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Hand Analysis
BALANCED HANDS 20-22 HCP

This hand was shuffled and dealt at Patching Lodge on 29/10/19.

DEALER WEST holds 20 HCP with a BALANCED HAND so opens 2NT.

EAST holds 13 HCP so knows

(a) that the partnership holds between 33 HCP and 35 HCP;

(b) that to make a GRAND SLAM the partnership needs 37+ HCP;

(c) that to make a SMALL SLAM the partnership needs 33 HCP and 36 HCP;

(d) that the partnership holds sufficient HCPs for a SMALL SLAM but not sufficient for a GRAND SLAM.

EAST therefore should respond with 6NT thereby correctly placing the contract.

 

 

23+ HCP AND BALANCED

This hand was shuffled and dealt as Board 7 at Hop50+ on Wednesday 20/11/19.

East's hand is balanced and contains 23 HCP but (as is common) caused confusion for Acol players.

In Acol 2♣  is the strongest bid, being used to open 23+ HCP or GAME in any suit.

Therefore the following hands would be opened 2♣ :

(1) Balanced hands of 23-24 HCP with REBID of 2NT

(2) Balanced hands of 25-27 HCP with REBID of 3NT

(3) Balanced hands of 28-30 HCP with REBID of 4NT

(4) Balanced hands of 31-32 HCP with REBID of 5NT

(5) GAME (10 tricks) in SPADES with REBID of 2♠

(6) GAME (10 tricks) in HEARTS with REBID of 2 

(7) GAME (11 tricks) in DIAMONDS with REBID of 3D

(8) GAME (11 tricks) in CLUBS with REBID of 3♣ 

Some players play POSITIVE RESPONSES with A+K and 2  as a NEGATIVE RESPONSE with LESS.

An alternative is to use the 2  response as either a NEGATIVE or a "WAITING" BID - this has the advantage of allowing opener to confirm which of these 8 strong hands is held and so makes responder "CAPTAIN" to place the contract.

When opener rebids in NTs responder with a balanced hand responder can calaculate the HCPs held by the partnership and either pass or raise to 6/7NT.

When opener rebids in a suit (showing GAME without support from responder) with nothing to help opener, responder can simply bid game; or responder can assess whether the partnership has sufficient to reach SMALL or GRAND SLAM and bid accordingly, including CUE BIDS, BLACKWOOD etc.

OBJECTIVE OF DUPLICATE PAIRS: BEST SCORE OR BIDDING/MAKING GAME ?

This hand was shuffled and played at Brighton Central BC on Tuesday 1/10/19 !

It demonstartes how many (how few ?) bridge players can count ?

When partner (East) opens 2NT, responder (West) knews that partner holds a balanced hand of 20-22 HCP.   West holds 14 HCP with 4 x   and doubleton ♠ .

West might be tempted to use 4NT calling it Blackwood and asking opener how many Aces were held by opener - good bridge would employ 4NT as QUANTITATIVE asking opener to raise to 6NT with MAXIMUM and PASS with MINIMUM, so this would not be a god response.

In any event with 14 HCP, responder KNOWS that the PARTNERSHIP HELD 34-36 HCP so sufficient for 6NT (which needs 33 HCP) even opposite a minimum 2NT.

Since the missing 2 ACES made 8 HCP, PARTNER CANNOT HOLD MORE THAN  ONE ACE !

With ruffing potention (doubleton ♠) and 4 card  , responder might consider using STAYMAN - on this hand, opener (with 4 x  ) would respond 3H so a HEART FIT has been found - the 5 x   held by the opponents will split 3:2 about 68% of the time.

Responder, having found a suit fit, might then use 4NT Blackwood (asking how many ACES) so opener would bid 5  showing the 2 missing ACES.

Responder, having found all 4 ACES, might then use 5NT asking HOW MANY KINGS held by opener - opener responds 5♠  showing 5 KINGS.

Responder has now found ALL ACES, ALL KINGS and a MAJOR SUIT FIT.

Responder could place the contract as 7  or (to achieve the optimum score) 7NT.

On 1/10/19 none of the partnerships got beyond 3NT, some making +1, some +2, some +3 and one making +4 - and they all thought they had done well  when 7NT was biddable and makeable !

Rubber bridge players tend to concentrate on bidding and making game (to win the rubber) rather than making the best score.

 

This hand was shuffled and dealt (promise !) at Patching Lodge BC on Tuesday 9/10/19.

When was the last time you were dealrer and picked up a balanced hand of 27 HCP while playing "simple" Acol.

With 23+ HCP or GAME you open 2C Acol - since that opening can be based on 4 x Game Contracts or 23 - 31 HCP and is FORCING, responder may be best to respond 2D (which can be viewed as a "WAITING BID" or a NEGATIVE).

Opener can rebid in a suit to show the GAME FORCING hand, which with nothing responder can simply raise to GAME, or with the BALANCED HAND TYPE, opener can RE-BID IN NO TRUMPS (2NT = 23/24; 3NT = 25-27; 4NT = 28-30).

Now all responder has to do is to add the HCPs and SHAPE of opener'shand to responder's holding and PASS or PLACE THE CONTRACT.

In each case RESPONDER IS CAPTAIN to place the appropriate contract.

 

SMALL CARDS CAN MAKE TRICKS !

When you have to discard, many less experienced players simply discard from their longest suit without having regard to the information available eg sight of dummy, memory of the bidding may help with declarer's hand shape, partner's bidding or previous plays.

This hand was played as Board 4 on 16/4/19 at Patching Lodge BC.

Dealer (NORTH) opened 2♠  (weak) to which SOUTH responded 2NT which was alerted as "ASKING" opener for the strength of the 2♠ .

SOUTH replied with 3♣  which was alerted as showing a maximum for the 2♠  with a HIGH CARD FEATURE in CLUBS.

The contractywas eventually 4♠..

EAST sensibly avoided leading a club in view of the explanation of the 3♣  response to SOUTH's 2NT, did not wish to wish to lead from ♥9  ♥5  & ♥4 , so chose to lead the A  followed by 4 4 taken by WEST's ♦K.

WEST returned a 3rd   (especially in view of dummy's holding) which NORTH ruffed.

The likely split of the defence holding in SPADES was 3:1 so WEST had to find two discards on the 2nd and 3rd rounds of SPADES.

WEST despite holding 5 x HEARTS to the JACK and A, K, Q and 7 in DUMMY, chose to discard 2 of his HEARTS whereas ♦J  and his 3 CLUBS were of no obvious value and could have been discarded safely.

The discards chosen left WEST with only ♥J  ♥8  and ♥6.

After the 3rd round of |SPADES all trumps were accounted for, and DECLARER could start on Dummy's HEARTS.

When ♥A , ♥K  and ♥Q  were played, DECLARER followed to the A♥ with the singleton  10 , and discarded 9 ♣  and 10♣  on the 2nd and 3rd round of HEARTS.

