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18th May 2017 09:42 BST
 
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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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

S

W

S Q86

-

-

1D

2C

H AKQ942

Dbl

3C

3D

P

D AT3

4NT

P

5S

P

C J

6D

P

P

P

West

 

 

East

 

 

 

 

S T9

S KJ5432

 

 

 

 

H 653

H T7

 

 

 

 

D KJ8

D 2

 

 

 

 

C KQ863

C T542

 

 

 

 

 

South

 

 

 

 

 

 

S A7

 

 

 

 

 

 

H J8

 

 

 

 

 

 

D Q97654

 

 

 

 

 

 

C A97

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Board 15 the computer says that North can make 12 tricks in hearts (or diamonds) but none of the declarers did so although three played in 6H.  Why not?  At one table East led her singleton diamond which was covered by the Q, K and A.  It should then have been easy for declarer to draw trumps and to lead the TD.  West can duck this but declarer can lead her last diamond and still has the two black aces as entries to the established diamonds.  Any other opening lead makes it harder for declarer because she doesn’t know the diamond layout but if she chooses to play the diamonds from dummy and to cover any card that West plays then again 6H can be made.

 

 

Board 19

What should you lead against a NT contract if this is your hand?  S QJ54  H 3  D J63  C AK982?  Does it make any difference if declarer opened 1C?  Andrew Robson says that if you hold an AK then you don’t have a lead problem.  So lead the AC.  This was the whole deal:

 

Dealer

 

Board 19

BIDDING

South

North

 

Vulnerability

 

E/W vul

N

E

S

W

S T62

-

-

1C

P

H AQ7542

1H

P

1NT

P

D QT82

?

 

 

 

C -

 

 

 

 

West

 

 

East

 

 

 

 

S QJ54

S 973

 

 

 

 

H 3

H K986

 

 

 

 

D J63

D 754

 

 

 

 

C AK982

C QJT

 

 

 

 

 

South

 

 

 

 

 

 

S AK8

 

 

 

 

 

 

H JT

 

 

 

 

 

 

D AK9

 

 

 

 

 

 

C 76543

 

 

 

 

 

 

At most tables North or South played in hearts making 10 or 11 tricks.  Twice however South played in NT and both times made 10 tricks.  But E-W could take five tricks in clubs and also the KH.  If declarer opens 1C and ends in a NT contract then I would expect to make at least three tricks holding AK982 in clubs.  But which club to lead?  If you lead the A and follow with the K then you might establish a long club trick but never get in to make it.  The AC is certainly the textbook lead.  If you lead the AC what card should East play?  She can see that the suit will be blocked unless you play a low club to the second trick.  If you play reverse attitude signals (“high hate, low like”) then the 10 would look like a discouraging card.  With the KH sitting under dummy’s AQ this isn’t really a problem.  If West switches suit then just wait to win the KH and then return a club.  But the Q is the correct card to play, which shows that you hold the J.  Then partner can lead the 2C to the second trick.  On this hand this would give you the first five tricks.  It is easy for South to make game in NT on any lead other than a club.

 

Cheers

James

Hands from 7th June 2016

At my table the bidding started on Board 8 as follows:

W         N          E          S

1D        2C        2D        ?

As South, what do you bid when this is your hand?

♠  AKQ83

♥  QJT85

♦  --

♣  T42

You expect to be in a game contract at the very least, but which?  It could be in spades, hearts or clubs.  There is no point guessing, you need to find a forcing bid – but what?

You might double but do be certain that your partner won’t think it to be for penalties.  Also, if North rebids clubs you are not much further forward.

A bid of 2S or 2H is likely to be passed.  If you jump bid in either major might that be taken as a cue bid agreeing clubs?  If so, you’d better jump to 3S.

When you don’t know what to bid then usually it is right to bid your opponents’ suit.

Here I would happily bid 3D.  Partner has no choice but to take me for a strong hand.

The bid of the opponents’ suit in response to an overcall is known as the Unassuming Cue Bid (UCB).  In response to an UCB overcaller rebids her suit at the lowest level if she has less than opening strength but must find an alternative bid if she would have opened.

On this board North held a 6 card suit and opening values so would rebid 5C.  The slam should then have been bid: not one pair bid a slam.

 

Now let’s look at a particular use of the forth suit forcing convention.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 11

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  7

 

 

P

1D

♥  QJ532

P

1H

P

1S

♦  JT3

P

2C

P

3C

West

♣ T983

East

P

4S

P

6S

♠  AJ86

 

♠  KQ95

 

East’s rebid of 2C is 4th suit forcing.

West is much too strong for a bid of 2NT so it is either 3C or 3NT.

♥  --

♥  AK984

♦  AK952

♦  Q64

♣  AJ74

South

♣ K

Bhcp

9

 23         23

5

♠  T432

Hcp

4

 17         17

2

♥  T76

♦  87

♣ Q652

 

When East bids 4S the question for West is why East did not bid 4S straightaway rather than going through 4th suit forcing.  After all, West’s further bidding has said nothing more about her spade suit.  The reason is that East is using 4th suit to show extra strength; that is better than minimum opening values.  That is enough for West to bid the slam.

Of the 7 declarers 3 were in slam.  The only thing to be careful of in the play is to unblock the CK and take the HA and HK while there are still communications between the hands.

 

Sometimes there is no alternative: to make your contract certain cards just have to be in a particular place.  Let’s look at Board 19.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 19

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

 

I expect the bidding varied quite a lot but in the end six of the seven declarers on this board played in spades, four of them in 4S.

♠  KJ632

♥  K

♦  A4

West

♣ AK963

East

♠  A4

 

♠  98

♥  AJ

♥  QT98763

♦  KQJ96

♦  T87

♣  QT82

South

♣ 7

Bhcp

24

 25         5

6

♠  QT75

Hcp

18

 17         2

3

♥  542

♦  532

♣ J54

 

N/S have 1 loser in spades, 1 in hearts and 1 in diamonds.  Particularly for those declarers in 4S the focus must be on the clubs.  The outstanding high cards in the suit need to be with West so play as if you know that that is where they are.

You will need to lead clubs from the South hand three times so when drawing trumps make sure you play the high cards from the North hand.

When tackling the clubs first play the CJ and let it run if West ducks but holding the CT West most likely will cover with the CQ.  Note that East plays the C7 which means that North’s C6 now has significance.  The next play in clubs is to play the C4 and if West plays low to let it run (particularly if West has shown clubs in the bidding).  Now you have no club loser.

Hands from 31st May 2016

With the following hand would you make a pre-emptive bid of 3S when your right hand opponent has opened 1D and the vulnerability is game all?

♠  T875432

♥  A98

♦  7

♣  87

Let’s look at Board 10.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 10

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  --

 

P

1D

P

♥  KQ72

1H

P

2C

P

♦  J9842

3S

P

4D

P

West

♣ AKJT

East

4H

P

4S

P

♠  T985432

 

♠  AQJ6

6C

 

 

 

♥  A98

♥  JT543

 

Here is how the bidding might go if West remains quiet.

Both 6C and 6D make with ease for a score of 1370.

♦  7

♦  T3

♣  87

South

♣ 64

Bhcp

21

 6          14

19

♠  K9

Hcp

14

 4           8

14

♥  6

♦  AKQ65

♣ Q9532

 

In the bidding given both 3S and 4D are cue bids showing a first round control in the suit bid.  The cue bids of 4H and 4S show second round controls.

If West is adventuresome then we might get something like:

E          S          W         N

P          1D        3S        X

4S        5C        P          5D

P          P          P

Now N/S are only going to score 620.

Making pre-emptive bids is always risky but their purpose is to deny your opponents the bidding space they need to find their best contract.

Of the eleven declarers, ten were in diamonds of which 4 were in slam and the others only in game.

 

While we are on the theme of pre-empts, given the number of Souths playing in 3NT the bidding on Board 12 must frequently have been something like:

W         N          E          S

P          1D        3S        3N

As West, what would you choose as your opening lead when you hold:

♠  2

♥  KQJ64

♦  J9865

♣  Q8

Do you go ahead and lead your partner’s suit?  You do need a good reason not to do so.

Here, I think you certainly have a good enough reason not to: my lead would be HK.  It looks as though the diamonds won’t run so it is unlikely that declarer will be able to win 9 tricks without turning again to hearts.  The spades can wait.

 

On Board 18 you, as East, pick up this good looking hand.  You dealt: what are you going to open?

♠  A8

♥  A93

♦  AKJ2

♣  6543

If, like me, you use the Bpt evaluation you will count your points to be 21 Bpts and open a weak 1NT.  The hand is too rich in aces and kings: there are only 4½ tricks in it.

However, my interest is in what should be opened if you are using the old hcp system.  There are 16 pts, this wrongly suggests that you are too strong for an opening of 1NT.  Which 4 card suit are you choosing as your opening bid?

In one sense it doesn’t matter whether you open 1C or 1D, your rebid is going to be in No Trumps.

Many would open 1D because it is so much the stronger suit.  Let’s think about the advantages of opening 1C on that horrible suit!

You are very likely to be declarer.  By bidding clubs the opening lead is likely to be in another suit, one where you hold strength.  That is a very significant advantage.

Another possibility is that the opening lead may be from Qxxx in diamonds.  If so, you’ll get three diamond tricks despite the fact that the finesse was destined to fail.

I would open 1C.

 

Finally, as South on Board 5 you have this hand:

♠  J942.

♥  AKQ8

♦  T76

♣  J9

Partner dealt and, after two passes, would you open?

The hand is just below normal opening strength.

The important point is that partner has passed and therefore, in standard Acol, her response is no longer forcing.

In this situation there are two things to take into account.  Am I prepared to pass anything my partner bids?  Here I am, even a minor suit response since that would promise values.

