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Last updated : 19th Nov 2016 14:02 GMT
Hand of the day Thur 2nd Feb

Three pairs bid slam on today's hand. West made a light takeout double of my ♣ opener. East competed and I repeated my clubs. John's 4 cuebid was the key bid. He has the values to bid the club game but is expressing an interest in slam if I am suitable. As I was supermaximum for my bidding to date, it was an easy decision to bid the slam.

Inexperienced players shy away from this type of bid, i.e. bidding the opponents suit promising a control. As the opponents have bid and supported a suit there is no chance that you want to play in their suit at the 4 level! It therefore follows that the meaning is as described above. However if you bid the opponents suit below 3NT, this is generally played as asking partner for a stop.

Last updated : 4th Feb 2017 09:42 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 24th Jan

Continuing the double theme we have a further application today. As North Rob wanted to make a game try but didn't have any space to do so. So he doubles to ask if I am minimum or maximum. I bid game with a maximum or sign off in 3 with a minimum.

However as South I took a third option! I converted the game try double into a penalty double by passing! With 4 hearts and only 3 spades and a minimum it looked a good proposition. We were duly rewarded with an 800 penalty. If Rob wants to only compete for the part score he can bid 3 spades knowing I will not raise to game. 

East has a poor overcall at the vulnerability. Pass or a 2♠ Michaels cue bid promising 5 's and a 5 card minor much better. I prefer pass.

Last updated : 25th Jan 2017 12:38 GMT
Hand of the day Thur 19th Jan

Slam bidding features quite often on this column. However I am giving it a miss today as John and I bid four, made none! Only one was no play, so not too upset. Instead we will look at another useful application of the take out double. When the opponents overcall our minor opening with 1 we play that a double promises four ♠ 's and bidding 1♠  promises 5+. When West competes with 2 I can freely support partner with only 3. I felt I had enough for game so made a splinter bid of 4 showing a raise to 4♠ with a singleton  . John signed off in 4♠ .

He got the   Queen lead so won and ran the ♠ 8 which picked up the Jack. When the opponents failed to cash the  ace when in that was 12 tricks. 

Tessa and Chris's opponents sacrificed in 5 . North should double as she has bid game to make and cannot allow E/W to steal the contract undoubled. After cashing the top hearts North must resist the temptation to give partner a ruff as North knows that the  will be overruffed. Instead she must attack the ♠ entry to the established  's by switching to a ♠ . The King being the best card. Now however much West twists and turns he will emerge with only 7 or 8 tricks.

Last updated : 22nd Jan 2017 12:56 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 17th Jan

We return to one of my favourite topics today, the double. The above sequence is the most important one to remember when discussing takeout doubles. First of all remember that the basic rule is that doubles of NT are penalty and doubles of suits are takeout. 

Responder's double in this sequence GUARANTEES 4 hearts and 6 + HCP's. Why is this important? It is because if you don't play it like this then the heart suit is lost forever. If you bid 2 after 1 from partner and 1♠ from RH opponent then that promises 5+  's. You also have the negative inference that if responder bids anything else he is DENYING 4 's.

So don't forget that if partner opens one of a minor and RH opponent bids one ♠ , remember that a double now promises EXACTLY 4  's and 6 + HCP's. It makes the bidding a lot easier and stops the opponents stealing your best spot. It was one of very few bright spots for us in a very disappointing evening.

 

Last updated : 18th Jan 2017 12:26 GMT
Hand of the day Thur 12th Jan

An exciting start to the evening as this was our first hand. Ted over called John's  opening bid and I showed my ♠ 's, Alan competed but knowing of at least a 10 card fit should probably try 4♣ . This would make it very difficult to gather all the information we need to bid the good slam. I gave John preference to 3 and he now cuebid 4♣ which Ted doubled. With a poor hand I would sign off in 4 , but as I had limited my hand earlier I felt I had some very useful cards. Even the  J will be useful in John' second suit. So my pass is encouraging: his redouble promised first round control so I now cuebid my ♠ A and we arrived in the good slam.

Had Alan bid 4♣ then we would possibly subside in 4 as we didn't have the space to investigate. So the message is when you find a fit, bid as high as you dare, especially against the better players who will then have to guess rather than investigate carefully.

Last updated : 13th Jan 2017 12:58 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 10th Jan

Third in hand not vulnerable against vulnerable opponents is a good time to make life difficult for the opponents. So although I only had 5 hearts I opened a weak 2.

North doubled but South should jump to 3♠ to show some values then North can safely try 6NT.

Once South only bids 2♠ which could be on a hand with no points then North just bid a practical 3NT.

The important point to remember is that you have to respond to partner's take out double, so when you have some values (8+HCP) then it is imperative that you make a jump bid to show that. With 12+ HCP in response to partner's double then it is probably best to bid opener's suit.

Last updated : 13th Jan 2017 12:45 GMT
Christmas hand of the day Thur Dec 22nd

There is a saying in bridge that the five level belongs to the opponents. This hand demonstrates the opposite of that! Let us examine why.

I was East and the bidding started normally, note Brian's excellent takeout double as South. John Rolph supported diamonds rather than rebidding spades. Although he has only three, he is implying an unbalanced hand and five spades as with a balanced hand he would bid notrumps or redouble. John Haddon bid hearts although I would have been tempted to bid four as the fifth heart and king small in partner's other suit are very powerful holdings. I cuebid four hearts, implying slam interest and showing a heart control. I only need partner to have the spade king and both minor suit aces to make slam odds on.

Brian now did well to bid five hearts and I finally had the final decision. Why bid five spades when the five level belongs to the opponents? I thought that as I was thinking of slam we should be ok to make five spades. Another reason to bid on was the presence of a double fit. This allows both sides to greatly increase their trick taking potential. E/W make 10 tricks and N/S make 11 tricks. My bid was correct in an unusual way! Although John had to go one off, our opponents were cold for five hearts so my bid was actually a good save!

Well bid all round.

Wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas and that in 2017 all your finesses work (except against me!).

Last updated : 23rd Dec 2016 18:32 GMT
Hand of the day Thur 17th Nov

Weak twos generally make it tough for the opponents. For once it helped John and myself bid the reasonable slam which was basically 50%.

