Brunton Bridge Club
Afternoon Play

Wednesday Afternoon Sessions

For club players and students. No partner needed.

2.30 pm - 4.45 pm

St Aidan's Community Centre.

Contact: Guy Herzmark 07967 194107

Release 2.19q
Monday May 6th

Unfortunately there was a major server failure. during play on Monday. I have managed to retrieve most of the results from the individual Bridgemates.

However there may be a small number of errors. If you can, please check the results and email any corrections to

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Slams are important

Only three pairs bid this slam. The bidding shown is from Don & Liz's auction where 1♣ could be short but once partner makes an inverted minor raise they can investigate and bid the slam.



The 5 level belongs to the opponents

North's double is takeout and guarantees 4 hearts.

The response of 2♣ to partner's 1♠ overcall shows a high card raise to 2♠  or more. The hand is too good for any number of spades.

After the 4♠ bid North has a real problem, if he bids 5♣ or 5 at this vulnerability he must be bidding to make it. The downside is he has 2 spades and partner might well have at least 1. The plus side is that North knows that he has a double fit in clubs and hearts. 

The final worry is that the opponents are claiming good hands and one has to wonder just what partner's "third in hand" opening contains.

North will judge well to bid 5 

Now East/West have a problem at the vulnerability going one off 5♠ could be cheap. Also 5♠ could be making. Our advice would be as you did not bid 5♠ last time, pass now. Oh, you should not double

On the night  5 went off but should make if the declarer guesses the  J. 5♠  doubled -1 will get you 4 MP out of 20. The conclusion then is defend.


Bidding: 1NT rebid = 15-17

Lead: Q 

On the lead of the Q  East plays the 2. Their card says low is encouraging and West continues the suit.

Plan the play in notrump and so, like a good General, you should make C.A.M.P.

C - Count your TOP tricks.

A - Add tricks from other sources.

M - Manage the hand.

P -  Play - or as one of our students said PRAY!

On the lead of the Q  East plays the 2, their card says low is encouraging and West continues the suit.

Plan the play in notrump and so, like a good general, you should make C.A.M.P.

Count your top tricks by power - four ♠, one one  , and one ♣ = 8 TOP tricks.

Add tricks from other sources. In diamonds you have possible tricks by position (you can finesse both ways is you guess who holds the  Q) and two slow tricks by power.

Manage. You must break communication between the defenders and so you duck the  twice. Now West is you dangerous opponent and you must not let him get the lead. Win the third  and play the  9. I West plays low play the  4 from dummy. Even if this loses all your gates are guarded. Win the return and cash your tricks. If it wins cash your diamonds.

A bidding failure on hand 6

On hand 6 our first problem is just what do you open with the West hand?

4-4-4-1 hands are always difficult and should be  downgraded and this should be opened at the 1 level.

The suit you open depends om whether or not you follows the modern idiot idiom.

Moderns open 1 and old fashioned open 1 

Rermember that we can only see the bidding of the online players

One table almost got there after W - 1 N - 1♠  E 4 . If you have the simple agreement that we havw - 4 minor is forcing and a slam try.Tough they played in 5 for a poor score

Old fashioned bidding should go, assuming North passes.

West North East South
p p
1  p 1♠  p
2NT - forcing p 3  p
4   p 4  p
4NT p 5  p
6  AP

Note that 6 always makes even if the  K is wrong but if it is wrong 6NT goes off.



The 4♠ raise here shows 5+ spades to be "law" legal. It might not contain a point.

Again  North/South have to make a decision over 4♠ and if they do bid 5 East should Pass.

The vulnerability is wrong to bid 5♠ and and you should not double. Where are your tricks?

Again the five level belongs to the opponents


Here 6♣  was bid three times & 7♣ once.

The intervention muddies the water a bit. At the table this was the bidding :

1NT P 2  P
2♠  P 3♣  3 
4♣  P 5  P
5  P 5♠  P
7♣  AP

5  is Voidwood and should have worked well if South had remembered that you don't count the  A. Undeterred when, North bid 5♠ trying to sign off knowing partner had no aces. South bid 7♣ trusting partner completely thinking it was the Queen ask! On this occasion it was successful. If you can't be good be lucky.

On the auction above 5 asks partner how many keycards do you have but excluding  A, on this hand the answer should have been 6♣ = two with the ♣ Q at that point North has an easy 7♣ bid.

Are re-raises invitational?

Look at board 19 this week.

Unless you are Dave Armstrong of Chris Derrick North must pass and East has an easy 1opening bid.

Now we look at the South hand. The spades are not good enough as they do not meet the suit quality test(the number of spades + the number of honours should come to 7 at least) and so should pass.

West now bids 1NT 6-9 with 4+ clubs or 4+ diamonds. Now East bid 2♣ as even with 15 points the hand MUST play in a minor. West corrects to 2. (If you play inverted minor raise 2should be 10+ and 30 -5).

Now East knows that the opponents have a fit in at least 1 major and needs the agreement that re-raises are not forward going and a 3bid really stops the North/South pair from entering the auction.

Can you count to 13?

We were surprised with the results on board 9 this week. Only one pair out of 9 got close to the correct contract.

The bidding shown was that of Brenda & Isi - well done.

1 was opened because they play 5 card majors. 2was an old fashioned jump shift and the 2♠ rebid was natural.

Having bid 4NT showing 2 key cards and then in response to 5NT showing 2 Kings South should count their tricks.

4 spades, 6 hearts, 2 diamonds and 1 club (or 2 clubs and 1 diamond). Looks like 7NT to us.

However, let us not take their glory away because that would have scored the same top.

Only Jesus saves!

Given the bidding shown just what should West do? Should they pass or bid 5♣?

If you want to bid 5♣ are you bidding it to make or as a save over 4♠ ?

Are there any tips to help you decide?

First we must answer the second question. 5♣ cannot possibly be making so it must be an attempt to save.

There are two things that helps herem

1. 18 it appears that your side has 9 clubs. It also appears that the opponents have 9 spades. The total no of trumps then is 18. So the total number of tricks should be approximately 18. Which says that if they can make 4♠ your side makes 8 tricks playing in clubs 3 off is 500. this score is only good if the majority of pairs are in 4♠ and it makes. However, what if they can only make 9 tricks, now you are 2 off and that is a disaster.

