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Bude Bridge Club Committee


The Club Committee for 2024/25

 Chairman: Steve Clifton

Vice Chairman: Chris Nichols

Secretary:  Val Ridding

Treasurer:    Tom Salt

Committee Members:,  Mary Hicks, Rosemary Kemble, Tertia Salt, Ian Curtis, 


The Directors' rota for this year:

Tuesdays:  Chris and  Steve 

Mondays: Chris, Alan, Robert and Neil

EBU Royalty 2024
EBU Royalty 2024

The Club has several regular members in the 'Royalty and Honours' of the current EBU National Grading Scheme as of 1st June 2024.

King:  Nick Newell

Jack:  Steve Clifton,  Chris Nichols 

10:  Rob Irish, Robert Waterhouse,  Bob Bennett, David Clarke.




Congratulations to Ian Curtis and Val Ridding, recently promoted by the EBU to the rank of District Master, and to She Kershaw, promoted to Club Master.



All sessions (Mondays and Tuesdays)   £3

Visitors £4

Annual subscription: £5

Contact Us
Contact Us

To contact us, please contact the Club Secretary 

Val Ridding on       07760284097

Mr. Bridge Quiz
Mr. Bridge Quiz

Try the 'Mr. Bridge' quiz!

Updated every Tuesday.

North Cornwall Bridge Clubs
North Cornwall Bridge Clubs

As well as Bude, there is also an EBU affiliated club at Wadebridge.

Their  website is

Bidding and Play Archive
March Problem of the Month

East opens a weak 2 Hearts but this doesn't stop North/South reaching the 4 Spade game.

West leads the 8 of Hearts to East's Ace, the Queen is returned and South puts up the King.

What does West play?

You need to make 4 tricks to defeat the contract.

You have made the first trick, and now you can ruff the Heart.

Partner's Jack of Hearts will be a third trick, but how  do you get to it?

The only hope is that they have the Queen and another Spade.

If you trump with your LOW Spade, South will win the continuation and lead a Spade towards dummy.

You will have to win the King, as declarer is going to let you win this one!

You cannot now get your partner onto lead.

The only way is to ruff (trump) with the KING of Spades on the first round.

Your partner is now always going to get in with their doubleton Queen and get the contract one off.

April Problem of the Month

You are in 6 Spades.

On the lead of the 3 of Hearts, how many finesses do you need to take to make your contract?

After South's One Spade, North's 2 NT is Jacoby, agreeing Spades and forcing to game.

South's 3 Diamonds is a cue-bid, showing first round control in Diamonds and denying the Ace of Clubs.

4 No Trumps is RKCB (Roman Key Card Blackwood), 5 Hearts showing 2 Key Cards without the Queen of Trumps.

The answer to the question 'How many finesses should you take?' is - none!

If you take any finesse, you will go off..

You take trick one with the Ace of Hearts, You lead the Queen of Spades and overtake with the Ace.

At trick 3, lead a Diamond to the King.

You now eliminate the red suits, ruffing a heart, cashing the Ace of Diamonds, ruffing a Diamond, ruffing the Queen of Hearst and ruffing a fourth Diamond.

At trick 9, you exit with another Spade.

West must either give you a 'ruff and discard', or lead a Club to your King - Jack. 

Thanks to Andrew Robson for this puzzle.

Double Dummy Problem of the Month

You can see all four hands.

How does South make 5 Clubs after West leads the Ace of Diamonds?

Ruff the diamond with the Ace of Clubs; over to  dummy using  the 6 of Clubs and ruff a diamond with the King of Clubs. Continue with the 7 of clubs to dummy , ruff a third  diamond with the Club Queen and play the AK10 of hearts ruffing with dummy's last trump and ruff a fourth diamond with the Club Jack, leaving your hand with the 2 of Clubs and three small spades. 

Dummy has Kxx of spades and a high diamond and East has the 3 of Clubs and the AQ10 of spades. Can you see it coming?  Toss  East in with the three of clubs, discarding a spade from dummy. East has to play the ace and a spade and dummy takes the last two tricks with the King of Spades and a small diamond. 

July Problem of the Month

You are in 7 Spades and the lead is the Queen of Hearts.

You have x-ray eyes....Plan your play.....

Key play here is to discard a CLUB from dummy at trick one.

Cash your other top Heart, discarding another Club.

Now lead the Jack of Spades and overtake with the Queen, and ruff a low Diamond with ten of Spades.

Next, lead the 4 of Spades and win with the 6 (West can insert their 9 whenever and you win with the Ace).

Ruff the Diamond 10 with the King of Spades and lead the 7 of Spades to the 8.

You are now ready for the Grand Unblock....Play the Ace of Spades (or whatever Spade is left - it will be higher than West's remaining trump) and the Diamond Ace, discarding the Ace and King of Clubs from hand.

Dummy's Q, J, 10 and 9 of Clubs take the remaining tricks.

August Improvers Play of the Month

When playing Teams, it is esssential that you make the contract, Don't worry about overtricks.

The contract is 3NT and West leads the 6 of Hearts, East playing the 5.

Plan the play to GUARANTEE 9 tricks against any distribution and defence. Try not to look at all 4 hands first.

HINT: What you play on the first trick is really important.

A quick count of your top tricks shows only 8 straight winners (two Spades, two Hearts, one Diamond and three Clubs).

You also note that Clubs are BLOCKED, and dummy has only one entry outside Clubs.

You COULD hope that the Jack of Clubs falls in two or three rounds and fall back on the Diamond finesse if the Clubs are 4-1, but there is a way to GUARANTEE 9 tricks.

Dummy's 8,9 and 10 of Clubs are very powerful, so you should plan to cash the Ace of Clubs, then OVERTAKE the Queen of Clubs with the King.

Now you use the 10 (and 9 if necessary) of Clubs to force out the Jack. This will ensure 4 Club tricks.

What did you play on the first trick?

You neede to have won it in hand with the Ace of Hearts, otherwise you cannot get back to dummy later with the King. You are then sure of your 4 Club tricks.

September Defence Problem of the Month

West leads the Queen of Diamonds and you (East) can see this layout.

Declarer wins with the Ace and then leads 10 of Clubs. Partner plays the 5.  How do you defend?

 You allow the 10 to hold the trick. Dummy has no entry outside the club suit. Don’t play your Ace until declarer plays his last club or he will make four club tricks. But

how do you know when he plays his last club? You know because partner tells you how many he has with a count signal.


When the10 holds, declarer play the 6 of Clubs towards dummy’s jack. Do you win this trick? Did declarer start with two or three clubs? Pay attention to partner’s signal. Did partner play the 5 first? This is lowest outstanding club (you can see the 2, 3 and 4) so partner has an odd number of clubs which must be three. So declarer has only two and you must win the second club trick.

If, in error, you duck the second club, declarer plays three rounds of hearts and will make nine tricks (two spades, three hearts, two diamonds and two clubs).

If partner had played the 7 of Clubs, followed by the 5, partner has an even number (two) of clubs. Declarer has three and you must duck a second time.

October Bidding Problem of the Month

This was a recent hand that was tricky to bid. How do you continue after partner has replied 2 Clubs to your one Heart opener?

A perfect hand for cue-biding!

East bids 3 Clubs, setting the trump suit.

West bids 3 Spades (Ace of Spades), East 4 Diamonds (first round control), West 4 Spades (King of Spades), East 4 No Trumps (Roman Key Card Blackwood).

West bids 5 Spades (2 of the 5 Aces plus the Queen of Clubs).

East can now safely bid 7 Clubs, knowing that their Hearts will provide all the discards needed.

In the play, a Diamond is led. East ruffs, draws trumps in 3 rounds, takes 6 rounds of Hearts, discarding all West's Diamonds and Spade losers, and leaving West's Spades and Clubs to mop up the rest of the tricks.

Grand Slam bid and made.

November Spooky Problem of the Month
November Spooky Problem of the Month

East overtakes West's Queen of Hearts opening lead and promptly switches at trick two to the two of Diamonds, a clear singleton.

Plan the play

Say you win the King of Diamonds and lead the Queen of Spades. When West plays low, you, wisely, rise with the Ace and lead a second Spade.

No good, though.- East wins with the King, underleads his Hearts to West's Queen and receives a Diamond ruff. One down.

The key is to cut the defensive communication in Hearts so that West never wins to give East the Diamond ruff.

Win East's diamond switch in dummy and lead a club to the Jack - you expect East to hold the King from his opening bid.

The Club finesse successful, cash the Ace of Clubs.

You now cross to the Ace of Spades (perhaps cleverly leading the Queen to tempt West to put on the King, if he has it) and lead the Queen of Clubs.

East covers with the King, but you DO NOT RUFF IT - rather discarding your second Heart.

You have swapped a second Heart loser for a Club loser and, by doing so, have prevented East from reaching his partner.

You can ruff, say, his low Heart return, and peacefully force out his King of Spades.You'll soon be able to to draw his last spade and run the Diamond winners.

Ten tricks and game made.

Thanks to Andrew Robson for this hand.



A Christmas Cracker Puzzle of the Month
A Christmas Cracker Puzzle of the Month

A real Christmas Cracker! Don't peek at the answer until Christmas Day...

Spades are trumps and South is on lead.

Your goal is to win 6 of the last 7 tricks. A breeze if North is on lead....

If North was on lead, this would just be a matter of drawing trumps; but South cannot do this.

If South leads winners, East and West will each win a trump trick.

There is only one solution - South must lose a trick to the singleton K .

Cash the Ace ♣ , throwing the Q from dummy. 

Now lead the J .

West must give North the lead, and South discards his top Diamonds on North's aces, leaving those tiny Diamonds as winners.

Whitfield Six - a puzzle for the New Year

'The Whitfield Six' is considered by many (Encyclopaedia Britannica) to be the finest Double Dummy problem ever.

This most famous of all double-dummy problems was proposed by W.H. Whitfeld, a mathematician at the University of Cambridge, in 1885 and is called the Whitfeld six because each hand has six cards. Whist players of the day could make nothing of it, and, despite the advancement in the science of card playing, it would cause trouble even to most experienced bridge players.

South is declarer and has the lead with hearts as trump.

With a sophisticated finesse, South can win every trick.

South begins by leading the ace of diamonds, which, depending on what the opponents discard, opens a possible finesse of North's jack of diamonds.

Next, South passes the lead to North with a spade that North trumps.

North then leads the last heart, and South discards the 10 of clubs.

With the lead of the last trump and then the ace of clubs, the defenders are presented with an insurmountable dilemma.

East must hold two diamonds or South takes the last two tricks in the suit by discarding a spade.

However, in order to hold on to two diamonds, East must discard the jack of spades, which in turn would force West to hold the queen of spades.

Since West also needs the queen of diamonds and the jack of clubs to avoid losing a trick, a discard from any of the three suits will allow South to win all of the remaining tricks by an appropriate discard.

February Problem of the Month

This looks an easy problem.

South is in 3 NT after a straightforward auction.

In Teams, ensuring the contract is made is the first priority.

10 tricks seem easily made.

On a Spade lead, can you envisage a layout that may give you a problem?

How do you maintain communication between the hands?

Now look at all 4 hands.

There is a small communication problem.

A spade is led to the Jack and your King.

You can't afford to cash the Ace of Spades before testing the clubs because the Spades may be divided 6-3.

But if you run into a 4-1 Club split, you will be cut off from your second Spade trick.

The cards may even be distributed so that they take 5 tricks before you can cash your winners.

The way to cater for a 4-1 club break is to DUCK the first round. Play a LOW club from each hand at trick 2.