Frank and Catherine got the bidding to a high level before it was my turn as North and I felt double was better than 3NT. John now bid what he thought he could make. I pencilled him in for six diamonds to the A or AQ and maybe a black Q or two. I knew that John had a singleton heart and felt that slam would be at worst on a finesse and if 3NT made an overtrick I would get a poor score for 5 + 1 compared to 3NT + 1. So I bid one for the road. When the club Q was onside twelve tricks were there. I think I would still have bid slam in teams.

Last updated : 19th Nov 2016 15:16 GMT
Hand of the day Wed 16 Nov v Gambit

Retford A took on Gambit last night and this hand demonstrates to me the reason we play this game. I opened a thin weak 2 as North. Rob Sharpe doubled, Rob Atkinson enquired as to the quality of my weak 2 with 2NT. Graham Kirby bid 3 clubs, I had no more to say and Rob A signed off in 3♠ .

Rob S led a club. Not the Ace but a diabolical 5!! I of course ducked in dummy, Graham won the Q and switched to a  to the Q and A. I played a small ♣ off the dummy to Rob's A, he cashed the  K and gave Graham a  ruff who then repayed the compliment by giving Rob a ♣ ruff!

I still had to lose the two top trumps so failed by 3 tricks. Absolute magic!

However we had the last laugh as a splendid all round team performance saw us winning 15 - 5. Well played everyone !

Last updated : 17th Nov 2016 15:05 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 8th Nov

We have had several new members over the past year or so. Chris Mulllins is one and he is in the limelight on today's hand. He plays almost no conventions but is a fine player of the cards as I was about to find out. 

He was West and Rob unfortunately chose the ♣ 8 as his opening lead, second from a bad suit. Chris read this correctly, covering with the 9 and my king and his ace. He now played a low Club to dummy and finessed the 6! Now he had 4 ♣ tricks where might have only got 2.

He proceeded to cash his ♠ ,  and ♣  winners. With 3 cards left he cashed the ♠ ace so he knows I have the master ♠ left and a  honour. If it the ace then I make 2 tricks but if it the queen!, Then he can exit with the  king to Rob's ace crushing my queen and Rob has to give dummy the 12th trick with the jack of  .

Beautifully played and getting him a deserved top. A sort of stepping stone squeeze, a rare bird indeed!

However I got my revenge on the next board, being the only one to make 4♠ . Funnily enough, it was another rarish bird which brought that contract home; a double squeeze!

Last updated : 9th Nov 2016 14:21 GMT
Hand of the day Mon 7th November

Retford A had a strong second half to overcome a 13 imp deficit at the halfway stage in the match v Woodborough. Today's hand produced a whopping 17 imp gain for the home team. Nick and Angela were allowed to play in 4♠ as E/W. Two others pairs bid and made the minor suit game as N/S, but John and I got to 6 on the accompanying sequence.

In competitive situations you have two objectives. Probably the most important is to preempt to the limit when a fit is found. Here East produced a rather wet 3♠ at the first opportunity then gave us another opportunity when she bid 5♠ which John duly accepted. If East bids 4♠ initially then it is very difficult for us to bid the slam confidently.

The second objective is to let partner know you have a good fit immediately. Hence my 2♠ bid as North. This is called an unassuming cue bid (UAC) and tells partner I have a high card raise to at least 3 . John now bid his ♣ 's to show where he lived and as a game try. When I accepted and bid 5♣ , again showing where I lived he was comfortably able to bid the solid slam.  We were given plenty of space to define our hands accurately. The UAC now allows the North hand to make a preemptive raise to 3 showing 4-9 HCP's in competitive situations. 

Never be concerned about points or your losing trick count when supporting partner. As I say to Chris, if you table four trumps I am a happy bunny!

Last updated : 9th Nov 2016 14:01 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 25th Oct

A common lead ploy amongst experienced players is a King lead asks for count. Partner plays high low with 2 or 4, lowest with 3 or 5. This allows the leader to work out the distribution of the suit and plan the defence effectively. Chris led the  King and I contributed the 3. She now knows declarer has only 2 and a lead towards the Queen from West will establish a discard. Looking at dummy the only discard that will be beneficial is a  one so a  switch at trick 2 is indicated to establish a  trick before it disappears on the  Queen. However the danger of switching is that if the  Q and K are interchanged a  switch will allow West to establish a 3rd  trick to discard the  loser!! Wheels within wheels! 

Last updated : 26th Oct 2016 10:14 BST
For team results see News Page
Hand of the day Tues 18th Oct

I asked John how he went off in 4 on this hand. He was deceived by a wonderful piece of deception by Steve Elvidge. I presume the bidding was probably as above. 

John Cornthwaite tried to cash two clubs, the second ruffed by John. He then advanced the  10 from hand which Steve ducked smoothly. John now played a  to the Ace and another to Steve's K. He now put John on the spot by switching to a ♠ . John thought he didn't require the finesse so rose with the Ace to repeat the  finesse. Steve won this and cashed his ♠ K for one off. Fabulous!!

Last updated : 20th Oct 2016 10:11 BST
Hand of the day Thur 13th October

John and I seem to reserve our best results for the Joyce Irving Trophy. Thursday was no exception and this slam hand contributed to it. Even if West overcalls the bidding would be similar. There were two crucial decisions to make. The first was my response to John's 2 bid. No bid is ideal. 2 is an underbid, 3 requires a 6th  , 2NT is ok on point count but wrong on distribution. 3♠ as a splinter should promise 4 's and 4 goes past 3NT if that is correct contract. That left my selection of 3 which is an underbid but leaves me well placed if partner bids again.

John now made the good decision to bypass 3NT with his 4♣ bid. I should just bid 6 at this point as I am very good for my bidding to date. There was little in the play and he racked up 12 tricks pretty promptly.

Last updated : 16th Oct 2016 17:49 BST
Hand of the day Tues 11th October

Things had not been going well for Rob and myself and this hand was typical of our evening. We bid the excellent slam with West playing it to protect the club position. However Jane as North followed the advice of cashing an Ace against a suit slam and when she saw Roger's Queen quickly played another to secure a ruff and one off.

