Badger Farm Bridge Club Winchester
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Bridge Tip of the Month


Some players are slower than others but there is also a lot of valuable time wasted at the Bridge table.  Always make the opening lead BEFORE you write down the contract on your scoresheet and at the end of the hand, North's number 1 priority is to enter the result on the traveller and get it checked by the opponents, NOT to fill in his own personal scorecard.


When partner opens a 12-14 1NT and you have 5-4 in the majors, with 11+ points transfer into your 5-card suit then bid your 4-card major (forcing).  With fewer than 11 points, with no aspirations towards game, use Stayman.


Try to avoid the losing Bridge practice of underleading an Ace as an opening lead against a suit contract.  Almost as bad is leading an unsupported Ace.  The lead of an Ace generally promises the King.  If you don’t have this, try to select another suit as the opening lead.


A good way to improve your Bridge playing techniques is to deal some random hands and see how suits break and cards lie.  One good one is to test out 'split honours'.  Give you and partner 13 cards each including eight spades missing the King and Queen.  Then deal the rest of the cards out randomly and see how often you would only lose one trick by finessing twice.  The odds are that you should succeed 75% of the time by doing this.

Another one you could try is to do as above but only missing the Queen.  See how often you would catch her by playing off Ace and King and see how often you would catch her by finessing.  You should find that it is much better not to play for the drop when you have only eight cards in the suit.  However, a variation on that is to have nine of a suit missing the Queen.  Normally it will be right to play for the drop rather than to take a finesse.


Whilst we have to continue maintaining Social Distancing, why not give online Bridge a try?  Bridge Base Online is free with a small charge made if you want to enter any of the club or county events that attract Master Points.


Many Declarers go wrong at Trick 1 because they play too quickly and don't plan the play.  When dummy goes down, take a few seconds to reflect whether you are in an easy or difficult contract, whether it will require some luck to make it and, if it looks easy, what are the possible dangers.  Should you win in hand, in dummy or duck the opening lead?  More haste, less speed at the start often means less time trancing during the middle of the play when things have gone wrong.


Always watch the vulnerability.  If you are vulnerable, going down can be very expensive.  Minus 200 at Pairs is nearly always a poor result.  When you are not vulnerable you can be more pushy, especially if you end up sacrificing against vulnerable opponents.  For instance going three down doubled in 5♣ non vulnerable is profitable against the opposition's vulnerable 4♠ but if you are vulnerable and the opposition are not, you cannot even afford to go two down doubled in 5♣.


The most underused word in the Bridge vocabulary by less experienced players is 'Double'.  It covers a huge range of scenarios but it is very important to have partnership agreement on whether the double is takeout or penalties.  Many more doubles are used for takeout rather than penalties compared to how it used to be.  For instance if you opened 1NT, left hand opponent jumped to say 3 and your partner doubled, what would that mean, takeout or penalties?  It's all down to partnership agreement and if you don't have agreement, you can't really do it at all.


Should you cover an honour with an honour?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no and sometimes maybe.  When you are defending, it helps to think ahead whether you consider it right or wrong to cover if Declarer plays a certain card.  If you don't think ahead, you will either play too quickly and maybe make the wrong decision or hesitate and completely give the game away.


Miscounting trumps is the downfall of many Declarers, either because they leave one out or draw one round too many.  There are two good ways of counting trumps.  One is to count them as they go but some Declarers lose track when somebody ruffs.  One good way is to count up your total trumps when you see dummy then mentally tick off the opposition trumps each time they play one.


A takeout double is probably the most useful tool in the bidding vocabulary.  Yet is is a much underused bid as many players are not sure when/when not to double and often nervous about doing so.


Continuing the theme of takeout doubles, many players do not know how to respond to it.  Rule of thumb is to respond at the lowest level with 0-7 points, jump with 8-10 points and cue bid the opposition's suit with 11+.  With a good stop in the opposition's suit, bid no trumps at the most appropriate level.  Occasionally with a very good holding in the opposition's suit, it may be appropriate to pass and turn the takeout double into penalties.


Welcome to Badger Farm Bridge Club Winchester
Badger Farm Bridge Club News: Wednesday 3 February 2021

Hello to everyone at Badger Farm Bridge Club.

