Tunbridge Wells Bridge Club
Interesting Hands
  Could you have helped win the NICKO?

A hand form the NICKO final won by the Tunbridge Wells A team.

The contract is 3NT by South.  East leads the 8 .  Plan the play.

Where do you expect nine tricks to come from?
Four spades, two hearts, hopefully four diamonds and at least one club.  Could anyting go wrong?
So, did you play the Ace of hearts at trick one or let it run round to your Queen?

Your analysis should be that nine tricks are cold provided you only lose one diamond trick.
At the other table, declarer played low and East's King won. He switched to a club and now declarer had to lose three clubs and the two red Kings.
Espen Erichsen played the Ace at trick one and immediately tackled diamonds.  Nine tricks were duly made.  +13imps to the TW team.

Last updated : 17th Oct 2017 15:17 BST
  How many finesses to take?

Board 12 Wed aft 5 July 2017

South leads the 6 and North follows with the 7 .
Plan the play.
Particular questions to consider:
1. What is S's likely diamond holding and how will you play the suit if N obtains the lead and leads a diamond?
2. How will you play the heart and club suits?

The contract doesn't look straightforwad so concentrate on simply making it.
The lead looks like 4th highest.  If so, N started with two cards higher than the six.  You've seen the seven.  Unless N is falsecarding it would seem his seven is his lowest diamond, hence he started with a doubleton.
You'd love to lead hearts towards dummy but have you spotted the difficulty?  Your only certain entry to hand is the Q♠ .  If you use this at trick two, and the hearts are badly placed you could well be cut off from hand and unable to cash heart tricks.

So, do you actually need the heart finesse?  No you don't!  Simply lead a heart from dummy at trick two.  Now provided the heart honours are split you will come to nine tricks even if S switches to a club.  3 spades tricks, 3 hearts, 2 diamonds and 1 club.  I daresay you might be able to construct a distribution where 3NT will fail but if S has 6 diamonds then N/S will find it difficult to garner 5 tricks before you have 9.

So the answer to the original question is "Don't take any finesses".

Last updated : 14th Oct 2017 11:35 BST
  Does your system cope??

Hand 14 Tue eve 28 June 2017.

So, what do you bid now?
4NT is RKC Blackwood.  You've got 5 of the top "Aces" and the Queen of trumps!

When you look at both hands, think how you would bid them.

Finally, to see how Helen and Espen Erichsen would bid them, look at the Answer.

  East          West
   2♣             4NT
   5♣              7 

2♣ Standard Acol, forcing to game.
4NT is basic Blackwood  ie. no. of aces.
5♣   shows 0 or 4

Last updated : 3rd Oct 2017 20:36 BST
  Which finesse(s) to take?

Hand 9 Mon eve 26 June 2017

S leads the 3♠ and N plays the 4♠ .
Trumps break 3-1 with S having three.  (N discards two small clubs)

Plan the play.
How many finesses and in which order will you take them?
Assume that if  N gains the lead, he will lead a diamond.

What actually happened.  Declarer drew trumps ending in his hand.  He led a heart to N's Queen who returned a small diamond.  Declarer finessed, lost to S's King but made eleven tricks.  He was somewhat surprised to find this was a joint bottom as just over half the field had made 12 tricks. Surely they couldn't all have received a diamond lead??
The penny dropped.  Wouldn't a better play have been to reject the diamond finesse, play the Ace and take a second heart finesse remembering to play the Jack.  If this works and and hearts break 3-3 you will get 12 tricks.  If they break 4-2 and no King appears, you can still make 12 tricks by ruffing a heart, and taking the club finesse on the way back to dummy.  A club finesse failure would result in you only making 10 tricks.

Did you spot the best line?
Win the first trump in hand low and cash the A♠  noting N showing out. Now lead a heart and finesse, win the diamond return and take the second heart finesse.  If the hearts were 4-2 you can now return to dummy via the K♠ to discard your two remaining diamonds and only then take the club finesse.

Last updated : 19th Sep 2017 11:41 BST
  Tricky card analysis

Hand 22 Mon eve 19 June 2017.

East leads the 6♠  and declarer wins with the Jack. He now leads a club to the 10 and your Ace.  How do you defend?

The bidding has been unusual to say the least and it looks as though declarer will get a top if he makes 3NT.

I do not think this is at all easy so I will proffer a clue.  It looks for all the world that declarer held a singleton spade and holds the Q♣ .  Hence you will not be able to prevent him from getting to dummy to cash three spade tricks.  What will your discards be?  If it's any comfort, partner will need to play carefully as well. 