Excellent defence by her but either Rob or myself should probably convert to 6NT. Probably West who has the fitting major suit honours. Having said that we were in a 90% slam so felt rather aggrieved at not making it. Again well done to Jane for finding the only lead to defeat it.

Last updated : 13th Oct 2016 11:23 BST
Hand of the day Thur 6th Oct

Back to my favourite topic today: the flexible double. We even have a "double" helping on the featured hand. Whilst South's 2 overcall has a reasonable suit and is good if partner ends up on lead, a takeout double is much better. By consulting partner you have a better chance of finding a decent contract.

Let us now look at my double as East of 2 . I could bid either major but double adds an extra string to my bow. Partner can now pass my takeout double, converting it into a penalty double. John wasn't very impressed with his  pips but there was really nowhere else to go. If John were to inconveniently bid 3♣ , I can easily rebid the  's. Our defence was not perfect but the resultant penalty of 500 was more than enough.

 

Last updated : 8th Oct 2016 10:06 BST
Hand of the day Tues 6th Sep

I was South and wanted to show partner two things when the bidding came round to me. I wanted to show  support and my  suit. I contented myself by showing the  's and Rob supported. Now when Chris bid 4♠ I knew we had a double fit so could confidently take the sacrifice in 5 which John doubled.

So why put this hand in? Let us look at East's first bid. Where does this hand want to play? In game in ♠ 's. So don't pussyfoot around, just bid what you feel you can make. This is especially true in competitive situations. Now look at my problem over 4♠ . I certainly won't bid 5 and 5 may be too expensive at love all. I confess I was glad not to face that problem.

But we may miss a slam you cry. Partner is still there and can bid on if he feels it is appropriate. I must admit I would have probably opened 1NT on the West hand as I would not be too keen to rebid 2♣ with such a poor suit. Now N/S are silenced or if North bids 2 East has an easy 4♠ and South has the same problem as above.

Last updated : 8th Sep 2016 10:38 BST
Hand of the day Thur 1st Sep

Very strong hands are difficult to handle at the best of times but even tougher when an opponent opens in front of you. North has a couple of options on today's hand. An overcall of 1NT shows 15-18, but with two sure stops this is a slight underbid although that would have worked nicely today. The other option is to double and then rebid NT next time which was my preferred route. However John bid 2 , uncovering at least an 8 card fit. I raised gently to 3. It is important to remember that I have FORCED partner to bid and there is the possibility of him having the hand he has! He knows I have a powerhouse so he could jump to 3 with about 9HCP. He had no problem passing my invitation!!

Last updated : 5th Sep 2016 20:54 BST
Hand of the day Thur 30th Aug

This is the ideal sequence to reach the excellent club slam. North makes a jump shift to force to game. This is done on three hands types showing 15+ HCP's: a single suited hand: a two suited hand, one of which is partner's and a single suited balanced hand which will rebid NT next. Today's hand is the middle one.

South has a minimum with poor trumps and misfit for North. However once North persists with 4♣ , South can admit to the ♠ Ace and North can bid the ♣ slam. It is a tricky hand which makes by playing a dummy reversal. Aim to ruff two  's in the South hand. This sets up the  suit but if they break badly then you have a 3-3  break or squeeze in reserve. This brings the chance of success up to about 80%. 

We will draw a veil over our 80% score for 3♣ + 3!

Last updated : 31st Aug 2016 21:30 BST
Hand of the day Thur 18th August

Above is a suggested sequence to reach the excellent heart slam. East could bid 2♠ , a reverse bid showing extra values. However 3 is fine as 7-4 hands nearly always play better in the long suit.

What should West do over 3 ? If you want to be scientific then 4 is the best bid. You cannot realistically want to play in ♦ 's so it must be a cue bid agreeing  's. This is all East wants to know so he can check on keycards and bid the  slam with reasonable confidence in spite of missing one keycard. If you don't believe in science then just bid the slam and give away as little information as possible and hope the opponents don't have 2 cashing spades to take.

The slam is excellent, about 75%, making when at least one of the two major suit finesses work.

Last updated : 19th Aug 2016 20:33 BST
Hand of the day Tues 2nd Aug

A comment or two about the bidding to start with today. East is probably best to pass initially. Remember SOS when doubling for takeout. S = shortage in suit bid (maximum 2), O = opening points and S = support for the other suits. East is OK to double 1 , but not 1♣. Rob correctly passed over West's 1♠ , then supported  's at his next term. Now when East competed with 3♠  (it would have been better to bid 2♠ immediately), I brought proceedings to an end by bidding game. 

5 of a minor is unfashionable at pairs but ok probably best when singletons abound as here. I won the ♠ lead with the Acw and drew trumps. When they broke 2-2 I was able to take the club finesse for an over trick. Had they been 3-1 I would have just played Ace and another ♣ to make my game.

Last updated : 4th Aug 2016 23:40 BST
Hand of the day Thur 21st July

Like London buses another hand turns up demonstrating the rule of 1: leave an opponent's boss trump at large whilst you play on crossruff lines. There was a lot of work to do on today's hand to get to this position. Steve's 1NT rebid showed 15-18. My 2♣ was asking him his range and any  support. 2 showed a minimum with 3 's and he accepted my game invite.

South started well by leading the ♣ 9. I let it run round to the Ace. An important point on defensive signalling here. North likes the lead with his strong holding so should play either high or low to encourage depending on their signalling methods. Now when South gains the lead with the ♠ Ace he just continues ♣ 's. Now however declarer plays he is unable to make his game. The defence can promote an extra trump trick by playing a 3rd round of ♣ 's.

At our table South won the ♠ Q and switched to a  to partner's Ace. Now I can win the  continuation, cash the A and K of trumps and play the rest of the hand cashing winners and cross ruffing. North can take his  winner whenever he likes but that is the last trick for the defence.

So the message today is to make sure you agree on your defensive signals to help partner find the best continuation when he regains the lead.

Last updated : 23rd Jul 2016 11:05 BST
Hand of the day Thur 28th July

When playing this game there are several "rules" that we are supposed to follow. However the most important attribute to have is a logical mind and to think out each problem as it presents itself. Today's defensive problem for South illustrates that principal admirably.

