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Brunton Bridge School
Overcalls on poor suits - do not do it!

We were asked to discuss hand 6 from Monday. In the expert view on the website we have given one possible auction and here we give another but both assume that East does not open 2♠ on a 3 count.

We would NOT recommend this auction as, for us, the diamond suit is not good enough. Just think, if you overcall in diamonds and partner has one he WILL lead a diamond. Do you want partner to lead a diamond or his best suit? 

You will note that all of the pairs in 3NT made the optimum 10 tricks.

Today's question. If 2 is overcalled what is North's alternative action to 3NT?


North cannot double as this would be for takeout, however, if they pass partner might be able to make a takeout double which North can pass turning it into a penalty double. The risk is that partner will simply pass and you defend 2  which will probably not be optimum.

As it happens South has just about got a takeout double of 2  and that sshould go 3 of for 800. That is another reason why you should not overcall on this poor suit.

What contract? Then the play!

This is hand 4 from 5/9/2022 and is so interesting that we could really make it into 2 articles.

After the bidding the 2  bid shows a raise to 2 or more hearts and double is for takeout of hearts. After 3  is passed around the double is still for takeout and says, "Please bid partner and now East/West really should bid 4♠. Notice that the West hand while only an 11 count is getting better and better as the bidding progresses.

On Monday most players played in 4 and made it so we first should talk about that because it made more than half the time.

With a singleton in partner's bid suit there is no reason for East not to lead it.

If you diagnose this as a singleton you win and give partner a ruff BUT that is only two tricks, where are the other two coming from?

We have a play where the card we return for partner to ruff will tell partner where your entry is. So when you continue a diamond, a low card says lead the suit below (ie a club). A higher card would say lead the suit above the one that we are leading (ie a heart). For those of you that like names this is called a suit preference signal. Do not use this signal often!

So the play goes A , 4 returned which is clearly a low diamond asking for a club. Now East ruffs, cashes the ♣ A and play a club to the Knig. One off.

Now what is the best contract?


East/West .should play  in spades. Should they make it? Well yes

Assuming the heart lead. we should win and cross to the dummy by playing either a club to the Ace or by ruffing a diamond and play a trump. When the Queen appears you brighten and now the number of tricks that you make will be 11 or 12 depending whether or not you guess the location of the ♠Q


You not only have to bid it, you must make it.

With East/West silent, North opens 1♣.

South now looks and says is game on, "Yes, No, Maybe? Well the answer to that is certainly "yes". However, we should take our time and bid a simply 1 . We wait for North's rebid.

North rebids 2NT showing 18-19 points and balanced. This is better than bidding the 4 card spade suit because if partner has spades and an unbalanced hand he will bid them now.

South should now add their points to partners and get 35 or 36. Certainly a small slam and unlikely to make the grand. So, 6NT.

We bid it, now how do we make it?

The first thing to do is to make a plan. Dave & Jill use the acronym, make C. A. M. P.

C - Count your quick tricks by power. That is, tricks you can make now. 4 spades (honours from the short hand first) , 3  hearts, 2 diamonds and 2 clubs. 11 top tricks,

A -  Add tricks from  other sources. There are no extra tricks in spades or hearts, There is a possible trick by position in diamonds. (Finesse the J)  However, look at the clubs. There is a slow trick by power here. Play Ace, King of clubs and play a club to the 10 and the Jack will be a winner. Another way to play the suit is to play a small club to the Jack. This might win if West has the queen, however, even if it loses you have the winning 10 and then then Ace and King.

M - Manage the hand. Remember do the work first. We are going to win the opening lead in the South hand and play a club to the Jack. All of your gates are guarded and even if this loses you can win the return and claim 12 tricks.

P - Play

Points don't work

For such a simple idea the 4,3,2,1 count for honour works remarkably well in notrump contracts. However, it does not work in trumps. Much better and quite simple is the losing trick count. It goes like this -

  • ONCE YOUR HAVE FOUND A FIT count losers
  • For every Ace, King and Queen you are missing in each suit count a loser.
  • Do not count more losers than cards in the suit.
  • Total the losers in your hand.
  • If you are responding to your partner's opening bid, remember you MUST bid with 6 points
    • The Opening bidder will have 7 losers or fewer.
    • Add your losers to partners and subtract from 18 and that is the level you bid
    • There are some fine adjustments but we will add them here.
  • If you are going to raise the responder, a response at the 1 level has 9 losers or fewer. A response at the 2 level shows 8 losers or fewer.