2. At pairs follow the adage, "Only Jesus saves" and defend it well.

Notice here that on a totally passive defence 4♠ should go 2 off.

The travelling score

Most months in The Bridge World Adam Klinchline writes an article with this title to explain how matchpoints work and we thought that we would write up a hand using the same idea with hand 23 from Monday.

Hand 23, Dealer South All Vul
Contract By Score NS MP
4♠ N 650 7
4♠ N 680 12
6NT S -100 0
4♠ N 650 7
4♠ N 650 7
3♠ N 200 2
4♠ N 650 7
4♠ N 710 14

The popular contract was, of course, 4♠ and there are 11 top tricks and so we don't need to say any more about the average scores.

So let us look at the top and the bottom scores

It is a pity that the pair who bid 6NT got it played by the wrong hand. Can you see how North can make it?

As we cannot see how 12 tricks were made we can only assume that a high club was led. Unlucky.

The 13 tricks were interesting. A trump was led ignoring the old advice, Do not lead a trump because you don't know what to lead, lead a trump only for a purpose.

It got worse for East/West when east threw an encouraging club at trick two. Now North can draw trumps and use 2 entries to South to ruff out the clubs and the third entry is used to cash the clubs. and the heart losers go away.

Its a squeeze. (One of my partner's used to say, "The only time I recognise a squeeze is when I am in one."

However, in this hand, East must not lead a heart else that is 12 tricks. So assume top club lead.

North wins and cashes all of the spades this is the ending

Q 5 4

10 4


Q 8 7

♣ 10


J 9

♣ K

A 2


♣ J

A diamond to the King and the Ace is cashed. If North has counted the hand correctly they are home. If East has got 1 heart and 2 club the Ace drops the King If he has 1 club and the heart king a club throws him in and he has to give a second heart trick.

Its only a 4 count!

When we are bidding, sometimes our hands get worse and worse and sometimes (but I feel not often enough) they get better and better. Look at hand 2 on Monday.

We have lots of questions now.

  1. Are you (West) going to bid?
  2. If you bidthen what do you bid?
  3. If you Pass and North bids 3♣ and partner doubles, do you bid?
  4. If so what do you bid?
  5. Without looking at the scores guess how many pairs bid the game?

  1. Are you (West) going to bid? If you are a point counter you won't. If you play 5 card majors you can't if yourpartner might only have 3. If you play Acol it is really in your interest to bid especially if your sensible partner has agreed that you play inverted minor raises.
  2. If you bidthen what do you bid? 3
  3. If you Pass and North bids 3♣ and partner doubles, do you bid? Yes, I wish that I had bid last time.
  4. If so what do you bid? 5♦.My hand is getting better and better with 3 clubs partner is likely to have 1 or none, I have 4 trumps and all of my cards are helping my partner.
  5. Without looking at the scores guess how many pairs bid to the game? 1, enough said but well done Ruth & Dorothy
Could I make that? You couldn't!

On this hand most weak notrump bidders opened 1NT and North made some sort of bid showing the Majors. However 3NT was found. Again while we do not know about the opening lead on the F2f game we know that most North's led a spade. Whether this was a low card or the King West must finish with 2 spade tricks,.

So, how do you play the hand?

It is a notrump hand and so make C.A.M. P.

C - count you top tricks by power. 1 spade, 2 diamonds and 2 clubs. 5 in total.

A - add tricks form other sources. There is a second spade trick one way or another. There is also a slow trick by power and, hopefully a trick by length in clubs.

What is the proper way to play the clubs to cater for a 4-1 break with the 4 in South? Start with small towards the Jack.

Even so, assuming that South holds the ♣Q you are a trick short , There is a slow trick by power in hearts,

M - manage the hand. As soon as you get the lead you play a heart towards dummy. If North plays the Ace you have 3 heart tricks. If North plays low you have your heart and you are in the dummy to play a club to the Jack.

P - play

Tell the least lie

2 points to consider on this week's hand.

1. At matchpoints you want to do what the room does on most hands. So you must always consider what others will do. Look at this week's hand and let us consider what will happen at the other tables. Those playing a strong notrump will surely open 1NT.

2. Playing a weak notrump you open 1♣ and partner bids 1,what do you rebid? Two things to consider. A 1NT rebid tells the least lie and strong notrump players will open 1NT. Rebid 1NT. If it is wrong all others will be wrong too.

Nullius in verba

The title here is the motto of the Royal Society and it means, "take nobody's word for it". And if you take nobody's word for it you have to measure it yourself.. As an aside here you must not take your own word for it either because your mind lies to you. What do we mean by that? If you think 5 card majors is the best thing since sliced bread you will remember all of the occasions where 5 card majors worked and 4 card majors didn't. But you won't remember the one where 4 card majors worked better than your method. The only way to find the truth is to measure it, record the data and then analyse it carefully. (Better still get someone you trust to do it for you).

On to this week's hand. We have noticed that since lockdown many players have started to base their leads to be the same as the robots on BBO. These are based on the lead style stated in David Birds book's "Winning trump leads" and "Winning notrump leads". It is claimed that these leads are based on extensive analysis". However, this is flawed. First they assume that the declaring side are playing 5 card majors and they are analysed with 5000 hands. This is a small sample and not enough also they do not work so well over a weak notrump and 4 card majors. So what do you lead against their 3NT contract?

The standard lead hand with very little to go on is "4th highest of your longest and strongest". This is the♣5which leads to 9 tricks as the contract is unbreakable. The lead at one table was a David Bird lead of the♠5. This led to 11 tricks. Whoops - stick to standard leads.


I just don't believe it!

So there you are coming to the end on a nice evening of bridge and you pick up the South hand. You have not seen such a good hand all evening and both opponents have bid before it gets to you.

The player sitting East has only 4 points but is not happy with the 1♠ opening and is trying to improve the contract.

Okay, back to South had to double 1NT (this was not alerted but assumed by both West and East that it was takeout of spades.. (Yes you should alert it - the directives say that you do not alert takeout doubles of a suit or penalty doubles of notrump but no harm done)

When it got to 3♠ and partner having bid of course the penalty double appeared.

My advice here - If you are in a pub and someone wants to bet you 10 that they can make water come out of their ear bet that they can make water come out of their ear.

To make South a little happier the double only cost 1 matchpoint.

