Congratulations to Frinton Bridge Club on their 50th Anniversary.  The occasion was celebrated by about 50 current and former members with a lunch at Frinton Golf Club, followed by a bridge session.  It was fitting that the bridge was won by one of the founder-members, Tony Haig-Thomas (playing with his brother, David). Results are HERE.
NEW SUFFOLK MEMBER Dovercourt Bridge Club which recently affiliated to the Suffolk Contract Bridge Association.



A team from Ipswich & Kesgrave performed with great credit at the weekend in the regional finals of the Garden Cities Trophy, the EBU's inter county teams of eight competition.

The eight players - Peter Gemmell, Chris Chambers, Maria Allnutt, Debby Sutcliffe, Peter Sutcliffe, Chris Green, Malcolm Pryor and Karen Pryor - finished a very close up third behind teams from Warwick and Cambridge bridge clubs.

Unfortunately only two teams from each of the four regional finals make it through to the final of the competition. To see the results, click on GARDEN

Mike O'Reilly is stepping down from the Suffolk bridge committee after many years as a member. He was presented with something suitably refreshing as way of a thank you by Chris Rickard, the county's competitions secretary, following a recent meeting of the committee.
How much are results on a board determined by different systems used by players? Malcolm investigates a hand where No Trump ranges proved crucial. To read more click on Suffolk@TheNationals

Hertfordshire has released details of its popular green pointed congress next July.

The two day event will be on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July at the usual venue - Wodson Park, Wadesmill Road, Ware SG12 0UQ.

For all the details click on HERTS. To enter on line, click PAIRS (Saturday) and/or TEAMS (Sunday)


When Suffolk captain Rick Hanley and his partner missed a slam, he decided to email US expert Marty Bergen and - for $1 a minute - seek his opinion.

How did he rate my bidding?

Within a couple of hours, I discovered the answer.

He didn't rate it all! Nor did he rate my partner's bidding as being much better.

Click on Consulting The Oracle to read more.


Richard Evans & Paul Rickard are the webmasters running Suffolk's dedicated bridge website.

If you would like to publicise a forthcoming event or submit a news item for this website click Richard or Paul

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Rick Hanley - Captain's Log

Heartless Norfolk


Imagine you are playing in a teams match against strong opposition and pick up the following hand:

♠ 9754  83  102 ♣ KQJ107

Your partner (South) opens 2♣ (strong and game forcing). Your right hand opponent bids 2  and you pass awaiting developments. Left hand opponent now bids 2 which comes back to you, your partner passing. You now double and left hand opponent  converts to 3. Partner now bids 3 . You bid 3♠ but partner bids 4. What is going on here? You confirm with West that East’s 2 bid was not alerted as artificial. What do you do? Pass/Bid 4♠/Bid 5♣? Make your decision before looking below. 

This was the dilemma facing Andrew Moore who was my partner in the recent ECL A-team match against Norfolk.  Andrew chose 5♣, but what do you do when partner now bids 5?

Wisely Andrew chose to pass this time. Here are the other three hands:

You can see that East’s (Stuart Langridge) bid of 2 was a psych. It completely misrepresented his hand in an attempt to keep us out of hearts and it nearly succeeded. When we ended up in 5 , West can make the heroic defence of leading a low diamond. A spade return now defeats the contract. What a coup that would have been, but fortunately West (Paul Darby) understandably led A.  Psychs were once a feature of the game even at international levels but are much less common these days as bidding systems have become more sophisticated. Unsuccesful psychs sometimes marked the end of previously cordial partnerships, but note that East’s psych is pretty safe because he has little chance of playing in hearts given his diamond holding. Psychs are sometimes considered a little underhand but Andrew and I both enjoyed this one. 


Better slam bidding with Marty Bergen: Consulting the Oracle


Rick Hanley Jeff Orton

Here is a hand from a recent EBU online knockout teams match, played on BBO, in which my partner and I (Jeff Orton) were playing with team-mates Bill Twedell and Michael Sherer. Fortunately we won the match, but we lost imps on this particular board.