DECLARER could now play a CLUB to his ♣A  and ♣Q  hoping that WEST held the ♣K (a 50% chance)  but by counting the 12 HEARTS played so far, DECLARER knew that the ♥7 was 100% master and so could safely lead it allowing the ♣ Q to be discarded. 

NOTE: If N/S had been playing OGUST responses to the 2NT "asking bid" rather than the "NATURAL" responses actually used, EAST may have been tempted to lead a CLUB from K♣  xx which would have given NORTH the extra trick from A♣  and Q♣. - it shows the importance of choosing the system to be played !

 

 

WEAK NT OPENING & WEAK JUMP SHIFT

When you have to discard, many less experienced players simply discard from their longest suit without having regard to the information available eg sight of dummy, memory of the bidding may help with declarer's hand shape, partner's bidding or previous plays.

This hand was played as Board 4 on 16/4/19 at Patching Lodge BC.

With SOUTH as dealer and playing WEAK NT, SOUTH opened 1 to which NORTH responded 2♠  as a WEAK JUMP SHIFT.

SOUTH rebid 2NT which was alerted as "ASKING" opener for the strength of the 2♠ .

NORTH responded 3♣  which was alerted as showing a maximum for the 2♠  with a HIGH CARD FEATURE in CLUBS.

The contract was eventually 4♠ by NORTH.

EAST sensibly avoided leading a club in view of the explanation of the 3♣  response to SOUTH's 2NT, did not wish to wish to lead from ♥9  ♥5  & ♥4 , so chose to lead the A  followed by 4 4 taken by WEST's ♦K.

WEST returned a 3rd   (especially in view of dummy's holding) which NORTH ruffed.

The likely split of the defence holding in SPADES was 3:1 so WEST had to find two discards on the 2nd and 3rd rounds of SPADES.

WEST despite holding 5 x HEARTS to the JACK and A, K, Q and 7 in DUMMY, chose to discard 2 of his HEARTS whereas ♦J  and his 3 CLUBS were of no obvious value and could have been discarded safely.

The discards chosen left WEST with only ♥J  ♥8  and ♥6.

After the 3rd round of |SPADES all trumps were accounted for, and DECLARER could start on Dummy's HEARTS.

When ♥A , ♥K  and ♥Q  were played, DECLARER followed to the A♥ with the singleton  10 , and discarded 9 ♣  and 10♣  on the 2nd and 3rd round of HEARTS.

DECLARER could now play a CLUB to his ♣A  and ♣Q  hoping that WEST held the ♣K (a 50% chance)  but by counting the 12 HEARTS played so far, DECLARER knew that the ♥7 was 100% master and so could safely lead it allowing the ♣ Q to be discarded. 

NOTE: If N/S had been playing OGUST responses to the 2NT "asking bid" rather than the "NATURAL" responses actually used, EAST may have been tempted to lead a CLUB from K♣  xx which would have given NORTH the extra trick from A♣  and Q♣. - it shows the importance of choosing the system to be played !

 

 

WHETHER OR NOT TO "OPEN LIGHT"

Whether or not to "open light" was the subject of articles in the August 2012 edition of the EBU Magazine ENGLISH BRIDGE.

Paul BOWYER (page 38) says that "OPENING LIGHT IS LOSING STRATEGY" whereas Frances Hinden said "OPENING LIGHT IS WINNING STRATEGY" (page 39).

Frances HINDEN says:

"In 1973 Reese and Dormer suggested a minimum of 13 (including length points so 12 HCPs with a 5+ suit) for an opening bid in THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BRIDGE.   This was based on the premise that you need 26 points between the hands to make game, and thus it ensured a hand would not be passed out with game making.   THAT MAY HAVE MADE SENSE AT RUBBER BRIDGE, WHEN THE EMPHASIS WAS ON BIDDING AND MAKING GAMES AND SLAMS, BUT MODERN DUPLICATE BRIDGE HAS A DIFFERENT EMPHASIS: AT BOTH TEAMS AND PAIRS THE FEW BIG SCORES ARE RELETIVELY LESS IMPORTANT THAN GETTING MORE OF THE SMALLER SWINGS RIGHT.   COMPETITIVE BIDDING TODAY IS THUS MUCH MORE AGGRESSIVE THAN IT WAS FORTY YEARS AGO.

The best way to get involved ias to open.   You start to describe your hand before the opponents can get going, while if you pass, you give up the advantage of being dealer.   If you have something worth saying, you should bid, whether at the one level or higher.   AN OPENING BID MAY LET YOU:

1.   TELL PARTNER WHAT TO LEAD;

2.   BID CONSTRUCTIVELY TO A GOOD GAME;

3.   MAKE BIDDING HARDER FOR OPPONENTS;

4.   LET PARTNER KNOW YOU HAVE SOME DEFENSIVE CARDS.

A pass (or a pre-empt) is perfectly acceptable if your opening bid isn't going to do at least two of these."

 

Paul BOWYER, however, says:

"As an old-fashioned player I hold to the belief that opening poor hands is, in the long term, losing strategy.   Opening bids should be sound in the first two seats.   Quite what constitutes "sound" is, of course, what this debate is all about - and its not always about points."

STRONG NT & TRANSFERS

This hand was played as Board 4 on 16/4/19 at Patching Lodge BC.

With SOUTH as dealer and playing STRONG NT (15-17 HCP or 16-18 HCP) SOUTH (with 17 HCP) opens 1NT, to which NORTH responds 2  alerted as a TRANSFER TO SPADES.

SOUTH completes the transfer with 2♠ and the contract of 4♠ by SOUTH was reached.

WEST might have chosen to lead a HEART from 5 to the J but noted that EAST, who could have DOUBLED NORTH's 2♥ to ask for a HEART LEAD, had not done so.

WEST therefore led  3 to which WEST played  A and returned a diamond on which WEST played  J (especially in view of dummy's holding) and tried a HEART taken by NORTH's 10.

The likely split of the defence holding in SPADES was 3:1.

After the 3rd round of |SPADES all trumps were accounted for, and DECLARER could cash his HEARTS.

DECLARER could now play a CLUB to his ♣A  and ♣Q  hoping that WEST held the ♣K (a 50% chance)  but with ♣ K held by EAST, SOUTH is held to 10 tricks.

NOTE:  This hand shows the importance of choosing the system to be played especially the strength of the 1NT opening !

 

 

DOUBLE FOR PENALTY ?

This hand was played as Board 7 at PATCHAM BC on 31/12/18.

3 E/W pairs reached 4 (making +2), one pair reached 5 (making +1), one pair reached 5  (making +2), one pair reached 6  (making -1).

However despite holding 11 hearts, one E/W pair gambled on 6NT* by West putting North (holding 2 Aces) on lead - presumably North doubled because of the 2 Aces and leading.

The lead is shown as ♠ 6 (which is held by South so must be wrong) which would lead into East's ♠ A, ♠ K, ♠ Q and ♠ 10 and so since East also held A + 2 and East holds 8 hearts this might explain how West is shown as having made 12 tricks for a score of 1680.

