Crouch End Bridge Club
 
Recent Updates
Home Page
18th Oct 2017 11:47 BST
Contact Us
27th Jul 2017 13:27 BST
 
Pages viewed in 2017
 
Hands from 17th October 2017

This week I am going to look at the bidding on two slam hands and follow that with a note on Stayman.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 9

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J32

P

1N

P

2D

♥  J8

P

2S

P

3C

♦  Q874

P

4C

P

4N

West

♣ J987

East

P

5H

P

6H

♠  T9

 

♠  A65

 

♥  KQ943

♥  AT65

♦  AJ93

♦  KT2

♣  A2

South

♣ K53

Bhcp

9

20        20

11

♠  KQ875

Hcp

5

14        14

7

♥  72

♦  65

♣ QT64

 

The key bid is East’s 2S.  This is breaking the transfer and indicates 4 card heart support, maximum values and the SA.

As hearts are agreed West’s 3C bid is a cue bid showing first round control in that suit.

East’s 4C bid denies the DA, the SK but shows the CK.  Then her 5H response to Blackwood shows 2 key cards without the HQ.  That is enough for the slam to be bid.

Over half the declarers made 12 tricks but the slam was bid by only one pair.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 17

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  9875

P

1C

P

1H

♥  864

P

2S

P

4C

♦  AT754

P

4N

P

6C

West

♣ T

East

 

♠  T3

 

♠  AKJ2

♥  AJT93

♥  K2

♦  K

♦  Q6

♣  KJ543

South

♣ AQ872

Bhcp

7

19        26

8

♠  Q64

Hcp

4

12        19

5

♥  Q75

♦  J9852

♣ 96

 

Once West responds East knows that they have game values.  A rebid of 1S is not forcing and could be passed.  The jump to 2S is game forcing, showing 5 clubs, 4 spades and a minimum of 19 points.

West’s jump to 4C is key card asking and 4NT indicates 2 key cards plus the CQ.  The slam is bid.

Most declarers made 12 tricks but not one pair bid the slam.

 

As West on Board 24 partner opens 1NT and you hold:

♠  QT32

♥  J764

♦  T86

♣  43

You are in trouble.  What can you do?

It is for hands such as these that Stayman with weakness was developed.

West bids 2C.

If opener bids either major West passes with relief.

If opener bids 2D then West’s rebid is 2H.  It is the 2H bid which advertises a weak hand with at least 4 cards in each major.  Opener then chooses the contract, either passing or bidding 2S.

 

Hands from 10th October 2017

This week I’ll look at two slam hands starting with Board 10 where I would have hoped that more than one pair would have bid the only makeable slam.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 10

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  Q5

 

2C

P

2D

♥  AQ8742

P

3D

P

3S

♦  85

P

4C

P

4S

West

♣ J82

East

P

6C

P

P

♠  J876432

 

♠  A9

 

♥  J3

♥  --

♦  2

♦  AKQT73

♣  653

South

♣ AKQT4

Bhcp

13

4          31

12

♠  KT

Hcp

9

2          22

7

♥  KT965

♦  J964

♣ 97

 

After the 2C opening West must bid 2D despite the 7 card spade suit.  If West bids either 2S or 4S then she will end up in an unmakeable 6S contract.  West must realise that she will get the opportunity to show her spades later, probably being able to bid them twice to show 6 plus cards in the suit.

East shows her 2 suits by bidding 3D and then 4C, West bidding spades twice.

East now jumps to 6C asking her partner to choose one of her suits.  West chooses clubs by passing.  After all, she does have ruffing values (a factor which does in fact turn out to be essential).

When dummy comes down East notes that she is missing 6 diamonds.  The most common split is 4/2 and the DJ is more likely to be in the 4 card hand.  Therefore, her plan is to win the opening lead, play the DA and then, crucially, ruff a diamond.

She then draws trumps, the outstanding clubs dividing the normal 3/2.

She now plays the two top diamonds, the DJ falling under the DQ.

One spade, 5 diamonds and a diamond ruff plus 5 clubs equals 12 tricks and slam made.

 

At my table North elected to pass.  Perhaps some diamonds were mixed up with her hearts.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 21

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T98

P

2C

P

2H

♥  87

P

4C

P

4D

♦  KQJT983

P

4N

P

5S

West

♣ 9

East

P

7H

 

 

♠  AKJ4

 

♠  3

 

♥  QJT63

♥  AK542

3D

X

4D

4H

♦  A2

♦  5

P

?

 

 

♣  82

South

♣ AKQJT6

 

Bhcp

11

22        24

3

♠  Q7652

Hcp

6

15        17

2

♥  9

♦  764

♣ 7543

 

In the first bidding sequence above North elects to pass.

East gets a positive response of 2H, this indicating slam possibility and a 10 card heart fit.

4C and $D are cue bids showing first round controls in the suits bid. 

The 5S response to the RKC Blackwood shows 2 key cards plus the HQ.

It is then easy for East to bid the grand slam, 7H being safer just in case West’s first round control in diamonds is a void.

If North opens 3D (as she should) then East is too strong to overcall; she doubles.

South raises to the level of fit; the weaker you are the more important it is to do so immediately.

West is likely then to bid only 4H although she might feel a little uneasy about underbidding her hand.  From partner’s double she anticipates a double fit in the majors and from N/S’s diamond bidding no losers in that suit.  Her other option is to jump to 5H asking partner to bid 6H if she has a little extra to spare.

If West did bid only 4H would East bid on? 

She is very strong but West might be being competitive with a significantly weaker hand.  In any event, the opening pre-empt has done its job by presenting E/W with doubt.

If East does continue with 4NT then 7H should again be reached.

 

A final bidding point comes from Board 20.  As South you hold:

♠  KQ85

♥  872

♦  KJ4

♣  KJ8

West opens 1S followed by two passes.  Are you going to pass it out?

In this protective position a bid of 1NT should be made with a balanced hand containing 11 – 14 points. 

South should bid 1NT.

As it happened, 7 Wests were declarer in 1S so there were 7 Souths who opted to pass.

On this board, N/S can make 1NT + 1 while E/W can make 1S + 1.

 

Hands from 28th September 2017

I would be much the richer if I’d had £1 for every time I’ve been asked how many points you need in order to use Stayman after partner has opened 1NT. 

The answer is not 11 pts, or 10 pts or anything like that.  It is zero but, as with any convention, you need to have the right hand for it.  You need 4 cards in both major suits to use Stayman with less than 11 points.

The bidding starts 1NT 2C.

If opener bids either 2H or 2S then responder passes (with relief).

However, if opener rebids 2D then responder bids 2H.  The 2H bid advertises a weak hand with both majors.  Opener then passes or chooses 2S as the contract.

As North on Board 11 you pick up the following hand:

♠  A743

♥  T9853

♦  Q2

♣  53

Partner opens 1NT.  What do you do?

You have a weak hand with at least 4 cards in both majors.  You bid 2C.

When South responds 2D you now show the type of hand you hold by bidding 2H.

South had 3 hearts and 3 spades.  The hearts were stronger so she chose hearts as trumps by passing.

How did 2H fare in practice?

The board was played 10 times: in no trumps 8 times.  Just once it was played in 2H and that N/S pair scored 100% on the board.

 

Tip: do take the trouble to add Stayman with Trash to your bidding armoury.

 

Let’s turn from weakness to strength; Board 16 had a choice of slams for E/W.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 16

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  Q6

 

 

 

1C

♥  AJ83

P

1S

P

2C

♦  Q8652

P

2D

P

2N

West

♣ 82

East

P

6C/6N

 

 

♠  T8

 

♠  AKJ95

 

West has a perfectly sound opening bid: the hand easily satisfies the rule of 20 and there is a good rebid of 1H (if available) or 2C.

♥  K762

♥  --

♦  7

♦  AKT94

♣  AQJT74

South

♣ K65

Bhcp

13

16        25

6

♠  7432

Hcp

9

10        18

3

♥  QT954

♦  J3

♣ 93

 

Once West opens then East must immediately be thinking about slam but it could be in clubs, diamonds, spades or even no trumps.  East must take it slowly, she bids 1S (the higher of two 5 card suits).

East’s second bid of 2D is forcing and West shows minimum values and something in hearts (the unbid suit) by bidding 2NT.

East’s safest bid is now 6C.  There is a club fit and she has a 4 loser hand opposite an opening hand.  In duplicate, especially if you are not having a particularly successful evening, a bid of 6NT is not a bad gamble.

In the play declarer wins the opening lead.  She then cashes the SA (in case the SQ is singleton).  Then she draws trumps in 2 rounds and leads a spade intending to finesse.  Up pops the SQ and there are now 5 spades, 2 diamonds and 6 clubs for 13 tricks made.

In 6NT only the opening lead of the HA prevents the same 13 tricks being made.

 

Board 23 was one of those cruel sets where N/S can either make 12 tricks or only 6 tricks in hearts, it all depended on the lead and some trust in partner’s signal.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 23

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

♠  A86

♥  AJQ762

♦  J85

West

♣ 7

East

♠  T532

 

♠  --

♥  854

♥  JT3

♦  AK2

♦  Q974

♣  QJ4

South

♣ AK9865

Bhcp

19

15        15

11

♠  KQJ974

Hcp

14

10        10

6

♥  9

♦  T63

♣ T32

 

Most N/S pairs ended up in 4S going one or more down.  Two Norths played in hearts, one in 6H!

In hearts, if East either leads a trump or the CA followed by the CK then North has 12 tricks with no sweat.

Now let’s see what could happen if the opening lead had been the D4.

West wins with the DK and returns the S5 for East to ruff.

Another diamond to the DA is played and then the S2 (asking for a club) is ruffed.

East trusts  her partner (perhaps more than she should but it works) by playing a small club to West’s CJ.  Another spade is ruffed.

East now cashes her DQ.

That’s the first 7 tricks to the defence.

 

Hands from 3rd October 2017

The bidding on Board 6 was instructive, with most E/W pairs finishing in a hopeless NT contract.  What went wrong?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 6

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠ T873

 

1C

P

2D

♥ A985

P

P

P

 

♦ T4

 

 

 

 

West

♣ J76

East

 

1C

P

P

♠ 65

 

♠ AJ94

P

 

 

 

♥ Q74

♥ K632

 

 

 

 

♦ QJ98732

♦ K

 

1C

P

1D

♣ 3

South

♣ AK82

P

2H

P

P

Bhcp

9

8                24

19

♠ KQ2

Hcp

5

5                18

12

P

 

 

 

♥ JT

 

 

 

 

♦ A65

 

 

 

 

♣ QT954

 

 

 

 

 

The first question is what should East open?  With 4441 distribution it is best to open with a minor suit.  When the singleton is in Diamonds, as here, your first rebid can be in a major suit.  This suggests that you have five cards in your minor suit but this is less dangerous than falsely suggesting that you hold a five card major suit.  So East opens 1C.  On this hand this makes it hard for South to bid, so it is then a question of what West should respond.

 

A bid that Alan advocated a few months ago comes in useful here.  If partner opens and you have a strong hand the modern way is to bid at the lowest level available - partner has to bid again and as responder you can show your strength with your second bid.  So using a jump response to show a strong hand is redundant.  (Some people use a jump response to show a strong hand with a self-sufficient trump suit, but this bid comes up infrequently.)   Instead, the jump response can be used to show a weak hand with a long suit.  The message to partner is - Pass!  This bid works perfectly on this hand with East making 2D+2.

 

If you are not playing the weak jump response bid, then what should East respond?  One possibility is that East should Pass.  She has fewer than the 6 Hcp that makes a one-level response mandatory.  Again this would work quite well on this hand as East could make six tricks with Clubs as trumps which, given the actual results, would have given E/W a score of 80%.  But with 5 Hcp and a seven-card suit it would be normal for West to bid 1D.  What then should East rebid?  I watched the hand being played a few times and the bidding usually began 1C - (Pass) - 1D - (Pass).  The most popular rebid for East was 2NT.  This is a mistake.  You should only bid NT on the first or second round of bidding with NT distribution.  With 4441 shape your second bid should be a suit bid.  Here East's rebid should be 2H, a jump bid to show the strength of the hand.  West should now Pass.  With 5 Hcp she is not strong enough to make a second bid.  All she should do is give suit preference which, with one Club and three Hearts, can be done by Passing.  The computer cannot make 2H, but on the two occasions when Hearts were trumps East made eight or nine tricks, so  2H would have given E/W a very good score (and even 2H-1 would have been good for E/W).  If West mistakenly bids 3D over 2H, East is entitled to bid 3NT expecting West to be considerably stronger and expecting the contract to make.

 

 

Boards 10 and 11 were both examples of hands where both sides had a double fit.  On these hands it often pays to bid one more - but not always!

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 10

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

North

Vulnerability

 

All

N

E

S

W

♠ -

 

P

1D

1S

♥ KJT642

2H

3S

4H

4S

♦ 5432

5/6H

P

P

P

West

♣ AJ2

East

 

 

 

 

♠ QJT94

 

♠ A765

 

 

 

 

♥ 73

♥ Q

 

 

 

 

♦ 98

♦ AT7

 

 

 

 

♣ KQ73

South

♣ 98654

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

14

13              14

19

♠ K832

Hcp

9

8                10

13

 

 

 

 

♥ A985

 

 

 

 

♦ KQJ6

 

 

 

 

♣ T

 

 

 

 

 

On Board 10 South opens 1D.  As with East's hand on Board 6, with 4441 distribution it is best to open with a minor suit.  With a solid Spade suit West should overcall 1S.  North can make a natural 2H bid, showing 10+ Hcp and at least five Hearts.  East bids 3S, jumping to the level of fit.  South now knows that N/S have a Heart fit and also that North will have a singleton or, more likely, a void in Spades.  South might bid RKCB and, hearing that North has two key cards, might then bid 6H (assuming that North is indeed void in Spades).  Alternatively South might simply bid 4H.  In that case West is likely to sacrifice in 4S.  In the event 4S would be three off, which assuming that N/S Double, would give E/W what seems like a poor score of -800.  But as N/S can make 6H ...  If West does bid 4S, what should North do?  She knows that her side has a double fit.  There are no Spade losers.  She has the AC.  She might take a punt on 6H.  But in any case she should bid on.  5H is almost certain to make and 4S might well be only two off.  In fact 6H is cold.

 

 

On Board 11 both sides could make game.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 11

BIDDING

Dealer

 

South

North

Vulnerability

 

None

N

E

S

W

♠ 753

 

 

1S

P

♥ 2

2C

X

3S

4H

♦ AQ9

4S

5H

5S

P

West

♣ QT9876

East

P

?

 

 

♠ QJ8

 

♠ -

 

 

 

 

♥ J8763

♥ AQT954

 

 

 

 

♦ J643

♦ KT872

 

 

 

 

♣ 2

South

♣ A3

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

12

9                19

20

♠ AKT9642

Hcp

8

5                13

14

 

 

 

 

♥ K

 

 

 

 

♦ 5

 

 

 

 

♣ KJ54

 

 

 

 

 

Playing four-card majors, following South's 1S opening bid, North is just worth a 2C response.  This can be judged using the "Rule of 14".  Add the number of Hcp to the number of cards in your longest suit.  If the sum comes to at least 14 then the hand is worth a two-level response.  East has a powerful hand with both the unbid suits and should make a take-out Double.  With a five-loser hand, a seven-card Spade suit and a fit for partner's suit, South should jump to 3S.  West knows that her side has a double fit and despite her lack of high cards should bid 4H.  North can now show delayed (three-card) support for partner.  in these situations it is not clear which contracts can be made.  But it is clear to East and South that they each have strong hands with little defence against the opponents' possible five-level contracts.  So both should probably bid again.  When the bidding reaches 5S and comes around to East, she should probably Pass.  On the one hand 6H is unlikely to make.  West is clearly weak and there could be as many as four losers (although in fact 5H makes).  On the other hand if East's two aces stand up, 5S might not make.  Certainly East does not have enough defence to Double.  If 5S does make then East wants to be bidding 6H as a sacrifice.  It is a close call.

Hands from 16th May 2017

Bidding the slam on Board 4 was difficult.  One pair did bid it so ‘well done’ to them.  However, 12 tricks should have been routine but only 3 declarers made 12 tricks.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KT42

 

 

 

1H

♥  53

P

2D

P

3D

♦  J943

P

4H

 

 

West

♣ 972

East

 

The only real reason West might bid on is that a double fit usually produces one more trick than the point score suggests.

♠  QJ7

 

♠  A65

♥  KJT82

♥  Q96

♦  A876

♦  KQT5

♣  K

South

♣ A53

Bhcp

7

21        21

11

♠  983

Hcp

4

14        15

7

♥  A74

♦  2

♣ QJT864

 

North’s opening lead is a choice between a trump and the C9.  I chose the C9 so let’s take it from there.

West wins with the CK and plays a heart to the HQ.  South ducks.

Declarer continues with trumps; South wins with the HA and returns another heart.

Declarer has two things to consider: how to play the diamonds and what to discard on the CA.

If the diamonds split 3/2 then there is no problem but what if they divide J9xx?

If it is South who holds the four diamonds then there will always be a diamond loser because South’s J9 surround East’s DT.  However, if it is North who has the four diamonds then there are 4 diamond tricks so long as you first play the DK and then cross to West’s DA.  On the second round South shows out so on the third round declarer takes the marked finesse, covering North’s diamond to make 4 tricks in the suit.

Now declarer calls for the CA and discards her S7.  She then ruffs a club to get back to hand and leads the SQ.  It doesn’t matter if North covers or not, there are no spade losers and 12 tricks are made.

 

Board 22 had the potential to present North with problems in both the bidding and the play.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 22

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

 

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠  AQ5

 

P

P

1D

♥  K42

1NT

P

P

?

♦  J842

 

 

 

 

West

♣ KQ2

East

 

P

P

1D

♠  J76

 

♠  T98

X

P

2C

2D

♥  JT5

♥  A873

3C

P

P

P

♦  AKQT53

♦  97

 

 

 

 

♣  A

South

♣ JT94

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

21

23               9

7

♠  K432

Hcp

15

15              5

5

 

 

 

 

♥  Q96

 

 

 

 

♦  6

 

 

 

 

♣ 87653

 

 

 

 

 

The first three calls are routine.  But after 1D what should North bid? 

When I held the North cards I bid 1NT, but really the North hand is about 1 point short of a 1NT overcall.  When my bid was passed round to West, she sensibly passed.  On the obvious diamond lead she would have a more or less certain six tricks, which would mean that if partner could take one trick the contract would be defeated.  If on the other hand North Doubles the 1D opening bid then NS are likely to finish in 3C or 2S, both of which make.

 

Supposing that East finishes in a Diamond contract, what card should North lead?  As the cards lie the lead of a high Club or any Diamond gives away a trick.  A Heart lead is problematic.  Most Wests who declared a Diamond contract made only seven tricks, suggesting that North found a safe lead.  If NS take their three Spade tricks and lead a Club from the South hand (or a low Club from the North hand), how should West play Hearts?  If she leads the JH intending to run it if North plays low, then if North does play low then South wins the QH and later West will have to lose another Heart, probably the 9H.  If on the other hand North plays high on the first round of Hearts then West can win dummy's AH and lead back towards her TH, losing only one Heart.  From North's point of view the principle is that you should cover the second of two touching honours not the first.  Of course this is made more difficult if the touching honours are hidden in declarer's hand.

 

On Board 2 there was a wide variety of results.  Four EW pairs reached the best contract of 4S whilst four pairs languished in 3S.  (Two NS pairs were allowed to play in a Heart part score, which gave them good results.)

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 2

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

 

North

Vulnerability

 

N/S

N

E

S

W

♠  32

 

1S

2D

3S

♥  QJ98642

P

4S

P

P

♦  62

P

 

 

 

West

♣ A2

East

 

 

 

 

♠  QT94

 

♠  KJ765

 

 

 

 

♥  A753

♥  T

 

 

 

 

♦  A75

♦  K9

 

 

 

 

♣  J4

South

♣ KT987

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

10

16              16

18

♠  A8

Hcp

7

11              10

12

 

 

 

 

♥  K

 

 

 

 

♦  QJT843

 

 

 

 

♣ Q653

 

 

 

 

 

Using the rule of 20 East's hand is worth an opening bid.  (Add the number of cards in the two longest suits to the number of Hcp.  If this reaches 20 then the hand meets the basic criteria for opening the bidding.  On borderline hands there are other things to consider: is there a good rebid, are most of the points in your long suits).  

South overcalls 2D and with 10-12 Hcp and four card support West bids 3S or, if playing the Unassuming Cue Bid (in which case raises of partner's suit are pre-emptive), she bids 3D.  East then uses the losing trick count.  She has six losers and West should have eight losers for her three-level response.  This suggests that EW can make 4S. 

Why then did half of the declarers in a Spade contract fail to make 10 tricks? 

Presumably, South was allowed to ruff a heart with the 8S. 

This is a typical ‘dummy reversal’ hand where you trump in the long hand and draw trumps with the high trumps in the short hand.  Therefore, the high trumps in East’s hand should be used for ruffing.

Say that South leads the KH.  North wins the HA and leads a second round of Hearts, East should ruff high and lead a small spade towards West’s high trumps.

 

 

Cheers

James

 

Hands from 19th September 2017

You pick up a very weak hand with a 6 card suit and your partner opens 2NT.

It happened on 2 boards, North having the decision in both instances. 

What do you do?

Here are the hands in question; in each case South opens 2NT.

Board 15           Board 24

   N                        N

♠  T87654         ♠  83

♥  Q4                ♥  T7

♦  T875             ♦  T96542

♣  7                  ♣  K76

On Board 15 North has a 6 card major and an outside singleton.  The hand is going to win more tricks if spades are trumps. 

South must have at least 2 spades so you will make spades trumps; the only questions are how high and who plays the hand.

It is better if the lead comes around to the strong hand, allowing South to play last to the first trick.

North starts with 3H, a transfer to spades.

Despite the shortage of high cards North’s hand should provide 3 or 4 tricks.  It is worth a game bid of 4S.  In fact, despite South having only a doubleton spade, 11 tricks were an easy make.

Board 24 is very different in one very important aspect; the 6 card suit is a minor.  Now North’s only decision is whether to pass or bid 3NT.

Again, South must have at least a doubleton so there are good prospects of the diamond suit being set up.  There is then the likelihood of the CK providing an entry to the established diamonds.  North bids 3NT.  Only 4 N/S pairs were in 3NT: 10 tricks were an easy make by South.

 

The purpose of pre-empting is to take away bidding space from your opponents in the hope that they will end up in the wrong contract.  On Board 4 there are 12 tricks available in clubs, diamonds or hearts.  Without a pre-emptive interference the slam might well be bid.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  --

 

 

 

P

♥  QJT73

1H

P

2C

P

♦  AQT4

2D

P

4H

P

West

♣ AQ95

East

6H

 

 

 

♠  AT875

 

♠  K96432

or

♥  A5

♥  942

 

 

 

P

♦  982

♦  J7

1H

2S

X

4S

♣  763

South

♣ 82

?

 

 

 

Bhcp

23

11        6

20

♠  QJ

Hcp

15

8          4

13

 

♥  K86

♦  K653

♣ KJT4

 

In the first bidding sequence without the 2S bid South’s rebid is 4H which shows opening values.  North now has an easy bid of 6H.

In the second sequence South doubles to show some values and at least one good minor suit.  West jumps to 4S (one level below the level of fit).  True, the slam could still be bid but now it is very much more of a guess.

 

As South on Board 17 you hold:

♠  AT62

♥  T2

♦  AK53

♣  QJ9

The bidding starts:

N          S

1H        1S

2S

You have game values so what do you bid now?

The point to note is that the 2S bid only promises 3 card support.  South’s rebid is 3NT.  If North does indeed have 4 spades then she will correct to 4S.

 

Hands from 12th September 2017

As responder, how do you show partner 5/4 in the majors and invitational values once she has opened 1NT?  For me, this problem came up on Boards 3 and 4.  Let’s look at them both.

Board 3

   W                       E

♠  KQ94            ♠  T75

♥  KQ764          ♥  93

♦  Q4                ♦  AK72

♣  65                ♣  AK42

South dealt and as West I elected to pass.  East opened 1NT.  The bidding started:

W         E

P          1N

2D        2H

2S

This sequence shows a 5 hearts/4 spades distribution with invitational values (11 – 12 points).

West’s 2D transfer bid indicates 5 hearts, bidding 2S indicates a 4 card spade suit while the rebid of 2S at the 2 level is indicative of only invitational values.  With game vales West jumps to 3S rather than bidding just 2S.

Board 4

   W                       E

♠  K53.             ♠  AJ642

♥  87                ♥  J643

♦  AJT54          ♦  K3

♣ A64               ♣  Q3

West dealt and opened a routine 1NT.  The bidding started:

W         E

1N        2C

2D        2S

This time the sequence is showing a 5spades/4hearts distribution with invitational values.

Stayman is used because if you start with a transfer to spades then with only invitational values it is virtually impossible to find the heart fit if one exists.

Of course, if opener bids a major then responder raises it to the 3 level.

Opener’s 2D bid denies holding a 4 card major so responder’s 2S bid must indicate a 5 card holding.  If so, why did she use Stayman instead of just transferring to spades?  Because she held a 4 card heart suit.

Again, being at only the 2 level, East’s bid of 2S suggests only invitational values.

On both boards opener is in a good position after the 2S bid to choose the best final contract.

 

I am annoyed with myself for not making 12 tricks on Board 25.  I am particularly disappointed because I got just about as helpful a lead as possible.  The fact that I scored 68% is no compensation; it is just because only one declarer made 12 tricks.  That too is disappointing.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KQJ98

P

C

P

1H

♥  K7

P

2D

P

3H

♦  J65

P

4H

P

P

West

♣ T53

East

 

That is how the bidding went at my table.

♠  653

 

♠  A2

♥  AJT954

♥  Q3

♦  KT98

♦  AQ74

♣  --

South

♣ AQJ92

Bhcp

16

13        26

5

♠  T74

Hcp

10

8          19

3

♥  862

♦  32

♣ K8764

 

I received a club lead.  I called for the CJ and ruffed the CK.

I then became fixated on getting a spade ruff rather than realising that I now had two spade discards on the top clubs.  I should have crossed to the DA and cashed CA and CQ discarding two spades.  I then had only the HK to lose.

The play is much the same on a different lead.  Let’s assume the SK is led.

You win with the SA, cash the CA discarding a spade and then take a ruffing finesse.  You play the CQ.  If South ducks then you discard a second spade.  If South plays the CK you ruff, cross to the DA and play the CJ to discard that second spade.  Either way, there is only the HK to lose.

I can make some dumb plays at times.

Hands from 5th September 2017

I am going to start with some very basic bidding which on Board 8 was not found by any of the E/W pairs. 

W         E

            1S

1N        2H

3C        ?

What do you expect to find in the West hand?

Here are the hands from Board 8.

   W                       E

♠  9                  ♠  AK872

♥  874               ♥  AJ92

♦  T54              ♦  7

♣  AQT765       ♣  J84

These hands are ideal text book material.

East has offered two suits as potential trumps while West has limited her hand to 6 – 9 points.

West has ignored both of the suits bid by the strong hand and bid clubs.  Being weak, her suit must be longer that the 5 card spade suit East has shown by her bidding. 

West’s bidding has shown a weak hand with a minimum of 6 clubs.

And what should East do?  She should Pass.

E/W can make 10 tricks in clubs to score +130.  The most common denomination was hearts where only 8 tricks could be made (only +110).

I am disappointed that no E/W pair found the club contract.

 

Disappointment abounds; only one pair bid to 4H on Board 20.  I would have thought it routine.

   N

♠  Q54

♥  AJ942

♦  832

♣  A3

   S

♠  AJ76

♥  T765

♦  AQT

♣  K4

West dealt and passed.  If North decides to open then South must drive to the heart game.

If North Passes then South opens 1NT (she is maximum in Bhcp and hcp).

North bids 2D, a transfer to hearts.  Being maximum with 4 card heart support South should break the transfer by (in this instance) bidding 2S.  North then bids 4H.

However, if South only responds 2H to the transfer then North’s rebid is 2NT to show a hand with invitational values and a 5 card heart suit.  South must now bid 4H.

 

My tail piece is Board 15 where, depending on the opening lead, North could make her doubled contract or be 6 off!!

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 15

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  Q92

 

 

P

P

♥  Q976

1N

P

P

P

♦  K7

 

There were a number of different contracts but on 4 occasions North was in 1NT (twice doubled).

West

♣ AQ96

East

♠  K875

 

♠  AJT4

♥  KJ4

♥  AT2

♦  QT95

♦  AJ832

♣  53

South

♣ J

Bhcp

18

14        23

5

♠  63

Hcp

13

9          15

3

♥  853

♦  64

♣ KT8742

 

First consider an opening lead by East of the D3 – 4th highest of longest and strongest suit.

North wins with the DK and cashes 6 club tricks; contract made.

Now let’s see what could happen if the opening lead had been the SJ – top of interior sequence.

West wins with SK and returns a spade (East winning the trick).

East switches to a low heart and West wins with the HK.

West now plays the DQ.

E/W make 4 spades, 3 hearts and 5 diamonds for a total of 12 tricks: 6 off doubled and vulnerable - oops.

Not surprisingly, no E/W pair found that defence: all the 4 Norths playing in 1NT made 7 tricks.

 

Hands from 29th August 2017

As a defender it is important to play the right card because card play is the language defenders have to communicate with their partners.  This is particularly true when holding touching honours.

Let’s say you hold the following suit:

            KQ82.

If you are on lead and play the K you are telling partner that you have the Q but also that you don’t have the ace.  When leading you play the top card in a sequence headed by an honour.

It is quite different if partner has already played to the trick.  You play the lowest card in a sequence when playing to take a trick.  In the sequence above, if the ace has not already been played then you play the Q.  This tells your partner that you don’t hold the jack but may hold the king.

Partner arrived just in time and had not really settled when play on our first board started.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 1

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AT53

P

P

P

1D

♥  J74

P

1S

X

2D

♦  72

P

2H

P

2N

West

♣ A982

East

 

South’s double was a little frisky but it did suggest a heart lead.

♠  K6

 

♠  QJ872

♥  T9

♥  Q653

♦  QT6543

♦  AJ8

♣  KQJ

South

♣ 6

Bhcp

13

18        15

14

♠  94

Hcp

9

11        10

10

♥  AK82

♦  K9

♣ T7543

 

I led the H4 and partner played.... the HA.  I placed the HK with declarer and pinned my hopes on partner having the SK.  On the diamonds I discarded spades and let the contract make.  Had partner played the HK at the first trick I would have placed her with the HA and we would have made a rather fortunate 4 tricks in hearts to put declarer one off.

 

On Board 5 there were 13 top tricks in clubs, hearts and in No Trumps.  Not surprisingly no pair bid a grand slam but was it biddable?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 5

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  762

P

1C

P

1H

♥  9

P

2D

P

2S

♦  T97653

P

3H

P

4N

West

♣ T76

East

P

5S

P

6N

♠  AKQ

 

♠  84

P

?

 

 

♥  AK862

♥  QT7

 

West places East with 5 clubs, 4 diamonds, 3 hearts and therefore only 1 spade.

♦  Q4

♦  AJ

♣  842

South

♣ AKQJ93

Bhcp

2

24        25

9

♠  JT953

Hcp

0

18        17

5

♥  J543

♦  K82

♣ 5

 

With West responding East has game values (that wonderful club suit is worth at least an extra 2 points) and so has to make a forcing bid showing strength.  The 2D bid is a reverse showing a minimum of 16 points and presumably 5/4 in the minors.

2S is 4th suit forcing and East shows 3 card heart support.

West jumps to Blackwood and East shows 2 key cards plus the HQ.

West makes the duplicate bid of 6NT.

Should East now bid again?    Her partner is obviously not worried about the spades.  There is a 5/3 fit in hearts.  So if West holds the SA then there should be a good play for 13 tricks.

My advice to East would be that if she were having a good evening and was up amongst the leaders then “go with the room”.  That means, if you expect most pairs to be at the 6 level then that is where you should stay (and be sure of your 50% for the board).  Otherwise, why not go for it?

There is just one point about the play if the final contract is in hearts.  First, play the HA and then the H2/HQ.  The 4/1 split is revealed.  Play the HT and if not covered play low.

 

Finally, on Board 18 you pick up this strong hand.  What do you open (and why)?

♠  AQT

♥  KQ54

♦  QJ42

♣  A5

With this strength you expect to be in game.  That game is most likely to be in either hearts or No Trumps.  You can forget the diamonds unless partner mentions them at some point. 

Open 1H.

Hands from 22nd August 2017

There was a theme running through a few of the hands, which was that bidding up with a weak hand but with a fit for partner often pays off.  Board 6 was one example.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 6

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠ T9

 

1S

X

4S

♥ T76

P

P

P

 

♦ AJ962

 

 

 

 

West

♣ Q83

East

 

 

 

 

♠ 87432

 

♠ KQJ6

 

 

 

 

♥ A943

♥ K8

 

 

 

 

♦ 873

♦ KT5

 

 

 

 

♣ T

South

♣ A762

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

12

6                23

19

♠ A5

Hcp

7

4                16

13

 

 

 

 

♥ QJ52

 

 

 

 

♦ Q4

 

 

 

 

♣ KJ954

 

 

 

 

 

I watched this hand being played a few times.  Generally West bid 2S on the first round of bidding and the final contract was a part-score.  No E/W pairs managed to bid 4S.  West has only 4 Hcp but 4S is an easy make (partly thanks to the position of the AD).

 

With this sort of bidding it is likely that declarer will be doing a lot of ruffing, so South might as well lead AS and another.  Even then declarer can ruff three Clubs in dummy and two Hearts in hand, making the contract with another trump trick, two hearts, one Diamond and one Club.

 

 

Board 19 provided another example of the same principle.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 19

BIDDING

Dealer

 

South

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠ 9

 

 

P

1S

♥ AJT7

X

2D

5H

P

♦ Q5432

P

?

P

P

West

♣ AQ2

East

P

 

 

 

♠ AKT7643

 

♠ Q52

 

 

 

 

♥ 5

♥ K98

 

 

 

 

♦ J

♦ AKT976

 

 

 

 

♣ K643

South

♣ 7

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

19

16              17

8

♠ J8

Hcp

13

11              12

4

 

 

 

 

♥ Q6432

 

 

 

 

♦ 8

 

 

 

 

♣ JT985

 

 

 

 

 

At eleven out of twelve tables the final contact was 4S, always making.  At only one table N/S successfully sacrificed in 5H, gaining a deserved top.  At one table where 4S was the contract I overheard North, after the hand was played, lament, "But you had five Hearts partner!"  The bidding had started as shown in the diagram but after East's 2D bid South had Passed.