However, we wonder if everyone who bid 4 thought they were bidding it to make and not as a cheap sacrifice.


Lots of points of interest with this hand from Monday.

1.The first question is what do you open with the North hand?

2. If partner opens 1 what do you call on the South hand?

3. Assuming that 1 is passed to West do you protect? if so, what do you bid?

4. Finally if the bidding goes

1  P P X
3  3♠  ?




What is double by South?

1. The choice here is 1  or 2♣. Is it legal to open a strong 2♣ with 17 points? The answer is "yes". The EBU blue book states that a strong 2♣ must be 16+ points or 12+ with at least 5 controls. Now, if you open 1  can you miss game? Again, yes, if partner holds the ♠K or the K you will probably make 10 tricks with partner passing a 1 opening

2. Do you bid if partner opens 1. Unless you play a funny system there is no reason to bid

3. Suppose it goes 1 p p do you protect? Your options are pass, 1NT, 2♣, 2NT (unusual) and double. 1NT is the wrong shape and at least 1 point short. 2♣ is wrong because the suit is not strong or long enough, 2NT is short of a diamond, you can easily play in a 4-3 fit at the 3 level. One of Dave Armstrong big bugbares is doubling without 4 cards in any unbid major  You could easily end too high in a 4-3 fit and you are vulnerable.

4. You and partner simply must have a simple and clear agreement on whether doubles in  any situation is penalties or takeout. Here, because they are vulnerable and you are not everyting is right (we like those bids) If partner thinks it is takeout he bids a making 4 but if he thinks it is penalties 3♠ is 2 off for 500.

Minor suit slams and voidwood

Bidding a slam in a minor suit will often score well providing the notrump contract either does not make or is unlikely to be bid.

It is also interesting the low point count grand slams are often available when one hand has a void. Now Roman Keycard Blackwood does not work if you are 1 keycard short.

What we need is Voidwood. This is a convention where there is a clear bid at the 5 level that asks for keycards but shows a void in the suit bid and the responder will ignore the ace of that suit.

On the hand shown 4  is a splinter and 5 confirms the void and asks for keycards.

The trouble with Voidwood here is that it takes up extra room and we cannot find out if the grand is on. However, 6♣ +1 on the night scored 17/18 match points.

Transfers, really?

When partner opens 1N (12-14) what should North be thinking?

Is 1NT a sensible contract?

What is sensible?

Can you and your favourite partner get to a reasonable contract?



North should start by thinking, "Is game on?" Yes, no, maybe.

The answer with 12-14 opposite your 8 count is unlikely. Further, even if 9 tricks are there in notrump it is probaby right not to be in it.

1NT might make but it will be lucky  so let us look for a better spot.

A diamond contract looks sensible even though you need to play at the 3 level. 

One way of getting there is to play 4-way transfers where -

2 shows hearts

2 shows spades

2♠ shows clubs

2NT shows diamonds

To show which minor you hold has the advantage that, if partner likes your suit you can sometimes get to 22 point making games. The slight disadvantage is you have to put invitational balanced hands through Stayman.

On this hand there is a comfortable 3  and if the Q is not covered after a club lead 11 tricks are to be made.


It's the pairs game

The first problem with this hand after a standard start is what to bid now. 4 would set the suit but you might belong in spades.

(the good thing about agreeing diamonds, although you don't know it is that 7 is cold if partner plays it). But back to the problem.

It's a pairs game and 3NT with an overtricks beats 5 even with an overtrick

Assuming that you choose to rebid 3 and partner is allowed to rebid 3 it is crunch time. If you bid 3♠ and partner give preference to diamonds do you want to bid 6?


It wasn't our fault gov!

We had a poor start on Monday when we made up the half table, Because we were playing online all tables started with hand 1.

Our opponent had not heard of O. D. R. (Oh dear)  and opened 3♠. This stopped all thoughts of slam from partner and game was bid.  ODR = Offensive/Defensive/Ratio.

The bad news was that the slam was not bid at any table, more bad news was that our declarer knew how to play the hand to make the maximum number of tricks - 12.

Our score - 6 out of 22 and nothing that can be done. Ah well. that's bridge.

Can we learn from this? Yes. 

From the declaring side, at match points even if you do miss a contract that is hard to bid, making all the tricks available will get you an above average score.

For the defenders, you will get the odd poor score throught no fault of your own.  Just get on and work on the next board.


The law goes wrong

First we look at the bidding. Because East can make an unassuming cue bid of 3 their bid of 3 is preemptive, bidding to the level of the fit and so when the opponents bid the spade game we should consider the law to decide whether to bid or not. Partner will assume that you have 5 hearts and they will have 4 to raise to the 3 level. Therefore your side have 11. it seems that the opponents has 9 on 10 spades. Let us assume 9. We need a chart with a TNT of 20.

Tricks in   Score if doubled Tricks in ♠  Score Gain/loss
10 -100 10 -620 +520
9 -300 11 -650 +350
8 -500 12 -680 +180

So it looks like we will be in profit if we bid 5 .

 This only goes wrong if they cannot make 4♠ 

No player beat 4♠ but can you see how to do it?


We cannot see how the hands were played in the F2F session but one player nearly got it right online.

The way to defeat is lead the A. Bravely lead the 9 (not the 10 because partner might let it hold). When partner's Jack wins they might look puzzled but then work out that your heart was a suit preference signal and play a diamond for you to ruff. That is 3 tricks and partner is due for a trump trick.

Easy game bridge.

Give partner a chance

It is so easy to make rash assumptions at the table and bid without enough thought. Hand 14 was a case in point.

First  look at the opening bid. The hand was opened 1 , 3  and 4  giving different problems. which is right? We should have have got there after the 1 opening if my partner was not playing with an ox.

Next let us look at the 2 overcall. We play a minor suit overcall shows 6 cards but we add the exception that our 2 suited overcalls are weak or strong, that is up to 9 or 16+. With the middle range we make a simple overcall (we recommend this approach). 

Now North's bid. While opposite a minimum 2 3NT will probably make there is no hurry. A start with a cue bid of opponent's suit gives you time and allows a 4♣ rebid from partner and shows the hand type.  Now 6Nt is easy.

Moral - Help partner

So many ways to go wrong

At most tables East/West preempted in either clubs or diamonds.

