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(20th Jul 2022)
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Online Bridge is available for members and invited guests on Tuesday evenings. Please register to play via the MEMBER ONLY portal, where you can also obtain the link to play. 

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Interesting Hands
Board 23 18th March 2024

Contract is 4D by East, South leads the 5.

Why did South bid 3D on the 2nd round of bidding? So, at that point, South knows there is a very strong hand on their right, and is holding 11 HCP, leaving very few points in West’s and South’s hands. In fact, South’s 2D bid confirms South is holding less than 7 HCP. But East is holding a singleton spade and K, J combination in hearts. East realises that the A and Q are probably with East, potentially meaning at least one winner in hearts. East also knows that, if they can get into dummy, any finesses will likely work. This turns out to be true for both diamonds and hearts, as playing trumps first and finessing the K results in a 2nd entry into dummy via the 9. West’s holding of the A♠ is a real bonus and contributes to the above strategy.

Play
Can East make the contract? – the computer analysis confirms East should make the contract. Why don’t you have a go using Bridge Solver Online.

Comment
Board 26 Tuesday 5/3/2024

The following commentary from Dave:
"I’ve chosen to review this board because it is a good example of the declarer having to plan an approach based on identifying opportunities and working out how to take advantage of winning cards.

The Bidding
The bidding is shown in the box above.

The Play
So West is declarer in a 4S contract, and North leads the 7. What does declarer have to think about? West has a loser trump (A♠), two losing hearts (if those losing hearts are not avoided by playing winning clubs first), a loser diamond and no losers in clubs. BUT, dummy has few entries to make use of the long club suit, especially if the opposition holds off playing the A♠ until it can cover the K♠.  So potentially, declarer may have only one entry to dummy, via the 3♣. West must NOT play the 3♣ on a club lead from the opposition as that would strand winning clubs in dummy and leave declarer vulnerable to an opposition attack in hearts.
Note: the computer analysis says that West will only make 9 tricks, but replaying this hand shows quite a possibility that West will make 10 tricks against a less experienced player in the South position. North may have little influence on the outcome, but South has a couple of opportunities to lead an incorrect card, allowing declarer to make the 4S contract.
How would you play this if you were West, assuming a 7♦ lead from North?
(It is worth using the Double-Dummy facility in RealBridge to replay this hand, noting the opportunities and pitfalls)."

CLICK HERE
 

Comment
Board 21 Tuesday 27/2/2024

The odds of a hand with distribution like this (9,4,0,0) are about one in one hundred thousand. Based on the number of boards we play, that will only come up in about every 25 years!

However, specifically for those suits in West: ie. 9, 4♠ with voids in the minors the probability is 1:1.6 million.

Most pairs got into 4 Hearts (making 13), however one pair bid 4 Spades making 13 tricks for a top board (see bidding for how they got there) and RealBridge for play. CLICK HERE

Comment
Deal #16 “Bridge Master 2000 – The Key to Better Bridge”.

The bidding is shown at top right.
You, South, are the declarer, in 4H. West leads the K♣ .
How do you play to guarantee the contract?

West wins with the K♣ , and switches to a diamond, which South wins.

South has to lose two club tricks and the A. But the defence is also threatening to get a diamond ruff. If South plays trumps immediately, West will win and put East on lead in clubs. Then a diamond ruff will defeat the contract.

But, (and this is the winning strategy), South can cut the defensive East-West communications with a “loser-on-loser” play, if West has both the Q♠  and the J♠ .
South starts by leading a spade towards the dummy. If West follows low, South should not finesse the 10♠ . This might be the only way to go down if West has a hand like the above. If West has both the Q♠  and the J♠ , loser-on-loser play will still work.
After taking dummy’s top spades, North’s 10♠ is played. If East can’t cover South discards his club loser. The defence no longer has the transportation in clubs to negotiate a diamond ruff.
Set up the above hand and try the suggested solution – South will make 4H.