 

South should have reasoned that North's take-out Double suggested a shortage in Spades and that 4S was almost certainly making.  Also, with E/W bidding Spades and Diamonds N/S must have had a double fit.

 

Certainly North must have a Heart suit to make a take-out Double.  Using the Losing Trick Count South has an eight-loser hand and North could be assumed to have a seven-loser hand, having shown the equivalent of an opening bid.  This suggests that N/S can make nine tricks with Hearts as trumps.  Why bid 5H?  Well, if South bids 3H then, as night follows day, E/W will bid 4S.  At favourable vulnerability South would only have to make eight tricks to show a profit, three off being -500 and 4S= scoring -620.  So if you are prepared to bid 5H, do so straight way.  One reason for this is that if 5S is making, which it was on this hand, then by making the advance sacrifice it makes it harder for E/W to judge whether to bid on to 5S.  (Of course, you don't want to jump to 5H if you think that partner might interpret it as a slam try!)  Assuming that South does bid 5H then West, with little defence to 5H might Pass.  Then East must bid 5S or Double.  She has an opening hand opposite partner's opening bid.  E/W have the majority of the points.  If East Passes then N/S will surely score well.

 

 

On Board 14 the play of one suit determined the outcome..

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 14

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

North

Vulnerability

 

None

N

E

S

W

♠ Q9876

 

1H

P

2H

♥ K7

P

P

P

 

♦ AQ7

 

 

 

 

West

♣ 987

East

 

 

 

 

♠ T3

 

♠ AJ

 

 

 

 

♥ AT54

♥ QJ983

 

 

 

 

♦ J854

♦ KT3

 

 

 

 

♣ QJ5

South

♣ A62

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

15

14              22

9

♠ K542

Hcp

11

8                15

6

 

 

 

 

♥ 62

 

 

 

 

♦ 962

 

 

 

 

♣ KT43

 

 

 

 

 

E/W play in some number of Hearts.  East has a seven-loser hand and West has nine losers, so they should stop short of game.  But whatever the contract declarer's job is to make as many tricks as possible.  Here with normal play declarer has to lose one Spade, one heart and one Club.  To make nine tricks in total she has to limit her Diamond losses to one trick.  Unless the defence are kind enough to lead a Diamond, then at some point a Diamond will be led from dummy.  Declarer can draw trumps and eliminate Spades and Clubs before tackling Diamonds.  North should have planned what to do in advance.  As soon as dummy went down North could see that the low Diamond lead from dummy was likely to happen.  If South holds the KD then North could  safely play low.  What if, as seems likely, declarer holds the KD?  If North rises with the AD then she will have to lead away from the QD or give a ruff and discard.  If North plays the QD then declarer has only one Diamond loser.  So North must play low.  And North, having worked this out in advance, can play smoothly low.  This doesn't really give declarer a problem.  If declarer plays the KD then it will either win or lose to South's AD but in either case the QD will still make the second defensive Diamond trick.  So declarer has to finesse the TD, which in this case works.  But it is only by playing smoothly low on the Diamond lead that North can give declarer the opportunity to make a mistake - which is what happened when I watched the hand being played!

 

 

There is one last thing I would like to mention.  I watched a particular hand being played, I won't name the hand or the players.  After nine tricks declarer made a claim that he would make the last four tricks.  The claim was accepted.  I could see that in fact the defence could have made another two tricks.  As the defence accepted the claim there was nothing that I could do.  But do check if a claim is made that it is correct.  And if in doubt, call the director.

Hands from 15th August 2017

When the Acol system was being developed the founding fathers adopted 2C as their strongest opening bid.  They gave two criteria for its use.  The first was a minimum of 23 hcp.  The second was a hand which had such distributional playing strength that it virtually contained game values.  However, there was an additional aspect to this second criterion; it also had to have defensive values.  This was designed to eliminate single suited hands with essentially all the values concentrated in that suit from the 2C opening bid.

 

Nowadays, we interpret this second criterion to be a 4 loser hand with a good 5 card (or longer) major or a 3 loser hand with a good long minor suit.  However, we still reject highly distributional hands with little or no defensive values.

 

Let’s look at South’s problem on Board 33.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 33

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KT92

 

After 2 passes, what should be South’s opening bid?

She has a very good long minor and only 3 losers.  Should she open 2C?

No, because here she has only 1 defensive trick.

South should open 1D.

♥  KQ983

♦  8

West

♣ T75

East

♠  753

 

♠  AJ64

♥  J64

♥  T752

♦  --

♦  T753

♣  AKQ9864

South

♣ 2

Bhcp

13

14        9

24

♠  Q8

Hcp

8

10        5

17

♥  A

♦  AKQJ9642

♣ J3

 

At my table South opened 3D, a bid suggesting a much weaker hand and which in the end proved fatal.  West came in with 4C and when the bidding reached 5D East, on the basis of his partner’s strength and his diamond holding, doubled for a complete top.

 

Now for Board 11.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 11

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

 

South opens 1S.

Whether or not West comes in with 2D, North should jump straight to 4S, a shut-out bid showing typically about 6 – 8 hcp and a void or singleton.

East now has to decide whether to come in at the 5 level.

♠  Q8765

♥  T92

♦  K9863

West

♣ --

East

♠  4

 

♠  92

♥  Q864

♥  KJ3

♦  AQ542

♦  --

♣  985

South

♣ AKQJT743

Bhcp

8

11        21

20

♠  AKJT3

Hcp

5

8          14

13

♥  A75

♦  JT7

♣ 62

 

Let’s look at the play with South in 5S and a club lead.

The C9 is ruffed and trumps drawn ending in the South hand.

And then?

You want to set up the diamonds to give you some heart discards.

Play the D7.  If West plays low, as well she might expecting East to have either DJ or DT, then you let it run.  The D7 wins.

Now the DT is played.  As there is an entry to the North hand by ruffing a club, West can only make 1 diamond trick and declarer gets 2 heart discards on the long diamonds.

Declarer makes 5 spades, 1 heart, 4 diamonds and 2 club ruffs = 12 tricks.

One N/S pair did indeed make 12 tricks and got a well deserved top; well done them..

 

Most of us play transfers but do we know when to break the transfer?

Breaking the transfer means opener bidding something other than 2H/2S when responder replies 2D/2H to an opening bid of 1NT.

Let’s consider the situation when opener has 4 card support for responder’s 5 card major.  There is a 9 card fit.  Therefore, if responder is weak then the opening pair is the weaker pair.

Bidding to the level of fit is for the weaker pair to do.  Hence, with 4 card support, responder breaks the transfer safe in the knowledge that 3S is their safe competitive level.

On the other hand, if responder has strength, it might get them to game or even a slam.

Let’s look at Board 24.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 24

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KT75

 

 

 

P

♥  A965

1N

P

2H

P

♦  K7

3C

P

3D

P

West

♣ A43

East

3H

P

4N

P

♠  84

 

♠  96

5D

P

6S

 

♥  Q8743

♥  KT2

 

North has 4 card support for South’s spades.

3C breaks the transfer.

♦  Q843

♦  JT952

♣  Q6

South

♣ T97

Bhcp

19

9          9

23

♠  AQJ32

Hcp

14

6          4

16

♥  J

♦  A6

♣ KJ852

 

Responder has good values; a 5 loser hand and now knows of a 9 card spade fit.

South cue bids 3D, showing the DA.

In return, North cue bids 3H.  Now South knows there are no heart losers and checks on key cards.  North’s 5D bid indicates 3 key cards and the slam is bid with confidence.

Only one pair reached slam.

 

Hands from 8th August 2017

Board 5 presented some difficult bidding problems for N/S.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 5

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

N/S

N

E

S

W

♠ T852

1D

2D

2S

P

♥ AKJ

3C

P

3NT

P

♦ AKJ972

P

P

 

 

West

♣ -

East

 

 

 

 

♠ 6

 

♠ AQJ97

2C

P

2NT

P

♥ Q96

♥ 75432

3NT

P

P

P

♦ 53

♦ 8

 

 

 

 

♣ JT87652

South

♣ KQ

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

23

6       17

14

♠ K43

Hcp

16

3      12

9

 

 

 

 

♥ T8

 

 

 

 

♦ QT64

 

 

 

 

♣ A943

 

 

 

 

 

Some Norths chose to open with a strong two bid of some sort.  With a five-loser hand and maybe seven playing tricks I feel the hand is slightly too weak for anything other than the obvious 1D opening bid.

 

East has a good 1S overcall, or with five cards in both majors she could make a Michaels 2D overcall.

 

With 9 Hcp South might think that her hand is one point shy of an Unassuming Cue Bid, which normally shows 10+ Hcp as well as four-card support for partner's suit, but the KS and the AC are good cards so maybe it is worth stretching a little.  If North considers the Losing Trick Count then a UCB becomes more attractive, as it usually shows about 8 losing tricks, which is what South has here.  2S is a UCB and does not show a Spade suit as East has shown five Spades.

 

From North's point of view a game is now certain and a slam decidedly possible.  With at least nine Spades in the North and East hands South is likely to be short in Spades.  There can be no harm in bidding 3C.

 

South can now effectively show the KS and AC by bidding 3NT.

 

North should now consider that there is likely to be at least one Spade loser and that the Heart finesse is probably wrong and should Pass.  Even if 6D is making, 3NT is likely to score well, beating those pairs in 5D.

 

The general rule on these type of hands is that you should play in 3NT or in 6 of your minor, but not in the minor suit game.  On this particular hand the Heart finesse was working but 6D was not making, so those pairs playing in 3NT scored the best.  I saw one pair bid according the second sequence shown in the diagram.  Whilst I wouldn't recommend either of North's bids, it has to be acknowledged that they scored 81% on the hand.  I think that North looked at his hand and sensibly thought, "Looks like 3NT might be the best contract."  When South bid 2NT his rebid was a reflex.  (By the way, if North does open 2C, I would bid 2S with the East cards.)

 

 

On Board 6 E/W could make a slam but with only 21 Hcp in the combined hands it was unlikely that any pair would bid it.  Nevertheless it was perhaps surprising that four E/W pairs allowed N/S to play undoubled in their Club fit.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 6

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠ Q5

 

P

P

1NT

♥ J986

2C

3C

5C

5S

♦ J4

P

P

P

 

West

♣ AQJ64

East

 

 

 

 

♠ AJ843

 

♠ KT97

 

 

 

 

♥ AQ3

♥ T752

 

 

 

 

♦ K95

♦ AT832

 

 

 

 

♣ 98

South

♣ -

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

17

19         12

12

♠ 62

Hcp

11

14         7

8

 

 

 

 

♥ K4

 

 

 

 

♦ Q76

 

 

 

 

♣ KT7532

 

 

 

 

 

None of the bids shown are automatic.

 

Playing 1NT as showing 12-14 Hcp West might feel that with 14 HCP and a five-card Spade suit 1S is a better opening bid and certainly there would be a 2S rebid available in most likely bidding sequences.

 

If West does open 1NT then, if N/S are playing a conventional defence to 1NT, the natural 2C overcall would not be available.  Let's assume that it is.  In that case East can make use of a useful part of the Stayman convention - but one which might well be forgotten by one or other of the partnership!  In this sequence the 3C bid means that, the Stayman 2C bid having been taken away, East is showing exactly four cards in both majors.

 

Knowing of a five-card Club suit opposite (and rightly suspecting that E/W can make a major suit game), South bids to the level of fit and then West has to decide whether to Double or bid on.  With E/W vulnerable and N/S non-vulnerable it must be right to bid on.  If N/S are only two off in 5C then +300 will be beaten by any E/W pairs who are allowed to play in 4S.  Also, if N/S have bid to the level of fit, then West knows that East is void in Clubs.  ("Come to think about it, if East is void in Clubs, maybe I should be 6S?")  As it happens 6S doesn't even need the Heart finesse to be right to make.  West can draw trumps, concede a Diamond and discard both Heart losers on the long Diamonds.  (The Spade slam is not certain.  West needs to be able to find the QS and play the Diamonds for one loser.  But it is a reasonable slam to be in.)  After South's 5C bid the one thing that West shouldn't do is Pass.

 

 

On Board 16 N/S could make twelve tricks in Spades but two thirds of the N/S pairs failed to bid game.  The LTC would have helped.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 16

BIDDING

Dealer

 

West

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠ 984

 

 

 

P

♥ K9

P

1C

1S

3C

♦ QT9652

3S

P

4S

P

West

♣ A6

East

P

P

 

 

♠ J5

 

♠ Q2

 

 

 

P

♥ 87642

♥ J3

P

1C

1S

2C

♦ J3

♦ AK74

3C

P

4S

P

♣ Q875

South

♣ KJT43

P

P

P

 

Bhcp

13

7          21

19

♠ AKT763

Hcp

9

4         14

13

 

 

 

P

♥ AQT5

P

1C

X

3C

♦ 8

3D

P

3S

P

♣ 92

4S

P

P

P

 

After East's routine opening bid South has to decide whether to Double or overcall 1S.  With a five-loser hand and ability to bid her strongest suit on the second round of bidding, Double is possible.  I have shown a possible bidding sequence in which South makes a take-out Double.

 

Assuming that South overcalls 1S, what should West bid?  One idea is that with a weak hand and four-card support for partner you should bid pre-emptively to one level above the assumed level of fit.  So assuming that East holds four Clubs, West should bid 3C.  in this case, with three Spades and with useful cards in the other three suits, North can support partner's suit.  With a five-loser hand South will push on to game.  If West is frightened by the adverse vulnerability and only bids 2C then North has enough bidding space to make an UCB.  As with South's hand on Board 5, North has only 9 HCP but here North has a seven-loser hand.  (Despite having a seven-loser hand, North shouldn't go straight to 4S as South may have overcalled with less than opening values.)  Again South is happy to bid the game.

 

In these sequences there is little point in East bidding 4C.  Sometimes this will push N/S into a making 4S contract that they wouldn't otherwise have bid.  And if N/S are anyway heading for 4S then bidding 4C won't stop them.  East has instead to decide whether she is prepared to sacrifice in 5C.  At adverse vulnerability the answer should be a firm "No".

 

 

The play on Board 21 is of interest because although the contract was unsurprisingly the same at every table, the outcome was not.  The app says that 3NT can be beaten, but at seven out of ten tables N/S let it make.  I suspect the outcome depended on the opening lead but unfortunately no one recorded it, although the app allows this to be done.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 21

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

N/S

N

E

S

W

♠ Q93

P

1NT

P

2C

♥ KT3

P

2D

P

3NT

♦ 984

P

P

P

 

West

♣ QT82

East

 

 

 

 

♠ AK87

 

♠ J6

 

 

 

 

♥ 752

♥ QJ9

 

 

 

 

♦ QJ65

♦ AT32

 

 

 

 

♣ A6

South

♣ KJ97

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

12

19          19

10

♠ T542

Hcp

7

14         12

7

 

 

 

 

♥ A864

 

 

 

 

♦ K7

 

 

 

 

♣ 543

 

 

 

 

 

Obviously ignoring Diamonds, South has a choice of three suits to lead.

 

With the AH Hearts is South's "longest and strongest" suit, so the 4H might be selected.  If so then N/S can play three rounds of Hearts, establishing the thirteenth Heart in South's hand to be cashed after  South wins the KD.  Suppose that the play starts in this way, East having taken a losing Diamond finesse after entering dummy with the AC.  South will play a Spade after cashing the Heart winner but then declarer can cash three Diamonds, take the winning Club finesse and cash the other top Spade to make her contract with two Spades, one Heart, three Diamonds and three Clubs.

 

How about a Spade lead?  Declarer can run this  to her JS.  North will win with the QS and has a choice of returns.  A Spade return doesn't seem very useful with the AK sitting in dummy.  A Diamond will run up to dummy's strong holding in that suit.  The 2C might work, especially if South holds one good Club.  Suppose that the 2C is led and declarer wins with the 7C.  Now declarer can cash the JS, enter dummy with the AC, cash the AK of Spades and take the losing Diamond finesse.  Again declarer has nine tricks, three Spades, three Diamonds and three Clubs.  So let's suppose that after winning the first trick North returns the 2H.  Now N/S can cash three Hearts to establish the thirteenth Heart in South's hand ready to be cashed when South wins the KD.  So N/S will make one Spade, three Hearts and one Diamond to defeat the contract.  Suppose that declarer wins the first Spade in dummy.  In that case she can make eight tricks easily enough with one out of the two minor suit finesses working but the ninth trick will (probably) have to come from Hearts.  She takes a losing Diamond finesse and South leads a second Spade.  It is too late to promote the JS so let's assume that declarer wins the second Spade in dummy, cashes the Diamond winners and leads AC and another Club to make her three Club tricks.  If she now leads the QH from hand then North can win and N/S will make the remainder with winners in Spades, Hearts And Clubs.  It seems that Spade lead can lead to the defeat of the contract.

 

Finally, what about a Club lead?  If declarer wins in dummy and takes an immediate Diamond finesse then South can switch to one of the major suits.  A Heart switch will give declarer a Heart trick and the contract.  A Spade switch can be run to declarer's JS but will be won by North's QS.  Now a Heart return by North is too late as declarer has time to make three Spades, three Diamonds and three Clubs.

 

So it seems that only a Spade lead will defeat the contract.  But notice that South mustn't lead the TS as if she does then one of dummy's small-ish Spades might prove to be declarer's ninth trick.  If you lead top of nothing from a four-card (or longer) suit it is usually best to lead the second highest card in case the highest card is needed to take a trick later in the play.

 

Again the hand illustrates the point that leading away from an honour against 3NT is usually a bad idea.

Hands from 1st August 2017

On Board 3 virtually every declarer made 12 tricks but only 2 pairs bid the slam.

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 3

BIDDING

Dealer

South

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

N

E

S

W

♠  AQ93

   

1D

3C

♥  QJ52

4C

P

6D

 

♦  AQ842

 

You open the higher ranking of two 5 card suits, not the stronger one.

3C was a weak jump overcall.

4C is strong support for diamonds. 

 

West

♣ --

East

♠  K74

 

♠  T865

♥  9763

♥  AK84

♦  --

♦  T76

♣  QJ9765

South

♣ 42

Bhcp

21

9          11

19

♠  J2

Hcp

15

6          7

12

♥  T

♦  KJ953

♣ AKT83

 

The key in the bidding is for North to indicate that she is certainly strong enough to go for 11 tricks but is not averse to going higher.

In the play you need to ruff 3 clubs so don’t draw trumps too soon.

 

Now for another N/S slam (sorry to all you playing E/W).

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 10

BIDDING

Dealer

East

North

Vulnerability

Game all

N

E

S

W

♠  AKQ83

 

P

2H

P

♥  J95

2N

P

3S

P

♦  --

6H

     

West

♣ AQJT4

East

 

Once your opponents have bid to show a weak hand all your bids should be strong (opening values).

Therefore, West should pass.

♠  972

 

♠  JT54

♥  A

♥  864

♦  QT9765

♦  A432

♣  832

South

♣ K6

Bhcp

25

9          12

14

♠  6

Hcp

17

6          8

9

♥  KQT732

♦  KJ8

♣ 975

Let’s say West leads a club.  If you take a losing finesse then it is all over at the first trick.

Declarer calls for the CA and plays 3 rounds of spades to discard her 2 losing clubs.

South plans to ruff a club in order to ruff diamonds.  She calls for the C4 and up pops the CK.  She changes tack as there are now 3 top clubs in dummy.  Having ruffed the club she plays a trump, taken by West.

West switches to diamonds but dummy ruffs.

The CQ is then played.  If East ruffs he is over-ruffed and his last trump drawn when declarer crosses to the HJ.  If he doesn’t ruff then declarer discards.

 

I want to finish with a bidding point from Board 16.

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 16

BIDDING

Dealer

West

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

N

E

S

W

♠  Q53

     

1D

♥  AJ965

1H

?

   

♦  T4

 

 

 

 

West

♣ K73

East

 

 

 

 

♠  4

 

♠  A987

 

 

 

 

♥  KQ4

♥  72

 

 

 

 

♦  K6532

♦  AQ8

 

 

 

 

♣  AQJ2

South

♣ T854

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

15

21        14

10

♠  KJT62

Hcp

10

15        10

5

 

 

 

 

♥  T83

 

 

 

 

♦  J97

 

 

 

 

♣ 96

 

 

 

 

 There are two ways for East to show her spade suit.  She can bid 1S or she can show the unbid major by making a negative double.

Convention has it that the negative double shows exactly 4 spades while a bid of 1S shows a minimum of 5 spades.

Of course, South should raise to the level of fit by bidding 2H.  At my table she was silent.

What then is West’s best rebid?

The problem with bidding 2C is that it could be made on a much weaker hand.  I chose to show my extra strength by bidding 1NT.  After all, my partner had shown some holding in the suit.

 

Hands from 20th June 2017

On Board 1 I picked up this hand as dealer: ♠ AJ42  ♥ KJT8  ♦ KT87  ♣ T.  Playing four-card majors, should I have opened the bidding?  The problem with 4441 hands is the rebid.  Always imagine that partner responds in the suit in which you hold a singleton.   If you open 1H or 1S, partner bids 2C and you rebid 2D then you have said that you hold at least five cards in your first bid suit.  With only 12 Hcp there is a danger that you will play a Heart contract in a 4-3 fit at an uncomfortably high level.  If you open 1D and partner bids 2C then bidding 2H or 2S would show 16+ Hcp.  With only 12 Hcp and 4441 distribution my recommendation is to Pass.  (On this particular hand an openjing bid of 1H would work out satisfactorily, as partner heppens to hold a four-card Spade suit, as the second bidding sequence shows.)

 

If North Passes as dealer then the bidding might proceed as shown.  After West's 1NT opneing bid North can Double for take-out.  As North passed as dealer this clearly does not show the usual 16+ Hcp but rather a willingnes to compete.  East's Redouble is SOS after which West would bid 2C, but here South is happy to bid 2S.  (There are various systems available to compete over an opening 1NT bid and also to rescue partner from 1NTx.  If you play in a regular partnership you should decide how to bid in both such situations.)

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 1

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

None

N

E

S

W

♠  AJ42

P

P

P

1NT

♥  KJT8

X

XX

2S

P

♦  KT87

P

P

 

 

West

♣ T

East

 

 

 

 

♠  K3

 

♠  875

1H

P

1S

P

♥  A72

♥  Q653

2S

P

P

P

♦  J532

♦  Q4

 

 

 

 

♣  KQJ8

South

♣ 9764

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

20

20                6

14

♠  QT86

Hcp

12

14                4

10

 

 

 

 

♥  94

 

 

 

 

♦  A96

 

 

 

 

♣ A532

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board 9 was one of those rather frequent hands where only a miniority of pairs bid a cold slam.  Why did six out of eight pairs settle for game?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 9

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠  K97

1H

P

4NT

P

♥  K9652

5C

P

6H

P

♦  A6

P

P

P

 

West

♣ AK2

East

 

 

 

 

♠  A85

 

♠  QJT432

 

 

 

 

♥  743

♥  8

 

 

 

 

♦  432

♦  J9

 

 

 

 

♣  QT65

South

♣ J743

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

22

9                10

19

♠  6

Hcp

17

6                 5

12

 

 

 

 

♥  AQJT

 

 

 

 

♦  KQT875

 

 

 

 

♣ 98

 

 

 

 

 

Playing a weak NT North opens 1H.  East might think of overcalling but maybe at red vulnerability she should Pass.  But in any case South should make a slam try.  One way of looking at her hand is to use the Losing Trick Count.  The LTC is only used when you have a known fit with partner.  South has a five-loser hand.  An opening bid will be based on at most seven losers.  Add the number of losers together, subtract from eighteen andf the answer is the level at which you can probably make a contract.  Here the answer is six.  Check that there aren't two aces missing and bid 6H.

 

My suggested bidding sequence (in which the 5C response to the 0314 RKCB enquiry shows 0 or 3 key cards) is is not perfect.  It is usually said that you shouldn't use Blackwood with two losers in a side suit and it is possible here that there will be two quick losers in Clubs.  On the other hand it is quite possibile that North will have at least the KC, which would be protected from the opening lead.  And if EW have both the top Clubs then they may have one each in which case a Club may well not be led.  A more sophisticated bidding sequence using cue bids might be used but, if there are two Club losers the bidding sequence might alert EW to the need to lead Clubs.  Sometimes on a hand like this where there are two quick losers, pairs who bid directly to the slam make 6H=, pairs who bid directly to game make 4H+2, and pairs using a scientific bidding sequnece make 5H= and score a bottom.  On this hand of course, North had the Clubs covered.

 

 

Finally Board 26 illustrated some of the finer points of using transfers over 1NT.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 26

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

North

Vulnerability

 

All

N

E

S

W

♠  AQ7

 

P

P

P

♥  J8

1NT

P

2D

P

♦  K6543

2H

P

2NT

P

West

♣ Q96

East

P

P

 

 

♠  J964

 

♠  532

 

 

 

 

♥  Q765

♥  AT

 

P

P

P

♦  A

♦  QT72

P

 

 

 

♣  T432

South

♣ KJ87

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

17

11              16

16

♠  KT8

Hcp

12

7                10

11

 

 

 

 

♥  K9432

 

 

 

 

♦  J98

 

 

 

 

♣ A5

 

 

 

 

 

North has a minimum weak 1NT opener.  (Some might Pass, especially being vulnerable.)  With a five-card heart suit South bids 2D and North duly bids 2H.  What should South now bid?  She has 11 Hcp and wants to invite game.  Also she has only five hearts (which she has already shown) and she also has a hand suitable for a NT contract.  So she bids 2NT.  North can now Pass (with a weak hand and only two Hearts), bid 3H (with a weak hand and at least three Hearts), 3NT (with a strong hand and only two Hearts) or 4H (with a strong hand and at least three Hearts).  Here, with a minimum hand and only two Hearts, North Passes.

 

But think back to the opening bid.  Using the Bhcp evaluation scheme you need 18 Bhcp to open 1NT, so North should Pass.  This would result in the hand being pased out.  As six out of eight NS pairs went off, in a variety of contracts, maybe this hand illustrates the value of the Bhcp evaluation method?

Hands from 25th July 2017

On Board 8 the question was, should East enter the bidding?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 8

BIDDING

Dealer

 

West

North

Vulnerability

 

None

N

E

S

W

♠ 76

 

 

 

P

♥ AT75

1D

P

P

P

♦ AKJ97

 

 

 

 

West

♣ Q2

East

 

 

 

P

♠ QT42

 

♠ A85

1D

X

P

2S

♥ J2

♥ KQ96

P

P

P

 

♦ Q53

♦ 864

 

 

 

 

♣ AJ86

South

♣ K54

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

20

16              16

8

♠ KJ93

Hcp

14

10              12

4

 

 

 

 

♥ 843

 

 

 

 

♦ T2

 

 

 

 

♣ T973

 

 

 

 

 

After North's opening bid East might Pass or Double.  If East Passes then North will peacefully make 1D for +70.

 

If East Doubles then West will bid 2S, jumping to show 8+ Hcp.  North is too weak to compete at the three-level and East, knowing that partner Passed on the first round of bidding, will Pass too.  Against 2S North leads the AD, showing possession of the KD, but doesn't lead the KD to the second trick.  Thinking that the QC might make a trick and that a Heart lead might allow declarer to discard losers from hand on dummy's Hearts, North might lead a trump to the second trick.  This will allow South to win the KS in time to lead a Diamond through declarer's QD and give the defence three Diamond tricks.  Altogether the defence will make three Diamonds, one Spade and one Club, so that 2S will make giving N/S a score of -110.  So on this hand at least a light take-out Double seems to work.

 

 

Board 9 is curious for what might have been.. 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 9

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠ AJ86

1NT

P

P

2C

♥ KQ3

P

3C

P

P

♦ QT75

P

 

 

 

West

♣ 52

East

 

 

 

 

♠ 3

 

♠ QT72

 

 

 

 

♥ 964

♥ JT8

 

 

 

 

♦ AK64

♦ 2

 

 

 

 

♣ KQ843

South

♣ AJT97

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

18

16              15

11

♠ K954

Hcp

12

12                8

8

 

 

 

 

♥ A752

 

 

 

 

♦ J983

 

 

 

 

♣ 6

 

 

 

 

 

(Incidentally, the diagram illustrates the benefits of the Bhcp system.  Using Hcp the East and South hands seem to be equal but the Bhcp evaluation rates the East hand a significantly the better hand.)

 

With the strength pretty equally divided between the four hands the bidding, and certainly the final contract, is likely to vary from table to table.  North played 1NT three times, each time going one off.  Three times E/W played in some number of Clubs and five times N/S finished in a Spade contract.  At my table my partner and I bid Hearts to the three-level and, fortunately (albeit reasonably) E/W continued to 4C which, going one off, gave us a fair result.  I was wondering how 3H would have fared?  On the face of it, with Hearts breaking 3-3 and with both Spades and Diamonds breaking 4-1, you would think that 3H would be a good contract.  But the app shows that whilst 3D and 2S can be made, N/S cannot make even 1H.  Why?  The reason is that, in a Heart contract, the uneven splits in the side suits allow E/W to score tricks by ruffing.  A key play is for East to lead a low Club after the first Diamond ruff.  Then East can score a second Diamond ruff.  The poor trump splits do not prevent N/S from making Spade or Diamond part-score contracts.

 

 

Board 17 presented a challenge for those Easts who sacrificed in 4S. 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 17

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

None

N

E

S

W

♠ 8

P

1S

X

P

♥ 96542

3H

4S

X

P

♦ JT95

P

P

P

 

West

♣ AQ5

East

 

 

 

 

♠ J5

 

♠ AQT9762

 

 

 

 

♥ T873

♥ -

 

 

 

 

♦ Q72

♦ A863

 

 

 

 

♣ 7643

South

♣ J8

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

11

6                16

27

♠ K43

Hcp

7

3                11

19

 

 

 

 

♥ AKQJ

 

 

 

 

♦ K4

 

 

 

 

♣ KT92

 

 

 

 

 

East has a rule of 20 opening bid and is too strong to open 3S.  South is too strong to bid 1NT which would show 16-18 Hcp so chooses to Double.  North has an eight-loser hand in support of Hearts, so placing South with a seven-loser hand and a Heart suit bids 3H.  East can see that 4H will make so bids 4S straight away.  South could bid on to 5H (which makes) or Double with the confidence that 4S is unlikely to make.

 

The question then is, by how many tricks will East fail?  If the contract is two off then N/S will score +300 which with 4H making will give E/W a good result, but if East is defeated by three tricks then N/S will make +500, which is better than the +450 they would get for 5H=.

 

South will make the obvious opening lead of the AH which East ruffs.  East can see a possible six losers, one Spade, three Diamonds and two Clubs.  This is no good.  How to reduce the losers by one?  There are two finesses available.  If either the KS is with North or the KD is with South then one loser could be avoided.  East should reflect that South has shown a strong hand in the bidding.  Suppose that South holds both the KS and the KD?  In this case the KS has to be a loser (unless it is a singleton) but the QD can be East's eighth trick.  Suppose that East starts by leading AD and another Diamond.  This will promote the QD and it may seem that in addition the QD will be an entry to dummy to take the (probably losing) Spade finesse.  But look what happens.  South can win the KD at trick 3, lead a low Club to partner and then receive a Diamond ruff.  East is back to having six losers.  Far better is to play AS and another Spade at tricks 2 and 3.  Now, assuming that the KD is with South, East cannot be prevented from taking eight tricks and securing a good result.

 

The key thing is for East to realise that her only target is to make eight tricks.

 

 

Finally Board 27 illustrated the benefits of using the Losing Trick Count.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 27

BIDDING

1HDealer

 

South

North

Vulnerability

 

None

N

E

S

W

♠ AK73

 

 

P

P

♥ T6432

1H

P

1S

P

♦ 6

2S

P

4S

P

West

♣ AK7

East

P

P

P

 

♠ 9

 

♠ J52

 

 

 

 

♥ K75

♥ AJ9

 

 

 

 

♦ J853

♦ AQT

 

 

 

 

♣ QT932

South

♣ J864

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

19

10              20

11

♠ QT864

Hcp

14

6                13

7

 

 

 

 

♥ Q8

 

 

 

 

♦ K9742

 

 

 

 

♣ 5

 

 

 

 

 

The first three bids by N/S are standard.  What should South bid after hearing that North has Spade support?  South might look at her measly 7 Hcp and Pass, but she should look again!  Her hand has only seven losers and North should also have seven losers to justify an opening bid.  Using the Losing Trick Count you add up the partnership losers and subtract the total from 18.  This suggests the level at which the partnership can make a contract - but only if there is a known fit.  Here the answer is four, so South should bid 4S.  4S is a fairly easy make.  If E/W fail to lead trumps then the contact can be made on a cross-ruff.  Otherwise the 3-3 Heart break allows North's Heart suit to be established.  In practice seven N/S pairs played in 4S but strangely only three made their contract; three played in 2S and at one table E/W played in 3NT, which did not work out well for them.

Hands from 18th July 2017

There’s quite a lot to say about Board 4 so here goes.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QJ543

 

 

 

1D

♥  T7

P

1H

P

2D

♦  862

P

4H

 

 

West

♣ QT5

East

 

West’s rebid of 2D indicates a maximum of 2 hearts and a minimum of 6 diamonds.

Can you see why?

♠  K82

 

♠  AT9

♥  3

♥  AK9865

♦  AQJT43

♦  7

♣  A83

South

♣ 976

Bhcp

10

20        15

15

♠  76

Hcp

5

14        11

10

♥  QJ42

♦  K95

♣ KJ42

 

Here is why West has a minimum of 6 diamonds.

First, if West held only 5 diamonds she would have either a second suit of at least 4 cards or would have a 5332 distribution.

With a 5332 distribution West would open 1NT if in her specified range or rebid no trumps.  She did neither so she does not hold a 5332 distribution.

If she were 54?? She would show her second suit: raising hearts if she had 4 of them or bidding 1S or 2C if one of those were her second suit.  She does not have a second suit so she must have at least 6 diamonds.

South won’t want to lead one of her hearts, nor from her isolated kings, so let’s look at the play on the basis of a spade lead.

Declarer counts her losers: 1 spade, 2 clubs and some number of trumps.  That’s too many.

East wins in hand and plays off the two top trumps.

To get rid of a loser or two the diamond finesse has to work.  The D7/DT holds.  The DA is played and the S9 discarded.

Might as well ruff a diamond in case they are 3/3; they are so dummy’s diamonds are established.