If (as should have happened) North led to West's contract of 6NT, presumably North would have led the 2 Aces leaving West 1 off and doubled.

The first question for North is whether 6NT is likely to be the usual contract, in which case 1 off would be a usual result and might justify North's double.

If North appreciates the E/W 11 card heart fit, the 6NT is likely to be an unusual contract and so 1 off is likely to be a good score WITHOUT THE DOUBLE which would warn E/W to consider escaping to a safer contract (eg 7 ) which might make depending on the shape of the N/S hands and which card is led.

Why does North want to tell E/W that 6NT is a bad contract and suggest that they consider escaping to a better contract - why not keep quiet and take the contract 1 off  for a TOP !

 

DEFENCE - THE FORCING DEFENCE

East as Dealer and holding 17 HCPs with 5/5 opens 1♠ , and South (with 10 HCPs with a strong diamond suit) overcalls 2 .

This causes West a problem - wth 9 HCPs West must make a bid and cannot bid 1NT (which West might do if South had not intervened) so West raises East's 1♠  to 2♠  with 3 card suit with SPADE HONOUR since even playing Acol 4 card East is likely to hold at least a 5 card suit.

East raises to 4♠  putting South on lead against a game contract.

South makes the STANDARD LEAD of K, on which (to avoid blocking South's suit) North plays A  and returns 10 which South overtakes, to lead a 3rd diamond.

East, to avoid to avoid losing the trick, ruffs reducing East to a 4 card suit.

To avoid N/S ruffing the hearts when played, East starts to clear spades - when South took the ♠ A, another diamond from South reduces East again leaving South with control in spades.

If East tries to cash the heart tricks, South can ruff - leaving South with 2 diamond tricks, the ♠ A and the ruff so taking the E/W contract off by one trick.

DEFENCE - THE FORCING DEFENCE

N/S reach 4♠ , a contract which at first glance makes 11 tricks - 5 spade tricks, 3 heart tricks and 3 club tricks.

West is on lead and has a choice - the singleton  4 (which East will win with the  A, return for West to ruff and that, with  A, is the last trick for the defence leaving N/S with 10 tricks) or the  A (on which South plays  J which is clearly a singleton).

If West plays A and realises that South has a singleton, should West continue with diamonds or switch - perhaps to the singleton 4 ? This switch will at least hold South to 10 tricks.

Can the contract be broken ?

Yes ! West continues after  A with K which South will ruff or concede the trick and making only 9 tricks.

If South ruffs the K, South is now reduced to 4 spades - if South wishes to clear West's 4 spades, the ♠ A, ♠ K,♠  ♠ Q and ♠ J will be needed.   If South then wishes to establish the 4 heart tricks, East will take A and, remembering West's initial leads, East still holds 2 diamonds which can be used to allow West to cash Q and 8 - making 3 diamond tricks together with A, thereby breaking the N/S contract by one trick.

N/S will therefore make only 9 tricks and E/W will make a top score against all the other E/W pairs who allowed N/S to make the contract. 

This proves that generally singletons do not make tricks ! 

DEFENCE - THE FORCING DEFENCE

West, with 15 HCPs, opens 1  - unless partner supports this, West's re-bid will be 1NT (15-16 HCP in Standard Acol).

North, with 11 HCPs and 5 x spades and 5 diamonds, uses 2NT (Michaels Cue bid showing 5/5 in the other Major and a Minor) which allows South (with 3 spades, an Ace in each Minor and 8 HCPs) to raise to 4♠ .

West makes the Standard Lead of K  (top of honour sequence) on which East signals an EVEN number - this cannot be 6, and if 2 that would place South with 6 hearts, so East must hold 4 and since the K  holds the trick East must also hold A .

East, before leading to the 2nd trick, examines dummy and MAKES A PLAN to take 4 tricks thereby defeating South's contract.

East can see that South can ruff 3 heart tricks in dummy, thereby leaving dummy with Q♠  and J♠  only.

If East can achieve this, the A♠  K♠  and 10♠  as masters which, with K  makes 4 tricks thereby defeating South's contract.

TWO SUITED OVERCALLS

This hand was played at PATCHAM BC on 19/12/18 as Board 4 and demonstrates the importance of which hand is allocated as dealer.

With East as dealer, holding 7 HCP and a 7 card spade suit of reasonable quality, many players would be tempted to open a PRE-EMPTIVE  3♠  which might make life difficult for South to overcall with 21 HCP.

With South as Dealer and despite holding 21 HCP, many Souths would open 2  even though South might be able to take a bare 8 tricks if North has nothing of value.

If South, playing Strong 2s and (because 2  is forcing) needing 9 playing tricks, opens 1 , does West have a way to show the suited hand in the minors ? 

Originally, a 2NT overcall would show 20-22 HCP and a BALANCED (as with an opening of 2NT) with a stop in RHO's suit but these hands come rarely and can be shown by DOUBLE (for TAKE OUT) and a REBID IN NO TRUMPS leaving a DIRECT OVERCALL OF 2NT for CONVENTIONAL USE as either THE UNUSUAL NO TRUMP or part of MODIFIED GHESTEM ("CRO") but in either case showing exactly what West holds - at least 5/5 in the MINORS.

The value of the overcall of 2NT to show at least 5/5 in the MINORS is that it informs partner of the 2 suited shape, allows partner to choose an appropriate level of support and takes up the BIDDING SPACE for opener's partner.

Here, East knows that there is good prospects for a 5♣  contract and in view of the shape of East's hand with a good chance of making.

In fact when played at PATCHAM BC, most contracts were played by N/S in ♥, while 4 E/W pairs played in 5♣  DOUBLED and making (for - 750) and one E/W pair played in 6♣  (+ 200) while those allowing N/S to play in   alllowed  5 pairs to make 11 tricks (+ 650) and one pair making 10 tricks (+620).    One E/W pair mysteriously ended in 4♠  doubled and making 7 tricks for +1100, possibly because West made a take out double of 1 suggesting support for Spades and encouraging East to jump to 4♠ .

OPENING STRONG HANDS

This hand was played at PATCHAM BC as Board 23 on Friday 21/12/18.

The various contracts were 6♠ , 1♠ , 2♠ , 4♠  and 6♠  - all played by South and all making 12 tricks.

Played carefully all could make 13 tricks.

South potentially holds 11 tricks with ♠  or   as trumps.

Clearly one pair opened 1♠ and was left to play there (!), one pair ending in 2♠  may have opened an Acol "Strong" 2♠  and North passed (!), one pair managed to reach 4♠ , and two pairs reached 6♠ .

All pairs made 12 tricks, presumably finessing A♠ Q♠  thereby allowing West make the singleton ♠ K.

How would you open the South hand - which system are you playing, and which bid would you use to open a hand where you hold GAME + 1 in your own hand without support from partner ?

PLANNING THE PLAY

Once the bidding is complete and the lead has been faced, dummy goes down.

You should train yourself not to touch a card until you have formed a plan - MAKING A PLAN MEANS MORE THAN IDENTIFYING THE ACES AND KINGS !

