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A short auction and to the point on our last hand of the evening. As East I led the ♣ 2 which John won with the Ace. Defence is the toughest part of the game and a good declarer will loose the lead early when you are unsure of where the high cards are situated. John advanced the ♠ 9 at trick 2. Now Chris did very well as West here as she let it win and she did it in tempo with no pause for thought. John now played a heart to the 10 and Chris won with the King. With no ♣ to return she led the ♦ 9, letting me know she had no high card there. That ran round to the Q on dummy and John ducked a ♣ to me. I now have a blueprint of the hand. He has the AK of ♣ and the K of ♦ . The ♠ play looks like he has the Q, so I played A and J of ♦ . Then I won the ♥ A, cashed the ♠ K and played a ♠ to Chris who won the rest of the tricks. 800 and a satisfactory end to the evening.
A dual theme on this hand. The first problem is East’s rebid after North’s overcall. Without the overcall you would rebid 1 NT. Now you have no good bid. This is where ourflexible friend comes in. You double which as opener suggests a good hand with no good bid. Perfect! Chris bid 2♦ and that is where we played. However South should certainly compete to 3♣ and I would almost certainly bid 3♦ .
We discussed defence on the previous hand and this one demonstrates the principle of PASSIVE defence. South should start leading North’s suit. If dummy plays low, North should insert the 10. East draws trumps and exits with a ♣ . North wins and sees that West has weak ♥ ‘s, so plays the 10 of ♥ , top of a doubleton. East will win and exit a ♥ which South wins and cashes ♥ s. East ruffs the 4th round and eventually has to play a ♠ . Now N/S must make 3 ♠ tricks. If N/S Open the ♠ suit then E/W will make a ♠ trick. This ♠ layout is called a frozen suit. So named because whoever plays the suit first loses a trick in the suit. The clue to look for is Hxx opposite Hxx.
One of the key questions to ask yourself is: what is going on? Work that out and doing some mental arithmetic should allow you to reach the correct answer.
If North applies those principles then he should find the winning solution on today’s hand. South led the ♣ Q: declarer cashed both top ♣ ‘s, throwing the ♦ K and a small spade. North was in at the next trick with the ♥ A. What is going on? Why hasn’t partner led my suit? Answer: he hasn’t got one! Let us count East’s hand. East has only got one minor suit card. If partner has no ♠ ‘s then East has five and seven ♥ ‘s. It all fits!! Having worked that out North should lead the ♠ 10 which South ruffs and exits with a ♥ . In the fullness of time North will make two more tricks to defeat the game.
How do you bid the difficult 4441 hands? They can be tough but this was the bidding at our table with Mary as East and Sue as West. It all looks fairly straightforward with Sue closing shop with her 3NT bid. She might have tried 2♠ , fourth suit forcing then Mary would bid 2NT as she has the ♠ ‘s stopped.
Sue took the obvious nine tricks and imagine my surprise when they were the only pair in 3NT! So, we bid these hands by opening the suit below the Singleton with a red Singleton : if we have a black Singleton we bid the middle of the other three. Another way of looking at it is checking you have a rebid when partner responds in your Singleton. One other pair bid 3NT later in the evening so it was only a second bottom!
A tricky hand to bid today. I was North, John and I bid as described. We play 4th suit forcing for one round only. So when I bid 3♦ this is now game forcing. John bid 3NT admitting to his ♦ stop and I bid a quantitative 4NT. No suit had been agreed so it was not Blackwood. John did well to accept and so I finished matters by bidding the NT slam. 6♦ is probably the best place to be, but even that it is not cold.
It is important with powerful two suited hands like mine and no fit to take things slowly. Try to decide how forcing bidding the fourth suit is. It is always forcing to game at the three level. I could have finished matters by bidding 3NT at my second or third turn but I wanted to garner as much information as possible before making a final decision. I also didn’t want a ♣ lead through John’ second suit. My 3♦ goes by the name of fifth suit forcing! After John’s 3NT I could maybe try 6♦ which is probably the best spot.
These evenings will now take place each month on the last Tuesday of the month. Visitors and players wanting a taste of duplicate are welcome as well as Mike and Sandy’ students. Also if you do not have a partner for the evening then you can turn up and one will be found for you. A list will go on the board shortly for members to volunteer to be the floating partner for the evening. If your regular partner is away for that evening then the committee would be grateful if you could volunteer for that month. The first will be Tuesday 30th January.