Example. You hold ♠ K 8 6 5    A J 9 8 7   8   ♣  6 3 2

Partner opes 1♠  and you are going to raise. With 8 points it looks like a raise to the 2 level, but count your losers.. 2 spades, 2 hearts, 1 diamond and 3 clubs. 8 in total. Partner has 7 losers (or fewer) and you have 8. 18-15 = 3. Bid 3♠ 

Now to this week's hand. 2.

What is your rebid?

Count your losers. 1 heart, 2 diamonds, and 2 clubs. 5 in total. Partner assumed that you have a 7 loser hand when he raised to 2 and so he has 9 losers.

9+5 = 14.

14 from 18 is 4. Bid 4♠ and then make it.



Keep CALM again

It is no good bidding a hand well and then misplaying it.

Look at this hand from this week.

We have shown you the bidding at one table and first let look at the bids.

3 is not perfect in that you should not hold the ♠K but it is not a crime to open this

North has options. they can show the hand as a two suiter or make a takeout double. Showing the two suiter with 4♣ (non-leaping Michaels) shows the good hand with clubs and spades and will work well if partner has a fit in one of the black suits. Double gets my vote as it shows 4+ cards in every unbid major and 3+ cards in every unbid minor.

Pass from East is interesting you should bid to the level of the fit. 7 cards from partner 3 in your hand. 7+3 = 10 bid 4 

Now  South has an easy 5 which should be more than 4 cards and North raises to 6.

It is a trump contract and so keep CALM or C. A. L. M.

C- count your quick tricks by power. spades 1, hearts 1, diamonds 4, clubs 2. Total 8

A - add tricks from other sources (These are slow tricks by power, tricks by length, and possible tricks by position). You can ruff a heart in dummy and you have 3 tricks by length in diamonds. That comes to 11. The twelfth must come from somewhere but this is a complicated hand and maybe I have to think in little bits. That is quite allowed.

L - loser check. Entries to hand are a problem and so we must look carefully. We have 1 loser in spades and 2 losers in hearts. Way too many.

M - manage the hand assuming the K lead. You need to guard your gates. If you win this with the Ace and trump one, and then draw trumps, if they get in with say a spade you will still have a heart loser.  Let us ruff the K and that means that the heart gate is still guarded with my Ace. Now we can draw trumps remember to overtake the Queen so that we are in hand to play the Jack. We now have to stop and take stock and duck a spade. We will probably get a heart return but our gates are guarded so we can win and play ♠A and ruff a spade. The 3-3 break sees you home and with a club entry to dummy.

Note that even if the spades were 4-2 you can ruff a second and use the second club entry to get to the fifth for you heart discard.



Make CALM!

This hand requires you to make a plan or as Dave will tell you keep CALM

But first we must talk about the bidding. First 2NT - as partner has bid at the 2 level and promised 10 or more points 2NT is 15-19 and forcing.

3♣  is a simple forcing bid to find a fit West is delighted when East shows 3 diamonds.

West knows that he is playing this hand in diamonds or notrumps and needs to establish whether or not there is a fit.

Once East admits to 3 diamonds we can cue bid 3 , A spade cue bid then allows Blackwood. Whether you got to 6  or the higher scoring 6NT is, at this level immaterial

Another reminder if you make a plan you must remember what that plan was.

So you get to a super slam 6♦.

Now keep CALM when dummy goes down:

Count your tricks by power:

Spades - 2

Hearts - 3 BUT you must remember to play the  K early to untangle the suit

Diamonds - 6

Clubs 1

WOW how many times do you bid a slam when you see that it will make before playing a trick?

Add tricks from other sources - not needed!

Loser check this is very important on this hand. We have said that we have 12 tricks BUT on a club lead you have the potential to lose  a club or perhaps a spade BUT we have 12 tricks!

It relies on you playing the  K early and taking discards on the hearts. Remember honours from the short suit first!!