Playing 15-17 NT and a short club, you hold: 

♠ AQJ2  A63  AJ64 ♣ Q10


Partner opens 1♣, you reply 1♠ and partner rebids 1NT (12-14). Do you bid 3NT (to play) or 4NT (quantitative invite to slam)? As I had a flat hand, and our partnership had at most a combined 32 HCPs, I bid 3NT. 


Jeff held: 

♠ 54  KJ2  Q53 ♣ AKJ85


Both K♠  and K were onside and 12 tricks rolled in. Sadly the opposition bid 6NT and we lost 11 imps. Oh dear, perhaps I was to blame for not bidding the slam?


I had recently bought two excellent books on slam bidding (“Better slam bidding with Bergen” and “Slam bidding made easier”) from the website of the great bridge writer and 10-time North American national champion Marty Bergen (

I noticed that he said on his website that he was prepared to discuss hands played on BBO for 1$ a minute. What better way to spend my recently acquired birthday cash than to email Marty and ask for his opinion? How did he rate my bidding? Within a couple of hours, I discovered the answer. He didn’t rate it at all!! Nor did he rate my partner’s bidding as being much better.


Marty Bergen

Here are the full details of Marty’s response (reproduced with his permission):

This was very bad hand evaluation by both players.

Relevant for both players.
I define any suit with 3+ honours and 4+ cards as a quality suit.
They are rare.
Any time you have a quality suit, add 1 HCP to the value of your hand

Your partner

Add 1 HCP for his quality suit

He is also blessed with a five-card suit. Add 1 point for that.

It is OK for him to consider his Q not worth 2 HCP.
If he wanted to subtract 1 point for that, it is sensible.

So, with 15-16 points, he should open 1NT.

Before the auction beganyou have 18 traditional HCP.  

add 1 HCP for quality spade suit
add 1 HCP for 3 aces.  Aces are underrated honours. Their real value is 4.5
Subtract 1 HCP for your dubious
So, your hand is worth 19 HCP before the auction began

Then, when partner opened 1, you immediately restore the 2 HCP for the Q

(Note that here, your Q was worth a lot, and even the 10 was potentially useful
s were 5-1)

So, you had 20 HCP.  When partner showed 12-14, you definitely are worth a quantitative raise to 4NT.  He obviously would accept.

Of course, after a 1NT opening, you would force to slam.

6NT is not cold, but it is a good contract, and would be helped by a lead of either unbid suit.


So there you have it. If you want to bid good slams (and games), don’t bid like I did and mechanically count up your traditional HCPs. Upgrade your hand on the basis of its quality features and take it from there.


Has Andrew Robson improved your card play?


Did you attend the excellent Masterclass teaching session by Andrew Robson that Clare Bridge club organised in November? If so, a hand from a recent Ipswich and Kesgrave club session would have provided a good test of how much you had absorbed on that occasion. 

On the hand in question (see below), South dealt and passed, as did West and North. East (myself) opened 1NT (15-17). South overcalled 2 and East/West ended up in 4 spades played by West. North led a heart to the A, K and a low heart. West ruffed high while North discarded. West now crossed to the ♠A and ♠K of spades in dummy and led a diamond to get back to hand to draw the last trump. The question is which diamond should he play from hand? Should he play the King, the Jack, or do you think it is a 50/50 guess? Make your decision before reading on.



My partner, who had not attended the masterclass, decided to play the King. Was this right? Andrew Robson urged us to count the high card points that an opponent has played and use that knowledge in conjunction with the bidding to determine the course of action. The key issue in this hand is that South had not opened the bidding and had already shown AKJ = 8 points. If he/she had also held the A, then he/she would surely have opened 1. In all probability, the A must therefore be with North. So declarer should have played the J and would have made the contract because North held the Ace but not the Queen. 

According to the traveller, only 2/5 declarers made 10 tricks in spades on a heart lead. So this hand did not fool my partner alone. If you decided on the same play as he did, you might like to know that Clare Bridge club are holding another Andrew Robson Masterclass in Lavenham on Feb 1st (see the SCBA website for details). Can you guess what my partner received for Christmas?