A bidding system improvement and a missed opportunity are today’s themes. John’s 2NT rebid is 15-19 in the modern style and game forcing. This allows room to investigate slam below 3NT. Gerry then bid a quantitative 4NT and John optimistically accepted. He has seen my defence before!
Chris led a club and John cashed his black suit winners. He threw a heart and three ♦ ‘s from dummy, I shed two ♦ ‘s and Chris A ♣ . When John cashed the ♥ A I rather woodenly followed with the 3, then the nine under the K. Now he can only keep his fingers crossed and hope the ♥ ‘s are 3-3.
However, look what happens if I follow with the ♥ 9 and Jack. Now he has an option to play the ♥ ‘s as 4-2 and end play Chris with her bare ♦ Ace. It depends whether he believes my carding!
Julie,Chris,John and Sandy on board Oriana on their recent Canary Island and Portugal cruise.
There is a saying that says that the 5 level belongs to the opponents. East/West were doomed to a bad board on today’s hand. Once I bid 5♥ as North East should probably pass. Although there are 6 good spades, it is a semi balanced hand, it is equal vulnerability, the 5 level belongs to the opponents and partner’s bold barrage bid of 4♠ has done its job. John did very well as South to bid the ♥ slam with his Singleton trump ace, but even if he doubles that will net us 800.
In East’s defence all these 5 level decisions are very difficult. However as long as you apply the above criteria you will come to the right decision most of the time. Whether John would bid 6♥ without the 5♠ bid is a moot point!
John and I bid the ♣ slam as above. However I had the mechanism to bid the grand confidently but was rather lazy in the bidding. Rather than just bidding 6♣ after John’s heart cue bid I should have gone through Blackwood. I was listening to Bob Hamman’s advice, if you think that partner has the exact cards then he almost certainly hasn’t. I was bidding the slam anyway so it doesn’t cost to go through 4NT. He would show 2 keycards and then I could bid 5NT. When he bids 6♥ promising either the ♥ K or the other two (his 3♦ promises the ♦ K) I can confidently count 13 tricks and bid 7NT.
The important point of the hand is my initial 3♣ bid. After a 1NT opener, 3 of any suit promises a good 6 card suit and slam interest. John has a superb hand for me, a maximum with good clubs and good controls in the other suits. If he had a minimum with no good fit then he would sign off in 3NT. We were rather lucky to score a joint top as only Gerry and Sue bid the club slam.
It is said that experts like to avoid finesses if at all possible. Ten tricks are guaranteed on today’s hand if declarer can engineer E/W to open the club suit. East starts with top diamonds. Declarer ruffs the second round, draws trumps and tries a ♠ to the Q and K. West returns a ♠ which North wins. Now North plays a ♥ to the 9 and ruffs the last ♦ . Finally North exits with the last ♠ leaving E/W to open up the ♣ suit or give a ruff and discard.
Game made without a club guess.
The par result was found at only one table today. Both pairs scored exactly 50%. The bidding was short and to the point. Nick bid a direct 7♥ after Irene’s 4♠ bid. There is a lot for bidding what you think you can make (or what partner can make!). He only needs partner to have the ♥ K for the contract to be cold. And even if partner doesn’t have the ♥ K, the contract makes if the trumps divide 1-1. John Auld judged well to take the sacrifice in 7♠ .
After a couple of lean months your correspondent is in full flow today. This was the second hand that caught my eye. We are encouraged to get into the bidding if at all possible and that is what Roger did as North board 11. It is generally good tactics to get involved, particularly at love all. The downside is as today’s hand demonstrates in that it gives a blueprint of the hand. I ruffed the third round of spades, cashed the ♣ A, finessed the Jack with the help of Roger’s double which suggests clubs are 3-1 and cashed the ♣ K. If Roger started with 4-4 in the red suits he is now squeezed. Whichever red card he discards I can ruff out the suit to establish the long card without having to resort to a red suit finesse.
Monster hands like North’s can be notoriously difficult to bid. A suggested sequence is illustrated above. North’s 4♣ bid shows an extremely powerful hand with excellent clubs and is game forcing. Even had South initially bid 2♦ it would still be forcing. Now South can cue bid her ♥ control, agreeing clubs as holding the Q will solidify the clubs. Now North can bid the grand slam in NT with reasonable confidence. South has shown a balanced hand with about 8 to 10 points and has only shown five so far. Either red Q makes the grand solid and there are lots of squeeze possibilities too.