Nick was West and doubled South's 1♣ for takeout rather than bidding his 5 card  suit. This is by far the most superior bid as it brings both majors into play. As East I responded 1♠ , South correctly bid 2 , a reverse bid showing extra values opposite a passed hand. Nick now jumped to 3♠ : he has forced me to bid so I may have very little. With my strong club holding I tried 3NT and he passed as he realised that his ♣ Q would bolster my club stop. Although as East I did not have a  stop, I knew that Nick would have due to his takeout double of 1♣ .

South led A and another ♣ . Now it was easy for me to accumulate 9 tricks by knocking out the  Ace. South should have started with the  King to have a look at dummy. The lead of the King asks partner to give count: high - low with 2 or 4, low - high with 1, 3 or 5. North starts a high low so South plays out 3 rounds of  's to set up his last  and defeat 3NT. Had West turned up with 4  's rather than 3, then she could try the ♣ 's instead.

Last updated : 29th Jul 2016 21:08 BST
Hand of the day Tues 12th July.

There are several "numbers " rules in bridge. Today's hand illustrates the rule of 1. This states that if there is a boss trump outstanding then leave it at large and cash outside winners and/or play on cross ruff lines. The bidding should be routine to reach the excellent game on minimal values. Sadly only two pairs managed it. Rob started with the top hearts which Catherine ruffed. Next a small club to the jack establishes the K and Q for a spade discard. Whatever I exit with declarer wins, cashes the top hearts, throws the losing spade on a club winner and proceeds to cash the black suit winners, ruffling the two losers with dummy's remaining two trumps, and ruffling diamonds in hand.

North can ruff in whenever he likes but is unable to draw two trumps for one which would restrict declarer's winners. Lay the cards out to see how it works.

Last updated : 14th Jul 2016 12:13 BST
Hand of the day Thur 16th June

Slam hands again today: this time for N/S. West started with a gold standard weak 2. Normally this makes it tough for the opponents but not this time. As North I had an easy 3♣ overcall. Chris has a good hand and bid her hand naturally with 3 rather than 3NT. This must be forcing and it improved my hand tremendously. I only need Chris to have A to 5 or 6 in  's and the  Ace to make 6  cold. So I wheeled out the old Romam Key Card B/W and we ended in the cold  slam.

After a  to the A there were an easy 12 tricks.

Last updated : 19th Jun 2016 21:09 BST
Hand of the day Tues 14th June

  Four slam hands to choose from for E/W today. John and I got two right of which this is the pick. My East hand is too strong for a simple 1♣ opening. There are 9 certain tricks opposite a singleton. We then both bid our suits twice. Then 4 ,4 ,5 ,5♠ were all cue bids. John could visualise my hand precisely so bid the top ranking contract of 7NT.

Note there was no rush to bid slam or Blackwood, we slowly bid our hands as we both knew we were in a GAME FORCING sequence. The grand slam is about an 85% proposition. Spades 3-2 or 4-1 with a singleton J is about 75%. If that fails you can fall back on a 3-3 club break, just over a third of the remaining 25%.

Sno the message today is when you open 2♣ , have the confidence in each other to take it steadily to gather more information.

Last updated : 16th Jun 2016 10:05 BST
Hands of the day Tues 7th June (1).

Forgive me today as I am going to have a bit of a rant re overcalls! Bridge is a competitive game and it is important to get into the bidding and disrupt the opponents if possible. However there is a limit!

There are two criteria to use in order to decide whether it is a good idea to overcall. The rule of 8: add the length of your suit to the number of honours in it and you can overcall to make that number of tricks. So A,J,4,3,2 is ok at the 1 level but not the 2 level. The rule of 4. Take the number of cards in a suit and subtract 4: you can overcall at that level. So a 5 card suit at the 1 level but a 6 card suit at the 2 level.

We start with hand 7. East is probably too weak to overcall but at least there is a 6 card suit. 5 is a good sacrifice against 4♠ so the rule seems to work. 

Last updated : 8th Jun 2016 15:56 BST
H of D (2).

East's overcall does not fit either of the over calling rules. Just pass and let the opponents get on with it. You may have 11 HCP's but it is an awful hand. 4♣ x got its just desserts!

Last updated : 8th Jun 2016 16:00 BST
H of D (3).

East's overcall does not fit the criteria for an overcall so should pass. You have good defensive prospects in ♠ 's anyway. West was bullied into bidding 5 which North was happy to double.

Last updated : 8th Jun 2016 16:04 BST
H of D (4).

Here North did not overcall the moth eaten ♣ suit. Again he has good defensive properties, the hand looks a misfit so pass. South's 2 again does not fit the criteria for an overcall. A balanced hand and a moderate 5 card suit and vulnerable! If South passes West will probably bid 2 anyway! 

Anyway ranting over, I feel a lot better now!

Last updated : 8th Jun 2016 16:16 BST
Hand of the day Thur 2nd June

West's game force of 3 is reserved for 3 specific hand types with a view to higher ambitions. It shows a powerful single suited hand: a two suited hand, one of the suits promising opener's suit or single suited with a balanced hand. West has the middle one today.

East makes his natural rebid of 3NT showing a strong balanced hand and West completes the picture by going back to ♠ 's. Eas can now take control. All of a sudden the Q,J of  's have increased in value following West's  bid.

East uses RKCBLACKWOOD to confirm all the keycards are present then 5NT asks for specific kings (there are only 3, as the trump K has already been counted. The 6 promises the  K or the other two. Very neat, now East can take a punt at the Grand Slam. 4♠'s, 5 's, 2 ruffs and 2 minor suit Aces brings the total to 13.

Last updated : 6th Jun 2016 15:01 BST
Hand of the day Tues 31st May

Back to basics today. No E/W reached the best contract of 3NT on this hand. The bidding sequence shown is the correct way the Han d should be bid. West's rebid of 2NT shows a balanced 17-18 HCP. Normally rebidding NT at lowest level shows 15-16 HCP, however after partner has made a simple raise restricting his HCP to 6-9, the 2NT rebid is stronger and I would pass with 15-16 balanced. What does East bid after West's 2NT? Although East has 4 trumps, he has a 4333 shape but 8HCP's so bidding 3NT here is superior rather than going back to spades.