Comment
Board #19 Monday 12th February 2024

We can see that the N-S pair holds 26HCP. We all (should) know that 26 HCP is enough to bid game in a major, game in 3NT, but NOT game in a minor if distribution points don’t add to the equation. Something that I emphasized in my lessons, reflecting the beginner’s book by Paul Marston (Introduction to Bridge – American 5-Card Majors) is that the priority in the American 5-card major system is: - Majors - No trumps - Minors

What this means in practice is that pairs with points should first look to see if there is a possibility of a contract in majors, if not, then look at no-trumps, and then minors if there is no possibility in majors or no-trumps. Less experienced players often do not follow this doctrine, and the benefits of it are somewhat highlighted in the above board.

Following the doctrine leads to the following bidding:
South: 1C  (opening points, no 5-card major, not holding 4 diamonds)
West: Pass
North: notes partnership has a minimum of 26HCP and needs to be in game. North MUST take control to get the pair into the correct contract. Note: it is ok for North to bid 1D as North knows that if responder changes suit, opener CANNOT pass (a fundamental law of bridge). Let’s say North bids 1D.
East: Pass South: South cannot pass, and bids 1NT to show minimum opening points and a balanced hand.
West: Pass
North: No messing about, jump bid to 3NT. Where less experienced players go wrong is that they get into a bidding sequence that shows a match a diamonds (ie 8+ cards in that suit in the partnership) and they pursue diamonds. They should be in no-trumps (when scored, 2NT beats 3D, 70 to 60).

It is also possible that North may respond to South’s opening bid (of 1C) by directly bidding 3NT (shows 13-15 HCP, balanced and no 4-card majors). This is telling a “white lie” as North’s hand is not balanced, holding 2 doubletons. You might say, but the computer analysis shows that 3NT should go off 1, ie N-S should only make 8 tricks. But the analysis also shows that 5D should go off 2, making just 9 tricks. But 3NT-1 is still a better result than 5D-2. And 2NT (making) outscores 3D (making), meaning the pairs in 3D may end up with zero points, even if they get their contract.

John and Lois was the only pair to bid no-trumps – the correct contract to be in when playing the 5-card majors system.

Comment

This one presented by Dave: The Game Invitation

Comment
Majors vs No Trumps vs Minors
Majors vs No Trumps vs Minors

Books on bridge playing 5-card majors will typically teach you to give priority to majors, then no-trumps then minors. Why is this so?

It is all about the scoring, and risk vs reward.

A contract in 5 of the minors scores 100 points (plus game points), as does a contract in 3NT. But if overtricks are scored it is a different story. 5 in a minor, with 1 overtrick, is worth 120 points (plus game points), whereas 3NT +1 is worth 130 points (plus game points), but in the latter case, the team only has to win 2-less tricks than the team in the minors.

See the real example shown to the left, which is a board played in the green shed on 16/10/23.

On one table, the 5D+1 contract scores 420 points. But, in both N-S contracts on the other tables, they are in no-trumps. Both score more points than the 5D+1 contract, resulting in 5D+1 scoring 0 when compared against the other tables. Making 5D+1 and scoring 0 feels pretty harsh, but that is why the teaching text books talk about priority: majors, then no-trump, then minors. 

Enjoy your bridge, but do think about whether to switch to no-trumps (if you can) instead of playing in minors. Sometimes, less risk, and greater reward. wink

Comment
Can this make Four Hearts?
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This hand was submitted by one of our students, Pauline, who played it against the computer. The contract was 4 Hearts, going off one. ..........

..... see more

West leads Q♠, which is taken with the K♠ in Sth. Lead a trump, West plays the J , take it with A in North Don't try to draw trumps, rather lead the A then the 2 to the K in South. Lead Q from South and discard one of the Clubs, then lead another diamond and discard the other club in North, which East will trump. That then leaves East with two heart winners but the contract makes!