The success of your contract will often depend on what you play to this first trick, so you need to avoid hasty action - SIT BACK AND THINK since by the second trick it may be too late.

Your first task is to count the number of QUICK TRICKS, namely the tricks you can cash without losing the lead.

If there are sufficient QUICK TRICKS to make your contract, obviously there will be no problem but, if the contract is standard, this will often mean that others holding your cards will be in the same cntract and will make the same tricks so the result will be AN AVERAGE.

More often you will need tricks in addition to the QUICK TRICKS so you will have to consider how to develop additional tricks.

In a NO TRUMP contract this will often mean

(a) CASHING TRICKS IN THE RIGHT ORDER (especially "HIGH FROM SHORTAGE");

(b) SETTING UP A LONG SUIT while you still hold control of the other suits;

(c) FINESSING, remembering which is the "DANGER HAND";

(c) OVERTAKING to ensure sufficient entries to cash winning tricks;

In a SUIT CONTRACT you may need these techniques to set up a long suit for which you may first need to clear the opponents of their trumps to avoid them ruffing your extra tricks.

Equally you may be able to use the trumps in dummy to ruff a suit in which dummy is short.

A common mistake is to ruff in hand - REMEMBER THAT RUFFING IN HAND MAKES NO MORE TRICKS THAN THERE ARE TRUMPS IN YOUR HAND, SO THE ADDITIONAL TRICKS CAN USUALLY ONLY COME FROM RUFFING IN DUMMY. 

Another source of additional tricks can come from discarding losing cards on masters - this is especially important when, to clear the opponents' trumps, you will have to lose the lead.

As a result Declarer should always consider carefully before playing from dummy.

As a defender you start with advantage of the opening lead so before you lead:

(1) consider whether you have a STANDARD LEAD;

(2) consider the bidding - what has been bid and by whom ?; 

(3) consider what you have agreed with your partner so you can predict how your partner will understand your lead;

When the dummy has been faced you should examine the dummy and make a plan as carefully as if you were declarer.

PLANNING THE PLAY - AMENDING DURING PLAY

No matter how well declarer plans before playing from dummy, sometimes an adverse split of the cards means that declarer has to reconsider the plan to make the contract.

This hand was played on Tuesday 26/11/18 as Board 9, when N/S reached 6  after a diamond overcall by West which led East to lead a diamond.

WHAT SHOULD BE YOUR OBJECTIVE ?

The objective of RUBBER BRIDGE is to bid and score suffiicient points "BELOW THE LINE" to WIN TWO GAMES and so WIN THE "BEST OF THREE" RUBBER

The objective of DUPLICATE PAIRS BRIDGE is to score more points than the other players holding the same cards - this may be by making ONE TRICK MORE than your oppoents.

This may also be done by LOSING LESS than your opponents (eg 5C - 1 when your oppontents can make 4S).

This is called a "SACRIFICE". 

Your OPPONENTS are of course therefore the players holding the same cards at the other tables rather than those sitting at the same table.

SCORING A TOP ?

We (almost all) know how to score the result of each board on the traveller or the bridgemate.

Many of us do not know how the results on the individual travellers are used to calculate the results for the bridge event.

A pair is allocated 2 MATCHPOINTS for each pair with a lower score, 1 MATCHPOINTS for each pair they equal and NO MATCHPOINTS with a better score.

Thus in a 5 TABLE BRIDGE EVENT each pair can beat 4 other pairs and so a "TOP" is 4 x 2 MATCHPOINTS = 8 MATCHPOINTS.

If the 5 TABLE BRIDGE EVENT plays 5 ROUNDS of 5 BOARDS (ie 25 boards) the maximum matchpoints possible (ie for a TOP on each board) is 25 x 8 = 200.

The total matchpoints scored by a pair over the 25 boards are totalled and divided by 100 and  muptiplied by 200 to arrive at the overall percentage for that pair and so to place all pairs from 1st to 5th N/S and the same E/W - this is therefore a 2 WINNER MOVEMENT.

You can see how this works by looking at PATCHAM BC for the results for Thursday 8/9/16:

Board 2:

ALL PAIRS SCORED 660 (4 making 3NT + 1 and one making 4NT) so all N/S pairs and all E/W pairs scored 4 matchpoints - you will also notice that where the TOP is 8MATCHPOINTS, the matchpoints allocated to both pairs on each board totals 8 !

Board 25:

ALL PAIRS WERE IN 3NT and 4 pairs made 3NT + 1 so scored 630, and one pair failed to make the extra trick scoring 600 - 4 pairs scored a JOINT TOP and the 5th pair scored a BOTTOM SCORE.

Board 4:

All pairs were in 1NT but 2 pairs made 1NT+ 1 so scored 120 for a JOINT TOP FOR N/S (so a JOINT BOTTOM FOR E/W), 2 pairs just made the 1NT for N/S for a JOINT 3rd for N/S and 1pair failed to make 1NT by one trick so scored a BOTTOM SCORE for N/S (so a TOP SCORE for E/W).

Boards 6 and 1 also demonstrate how the scoring works.

Board 13 is also interesting because one pair is in 3NT making 13 tricks, 2 pairs are in 6NT making, one pair is in 6NT making +1 and one pair is in 7NT going one off (hardly surprising since the CAis with the oppoents !) and so score a BOTTOM with MINUS 200 - note that the DOUBLE adds nothing to this top for N/S since whether N/S score 100 or 200, is still a TOP ! It is better to reserve the double for LEAD DIRECTING eg to ask partner to make an unusual lead (often dummy's first bid suit).

 LOOK ALSO AT:

The following hands played at PATCHAM BC on Wednesday 14/9/16:

Hand 19 where the 9 pairs who played the board were in 3NT - 6 pairs acheived 3NT + 2 (a JOINT TOP), 2 pairs achieved 3NT + 1 acheived only 3NT (a BOTTOM).

Hand 31 where the 9 pairs whoplayed the board were in 3NT- 3 pairs achieved 3NT+1 (a JOINT TOP),  5 pairs achieved 3NT and 1 pair made only 7 tricks so a BOTTOM.

Hand 11 where all pairs who played the board bar one played in 4H, 1 pair in 4H made 11 tricks for +450 (so a TOP), 7 pairs in 4H made 10 tricks for +420and 1 pair in 2H made 10 tricks for +170 and so a BOTTOM.

K 1/1 OPENING THE BIDDING & LIMIT BIDS

When opening the bidding, the simplest bid is a LIMIT BID, and 1NT is the simlest limit bid.

When opening with a LIMIT BID, opener describes ina single bid the strength and shape of the hand, and thus leaves partner as CAPTAIN to decide whether and how to continue the bidding.

West makes a STANDARD LEAD, namely  K, as TOP OF AN HONOUR SEQUENCE.

As soon as South takes the lead, Declarer has three Aces and 4 Spade tricks so long as the Spades are taken in the correct order, namely ♠ Q then ♠ 3 to ♠A ♠K and ♠J.