The second thing is more important: I need to have spades.  If I don’t then it is likely that my opponents will have them and will compete to the high ground of 2S.

This hand satisfies both criteria.  I opened 1H and partner raised to 2H.  Our opponents competed and came to rest in an unsuitable part score to give us a shared top.

 

Hands from 17th May 2016

 I want to look at contrasting overcalls of 1NT.  First, let’s look at Board 12 where the overcall is in the immediate position.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 12

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  98742

 

 

 

P

♥  --

1S

1N

2C

3H

♦  AKJ7

P

4H

 

 

West

♣ AQ84

East

 

♠  KQ53

 

♠  AT6

♥  986543

♥  AKQ7

♦  T82

♦  65

♣  --

South

♣ K632

Bhcp

19

 8         22

11

♠  J

Hcp

14

 5          16

5

♥ J T2

♦  Q943

♣ JT975

 

West should not open a weak 2H.  Although the hand is within the point range the structure is so wrong.  There is a good 4 card spade suit and opening 2H risks missing a spade game if that is the best contract.  Also, all the points are in the second suit.

North has to open and 1S is the only option despite the horrible suit.

East bids 1NT.  She has a balanced hand, spade control and is in the range for an overcall of 1NT [22 – 26 Bhcp or 15 – 17 hcp].

West gets prepared to bid 2D, a transfer to hearts.  Use the same conventions opposite an overcall of 1NT as you would opposite an opening of 1NT but make allowance for the different strength.

However, South bids 2C.  South would double if holding at least 15 Bhcp (10 hcp).  Therefore, the 2C bid shows a hand with a maximum of 14 Bhcp (9 hcp) and a minimum of a 5 card suit.

Now West has a problem.  She has a 7 loser hand and so has game values; she is too strong for a bid of 2H.  I wouldn’t argue against an immediate bid of 4H but 3H, being game forcing, allows for either 4H or 4S game contracts.

In the play West is looking for a dummy reversal.  This means ruffing a number of times in the long hand (West) to make it the short hand.  For this to work you require the short hand (East) to have the high trumps, thus allowing trumps to be drawn.  East has the ideal hand.

The play might go with 3 rounds of diamonds, the third round ruffed by East.  Then we get:

a club ruff and a heart to East (drawing 1 round of trumps);

a club ruff and a heart to East (drawing another round of trumps);

a club ruff and a heart to East (drawing the last trump).

Now we have the forth club ruff to be followed by the last 3 spades to take 11 tricks.

 

Now let’s turn our attention to Board 1.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 1

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

N

E

S

W

♠  A5

1D

P

P

1N

♥  AQ6

P

2C

2D

2S

♦  AJ94

P

P

P

 

West

♣ J632

East

 

South might bid 2D at her first turn.

 

North might double as a rebid.

♠  KJT7

 

♠  Q9862

♥  74

♥  KJ53

♦  KQT2

♦  8

♣  A87

South

♣ T95

Bhcp

22

 20        10

8

♠  43

Hcp

16

 13        6

5

♥  T982

♦  7653

♣ KQ4

 

N/S could well be more aggressive (and should be) but I want to contrast West’s 1NT overcall with that on the previous hand.

West is in what is called the protective position.  Here the 1NT overcall has a weaker range [16 – 21 Bpts or 11 – 14 pts].  Furthermore, it does not promise a control in opener’s suit.

Again, East should use whatever conventions opposite the protective 1NT overcall as opposite an opening of 1NT.  East’s 2C bid is Stayman.

E/W can make 2S comfortably while if N/S compete to 3D they are likely to be one off.

 

Hands from 10th May 2016

This week it is just a few general points and no in-depth analysis.

 

As South on Board 23 you pick up this hand:

♠  A74

♥  J653

♦  QJ96

♣  76

Partner opens 1C.  What do you respond?  Do you bid up your 4 card suits (responding 1D) or do you ignore the minor suit and bid 1H?

The answer depends upon the strength of responder’s hand.

If responder has minimum values then it is very likely that it will be a part score contract.  It is therefore important to take every opportunity to find a fit.  In these circumstances a response of 1D is better.

If responder has reasonable strength (at least 15 Bpts or 10 pts) then there is a reasonable chance of being in game.  The likely games are 4H or 3NT.  Bidding 1D is no help in finding either.  So with extra strength it is better to skip the diamonds and respond 1H.

On Board 23 responder has minimum values and 1D is the better bid.

 

Here are the E/W hands from Board 26.

Given that you escape a diamond lead, would you prefer to be in spades or hearts?

   W                       E

♠  A975             ♠  KQT3

♥  J982             ♥  AKQ754

♦  72                 ♦  QT

♣  A97              ♣  3

In hearts you have 4 spades (usually), 6 hearts, a club and that is it; 11 tricks.  You have 2 inescapable diamond losers.

In spades you draw trumps in 3 rounds (usually) and you get 2 diamond discards on the long hearts.  You make 4 spades, 6 hearts, a diamond ruff and a club; 12 tricks.

In a teams match you would want to be in the safer heart contract: the overtrick is of little consequence.  In duplicate you need to take account of what happens more frequently.  The extra trick is so valuable that it is worth the risk of a bad trump break; you should want to play in spades.

 

On Board 10 your opponents have bid confidently to 3NT by West.  As North, what do you lead from this hand?

♠  Q3

♥  93

♦  J972

♣  T7543

Are you going to try to set up your long clubs, or perhaps your diamonds?

Even if you strike gold and set up one of your suits there won’t be an entry.  Your hand is too weak.  Your partner has the bulk of the defensive strength.  It is better to try to set up her suit; she may well have entries to profit from it.  That suggests trying one of your short suits.  There might just be a finesse in spades into your hand so that indicates a heart lead.

Partner had the AQ642 but unfortunately declarer was also strong in hearts so it did not do us much good this time.  Nevertheless, if you are very weak it is usually best to try to find partner’s suit.  Don’t forget, declarer doesn’t know which defender has the strength.

 

Finally, as South on Board 16 you are unfortunate enough to pick up this hand.

♠  975

♥  AQ97

♦  T93

♣  932

It’s not that bad a hand so why unfortunate?

Well, the bidding started with a weak 2H by West, partner doubled and East passed.

What are you going to bid.

Passing and converting the take-out double into a penalty double is unlikely to turn out well.  The pass is an extremely strong bid which is made with a good solid trump holding.  South’s trumps are nowhere near strong enough.

One option is to bid 2S.  After all, partner is indicating spades and you have 3 card support.  The danger is that partner gets excited and bids on thinking that there is a 4/4 fit.

Another alternative is to bid a 3 card minor.  Partner is much less likely to get excited but you are one level higher.

A final option is 2NT.  You are too weak really but at least an opening heart lead will come round to your tenace giving you a double stop.

What is best?

I don’t know, any one of those bids could be best depending on partner’s hand.  I would opt for either 2S or 2NT but without any enthusiasm for either.

 

 

Hands from 3rd May 2016

Your partner opens a weak 1NT and you have this strong hand.

♠  K9

♥  AQT863

♦  K65

♣  85

You are playing transfers; what do you bid?

You have a choice of who should be declarer:  you can transfer so that opener is declarer or you can play the hand yourself by you bidding game directly.

It is normal for opener to become declarer.  The reason is that very often a hand suitable for an opening on 1NT contains one or two of what I call delicate holdings.  These, typically, are Kx or Kxx.  Now, if that suit is chosen for the opening lead, declarer’s king will either take the trick or act as a stop.

There are two types of hand where it is better for responder to bid game directly.

One is where responder is quite weak in high card points but has good distribution.  Game is bid directly to make it difficult for your opponents to get into the action or to double you.

The other is like the hand you have here.  Both the spades and diamonds are delicate holdings.

Here is Board 17.

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 17

BIDDING (1)

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T62

1N

P

2D

P

♥  K4

2H

P

4H

 

♦  AQT42

 

West

♣ A73

East

BIDDNG (2)

♠  A74

 

♠  QJ853

N

E

S

W

♥  J5

♥  972

1N

P

4H

 

♦  J93

♦  87

With bidding sequence 1 the natural lead is the SQ to give declarer 2 immediate losers.  With sequence 2 there are 12 tricks available.

♣  KT964

South

♣ QJ2

Bhcp

19

 14        10

17

♠  K9

Hcp

13

 9          6

12

♥  AQT863

♦  K65

♣ 85

 

 

All other things being equal, would you prefer to be in a 5/3 or a 4/4 trump fit?

There are advantages and disadvantages in each.

The 5/3 fit is more robust, it can deal more easily with a bad trump break.  However, there is no chance of extra tricks or of establishing a long suit to allow discards.

The 4/4 fit is less robust.  One time in three there is a bad trump break and then it requires more care and skilful declarer play to cope with it.  However, when trumps do break 3/2, as they usually do, there is normally a trick to be had from each of the 4th cards in the hands.  There is thus the potential for an extra trick.  Also, the 5 card side suit can usually be established to allow losers to be discarded.

In duplicate, where the extra trick is so valuable, it is better to go for the 4/4 fit.

In teams, it depends on how marginal your game values are.  If you feel you have plenty of strength, go for the safer option, the 5/3 fit.  If you feel your game will be on a wing and a prayer, go for the 4/4 fit where there is the prospect of the extra trick.

Having said all that, let’s look at Board 26.

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 26

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  Q92

 

P

1S

P

♥  KT96

2C

P

2H

P

♦  KT3

?

 

 

 

West

♣ A43

East

 

Well, is North going to choose 4H or 4S.

 

Some chose one, some the other while those who went for 3NT went well down.

