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Interesting Hands
When is it better to cut and run?

Here is a hand from a recent Cavendish International Tournament.


The question is what is South going to do now?


So you have opened 2NT showing a balanced 20-22 HCP hand. Not my personal choice with the 2 doubletons but with the 5 card minor suit a NT contract looks promising.


North then bid 3 as a transfer and with South’s holding he goes up to 4 showing probably enough for 10 tricks even if partner shows up with nothing.


Having woken North up with the jump bid North has a go at Blackwood and finds South with 3 Aces and 2 Kings and so has no hesitation in trying 7.


East then comes in with that pesky ‘Double’ – so what should South do?

Of course a Double of a freely bid slam is asking partner for an unusual lead and this usually shows a void too. Further than that if I doubled like this I would expect partner to lead the first side suit bid by Dummy – in this case a Diamond lead [if Dummy has not bid a suit then partner must make an informed ‘guess’].


If this is the case then South can be fairly confident that East is void in Diamonds and that West will lead a Diamond on trick 1 taking the slam off.


Seeing this South should have a go at 7NT nullifying the effect of East’s void and when he sees Dummy’s Diamond holding he knows West holds Q10 to four.


To make his 7NT then, assuming that the Hearts don’t break 4-0, he needs to promote the  9 but with the South’s doubleton this means cashing the 3 top Clubs and seeing where we go.


However before this West needs to lead and the J looks favourite but all that gets you is South attempting to finesse 9 on the next trick.

When to play in NT or a Major?
I have seen several uses of the 3 bid in this sequence. Some people show a long Diamond suit with either a weak or strong hand [partnership preference].

Here though the 3 bid is agreeing Hearts as a potential trump suit – both hands having 4 cards in Hearts – but it’s also warning South that their distribution is exactly 4333 and leaving the final decision about where to play to South.

With a maximum hand and also being a flat 4333 it’s worth ago at 3NT rather that 4 simply because you know that there are no opportunities to ruff.


Sure you have control in Hearts but the mere fact the shape of your hands are identical means you are probably going to struggle to find that 10th trick in Hearts - especially if North has just the 11 HCP promised, as here.


The 3 is often referred to at 'Stayman In Doubt'. Try 3 with a minimum, 3NT with a maximum and 4 with a doubleton somewhere.

4S - Really?

And so the question is what will North bid?


I love it when different elements of the game come together – and they do here in this hand I saw in the paper the other day.


You hear a lot of people bang on about the Rule of 20 and Loosing Trick Counts – and this hand has everything but the kitchen sink.


The Loosing Trick Count comes into its own when you are raising partners Major suit and take a look at your lovely Spade holding int his hand.


Counting your Loosing Tricks you get 7 – 2 in Spades [rather than 2.5 for just holding the unsupported Q as this is partners suit after all], 2 in Hearts, 2 in Diamonds and 1 in Clubs.


As you would normally Respond 2 with 9 Loosers with having only 7 you can up the ante by 2 levels and so bid 4.


For those of you who always work out the Loosing Trick Countfrom Scratch the answer is 18 – (7+7) = 4.


Now read on.



You can see that North has opened the bidding using the Rule of 20.


This is an alternative way to evaluate a distributional hand. Sure you can use the standard Milton Work Count [which gives you 11 HCP plus say 2 for the singleton Diamond and 1 for the extra Spade] but the Rule of 20 is another good check to run with.


Just add you HCP to the total of you 2 longest suits and if you get 20 or more you can open the bidding. Here its 11+5+4=20 so North went with 1.


4 is a good call on this hand but the play is far from easy with 7 sure tricks plus some ruffing to do.


West on lead starts with K and when this is encouraged by East the 8 follows to Easts A.

Now East had a quandary both Clubs and Diamonds look a bad lead so he leads a Trump.


South takes that with the A then cashes A, ruffs a Diamond then plays to K the ruffs another Diamond [ruffing high to keep communication].


After this South crossed to Dummy with a low spade to the 9 then ruffs another Diamond with the J.


Now South needs to draw the last Trump so he ruffs his J with the 10, plays the Q. The last Diamond follows leaving the opposition the last Club.

A hand of Bridge Mr Bond?

Imagine the annoyance when you are sat there with this hand and dealer – South opens 7.


Obviously you feel like slapping your opponents with a Double for being so rude but then you should remember that; firstly, you have been Re-Doubled and; secondly, that the man sat South is in fact James Bond – do we not smell a rat!


To celebrate the premier of the new James Bond movie Skyfall, staring Daniel Craig, I thought it would be fun to revisit one of Ian Flemming fourteen James Bond novels.


In Moonraker Flemming used this hand to exercise his imagination.


The scene is set. Facing his old enemy Sir Hugo Drax, Bond rigs a pack of cards beforehand and then substitutes the pack when it is his turn to deal.


He warns his partner, M, that this is the crucial deal by a prearranged signal (bringing out a handkerchief).

It is the fourth rubber. Bond and his partner lead two to one, but the stakes are climbing and Bond is feigning drunkenness from the champagne.


Naturally Drax fancies his chances with a 'Duke of Cumberland’ powerhouse and raises the stakes still higher.


The 'drunken’ Bond agrees the bet and the trap is set –which goes like this…..



West led J, which was ruffed in dummy. Then followed a club finesse, diamond ruff back to table and so on.


By the third round, all the remaining diamonds were winners and so was Mr Bond.


However for me that should not really be the end of the story. I am always trying to get players to look at the ‘bigger’ picture and one of the tools you should have in your tool box is an understanding of the scoring system.


Smelling a rat, Drax can still bid 7 or 7 being 2 off at worse - living to 'fight another day!' - hey is that a good name for the Skyfall sequal?