This demonstrates that Declarer needs to take the trick in the shorter hand before cashing the tricks in the hand longer in Spades. 

 

 

K1/2 OPENING THE BIDDING & LIMIT BIDS

East opens 1NT "WEAK" which West, with 13 HCPs, raises to 3NT.

South leads  J (top of internal sequence) which is taken and East, having made a plan, sees 4 tricks outside clubs plus 4 top clubs in dummy.

When East starts on the clubs, has Declarer noticed the ♣ 10 with East ?

When South discards on the 1st club trick, Declarer knows that North holds  the missing 5 clubs.

Declarer must take ♣ 10 on 1st or 2nd club trick to avoid North winning West's ♣ 2

K 1/4 OPENING THE BIDDING & LIMIT BIDS
K2/4 OPENING THE BIDDING & LIMIT BIDS

West, with 13 HCPs, opens 1NT "WEAK" to which East , with 11 HCPs and 6 good card club suit, responds 3NT.

North leads ♠ Q as top of a NEAR SEQUENCE taken in dummy holding ♠ A and ♠ K.

West can count 4 tricks (♠ A, ♠ K,  A and  A) so West will look to dummy's 6 card club suit to make the remaining 5 tricks.

If the clubs split 3:2 or 1:4 with ♣ J singleton, West will make an overtrick, 

Declarer will have a problem if the clubs split 1:4 with ♣ Jxxx.

Declarer can prepare for this problem by leading a club to ♣ K/♣ Q and then lead back to dummy overtaking - the ♣ J does not fall but another club forces ♣ J while leaving ♠ K as an entry to cash the remaining club tricks.

OPENING THE BIDDING & LIMIT BIDS

North, dealer, passes and East (playing WEAK NT) opens 1NT.

South with insufficient HCPs (16+) to double, so passes.

What does West do ? With 9 HCPs West may be tempted to make a WEAKNESS TAKE OUT which East should pass.

However a WEAKNESS TAKE OUT suggests a weak hand with a 5+ suit - here West has a 7 card suit with almost all HCPs in that suit !

What if West raises 1NT to 3NT - note that 3 by West is GAME FORCING with INTEREST IN A SLAM!

South makes a STANDARD LEAD, ♣ Q which East takes with the ♣ A after making  aplan.

South sees that there are 3 diamonds missing, namely  10 and  5.

These 3 diamonds can only split ZERO/3 or 2/1.

If they split

(a) ZERO with South and 3 with North, 3NT cannot be made unless North makes a mistake.

(b)  Q singleton or  Q doubleton, West holds 7 diamond tricks and East hold 2 Aces = 3NT.

Once East has taken the lead, a diamond is led towards dummy, and when South follows East plays A in case North holds  Q single.

If North follows, the  Q must fall on the next trick in diamond; if (as here) North discards, South holds all the missing cards so West returns to hand and leads a second round of diamonds towards dummy holding  A and J over South's  Q and  10 so a clear FINESSE.

 

NOTE: Consider

The effect of South being Dealer: if South is playing "WEAK", South will open 1NT, which may secure the contract although on a diamond lead, South will go off many tricks.

The effect of West being Dealer: East with 9 HCPs and a strong 7 card suit, West is likely to open a PRE-EMPTIVE 3  which East might pass or raise to 3NT.

 

OPENING THE BIDDING & LIMIT BIDS

The next common LIMIT BID is when opening 2NT which shows 20-22 HCPs and a BALANCED HAND for those playing STANDARD ACOL.

Some players forget that to open such a 2NT hand you need not only to have the necessary 20-22 HCPs but also to have a BALANCED HAND just as you do when opening 1NT.

As when you open 1NT, when opening 2NT you describe your hand in one bid strength and shape so your partner becomes CAPTAIN to decide whether and how the bidding should continue.

Unless you have agreed with your partner to play TRANSFERS, any bid you make in response to an opening of 2NT is FORCING at least to GAME ie 3NT, 4♠ ,4 ,5 or5♣.

North, holding 21 HCPs, opens 2NT to which South might pass or (valuing the 6 card heart suit) raise to 4  either direct or via transfers.

West on lead against 4  by South might make a Standard |Lead of ♣ A, on whcih East would encourafe with ♣ 10 followed by ♣ 3 encouragin a 3rd club for East to ruff North's ♣ Q.

Alternatively East on lead against 4  after a transfer sequence might make an equally Standard Lead of ♣ 10 (as higher of doubleton) followed by ♣ 3 encouraging a 3rd club to ruff North's ♣ Q.

In each case, N/S will be left needing to make the remaining 10 tricks.

East on lead after trick 3, is likely to lead  K which North will win with the  A, and lead  A and  K.

East will discover that the hearts split 1:4, so East will cross to hand with a diamond ruff, and cash  Q and  J to remove all outstanding trumps from E/W.

East's plan will be that if the ♠ K is with East, the contract cannot be made, but if the ♠ K is with West, declarer can finesse against West which on these hands will succeed.

If declarer then cashes ♠ A, the ♠ K will onlydrop if West holds ♠ Kx, whereas if South returns to hand with a diamond ruff, South can against lead up to dummy's spades and again finesse against West thereby making the contract.

OPENING THE BIDDING & LIMIT BIDS

East, with 21 HCPs in a balanced hand, opens 2NT.

West, with 4HCPs, raises to 3NT (4 + 20 = 24, 4 + 21 = 25 and 4+ 22 = 26 so there is a 2/3 chance of 25 HCPs for E/W PLUS West's 6 card diamonds).

South makes a STANDARD LEAD of ♠ 6 (4th to an honour) on which North plays ♠ K (not wishing to finesse against his partner) on which East will play ♠ A.

East makes a plan before playing a card from dummy noting that there are 7 QUICK TRICKS ie tricks that can be taken without losing the lead.

East nots that there are extra tricks to be made from West's diamonds if

(a) the diamonds held by N/S fall 2:2; and

(b) the diamonds are not BLOCKED by  9 in East's hand.

East first takes  A then  9 to  K and sees that the diamonds held by N/S indeed fall 2:2 so West's diamonds are masters if West's  7 or  6 is played next so that East's  5 falls and leaves the lead in the West hand to cash the remaining diamonds making 3NT+1.

LIMIT BID OPENINGS & INVITATIONAL BIDS
OVERCALLING & SUIT QUALITY TEST

In Ron Klinger's book "BASIC BRIDGE" there appears the following passage in relation to THE SUIT QUALITY TEST:

"Count the number of cards in the suit you wish to bid.   Add the number of honour cards in that suit (but count the Jack or ten as a full honour only if the suit also contains at least one higher honour): the total is is the number of tricks for which you may bid that suit.   Thus, if the total is 7 you may bid your suit at the 1 level; if the total is 8, you may bid your suit at the 1-level or the 2- level if necessary; if the total is 9, you may bid your suit the 1-level, the 2-level or, if necssary, at the 3-level."