♠  64

 

♠  AT7

♥  Q872

♥  4

♦  875

♦  QJ92

♣  KJ75

South

♣ Q9862

Bhcp

18

 9         14

19

♠  KJ853

Hcp

12

 6          9

13

♥  AJ53

♦  A64

♣ T

 

Here you can see a typical problem when you choose the 4/4 fit and get a bad break.  Nevertheless, of the 3 declarers in 4H one made 10 tricks, one 11 tricks and the third 12 tricks.  Those in spades made 10 or 11 tricks.  So even with the bad break there was nothing in it.

As a final tail piece, if the contract is 4S by South, as soon as she sees dummy what should be declarer’s general plan?

The plan is to draw only 2 rounds of trumps, eliminate the clubs by ruffing,play the top 2 diamonds and get off lead on the third round.  The hope is that whichever defender is on lead started with only 2 trumps so must either lead a heart or give a ruff and discard.  Good thinking but, unfortunately, it is East who will be on lead and has the third trump as an exit card..

 

Now here is something for the E/W pairs.

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 23

 

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

 

I wouldn’t want to be playing in 6H by East, the chances are poor, but how would you play the hand for 12 tricks given a club lead?

♠  J73

♥  64

♦  653

West

♣ KQ742

East

♠  AT852

 

♠  K6

♥  A3

♥  QJT875

♦  Q74

♦  AKT

♣  AJ6

South

♣ 98

Bhcp

9

 21        20

10

♠  Q94

Hcp

6

 15        13

6

♥  K92

♦  J982

♣ T53

 

First, take the CA.  Cross to hand in diamonds and run the HQ.  Then it is a small heart to the ace.

The HK is still out and you have a club loser.

Your chances are dependent on setting up the spade suit.  You need the spades to be 3/3 or for the hand which has 4 spades to also have the HK.

You play the SK, the SA and ruff a spade.  Everyone follows. Phew!

Cross to dummy with the DQ and play a spade, discarding your losing C9.  South can only ruff with the HK and that is the only trick for the defence.

Note: South should NEVER cover the HQ.  She can see ace doubleton in dummy.  Play low twice and the HK must win a trick.

 

 

Hands from 26th April 2016

Many players are reluctant to pass when holding less than 9 Bpts (6 pts) and a fit for partner.  Let me comment on Board 11.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 11

BIDDING (hcp)

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T7642

 

 

1S

P

♥  J75

P

?

 

 

♦  Q52

 

West

♣ T4

East

BIDDING (Bhcp)

♠  Q

 

♠  AJ3

 

 

1N

P

♥  AKT

♥  Q9862

2H

P

2S

P

♦  8743

♦  T96

P

P

 

 

♣  KQ985

South

♣ J7

 

Bhcp

7

 20        13

20

♠  K985

Hcp

3

 14         8

15

♥  43

♦  AKJ

♣ A632

 

The first point of interest (if you’ll pardon the pun) is the evaluation of South’s hand.

Using the traditional (and now discredited) A = 4 hcp system South’s hand is deemed too strong for an opening bid of a weak 1NT.  An opening bid of 1S is indicated (I prefer to get a 4 card major into the auction as soon as possible).

Would you bid 2S with that North hand? 

Don’t even think of it.  The chances of making 10 tricks are virtually non-existent.  Pass.  If East bids then when you support spades later partner will be in no doubt about how weak you are and won’t bid too high if the auction becomes competitive.

With the Bhcp system the South hand has 20 Bpts.  The range for an opening of a weak 1NT in this system is 18 – 21 Bpts.  Now North is in control by passing the transfer response of 2S.

 

Let me now turn to Board 1 where South had the opportunity to use an aspect of the transfer system which only comes up from time to time.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 1

BIDDING (1)

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KJ3

1N

P

2H

P

♥  8754

2S

P

3H

P

♦  AQ7

4H

 

 

 

West

♣ K83

East

 

♠  Q2

 

♠  A74

BIDDING (2)

♥  QT3

♥  J

1N

2C

X

P

♦  KJ986

♦  T42

2H

P

3H

P

♣  975

South

♣ AJT642

P

 

 

 

Bhcp

18

 13        16

13

♠  T9865

Hcp

13

 8          10

9

 

♥  AK962

♦  53

♣ Q

 

First, is South’s hand weak or has it got invitational values?

It has only 7 losers so that suggests invitational values.  A maximum 1NT opening usually has 7 losers so if opener is maximum there should be a play for 10 tricks.

Let’s look a little further.  The heart suit is good while the spades, headed by the T98, will work well if opener has some high card support.  The negative feature is the singleton Q.  All in all, I would treat it as invitational values.

I want to concentrate on the first bidding sequence.  After an opening of a weak 1NT how can you show a hand with invitational values which is 5/5 in the Majors?

There is a way of showing this type of hand.  First bid 2H for a transfer to spades and follow this with a bid of 3H.  This sequence is not needed for anything else and so can be used here.  The only drawback is that you have to learn it.

Opener, knowing of the double fit (9 hearts and 8 spades) should bid the makeable game.

But what if East is so inconsiderate as to bid 2C?  Now South’s double is showing both majors but not necessarily 5/5.  Now opener doesn’t know of the 9 card fit and is likely to pass the 3H invitation.

 

Finally, how about an end play opportunity from Board 19?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 19

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T543

 

 

P

P

♥  T

P

1H

P

3H

♦  862

P

4H

 

 

West

♣ KJT64

East

 

♠  AJ2

 

♠  Q76

♥  98743

♥  KQJ65

♦  J97

♦  AK4

♣  A2

South

♣ 95

Bhcp

9

 14        21

16

♠  K98

Hcp

4

 10       15

11

♥  A2

♦  QT53

♣ Q873

 

Let’s assume South leads the C3.  The CA takes the first trick and a heart is played.

South may be short of exit cards so takes the trick with the HA and returns a heart.

Now declarer plays a club taken by North. 

North plays a diamond.

At this stage E/W have lost 2 tricks, a heart and a club.  There seems to be still a diamond and a spade to lose even if the finesse works.

Declarer goes up with the DA, plays the DK and exits in diamonds.

South has to take the trick and is on lead.  E/W have no clubs or diamonds so if South leads either of these suits there is a ruff and discard which allows the contract to make if the spade finesse works.

The only other option for South is to lead a spade.  Since the finesse has to work if the contract is to be made, declarer lets it run to the SQ.  Now a successful spade finesse brings home the contract.

 

Hands from 19th April 2016

Deception is an important part of play.  To deceive, the ‘wrong’ card has to be played smoothly so that it seems as if it is the natural card to play.  On Board 7, as North, I was in a contract of 3S.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 7

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

 

We were playing 5 card majors so South opened 1C and North ended up in 3S.

 

The opening lead by East was the DA.

 

What happened next?

♠  Q9852

♥  KJ

♦  982

West

♣ T54

East

♠  J63

 

♠  T

♥  T98754

♥  Q32

♦  65

♦  AKJT4

♣  A6

South

♣ KQ97

Bhcp

10

 8          23

19

♠  AK74

Hcp

6

 5          15

14

♥  A6

♦  Q73

♣ J832

 

At Trick 1 it went DA, D3 from dummy and D5 from West (low for like).  Smoothly I played the D8.

East continued with the DK to the 7 and 6 (confirming that the D5 was low).  Again, smoothly I played the D9.

After some thought, East switched to the H2 fearing I would get a discard on the DQ.

Of course, East should have noted his partner’s cards but players don’t always notice what their partners play.

I won the heart, drew trumps and discarded a club on the DQ; contract made instead of being 2 off.

Was I lucky?  Yes, I was.  Did I deserve my luck?  Well, you tell me.

 

Does an overcall of 1NT indicate a strong hand, something in the region of 22 – 26 Bpts (15 – 17 pts)?  The answer is yes..... and no.

Let’s look at Board 9.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 9

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

There are a number of interesting questions about the bidding.

 

Should North open 2C or 1S?

 

If North opens 1S should South bid?

 

If the bidding goes:

1S  P  P

should West bid?

♠  AQT975

♥  K8632

♦  Q

West

♣ A

East

♠  KJ2

 

♠  84

♥  QJ7

♥  A54

♦  KT5

♦  A8432

♣  QT73

South

♣ 982

Bhcp

21

 20        10

9

♠  63

Hcp

15

 12         8

5

♥  T9

♦  J976

♣ KJ654

 

North has a 4 loser hand and a good long major (in fact, 2 long majors).  That satisfies one of the conditions for an opening bid of 2C, but that is not sufficient.  North also needs a good measure of high cards.  The absolute minimum high card holding should be no less than 24 Bhcp (16 hcp).  Further, at the lower reaches you need your high cards to be in your long suits.

North’s hand fails on this second criterion and so I opened 1S.

Should South pass an opening bid of 1S?

I would certainly have bid 1NT.  Mainly because I use Bpts: 9 Bpts are the accepted minimum for a responsive bid and South does indeed have 9 Bhcp.  But even if I still used the archaic hcp system I would have given myself a distributional point for the good 5 card club suit.

As it was the bidding started 1S – P – P.  Should West bid, and if so – what?

This brings me to the ‘No’ part of the answer to my earlier question about the strength of an overcall of 1NT.

West is in the ‘protective’ position.  All her bids will be weaker than they would be had it been South who had opened 1S.  This includes an overcall of 1NT.

After an opening bid of a suit at the 1 level followed by 2 passes (as we had here) an overcall of 1NT is made on 16 – 21 Bpts (11 – 14 points).  Further, it can be made without a stop in the suit opened.

On this board, West had a text book hand for a call of 1NT.  However, 1S was passed out; I made +3.

 

Only 3 pairs bid slam on Board 18.  Why oh why so few?

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 18

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QJ

 

1H

P

1S

♥  QT

P

4S

P

4N

♦  JT54

P

5H

P

6S

West

♣ 98542

East

 

♠  AT764

 

♠  K952

If South makes a vulnerable weak jump overcall of 3D then West bids 3S to show 15 Bpts (10 Pts) and a 5 card spade suit.