Some North/Souths got too high and played in 4♥  The reason, in some cases, was that after a 2 opening North doubled. This to me is not a double. What is wrong with 2 ?

We  ask people who double on hands like this do you get a positive E.V? (Don't know whar E.V. is? Ask a poker player or read Dave A's book.) no more ads Ed

Lots of players defended 3  or 3♠  and that was misdefended at 4 tables where 2 clubs need to be cashed and then a diamond switch will beat the contract so long as West does not exit with a spade

Playing Pairs - a top or a bottom!

Starting with a 1♠ opening bid by South, North should use the Losing Trick Count to evaluate their hand. They have 1 spade, 2 hearts, 2 diamonds and 3 clubs. 8 losers. Add to partner's supposed 7 and subtract from 18 and this gives 3. Bid 3♠ 

Either hand going to game is an overbid. If you make game you will get a top and if you don't you will get a bottom. Notice that the only pair to make game made it on a misdefence and 3♠ making got an 80% score.

The winning strategy is "Do not play for tops or bottoms,"

Help your partner

Partner leads the  J against the 3NT contract. These are the questions -

  1. What has partner led from?
  2. What do you play?

Click - Play it Again to reveal all hands.

  1. Partner will have the 10 but has not got the 9 or the 8. Therefore to have a squence or broken sequence he must hold the Ace or King
  2. Play the Queen. This will show partner exactly how to continue the suit.
If you can't be good be lucky

A top or a bottom?

This hand was a good slam  if played by the right hand or if the wrong hand you to rely on poor defence to get you home.

It is common in pairs games to try for 6NT but is it worth? The hand in question was hand 8 and shown here.

Lots of questions here.

  1. Is North an opening bid?
  2. If North opens what should East bid if anything?
  3. If North passes what, if anything does East open?
  4. If South opens, the recommended bidding is shown or should South bid 6NT
  5. Should 6 or 6NT by North make?
  6. What should East lead against a slam?


  1. While we agree that 5-4-3-1 hands play well this hand has 8 losers and partner will assume that you have a 7 loser hand, so pass
  2. If North opens why doesn't East bid 2  (Michael's cue bid)?
  3. If North passes we think only Jill and Dave would open the East hand but maybe some would open a Lucas 2♠ 
  4. No, 6NT will get a top or a bottom and 6  making will get you above average
  5. No, try a  6 lead and a spade switch
  6. The  6. Look at from West's point of view it could be 4th highest but if declarer plays low what is happening? If must be second highest so, win the King and make the logical switch - a spade
Do large movements help?

When you are playing bridge there are two things that might affect the way you play.

  1. Playing teams with a small number of boards. The EBU lockdown league is played over 8 boards. 0ne partscore swing can mean that you lose the match 7.5 - 12.5. Vicious!
  2. Playing pairs in a small field - this is what we are looking at today.

Last week the online section of club night had only 3 tables, hand 22 was interesting, Pairs found it difficult to stay low enough and went off in a club contract.

In the online section going 1 off would score 1 out of 4 or 25%. However, when this was merged with the 8 tables at the club giving 11 scores  it scored 10 out of 20 or 50%

So remember that assuming you are playing 24 or 25 boards in an evening each board is worth about 4%

The people that say, it is okay to get a bottom is okay because you just need a top to balance it are shortsighted. To win an event you need over 60% and so if you get a bottom you need 2 tops to counter balance it.

Moral: Try very hard not to get a bottom ( perhaps I can't say that these days).

Sorry partner!

On this hand I, quite rightly, got a mild rebuke from partner and it shows just what the pairs game is about.

Can you see how to make 13 tricks on a trump lead?


Win the first trump cheaply in hand and lead the J and finesse. 

Now play a trump to the King and play  A and ruff a heart setting up the suit. 

At this point I fell from grace by playing a diamond to the Ace. However, if I had crossed with a trump and then cash the hearts pitching clubs.

Now a club ruff and take the diamond finesse. 13 tricks

Why has partner forgiven me?  480 was a top

Playing suits correctly

Okay there you are in 3♠ and you get a diamond lead. How do you play the trump suit for the maximum number of tricks?

Apparently, 4 out of 9 pairs got it wrong when this hand came up last Monday.

We certainly do not understand the reason that West should lead the ♣ K at any part of the procedings.

Yes folks, the trouble with playing on RealBridge is that we can see what you did wrong!


As you are in dummy you play small to the Ace.

If you were in hand you would play the Ace and small to the jack.

These plays guarantee the suit for one loser except if they are 5-0 or 4 to the K 10 in one hand.

If you don't believe me put out the five cards in any 3-2 or 4-1 order and try.

Should there be 2 ways of making the same bid?

If you answered, "yes" you are wasting bidding space. 

If partner opens 2NT how do you get to 4 ?

May we suggest 2NT  3 , 3  4 

So what does 2NT 4  mean?

We suggest that natural and a slam try works well look at hand 6 from this week's club night.

The first qestion we ask is why East did not open 2♠ at any table? It looks like the grown up bid to us and it looks very difficult to find the slam now.

It the auction shown. After 2NT, 4  the 4  should be a cue bid. (4NT would be a sign off and then a slam should be found).






















You play it partner

This hand from Monday shows just how much more difficult it is to defend a hand when the strong hand plays it. It also shows why you should prefer dover sole (Rubensohl) to lemon sole (Lebensohl).

It is also a good hand for the strong notrump where the only successful pair to bid and make game in the auction shown.

However, why West did not bid over the !NT opening we will never know.

So, assuming that West bids do you know how Rubensohle works?

Notice that it is nearly impossible for West to find a spade lead to beat 4 by South



Rubensohl has many advantages over Lebensohl as you know which suit responder has right away. It uses transfers for 2NT and above.

A transfer into a major is invitational at least.

3♠  shows values for game but no stop in the overcallers suit.

So, assuming the bidding starts 1NT 2♠  we would bid 3  and over opener's 3 bid raise to game.



This hand from Monday brings up lots of points.

First please remember that we can only see the bidding and play on the online pairs.

Okay one table passed the South hand. Whatever your system if you are going to pass a balanced 12 count you are giving the opponents an easy time. Sure enough the opponents got to a fair 6♠ 

At another table South opened a 12-14 notrump. You really need a piece of bidding kit that allows you to get in with the West hand. Landy or Multi Landy do not work here. Astpro players would bid 2  show at least 4 spades and another suit. Easy now. It is as well to note that we have lost a Gold cup match where our other pair were using Multi Landy and our opponents were using Astpro on two hands our opponent could get into the auction where our team mates could not. It is also necessary to point out that Astpro was first designed to work against a strong notrump but it is just a effective playing against other ranges.

Finally at another table East/West played in 4♠ and made 11 tricks. If we were playing teams this would lose 1 IMP if the opponents did not bid a slam, however, at pairs you must make 12 tricks if 12 tricks are there. What startles me about the way we teach this game is that we dump them into the hardest form of the game. At teams or rubber bridge you bid game & you simply have to make it. At pairs, 1 off might be a great score and 1 overtricks might be terrible.

Follow the Law

The Law of total tricks is a simple concept developed by Jean-Rene Vernes and consolidated by Larry Cohen in his book "To bid or not to bid".  It helps you to decide how high to compete, using this approximation will keep you out of trouble in many situations. One happened at the club this week that caught my eye and gave us a poor score.

After partner opens 2♠  there is clearly no game on for your side and you do want to make it difficult for the opponents so just what do you bid and why?


The law of Total tricks says that you add up your trumps to those that partner shows and bid to that level.

That with 10 trumps bid to the 10 tricks level (4♠  here), with 9 trumps bid 3♠  and with 8 trumps bid 2♠.  Simple

So here North bids 3♠. Simple.

Just look what happens with the hand. North/South hold 9 trumps in their best trump suit and make 3♠  East/West have 8 trumps in their best trump suit and make 2♥. Like magic isn't it?

If I had a cent!

The great man Easley Blackwood once said, "If I had a dollar for every time someone used my convention I would be a rich man. If I had a cent for every time someone misused my convention I would be a very rich man!"

We hasten to add that this article is not a comment about any pair or player but of the general thoughts of many players at the club who think this sort of auction is great because it sometimes works.

What we would like you to do is apportion the blame for getting too high on this hand. Give the blame for 1, double, 4NT, and 5♠.(You can blame East a little for not having the 7th club but the vulnerability is right to be a little frisky).


Let us look at all of the bids.

1 - While this is just legal (Rule of 18 is the minimum at level 4 The blue book says, 7A (3) Strength of Opening One-level Bids - A one-level opening bid in a suit, whether forcing or not, must by agreement show 8+ HCP and, in first and second position, follow the Rule of 18. Natural 1NT opening bids must show 9+ HCP). However, it is a balanced 10 count.

If someone held a gun to my head and said bid  I would open 2♥. Blame 40% unless it is your style to open these hands and then you must tell the opponents, "we have very light openers". Blame 40%

Double. If it is for penalties, okay, 0% but if it is for takeout 20%

3 - What does North do? 0%

4NT -  Bad use of Blackwood. Partner will assume you have agreed hearts and if they say, 1 or 2 key cards you don't know where they are. The man said you cannot use my convention with 2 or more small cards in any suit. Blame 40%

Our final comment is that if you are going to open on weak hands, record all of your results with them for 6 months. If you finish with an average score or greater than 50%, great, play them , but if it is less thatn 50% stop opening them


A protection racket

If the opening bid is passed around to you what do you need to bid?

Most people play that you "transfer a King" that is you can be 3 points fewer to bid.

Wkat is more difficult is that a protective 1NT  is best played 10-14 and need not have a stop in opener's suit. If partner has not bid it is probably because she has a good holding in opener's suit.

However, if you are going to protect this way you must defend sensibly. 

If Partner leads the  Q  what do you play when in with the  J?

Finally if partner, East makes a takeout double do you want to be in game? If so spades or notrump?


Well, the bidding went 1♣  P P x and partner led the  Q which declarer won with the A and played a heart back. What should West play back?

A heart cannot be right. If you lead a big heart the hearts in dummy will be good. If you play a small heart declarer will have a loser on loser play. So you must play a diamond or a spade.

The trouble with passing West's takeout double you must make at least 1♣. If we get to the making game 3NT should be easier than 4♠. However, very few bid it or made it.


Regrets/ I have a few

We feel sorry for some Wests who went down, when lots of player did not take the optimum line and were allowed to make the hand

Remember that we cannot tell how the hand was played at the club and we don't even know the lead.

The lead at most tables was the 9 or 8 of spades depending on the methods most players then drew trumps and took the club finesse which failed. what do you play as North when in with the club Queen?

This is the position when you are in with the ♣ Q and you have one trick, it seems likely that partner has three clubs; you need three more tricks to break the contract which the diamonds will provide.



The way to play this hand is to take only 2 trumps and eliminate the spades and then play a diamond. If North wins the 3rd round he must give a ruff and discard or lead clubs. If South wins he should simply play the last heart.If South leads the club you must guess to play the 9 but if North wins it he is done for. 



This hand was very interesting  while we have not got the bidding and play from the F2f group two players went down in 4 in the online section where the pressure to make overtricks caused players to go down.

One South opened 1♣  but both declarers got a club lead.What do you play on the third round of clubs when North has played the 6 and then 4? (The clue might be in the title).

You, of course worry that if you ruff low North might overruff.

You could ruff high and hope that trumps do not break 4-0. Unlucky. There is a play to guarantee your contract.

Throw a spade on the third club (Loser on Loser). South is now helpless. Whatever he returns you just take the diamond finesse and draw trumps.


Is it enough?

This week's hand offered a good penatly but is 1100 enough?

The questions are -

1. After South opens 1♠ what do you bid as East?

2. Are there any danger signs with the West hand?

3. If the bidding starts:

1♠ 2 P  

X ?






Should West bid or pass?

4. If the bidding starts 1♠ 2 Pass pass x pass Do you bid or pass?

1♠ 2 P  


X P ?






5. If you pass the double is 1100 enough?

1. The options for West are Pass, 2 or 2♠  (Michael's cue bid). Pass is wet (even for me), the Michaels cue bid with this strength is dangerous because it is too tempting to want to bid again when you find your minor fit. That leaves 2♥. 

2. The dangers are the 3 spades to the Queen might well be a terrible holding. Further. with this range, if you have made a two suited overcall it is tempting to bid again.