Comment
(17th Apr 2023)
Board #1 Friday 4th November

Thanks to Dave for this one:

"I have chosen this board as the computer analysis indicates that it should be possible for N/S to make 4NT. Although all teams on the day bid 3NT, no team made the overtrick to secure maximum points, ie 100%. So how do you play to win the extra trick?

Bidding: There are many possible bidding sequences that lead to a final 3NT bid by either North or South. One might go like this: North opens 1C, South responds 2D. North (who now knows the partnership has 25+ HCP) may just jump straight to 3NT, or there may be further bidding of 4 card suits that lead to 3NT being the chosen contract."

Play:  Assuming NT is first bid by North, what is East’s best lead? East’s long suit is hearts but if East leads the A, he/she may struggle to regain the lead to make use of the remaining hearts. A better lead is the 8, (4th highest in a long suit), keeping the A for later entry. North wins the first trick with the J. North can count 9 winners (4 spades, 2 hearts,1 diamond and 2 clubs) but must make another winner to get the overtrick. The key is the diamond suit, so North leads low to South’s long suit, winning with the A, then leading back the J. West wins that trick with the Q and leads a heart back to East’s opening lead. East may or may not choose to win this trick with the A, it simply will not matter to the overall result. Say East ducks this lead, playing the 9, allowing South to win with the Q. If this happens, South will lead another diamond, drawing West’s K and making the extra trick in diamonds. Declarer will win 10 tricks. But, if East wins by playing the A, and then plays a spade, it is more interesting. South must play the Q♠ then cash in his/her remaining 2 heart winners. Declarer has now won 5 tricks and has another 5 winners in North’s hand (3 spades and 2 clubs). South simply leads to North’s hand to cash in the 5 winning cards, making 10 tricks in total.

Comment
Board 2 Monday 26th September 2022

Dave has written this one up. "A very interesting hand the produced a variety of bidding and results. One of the actual bids is above."

North led the 2♠.  East wins this with the A♠, creating a void in West’s hand. East leads the 5♣, winning the trick with the A♣ in West’s hand. This has now revealed to declarer that all of the missing trumps (J♣, 10♣, 9♣) are all in North’s hand. This is valuable information and can be used to good effect by declarer to ensure only one trick (a trump) is lost in the ensuing play. The key in this situation, which arises from time to time in bridge, is to leave a high trump on the left of the opposition hand holding the length in trumps and force that player into a decision about when to trump in or not by playing cards from your long suit on their left. So, in this case, the winning strategy is to lead hearts from West’s hand, putting pressure on North to decide if to trump in or not. So, declarer cashes in both the A and K, not bothering with a finesse on the Q. Then declarer leads the 4, which North will not trump, not knowing where the Q is. North plays a small diamond and East trumps in with the 6♣, with South losing the Q. E/W now crosses back to West cross-trumping the 9♠ with the 2♣. Then immediately plays any heart, forcing North into a position of deciding whether or not to trump in. If North does trump in, declarer will overtrump with the Q♣ in dummy, leaving North with one winning trump and one losing trump. This will be the only winner in the N/S partnership, so declarer will make 5C+1. If North doesn’t trump West’s hearts, then eventually, North will lose two of his/her trumps to E/W’s Q♣ and K♣, and North will win only 1 of the remaining trumps. This is a good example of how to take advantage of early knowledge learned that all missing tricks are in one hand. What initially looks a bit dispiriting can be used to advantage, so long as there is a long suit on the left of the opposition hand that holds the missing trumps. On the plus side for N/S, the pre-empt in spades kept E/W out of a slam. Without it, E/W would likely find the 6C small slam.

Comment
Board 14 Tuesday 5th September

This one has been submitted by Dave (with help from Martin to solve). There are two possible game-going contracts for East-West, 4H or 3NT. Of these, 4H is the highest scoring, but no pair got into a 4H contract. One pair got into a 3NT contract, so let’s look at that bidding. West opens 1H and, in this case, instead of bidding 2C (which many pairs would do), Merren bid 2NT, showing 10-12 HCP, and holding less than 3H and less than 4S. This bid tells partner a lot about the shape of East’s hand. With 15HCP and knowing partner has 10-12 HCP and more cards in the minors than the majors, Dave did not hesitate to raise the bid to 3NT.
But, how to play the contract after South leads the 6D?

So, West must cross with a small spade to Q♠ then finesse hearts to the 10. N-S will pursue their strategy of leading another diamond, but East will regain the lead and follow-up with another heart finesse, winning with the Jack. Then West simply plays the remaining hearts and spades to make 9 tricks. This is very unusual, with the longest suit in the E-W partnership (clubs) contributing nothing to making 9 tricks in 3NT.

Comment
Hand of the Week 18th August

Alison and I were playing N/S on Thursday night when we were dealt this monster hand. The competition was IMPS not match-points so it doesn't matter whether you play it in 7♠  or 7 NT. The rule of thumb is to play it in the safest contract. How would you and your partner bid it?

We stuffed up the bidding and ended up in 6 NT+1. I was dreading the score as I thought we would get a bottom board. Fortunately, most played it in 6♠ making or +1 so we didn't take a bath after all. When I looked at the bidding to see why the N/S partnerships didn't find the grand-slam I noted two things :
1. Most Norths went immediately to 4 NT (mostly Blackwood) when their partner opened 1♠. They didn't have a feel for their partner's strength and burnt up a lot of bidding room that could have been used to find out more about partner's hand.
2. Blackwood 4 NT established that they held all 4 aces but even if they had bid 5 NT (King ask), being 1 king short would have made 7♠ look risky as they could have been missing ♠ K. The take-away from this hand in my opinion is to take the time to learn the Jacoby-2 NT and Roman Key Card Blackwood conventions as they make slam contracts like this one much easier to find.

Comment
Board 17 Tuesday 16th August

This hand from last Tuesday night showcases the usefulness of two bidding conventions: Jacoby 2 NT and Roman Key Card Blackwood.
West holds 18HCP including 3 hearts to the ace when their partner opens 1. Even if East only holds a minimum hand a slam is worth looking for but if East happens to have some additional values a grand slam could be on. How does West progress the bidding?
A jump in hearts is out of the question as partner will pass with a minimum hand and you will miss the slam. Moving straight to an ace ask misses the opportunity of finding any additional information on the shape or strength of partner's holding.
The Jacoby 2 NT convention is a forcing bid which confirms a fit to at least game level and queries partner on the features of their hand. In this case East replies with 3 which indicates a shortage (void or singleton) in that suit. Great information for West as holding AKQ means there are 2-3 discards available on the diamond suit from East's hand and now showing distribution means East has more than a minimum hand (15+TP added to 19 for West).
West then uses a second popular convention RKCB and finds East is holding 3 controls (A♣,A♠,K) in addition to the 2 that are in West's hand. At this point West is interested in a grand slam but based on the knowledge of only a 8 card fit it is possible that one of the opposition holds Qxx Bidding the next non-trump suit up (5♠) is a queen ask and 5 NT by East confirms holding the Q. 7 can now be confidently bid.

Comment
Board 12 Tuesday 9th August

Bidding:

W 1NT
E  2 (transfer to hearts)
W 2 
E  4NT (Roman Keycard Blackwood)
W  5  (2 controls, no trump Q)
E  6NT

Lead: ♠ Q

This hand had some surprising results last Tuesday night as you would expect the majority of E/W partnerships to have played the contract in a slam in either hearts or no-trumps. A check on the bidding shows that nearly all the players seated West chose to open 1♣ even though their hand meets the common criteria for a 1 NT opening. This made it much harder to find the slam as East doesn't know partner has at least 15HCP and accepts the game contract on offer in hearts rather than exploring further. 6 goes down one due to the bad trump split but 6 NT makes easily once the A is located.