What can we deduce?
Partner has six spades to the 10 , hasn't opener a weak two, so presumably has at least eleven points.  He appears to have the K♣ and likely (hopefully) a red Ace and a red King in different suits.  If he has a red Q as well then that will be a bonus.
Declarer is known to have one spade.  If he has six good diamonds you are doomed so you must assume he has a maximum of five.  How many hearts?  Probably not four  as he hasn't bid them.  Hence his likely shape is 1-3-5-4.
Now where will his tricks come from?  4 spades, 2 clubs, 1 heart and 2 diamonds look virtually certain.  But wait a minute, declarer can't afford to cash his fourth spade in dummy as East will get the lead and cash 2 spade tricks.
So you must look to prevent declarer making more than 2 diamond tricks.  Hence you must look to keep all your diamonds whilst declarer retains 5 diamonds in his hand and hope that partner has at least A109 in diamonds and doesn't open up the suit.
Finally, partner looks to only have one heart so you don't want to lead that suit.
Hence, you should exit with a club.
I said this wasn't easy.  You did very well if you got anywhere near this analysis.  You might fing the "Play it again" feature on the website useful.

Last updated : 7th Sep 2017 16:35 BST
  Bidding with a new partner

Hand 24 Wed aft 14 June 2017.

You have only played with this partner once before and that was a year ago.  I'm getting my excuse in early!
You have agreed a basic system but, with hindsight, a bit more would have helped.
W rebid 3NT because they hadn't agreed whether or not 2NT would have been forcing.
Was 4NT quantitative or RKC Blackwood?  W didn't know for certain so assumed quantitative.

How would you have bid the hand?  Asssume you're playing a weak NT opener (12-14pts) although I have a sequence if you use a strong NT.

I am indebted to Espen Erichsen for his advice.

1. Assuming you play a weak NT.

  West                         East
   1C                        2H (strong)
   2NT                     3H
   4C (cue)              4D (cue)
  4NT (RCB)          5C (0 or 3)
  5D (ask re QH)    6H(have Q but nothing else to show)

   1S                        2H
   2NT(forcing)       3H
then as above

2.  With a strong NT opener
  1NT                       2D (transfer)
  3H (bal slam try)   4C (cue)
  4D (cue)                 and as above to 6NT  



Last updated : 1st Sep 2017 18:03 BST
  1. Keep me out of a mess please

Hand 26 Tue eve 31 May 2017.  Teams.

The 2 bid is 4th suit forcing.
What do you bid now and why?

I suggest you don't look at all the hands here at all.  Wait until you've read the answer and gone on to the next hand as it contains the identical cards.

Fourth suit forcing asks you to best describe your hand.  It is not just a simple question "Have you got a stop in the fourth suit?  If so, bid No trumps".

Hence bidding 3 gives partner the information of your 4-0-4-5 shape so he can decide whether to settle for game or go for a slam.

Last updated : 19th Aug 2017 10:33 BST
  2. Now get us out of the mess

If you'd bid 3 partner would have settled for 4♠ .
But you bid 3NT and partner, bless him, jumped to 6♠  .  Can you salvage the situation?
West leads a trump.

I don't consider this easy but thinking about how the opponents' cards must lie if you're to make the contract should give you a guide on how to play.
Firstly, trumps have to be 3-2.
Secondly, diamonds and clubs must break reasonably ie. no voids or singletons.
a) If the diamond finesse fails then you have to hope the clubs break 4-4.
You can then make 4 spades, no hearts, 3 diamonds, 2 club ruffs and 3 clubs.
b) If the diamond finesse works then you can make 4 spades, 1 heart, 3 diamonds 2 club ruffs and 2 clubs.  Clubs can now break as badly as 6-2.

Initially, you're unlikely to think through the above, particularly b). However, what should be apparent before you play from dummy is:
1) You should take the diamond finesse asap
2) You must take the first spade trick in dummy.  This is because you will need to ruff clubs twice in dummy and must therefore preserve your King in hand to draw the last trump. 

You might like to use the "Play it again feature" and try editing the hands to transfer the K to East.

Last updated : 19th Aug 2017 10:32 BST
  Choose your response

Hand 26 Wed aft 24 May 2017.

Choose from

a) 3 
b) 4 
c) 1♠ 


I hope you chose 1♠ as this is the only way you're likely to get to a slam.
Firstly, both copponents have passed so they're unlikely to enter the bidding.
Secondly, I suggest you reserve a jump to 4 for a distributional hand which doesn't contain any Aces.  This makes it much easier for the opener to assess whether to look for a slam.