3. Should West pass when  South reopens with a double? Partner has 2 hearts at most else he should have made some sort of raise. If that is so West could try 3 

4. If you get a chance to defend 2x should you pass? Unless you can make a slam (probably in clubs) you should pass. If 6♣  is making even 5 off is not enough from the doubled contract. 

5. If 6♣ is making 1100 is not enough, however, if 6♣  is not making 5♣  is only 600 and 6♣ -1 is a disaster. Further, 1100 or 800 will get a better than 60% score so take it.

On the hand 1100 got over 70%. Next board.

What do you respond?

With the hand shown, just what do you respond to partner's 1♠ opening?♠ 

What are the options?

Which option do you choose?

Your options are -

1. 4♦,  a splinter

2. 2NT Jacoby, game forcing in spades

3. 4NT Blackwood

4. A fit jump, that is at least 4 cards in partner's suit and 5+ cards in the jump suit, so 3♣ here

The worst of these is the splinter bid 4 . without a heart stop just where does partner go?  The hand is too good for this bid.

2NT is fine and would contiue, 3NT (balalnced 15+), 4♣ (cue bid), 4 (cue bid), 4NT (Blackwood)

The fit jump works well here. However, it does not come up often and we suspect that not many of you play it.

4NT - Blackwood, is fine

Do you bid the grand? No - trumps will beak 4-1 24% of the time. Bidding 6 making 7 at a normal club night will get you an above average score. Bidding 7 making will score all the matchpoints, however, going 1 off will score zero



This week I had the privilege of playing with Dorothy. One thing that I have noticed over the years is that when a pair play with each other for the first time they are, usually, disciplined. They do not overcomplicate the bidding and watch the defence. This dies away as people get used to each other, but, in my opinion, it should not. Partner opened a disciplined weak two after a pass by West and now it is up to East. What do you bid?

The disciplined bid is to pass!

The diamonds are not long enough or strong enough to bid. There is no worry about missing game partner will protect.

Look what happened. If East passes 

With only 6 tables in play, 3 played in 3 and all defenders defeated this by 3. Notice that South did not even have to double to get a good score.

The other 3 pairs played in hearts.

For 2 pairs, 3  should have been too high after the 2 top diamonds and a diamond ruffed with the 10 this leads to 3 heart tricks and 2 diamonds The only real excuse for letting overtricks through was when South played the hand after a multi-opening. After this opening East passed. This leads to a final point. Multi works because players have not got a sensible defence to it. Have you? 

Consider this

The bidding started in a similar way at a lot of tables. We then have two points for your consideration:

  1. What do you bid in reply to the 4th suit forcing bid of 3♣ ?
  2. Have you really analysed what sort results you get when opening hand like this? After all it is essentially a balanced 11 count


Answering a 4th suit forcing bid falls into 2 groups.

Group 1 says without a stop rebid one of your suits.

The larger group says that you have shown 5+ spades and 4+ hearts and so to repeat a suit now would show an extra card.

So, here  group  can do no other than bid 3NT. 

Considering the second question Dave & Jill have found that not opening hands like this give a plus on average. This is simply because partner with no fit and a 12 count will drive to the non-making game

Look what happens here  with just North/South bidding that might go in 2 ways -


South Group 2 North South
Pass Pass
1  1♠  1NT 2 
2  2  2♠    3 
2NT Pass 3♠  Pass

Yes?The second auction get you 17 out of 20. Better than -100?



If its going off do I double?

Lots of comments about the bidding here with East/West at the table in question playing 5 card majors

1♠  - Oh so 1♣ denies a 5 card major. Why?


1NT - again the forcing 1NT leaves declarer knowing very little.

2  - Okay,

3♣ - Okay, a forcing reverse (above the barrier) but showing the wrong shape.

Now the double.

Let us ask South what would you do if the opponents now run to the making 6NT?

6♠ - 2 will get you most of the match points. If you double and they go down you will get a couple more matchpoints. However, if they run to 6NT and it makes you will get no matchpoints.



How do you evaluate your hand?

1. Will partner raise with 3-card support if so what is your bid now?

2. If partner has 4-card support you can use losing trick count (that is play losers). You have a 5-loser hand PLUS two Aces, so that is a 4-loser hand. Partner has a 9-loser hand. 9+4 = 13. 24 - 13 = 11 (nos of triclks) or 18 - 13 = 5 level to which it is safe to bid (that said you DON"T want to above game). Your bid?


1. 2NT showing a balanced hand and extra values 18-19 partner can either place the contract in 3NT or with four card support bid 4

2. Bid 4 


The lead:   6 at all bar one table online. Sadly we don't see leads from F2F.

At all tables, whether playing weak or strong no trump 1NT was the final contract. It is interesting to note that East is a 6 loser hand. A weak notrump is usually 8 losers and so maybe it is too good for a weak notrump.

After a heart lead how many tricks do you make?

After the lead, declarer goes back to basics.


C - count your tricks by power - 

3 spades, 1 heart, 2 diamonds = 6

A - add tricks from other sources

Spades - if 4-3-3-3.         1 trick

Hearts - looks like a second trick - play  8 if allowed to hold - 2nd trick

Diamond finesse - if as my partner did you play  J intending if covered to finesse the  10 next time AND if the suit breaks - 2 tricks.

Clubs - just hope opponents don't find the switch,

Manage the hand - put your plan into action

Is the lead 4th highest?

YES 11-6 = 5 so RHO only has 1 card higher than the 6.

RHO can also do these sums and knows declarer ony has 1 card higher than the 6. If declarer plays low from dummy can RHO afford to hold up?

Play  remember  6 lead:

 8 if  K is played win Ace. Play a heart win with 10 - unless LHO puts up the J. You now have a third trick in hearts.

Play  J if covered win with the Ace. 

Small ♠ to dummy

Diamond return - if 10 played win if small play the 9

Small ♠ 

Win   discarding a club

Diamond to hand and find they break

♠ A and find they break

Claim - 4S, 3H, 4D = 11 tricks

Yes, it was too good to open a weak notrump. Our rule is - 12-14, 8 losers then open 1NT. 7 loser, a 14 count and a source of tricks (probably a five-card minor) upgrade. 6 loser and a 14 count then upgrade. On this hand the bidding would go 1♠  2♣  2NT 3NT all pass. (2♣  is chosen because 2 would show a 5 card suit).