Comment
Board 15 Tuesday 9th August

Thanks to Martin for this one.

Contract 1 by South
Lead: ♥ 2
Made 4

South is the dealer on this hand and has 19 HCP, although with a singleton  J it is arguably weaker. In terms of playing tricks there are 5.5 (1♠,0,2,2.5♣ ) which is too weak for a 2♣ opening. The other issue for South to contemplate is that if partner holds nothing, the bidding will likely end up in a 3 contract (2♣ - P - 2 - P-3).
 

At the table I played at, South opened and was left in 1  making 10 tricks. Their partner thought a 2♣  opening would have been a better bid as 3 NT was on. 3 NT certainly makes on this occasion but only because the diamonds break and the ♣K is onside. 3 NT with 24HCP is a risky proposition in a matchpoint game unless you hold a solid long suit. To open 2♣ you need a hand that is just shy of game, that is 8-9 playing tricks. So in this case with 5.5 PT and a wobbly 19HCP points, 1  is plenty. If you have a game on you will still find it from this starting point.

Comment
Board 10 Tuesday 6th August

This hand from Tuesday night 2nd August presented problems for declarers which resulted in 1 or 2 tricks off when played in 5♣. When dummy is revealed to East there are 3 potential losers, 10♠, a diamond and a club (if trumps break badly). Also, finessing clubs or spades are not options as there are no entries to West's hand.
The only chance for the contract to make is if diamonds split evenly allowing declarer to make 4 tricks in diamonds (discarding the losing spades from dummy).

Contract: 5♣ by East
Lead:  A

Declarer ruffs the  A in hand and leads the A♣ & K♣. The Q♣ does not fall so declarer switches to A, followed by K. The 2 is then lead and is picked up by North's Q  leaving declarer with the last two remaining diamonds. North likely returns a heart not wanting to lead away from the K♠. Declarer ruffs the heart and plays the 2 remaining diamonds, discarding spades. If South ruffs with the Q♣, they can only return a spade effectively finessing partner's K♠ or a heart allowing East to ruff then play the A♠ and then ruff the 10♠ in dummy. Declarer makes 11 tricks.

Comment
Tuesday 26th July

Bidding

Nth 2 23+ HCP game force
Sth 2  negative 0-7HCP
Nth 3  5+
Sth. 3♠   4+ ♠ & 3+HCP
Nth. 4NT Blackwood ace ask
Sth. 5♣  no aces
Nth 6♠  (Played by South)

A 2 loser, 23HCP point hand appears before North and is opened with a 2 game force. South holds a handy 6HCP and responds 2  (0-7HCP). North now shows their 5+ card suit with 3and South responds 3♠ . North has a decision to make. South has likely 5 or more spades and if they hold a heart honour (K or Q) a slam in spades is definitely on. However, if South's points are in clubs the slam may fail. North can try an ace ask but with a void in clubs the information is of little value. With only 2 losers, 6♠  looks like it is worth a try.

The lead from West is ♣ 10 which is ruffed in dummy with ♠ 10. Three rounds of trumps are then played followed by the top 3 diamonds. The ♣ K is discarded on the Q and with the diamonds splitting 4/2 the 5 is then played and ruffed. The  2 is played to the  J which is taken by East with the K. East plays the ♣ A which is ruffed leaving declarer with 2 heart winners and a trump for 12 tricks.

Comment
Friday 7th July

Thanks to Martin for this one:

"Here is a hand from last Friday's session that caused problems for declarers. Finding the four heart contract is relatively easy but the trump split provides a real challenge.

Bidding

1. 1 NT overcall  by South 16-18HCP and a stopper in
2. 2  by North - transfer to

Contract: 4  by South
Lead: 2
Made 10 tricks

To make 10 tricks declarer needs to end play East in trumps. The technique is called "strip and end play". It means that you strip the hands down to only the suit that you want the end play in and then you give them the lead so they have to play back to you.