The play is interesting too. Win the  lead in dummy and take a club finesse. Win the  continuation in hand and play A then Q of ♠ . North clears  's but you repeat the club finesse to make 3 tricks in ♠ , and ♣ 's.

Last updated : 1st Jun 2016 18:37 BST
Hand of the day Thursday 12th May

Good defending is a very important aspect of the game, especially as you are defending twice as often as declaring. Tonight there was a lot of defending to be done as E/W, together with a number of tough decisions. John and I found an unusual way of scoring 600 on this hand. 

John opened a maximum weak 2 in  's, North made a marginal overcall followed by a marginal 3NT by South. With a handy ♠ holding John did well to lead the ♠ Q rather than his  suit which would have given declarer 8 tricks. I won the ♠ Ace and switched to the  5 to the 6, 9 and Ace. South unblocked his top clubs, and that was it. He exited with a ♠ , which John won with the J. He then cashed the  K,  to my A, a  return and the rest of the tricks were his!

3NT minus 6 for 600, a pretty rare score especially as N/S really did little wrong.

Last updated : 13th May 2016 16:00 BST
Hand of the day Tues 10th May

Gary played this hand nicely to chalk up his vulnerable game although I missed a chance to defeat it. I belatedly bid 3 forgetting that 2 is natural over 1NT when playing with Chris. I led the ♣ 7 which Gary won on the table. He then cashed the A, then the K of  , then played a ♠ to the K and Chris's A. She played her singleton  and after cashing 2  winners  I found myself end played!  If I play a  he can play the 8 which Chris ruffs but he overruffs and throws a ♠ on the winning  J. If I play a ♠ he can let it run round to his 10.

The winning defence is to cash only 1  , then give Chris a ruff. Now however he plays he only has 9 tricks.

Last updated : 11th May 2016 16:51 BST
Hand of the day Thur 5th May

The power of a 6 card minor is examined today. I was South and bid and rebid my ♣ suit. John made the excellent raise to 3♣ . He can be fairly confident I have a 6 card suit so hopes to run 6 ♣ club tricks, his  ace makes 7 which just leaves 2 extra tricks for me to find. With my maximum opener, good 6 card suit and the lead coming round to my  king I felt justified in trying 3NT.

A small  lead from West gave me my 9 th trick so I ran for home and didn't risk the  finesse.

Last updated : 6th May 2016 15:41 BST
Hand of the day Tues 3rd May

Only North had a balanced hand today and duly opened 1NT. Proceedings accelerated thereafter. East's intervention was rather feeble with an 8 card suit.  When deciding at what level to compete, use Fulton' rule of 4! No one else has seemed to use this rule so I have claimed it for my own. Take 4 away from the length of your suit and you should preempt to that level. So here, East has an 8 card suit, subtract 4 leaving 4, so you can preempt at the 4 level. This rule works well for over calls, weak 2's and preempt. So East does best to bid 4 , South still bids 4♠ , but it is easier for West now to bid 5 . As South I would still have bid 5♠  though. Even so I think West should compete with 5 , having 3 card support, a fine suit and a singleton in South's suit.

There was nothing in the play and everyone made 12 tricks in ♠ 's. A couple of E/W's were allowed to play in 5 .

 

Last updated : 5th May 2016 12:01 BST
Hand of the day Thur 28th April

A couple of interesting bidding points today. I was East and opened 1 . John has a good 9 count with a good suit so can change the suit at the 2 level. He can use the rule of 14: add your HCP's to the number of cards in your long suit, here 5. If it comes to 14 then you can bid at the 2 level. If it comes to less than that then you have to respond 1NT, the "dustbin " bid.

I now bid 3♣ , a high level reverse, promising 15+ HCP's and game forcing. John bid 3♠ , 4th suit forcing, asking me to bid 3NT if I had a ♠ stop. I retreated to 4 to show some  support and he signed off in 5♣ . However I felt I had enough to bid the slam. And so it proved when the  K was onside.

Last updated : 30th Apr 2016 13:14 BST
Hand of the day Thur 14th April

At pairs it can be difficult to decide between 3NT and 5 or 6 of a minor as 3NT will obviously score better than 5 of a minor. First question for South is which minor to bid. With 5-5 it is always best to bid the higher one first, whether opener or responder. Think of a "high 5". As North Chris correctly supported my diamonds. She guarantees a 5 card heart suit as she has not bid NT on the second round. Now my choice is between NT and a minor game or slam. As a general rule, if you have a singleton in partner's first suit it is better to look for the minor suit game or slam. I decided that if Chris had 2 keycards I would have a pot at 6 . When she duly delivered them I was happy to bid the slam. Had she only got one then I would have subsided in 5 . The slam needed one of two finesses to work: 75%: pretty good odds.

An interesting point for those keen on the losing trick count. South has only 5 losers (AJ10 counts as only 1), added to North's 7 for an opening bid makes 12, subtract from 18 leaving 6 suggesting that a slam could be on.

Last updated : 15th Apr 2016 16:25 BST
Hand of the day Tues 5th April

A point of interest in the bidding, then the play on today's hand. Chris over called Steve's opener with 1♠ . I bid Steve's suit. This is an unassuming cue bid. It shows a high card raise in ♠ 's to at least the 2 level. This allows a jump to the 3 level to show a weaker hand with 4 trumps and about 5-9 points. This takes the bidding space away from the opponents. My East hand only just qualifies for this bid. Rather than just competing with 2♠ , Chris should probably just bid game with her distributional hand or make a trial bid with 3♣. We did get to 4♠ and Alan correctly doubled. He has 4 trumps, an Ace and partner has bid strongly. He needs to protect a potential +130 in 4 .

He led a trump. To make the contract, Chris needs to establish her 2nd suit. So she won the lead on the dummy and played the ♣ Q. Steve won and cashed the  A, then played a  . Whatever Alan now does he cannot prevent Chris from establishing her ♣ suit. She just has to ruff one ♣ on the dummy then come back to hand with a  ruff, draw the trumps and enjoy her ♣ 's for 10 tricks. 