 

This hand demonstrates a clear application of this guidance:

 

Dealer holds 13 HCPs and a good 5 card Spade suit so will almost certainly open 1♠  whether playin hasg Acol or 5 card majors.

 

On 13/11/18 East, holding 14 HCPs with A9542, has a perfectly good opening of 1NT if dealer and playing WEAK NT (12-14 HCPs with NO VOID, NO SINGLETON and NOT MORE THAN ONE DOUBLETON) which would allow West to make a WEAKNESS TAKE-OUT whether directly or via transfers.

 

However, North was dealer and opened 1♠  when East could not resist overcalling 2  with a SUIT QUALITY TEST of only 6, and, being left in 2♦, went 2 off.

 

Had East managed to pass, South, with 6 HCPs namely K  and K♣,  would almost certainly have responded 1NT which, if North passed, would leave West on lead 

 

West, with K  10  9  8  and 4 , would almost certainly lead a heart (whether 10  as top of internal sequence or 8  as 4th highest) would allow E/W making 5 tricks in hearts PLUS A  and A♣ and possibly a trick or two in Spades according to how declarer played the hand - thereby converting East's 2 off into South's 2+ off.

 

"I cannot pass when holding 14 HCPs" is a common cry among bridge players who, before bidding, fail to consider the quality of the suit in which they propose to overcall and so make what is in effect a random bid leading to a bad score !

DOUBLES - NEGATIVE or "SPUTNICK" DOUBLES

Originally when a player opened and the second player overcalled, a double by the 3rd player was understood to be a PENALTY DOUBLE which opener was expected to pass.

In 1957 Alvin Roth and Tobias STONE used this sequence, which in its opriginal form arose very rarely, as a CONVENTIONAL BID as a  NEGATIVE DOUBLE (also known as a "SPUTNICK DOUBLE") in its present form as TAKE OUT DOUBLE- it is made by the responder after his partner has opened and his right hand opponent has overcalled on the firat round of bidding.

The NEGATIVE DOUBLE in its present form is used to show some values as well as support for the two undid suits.

The NATIVE DOUBLE is thereffore in principle FORCING but may be passed by opener to convert to a PENALTY DOUBLE.

This hand was hand 14 on 20/11/18 at BCBC when, after passes by East and South, West (with a 2 suited hand in spades and diamonds) opened the bidding with 1♠.

North, ignoring the SUIT QUALITY TEST for overcalls, overcalled 2 .

East, with 9 HCPs and a hand with 2 suited in the minors, now employed the NEGATIVE DOUBLE to deny support for opener and the lack of a stop in hearts but to invite opener to choose between the 2 minor suits.

West, holding 5 diaomnds, elected to choose the diamonds by bidding 5  which was followed by 3 passes.

North, on lead, ignord the bidding and chose a NON-STANDARD lead from ♠ K, ♠ 8 and ♠ 4 - this of course ran to North's ♠ A and ♠ Q.   North took the 1st trick with ♠ Q, cleared trumps in 2 rounds ending in hand and cashed ♠ A discarding  Q from dummy.

West now led ♣ K (taken by South with ♣ A) and whatever followed North could take ♣ Q, cross to Dummy by ruffing a spade and leading 3rd club to ruff in hand dropping ♣ J.

West could again ruff a spade in Dummy and cash the remaining winning clubs in Dummy, making 5 + 1.

THE BENEFIT OF COUNTING (1)

THE BENEFITS OF COUNTING

Bridge players who consider COUNTING to be beyond their powers may think it unfair to define failure to count as an error.

For some reason many bridge players regard counting as something mystical and obscure, and the prerogative of the expert - but nothing could be further from the truth - the counting that is required at bridge is so simple that any child can do it !

A slight mental effort is called for, of course, and perhaps that is the real reason why a large number of players spend a lifetime at the bridge table without making the slightest attempt to count.

Most of us are lazy and hesitate to expend mental energy when we find we can get by nicely without doing so.

However, there are some hands on which we cannot get by without counting, and when playing these hands the small chore of counting (whether the distribution of the cards or the High Card Points) is amply rewarded by turning guesses into certainties, and so when playing duplicate turning "average scores" into "tops"

The counting of High Card Points is a neglected habit, although it is relatively simple to relate an opponent's High Card Points to bids or passes made during the auction phase - such counting may allow an inference as to where to place specific cards are to be found.

APPLICATION OF COUNTING

SOUTH is declarer in 3NT with WEST (as a trusting partner) leading CLUBS (the suit opened by EAST) and leading ♣ 4 as TOP OF DOUBLETON.

SOUTH examines DUMMY before playing - DUMMY has 15 HCP and DECLARER holds 11 HCP so together hold 26 HCPs.

Since EAST can be assumed to hold about 12 HCP to open, that means that WEST holds about 2-3 HCP and so CANNOT HOLD   A which must be with EAST.

SOUTH has 3 SPADE tricks, on WEST's lead 2 CLUB tricks (so long as SOUTH does not play ♣ A on 1st trick !) 3 HEART tricks when  J is leadfrom SOUTH and loses to  K with EAST so SOUTH is looking for 9th TRICK.

If SOUTH crosses to DUMMY (eg with ♠ K) and leads a diamond through EAST, either EAST plays  A thus giving SOUTH  K, or plays low when SOUTH plays  K, in either case giving SOUTH that 9th trick.

SOUTH can now lead  J establish 3 HEART TRICKS while retaining ♣ A as the stop to ensure the 9 tricks needed to make the contract.

Without COUNTING BOTH SOUTH and NORTH hands and deducting the TOTAL from 40, DECLARER cannot assess where  A is located.

SIGNALLING TO PARTNER

(1) SIGNALLING TO PARTNER is a technique that many players overlook.

(2) On this hand WEST, on lead against 2NT, leads ♠ 5 (4th to HONOUR) allows SOUTH to apply the RULE OF 11 and deduce that WEST holds only one card above the lead - so when WEST plays ♠ A, SOUTH can place all the cards held by WEST.

(3) When EAST returns 2, WEST takes the ♠ K and now (as DUMMY can be seen) KNOWS that when a 3rd round of SPADES is played the ♠ Q and ♠ 10 will fallon the 3rd trick thereby estasblishing 2 tricks in SPADES for WEST so long as WEST can gain the lead.

(4) It would assist EAST for WEST to signal which of the other 3 suits (HEARTS, DIAMONDS and CLUBS) would assist WEST best.

(5) Assuming that EAST is watching the fallof the SPADES and so "KNOWS" which cards are held by his partner WEST, a HIGH CARD (eg ♠ J) from WEST would suggest a HIGH SUIT (eg HEARTS) to be led by EAST, and a LOW CARD (eg 3) would suggest a LOW SUIT (eg CLUBS) while a MIDDLE CARD (eg 8) would suggest a MIDDLE SUIT (eg DIAMONDS).

(6) In view of the cards held by DUMMY, the lead of a DIAMOND by EAST on gaining the lead is not difficult to foresee but WEST's signal will assist EAST's inference. 