The successful line of play is to take the A, play the K discarding a club from dummy. Lead a trump towards dummy which drops the K. A spade is likely returned which picks up the ♠K from East. Ruff a  and return on a ♠ from dummy. Play the last winning spade, discarding a ♣  from dummy. Ruff another  in dummy and lead the ♣A and K. East is now end-played in hearts. Declarer leads J which East wins with the Q, but must now lead either the A or 9 back to declarer who will make 1 more trick from their 10 & 7 combination to complete 10 tricks.

Comment
Tuesday 28th June
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Thanks to Dave who has provided the commentary on this week's hand - Board #19 from Tuesday 28th June

Bidding
South: 1♠ (Opening points, 5+ spades)
West: Pass
North: 4♠ (shows 3+ spades, 13-15 Total Points)
Then passed out. ..........

..... see more

Play
The play is tricky. Initially there appears to be too many potential losers to make the 4♠ contract (2, at least 1 trump, and a heart). Compounding this is the fact that the partnership has a balanced hand opposite a semi-balanced hand, and often, with this distribution, 3NT is a better contract, as declarer needs to win only 9 tricks, instead of the 10 required to bring home a 4-card major. But, not in this case, as the opposition can make hay in diamonds and quickly defeat 3NT.

So let’s look at how to make 4♠. Of course, the opposition immediately leads diamonds, winning the first two rounds. Q led by West, North plays the K, East wins with the A. East leads back to West’s winning J. Now, dummy and declarer are void in diamonds but the opposition has won two tricks. West must not lead another diamond and should realise the real possibility that this would be a bad lead, allowing N/S to discard in either hand, and ruffing in the other hand. So, West leads the Q, and South wins the trick with the K. Declarer must not lead the A♠, not knowing where the K♠ is. Declarer must rely on the K♠ being in East’s hand, and can finesse it with the J♠/10♠ combination. Of course, declarer will lose one spade, either the Q♠ or the K♠. Declarer must also not lead a heart at this point as that would leave a losing heart in the N/S combination, which would be exploited by E/W after winning a spade, resulting in declarer going down by one trick. So South correctly opts to lose the spade trick first, leading the 4♠ from South’s hand. West wins with their Q♠. West is now in a difficult position with the lead, not being able to lead diamonds or spades. Whatever West leads will give declarer the contract, but West does not know this. All declarer has to do is win the next trick, cross back to North (if required, with the A) and finesse the K♠, then play out the clubs, making 10 tricks.
This is a great example of identifying a winning strategy and playing to make that strategy work. Yes, assumptions have to be made, but in bridge, you will find yourself in this situation quite often. If
your winning strategy fails to win because a card wasn’t where you’d hoped it would be, then that is just too bad – you would have lost the contract in any case. Good luck with the next one.

Comment
Tuesday 21st June

Bidding
North: 1♣ (12+ HCP)
East: 1 (Overcall, 5+ diamonds)
South: 1♠  (6+ HCP, 4+ spades)
West: Pass
North: 2 (4+ hearts)
East: Pass
South: 4 (4+ hearts, 26+ TPs in the partnership)

Play
East leads the K♣, top of a run, with a touching Q♣,  South wins with the A♣. West & North discard. South plays trumps, leading the K. Then the Q, with East showing a singleton. Declarer now
knows that the remaining trumps (10, 7) are with West. Oddly enough, the winning strategy here is to play out the remaining trumps and then play the remaining tricks in a no-trumps fashion. But
this must be done carefully, as West has the potential to upset things with good honours in clubs and spades.
Declarer has an 8-card suit in spades, so leads the A♠, then the 2♠  clearing the spade threat, and having a winning Q♠ in North’s hand. But West has the lead, holds the A♣ and knows his/her partner has the Q. This would make 3 winning tricks for East/West but would not defeat the contract as they would end up leading back to winners in the North/South hands. It is a tricky play for declarer,
and arguably, a better contract for North/South would be 3NT, as they would need only to make 9 tricks, not 10 to be successful.
Well done to Jann and Rhonda who brought home the 4H contract, and to Suzanne and Pat who delivered on 3NT.

