh my goodness – partner's opened and you've got 20 points: you're in slamland, surely? But in what denomination? Hearts, with luck. So you start with 1.

Partner's 2 rebid rules out hearts, so your thoughts turn to NT. How to find out if partner has a spade stop? I like 2, which is surely forcing. If partner has the spades stopped, she'll bid 2NT and if not (and if she's better than a minimum) she'll bid 2: the 4th suit, asking if you have the spades stopped.

As it happens, she now raises your diamonds: 3. What does this mean? Well, for a start, no spade stop. And probably a minimum opening hand (because she didn't bid the 4th suit). At least 4 diamonds and (therefore) at least 5 clubs. And fewer than 3 hearts. So possibly 2 little spades, then?

Whatever the details, the opposition look to have 9 good spades between them, so that's no trumps ruled out. We're back to clubs, then. But how many? We've surely got 11 tricks, but if partner's got a singleton or void in spades, the slam's on ... You choose!

Then take a look at the whole deal.

What happens?

If you stopped in 5, you're doing well, as NS have two top tricks in spades. On the other hand, if you went for 6 and South doesn't lead a spade, you're making an overtrick!

As it happens, 3NT does make but only because of a fluke: all of North's 4 spades outrank all of South's 5 spades, so NS can never make their 5th spade trick!

In Box and Bath

In Box, 4 of the 5 EW pairs stopped in 5, all making slams as no-one led a spade. One EW pair punted 3NT, which (as noted above) scrapes home.

In Bath, just two pairs punted the club slam, one making and one going off, but several pairs looked for the NT slam, stopping in 4NT – which of course is too high on a spade lead. Oops.


As Trevor will have mentioned, last week's hands came from the EBU's Ebed Sim Pairs. If you'd like to read the expert commentary on this hand (and all the others you played) click here.

Hand of the week 08 May 2019

Choices, choices ...

After two passes, your RH opponent opens a weak 1NT. What do you say with this holding? Pass? Double? 2? 3?

The first thing to notice is that they're going off in 1NT. At best, declarer will make the A and (say) 5 diamond tricks. After which you'll come back in with one of your major aces and take the rest. But if your partner has the A or some kind of stop in diamonds, they're going to be 3 off. This is pretty likely, as passed hands East and South have around 13 points between them.

Should you double for penalties, then? No. A weak East will surely 'wriggle' into a major suit, and given your major holdings they've got a good chance of having a major fit.

Pass, then? Well, it's not a bad option. You've got a good chance of earning 150 points (= 3 off) and Pass has the advantage of not scaring them off. To earn as much in clubs, you'd need to make a very unlikely 11 tricks ...

On the other hand, if East has a 5-card major (which is quite likely) she'll transfer her partner into it and their suit will outrank yours.

Perhaps bidding your suit is a better option after all. But NOT 2, please. Most partnerships use 2 as a conventional bid anyway (eg Landy, showing both majors), but even if you don't 2 isn't going to get you anywhere: East can simply overcall her major and you're outranked again! So if you're going to bid your suit, make it difficult for them: bid 3. Now a weak East will have to think very hard before bidding a flaccid 5-card major at the three level and you'll probably have won the auction. Will it make? Probably, yes: you have 8 certain tricks in your own hand, and your partner has probably got an Ace or King of her own for the 9th trick.

So I think it's a toss-up between Pass and 3, with the latter having an edge because of its preemptive value.

What happens?

Take a look at the whole deal. They're only making 4 tricks in NT, as you're going to take 6 clubs and the three other aces. And in clubs you're making the same 9 tricks, for 110.

BUT, as we suspected, East has 5 hearts and if you pass, double or bid a feeble 2, they're going to end up in hearts – in which suit they can make 8 tricks. So on this hand, 3♣ is the clear winner.

(Yes, I know, it says that North – but not South – can make 3NT. This is due to a number of flukes which compromises any opening lead by East, allowing North to force out the A safely. It's not a contract you want to be in!)

In Box and Bath

In Box, 4 of the 5 NS pairs were in 3, mostly making with overtricks. One EW pair went 2 off in 4, which would have cost a nasty 300 points if doubled.

In Bath it was much more complicated – and competitive – with many NS pairs going (or being forced) too high in clubs. One North punted 3NT, though, and made it for an absolute top.

Hand of the week 01 May 2019

Ogust revisited

When your partner opens a weak 2 – let's make it 2 – she's making a 'limit bid', which describes her hand within set limits: in this case, it's a 6-card suit and 5-9 points (possibly as many as 10 points if vulnerable). She's done her job and it's therefore up to you to decide if you're going further. Most of the time, with no prospect of game, you'll simply pass (though if you've got 3 spades, it's often a good idea to raise to 3, 'bidding to the level of your fit'). And occasionally, you'll jump straight to game (either because you're really strong or as a sacrifice).

But what if (as is often the case) you're not sure if game is on or not. How to invite to game? This hand is a good example. Although you have a maximum of 23 points between you, you have a spade fit with partner and 4 top tricks in your hand. So if your partner can provide 6 spade tricks – or 5 trump tricks and one other trick– you'll want to be in game. Otherwise, not.

The Ogust convention is designed for exactly these situations, and I'd go so far as to say that there's little point in playing weak 2s unless you are also using Ogust. How does it work? Well, you bid 2NT, which is nothing to do with no trumps, but simply a way of asking a question (a bit like Blackwood). And partner responds (from weak to strong) 3, 3, 3, 3 or 3NT. Which, rather cleverly, tell you about both STRENGTH and SUIT QUALITY.

What do they mean? As you'd expect, 3 and 3 are weak in points, with the latter showing a better suit quality (ie two of the top 3 honours). With better points, you respond 3 or 3, the latter again showing better suit quality. And 3NT is reserved for the best possible weak two: AKQxxx in the trump suit.

Back to this hand. You bid 2NT, hoping for what response? Well, partner will need a good SUIT QUALITY to have any hope of making 5 trump tricks, and will also need to have HIGH POINTS to provide the 10th trick. So it will have to be 3 (good suit, max points) or 3NT (AKQxxx) if you're to make game.

And as it happens, as you'll see if you see the whole deal, she has the top-of-the-range AKQxxx. She responds 3NT, you bid 4 and you make a comfortable 10 tricks (11 if South carelessly discards a diamond).

Moral   Become familiar with Ogust and use it if you think you may have game. There's another HOTW (December 2011 – much further down this page!) on the subject which shows you all the responses in tabular form. Well worth getting to grips with.

In Box and Bath

In Box, 2 of the 3 EWs reached game. One made 10 tricks, the other two 11 (South must ensure she keeps all four of her diamonds to stop East making a trick with her 9).

In Bath, 8 out of 10 EWs reached 4♠, most doubtless with the aid of Ogust, with one preferring 3NT. Far too many EWs were allowed to make 11 tricks!


And in the same session ...

... take a look at board 13. With 15 points and good hearts opposite partner's weak 2 opening, South is interested in a possible game. In reply to her Ogust 2NT enquiry, North replies 3 - sorry partner, I've got minimum points and my suit isn't very good either. South therefore signs off in 3, which makes. Without Ogust, South might be tempted just to 'punt' 4 ... and go one off.

  

   The previous featured hand – A great hand for RKCB – is now on the Looking for a slam Improvers' Page.   
Results
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Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Kingswood 2019
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
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Calendar
Wed 22nd May 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 29th May 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 5th Jun 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 12th Jun 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 19th Jun 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
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Wed 26th Jun 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
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Wed 3rd Jul 2019
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris