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Hand 5 Thursday 9 October

In standard english acol, the rule of 20 states you can open the bidding with less than 12 points if your points plus the number of cards in your two longest suits total 20 or more. North's hand totals 19 and if North passes, East reaches 3NT and the lead will probably be a spade.

There is still time for the defence if North switches to a heart when in with the K, but on my table a spade was returned allowing the contract to make.

If North opens a heart, then E/W will probably reach the uneventful but safe contract of 3. If they venture to 3NT, they do so at their peril as surely South will lead his partner's suit?

Hand 23 26 March 2009
Chris and Jo Messer top-scored on this hand making 13 tricks in 3NT and queried whether it should have been bid. The answer is no. The contract was either 3NT or 4H but the layout of the cards was favourable, something you can't take account of in the auction. Nevertheless, only 2 pairs won 12 tricks and most were making just 10.
Board 3 28 November

This hand was played four times in four completely different contracts. So what should have happened.

Firstly, in Standard English Acol, we can open with less than 12 points if the total cards in our two longest suits plus our points come to 20 or more. This is a method of adding extra points for distribution. South's count comes to 21 and should open, but with what bid? The system rules state that South should open his longest suit - clubs. But in this case the bidding will go (E and W remaining silent) 1C-1S-2C, south not being able to hearts as that would be a "reverse" showing 16 or more points. North may then have one final try with 2NT where the bidding will probably stop and the pair that played there went one down as I would expect.

However with South's void in spades, he may have anticipated that North's first bid would be 1S and thus may have "bent" the rules and opened 1H. The bidding then could go 1H-1S-2C-4H with 10 points and a singleton.

The only heart contract was 2H bid and made so how do we go about 10 tricks.

Looking at the South hand we will probably lose 1 heart and 3 clubs on a normal distribution, so we may look to cross ruff spades and clubs. Either way I would win the expected 10D lead with the QD and lead a club to the K,3 and 4. Win the expected club JD return with K,2 and 6,then ruff a small club, noting that the 10C falls reducing our club losers to only 2. Then take out trumps. K first then small to hand, inserting 10H if east follows small (as per our table hand earlier that day!), then play AH and then lead clubs form the top and East can only take the AC and QH.

Not easy and a smart east can thwart this.

So a tricky hand to bid and play, that's why bridge can never get boring.