If both opponents follow suit, the contract is safe.You can win amy return, cros to hand with the Ace of Clubs, cash the Spade Ace before crossing back to dummy to enjoy the club winners.

Alice in Wonderland March Hare Puzzle of the Month
Alice in Wonderland March Hare Puzzle of the Month

South is Declarer in 6 Hearts.

What is the only lead to defeat the contract?

After any routine lead, declarer has 9 top tricks and can easily ruff 3 Clubs in dummy to make 12 tricks.

If West leads a low heart, it limits dummy to just 2 ruffs, but, alas, this costs West his trump trick so there is no gain.

To defeat the contract, West must send the Queen of Hearts to the gallows -'Off with her head!'

If declarer now proceeds to ruff 2 clubs, it will restore West's 8 of Hearts into a natural trick.

There is no way for declarer to succeed.

April Puzzle from the Cruise
April Puzzle from the Cruise

This puzzle has been sent from the Queen Victoria cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean.

Contract 7 No Trumps, lead the 4 of Hearts.

Can you make all 13 tricks?

Plenty of winners, but difficult to work out the communication between the hands.

Win the Heart lead with the Ace.

Play Queen and Jack of Hearts and discard the Ace and King of Diamonds.

Play Queen, Jack and Ten of Diamonds. Discard Ace, King and Queen of Clubs.

Your remining 7 Clubs are now winners. 

The 'strong' hand, with 26 High Card Points, wins no tricks at all!

Thanks, cruisers, for this challenge.

Bidding Problem of the Month

.What do you open as North?

Now look at all 4 hands.

If North opens 1 Spade, how would you bid the East and West hands? Remember that West has already passed on the first round.

The North hand is too strong for a pre-emptive 3 Spades.

The choice is between 1 Spade or 4 Spades.

On the night, all 3 bids were made (1, 3 and 4 spades).

4 Spades goes 2 off for - 100.

The 3 Spade opener was left and went one off for - 50.

At one table, North opened 1 Spade, East doubled and West bid 2 Diamonds. North bid 2 Spades and this was left for 8 tricks and + 110.

The most productive bidding East/West was 1 Spade by North, Double by East, South pass and then 3 Hearts by West. East raised to 4 Hearts and 12 tricks rolled in, + 480.

Play Problem of the Month

A double-dummy problem.

You can see all 4 hands. How does South make 12 tricks after the lead of the King of Clubs? 
Win the Ace of Clubs.
Cash A,K,Q and J of Spades, discarding A,K,Q and J of Hearts!
Play a Diamond to the Queen  and cash the Ace.
Now lead the 2 of Hearts.
If East takes the 10, he has to give the lead back to South and all his cards are winners.
If he ducks, South wins with the 9 of Hearts, cashes all his Diamonds and just loses a Heart at the end.
12 tricks and contract made.....
Bidding and Play Problem of the Month

This was Hand 19 on January 21st.

Seeing both hands, how do you bid the North/South hands to find the optimum comtract?

Assuming South is declarer, how do you plan the play following the lead of the 3 of Hearts (and a Heart continuation should E/W get back in)?

North is excited!

Perhaps this is where a delayed game raise of 1 Heart is appropriate.

South then bids 2 NT, North 4NT, South 5 Hearts and then North either 6D or 6NT (optimum).

On the night, contracts ranged from 5D (+1), to 7D (-2), from 3NT (+3) to 7NT** (making by South on a Spade lead and a squeeze - well done, Steven and Charles! Now make it on a Diamond or Heart lead!)

Bidding and Play Problem of the Month

Several of the Club members played in the recent Cornwall Congress held in Falmouth.

This was Hand 30 in the Teams event. What do you lead?

Now look at all 4 hands. Can you decide how the contract can possibly be made?

So what did you lead? A Spade or a Heart? 2 down and - 300. JD? One down - 100.

On the day, North led a low Club (!) to the Ace, expecting a Spade return.

Instead, South returned another Club......

West discarded their singleton Spade, a low Club from North and the 8 won the trick in dummy.

Then a Diamond finessed to the Queen, Ace and another. North pondered, then discarded a Spade. Ruff in dummy.

A low Heart to the Ace, small Heart back, taken by the King and dropping the Jack.

Now a Spade is ruffed, the last trump drawn and the 3 remaining Diamonds are good.

11 tricks and + 650.....

..... and, yes, this was the play at one table! The Bude E/W pair were elated!!

Bidding and Play Problem of the Month

Here is Hand 27 from the pairs event on April 26th.

How do you bid the North and East hands after South opens 1NT?

South opens 1NT and West passes. North bids Stayman in the hope of finding a Heart fit. East now has to decide at what level to bid the Diamonds. If they bid 2 Diamonds, South can bid 2 Hearts and they find their fit.

If East bids 3 Diamonds, South may still decide to bid their Hearts.

What if East bids 4 or 5 Diamonds? They only lose 4 tricks.

Only one North/South managed to find and make 6 Hearts, with another pair making 6 Clubs and 2 others going down in 6 - playing the King of Clubs first and losing a Club and a Spade.


This was Hand 16 on May 24th.

What do you bid as North after West opens One Club?

At most tables, the contract was either 5 Clubs by West (making 10, 11 or 12 tricks) or 4 Hearts by North (making 11 or 12 tricks).

At one table, the bidding went West: I Club, North: 4 Hearts, East: 5 Clubs, South: 5 Hearts (!), West: 6 Clubs, North: 6 Hearts, East: Double.

On the Club Ace lead, 12 tricks were made.


Now we go on to Hand 20 from May 24th.

What do you bid as East after West opens 1 Diamond and North overcalls 1 Spade?

At most tables, East bid either 3 Clubs or 3 Diamonds.

South then bid 4 Spades and the final contract was either 5 Diamonds by West or something horrible in Spades, doubled, by North, making 8 tricks.

The only successful slam bid was after the sequence: West: 1 Diamond, North, 1 Spade: East: 2 Spades (Splinter bid, support for Diamonds and shortage in Spades), South: Double, West: 3 Hearts, East : 4 Clubs, West: 4 No Trumps (Roman Key Card Blackwood), East: 5 Spades (2 of the 5 'Aces' plus the Queen of trumps), West: 6 Diamonds. 12 tricks made.

How can you find the Heart slam instead?

Bidding Problem of the Month

This was Hand 18 on July 15th.

East opens 1 No Trump.

South passes.

What do you bid as West?

2NT seems to be a good contract if East has Hearts covered.

Stayman (2 Clubs) will reveal  that East doesn't have 4 Hearts.

Therefore bid a weak 3 Clubs.

With everything offside, this will not be a pretty result, but, on a Heart lead, you may just get away with 2 Spade losers, a Club and a Diamond to make your contract.

3 Hearts (or even 4 if you guess correctly) make North/South, but how do you find it?

On the night, 3 NT by East went 4 off, 3 Clubs by West only made 8 tricks, and 4 Hearts doubled by South went one off.

Play Problem of the Month

This was Hand 26 on Tuesday, July 19th.

A very dubious bidding sequence led to a contract of 6NT by North with only 28 High Card points between the hands.

Can you see the only way to make the contract after East leads the 3 of Diamonds?

There are 2 tricks in Spades, 5 in Hearts and 2 in Diamonds.

You need to conjure up 3 tricks in Clubs.

You are going to have to be very careful.

If you win with the Diamond Ace in hand you could play 5 rounds of Hearts. You are watching for a Club discard. It is unlikely from 3 to the Queen, but may be if it's 3 to the Ace.

No luck - West discards a Spade, East discards a Spade and 2 Diamonds.

Now cross to dummy with the Spade Ace and lead a small club towards the King.

If West plays low, win with the King.

Now you have no entry to dummy to repeat the manoever, except the Diamond King. When the next Club loses to the Ace, you'll have a Diamond loser as well.

You have to try the Clubs whilst you still have the King of Hearts as an entry.

Cross to the King of Hearts and lead a Club.If West plays low, go up with the King.

Now retrurn to the dummy with the Ace of Spades. Lead another low Club.

If West plays low again, you are sunk!

The only way to make the contract is for the clubs to be 3 - 2, with East holding the Queen doubleton and West holding the Ace. Then, if West rises with the Ace on the first or second rounds, the Queen will fall under your King (or West's Ace) and you can enjoy the long Club. You must hope that West feels they need to take their Ace of Clubs early.

One North/South pair did find the winning play.


This was Hand 13 on Tuesday, September 13th.

What does West bid now after North has passed, East has opened 1 Diamond, South Pass, West 1 Spade, North Pass, East 2 Clubs and South passes?

Your bid now will determine the final contract........

This hand was played 9 times on the evening.

At 2 tables, West bid 2 Spades and this was passed out, making 9 or 10 tricks.

At 1 table, West bid 4 Spades, making 11 tricks.

At 2 tables, West raised to 3 Clubs and this was passed out, making 12 or 13 tricks.

At 2 tables, West raised to 4 Clubs, East  bid 5 Clubs  and 13 tricks were made.

Only 2 pairs managed to bid a slam, one Small and one Grand.

The Grand slam was bid when West made a splinter bid of 3 Diamonds, showing game or slam-going support for Clubs and a void or singleton Diamond.

East bid 3 Hearts (cue bid of the Ace of Hearts), West bid 3 Spades (Ace of Spades) and East bid 4 No Trumps - Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB).

West now bid 5 Clubs to show their 3 'Aces' - the King of Trumps counts as an Ace in RKCB.

East raised to 6 Clubs, and West bid 7 Clubs in the knowledge that their 2 Hearts would go away on the 2 red Aces.

Bidding Problem of the Month

Here is Hand 28 from Tuesday, October 18th.

What do you bid as East after partner has openened 1 Club?

With North/South silent, what do you now bid after partner bids 1 No trump?

I wonder how many Easts bid 1 Heart and then pondered when partner bid 1 NT?

Now a bid of 2 Spades leaves West in a quandry.

How about passing, knowing West has Clubs covered and you have a decent Diamond doubleton?

The only pair to find the major game bid 2 Spades and West bid a very speculative 4 Hearts, making 11 tricks. Well done, Peggy and Noreen!

All the other pairs were  in 2 Hearts (10 or 11 tricks), 2 Spades (10 tricks) or 1 or 2 No Trumps (7 or 8 tricks). One pair played in 3 No Trumps, going one off.  

My preference would be for East to bid 1 Spade initially, expecting to bid 2 Hearts over a 2 Club or 2 Diamond bid.

Over 1 No Trump, knowing West has 15 or 16 points, East bids 3 (or 4) Hearts, letting West decide which major game they wish to play.

Now what about a pair who open 1 No Trump, playing a 12-15 NT?

This is pure heaven! Bid 2 Hearts, transferring to Spades. Then, after partner bids 2 Spades, bid 3 Hearts.

With a minimum hand, West can either Pass or bid 3 Spades.

With a maximum hand, they bid 4 Hearts or 4 Spades. In this case, 4 Hearts successfully brings in the contract.

Bidding Problem of the Month

This was Hand 15 on December 13th.

What do you bid as East when partner has opened 1 No Trump (12 - 14) and North has bid 2 Clubs -  a weak take-out?

This was a real problem for East. It depends what system is in the partnership agreement. With 13 HCP, it looks like 3NT is a safe bid, but what if North has 6 tricks off the top in Clubs?

The solution may well be to Double, South will Pass and West may now also Pass, but obviously better to bid 2 No Trumps which East will raise to 3. North may  be left in the Doubled Club contract, making only 5 tricks for - 500.

