Castle Morpeth Bridge Club
HAND OF THE WEEK
Analysis for 27th September = Board 20:

       Most E/W declarers failed to make the most of today's hand by not making as many tricks as were available.       West should open 1H rather than 1S in the normal Acol style planning to rebid in NT if partner does not bid spades.        North has a poorish high card count and a poor suit and so should pass rather than bid a vulnerable 2D overcall and East naturally responds 1S. and South has an obvious pass.      West with extra values has to show them with a jump to 3S or 4S and I think 3S is correct.        Although the void in partner's suit(hearts) is not a plus point, East should raise to game because of the useful fifth trump and possibly setupable side suit(diamonds).          

       South has an easy lead of the D3 singleton although declarer does not know it is not from length and should normally play D10 rather than DQ as against a suit a lead from a King is unlikely on the current auction.      North dismisses this notion by playing DJ and you win  DA and try to assess the contract.       If SK is finessable you should be OK but if not you will probably need the CA to be with South!       A spade to S10 wins and you discard two losing clubs on HAK and exit with a diamond which is unexpectedly won by North with DK with South discarding a heart.        North leads a club to South's CA and probably exits with a small heart which you ruff in hand and lead a spade to SJ (North discarding a diamond).      Then you cash CK (discarding a diamond), ruff a heart,  lead  a diamond ruffing with S4 and ruff a club with SQ and claim the SA for an eleventh trick and a joint top.

Analysis for 29th September 2022 - Board 5:

       A part-score battle for a change this week.      North has a routine weak 1NT opener and if East is playing the Astro or Landy defence to 1NT then all pass and 1NT is the final contract.      If East overcalls a natural 2D then South has two options, viz. z penalty double or a natural 2NT unless you play a conventional defence, e.g. Lebensohl.       I think it will be easier to score +120 for 2NT than +300 for 2D doubled minus two so I would bid 2NT.       West with no diamond fit passes as does North to show the minimum of the 1NT range.

       East probably leads DK and declarer should duck to sever the defence communications (since the diamonds are likely to be 6-2)and win the diamond continuation in dummy.        You should then play Ace and another heart hoping for West to have length (likely if East has six diamonds but not the case here) and East has to play low or crash together his partner's HQ.        West probably switches to SQ, ducked all round, followed by SJ which East wins in order to clear the diamonds.       Declarer, however, can win (discarding a heart from dummy) and cash SA, CA, S9 and lead C10 to CJ and cash CAK for +120.

Analysis for 13th September 2022 - Board 18::

      A tricky hand for E/W to play this week.      East opens a routine Weak-Two in spades, South has an obvious pass and  West enquires with a conventional 2NT.       Most players play Jacobi responses, viz.  3C - Min hcp, poor suit; 3D = Min hcp, good suit; 3H = max hcp, poor suit; 3S = max hcp, good suit; 3NT = AKQxxx.       North butts in with 3D and after three level intervention you should make the conventional bid if you can bid at the three level or pass otherwise!       I think you are just worth a 3H bid to show a higher range bid but poor trumps and West jumps to game with 4S.

     South  leads D10 and declarer wins dummy's Ace incase south had a singleton and counts one trump and four minor suit losers, at least one of which you can ruff in dummy.      You may be able to ruff two minor suit cards in dummy but the defence is likely to thwart that plan by playing two rounds of trumps as you have to relinquish the lead in diamonds  or clubs.      A better plan is to set up the heart suit as North figures to have HK to justify the three level intervention.      So you should start by playing HA and ruffing H3.       When HK appears you can lead a spade to J leaving the defence without resource.      If a trump is led back you win SK (noting trumps 2-2) , ruff a heart high and cross to a trump to throw three losers on the set-up hears.      Otherwise you duck CK exit by North, win the continuation. ruff a club, ruff a heart high, cross to a trump and play winning hearts and chalk up the game bonus.

Analysis for 6th September 2022 : Board 9 :

       A problem hand for E/W this week.      After an obvious pass by North, East opens 1D and with N/S silent, West responds 1H and East rebids 2C.      West now has to decide between an invitational 2NT or an invitational jump to 3D as partner has denied four spades by rebidding 2C rather than 1S.       A fourth suit forcing is also a possibility but if the final contract were 3NT then you give the defenders the clue to lead a spade.        I think the preferred bid is 3D and with a minimum hcp but good shape East should further invite with 4D, passing the buck!      With a singleton and two Aces West should raise to 5D.