Slam should now be easier to bid.

♥  94

♥  AKJ532

♦  AQ6

♦  --

♣  A73

South

♣ QJT

Bhcp

12

 19        21

8

♠  83

Hcp

6

 14       14

6

♥  876

♦  K98732

♣ K6

 

With a 5 loser hand East opens 1H.  West replies 1S.

With a fit and a void, East should use the Losing Trick Count.  She has 5 losers.  A minimum responsive hand usually has 9 losers.  That indicates 10 tricks so East bids 4S.

Now it is West’s turn to do some evaluating.  She has 3 aces, a queen and a 7 loser hand: she is way above minimum strength: a good 2 tricks above.  If partner assesses that 10 tricks are there when West holds minimum values then, surely, 12 tricks must be there with the hand actually held by West.

Everybody made at least 12 tricks.

 

As a tail piece, let’s look at Board 27 which was passed out every time.  East’s hand was:

♠  JT53

♥  A986

♦  62

♣  AJ5

After 3 passes every East chose to pass on this hand.  Let’s take a closer look at it.

All points are in the 3 longer suits, none are wasted.

Both major suits are decent.  If partner happens to have clubs then there is excellent support.  In short, there are 3 suits which could combine well with a holding in partner’s hand.

There are decent intermediates: the SJ supported by the ST; H9, 8 and 6 beneath the HA.

For the number of points held this hand could hardly be stronger.

Partner has already passed so any response by her can be passed.

4th in hand, I would always bid on this hand.  I would open 1H and pass whatever my partner responded.

The only real danger is that partner has heats with 10 or 11 points and jumps to 3H.

It turns out that West did indeed hold 11 points and 4 hearts and would have jumped to 3H.  However, the computer analysis is that 9 tricks could be made.

 

Tip: when partner has passed be prepared to bid on suitable marginal hands and pass partner’s response.  You’ll be surprised how often a good score results.

 

Hands from 12th April 2016

I have waited all my bridge life for a hand which warrants a particular bid and, for me, it has never come up.  This week I got the next best thing, in my 400th email commentary up popped Board 24.

Let me start by asking, if your partner opened the bidding with a bid of 4NT what would you think it meant?

An opening bid of 4NT asks partner to bid any suit in which she holds the ace.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 24

BIDDING 1

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T764

 

 

 

4N

♥  KT863

P

5S

P

6C

♦  Q8

 

West

♣ J6

East

BIDDING 2

♠  K

 

♠  A985

 

 

 

2C

♥  4

♥  J

P

2D

P

4C

♦  AK2

♦  T76543

P

4H

P

6C

♣ AKQT9875

South

♣ 32

 

Bhcp

11

 26         8

15

♠  QJ32

Hcp

6

 19         5

10

BIDDING 3

♥  AQ9752

 

 

 

2C

♦  J9

P

2D

P

4C

♣ 4

P

4S

P

6C

 

All West needs is one ace in her partner’s hand to make 6C a good shot.

The conventional 4NT opening gets the response of 5S, showing the SA.  Slam is bid.

Otherwise, West starts with 2C and receives a response of 2D.

Bidding version 2 uses Redwood, 4C asking about key cards held.  4H = 1 key card.  Slam is bid.

Bidding version 3 starts as in version 2 but Redwood has not been adopted so 4C is game forcing and sets clubs as trumps.  East co-operates by cue bidding the SA and again slam is bid.

With all three bidding versions leading in a straightforward way to slam being bid it is disappointing to note that only 3 pairs bid it.

 

After that esoteric hand let’s turn to something which crops up more frequently.  It is game all on Board 7 and as East you pick up this hand:

♠  AT86

♥  --

♦  AT72

♣  AKJ65

South dealt, passes and partner opens 3H.  What do you do?

Do you pass or do you bid game?  If you bid game, which game do you bid?

The answer certainly depends upon your understanding of how aggressively your partner’s pre-empts are when she is vulnerable.

If partner is an aggressive pre-empter then I would pass.  Partner would be likely to lose 3 heart tricks making game too long a shot.

If you are tempted to bid game will you bid 3NT or 4H?

Bid 4H.

The logic is that partner’s hand will only provide a significant number of tricks if hearts are trumps.  The heart trumps will provide entries to allow you to lead towards the high honours in the strong hand.

In 3NT there may well be no entry to partner’s hand and you may well need at least 2 entries first to establish the hearts and then to get to them.  If there are that many entries then the heart suit is likely to be weak, there are after all a maximum of 9 hcp in a pre-emptive hand.  The opportunities to lead towards the honours in the strong hand will be limited resulting in declarer playing away from strength time and time again. 

Conclusion:  3NT will fail far more often than 4H.

So much for logic.  If you look at the traveller you will note that those in 4H failed, 9 tricks being the maximum, while the 2 pairs in 3NT made their contracts.

You see, bridge is like life; no justice.

Hands from 5th April 2016

 

 

 

 

Board 6

BIDDING

 

Dealer

 

East

North

 

Vulnerability

 

E/W vul

N

E

S

W

ª KQJT985

 

P

P

1D

© A96

3S

P

4S

P

¨ -

P

P

 

 

§ T84

 

 

 

 

West

 

 

East

 

 

 

 

ª A4

ª 73

 

 

 

 

© J72

© T843

 

 

 

 

¨ AJT75

¨ Q64

 

 

 

 

§ A95

§ QJ73

 

 

 

 

 

South

 

 

 

 

 

 

ª 62

 

 

 

 

 

 

© KQ5

 

 

 

 

 

 

¨ K9832

 

 

 

 

 

 

§ K62

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Board 6 the bidding at my table was as shown.   The point of interest is the play of the club suit.  If East leads a club then declarer must come to a club trick.  My partner led top of nothing -  a heart.  As so often, top of nothing proved to be a good lead.  Obviously West doesn’t want to lead away from with minor suit ace.  If declarer takes three rounds of hearts and then leads trumps then West can play the ace on the first round and exit with the second spade.  West should be able to ensure that declarer has to lead clubs from hand.  If declarer leads low then East needs to follow the advice “second hand low”.  Otherwise declarer will make a club trick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board 19

BIDDING

 

Dealer

 

South

North

 

Vulnerability

 

E/W vul

N

E

S

W

ª AKJ9752

 

 

1H

P

© A5

2S

P

3H

P

¨ KQ

4NT

P

?

P

 

6H/S

 

 

 

§ 54

 

 

 

 

West

 

 

East

 

 

 

 

ª T4

ª Q86

 

 

 

 

© Q43

© J9

 

 

 

 

¨ 432

¨ JT765

 

 

 

 

§ KJ763

§ QT2

 

 

 

 

 

South

 

 

 

 

 

 

ª 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

© KT8762

 

 

 

 

 

 

¨ A98

 

 

 

 

 

 

§ A98

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Board 19 North-South could make 12 tricks in spades or hearts but only three pairs bid a slam.  South opens 1H.  With partner opening the bidding, North has a powerful hand.  A jump shift is a rare bid, showing a very strong suit and suggesting a slam.  South can make the natural rebid of 3H.  If South cannot show another suit or bid no trumps, this rebid strongly suggests and six-card suit.  North can use Blackwood to find that partner has two aces and the bid a slam.  It is not clear that 12 tricks will be certain, but there must be good chances.  For example, if she chooses to bid 6S then she can envisage being able to ruff dummy’s hearts good.

 

Hands from 22nd March 2016

I am starting with Board 23, a slam hand where no pair bid one.  Had West been dealer then I would have expected about half the field to get to slam.  However, South dealt.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 23

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T94

 

 

2D

X

♥  T532

3D

X

P

3NT

♦  732

P

?

 

 

West

♣ 976

East

Two questions arise.

Was West’s 3NT an underbid?  She is worth an opening of 2NT and 3NT would be bid on only 27 Bhcp (18 hcp).

Will East bid 4S?

♠  AKQ

 

♠  J8763

♥  KJ4

♥  A986

♦  AQ8

♦  J

♣  QJ83

South

♣ K54

Bhcp

2

 31      13

14

♠  52

Hcp

0

 22         9

9

♥  Q7

♦  KT9654

♣ AT2

 

Now, had West been dealer the bidding might have gone as follows.

 

BIDDING

W

N

E

S

2N

P

3C

P

3D

P

3S

P

4D

P

4H

P

5S

P

6S

 

  East’s 3S indicates a 5 card suit and by implication (since Stayan was used) a 4 card heart suit.

  West’s 4D cannot be a suggestion that diamonds be trumps, it is a cue bid agreeing spades on the basis of a 5/3 fit.

  4H shows the HA.

  5S says please bid 6S if you can hold the unbid suit (clubs has not been bid naturally).

  6S is optimistically bid in the hope that the CA is with North.  In the event, it doesn’t matter where it is as West has the CQ and the CJ.

 

  Comparing the two scenarios you can see just how effective the opening bid by South of 2D has been in denying E/W the room to investigate.

 

  I quite often hear players quoting the “Rule of 20” [or possibly the “Rule of 19”] as an aid to deciding whether to open or pass.

The Rule of 20 states that if the sum of your hcp and the number of cards in your two longest suits equals 20 or more then an opening bid may be made.  In the Rule of 19 the sum must equal only 19 but your declarer play should be that little bit stronger.

However, you also need to consider what your rebid would be whatever partner chooses to respond to your opening bid.  If you have a 5/4 distribution and the 4 card suit is ranked immediately below the 5 card suit then you will have a rebid.  Is that enough?

Let’s look at a hand from each of Boards 6, 7 and 8.