Cross to dummy with the SK and playa diamond, discarding C6.  South can only ruff with a master trump. 

A rather lucky 11 tricks are made.

 

There is something quite satisfying about playing a hand on a cross-ruff.  Board 22 is a case in point.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 22

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  JT762

 

1S

3C

P

♥  AKQJ3

3H

P

4H

 

♦  K84

 

East leads the SA and it looks like a straightforward cross-ruff.

Is there anything you need to do before you embark on it?

West

♣ --

East

♠  Q83

 

♠  AK954

♥  642

♥  8

♦  JT2

♦  Q9765

♣  JT86

South

♣ AK

Bhcp

21

9          21

9

♠  --

Hcp

14

4          16

6

♥  T975

♦  A3

♣ Q975432

 

The danger is that if you have winners in a side suit then unless you cash them early they are likely to disappear.  You opponents will discard and may well end up with trumps when you have exhausted yours are ruff your winners.

Here, you ruff the SA opening lead.  You then cash the DA and DK.  Finally you go on your cross-ruff spree making 4 spade ruffs, 2 diamonds and 5 hearts from ruffing clubs.

 

ALAN’S GOLD STAR AWARD

 

It is not often that a board has exactly the same result at all tables.  Board 9 was one such example; it was passed out all 22 pairs who had the board.

 

The first thing is WHEN RETURNING THE CARDS TO THE BOARD THEY SHOULD BE SHUFFLED.  THIS IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT WHEN THE HANDS HAVE BEEN PASSED OUT.

 

So what is so interesting about a universally passed out board?  Well, for one thing had I been playing South I would have bid.

North dealt and after 2 passes you survey this motley collection of cards:

♠ K 8 7 2

 6 5 2

 A Q J 4

♣ 10 5

What would I have bid?

Why would I have bid it?

What would be my rebid?

The first email I receive (acdw1949@gmail.com) correctly answering these 3 questions will be awarded Alan’s Gold Award to keep in perpetuity (or until deleted).

 

Hands from 11th July 2017

I am going to start with the bidding on two slam hands where regrettably few pairs ended up in anything but a game contract.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 19

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  A9876

 

 

P

1H

♥  T9

P

1S

P

2D

♦  J73

P

4H

P

4N

West

♣ T42

East

P

5C

P

5D

♠  2

 

♠  KJT5

P

5S

P

6H

♥  A7643

♥  KQJ82

 

For those of you who play Jacoby West’s response will be 2NT.

♦  AK854

♦  Q9

♣  A3

South

♣ K8

Bhcp

9

19        23

9

♠  Q43

Hcp

5

15        15

5

♥  5

♦  T62

♣ QJ9765

 

In standard Acol East makes the delayed game response of 1S and then jumps to the heart game at her second turn.

West knows that her rebid of 2D could be made on a minimum opening hand yet East has confidently gone to game; she must have opening values.  West has a 5 loser hand so that suggests 12 tricks could be made.

Blackwood is used and 5C shows one key card (HK).  West’s 5D bid asks whether East holds the queen of trumps.  East’s 5S bid indicates that she holds the HQ and the SK.

West confidently bids the slam.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 21

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  8652

P

P

P

2C

♥  QJ

P

2N

P

3H

♦  K862

P

3S

P

4N

West

♣ KT6

East

P

5H

P

6H

♠  KQ73

 

♠  A4

 

West has a good 6 card major, a 4 loser hand and at least 16 hcp (24 Bhcp).  The hand qualifies for an opening bid of 2C.

♥  AK9652

♥  T873

♦  AQ

♦  75

♣  2

South

♣ AJ875

Bhcp

14

24        13

9

♠  JT9

Hcp

9

18        9

4

♥  4

♦  JT943

♣ Q654

 

East’s hand is strong enough to make a positive bid.  I don’t like to bid a 5 card minor suit at the 3 level; 2NT is better.

East’s rebid of 3S cannot possibly be a suggestion that spades be trumps; with spades she would have bid them earlier in preference to 2NT.  The 3S bid agrees hearts and indicates that the SA is held.

West goes into Blackwood, 2 key cards without the HQ are shown and the slam bid.

 

Only one pair on Board 19 and 3 pairs on Board 21 bid a slam.

 

So many pairs don’t bother with the Unusual No Trump or Michaels Cue Bid because “they never come up”.  They come up much more frequently than you might think.

 

As South on Board 1 you are dealt:

♠ K J 10 3 2

 A J 9 7 4

 2

♣ 7 4

North dealt, passed and East opened 1C.  What do you bid?

An overcall of a Michaels Cue bid of 2C shows 5/5 in the major suits. 

On the very next board (Board 2) West picked up:

♠ 9

 Q J 7 6 3

 A 10 5 3 2

♣ K 7

East dealt, passed and South opened 1C.  What should East bid?

An overcall of 2NT is the Unusual No Trumps showing 5/5 in the two lowest unbid suits (in this case diamonds and hearts).

On both boards it happens that overcaller’s partner had heart support and so, although weak, should immediately bid to the level of fit.  The aim is to take away bidding space from the stronger pair and so make life more difficult for them.

 

Finally, here is a question about opening leads.  As West on Board 11 you have:

♠ 8 7 3

 7 5 3 2

 7 3

♣ K 5 4 3

South has bid spades strongly, North has shown diamonds and South is declarer in 6NT.

What do you lead?

Partner can have very little, probably about 4 hcp.  What are the chances that those few points are in clubs? 

Those points could be in any suit so the chance of them being in clubs is one in four.  It is probable that a club lead will just help declarer so that leaves the hearts.

On that basis I would select the H7 as my opening lead hoping declarer (the strongest hand at the table) held the CA so that my CK would make a trick.

That is all good logic but woe is me, this is the one time in four:  Partner’s 4 hcp happened to be the CA!!  A club lead would have put declarer one off while a heart lead allowed him to make an overtrick.

 

Hands from 4th July 2017

Board 8 illustrated two simple ideas that both come up quite often.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 8

BIDDING

Dealer

 

West

North

Vulnerability

 

None

N

E

S

W

♠ K532

 

 

 

P

♥ KJ2

1NT

P

3NT

P

♦ AJ6

P

P

P

 

West

♣ QT7

East

 

 

 

 

♠ Q64

 

♠ A9

 

 

 

 

♥ 763

♥ Q985

 

 

 

 

♦ T842

♦ 975

 

 

 

 

♣ A92

South

♣ J863

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

21

9                10

20

♠ JT87

Hcp

14

6                  7

13

 

 

 

 

♥ AT4

 

 

 

 

♦ KQ3

 

 

 

 

♣ K54

 

 

 

 

 

The first point of interest is South's response to North's 1NT opening bid.  With 13 Hcp South is going to bid game.  Should South bid Stayman?  With 4333 distribution (and here with honours in all three of the three-card suits) South should forget Stayman and bid a direct 3NT.  This is because there are no ruffing values in the South hand and it is almost certain that the same number of tricks will be available in NT as in Spades (should North prove to have a four-card Spade suit).  The 10 extra points in NT could make a big difference in the overall result.

 

The second point of interest lies in East's choice of opening lead.  I watched the hand being played four times and every time the opening lead was the 5H, the fourth-highest of the longest suit.  But leading away from a Q when declarer has opened 1NT is very likely to give away a trick.  Don't do it!  Here the lead of the 9D, top of nothing, gives away nothing.  It is true that declarer has a two-way finesse against the QH but that gives the defence a 50% chance of scoring the QH instead of a 0% chance!

 

 

Another simple point arose twice, on Boards 12 and 19.  On both these hands one side could make 3NT with overtricks (but not 6NT) or a small slam in a minor suit.  After playing one of these boards one player spoke to me, lamenting that, "I made a brilliant bid [5D] but scored 0%!"  The brilliant bid would have been 6D.  The lesson is that, if your bidding goes beyond 3NT when you have a minor suit fit, you are better off bidding a small slam than settling for the minor suit game.  If the slam fails you will score close to 0% but you won't do much better scoring say +400 in 5D when most of the field are scoring say +430 in 3NT+1.

 

 

Board 17 was maybe closer to poker than bridge.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 17

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

None

N

E

S

W

♠ K7

1C

P

1H

X

♥ T8642

4H

4S

5C

5S

♦ -

6C

6S

P

P

West

♣ AQ9753

East

X

P

P

P

♠ AQJ43

 

♠ T8652

 

 

 

 

♥ 7

♥ 53

P

P

1H

2H

♦ KQT973

♦ AJ852

4H

4S

5H

5S

♣ 6

South

♣ 8

X

P

P

P

Bhcp

13

18                8

21

♠ 9

Hcp

9

12                5

14

 

 

 

 

♥ AKQJ9

 

 

 

 

♦ 64

 

 

 

 

♣ KJT42

 

 

 

 

 

When both sides have massive double fits it can be hard to judge whether to bid on, Pass or Double when the auction reaches the five-level.  I have shown two possible bidding sequences.  Neither of these can be recommended at the

 

In the first North makes a light opening bid on 9Hcp.  Is this sound?  If you use the Rule of 20 then it is sound.  The Rule of 20 states that if your Hcp added to the length of your two longest suits adds up to 20 or more then you hand warrants an opening bid.  Here North has 9 Hcp + 11 cards in Hearts and Clubs = 20.  The advantage of this on this hand is that when North subsequently shows strong support for partner's Hearts, South knows that they have a double fit, which is very useful in judging how to bid at the end of the auction.  The key bid is South's bid of 5C which lets North know about the double fit.  This allows North, with a Diamond void, to bid 6C.  North chooses 6C instead of 6H in case South has a doubleton Spade, as in 6C the KS will be protected from the opening lead, although it seems likely that South will have at most one Spade.

 

In the second suggested bidding sequence N/S don't uncover their Club fit, making it more likely that they will allow E/W to play in 5S.

 

In both bidding sequences East knows that her side has a double fit, which suggests that they will have little defence against 6C or 6H and that therefore 6S will be a good sacrifice.  West's Double of 1H in the first sequence shows the two unbid suits.  Her 2H bid in the second sequence is Michaels, showing the two highest unbid suits.  The par contract is 6SX.

 

There is, by the way, not much point in making a penalty Double of a slam.  If the slam goes off then the defence will score well compared to all the other pairs who defended against making game contracts.  If the slam makes then the Double will have turned a below average result into an outright bottom.  On this hand 6H was bid and made twice.  One N/S pair bid 6C which would have scored less well than 6H - except that E/W kindly Doubled, giving N/S a top!

 

 

 

When I looked at Board 20 my instinct was that South should bid 3NT.  Three N/S pairs bid NT and made ten or eleven tricks but only one of these pairs bid 3NT.  At one table the E/W bidding should have allowed South to be held to eight tricks, but West forgot the bidding during the play!

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

BIDDING

Dealer

 

West

North

Vulnerability

 

All

N

E

S

W

♠ Q53

 

 

 

P

♥ QJT7

P

P

1D

1H

♦ J86

1NT

2H

2NT

P

West

♣ 953

East

P

P

 

 

♠ 74

 

♠ KJT86

 

 

 

 

♥ A9863

♥ K54

 

 

 

P

♦ T3

♦ 95

P

P

1D

1H

♣ K864

South

♣ QJ2

1NT

2S

2NT

P

Bhcp

11

10              16

23

♠ A92

Hcp

6

7                10

17

P

P

P

 

♥ 2

 

 

 

 

♦ AKQ742

 

 

 

 

♣ AT7

 

 

 

 

 

My feeling was that South should have bid 3NT not 2NT, reasoning that North's 1NT bid shows a Heart stopper and that with one Heart trick, six Diamonds and the two black aces she would be able to make nine tricks.  This would be a good punt and if E/W kindly start the defence with three rounds of hearts then South will make ten tricks, as above but with two heart tricks.  But if E/W refuse to lead a second round of Hearts, South will be held to eight tricks.  The key to achieving this lies in the bidding.

 

The two bidding sequences shown are the same except for East's bid on the second round.  Suppose East bids 2H, saying to herself, "Partner has five Hearts.  I can bid 2H as that is to the level of fit."  West then leads the 6H against 2NT.  East wins with the KH and can see that she can't profitably attack Spades from her side of the table.  Suppose she returns a heart to partner's AH.  What should West lead?  By now it doesn't matter!  If West leads a black suit, South can win with the ace, cross to dummy's JD, cash the two heart tricks and return to her Diamonds and remaining black suit ace.

 

In the second bidding sequence, East bids 2S.  Maybe she used the "suit quality test".  This states that a suit can be bid at the level indicated by adding the number of cards to the number of the top five honours.  Here she has five spades including three of the top five honours, so the suit can be bid at the two-level.  Now West has the chance to shine.  She should listen to partner and lead a Spade.  Suppose dummy plays low.  West plays the TS and South might duck.  In that case west leads a low Heart to partners AH and West returns a second Spade.  Say dummy ducks again.  West plays the JS and declarer can either win the AS now or at the next trick.  Declarer can still enter dummy once, with the JD, but there are no established heart tricks to enjoy and now declarer will only make eight tricks.  When I watched the hand being played, East found the key 2S bid and then West led a low Heart!  Bridge is a partnership game!

Hands from 27th June 2017

At eight tables Board 3 was played by North in 2C, probably with the first bidding sequence shown in the diagram, giving N/S (and E/W) a score of 50% when the contract was defeated by one trick.  On the surface it would seem that this was a fairly uninteresting hand.  But when the score was entered E/W will have seen that they could make 3D or 3H - and the one E/W who did so scored 100%.  So, should E/W have entered the bidding?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 3

BIDDING

Dealer

 

South

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠  JT6

 

 

P

P

♥  QJ2

1C

P

1D

P

♦  T

2C

P

P

P

West

♣ AKJ965

East

P

 

 

 

♠  984

 

♠  AK7

 

 

 

 

♥  K9864

♥  AT3

 

 

P

P

♦  AJ53

♦  9642

1C

X

1D

1H

♣  8

South

♣ QT2

2C

2H

3C

3H

Bhcp

20

11              19

10

♠  Q532

Hcp

12

8                13

7

P

P

P

P

♥  75

 

 

 

 

♦  KQ87

 

 

P

P

♣ 743

1C

P

1D

1H

2C

2H

3C

3H

P

P

P

P

 

The first point to make is that E/W were vulnerable and N/S were non-vulnerable.  This might make E/W reluctant to bid, but bear in mind that if N/S go off undoubled when non-vulnerable then it will only cost them 50 points per undertrick.  It is generally better to let the opposition play a partscore when they are vulnerable.  (There is no bonus for making a vulnerable partscore but there is a bonus for defeating a vulnerable partscore.)

 

Maybe East could have found a Double after the 1C opneing bid?  She has at least three cards in each of the unbid suits and honours in both majors.  Or maybe West could have bid 1H after the 1D response?  West has only 8 Hcp but she should be aware that her partner may have Passed with quite a few points but with no five-card suit.  If either East or West venture a bid then in all probablity E/W will buy the contract at the three-level and get a good result.  Two possible bidding sequences are shown in the diagram.  At Pairs try to get into the bidding if at all possible.

 

 

When Board 4  was played the focus was on the player with apparently the worst hand.  South had 2 Hcp but a key role to play in the bidding.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

 

West

North

Vulnerability

 

All

N

E

S

W

♠  J86

 

 

 

1D

♥  AK

X

1S

2H

2D

♦  A92

3C

P

4C

P

West

♣ AQJ64

East

?

 

 

 

♠  KQ5

 

♠  AT9742

 

 

 

 

♥  J983

♥  T2

 

 

 

1D

♦  QJT74

♦  K65

X

1S

2H

2D

♣  K

South

♣ 87

3C

P

5C

P

Bhcp

26

19              11

4

♠  3

Hcp

19

12                7

2

P

P

 

 

♥  Q7654

 

 

 

 

♦  83

 

 

 

 

♣ T9532

 

 

 

 

 

West has just got an opning bid.  There are 12 Hcp but you might devalue the singleton KD.  On the other hand the rule of 20 suggests an opening bid.  Adding the Hcp to the number of cards in the two longest suits gives 21 so you can afford the devalue the KD and still bid.  And using the Losing Trick Count there are seven losers, again suggesting that an opening bid is correct.  The solid nature of the Diamond suit confirms this decision.

 

What should North bid over the 1D opening bid?  With only five cards in the majors it might seem that a 2C overcall is best, but with so many Hcp it is best to Double and then to bid your suit in the next round.  This conveys that you have a strong one-suited hand.

 

East can then make her normal 1S response and it is then South's turn to think.  The 1S bid to her right means that she only has to consider the two undid suits, Hearts and Clubs.  Her first thought might be, "I only have 2 Hcp, I'd better Pass".  But her second thought should be, "I have an eight-loser hand in support of Hearts or Clubs, so I have to bid".  Does she bid 2C or 2H?  It is normal to bid the higher ranking suit first.  At her next bid North will bid Clubs.  South will understand that this shows a strong hand with at least five Clubs and with five-card support she should raise Clubs to the level of fit.  Having in addition shortages in both of the opposition's suits maybe South should even bid 5C?  N/S will then play in 4C or 5C and in either case this would give them a good result.

 

 

The play was of interest in Board 5.  All E/W pairs played in some number of Spades (one possible bidding sequence is shown) and at five tables 10 tricks were made giving E/W a good score.  But as can be seen from the diagram N/S can take five tricks (one Spade, three Hearts and the AD).  How did some N/S pairs go wrong?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 5

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

N/S

N

E

S

W

♠  J5

2D

X

3D

3S

♥  QT4

P

4S

P

P

♦  AJT983

P

 

 

 

West

♣ T5

East

 

 

 

 

♠  A832

 

♠  QT974

 

 

 

 

♥  8653

♥  K72

 

 

 

 

♦  K62

♦  Q

 

 

 

 

♣  K4

South

♣ AQ96

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

15

13              19

13

♠  K6

Hcp

8

10              13

9

 

 

 

 

♥  AJ9

 

 

 

 

♦  754

 

 

 

 

♣ J8732

 

 

 

 

 

If North is on lead, what opening lead should be made?

 

The first point is that N/S's Spade trick vanishes if N/S lead Spades.  If Spades are first led from the East hand then South must duck unless the QS is the card led.  If the TS is led then South should think, where are the AS and JS?  If they are both with West then there are no Spade tricks for the defence.  If North has the AS then N/S will have two Spade tricks (but don't play the KS in case North's AS is singleton).  If North has the JS then ducking the TS will mean that either the JS or the KS will win a trick.  If Spadees are first led from the West hand then the KS will obviously win a trick.

 

The second point is that North should not lead a Diamond.  Leading from an unsupported ace (i.e. when you don't also hold the king) often costs a trick.

 

It is usually not a good idea to lead from a doubeton - all too often it gives declarer an easy way to capture an honour held by partner.

 

It does not seem attractive to lead a Heart.

 

Suppose that North leads a trump (costing a trick as above).  N/S can still hold E/W to 9 tricks as long as North plays Hearts correctly.  E/W will have to play on Diamonds after drawing trumps and eliminating Clubs.  North wins the first round and must then lead a Heart.  If she leads anything else after winning the AD then a Heart can be discarded from the West hand on the KD leaving E/W with only two Heart losers.  Which Heart should North lead?  If she lead the 4H then West can play low and South will win with the JH or the 9H (not the AH).  If South then leads a Dimaond back then as before a Heart loser will be discarded on the KH.  So North must lead the QH or the TH.  Then she will retain the lead if the KH is ducked and the other two defensive Heart tricks can be taken.

 

If South is on lead then she will lead a Dimaond (partner's suit) and, after winng the AD, North will have to lead the QH or TH after which E/W will be held to 8 tricks.

Hands from 20th June 2017

On Board 1 I picked up this hand as dealer: ♠ AJ42  ♥ KJT8  ♦ KT87  ♣ T.  Playing four-card majors, should I have opened the bidding?  The problem with 4441 hands is the rebid.  Always imagine that partner responds in the suit in which you hold a singleton.   If you open 1H or 1S, partner bids 2C and you rebid 2D then you have said that you hold at least five cards in your first bid suit.  With only 12 Hcp there is a danger that you will play a Heart contract in a 4-3 fit at an uncomfortably high level.  If you open 1D and partner bids 2C then bidding 2H or 2S would show 16+ Hcp.  With only 12 Hcp and 4441 distribution my recommendation is to Pass.  (On this particular hand an opening bid of 1H would work out satisfactorily, as partner heppens to hold a four-card Spade suit, as the second bidding sequence shows.)

 

If North Passes as dealer then the bidding might proceed as shown.  After West's 1NT opneing bid North can Double for take-out.  As North passed as dealer this clearly does not show the usual 16+ Hcp but rather a willingness to compete.  East's Redouble is SOS after which West would bid 2C, but here South is happy to bid 2S.  (There are various systems available to compete over an opening 1NT bid and also to rescue partner from 1NTx.  If you play in a regular partnership you should decide how to bid in both such situations.)

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 1

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

None

N

E

S

W

♠  AJ42

P

P

P

1NT

♥  KJT8

X

XX

2S

P

♦  KT87

P

P

 

 

West

♣ T

East

 

 

 

 

♠  K3

 

♠  875

1H

P

1S

P

♥  A72

♥  Q653

2S

P

P

P

♦  J532

♦  Q4

 

 

 

 

♣  KQJ8

South

♣ 9764

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

20

20                6

14

♠  QT86

Hcp

12

14                4

10

 

 

 

 

♥  94

 

 

 

 

♦  A96

 

 

 

 

♣ A532

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board 9 was one of those rather frequent hands where only a minority of pairs bid a cold slam.  Why did six out of eight pairs settle for game?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 9

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠  K97

1H

P

4NT

P

♥  K9652

5C

P

6H

P

♦  A6

P

P

P

 

West

♣ AK2

East

 

 

 

 

♠  A85

 

♠  QJT432

 

 

 

 

♥  743

♥  8

 

 

 

 

♦  432

♦  J9

 

 

 

 

♣  QT65

South

♣ J743

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

22

9                10

19

♠  6

Hcp

17

6                 5

12

 

 

 

 

♥  AQJT

 

 

 

 

♦  KQT875

 

 

 

 

♣ 98

 

 

 

 

 

Playing a weak NT North opens 1H.  East might think of overcalling but maybe at red vulnerability she should Pass.  But in any case South should make a slam try.  One way of looking at her hand is to use the Losing Trick Count.  The LTC is only used when you have a known fit with partner.  South has a five-loser hand.  An opening bid will be based on at most seven losers.  Add the number of losers together, subtract from eighteen and the answer is the level at which you can probably make a contract.  Here the answer is six.  Check that there aren't two aces missing and bid 6H.

 

My suggested bidding sequence (in which the 5C response to the 0314 RKCB enquiry shows 0 or 3 key cards) is not perfect.  It is usually said that you shouldn't use Blackwood with two losers in a side suit and it is possible here that there will be two quick losers in Clubs.  On the other hand it is quite possibile that North will have at least the KC, which would be protected from the opening lead.  And if EW have both the top Clubs then they may have one each in which case a Club may well not be led.  A more sophisticated bidding sequence using cue bids might be used but, if there are two Club losers the bidding sequence might alert EW to the need to lead Clubs.  Sometimes on a hand like this where there are two quick losers, pairs who bid directly to the slam make 6H=, pairs who bid directly to game make 4H+2, and pairs using a scientific bidding sequnece make 5H= and score a bottom.  On this hand of course, North had the Clubs covered.

 

 

Finally Board 26 illustrated some of the finer points of using transfers over 1NT.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 26

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

North

Vulnerability

 

All

N

E

S

W

♠  AQ7

 

P

P

P

♥  J8

1NT

P

2D

P

♦  K6543

2H

P

2NT

P

West

♣ Q96

East

P

P

 

 

♠  J964

 

♠  532

 

 

 

 

♥  Q765

♥  AT

 

P

P

P

♦  A

♦  QT72

P

 

 

 

♣  T432

South

♣ KJ87

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

17

11              16

16

♠  KT8

Hcp

12

7                10

11

 

 

 

 

♥  K9432

 

 

 

 

♦  J98

 

 

 

 

♣ A5

 

 

 

 

 

North has a minimum weak 1NT opener.  (Some might Pass, especially being vulnerable.)  With a five-card heart suit South bids 2D and North duly bids 2H.  What should South now bid?  She has 11 Hcp and wants to invite game.  Also she has only five hearts (which she has already shown) and she also has a hand suitable for a NT contract.  So she bids 2NT.  North can now Pass (with a weak hand and only two Hearts), bid 3H (with a weak hand and at least three Hearts), 3NT (with a strong hand and only two Hearts) or 4H (with a strong hand and at least three Hearts).  Here, with a minimum hand and only two Hearts, North Passes.

 

But think back to the opening bid.  Using the Bhcp evaluation scheme you need 18 Bhcp to open 1NT, so North should Pass.  This would result in the hand being passed out.  As six out of eight NS pairs went off, in a variety of contracts, maybe this hand illustrates the value of the Bhcp evaluation method?

Hands from 30th May 2017

The Rule of 7 is a guide to how many times declarer should hold up before taking her trick in her opponents’ strong suit.  It is usually but not exclusively used in No Trump contracts.

The rule states that when your opponents lead their strong suit you calculate the number of times you should hold up by adding the total number of cards you and dummy hold between you in the suit and subtract that number from 7.  The answer is the number of times you should hold up.  For example in their suit you hold:

                7

            A642

You have a total of 5 cards in the suit: 7 – 5 = 2 so you hold up for 2 rounds and refrain from taking the ace until the third round.

The reason why it works is because you fear that one of your opponents holds a 5 card suit.  You hold up until the round where your other opponent is to play his last card in the suit.  This would leave him with none to play if he gains the lead later; communications in their suit have been cut.

It is a simple rule but the problem is that it does not always give the right answer.  In fact, on Boards 21 and 22 it gave the wrong answer both times.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 21

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  43

P

1D

1H

X

♥  84

P

1N

P

3N

♦  A9764

After the 1H overcall West has 2 ways of showing a spade suit.

Double shows exactly 4 spades.  Bidding 1S shows 5 or more spades.  The strength is unlimited in both cases.

West

♣ KJ74

East

♠  AQJ8

 

♠  K96

♥  932

♥  AK7

♦  K2

♦  Q853

♣  9652

South

♣ AT3

Bhcp

11

14        22

13

♠  T752

Hcp

8

10        16

6

♥  QJT65

♦  JT

♣ Q8

 

South leads the HQ.  East counts her hearts, there are 6 in total.  Using the Rule of 7 we get 7 – 6 = 1, holding up for 1 round.

The trouble is that this is wrong.
Why?

If South has 5 hearts then North can only have two.  East can take both of North’s hearts with her HA and HK.  There is no need to hold up.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 22

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  76

 

1S

2C

2H

♥  762

3C

3H

4C

4H

♦  K964

 

4H was a common contract and on the normal club lead 10 tricks are easy.

What are the options if a diamond (the unbid suit) is led?

West

♣ QT54

East

♠  Q3

 

♠  KJT54

♥  AKT953

♥  QJ4

♦  JT52

♦  A87

♣  2

South

♣ 76

Bhcp

8

16        17

19

♠  A982

Hcp

5

10        11

14

♥  8

♦  Q3

♣ AKJ983

 

There are 4 losers; one spade, 2 diamonds and 1 club.  That is one too many.

On the diamond opening lead West applies the Rule of 7: she has 7 diamonds so the rule suggests that she should take the trick with the DA immediately.

That is wrong.

As soon as trumps are drawn declarer must try to set up the spades for discards but it is too late, N/S take their winners and West is 1 off.

Declarer reasons as follows.  South overcalled so let’s hope he holds both black aces.  North has led the D4, suggesting length so South is likely to be short, hopefully a doubleton. 

West decides to duck and South wins with the DQ.  Now the N/S communications are cut and 10 tricks are still to be had whatever South leads next.

 

Tip: don’t rely too much on the Rule of 7; it often gives the wrong answer.

 

A deceptive play which puts your opponents on the wrong track s one of the great joys of bridge.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 13

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  54

P

2N

P

3H

♥  KT65

P

3S

P

P

♦  J752

 

A 4 loser hand with a minor suit is not a 2C opener while East’s hand is too strong for 1C.  With two decent doubletons an opening bid of 2NT is best.

West

♣ 986

East

♠  J9832

 

♠  KQ7

♥  J82

♥  A7

♦  986

♦  K3

♣  73

South

♣ AKJT52

Bhcp

7

4          28

21

♠  AT6

Hcp

4

2          20

14

♥  Q943

♦  AQT4

♣ Q4

 

South’s opening lead is the H3: no other suit is at all reasonable.

Declarer calls for the H2 and what does North play?

South’s H3 indicates an honour in the suit.  North can see three honours, but not the HA or the HQ.  South would not lead away from the HA so must hold the HQ.  North plays the HT.

East assesses the situation.  He has 1 spade loser, 1 heart and possibly 2 diamonds.  If the diamonds are unkind then it will all depend upon getting the clubs right.

Not wanting North to switch to diamonds East takes the trick with the HA.

Then, before tackling trumps, East plays the CA to the C4, C3 and what card from North?

North should think it a little strange for the CA to appear.  It looks like declarer has a long club suit with a hole in it; probably missing the CQ.  Time for a little deceptive play: North plays the C8.

East switches to the SK, South ducks.  East continues with the SQ, South takes the trick and gets off lead with her third spade.

East calls for a club from dummy.  North plays the C9.

As North has played the 8 and then the 9, East could well place the C6 with South. If he does so he will deduce that whichever opponent has the CQ, the play of the CK will lose a club trick and will then have no guaranteed entry (distributions 98/Q64 or Q98/64).  However, if he finesses then he will have a 50% chance of making all those clubs, discarding all his losers.

If East takes the bait and finesses then N/S make the club, a heart and 2 diamonds which together with the SA puts declarer 1 off.

 

 

Hands from 9th May 2017

Let’s start with a slam hand bid by only one pair.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 1

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  Q76

P

1N

P

2H

♥  JT986

P

2S

P

3D

♦  8

P

3H

P

4D

West

♣ J862

East

P

4H

P

6D

♠  AT953

 

♠  KJ

 

 

 

 

♥  K5

♥  A74

 

 

 

 

♦  AKJ92

♦  QT763

 

 

 

 

♣  9

South

♣ Q43

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

8

21        18

13

♠  843

Hcp

4

15        12

9

 

 

 

 

♥  Q32

 

 

 

 

♦  54

 

 

 

 

♣ AKT75

 

 

 

 

 

After the transfer West’s 3D bid is game forcing.  It is used when responder is strong enough to be interested in a slam or when she has a very distributional hand completely unsuitable for a no trump contract.

East’s 3H bid is a cue bid showing interest in diamonds and also the HA.

4D is key card asking (Redwood – the voluntary bid of a minor suit at the 4 level).

The responses are exactly the same as RKC Blackwood which starts at 4NT.  The first step shows 1 or 4 key cards.  Therefore East’s 4H bid shows just the one key card.

 

Board 15 was another slam hand.  This time 3 pairs bid it.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 15

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AKJT2

 

 

1D

P

♥  KJ742

1S

P

2D

P

♦  4

2H

P

4H

P

West

♣ K8

East

4N

P

5H

P

♠  53

 

♠  Q9874

6H

 

 

 

♥  63

♥  Q8

 

 

 

 

♦  J632

♦  AQ7

 

 

 

 

♣  JT742

South

♣ 965

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

22

5          14

19

♠  6

Hcp

15

2          10

13

 

 

 

 

♥  AT95

 

 

 

 

♦  KT985

 

 

 

 

♣ AQ3

 

 

 

 

 

South is not strong enough to make the reverse rebid of 2H, that requires 16 points.

North’s 2H is forcing and therefore shows extra strength.

With the heart fit and a singleton, South switches to using the losing trick count.  She has a 6 loser hand, an indication of the extra strength her singleton gives her.  She jumps to the 4H game.

North asks about key cards and then bids the slam.

 

Finally, let’s look at Board 24 where N/S could make it very difficult for E/W to bid any slam despite having 13 tricks in clubs, diamonds or no trumps.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 24

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KQ972

 

 

 

1C

♥  KQ865

2C

P

3H

?

♦  T3

North’s 2C is Michaels showing 5/5 in the majors.

The weaker you are the more important it is to bid to the level of fit immediately.  Even if East bids 2D South comes in with 3H.

West

♣ Q

East

♠  AJ65

 

♠  3

♥  4

♥  A32

♦  AK9

♦  QJ8762

♣  AKT82

South

♣ J53

Bhcp

18

26        12

4

♠  T84

Hcp

12

19        8

1

♥  JT97

♦  54

♣ 9764

 

To their credit most E/W pairs bid to a minor suit game but only one got to 6D.

In the play the CA brings down North’s singleton CQ to give 5 club tricks, 6 diamonds plus the two major suit aces: 13 tricks.

 

 

Hands from 2nd May 2017

You know how to take a finesse, don’t you.  Let’s look at 2 different finesse positions.

      A                            B

   AQ7                         AJT

   853                           853

You need one extra trick to make your contract.  Which suit combination would you prefer, combination A or B?

In combination A the missing K can be on the left or on the right: it is 50% that it is on the left so you have a 50% chance of making your extra trick.

In combination B you are missing two important cards, the K and the Q.  There are four ways they can be distributed.  These are: both the K and the Q on the left; the K on the left and the Q on the right; the Q on the left and the K on the right; and finally both the K and the Q on the right.

So as long as you lead towards North twice, playing first the T and then the J you will make 2 tricks 3 times out of four (75% of the time), only losing 2 tricks when both the K and Q are on the right.

Holding combination B certainly has a much better chance of making 2 tricks.

 

With that in mind let’s look at Boards 3 and 28.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 3

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QT42

 

 

1H

X

♥  853

2H

2S

3H

P

♦  853

P

P

P

 

West

♣ Q95

East

 

This is not an unreasonable auction.

E/W were in spades five times and N/S in hearts six times.

E/W can make 8 tricks in spades and N/S 9 tricks in hearts.

♠  AJ96

 

♠  K8753

♥  4

♥  QT76

♦  J64

♦  T72

♣  AKJT4

South

♣ 6

Bhcp

7

21        9

23

♠  --

Hcp

4

14        5

17

♥  AKJ92

♦  AKQ9

♣ 8752

 

Do you agree with North’s bid of 2H?  Surely she is too weak.

Without West’s double then North should pass: the double makes all the difference.

If you have a fit then for sure (about 95% certain) your opponents also have a fit.  By doubling they have taken the first step to find their fit.  If you have very few points then you expect to be the weaker side and therefore should be bidding to the assumed level of fit.  After the double North’s 2H bid could be as weak as zero points.  The 2H bid is pre-emptive; you are making life as difficult as possible for your opponents.