In the absence of face-to-face Bridge I looked into the possibility of setting up Badger Farm virtual duplicate sessions online but the response to my email suggested this wasn't viable as those who were interested in playing online were already doing so elsewhere. 

Almost every Sunday afternoon there is 'virtual Romsey' online Bridge and daily there are EBU online 12 board duplicates which I play in myself from time to time.  Hopefully club Bridge may eventually resume at some point during 2021 and when this happens I hope to be able to resurrect Badger Farm on Tuesday evenings.  I am however considering two separate six month seasons, evening as before from 1 April to 30 September then daytime duplicate from 1 October to 31 March.  I would appreciate members' thoughts on this, which day of the week and whether mornings or afternoons would be better.  Please let me have your thoughts on this.

I have added a few interesting hands which have occurred in recent teams matches (masterclass 14, 15 and 16).  I have also created a new tab called 'Interesting hands during Lockdown' which are hands that previously appeared on the front page and may also be of interest.

Best wishes and stay safe


Badger Farm Masterclass - No 16: Big Squeeze

Looking at the North-South hands, how would you bid it?

If you managed to find your way to 6 then well done.  It's a good contract and looks as if you would make it by drawing trumps and conceding a spade.

In a recent teams match, however, both sides were more ambitious and bid to 7.  This would have been fine if North had held a doubleton spade but when dummy was revealed both Declarers went slightly pale as it looked like a no hoper.

At one table South received a diamond lead so Declarer played the Ace from dummy and had a think about what on earth to do next.  It was highly unlikely that West would have led away from a King against a Grand Slam so Declarer placed the King with East and possibly the Jack with West.

There were some remote chances such as ruffing down the King of diamonds and taking a club finesse which would enable to discard two spades from his hand but for all this to happen seemed a little far fetched. 

At trick 2 Declarer decided to play the Queen of diamonds which was covered by the King which he ruffed.  Still very nervous he played a small spade towards dummy and up popped the Queen.  Was that a singleton or was he splitting his honours with QJ?

Declarer now played a small trump from dummy, both defenders following, then he played a second round of trumps to dummy's Jack but West showed out.  He now played the 10 of diamonds from dummy, East showed out of those.  Declarer ruffed and paused to take stock.

West had a singleton trump and six diamonds.  East had three trumps and a doubleton diamond.  It therefore seemed unlikely that West's Queen of spades was a singleton and much more likely that he held the Jack and probably another one or two little spades.

Declarer had no idea where the Queen of clubs was but the scene was set to put pressure on West.  Declarer drew the last trump to West threw another diamond.  Declarer now had one trump left.  He played it and West was in terrible trouble.  He couldn't discard a diamond as that would promote dummy's last diamond.  He couldn't discard a small spade as his Jack would now be unguarded and he couldn't afford to throw a club either.  Declarer's last trump squeezed West in three suits.

West, in a lot of pain, let go of a small club so Declarer now played the King of clubs and a club to dummy, capturing West's Queen with dummy's Ace.  Declarer now played the Jack of clubs but  this time West had to throw his Jack of diamonds or a small spade.  He couldn't throw the Jack of diamonds as that would make dummy's last diamond a winner.  He therefore discarded a smalll spade but Declarer was now able to play a top spade felling the Jack and the 10 of spades was now the 13th trick.

Not a good Grand Slam but providing Declarer played his cards in the right order, it couldn't be defeated.

At the other table, there was a transfer sequence so 7 was played by North.  East led a club (a trump might have been better) which gave Declarer one free discard so after drawing trumps, Declarer tried the diamond finesse to discard a second spade.  This failed so the Grand Slam went one down.

Bridge can be so excruciatingly difficult at times as when you have multiple possible lines of play, it is so hard to decide which to take.  When you see all four hands the winning line is very straightforward, take the club finesse and ruff down the King of diamonds and you have two discards, one spade gets thrown on a club and the other on the Queen of diamonds but who would want to play like that in a Grand Slam!

Badger Farm Masterclass - No 15: A Cow Flew By

'A Cow flew By' is a well known Bridge saying.  It refers to a play which makes no sense, following a small lapse of concentration.  We've all been there as in Bridge it's easy to get distracted and make a silly mistake, whether that is forgetting you have a winner (or a loser), miscounting trumps or a million and one other things.  Let's be honest, Bridge is a game of mistakes and it's almost impossible not to make one at some time or other.