However, if they can make the extra trick and only lose -300, this may well be a good result, as East/West can make 3 No Trumps for + 400.

Of course, the problem comes if West takes the double to be Stayman. They may be tempted to bid 3 Hearts and East may then bid the game.

What if East bids 2 Diamonds instead of Doubling? Does West take this as a weak bid and Pass?

Or do they take it as a transfer to Hearts and again bid to the poor game?

On the night, nobody was left in Clubs. 3NT by West made either 8 or 9 tricks; 4 Hearts by West made 8 tricks (after East had bid 2 Diamonds over 2 Clubs and West took it as a transfer to Hearts); 2 Diamonds by East made 10 tricks and 2 Spades by South made 7 tricks (when they took the 2 Clubs bid as some sort of Stayman....).

Bidding and Play Problem of the Month

This was Hand 19 from the Wadebridge heat of the National Pairs on February 12th.

What do you bid with the East hand after you have opened 2 Clubs (after 3 Passes), South has come in with 3 Clubs and your partner has bid 3 Diamonds?

In the National Pairs heat, which included many top pairs from Cornwall, nobody managed to find even the small slam.

After 3 Diamonds, 4 No Trumps will ask for Aces. If you use Roman Key Card Blackwood, this will also ask for the Queen of trumps if you have 2 of the 5 'Aces' (which includes the King of trumps).

West will now bid 5 Hearts (2 Aces but not the Queen of Diamonds) and East will probably stop at 6 Diamonds.

The Grand Slam is makeable, but you'll have to successfully finesse the Queen of Diamonds.

Bidding and Play Problem of the Month

This was the tricky Hand 25 from the recent Club Championship final.

What do you open as North, and what should be the final contract?

If you Pass, so will East and South and West will bid One Diamond. Then what do you bid?

If you decide instead to open the bidding, East will Pass, South will either Pass or show a negative response and West will Double. What do you now bid?

Looking at all 4 hands, how do you make your contract?

Both pairs were playing a Multi 2-Diamond, so North opened 2 Diamonds, showing his weak 6-card major (5-9 points, or it could have been a strong minor or 19 - 20 No trump hand).

East passed and South bid a negative 2 Hearts.

West has a powerhouse, and Doubled.

North now bid 2 Spades to show his hand.

East bid his 4-card major, 3 Hearts, South passed, West passed and North, realising that partner may well be void in Hearts and therefore with ruffing possibilities, jumped to 4 Spades, duly doubled by West.

How does North make 10 tricks?

East leads a small Heart to the Ace.

West plays the Ace of Diamonds, trumped by North.

Now North leads the 9 of Hearts, a ruffing finesse against the King. East plays low, South discards a Club.

Now North leads the 10 of Hearts, this time covered by the King, ruffed by South, West following both times.

(If East covers the 9 of Hearts with the King, ruff with the 6 of Spades, cash the Spade King, return to hand with a Diamond ruff, draw trumps and run the Hearts; if East doesn't cover the 9 or the 10, play the 4th Heart, ruff with the King of Spades, then play the Spade 6  back to hand, finessing against West for the Jack)

The King of Spades is cashed, a diamond ruffed, trumps drawn and the Hearts are run. Just 2 Clubs to lose at the end, 4 Spades doubled made and the Club Championship won!

Bidding and Play Hand of the Month

This was Hand 12 from Tuesday, April 24th.

What do you open on the West hand?

Now look at all 4 Hands. How could the bidding progress?

What a decision! West's hand obeys the Rule of 19, so they can choose from 1 Club, I Heart, a weak 2 Hearts or just Pass.

On the night, only one pair bid the excellent Grand Slam in Hearts.

West opened 1 Heart, North bid 2 Diamonds and East now bid 3 Diamonds, a splinter bid showing support for Hearts and a shortage in Diamonds. South passed and West bid 4 Hearts, showing the Ace of Hearts and a weak hand.

North passed, East bid 4 NT (Roman Key Card Blackwood) and South bid 5 Diamonds.

West Doubled to show their one Ace, North passed and East now bid 7 Hearts.

A club lead is won in dummy, Hearts drawn in 2 rounds ending in dummy, A and K of spades, a third spade ruffed, felling the remaining spades, then a Diamond ruff and the Spades are run, discarding the Clubs, leaving just trumps. Grand Slam made!

Sadly, West mistakenly thought they were only in the small slam and played 'safe', allowing a Club winner through, so going one off.

The only small slam bid and made was on the sequence West Pass, North 3 Diamonds, East 4 Spaes, South 5 Diamonds and West 5 Hearts! East raised to 6 Hearts. 5 Diamonds doubled goes 2 off.

Bidding Problem of the Month

Several members of the club played for Cornwall against Hereford in May.

This was Hand 34. What do you bid as West after your partner has opened 1 No trump (12-14 HCP)?

With 20 High Card Points (HCP), West knows that there are a minimum of 32 combined points, and they have all 4 Aces.

At several tables, West made an Acol quantitative bid of 4 No Trumps, inviting a raise to 6 if East is maximum. With 13 HCP and no Ace, most Easts passed.

With such a powerful hand and a 5-card suit, successful Wests bid a direct 6 No Trump.

Of course 7 No Trumps makes, but it a foolish pair who risk everything at teams!

Bidding and Play Hand of the Month

This was Hand 8 on July 24th.

How do you bid the North/South hands?

Now look at all 4 hands to work out double-dummy how to make your contract....

Would you have found this bidding sequence? The 4 NT was Roman Key Card Blackwood and the 5 Heart response showed 2 of the 5 'Aces' (the King of Trumps counts as an Ace) and no Queen of trumps.

I wonder how many will end up in 4 Hearts?

Those that use splinters may bid 1 Diamond, 1 Heart, 3 Spades, 4 NT, 5 Hearts, 6 Hearts.

Even as the cards lie, only 12 tricks are possible without the defence making an error. You're going to need 2 Spade ruffs in dummy and hope that you can set up a long Spade winner in hand.

The Queen of Clubs is led to the Ace. How to make 12 tricks, let alone 13?

A Heart to the Ace. Then the King, hoping for a 2 - 2 split. That doesn't work, so now to try the Diamonds.

 Ace of Diamonds, King of Diamonds (takes out the Queen), Jack of Diamonds. What does East discard?

If they save their Clubs, hoping to cash them at the end, this is fatal! A Spade discard gives South 13 tricks.

South discards a Spade, then plays a Spade to his Ace, ruffs a Spade, ruffs a Club, then ruffs another Spade, dropping the King and Queen of Spades.

Now a Diamond ruff and  South  plays the Queen of Trumps with the last Spade good.

All 13 tricks made... but only if East has the Queen of Diamonds doubleton - and makes the wrong discard!

HOWEVER... what if East hadn't overcalled Clubs and West chooses a different lead? Consider a Heart at Trick One.....

Declarer takes with the Ace, plays Ace of Spades and ruffs a Spade.

Ace, King of Diamonds fells the Queen. Jack of Diamonds (discard a Spade), ruff a Diamond, ruff a Spade, return dummy's last Heart to the King. Now the Heart Queen clears trumps (throw a Club from dummy), a Club to the Ace, the final estabished Diamond enables you to throw your final Spade and you ruff the last Club for 13 tricks.

On the night, one pair bid and made 6 Hearts, 5 pairs bid 4 Hearts, 2 making all 13 tricks, one pair bid 2 Hearts plus 4 and the unlucky pair who bid the Grand Slam went off.

Play Problem of the Month

This was Hand 7 on December 4th.

After a very competitive auction, how does North make the small slam after the lead of the King of Clubs? They will need some help from the opposition!

The biding was fierce! East has shown Spades, South has splintered and shown a Spade shortage, North has shown the Ace of Clubs, East has shown minimum 6 Spades, South has the Ace of Diamonds and then the Roman Key Card Blackwood is disrupted by East's pre-empive Spade bid.

If 4 Spades is Doubled, it goes off 2 for -500.

4 Hearts would have made easily for +650, so how to make 6?

The King of Clubs is led and won with the Ace.

The Queen of Diamonds now unblocks the suit.

King, Jack of Hearts reveals the 4 - 1 break.

A third Heart to the Queen is played.

The Diamonds are run. Ace, King, Jack, with North and East discarding Spades.

Now two more Diamonds. West is in a dilemma. Should they trump or not?

West discards a club and a Spade. Now the Queen of Spades is trumped, a club given up and the Ace of Hearts wins the last trick.

On the night, the pair in the slam made 12 tricks and all others made 11.... except one pair who made all 13 tricks! Can yo see how they made them on a Heart lead? Please let me know how!

Bidding Problem of the Month
This is a hand from the Cornwall Congress played at Falmouth earlier this month.
What do you bid as South after East has opened with a Benji (weak) 2 Spades?
If you Double, what do you then bid if your partner bids:
a) 3 Hearts
b) 4 Hearts?
Now look at all 4 hands and decide how you should bid.
Bidding Problem of the Month
Your partner (North) opens 1 Spade and East passes.
What will you respond?
This was a hand from a recent Teams event.
It is vital that you don't miss bidding a game, but slam bonuses are very profitable.
At several tables, South bid a straight 4 spades.
However, there is plenty of bidding space to show you singleton Heart and Ace of Diamonds which may just fit with North's hand.
One pair played single-jump splinters, showing game-force and a singleton or void in the bid suit.
After 1 Spade, Pass, South bid 3 Hearts (Doubled by West), North bid 4 Clubs (Ace of Clubs but not the Ace of Spades) and South 4 Diamonds (Ace of Diamonds) (Doubled by East).
North now bid 4 No Trumps - Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB) and received the encouraging response of 5 Clubs - 0 or 3 of the 5 'Key Cards' (4 Aces and King of Trumps).
As they had already shown the Ace of Diamonds, this must mean the Ace and King of Spades as well and North could then happily bid the Grand Slam, knowing that, should the Queen of Hearts be missing, it would likely be with West. A more timid North may just bid the small slam...
Bidding Problem of the Month
This was Hand 16 of the EBU Spring Simultaneous Pairs.
How did East/West bid the lay-down Grand Slam in Hearts? North/South competed in steps to 4 Spades.
A very competitive auction led to North/South competing to 4 Spades.
How can West show the invaluable Spade void?
What could this mean except first round control in Spades? 
East now bid 4NT (Roman Key Card Blackwood) and received the expected response of 5 Diamonds (one Ace).
Recognising that West held the Ace of Diamonds and a Spade void, it was simple to bid the Grand Slam.
Note: East is thinking, 'If West had held the Ace of Spades and was at most Queen high in Diamonds, would they have opened? North probably has 6 Spades and some HCPs to make a simple overcall leaving South to have hardly any HCPs but a shapely hand to bid up to 4 Spades.'
On the play, everything dropped. A spade was led and ruffed in dummy.  It was easy to draw trumps in 2 rounds, play off the top 5 winners and be left with a surfeit of tricks. 
Bidding Problem of the Month
This was Hand 10 on May 28th.
How would you bid with the North/South hands?
Playing Acol, North must make a forcing opening bid - probably a forcing strong 2 Spades.
 South bids 3 Hearts, showing length and/or first round control. 
North bids 4 Clubs, South converts to 4 Spades, North bids 4 NT (RKCB), South 5 Hearts (2 of the Key Cards) and North bids 6 Spades.
The best result on the greatest mix-up was a pair playing Benjamised Acol. They opened 2 Diamonds (the strongest bid) and received the reply 2 Spades (showing either an Ace or 2 Kings - should have been 2 No Trumps...!).
North then bid 4 No Trump (Roman Key Card Blackwood) which was responded to with 5 Clubs (0 or 3 of the 5 'Aces' - an impossible bid).
North had to try to resolve the bidding mistake and took a punt at 6 No Trumps.
Why East/West did not play off their 6 Diamond winners is a mystery.... Heart led, 12 tricks made.
6 Spades bid and made at 4 tables, 4 Spades + 2 at 3 more ....
 and one pair bid One Club, One Heart, One Spade, Pass - 1 Spade + 6 (!), the only pair to make all 13 tricks for a bottom!
Improver Play Problem of the Month
Here is Hand 8 from August 23rd.
How does declarer make 11 tricks on the lead of the Ace of Clubs?
The first rule: Stop, think and plan the play.
Where are your 10 tricks coming from? 
It is often sensible to draw trumps first. Should you do this here?
If so, you make 5 or 6 Heart tricks, 2 Spades and a Diamond. No good.
You need to make the most of the shortages in your Diamonds and Clubs to cross-ruff - trump in both hands.
Ruff (trump) the opening lead in your hand with the 4 of Hearts and play Ace and another Diamond.
Ruff this with the 8 of Hearts.
You may decide now to take the Ace and King of Spades.
Continue to cross-ruff - trump the clubs in your hand and then the diamonds in dummy.
You will have made 11 tricks - 8 Hearts on the cross-ruff, 2 Spades and the Ace of Diamonds.
The defence will still have their trumps and they can take the last 2 tricks.
The defence can keep the contract to 10 tricks by leading a Heart at trick 1.
Bidding Problem of the Month
This is a hand from a Wednesday afternoon 'improvers' session on October 16th.
This is the bidding at one table. How would you bid?
Playing Standard English Acol, after 1 Club from West, East needs to jump bid to show strength. This is the Acol Jump Shift and shows at least 16 HCP (High Card Points), a minimum of a strong 5 card suit, force to game and possible slam.
Therefore, bid 2 Diamonds, the longest and strongest.
After 2 Spades and 3 Hearts (assuming not 4th suit forcing), 3NT would show a relatively low HCP count and no fit and so would be left.
Can you make more than 8 tricks double-dummy after the lead of a low Diamond by North? Remember that West is now playing the contract. 
Play Problem of the Month
This is a hand from a recent Western Counties league match.After a very competitive auction, North found themselves in 6 Diamonds with both the Ace and King of trumps missing.
After a Spade lead, how would you play the hand to give yourself a possible chance of making 12 tricks?