FINDING THE ENTRIES - Hand 2

(1) Once the lead has been faced, DECLARER can see and assess DUMMY.

(2) This hand has 7 QUICK TRICKS (ie tricks that can be made without losing the lead) namely ♠ A♠ K♠ Q,  A,  A K and ♣ A and only ONE SURE ENTRY TO DUMMY (♣ A).

(3) If DECLARER had more entries with  K and  J are best placed, DECLARER might be able to make 2 extra tricks in HEARTS.

(4) However a careful DECLARER will remember that, holding CLUBS between hand and DUMMY, the defenders' remaining 5 CLUBS are most likely to split 3/2, and will note that the other 3 suits are well guarded.

(5) Each time DECLARER takes the lead, a CLUB from hand towards DUMMY is ducked until the 3rd CLUB trick when the ♣ A is played giving the entry to DUMMY to cash the remaining 2 CLUB tricks in DUMMY - 3NT made without using the only entry to DUMMY to risk the FINESSE in HEARTS !

STAYMAN -WITH BOTH MAJORS

(1) When partner opens 1NT (whether "WEAK" with 12-14 HCPs, "STRONG" with 15-17 or 16-18 HCPs, or "VARIABLE" with STRONG WHEN VULNERABLE and WEAK WHEN NON-VULNERABLE, or even "MINI" with 10-12 HCP) the hand is described in ONE BID - the HCPs with NO VOID, NO SINGLETON and not more than ONE DOUBLETON, usually with NO 5+ CARD MAJOR and NO 6+ MINOR.

(2) With a 4 CARD MAJOR responder has to use an artificial sequence usually "ASKING" opener by using 2C STAYMAN - which asks whether OPENER holds a 4 card major, to which the answers are most commonly 2D ("I hold NO 4 CARD MAJOR"), 2S ("I hold 4 SPADES but NOT 4 HEARTS") and 2H ("I hold 4 HEARTS and MAY ALSO HOLD 4 SPADES").

(3) Where partner gives a POSITIVE RESPONSE to STAYMAN (2H or 2S) responder will support if holding 4 CARD SUPPORT and with the OTHER MAJOR ONLY responder will bid 2NT (11-12 HCP) and 3NT (13-18 HCP) so OPENER with 2 FOUR CARD MAJORS can safely bid SPADES knowing that responder holds support.

(4) STAYMAN can be used to respond to openings of both 1NT and 2NT, although more experienced players may use other versions of STAYMAN (such as "PUPPET STAYMAN" especially opposite 2NT) to ask whether OPENER holds a 5 or 4 CARD MAJOR.

(5) This hand is opened 2NT (20-22 HCP) by SOUTH, NORTH uses SIMPLE STAYMAN to ask whether SOUTH holds a 4 CARD MAJOR, SOUTH with BOTH MAJORS bids 3H and when NORTH rebids 3NT SOUTH "knows" that NORTH holds 4 SPADES (else why use STAYMAN ?) and converts 3NT to 4 SPADES.

NOTE: When the RHO opens a NATURAL NO TRUMP and LHO uses an ARTIFICIAL BID (such as STAYMAN or RED SUIT TRANSFERS) your partner can guide you to the best lead by DOUBLING THE ARTIFICIAL BID when holding the suit bid by your LHO (eg 1NT - P - 2C* - X ...) which tells you that partner has a substantial holding in the suit (eg AKQxxx) and would prefer you to lead that suit. UNLESS YOU HOLD A PLAINLY BETTER LEAD, IT IS UNWISE TO IGNORE YOUR PARTNER'S REQUEST !

WHEN TO TAKE A TRICK - WITH COUNT SIGNALLING

(1) Whether and when to take a trick can be of great importance especially for the defenders.

(2) In reaching that decision partner can give great assistance by SIGNALLING COUNT.

(3) In this hand EAST has a choice of when to take a trick in CLUBS.

(4) EAST can see 5 CLUBS in DUMMY and holds 4 CARDS, so there are only 4 CARDS missing,

(5) WEST may therefore hold 4, 3, 2, 1 or NO CARDS in the suit led by DECLARER.

(6) If WEST started with 4 CARDS, SOUTH HAS NONE !

(7) If WEST started with 3 CARDS, SOUTH has only ONE - UNLIKLEY with the NT rebid !

(8) If WEST started with 2 CARDS, SOUTH has TWO CARDS.

(9) If WEST started with 1 CARD, SOUTH has THREE CARDS.

(10) If WEST started with a VOID, SOUTH has FOUR CARDS.

(11) Think how valuable it would be for EAST to know which of these is accurate.

(12) On declarer's lead of a suit WEST can SIGNAL COUNT OF THE NUMBER HELD - usually by PLAYING HIGH/LOW to show an EVEN NUMBER and LOW/HIGH to SHOW AN ODD NUMBER.

(13) When EAST first sees DUMMY he can see that SOUTH will need to FINESSE to set up CLUB TRICKS to make 3NT.

(14) When SOUTH first leads a CLUB, EAST can see that by following to the lead WEST does not hold a VOID so can IGNORE that possibility.

(15) SOUTH is likely to play ♣ Q or ♣ J in case WEST holds the ♣ K,

(16) If EAST takes the ♣ K on the first trick, life for SOUTH is made simple so EAST may elect to duck.

(17) SOUTH will then return to hand, inferring that WEST holds the K and intending to FINESSE again thereby encouraging DECLARER to misplay the hand.

(18) WEST chooses to lead ♠ 3 (4th to HONOUR) rather than a DIAMOND - presuambly as DIAMONDS give WEST a better chance of an entry if the SPADES become useful.

(19) SOUTH examines DUMMY before playing, then takes the 1st trick in hand and sees that with a well placed ♣ K (eg WEST holding Kx or Kxx) 5 tricks could be established which with SOUTH's own 4 tricks, 3NT is made - and if  K is with EAST SOUTH might make 3NT + 1 !

(20) When SOUTH leads the1st CLUB, WEST signals by playing the HIGHER (♣ 6) ready to play the LOWER (♣ 5) on the 2nd trick to SIGNAL  to partner that AN EVEN NUMBER of CLUBS is held.

(21) When EAST withholds the ♣ K, SOUTH assumes that WEST holds it so returns to FINESSE again.

(22) This time EAST knows that SOUTH holds 2 CLUBS and so takes the ♣ K, leaving SOUTH with only one entry to cash the A but cannot establish the 5th CLUB - far from SOUTH making 3NT (with or without the overtrick) the 3NT is ONE OFF because of EAST's careful play !

FINDING THE SLAM 1

 

This hand was played (Hand7) at PATCHING LODGE BC on 28/06/16:

BIDDING:

(1) After SOUTH passes, WEST opens 1 , at which EAST knows that E/W have at least GAME,

(2) NORTH passes and EAST (without immediate support for HEARTS) bids 2♣ ;

(3) WEST then "REVERSES" with 2♠ ;

(4) It is important to remember that when a player opens a suit and rebids a 2nd suit, that hand is at least 5/4 (not as some players seem to think 4/4) and that where the rebid goes through the "barrier" (1st suit at the 2 level) this is a REVERSE showing potentially greater length in the 1st suit than in the 2nd suit, at least 16 HCPs (as it goes through the barrier) and is FORCING FOR AT LEAST ONE ROUND to the 3 level for partner to show suit preference (even with equal length) for the 1st bid suit.