 

Board 6            Board 7            Board 8

East                 South               North

♠  43                 ♠  6                  ♠  87643

♥  AQT95         ♥  AT6              ♥  J852

♦  KJ653           ♦  AK532          ♦  K

♣ 5                   ♣ T764              ♣ AQ8

 

Here we are, three hands which might be opened but they represent the good, the bad and the ugly.

Let’s take them in reverse order.

Board 8: West dealt and passed.  The hand just fails the rule of 19 but the two suits concerned are the majors, that is a plus.  However, even if this hand had satisfied the Rule of 19 it still represents the ugly.  The two long suits are poor (to put it mildly) and the high cards are in the short suits.  This hand needs to be passed.

Board 7:South dealt.   It satisfies the Rule of 20, there is a rebid of 2C but should it be passed?  The draw backs are that both suits are minors, the club suit is poor and an ace is in a short suit.  It wouldn’t be the worst bid in the world if 1D were opened but it should really be passed; with only a singleton spade there is too much risk that it is your opponents who have the spades and they will outbid you at 2S in a competitive auction.  This hand represents the bad.

Board 6: East dealt.  Only 10 hcp but it is a 5/5 distribution with all the points in the long suits.  Open 1H with confidence being prepared to bid and rebid diamonds if the opportunity arises.

This hand represents the (very) good light opening bid.

 

Hands from 15th March 2016

It seems to me that the bidding on Board 9 should routinely reach a contract of 4H.  The board was played 10 times yet only 3 declarers were in hearts.

W                       E    

♠  K83              ♠  AQJ2            .

♥  KQJ94          ♥  A85 

♦  52                 ♦  Q3   

♣  932              ♣  KJ84

North dealt; E/W were vulnerable.  East opens 1S.  South would overcall 2D.  What should West respond?  

West has 13 Bhcp (9 hcp).

Don’t be hide-bound by high card points.  Always add distributional points for long suits before bidding (but DON’T add points for shortages until a trump fit has been identified).

West should respond 2H not 2S.  East has extra values and should jump straight to 4H.

The options for 10 tricks are spades dividing 3/3 (they didn’t) or playing the clubs for just one loser.  As South has overcalled play him for the CA.  Lead the C2 and insert the CJ (this worked).

 

Board 20 could have come straight out of a text book.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KT53

 

 

 

1C

♥  AT984

P

1D

P

2D

♦  T2

P

3D

P

P

West

♣ 83

East

 

All declarers but one were in some number of diamonds.

♠  QJ4

 

♠  98

♥  7

♥  652

♦  K764

♦  AQJ85

♣  AK652

South

♣ QT4

Bhcp

12

 18        14

 16

♠  A762

Hcp

7

 13         9

11

♥  KQJ3

♦  93

♣ J97

 

South makes the obvious lead of the HK.  What should North play to the first trick?

South is not going to continue with hearts, they’ll be ruffed.

North has something in spades with her KT surrounding West’s QJ.  From her point of view a switch to spades looks best.  This is the time to tell partner with a suit preference signal.

Ignoring hearts and trumps there are 2 suits remaining; spades and clubs.  If North would prefer a spade she plays a high heart on the first trick; high for the higher ranking suit.

North plays the HT and N/S score 2 spade tricks.

Without the switch to spades declarer draws trumps in 2 rounds and so has 2 heart ruffs to take.  She makes 5 diamonds, 5 clubs and 2 heart ruffs for 12 tricks and a poor score for N/S.

Hands from 8th March 2016

Sitting North on Board 18 you pick up this hand.  East dealt and the bidding starts:

♠  K9652           E          S          W         N

♥  AQ642          1C        X          2C        ?

♦  J74              

♣  --                

Partner has shown opening values and both majors.                  

Partner may be 4/3; 4/4 or 5/4 in the majors.

You want to find the better fit.  How can you do that?

Bid 3C asking partner to bid her longer major.  Whichever she bids you, with a 6 loser hand, will raise to game.  In fact, South held 4 spades and 3 hearts so the nine card fit is found.

If South happens to bid 3NT North should bid 4H, indicating she was looking for the better major.

If E/W should compete to 5C then North, with only 6 losers, should bid 5S.

 

Now let’s look at Board 4 and how to play the hand for 12 tricks.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AT7

 

 

 

1C

♥  KQ54

1H

2C

4S

 

♦  AK8

 

This was the bidding at my table.

Eleven of the twelve declarers were in spades.  Only six made 12 tricks.

West

♣ JT6

East

♠  5

 

♠  4

♥  AT97

♥  J83

♦  Q74

♦  JT96

♣  AQ943

South

♣ K8752

Bhcp

25

 17         9

9

♠  KQJ98632

Hcp

17

 12         5

6

♥  62

♦  532

♣ --

 

Whatever the opening lead South can make 12 tricks as long as the HA is with West.

Win the opening lead, draw trumps and lead the H2 towards the heart honours.

West does best to duck and the HQ will win.  If she does so then come back to hand with a club ruff and lead the H6.  West takes her ace.  South wins the return and crosses to the North hand, either in diamonds or in trumps, and discards a diamond on the HK.

It is all on the basic principle that you should lead towards your honours.  If you lead a heart from the North hand you will not get the diamond discard.

 

It is Board 15 and North is in the spotlight again.  E/W have bid strongly either to game or to slam along the following lines:

            W         E

            1S        2H

            3S        4S

North is on lead with the following hand.

♠  72

♥  T975

♦  754

♣  KJ54

What should she lead?

West has shown a good 6 card spade suit so it is likely that E/W have a 9 card fit.  A spade lead would show declarer where any outstanding honour lay.  That’s not good.

What about a heart?  Partner might be able to get a ruff.

No chance.  Declarer would support hearts with 3 of them so partner rates to have at least 2 hearts.  Anyway, East has a 5 card suit so a heart lead only helps declarer set it up.  A heart lead is no good either.

What about a club?  You’ve got a nice suit.  Maybe partner has something there.

Your opponents are strong; they are most likely to hold both the CA and the CQ.  The lead of the C4 is very likely to give away a trick.  A club lead is the worst of the lot.

By a process of elimination, you choose to lead a diamond, the D7.  If partner does have a diamond honour then declarer would have finessed it anyway.

The D7 is the lead which is most likely to give you the best result.

 

Hands from 1st March 2016

I’m not sure that many Norths opened on Board 1 but surely it would have led to some interesting bidding.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 1

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  K654

1D

1H

X

2D

♥  --

2S

3D

P

4H

♦  AJ963

P

P

?

 

West

♣ Q984

East

 

Makeable contracts

 

♣ 

♦ 

♥ 

♠ 

N

N

-

2

-

3

-

S

-

2

-

2

-

E

-

-

2

-

-

W

1

-

2

-

1

 

 

♠  AQ3

 

♠  T7

♥  QT98

♥  AJ532

♦  K5

♦  T42

♣  T763

South

♣ AK5

Bhcp

14

 17        18

11

♠  J982

Hcp

10

 11        12

7

♥  K764

♦  Q87

♣ J2

 

Although a light opening, North has great distribution; all her high cards are in her long suits and she has a rebid over whatever partner might respond.

East’s 1H overcall is routine.  South’s double shows exactly 4 spades, with 5 spades South would respond 1S.

West is too strong to raise to the level of fit; she makes an Unassuming Cue Bid of 2D to show strength.

North’s 2S is routine, a minimum hand with spades.

East must now show her strength.  With less than opening values she rebids hearts at the lowest level available.  With 6 hearts she jumps to 4H, with a 4 card side suit she bids it, with a stop in diamonds she bids NT.  She can do none of these so has to show her strength by cue bidding opener’s suit; 3D.

West bids 4H.  South knows that the trumps are breaking badly and doubles.

Virtually every E/W pair ended up in some number of hearts but none were doubled.

 

Board 12 threw up a common defensive situation after an opening of 1NT. 

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 12

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AK

 

 

 

1N

♥  Q5432

P

P

X

P

♦  J9

2H

P

P

P

West

♣ KT62

East

Makeable contracts

 

 

♣ 

♦ 

♥ 

♠ 

N

N

2

1

4

-

2

S

2

1

4

-

2

E

-

-

-

1

-

W

-

-

-

1

-

 

 

♠  J762

 

♠  Q853

♥  AT

♥  J7

♦  KQ2

♦  AT53

♣  Q875

South

♣ 943

Bhcp

19

 18        11

12

♠  T94

Hcp

13

 12         7

8

♥  K986

♦  8764

♣ AJ

 

Don’t even think of overcalling with that North hand, it has 11 Bhcp (8 hcp) badly placed in short suits.  East has not bid and may be strong.  If East passes be confident that your partner will bid.

Once the bidding starts 1N – P – P everyone at the table should assume that the points are evenly divided.  4th seat must bid; either a 5+ card suit or a double asking partner to bid.

Only one South was in 2H.

 

Board 3 indicated how to deal with an intervention of a take-out double.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 3

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J732

 

 

P

1H

♥  Q6

X

3H

3S

4H

♦  A43

P

P

?

 

West

♣ KQ53

East

Makeable contracts

 

 

♣ 

♦ 

♥ 

♠ 

N

N

-

-

-

1

-

S

-

-

-

1

-

E

1

3

3

-

2

W

1

4

3

-

2

 

 

♠  KQ4

 

♠  6

♥  AKT8

♥  9743

♦  QJ85

♦  K972

♣  AJ

South

♣ 7642

Bhcp

17

 29         4

10

♠  AT985

Hcp

12

 20          3

5

♥  J52

♦  T6

♣ T98

 

If you wish to open 2NT on that West hand so be it.  I won’t.  If my partner can respond to an opening bid at the 1 level (showing 6 points) then we should end up in the same contract as with a 2NT opening bid.  If my partner can’t rustle up a response then I don’t want to be playing at the 2 level with virtually no entries to dummy.

