Tunbridge Wells Bridge Club
Interesting Hands

Hand 17 Wed aft 23 August 2017.

You lead the 7 , partner plays the 10 and declarer wins with the King.   He leads a heart which partner wins with the Ace.
Partner now leads the 5 covered by declarer's Q .
How do you defend and why?

What actually happened.
East took the A and led another diamond.  Declarer now rattled off eleven tricks for a joint top.

East should have considered the bidding. Why did North choose 3NT when his partner is showing at least nine, probably ten cards in the black suits? The answer must be that he has mostly red cards (at this stage you don't know North should have bid 4♠ ). 
When opponents play in 3NT having shown a misfit you should always consider
a) cutting declarer's communications
b) having cut them, locking declarer into one of the hands.

Here, communications have been cut to declarer's hand so you should lock him in dummy by leading a black card.
You will now reap the reward from opponents being in the wrong contract.

Last updated : 10th Feb 2018 12:54 GMT
  The value of counting

Hand 28 Mon eve 21 August 2017.

S leads the five of hearts to N's King. You duck this, the next round and take your Ace on the third.  N follows and you're virtually certain S led from a five card suit.
You cash the AK of diamonds and N discards a low spade on the second one.
Plan the play.
What can you deduce from the bidding and the play so far regarding the NS holdings?

S started with five hearts and four diamonds hence he can only have four black cards.
N didn't overcall in spades so is unlikely to hold six of them.  So, N is virtually certain to hold at least four clubs.
You expect most pairs will be in 3NT and you can now count a safe nine tricks; one heart, three clubs and five diamonds.
Should you look for an overtrick and risk going off if S has the Ace of spades and keeps his remaining two hearts?
If this were teams you should take your nine tricks.

But this is pairs.
The chances are that S only has one spade and three clubs.  Hence the odds are heavily stacked in favour of N holding the Ace of spades.
Also most of us like the satisfaction of a squeeze and N looks a good candidate to be on the receiving end of one.
So, how about cashing the Ace of clubs and then the King.  Rather than cash the Queen, take the marked diamond finesse and cash your remaining diamonds.
To retain his four clubs N can only keep one spade. 
A satisfying squeeze.  At least it would have been if I hadn't settled for nine tricks!

Last updated : 25th Jan 2018 15:10 GMT
  One that got away. Part 1

Hand 15 Wed aft 16 Aug 2017.

A hand that defeated most declarers.
The bidding shown was at my table.
The 2NT was the unusual NT showing at least 5-5 in the minors.
$NT was RKC Blackwood and 5 showed one "Ace".

West lead the Jack of clubs, East played the six.
Plan the play.
Once you've made your plan, look at the answer and then go on to part 2 as more information will emerge as you play to tricks 2 & 3.

Firstly, did you decide whether you should aim for 12 or 13 tricks?
I would suggest you should secure your contract as there are likely to be several pairs who aren't in a slam.
Further, anyone in 6NT is likely to fail.

So, did you do what happened at my table and what I suspect happened at many other tables?
Declarer took the Ace of clubs, drew trumps and then looked to set up the spade suit.  He made the first eleven tricks but was left with two losing clubs.

The simplest way to ensure twelve tricks is to lead a club at trick two and ruff a club in dummy.

Now plan how to make 13 tricks bearing in mind the bidding.
Once you've thought of a plausible line of play go on to Part 2.

Last updated : 13th Jan 2018 10:07 GMT
  One that got away. Part 2

Hand 15 Wed aft 16 Aug 2017.

So, you're trying for 13 tricks.
Take the Ace of clubs.  Lead a heart to your Ace (in case W started with four when you can finesse him) and find both E & W follow.  Cash the Queen of hearts on which East discards a low club.
Over to you.

Don't draw the last trump but lead a spade to the Ace as you know East can't now ruff.  As expected, East follows to two rounds of spades.
East is marked with 5-5 in the minors.
You now have enough entries to set up the spades as you have the extra entry of the King of hearts.

Last updated : 12th Jan 2018 15:46 GMT
  Save the last hand for me

It's your last hand of the year.  
You were lying a close second at the end of the penultimate round and you've just scored 60% on the first two boards.
You've reached a good contract.  Ten tricks look very likely so all you've got to do is to make it!

W leads J .  You take the finesse, which loses. E returns 3 which you win in dummy.You've two Aces to lose so mustn't lose another trick.
You lead a spade to your Jack and W playes the 10♠ .  This has all the hallmarks of being a singleton.  You cash the A and lead a heart to E's K .
E exits with a trump and W discards a diamond.  You ruff a heart and draw trumps.  

Don't worry if you haven't followed the above.  You're down to a four card ending where you hold only clubs.
You lay down the Ace, W plays the 10 and E the 2.
So, are clubs 4-1 or 3-2?  How do you play?

Unless W has had a brainstorm or is trying to be too clever by half, you now have a guarantee way of making.
Nobody made the contract.  A short pause to think and the way to play should occur to you.
If the split is 3-2 then cashing out will work.
If they're 4-1 would W have played the 10 from J-10-x-x thereby potentially sacrificing a certain trick?
So, simply lead low from hand towards the Q♣ . If West shows out you now have a marked finesse against East.

Nobody made 4♠ !  Presumeably all declarers played the Ace and then the King of clubs.  A top rather than 50% was the difference between winning and coming second.
Ah well.  There's always next year.

Last updated : 30th Dec 2017 14:30 GMT
  Is your brain as sharp as your scissors?

Hand 14 Tue eve 8 August 2017.