Manage the hand:

Win opening lead (assume ♣ ) with ♣ A

Play  K

Play trumps (this will take three rounds) ending in DUMMY

Play  A &  Q - discard two clubs from your hand

Play ♠ A

Ruff a club 

Play a spade  to the ♠ J this loses




Hand 8 Defence to a 1NT opening bid

The auction takes a normal course BUT what, if anything, do you bid with East's hand when North opens 1NT?

Well most, if not all, of you will use a convention called Landy.

You can only use this convention when an OPPONENT has opened 1NT.

Hand 8 is a good example to demonstrate the use of Landy.

So you will remember from your lessons that after a 1NT opening you as a defender can:

1. Double - PENALTIES and will have a hand with 15+ high card points and A GOOD LEAD

2. An overcall of 2, 2♥, 2♠ natural with a 6-card suit and 10-15 points but might be down to 8 at favourable vulnerability..

3. 2♣ is CONVENTIONAL and shows at least 5/4 in the MAJOR suits.

Response from partner:

2        same number of cards in each major suit

2        preference for  

2♠        preference for ♠ 

So now try and plan the bidding on hand 8 from 2/8/2022.



East Hand is perfect for the Landy convention 

P 1NT 2♣ P

2  All pass

West will have asked himself is game on    YES.    NO.   MAYBE

Almost certainly game is not on. You know partner has fewer than 15 points. So a part score should be fine.

West with three cards in hearts has an easy response of 2 and that should be the final contract.

The problem with  Landy is that it does not let you enter the auction with hands like - 

♠ K Q 9 4     7     A 6 3   ♣  Q J 10 5 4

Dave & Jill teach Asptro when this hand is biddable. Note that it is in your interest to disrupt their notrump bidding and enter the auction on as many hands as you can safely do so.


Big hands?

Here we show hand 9 from this weeks hands. We hear a lot of stuff about what a player can and cannot open with hands like the East hand here. The question to ask is if I open my longest suit at the 1 level (1♣ here) and partner without 6 points passes can I miss game. here the answer is "yes". Then open 2♣ . Remember 2♣ says nothing about clubs and simply says, with one exception partner you cannot stop bidding until we are in game.

The auction on the travellers shows the auction if North/South then just pass but here we have shown how much more difficult it is for East/West if  the opposition bid.

Notice that After 4♣ and without a spade cue bid they just bid game.

Finally, a question. What is the best contract on the hand by each side?


Notice that 11 tricks are availble in Hearts and Clubs for East/West. in clubs you score 600. In hearts you score 650 and so 5 is best.

But wait what happens if North/South declares 6♦. With careful play this goes 3 off and , if this is doubled North/South score 500.

This is why it is important to know how to score

Hand 7 - is it FORCING?

When partner opens the bidding we must ask ourselves:

1. Is the bid:



2. What does forcing and non-forcing mean?

FORCING - you WILL bid

NON-FORCING with less than 5 points you can PASS

3. If a bid is FORCING how far is it forcing to?


Until opener has limited their hand and RESPONDER can answer the question:

Is GAME on




4. 2♣  opening bid

Is this FORCING?

If YES to what level?

Is there any sequence that responder can PASS below game?

5. What are game bids?



 2♣  as an opening bid which comes up rarely so it is important to understand that it is FORCING to game in only ONE exceptional case and that is a 2NT rebid by OPENER.

Is this FORCING?


If YES to what level?


Is there any sequence that responder can PASS below game?


2♣   2 

2NT                    Here partner has limited his hand to precisely 23/4 points

With a balanced had and NO MORE than 2 points responder may pass BUT if you have a 5 card or longer MAJOR suit you will transfer.

5. What are game bids?


4 /♠ 

5♣ / 




Hand 2 4/7/2022

1. Is East  good enough to open the bidding?

2. What does West open?

3. How does the bidding progress?


1. East has a shapely hand but unless you count the singleton  Q it is ony a 9 count.

2. West has a 21 count and whilst a 2NT opening shows a balanced hand, firstly you have a singleton  A and so are not balanced. Just settle for an opening bid of 1  and see what happens next. 

3. East responds 1♠  

4. Now West can show the second sut and bid 3♣ - a new suit bid at the 3-level is FORCING as it is above the barrier and shows extra values. Without extra values you would bid your second suit at the 2-level or limit your hand with a no trump rebid.