Comment
Monday 20th June

Dave wrote the commentary on our first "GOLDEN HAND"

Bidding
All teams got into either 3S or 4S contracts, with 4S being the correct contract. The bidding is pretty straightforward. South opens 1S, West passes and North bids 3S (showing 10 – 12 Total Points). East passes. South knows North has at least 3 spades and 10 – 12 TPs. South has 16 TPs, which together with North = 26 – 28 TPs, enough for South to confidently bid 4S.
 

Play
In our Board, West led the 8♣. North takes it with the K♣, East plays the 2♣ and South the 3♣. It is always worthwhile taking a moment after the first card is led to assess the situation, and to see what tricks can be made and where there are vulnerabilities. With reasonable distribution, South can count 9 immediate winners (5 spades, 2 hearts and 2 clubs), so South only needs to make one additional trick to make the 4S contract. The simplest way would appear to be to cross trump a losing club after the A♣ and K♣ have won the first 2 rounds in that suit. Thus, South cannot just play trumps from the outset – he/she must have at least one trump in North’s hand to ruff a club. But South should be suspicious of West’s club lead, in case it is a singleton. But North/South has 6 clubs and if West only had a singleton then East would have to hold 6 clubs. Possible but the odds would favour a more even distribution. However, to be on the safe side, declarer should keep the Q♠ in North’s hand as insurance for the planned cross-trumping of clubs. On the second round, declarer should lead a small trump from dummy to see how trumps fall, so leads the 5♠. East plays the 4♠, South the A♠ and West the 7♠. Then South leads a club back to dummy’s A♣. South needs to cross back to South to be able to cross-trump the clubs, so leads the 3. Note: if declarer chooses to cross back by leading the 8♠, he/she will still end up making the 4S contract, but will lose a club and two diamonds. Crossing back with hearts leads to declarer making an overtrick. This is the winning strategy.

Comment
(5th May 2022)
Monday 30th May
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Thanks to Dave who provided this one. ..........

..... see more

Play
At both tables, South led the 2. Dummy comes down, North wins with the A, taking the K  from dummy and the 6  from East. North does not want to lead around to dummy’s aces, so leads the Q to force trumps. East plays the 7, South the 4  and dummy trumps with the 2.

Now it gets interesting, with many ways for E/W to lose the contract, and few ways to make it. Declarer needs to be East’s hand to lead to dummy’s strengths or cross-trump, so leads the 3, winning with the K. North is now out of trumps, South plays the 6.  East may be tempted to cross-trump his/her remaining diamond, but this invariably leads to going down 1. Similarly, finessing spades at this point also invariably leads to going down 1. But the most likely play would be for declarer to run another round of trumps. So East leads the J. With the 9, 8 combination, South covers with the Q, and dummy wins with the Ace.

Declarer must now play a small spade from dummy, as leading the A♠  followed by a small spade will fail as South can cross-trump a third lead of spades. It is not obvious to me how declarer can know to do this, but let’s follow the play. Dummy leads the 4♠ , North plays the K♠ , East the 3♠  and South the 5♠.

North sees the opportunity to remove the last trump from dummy by leading the J. East plays the 9, South the 5 and West the 7.
To make the contract declarer must again play a small spade from dummy and win with the JS in East’s hand. Declarer can now draw another trump, playing the 10, and discarding the 6♣  from Dummy. South now holds the 9, to East’s 4, but East has the lead.

East’s winning strategy is to now play the 10♣ . It does not matter if South covers with the Q♣  or not. Declarer runs the clubs until Dummy is holding the A♣, A♠ and Q♠. North has nothing useful. East has the 10♠ and the 6♠. South has two clubs and the 9.