You lead the 10 , the Q is played from dummy, partner plays the Jack and declarer the 4.
a diamond is led from dummy to declarer's Ace, partner following suit.  Declarer leads a diamond, you play the King, dummy the 10 and partner discards a small club.
Regardless of whatever discarding system you use, you deduce partner is simply throwing away a card he doesn't want.

What do you lead now?

What actually happened.
East led the J♠ and declarer now made nine tricks.
He went up with the Ace, cashed the Q , crossed to hand with the A .

What did you do?
N must have the AK of hearts and is known to have started with six diamonds to the Ace 9.
If he holds the K♠ or the K 10♣ then there's nothing you can do. If he doesn't, then his only entry to hand will be via a heart.  Before being able to run the diamonds he must unblock the Q .  So your best bet is to lead a heart.  This cuts declarer's communications - hence the reference to scissors in the title.

Last updated : 22nd Dec 2017 18:06 GMT
  The order of play

Hand 10 Mon eve 31 July 2017.
Not a bidding sequence to be proud of.  To make the hand interesting trying playing it as 6 which was a common contract.
Assume the lead is the J♠ .

Usually one looks to draw trumps before tackling a side suit.
Here however, your analysis should lead you to a different approach.
You can see the potential for two losers, one heart and one diamond.
You're unsure how to tackle the hearts although playing for the drop looks enticing as all it requires is a 3-2 heart break.
You should then realise that unless you're going to play for a singleton King of diamonds, you will have to take the diamond finesse.
So, take the diamond finesse immediately!  (If it's ruffed then your chances of dropping the J improve).
If it holds, which it does, switch to hearts at trick 3 as the chances of a 3-1 diamond break are too great to ignore.

Now, how are you going to play the heart suit?
Stop and think.  To make your contract you can now afford to lose one trump trick.  You should note that anyone in 6NT will will now have a laydown 13 tricks.  It must be likely that several pairs won't be in a slam so your priority should now be to ensure your contract if you can.  You can't survive a 6-0 break where East has all six, but what about a 5-1 break?
You study the pips carefully and note with relief that dummy's singleton is the nine.  Hence you should run the nine.  Now the defence can only score one trick.

If this were teams then this is definitely the way you should play the hand.

My thanks to one of my readers for suggesting I include this hand.

Last updated : 7th Dec 2017 17:56 GMT
  I didn't want to lose a trick partner!

Hand 3 Wed aft 26 July 2017.

You lead the 7 to the Ace, 5 and declarer's 2.
10♠ led from dummy, S's Q, declarer's K and you win with the Ace.
How do you defend?

Obviously you want to make your King of hearts so which of the other suits did you choose?
Thus thought I and several others.  We didn't lead a heart.

I regretted my stupidity.  Declarer is trying for a spade ruff.  Partner's play of the Q♠ indicates he hasn't got the Jack so a lead of the K can't cost.  (Better to lead the King rather than the nine as partner must have 2 or 3 hearts and if he has J-x-x he will make a trick in hearts even though you've led the King).  You've prevented a ruff even if you've led into declarer's AQ.  As it turns out, partner has the Ace.

Last updated : 30th Nov 2017 17:42 GMT
  Covering an honour with an honour

Hand 27 Tue eve 18 July 2017

North leads the2♣ .  This is clearly a singleton so you win with the Ace and return a small club.
N ruffs with the 9 and leads the 5 .  Declarer wins with the Ace in dummy and leads the Q .
Do you cover? 

What actually happened.

South played the King of hearts and felt somewhat uncomfortable to see North overtake it with the Ace.
I expect you played low but was this because I've used the hand as a problem, so you stopped to think?
Defence is reckoned to be the most difficult part of the game and I think this hand provides useful pointers for less experienced players who wish to improve.

1. From West's bidding you know he is at least 5-4 in hearts and clubs.
2. Once partner leads the 2♣ , you can count him for a singleton and West with exactly four.
3. Partner's ruff with the 9 means this is either his only heart or he has one more which is higher than the nine.
4. Now consider what you can gain by covering the Q .  You would cover an honour with an honour if you felt there was a chance of promoting a winner in partner's hand.  As partner can only have a maximum of one more heart you cannot possibly gain by covering.  Hence you do not cover.

Last updated : 9th Nov 2017 17:31 GMT

Hand 26 Wednesday afternoon 5 July 2017.

I have had two instances reported to me recently where declarer felt he was misinformed by an opponent.
See what you think.

The contract is 6NT by North with no opposition bidding.
East leads 10♣ and West plays the 6♣ .
You cash the King of clubs and West discards the5 .  You ask East what discard system they're using and he replies "Odds and evens with evens encouraging".
Plan the play.
Assuming you run your clubs, West's six discards will be two spades, two hearts and two diamonds.  East three discards will be one heart and two diamonds.

Seeing the 5 discard, declarer took this as discouraging diamonds and so took the heart finesse and went one off.
He felt he had been misled.  Do you agree?

I do not think so.
1. Against a slam, West is unlikely to think East will gain the lead so why bother to sigmal?
2. He may only have "odd" diamond cards.
3. At any time an opponent is allowed to false card.
4. Sometimes you simply want to throw something away, regardless of whether it's odd or even.

I am no fan of "odds and evens" discards.  When I make my first discard I'm conscious of partner watching this like a hawk and basing his defence on this regardless of other considerations.

Regarding this particular hand I offer no guaranteed way of playing it to ensure success.  If the contract had been 6♣ then East's failure to start with the Ace of diamonds would incline me to lead towards the King of diamonds after cashing most of the clubs.  I would only pay attention to discards by counting the number in each suit.

Last updated : 29th Oct 2017 12:20 GMT
  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