5. East is now excited as a fit has been found BUT supposing West has three spades would that be a better contract? Well yes as spades will score more than clubs. So how can East find out more? How about bidding 3  this is the fourth suit and is not showing diamonds but asking partner to describe her hand more.

6. West bids 3♠ which describes the hand perfectly to East three spades, five hearts, one diamond and four clubs - PERFECT. 

7. East can now bid 4♣ first or second round control of clubs and interested in a slam.

8. West is really excited with this and bids 4NT. Now do you play Roman Keycard Blacwood or standard Blackwood?

9. East responds 5 showing the ♣ A and  K - this response is using Roman Keycard Blackwood where there are five keycards the four aces and king of trumps. If using standard Blackwood the response is 5 - showing Ace of clubs.

10. West now checks to see what, if any other, kings are held and bids 5NT - by making this bid West GUARANTEES that ALL keycards including the Queen of the trumps suit are held. If using standard Blackwood there is no such guaratee concerning the Queen of trumps.

11. East has no further Kings and the final contract is 6♠ .




Hand 3 - 27th June 2022


1. What does South open?

2. What should North be asking himself?

3. If South opens 1NT what does North bid?

4. What happens if North bids 2♦ is this a forcing bid?

5. Who is in charge of the auction North or South?

6. Assuming South bids 2 what does North now bid?

7. What should the final contract be?

8. How many tricks do you make?


1. What does South open?

1NT balanced 12-14

2. What should North be asking himself?

Is Game on YES.      NO.       MAYBE

I have 18 points 10 cards in the major suits YES game is definitley on maybe even SLAM

3. If South opens 1NT what does North bid?


How many forgot TRANSFERS please remember in these supervised sessions you can always ask for help and be guided to bid according to the lessons.

If you didn't bid 2 what did you bid that would keep the auction going, after all we have said GAME at least is on?

4. What happens if North bids 2  is this a forcing bid?

2 is forcing and South will usually just complete the transfer and bid 2 

5. Who is in charge of the auction North or South?

North is in charge of the auction South is like an obedient child and does what he is told and bids 2 

6. Assuming South bids 2  what does North now bid?

2♠ which is FORCING

South CANNOT pass his options are:

With a four card ♠ suit raise to 3♠ 

With three card support for  raise to 3 

With neither of the above and minimum values i.e. a 12 count bid 2NT

7. What should the final contract be?


8. How many tricks do you make?


Keep C.A.L.M

Count your tricks by power that is the tricks you can take NOW:

Spades                 1

Hearts                  3

Diamonds             2

Clubs                   2

Total                    8

Add tricks from other sources:

Spades                 1     possibly if opponets lead the suit

Hearts                  3      by length if the suit breaks 3-2

Diamonds            0

Clubs                   1       if the finesse works

Total                    5


Loser Check

Spades                 3 but you can discard a ♠ on the  K

Hearts                  0 (unless suit breaks 4-1 then 1 loser)

Diamonds             0

Clubs                   0

Total                    3


You always have 10 tricks.

The problem with this hand is that you only have 2 entries   K & ♣ K

If you think you will finesse the ♣  and if it woorks on the King hoping to discard a spade this will not work because West only has two clubs.

You know you have at least 10 tricks so play accordingly.

Win the opening lead, draw trumps.

Discard a spade on the  K

Well done you have made 11 tricks.

And finally of four pairs only one South played in 4 well done to Julie & Colette our first year students.

So either with a balanced hand for South 3,2,3,5 distrubution some were opening 1♣ what is your rebid? Bid 1NT and get the hand of your chest in one bid?


Transfers have been forgotten, please please ask.



Hand 1 20th June 2022 Has Stayman Died?

Well a very interesting hand. 

Each table played in 3NT but the question is why?


1. Is East's hand balanced?

2. What is East's opening bid?

3. What does West respond?

4. What should the final contract be?


1. 12-14      Balanced

2. 1NT

3. 2♣ 

4. 4♠ 


If any pair had reached 4♠ they would have the best score.

Just because Sam Stayman died does not mean you can no longer use his convention!

Hand 8 6th June 2022 A SLAM BUT IS IT A GRAND?

The question here is did you get to the Grand slam?

So as South what are you thinking when partner opens 2NT?