Last updated : 6th Apr 2016 14:12 BST
Hand of the day Thursday 31st March.

Some more useful system today, the splinter bid. John's 3♠ is a double jump so has no meaning in real life so is used to show a powerful hand with a singleton ♠ , 4 card  support and a good hand as he is prepared to play at the 4 level opposite a potential 6 count.

My hand is huge as I have the ♠ A, the ♣ and  kings and a 5th trump. I cue bid 4♣  and John closed proceedings with his jump to slam. I think he should used Roman KC Blackwood and then when he finds me with 3, he could bid the grand slam. With everything behaving there were no problems making 13 tricks.

Last updated : 6th Apr 2016 14:22 BST
Hand of the day Thur 24th March

After my predicted bridge demise this week on face book following Chris and Lynda's splendid win last night, I thought it appropriate to feature a hand where they combined well to achieve a top.

Lynda started with the  9, which removes any potential ruff in dummy. Daphne advanced the  knave, taken perforce by Chris. She returned a ♠ which Lynda won with the A and gave Chris a  ruff. She now cashed the ♠ K to hold declarer to 9 tricks. As it turns out, all the other pairs were in game and allowed to make.

I led a ♣ which Sue won and played the  J. John won and returned a  , so that was 12 tricks. I suggested he holds up the A for a round. He said he tried but couldn't find another  in his hand!

A fascinating hand as if he returns a ♠ I win the A and have to work out declarer's shape. After reversing into ♠ 's, she then jumped to 4 . I should now get it right and play John for a singleton  . It looks like she is 4621 shape as she played a low ♣ from dummy at trick 1. However she has a chance to muddy the waters by trying the ♣ 10 at trick 1. If John has the J, he will play it but I will be unsure whether Sue is 4612 or 4621. As the ♣ suit is dead, it doesn't cost, although on the actual hand it makes no difference.

Last updated : 25th Mar 2016 16:09 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 22nd March

Today we see a bid which is rarely used: the redouble. I was East and would have made a balanced trial bid of 2NT showing 17-18 HCP and a balanced hand. However Nick felt that he should compete and doubled. I redoubled which basically says I think they are in trouble. With a maximum and only 3 ♠ 's Chris should double 3♣ . Then I would certainly double 3 . However having embarked on that path I should have doubled anyway which would net us 800 at least.

 

Last updated : 23rd Mar 2016 18:44 GMT
Hand of the day Thursday 17th March

Another 6-6 hand today. When a double fit occurs it is imperative to keep bidding and declare the final contract. On today's hand N/S can make 12 tricks in a red suit contract and E/W can make 11 tricks in a black suit contract.

We were allowed to declare 5♠ x which made in comfort. Could our opponents have done any better? At North's last turn he is aware of the double fit so I think he should bid one more "for the road".

Last updated : 19th Mar 2016 19:45 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 15th March

A short but lively auction to the par spot. North preempts to the limit and West bids hearts to East's delight.

West must take care at trick 1. Some declarers ruffed low so when they got to dummy there was no second entry to repeat the spade finesse. It is important to ruff the club with the 8 or 9 to preserve the 2 as a late entry to dummy.

In 5 it is best to cash the A of spades first to protect against a singleton J or K or doubleton KJ. In 6 you take the finesse of the Q, then repeat it when the J falls under the Q. As long as you have preserved the heart 2 in hand!

 

Last updated : 17th Mar 2016 16:55 GMT
HAND OF THE DAY 8 MARCH 2016

Most pairs ended up in 5♣ off one although one E/W pair made 4 , one made 4♠ and one N/S pair made 5♣ with 3 inescapable losers (?). Four of either major can be defeated by a  ruff. In 4♠ N/S must lead diamonds but in 4 they get a second chance to switch to a  after taking the first round of trumps. The interesting part at our table was the bidding. Many pairs play the gambolling 3NT opening bid as showing a solid minor suit with nothing outside. Third in hand one is allowed a little licence so Nick opened 3NT with the North hand. I was East and had no idea whether this was making or not, I had no Ace to cash to have a look around and so being non-vulnerable against vulnerable, decided to bid 4 .Even 3 down doubled would show a profit if 3NT was making. If South bids 4NT I have to assume they have a  stop and lead a top♠ , otherwise 10 tricks roll in.In the end South bid 5♣ which drifted the inevitable one off.

Last updated : 10th Mar 2016 20:44 GMT
HAND OF THE DAY 25 FEBRUARY 2016

There seem to have been a lot of 4441 distributions lately. The important thing to ensure is that you always have a rebid so the recommended opening with a singleton  is 1 . Bernard decided to open 1♠ presumably because of his weak  suit and the intention of rebidding 2NT if I responded 2 . My hand is strong for a splinter but I reasoned that, if partner could not cue bid one of the red suits, a slam was unlikely and we could stop in 4♠ . 4NT was RKCB and 5 promised K♠ and A♣ but denied Q♠ . The fortunate trump layout meant that declarer made all 13 tricks. Well done to Julia/Roger and Liz/Bernard who also bid the slam. I have not enquired into their bidding sequences!

Last updated : 26th Feb 2016 15:03 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 26th Jan

Gerry conned me into making a phantom save on today's hand. He was South and I was West. The hand also tests your Blackwood responses after interference. We use a system called DOPI and ROPI! Easy to remember: double is none or 3 keycards, pass is 1 or 4.

Strictly speaking Gerry should probably double 5 as he knows they have 2 keycards missing. However he knew I would probably take the save which I did. He bid it quickly rather than agonising over his decision which I might have got right if he takes a long time. My reasoning was that even if 6 went off it would be a good save against the pairs who were allowed to play in 5 . And so it proved as we got an average for 6♠ doubled minus 2.

Last updated : 4th Feb 2016 15:54 GMT
hand of the day Thur 21st Jan

Back to another rare bird today, the criss cross squeeze! John's 2 is 3rd suit forcing in this sequence so we reached the routine NT game. South led the  3 and I played low from dummy and North won with the J and returned a  . South won and continued. I took a  finesse and then cashed all my winners. On the last ♣ South has to discard from ♠ K,8 and  K,10. Dummy reduces to ♠ Q,10 and  A, East has ♠ A and  9,6.