In fact, North/South have found a good sacrifice in 6 Diamonds, even if it goes one off, as the only way to defeat 5 Hearts is to find the play of the Ace of Spades, then the Queen of Clubs, overtaken by South with the King and then cashing the Ace  (or similar) - not easy to find.
However, there is one possible chance of making the contract....
Win the opening Spade in hand and lead a small Diamond towards dummy.
What does East do? They have King and another, so should they duck, in the hope that their partner has the Ace or Queen, or rise with the King?
On the day, East played the King and West won the trick with the Ace...
They didn't then take the time to think why their partner had led a Spade when their suit was Hearts.
If they had returned the Spade, this would have been ruffed for the setting trick.
Instead, they led the Ace of Hearts...
...the rest is history! A 19-imp swing to the good guys....
Bidding Problem of the Month

After East opens One Heart, what do you bid with this hand?....and how does the bidding develop when West bids 3 Hearts?

Many pairs use an Unusual overcall system to show 2 (minimum) 5-card suits.
Often, 2 No Trumps over a major opener shows a minimum of 5 cards in each minor, and a decent hand.
Over 1 Heart, South bids 2 No Trumps.
West now bids 3 Hearts and North does not have an obvious bid, so passes.
East also passes and South bids 4 Diamonds (best, showing at least 6).
West Doubles, East bids 4 Hearts, South 5 Clubs, Doubled, North 5 Diamonds , Doubled.
Looking at all hands, can you plan the play to make 12 tricks?
I wonder how many pairs would be able to find the Ace of Spades with North and bid the small slam.
Bidding Problem of the Month

This is a hand from a recent Teams event in which several club members played.

Your partner (North) opens 2 Clubs  - Acol, 23+ HCP.

East now bids 3 Diamonds.

What is your next bid?

You know that you and your partner have a combined 36+ HCP. It is pretty certain that East has at least one Court card (K,Q, J) for their bid.

Therefore, your partner must have all the other Aces.

Is there any point in bidding anything except 7 NT? Probably not! 

To keep the bidding going, South now bids 3 Hearts to show values.

West competes with 4 Diamonds.

North bids 4 NT (RKCB, Roman Key Card Blackwood).

South responds 5 Clubs. This show 0 or 3 of the 5 Key Cards (the 4 Aces and the King of Trumps)  if Hearts (the last naturally bid suit)  were trumps.

North assumes that South has no Key Cards (WHY? They have been given a positive raise in Hearts!) and bids 5 Spades, assuming 2 Aces are missing.

South now bids 6 Diamonds to show 1st round control in Diamonds.

North bids 6 Spades as they assume the 'control' is a void....

South is fed up mucking about and bids the Grand Slam in No Trumps... 13 tricks easily made.

Bidding Problem of the Month

What do you bid on the South hand after East opens 3 Clubs? How do North/South bid to find the best contract (assuming no interference from East/West)?

This was Hand 10 on September 28th.

East opened 3 Clubs and South has to find a forcing bid.

Contracts ranging from 3NT, through 4 Hearts, 6 Hearts and 7 No Trumps were bid.

Those North/Souths in the Grand Slam were unlucky to find the 3% chance of all 5 crucial cards off-side. The excellent bid of 7 No Trumps fails - a shame! 6 Hearts is cold, but most pairs fell short, only bidding the game.

February Problem - weak or strong No Trump?

An interesting problem, depending whether you usea strong (15-17) or weak (12-14) No Trump.

What do you bid as East if West opens a Strong No Trump and North doubles?

If East now passes, what do you bid as South?

If you play a weak No Trump, West will open 1 Diamond, North will bid either one or two Hearts and that will end the bidding.

8 tricks and + 110  to North/South.

If you play a Strong No Trump, you will open 1 No Trump.

Now North will Double and this will probably be passed by all.

Careful defence will hold this to 5 tricks - down 2 Doubled and Vulnerable.

Can you work out the defence?

Queen of Hearts led, taken by the King.

Now what?

Say a club is led to the King and Ace..

North now plays 4 more rounds of Hearts.

What discards are you going to make?

How can you avoid losing 4 Hearts, 2 Clubs and 2 Diamonds or any other combination.

If you try to establish Spades, South is your problem.

A problem with no answer!!

+ 500 to North/South.......

March Play Problem

How would you play 6 Spades on the lead of the King of Hearts?

This seems straighforward, with the problem being to stop 2 Diamond losers.

The easiest play is to hope that the Diamond King is with East.

Draw trumps, ending in Dummy, and lead a Diamond towards the Queen. If East rises with the King, problem solved.If not, rise with the Queen and pray!

This doesn't work spo you'll then have to tackle the Clubs - to finese or go for the drop?

From the bidding, it is probable that the King of Diamonds is in the West hand.

You could draw trumps, cross to the Queen of Clubs and take the Club finesse. You could then ditch one of Dummy's Diamonds on your fourth Club.

However, this is unlikely to work.

Or you could play the top Clubs and hope that the Jack falls. Again, a 50-50 chance.

The solution - draw Trumps, ruff a Heart to eliminate the suit, then play Ace of Clubs, a club to the Queen, and then a third Club, this time finessing.

If the finesse holds, you can discard a Diamond on the King of Clubs.

If the finesse fails, West will have to lead away from their King of Diamonds, or give a ruff and discard.

Thanks to Andrew Robson for this problem.

April Lead Problem of ther Month

Hand 7 from the North Devon Congress Swiss Pairs 2017

You are West, leading against a Grand Slam. The lead is crucial.

What do you lead?

What clues from the bidding?

Youir partner has shown a mimimum of 8 Diamonds, possibly 9.

North has made a Splinter bid in Diamonds, showing a void and support for partner's suit.


Usually a trump is a good idea, to stop ruffing potential.

You know from the bidding that at least one of the opposition has a void in Diamonds.

However, by leading a Diamond, the opponents are able to take a Ruff and Discard.

A Heart is thrown from North, the Diamond ruffed in hand.

Trumps are drawn in 2 rounds, then 3 top Hearts and a Heart ruff, 3 top Clubs and cross-ruff.

On any other lead, West will win a Heart trick at the end (or East will get a ruff on a Heart lead)

Thanks to Alan for providing this problem.

September Declarer Play Problem of the Month

The contract is 4 Hearts by South and the lead is the Ace of Diamonds.

The danger comes from East getting the lead and leading the Jack of Clubs through your King.

How do you avoid this?

South has 9 sure winning tricks and needs an extra trick in either Spades or Clubs.

The safest play is to DISCARD A SPADE on the opening lead. Then the contract can be made even if the Spade and Club finesses are both wrong.

West has no better lead at trick 2 than to lead a Spade.

Declarer wins with the Ace and and draws trumps.

Then Declarer should play dummy's King of Spades and then lead the Jack.

If East covers with the Queen, South can trump, later throwing a losing Club on the Spade 10.

If East plays low (or discards), South discards a losing club, letting West win.

The main purpose of these manoevres is to is to develop a tenth trick without the risk of East getting on lead to play his Jack of Clubs through declarer's King.

As the cards lie, any other line of play would fail against good defence.


November Magic Trick of the Month

Spades are trumps and South is on lead.

How do you make 6 of the remaining 7 tricks?

If North was on lead, this would be a breeze! Draw trumps and finesse against the King of Diamonds..

There is only one solution if South is on lead. 

Cask the Ace of Clubs, throwing the Quen of Hearts from dummy.

Now lead the Jack of Diamonds.

West must win, and then they have to lead into dummy.

Cash the 2 Aces, throwing South's Diamonds, and the North Diamonds are then all winners.

Easy, eh?


Your opening bid?

This extraordinary hand occurred on January 30th.

What do you open as North? Have a look later.

Only the East hand is displayed. If North has bid 7 No Trumps, what do you discard after North has reeled off 8 top Hearts and the Ace of Diamonds (on your King of Diamonds lead)?


On the night, nobody was brave enough to open 7 No Trumps. 

Now its only guesswork, but it will be helped if you count the discards made by the other hands.

If they discard Spades, you will get a count that 3 are outstanding, Ace, King and Jack.

You can then safely throw those precious Kings and get the poor declarer one down...

A Fitting End - March 2018

Spades are trumps. East to lead and win two tricks on defence.....

Let's consider East's options.

Declarer would ruff a heart lead; it wouldn't matter whether West overruffed because they would have to lead to agood dummy.

A Diamond lead fares no better as it would set up declarer's hand.

The answer is to play the Club, giving up a trick to dummy that declarer couldn't reach!

South discards a Diamond but finds themselves caught in a trump coup on the next trick.


Bude Bridge Club will be offering lessons , starting at the end of September.

Watch this space for further details.

In the meantime, you may have seen this problem in a shop window recently...

Here is the answer!

This is the Duke of Cumberland Hand, used in the film 'Moonraker'.

James Bond, sitting North, opens 7 Clubs with only 8 HCP.

After Passes from Meyer (East) and M (South), Drax, West, sitting with 31 HCP and K J 9 of Clubs, doubles.

007 (North) Redoubles and then makes all 13 tricks.