Normally we start with is game on - YES.      NO.       MAYBE!

On this occasion definitely.               YES


Is there another question?

Is slam on?

                                                       YES.     NO.   MAYBE?

Answer                                            YES


Is a Grand slam on?

                                                        YES.     NO.     MAYBE

Answer                                            A very definite MAYBE so how do we find out?

First we need to start with a transfer into our longer suit so we bid 3 

Next after partner bids 3  we bid 3♠ just in case partner prefer spades.

When partner bids 4  we have an easy 4NT Blackwood (either standard of Roman Keycard)


Standard response                              5      two Aces

Roman Keycard                                  5♣     three or nought of five keycards (these are the four Aces and the King of the trump suit) So partner has 11 HCP with  A ♣ A &  K. Wow he has extras.

If using RKC partner will also be aware if you don't ask about the Q, by bidding 5♦,  - that you hold that card.

Between you you hold all four Aces and the King & Queen of hearts.

What next?                                                             5NT now you are telling partner you have all the key cards

As opener I am now happy that my ♠ Q is a useful card. My hand looks very powerful and I bid 7NT. 7  is also good.

So how do I play this hand?





I am in 7NT and need to make 13 tricks.

The lead is the Jack of clubs.

1. I count my tricks:

Spades             = 3 top

Hearts               = 6 top

Diamonds          = 3 top        Honors from the short hand first!

Clubs                 = 3 top

Total                   = 15 TOP

2. At this point I lay down my hand and CLAIM 15 tricks well ok just the 13 then!

3. If you have a hand where it is as clear as this of the number of tricks that you have, CLAIM then you won't make a mistake in the play.

4. Of the 5 pairs playing this hand only one pair bid the GRAND SLAM. Well done to Linda & Eleanor.


Hand 5 30/5/2022


1. Do you open the North hand?                                                           NO

You have 11 HCP you do have a singleton BUT that will only work if you have a FIT with partner so we do not add points for shortage.

For those who do open which suit do you bid with 4-4-4-1 shape?       1 

With a singleton AND opening values we open the suit below the singleton - EASY but not with this hand!

With a singleton club,  as here, we open the middle of the other three suits i.e. hearts

2. South opens the bidding with                                                                  1 


3♠ & 4♣   are cue bids showing first round (ACE or void) or second round (K or singleton) control . 4NT is RKC Blackwood and the response of 5 is either four or one keycard. A keycard is any Ace and/or the King of the trump suit.

3. What happens if North does open  1♥ 

Our advanced players may already have heard of Jacoby which is used where partner opens one of a major and you have at least four card support for that major AND an opening hand. So game, at least, is on.

The bid then is 2NT. So on this hand the bidding will go:

1  P 2NT P
4♣  P 4NT P
5D P 6H AP

4♣  I have a splinter! That is a singleton losing club.

So you reach the same contract but in a different way.




Hand 8 23/5/2022

Hand 8 was interesting.

1. It is West's turn to bid, do you open or pass?

With two tricks and a hand of little substance - PASS

2. If West passes then the hand will be passed round to South. What is South's opening bid?

a. Is South balanced.                                                                                                                      YES

b. What is his point count.                                                                                                               20

c. With a balanced hand & 20 HCP does this fall within any opening No Trump range?                YES

d. Open                                                                                                                                            2NT

3. What does North do now?

a. Is game on?                                                                                                                                YES/NO/MAYBE

b. 20 + 6 = 26 HCP                                                                                                                         YES game is on

c. At this point who is in charge of the auction North or South?                                    North - i. partner (South) has limited their hand to 20-22 points and

                                                                                                                                          ii. South has no idea of North's values anything from 0 -10

d.  Is the game in No Trumps or a suit contract?                                                                             North must investigate

e. What convention can North use with this hand?                                                                         Stayman a question bid asking South if he has 4 or more cards in a major suit i.e .♠  

As you can see the two hands prepare the bidding sequence and go to ANSWER

4. What happens if West opens 1 ?

It is likely that this will be passed round to South who is in the pass out seat so a bid of 2NT shows 20+ and again you can now return to 3 above as you will use the same responses.

Bidding Sequence
P 3♣ * P 3 
P 4 

* Stayman have you got a 4 or more cards in a MAJOR suit?