If South throws a  I cash the A dropping the K, leaving East high, if he throws a ♠ I cash the ♠ A then back to the  A to cash the ♠ Q. All very pretty: lay the cards out with 4 left to see how it works.

Last updated : 26th Jan 2016 08:59 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 19th January

East has a problem with his opening bid. Even playing strong 2's it is not ideal, neither is it good enough for a 2♣ opening. I think opening one and hope there is further bidding is the best approach which how Rob started. 

I responded 1NT, the "dustbin" response. No support for partner, not strong enough to change the suit at the 2 level (10 HCP or a good 9 HCP). So I was left with 1NT. The hand has great promise if partner bids one of my long suits. 

Rob forced to game and I showed preference for ♠ 's although I only have 2. Rob then raised to game.

On the  K lead he won, cashed the ♣ A, then 2 top  's , ruff a diamond, cash the KQ of♣ 's, throwing  's, ruff a   to hand and then play his last  which South ruffed high but he still emerged with 10 tricks. Only a 5-2 fit but West was worth at least 3 tricks.

The moral is don't be frightened of responding with less than 6HCP.

 

Last updated : 20th Jan 2016 16:08 GMT
Hand of the day Thursday 14th Jan

Although very strong hands are rare it is always a good idea to be able to bid them confidently and not to rush them. 2♣ is a game force unless you rebid 2NT and this is how John started the auction and it then followed a more or less natural route. John's 3♠ was "fishing " for 3NT. I naturally raised to 4♠ and then John bid what he thought he could make. He only needs the  King to 5 to give him a shot at game.

There was nothing in the play but disappointing to see only one other bidding the slam.

Last updated : 16th Jan 2016 18:49 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 12th Jan

I was going to go back to basics after my excitement of a dentist's coup last week. I changed my mind when a crocodile coup turned up this week! Another rare beast having only come across one other in live play over the past 50 years!

So here goes. I was West and when the bidding had escalated to 4♠ I unwisely thought that it was a big double fit hand and took the push to the 5 level. Although dummy was powerful it looked like one off and we were looking at 3 off in 4♠ doubled for a top. But change the ♠ and  kings and now it is right to bid on. Well done to Roger and Jane for pushing us to the 5 level. Roger led a ♠ , I won, drew trumps and played a ♣ to the K and A. Roger played another ♠ on which I threw a  , then played a ♣ to the Q, ruffed a ♣ to hand and excited with a small  . Roger played the J so Jane had to win with the Q and give me a ruff and discard for my contract. 

Now we come to the crocodile bit. Roger must rise with the KING, opening the jaws of the crocodile swallowing Jane's Q! Now I must go one off. Very difficult, especially if you have never seen the coup before.

Last updated : 14th Jan 2016 13:58 GMT
Hand of the day Thursday 7th Jan

First of all, congratulations to a splendid B team performance on Friday, thrashing the A team 19-1. Hopefully they can continue that form and gain enough VP's to avoid relegation.

After Tuesday's chance of a clever defence I managed to miss one of bridge's rarities, a dentist's coup! As South Daphne led a ♣ against my 4♠ . I won and played a  to the K and A. Daphne continued hearts and Mike ruffed. He then played a ♣ which I ruffed in dummy, ruffed a  back to hand, Mike forcing a high ♠ from me by ruffling with the 7. I now played a ♠ to the Q, Daphne did well by ducking. Mike showed out so I now have a complete count, he has 2♠ ,1 and 8♣ 's, Daphne having shown out on 2nd round of ♣ 's. He has 2 's and Daphne has 3. I ruffed a  to hand and played a top spade which Daphne won and now she played a small  . Now Took 3 rounds of  's but couldn't get back to hand without promoting Daphne's ♠ 9. Here comes the dentist bit, cash the 3 's before coming off the table with a heart ruff. Now Daphne cannot lock me on the table with a  and doesn't get the trump promotion!

When she exited with the small  I can still make it by running it round to my hand, draw her last ♠ then enjoy the  's. However she can prevent that by exiting with J! Now I can get back to hand with the 10 to draw her last trump but cannot get to my diamond winner to discard my last ♣ !

You really need to lay the hand out to fully appreciate the beauty of it all. However had I just exited with ♠ Q when on the table I would have made in comfort!

Last updated : 10th Jan 2016 15:04 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 5th Jan

Every now and then a hand appears when you can do something very clever. Usually you only work it out in the pub afterwards although the clues were there to find it at the table. As usual I missed my chance on today's hand.

As West I had a tough opening lead. Anything could be right so I thought I would start with the  Ace to have a look at dummy. Correct decision! Partner played the heart 6, throwing away from a suit we weren't keen on.  The killer switch?

Declarer is obviously well stocked in the majors. There is just room for him to have the ♣ Ace. If so then I should switch to the ♣ 9, covered and won, ♣ back to my K followed another low ♣ . Declarer has to now guess between playing the 10 or the 7. I rather woodenly played a  so that was 10 tricks to Bernard P. Ah well, maybe next time!

Last updated : 7th Jan 2016 12:01 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 29th December

Today we revisit our flexible friend, the take out double. As West I over called 2♣ , giving North a problem. North bid 2 which propelled them to the wrong game.

See how easy the hand is when North doubles, showing the majors. Now when South competes with 3♠ , North has an easy raise to game. Note East's contribution, poor points but 5 card support, which takes away South's natural 2♠ rebid. Always raise with minimum values even with a weak hand like hers when partner over calls. It takes away the bidding space and 3♣ makes in comfort.

Remember that doubles of suits are for take out, doubles of no trumps are for penalty. If you remember that you won't go far wrong. If you do happen to have a genuine penalty double of an overcall, then either bid notrumps at the appropriate level or pass expecting partner to reopen with a takeout double if short in over callers suit. A case of having your cake and eating it!

Last updated : 30th Dec 2015 15:32 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 22nd Dec

A good way to finish the year is with a Grand Slam. Chris and I bid to 6NT but the bidding sequence illustrated shows how you can reach the grand. East should start with 1 : although there are 22 HCP it is unsuitable for a 2♣ or 2NT opener. Once West responds then a jump to 2♠  shows a game force. Now I think West should jump to 4 to say I have huge  support and slam interest. East can cue bid the  K then West bids RKCBlackwood. East now shows 4 keycards and 2 kings. West can now comfortably bid the grand in NT. East's heart cue should show a top card when bid in partner's suit and not shortage.