Looking at the hands of North and West, can you reconstruct the South and East hands?

Reveal all 4 hands!

Whatever East leads is trumped. If North needs to enter dummy, a Diamond is ruffed (trumped).

A club is now led through West and finessed - whatever West plays, North just plays the next highest.

Another Diamond is ruffed.

The Club finesse is again played, West's remaining trump is drawn, then the Diamonds are all established. 13 Tricks made against any defence.

Goodnight, Mr. Bond....


April Play Problem of the Month

A puzzle for the improving players.

How could you make 12 tricks (on a good day!) on the lead of the Queen of Clubs?

You have to make 10 tricks and you can see 6 Hearts (probably) and 2 Aces.

You can make more tricks if you make successful FINESSES.

If the King of Diamonds is with West, you can lead towards the AQJ and, if they do not play the King, you can win the trick with the Jack.

Similarly, if the King of Hearts is with East, you can lead from Dummy towards your AQJxxxx and, if they do not play the King, you can try the Jack.

Now, what about the King of Spades? Can you make that trick as well? If you lead from your hand towards the K53 and West holds the Ace, you will also make the King of Spades.

So now you can make 12 tricks.....

Take the opening Club with you Ace in dummy and lead a Heart. Try the FINESSE... it works!

Next, play a Spade towards Dummy's King. If West doesn't take their Ace, play the King - another success!

Now repeat the Heart FINESSE. You can now play the Ace of Hearts, felling the King.

Now play a Diamond from your hand and again, try the FINESSE. It works.

Return to your hand by trumping a Club and repeat the Diamond FINESSE. 

Bonanza! You have made 12 tricks, only losing the Ace of Spades.

The worst you can do is to only make 9 tricks if all the 'key' cards are 'offside'.

Thanks to Andrew Robson for this 'puzzle'.

October Problem of the Month

A problem for those just starting out.

How do you guarantee 9 tricks on this hand after West leads the 5 of Spades?

You can see 8 tricks off the top - 2 Spades, 2 Diamonds and 4 Clubs.

So where is the problem in finding the 9th trick? It probably will come from Diamonds.

You can see that you can either play Ace and King - and hope to drop the Queen - or FINESSE against the Queen of Diamonds.

But which way? Which is the DANGER HAND?

If you look carefully, the DANGER HAND is East. If East manages to get the lead, they lead a Heart and you lose the next 5 tricks.

If West wins the Queen, they cannot set up their Heart suit.

You must play the Diamonds in such a way that, should the Finesse fail, it is won by West. Then you have your 9th trick safely.

If you Finesse the other way and East wins, they will play a Heart through your King-2 and run off 5 more tricks for 2 down.

SO - Win the Spade with your Ace and play a Diamond to the Ace.

Now lead the Jack of Diamonds and, if East plays low, play a low card - the Finesse.

If West wins it, whatever they play back will give you at least 9 tricks.


November Play Problem of the Month

A very competitive auction!

West's 2 Heart bid was a strong overcall, North's 3 Spades a splinter bid, agreeing Diamonds (to game level) and showing a shortage in Spades.

East's Double was for penalties, South's 4 Hearts showed a first-round control in Hearts, North's 4 Spades a first-round control in Spades.

4 No Trumps was Roman Key Card Blackwood asking for the number of 'Key Cards' (4 Aces and King of Trumps) they held. 5 Diamonds showed 1 Key Card.

From the bidding, West knows that North has either a void in Spades, or the singleton Ace and South a similar situation in Hearts.

What do you lead?

Now look at the South hand. Imagine West leads the Ace of Clubs. Plan the play.

If the Club Ace is led, consider where your 12 tricks are coming from.You need your trumps to ruff as many tricks as possible, so DON'T DRAW TRUMPS or you will lose your ruffing opportunities.

Ruff with the 4 of Diamonds, then start cross-ruffing - S3 - D2; C5 - D5; S7 - D6; C6 - D8; S9 - Dj; C10 - D9; Sq - DA; CJ - D10.

Now play Ace of Hearts and another Heart and you only have trumps left - 12 tricks made!

Did you choose the best opening lead for West?

If, in a very compettive auction, declarer looks to be relying on cross-ruffing, lead a trump!

If D7 is led, this takes out 2 chances to ruff. Declarer can now not make their contract. They only now make 11 tricks..

Loser on Loser June Problem of the Month

How do you make three of the last four tricks? Spades are trumps and you are leading from dummy.

You must lead the King of Hearts, which is a loser, and discard a Diamond - another loser- from your hand.

West will win with the Ace, but whatever he leads gives you a ruff-and-discard, enabling you to ruff (trump) in dummy and discard your other diamond from hand.

You have executed a perfect Loser-on-Loser play!

Thanks again to Andrew Robson for this problem.

July Bidding Discussion Hand

This month's hand is one to discuss with your parner, or in a group.

it is possible that North may bid One Spade or East may try a cheeky weak Two Hearts. Maybe South is playing a 15-17 No Trump and will open One NT.

However, let's assume, playing Standard Acol weak no-trump, after 2 passes, South bids One Spade.

What do you now bid as West?

Assuming West doubles (for takeout), what do you bid as North?

How could the bidding continue and could you reach the best results for a) North/South and b)  East/West?

what is the maximum number of tricks you could make on any lead?

So South bids One Spade. West has a 5-card Diamond suit but it is so weak, so a Double asks your partner to bid their best suit of the remaining 3. You're sure to find a fit, even if it is 4-3.

North's hand now looks very strong. With Spades as Trumps, this is only a 6-loser hand (if you use the 'losing trick count').

They can jump straight to 4 Spades and South, with a 7-loser hand, will quietly Pass.

But hang on a moment - what if South has a stronger hand and a slam is possible? Wouldn't the void in Hearts be useful?

North could now make a 'splinter' bid of 4 Hearts, agreeing a game-going hand in Spades and a shortage (singleton or void) in Hearts.

East will now Double and South bids.....???

What contract did you reach? Does it make, seeing all 4 hands?

Against Spades, say West leads a Heart.

Ruff and lead  Spade to the Ace.

Ruff another Heart. Spade to the Queen.

Ruff your last Heart. King of Spades.

Now play your Diamonds.

When East ruffs with their last trump, you can then trump their Heart return and win the remains Diamond tricks.

12 tricks and Slam made.




February Double Dummy Problem - See it?

An 'improvers' puzzle this month.

The contract is 6 Hearts by South, and the lead the Jack of Diamonds.

Can you make 12 tricks?

Win with the Ace of Diamonds and play the Ace and King of Spades, followed by a third spade upon which you discard your diamond.  East wins with their Queen and does best to return a club which you must win in your hand.    Now the ace and a heart to dummy's ten followed by a spade ruff high.   Now play your two top Hearts and West's last two trumps are removed. Finally, you enter dummy with the King of Clubs to discard your losing club on the dummy's established spade.

August Declarer Play Problem of the Month

The contract is 6 Diamonds by South and West leads the 5 of Clubs.

Plan the play.

Looks easy, huh? If trumps are split 2-2, 13 tricks are laydown.

However, what if they are 4 - 0?

If trumps are 2-2 or 3 - 1, you are always going to make at least 12 tricks.

You need to guard against a 4-0 split in Diamonds.

If the 4 trumps are in the East hand, no problem. You can enter dummy and finesse the Diamonds.

If, however, trumps are 4-0 in the West hand, cashing the Ace and King will leave two trump losers.

The cute solution - win the Club lead and then play towards the 5 of Diamonds on the table.

If West shows out, win the King and finesse the Jack on the way back.

However, if West plays a low Diamond, play the 5. 

If West started with 4 trumps, you can then play the Ace and King and just give up the remaining trump.

If it was a 3-1 split, you still make your contract.

Don't risk making the contract - especially in teams - for the sake of risking going down.

March Double Dummy Problem

A very complicated bidding system by North/South led to North asking for Aces and getting a negative response!

The contract is 5 Clubs by South and the lead is the 5 of Clubs.

How do you make the contract?  A difficult one this month.

North plays the 8, overtaken by South.  North ruffs high a diamond, crosses to the Q to ruff high a second diamond, crosses to South by ruffing a heart winner and ruffs high a third diamond, giving this:


♠ 765



♣ AK2


♠ AQJ9



♣ 54


♠ 108



♣ none


♠ K432



♣ 7


The A is ruffed and again North ruffs high a diamond, establishing South’s long card.  If West discarded on the third round of hearts, then North plays high and low club to throw West in; otherwise West underruffed and North leads the ♣2 immediately.  In either case South makes the ♠K and the diamond winner (the two tricks compensating for the trump gambit).

September Double Dummy Problem of the Month

Here's a tricky one! South is in 7 Spades and the lead is the Queen of Hearts.

Of course, 7 No Trumps is laydown, but that wouldn't be so much fun!

Plan the play.

The bidding is straight forward, with North's 5 Spade response to Key Card Blackwood showing 2 of the 5 'Key Cards' (Aces plus King of trumps) PLUS the Queen of trumps.

The key play is to discard a CLUB from dummy on trick one.

Win with the Ace of Hearts and play the King, discarding another Club.

Now lead the Jack of Spades, overtaking with the Queen. Now ruff a Diamond high (say with the Ten).Lead a low Spade, say the 4, and beat whatever West plays.. 

Ruff another Diamond and lead another low Spade towards dummy, again beating whatever West plays.

Now the Grand Unblock.......

Play the Ace of Spades, taking out West's last trump and discarding the Ace of Clubs..

Play the Ace of Diamonds and discard the King of Clubs.

Dummy's Queen, Jack, Ten and Nine remain to take the final four tricks.

Standing ovation from the defence....

If you have discarded a Diamond on trick one, or neglect to ruff both Diamonds high, you will not succeed. 

The World's Smallest Double Dummy Problem

South is in 4 Spades and has won 8 of the first 10 tricks.

Now on lead, how do they win 2 of the remaining tricks?

Only 3 cards left - should be easy.....

With only three cards to consider, it is easy to find the solution. Here is the analysis for each of South’s three cards.

The ace of clubs.

You can’t lead that. West will ruff and East will be left with another defensive spade trick.

The ace of spades.

You can’t lead that either.

If you lead the ace of spades and then the ace of clubs, West ruffs and East takes the last trick with the king of spades.

If you lead the ace of spades and another spade, East gets the last two tricks with his spade and his diamond.

That leaves you with the small spade.

The key is that if West plays low, so does dummy. East wins but is endplayed. A trump lead lets South take the last two tricks and if East leads his diamond instead, South discards his club and ruffs in dummy with the queen.

If West plays his jack, you must cover with dummy’s queen. East wins the king but has no safe retort.


If West plays his jack, you better not duck in dummy. If you do, West wins and leads his ace of hearts. This will promote a trump trick for East-West. I leave you to see why this is so. West’s two of spades may end up taking the setting trick

October Bidding Problem of the Month

You pick up this wonderful hand.

In duplicate pairs, what is your opening bid?

Brilliant! Lay-down small slam in Hearts or Diamonds, but can you do better?

You can't bid One Heart/Diamond or partner will just pass.

You could open a strong 2 Hearts as long as it's forcing, and then after 2 No Trump, 3 Diamonds, 4 Hearts, 6 Hearts possibly.

Many will open 2 Clubs, and with careful cue-bidding and using some form of Blackwood will find the correct slam. However......

The Acol 4 No Trump Opening Bid is perfect for a hand like this.

The responses are 5 Clubs with no Aces, 5 Diamonds, Hearts, Spades or 6 Clubs with just that one Ace or 5 No Trumps with 2 Aces.