It is now obvious that it does not matter what is led from dummy, the only remaining trick that declarer will lose is to South’s 9. But declarer will win the other two, making 10.

This board is full of traps in the 4H contract and easy to go off. But it is interesting to note that it is much easier for E/W to win 10 tricks in a 4S contract (even making an overtrick) due to the more even distribution of the missing trumps in North and South’s hand. But how East/West would ever get into a spade contract is a question for another day!

Comment
Tuesday 24th May
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Only one pair got into a grand-slam Spade contract on this board from Tuesday 24th May. ..........

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The 4 lead from North was won in East with the J, leaving plenty of entries to West's hand and cross-trumping opportunities once the trump tricks were taken. This was the play:RealBridge

It was merely a matter of a finesse of K  (which they did, but ended up in West's hand and missing the bottle of bubbly)!

Comment
Tuesday 17th May

Thanks to Martin who has supplied the commentary for this hand. "This board is from last Tuesday's session. Double dummy analysis shows a grand slam is on offer for E/W in either hearts or diamonds but on the night this contract was played almost exclusively in just 4 EW. This hand is of interest because it offers each player a number of bidding alternatives that can potentially swing the score in their favour.

    NT ♠      ♣ 
N 0 4 0 0 10
S 0 3 0 0 10
E 12 7 13 13 3
W 6 7 13 12 3

Par −1510: EW 7

Bidding:

South: South is the dealer. Holding 6 HCP and a solid 7 card club suit the first instinct is to pre-empt with a bid of 3♣ . However, if partner has points and spades South is holding a strong supporting hand and a pre-empt will likely spoil the opportunity of at least a game in spades. Pass may be the best option.

West: If South bids 3♣ , what does West do? Pass is not an option. Eleven high card points, a solid 6 trick diamond suit and support in the majors with a void in clubs leaves 3 ,4  or double as the available alternatives. If South passes, West opens with 1  (rule of 20).

North: If South opens with 3♣ , North can pre-empt by jumping to 5♣  (Law of total tricks) as a sacrifice as East/West have a certain major suit game on.

East: East has 18HCP and at their turn could face one of four scenarios - see Answer
 

1) p-1  -p-?
This is the easiest, bid 1. South will likely pre-empt 3♣ and West will bid 3. If North passes, 4 NT is an easy road to a heart slam.
2) 3♣  -X-5♣  -?
Double for penalties or try for slam? West's double shows an opening hand and support for the unbid suits and combined with East's 18HCP a small slam is likely. Bid 6  ?
3) 3♣  -4  -5♣  -?
Partner's 4   shows a a 6+card suit, 16+ total points and shape. Bid 6  .
4) 3♣  -3  -p-?
Bid 3, when partner responds 4, bid 4 NT ace ask.

Comment
Monday 18th April

Thanks to Martin for this one (Board #6 Monday 18th April):

1. 4NT by Nth Roman Keycard Blackwood
2. 5  by Sth 2 controls, no queen of trumps
Contract: 6♠  by South
Lead:  5
Made 7

"A hand from last Monday's session provides an interesting bidding challenge for North. South opens with a preemptive 3♠  showing 10 or less HCP and a seven card suit containing 2 honours. North has spade support, 16HCP and a void in . What does North bid? 

The Losing Trick Count (LTC) can provide some assistance. A 3-level preempt can be assumed to have 6-8 losing tricks. North counts 4 losers (2 in ♠  & 2 in ♣ ) in their hand, giving a total of 10-12 losers. Taking this from 24 leaves 12-14 winners which means a slam try is worthwhile. Using the Roman Keycard Blackwood (RKCB) convention North finds the partnership is missing either an ace or the king of spades and North settles on 6♠  for the contract. On a diamond lead, Declarer wins the  A and then ruffs a   in dummy. Declarer successfully finesses East for the ♠K and discards the losing   and ♣  on dummy's king and queen of hearts making 13 tricks for +1010

Comment