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Bridge Classes

                  PRACTICE HANDS                   

These sessions have proved very popular and are held every 2 or 3 weeks between regular classes. Pre-set hands based on previous lessons are played where each board carries with it information and explanation on how the hand should be best bid and played to reach the desired contract. The hands are designed to reflect different methods of bidding/play and conventions and often more than one variations of these are presented.

No time limit is put on the play of the hands and Judi and myself float around the tables in order to offer assistance, guidance or explanation wherever it may be required.  


We have spent a lot of time during the lessons showing the importance and potential of shape distribution that often occurs in hands. Occasionally we have sessions where the boards are dealt in a goulash fashion in order to produce hands that show this freak distribution. This enables us to recognize and put into practice what we have shown during those particular lessons.

Try This!          STAYMAN - Showing 4/4 in the Majors          Try This! 

You hold KQ107 J954 A7 K43 and open 1NT (12-14pts) and partner responds 2 (Stayman). The standard Acol reply would be 2, promising 4 hearts although not denying 4 spades as well. A more succinct bid to show 4/4 in the majors is 2NT instead of 2. This gives partner more precise information regarding the shape of your hand, allowing him/her to find the best response.

Try This!          THE STEPS CONVENTION          Try This! 

Steps is a convention used after partner has opened a strong2♣ (normally 23+ HCP) that enables you to show the strength (in HCP) of your hand to within a limited range of 3 points. The responses to the 2♣ opening would be: 2 (0-3 pts), 2 (4-6 pts), 2♠ (7-9 pts), 2NT (10-12 pts), 3♣ (13+ pts). You should not add on any points for distribution (voids, singletons, length, etc). The above bids are artificial and as such must be alerted. These bids do not say anything about the suit being mentioned, e.g. a response of 2 (showing 4-6 pts) may not necessarily (and probably wont) show a heart suit.

The subsequent bids by both the 2♣ opener and partner should be natural bids which describe their hands, i.e. that show a 5+ card suit. If no such 'feature' can be shown, then the responses should be in NT at the lowest level. Normally it would then be up to opener to decide where the contract should rest as it is opener who would know the combined HCP of both hands within this 3-point range.

Steps is an elegantly simple convention that can easily be added on to whatever system you use. Its only real shortcoming is that it can only be used after a strong 2 opening and how are you dealt a hand with 23+ points? Which means of course that such a powerful tool often goes under-used. To overcome this, I suggest you lower the range of your 2♣ opening bid to 20+ points with any shape. This of course means that you lose the ability to play strong 2 openings (as many Acol players do) but you can compensate for this by playing weak 2's which themselves can be a very useful and powerful device to employ. This can also be extended to the standard 2NT opening (20-22 pts/balanced) by now putting that bid under the 2♣ opening banner, which then gives you the opportunity to use the 2NT bid as the Unusual 2NT opening (showing both minors) as a very effective disruptive bid against the opposition.