If the reply come back 5 Clubs (no Aces), just bid 6 Hearts.

If the reply comes back 5 Spades (just the Ace of Spades), again bid 6 Hearts as you have to lose the Club Ace.

If the reply is 6 Clubs (just the Ace of Clubs) , bid 7 Hearts - you have everything covered.

If th reply is 5 No Trumps (both Aces), bid 7 No Trumps.

Do make sure this bid is in your partnership armoury - if partner takes it as Blackwood (Roman Key Card or straight), a reply of 5 Diamonds is not going to help.

Mayday - in every sense!

East is declarer  in 6 Spades. The lead is the King of Diamonds.

North overtakes his partner's opening lead with the diamond ace, then returns a trump, upon which south discards a diamond!  On the reasonable inference that the north player is not a moron — meaning that he had no other diamond to lead — how does declarer guarantee the contract?

If clubs are 3-3, they will run; if they split 4-2, then ruffing one high would set up the suit.  If north has the long hearts, then four of those could be cashed by using the K as an entry.  Alternatively, if south has the long clubs, he could be squeezed by running the spades, then cashing three hearts.  Should south hold the long hearts, then drawing trumps and cashing three clubs would squeeze him in the red suits.  One of these plays is guaranteed to work, but which one?  North could possibly ruff an early round of hearts or clubs.

If fact, you don't have to guess anything.  North has five spades and one diamond.  Even if he holds all the missing clubs, he still would have to follow suit to one round of hearts.  So it is safe to cash the K.  Do that.  If south shows out, then you can arrange to cash four heart tricks prior to drawing the trumps.

Let's say the south follows to the heart lead.  That means that north cannot hold more than six of that suit, in which case it is safe to cash the A!  Do that.  If south shows out, then ruff one club, draw trumps, and later discard a club on a heart winner.

Let's say that south follows to the first club lead.  Now it is safe to cash a second heart!  If south shows out, then arrange to win four heart tricks as before.  Similarly, if south follows to the second heart, then it is safe to cash a second club.  If south shows out on the second round, then cash the other high club and ruff two clubs in dummy.

If south follows to the second club, then one club ruff with the K will set up that suit.

November Play Problem of the Month

Hearts are trumps.  South to lead and win all 6 tricks.

Arguably the most famous double dummy problem of them all. It is said to have been so difficult in 1880 that top players took weeks to solve it. Can you do better?

South cashes the Jack of Clubs, unblocking the 8 from dummy.

A Spade is ruffed; then dummy's last Heart is led.

East cannot unguard Clubs, and a Spade discard would subject their partner to a 3-suit squeeze, so must discard their worthless Diamond.

West is equally in a fix - forced to guard Diamonds, they must also keep their club to avoid a finesse in that suit; so they throw their Spade winner.

Now, cashing the Ace of Diamonds squeezes East in the black suits.

For the purists, West was caught in a 'non-material guard squeeze'. Although the nine of clubs was not in line to win a trick, its presence helped partner guard the suit.

Also, discarding the seven of Spades did not relinquish anything of material value - at the time....

January Problem of the Month - Small is Beautiful!

The world's smallest Double Dummy problem.

South is in a Spade contract and is on lead. They need 2 tricks. How can South make them?

With only three cards to consider, it should be easy to find the solution. Here is the analysis for each of South’s three cards.

The ace of clubs.

You can’t lead that. West will ruff and East will be left with another defensive spade trick.

The ace of spades.

You can’t lead that either.

If you lead the ace of spades and then the ace of clubs, West ruffs and East takes the last trick with the king of spades.

If you lead the ace of spades and another spade, East gets the last two tricks with his spade and his diamond.

That leaves you with the small spade.

The key is that if West plays low, so does dummy. East wins but is endplayed. A trump lead lets South take the last two tricks and if East leads his diamond instead, South discards his club and ruffs in dummy with the queen.

If West plays his jack, you must cover with dummy’s queen. East wins the king but has no safe retort.

If West plays his jack, you must not duck in dummy. If you do, West wins and leads his ace of hearts. This will promote a trump trick for East-West.

 West’s three of spades may end up taking the setting trick!

February Play Problem of the Month

A problem for the improvers this month.

This was Hand 27 at the club on January 29th.

The contract is 6 No Trumps by South..

The 10 of Clubs is led from West. 

Plan the play.

The problem comes down to which card you use to take the first trick.

You play low from dummy and West also plays low. So did you play the Jack?

If you do, the contract is doomed to fail. You need to set up the Diamonds and you lead to the King, but East ducks. 

On the Queen, East plays the Ace, but now you are locked out of dummy. You have to play winners from hand, but will only come to 9 tricks maximum.

You needed the Jack of Clubs  to play to the King later in play.

Win the first trick  with the Ace of Clubs, and play a Diamond to the King. West plays low.

Now play the Queen, and West has to go up with the Ace.

Whatever West now plays, you win and have that Club entry to dummy to enjoy the long Diamonds and then the top majors.

6 Diamond tricks, 2/3 Clubs, 3 Hearts and 1/2 Spades.

March Bizarre Problem of the Month

South is on lead. Can you win 6 tricks with Spades as trumps?

Look for a bizarre first trick......

A really bizarre first trick - lead the Ace of Hearts and ruff it with the Queen of Spades.......!

Now lead the 2 of Spades, finesse with the Jack if you need to, and draw the remaining trump, discarding a Club from dummy.

West has happily discarded 3 Diamonds.

Now lead the 2 of Hearts. West is squeezed. East will have to win and lead a Club, so what does West discard?

If they discard a Club, North throws their Diamond and they win their 3 Club tricks.

If West discards their Ace of Diamonds, North throws a Club and sets up the 2 of Diamonds.

6 tricks made.

Note that if you ruff with the 2 of Spades on trick 1, East doesn't cover the Queen and North now has to lead away from their Clubs.

If you lead the 2 of Hearts on trick 1, you can't throw East in with a Heart later on.

April Problem of the Month - 'The Mortician'

South to make 6 Spades on the lead of the King of Hearts. A very pretty problem by Giordano Natucci.

How did you do? The only way to make the contract is to ruff low in BOTH hands - twice!

Dummy wins with the 3 of Spades, South under-ruffing with the 2.

The 4 of Spades is led and, whatever East plays, is covered by South.

Declarer now plays Ace and King of Diamonds, then Ace and another Club.

West wins and is forced to lead another Heart.

This is again ruffed in BOTH hands, keeping the lead in Dummy.

Declarer now runs Dummy's Diamonds, discarding Clubs.

Whenever East ruffs, Suth overruffs, draws trumps and claims the remaining Clubs.

May Problem of the Month

How would you bid this hand?

This was a recent hand at Taw Vale (E/W and N/S reversed).

Every North/South reached a 6 Heart contract.

After 1  from North, what do you bid as South?

You are obviously looking for a slam, if possible. 

If you bid 5 No Trumps, Grand Slam try, North will bid 6 Hearts.

What if you just bid a slow 1♠ ?

North will now bid STOP 3   and you can explore with some form of slam- seeking asking bid. Then the Grand, in Hearts or No Trumps, rolls in.

June Play Problem of the Month

A problem for improvers.

South leads Ace, King and Queen of Hearts.

Make the contract without risking a Diamond finesse....

East ruffs the third Heart and draws trumps in 3 rounds.

Declarer needs to finesse the Diamond but there is no need to guess.

Play 3 rounds of Clubs.

Whoever wins the third round will have to either play a diamond, eliminating the guess, or lead another suit, allowing the discard of a diamond from one hand and a ruff in the other. This is known as a Ruff and Dicard.

Either defence makes the contract 100%.

This is an example of an endplay.

July Bidding Problem of the Month

A problem for you to discuss with your bridge partner, set by members on a recent Improvers course.

Only 16 High Card Points, so how, as a partnership, do you bid the Grand Slam?

What would you do if there was an interference bid?

This hand is ideal for a Splinter bid - a hand that is forcing to game and has a shortage - a singleton or void.

Many players holding the North hand will just bid 4 Hearts and that may welll end the auction, especially if West has come in with a Double.

The EBU Bridge for All Acol approach would be for North to bid 3 Spades - agreeing Hearts and showing a shortage in Spades.

Remember that this bid must be alerted!

After that, South will cue-bid their first round control in Clubs - 4 Clubs - and North their Ace of Diamonds - 4 Diamonds.

How does South find out about the Void in North's Spades? If South now bids 4 Hearts, it could be taken as a sign-off,

How would your partnership proceed?

Some partnerships play 'low-level splinters' - and then the bidding is stone-cold as long as the opponents don't interfere!:-

One Heart - Stop 2 Spades - 3 Clubs - 3 Diamonds - 3 Hearts - 3 Spades - Stop 7 Hearts.

Of course, if West has Doubled, there may be a more competitive auction and East/West may well sacrifice in 7 Spades (Doubled) for only -500.


August Play Problem of the Month

A recent hand that took a litle thought to bring home the Small Slam.

How do you make 12 tricks on a Heart lead?

Small Heart from North taken by the Ace in dummy.

You can see 2 Spades, 2 Hearts and a Diamond.

You have to find 7 tricks from the Clubs.

Small Spade to the King and back to the Ace.

Another Spade, ruffed by South with the 8, over-ruffed with the 9 of Clubs.

Heart King, discarding a Diamond from dummy.

Now a Diamond to the Ace and another Diamond, taken by South's Queen - no room to lose any more....

South plays a Club to 5, Queen and King.

Now another Spade, ruffed with the 10, over-ruffed with the Ace.

Small Diamond, ruffed with the 2 of Clubs.

Jack of Clubs takes out the remaining trump and then dummy is good.

12 tricks and small slam made.

September Problem of the Month

An intermediate play problem by Andrew Robson.

Plan the play to make 10 tricks. The lead is the Jack of Clubs.

You have 4 obvious losers - 2 top Diamonds, the Ace of Spades and a Heart.

The only way to make the contract is to discard your losing Heart on the 'long' Diamond (hoping for split Honours or A, K of Diamonds with West).

You must start on Diamonds straight away, before defence forces out your top 2 Hearts.

Win the Club in hand and play a Diamond towards dummy.

When West ducks, play the Queen and East wins and returns a Heart.

Win with the Ace and lead another Diamond. West must take this.

Whatever is played now, you can cross to the King of Hearts and discard youur losing Heart on the established Jack of Diamonds.

10 tricks and contract made.

If you had tried to take out trumps to start with, East would have won the Ace and led a Heart. You do not now have time to establish the winning Diamond.

COVID Lock in........

One for the beginners and improvers. 

Get your stop-watch out- who can solve it within 5 minutes?

South to make 7 No Trumps.

Lead is the 10 of Clubs.

This is all about unblocking!

Win with the Ace and throw the Ace of Spades.

Now play the King of Clubs and throw the King of Spades.

You can now play Queen, Jack, 10 and 9 of Spades, throwing away Ace, King, Queen and Jack of Hearts.

North's 7 remaining Hearts are now good. Grand slam made!

Thanks to Julian Pottage for the idea.


April Bidding Problem of the Month

This was a hand from the County Teams of Eight some years ago.

How would you bid this hand?

At most tables, the bidding went (just North/South) One Heart, 2 Clubs (delayed game raise), 2 Hearts, 4 Hearts.

If your bidding system includes low-level splinters, you may have found this North'South bidding sequence:

1 Heart, 2 Spades (low-level splinter bid, game force in Hearts, singleton or void in Spades),

3 Clubs (first round control), 3 Diamonds (first round control), 3 Spades (first round control).

4 Clubs (second round control in Clubs), 4 Diamonds (second round control in Diamonds).

South now has all the informarion they need for a small or Grand slam, except to find out about the King of Hearts.