I had the pleasure to kibitz the above hand in a recent teams match.  The Badger Farm side was Steve and Pauline Davis playing East-West and Dick and Mary Killick playing North-South against a team from the Isle of Wight.

At both tables the bidding was broadly similar and both sides ended in 3NT.  At one table nine tricks were made but at the other only eight, resulting in a swing of 450 or 10 imps.  Let's look at the play and defence as it happened at each table.

First, with Dick and Mary sitting North-South, Mary led the 10 of spades.  Dummy played low as of course did Dick as looking at dummy, his challenge was to scupper Declarer's chance of running dummy's clubs.

Declarer won with the Jack and at trick 2 finessed the 10 of clubs.  Dick refused, giving Declarer a real problem getting to dummy so Declarer switched to the Queen of hearts hoping to access dummy subsequently with the Jack.  However, Mary allowed the Queen to hold.

With little hope now of reaching the clubs, Declarer decided to play on diamonds and led the 6 which Dick won with the 8 and continued with a second diamond which Mary was allowed to win with the 10.  At this point Mary played the King of hearts to smother the Jack (and promote her 9 as a winner) but Declarer ducked so she now continued with a third round which Declarer had to win with the Ace.

Declarer laid down the Ace and King of diamonds and the spotlight now fell on the defence.  With the North cards Dick held Kx in both black suits and the 8 of hearts.  Although discarding a club would break his cover, it was pretty obvious from the way Declarer had played that he couldn't get to dummy but really under pressure, it's not so obvious.  Dick parted with the 8 of hearts, a fatal error as Declarer cashed one more diamond, Dick now discarding a small club.  Declarer then played Ace and another spade which Dick won but was forced to give back a club on the thirteenth trick.  Two club discards and keeping the 8 of hearts would have defeated 3NT.

At the other table Pauline was declarer and received the Queen of diamonds as the opening lead which she ducked.  South continued with the 7 which she won with the King.

Pauline also set about the clubs and led the 10 but this time North took his King and returned a diamond which Pauline ducked, South returning a fourth round which she won with the Ace.

Pauline also sought entries to dummy so tempted the opposition with the Jack of spades.  North mistakenly won with his King, hoping that a heart switch would now become the fifth trick and defeat the contract.  Pauline finessed and the King of hearts was the setting trick.

If Pauline had paused to take stock, the heart finesse was an unnecessary risk as she had achieved nine tricks - She had already collected Ace and King of diamonds so could have played the Ace of hearts, the 6 of diamonds (discarding Dummy's second heart) then play Ace of spades, a small spade to dummy's Queen then the rest of dummy's clubs which would have been nine tricks.

An unfortunate result and expensive loss to the Badger Farm side where an initially smart defence by Dick and Mary could have defeated Declarer and a less good defence against Pauline gave her the opportunity to make her 3NT.  

Two cows flew by, when Dick discarded his eight of hearts and Pauline took a heart finesse.  The loss of 10 imps to Badger Farm was expensive as it could so easily have been a gain of 10 imps instead if only those two cows had not flown by...

Bridge Masterclass no. 14 - Planning the Play in a Slam

The above hand came up in a recent teams match.  It's by no means the easiest of hands to bid but a final contract of 6♠ is emminently reasonable and without a club lead, twelve tricks look more than likely.  Unfortunately, the most threatening lead is a club which puts Declarer under a lot of pressure.

It is always advisable to do a quick recky before diving into the play so after a lead of the seven of clubs, dummy appears on the table and you need to look at your prospects and plan how you might best make your contract before playing a single card.

The club lead has certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons as you are in danger of losing the King of clubs and the Ace of hearts.  Basically there are three lines of play that may or may not succeed.

The first line is to play the Ace of clubs, followed by three rounds of diamonds, discarding your singleton heart on the third top diamond.  Then play the King of hearts, intending to take a ruffing finesse, ie if the Ace is not played, discard a club loser.  If you lose to the Ace you will now also lose a club but if East has the Ace of hearts and plays it, you ruff, return to dummy and discard a club on the Queen of hearts.  Return to hand with a red card, hoping not to get overruffed (otherwise ruff high and hope the trumps break 3-2), then draw the outstanding trumps and concede a club trick.  Contract makes if the Ace of hearts is with East and you take the right view in trumps.