In the auction given North makes a take-out double.  If your side have a fit (and here you do in hearts) then your opponents have a fit.  The take-out double is the first step to find their fit.  It is up to you to do what you can to stop them.  When you have a fit the preventative action is bidding at one level higher than you would have done without the intervention.  So the question is, would you bid 2H or pass if there had been no intervention?

East has a singleton and so should use the Losing Trick Count.  She has a LTC of 9, a value commensurate with a 2H response.  If you use points, you add on distribution points for the singleton and again get values for 2H.  East therefore now responds one level higher: 3H.

On 5 occasions E/W played in hearts making 10 tricks 4 times.

Should South sacrifice in 4S?

Of course, just look at the vulnerability.  N/S would need to go 4 off doubled to get a bad score.  With opening points opposite and a 9 card spade fit, 4 off is very unlikely.

Hands from 23rd February 2016

On Board 4 all 8 declarers were East.  12 tricks were there for the taking but only one East managed to make that many.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

♠  874

♥  J543

♦  JT7

West

♣ QT5

East

♠  K3

 

♠  AQT

♥  87

♥  AQT

♦  Q9853

♦  AK2

♣  K764

South

♣ A983

Bhcp

9

 11       32

8

♠  J9652

Hcp

4

 8         23

5

♥  K962

♦  64

♣ J2

Of the 8 times the board was played, 7 times East declared in 3NT and in 5D the other time.  Either way, 12 tricks should have been made.

Let’s assume a neutral lead of S9, it gives nothing away.

East wins (SK) and tests the diamonds by cashing the DA and DK.  Both defenders follow both times; there are 5 diamond tricks bringing the total top tricks to 11.

Declarer does not cash the rest of the diamond, not yet.  She should think about developing yet another trick.

There are 2 chances of a twelfth trick.

If the clubs break 3/2 (68% chance) then by playing CA, CK and giving up a club a third club trick is established.

If the heart finesse succeeds (50% chance) then there is a second heart trick.

Declarer must tackle the clubs first, not because the chances are better but because it is necessary to lose the lead in order to establish the 3rd club trick.  If you try the heart finesse first and it loses then you must lose a club as well: only 11 tricks even if the clubs are 3/2.

Having set up the diamonds, declarer now plays the CA and CK.  Here both defenders follow so a 3rd round of clubs is played to set up the 12th trick.

Had the clubs split 4/1 then declarer would cash the SA and SQ followed by the remaining 3 established diamonds.  Then, on the 12th trick, declarer would lead a heart from West towards her HA/HQ.

In diamonds, the play is essentially the same except that all the trumps are drawn immediately.

 

What do you need for an opening of 2C?

The Acol definition is either 34 Bhcp (23 hcp) or a hand which is game going in its own right.  The latter part of this has been refined to:

A good 5 card major suit and at least 24 Bhcp (16 hcp) and a 4 loser hand; or

A very good 5 card or good 6 card minor suit and at least 24 Bhcp (16 hcp) nd a 3 loser hand.

So why did only one pair bid to slam on Board 31?

Here North is looking at her hand and saying to herself that it just meets the Acol 2C requirements and then to her surprise.... South opens 1NT.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 31

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KQJ5

 

 

1N

P

♥  AKT543

3H

P

4C

P

♦  --

4D

P

4N

P

West

♣ KT6

East

5H

P

6H

 

♠  8764

 

♠  A9

 

North has a choice of bidding 2C Stayman or 3H which is a slam try based on a good 6 card suit.

♥  6

♥  972

♦  K962

♦  QJT53

♣  J872

South

♣ 943

Bhcp

26

 6               11

19

♠  T32

Hcp

16

 4                7

13

♥  QJ8

♦  A874

♣ AQ5

 

If North starts with 2C she will have a problem later in describing the strength of her hand.  She knows there is at worst a 6/2 heart fit and the 3H response indicates slam interest and a good 5 card heart suit.  Having bid 1NT, South’s 4C bid cannot be a suggestion that clubs be trumps; it is a cue bid agreeing hearts and showing 3 card support and that the CA is held.  However, since South did not bid 3S the 4C bid also says that South does not hold the SA.

North could jump straight to 6H at this point but a cue bid of 4D is reasonable.  South can then deduce that North is void in diamonds, her DA will provide a discard.

12 tricks were made by all the 7 declarers who were in hearts. It is a pity that only one pair bid the slam.  I suspect that many Norths started with a bid of 2C.

 

Here is a reminder of this aspect of transfer bidding.

If the bidding starts 1NT – 3C/3D/3H/3S then responder has a good 6 card holding in the suit bid and a hand which is strong enough to have slam interest.

 

On Board 22 some N/S pairs found themselves in 2S.  Here are their hands.

   N                   Declarer counts her losers.

♠  QJ864          There are 2 in spades, 2 in diamonds and 2 in clubs.

♥  83                6 losers is one too many.

♦  AJ8              How might declarer get rid of one ?

♣  632              Taking a finesse in hearts is the only option.

   S                   The play is a low heart to the HJ.

♠  T53              The HJ holds the trick.

♥  AKJ7           Now the top 2 hearts are played and 

♦  962             a loser is discarded.

♣  A94

 

Hands from 16th February 2016

Only 2 pairs out of the 12 who bid the N/S cards got to the slam on Board 10.  I’m disappointed, I would have thought it to be routine.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 10

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  AKQ9854

 

P

P

P

♥  AJ

2C

P

2D

P

♦  AK6

2S

P

3S

P

West

♣ K

East

6S

 

 

 

♠  J

 

♠  62

The key is South’s bid of 3S.  It promises a key card.  North knows it must be the CA which will provide a discard for either the HJ or the D6.

♥  K875

♥  QT963

♦  54

♦  QT932

♣  QJT732

South

♣ 9

Bhcp

32

 12        8

8

♠  T73

Hcp

24

 7          4

5

♥  42

♦  J87

♣ A8654

 

North’s bid of 2S introduces a game forcing situation.  If South has spade support she has the option of showing it by bidding either 3S or 4S.  A bid of 4S shows a hand without a key card while 3S promises a key card.  The lower bid gives more room to investigate the possibility of a slam.

 

We now move to Board 13 for a quick comment on defensive card play.

As South, you hold the hearts shown here.

Dummy                         Declarer (East) has indicated 4 hearts in 

♥  A82                           the bidding.  She leads the HQ.

                  S                  Do you cover with the HK?

♥  K975            The important card in your hand

                         is the H9.

                        Having played the HQ declarer at best is going to have left ♥ JTx.

Play the HK and your H9 will cover declarer’s small heart.  You might as well cover.

Let’s change just one card in South’s hand and give you ♥ K765.  Now declarer might have started with ♥ QJT9.  If so, covering will give away a trick because the HA will have to be played on the third round of the suit leaving your HK to take whatever heart declarer has left in her hand.

 

It is always gratifying when a hand comes up which is in complete accord with your approach to defensive bidding.  As East you are dealt this rather unpromising hand:

♠  KJ92             The bidding goes:

♥  9742             E          S          W         N

♦  842               P          1N        P          2D

♣  6                  P          2H        P          P

                        ?

Are you going to pass it out?

I certainly wouldn’t.  N/S have only about half the points so your partner must be sitting there with opening values but a hand unsuitable for an overcall of 1NT.  Further, your partner has at most 2 hearts so there is a good chance of her having a spade holding.

I would double, asking my partner to bid.  The hope is that we can make 8 tricks somewhere, go only one off or push them to an unmakeable 3 level contract.

I admit that if I were playing in a teams match then I would pass if vulnerable.

On this occasion a double would have turned out well as West had 18 Bhcp (13 hcp) and a 5 card spade suit headed by the ace.  E/W could make 9 tricks.

 

Hands from 9th February 2016

On Board 14 only one pair got into the right contract

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board

BIDDING

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KQ54

 

2D

P

2N

♥  JT986

P

3S

P

3N

♦  J6

If you are not playing a weak 2D then the bidding will go:

With Bpts

W         E

1N        3N

With hcp

W         E

1H        2D

2N        3N

West

♣ JT

East

♠  T87

 

♠  A62

♥  AK32

♥  7

♦  A83

♦  KQT975

♣  A72

South

♣ 953

Bhcp

15

 20       13

12

♠  J93

Hcp

8

 15        9

8

♥  Q54

♦  42

♣ KQ864

 

 

Whatever hand evaluation system or bidding conventions you use the final contract should be 3NT.

Let’s look at the responses to the weak 2D opening bid because even the one pair who got to 3NT and got a top bid 3NT by gut instinct rather than by remembering the system (I know, they were at my table).

West’s 2NT bid asks opener to describe her hand further.  Opener’s responses are quite different from the normal responses to openings of 2H and 2S.  The reason is that after an opening of 2D most often the game contract will be 3NT.

If opener has minimum values for her 2D bid then she merely rebids 3D.  If she is at the upper end of the point range for her 2D bid then she bids a suit where she has a potential entry.  Very often, once the diamonds have been set up responder needs an outside entry to get to them.

In this hand, opener is strong and has an entry in spades.  She rebids 3S, West bids 3NT and 10 top tricks roll in.

Here’s a tip for the defence (although it makes no difference here).  Lead the suit in which opener has shown a potential entry.  What you are trying to do is remove the side entry which declarer might need once the diamonds have been set up.

 

On Board 5 you, as East, have been dealt this hand:

♠  K7                N/S are vulnerable, you are not.

♥  63                N/S have bid confidently to 6S, South being declarer.

♦  AKT652        You, with enthusiastic support from your partner, have

♣  876              been bidding diamonds.

                        Are you going to sacrifice by bidding 7D?

N/S have bid confidently and South (who bid spades first) probably has the SA.  It looks as though they are going to make 12 tricks and that would be 1430 to them.

