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 14 February, 9.20 for a 9.30 start.
Play & Learn Wed 07 February
An interesting set of hands this morning, notable for several hands which outperformed the high-card points. 4♠ for NS on a combined 20 points in board 2, for example, or 6♣ for EW on a combined 27 points on board 10. Sue & Phyllis finished in first place with almost 59%, less than 1% ahead of Bernadette & Marilyn and Jenny & Irene in joint second place. 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 4.
Hand of the week 07 February 2018

'Acologic'

Question: What's the difference, from opener's partner's point of view, between an opening 1NT and an opening of 1 of a suit, say 1♠? 

Answer: an opening 1NT describes partner's hand pretty completely in one go: it's 12-14 points and balanced (= 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2 or 5-3-3-2). An opening 1♠, by contrast, is wide open: it could be one-suited, two-suited, balanced, unbalanced and anything from 10 points up to 19 or even 20. 

Which is why, if you're not simply going to raise partner's suit, you need to know more. And the obvious way to find out more is simply to change the suit. In Acol, a change of suit is forcing and it's opener's second bid that really brings her holding into focus.

On this hand, sitting East, you know you should be in game, but should it be spades, or maybe hearts, or no trumps? You need to know more about partner's hand. So a simple change of suit ... Ah! A problem! Uniquely in Acol, a 2 response to an opening 1♠ requires FIVE hearts, and you only have four. And hearts is your only biddable suit. How, then, to find out more about partner's hand?

The answer is to 'invent' a bid that will achieve your aim: 2♣. How will partner rebid? There are a number of possibilities:

  • With a balanced 15+ she'll rebid 2NT, which would suit you fine – you can always check for 5 spades by bidding 3♠ on your way to game.
  • With a one-suited spade hand she'll rebid spades, at an appropriate level. Problem solved. You bid 4♠. (If she jumps straight to 4♠ herself, you might want to explore for a slam.)
  • With a two-suited hand, she'll show her 2nd suit. If she bids 2, she has at least 5 spades and at least 4 hearts: you have a double fit. (Go for the hearts: the more balanced trump holding will possibly score an extra trick). ...
  • ... or she'll bid 2, or maybe raise your clubs. In either case, she's now known to have 5 spades, so you can go straight to 4♠.

Two points here. One, your ad hoc strategem of inventing a club suit isn't going to misfire – you're either going to end up in spades or NT and either suits you. Two, if partner does raise you to 3♣, are you really sure that means she has 5 spades as well? Well, yes. It's all down to 'Acologic'. You can take it on trust or read on below ...

Acologic at work

OK.Take it slowly. Let's imagine that partner has just 4 spades. Must be her longest suit. And let's imagine that she has 4 clubs as well (she can't have 5 or she'd have opened 1♣ to start with!). That leaves 5 other cards to be shared between hearts and diamonds. They can't be 5-0 (same reason as with the clubs). Nor can they be 4-1 – there's no 4-4-4-1 holding that opens 1♠. So they must be 3-2. So partner must have 4-3-2-4. A balanced hand. But she didn't open 1NT. So she must have 15+ points: she's opened 1♠ with the intention of rebidding No Trumps, then. OK so far?

Right. So when you bid your 2♣ over her 1♠, she's going to rebid 2NT, to show you a balanced hand with 15+ points. She's not going to support your clubs – who's interested in clubs when no trumps is a possibility?

Therefore, if partner DOES support your clubs, she can't have the balanced hand above with just 4 spades. She must have an unbalanced hand with at least 5-4 in spades and clubs. QED. 

So you're safe to jump to 4♠. End of auction.

​​In Box & Bath

After all that, it turns out that 4♠ is far from easy to make. West has opened on a 'rule of 20' 11 points, and though everyone in Box found the spade fit (and 3 out of 5 went to game), only one pair made 10 tricks, some only making 8. 

In Bath, nearly everyone was in 4♠, but only 2 pairs made it. 6 more made 9 tricks and a further 4 just 8 tricks. So although you should certainly be in game, if you went off you're in good company!

How to make the contract?

