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Week 4 - Random Deals
Week 4 - 14th April 2022 - Random Deals

Our new 12-week program of Bridge continued this week with another successful evening. Thanks to everyone who came along and especially to those people who are new to the club.

We had nine-and-a-half tables playing 14 boards in a Mitchell movement using randomly dealt hands.

At the end of the evening, Sally led a discussion on some of the hands played and gave some tips on playing.

To see the full results and the hands click HERE, click on a pair to access the travellers and the hands. For Sally's commentary on Board 11, see below.

Next week - 21st April - will follow the same structure but with some hands designed for slam bidding, see HERE for more information.

Board 11 - What went wrong here? On the face of it, this doesn't necessarily look like the most exciting hand to write up - 25 points between NS, both very balanced, no major suit fit, no fit at all in fact. It looks like a hand where NS would automatically get to 3NT and make it. And yet only half the field bid to 3NT and then only one of those made it (well done Barbara and Margaret, you were the 'one' smiley).

So, what was going wrong? One of the sad things about face-to-face bridge compared to online bridge, is that I can't drill down into the bidding/play any further to find out! (Lots of advantages too though!) But let's at least look at how it might have gone 'right'.

Playing a weak NT, then the bidding should perhaps go:

S W N E
1NT P 2C P
2H P 3NT P
P P    

There's definitely an argument for N not to bother with stayman: completely flat hand and not a great S suit either, in which case a simple 1NT – 3NT auction. It is only 12 points but it really is a very meaty 12 points! Three tens in there as well as other good intermediate cards, definitely not one to be overly fainthearted about and try just 2NT. It's good to go for your games.

If you're playing a strong NT/5-card major system then I would expect a similarly straightforward auction. 

S W N E
1D P 1S P
1NT P 3NT P
P P    

Playing these methods, the 1NT rebid now shows the 12–14 balanced hand. So, all roads lead to 3NT by S.

W is unlikely to lead a H, but might lead any of the other suits, depending somewhat on the bidding. And the key element is always for declarer to count up winners and losers. In NTs, I like to initially just count the tricks I can take without losing the lead. That will tell me how many extra tricks I might be looking for and then I will factor in where those other potential tricks could come from, whether I can afford to lose the lead, and if so, how many times. No Trumps is always a race; can I get my tricks before the opponents make too many their way?

On this particular hand losers are not a major issue so much. We have pretty good length and protection in each of the suits. At least two 'stops' in each. There is no clear threat from the opponents. But we will have two S tricks to lose for sure, and if the opponents attack the Hs then we may lose 2Hs as well. 

So, those immediate winners: 3C, 3D, 1H. We are looking for two more tricks. We might get an extra D, if the suit breaks kindly or the JD comes down, but actually the S suit is a sure-fire way of getting two more tricks. We have to lose both the AK but after that, we have our two tricks in the bag. And on a S, D or C lead then we can afford to lose the lead two times. Just be careful to start off with the QS first (high cards from the short suit first is a good general rule to keep in mind) and make sure that you keep a way back to the dummy to enjoy those S tricks when they are established - KQD, QC, AH are all ways back over there so this doesn't need to be a problem.

Even an unlikely H lead would not be a disaster here, declarer putting the 10H in initially and then E is somewhat stuck and can't continue the suit without giving declarer an extra H trick. If E did have those 5Hs and both the AKS then we could be on shaky ground - E might be able to keep plugging away at the Hs and make 3H tricks and 2S then, and we might try the Ds earlier for that extra trick if that looked the case, but here, only being able to get in once with the AS, E just can't quite get that H suit going.