Saving space by South relaying with 2♦ makes it harder to bid the grand with the same degree of confidence. We bid 2♣ -2♦ -3♣ -3♦ -3♥ -4♥ -6♣ . The main thing to remember is to take hands like North slowly. Have confidence that partner will not pass below game.
We look at a rare trump reduction play this week. A model sequence is demonstrated above. South’s 4♥ should be a cue-bid agreeing ♠ ‘s and N/S should subside in 5♠ . We got a bit too high and bid the precarious slam. East led a ♦ to the Ace and it was returned. North cashed a top ♠ then went to dummy with a ♥ and finessed the J. When West followed with low ♠ ‘s the Q,10 sunk the contract. However if West covers the ♠ 9 with the 10 and North finesses then North is sitting with K,6 sitting over the Q,4.
Now North has to reduce his trumps to the same length as West and be in dummy at trick 12 to lead a plain card through West. Best to cash K and A of ♣ , ruff a ♦ then back to dummy with a ♥ and cash Q of ♣ . If West throws a ♥ YOU MUST RUFF your winner then play your last ♥ to dummy and play any card at trick 12 to scoop up West’s ♠ holding.
Well done to John Auld and Frank Norton who were the only declarers to make 12 tricks.
David Dobbie did very well to pass David Garside’s limit raise. He scored a joint top for just making his part score in spite of his 15 HCP. There is a lot of controversy about whether 3NT or 4 of a major is the best game on 4-4 or 5-3 fits. The modern expert trend is to go for the 9 trick game. This is especially so if one hand is 4333, even more so if both have the dreaded 4333 shape.
So to hit the bullseye David D should bid 3NT. David G has no hesitation in passing this with his sterile distribution. Tricky to make but almost any line will result in 9 tricks. Sadly not a single E/W pair tried the 9 trick game.
Good defence needs partnership cooperation. West had a tough problem after East led the ♦ Q. This was covered by the K and won with the Ace. Who has the ♦ singleton? West needs to know whether the AK of ♠ will stand up. So at trick 2, West cashes the ♠ K. King for Kount! East follows with the 2, promising an odd number. Even if North falsecards with the ♠ Q, West can now cash the A as East has 3 or 5. Only then does West play a second ♦ for a ruff if East has the singleton. I encourage everyone to learn the balanced hand distributions off by heart: 5332,4333,4432. It makes solving this type of problem much easier.
By applying the Ace for Attitude and K for Kount you can solve a lot of defensive problems. This applies throughout the defence and not just on the opening bid. You only have to add up to 13!
This looks a fairly routine bidding sequence to what I would call the normal contract. Keith's 1NT, dustbin response to Frank's ♥ opener was spot on as was Frank's raise to 2NT and Keith's pass. I made the normal 4th highest ♠ lead and Keith played it well to emerge with 10 tricks. I thought we would get average minus but imagine my chagrin when I discovered that every other East was playing in 1 or 2♥ ! What was worse was that even had we held it to 8 tricks it would still have been a bottom!
Why were all the Easts in 2♥ ? I can only assume that South overcalled 2♦ and then East bid 2♥ . Having spent a fair amount of column time espousing the use of double, it is a little disappointing that all the East's have decided to repeat their ♥ 's rather than the more flexible double. West can now convert that double into a penalty by passing the double which would net them 300 or 100.
Should John overcall 2♦ ? Expert wisdom likes to have a 6 card suit. However Andrew Robson is more flexible and suggests a hand like South's with three honours is worthy of an overcall at the 2 level. You add your honours to the suit length: here 3 honours and a 5 card suit. This makes 8 allowing you to contract for 8 tricks. Very useful rule to decide whether to venture in at the 2 level. A close decision though either way.
The beauty of the game is it's never ending supply of problems that occur which you can generally get right if you think along the correct lines. Today's hand is a case in point. Bob took the push to 4♥ and got a well deserved top by end playing West.
My bid of 2♠ was rather an overbid and I probably should have doubled the final contract. In these situations when you have a strong holding in declarer' second suit it is generally a good idea to lead a trump. So I fished out the ♥ Q. John won the Ace and returned one which Bob won. He played a ♦ to the king and John's ace. It looks natural to now lead the ♠ K which is what John did. Two tricks later he found himself endplayed to lead into the ♦ Q,10 or setting up dummy's ♠ J. As I must have four ♠ 's for my 2♠ bid he knows declarer has only one so can afford to play a small one. Now he can safely exit with a top ♠ when in with the ♣ J and declarer is a trick short.
