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.


About Badger Farm Bridge Club
The history of Badger Farm Bridge Club

The origins of Badger Farm Bridge Club were not in Badger Farm at all but started off up the road in Oliver's Battery.

I played a lot of competitive Bridge in the early 1980s and also ran a number of beginners and improvers classes.  I started a beginners class in 1982 then the following year I took part in a Bridge TV series called Grand Slam.  This was shown on BBC2 around 7pm on Saturday evenings.  Not much competition for programmes like Blind Date and The Generation Game but it was enough to get quite well known by the Winchester Bridge players.  Class numbers mushroomed quickly and I found myself running an improvers evening class at Kings School with nearly 40 people and a beginners class at Westgate with nearly 30.

As we came to the end of the second term there seemed to be quite a lot of interest in finding somewhere to practise for the summer so someone volunteered to find a suitable venue and I agreed to provide temporary Bridge practice over the summer.

The venue was St Marks Hall in Oliver's Battery and we started playing there in April 1984.  Word had obviously got around as I seem to remember having around 18 tables on the first week!  It soon settled to a bit less than that and once a month we would meet at St Luke's Hall in Stanmore due to the Oliver's Battery parish council meeting.

Bridge at Oliver's Battery was always very friendly but also pretty rowdy and I always used to joke that it was the noisiest Bridge Club in Hampshire!  The temporary practice ground quickly became a permanent fixture and has continued ever since and it's nice that some of the original members are still members of Badger Farm today, over 30 years later.  Members were very tolerant in those days as often the heating wasn't working and everyone would endure playing Bridge at rickety tables sitting with their coats on!

The next stage of the club was its transfer to Badger Farm including a name change from Oliver's Battery Bridge Club to Badger Farm Bridge Club.  This happened in November 1986 when a new Sainsburys opened in Badger Farm along with a very good Community Centre and ample parking.  The room where we play now was not built then and we used to play in the small room alongside the kitchen.  This was a big improvement on what we had been used to before with better tables and it was always well heated, something we had learnt not to take for granted!

In 1988 I started working in London so passed Badger Farm over to Enid Trevaskis who extended Bridge to Mondays and Fridays and all three clubs still exist to this day.  I had very little involvement in Bridge for the following few years but when Enid was moving to East Anglia in 1991 she asked me if I would mind running Badger Farm Tuesdays again.  I was not terribly keen initially but the friendly, enthusiastic and loyal membership it had was the big influence.

Bridge in Badger Farm had changed quite significantly in those three years.  There were some new members who had not been there when I ran it before and the standard of Bridge had improved, so much so that I quickly became aware that the way I had previously run it, playing around 18 to 20 boards, was not good enough.  Badger Farm flourished in the 90s and we were often bursting out of the little room and playing in the corridor.  The Community Centre was then extended which included a larger room and as soon as it was finished, we moved into it and are still there today.  We occasionally had up to 14 tables in play, there was a great atmosphere but needless to say still probably the noisiest Bridge Club in Hampshire.

As with Bridge up and down the country, numbers of players have declined somewhat over the years which is a shame as it's such a good game, great for the mental agility and extremely good value for money entertainment.  The most important thing that has not disappeared though is the friendly nature of Badger Farm.  We always play our Bridge in a good social atmosphere and I will make sure that continues as long as I am running it.