The second and third options depend on the whereabouts of the King of clubs.  If you play East for the King of Clubs, you should win with dummy's Ace, play the King of spades, come to hand with a diamond, draw the outstanding trumps then play a diamond back to dummy.  On the third round of diamonds, discard your singleton heart then play a small club towards your Qx.  You will lose just one club trick providing East has the King.

The third option is if you think West has led away from the King which a good player might well do, bearing in mind that a club lead is the only lead that gives Declarer a problem.  Basically, having weighed out options 1 and 2, you need to consider the risks and decide whether to put all your eggs in one basket and play low from dummy in the hope that West has underled the King.

Which of the above options would you have chosen or would you have followed a different line of play?  See below as to whether you would have made or gone down in your slam...

With three (or maybe more) lines of play, what worked on the day?

In the event East held the Ace of hearts and 10xxx of spades, West had led away from the King of clubs, diamonds broke 4-3 and hearts 3-3.

Therefore if you opted for line 1, you would have succeeded providing you didn't ruff high when you came back to hand.  

If you opted for line 2, playing East for the King of clubs, bad luck but this could easily have been the winning line of play.

Finally if you opted for line 3, playing West for the King of clubs, you would have had to have been brave enough to put all your eggs in one basket at trick 1 and play low from dummy.  The only justification for taking this line of play is that you and partner had not cue bid and had bid the other three suits which would probably have encouraged West to try a club away from the King.

Under pressue of time I ended up taking option 3 so made my 6♠ but I'm not convinced that option 2 might not have been the best line though unfortunately unlucky on this occasion.

6 Tables Pairs
Director: Ian Fearon
Scorer: Ian Fearon
Tuesday Pairs
Director: Ian Fearon
Scorer: Ian Fearon
Scorer: Fred Hotchen
Badger Farm Bridge Club, Winchester

Badger Farm Bridge Club has been providing friendly Duplicate Bridge in Winchester since April 1984.

We meet every Tuesday for a prompt 7.0 start, finishing at approximately 10.15.  Visitors are always very welcome.

We play at the Community Centre which is at the far end of the Sainsburys car park, Badger Farm Road, Winchester.

For further details contact Fred Hotchen on 01794 301 185 or 07771 854 347 or email 

Badger Farm Bridge Club is affiliated to the EBU.

Wini Meikle
Wini Meikle

So sad to learn that Wini Meikle passed away on the 1st of October.

Wini had been a member of Badger Farm for very many years, she was the life and soul of the party and her delightful cheery personality always contributed to the friendly club atmosphere.

Wini really enjoyed her Bridge and I was so pleased when she won the Club Championship with Nicky Davey in 2017.

Wini looked and acted much younger than her 81 years as can be seen in the photograph taken in March 2020 when Linda and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Wini and Alan in Florida. Because of the lockdown that was to be the last time we saw Wini.

Sincere condolences to Wini’s husband Alan and the rest of her family.

Coronavirus Bridge

Sadly, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, Badger Farm Bridge Club is closed for the foreseeable future.

Whilst it is not possible to play club Bridge face to face at the moment, as an alternative there are a number of options to play Bridge online.  I must admit, like many others, I was a complete novice to this but I gave it a try and it is very enjoyable and there is plenty of it.

Mike Kinsey of Petersfield Bridge Club has set up an online teams league and regular Sunday afternoon pairs events.  Ian and Clare Fearon have also organised a number of other leagues and events which are now all playable online.  There are also daily EBU pairs events, many of just twelve boards at various times of the day.  All these events are playable on Bridge Base Online which is free and easy to join andI outdoor recommend you give this a try.

Best wishes to all members and visitors and hope we will be able to resume sometime soon.  In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy.

Fred Hotchen

Friday 16 October 2020

Improve Your Bridge Workshops

Bridge workshops in Broughton Village Hall are on hold until further notice.  

As soon as it is safe to resume, I will email those who are on my email circulations.  In the meantime I am now running private sessions for groups of four at my house in Broughton.

If anyone is interested in joining in the future, please don't hesitate to contact me.

These Bridge sessions are informal, hands-on and interactive and good for extending your Bridge knowledge to the next level.  No partner required.

Further details from Fred Hotchen, tel 01794 301 185, mobile 07771 854 347 or email