I could have prevented this debacle by leading a ♠ at trick 1. Also if John ducks my initial ♥ lead then declarer cannot get home. Anyway, bravely bid and well played by Bob.
Bernard Moore has never been a politically correct sort of person. He is the same at the bridge table as today's imaginative effort shows. His 1♦ overcall is not a bid of beauty and will not be found in the teaching manuals. Only a 4 card suit, doesn't eat up any bidding space but what a great result. I showed my ♠ suit and John Haddon made an excellent pre-emptive effort of 3♦ . This gave John Rolph something of a headache as he has no good bid. He would like to bid 3NT but only has 15 HCP, only 3 card ♠ support so out came the takeout double. Now I developed a headache: I eventually opted for the ♣ game as I felt I was too good for only 4♣ . Now the wheels really came off as John thought this could be exclusion Blackwood (don't ask) and we eventually landed in the ♠ slam which is even worse than our usual efforts. Bernard kindly didn't double but it was still no match points for us.
Anyway, well done Bernard. The egg on our faces was worth it for the grin on yours!
It is unusual to find oneself endplayrd on the opening lead. This fate befell Mike Crook on Tuesday's duplicate. He led the ♥ Q which I ducked! The double suggested he had the majority of the points and Phil had the ♥ A.
Once he remains on lead Phil cannot get the lead to send a ♣ through. Mike switched to the ♣ K but to no avail. Game made. The good news for Mike was that the double cost no matchpoints.
In the bidding note Chris's 3♠ , an excellent bid and although I normally advise that when you open a weak 2 you keep quiet for the rest of the auction my hand has excellent shape (6421) and could easily open at the 1 level, hence why I bid on to 4♠.
Chris tells me that players tend to freeze a bit when playing me and today's hand is a case in point. I have a rather minimum overcall on the North cards. The only thing going for it is the good suit. What should East do? Bid straight to 4♠! You have 8 points, you can add 1 shortage point for the doubleton ♦ and 3 for the singleton ♣ , making 12 high card point equivalents. If partner has only a minimum he will have 5 or more ♠ 's, if he has only 4 then he will have a strong no trump hand. The ♣ singleton is also likely to be pulling full weight as North has bid the suit.
So the message is when you have good trump support make sure you bid up and don't forget to add your shortage points as above. As I say to Chris many times: as long as you table 4 trumps then I don't care how many high card points you have, I will be a happy bunny.
Two good lessons on today's hand. I was East and poked in a minimum overcall. At the 1 level I consider this a minimum and would never dream of overcalling at the 2 level. The distribution is good (5431) and the suit qualifies Andrew Robson's suit quality test. A five card suit and add the two honours equals seven so it is ok to overcall contracting for seven tricks. The main reason for this type of weak overcall is to get the defence off to the right lead as we will see later. After Keith's 1NT, Chris correctly competed to 2♠ . Again she is minimum but she knows of the eight card fit so supports my suit to take away the bidding space. Alan doubled to show his extra values and they alighted in the good game contract.
That is the bidding lesson and now comes the defence lesson. Chris led the ♠ 2, low from three to an honour. I won the ace and returned my original fourth highest. Keith perforce won the king and Chris paused for thought. She knew I had five ♠ 's, hence declarer only two so she brightly ditched her Q under the K! Now when she got the lead with the ♦ Q, she was able lead her small ♠ to my three winners.
With Sandy's absence we have not had a 'Hand of the day' for some time so I offer this exhibit from last Thursday. Hand 25 did little to help our cause as we scored a meagre 14% on the board. However, being generous in nature, I have decided to credit Bernard with a rare example of a 'Stripe-tailed ape' double. This is where the double of a game contract is meant to deter the opposition from bidding a makeable slam. (5H doubled +1 scores 1050 against 6H which scores 1430).
The double is so named because the doubler, if the contract is redoubled, is recommended to run like a 'striped-tailed ape' to a sacrificial contract. In this case it would be 5S doubled which would lose 800. Unfortunately the rest of the field played in game or worse, and it was only John & Irene, who bid the excellent slam, that saved us from a complete bottom..
In practice, I don't think either Bernard or I would have bid over a redouble, and if declarer takes the Heart finesse and sets up Clubs, they make all 13 tricks for a score of 2000!
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.
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