The other point is, if only you could get to dummy how would you play the hearts?

You are missing two important cards; the HQ and the HT.  If you do manage to get to dummy you play the H8 and run it, expecting to lose just one trick.  It holds.  You can now pick up all East’s hearts without loss.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 28

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T73

 

 

 

2S

♥  84

P

2N

P

3H

♦  KQ93

P

4S

 

 

West

♣ QT72

East

 

This was the bidding at my table; not unreasonable.

Six declarers were in 4S.

♠  K98654

 

♠  A2

♥  953

♥  AJ7

♦  A2

♦  54

♣  53

South

♣ AKJ984

Bhcp

12

9          23

16

♠  QJ

Hcp

7

7          17

9

♥  KQT62

♦  JT876

♣ 6

 

As North I led the DK taken by the DA.

Let’s look at how the play could have gone to make 12 tricks.

There are two important clubs; the CQ and the CT.

West plans to lose his one expected club trick straightaway.  She takes the DK with the DA and plays the C3 and inserts East’s C8 – which holds.

West then decides to draw two rounds of trumps in case the opponent with long clubs also has long spades.  West calls for the SA and then comes to hand with the SK.

West plays her last club and covers North’s card.  Two more rounds of the top clubs sees West discard her losing diamond and a heart.

West continues with a club to discard her last heart loser.  All North can do is make his ST.

In reality, the usual outcomes for spade contracts were 9 or 10 tricks.

 

Can you be too strong to use Stayman?

In normal circumstances you can’t be too strong but let’s have a look at Board 14.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 14

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  873

 

1N

P

?

♥  A842

 

Should West bid 2C?

 

What should she do when East responds 2D?

♦  Q73

West

♣ K98

East

♠  T542

 

♠  Q96

♥  KJT9

♥  Q6

♦  A98

♦  KT5

♣  T3

South

♣ AQ652

Bhcp

12

14        19

15

♠  AKJ

Hcp

9

8          13

10

♥  753

♦  J642

♣ J74

 

If West elects to bid 2C she is using Stayman with a weak hand.

If East responds 2D (as she will do here) then West’s second bid is 2H.  The 2H bid is used to indicate a weak hand with both majors.  With only a doubleton heart East corrects to 2S which is where they will play.

With the hcp evaluation West knows that at worst they have half the points in the pack.  With the Bhcp evaluation she knows that they have (again at worst) 2 Bhcp more than half the points in the pack.

West is too strong to use Stayman with weakness because there is a good prospect of making 1NT.  West should pass.

 

Hands from 25th April 2017

Broadly speaking, there are two ways of bidding slams.  One is to exchange information in the auction to ensure that you are not missing too many of the top cards.  This has the advantage of keeping you out of bad slams but it also gives your opponents information and so they are more likely to find the killing lead.

The other approach is to bid the slam as soon as you feel that the overall values are there.  The disadvantage of this is that you are more likely to get into bad slams (missing too many top cards) but, as you have given away very little information, your opponents are less likely to find the killing lead.

On the only time slam was bid on Board 25 East took the second approach.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QJ94

P

1D

2C

2H

♥  T764

P

6D

 

 

♦  862

 

This was the auction when the slam was bid.

 

West’s 2H bid should indicate a 5 card suit but the points were there.

West

♣ T4

East

♠  T852

 

♠  AK6

♥  KJ32

♥  8

♦  Q3

♦  AKJT754

♣  AQ9

South

♣ 75

Bhcp

7

18        21

14

♠  73

Hcp

3

12        15

10

♥  AQ95

♦  9

♣ KJ8632

 

An overcall at the 2 level should have reasonable values, typically at least 10 hcp.

Therefore, taking the bidding into account, East should place both the HA and CK with South.  That gives two extra tricks; the CQ and the HK (so long as you can get to it).

No matter what South leads, the play is essentially the same: draw trumps and lead towards the HK while there is still a club entry to the West hand.  The HK then provides a discard for the losing S6.

 

Given the choice, would you prefer to be in debt to the tune of £300 or to the tune of £420?

It’s a no brainer.  Let’s look at Board 30.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 30

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  K3

 

1S

X

2S

♥  AQ985

4H

P

P

?

♦  KQ

 

After the double West’s 2S bid indicates 0 – 5 hcp.

 

Well, once N/S have gone to 4H are you going to bid with that West hand?

West

♣ QT65

East

♠  7652

 

♠  AT984

♥  J6

♥  43

♦  963

♦  AT752

♣  J982

South

♣ A

Bhcp

23

4          17

16

♠  QJ

Hcp

16

2          12

10

♥  KT72

♦  J84

♣ K743

 

If you pass you have elected to join the band of those who opt to owe £420.

If you elect to bid 4S then you finish up with the few who opt to owe just £300.

The essence of sacrifice bidding is to reduce your losses.  Here E/W can make 8 tricks if spades are trumps.  If E/W had been able to make only 7 tricks then they would have made a poor sacrifice, ending up owing £500.

At high levels it can be very difficult to judge whether to make a sacrifice bid.  Here, it is just possible that N/S would go to 5H over 4S and then E/W would be in pocket to the tune of £50 – a really good result.

 

You are dealt this hand as North and West opens at the 1 level (below 1S).  Would you overcall 1S?

♠  QT763

♥  KT43

♦  QT95

♣  --

If West opens 1C then an overcall of 1S is good.  Not only does it get your 5 card suit into the auction but it takes a lot of bidding space away from your opponents.

However, if West opens 1H the situation is very different.  You are not taking away any bidding space; in fact you are giving them an extra bid of a double.  Given that your partner is likely to lead your suit, Pass is the better option.

In short, the less bidding space an overall takes away the better your suit should be.

 

With that in mind, let’s look at Board 8.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 8

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QT763

 

 

 

1H

♥  KT43

?

 

 

 

♦  QT95

 

If North overcalls 1S then when East is declarer in either no trumps or clubs then an opening lead of the S9 is very likely: 3 spade tricks to E/W.

West

♣ --

East

♠  5

 

♠  AKJ

♥  AQJ85

♥  62

♦  863

♦  A2

♣  AJ97

South

♣ Q86432

Bhcp

13

17        19

11

♠  9842

Hcp

7

12        14

7

♥  97

♦  KJ74

♣ KT5

 

Do think about what you are trying to achieve before you make an overcall.  You know that your partner is likely to lead your suit.

Now let’s move to the other side of the table.  You have to make the opening lead and your partner has overcalled.  If the overcall was the next suit up from your opponent’s bid then be very keen to lead her suit.  Having taken away no bidding space the overcall should very definitely be lead directing. 

However, if your partner’s overcall has taken away quite a lot of bidding space from your opponents then be less eager; have a good look at other options before leading her suit.

 

Finally, a word on the play of the club suit: there are two important cards, the CK and CT.  Plan to finesse twice, losing 2 tricks in the suit only when North holds both.  Lead the C8 and run it if South plays the C5 (otherwise just cover South’s card).  North shows out so there are 6 club tricks for the taking.

 

Hands from 11th April 2017

This week it’s just going to be a few bidding tips, starting with Board 7.

After partner opens 1NT here’s how to show a hand with at least 5/4 in the majors and invitational values.

Sequence A                  Sequence B                  Sequence C

1N        2C                    1N        2D                    1N        2H

2D        2S                    2H        2S                    2S        3H

In sequence A responder is showing 4 hearts and 5 spades.  Without the 4 hearts responder would just transfer into spades.  Without 5 spades responder would not bid 2S as opener has denied holding 4 of them.

In sequence B responder transfers into hearts to show 5 of them.  She then bids 2S to indicate a 4 card spade suit.

Sequences A and B are logical.  Sequence C is not needed for stronger hands and so is used to show 5/5 in the majors.

All three sequences show invitational values.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 7

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AT643

 

 

1N

P

♥  J854

2C

P

2D

P

♦  A963

2S

P

P

P

West

♣ --

East

 

Here we see Sequence A getting N/S to the correct contract.

♠  QJ52

 

♠  7

♥  7

♥  AKQ92

♦  KJT82

♦  74

♣  J53

South

♣ Q8764

Bhcp

13

14        15

18

♠  K98

Hcp

9

8          11

12

♥  T63

♦  Q5

♣ AKT92

 

The next board is all about ignoring a good minor suit and going for 3NT.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 22

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J

 

1N

2S

3N

♥  J9752

 

West has game values but bidding clubs should not cross her mind.  If 5C is going to make then it is odds on that 3NT will have an overtrick.

 

♦  K984

West

♣ 953

East

♠  K54

 

♠  T63

♥  AT6

♥  KQ

♦  A6

♦  T532

♣  QJT82

South

♣ AK74

Bhcp

8

21        18

13

♠  AQ9872

Hcp

5

14        12

9

♥  843

♦  QJ7

♣ 6

 

Finally, Board 10 involves both pairs in hand evaluation in the light of a take-out double.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 10

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AKT86

 

1H

X

2H

♥  92

3S

P

4S

P

♦  K875

 

Just over half of the N/S pairs got to the 4S game; the others came to rest in 3S.

West

♣ 84

East

♠  J42

 

♠  7

♥  KT8

♥  AJ6543

♦  J94

♦  T6

♣  T953

South

♣ KQ72

Bhcp

14

10        15

21

♠  Q953

Hcp

10

5          10

15

♥  Q7

♦  AQ32

♣ AJ6

 

East is too strong to open a weak 2H and therefore must open 1H; passing is not an option.

South has a routine take-out double, showing opening values and 4 spades.

The spotlight now is on West. 

If South had passed would you have responded 2H on that West hand?  Using the B point evaluation there is no question, West exceeds the 9 Bpts which is the minimum responding value.  Therefore, had South passed I would have had no hesitation in responding 2H with West’s hand.  Using the old-established but less accurate hcp count it is a closer thing.  West has two honours in her partner’s suit; Ts, 9s and an 8; all positive features.  On the down side there is no ruffing value and the SJ is isolated.  Make your own mind up.

The point is that if your side has a fit then so do your opponents.  An opening of 1H usually has a 5 card suit so you expect that you have a fit your way.  By doubling, South has taken the first step in looking for a fit his way.  Having support for partner’s suit you make it as difficult for your opponents as possible by bidding one level higher than you would have done had there been no take-out double.

Following this reasoning, if you would have passed without the intervening take-out double then you should now bid 2H.  However, if you would have bid 2H without the intervening take-out double then you would now like to bid 3H but that should show 4 card support.  With only 3 card support West responds 2H.

North has wonderful spade support and all his points are in his long suits.  The only significant negative holding in his hand is the doubleton heart.  It is the most dangerous holding when both opponents are bidding the suit because it is very likely that your partner is also holding a doubleton in their suit.  With two projected losers in their suit that would leave room for only one loser in the other three suits.  Putting all that together, North bids 3S and South bids game.

Hands from 4th April 2017

Only 2 pairs bid the heart game on Board 7.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 7

BIDDING 1

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KT75

 

 

P

P

♥  82

P

1C

P

1D

♦  KQ83

P

1H

P

2H

West

♣ T43

East

P

4H

 

 

♠  Q32

 

♠  J98

 

♥  J653

♥  KQ97

BIDDING 2

♦  T972

♦  A

N

E

S

W

♣  KJ

South

♣ AQ986

 

 

P

P

Bhcp

13

12        22

13

♠  A64

Hcp

8

7          16

9

P

1C

P

1H

♥  AT4

P

4H

 

 

♦  J654

 

♣ 752

 

I have given two bidding sequences because West has options for her response to East’s opening bid of 1C.  She has two 4 card suits so should West respond 1D or 1H?

The answer is that it depends on the strength of West’s hand.

If she is weak, say 6 – 9 points, then she expects to be playing in a part score.  She must therefore take every opportunity to find a fit.  This means bidding the diamonds first.  If East had had diamonds as well then contracts of 2D or 3D could well be the only playable spots.  If East does not have diamonds but does have hearts then East’s rebid will be 1H and the heart fit is found.  If, on the other hand, East’s rebid is 1S then West can continue with 1NT to show her limited values and something in the unbid suit, hearts.

If West is stronger with 10 or more points then she will be thinking that game is quite likely: game in either hearts or No Trumps.  If this is so then bidding 1D is idle chatter; West should then respond 1H.

As it happens, on this board East should be bidding to 4H whichever initial response West chooses: she has a 5 loser hand.

A final note on the bidding, you should not raise opener’s second suit unless you hold 4 cards in it.  Therefore, in the first bidding sequence East can jump to 4H confident that there is a 4/4 fit.

 

Boards 22 and 23 were both slam hands and played in the same round.  Board 22 gave E/W the chance to bid (and make) 6S.  Board 23 gave N/S the chance for revenge, 6H or 6D being possible – only no revenge was taken.

Why?

 

Let’s look at Board 22 first although it is perhaps the harder slam to bid.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 22

BIDDING 1

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  8

 

P

P

2C

♥  J8765

P

2N

P

3S

♦  A4

P

4H

P

6S

West

♣ J9653

East

 

♠  AK7432

 

♠  QJ95

BIDDING 2

♥  T

♥  A2

 

P

1H

2H

♦  8

♦  J76532

4H

4S

P

4N

♣  AKQT8

South

♣ 4

P

5C

P

5D

Bhcp

9

23        12

16

♠  T6

Hcp

6

16        8

10

P

6S

 

 

♥  KQ943

 

 

 

 

♦  KQT9

 

 

 

 

♣ 72

 

 

 

 

 

Before I go onto the bidding if East opens a weak 2D let’s just check out a few things on the two sequences I’ve given.

In both sequences East has passed because you should not open a weak 2 if you have a good 4 card major on the side.  The reason is that if partner is strong and also has 4 cards in the same major it will be very difficult to find the fit and game would be missed.

In the first sequence West opens 2C, having a 3 loser hand.  East gives a positive 2N; I refer this to 3D which removes so much bidding space.  West bids her suit, showing 5 or more cards in it.  East bids 4H; having bid 2NT previously this cannot be a suggestion that hearts be trumps, it agrees spades and shows the HA.  The slam is bid.

In the second sequence South opens 1H.  Would you?

I would.  All the high card points are in your 2 long suits, you have tens and a nine and you have a 2D rebid.

West overcalls 2H; this is Michaels showing 5 spades and a 5 card minor suit.

North makes the weak pre-emptive shut out jump bid of 4H.  East bids 4S and that is enough for West to go into Blackwood.  5C shows 1 key card, 5D asks whether the SQ is held and the 6S bid confirms that it is.

That just leaves us to look at the bidding should East open a weak 2D.

BIDDING 2

N

E

S

W

 

2D

P

2N

P

3H

P

3S

P

4S

P

4N

P

5C

P

5D

P

6S

 

 

West needs to make a forcing bid.  The way to do this is to start with a conventional 2NT and then to bid your suit.

East’s 3H indicates a hand at the top end of the range (8/9 hcp) and a potential entry in hearts.

West’s 3S is now natural and forcing.  East bids 4S and Blackwood ensues as earlier.

As a tail piece, after the second bidding sequence how many N/S pairs would have sacrificed in 7H?  4 off doubled non-vulnerable is 800 to N/S: E/W making 6S vulnerable is 1430 to N/S.

 

That just leaves N/S to get their revenge on the next board – except that no N/S pair were able to do so.

Why was that?

No E/W pair bid the slam so there was no revenge to take!!

 

We turn to Board 23 – the phantom revenge board.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 23

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T

 

 

1N

P

♥  AKT97

2D

P

2H

P

♦  KJ8

3C

P

3H

P

West

♣ AK63

East

4C

P

4D

P

♠  9732

 

♠  AK854

4N

P

5C

P

♥  J84

♥  52

5D

P

6H

 

♦  Q973

♦  T542

 

♣  T7

South

♣ 52

Bhcp

26

6          10

18

♠  QJ6

Hcp

18

3          7

12

♥  Q63

♦  A6

♣ QJ984

 

The first 3 bids are routine.  North’s second bid of 3C can be played as either invitational or game forcing.  I always play it as game forcing, just as well on this hand.

South confirms heart support by bidding 3H.  No danger of this being passed as the 3C is game forcing.

The 4C and 4D bids are cue bids showing the aces of the suits bid.

The possession of the DA is enough for North to go into Blackwood.  5C shows one key card, 5D asks whether the HQ is held and 6H confirms that it is.

Only 2 N/S pairs took their phantom revenge.

 

Hands from 28th March 2017

Before I turn to Board 24 let’s look at two bidding sequences.

       A                                  B

1N        2C                    1N        2D

2H        4N                    2H        4N

Are the 4NT bids Blackwood or quantitative?

Let’s take sequence A.  If responder is strong enough to want to be in a slam and also holds 4 spades then how will she bid her hand?  She will start with Stayman.  If a spade fit is not found she will bid a quantitative 4NT.

Let’s now take sequence B.  If responder is strong enough to want to be in a slam and also holds 5 hearts then how will she bid her hand?  She will start with a transfer and then bid a quantitative 4NT

In both cases the 4NT is quantitative.

If responder wants to use Blackwood she must make a cue bid at her second turn and move on to Blackwood later.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 24

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AQJ

 

 

 

P

♥  73

1N

P

2D

P

♦  KQ42

2H

P

4C

P

West

♣ T752

East

4H

P

4N

P

♠  K9

 

♠  T86432

5C

P

6H

 

♥  QJ8

♥  5

In the bidding given the 4NT bid is Blackwood but it shouldn’t have been used; South needs North to hold the SA and not the DA.

♦  JT983

♦  A765

♣  J86

South

♣ K9

Bhcp

18

14        10

18

♠  75

Hcp

12

8          7

13

♥  AKT9642

♦  --

♣ AQ43

 

It is not a great slam: South needs the hearts to be 2/2 or both black suit finesses and the ruffing finesse in diamonds to be right.

In the play South loses just the HQ: she can discard one club by taking the ruffing finesse in diamonds and another on North’s 3rd spade.

 

We all like to get a promotion; we know we deserve it.  How many got one on Board 3?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 3

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J63

 

 

2D

4S

♥  AQ3

P

P

P

 

♦  AT

If you have a good 4 card major it can give you a poor score if you open with a pre-emptive bid.  The reason is that it will be hear impossible to find your major fit if one exists.  Is South’s heart suit good?

West

♣ KQ972

East

♠  AKQT9754

 

♠  --

♥  75

♥  KT82

♦  98

♦  765

♣  T

South

♣ AJ8643

Bhcp

23

14        12

11

♠  82

Hcp

16

9          8

7

♥  J964

♦  KQJ432

♣ 5

 

On the face of it West seems to have got it right: she has 8 spades, the CA and the HK by leading towards it twice.  That is 10 tricks and a vulnerable game made.

But what happens if North banks on South having the DK for her bid, hoping for 2 diamonds and a heart led through West’s HK? 

North Leads the DA.  Her heart sinks as she sees the HK in dummy.

However, not all is lost.  South encourages with the D2.  North continues with the DT and South overtakes to lead a third round of the suit. 

West is sunk.  If she ruffs high then North’s SJ is promoted into a trick taking position.  If she ruffs low or discards then North ruffs in and cashes her HA.  Either way, West is one off.

 

Board 1 was amusing in that 9 E/W pairs declared in either 1H or 2H yet they can make 12 tricks in spades.  Let’s be fair, even bidding the spade game was unlikely.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 1

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  762

P

1H

P

P

♥  Q98

P

 

 

 

♦  KQT4

 

This was a common auction.

West

♣ QT9

East

♠  KJ9

 

♠  AQ54

♥  T

♥  A76542

♦  86532

♦  --

♣  7532

South

♣ AK6

Bhcp

15

7          22

16

♠  T83

Hcp

9

4          17

10

♥  KJ3

♦  AJ97

♣ J84

 

Here is how the play might have gone for those 2 E/W pairs who found themselves in a spade contract.

It doesn’t matter what South leads but let’s say the DA.

East ruffs, plays HA and ruffs a heart.  She comes back to hand in clubs and ruffs another heart.  As hearts split 3/3 East’s suit is now established.

Dummy’s SK is played and East comes back to hand in clubs.  She plays SA and SQ to draw trumps (again a 3/3 split) and then she can cash her 3 established hearts.  The C6 is the only loser.

Well!  That was a bit of fun but, of course, it is a lot easier if you can see all the hands.

 

Hands from 21st March 2017

Just occasionally (actually, a lot more than occasionally) I seem to play with my brain not in gear.  It happened again on Board 10 where I made 12 tricks but we were not in game.  To make matters worse, it was my fault that we were not in game.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 10

BIDDING 1

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QT6

 

1H

2D

P

♥  A3

P

X

P

3H

♦  732

P

P

P

 

West

♣ QT976

East

 

♠  J742

 

♠  AK95

BIDDING 2

♥  J7

♥  KQT654

N

E

S

W

♦  AJ5

♦  Q6

 

2C

P

2D

♣  8432

South

♣ A

P

2H

P

4H

Bhcp

13

11        25

11

♠  83

Hcp

8

7          18

7

Needless to say BIDDING 1 was down to my opening bid.

♥  982

♦  KT984

♣ KJ5

 

The interest is in the play: how can South help North to get the right discards?

I got the D4 opening lead and let it run to the Q.

I led the H4 to the HJ, North taking the HA and returning a club to my CA.

I drew trumps and took the diamond finesse for a total of 3 diamond tricks.

I returned to hand by S2/SA and ran the rest of my trumps.  That is 4 discards for North to find.  Is he going to come down to SQ/ST hoping I had SKx or to CQ/CT hoping I had CKx?

This is where South comes in.  South discards S8/S3 – high hate.  South is saying that she has nothing in spades so North had better hold on to anything he has there.  The message didn’t get across; North discarded a spade to give me my 12th trick in that suit.

Had I had my brain in gear for the bidding we would have got 90% on the board, as it was we got 20%.

 

At least I had woken up by Board 15.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 15

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AK

 

 

P

P

♥  Q3

1D

P

2D

P

♦  A9764

P

?

 

 

West

♣ J965

East

 

Should East bid now?

The indications are that the points are evenly divided.

With both majors East should double.

♠  T865

 

♠  QJ92

♥  AJ97

♥  K642

♦  J5

♦  82

♣  A87

South

♣ Q42

Bhcp

19

15        12

14

♠  743

Hcp

14

10        8

8

♥  T85

♦  KQT3

♣ KT3

 

When your opponents are ready to let the bidding stop at the one or two level you should look carefully at your hand to see if you have a bid to make.

The point is that you are competing for a contract at the two level.  The aim is either for you to pay at the 2 level or to push them up to the 3 level.  If you push them up and they can only make 8 tricks then you have turned a minus score into a plus score for you; that has to be good.  If they make 9 tricks then you have lost nothing: 3D making scores exactly the same as 2D plus 1.

At my table I doubled, partner bid 2H which is where we played.  We were 2 off but still scored 85% on the board.  Most N/S pairs played in diamonds making 9 or 10 tricks.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 26

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  96

 

P

1D

X

♥  QT542

P

2S

?

?

♦  J2

 

West obviously felt she needed to say something.  The point of interest is East’s jump to 2S which indicates 9 – 11 hcp.

West

♣ T853

East

♠  A432

 

♠  QJ85

♥  86

♥  A7

♦  K84

♦  T75

♣  AK76

South

♣ QJ94

Bhcp

7

18        16

19

♠  KT7

Hcp

3

14        10

13

♥  KJ93

♦  AQ963

♣ 2

 

I got the opening lead of C2 and dummy came down.  It was the distribution from hell.  Can you see why?

In both hand the distribution is 4234; there is no opportunity for discards.

The C2 is obviously a singleton and North has very little in terms of high cards.  I therefore places the SK with South.  I took the C2 with the CQ (this leaves South guessing about the whereabouts of the CJ.

I then led the SJ hoping to sneak through a quick finesse.  South was not fooled, up popped the SK.  After 2 rounds of spades South had the master trump.  Should I play another round of trumps?

In fact, it doesn’t seem to matter.  If you play a third round of trumps you make 3 spades, 1 heart, the DK and 4 clubs for 9 tricks.  If you leave the master trump out to ruff one of your club tricks then you make 4 spades, 1 heart, the DK and only 3 clubs again for 9 tricks.

Probably your best chance for a miss-defence is lose the trump immediately.  You can win any return from South and then play off 3 rounds of clubs.  It is very unlikely that South will help you when making her 3 discards but if you don’t give your opponents the opportunity to make a mistake they will play perfectly.

Hands from 14th March 2017

When looking through the hands I identified 13 that I might comment on.  I have selected three to write about, each highlighting a completely different aspect of bridge: maintaining communications; the use of Stayman with weak hands; and the principle of restricted choice.  I will deal with them in that order.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 23

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KQ42

 

 

P

1S

♥  Q974

P

2D

P

2N

♦  K93

P

3C

P

3N

West

♣ 75

East

 

Only 3 pairs bid to game.

At my table it was East who was in 3NT but it doesn’t really matter whether it is East or West who is declarer.

♠  AJT75

 

♠  6

♥  AKT2

♥  63

♦  AJT5

♦  Q8642

♣  --

South

♣ KQJT3

Bhcp

14

26        13

7

♠  983

Hcp

10

17            8

5

♥  J85

♦  7

♣ A98642

 

Declarer can count 1 spade, 2 hearts, 4 diamonds and 3 or maybe 4 club tricks.  The problem is getting into the East hand twice.

I led the H8 while I would expect North to lead the SK (although the S2 works out better).  Either way, declarer wins the first trick in the West hand.

The 2 necessary entries to East are in diamonds.  It is likely that the diamonds will split 3/1 and that the DK will be in the hand with 3 diamonds.  If you start with the DA then North will hold up until the 3rd round.  West will have only 1 diamond left and therefore only 1 entry to dummy.  North must be persuaded to part with his king early.   At trick 2 the DJ is played.  If North takes his DK then declarer’s problems are over: the DT/DQ and D5/D8 are the 2 necessary entries.

If North holds up his DK then declarer must turn to the spades.  Simply because South holds both S9 and S8 there are always 3 spade tricks.

 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 27

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

 

There are 2 questions.

 

Is South worth an opening of 1NT?

 

If South does open 1NT should North use Stayman?

♠  QT964

♥  J753

♦  --

West

♣ KQT7

East

♠  852

 

♠  A73

♥  64

♥  AKQ2

♦  J7642

♦  AQ3

♣  J62

South

♣ 843

Bhcp

14

4          25

17

♠  KJ

Hcp

8

2          19

11

♥  T98

♦  KT985

♣ A95

 

Whichever high card point system you use, South is just one point short of an opening bid of 1NT.  However, even before the bidding starts you should add in long suit distributional points.  A good 5 card suit is worth an extra point.  The diamond suit is just about worth an extra point and this puts South’s hand in the point range for an opening of a weak 1NT.  Another positive feature is two Ts supported by a 9 and an 8.  The negative feature is KJ doubleton but at least there are two honours supporting each other.

I would (and did) open 1NT.

Let’s turn our attention to North.  Should she use Stayman?  If so, what rebid should she make over a 2D response?

North can see that N/S hold about half the points.  Maybe she should pass.

The positive features of the North hand are the two black suits.  The negative features are the rather isolated HJ and the non-existent diamond suit.  I would pass: the hand is just a bit too strong for Stayman with weakness and not strong enough to make an invitational bid after a 2D response.

If the bidding does start 1NT – P – 2C – P – 2D – P what should North bid?

North’s bid now to advertise a weak hand with both majors is 2H (NOT 2S, that has an entirely different meaning).

 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AK97652

 

 

 

P

♥  983

1S

2N

X

3D

♦  9

3S

P

4S

 

West

♣ KQ

East

 

No pair bid the slam and only 2 declarers made 12 tricks.

♠  J83

 

♠  Q

♥  QT64

♥  J7

♦  A873

♦  QT652

♣  63

South

♣ JT972

Bhcp

16

11        12

21

♠  T4

Hcp

12

7          6

15

♥  AK52

♦  KJ4

♣ A854

 

You play the SA and East plays the SQ.  Which of these 2 layouts is the more likely?

 

          ♠  AK97652                                           ♠  AK97652

  Jxx                        Q         or         xx                                QJ

          ♠  T4                                                    ♠  T4

 

Looking at the odds East starting with a holding of QJ is more likely.  Therefore, perhaps you should now play the SK.  This ignores one important point.  Holding QJ good defenders will about half the time play the J and half the time the Q.  So we now have the possibility that East played the Q because she had no choice, it was her only spade.  In fact, this is more likely than East having both Q and J and choosing to play the Q.  This is known as the principle of restricted choice.  Coming back to the South hand and finessing is the better option.

 

Hands from 21st March 2017Just occasionally (actually, a lot more than occasionally) I seem to play with my brain not in gear. It happened again on Board 10 where I made 12 tricks but we were not in game. To make matters worse, it was my fault that we were not in game. Crouch End Bridge Club Board 10 BIDDING 1 Dealer East North Vulnerability Game all N E S W ♠ QT6 1H 2D P ♥ A3 P X P 3H ♦ 732 P P P West ♣ QT976 East ♠ J742 ♠ AK95 BIDDING 2 ♥ J7 ♥ KQT654 N E S W ♦ AJ5 ♦ Q6 2C P 2D ♣ 8432 South ♣ A P 2H P 4H Bhcp 13 11 25 11 ♠ 83 Hcp 8 7 18 7 Needless to say BIDDING 1 was down to my opening bid. ♥ 982 ♦ KT984 ♣ KJ5 The interest is in the play: how can South help North to get the right discards? I got the D4 opening lead and let it run to the Q. I led the H4 to the HJ, North taking the HA and returning a club to my CA. I drew trumps and took the diamond finesse for a total of 3 diamond tricks. I returned to hand by S2/SA and ran the rest of my trumps. That is 4 discards for North to find. Is he going to come down to SQ/ST hoping I had SKx or to CQ/CT hoping I had CKx? This is where South comes in. South discards S8/S3 Ė high hate. South is saying that she has nothing in spades so North had better hold on to anything he has there. The message didnít get across; North discarded a spade to give me my 12th trick in that suit. Had I had my brain in gear for the bidding we would have got 90% on the board, as it was we got 20%. At least I had woken up by Board 15. Crouch End Bridge Club Board 15 BIDDING Dealer South North Vulnerability N/S vulnerable N E S W ♠ AK P P ♥ Q3 1D P 2D P ♦ A9764 P ? West ♣ J965 East Should East bid now? The indications are that the points are evenly divided. With both majors East should double. ♠ T865 ♠ QJ92 ♥ AJ97 ♥ K642 ♦ J5 ♦ 82 ♣ A87 South ♣ Q42 Bhcp 19 15 12 14 ♠ 743 Hcp 14 10 8 8 ♥ T85 ♦ KQT3 ♣ KT3 When your opponents are ready to let the bidding stop at the one or two level you should look carefully at your hand to see if you have a bid to make. The point is that you are competing for a contract at the two level. The aim is either for you to pay at the 2 level or to push them up to the 3 level. If you push them up and they can only make 8 tricks then you have turned a minus score into a plus score for you; that has to be good. If they make 9 tricks then you have lost nothing: 3D making scores exactly the same as 2D plus 1. At my table I doubled, partner bid 2H which is where we played. We were 2 off but still scored 85% on the board. Most N/S pairs played in diamonds making 9 or 10 tricks. Crouch End Bridge Club Board 26 BIDDING Dealer East North Vulnerability Game all N E S W ♠ 96 P 1D X ♥ QT542 P 2S ? ? ♦ J2 West obviously felt she needed to say something. The point of interest is Eastís jump to 2S which indicates 9 Ė 11 hcp. West ♣ T853 East ♠ A432 ♠ QJ85 ♥ 86 ♥ A7 ♦ K84 ♦ T75 ♣ AK76 South ♣ QJ94 Bhcp 7 18 16 19 ♠ KT7 Hcp 3 14 10 13 ♥ KJ93 ♦ AQ963 ♣ 2 I got the opening lead of C2 and dummy came down. It was the distribution from hell. Can you see why? In both hand the distribution is 4234; there is no opportunity for discards. The C2 is obviously a singleton and North has very little in terms of high cards. I therefore places the SK with South. I took the C2 with the CQ (this leaves South guessing about the whereabouts of the CJ. I then led the SJ hoping to sneak through a quick finesse. South was not fooled, up popped the SK. After 2 rounds of spades South had the master trump. Should I play another round of trumps? In fact, it doesnít seem to matter. If you play a third round of trumps you make 3 spades, 1 heart, the DK and 4 clubs for 9 tricks. If you leave the master trump out to ruff one of your club tricks then you make 4 spades, 1 heart, the DK and only 3 clubs again for 9 tricks. Probably your best chance for a miss-defence is lose the trump immediately. You can win any return from South and then play off 3 rounds of clubs. It is very unlikely that South will help you when making her 3 discards but if you donít give your opponents the opportunity to make a mistake they will play perfectly.

Just occasionally (actually, a lot more than occasionally) I seem to play with my brain not in gear.  It happened again on Board 10 where I made 12 tricks but we were not in game.  To make matters worse, it was my fault that we were not in game.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 10

BIDDING 1

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QT6

 

1H

2D

P

♥  A3

P

X

P

3H

♦  732

P

P

P

 

West

♣ QT976

East

 

♠  J742

 

♠  AK95

BIDDING 2

♥  J7

♥  KQT654

N

E

S

W

♦  AJ5

♦  Q6

 

2C

P

2D

♣  8432

South

♣ A

P

2H

P

4H

Bhcp

13

11        25

11

♠  83

Hcp

8

7          18

7

Needless to say BIDDING 1 was down to my opening bid.

♥  982

♦  KT984

♣ KJ5

 

The interest is in the play: how can South help North to get the right discards?

I got the D4 opening lead and let it run to the Q.

I led the H4 to the HJ, North taking the HA and returning a club to my CA.

I drew trumps and took the diamond finesse for a total of 3 diamond tricks.

I returned to hand by S2/SA and ran the rest of my trumps.  That is 4 discards for North to find.  Is he going to come down to SQ/ST hoping I had SKx or to CQ/CT hoping I had CKx?

This is where South comes in.  South discards S8/S3 – high hate.  South is saying that she has nothing in spades so North had better hold on to anything he has there.  The message didn’t get across; North discarded a spade to give me my 12th trick in that suit.

Had I had my brain in gear for the bidding we would have got 90% on the board, as it was we got 20%.

 

At least I had woken up by Board 15.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 15

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AK

 

 

P

P

♥  Q3

1D

P

2D

P

♦  A9764

P

?