They know there are no Spade losers, probably no Diamond losers, 3 top Clubs and at least 10 trumps to the Ace.

4 No Trumps is now Roman Key Card Blackwood, asking for the number of Key Cards - Aces plus King of Trumps.

A bid of 5 Clubs shows 3 Key cards. They know about two of the Aces, so the third must be the King of Trumps.

Do you bid 6 or 7?

On the day, nearly all pairs finished in 4 Hearts plus 3......only one out of 18 found the Grand.


July Play Problem of the Month

A competitive auction. How do you make your contract after the lead of the King of Spades?

This looks easy!

Cross-ruff the Spades and Clubs, then play the Ace and King of Hearts - 12 tricks made.

However, you will come unstuck if you don't play the Ace and King of Hearts first.

If you continue to cross-ruff, East will discard another Heart and will be left with 3 trumps - 2 down....

If you try to cash your Hearts, East will trump and you will be at least one down.

So - when cross-ruffing, play out your high-card winners first.

May Play Problem of the Month

The 7 of Spades is led against 3 NT.

How do you make your contract - and can you explain your reasoning?

South realises that, if East has the King of Diamonds, or if the Spades divide 4 - 3, the contract will always be made.

What if West held the King of Diamonds AND 5 Spades to the King? He would surely have bid 1 Spade over 1 Diamond, non-vulnerable.

With any other 5 -2 split, going up with the Ace is correct. If East had doubleton J - 10, the 9 would become a stopper. If East held the King, the spades would be blocked if declarere takes the Ace on the first round.

So North takes the first trick with the Ace,and plays the Jack of Diamonds to West's King. A Spade comes back, but now there is no entry to West to take his established Spade tricks.

One Spade, 2 Hearts, 4 Diamonds and 2 clubs - 9 tricks and contract made.

August Play Hand of the Month

Westr leads the 9 of Hearts. How do you plan the play?

On the lead, it is probable that East has the King of Hearts. This seems to simplify your task.

Let East win the first trick with the King, take the Heart continuation in dummy and play on Diamonds, establishing at least 2 tricks in the suit, which, with 2 Spades, 2 Hearts and a Club will be enough to make your contract.

So what's the snag?The trouble with playing low from dummy at trick one is that you are relying on the co-operation of the defence.Why should East be helpful and go up with the King on the first round?

He is more likely to play low, forcing you to use your outside entry, the Heart Queen, before the Diamonds have been established.

If the defenders hold up the Diamond Ace for one round, your contract is in danger..

There is no need to take the risk. The correct play is the Ace of Hearts at trick one, preserving the Queen for an entry once the Diamonds are established.

As the cards lie, if you play the Ace of Hearts at trick one you make 9 tricks.

If you play low from dummy, you should only make 6 tricks.

June Problem of the Month

A problem for the learners this month.

How do you make 6 Spades on a Club lead?

You have to be a bit careful.

You win the opening lead (North plays low, East put up the Jack) with the Ace.

You have the option now of playing a Spade to the Queen and then discarding your 2 Diamond losers on the top 2 Hearts.

But what if West has a Singleton Heart? They will ruff the second Heart and you still have a Club to lose later.

You must ruff a Diamond straight away with your Spade 10, then paly the Queen of Spades to find the split in trumps. You are delighted to see the Jack fall!

The Ace of Hearts sees your last Diamond discarded and now you ruff a Heart HIGH to get back to your hand.

You can now draw trumps and just give up a Club to make your contract.

Bidding Problem of the Month - September

North opens 1 Diamond and East overcalls 2 Spades (weak).

What do you bid as South?

At one table, they tried 3 Hearts - very much over-egging their hand! When West bid 3 Spades, North bid 5 Clubs and there it rested.

At all other tables except one, South passed.

The successful South was the one who Doubled, showing values in the other two suits.

North was then able to take an educated punt at 6 Clubs, 'knowing' that South had a minimum of 4 Clubs and probabaly either the Ace of Hearts or the King of Diamonds.

July Defence Problem of the Month

A defensive problem for the 'improvers' this month.

Seeing all hands, plan your play. 9 defensive tricks possible....!

the initial lead is important.

Did you find the 9 tricks?

there are several solutions, but this is the simplest and most effective.

West leads 9 of Spades to East's Ace.

King of Spades, West plays the 6 - High-Low showing a doubleton

Another Spade ruffed with the 7 of Diamonds.

Now Jack of Hearts, ducked by North.

Now the 10 of Hearts to East's Queen.

Trick number 6 is the Ace of Hearts.

Now another Spade, ruffed with the 10 od Diamonds by South and over-ruffed with the Jack of Diamonds.

A Club to the Queen and Ace for trick number 8.

Finally, another Spade promotes West's Queen of Diamonds.

+ 800 to East/West.

August Problem of the Month

One for the beginners.

A very interesting auction, with North/South needing to make a huge score on the final hand - how about 2940?

On the surface, this looks a bit difficult!

Now make your contract on the lead of the 5 of Clubs...

Win dummy's Ace of Clubs and ruff a Spade.

Ruff another Club, ruff another Spade.

Ruff another Club, ruff another Spade.

Cash the Ace and King of Hearts, taking out all trumps..

Now cross to the Ace of Diamonds.

Play Queen of Spades (dropping the Jack), discarding a Diamond.

Your last 2 Diamond losers go away on the 10 and 9 of Spades.

That wasn't difficult, was it?

Thanks to Andrew Robson for this puzzle.

Play Problem of the Month- October

Double-Dummy problems are such fun! You can see all 4 hands, so it shouldn't be difficult.....should it....?

The contract is 6 Hearts and West leads the Jack of Diamonds. Plan the play.

You can see 11 top tricks, so where is trick 12 coming from? If you can see a way of making your 5th Spade trick, you are home and dry.

Win the lead with the Ace of Diamonds and then play A and King of Spades. Now play a 3rd spade and discard your losing Diamond. East now has the lead and best play is to lead a Club which you must win in your hand with the Ace.

Now lead a low Heart to the 10 and ruff a Spade with your Ace of Hearts.

Now you take out the Trumps and enter dummy with the King of Clubs to discard your losing club on the established 5th Spade.

November bidding problem of the Month

Hand 12 from the North Devon Pairs on October 14th.

What do you open with the North hand?

Once you have decided what to bid, look at the South hand and decide what you would have responed if

a) East passes or

b) East makes a weak 2 Diamond overcall.

There isn't really a right/wrong answer, but maybe a good one to discuss with your partner.

On the day, several pairs bid a game in Clubs or No Trumps, and two pairs bid 6 Clubs.

Only one pair found the magic 7 No Trumps.

North opened a multi 2 Diamond.

This bid can have a variety of meanings, but on this occasion it showed one of three possibilities- a weak 6-card major, a strong (8 playing tricks) minor or a balanced 19-20 No Trump hand.

East Passed and South was interested! If it was a 6-card major, surely game was on.

If it was a 19-20 No Trump, a slam was definitely on.

South bid 2 No Trumps to show game-forcing interest.

In the event, North now bid 4 Clubs, showing 8 playing tricks in Clubs.

It didn't take a genius South to bid 4 No Trumps (Roman Key Card Blackwood), ansd when the reply of 5 Diamonds came back (0 or 3 of the 5 Key Cards), South knew that the two missing Aces and King of Clubs were in the North hand.

7 No trumps would provide 16 tricks!

September Problem of the Month - 'Moon Rocks'

South to make 6 Clubs against any defence.

West liked the hand he picked up; little did he realise he was endplayed at trick one.....!

A red-suit lead would give up a trick in that suit, so West led a top Spade. Declarer ruffs with the 7 of Clubs (preserving the 3) and leads the 9 of Diamonds.

West ducks, the Diamond Queeen wins and a Spade ruffed (with the 8). The 6 of Clubs is led to the Ace and 6 Clubs returned.

If East plays low, South plays the 3, ruffs a Spade and draws the Queen of Clubs with the King.

If the 6 is covered by the Queen, South wins the King, plays the 3 to the 5, then ruffs a Spade. Either way, East no longer has a spade.

The lead of the last trump forces West to discard his last spade in order to guard the red suits as dummy sheds a Diamond.

South now leads the King of Diamonds and West has to lead a Heart. He leads the Jack, hoping to block the suit, but South wins and plays a heart to the 10 where his remaining 2 Spades are good.

October Bidding Problem of the Month

Here is one to try out with your partner.

How do you bid this hand? It is an uncontested auction.


Do you open on the North hand? Only 11 High Card Points, but only a 7-loser hand.

If so, one Diamond.

South gets quite excited! 20 HCP and 3 good Diamonds.

Is there a fit in Spades? Is No Trumps the best contract?

Many pairs will end in 6 No Trumps by South. Were you tempted to bid 7?

What if North passes? South now opens 2 No Trumps. Many Norths will now just punt 6 NT.

How many managed to find the (better) slam in Diamonds?

It takes a very favourable K J of clubs onside to make all 13 tricks.

Look at all 4 hands. Can you make all 13 tricks in No Trumps? (No!)

How about in Diamonds? (Yes!)

November Problem of the Month

You are Declarer as West in 4 Hearts.

Plan the play. North leads the King of Diamonds.

The lead is the King of Diamonds - top of a strong sequence.

Do you draw trumps? If you do, you will find you have losers in either Diamonds or Spades at the end.

Win with the Ace of of Diamonds and lead your singleton Spade. South will win and lead another Diamond.

You now need to CROSS-RUFF Spades and Diamonds to set up your winners.

Ruff (trump) the Diamond, then play your winning Queen of Spades (discarding a Club loser) and then trump a Spade, then a Diamond, then another Spade with your King of Hearts, then another Diamond.

You can now cash the Ace of Hearts, ruff another Spade, discarding your other Club loser ('Loser on Loser').

10 tricks and the contract made. Spade King, 7 Heart tricks and the 2 minor Aces.

When you need to ruff several losers in dummy - DON'T DRAW TRUMPS TOO EARLY!

January Play Problem of the Month

North leads the King of Diamonds against your 4 Spade contract.

Plan the play.

Plan your play.

You may plan to win the first trick with the Ace of Diamonds, draw trumps finishing in dummy and lead the Queen of Clubs, taking the Club finesse.

If South has the King of Clubs you cannot lose more than two hearts and a Diamond.

If North wins the King of Clubs, you can discard two of dummy's Hearts on the established club winners and ruff your second Heart in dummy.

What could possibly go wrong?......

Unfortinately, it can. After winning the King of Clubs, North leads a Diamond to South's Queen and a Heart is played through your King - Jack. Now you have a nasty guess, and whatever you choose is wrong as North holds both the Ace and Queen.

Could you have avoided the problem?

Well, yes! South is the danger hand and you want to stop South getting the lead and playing a Heart.

The answer is simple - just duck the first trick and then South can never get in.

December Problem of the Month
December Problem of the Month

A Christmas Cracker for December....!

South to make 5 Clubs after West leads the Ace of Diamonds.

Ruff the Diamond with the ACE of Clubs.

Now play the 6 of Clubs to dummy's 8 and ruff a Diamond with the King of Clubs.

Continue with the 7 of Clubs to dummy's 9 and ruff another Diamond with the Queen of Clubs.

Now play Ace and King of Hearts, discarding a spade, and then the 10 of Hearts, ruffing with dummy's last Club.