(5) EAST now has 3 card support for WEST's 5 HEARTS, so with 13 HCPs so raises to 4H.

(6) WEST now knows that EAST has 3 card support - with 4 HEARTS EAST would have supported immediately !

(7) WEST can use BLACKWOOD to check that E/W do not have 2 missing ACES, and when EAST shows 2 ACES, WEST bids at least the SMALL SLAM (12 tricks) and might ask for KINGS with 5NT when, finding a KING missing, WEST might be content with the SMALL SLAM in HEARTS.

PLAY:

(8) WEST will assess DUMMY before playing anything.

(9) WEST sees:

      (a) that there is indeed the 3 card support expected;

      (b) that with the 8 card fit, the defenders' 5 trumps are likely to divide 3;2;

      (c) that if lucky (as here) the J  will fall on the 2nd HEART trick leaving 10  as an entry in addition to the A ;

      (d) that 2 losing SPADES can be discarded on K♣  and Q♣ , and that if the 5th CLUB can be established the 3rd losing SPADE can also be discarded;

      (e) that drawing trumps must be delayed until a club has been ruffed in DUMMY in case the ACE of trumps is held up until the 2nd trump trick, when a further trump lead by an oppoent will prevent DECLARER using one of DUMMY's trumps to ruff a CLUB and so hold DECLARER to 12 tricks rather than the 13 that could be available;

(10) DECLARER therefore takes the 1st trick, takes DUMMY's singleton CLUB with the ACE, ruffs a CLUB in DUMMY and then leads and clears trumps (which split 3/2 with the J falling on the 2nd round) to discard the 3 losing SPADES on 4 CLUB tricks and make the 13 tricks to give the best result. 

OPENING 2 SUITED HANDS - Hand 1

This hand was played (Board 10) at PATCHING LODGE BC on 20/6/16:

(1) Some sitting EAST might choose (with 8 HCPs and a six card suit) to open a WEAK 2  despite the SUIT QUALITY being somewhat limited.

(2) Otherwise, with 3 passes, NORTH will have to choose which of the 2 suits to open - when played at one table, NORTH chose to open the STRONGER MINOR SUIT rather than the WEAKER MAJOR SUIT.   When this NORTH chose not to mention the reasonably solid 6 card MAJOR, NORTH ended in 5♣  going off 2 while other NORTH's got into a SPADE CONTRACT which made comfortably.

(3) The traveller therefore was as follows:

      5♣  by N making 9 tricks = MINUS 200

      1♠  by N making 10 tricks = PLUS 170

      2♠  by N making  10 tricks = PLUS 170.

(4) When choosing which of two suits to open, one consideration is that a MAJOR SUIT scores 30 points per trick whereas a MINOR SUIT scores only 20 points per trick.

(5) Equally a suit with a solid sequence such as AKQxxx could do well even in NO TRUMPS whereas a suit such as KJ10xxx might serve better in a SUIT CONTRACT.

(6) It is also important to remember that when a player opens a suit and rebids a 2nd suit, that hand is at least 5/4 (not as some players seem to think 4/4) and that where the rebid goes through the "barrier" (1st suit at the 2 level) this is a REVERSE showing potentially greater length in the 1st suit than in the 2nd suit, at least 16 HCPs (as it goes through the barrier) and is FORCING FOR AT LEAST ONE ROUND to the 3 level for partner to show suit preference (even with equal length) for the 1st bid suit.

(7) Here if NORTH opens the MAJOR SUIT and rebids the MINOR SUIT, SOUTH KNOWS THAT NORTH HOLDS AT LEAST 5 SPADES AND CAN SAFELY SUPPORT NORTH WITH Qxx.

(8) In play. with NORTH's void in the likely HEART lead, NORTH ruffs and might start clearing trumps but NORTH should remember that E/W's 6 clubs will split 4:2 2/3 of the time so might best take ♣ A and then ruff the 2nd club in dummy (thereby establishing 6 tricks in clubs) before starting to clear trumps (eg by leading the Q) thereby making the 11 tricks to score 650.

FINDING THE ENTRIES 1

BIDDING:

 

(1) SOUTH playing WEAK NT and with 17 HCPs is too strong to open 1NT (12-14) and too weak to open 2NT (20-22) so has to open a suit;

(2) SOUTH can open 1♣  or 1  but may choose to open the suit (1♣ ) which is more likely to "deflect" WEST towards leading SOUTH's better suit (1 );

(3) NORTH with 6+ HCP must find a response - if bidding 4card suits "up the line" will bid 1, but may choose to prefer the major suit (1♠ ) over the minor suit (1 );

(4) SOUTH might support 1  to 2  but might describe the hand better with 2NT (17-18 HCPs and balanced) which NORTH with 10 HCPs will raise to 3NT.

(5) WEST with 6 HCPs and K, 10, XXX in hearts will be aware of the SUIT QUALITY TEST and not be tempted to overcall 1  but if WEST overcalls 1 , NORTH can show the 6+ HCP and 4 x ♠  with 4 x   with NEGATIVE DOUBLE to which SOUTH may respond 2NT and again NORTH raises to 3NT.

(6) The point of this hand is that SOUTH, having reached 3NT, must plan to make it ! After lossing the stop in HEARTS, SOUTH must find SK with EAST and also find 2 entries to NORTH to make 9 tricks. 

(7) If N/S are playing STRONG NT (15-17 or 16-18) SOUTH will open 1NT when NORTH will try STAYMAN (in case there is a SPADE fit) and then when no SPADE fit will bid 3NT.

ANSWER:

Declarer needs to find ♠ K with EAST - singelton, doubleton or with 2 small cards.

If K is singleton, it will fall when declarer leads Q with a view to finessing, and 3NT is safe.

If K is doubleton or tripleton and EAST chooses to cover Q, again 3NT is safe.

If K is doubleton or tripleton and EAST (having considered dummy) chooses NOT to cover Q until it cannot be avoided, declarer will play low from Axx and win the trick.

As a result, declarer needs to play for EAST to guard against EAST holding ♠ Kxx with ♠ K accordingly falling to ♠ A on 3rd trick leaving lead in hand, when declarer will need 2 entries to dummy.

The way to find the 2nd entry to dummy is to remember:

  (a) that N/S hold 8 cards in diamonds;

  (b) that the remaining 5 cards will generally split 3/2;

  (c) that declarer needs to play small on  K and  Q then overtake  J with  A when the 5 defence diamonds will have fallen and so leave  4 in hand and  6 in dummy giving 2nd entry to dummy to cash ♠ 10 - 3NT made by thoughtful play when your opponents failed to find the 2nd entry to DUMMY and went 1 off !