 

 

West

♣ J965

East

 

Should East bid now?

The indications are that the points are evenly divided.

With both majors East should double.

♠  T865

 

♠  QJ92

♥  AJ97

♥  K642

♦  J5

♦  82

♣  A87

South

♣ Q42

Bhcp

19

15        12

14

♠  743

Hcp

14

10        8

8

♥  T85

♦  KQT3

♣ KT3

 

When your opponents are ready to let the bidding stop at the one or two level you should look carefully at your hand to see if you have a bid to make.

The point is that you are competing for a contract at the two level.  The aim is either for you to pay at the 2 level or to push them up to the 3 level.  If you push them up and they can only make 8 tricks then you have turned a minus score into a plus score for you; that has to be good.  If they make 9 tricks then you have lost nothing: 3D making scores exactly the same as 2D plus 1.

At my table I doubled, partner bid 2H which is where we played.  We were 2 off but still scored 85% on the board.  Most N/S pairs played in diamonds making 9 or 10 tricks.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 26

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  96

 

P

1D

X

♥  QT542

P

2S

?

?

♦  J2

 

West obviously felt she needed to say something.  The point of interest is East’s jump to 2S which indicates 9 – 11 hcp.

West

♣ T853

East

♠  A432

 

♠  QJ85

♥  86

♥  A7

♦  K84

♦  T75

♣  AK76

South

♣ QJ94

Bhcp

7

18        16

19

♠  KT7

Hcp

3

14        10

13

♥  KJ93

♦  AQ963

♣ 2

 

I got the opening lead of C2 and dummy came down.  It was the distribution from hell.  Can you see why?

In both hand the distribution is 4234; there is no opportunity for discards.

The C2 is obviously a singleton and North has very little in terms of high cards.  I therefore places the SK with South.  I took the C2 with the CQ (this leaves South guessing about the whereabouts of the CJ.

I then led the SJ hoping to sneak through a quick finesse.  South was not fooled, up popped the SK.  After 2 rounds of spades South had the master trump.  Should I play another round of trumps?

In fact, it doesn’t seem to matter.  If you play a third round of trumps you make 3 spades, 1 heart, the DK and 4 clubs for 9 tricks.  If you leave the master trump out to ruff one of your club tricks then you make 4 spades, 1 heart, the DK and only 3 clubs again for 9 tricks.

Probably your best chance for a miss-defence is lose the trump immediately.  You can win any return from South and then play off 3 rounds of clubs.  It is very unlikely that South will help you when making her 3 discards but if you don’t give your opponents the opportunity to make a mistake they will play perfectly.

Hands from 7th March 2017

Let’s start with Board 11

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 11

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T72

 

 

1S

P

♥  AKJT

2C

P

2D

P

♦  52

2S

P

P

P

West

♣ Q932

East

 

Most N/S pairs were in some number of spades.  Giving South extra for her good spade suit (which is certainly rebiddable) she has opening values.

♠  A83

 

♠  54

♥  9864

♥  Q753

♦  976

♦  AJ43

♣  KT4

South

♣ AJ8

Bhcp

16

 10       17

17

♠  KQJ96

Hcp

10

 7        12

11

♥  2

♦  KQT8

♣ 765

 

If E/W start off with a club lead then there is nothing declarer can do about it: she will lose 3 clubs and 2 aces to make only 8 tricks.  What can be done if West’s opening lead is in the unbid suit, the H9?

The H9 looks like the top of rubbish so that places the HQ with East.  Declarer plays the HA and then the HT.  If East ducks then she discards a club.  She now has only 2 club losers.

Declarer then plays the HK and discards another club to leave her with just 3 losers.

If by some chance West turns out to have the HQ is declarer any worse off by losing a heart trick?  No.  She started with no heart losers and 3 club losers and after a losing ruffing finesse she would have had one heart loser and only 2 club losers.  That is 3 losers in either case.

The final scenario is if East covers the HT.  Declarer ruffs.  She needs to get to dummy for her club discards but has no entry.  Can she persuade the defenders to help her?

As East, what would you think if declarer played the DK?  Surely, it looks like declarer is going for diamond ruffs.  If so, it is time to play a trump.  The S4 to West’s SA and a trump continuation puts declarer in dummy with the ST for 2 club discards on the hearts.

And what if E/W don’t take the bait but switch to clubs?  Declarer gets her 8 tricks, a poor score and can only turn with a smile to whichever defender found the switch to clubs and say “Well played”.

 

Sometimes you just have to hope that the key cards are where you want them to be.  However, hope alone is seldom sufficient; good card play technique is usually needed as well.  For example, let’s take Board 16.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 16

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J9742

 

 

 

P

♥  T865

P

1D

1H

1N

♦  J985

3H

3N

P

P

West

♣ --

East

P

P

 

 

♠  86

 

♠  AT3

North’s bid of 3H is the level of fit.  It indicates 0 – 10 pints and 4 card heart support.

East bids 3NT on the basis of a 5 card suit and the heart values indicated by West’s bid.

♥  QJ2

♥  K

♦  K4

♦  QT762

♣  J87542

South

♣ AKQ3

Bhcp

5

 11       26

18

♠  KQ5

Hcp

2

 7         18

13

♥  A9743

♦  A3

♣ T96

 

East has 6 club tricks plus the SA.  Any opening lead other than spades straightaway gives declarer the 2 extra tricks she needs.   Let’s assume an opening lead of the SK, a very likely lead anyway.

Declarer reasons thusly: if the spades are 4/4 then she is going to lose 3 spade tricks and 2 red aces for 1 off.  She has to hope for a 5/3 split but, more than that, she has to hope for the hand with only 3 spades to also hold both red aces.  It is a very long shot but if there is nothing else that will do then you have to play as if you know that is how the cards lie.

Declarer holds up until the third round of spades and then plays the HK.

South takes the trick but unfortunately for him he also holds the DA.  There is no entry to North’s long spades.  Declarer makes 1 spade, 2 hearts and 6 clubs: contract made.

And what was the good card play?  Holding up the SA until the third round of the suit was the key play.  Taking the SA sooner left South with a spade to get to the long spades in North’s hand.

 

Now let’s look at Board 25.  There are points of interest in the bidding as well as in the play.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  8752

P

P

2C

2S

♥  8

P

P

3H

P

♦  8654

4H

P

P

P

West

♣ A732

East

 

Not everyone would agree with an opening of 2C but, given that it is bid, an overcall of 2S should be routine.

♠  KQJT964

 

♠  A3

♥  Q5

♥  A764

♦  JT

♦  Q932

♣  54

South

♣ JT8

Bhcp

5

 16       16

23

♠  --

Hcp

4

 9        11

16

♥  KJT932

♦  AK7

♣ KQ96

 

The very minimum for an opening of 2C is 16 hcp.  The South hand is absolutely minimum in point count so the question is whether it is a good enough 16 points.  The 6 card heart suit is reasonable (only missing A and Q at the top) while all the high cards are concentrated in 3 suits.  There is good playing strength.  The 4 loser hand criterion is satisfied.  The South hand just merits an opening of 2C.

There is a general principle in competitive bidding.  If your opponents have shown great strength then all your bids show weak hands.  The converse is also true.  If your opponents have shown a weak hand (by pre-empting) then all your bids are strong (at least opening values).

After the 2C opening West does not need to jump to show a weak hand.  Any bid is weak.  West’s bid of 2S shows a hand with pre-emptive values.

After the 2S intervention by West any bid by North other than a pass is positive.  The equivalent to a 2D response is “Pass”.

Having opened 2C South’s rebid of 3H is game forcing.  North’s only option is to close her eyes and bid 4H.

West leads the SK and declarer assesses the situation.   The H8 in dummy is gold dust.  It consolidates the heart suit to make it only 2 losers in that suit.  There are then 2 diamonds and hopefully 4 clubs to go with the 4 heart tricks:  10 tricks are a real possibility.

East overtakes the SK and declarer ruffs and plays a low heart to the H8.  West takes her HQ and leads another spade.  Again, declarer ruffs.  Now she sets about the remaining trump suit confident that East has no more spades left (East’s doubleton spade is indicated by her overtaking the opening lead of the SK).  Declarer keeps leading hearts until East take her HA confident that when she does there will be a return in one of the minor suits: 10 tricks made.

 

Hands from 28th February 2017

Only 4 pairs reached game on Board 1.  Let’s see how to get there.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 1

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AJ7

1H

1S

P

2H

♥  AT632

P

3C

P

4S

♦  9

 

West’s first bid of 2H (her opponent’s suit) is called the Unassuming Cue Bid.  Normally, it shows strong support for partner’s overcall.

 

The other key bid is East’s rebid of 3C.

West

♣ QJ82

East

♠  K953

 

♠  QT862

♥  Q5

♥  K8

♦  KQ84

♦  AJ

♣  AT5

South

♣ K743

Bhcp

18

 20        19

3

♠  4

Hcp

12

 14        13

1

♥  J974

♦  T76532

♣ 96

 

The Unassuming Cue Bid (UCB) is a bid of opener’s suit made in response to partner’s overcall.  It usually shows a strong hand and support for partner’s suit.  By strong we mean at least 10 hcp (15 Bhcp).  Overcaller is being asked to describe her hand a bit more.

Overcaller’s responses to the UCB are as follows:

With less than opening values overcaller repeats her suit at the lowest level available.  Here, that would have been a bid of 2S.

With opening values overcaller has to find some other bid.  The options are making a jump rebid in her suit (showing a 6 card suit); bidding a 4 card suit or bidding No Trumps with stops in opener’s suit.  If opener cannot make any of these bids she makes a further cue bid, in this case that would be a bid of 3H (you can work out that this boils down to overcaller having 5332 distribution and no heart stop).

Having finished the tutorial (sorry) we can see that East has a bid of 3C to show her opening values and 5/4 shape.  With a known 9 card fit and game values West doesn’t really have to think for very long before bidding game.

 

Only 2 declarers made 10 tricks on Board 17.  Let’s have a look.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 17

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T9

P

P

1D

?

♥  KQ542

 

West might bid the routine 3S or go 1 level higher and bid 4S.

 

Every declarer was West playing in some number of spades.

♦  96

West

♣ Q875

East

♠  KQJ8654

 

♠  A3

♥  A76

♥  J8

♦  Q

♦  T832

♣  63

South

♣ KJT42

Bhcp

11

 17        15

17

♠  72

Hcp

7

 12        9

12

♥  T93

♦  AKJ754

♣ A9

 

Given the bidding the natural lead is the D9.  A reasonable alternative is the HK.

When dummy comes down West can see 8 easy tricks.  A heart ruff is necessary unless the clubs can be set up quickly to give heart discards.

If the HK is led then declarer takes with the HA and immediately plays a heart.  Now there is a guaranteed heart ruff and it only remains to avoid losing 2 club tricks.  If South has both club honours there is nothing West can do about it; she has to hope for split club honours.  As opener, South is more likely to have the CA than the CQ and so when leading from hand West should call for the CT to be played and as the cards lay only 1 club is lost.

If the D9 had been the opening lead, how many South’s would find the awkward switch to a trump?  Now there would be no prospect of a heart ruff.  Declarer draws trumps and again tackles clubs as before to set up the suit for heart discards (declarer can place the CQ with North since South would not take the first club trick with the CA if she held both the CA and the CQ). 

There are variations on these themes but whichever way the defence start there are always 10 tricks to be made.

 

I slipped up on Board 29.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 29

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T

1H

X

2N

P

♥  AQJ864

3D

P

3N

P

♦  J98762

4D

P

5D

P

West

♣ --

East

6D

 

 

 

♠  Q842

 

♠  KJ63

 

The bidding probably requires some explanation but it is what happened at my table.

♥  K72

♥  953

♦  T4

♦  K3

♣  8763

South

♣ KQJ5

Bhcp

13

 8          19

20

♠  A975

Hcp

8

 5          13

14

♥  T

♦  AQ5

♣ AT942

 

As North I thought, okay – not much in the way of high card points but with just a little help in either suit and surely there must be a fair play for game.  My plan was to open 1H and rebid diamonds thus showing 5/4 distribution.  I would rebid diamonds again to show 5/5 and finally rebid diamonds yet again to show a 5 card diamond suit and hence 6/6 distribution.

After East’s double partner bid 2NT: an ace must have been hiding.  I stuck to my plan and bid 3D.  Partner then bid 3NT; he must have found that missing ace.  I saw no reason not to stick to my original plan, I bid 4D.  At this stage partner gave up and bid 5D.  I don’t like playing in 5 of a minor, it is usually a poor score; I bid the slam.

The opening lead was the CK, taken by the CA and I discarded the ST.

I called for the HT and ran it when it was not covered.  I then ruffed a club to get to hand for the diamond finesse.  It held but missing the DQ and DT there was no further finesse position so I had to play the DA: what luck.  I then got back to hand by ruffing a club and gave up a heart.  I then could claim my 12 tricks.

So where did I slip up?

I did not allow for the possibility of the hearts splitting 3/3.  I could have cashed the HA and ruffed a heart to bring down the HK.  I would then have made an overtrick.  However, that would have rubbed salt into the wounds of E/W who had done nothing wrong but had ended up with a complete bottom.

 

Hands from 21st February 2017

There were some interesting hands this Tuesday.  On Board 4 there were points of interest in both the bidding and the play.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

 

West

 

North

Vulnerability

 

All

 

N

E

S

W

♠  4

 

 

 

P

♥  J9732

P

P

1C

P

♦  T9

2C

P

P

P

West

♣ QT832

East

 

 

 

 

♠  987

 

♠  QJT65

 

 

 

P

♥  AK54

♥  QT

1S

P

P

P

♦  6532

♦  Q874

 

 

 

 

♣  A6

South

♣ 74

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

7

14         13

26

♠  AK32

Hcp

3

11        7

19

 

 

 

 

♥  86

 

 

 

 

♦  AKJ

 

 

 

 

♣ KJ95

 

 

 

 

 

This hand illustrates why, with 4 cards in both of the black suits, it is best to open 1C.  After a 1S opening by South, North is too weak to bid anything.  After a 1C opening North can bid 2C which South will probably Pass.  (Suppose that North’s black suit holdings were reversed.  After a 1S opening North could bid 2S.  After a 1C opening North could bid 1S.  In either case South might raise to 4S which might make, losing two Hearts and a Club.)

 

At three tables South finished in 3NT which made once and which was one off twice.  What should West lead?  The obvious choices according to modern ideas are the AH, the 9S or the 6D.  The AH allows West to have a look at dummy, and very often top of nothing is the most successful lead against 3NT.  Here all these leads will allow 3NT to make.  The traditional choice is the fourth highest of the longest and strongest suit.  Here the lead of the 4H defeats the contract with the defence scoring four Heart tricks and the AC.

 

Suppose West leads the AH.  If EW play normal attitude signals (high encourage) then the TH from East will look like an encouraging card.  But presumably South will have at least two Hearts, so on second thoughts the TH could be a singleton or from the doubleton QT.  If it is a singleton then it looks as if declarer will have three Heart tricks (assuming that there is an entry to dummy in Clubs) and the contact will then make comfortably.  If EW play reverse attitude signals (high-hate) then the TH will look like a discouraging card, maybe from the T8 doubleton.  In any case having had a look at dummy West is likely to lead the 9S to trick 2 (top of nothing).  If South ducks this then the contract will be defeated as East will cash the QH and the defence will later make West’s two Aces.  But if South correctly wins the first Spade then the contract will make with two Spades, three Diamonds (the finesse being right) and four Clubs.

 

Board 6 was interesting from the point of view of declarer play.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 6

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

 

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J82

 

1H

1S

2D

♥  J93

2S

2H

P

3H

♦  AJT42

P

4H

P

P

West

♣ 32

East

P

 

 

 

♠  63

 

♠  A95

 

 

 

 

♥  Q75

♥  AKT86

 

 

 

 

♦  Q9876

♦  K3

 

 

 

 

♣  AQ9

South

♣ 875

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

12

14         19

15

♠  KQT74

Hcp

7

10       14

9

 

 

 

 

♥  42

 

 

 

 

♦  5

 

 

 

 

♣ KJT64

 

 

 

 

 

There are some marginal decisions for all four players to make on the bidding on this hand.  East might open 1NT having 5332 distribution and 14Hcp (19Bhp) but equally she might feel that a hand with 14Hcp and a five card major is too strong to open with 1NT.  It is likely that the hand would be played below the game level but at three tables game was reached, 4H twice and 3NT once.  How can declarer make these contracts?

 

In 3NT the lead will be the KS.  It is standard play to hold up the AS until the third round.  The Club finesse is right and the AD is forced out which gives declarer nine tricks with one Spade, five Hearts, one Diamond and two Clubs.

 

In 4H the lead might be the 5D in which case NS take the first two tricks with the AD and a Diamond ruff.  South will then lead the KS.  All declarer has to do then is to duck the first Spade, ruff a Spade in dummy, draw trumps, take the Club finesse and discard a Club loser on the QD.

 

Board 9 illustrates why leading away from a broken suit against a NT contract is a bad idea.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 9

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

 

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

 

N

E

S

W

♠  A74

1N

P

P

P

♥  AQ98

 

 

 

 

♦  Q62

 

 

 

 

West

♣ 863

East

 

 

 

 

♠  932

 

♠  QJ8

 

 

 

 

♥  2

♥  KJT64

 

 

 

 

♦  KJ984

♦  T73

 

 

 

 

♣  KT52

South

♣ A9

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

16

11          18

15

♠  KT65

Hcp

12

7        11

10

 

 

 

 

♥  753

 

 

 

 

♦  A5

 

 

 

 

♣ QJ74

 

 

 

 

 

Suppose that East leads a Heart against 1NT.  North can then duck a Spade and later lead a Diamond from dummy towards the QD.  In practice North will make seven tricks with three Spades, two Hearts and two Diamonds.

 

Suppose however that East leads the TD against 1NT (top of nothing).  West takes the KD and leads another Diamond which is won in dummy.   North ducks a Spade and East leads her third Diamond, won by declarer with the QD.  North can then make three Spade tricks, West discarding a Club.  Presumably North will then take the Heart finesse but East wins and leads AC and another Club.  This gives EW seven tricks, one Spade, one Heart, three Diamonds and two Clubs.

 

So how does North make 1NT against a Diamond opening lead?  The key point is that North mustn’t play Hearts.  If North leads Clubs from the North hand twice (before cashing the Spades) then she will set up a Club trick  and make 1NT with three Spades, one Heart, two Diamonds and one Club.  But if East chooses not to lead a Heart then North will not be alerted to the danger presented by the Heart suit and will probably go down.

 

Hands from 14th February 2017

This week I am going to do a few general comments rather than go into depth on any hands.  Here is Board 4.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T7

 

 

 

P

♥  KQT64

P

1D

1N

P

♦  65

?

 

 

 

West

♣ A864

East

 

♠  J96

 

♠  K652

♥  85

♥  J97

♦  JT94

♦  KQ87

♣  K532

South

♣ QT

Bhcp

14

 9          17

20

♠  AQ43

Hcp

9

 5          11

15

♥  A32

♦  A32

♣ J97

 

In standard Acol, once your partner has passed then if you open the bidding her response is no longer forcing.  This is useful when you hold a balanced hand just below normal opening values.  This is the situation facing East.

At my table East opened 1D (no doubt planning to pass any reply by West).

South overcalled 1NT and West passed.

The point I want to raise is that you should use the same conventions opposite an overcall of 1NT as you use opposite an opening bid of 1NT (but making allowance for any difference in the  point range).

If you play transfer bids then North bids 2D, a transfer to hearts.

South bids 2H and North has to evaluate her hand: should she bid 2NT to show invitational values or 3NT?  Whether you use hcp or Bhcp the initial indication is invitational values but that is without adding a little extra for the good 5 card suit.  Once that distributional factor is included North has game values and so should bid 3NT.  South converts to 4H.

 

Tip: use the same conventions opposite an overcall of 1NT as you use opposite an opening bid of 1NT.

 

 

At my table the bidding on Board 9 started:

N          S

1D        1H

2D

What is the minimum number of diamonds North should hold?

The answer is six.

Let’s see why.

First assume declarer has only 5 diamonds and another 4 card suit.  If that second suit is hearts, she can bid 2H.  If that second suit is spades or clubs then she can bid it.  Opener is not 5/4.

The only other distribution for declarer with a 5 card diamond suit is 5332.  In that case the distribution is classified as balanced and she would either open 1NT or rebid No Trumps.

Conclusion: declarer must hold at least 6 diamonds.

 

 

On Board 21 East had:

♠ Q J 10 8 6

 9 8 6

 Q J 6

♣ 9 3

West opens 1H.  What should East respond?

East’s hand is weak and worth only one bid.  She needs to be as positive as she can be, telling her partner some good news.  The good news she has to tell is that she holds 3 card heart support.

East should respond 2H, not 1S.

 

 

As responder, how do you deal with an opponent’s take-out double when you hold decent values?  Board 27 gives an example.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 27

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  3

 

 

P

1S

♥  AJ52

X

?

 

 

♦  A984

 

Whether you use hcp or Bhcp, West is just too strong to open 2S.

West opens 1S.

 

North makes a take-out double.

West

♣ KQ93

East

♠  KJ9542

 

♠  A

♥  Q8

♥  K764

♦  K65

♦  QT3

♣  J2

South

♣ AT864

Bhcp

19

 15        19

7

♠  QT876

Hcp

14

 10        13

3

♥  T93

♦  J72

♣ 75

 

What should East bid?

The first point is that if East has support for partner’s suit, she should bid one level higher than she would without the take-out double.  Here she does not have support for spades.

If East bids a new suit at the 2 level then she has at least 5 cards in that suit but she is weak, a maximum of 14 Bhcp/9 hcp.  Therefore, East is much too strong to bid 2C.

With strength, East redoubles.  Her message to opener is that N/S are in trouble.  Opener should now leave the bidding to East who will decide whether to double a N/S contract or to play a contract their way.  Here East should redouble.

West is now expected to pass unless she has made a light opening bid.  In this instance, when her turn to bid, West should bid 2S.  This tells East that there may not be a juicy fat double at the end of N/S’s bidding.

In 6 of the 10 times the board was played West was in 2S doubled, making on all but one occasion.

 

Hands from 7th February 2017

On Board 9 eight E/W declarers played in 4H making 10 or 11 tricks; two played in 5H (just one making) leaving the remaining E/W pair defending 5D doubled.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 9

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  9863

P

1C

2D

2H

♥  T2

3D

4H

P

P

♦  AJ7

?

 

 

 

West

♣ J943

East

 

On an evaluation with B points East’s hand is worth only an opening bid of 1NT but this was the bidding at my table.

♠  AJT5

 

♠  KQ7

♥  AJ7643

♥  KQ8

♦  3

♦  K82

♣  87

South

♣ Q652

Bhcp

10

 15        21

14

♠  42

Hcp

6

 10       15

9

♥  95

♦  QT9654

♣ AKT

 

Well, as North are you going to pass?

South has made a weak jump overcall and North is also weak.  E/W rate to make 10 tricks.

Next, look at the vulnerability.  E/W being vulnerable look set to score + 620.  N/S are not vulnerable so 3 off doubled is only + 500 to N/S.  N/S need to make only 8 tricks to make bidding 5D worthwhile.  With such great trump support there must be 5 or 6 tricks in diamonds.

I bid 5D, partner played well and we did indeed make 8 tricks for an excellent score.

 

Tip: do be ready to sacrifice at favourable vulnerability.

 

It is the end of the evening and you are desperate for a top to push you into first position.  As East, how do you play the hand on Board 26?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 26

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  K54

 

1N

P

3N

♥  K853

 

The bidding is routine.  East opens 1NT whichever of hcp or Bhcp she uses.

♦  654

West

♣ J73

East

♠  T82

 

♠  AQJ9

♥  AJ6

♥  QT9

♦  AT

♦  J87

♣  KQT85

South

♣ A96

Bhcp

10

 22        21

7

♠  763

Hcp

7

 14       14

5

♥  742

♦  KQ932

♣ 42

 

South’s opening lead is the DK.

East counts his top tricks: 5 clubs and 1 in each of the other 3 suits.  One more trick will see East make his contract but in the circumstances that is not good enough.

First takes the first trick and tries the spades, leading the ST. 

You cover an honour with an honour in the hope of using up two of declarer’s top cards and so promoting one of your side’s lower card into a trick taking position.  North plays low and the ST wins.

Time for East to count potential tricks.  It looks like 4 spade, 1 heart, 1 diamond and 5 clubs.  Can East manufacture a 12th trick?

Of course she can: she plays the D8 thus establishing the DJ as that vital extra trick.

 

On Board 2 only an unlikely spade lead stops declarer from making 12 tricks.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 2

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  92

 

1D

P

P

♥  AKQJ974

4H

P

P

P

♦  A

 

This was the bidding at my table.  East is too strong for an opening of a weak 2D so bids 1D.

West

♣ JT6

East

♠  K7643

 

♠  Q5

♥  T85

♥  63

♦  53

♦  QJ8642

♣  843

South

♣ AQ7

Bhcp

22

 5          16

17

♠  AJT8

Hcp

15

 3          11

11

♥  2

♦  KT97

♣ K952

 

Assuming a natural lead of the DQ North wins in hand.

North counts her losers: 1 spade and possibly 2 clubs although that is unlikely on the bidding.

The spade loser can be got rid of easily.  Declarer draws trumps, crosses to the SA and discards a spade on the DK.

Now declarer needs to tackle the clubs.  Giving East an opening hand with 12 hcp leaves West with no more than a queen.  Could it be the CQ?  East’s opening lead was the DQ.  If he had held both the SK and SQ he would very likely have led the SK in preference to the DQ.  West rates to have the SQ rather than the CQ.  North plays the CJ intending to run it.  Playing for both CA and CQ to be with East results in only one club loser.

 

 

Hands from 31st January 2017

On Board 2 only two NS pairs bid game but both times the game made.  Why didn’t more pairs follow suit?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 2

BIDDING

Dealer

 

East

 

North

Vulnerability

 

N/S

N

E

S

W

♠  754

 

P

1NT

P

♥  KQT83

2D

P

2H

P

♦  -

3NT

P

4H

 

West

♣ AT976

East

 

 

 

 

♠  T82

 

♠  QJ63

 

 

 

 

♥  62

♥  A95

 

 

 

 

♦  KQ75

♦  J832

 

 

 

 

♣  Q854

South

♣ K2

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

14

11      16

19

♠  AK9

Hcp

9

 7    11

13

 

 

 

 

♥  J74

 

 

 

 

♦  AT964

 

 

 

 

♣ J3

 

 

 

 

 

East nearly has an opening bid, but not quite.  South opens 1NT and North bids 2D as a transfer to Hearts.  So far so straightforward.  What does North do after South completes the transfer?  On the one hand the point count suggests that 2H is enough.  But with at least a seven-card fit in Hearts North can use the Losing Trick Count.  A 1NT opener usually has seven or eight losers (eight here).  North’s hand has only six losers.  18 – (6 + 8) = 4, so even if the South hand is on the weak side, it should be possible to make game.  North might decide that with a void it is best to bid a direct 4H (with the risk that South might have a doubleton Heart and that the North hand may be forced with Diamond leads).  Or she might decide to bid 3NT, which after the transfer shows a five-card Heart suit and asks South to bid 4H with three or more Hearts.

 

 

On Board 7 only three NS pairs bid a slam.  When 6NT was bid it unluckily failed because there was a Heart to lose by which time the Diamonds were wide open, but both times that 6H was bid it made comfortably.  Why didn’t more pairs bid 6H?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 7

BIDDING

Dealer

 

South

 

North

Vulnerability

 

All

N

E

S

W

♠  AKJ4

 

 

1H

3D

♥  87

X

4D

4H

P

♦  K52

4NT

P

5D

P

West

♣ KQJ7

East

6H

 

 

 

♠  953

 

♠  QT62

 

 

 

 

♥  Q93

♥  6

 

 

 

 

♦  AJT986

♦  Q743

 

 

 

 

♣  9

South

♣ 8632

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

24

11     7

18

♠  87

Hcp

17

 7      4

12

 

 

 

 

♥  AKJT542

 

 

 

 

♦  -

 

 

 

 

♣ AT54

 

 

 

 

 

After South’s routine opening bid, East makes a weak jump overcall.  North Doubles, for take-out, which denies Heart support.  West bids 4D (bidding to the level of fit) and South bids 4H.  West has already bid her hand to the full (5D will be three off costing -800 as opposed to -620 if South makes 4H) and Passes.  What does North do now?  South has heard that North doesn’t have Heart support but nevertheless South has bid game in Hearts.  It follows that North’s doubleton Heart should be sufficient trump support.  On the bidding South should have a Diamond void.  North uses Blackwood to check that there aren’t two quick losers and bids a confident 6H.

 

 

The play on Board 19 was of interest when West played in Diamonds, which happened only once (but it was at my table).

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 19

BIDDING

Dealer

 

South

 

North

Vulnerability

 

E/W

N

E

S

W

♠  QJ852

 

 

1NT

P

♥  T83

2H

P

2S

P

♦  K7

P

X

P

3D

West

♣ JT3

East

P

P

P

 

♠  64

 

♠  AT

 

 

 

 

♥  AK7

♥  J94

 

 

 

 

♦  T9532

♦  Q864

 

 

 

 

♣  872

South

♣ AQ65

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

13

10     19

18

♠  K973

Hcp

7

 7      13

13

 

 

 

 

♥  Q652

 

 

 

 

♦  AJ

 

 

 

 

♣ K94

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t recall how 3D was reached, but I suspect it was as shown.  In view of the vulnerability I don’t think I would recommend East’s Double, especially with only a three-card Heart suit.  The point of the hand however is in the play.  Assuming that 2S makes (it does), West has to make eight tricks to achieve a good score, as -100 for 3D-1 is better than -110 for 2S=.  With the Club finesse likely to be wrong, there seem to be (at least) six losers, one Spade, one Heart, two Diamonds and two Clubs.  But suppose the Clubs break 3-3, which on the bidding is quite possible?  In that case one of West’s losers can be discarded on the thirteenth Club.  Declarer wins the opening lead (let us say a Spade is led) and plays a trump.  The defence win, cash their Spade winner and North plays a Club.  West takes a losing Club finesse, wins the second Club in dummy and plays a another trump.  The defence can now cash their second Club trick but West’s Heart loser goes on the thirteenth Club.  The defence cannot successfully set up a Heart trick because, as the cards lie, if they open up the Heart suit, declarer can avoid losing a Heart.  And in any case, after the defence win their second Club trick they will have to open up Hearts or give a ruff and discard.

 

Cheers

James

 

Hands from 24th January 2017

How did so many pairs get away with playing in 4S on Board 25?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W Vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  6

P

1S

3C

4C

♥  QT62

5C

5S

P

6S

♦  T92

 

West

♣ KJ952

East

♠  AT975

 

♠  KQ432

♥  K974

♥  A53

♦  A876

♦  KQ3

♣  --

South

♣ 76

Bhcp

11

 15       19

15

♠  J8

Hcp

6

 11        14

9

♥  J8

♦  J54

♣ AQT843

 

Some would open 1NT on that East hand but I prefer to get a decent 5 card major into the bidding as soon as possible.

South makes a weak jump overcall of 3C, showing 5 – 9 hcp and a 6 card club suit.

West cue bids in clubs to show first round control in that suit and agreeing spades.

North knows that they have 11 clubs between them so bids 5C, the level of fit.  At favourable vulnerability this is likely to be a good sacrifice even when doubled.

East is not going to be talked out of a spade contract and West, with a 6 loser hand, is prepared to bid slam.

All the eleven E/W pairs who played the board were in spades, but not one pair bid the slam.  Given the N/S club holding this might be forgiven but the disappointing thing is that nine E/W pairs played in 4S.  What were those nine opposing N/S pairs doing allowing that to happen?  Making weak jump overcalls and raising to the level of fit should be a reflex action, especially at favourable vulnerability.

 

Board 22 presented a basic bidding scenario.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 22

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  73

 

P

1S

P

♥  AJ87643

1N

P

2D

P

♦  J96

2H

P

P

P

West

♣ 4

East

 

♠  AQT4

 

♠  85

♥  KT9

♥  Q5

♦  QT2

♦  743

♣  T62

South

♣ AQ9875

Bhcp

9

 19        11

21

♠  KJ962

Hcp

6

 11         8

15

♥  2

♦  AK85

♣ KJ3

 

South opens 1S.  North’s response of 1NT indicates a maximum of 2 spades and maybe none at all.

South’s rebid of 2D shows an unbalanced hand and asks responder to choose between her two suits.

North does not choose one of South’s suits.  Instead, she bids 2H.  This indicates a suit that is longer than either of opener’s; it must be at least a 6 card heart suit.  Opener is expected to pass unless she has an exceptional hand.  She doesn’t.

How is it that eight N/S pairs can keep bidding until a game contract is reached?  Two pairs were in spades (How?  Why?)  Only one pair were in the routine 2H contract.

 

On Board 9 a contract of 3NT was pretty near universal with 9 or 10 tricks being made so why am I looking at it? 

The points of interest are the choice of opening lead and what to discard.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 9

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T93

1H

P

1S

P

♥  A865

2N

P

3N

 

♦  A8

 

West

♣ AKQ8

East

♠  85

 

♠  J642

♥  K32

♥  QT97

♦  KJ654

♦  T92

♣  J92

South

♣ 73

Bhcp

23

 12        7

18

♠  AKQ7

Hcp

17

 8          3

12

♥  J4

♦  Q73

♣ T654

 

West has to find the least damaging opening lead against what looks like confident bidding based on high card strength.

The first consideration is to estimate partner’s strength.  Giving N/S about 27 hcp for their bidding leaves roughly 5 hcp for partner.  West rates to be the stronger of the two defenders.

Both majors have been mentioned in the bidding so it is wise to avoid leading one of those; it is only likely to help declarer set up that suit.

You don’t want to lead from broken honours.  It is very likely that it is your opponents who have the missing high cards in that suit.  Here, a diamond lead presents declarer with an extra diamond trick.

That leaves clubs.  If partner does ever get in you don’t want a club continuation.  Therefore, lead the C9.

Now let’s turn our attention to East.  Suppose declarer plays off 4 club tricks.  What should East discard?  The rule is to keep length with your opponents.  Here you can see that if East were to discard a spade then when declarer runs the spades the S7 will win an extra trick.  Both majors have been shown in the bidding so East must not discard a heart or a spade.  That just leaves diamonds.  The first discard should be the DT (high hate) followed by another diamond.