This is an interesting hand that emphasises the phrase, "With support, support," However, we will admit that you might be in trouble if you do not play Jacoby.

Just in case, after an opening bid of 1 of a major from partner and bid of 2NT shows 4+ cards in opener's suit with a game going hand, usually 12+ but this can be shaded with extra shape.

Now the slam was not bid by any pair either at the club or online and we ask the question, "Why not?"

The recommended bidding goes like this -

2NT - Jacoby.  The void Could be worth a mountain but  East should go carefully afterwards.

4♣ - Splinter. We know that some pairs bid splinters at the 3 level which is fine.

4 - West thinks this is the Ace but the void works out well.


6 - here we go.


Keep C. A. L. M.

First we should consider the bidding on this hand. First the 1NT reply. Well what else? South has 7 points and so must bid and a response at the 2 level would show more points than this. 3 is a bit of a stretch but it works out well on the hand. Next is a useful agreement. When North rebids 3 the South hand grows in strength and a good agreement is that a minor suit bid at the 4 level should be forcing. When Dave was South he did not have this agreement and wanted to bid 6 but bid the safe 5.

Okay, now the play. It is a trump contract so keep C. A. L. M. after a spade lead.

Count you quick tricks by power. 2 in diamonds and 4 in clubs. Total  - 6

Add tricks from other sources. We have a slow trick by power in spades after the lead. We have 3 tricks by length is clubs. Finally we have 4 or 5 tricks by ruffing. Plenty

Loser check. We have a loser in spades and a possible loser in diamonds. Too many and we must play trumps for no losers.

Manage the hand. We should win the lead at trick 2. We then look at the trump suit. This is an "8 ever, 9 never hand" and it is just within the odds to play Ace and then King. (We note that if the diamond is wrong 3NT is in danger too). Once we have played the 2 top trumps we can simply play on clubs (honours from the short hand first). 

Play for 12 tricks.


This is an interesting hand in many ways.

This starts with the meaning of 2 . If it is Asptro (spades and another). West will need a mechanism to find the best game. Even if it is natural can you fnd the 4  contract?

The first lesson from this hand is, with the auction shown, what does 3  say? I thought it asked for a stop. Partner thought it showed one!

The infortunate thing is while RealBridge shows you the lead and the way the contract was played we do not get it from the Live part of the club. In the F2F section, three pairs bid 4♠ and were allowed to make it. I suspect that this was afer a club lead. Now 4♠  was easy. Win, draw three rounds of trumps, cross to the  K and draw the last trump and win four spades two hearts & four clubs.

However I have a rule - don't look for a ruff when we have four trumps. Following that rule I play three top diamonds. Whether this is ruffed or not declarer has 4 losers.

4  is lucky in that you are ruffing in the short hand and trumps break 3-3.

The final point with the hand is this. At one table the East/West pair felt aggrieved when South doubled the no trump opening and they were told it showed the majors. West with both majors stopped just bid 3NT and was surprised to see five diamonds being cashed. East/West complained at the end of the session and bythen their opponents had left. As I explained (directors hat now) it is hard to find out the facts after the opponenets had left. The moral is that if you feel that something might have gone wrong call the director at the time. Do not be aggressive say something like "Sorry opponents but I really feel that I need a director" and then call.

Oh and one final thing the collective noun for for directors is a "pint".



Board 8  4/10/2021

An unusual selection for hand of the week - at four tables this hand was passed out. At the others the contract was spades, if West opens the final contract is likely to be too high. At one of the tables in the face2face game after West had passed, East opened 1C and passed the spade rebid.

Well done Simon & Marjie and to

Ann & Tom who were the only pair to sneak 9 tricks.


4♠  by South

Lead:  K

Keep C.A.L.M.

Count your top tricks by power - that is tricks that you have NOW.

Add tricks from other sources. Tricks by power, length and possible tricks by position

Loser check. Count your losers if there are too many reduce your losers before you lose the lead.
Manage - work out which hand you need to be in at a certain time and then which order you are going to take your tricks.

How do you play the hand?

Count your top tricks by power - that is tricks that you have NOW.

6 spade tricks, 1 heart & 1 diamond = 8

Add tricks from other sources. Tricks by power, length and possible tricks by position

Power - a slow trick in clubs and a possible trick by position.

Position - a possible trick by position in hearts

Loser check. Count your losers if there are too many reduce your losers before you lose the lead.

2 diamonds, 1 club, a possible hearts.

Manage - work out which hand you need to be in at a certain time and then which order you are going to take your tricks.

When we are trying to develop our tricks we must try the clubs first. If the heart is wrong we could be 1 off with the club right. Okay we might have to lead clubs twice from the South hand or, if the ♣ A is wrong take the heart finesse and the only quick entry to hand is in trumps. So our first concern is NOT to draw trumps but play a club. The queen wins we draw trumps and play a second club. Either we do not lose a club or our heart loser is discarded on the club honour.

Contract made well done.



This is a hand that I give at week 5 and shows why "when in doubt get 'em out" is a phrase I don't use.

The hand is taken from recommended hands for EBU mini bridge but I have added the bidding here.

This is a trump hand so keep C.A.L.M.


Count your top tricks by power - that is tricks that you have NOW.

Add tricks from other sources. Tricks by power, length and possible tricks by position

Loser check. Count your losers if there are too many reduce your losers before you lose the lead.
Manage - work out which hand you need to be in at a certain time and then which order you are going to take your tricks.

How do you play the hand?

Count your top tricks by power - that is tricks that you have NOW.

3 hearts, 1 diamond & 1 club = 5

Add tricks from other sources. Tricks by power, length and possible tricks by position

Slow tricks by Power - 4 spades and a club ruff in the South hand if we do not draw trumps too early. So that is 10 tricks.

Loser check. Count your losers if there are too many reduce your losers before you lose the lead.

1 in spades. 1 in clubs and two in diamonds. That is one too many!

Manage - work out which hand you need to be in at a certain time and then which order you are going to take your tricks.

After the diamond lead which we win. We must first reduce out losers by playing three rounds of hearts (Ace first). Discarding a diamond on the  Q. The losers are now ok, so we don't mind losing the lead. ♣ A and then play clubs to get the ruff in dummy.

Only now do we draw trumps.

How do you play the hand?


North cannot hold spades and hearts because he would double so it is safe to raise even if it is a 4-3 fit.

