Badger Farm Bridge Club Winchester
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Improve Your Bridge Workshops

I run regular Bridge workshops, mostly at my house in Broughton.  Many of these are for regular groups of four, weekly or fortnightly but I also do ad hoc sessions which are open to anyone on my email list on a first come, first served basis.  I occasionally run a course with six modules for complete beginners which again is normally a group of four.

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

Monday Pairs
Director: Fred Hotchen
Scorer: Fred Hotchen
Monday Pairs
Director: Fred Hotchen
Scorer: Fred Hotchen
Monday Pairs
Director: Fred Hotchen
Scorer: Fred Hotchen
Interesting Hands during Lockdown
Hand of the Month - Monday 10 October 2022

Board 15 (shown above) produced an interesting deal where two pairs reached a good 6NT contract.  I don't know how they got there but my bidding shown above is one way of reaching 6, probably a slightly safer contract as the club suit could be ruffed good to avoid taking a spade finesse.

Anyway 6NT is nevertheless a good slam as, by taking the spade finesse, even if it fails, guarantees 12 tricks on the lie of the cards.  There are two spades, three hearts, six diamonds and the Ace of clubs.

Two pairs ended up in 3NT and only made 11 tricks and that is probably because they dived into the diamonds and played off too many winners, leaving it too late to take the spade finesse in safety.  The spade finesse needs to be taken at an early stage whilst you still have control of the hand.

The reason why 6 is a safer contract is that if South had held the King of spades and the clubs had not broken 3-3, a club lead would have defeated 6NT whilst 6 would still be makeable by ruffing out the enemy clubs then discarding East's spades on dummy's clubs once they were set up.

A common mistake that many players make is to jump in response to partner's opening bid, eg 1♣ - 2.  I only do this if I have a good six card suit and East's diamonds don't quite meet the criteria.  The value of just responding 1, which saves bidding spade and is 100% forcing, is that East gets to hear opener's natural rebid.  In this case the rebid is 2NT showing 17-18 points so East now knows the combined strength is 32-33 points.

The bid of 3 that I indicated above should be taken as forcing but some may go straight to 4NT which is fine providing your partner takes that as Blackwood rather than quantitative.

Anyway well done to those who bid and made 6NT.


Slam Woes

The above hand came up in a recent Seniors match.  My team was Steve Preston, Dave Huggett, Jeremy Baker and me playing against a team from Bath.

The bidding started the same at both tables but after 3♠ I cue bid the Ace of Clubs which quickly propelled us to 6♠ whereas the other South just signed off in 4♠.  In the initial bidding, after a change of suit at the two level, 3♣ was game forcing and therefore 3♠ is stronger than 4♠.  The 4♣ bid therefore shows interest beyond game so the jump to 6♠ is emminently reasonable if not a bit hurried.

So much for the bidding, two different ambitions and looking at all four hands a contract of 6♠ looks very promising.  However, the play was much more different than the bidding.

Against 6♠ West decided not to give anything away and led a trump.  The Jack of spades appearing at trick 1 was significant as it meant Declarer and Dummy had all the top trumps.  However, a trump attack also meant that any plan to ruff clubs in dummy was thwarted as the opposition would have to regain the lead and would play another trump, reducing club ruffs to one and leaving a potential loser.

A good alternative therefore was to try to set up dummy's hearts and Declarer could afford to lose one if necessary, discarding three clubs on three hearts, providing hearts broke no worse than 4-2 (or 5-1 with a singleton Queen).  At trick 2 I played King of hearts but at trick 3 this plan was dashed as North ruffed, revealing an unlucky heart break.  North returned another trump but with the 4-1 break in trumps, 6♠ was now impossible.

At the other table the play was completely different.  On lead against 4♠ North led a small diamond.  Declarer won in dummy and immediately set about the clubs.  He ducked one at trick 2 but it was too late for North to find a trump switch and he continued with a second diamond.  Declarer won in hand, played Ace of clubs, ruffed a club, returned to hand with a heart and ruffed his last club.  Declarer now played dummy's last trump, the Queen, but when the Jack appeared from South, he was able to overtake with his Ace and draw all the outstanding trumps, the final trick being the Ace of hearts for 12 tricks.

Both opening leads were fine and either lead could have worked out better but on this occasion the trump lead was lethal.  It made an incredible difference and completely dictated the line of play.  Some may have selected the singleton heart and as the trumps and hearts lay, this would also have been too much for Declarer with an unavoidable club loser and either a heart or a heart ruff.

Double dummy Declarer can still make 6♠ on a trump lead by getting one club ruff and finessing the Jack of hearts but it's a very unlikely play and definitely against the odds, just happens to work!

In the event this hand provided an important 11 imp swing to the Bath team.  Could have been worse though as there would have been no reason not to make the same lead against 6♠ and that would have resulted in a swing of -1030, equating to minus 14 imps.

A real devilish hand on what was otherwise a good slam with a variety of play possibilities.  No justice!

Decisions, Decisions...

On picking up the South hand, with great excitement you count up an eight card heart suit.  However, before you have worked out what you're going to bid, West opens 1♠, partner overcalls 2♣ and East jumps to 4♠!  Now what?

Before looking at all four hands, what would you bid?  Once you have made your decision, look at all four hands and see the consequences of your action...

It's a difficult decision and on this occasion, if you had bid 5♣ you would have come up trumps.  Had you bid 5 you would have gone down, possibly doubled.

However, now see the hand below...

Decisions, Decisions (Version 2 - The Real Deal)

Same hand as above, same question and probably the same answer.  Read on as this was the last board in an actual deal in a recent teams match...

My choice was 5♣ and even when East doubled, I stuck with it (how stubborn) but I have canvassed opinion from a number of players and most of them would have bid 5.

If you look at the full deal, this time it is another story altogether.  East led a spade, West found the heart switch which East ruffed and later made the Queen of clubs so 5♣ doubled was one down.  But that was only the tip of the iceberg...

At the other table, West had decided to open an aggressive 4♠, North doubled, East bid 5♠ and South bid 6.  There was no defence to beat it as Declarer's third club was parked on dummy's Ace of diamonds resulting in a very expensive swing of 1630 or 17 imps.

As a further point of interest with this loathesome hand, a pre-empt is intended to put the opposition off track, causing them to make difficult decisions at a high level, and reaching the wrong contract.  Occasionally however a pre-empt is counter-productive and propels the opposition into a contract they might otherwise not have reached.

An important difference between the two bidding sequences is that after a 2♣ overcall by partner, he is likely to have good clubs but maybe nothing in hearts whereas a double of 4♠ implies at least tolerance for the other major.

In the bidding sequence highlighted above a bid of either 5♣ or 5 could have been right or wrong but either way you are unlikely to reach 6.  The majority of people I have asked opted for 5 and whilst I certainly thought about bidding that, I think I still come out in favour of 5♣ though I must admit I think it maybe the first time I have not bid an eight card suit!