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Hand of the Week

This page will hold a collection of instructive hands played at the Club or hands about which you have asked questions.  So feel free to ask about a specific hand from each week's game and one will be chosen for inclusion here.

July 16 Game

Just bein' lazy with the sun, a recliner, and a brewski -- so no Hand of the Week once again. But see The Common Game for analyses of many of the boards that you played today.

July 9 Game

I'm taking the week off !!! Now that we are participating in The Common Game, you can receive expert commentary on a dozen or so of the hands that you played today. You do not need to be an ACBL member, and you do not need to login.

Just go to The Common Game website at TheCommonGame.com and find the tab named "Postmortem Discussion on BridgeWebs." Hands are uploaded shortly after 5 PM on game days. You will receive analysis by some nationally-ranked player or nationally-recognized bridge authors. In fact, I'm considering abandoning Hand of the Week here on this website but, as always, I'll welcome your opinions before any final decision.

Board 26 - July 2 Game

Here’s a hand which shows the value of knowing which bids are forcing and which are not.

South opens this 19 point hand 1 Diamond. North should stifle any urge to bid pretty much anything except for 1 Heart. It’s an absolutely forcing bid with South having opened an unpassed hand. By doing so, South will no doubt rebid 2 Notrump showing 18-19. If North instead jumps on their first bid (especially to 4 Hearts or beyond), North is never going to know the strength of South’s hand. The partnership will still likely arrive at slam, but probably the wrong one.

Patient North’s can then employ Blackwood over the 1 Diamond – 1 Heart – 2 Notrump sequence (and, yes, 4NT at this juncture IS Blackwood and not a quantitative raise). North finds the partnership with all four aces and three kings. Now, is it too much of a stretch to think that an 18-19 point hand in South has at least four tricks (North having 9 in their own hand)? I don’t think so. In a pairs game bid 7 Notrump. In a team game . . . I might hold my breath and also bid 7 Notrump.

Board 12 - June 25 Game

I’ve been asked about this hand so here it is. The plain and boring truth is I’m opening the hand 2 Notrump, East is raising to 3, and the hand makes 6 Notrump which cannot be bid by any reasonable system of which I’m aware. As I said – boring.

But here’s the heart of the lesson. Do you open a hand with two doubletons 2 Notrump? You certainly do when one of them is AK. And although I shy away from Notrump openings with two doubletons, I do consider them when the doubletons are like Ax or Kx. After all, the lead will be coming into you if you are declarer in a Notrump contract.

Let’s look at this another way. Say that one of your small Diamonds were actually a Heart or a Spade. You’d open this hand 2 Notrump in a heartbeat because you would have the requisite 5-3-3-2 distribution for a “balanced” hand. So why should that 5 of Diamonds prevent you from doing so with your 6-3-2-2 hand? That’s the type of practical test I like to apply when deciding whether to open in Notrump. Bidding rules are necessary, but don’t become a slave to them.

Board 26 - June 18 Game (Individual)

There are times when you just don’t have a bid that you trust, or are afraid to make a particular bid for fear of being misunderstood.  In those cases you simply have to imagine how the hand fits together and then just go ahead and bid the game or slam. That’s what I did on this hand during yesterday’s Individual and I got it totally WRONG.

My partner opened 1 Diamond – the perfect bid for East’s holding. With no four-card major I bid 2 Clubs. That’s an absolutely forcing bid even if you don’t play “2 over 1,” so there’s no danger of the hand being passed out.

Partner bid 2 Notrump – another perfectly reasonable bid which simply shows a minimum (13-15) opener and no real interest in my Clubs.

So here’s my problem – especially playing with an unfamiliar partner. Would a 4 Notrump bid by me at this juncture be Blackwood or would it be a quantitative raise? I think that common usage would come down on the side of that bid being Blackwood. But I didn’t want to take the chance of partner leaving me in 4 Notrump thinking my bid to be quantitative. Neither did I want to miss slam if it might be there. So I “bravely” (since I didn’t have to declare anyways) bid 6 Notrump with what figured to be six sure tricks in my own hand. Well played by partner, but Down 1.

Still, there are times when imagination and determination need to be called into play as much as the “book values” for a particular bid. That’s especially true in pairs events as opposed to Swiss teams. In this case I just mustered as much information as was already available and made a decision. Who knows? Maybe next time it will be the right one.