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
Broughton Bridge
Two suited hands - How would you bid this hand? (1)

North opens 1 on his 5 card heart suit.  South responds 2.  North's rebid of 2♠ is known as a 'reverse'.  It shows a strong hand with around 16-19 points and at least five of the original and four of the second suit.  Because partner responded at the 2 level (showing at least 8 points), the 2♠ bid should be taken as game forcing.  South can now support hearts.

Two suited hands - How would you bid this hand? (2)

This hand is identical to the one above except for one thing.  North now has the seven of clubs instead of the Ace.  This makes all the difference and North-South no longer have enough values to be in game.

North still has an opening hand and starts with 1.  However, North's hand is not strong so after his partner responds 2, he is not good enough to bid 2♠ so should just rebid hearts. Remember that if South held a four card spade suit, he probably would have responded with 1♠. 

As we saw with the previous example, if North bids 2♠, he has rebid at a higher level than his minimum rebid (2) and this shows additional values.

It is very important to distinguish between a strong and a weak opening hand and communicate this correctly to partner so he can judge the combined strength and decide whether to play in a part-score or a game.  On the first hand, the combined strength is enough to bid game but on the second, there is not enough strength to bid to game and only nine tricks are possible.

Double for take-out

Looking at the East-West hands, you can see that if you play in hearts, you only have two tricks to lose, a diamond and a club.  You would therefore want to play in 4♥ but how would you get to it after North opens 1?

East with 16 points definitely wants to compete.  However he does not have a five card suit to overcall nor does he have a stop in diamonds so he can't bid no trumps.  He therefore doubles, asking partner to bid something.  South passes and West can show his hearts.  Despite only having nine points, remember that West is being forced to bid even if he has no points.  He should therefore jump to 2 to let his partner know he has some values.  On the basis of this, East can now confidently jump to game.

Double is a much underused bid.  It can be used in many situations and enables players to compete on many occasions when it would otherwise be very difficult.  Very often contracts can be made by both sides so it is important to be able to compete whenever possible.

Badger Farm Bridge Tips

Following are some useful tips that can help to improve your Bridge:


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.


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.


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.


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 are played.


Revoking happens from time to time during the play.  I remember being called once as someone had made an opening lead during the middle of the bidding!!  Anyway when a revoke has taken place,  the Director should always be summoned to resolve or adjudicate.

Basic rules regarding revoking are that if a player won the trick they revoked on, they forfeit two tricks and if they didn’t win the trick they revoked on, they forfeit one trick to the other side.

The reality is more complicated than that.  The above penalties are not supposed to be a punishment or a windfall for the opposition and you have to remember that any score adjustment also affects the rest of the field.  For instance if a revoke occurs and the offending side do not win any further tricks, there is no penalty.

Wherever possible, at Badger Farm I always to try to put things back on track and if it is possible to do so, there may be no further penalty.  In other words, if it is obvious what would have happened had the revoke not occurred, the play is set back on track with no further penalty.  This is of course not always possible and when this is the case, adjustments are made as above and, in extreme cases, where the revoke has completely messed up the hand, an adjusted score may be required.

Improve your defence

Following a competitive part-score battle, your opponents end up in 3♠, not having quite enough values to bid Game.

You are West and you start off with Ace and King of hearts.  Your partner follows suit with the 3, then the 8.  You then play Ace and King of diamonds.  Again your partner follows suit, first with the 10, then with the 3.  You now have four tricks and need one more to defeat the contract.  What would you play next and why?

If you don't know better you could be forgiven for continuing with the Queen of hearts to try to win another trick.  Unfortunately this gets ruffed by Declarer who then draws trumps and makes the rest of the tricks and his contract of 3♠.

In defence it is important to make good use of your cards to signal your distribution to your partner.  When you have a doubleton, you should play the higher card, followed by the lower card.  In this case, East did so in diamonds but not in hearts.  West can therefore work out that his partner has a doubleton diamond but not a doubleton heart.  If East doesn't have a doubleton heart, West can also deduce that Declarer will therefore not have another heart and know his Queen will get trumped by Declarer. More importantly, if West knows his partner has a doubleton diamond he can also work out that Declarer has a third one so he can play another diamond to give his partner a ruff and 3♠ is now defeated.

Playing in No Trumps

The bidding of the above hand is quite straightforward.  When East opens 1♣, West immediately knows they have enough values for game.  However, at this stage, there is no need to do anything more than bid 1 as this change of suit response is forcing so East should not pass.  East rebids 1♠ and although West has support for East's clubs, his good cards in hearts and diamonds make No Trumps a good contract.  West should jump straight to 3NT as bidding anything less would risk East passing and missing game.

West therefore becomes declarer in 3NT and North may well lead the eight of hearts which he wins cheaply with the 10.  How would you continue?

Having taken the first heart trick, you have a second one with the Ace, three top diamonds, two top clubs, the Ace of spades and possibly the queen of spades finesse for a ninth trick.  However, if you play off all these top winners and the spade finesse is wrong, the opponents will be able to take their winners and you are a trick short.

A lot of inexperienced players might play off their Ace, King and Queen of diamonds and when the opponents get in they will make further tricks in that suit.

In No Trumps it is important to keep control which often requires giving up the odd trick early in the play.  East-West have eight clubs between them which means North-South only have five.  More often than not, the five clubs will be split 3-2 so play your clubs and lose one of them in order to make a further two afterwards.  Now you have four club tricks, three top diamonds, two hearts and at least one spade giving you a minimum of ten tricks!

If Declarer plays his cards in the right order, 3 No Trumps cannot be defeated.

Four Hearts - Make it or break it?

On the above hand South deals and opens 1♠.  Some would bid 2♠ on the North hand whilst others would bid 3♠.  It is marginal.  Over 3♠ South has no hesitation in raising to Game but if North only bids 2♠, South should still be interested in going on if his partner has a good raise to 2♠.  With a good hand like this, South can make what is known as a 'Trial Bid' by bidding a suit he requires a bit of help with.  In this case he would bid 3 and North who does have help in hearts and a maximum for his 2♠ bid would happily jump to 4♠. 

Against 4♠ South is Declarer and West leads the Queen of clubs which is won by the Ace.  Declarer draws trumps in two rounds but how would you continue after that?

You have a club to lose and depending on the lie of the hearts and diamonds, worst case scenario you could lose the Queen of hearts and Ace and Queen of diamonds if East holds all of those cards.  That would be three out of three losing finesses which is very unlucky.

If you look at all four hands you will see that it is not your lucky day but do you have any chance to redeem yourself from this poor situation?

Well there is one little extra ray of hope.  If the hearts break 3-3, you could discard one of dummy's diamonds on the 13th heart which would mean only one diamond loser.  Your first finesse should therefore be a heart to the Jack.  When this loses to the Queen, East cannot afford to play a diamond as this would lose the defence a trick.  Many Easts would cash their King of clubs followed by another club.  Declarer ruffs the second club and plays off Ace and King of hearts.  Declarer will now only lose the Ace of diamonds as everything else can be cross-ruffed and 4♠ is made.

Well done Declarer but not so well done to the defence.  West's opening lead of the Queen of clubs will have been from a sequence and therefore promises the Jack.  When East gets in with the Queen of hearts, instead of cashing the King of clubs, he should return a small club so his partner can win the trick.  West should ask himself why this has happened and switch to a diamond through dummy's KJ, enabling East to make AQ before Declarer gets the chance to throw one of them away.  4♠ is now one down.

Many contracts like this are on a knife-edge and can go one way or the other.  Declarer gives himself his best chance but on best defence, the contract can still be broken.  Such is the fascination of Bridge.