 

Hands from 17th January 2017

I am going to start with Board 4.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

N

E

S

W

♠  AJ4

 

 

 

P

♥  AT643

1H

3D

3S

P

♦  T97

4S

P

4N

P

West

♣ K2

East

5H

P

6S

 

♠  T92

 

♠  73

 

East’s 3D is a weak jump overcall with 6 or 7 diamonds.  Even 3D doubled is 1100 to N/S.

♥  Q852

♥  97

♦  82

♦  AKQ6543

♣  JT74

South

♣ 98

Bhcp

18

 7         12

23

♠  KQ865

Hcp

12

 3           9

16

♥  KJ

♦  J

♣ AQ653

 

South’s 3S bid shows strength and a minimum of a 5 card suit, it is forcing.  With only 4 spades South would make a negative double.

Knowing of the fit, North bids 4S.

South has a 4 loser hand so the Losing Trick Count suggests 13 tricks.  South checks on the key card situation and on finding that one is missing settles for 6S.

Only two of the nine declarers playing in spades made 12 tricks yet it should be routine.

Let’s assume a diamond lead, taken by East and the diamond return ruffed by declarer.

If the clubs break either 3/3 or 4/2 then the club suit can be set up to give 12 tricks.  There is a far better likelihood of this working than the heart finesse being right.

Declarer plays off the CK and CQ.  She then plays a small club and ruffs with the SA even if West discards.  Now comes the SJ and then the S4 to the SK and SQ to draw trumps.  Now the CQ draws West’s last club.  Declarer makes 4 club tricks and a club ruff, 2 hearts and 5 spades.

It is true that declarer might think of setting up the heart suit.  However, that would mean ruffing in the long hand.  Also, the HQ is missing so the suit is less robust.

 

On Board 28 West had a less than great hand and yet she had a crucial role to play in the bidding.

   W                       E

♠  T74              ♠  A63

♥  T7653           ♥  AJ4

♦  T6                ♦  AKQ8

♣  732              ♣  AJ8

After two passes it is East’s turn to bid.  She has 23 hcp (which merits an opening of 2C) but only 31 Bhcp (which is worth only an opening of 2NT).

The point of interest is the subsequent bidding after an opening of 2C.  Initially, we have:

W         E

P          2C

2D        2N

?

East is now showing a balanced hand with 23 – 25 hcp.  The 2C artificial bid has been used to announce a super-strong 2NT opening bid.  West should now use the same conventions as she would over an immediate opening of 2NT but make allowance for East’s extra strength.

West should bid 3D, a transfer to hearts.  The full bidding should be:

W         E

P          2C

2D        2N

3D        3H

P

I am amazed that only two declarers were in hearts, all the others being in some number of No Trumps. 

Finally, here is a bidding point from Board 8.  As East you pick up the weak but distributional hand:

♠  J98

♥  QJT8532

♦  T65

♣  --

Partner (West) dealt and opens with a bid of 1C.  North doubles.  As East, what are you going to do?

Recently, modern bidding practices have moved away from using a jump-shift response to show an extremely strong hand to using it to show a weak distributional hand.

To be clear, a jump-shift is when responder bids a new suit one level higher than necessary.  Opener is being warned not to bid again.  For example:

1D        2S.

This use is particularly useful after the intervention of a take-out double.

These days East, with the hand above, should respond 2H.

 

Tip:  consider whether you and your regular partner want to adopt the weak jump response.

 

Hands from 10th January 2017

Let’s look at the play on Board 20.  12 tricks can be made in No Trumps, spades or clubs but not one declarer made more than 11 tricks.  Mind you, bidding any slam would take aggressive bidding.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

♠  8652

♥  K43

♦  QT6

West

♣ 985

East

♠  KQJT43

 

♠  A

♥  --

♥  AQ98762

♦  K954

♦  7

♣  A73

South

♣ KQ64

Bhcp

8

 19        20

13

♠  97

Hcp

5

 13        15

7

♥  JT5

♦  AJ832

♣ JT2

 

First, let’s look at the play for 12 tricks in a No Trump contract.

Declarer counts 6 spade tricks, 1 heart and 3 clubs.  She needs 2 more.  Therefore, she needs the clubs to divide 3/3 and South to hold the DA.  Immediately, while all the other suits are safe, she leads the D7 and so makes her DK now or later.  She also makes 4 club tricks as they do divide 3/3.

In spades on a club lead West wins with the CA and crosses to the SA, drawing one round of trumps.  She ruffs the H2, draws trumps and crosses to the CK.  She ruffs another heart and again crosses to dummy using the CQ.  She cashes the 13th club and then plays the HA.  The rest of the hearts are now good and all 13 tricks are made.

With clubs as trumps the requirements and play are essentially the same as in a No Trump contract.

In all three scenarios declarer needs the cards to be well placed.  Here they are well placed; it is just a pity no declarer managed to profit from it.

 

On Board 26 the distributional hands resulted in competitive bidding at the 5 level.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 26

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  94

 

3D

P

3N

♥  AQ987542

4H

X

P

5D

♦  8

?

 

 

 

West

♣ J2

East

 

The majority of Norths bid 5H and were doubled for a poor score.  However, only one of the Easts in 5D made 11 tricks.

♠  AQJ7

 

♠  86

♥  J3

♥  K6

♦  KQ2

♦  AJT9763

♣  AT94

South

♣ 85

Bhcp

10

 25       12

13

♠  KT532

Hcp

7

 17        8

8

♥  T

♦  54

♣ KQ763

 

South leads the HT against 5D.  North wins and returns a heart for South to ruff.

South then switches to the CK.

East needs to get rid of her club loser.  She crosses to hand in diamonds, drawing the last 2 trumps and takes the successful spade finesse.

She returns to hand, overtaking the DQ with the DA and repeats the spade finesse.  She can then discard her last club on the remaining top spade to make 11 tricks.

ake 11 tricks.

Hands from 3rd January 2017

Let’s start with Board 5.  I found this very disappointing as not one pair bid the slam.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 5

BIDDING 1

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AJ8

1C

P

1D

P

♥  K3

1N

P

4C

P

♦  Q94

4N

P

6C

 

West

♣ KQT65

East

 

♠  QT95

 

♠  K6432

BIDDING 2

♥  AT982

♥  Q654

1C

1S

3S

P

♦  873

♦  52

4C

P

4S

P

♣  3

South

♣ J7

6C

 

 

 

Bhcp

22

 10         9

19

♠  7

Hcp

15

 6           6

13

 

♥  J7

♦  AKJT6

♣ A9842

 

The first bidding sequence should be straightforward as there is no interference.

South’s rebid of 4C is a voluntary agreement of a minor at the 4 level and therefore is asking how many key cards are held by North.  4N shows two key cards plus the queen of trumps.

The second bidding sequence involves interference and it is possible that West might get into the action.  A 2S bid by South would show a strong hand and would be forcing.  Therefore, the jump to 3S is a cue bid (a second round control in this case) or it is a splinter bid if that is what you play.  The 3S bid agrees clubs.  Again, 4C is asking about key cards and 4S indicates two without the trump queen.

About half the hands where there is a slam in a trump suit should be in either 6C or 6D.  In many cases you won’t get there unless you adopt the Redwood 4C/4D bids.  They are exactly the same as 4NT except that they start at a different point.

 

There is the possibility of a nice bit of defensive card play on Board 11.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 11

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KQ972

 

 

1N

P

♥  532

2H

P

2S

P

♦  3

P

P

 

 

West

♣ QJ87

East

 

 

 

 

♠  43

 

♠  JT8

 

 

 

 

♥  AT9

♥  Q864

 

 

 

 

♦  J7654

♦  KT98

 

 

 

 

♣  643

South

♣ AK

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

12

 8          20

20

♠  A65

Hcp

8

 5          13

14

 

 

 

 

♥  KJ7

 

 

 

 

♦  AQ2

 

 

 

 

♣ T952

 

 

 

 

 

It looks as though declarer can draw trumps, lose 2 club tricks to establish 2 tricks in that suit and have the DA for 8 tricks.  Depending upon the guess, there may well be a trick in hearts as well.

Let’s see how this analysis might be thwarted on a club lead.

West leads the C6 (high/hate – don’t lead this back to me).

East takes with the .... CA.  The CA denies the CK.

East then continues with the CK.  West is surprised. 

East is trying to signal.  She has a doubleton club and plays her honours the wrong way round to indicate this.  She wants to get into West’s hand for a club ruff.  West is being asked to give a suit preference signal, to play a low club if she wants a diamond (the lower of the 2 non-trump suits) and a higher club for a heart.

West plays the C4; it is the higher of the 2 clubs she has left.

As so often happens in defence, players have to keep track of the low cards.  In this instance, East notes that the C3 has not been played and so West is doing her beast to ask for a heart.

East switched to a heart and West gives East her club ruff.  One of declarers hoped for club tricks has disappeared.  Further, if declarer miss-guesses and plays the HK there is East’s HQ to cash.  In that case declarer is restricted to 8 tricks.  As every declarer made at least 9 tricks E/W would have got a very good score.

 

Board 25 had one of those bids ‘which never come up’.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AK87542

1S

2S

P

2N

♥  QT87

3S

4C

4S

P

♦  Q2

 

West

♣ --

East

♠  QJ

 

♠  9

♥  A6

♥  J5432

♦  KJ9765

♦  3

♣  T76

South

♣ AKQ842

Bhcp

16

 17        14

13

♠  T63

Hcp

11

 11        10

8

♥  K9

♦  AT84

♣ J953

 

North is too strong for a pre-emptive bid so opens 1S.

With 5/5 in hearts and a minor East makes a Michaels cue bid of 2S.

South is not strong enough to bid at the 3 level.  It is better to await developments.

West is not interested in hearts so bids 2NT asking East to show her minor suit (almost definitely clubs but could just be diamonds).

With a 7 card suit, North bids 3S and East bids 4C.  Now South can come out of the woodwork and bids 4S.

At adverse vulnerability, E/W should not compete to the 5 level.  Had the vulnerability been the other way around then a sacrifice of 5C would have been very worthwhile.

Hands from 27th December 2016

Let’s start with Board 21.  I was sitting North and was asleep at the wheel when I made my opening bid.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 21

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AK

2C

P

2N

4H

♥  --

5C

P

?

 

♦  A9632

Should South bid 6C?

North has shown a distributional hand with a good long club suit.

Opening 2C with a minor requires a 3 loser hand.  South has 9 losers so the prediction is for 12 tricks.

South bids 6C.

West

♣ AQJT92

East

♠  97

 

♠  QJT54

♥  QJT98643

♥  A7

♦  87

♦  J54

♣  3

South

♣ K87

Bhcp

25

 6         17

12

♠  8643

Hcp

18

 3          11

8

♥  K52

♦  KQT

♣ 654

 

West’s 4H bid has made life difficult for N/S and that is what pre-emption is all about.

On 3 occasions E/W were allowed to play in 4H undoubled!!!  That’s almost as unbelievable as my opening bid of 1C on that North hand.

By the way, did you agree with West’s jump to 4H?

Look at it this way.  N/S are strong and will make game at the very least.  That is +600 to N/S.

E/W are not vulnerable and 3 off doubled is only +500 to N/S.    West is guaranteed 6 heart tricks so only one trick from East will make it a good sacrifice if West is allowed to play there.

And would you believe that only one N/S pair bid to game?

 

Now for Board 16.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 16

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KJ6532

 

 

 

1C

♥  KT632

2C

2N

3H

3N

♦  65

P

P

4H

 

West

♣ --

East

This was the bidding at my table.  North’s 2C bid was Michaels showing 5/5 in the majors.

East was optimistic about her major suit stops when bidding 2NT.

♠  AQ7

 

♠  T94

♥  Q87

♥  J9

♦  A2

♦  KJ98

♣  QJT43

South

♣ AK52

Bhcp

11

 22        18

9

♠  8

Hcp

7

 15       12

6

♥  A54

♦  QT743

♣ 9876

 

We were not doubled but should have been.  The point of interest is South’s assessment as soon as the dummy goes down.

Had we been doubled South’s thinking would have been along these lines.

If she thinks that E/W would have made their 3NT then they would have scored +600.  Three off doubled would be only +500 to E/W.  Therefore, 7 tricks would be enough to get a good score and her target is 7 tricks.  As it was, my partner made 8 tricks (in effect plus one on what would have been her target).

 

There are two approaches to bidding slams.  The one is where you describe your hands in detail to ensure that there is a very good chance of making 12 tricks.  With this approach you generally stay out of bad slams but you do give a lot of information to your opponents and as a result they are more likely to find the killing lead.

The other approach is to ‘go for it’ a soon as you feel the values are there.  As a result more bad slams are bid but as the auction has been uninformative your opponents often fail to find the killing lead.

 

On Board 25 we suffered as a result of the second approach to slam bidding.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T3

P

2C

P

2D

♥  A984

P

2S

P

4N

♦  T9732

P

6S

 

 

West

♣ T3

East

 

2C was an 8 playing trick hand.

2D = relay.

4N was RKC.

 

♠  J65

 

♠  AKQ874

♥  J5

♥  QT63

♦  KQ4

♦  A5

♣  KQ987

South

♣ A

Bhcp

8

 18        26

8

♠  92

Hcp

4

 12        19

5

♥  K72

♦  J86

♣ J6542

 

The auction had revealed nothing about the hands of our opponents except that they had spades.  Had South found a heart lead then East would have been one off.  Leading from a king round to the strong hand is usually a gift to declarer.  North rates to have very little and that little will be in hearts only one time in four.  A heart was not led.  Declarer drew trumps and got 3 heart discards to make his slam.

No other E/W pair bid the slam so that was a bottom for us.

 

The tables were turned two boards later.  We were the only pair to bid the slam on Board 27.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 27

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AQJ8762

 

 

1D

1H

♥  4

1S

3H

3S

4H

♦  A

4S

5H

5S

P

West

♣ KQ52

East

6S

 

 

 

♠  T9

 

♠  5

 

♥  AKQJ753

♥  T982

♦  J

♦  T8732

♣  T63

South

♣ J74

Bhcp

22

 18         4

16

♠  K43

Hcp

16

 11         1

12

♥  6

♦  KQ9654

♣ A98

 

This time we were lucky.  Had East not competed with 5H over North’s underbid of 4S the slam would not have been bid.

In the end it was honours even; one top to them and one to us.

 

Hands from 6th December 2016

On Board 21 a slam was bid by 7 of the N/S pairs playing the board so I won’t spend time on it, but no pair bid the slam on Board 20.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  7642

 

 

 

1S

♥  QJ73

P

2C

P

2D

♦  T82

P

2H

P

3C

West

♣ KQ

East

P

4C

P

4S

♠  AKQJ8

 

♠  9

P

6C

 

 

♥  4

♥  AT8

The main problem s West’s second bid: 3C shows a minimum opening hand and 5 spades.  In clubs, West is better than that.

♦  A95

♦  K74

♣  9832

South

♣ AJ7654

Bhcp

13

 19        17

11

♠  T53

Hcp

8

 14        12

6

♥  K9652

♦  QJ63

♣ T

 

Expecting to play in either 3NT or 4S West rebids 2D.  The 2D bid shows a 5 card spade suit and diamond values.

Not satisfied with 3NT East continues with 2H, forth suit forcing.

West shows club support and East’s 4C bid asks about key cards held.  4S indicates two key cards.  East bids a club slam which was not easy to reach.

Making 12 tricks presents no problem.

 

Sitting South on Board 14 you pick up the following hand.

♠  A98763

♥  J52

♦  A53

♣  9

East, your RHO, dealt and opens 2C.  It is love all.  What do you do?

The guiding principle is that if your opponents have made a strong bid then any bid you make is weak.  There is no need to jump to 3S to show a weak hand, a bid of 2S will do that and at the 2 level it is relatively safe.  Your aim is not so much to play in spades but to take away bidding space from your opponents in the hope that they will then end up in the wrong contract.

On this board the bidding will start:

E          S          W         N

2C        2S        P          P

 ?

If East bids 2NT then you will be doing what virtually every other N/S pair were doing; defending 3NT by East.  You should get an average.

If East doubles and it is left in then you are likely to be 2 off for -300 (which would have been an outright top).

If West takes the double as take-out and bids her 5 card club suit then E/W might well end up in the wrong contract of 5C and that would have given you a near top.

 

Now let’s look at how the bidding might go on Board 8 where a part score was all that was available.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 8

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T5

 

 

 

P

♥  A4

1D

1S

2H

3S

♦  AQT9762

?

 

 

 

West

♣ T2

East

 

That’s as far as the bidding can go in terms of makeable contracts.

♠  K874

 

♠  AJ963

♥  JT5

♥  976

♦  854

♦  K

♣  Q54

South

♣ AK98

Bhcp

16

 10        20

14

♠  Q2

Hcp

10

 6          15

9

♥  KQ832

♦  J3

♣ J763

 

North is too strong for a weak 3D pre-emptive bid.

South’s 2H is a slight overbid, the alternative is a negative double to show hearts.

West’s 3S is a raise to the level of fit.

With a 7 card suit many a North will be tempted to continue to 4D.  If undoubled that would be a good sacrifice.  With that East hand would you double?  In duplicate you should.

Against 4D, East starts with the CA.  West plays the C5 to discourage.

East continues with the CK and West’s C4 makes it clear that a switch is necessary.   As a result E/W take their 2 spade tricks to put North one down at that stage.  Now, unless North makes an inspired guess to play East for a singleton DK, E/W will end up +300.

 

Hands from 29th November 2016

Let’s start with Board 4 where East should know before she has made her first bid that a slam is very likely yet only 3 pairs bid that high.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  9852

 

 

 

1D

♥  KJ652

P

6D

 

 

♦  T2

 

East has a 4 loser hand.  That suggests that 13 tricks are available.  6D is pragmatic unless you are a regular partnership with fairly sophisticated slam bidding systems.

West

♣ 83

East

♠  K3

 

♠  T7

♥  AQ94

♥  --

♦  KQ653

♦  AJ874

♣  96

South

♣ AKQJT4

Bhcp

7

 19       23

11

♠  AQJ64

Hcp

4

 14       15

7

♥  T873

♦  9

♣ 752

 

If E/W play cue bids then East jumps to 3H to show first round control in the suit.  Holding the HA West knows East is void in hearts.

If E/W play splinter bids then East would still jump to 3H but this time to show a void or singleton in hearts.

In either event West continues with 4D to ask about East’s holding of key cards.  East shows 2 key cards without the DQ and slam is bid.

If North does not make an opening lead of a spade then West makes plus 1 (6 clubs, 5 diamonds, 1 heart and a spade ruff).

 

You are sitting South on Board 12 and pick up the following hand:

♠  J5

♥  Q94

♦  5

♣  AKQJT64

After two passes your RHO (East) opens with a bid of 1S.  What do you bid?

Had you had the opportunity to open the bidding this is an ideal hand for opening with a bid of the gambling 3NT: used with hands having a long running minor and not so much as a king or ace in any of the other three suits.

Here’s something to think about; what would an overcall of 3S mean once your RHO has opened 1S?

An overcall of 2S would be Michaels, but 3S?

The jump cue bid of 3S is asking partner to bid 3NT with a stop in spades.  Without a stop, partner bids 4C.

Here is the full hand.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 12

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

♠  T76

♥  KT8

♦  A743

West

♣ 983

East

♠  93

 

♠  AKQ842

♥  7632

♥  AJ5

♦  QT862

♦  KJ9

♣  72

South

♣ 5

Bhcp

11

 4         25

20

♠  J5

Hcp

7

 2         18

13

♥  Q94

♦  5

♣ AKQJT64

If South is left to play in 4C then West will lead the S9.

East takes with the SQ.  She then continues with the SA and (hoping for an overruff) the SK.

South must ruff high.  Not only to prevent the over-ruff but also to provide two entries to dummy.

Trumps are drawn; CA and C4/C8.

Now declarer plays for East (the strong hand) to hold both the HA and the HJ.  She plays the H8 prepared to let it run if East plays low.  South now has 2 heart tricks and, with the DA, 10 tricks in all.

 

Now for something I mentioned as recently as last week.  You are North on Board 23 and pick up this hand:

♠  QT9765432

♥  --

♦  63

♣  73

Partner dealt and opened 1H.  What do you do now?  Do you pass with that 9 card spade suit?

The modern approach is to use the jump-shift response to show along suit in a weak hand.  You respond 2S showing at least 6 spades and 0 – 5 hcp.

Partner is expected to pass no matter what.

As it was, all N/S pairs bid to 4S and most made just 7 or 8 tricks.  Any up-to-date pair who had stopped in 2S would have had an outright top.

The weak jump-shift is very worthwhile thinking about.

Hands from 22nd November 2016

Let’s start with Board 25 where both the bidding and play were challenging.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AKT54

2N

P

3D

P

♥  AQ5

3H

P

3N

P

♦  K4

4C

P

4N

P

West

♣ AT2

East

5D

P

6H

 

♠  QJ982

 

♠  6

 

Certainly fairly aggressive bidding but not totally unrealistic.

♥  T42

♥  76

♦  753

♦  QJT86

♣  K5

South

♣ Q9863

Bhcp

28

 10         9

13

♠  73

Hcp

20

 6            5

9

♥  KJ983

♦  A92

♣ J92

 

South’s 3D bid is a transfer to hearts.  North is going to correct South’s 3NT to 4H but there is no harm in cue bidding the CA on the way.  That is enough to encourage South to go for the slam.

West’s natural lead is SQ taken by the SA.

Declarer’s plan is to ruff a diamond, draw trumps and finesse in clubs hoping for split honours.

The only problem is getting back to the South hand when drawing the trumps.  Declarer doesn’t want to cash the SK and ruff a spade as the SQ lead indicates that the SJ is with West. The solution is to play for the normal 3/2 split in hearts (68% chance).  When ruffing the diamond declarer calls for the HA.  She continues with the HQ and H5 to get back to hand to finish drawing trumps.

Declarer then leads the C9 and runs it if West plays low.

Later declarer takes the spade finesse to make 3 spade tricks, 5 hearts, 2 diamonds plus a diamond ruff and a club trick.

 

When I was learning bridge a jump-shift bid by responder was used to show an extremely powerful hand.  By jump-shift I mean something like 1D – 2H.  Responder had to have at least 16 hcp and to know what was going to be the final denomination; responder either had support for opener’s suit or had a self-supporting 6 card suit of her own which she was going to insist were trumps.  The only thing to be decided was whether it was going to be game, little slam or a grand slam.  I cannot remember ever having used the bid.

These days there is a growing trend to use the jump-shift with a very different type of hand: not a strong hand but a particularly weak one, a hand with a 6 card suit and less that 6 hcp.

Let’s look at Board 9.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 9

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T4

1D

P

2H

?

♥  K

 

The 2H bid shows 0 – 5 hcp and at least 6 hearts.  At favourable vulnerability the hand is ideally suited to the bid.

 

♦  AK642

West

♣ AQ953

East

♠  AKQ97

 

♠  53

♥  A9

♥  Q763

♦  QJ985

♦  T73

♣  6

South

♣ KJT2

Bhcp

22

 22        11

5

♠  J862

Hcp

16

 16         6

2

♥  JT8542

♦  --

♣ 874

 

I’m sure West will come in with 2S but she will not like her diamond holding.  She will expect diamond shortage in dummy but also in the South hand.  Unless she can draw trumps she is likely to have her diamonds over-ruffed.

In the play North starts with the DA and DK, South discarding two clubs.  A third diamond is ruffed by South (why not with the S8 trying to make declarer think that North has spade length?).

South continues with the H2.  If West does not go up with the HA then North is in with the HK.  She cashes the CA and gives South yet another diamond ruff to give the defence 5 tricks.

 

Finally, let’s look at one of those bids ‘which never come up’.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 21

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  3

1C

2C

2D

3S

♥  KQ

4D

4S

5D

P

♦  T832

P

5S

X

 

West

♣ AK8752

East

 

East’s 2C is the Michaels cue bid which shows 5/5 in the majors.  It is usually pre-emptive so usually used with weak hands.

♠  A865

 

♠  KJT742

♥  973

♥  J8654

♦  Q97

♦  6

♣  JT4

South

♣ 3

Bhcp

17

 11         9

23

♠  Q9

Hcp

12

 7           5

16

♥  AT2

♦  AKJ54

♣ Q96

 

South’s 2D bid shows strength (at least 10 points and 5 diamonds).

West immediately bids to the level of fit, 3S.  North bids 4D.

East has 6 spades so knows the level of fit is one level higher, she bids 4S.

South goes to 5D.

East can see no defence to 5D so sacrifices in 5S.  At favourable vulnerability this is an excellent bid.

N/S can make 5D for a score of +600.  They can defend 5S doubled getting E/W 3 off for a score of only +500.

The one pair who sacrificed in 5S scored 90% for the board: well done them.

 

Hands from 8th November 2016

Board 27 raised one bidding point which is often overlooked.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 27

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AQ7

 

 

P

P

♥  T3

1D

1N

2H

?

♦  AQJ976

 

How the bidding might continue is anyone’s guess.  The point of interest is South’s 2H bid.

West

♣ 83

East

♠  T6

 

♠  K54

♥  A5

♥  KQ

♦  843

♦  KT2

♣  AT9762

South

♣ KQJ54

Bhcp

19

 12         25

4

♠  J9832

Hcp

13

 8           17

2

♥  J987642

♦  5

♣ --

 

After East’s 1NT overcall, if South has values (at least 15 Bhcp or 10 hcp) then she should double for penalties because N/S rate to have over half the points in the pack.  Therefore, if South bids a suit it shows a hand with a maximum of 14 Bhcp (9 hcp) and at least 5 cards in the suit bid; South is ‘weak and long’. 

What might West bid?

Would a double be for penalties or be asking East to bid again?  You need to know your system.

Would a bid of 3C be strong?

West’s best option is to bid an invitational 2NT.  East would accept and bid 3NT.  However, South may well come in with a sacrifice of 4H.  If she does then it is only a spade lead from West’s doubleton that could put her one off.

 

There was a little bit to both the bidding and play in Board 19.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 19

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J54

 

 

P

1C

♥  86

P

1H

P

1N

♦  K653

P

4H

 

 

West

♣ KJ87

East

 

West has a tricky rebid.  The club suit is not good enough for a jump to 3C so she needs to rebid 1NT to show the strength of her hand.

♠  AQ2

 

♠  T63

♥  J5

♥  AK9432

♦  QJ

♦  A84

♣  AQ9432

South

♣ 6

Bhcp

12

 23        15

10

♠  K987

Hcp

8

 16        11

5

♥  QT7

♦  T972

♣ T5

 

What should South lead?  To make it as difficult as possible let’s say South opts to ‘lead through strength’ by choosing the C5.

East’s first thought should be to go up with the CA; South’s C5 could well be a singleton..  Why risk turning a no-loser suit into a two-loser suit?  Her second thought should be to get a diamond ruff.  So she leads the DQ, the DK is well placed and she gets her diamond ruff.

That leaves just one spade and one heart loser for 11 tricks made.

 

Now how about bidding a slam?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 11

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T542

 

 

2C

P

♥  AKT42

2H

P

2S

P

♦  92

3S

P

6S

 

West

♣ 73

East

    

You have to know your responses to an opening of 2C to make bidding the slam easy.

♠  98

 

♠  73

♥  Q3

♥  J9765

♦  KT865

♦  J7

♣  QJ65

South

♣ T942

Bhcp

11

 13         5

31

♠  AKQJ6

Hcp

7

 8           2

23

♥  8

♦  AQ43

♣ AK8

 

South opens 2C, no argument there.

Normally a response of 2D is 0 – 11 Bhcp (0 – 7 hcp) but there is an exception.  That is when responder holds an ace and king.  Here North holds HA and HK in a strong 5 card suit: too strong for the 2D bid.  Therefore, North bids 2H to show a minimum of a 5 card heart suit.

South routinely bids 2S, again showing a minimum of a 5 card suit.

N/S are in a game forcing situation and so North has a choice of bidding either 3S or 4S.  Going directly to 4S is the weaker bid, it certainly denies holding an ace.  Here, North bids 3S to show something extra, almost definitely an ace.  This is enough for South to go directly to 6S.

In the play virtually all declarers made 12 tricks but only half of them had bid it.

 

Hands from 1st November 2016

On Board 4 only two of the eleven N/S pairs bidding the hands got to game.  That’s disappointing.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AJT874

 

 

 

1D

♥  54

1S

P

2D

X

♦  Q

3S

P

4S

 

West

♣ QJ63

East

 

The key bid is South’s 2D (the opponent’s suit).  This bid shows strong support for partner’s overcall.

This bid is called the Unassuming Cue Bid.

♠  Q9

 

♠  53

♥  AK

♥  QJ96

♦  KJ872

♦  T54

♣  K852

South

♣ T974

Bhcp

16

 22          7

15

♠  K62

Hcp

10

 16         3

11

♥  T8732

♦  A963

♣ A

 

North is too strong for a weak jump overcall of 2S.

South in her turn is too strong just to bid to the level of fit: a bid of 2S could be made with 3 card support and as little as zero points.  Raising partner’s overcall is weak and pre-emptive.  In responding to partner’s overcall a hand containing a good 15 Bhcp (10 hcp) is too strong for a raise to the level of fit.

The way to indicate strength is to bid your opponent’s suit; here that is 2D.

How should North respond?

With less than opening points North bids 2S, the lowest level possible.

With opening points North must find another bid.  What are the options?

With a 6 card spade suit North jumps the 3S.

With 5 spades and a 4 card side suit, North bids the side suit.

With a stop in opener’s suit North makes a No Trump bid.

With none of these (ie 5332 distribution) North repeats the cue bid (3D).

North would open 1S with the hand she holds so rebids 3S to show the 6 card suit.  That is enough for South to go to game.

Just a note on defensive card play:  assume that East ignores partner’s diamond bid and leads the HQ.  How should West play?

The normal thing when taking a trick is to play the lowest card necessary and here that would be the HK.  However, with a doubleton, West takes with the HA and continues with the HK.  This is the wrong way round.  It is a message to East that West started with a doubleton heart and is looking for a possible entry into East’s hand so that West can ruff the heart continuation.  East is being asked to give a suit preference signal.  Here, poor East is so weak that there is no possible entry.

 

Not one pair bid the slam on Board 16 despite West opening and East holding strong opening values.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 16

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  952

 

 

 

1C

♥  T76

P

1S

P

2S

♦  83

P

4D

P

4S

West

♣ QJT86

East

P

4N

P

5C

♠  QT8

 

♠  AK763

P

5D

P

6C

♥  5

♥  A842

P

6S

 

 

♦  K94

♦  AJT2

East might well have not bothered with the 4D cue bid as any key card held by West must be the CA.

♣  AK9752

South

♣ --

Bhcp

7

 17        22

14

♠  J4

Hcp

3

 12        16

9

♥  KQJ93

♦  Q765

♣ 43

 

With minimum opening values West should show the 3 card support for responder’s major rather than rebidding a 6 card minor.

East’s cue bid of 4D shows first round control and suggests slam interest opposite minimum opening values.  The point to note here is that East did not bid 4C to show first round control in that suit.  The reason is that you do not cue bid shortages in partner’s suit.  The reason is that if you cue bid in partner’s suit it should indicate a high card held which will fill a gap in that suit and make it easily established for extra tricks.

On the likely lead of the HK the plan is to ruff 2 hearts.  Take with HA and ruff a heart.  Back to hand with the DA and ruff another heart.  Play SQ followed by CA and CK for 2 diamond discards.  Ruff a diamond and draw trumps.

 

Now we finish with another slam board where every declarer made 12 tricks but not one single pair bid the slam.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  --

 

 

 

1S

♥  AQ43

P

4N

P

5H

♦  T987

P

6S

 

 

West

♣ KJ965

East

 

You might think it a bit rash to jump straight to Blackwood but East is a 5 loser hand with wonderful support opposite a hand with opening values.

♠  AJT953

 

♠  KQ876

♥  T52

♥  K

♦  AJ6

♦  Q52

♣  2

South

♣ AQ74

Bhcp

15

 16        22

7

♠  42

Hcp

10

 10        16

4

♥  J9876

♦  K43

♣ T83

 

The traveller shows that all 11 times West was declarer in spades.  She must have opened and that hand is too strong for an opening of a weak 2S bid.  So why was the slam never bid?

The main point of interest is in defence.  Consider the play on the opening lead of the DT.

If South plays the DK it is all over; 12 tricks roll in for E/W.

The DT is an honour so the lead promises at least the D9 and probably the D8 as well.

If declarer ducks, playing the D2, so should South duck.  South knows that West holds the DA and DJ but if it is AJx then ducking will leave declarer with a diamond loser. So declarer gets a diamond loser to go with the heart loser.  If declarer elects to play the DQ on the first trick then South covers with the DK.  Again, there is a diamond loser.

Either way, declarer has to fall back on the club finesse for a discard (and luckily for her it works).

The moral of this hand is that the lead of a T is not top of rubbish; it is top of a sequence.  So if you choose to lead from a suit of something like T84, lead the 8 and not the T.

Hands from 25th October 2016

Once in a while a freak hand comes along; Board 16 was one such hand.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 16

BIDDING 1

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  --

 

 

 

2S

♥  T

4N

P

5C

 

♦  AT9543

 

West

♣ AKJT74

East

BIDDING 2

♠  QJ9754

 

♠  --

 

 

 

1S

♥  97

♥  KQ865432

2N

4H

P

P

♦  KQ8

♦  J76

5C

 

 

 

♣  Q8

South

♣ 95

 

Bhcp

19

 15          9

17

♠  AKT8632

Hcp

12

 10          6

12

♥  AJ

♦  2

♣ 632

 

North immediately thinks in terms of the Unusual No Trumps (UNT) as an overcall should West open the bidding. 

At my table West opened a weak 2S although a tad too strong for the bid (Bidding sequence 1).  Now a bid of 2NT is strong, balanced with values in spades and 3NT is to play.  The UNT bid to show at least 5/5 in the two lowest unbid suits is now 4NT.  At adverse vulnerability East will probably not come in at the 5 level; two off doubled would be a very poor score.

If West opens 1S then the bidding is much more likely to follow bidding sequence 2 with North bidding the UNT of 2NT.  Now opposite opening values East is quite likely to jump to the heart game.  That is passed round to North who bids 5C to give South a choice of either minor suit at the 5 level.

In the play North can make 13 tricks.  It is DA and diamond ruff.  HA and heart ruff followed by another diamond ruff.  The diamonds are now established so trumps are drawn and the remaining 3 diamonds cashed.