Last updated : 7th Aug 2017 11:08 BST
  Should you be bold or not?

Hand 1 Wed aft 8 March 2017.

You lead the A&K of spades.  Partner plays the 6 followed by the 3.

What do you lead to trick 3?

a) given the bidding shown where
2 is weak, 2NT is forcing, 3 shows 5-7pts and a good heart suit (no definition of "good" is provided)

b) bidding similar to above but with N bidding 3♣ instead of 3 .  3♣ shows 5-7pts and a weak heart suit.

c) the bidding had been 2 Pass 4 All pass.

Unlike one or two members of the club, you can assume N is not prone to flights of fancy and so would not be opening a weak two on something akin to a six card suit head by the ten.

What have you deduced so far? Partner has three hearts and a doubleton spade so N still holds the Q♠ . Therefore you can give partner a spade ruff at trick 3.

Did you think a bit further? Assume to start with that N does hold what he said for the 3 or 3♣ bids.  Hence he will surely have a minimum of three points in hearts, either King or Queen & Jack.  With the Q♠ , this leaves a maximum of two.  He clearly does not have the A♣ so the contract is destined to go at least one off if you secure a spade ruff at trick 3 (and partner cashes his A♣ if he reckons declarer can draw trumps and cash six heart tricks).

Now, did you think even further?  If partner holds the Q♣ as well as the Ace then you can make many more tricks by leading a club at trick 3 provided partner reads you for a doubleton club. In order, two spade tricks, two club tricks, a club ruff, a spade ruff and, given the actual layout, a trump promotion if you lead a spade at trick seven and partner ruffs high.

So, turning to the actual bidding

a) N rebids 3 .  The chances of N having 5 points in hearts and two in spades seem so great that a club lead at trick 3 looks too good a bet to miss.
b) N rebids 3♣ . Here, N seems much more likely to hold the Q♣ . Not so easy to decide.
c) S jumps to 4 .  Here, N could have 9 points so taking the immediate spade ruff looks best.

Finally, if it had been teams, then making sure of defeating the contract means you should take the spade ruff at trick 3.

Last updated : 25th Jul 2017 11:40 BST
  Are you happy with the contract?

A hand from the Corbett Cup (teams).

You are playing inverted minor raises so your 2♣ would be worth 3♣ in standard Acol.
Are you happy with the contract? How do you rate partner's chances of making it?


Three pairs played in 5♣ doubled and, no doubt were pleased with making all 13 tricks and +750.  Unsuprisingly, no South thought to lead the Ace of spades.
Perhaps you can imagine their chagrin when returning to score up that their team had lost points as their team mates had bid 6♣ (which wasn't doubled).

Did it cross your mind to have redoubled 5♣ ?  I know you associate redouble with an SOS takeout, but here, you must trust partner and be virtually certain he will make it.

I have had an interesting exchange of e-mails with a reader (great to hear from you). He points out that were E/W were to redouble, wouldn't this prompt N/S to escape to 5  ? Who knows then whether E/W would go 6♣  ?? One of the beauties of bridge!

He also suggests that 2♣ is a poor bid with such a distributional hand; a splinter of 3  would be better.  This might lead to the following first round of the auction

    N      E    S      W
  Pass  1♣  dble   3 

4♣ promises both majors.

Last updated : 13th Jul 2017 11:08 BST
  A sting in the tale

Hand 7 Mon eve 20 Feb 2017

2♠ was announced as weak.  No other bid was alerted.
You, East, lead the 6 . Dummy plays the Ace , West the 8 and North the 2.
Declarer cashes the A♠ and leads a spade to your King.  West has played the J & Q♠ .
What do you lead?

Partner, West appears likely to have the Q (after all, he did bid 2NT).
But, where will the defence's tricks come from?
You can see K♠ , A , probably Q , and almost certainly a club trick. Will another come from hearts (eg N having Kx) or another club?
On the night, E led a diamond. Declarer was now able to use the fourth diamond in dummy to discard a losing club and so make the contract for a deserved top.

Why do I say "deserved"?  Here's the sting in the tale.

West's 2NT bid was the Lebensohl convention and should therefore have been alerted.  It shows less than 8 pts and asks partner to bid 3♣ which East in turn will alert. W will then bid a suit, or pass if his suit happens to be clubs.
As N/S achieved a top, West let the matter rest.  If, however, the contract had been minus one, then N/S would have got a bottom.  In this situation, West should feel morally bound to point out to N/S that partner had forgotten their system (Lebensohl was recorded on their convention card) and suggest the director be called.  If you were N/S would you feel aggrieved or simply let the matter rest?  You should call the director.

