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Beginners' Course 2022

                                   LEARN BRIDGE!                                   

If you have any queries, please email stuartbridgeuk@yahoo.co.uk. The course is currently fully subscribed.

Week 2 - practice hands

Here's a chance to take another look at four of the No Trump hands we played in the lesson.

Can you make 9 tricks on each hand? Make your plan, then click on the answer ...

NOTE: There is a facility to 'play' the hand again. It's a bit clunky, but you might want to try it. Each time click on 3NT by the appropriate declarer and start with the right opening lead. Then you can take it from there! But the main point of the exercise is just making your plan.

Hand 5 | Declaring in NT

With a combined 27 points, you're hoping to make 3NT (ie 9 tricks in no trumps). And sitting North, you're declarer.

East leads the 4 ... and it's down to you. How many tricks have you got 'off the top'? How many more do you need? And where are they going to come from? ... And finally, do you spot an opportunity to profit from East's lead?

Well, you've got at least two heart tricks and 5 certain diamond tricks. Seven. So you need two more. Where from? Spades. You have the ♠KQJ, so if one of them falls under the ♠A the other two will be tricks. Nine tricks ...

... or maybe 10 if you're lucky. This is the bit about the lead. One of your opponents has the Q. If it's West, that's too bad. But what if it's East, who just made the opening lead? If the Q's with East, all you have to do is play your J from dummy and your two heart tricks will become three.

It does no harm to try it, so up with the J ... and it wins! So far so good. But that's still only 8 tricks in all. What happens at trick 2?

Decide and then click on the answer.

Answer

You have to get those spade tricks set up NOW, while you still have protection in all three of the other suits.

Lead a spade, making sure you play a HIGH one from hand or the other: you don't want them winning with their ♠10! Then when their ♠A appears *, they have to lead either a spade, a diamond or a heart, which you can win, or a club. Are you safe in clubs? Yes. Whichever opponent leads a club, they can take the first two tricks, but you take the 3rd. Whatever happens you now have 10 tricks.

Take a look at the whole deal. If you like, set up a pack of cards and play it out.

* The ♠A may not appear immediately. If it doesn't, lead another spade and see what happens. If it still doesn't appear, you've already collected your two spade tricks, thank you very much, so you can now just cash your diamond and heart winners and claim 10 tricks.

Hand 6 | Declaring in NT

Another chance to make 9 tricks in no trumps. This time you're sitting East, with a combined point-count of 26, and South leads the 6.

What are your thoughts? As always, make a plan ... How many tricks 'off the top'? How many more do you need? Where are they coming from? Any problems? Does the opening lead help you or threaten you? Decide on your answers before reading on.

Not many off-the-top tricks this time: just 6. But hang on a minute ... South's lead has just given you another trick! Provided you play LOW from dummy, that is. Can you see why? If North plays the Q, you win with the K and your A and J are now top tricks. And if she doesn't, then you win with your J, leaving your A and K as top tricks.

So you'll play low from dummy and win trick 1 in your hand. Now you have 7 top tricks. Where are the other two coming from?

Not from spades - thank goodness they didn't lead one of them! What about clubs? Well, if the missing 5 clubs are split 3-2, you can eventually set up one extra trick. Not enough - you need two tricks, not one.

What about hearts, then? That looks better: if you can force the K out, you're left with 3 heart tricks instead of just one.

How does it go? Make a plan, then click on the answer, below.

Answer

As on the last hand, setting up your extra heart tricks involves losing the lead, so you have to get that over with NOW, while you still have top cards ('stoppers') in the other three suits. 

But how to do it? This is where a bit of mental fast-forwarding comes in handy. Suppose you lead a low heart from your hand towards dummy ... An opponent wins with the K and leads back a small diamond, knocking out dummy's A. You've got lots of lovely heart winners, but - alas - if you lead a heart, you're going to have to win it with your now singleton A. And because your A is no longer in dummy, you have no way of getting back to dummy to cash your two heart winners

Rethink. At trick 2 you get rid of that A. Cash the A first and then lead your 6 towards dummy's QJ10. Now when they take their K, you're in control. You can get back to dummy with your A and cash your remaining hearts before taking your three top tricks in the black suits.

Take a look at the whole deal.

Hand 7 | Declaring in NT

Again, you're looking for 9 tricks in NT. This time you're in the South seat, and West leads the 2.

OK. You know what's coming: top tricks, where are the extra ones coming from, opportunities, threats ... What are your thoughts?

Missing two Aces, you have just 5 top tricks - three in spades and 2 in clubs. You need 4 more. If the 5 missing hearts are kind and split 3-2, hearts will eventually provide you with 3 tricks. That's 8. And again, the opening lead's been kind to you: the diamond lead must result in you making a trick with your K. And it gets better: East plays the Q on dummy's 7, you win with your K ... and now only the A stands between you and 3 diamond tricks.

Hmm. This time you have to lose the lead twice, once to the A and once to the A. Can you manage that safely? Yes! You have three winners in spades and two in clubs, so even with two further leads the defence can't get control of any suit. Thank goodness they started with a diamond, and not a club ...

So how does it go? When you've decided, click on Show answer.

Answer

As always, set up the tricks you need NOW. Don't touch the spades or clubs. Get to work on the red suits - get rid of those Aces! It doesn't matter which you start with. Say it's hearts. Force out the A, whatever they lead back, win the trick, and then lead diamonds until the A appears ...

... and the two red Aces are all they get. The hearts kindly split 3-2, so you end up with 3 spades, 2 clubs, 3 diamonds and 3 hearts: 11 well-earned tricks.

What if they'd started with a club lead instead of a diamond? Now it's much more tricky. Your diamonds are full of holes, so you concentrate on the hearts. They take their A and lead another club, knocking out your last defences in clubs. Yikes! Now you can't afford to lose the lead again, or they'll be taking a whole string of club tricks. You'll have to take your heart tricks (3 hearts and 2 clubs = 5) and then cross your fingers and play out your spades. First the ♠A (play the high cards in the shorter suit first), then back to the ♠K, and now the ♠Q ... and the ♠J drops, leaving your ♠10 as your ninth trick. Phew! Only 9 tricks instead of 11, but at least you made your contract!

Hand 8 | Declaring in NT

Here's a straightforward hand to finish with. This time you're sitting West, again needing 9 tricks in no trumps, and North leads the 6.

You know the questions by now - what are your thoughts?

You have 6 'top tricks' (3 in clubs, two in diamonds and the ♠A), so need three more. Hearts should provide them, as you have KQJ10 - they can have their A, leaving you with three heart tricks.

So how do you ensure your 9 tricks? Make a plan and then check your answer. 

Answer

As ever when you need to lose the lead, do it while you've still got stoppers in all the other suits. Win trick 1 in either hand and lead a heart at trick 2. Best to start with the K and continue with the Q - playing the high cards from the short suit first will stop things getting blocked up later.

Once the A has gone, you can go ahead and cash your winners - 9 in all. And maybe 10, if you're lucky. How come? Well, if the 6 missing clubs are split 3-3 between N and S, they'll be out of clubs by the time you've cashed your ♣AKQ ... and your 2 will be worth a trick. Unfortunately - take a look at the whole deal - the clubs are split 4-2, so you don't get the extra trick. But you've made your contract, so never mind.