In 7D you will have 6 diamond tricks and partner should supply one trick through a ruff if nothing else.  Give yourself 7 tricks.  That would mean minus 6 (you would, of course, be doubled).

Non-vulnerable, minus 6 doubled is only -1400.  That beats all those N/S pairs who bid to and make 1430.

 

Now let’s look at 2 bids which “never come up”.

 

On Board 20 there was an opportunity for West to remember the Gambling 3NT.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 20

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KQT8

 

 

 

3N

♥  AK72

X

4C

4S

P

♦  986

P

P

 

 

West

♣ 43

East

 

Whether or not North doubles, East should bid 4C.  East only passes if he has stoppers in all 3 of the other suits.

♠  32

 

♠  J

♥  J6

♥  Q9843

♦  T

♦  AK543

♣  AKQJ8652

South

♣ T7

Bhcp

17

 17        15

11

♠  A97654

Hcp

12

 11       10

7

♥  T5

♦  QJ72

♣ 9

 

The Gambling 3NT is used when you have a long running minor and not as much as an ace or a king in any of the other 3 suits.

By ‘long running minor’ we mean a very minimum of a 6 card suit headed by the ace, king and queen.

If N/S do bid 4S then West leads the CA and switches to the DT for 2 diamond tricks and a diamond ruff.

 

The other rare bid is the Michaels Cue Bid.  Here’s Board 25.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 25

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  74

1H

2H

P

2N

♥  AKJT5

X

3D

3N

 

♦  J7

 

The 2H bid is Michaels showing 5 spades and 5 cards in one of the minors.

West

♣ AKQT

East

♠  T

 

♠  KQJ982

♥  8432

♥  97

♦  642

♦  AQ985

♣  J9643

South

♣ --

Bhcp

27

 3         17   

13

♠  A653

Hcp

18

 1         12

9

♥  Q6

♦  KT3

♣ 8752

 

After East’s 2H bid, South is not quite strong enough to come in with a bid of 2NT.  Also, East’s minor suit might be clubs and there is no stop in South’s hand.

West’s 2NT asks East to bid her minor suit; spades looks a disaster.

North’s double is asking South to bid.

East bids her minor suit and now with stops in both suits South bids 3NT.

On any lead South has 10 tricks.

 

Hands from 2nd February 2016

We start with a simple counting exercise from Board 18.

   N                               East opens 1C followed by 2 passes.

♠  AQJ9853                  North at her turn jumps straight to 4S.

♥  A5                            East leads a small diamond.

♦  AT                            What is North’s plan of play?

♣  K8                            Should she take the trick in dummy and finesse the SK?

   S                               Let’s count (I’ll do the old fashioned hcp for you).

♠  2                              Declarer has 18 hcp.

♥  KQ96                        Dummy has 9 hcp to give a combined total of 27 hcp.

♦  K8764                       If West has the SK then East opened on just 10 hcp.

♣  J64                          That is not impossible but very unlikely.

                                    North takes the opening diamond lead in hand, leaving plenty of entries to the South hand.

Declarer plays the SA and then the SQ (taken as expected by East).

East is the safe hand, he cannot profitably attack clubs.

If East does not take his CA then it is possible for declarer to win the return, draw trumps while setting up the diamonds for 2 club discards and so make 12 tricks.

 

I do not understand the results on Board 5.  Three E/W pairs allowed N/S to make a spade game.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 5

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  KT982

P

1H

1S

P

♥  T75

4S

P

P

P

♦  A3

 

North is just short of opening values.

East has a sound rebid of 2H so opens 1H

South has a decent overcall of 1S.

North happily raises to the level of fit.

West

♣ KJ5

East

♠  5

 

♠  63

♥  8

♥  AKQ962

♦  JT9652

♦  8

♣  AT842

South

♣ Q963

Bhcp

17

 9               15

19

♠  AQJ74

Hcp

11

 5               11

13

♥  J43

♦  KQ74

♣ 7

 

West leads her singleton heart.

On the next 2 rounds of hearts West plays C2 (I like clubs, please lead them) and DJ (don’t you dare lead them).

After taking 3 heart tricks East dutifully switches to clubs and West takes the trick with the CA.

West does basic defensive signalling and those 3 N/S pairs in 4S should have been 1 off.

 

Now let’s finish with a high level competitive auction from Board 37.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 41

BIDDING

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

N

E

S

W

♠  QJ98

3C

3H

3S

4H

♥  3

4S

5D

P

?

♦  6

 

Yes, I know; you are advised not to open a pre-empt when you have a 4 card major on the side.

People do.

West

♣ KT98542

East

♠  K7

 

♠  -

♥  J85

♥  AT764

♦  AT843

♦  KQ752

♣  J63

South

♣ AQ7

Bhcp

10

 14          21

15

♠  AT65432

Hcp

6

 9            15

10

♥  KQ92

♦  J9

♣ -

 

The bid to note is East’s 5D bid.  East has decided to go to 5H but rather than just bidding it she has shown a good second suit.  West has been given a choice.  If West has not got diamond support then she will merely bid 5H.

With a double fit West should bid 6D (which makes).

Let;s assume South leads a diamond.  The DA is played from dummy and when North follows the DK from hand: this is to provide as many entries to dummy as possible.

A spade is ruffed and the last trump drawn with the DQ: note that dummy has T84 in diamonds and declarer 752 providing 3 entries to dummy.

One entry is used to ruff another spade.  A second entry is used to take a heart finesse.  There is one trump left in each hand.

South is end played: either a spade is led to give a ruff and discard or a heart is lead round to East’s AT76.

 

Hands from 26th January 2016

We start with a declarer play planning exercise from Board 35.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 35

PLANNING the PLAY

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

E/W vulnerable

 

Whether or not South opens a weak 2H, East should play in 4S and receive an opening lead of the CQ.

 

North takes the CA and returns the C2 to CK.

 

What is your plan of play to maximise your chances of overtricks?

♠  74

♥  K4

♦  QJ974

West

♣ A742

East

♠  AQJT2

 

♠  K9653

♥  Q5

♥  AT9

♦  T62

♦  AK3

♣  983

South

♣ K5

Bhcp

14

 15             23

8

♠  8

Hcp

10

 9               17

4

♥  J87632

♦  85

♣ QJT6

 

The plan is to draw trumps, ruff a club, cash your top two diamonds and then get off lead with your last diamonds.

You now have left just trumps and your original heart holdings: you are void in diamonds and clubs.

Your hope is that your opponent who wins the third round of diamonds also holds the king of hearts.  If that is so then if he leads a heart you will have no heart loser and if he leads a club or a diamond you have a ruff and a discard (of the H5) to leave you with no heart losers.

You can see that in this deal the plan will succeed.  North has to take the diamond trick.  If he leads a low heart you run it to the HQ and if he leads the HK you take it with the HA and the HQ is good.  If North leads either a club or a diamond then you ruff in hand and discard the H5.

Any which way, 11 tricks are made.

Three declarers made 11 tricks so well done them.  Thank you to Victor for indication that this board was of interest.

 

Board 14 threw up an example of how to deal with a take-out double made by an opponent.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 14

Dealer

East

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

♠  AT62

♥  Q2

♦  AT72

West

♣ A65

East

♠  Q

 

♠  9854

♥  AK98763

♥  54

♦  96

♦  KQJ3

♣  Q43

South

♣ KJT

Bhcp

20

 15             16

9

♠  KJ73

Hcp

14

 11             10

5

♥  JT

♦  854

♣ 9872

After two passes West opens 1H and North makes a take-out double.

How should East respond?

With heart support East should bid one level higher than she would without the double.  This is a pre-emptive measure based on the fact that if your side has a fit then so do your opponents.  They have taken the first step to find their fit so the pre-empt is to make it as difficult for them as possible.

A bid of a new suit at the 1 level has normal values.  Here East could bid 1S but North is expected to have spades so it is better to stay quiet about the poor 4 card suit.

If East were to bid a new suit at the 2 level then that should show a minimum of a 5-card suit and a weak hand: 9 – 14 Bhcp (6 – 9 hcp).

This leaves the situation where East is quite strong; a minimum of 15 Bhcp (10 hcp).  In this situation East redoubles.  The redouble is a message to partner to say “we have the majority of the points; leave it to me to decide whether we double them or we play in some contract”.

After the redouble, opener is required to pass unless she has made a light opening bid based on distribution.

As East, I would redouble; South would bid 1S and West would bid 2H to indicate a hand such as she has.  North would compete to 2S, West to 3H but would E/W get to the 4H game?  Three E/W pairs did; well done them.

 

I am going to finish with a look at declarer play on Board 11.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 11

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

♠  A86

♥  5

♦  754

West

♣ AJ9875

East

♠  43

 

♠  JT952

♥  Q9642

♥  T83

♦  AQJT

♦  9862

♣  T4

South

♣ Q

Bhcp

12

 15            7

26

♠  KQ7

Hcp

9

 9              3

19

♥  AKJ7

♦  K3

♣ K632

Five pairs declared in 3NT by South making 12 or 13 tricks.  I’m sure they received a red suit opening lead which gave them an easy 12th trick.

One pair was in 6C by South, also making due to a red suit lead.

I want to look at how declarer can make a 12th trick if there is a neutral black suit lead.

 

Declarer starts with 9 tricks: 6 clubs and 3 spades.

 

South (in hand) holds: ♥  AKJ and ♦  K.

 

West will have come down to one of two holdings: either ♥ Q9 and ♦ AQ or ♥ Q96 and ♦ A.

If South has seen West discard three diamonds then she plays the DK.  West must now lead round from ♥ Q96 to declarer’s ♥ AKJ giving declarer the 12th trick.

If South has not seen the DQ discarded she plays off the HA and HK to drop West’s HQ and make her 12th trick with the HJ.