 

I would have hoped that more than 2 E/W pairs would have bid the slam on Board 20.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  Q832

 

 

 

1H

♥  53

P

3S

P

4D

♦  97

P

4H

P

4S

West

♣ A8762

East

P

4N

P

5H

♠  7

 

♠  AJT9

P

6H

 

 

♥  K9762

♥  AQJT

 

♦  AK85

♦  JT642

♣  K93

South

♣ --

Bhcp

8

 17        22

13

♠  K654

Hcp

6

 13        13

8

♥  84

♦  Q3

♣ QJT54

 

Before looking at the bidding let’s have a quick look at the hand evaluations.  Using the old and less accurate hcp system the high card trick taking potential is assessed as the same for both East and West hands; 13 hcp apiece.  With the more accurate Bhcp evaluation the high card trick taking potential of the East hand is assessed as significantly stronger than West’s hand; in fact stronger by the factor of an extra ace.

Although fractionally under the Bhcp strength for a normal opening bid (18 Bhcp), West’s hand fully qualifies for an opening bid of 1H.  The high cards are in long suits, there is stuffing (9s, 8s and 7s) and, most importantly, there is a rebid of 2D available.

With a 6 loser hand East makes a slam try.  The 3S bid is above 3H: it commits you to game and therefore it is a cue bid agreeing hearts as trumps; it shows first round control in spades and suggests that slam might be on.

West bids 4D.  This is a cue bid which does not indicate any extra strength: West is merely co-operating in case East is very strong.  .

The 4D bid shows first round control in diamonds but says that West does not have first round control in clubs (with first round control in both clubs and diamonds West would cue bid clubs first).

Having made a slam suggestion, East bids 4H.

Although somewhat light in high card points West continues because she has a 6 loser hand and there seems to be a wonderful fit.  There are no spade losers and the potential for spade ruffs in West’s hand.

West cue bids 4S showing second round control in that suit.

It is usually bad practice to use Blackwood when you have a void.  The reason is that you won’t know if an ace shown is the one you want or the one in your void suit (which will be of limited value as it will only provide one discard rather than helping to establish a long suit).

Here East knows from the 4D bid that West does not hold the CA and so any key card shown will not be the CA.

In response to 4NT West shows 2 key cards and East knows that these must be the DA and HK.  The slam is bid.

With the diamond suit distributed as it is 13 tricks roll in whether you finesse or play for the drop.

 

Now let’s look quickly at Board 35 to see how responder should deal with a take-out double.

Here is North’s hand:

♠  863

♥  AT62

♦  K7

♣  AK94

South dealt and the bidding starts:

S          W         N

1D        X         ?

The answer to the question of what North should bid is simple; the bid is 1H which has the same meaning as without the double.  No problem there then but what if South had opened 1S.  What should North bid then after a double by West?

North should redouble.  The message to partner is that she is strong and so E/W are in trouble.  South should pass and leave the decision of whether to play or defend a doubled contract to North.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 35

 

I have no idea how the bidding might go, there are too many variables with these distributional hands.

 

Let’s just see South as declarer make 12 tricks in some number of No Trumps after a lead of the HK by West.

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

♠  863

♥  AT62

♦  K7

West

♣ AK94

East

♠  KJ974

 

♠  T5

♥  KQJ8

♥  93

♦  T6

♦  Q5

♣  82

South

♣ QJT7653

Bhcp

19

 16         10

15

♠  AQ2

Hcp

14

 10         5

11

♥  754

♦  AJ98432

♣ --

 

South makes the following assessment of her chances of making 12 tricks:  if the diamonds behave there are 7 tricks there.  The 2 clubs, the HA and the SA bring the total up to 11 tricks.

She needs to make the HT via a squeeze or both the SA and SQ via an end play.

South wins the first trick with the HA and plays the CA and CK (discarding a spade and a heart).

Now South plays DK and DA and cashes four more diamonds.

Nine tricks have been won and there are now only 4 cards in each hand.  East’s cards are irrelevant.  The South, North and West hands are:

               N

            ♠  863

♥  T

♦ 

   W      ♣               

♠  KJ9             

♥  Q                  

♦                        

♣             S        

            ♠  AQ

♥  7

♦  3

♣ 

Now South plays the D3.  What is poor West to do?

If she throws the HQ then declarer makes the HT and SA for 12 tricks.  If she discards the S9 declarer then throws West in with the HQ to lead away from the SK and SJ round to South’s SA and SQ: again 12 tricks made.

 

 

Cheers

Hands from 18th October 2016

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 8

BIDDING 1

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  K93

 

 

 

P

♥  K84

1N

P

4C

P

♦  98

4H

P

6D

P

West

♣ AQJ82

East

6N

 

 

 

♠  QJ652

 

♠  AT84

BIDDING 2

♥  J7632

♥  Q5

 

 

 

P

♦  J

♦  T42

1N

P

3D

P

♣  K4

South

♣ 9765

3N

P

4D

P

Bhcp

18

 13        10

19

♠  7

Hcp

13

 8           6

13

4H

P

6D

P

♥  AT9

6N

 

 

 

♦  AKQ7653

BIDDING 3

♣ T3

 

 

 

P

 

1N

P

3D

P

3N

P

4D

P

5C

P

6D

P

6N

 

 

 

 

On Board 8 only one pair bid a slam, the diamond slam.  

If NS are plating a weak NT then North must open 1NT.  (At least at two tables North opened 1C – maybe those NS pairs were playing a strong NT?)  

South should then think of the possibility of a slam: with 8 tricks in hand South needs only 4 tricks from a hand which has opened 1NT.

With a void or singleton it is better to use the Losing Trick Count.  A hand worth an opening bid of a weak 1NT normally has 8 losers, but a maximum hand usually has only seven losers. South has a five-loser hand.  Adding the losers in both hands and subtracting from the magic number 18 suggests that NS can make 11 or 12 tricks with diamonds as trumps.  

Bidding 1 is with the use of the Gerber convention where the 4C bid asks how many aces are held.  4H indicates one and 6D is bid.

In the other two bidding sequences South starts with a bid of 3D.  This shows a strong 6 card diamond suit and slam interest.  North is not particularly interested in diamonds and rebids 3NT.

In Bidding sequence 2 South continues with 4D as a key card asking bid.  North shows one key card and 6D is bid.

Bidding 3 is the most natural.  The 4D bid is natural and forcing.  North cue bids the CA on the way to 5D and again 6D is bid.

Once South has bid 6D North makes one further bid.  It is highly unlikely that, playing in diamonds, it will be possible to take any ruffs in the North hand.  Therefore, there will be the same number of tricks available in NT as in diamonds.  Also, North has tenaces in each of the other three unbid suits.  An opening lead in any of these suits is likely to generate an extra trick.  North bids 6NT, which of course scores more points than 6D.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 16

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AQ97

 

 

 

1D

♥  AQJT

X

1H

P

1S

♦  T92

P

3N

 

 

West

♣ T7

East

 

3NT was a common contract.  When West was declarer, it was made every time.  When East was declarer it went off every time.

♠  KT83

 

♠  42

♥  5

♥  K932

♦  AKQ6

♦  J73

♣  A654

South

♣ KQJ3

Bhcp

21

 22         15

2

♠  J65

Hcp

 13

 16         10

1

♥  8764

♦  854

♣ 982

 

Let’s look at the play with East as declarer and a spade lead from South.

First, the bidding places the HA with North.

If South leads the S5 then declarer calls for the S8 from dummy.  North can win with the S9 but now in spades has AQ7 to lead round to dummy’s KT3.

If South leads the SJ then declarer calls for the SK.  North can then win with the SA but now in spades has Q97 to lead round to dummy’s T83.

With either spade lead by South a continuation of spades by North gives E/W 9 tricks.

North has to switch to a minor suit.

West takes 8 minor suit tricks, ending in the West hand.  The H5 is led and North can take his HA now or later.

Hands from 11th October 2016

On Board 1 you are sitting South.  The contract is 4S by East and West has bid diamonds during the auction.

W (dummy)

♠  KJ5

♥  QJ5

♦  KQJT84

♣ 3          S

            ♠  Q964

♥  A32

♦  6

♣  98765

You lead your singleton D6 and your partner wins with the DA, declarer playing the D2.

Partner returns the D3, declarer discarding a heart and you ruff.

What do you play now?  Is it hearts or is it clubs?

It should not be a guess.  Your thoughtful partner has told you what to do.

From the play to the first 2 tricks you can tell that partner started with 5 diamonds.  If, when giving you your ruff, she plays a low diamond then she is asking you to return the lower ranking suit, in this case clubs.  If she plays a high diamond she is asking for the higher ranking suit, hearts.  If she has no particular preference then she plays a middle value diamond.

The D3 is the lowest diamond she has.  It is asking for a club.

South returns a club and North wins with the CA and gives South a second club ruff.

South then cashes her HA to put declarer 2 off before she has had a chance to get going.

 

Board 19 was a very biddable slam hand.  I played the hand towards the end of the evening.  Before picking up his cards my partner joked “I haven’t played a hand all evening.  I’m going to open 2C”.  He picked up his cards and ... opened 2C!

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 19

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

N

E

S

W

♠  K963

 

 

2C

P

♥  9763

2D

P

2N

P

♦  8

3C

P

3S

P

West

♣ QJT4

East

4S

P

4N

P

♠  T8

 

♠  J74

5C

P

6S

 

♥  K542

♥  QJ8

 

I would have thought this bidding to be pretty routine yet only 3 pairs bid to slam.

♦  965

♦  7432

♣  9732

South

♣ K86

Bhcp

10

 5          11

34

♠  AQ52

Hcp

6

 3           7

24

♥  AT

♦  AKQJT

♣ A5

 

South has two options for her second bid; 2NT or 3D.  Bidding 2S would be completely wrong as that would promise a 5 card suit.

I much prefer 2NT.  If South’s rebid is 3D then it will be very difficult to find the spade fit.  After a 3D rebid North can’t bid spades as that would show a 5 card suit.

South’s 2NT rebid should be treated as a super strong 2NT opening; Stayman and transfers apply.

Stayman is used, the spade fit found and South inquires about key cards.  North shows one and the slam is bid.

In spades declarer draws trumps, discards hearts on the diamonds, ruffs a heart and takes the winning club finesse for 13 tricks.

In 6NT there are only 12 tricks available.  When the CQ is led from dummy, East should play low.  The adage ‘cover an honour with an honour’ is about making declarer use two high cards on the one trick in the hope of either you or partner having a lower card promoted into a trick taking position.  Here East can see the CJ and CT in dummy.  There is no chance of any defensive card being promoted.  Therefore, East ducks.

 

It pays to know the scoring.  In particular, do not underestimate the value of doubled overtricks.  Non-vulnerable, a doubled overtrick is worth 100 points: vulnerable, one is worth 200 points.

With that in mind, you are South on Board 9 with the following hand:

♠ A Q 10 3

 Q 8 5

 Q 5 3 2

♣ J 5

North opens 1NT (weak) and East doubles.  What do you do?

Had East not doubled you would have bid an invitational 2NT suggesting 8 or 9 tricks could be made.

Had N/S been vulnerable the assessment would have been easier.

With only 8 tricks available 1NTX + 1 = 380, much better than the 120 scored for 2NT making.

With 9 tricks available 1NTX + 2 = 580, much better than the 400 scored for 3NT making.

If N/S are vulnerable the choice is simple; South passes.

But N/S were not vulnerable and so it is less clear what to do for the best.

With only 8 tricks available 1NTX + 1 = 280, much better than the 120 scored for 2NT making.

With 9 tricks available 1NTX + 2 = 380, less than the 400 scored for 3NT making. 

The question for South now is how good is her invitational hand? 

It is at the bottom end of the points range, so that’s not good.  It has two unsupported queens and an unsupported jack in a short suit.  It has too many low cards.  All in all, it is about as bad an invitational hand as you could get.  The chances of 9 tricks opposite even a maximum hand are pretty small.

Again, my preferred option is for South to pass.

If West makes some rescue attempt, South can come out of the woodwork later, but for now staying silent is the better option.

 

Hands from 4th October 2016

Let’s look at some bidding.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 6

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  JT3

 

2D

P

3D

♥  KJT3

X

P

4S

 

♦  A

 

Only half of the N/S pairs reached game.

West

♣ AQJ53

East

♠  5

 

♠  9764

♥  A87

♥  Q9

♦  Q72

♦  KJ9843

♣  T87642

South

♣ K

Bhcp

25

 9          13

13

♠  AKQ82

Hcp

16

 6           9

9

♥  6542

♦  T65

♣ 9

 

East has a straightforward weak 2D opening bid.

South should pass.  When your opponents have made a weak bid, as here, then all your bids should show opening values.  South is well short of opening values.

West raises to the level of fit.

North has both majors (4/3 counts as both) and so doubles for take out.

If South bids just 3S then she is showing 0 – 8 points.  She is stronger so must jump to game.

 

 

Here are the E/W hands from Board 10. East was the dealer.

  W                        E

♠  AK53            ♠  JT

♥  A7                ♥  KT9842

♦  KQT4           ♦  A753

♣  A75              ♣  4

E          W

2H        2N

3H        4N

5H        6H

East opens with a routine weak 2H.

West asks for more information by bidding 2NT.

East shows higher end values but a poorish suit.

Still interested in the possibility of a slam West bids 4NT.

East shows 2 key cards without the HQ.

West bids the slam.

Everybody in hearts made 12 tricks but only one pair bid the slam.  I would have hoped that more would have done so.

 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 13

BIDDING (Bpts)

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  K632

P

1H

X

4H

♥  74

P

P

P

 

♦  T87

 

 

 

 

West

♣ 9762

East

BIDDING (hcp)

♠  J

 

♠  QT97

N

E

S

W

♥  Q8653

♥  KJT2

P

1N

P

2D

♦  AQ953

♦  J6

P

3H

P

4H

♣  54

South

♣ AK8

 

Only 2 E/W pairs bid game.  Ten tricks roll in.

Bhcp

5

 13        22

20

♠  A854

Hcp

3

 9          14

14

♥  A9

♦  K42

♣ QJT3

 

Evaluating the East hand with B points it is too strong for an opening of a weak 1NT.

East opens 1H, the lower of his two 4 card majors.

South doubles but West jumps somewhat pre-emptively to 4H to finish the auction.

 

If you are still using the old hcp then you open 1NT as East.

South has nothing to say.  She is not strong enough to double no shapely enough to bid a suit.

West bids 2D, a transfer to hearts.

If East just bids 2H then that is likely to be the end of it.  However, East has maximum values and knows that they have a 9 card fit.  Therefore, especially if West is very weak, 3H is the right place to be.  East breaks the transfer and bids 3H.  This break shows maximum values and 4 card support.  That is enough for West to go to game.

 

Hands from 27th September 2016

Which of the two layouts would you prefer to hold if you needed to generate an extra trick in order to make your contract, layout A or layout B?

            Layout A                       Layout B

              AQ32                            AJT2

               654                               543

With layout A you lead a small card towards the AQ and play the Q.  If West has the K you make 2 tricks but only 1 trick if it is with East.  It is a 50% chance of making 2 tricks.

With layout B there are 2 missing high cards, the K and the Q.  There are 4 different ways that your opponents may hold those 2 cards:

West could have K and Q; West could have K and East the Q; West could have the Q and East the K; finally, East could have both the K and Q.

Now if you play a low card towards the AJT and play the T.  Later, when in again, you play another small card and play the J.  Now you will make 2 tricks unless East holds both the K and the Q.  That is, 3 times in 4 you will make 2 tricks and that’s a 75% chance of making 2 tricks.  That is better than a 50% chance.

The rational is just the same if the layout is:

            AQT2

              543

You play a low card and insert the T.  Later you finesse again.  Only if East holds both the K and J will you lose 2 tricks.  It is again a 75% chance for 2 tricks.

With that in mind let’s look at the club suits in Boards 4 and 26.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QT53

 

 

 

1C

♥  J754

P

1H

P

2N

♦  8765

P

3N

 

 

West

♣ 6

East

 

3NT was a very common contract but only one declarer made the 11 tricks available.  It is the club suit which is the key.

♠  A97

 

♠  K42

♥  A3

♥  QT86

♦  KJ4

♦  AT9

♣  AQ982

South

♣ T53

Bhcp

6

 24        15

15

♠  J86

Hcp

3

 18         9

10

♥  K92

♦  Q32

♣ KJ74

 

In the club suit the K and the J are with the defenders.  Declarer hopes that at least one of them is with South.

The C3 is played and when South plays the C4 the C8 holds the trick.  Now as long as declarer has kept the DA and SK as entries the clubs can be played twice more from East to give 5 club tricks.

Notice that if the CQ is played on the first round of clubs then South must make a club trick.

 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 26

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  K65

 

P

P

P

♥  AKQ83

2N

P

3C

P

♦  A5

3H

P

3N

 

West

♣ A94

East

 

The North hand is not really worth an opening of 2NT.  Working with the B points it is about a jack short.

♠  AJ72

 

♠  93

♥  JT

♥  97654

♦  T7642

♦  Q93

♣  62

South

♣ KJ7

Bhcp

26

 11         9

14

♠  QT84

Hcp

20

 6           6

8

♥  2

♦  KJ8

♣ QT853

 

Here the club suit has quite a different look to it but again you are missing the K and the J.

Start by playing the CA just in case there is a singleton CK.  Then the plan is to lead twice towards South hoping that at least one of the two high club cards are with East.  Then by keeping the DK as an entry there is the prospect of at least 3 and maybe 4 club tricks.

 

Those of you who know your percentages will note that despite it being only a 25% chance that both high cards are well placed for declarer, in both these examples they were.

 

Hands from 20th September 2016

The Hands

There were two hands on which the player with the strongest hand held a two-suited hand with both majors and where most pairs missed the best contract. 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

All

 

N

E

S

W

♠  K5

 

 

 

P

♥  K3

1D

X

2C

P

♦  KQ98632

2D

2S

3C

P

West

♣ 63

East

P

3H

P

P

♠  98

 

♠  AQT632

P

 

 

 

♥  J9654

♥  AT87

 

 

 

 

♦  T54

♦  A7

 

 

 

 

♣  K52

South

♣ J

 

 

 

P

Bhcp

15

7            22

16

♠  J74

Hcp

11

4            15

10

1D

X

2C

3H

♥  Q2

P

P

P

 

♦  J

 

 

 

 

♣ AQT9874

 

 

 

 

East has a strong hand and the question is, can she show both her suits?  With the hearts 2-2 and the KS onside, 4H is an easy make, but the defence should make at least four tricks in spades.  In the first bidding sequence shown North and South both bid their seven-card suits twice, which actually gives East the chance to fully describe her hand.  Even if West passes 3H E/W will get a top as 3H+1 is better than 3S=.  If you play a one-level take-out as promising both major suits then the second bidding sequence is possible with West bidding to the level of fit.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 18

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QT985

 

P

2C

P

♥  8

2D

P

2H

P

♦  QT6

2NT

P

3S

P

West

♣ 8543

East

4S

 

 

 

♠  6

 

♠  A42

 

 

 

 

♥  Q97

♥  J632

 

 

 

 

♦  J98743

♦  52

 

 

 

 

♣  AQ2

South

♣ JT96

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

8

13         10

29

♠  KJ73

Hcp

4

9            6

21

 

 

 

 

♥  AKT54

 

 

 

 

♦  AK

 

 

 

 

♣ K7

 

 

 

 

On the second of these hands, South has 29 bhcp (21hcp) and a four-loser hand with both majors.  This qualifies for a 2C opener.  She then has enough bidding space to bid her five-card suit first and her four-card suit second and then North, who has given two negatives, can give preference by bidding the spade game.  Only two pairs out of six found a spade contract despite the nine-card fit.

So, if you hold a strong hand with both major suits, find a way to give partner the good news.  It may well be that although partner has weak hand she can support your shorter major – but only if you tell her you have it.

 

Next here is a suggestion about slam bidding:

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 18

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

None

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KT2

 

 

1H

P

♥  KT75

2C

P

4H

P

♦  A96

4NT

P

5D

P

West

♣ AK7

East

?

 

 

 

♠  Q86543

 

♠  A97

 

 

 

 

♥  4

♥  3

 

 

 

 

♦  QT8542

♦  J73

 

 

 

 

♣  -

South

♣ QT9542

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

24

7          11

18

♠  J

Hcp

17

4           7

12

 

 

 

 

♥  AQJ9862

 

 

 

 

♦  K

 

 

 

 

♣ J863

 

 

 

 

At one table I saw South pass as dealer.  But surely South is worth a 1H opening bid?  Straightway North should be thinking slam.  She can bid 2C as a waiting bid, to see what sort of hand South has.  Here South jumps to 4H to show her long suit.  She has two useful singletons and support for the suit that partner has bid.  North then uses Blackwood and bids ...?  On Tuesday every N/S pair played in hearts.  But there are three good reasons for North to prefer NT.  First, there may be two quick spade losers if South is declarer.  Second, there is a slight chance of an adverse ruff, and in fact here a spade lead and club return would have defeated 6H.  Third, and this is the point I would like to emphasise, 6NT scores 10 points more than 6H.  In Teams this wouldn’t matter but in Pairs it does.  Any N/S playing in 6NT would have scored an outright top.  If you are going to bid a slam always think, will 6NT make?  If you are in the slam zone you presumably have controls in all the suits and can play in NT (although of course if your controls include a void then you need to play in a suit).  Here there are no ruffing values in North’s hand.  North’s losers will be discarded on South’s hearts.  Bid 6NT.

 

Finally a point about defence.

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 8

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

None

 

N

E

S

W

♠  3

 

 

 

P

♥  AKQJ63

1H

P

1S

P

♦  92

2H

P

2NT

P

West

♣ QT82

East

3NT

P

P

P

♠  AT97

 

♠  J864

 

 

 

 

♥  984

♥  T75

 

 

 

 

♦  AT543

♦  K7

 

 

 

 

♣  6

South

♣ A743

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

18

12         12

18

♠  KQ52

Hcp

12

8            8

12

 

 

 

 

♥  2

 

 

 

 

♦  QJ86

 

 

 

 

♣ KJ95

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday four N/S pairs bid to 3NT and two to 4H.  Against best defence both contracts can be defeated by two tricks but the point count is not far short of game values and with North’s great suit it is not unreasonable to try for game.  And indeed 3NT made three times out of four.  So why did three E/W pairs fail to defeat 3NT?  Let us say that West led her fourth highest diamond.  East wins with the K and returns a ...?  West led the 4D so East can work out that West started with at most five diamonds, giving declarer four.  Declarer must have a diamond stop and, crucially, when East comes in with the AC she will have no more diamonds to lead.  On this actual layout she can reach West’s hand with a spade but then West will have to lead diamonds from her hand giving declarer a second diamond stop.  With three clubs, six hearts, one or two diamonds and something in spades, 3NT will make comfortably.  So at trick 2 East should try something else.  The bidding has (probably) shown that declarer has at most four spades, giving West a four-card spade suit.  So East should lead a spade.  This gives E/W at least three spades, two diamonds and a club and defeats 3NT.  The point being, don’t automatically return partner’s suit – at least give it some thought!

 

James

 

Hands from 6th September 2016

There is a certain excitement when you are bidding a grand slam and this can turn into euphoria when it makes  The euphoria might be dampened just a little when you realise that your 13th trick was gifted to you by your opponents.

 

In whist and the early days of bridge when there was no bidding there was no indication of which pair held the greater strength.  Therefore on the opening lead it was good sense to start with your strongest suit and so leading 4th highest from a suit containing an honour became standard.

 

Nowadays we have pretty sophisticated bidding systems and in the vast majority of hands it is the declaring side which has the greater strength.  So if you have a suit something like K742 then it is most likely that it is your opponents who are sitting with the A and Q: leading the suit is only going to help them.

 

With that in mind let’s look at Board 25.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  A54

1H

P

2D

P

♥  KQJT2

3N

P

5N

P

♦  K32

6N

 

 

 

West

♣ A2

East

 

♠  J8

 

♠  T9762

♥  76543

♥  8

♦  T4

♦  QJ97

♣  QT97

South

♣ 543

Bhcp

24

 7            6

23

♠  KQ3

Hcp

17

 3            3

17

♥  A9

♦  A865

♣ KJ86

 

After North’s opening of 1H South is much too strong to jump to conclusions; she needs to make a waiting bid of 2C or 2D – but which?  Looking at the minor suits South would prefer a club lead to a diamond:  South bids 2D in an effort to prevent a diamond lead.

North gives herself extra value for the excellent heart suit and bids 3NT.

South realises that if North has maximum values for her 3NT bid then 7NT is on the cards; she bids 5T which asks partner to bid 7NT if maximum but 6NT otherwise.

One brave pair bid and made 7NT.

Counting the top tricks there are 3 spades, 5 hearts, 2 diamonds and 2 clubs.  The only real option for the 13th trick is the failing club finesse.  Yet 3 declarers made 13 tricks.

The declarer who found herself in 7NT received a club lead: contract made.  With 7NT being bid it is a very near certainty that declarer and dummy hold the CA, CK and CJ between them.

Maybe the other 2 declarers making 13 tricks received a club lead but there is another possibility.  If while declarer is cashing her 5 heart tricks East were to discard 2 diamonds then when the DA and DK are played the 13th diamond is good.

 

Tip: basically there are only 3 scenarios where leading 4th highest should be considered: partner has bid the suit; your opponents are sacrificing and your opponents have bid all the other 3 suits but have not ended up in a No Trump contract.

 

I’m sure you all know the bridge axiom “ruff in the short hand”.  It is a very good rule but, as with all rules, it is for guidance not for blind observance.  Let’s take Board 11 as an exception to the rule.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 11

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  Q653

 

 

1N

P

♥  J84

P

2H

P

P

♦  T963

P

 

 

 

West

♣ K7

East

 

After North’s pass East should have no hesitation in entering the bidding yet 4 times South was declarer in 1NT.

♠  A982

 

♠  T

♥  A75

♥  KQT93

♦  KQ8

♦  A75

♣  932

South

♣ 8654

Bhcp

10

 17        14

19

♠  KJ74

Hcp

6

 13         9

12

♥  62

♦  J42

♣ AQJT

 

Dummy comes down and declarer counts her tricks: 1 spade, 5 hearts and 3 diamonds to give a total of 9 tricks.  That seems like a good result but this is duplicate and an extra overtrick (10 tricks total) would give a near top.  Is it possible?

Missing 5 cards in a suit they will usually split 3/2 between your opponents.  Maybe you can arrange to draw trumps with the HA, HK and HQ and also ruff 3 spades.  That would give 1 spade trick, 3 spade ruffs, 3 hearts and 3 diamonds for a total of 10 tricks.

You can arrange these 10 tricks whatever to opening lead but we’ll assume a lead from South of the H2, a trump.

You need to keep your small trumps for ruffing so play low from dummy and win with the HQ.

Play ST/SA and ruff a spade.

Play D5/DQ and ruff a spade.

Play D7/DK and ruff a spade.

Play HK and DA.  That is 9 tricks so far and there is still the ace of trumps to come: 10 tricks made.

Here it was necessary to reverse the normal procedure by ruffing in the hand with more trumps – ruffing in the long hand.  This has the name of ‘Dummy Reverse’.

 

Hands from 13th September 2016

Slams are always good to bid, especially if they are making slams.  Maybe making a slam depends on partner holding the trump queen.  Board 23 was a good example of how to find out.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 23

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  8

 

 

1S

P

♥  KQJ987

2H

P

4C

P

♦  KT985

4H

P

4N

P

West

♣ 2

East

5C

P

5D

P

♠  T6

 

♠  QJ952

6D

P

6H

 

♥  T54

♥  6

 

♦  7

♦  AJ6

♣  T976543

South

♣ KQJ8

Bhcp

14

 3          21

22

♠  AK743

Hcp

9

 0          14

17

♥  A32

♦  Q432

♣ A

 

North’s 2H bid promises a minimum of a 5 card suit so South jumps to 4C, a cue bid agreeing hearts, indicating first round control in clubs and slam interest.

Although a 5 loser hand, North is aceless so bids only 4H.

South continues with RKC Blackwood and North replies 5C showing 1 key card (HK).

Normally, South would then either sign off in 5H or bid the slam.

South does neither but makes one more effort by bidding 5D which asks whether the trump queen is held.

Without the HQ North would bid 5H but here North bids 6D to confirm that the HQ is held and in addition that the DK is in her hand.

It is true that East could put the slam 1 off by leading the DA and then another diamond.  That is unlikely for 2 reasons.  First, North has shown that she holds the DK so East should be keeping his DA to capture that king.  Secondly, East has a great looking lead in the CK.

 

Here’s another slam hand.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 10

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  K972

 

3D

X

P

♥  AQ4

4S

P

4N

P

♦  T8

5H

P

6S

 

West

♣ JT86

East

 

 

♠  Q654

 

♠  8

♥  32

♥  9765

♦  93

♦  KQJ7652

♣  97543

South

♣ K

Bhcp

16

 3          13

28

♠  AJT3

Hcp

10

 2            9

19

♥  KJT8

♦  A4

♣ AQ2

 

East has a great hand for a weak 3D opening bid. 

South doubles and West passes (of course).

North is too strong to bid 3S, that would show 0 – 12 Bpts (0 – 8 pts).  North jumps to 4S.

That’s enough for South to investigate with 4NT.  The 5H response shows 2 key cards without the trump queen.  The slam is bid.

East leads the DK taken by the DA.

How should the spades be played?

This is a time to use the concept of vacant places.  East has shown up with 7 diamonds so has only 6 cards in the other 3 suits.

Declarer can easily deduce that West started with only 2 diamonds and therefore 11 cards in the other 3 suits.  Therefore, East has only 6 vacant spaces where the SQ might be hiding while West has eleven.  There is nearly twice as much room in the West hand for the SQ to be hiding.

Therefore, play for West to have the SQ but just take the precaution against East having a singleton SQ.

Play the SA.  Had East had singleton SQ it would have dropped.  It didn’t.

Continue with the S3 and play the S7 if West plays low.  To finesse again the C5 is played and East’s singleton CK pops up.

Another trump finesse follows and trumps are drawn.

Declarer cashes the clubs and hearts for 13 tricks.

Two declarers made 13 tricks, well done them.

 

 

Hands from 30th August 2016

On Board 3 the most common contract was some number of No Trumps by N/S but while some declarers made 10 tricks others made as few as 6.  Perhaps this was this down to declarer play but maybe it was the defence.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 3

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AQT42

 

 

1H

P

♥  85

1S

P

2C

P

♦  KJ63

2N

P

P

P

West

♣ T4

East

South has 2 good suits and is worth an opening bid although slightly under on the points.

There is a rebid of 2C unless North responds 2D in which case the DQ is going to be working.

♠  986

 

♠  K753

♥  QJ9

♥  K32

♦  T752

♦  A94

♣  532

South

♣ AQ7

Bhcp

16

 6            21

17

♠  J

Hcp

10

 3           16

11

♥  AT764

♦  Q8

♣ KJ986

 

There is no point in East getting into the bidding; partner is marked with very little.  Evaluating the hand with B points East is only worth an opening bid of a weak 1NT.

In the play the defence need to give count, probably twice.  When giving count a defender plays a high card to show an even number of cards and a low card to show an odd number.

If spades are tackled by playing the SJ then West must play the S6, low for an odd number.  East can then easily deduce that the SJ is singleton and can duck.  Later, when the DQ is played West must play a high card to show an even number of diamonds.  East in this case deduces that South (if declarer) started with a doubleton diamond.  The DA is held up for one round and the result is that (if spades had been tackled first) there are then no entries to the North hand.

 

There were 2 hands where a slam was makeable by establishing a long suit.  In each case clubs were trumps and spades the long suit.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 6

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KJ2

 

1S

P

2C

♥  K62

2D

3C

4D

5C

♦  KJT98

P

6C

 

 

West

♣ 87

East

 

N/S have done their best by bidding to the level of fit but East is made of sterner stuff.

♠  7

 

♠  AQT863

♥  AJ75

♥  Q3

♦  Q2

♦  5

♣  KQT653

South

♣ AJ94

Bhcp

17

 18         19

6

♠  954

Hcp

11

 12          13

4

♥  T984

♦  A7643

♣ 2

 

North leads the DJ to South’s DA.

South switches to the HT.  What are declarer’s chances?

One possibility is that South has led away from the HK but that is very unlikely.

A better chance is to set up the spades to give 3 heart discards.  To do this declarer will ruff spades and cross back to dummy in clubs, drawing trumps while she does so.  She will note that she must keep the C3 in her hand as she may well need the C4 as an entry.

West wins with the HA and then plays S7/SA.

A spade is ruffed high and dummy entered again with a high trump.

Another spade is ruffed and the suit is established.

Dummy is entered again, drawing the last trump and the spades run for 3 heart discards.

A heart is ruffed and then a diamond ruff completes the play for 12 tricks.

 

Now we turn to Board 13.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 13

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

 

Only two pairs bid a slam.

7NT and 7S can both be made but in each case it requires playing against the odds.

However, 7C makes by playing with the odds.

Let’s see how.

♠  Q6

♥  K6432

♦  T765

West

♣ 93

East

♠  KJT943

 

♠  A7

♥  J8

♥  AQ

♦  J

♦  AK42

♣  T742

South

♣ AKQ65

Bhcp

8

 12         34

6

♠  852

Hcp

5

 6           26

3

♥  T975

♦  Q983

♣ J8

 

It doesn’t matter much what South leads.  Let’s assume a club, which leaves declarer with all the work to do.

Declarer draws trumps in 2 rounds, plays SA, SK and ruffs a spade.  There are now 3 discards for the 2 diamonds and the heart.

The play in 7S and 7NT requires the spades to be played to drop a doubleton SQ and that is against the odds.

 

I would now like to look briefly at Board 24.  It was passed out 7 times and on the other 4 occasions declarer went off.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 24

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J32

 

 

 

P

♥  63

3N

P

4C

P

♦  82

P

P

 

 

West

♣ AKQ975

East

 

Nobody uses the Gambling 3NT because it never comes up (or is it that it never comes up because it is not recognised when it does)?

♠  876

 

♠  KT54

♥  AKQ94

♥  J752

♦  T764

♦  AQJ

♣  3

South

♣ 64

Bhcp

14

 13         17

16

♠  AQ9

Hcp

10

 9           11

10

♥  T8

♦  K953

♣ JT82

 

The Gambling 3NT is used when you have a long running minor suit and no ace or king in any of the other 3 suits.

By a long running minor we mean a minimum of a 6 card suit headed by the ace, king and queen. 

North’s hand fits the criteria.

When your partner opens a Gambling 3NT you need to assess what to do.  You know that your partner has no stop in the other 3 suits so you will have to cover them.

