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2. What is your target bid?
For every hand you play here is what your target should be:-
a) An eight card or better fit in hearts or spades
b) A No Trump contract
c) A minor suit contract
Remember the value of Game in each of the above and the number of tricks required.
a) Major suit contract (H/S) 10 tricks 420 points
b) No Trump contract 9 tricks 400 points
c) Minor suit contract (C/D) 11 tricks 400 points
Although you need to get one more trick for a major suit contract than you do for a no trump contract it is a better option if you have a 4-4 fit.
If you have a fit in a minor suit you should still consider whether a no trump contract is achievable and aim for that instead.
Staymen is not just to find majors
1NT – 2C normally means 11+ points and seeking a fit in a major suit. However Stayman can be used when you are weak and have a six card suit in Clubs. The bidding below is assuming the opposition do not bid or overcall
1NT – 2C Opener, expecting a normal Staymen will respond 2D, 2H, or 2S. You simply reply 3C
If you are using Transfers then 2D is asking partner to respond 2H. What if you have 6 diamonds and think the game should be played in diamonds? You can use Staymen again as follows.
1NT – 2C. Partner will respond either 2D, 2H or 2S. If she bids 2D, then you just Pass. If she bids 2H or 2S then you simply bid 3D.
It would be important to have discussed this with partner before you use it!
The short answer is that it should imply 6 in 90% of cases.
1S – 2H – 2S implies 6 spades. Similarly 1H – 1S – 2H should imply 6 hearts. I struggled with different opinions until I read Tip 35 in an excellent book Improve your Bridge Game by Andrew Robson.
He lists the shapes where the longest suit has five cards. They are 5330, 5521, 5440, 5431 and 5332. If it is one of the first four you should rebid the suit that has four cards (showing 5 in the first suit bid). If you have 5332, this is balanced and should be bid as NT or if more than 14 HCP then 1 of a suit followed by a rebid of NT.
What about the other 10%?
Suppose you have 5 spades and 4 diamonds. If the bidding goes 1S – 2C you may happily respond 2D but if partner comes back 2D then 2S may be better than 3D.
When you have a balanced hand and between 12 and 14 high card points (inclusive).
For the purpose of this tip I am assuming that we are playing weak no trumps.
The first question is what is a balanced hand?
Answer: A hand containing no singleton or void and at most one doubleton. Only three patterns are defined as balanced, 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2 and 5-3-3-2.
The second question is what should I do if I have 5-3-3-2 and the 5 is in a major suit (Hearts/Spades)?
Answer It depends. Most advice is not to treat it as balanced for the purpose of bidding. My favourite Bridge author (Paul Mendelson) suggests that if the quality of the major is really poor then you should open 1 NT (HCP = 12-14).
Below are two examples
a) Spades 98432 b) Spades AKJ74
Hearts KQ3 Hearts 52
Clubs QJ3 Clubs 843
Diamonds AJ Diamonds AJ6
The option for a) is to open 1 spade and rebid 2 spades but given the poor quality an opening of 1 NT would be justified.
In the case of b) an opening of 1 spade is preferable to 1 NT
Based on a suggestion in ‘The right way to play Bridge’ by Paul Mendelson
These may seem obvious but just in case!!
1. Bid for a contract if it seems achievable
If there is a contract available and you don’t go for it other pair(s) may get the contract and will score more points. If you get an extra trick, that is even better.
2. If a contract is not available don’t stretch yourself
If your partner has bid two spades, for example, and you believe four spades is not achievable then do not bid three spades. You get the same score for two spades plus one as for three spades. If you bid three and go down by one you give the score to your opponents.
3. Improve your defence.
If you are defending against oppositions 3 NT contract they require nine tricks. Your target should be to get five tricks. If no other pair succeeds in defeating the contract, you may even get maximum points. If you are defending against a suit contract, your target is four tricks (or more).
Making the correct lead can be the difference between defeating a contract and allowing the opponents to win it.
A good example of the value of defeating opponents is Board 1 on 3rd Feb. Only one E/W pair managed to defeat N/S. This gave them maximum points of 14.