If E/W's bids had been alerted, the bidding might then be

N    E     S    W    
2♠   x     P    2NT
P    3♣   P    3H
P    P    3♠    P
P     P    P  

or, in line with other table's results, E/W play in 4 and go one off.

You might find the following EBU clip worth a view

Now, an important distinction between a misbid and misinformation I found from a relevant website. 

"The director must determine if the problem was a mistaken bid or misinformation. In the case of a mistaken bid, opponents are not entitled to redress if they get a bad board. In the case of misinformation, however, the director is entitled to award the opponents the best likely result and adjust your score to the worst possible result".

In this hand there's no doubt it was misinformation.  So, if the E/W had explained their bids properly, I think S would have known that W was weak, E/W were stretching to bid 4 , S has three virtually certain defensive tricks and partner has good prospects of producing one defensive trick. So if I were director, I would adjust the score to 4 dbled -1 by E/W.  I would also have borne in mind that many E/Ws don't play Lebensohl so they wouldn't know the strength of W's hand.  Hence they wouldn't have doubled.

Last updated : 19th Jun 2017 16:04 BST
  That was impossible

Hand 13 Mon eve 20 Feb 2017

So said North after going one down.
Would you have done any better?

I daresay your bidding might have been different but S does well to bid the slam.
E leads the 6 , W wins with the King and leads the Ace; E follows with the 8 .

Only one pair bid the slam (out of thirteen) and only one pair made twelve tricks.

I assume all declarers followed the same line as at my table by leading to the Q♠ , drawing trumps and then switching to clubs.  When these failed to break 3-3, declarer had to lose another trick.
Counting tricks will show declarer that he has seven spades, two hearts and therefore needs three club tricks. Now consider how to set up the third club trick.  If clubs split 3-3 this is easy.  If they split 6-0 or 5-1 the contract will be impossible.  So, can you cater for a 4-2 split?
Now you're close but there's one more hurdle; entries to dummy.  If clubs split 4-2 you'll need to ruff two clubs in hand to set up a third club trick. So you'll need three entries to dummy.  A♣ & K are the two obvious ones. The third must be the Q♠ .

So I reckon the best line is:  cash A♠ , cross to A♣ , ruff a club high, cross to the Q♠ (trumps break 2-2 but you could still cope with a 3-1 break), cash the K♣ , ruff a club and the K provides your last entry.

For the afficianados of this column (I hope there are some), see if you can work out how you can still make 6♠ even if you play the Q♠ at trick 3 and another spade at trick 4.
You may need to resort to the "Play it again" feature on the website.  A fascinating squeeze!

Last updated : 24th May 2017 19:31 BST
  Curious. W bids 2NT to play; N bids 3NT to play

Hand 19 Tue eve 14 February 2017

The first four bids look unremarkable.  S's choice of a rebid of 2H started the slippery slope to a bottom.
I was East and took some agitated time wondering what to do after partner's 2NT was doubled.
If someone had told me that the computer says E can make 11 tricks, I wouldn't have believed them.
My disbelief would have been even greater if I'd been told W could make 2NT.
N reasoned that, with partner opening the bidding and supporting hearts, his side must have the balance of points and probably enough to try for game.
After that, the slippery slope got steeper.  Only seven tricks were made by declarer.

Last updated : 6th May 2017 14:55 BST
  Another waggon load of monkeys for me

Hand 25 Mon eve 23 January 2017
It's near the end of the evening, partner and I are well placed.  Then the following occurs.

Partner's 4NT bid is a takeout showing both minors.  What would you bid?

I agonised for the best part of a minute.  Do you ever have moments when you feel that, whatever you do, it's bound to be wrong?
Well, I did here.  I was sorely tempted to pass as I must have a heart stop.  However, we obviously have a big misfit so, would two of our suits run?  How many spades will partner have?
What if partner has very good minors and can usefully use my club shortage for one or possibly two, ruffs?
I decided on 5 .  Two down was not a success.  You can probably imagine that card placing was not straight forward given the bidding and the actual card layout.

Would N's opening bid have occurred to you?  In the post mortem I couldn't help remarking that I'd expected him to have more than 6 hearts especially since he was missing K,Q and J.  He said that Andrew Robson had made such a bid.
If only I'd passed 4NT; this would have been a top!

Last updated : 17th Apr 2017 08:07 BST