This board seemed to cause a lot of problems in the Monday game on 6th September with pairs getting too high and playing in the wrong suit. At tone table declarere was in 4 which made after a diamond lead and careful play (on a club lead this contract is two off). At another table West made a junior style weak two overcall. Partner bid to the level of the fit 4D, not a success. At a third table instead of supporting partner South jumped in clubs again not a success.

We have put in one possible auction but the hand demonstrates the axiom "good things happen to people who raise partner"!



Lead:  9

We get a trump lead and that's a worry. OK so keep CALM:

Count your top tricks by power. Four hearts, a spade and a club. We also have a diamond if we can get at it. Total perhaps 7.

Add tricks from other sources. Two tricks by length in hearts and a slow trick by power in spades.

Loser check. We have two club losers and two spade losers one too many.

Manage. If we could get to dummy it would be easy. Can you guarantee to make this contract?


You can gurantee your contract by leading the ♠ J at trick two. Now you can either ruff a spade or the ♠ Q is an entry.

Place the spades the way you like, it always woeks remembering that if the opponents get the lead a trump will come back stopping the ruff.


2♣  = 10 + points and four plaus clubs;

2NT = 15 - 19 FORCING ie you must bid again;

3  = Three card suit, partner to choose between 3NT & 4 .

Lead: ♠ 4

Count you quick tricks by power - four hearts & two clubs;

Add tricks from other sources - after the spade lead we have a slow trick by power in spades and two in diamons, we might have a trick by length in hearts. We might have a trick by position in clubs but lets keep that in reserve.

Loser check - After spade lead we have one loser in spades, one in diamonds and a possible loser in clubs;

Manage the hand - win the second spade and draw their trumps in three rounds FINISHING ON THE TABLE, then lead a diamond. Regain the lead and play the ♣ J and play low unless it is covered. We ose a spade and a diamond.


This hand was interesting we played in Division 1 of the EBU Lockdown League and shows unexpected actions can cause one side to make an error.

The auction shown was table one and after a club lead all 13 tricks were made. Steve Ray drew trumps and pitched diamonds on the hearts.

In the other room it was a different story the bidding went:

West North East South
Dave Armstrong                          Jill Armstrong                     
P 1♠  P 2NT*
3  4 * 5  x*

We have found it better to pass with sub-minimum hands and bid later,

2NT - Jacoby

4  - splinter

x -    penalties pass would have been forcing

Lead: ♣ A and then a   switch

South won and naively tried to cash the ♠ A

Contract made but notice one off would have been 14 imps but 5 x making is 17 imps to the good guys.

Even better it was the last hand in an 8 board match which until then had been close.



Contract: 2♠ x by South

Made 3 - NS +570

This hand came up in our supervised practice and everyone had trouble with it.

The first question is should East open? Well it obeys the dreaded Rule of 20 and you are 6-5 so perhaps you should come alive.This is how the bidding went at one table. West thought that East had reversed, ie bidding a new suit above the level of the suit opened at the two or three level. The 570 was a disappointment.

So, now consider what happens if East passes? 

East.       South.       West.     North

Pass.        1♠             Pass.      1NT

2♠ *

* Michael's cue bid showing  & a minor. Whilst this will not make at least the score is better than -570

Moral 1 - you can always pass and bid later.

Moral 2 - if the hand is difficult for you it is difficult for others


Lead:  Q

South must bid 2  & not 2  as that would show at least a 5-card suit.

A trump hand so we must keep C.A.L.M.

Count our quick tricks by power three one  & one ♣ TOTAL 5.

Add tricks from other sources in ♠ we have four slow tricks by power, in ♣ we have a possible trick by position or we can ruff a ♣ in the short hand (South) or both.

Loser check one ♠  two   and one ♣ - one trick too many.

Manage the hand first we must look after our losers so play three rounds of hearts and discard a ♦. Now we must look after our ♣ suit play Ace and another club when the King is right we have done our work and we can draw trumps.

Play easy keep calm.

Term 1


Remember that with a balanced hand we open 1NT if we are 12-14. 

If we are 15-19 we open a suit with 4 or 5 cards in it and usually rebid in notrump.

Okay bidding over, we make a plan (you might think that experts don't make a plan but they do. However, usually their experience allows them to plan more quickly than you).

The acronym that Dave & Jill use for notrump hands is C.A.M.P.

C - Count your quick tricks those that you can take now. Three ♠, three  and one ♣ = 7 tricks

A - Add tricks from other sources. we have one slow trick by power in ♥, and maybe a trick by position after the lead. There are possible tricks by length in ♠ and ♦. There is a possible trick by position in ♣ if East holds the K by playing small towards the Q. 

M - Manage the hand. Remember we do not just cash out winners, we do the work first. First, try to work out what the opponents lead means; it looks like a sequence from A, 10 9, and so we play the Q from dummy. Good that worked taking our total tricks to 8. Now we will try for a 3-3 break in   and ♠. When neither work we play ♣ A and a ♣  towards the Q.

P -  Play - or as one of our students said PRAY! At last the club worked for 10 tricks we lose one  one  and one ♣ 

Well done



2NT - 20-22 (announced)

4NT - Quantitative. Telling partner to bid 6 with maximum.

Lead - J 

Ok we see dummy and say 'Thank you partner' and make C.A.M.P.

C - Count your TOP tricks.  We have two ♠ , three  , three  and one ♣  TOTAL 9 top tricks

A - Add tricks from other sources. We have two slow tricks by power in ♣ and a possible trick by position in that suit if the finesse works; if it fails we need to find the ♠ Q. Notice we can finesse spades in either direction. Is it a guess or can we do better?

M - Manage the hand. We need to play ♣ from the table (West) so we win the lead on table. We play the ♠ Q, if it is not covered take the finesse.

This hand is quite complex so will proceed to that point and make one plan if the finesse works and a different one if it fails

P -  Play - When we finesse the club it fails. What now?

Clue: When a second round of diamonds is played you find that South started with six diamonds and North had one.

Manage again  When this finesse fails we cash all our winners and count.

When we cash diamonds note that South started with 6, We now cash the clubs and note that South started with 3.

Okay now hearts and all follow 3 rounds so South started with 3 or 4 hearts. Therefore South has 1 spade at the most. So we play a spade to the king and a spade to East and take the finesse.