Play another Diamond, ruffing with the Jack of Clubs.

You now have 3 small spades in hand, along with the 2 of Clubs. Dummy has 3 Spades to the King and the lone Diamond.

East has a low Club and Ace, Queen and 10 of Spades.

Lead your 2 of Clubs.....

East has to win and then, even if they cash the Ace of Spades, has to lead to dummy's King of Spades and master Diamond.

11 tricks and game made.

Happy Christmas!

February Play Problem of the Month - difficult!

A grand slam - can you make it on the lead of the 8 of Spades?

Very difficult!

Great bidding. North's 4 No Trump was Roman Key Card Blackeood. South's 5 Spades showed 2 of the 5 Key Cards' (Aces plus the King of trumps) plus the Queen of trumps.

Against the trump lead, the first five tricks are forced.  The ace of spades must be won, followed by a diamond to the king, heart to the ace, and the diamond ace discards south's remaining heart.  Now a heart is led from dummy, and east is squeezed, knockout-fashion.  If a minor suit is discarded, declarer has sufficient entries back and forth to set up and cash the fifth card in that suit as trumps are drawn; therefore, east must part with his remaining spade.

South overruffs and plays a club to dummy's king.

The spade jack is led and east is squeezed again.  If he discards a diamond, then declarer retains the lead in dummy and ruffs out the diamonds; if instead he pitches a club, then the spade jack is overtaken, and a long club is set up.

March Problem of the Month

The Trojan Horse - a puzzle by Terence Reese.

How do you make 6 Spades on the lead of the King of Clubs?

At trick two, a low diamond must be led from dummy. Subsequently, declarer arranges to ruff another diamond low, draws the trumps, then uses the king of hearts to access dummy's established diamonds for twelve tricks.  This solution is not at all difficult, provided that one does not greedily try for an overtrick.

The trap is for declarer to play diamonds from the top.  When south ruffs the third round of the suit, west can defeat the contract by refusing to overruff, choosing instead to discard a heart.  Should declarer later try to lose the next round of diamonds to east, west would discard his remaining heart, then trump east's heart return for the setting trick.

If declarer discards on the third diamond, he cannot ruff a diamond later without suffering an uppercut; west eventually will score a trump trick.

Playing off even one high diamond originally would be similarly fatal.  Also, any attempt to ruff two clubs in dummy would result in the dreaded trump promotion, leaving declarer at least one trick short depending upon actual play.

Note: Although the winning tactic succeeds against any choice of opening lead, the safety play is unnecessary if west starts with a spade or a diamond.

Alice in Wonderland February Puzzle of the Month
Alice in Wonderland February Puzzle of the Month

Do you remember last month's puzzle? Here's a similar one...

Seeing all 4 hands, can you, as South, make 6 Hearts on this deal? The lead is the 7 of Clubs....

At first it looks simple. Draw trumps and discard your two club losers on the lond Spades to make all 13 tricks!

Oh are you going to get to dummy after cashing the Ace and King of Hearts?

There is no way, and you will eventually have to lose two club tricks.

The key play is to concede a trump trick to the Queen.

Win the opening club lead and duck a Heart to West.

No matter whatever they return, you win a second round of trumps, unblock the Spades and re-enter dummy with the third Heart - 12 tricks made.

Happy New Year!

3 Becomes 2 - March Problem of the Month

You seem to have 3 losers - a Heart and 2 Diamonds.

Can you turn them into only 2 losers on the lead of a small Club?

Ruff the opening lead and cross to dummy 3 times in spades to ruff dummy's 3 remaining Clubs.

Now play A and K of Hearts and a third Heart to West's Queen.

West remains with 3 trumps as do you. Dummy has has 2 trumps and a Heart and east has the Ace of Diamonds and a spade and a club.

West must lead a diamond, which you duck to East's Ace.

East must return a black suit which you ruff with the Jack. If West over-ruffs, you play the King of Diamonds and then win your 10 on the last trick.

If West plays low, you discard youur Heart and your King wins the last trick- technically a 'smother play'.

The Pot Boiler - April Problem of the Month

This is the famous 'Pot Boiler' double-dummy bridge problem that members were discussing last month.

Contract 7 Hearts by South. Lead the King of Clubs.

How do you make all 13 tricks?

Declarer wins the Ace of Clubs, discarding a Diamond from dummy.

A heart is led to the Ace and a Spade trumped.

Another Heart to the King and another Spade ruff.

Another Heart to dummy, then the last Heart, discarding the Ace of Diamonds and the Ace of Spades, discarding the King of Diamonds.

Dummy's Diamonds are now all good.

7 Hearts bid and made....

May Play Double Dummy Problem of the Month

South to make 6 Spades on the lead of the  6 of Hearts

You must rise with the Ace of Hearts, or else East will win their King and give their partner a Diamond ruff.

The key now is to eliminate Clubs.

You must now draw trumps, ending in dummy. Ruff a Club, cross to the King of Diamonds and ruff the other Club.

At trick 7, you exit with a second Heart.

East wins with the King, but is endplayed. If they lead a Cluc, you can ruff in one hand and discard a Diamond from hand and ruff in the dummy, thereby avoiding a Diamond loser. If they lead a Diamond (from J, 10, 8) you can win the 8 with your 9, or their Jack (or 10) with dummy's Queen, and you can then finesse the remaining Diamond .

Thanks to Andrew Robson and Richard Gibson for this problem.

June Bidding Problem of the Month

One this month for the improvers rather than the experts.

Partner opens 1 Club and you reply 1 Heart.

Partner rebids 2 Diamonds.

What do you now bid, and why?

This bid of a lower suit followed by a higher suit (except Clubs to Spades) is known as 'reverse'.

You know that they have at least 16 High Card Points (HCP).

You can work out the you have enough HCP to be in game but you can't find a suit that you both like.

The obvious game is 3 No Trumps, so that's what you must bid.

If you had 6 - 8 HCP and a Spade stop, you would have bid 2 No Trumps which would have been non-forcing.

July Loser-on-Loser Hand of the Month

A hand from No Fear Bridge (thanks to Neil).

What on earth does South bid after East's pre-emptive 4 Heart bid? 

South decided to punt on the Spade slam.....

The contract of 6 Spades is cold if the Diamonds split 3-2.

However, after the lead of the 10 of Hearts , then the Jack, King and trump,  drawing trumps in 3 rounds, playing the Ace and King of Diamonds reveals the 4-1 split.

Do you now just concede two Diamond tricks?

No, we don't!

We enter dummy with the King of Clubs and lead the Queen of Hearts, but when East covers with the Ace, we discard the Ace of Clubs - a Loser-on-loser.

East now has to provide access to to dummy's 9 of Hearts and Queen of Clubs, on which we discard our two Diamond losers.

12 tricks, and contract, made.

August Play Problem of the Month

The defence on this hand was the difference between winning and losing the Club Championship ten years ago!

What do you lead from East after the bidding? North's 2NT showed a minimum of 5-5 in the minors.

Having had their bidding space taken and a certain +620 for 4 Spades (possibly + 1), East/West had to take North off 3 to take a top.

If East leads the obvious Spade, North can discard a heart to only lose a diamond, a heart and a club - just one off.

In fact, East led his singleton diamond to West's ace. At this point, it is tempting for West to cash his ace and king of hearts, then, with East making a club later, N/S is 2 down. Not good enough!

West led a low diamond (asking for the lower of the two remaining suits) for a ruff, heart return to the King (to let partner know he also had the ace), diamond ruff with Q, heart return to the ace. 5 tricks to East/West, - 800 and an outright top.

It should be noted how clever East's 3 Spade bid is. If East passes, South will bid 3 Clubs and the hand will be played from South. It is more difficult for West to find the winning defence.

Congratulations to Steven and Charles for finding the defence and winning the 2011 Club Championship.

September Play Problem of the Month

You have 2 lovely long suits. However, on a Spade lead, which you win with Dummy's Queen, you have to make sure that East doesn't get in to lead a Spade through you to give the defence 5 tricks.

How do you play the hand?
Win the first trick with the Spade Queen and lead a Heart. The 9 makes you take the Ace. West cleverly discards (unblocks) the Jack. 
Play to the Club Ace and lead another Heart - you desperately want to get the lead into West's hand!
No luck. East goes up with the 10 and you win the King.
Still a chance. Heart Queen is now played. What does West discard? A Club will lead the suit unguarded, a Spade will now only produce 3 Spade winners. So a Diamond is thrown.
A Club to the King  is played, then a Club to West's Queen.
West has to lead a Spade, setting up your King for the 9th trick.
How well did you do?
October Bidding Problem of the Month

Here's a problem that many pairs face.

What do you bid with the South hand after partner has openend One Heart?

Did you Pass?

If so, you will probably go down one.

...or were you  inspired to bid your clubs? With 2 singletons, it is very tempting...

I Heart, Pass, 3 Clubs, showing a weak, preemptive hand (7 card suit, few High Card Points), Double (from West), 5 Clubs (North), 5 Diamonds (East), 6 Clubs (South), Double, Pass, Pass, Pass.

West leads a top Diamond, ruffed in dummy, Heart to the King, Club to the Ace (Good News!), Ace of Hearts (discarding singleton Spade). Heart ruff fells the Queen, Diamond ruff and run the Hearts.

13 tricks and doubled slam made with an overtrick. ....or 1 Heart down one.

Which do you prefer?

November Problem of the Month

A Double Dummy problem to solve.

How do you make 10 tricks on an opening Spade lead?

Win the opening lead in hand (with the Queen). Lead a Heart to the Queen and cash the Ace of Hearts.

Play a third Heart and ruff with the 7.

Now a small spade to the Jack, ruff the last Heart and draw the last Spade, discarding a Diamond or Club from dummy.

Now the coup - play Ace and another Club.

If West wins, they have to play away from the Ace - Queen of Diamonds.

If East overtakes to lead a Diamond through you, it sets up an extra Club trick in dummy.

Santa’s Christmas Grand Coup
Santa’s Christmas  Grand Coup

Santa is playing his annual Christmas Eve friendly rubber bridge competition,  partnering Rudolph against the stormy pair of Donner and Blitzen.

The contract is 7 Spades, the lead the 9 of Hearts - can you see how Santa makes 13 tricks?

The only way to make the contract is to somehow win the first 10 tricks and finish in dummy, so that you can take the Spade finesse at trick 11.

Trump the winning 10 of Hearts with a low Spade, play the 9 of Clubs and overtake with the 10 (assuming West plays low)

The Jack of Hearts is trumped and then return to Dummy with a club finesse.

The Queen of Hearts is trumped and a Club played back to Dummy.

The King of Hearts is now ruffed, East throwing a Diamond.

A Diamond is led back to the table, the Ace of Hearts is ruffed, another Diamond back to the King of Diamonds and....

Hey Presto! Just take the Spade finesse at trick 11......

New Year Bidding Problem

What do you bid as East after North has opened 1 Heart?

It is essential that East makes a forcing bid. If they bid 3 Diamonds or 3 Clubs, West will pass.

If East doubles, West will bid One No Trump and East will possible decide to bid 3 No Trumps. This will make, making 10 tricks on a Heart lead.

If East bids 2 No Trump (Unusual No Trump or CRO), showing both minors, West will bid 3 Diamonds. East has to decide between 5 Diamonds (which makes on any lead), 6 Diamonds (which makes on a Heart lead) or cue-bidding 3 Hearts, asking West to bid 3 No Trumps with a Heart stop.

Results on the day included all of the above, and also 6 Diamonds going down one and the dreaded 3 of a minor!