 

 

 

Hands from 19th January 2016

Let’s start with an example from Board 17 of hold-up play and the concept of safe hand / danger hand.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 17

BIDDING (hcp)

Dealer

North

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  J84

P

P

2C

P

♥  53

2D

P

2N

P

♦  T73

3N

 

 

 

West

♣ KQ873

East

 

 

 

 

♠  75

 

♠  T9632

BIDDING (Bhcp)

♥  KJT97

♥  Q4

P

P

1H

P

♦  KJ96

♦  54

1N

P

3N

 

♣  54

South

♣ JT92

Interesting: 5 times South declared in 3NT and once it was North in 3NT.

Bhcp

10

 13              7

30

♠  AKQ

Hcp

6

 8                3

23

♥  A862

♦  AQ82

♣ A6

 

Going with the majority, South is in 3NT and receives an opening lead of the HJ.

When your opponents lead what is obviously their strong suit declarer should assume that it is from a 5 card suit.

That assumption leads to the presumption that East started with just 2 hearts.  If declarer should duck the first round of hearts and take her ace on the second round then normal reasoning suggests that South could now safely lose the lead to East (the safe hand) but not if she can help it to West (the danger hand).  The diamond finesse is fraught with danger; should it lose then there would be 4 heart and one diamond tricks for the defence, leaving declarer 1 off.

The first trick goes HJ, 3, Q, 2 followed by H4, A, 7 and 5.

Declarer tests the clubs but finds the 4/2 split.  Is it safe to lose the lead to East?  Is East really the safe hand?

Playing another club would establish an extra club trick but there is no way to get to it.  There is no entry to dummy. East would win and lead a diamond: everything would then depend on the position of the diamond king.

Time to try an end play: declarer plays off 3 rounds of spades.  West, the danger hand, has shown up with 5 hearts, 2 spades and 2 clubs.  The South and West holdings are:

 

W

♠  -

♥  KT9

♦  KJ

♣  -          S

            ♠  -

            ♥  86

♦  AQ

♣  -

 Declarer plays a heart.  West takes his 3 heart tricks but then must lead into declarer’s DA/DQ to give declarer her 9th trick.

             

The hold-up play was fine but it turned out that what was initially thought to be the safe hand turned out to be the danger hand.

 

Further, When West finally had to lead a diamond it didn’t matter whether East or West held the DK, declarer had the last two tricks whichever opponent held it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t often select 2 boards from the same group of 4 but here is a quick note on Board 20.

   N

♠  AK85

♥  KT85

♦  J4

♣  KT8

   S

♠  J72

♥  Q9

♦  AKQ7653

♣  3

  Had you been South, as dealer what would you have opened?

It is a text book hand for an opening of 3NT – the gambling 3NT.

It is used with a long running minor and not so much as an ace or king in any of the other 3 suits.

If North has stoppers in the other 3 suits then she passes.

If she has one or more suits with no control she bids clubs at whatever level she wants to play at.  If opener’s suit is diamonds then the final contract is corrected to diamonds.

Here North had controls in all suits so should pass but if she had held only 8754 in hearts she would bid 4C and South correct to 4D.

Unfortunately, West dealt and North opens 1NT.  Now, as South, what do you bid?

3NT.

 

 

 

 

On Board 27 every North declared in a heart game, everyone made 12 tricks for a flat board but why didn’t anyone bid the slam?

   N

♠  4

♥  AKQT54

♦  75

♣  AKQT

   S

♠  AKJ86

♥  982

♦  8

♣  9432

 

South dealt and after 2 passes North opens 2C (3 loser hand)

South makes the positive response of 2S (minimum of 8 hcp and a good 5 card suit).

North bids 3H.

South bids 4H.

After a positive response North must make a slam try but with a small doubleton diamond is rightly nervous about using Blackwood.  She bids 5C, a cue bid showing first round control.

South, being the weaker hand, should really bid first or second round controls.  A bid of 5D would seal the slam.

However, if you feel unsure of bidding the second round control just jump straight to 6H.

 

 

 

 

I would like to finish with 2 quick hints.  The first comes from Board 15.

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 15

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

♠  Q874

♥  K

♦  AT9742

West

♣ A9

East

♠  T532

 

♠  J9

♥  AQT4

♥  J7652

♦  Q

♦  KJ65

♣  Q864

South

♣ J2

Bhcp

18

 16             12

14

♠  AK6

Hcp

13

 10              7

10

♥  983

♦  83

♣ KT753

 

As North, I was playing in diamonds and I received a spade lead.

I took the trick in the South hand and led a small heart.

West had to decide whether to duck or not.

In the event, West ducked and my singleton HK made.

The point I want to make is that the sooner in the hand you try a play of that nature the more likely it is to succeed.

Your opponents have had little opportunity to get much information about your hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally a bidding problem from Board 7.

♠  J975

♥  A952

♦  A5

♣  854

  You, as West, are dealt this hand.

  Your partner opens 1D, you reply 1H and partner rebids 2C.

  It is probable that your partner has 5 diamonds, 4 clubs and modest opening values.

With 6 – 9 points your hand 1s only worth only one bid.  You need to choose whether to play in 2C or 2D.  Which is it going to be?  Which is better, the 5/2 fit or the 4/3 fit?

They both have advantages and disadvantages.

The 5/2 fit is more robust; it has a 5 card trump suit but there is unlikely to be any extra trump tricks through ruffing in the short hand.

Hands from 12 January 2016

We start with a very distributional deal: Board 4.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 4

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Game all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  T5

 

 

 

2C

♥  T84

P

3C

P

3S

♦  AT9876

P

3D

P

3H

West

♣ Q2

East

P

3S

P

4N

♠  AKQ963

 

♠  84

P

5C

P

6S

♥  AKQ32

♥  6

 

♦  -

♦  KQJ43

♣  J8

South

♣ AK963

Bhcp

11

 26             18

5

♠  J72

Hcp

6

 19             13

2

♥  J975

♦  52

♣ T754

 

The problem bid is East’s first response.  I don’t like bidding a 5 card minor in response to an opening of 2C.  Here I would choose to do so because any other bid would present great difficulties for East should West’s rebid be either major (and looking at East’s hand that is very likely).

West shows her spades and East bids 3D, her second suit. 

Now West’s bid of 3H is forth suit forcing.  With 3 card spade support East would not have bid diamonds but would have supported spades.  Therefore, East’s 3S bid indicates doubleton support.  This is enough for West to jump to Blackwood and the slam is bid.

In the play West can make 13 tricks if she plays for the normal breaks of 3/2 in spades and 4/3 in hearts.  She wins the opening lead, plays the HA and ruffs a heart.  She makes 6 spades, 4 hearts plus a heart ruff and 2 clubs.

 

There are a number of reasons for making an overcall.  One of them is to attract a lead.  Let’s see this in action in Board 15.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 15

BIDDING

Dealer

South

 

North

Vulnerability

N/S vulnerable

 

10 tricks look easy.

6 spades (playing AK), 1 heart, 1 diamond and 2 clubs.

But what if the bidding had started:

♠  J72

♥  J93

♦  AJ85

West

♣ QJT

East

♠  43

 

♠  Q5

♥  84

♥  AK765

S

W

N

E

♦  Q42

♦  K9763

1S

P

2D

2H

♣  K97643

South

♣ 8

Now West will lead a heart to give the defence 2 heart tricks and a heart ruff.

Bhcp

17

 7               16

20

♠  AKT986

Hcp

10

 5               12

13

♥  QT2

♦  T

♣ A52

 

The lead of a doubleton is close to suicide.  Without the overcall West should not lead hearts.  With the overcall, job done.

 

Finally, let’s look at Board 24.  Only one pair bid a slam yet I feel that it should have been routine.

 

Crouch End Bridge Club

Board 24

BIDDING

Dealer

West

 

North

Vulnerability

Love all

 

N

E

S

W

♠  JT8

 

 

 

1S

♥  6

P

2H

P

3H

♦  AQ87

P

4N

P

5D

West

♣ T9763

East

P

6H

 

 

♠  AK764

 

♠  Q93

 

♥  K82

♥  AQJ953

♦  942

♦  3

♣  A5

South

♣ KQJ

Bhcp

12

 18             22

8

♠  42

Hcp

7

 14             15

4

♥  T74

♦  KJT65

♣ 842

 

West opens 1S and East responds 2H, promising a minimum of 5 hearts.

West has minimum opening values but knows there is a 5/3 heart fit; she bids 3H.

Having a singleton, East uses the Losing Trick Count.  She has a 5 loser hand.  This suggests 12 tricks.  After 4NT the 5D bid can hardly be zero key cards, almost definitely 3 key cards

Unless N/S take their DA at trick 1 declarer makes 13 tricks.

 

 

 

Calendar
30th May 2017
Duplicate
North Middlesex Cricket Club 7.20 pm
Director: Alan Whitehouse
Scorer: BriAn
Host: Alan Whitehouse
6th June 2017
Members only event
North Middlesex Cricket Club 6.15 pm
Results
23rd May 2017
Duplicate
Director: Alan Whitehouse
Scorer: Alan Whitehouse
16th May 2017
Duplicate
Director: James Palmer
Scorer: James Palmer
9th May 2017
Duplicate
Director: Alan Whitehouse
Scorer: Alan Whitehouse
Calendar
30th May 2017
Duplicate
North Middlesex Cricket Club 7.20 pm
Director: Alan Whitehouse
Scorer: BriAn
Host: Alan Whitehouse
6th June 2017
Members only event
North Middlesex Cricket Club 6.15 pm
Results
23rd May 2017
Duplicate
Director: Alan Whitehouse
Scorer: Alan Whitehouse
16th May 2017
Duplicate
Director: James Palmer
Scorer: James Palmer
9th May 2017
Duplicate
Director: Alan Whitehouse
Scorer: Alan Whitehouse