Have a look at the whole deal. As you can see, the ♠Q is in a doubleton, so it drops; you can finesse in either direction, so you just need to guess it right. Say you do. You have 5 tricks in spades, one in diamonds, one in clubs (lead small towards your ♣K and the ♣A is conveniently placed with South), and – as luck would have it – three tricks in hearts, because the Q drops on the second heart trick, giving you the 10th trick with your J. The other chance for a 10th trick is the 'long' diamond, after the defence have taken their two diamond tricks.

But it's far from easy, as a glance at the Box and Bath results will show!

Hand of the week 31 January 2018

Taking your 9 tricks

A pretty standard auction leaves me, sitting North, as declarer in 3NT. Unsurprisingly, East leads a little heart – the 2: I've denied 4 hearts, after all, and so has my partner, so it's a pretty obvious lead. And it's up to me to plan a way of making the required 9 tricks. As declarer, I'm looking for answers to these questions:

  • How many heart tricks am I going to lose?
  • How many 'top tricks' do I have? Where are the others going to come from?
  • What am I going to do when I get the lead?

What about the hearts? Well, if that 2 is the 4th highest, East has just 4 hearts, and therefore so does West. Which is good news: if they were 5-3, EW could possibly make 4 heart tricks plus the A for one down. Still, I'm going to hold off winning with my A until trick 3, just in case East's lying!

I've got 6 top tricks: 3 clubs, 2 spades and one heart. The other three will have to come from diamonds.

My best chance of 3 diamond tricks is if West holds the A. So when I get the lead I'm going to lead a small diamond towards my KQ, more than once if necessary.

OK. Let's try it. West takes trick 1 with the K and leads a second heart to East's Q. I win trick 3 with my A, leaving EW with (I hope!) one heart each. 

Now to put my plan into action. To lead a small diamond towards my hand I need to be in dummy. Fortunately, I have two handy entries: the ♣A and ♣Q. How does it go?

  • I cross to dummy with a club and lead a low diamond. West plays low and I win with the K. So far so good.
  • Now I have to do the same again. Back to dummy with another club and lead low towards my Q. Let's say West plays her A this time. I play low and the J drops from East. I've set up my diamonds!
  • West now cashes their 3rd heart trick, but that's all they take. I have the rest: two spades, a club and two diamonds. Nine tricks.

Have a look at the whole deal. Pretty simple, really. But it exemplifies the single most important aspect of declarer play in no trumps: if you need to set up winners in a suit and that involves losing the lead, make it a priority. Specifically, do it while you still have stops in all the other suits. If you muck around cashing a couple of spade tricks, for example, you'll be giving away a trick to the ♠Q and that'll cost you your contract.

Why hold up on tricks 1 and 2? A hypothetical case

Well, if you're sure the hearts are 4-4, there's no need. But supposing East is leading the 2 from a three-card holding and also holds the A? If you take trick 1 or 2, when East wins her A she'll be able to lead a small heart to West's heart winners. But if you hold up till trick 3, she won't have a heart left to lead. She'll have to lead a club or a diamond or a spade, thus giving you your contract. As it happens the hearts are 4-4 and West has the A anyway, but better safe than sorry.

​​In Box & Bath

In Box, 4 out of 5 NS pairs found 3NT (the fifth being in a less felicitous 4♠), but two pairs went off. If you were North, it might be worth trying to work out where you went wrong, because 9 tricks are 'cold'.

In Bath, everyone was in 3NT, with 11 out of 14 making 9 tricks. The three that went off all got a club or spade lead rather than a heart, but that actually makes things easier so I'm not sure what went wrong. Mysterious game, bridge.

   The previous featured hand –  My rule of 10 – is now on the Beyond basic bidding Improvers' Page.   
Click for the latest results
Starting on January 8th 2018 ...
Starting on January 8th 2018 ...

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 will be 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 14th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 7th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 31st Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 24th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 17th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 10th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 3rd Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Calendar
Wed 21st Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 28th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 7th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 14th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 21st Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 28th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 4th Apr 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Click for the latest results
Starting on January 8th 2018 ...
Starting on January 8th 2018 ...

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 will be 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 14th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 7th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 31st Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 24th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 17th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 10th Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 3rd Jan 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Calendar
Wed 21st Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 28th Feb 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 7th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Trevor
Scorer: Trevor
Wed 14th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 21st Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 28th Mar 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris
Wed 4th Apr 2018
Play & Learn
Director: Chris
Scorer: Chris