Well done to Ann and Eddie, Brian and Alan who both bid the grand in diamonds.

A very Merry Christmas to all club members and looking forward to seeing you all again in the New Year.

Last updated : 23rd Dec 2015 22:06 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 10th Nov

A useful bidding tool and basic play techniques are the order of the day today.  Chris over called as West and I bid South's suit. This is an unassuming cue bid. It says I have a good raise of  's and 10+ high card points. Chris has a very sound overcall so bid game. 3 is probably enough but I would have added the 4th as I have more than a minimum. 

Tessa found the good lead of the ♠ 10 which Chris duly won on the dummy.  Two basic suit play techniques can be applied now.  1. When playing a suit contract always look for the a short suit in the dummy (or the hand with the shorter trumps). Compare that with the number of losers in the opposite hand.  Here both minor suits have double tons with length opposite (West has 3 's and 4♣ 's) so aim to frump those losers in the dummy before drawing trumps.

2. Lead from low cards towards high cards aiming to take a finesse or double finesse as here as in the ♣ suit. Here you are only missing the ♣ K and Q. So advance the ♣ 9 and duck it if South plays low. If it loses to North and a  comes back win the A and repeat the ♣ finesse. This gives you a 75% of winning 2 tricks there. If as here South will probably cover the ♣ 9 so you win and play a ♣ back to the 8 to establish the ♣ J,10. You can throw a  from dummy on a winning ♣ or you may still have to give up a  and ruff your losing  on the dummy before attempting to draw trumps.

The important thing is to make a plan to ruff losers on the dummy BEFORE drawing trumps by attacking the side suits first and trying to take a finesse in those side suits if possible.

Last updated : 12th Nov 2015 13:23 GMT
Hand of the day Tues 3rd November

The race for the Scratch Cup is now entering its last week. Today's hand helped to bring John and myself dead level with Julia and Roger. I am unable to play on Thursday so Julia and Roger only have to score more 57.5% to win outright.

Once John rebid 3♣ showing a high level reverse we were in a game forcing sequence. I emphasised my  suit, then John jumped to 4♠ . My raise to 5♠ suggests a worry about the unbid suit. I was pretty sure John would have some sort of heart control. He confirmed that with the excellent bid of 6 . He has accepted my slam invitation and inviting me to bid the grand slam if suitable. With the source of tricks in  's, I had no hesitation in accepting the invitation much to the chagrin of the David's!

There was nothing in the play so we chalked up 1510.

Last updated : 5th Nov 2015 15:10 GMT
Hand of the day 27th October 2015

Plenty of slam hands to choose from today. I have chosen this one which demonstrates the advantage of Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB) rather than ordinary Blackwood. West kicks off with a gold standard pre-empt. North has a minimum overcall but I think you must compete. South can now roll out RKCB and find 2 key cards and the trump Q. South can now count 6 spade tricks, 2 hearts, 4 diamonds and 1 club so should go for the NT Grand Slam. Sadly noone hit the bulls eye but well done to John and Gerry, Frank and Phil who bid the Grand.

Last updated : 28th Oct 2015 10:32 GMT
Hand of the day Thursday 22nd Oct 2015

Two points of interest today. I opened 1NT as West. Although a semi balanced hand 1NT is preferable to 1 . When opening one of a suit you need to be prepared for a rebid. If partner bids 2♣ you have to rebid the anaemic  suit. With the two double tons headed by an honour 1NT is far superior. It made John's bid much easier. Often when bidding a slam it is a good idea to bid what you think you can make without imparting information to the opponents so that they can make the killing lead. Even if he is missing AK of ♠ there is only a 25% chance that opening leader has them both. If he has one of them he may be reluctant to lead to lead that suit. 

However as here there were no problems as West had the ♠ ace so 12 tricks were easy.

 

 

Last updated : 23rd Oct 2015 22:13 BST
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Teaching programme

Mike Coggles and Sandy Fulton are both offering bridge lessons at their respective homes catering for beginners and improvers. These are open to any member of Retford Bridge Club as well as any friends or relatives who are keen to take up the game. They are happy for students to interchange if one of them is away for any reason. 

Timings of other sessions are:
Monday afternoon: improvers at Mike's.
Thursday morning: beginners at Mike's.
Wednesday evening: beginners at Sandy's.
Friday morning: improvers at Sandy's.
Contact details: Mike 01777703610.
                        Sandy 01909479748.
Partner Message Link

Click here to find partners.

Calendar
21st February 2017
Hopkinson Cup
23rd February 2017
Hopkinson Cup
28th February 2017
Open Pairs
Results
16th February 2017
Open Pairs
Director: John Rolph
Scorer: Tessa Rolph
14th February 2017
Open Pairs
Director: John Rolph
Scorer: Tessa Rolph
9th February 2017
Scratch Cup
Director: Alan Jillott
Scorer: John Rolph
Click for the latest results
Teaching programme

Mike Coggles and Sandy Fulton are both offering bridge lessons at their respective homes catering for beginners and improvers. These are open to any member of Retford Bridge Club as well as any friends or relatives who are keen to take up the game. They are happy for students to interchange if one of them is away for any reason. 

Timings of other sessions are:
Monday afternoon: improvers at Mike's.
Thursday morning: beginners at Mike's.
Wednesday evening: beginners at Sandy's.
Friday morning: improvers at Sandy's.
Contact details: Mike 01777703610.
                        Sandy 01909479748.
Partner Message Link

Click here to find partners.

Calendar
21st February 2017
Hopkinson Cup
23rd February 2017
Hopkinson Cup
28th February 2017
Open Pairs
Results
16th February 2017
Open Pairs
Director: John Rolph
Scorer: Tessa Rolph
14th February 2017
Open Pairs
Director: John Rolph
Scorer: Tessa Rolph
9th February 2017
Scratch Cup
Director: Alan Jillott
Scorer: John Rolph