South can tell that North’s suit is clubs because she has the DK.  Diamonds have a control and spades are good.  It is the hearts which are the problem; there is no stop in either hand.

This means that South has to bid.  She usually bids 4C but might bid higher if she has a very strong hand.  If North’s suit happens to be diamonds she converts to diamonds at the same level.

Here South bids 4C and this is passed out.  4C is a makeable contract.

 

Hands from 16th August 2016

A Kx/Qxx combination can be a bit tricky to deal with.  We’ll look at two boards where such a combination occurred.

 

Let’s start with Board 14 where only 2 declarers made the 12 tricks which should have been pretty routine.  I’ll give the auction as it happened at my table though it is not a recommended approach – but it worked so I’m not complaining; we were the only pair to bid the slam.  Unfortunately, we were not one of the two declarers to make 12 tricks!

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 14

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AQJT754

 

P

1C

1D

♥  Q64

2S

3D

4S

P

♦  Q4

4N

P

5H

P

West

♣ 7

East

6S

 

 

 

♠  K82

 

♠  --

 

Not being in a regular partnership I had to decide whether the jump to 2S was strong.

East’s 3D was a routine raise to the level of fit.

♥  A72

♥  JT953

♦  KT852

♦  J976

♣  J5

South

♣ Q942

Bhcp

17

 16          8

19

♠  963

Hcp

11

 11          4

14

♥  K8

♦  A3

♣ AKT863

 

As the spades lie there is no opening lead which can put the contract down.

We received a diamond, quite natural on the bidding.

North counts losers: one diamond, one heart (if there are trumps in dummy) and one spade.

The diamond loser can go on a top club which leaves the contract depending on the spade finesse and not ending up with a small heart loser in North’s hand..

Take the opening lead with the DA, play the CA and CK to discard the DQ.

Now the hearts need to be tackled while there are still trumps in dummy.  Play the H8, West ducks (otherwise both the HK and HQ are established) and the HQ wins.  Continue with a low heart which West must win.  West must now give up the lead; she has no clubs, declarer will ruff a diamond or a heart and will let a spade run to dummy’s 9 (she was going to finesse anyway).

Whatever, South can arrange to ruff a heart and then play the S9 intending to run it if West plays low: 12 tricks made.

 

Now let’s turn to Board 24.  This is quite a tricky hand to bid but three out of seven pairs did get to 6S.  The first problem is West’s opening bid; should it be 2C?  There are only 3 losers and there is a magnificent spade suit.  It is just that the high card point count is slightly below the recommended minimum holding for a 2C opening bid (24 Bhcp or 16 hcp).

Even if partner is void in spades then on the normal 3/2 split there are 8 spade tricks.  West needs so very little from East to make game a reasonable prospect, less than a minimum for a response to an opening bid at the one level.  Give East HQ and CQ and no other high cards and game is reasonable yet an opening bid of 1S would then quite possibly be passed out.

It is this last aspect that makes 2C West’s better opening bid.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 24

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J9

 

 

 

2C

♥  952

P

2N

P

3S

♦  J6542

P

3N

P

6S

West

♣ Q84

East

 

I prefer an off-centre 2NT positive response to a bid of 3C with just a 5 card minor.

However, 3C is not wrong.  I just think it second best.

♠  AKQ86543

 

♠  2

♥  K6

♥  Q74

♦  --

♦  A983

♣  K93

South

♣ AJT62

Bhcp

7

 20        16

17

♠  T7

Hcp

4

 15        11

10

♥  AJT83

♦  KQT7

♣ 75

 

Again we have Kx/Qxx in a side suit but the concerns are completely different.  This time the doubleton is in the same hand as the long trump suit, there is no need to ensure that the hearts are tackled before the trumps.

In the play of the hand my question to you is, given that you have escaped a heart lead, should you finesse in clubs?  Missing 5 cards in a suit (including the queen) the odds certainly favour the finesse.

The answer depends upon what type of bridge you are playing.

First consider what to do if you are playing in a teams match.  Count your tricks: 8 spades, one diamond and two clubs equals 11 tricks.  Playing on hearts ensures another trick and means that your contract is made.  In teams making the contract is paramount, overtricks are of minor importance.  The club finesse does not cross your mind, you make your contract.

In duplicate things are different, overtricks are extremely valuable.   Perceived wisdom is that you should try for an overtrick if the odds are better than 50%; if something works more often than not then you will more often get a good score than a bad score.  Certainly, if it works you will get two discards and hence no heart losers, making 13 tricks.

Are you going to finesse in clubs?

Before you do, look around the room.  Do you think most pairs will have bid to slam?  If you think not then bidding and making 12 tricks will get you a good score; don’t risk a bottom (which is what one off will get you if the finesse fails because most pairs will be in game plus two).

On the other hand, if you feel that most pairs will have bid the slam then there is more to be said for going for broke and taking the finesse – but be sure you have an understanding partner because you are playing for a top or a bottom.

There is still one more thing to consider before deciding to finesse: are you having a good evening or a bad one.  If you are having a good evening it would be unwise to risk a bottom (that could seriously damage your final result).  If you are having a bad evening you might go for the finesse.  If it fails the poor score is lost with all the rest but if it works then you have something to remember.

 

In summary, in teams don’t take risks for the sake of overtricks if in doing so you might not make your contract.  In duplicate there is much more to think about.

 

Hands from 9th August 2016

There were a number of hands where one player might have opened with a weak 1NT but the opposition held the majority of the points.  On two of the hands one of the opponents might have opened light.  Two questions arise: when should you open with fewer than 12 hcp, and how do you defend against a weak 1NT opening bid?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 5

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

N/S

 

N

E

S

W

♠  7

P

1NT

P

2H

♥  AK752

P

2S

P

P

♦  K9754

P

 

 

 

West

♣ J6

East

 

 

 

 

♠  T8652

 

♠  AKQ4

1H

P

2C

P

♥  94

♥  JT6

2D

P

3H

P

♦  86

♦  AT3

4H

P

P

P

♣  K843

South

♣ 972

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

15

5            21

19

♠  J93

Hcp

11

3             14

12

P

1NT

P

2H

♥  Q83

X

2S

3H

P

♦  QJ2

4H

 

 

 

♣ AQT5

 

 

 

 

 

When I watched Board 5 being played N/S were silent throughout and East bid and made 2S.  North missed two chances to enter the auction, both of which might have allowed N/S to reach the making 4H contract.  (Alan adds: North must have had his cards mis-sorted not to have opened on that hand).

 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 7

BIDDING

Dealer

 

South

North

Vulnerability

 

All

 

N

E

S

W

♠  K432

 

 

P

1NT

♥  A9853

?

 

 

 

♦  AQ6

 

 

 

 

West

♣ 3

East

1C

P

1H

P

♠  A85

 

♠  QT97

2C

P

2S

P

♥  KQJ7

♥  64

3H

P

P

P

♦  J9

♦  7542

 

 

 

 

♣  QJ82

South

♣ 654

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

17

21          4

18

♠  J6

Hcp

13

14           2

11

 

 

 

 

♥  T2

 

 

 

 

♦  KT83

 

 

 

 

♣ AKT97

 

 

 

 

 

Board 7 was similar in that if South passes, West will open 1NT (if playing the weak NT).  North might then overcall 2H but the suit quality is poor (and the suit too short).  However many pairs play a conventional defence to 1NT that allows them to make a two-suited overcall, perhaps Landy or Asptro.  In that case North might feel more confident about making an overcall.  But as with Board 5 surely the dealer should manage an opening bid of 1C.  West should enter the auction with a take-out double despite the 2 card diamond suit.  In fact, West’s hand is just a fraction short of an overcall of 1NT: the pluses are the good distribution, the honours supporting each other and all those 9s, 8s and 7s.  The only negative feature is the DJ and even that is supported by a 9.

 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

BIDDING

Dealer

 

West

North

Vulnerability

 

All

 

N

E

S

W

♠  A5

 

 

 

1NT

♥  K64

P

P

?

 

♦  T92

 

 

 

 

West

♣ AT643

East

 

 

 

 

♠  T63

 

♠  984

 

 

 

 

♥  Q92

♥  JT3

 

 

 

 

♦  AKQ85

♦  J74

 

 

 

 

♣  QJ

South

♣ 9872

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

16

21          5

18

♠  KQJ72

Hcp

11

14           2

13

 

 

 

 

♥  A875

 

 

 

 

♦  63

 

 

 

 

♣ K5

 

 

 

 

 

On Board 20 a two-suited overcall would have been useful for South.  But when I watched this hand being played, 1NT was passed out.  This gave N/S a top as West only made three tricks giving N/S +400.  N/S can make 4H or 5S for +420 or +450 but none of the other N/S pairs bid game.  There might be a useful lesson in this.  Often pairs use a method to escape from 1NTX, either XX for SOS or something more complicated.  But if 1NT is not doubled, the chances are that they will play there ...

 

 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 21

BIDDING

Dealer

 

North

North

Vulnerability

 

N/S

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QJ2

1NT

P

P

P

♥  75

 

 

 

 

♦  AK95

 

 

 

 

West

♣ QJ65

East

 

 

 

 

♠  AK85

 

♠  T964

 

 

 

 

♥  K43

♥  AJT986

 

 

 

 

♦  JT4

♦  32

 

 

 

 

♣  K73

South

♣ 4

 

 

 

 

Bhcp

19

20           9

12

♠  73

Hcp

13

14          5

8

 

 

 

 

♥  Q2

 

 

 

 

♦  Q876

 

 

 

 

♣ AT982

 

 

 

 

 

Finally here is a hand where declarer might feel confident on seeing dummy when playing 1NT.  Unfortunately East led the JH.  How should West play when declarer ducks in dummy?  The lead of the J promises the T but West doesn’t know the whereabouts of the A.  So West should play low to keep the K over the Q.  The J wins and East continues with the TH.  Now West wins with the K and ...  Well, after East has taken as many heart tricks as possible, what will she lead?  If West cashes the AS before returning her last heart then the position will be clear to East.  And poor old North, with majority of the points in the N/S hands, will lose the first eight tricks!

 

To conclude, I suggest that you get into the habit of opening light – if using old-fashioned hcp then the rule of 20 works well: count your hcp, add the number of cards in your two longest suits and if the total is 20 or more then open the bidding but only if you have a rebid over whatever your partner might respond..  And, if you play with a regular partner, conside a conventional method of making a two-suited overcall when the opponents open 1NT.

 

Hands from 2nd August 2016

You have a 4441 distribution and are going to open the bidding.  The first rule is that you must open 1C or 1D, not in a major suit.  As your partner is likely to bid your singleton suit your rebid is going to be a new suit.  This suggests that your first bid suit contains at least 5 cards.  If you open 1H or 1S the danger is that you will end up in a major suit game on a 4/3 fit.

Normally with 4441 hands the opening bid is 1D (unless a singleton diamond is held).  Implying a 5 card diamond suit is much the lesser of two evils; if partner is strong the likely final contract is 3NT.

However, as always, you do need to consider your rebid.

Let’s look at Boards 20 and 23 where an opening bid was to be made with hands holding 4441 distributions.

As South on Board 23 you dealt.

♠  KJ74

♥  3

♦  QJ97

♣  KQJ5

You open 1D and rebid 1S if partner responds 1H.  Your strong club suit is concealed from your opponents; they may well lead it as the unbid suit and you wouldn’t mind that at all.

On Board 20 it is South again who will open the bidding (after 3 passes).

♠  AQ95

♥  8

♦  AQT4

♣  KQJ2

Here it is better to open 1C.  That gives you the option of showing your strength by reversing into 2D at your second turn.

The following bidding sequence could be made on a much weaker hand:

1D        1H

1S.

On the other hand you need a slightly stronger hand to make a game forcing rebid of 2S.

So by considering your rebid we find that on one hand it is better to open 1D and on the other to open 1C.

 

You open 1S and partner jumps to 3D.  What sort of hand do you expect her to hold?

Before I elaborate on that let me consider another response.

You open 1S and partner jumps to 4S.  What has partner got?

The 4S bid is weak: trump support, typically 6 – 8 hcp and good distribution (by good distribution I mean a void or singleton side suit).  It is a bid which asks opener to pass whatever she holds.  It is a shutout bid which has pre-emptive qualities.

I would suggest you use the same philosophy for a jump response in a new suit.  In other words, it is made with a hand which would have opened the bidding with a pre-emptive bid.

So, going back to my original question, the bid of 3D in response to an opening bid of 1S should indicate a hand with a minimum of 6 diamonds and 5 – 9 hcp.

Let’s look at Board 6.  East dealt and opened 1S.

   W                       E

♠  --                  ♠  AKJT98

♥  3                  ♥  K985

♦  KT975432     ♦  --

♣ KT92             ♣  QJ8

Despite the lovely spades and void diamonds, East should make a disciplined pass to the 3D response.

The trick availability analysis indicates that only 7 tricks were making in spades and 8 tricks in diamonds.  However, the actual results were quite varied.

 

Now let’s look at the slam bidding on Board 18.  East dealt and passed.

   N

♠  JT6

♥  AQ75

♦  --

♣  AKJ832

   S

♠  AKQ8754

♥  2

♦  J54

♣  Q6

S          N

1S        2C

2S        4C

4S        4N

5S        6S

I wouldn’t argue too much if South rebids 3S but the point count is low.

The important bid to recognise is North’s rebid of 4C.  This is a cue bid agreeing spades and showing slam interest.  If North had had strong clubs but no spade support she would have had to bid a new suit before going back to clubs.

South’s rebid of 4S indicates that neither red suit ace is held; if one had been held then there would have been a cue bid in that suit.

North can now safely bid 4NT since any key cards shown must be in spades.

South’s 5S bid indicates a spade holding which includes the ace, the king and the queen.

I would have hoped that slam would have been reached by more than 4 of the 11 pairs who bid these hands

 

Hands from 26t July 2016

Board 15 had interesting bidding to get to the slam and a simple squeeze to make the 12 tricks needed.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 15

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KQ8

 

 

1C

P

♥  AK43

2D

P

3N

P

♦  JT54

4N

P

5H

P

West

♣ J8

East

6N

 

 

 

♠  54

 

♠  AT932

 

4NT is quantitative.

5H shows mid-range values and 2 aces.

That’s enough for North to bid 6NT.

♥  J972

♥  T8

♦  K863

♦  972

♣  752

South

♣ 964

Bhcp

21

 6           7

26

♠  J76

Hcp

14

 4           4

18

♥  Q65

♦  AQ

♣ AKQT3

 

Two pairs bid the slam but only one made it.  One other pair in 3NT made 12 tricks.

I didn’t play the hand so I don’t know what the opening lead might have been: let’s make it the C7 which gives nothing away and makes declarer do all the work herself.

Declarer counts her top tricks: she has 9 so needs to develop 3 more.  Two will come from spades but what about the third?  The diamond finesse is a possibility but also if West holds the DK and a 4 card heart suit then she can be squeezed.

For the squeeze to work South has to lose one trick so that she can win 11 of the remaining 12 tricks.

She takes the club lead and plays on spades.  East takes his ace and returns a diamond.  This does not look good.  Declarer goes up with the ace and plays for the squeeze.

In total she plays off 3 rounds of spades, the DA and 4 rounds of clubs.

West has had to discard and now holds:

♠  --

♥  J972

♦  K

♣  --

What is West to do when declarer plays her last club?  If she discards the DK then declarer makes 3 hearts and the DQ.  If she discards a heart then declarer leaves 4 hearts in dummy (discarding a diamond) and makes 4 heart tricks.  Either way, 12 tricks made and well played declarer.

 

Those of you who still adhere to the old fashioned and largely discredited opening lead of 4th highest from your longest and strongest will note that the lead of the D3 solves all declarer’s problems at trick 1.

 

Let’s look at Board 8 and see how to punish an opponent who has had the audacity to interrupt our bidding with an interjection of a weak 2 bid.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 8

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  --

 

 

 

P

♥  AKJT

1C

2S

P

P

♦  KJT4

X

P

P

P

West

♣ T7642

East

 

Game in hearts or in no trumps was quite common but my partner had bigger things in mind so he passed.

♠  K5

 

♠  QJT872

♥  Q872

♥  53

♦  752

♦  A63

♣  QJ95

South

♣ 83

Bhcp

20

 12        11

17

♠  A9643

Hcp

12

 8           7

13

♥  964

♦  Q98

♣ AK

 

The question here is how can you get East to play in 2S doubled?

If South doubles it shows hearts and asks North to bid again.

The way forward is for South to pass.  If West also passes North MUST bid, passing is not an option.

What might North bid?

A rebid of 2C is made with a 6 card club suit.

A rebid of either 2D or 2H shows 5 cards minimum in the suit bid.

A rebid in No Trumps indicates a hand too strong to open 1NT and spade control.

Failing these, North doubles, asking South to bid.  The double is the most frequent bid.

When the bidding comes round to South, he passed, converting my take-out double into a penalty double.  Our 500 points for 3 off doubled beat those N/S pairs making game and so got us an outright top: well bid partner.

 

On Board 25 4H was a very common contract but it was doomed to failure, on best defence only 8 tricks were available.  However, there were opportunities for deceptive plays which could well have put the defence onto the wrong road.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

 

North opens 1NT and East should bid 2S.

 

The upshot was that 6 declarers were in 4H and one was in 3H

 

On best defence only 8 tricks were available.

♠  K984

♥  AQJ

♦  J9

West

♣ QJ43

East

♠  T

 

♠  AQ6532

♥  743

♥  T

♦  KQ4

♦  87632

♣  AKT762

South

♣ 9

Bhcp

21

 18        9

12

♠  J7

Hcp

14

 12         6

8

♥  K98652

♦  AT5

♣ 85

 

How might you improve your chances?

First, consider a lead from West of the ST.  You call for the S4 from dummy, East plays the SQ and ...?

Play the SJ.  With the ST gone and the S9 and S8 in dummy, the SJ and S7 have the same value.  You are posing East the question: was the lead from ST singleton or from ST S7 doubleton?  If you play the S7 then East cannot go wrong.  He knows that West would have led SJ from SJ ST doubleton.  Knowing the ST was singleton, East would then return the S2 for West to ruff, keeping his SA over the SK and so preventing a discard for declarer later in the hand.  The S2 would also be a suit preference signal asking West to lead clubs, not a pretty thought for declarer.

Now consider a lead of CA from West.  The trick goes CA, C4, C9 and ...?

Play the C8.  You are trying to make West think that East is indicating dislike from a C9 and C5 holding.  Again, West might switch (particularly if it were the opening lead) not wanting you to ruff and so establish the CQ and CJ in dummy.

 

The opportunities for deceptive plays occur frequently, but  you need to know what you are trying to achieve and, more importantly, you must play your card smoothly: any huffing and puffing will give the game away.

 

Hands from 19th July 2016

On Board 4 West opens 1H followed by two passes.  As South you hold:

♠  QT65

♥  JT

♦  Q542

♣  J87

Do you pass it out?

Well, four of the seven Souths passed and allowed West to play in 1H making 8 tricks.

South is in what is called the protective position.

There are many hands which would qualify for an opening bid but which are unsuitable for an overcall or a take-out double.  Very often such hands would open 1NT but lack the 5 card suit necessary for an overcall and can’t make a take-out double because they do not have the requisite holding in the majors.

Therefore, after an opening of a suit at the one level followed by two passes, the player in forth position must try to find a bid even with very few points.

There is in fact little danger.  If West is strong then she will bid again.  If she is not particularly strong then it is North who has points.

Although absolutely minimum for taking action South should double.  She does have a reasonable 4 card spade suit.  The two N/S pairs who bid to 2S made 75% on the board despite going 1 off.  In fact, with careful play, N/S can make 8 tricks.

 

On Board 9, as East, you pick up this hand.

♠  KQ982

♥  A6

♦  T95

♣  KQ5

North dealt and passes.  You open 1S and South passes.  Now partner jumps to 4D.

In the system you play the 4D bid agrees spades, shows game values and indicates a void or singleton in diamonds.

Does your evaluation of your hand go up, go down or stay pretty much the same?

Your assessment of your combined playing strength should shoot up.  Why is this?

You are essentially playing in a three suited pack; all partner’s points are in clubs, hearts and spades and are therefore working i tandem with your high card holding.  They are going to combine beautifully with your high cards.

You use whatever form of Blackwood and find out that partner holds two aces.  They must be black aces because you don’t splinter with a singleton ace.  6S is bid with confidence.

Every declarer made 12 tricks but only one was in the slam.

This hand illustrates the effectiveness of splinter bids in indicating how well (or badly) the two hands fit.  Had West held KJx in diamonds rather than the equivalent points elsewhere she would have downgraded her hand.  As she would be able to lead once towards her diamond honours she might well result in winning no diamond tricks at all.

 

It seems to be all about bidding tips this week as we turn to Board 12.

As North you pick up this hand and prepare to open 3S.

♠  KQJ7632

♥  53

♦  2

♣  J85

The only problem is that it was West who dealt and she opened a weak 2H.

There is a general bidding principle which is that if your opponents make a weak bid then all your bids should show strength.  The converse is also true; if your opponents make a strong bid all your bids should be weak and distributional.

North’s hand is weak.  I made a disciplined pass.

East passed and partner made a take-out double: 4S bid and made.

Hands from 12th July 2016

Sometimes as declarer you need certain outstanding cards to be with a particular defender.  When this is so, play the cards as if you know that is where those cards are hiding.

Let’s see this principle at work o Board 14

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 14

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QJ64

 

P

2C

P

♥  62

2D

P

2N

P

♦  A52

3C

P

3S

P

West

♣ 9873

East

4D

P

4N

P

♠  T87

 

♠  52

5C

P

5D

P

♥  Q9873

♥  KJT5

6S

 

 

 

♦  J87

♦  9643

 

♣  62

South

♣ QJ4

Bhcp

10

 6          12

32

♠  AK93

Hcp

7

 3          7

23

♥  A4

♦  KQT

♣ AKT5

 

South opens 2C although with the Bpt evaluation it is worth only a 2NT opening bid.

South’s rebid of 2NT is in effect an opening of a super-strong 2NT and Stayman and transfers should be used.  The spade fit is found and North cue bids the DA rather than lazily bidding 4S.  This is enough to propel South to RKCBlackwood, using this as a means of finding out whether North holds the SQ.

5C shows the expected one key card and 5D asks whether the SQ is held.  6S says ‘yes’ but with no extra values.

In duplicate South might well convert to the higher scoring 6NT.  Whether it is 6S or 6NT the declarer play problem is the same.

Let’s assume a heart lead but it is much the same whatever suit is led.  There is a heart loser and a pretty unpromising club suit.

Since there is no chance of a heart discard declarer asks herself what distribution in the clubs will allow her to make her contract.

There are two possibilities:  either hand holds QJ doubleton or East holds QJ and a small card or two.  Playing East to hold both the CQ and the CJ will work for half the times there is a QJ doubleton as well as when East holds QJx(x).  Declarer decides to play East for holding both the CQ and the CJ.

Nothing else to do but to go for it: don’t put off the vital moment, that will gain you nothing.  Having drawn trumps (if in 6S) lead the C7 from North and run it if East plays low.  If East plays an honour, overtake and return to the North hand (either in diamonds or spades), play the C8 and run it if East plays low this time.  Phew!  Twelve tricks made.

 

Now let’s look at Board 20 where again declarer is hoping for cards to be well placed but here, in order to make full use of the position, declarer has to be very careful with entries.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T98

 

 

 

2N

♥  73

P

3C

P

3S

♦  8742

P

4S

 

 

West

♣ JT52

East

 

It is unlikely that a slam will be reached but in duplicate overtricks are important.  You need to make as many as possible so what about playing for 12 tricks?

♠  AQJ3

 

♠  K642

♥  KJ52

♥  T96

♦  AQT

♦  J653

♣  A6

South

♣ K8

Bhcp

4

 30        11

15

♠  75

Hcp

1

 21         7

11

♥  AQ84

♦  K9

♣ Q9743

 

Let’s say West gets the CJ as an opening lead.  What’s the thinking?

It is best to lead towards your high cards.  That means entries to dummy (East) are wanted.

Ideally, West would like to lead twice towards hearts and twice towards diamonds (if the finesses succeed).

The obvious entries to dummy are the CK and the SK.  Where else may we look?

Let’s see the play progress.

West takes the first trick in hand, preserving the CK as an entry.

West plays off the SA and SQ, both defenders following.  Now you can generate an extra entry to dummy.  West continues with the SJ and overtakes with the SK.  Now the S6 is an additional entry to dummy.

When you have two suits you need to attack it is normally better to attack first the one in which you are missing the ace.  West calls for the H9, South plays the HQ and the HK wins the trick thus placing the HA with South.

Now it is time to attack the diamonds so back to dummy with the CK and a low diamond led.  The DQ holds.  It would be unwise to go back to dummy using the last trumps as the clubs would then be wide open so the DA is cashed: the DK falls.

The DT is taken.  Then the H2 played to the HT and South’s HA but that is the only trick for the defence.  West can still get to dummy using the S3/S6 to make the DJ to give 4 spade tricks, 2 hearts, 4 diamonds and 2 clubs.

 

Hands from 5th July 2016

Five of the ten declarers on Board 20 were in a slam.  Not a bad ratio but I would have hoped for more.  Not surprisingly, no one bid the grand slam.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QT4

 

 

 

1D

♥  T9

P

1H

P

2H

♦  T965

P

3C

P

3H

West

♣ T973

East

P

3S

P

4D

♠  K9

 

♠  A76

P

4N

P

5C

♥  Q832

♥  AK75

P

5D

P

5S

♦  AK874

♦  3

P

?

 

 

♣  42

South

♣ AKJ86

 

Does East bid 6H or does she bid 7H?

Bhcp

7

 16            25

12

♠  J8532

Hcp

2

 12         19

7

♥  J64

♦  QJ2

♣ Q5

 

West has a rotten hand for opening.  It is only the quality of the diamond suit that makes it worthwhile.  Unless East responds 1H West’s rebid is 2D and the suit is good enough for that.

East is very strong and therefore should take things slowly, particularly if she does not know which denomination she is going to end up in.  If East responds 2C it is going to be difficult to find the heart fit.  Let’s say the auction starts:

1D        2C

2D        2H

The 2H bid need not be a 4 card suit.  From West’s point of view East may merely be showing values in the heart suit and be looking for a No Trump contract.  To avoid that confusion I will always prefer to respond a 4 card major in preference to a 5 card minor.

With some relief, West rebids 2H to show minimum opening values and heart support.

From East’s point of view West’s 2H bid could well be a 3 card suit.  With minimum values opener should support responder’s major with 3 card support in preference to rebidding a minor.  The 3C bid is game forcing and is showing club values in case there is only a 4/3 heart fit.

As 3C is game forcing West can calmly confirm 4 card heart support by bidding 3H.

The 3S and 4D bids are cue bids showing first round control in the suits bid.

4NT is RKC Blackwood and 5C indicates one key card.

East’s 5D bid asks whether West holds the queen of trumps and the 5S response says ‘yes and also the SK’.

What is East going to bid now?

She knows partner is 5/4 in the red suits so has only 4 black cards; she has the top 4 black cards so there are no losers there (if West is 3/1 in the black suits there will always be a discard).  There are no diamond losers and there is a 4/4 trump fit containing the A, K and Q.

West has opened so there are other values in her hand somewhere.

Should East bid 7H?

If E/W are having a bad evening then certainly bid 7H; if it makes there is something great to remember.  If E/W are having an average evening, it is probably right to bid 7H.

If E/W are having a good evening then it is not worth risking a bottom and 6H is safe and will get them an average thus preserving their good position.

In the play the only thing of note is the club suit.  Missing 6 cards the split will nearly always be either 3/3 or 4/2.  Don’t risk a finesse, once trumps are drawn play CA, CK and ruff a club.  Now you make 4 clubs plus a club ruff, 2 diamonds, 4 hearts and 2 spades = 13 tricks.

 

Now, after all that, let’s turn to Board 8.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 8

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QT43

 

 

 

2D

♥  KJ3

P

P

2S

P

♦  5

?

 

 

 

West

♣ QJT98

East

 

What should North bid?

♠  87

 

♠  J2

♥  A76

♥  98542

♦  AJT976

♦  Q8

♣  64

South

♣ A732

Bhcp

16

 13            10

21

♠  AK965

Hcp

9

 9           7

15

♥  QT

♦  K432

♣ K5

     

 

When your opponents have made a weak bid then all your bids should be strong.  Conversely, if your opponents have bid to show strength then all your bids should be weak (and distributional).

The 2D opening bid is weak.  Therefore, South’s 2S bid is strong: it shows opening values and a 5 card spade suit.  That makes it easy for North.  With a 7 loser hand, a nine card trump fit, an excellent club side suit and a singleton in their suit North should jump straight to 4S.

 

Hands from 28th June 2016

On Board 1 most Easts declared in clubs.  On seeing the E/W hands my first reaction was to wonder why no declarer had made 12 tricks.  Here are the E/W hands:

   W                       E

♠  --                  ♠  Q954

♥  J642             ♥  AK8

♦  AT832          ♦  Q

♣ KQT2           ♣ AJ984

The opening lead is very likely to be a red card.  On seeing dummy declarer counts her tricks as 4 spade ruffs, DA and 4 diamond ruffs, one club plus the HA and HK; that equals 12 tricks.

When embarking on a cross ruff it is usual to cash your side suit winners first.  The reason is that once you have finished your cross ruffing defenders will have more trumps than you.  They will have discarded and will ruff your masters in the side suits. Hence the normal approach is to win the opening lead and cash the top two hearts before going for the cross-ruff.  Disaster.  The hearts split 5/1 and not only is a master heart ruffed but also a club return now leaves you short of trumps for the cross ruff.

Does that mean it was wrong to try for 12 tricks?

It depends on what type of bridge you are playing at the time.  If you are playing in a teams match it is vital to make your contract; overtricks are unimportant.  You only need one heart trick so only take one.  You are then sure of your contract.

In duplicate it is different.  Overtricks are extremely important.  You should make a play which carries some risk in the hope of making an overtrick so long as the chances of success are 50% or better.

A split of 5/1 is unlikely (only 14% actually) so with chances of an overtrick being about 85% it is certainly worth going for.  The occasional unlucky result will be well more than compensated for by the times you make a good score.

 

I’d like to continue my theme of taking a chance in order to make a precious overtrick by taking a look at Board 5.

   N

♠  AQJT854

♥  A4

♦  A4

♣ AT

   S

♠  --

♥  J63

♦  T9832

♣  KJ987

North is declarer in 4S.  There are 6 spade tricks (probably), the HA and DA plus two club tricks.  In teams you go for the near certain 10 tricks, no messing.

But in duplicate, on the opening lead of the HK, what do you try?

There is the possibility of a club finesse to set up a discard of the D4.

You take the HK with the HA, cash the CA and play the CT.  East plays small and you cover with the CJ.  As it happens, the CJ holds and you continue with the CK to discard the D4.

The club finesse is a 50% chance, right on the limit of what risk should be taken.  Here, fortune favoured the brave.

 

Now, finally, on Board 17 we look at not taking a chance.

   W                       E

♠  QJT9762      ♠  A54

♥  KQT             ♥  95

♦  62                 ♦  A743

♣  K                  ♣ AQT3

West is declarer in 4S and receives an opening lead of the DJ (taken by the DA).

Counting losers, there are 1 spade, 1 heart and 1 diamond.

If declarer crosses to the CK and finesses in spades then, if it loses, the defence will take their tricks.

Don’t risk it.  Play the CA and then the CQ to discard the losing diamond.

Now it is best to test the hearts by leading the H5.  South held the HA and would probably duck.  The successful spade finesse would then be taken for a total of 12 tricks.

 

 

Hands from 21 June 2016

The Hands

 

Board 5

Dealer

 

Board 5

BIDDING

North

North

 

Vulnerability

 

N/S vul

N

E

S

W

S -

P

1NT

Dbl

P

H 876432

P

P

 

 

D 854

 

 

 

 

C T643

 

 

 

 

West

 

 

East

N

E

S

W

S 9632

S T75

P

1NT

Dbl

2D

H 95

H KJT

P

P

Dbl

P

D KQ932

D A76

2H

P

P

P

C J5

C KQ98

 

 

 

 

 

South

 

 

 

 

 

 

S AKQJ84

 

 

 

 

 

 

H AQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

D JT

 

 

 

 

 

 

C A72

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Board 5 North and West, with 6 hcp between them had the most important decisions to make in the bidding.  Playing a 12-14 NT East’s opening bid is automatic.  South is very strong and should double.  Supposing that West passes, what should North do?  One answer is: trust partner.  In the event, South can take the first eight tricks.  But if West correctly makes a weakness take-out into 2D, what should South do?  If South doubles again then North will bid 2H.  South might otherwise bid 2S.  2H and 2S both make but 1NT* would give N-S the best result.  Note that South cannot make either 4S or 3NT.

 

Board 12

 

Dealer

 

Board 12

BIDDING

West

North

 

Vulnerability

 

N/S vul

N

E

S

W

S AJ86

-

-

-

2D

H AKT6

Dbl

P

?

 

D K

 

 

 

 

C AQJ4

 

 

 

 

West

 

 

East

 

 

 

 

S 2

S KQ753

-

-

-

P

H J75

H Q982

1C

1S

P

P

D QT8643

D A

?

 

 

 

C T95

C K72

 

 

 

 

 

South

 

 

 

 

 

 

S T94

 

 

 

 

 

 

H 43

 

 

 

 

 

 

D J9752

 

 

 

 

 

 

C 863

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Board 12 there were some difficult decisions to make in the bidding.  The first question is, should West open with a weak 2?  On the one hand the vulnerability is favourable.  On the other hand the hand is very weak with only 3 hcp.  Also, partner has not yet had a chance to bid.  I would pass, but many Wests did open 2D.  In that case North will double.  At some tables East then bid 2S.  With a five card suit this is a mistake.  You know that partner is weak and you know you have a seven card fit in diamonds.  So pass.  (When East did bid 2S this was passed round to North who would then get the best result by passing.  It would be tempting to double, but partner could not bid over 2S so must be weak, and if you double you are forcing partner to bid.)  After 2D-Double-Pass South is expected to bid.  In this sequence I play 2NT as showing 0-7 hcp.  On this hand this would leave North with an awkward bid.  Otherwise South could pass, hoping that she will get one or two tricks in trumps to go with whatever tricks partner might make, or bid 2S.  But no action is attractive! 

 

Board 15

 

Dealer

 

Board 15

BIDDING

South

North

 

Vulnerability

 

N/S vul

N

E