      South has a choice of leads, a trump, a non-descript heart or a spade.        I would lead a spade and declarer wins SA and leads H3 before touching trumps as a cross-ruff is likely.      North should rise with HA as East may have a singleton King and try to cash a spade but East ruffs, cashes HK  and exits with a club to South's CA.       South cannot now stop declarer from ruffing two clubs on the table and drawing trumps to  cash CK9 and not needing the HQ winner on the table.       .

Analysis for 30th August 2022 : Board 20:

     Most N/S pairs found this hand difficult to evaluate but it should have been routine.        West has an obvious opening pass, North has an obvious weak 1NT opener with 13hcp and East an obvious pass with only 6hcp.        How should you rate South's hand?        With a heart less and a plain card elsewhere you should probably transfer with 2D and settle for 2NT invitationally.        However knowing of the eight card fit in hearts you should transfer and go all the way to game in hearts, not NT as the six card  suit gives you more options and control.        3NT may score better occasionally, but, in general, you win significantly more match points in the long run playing in game in a  major suit fit of 5-3 or 6-2 rather than 3NT even when the suit quality is poor! 

      East with no good lead usually selects D10 covered by DJKA.        If the trumps break evenly (2/2) your only losers are a trump and a club if West holds CK but you should first duck a trump to keep control in case the trumps are 3-1 as you need to ruff a diamond loser in hand.       You can then win West's spade exit in dummy, cross to HA and if trumps are 3-1 you can play DJ and ruff a diamond with H6 and take the club finesse for a second overtrick and +680 when the trumps are 2/2.   

Analysis for 23rd August 2022 : Board 17:

     When partner responds in a new suit after you have overcalled it should be a constructive bid not a weak one - with no fit you should pass rather than take-out to your suit.       North passes, East opens 1D and South has good value for a 1H overcall.       West passes perforce and North bids a constructive 1S.       East doubles to show a good hand and length in both minors and South should go all the way to 4S expecting the hours in hearts and/or spades to be well placed.

       East cashes CA and with a singleton in dummy West should give a Lavinthal signal if possible (i.e. high card for a high suit, low for a diamond and middle for no preference).        A high club would suggest say HQ10x(x) so the middle club denies a heart holding and so East plays DAK and another which North wins with DQ.      With the missing high cards including SK likely to be with East and SK singleton against the odds you should lead SJ at trick 5 and run it if East plays low.       You draw trumps in three rounds, cash HAQ, ruff a club on the table and throw you club loser on a top heart and chalk up + 420. 

Analysis for 16th August 2022 - Board 3 :

        Today's hand was mis-bid and/or misplayed by all E/W pairs bar one.       After an obvious pass by South, West is too strong for a weak 1NT and perforce opens 1C.       This silences North and East responds 1H.        With N/S silent, West rebids 1NT showing 15-16 hcp and less than four hearts.       East now has enough for game and bids a forcing 3H  showing five hearts and offering a choice of games and West despite having NT shape should go for the relative safety of the 5-3 fit and sign off with 4H.     Note that 2S instead of 3H would show 4-4 in the majors and 9+hcp forcing to NT if opener did not have 4 spades.       Over 3H's opener should show a four card spade suit on the way to game.      In this way no eight card major fits are missed.

         South has a blind lead and probably selects D7 (MUD or Middle-Up-Down with three or four small).       The best way to [play this trump suit is to lead small towards the HQ intending to finesse the H10 on the way back if the HQ wins or if South wins the HA.  So you win DA and lead H7.      When North wins HA you now have to decide if the HA is singleton or HAJ doubleton and the odds favour the latter as well as the fact that you are likely to lose control if the former.       North exits with a diamond rather than open up a black suit so you cross to HK (phew!), cross back to HQ and run SJ hoping for the spade King and Queen to be in different hands or South to hold both SK & SQ.      When the spades split you have eleven tricks when you repeat the spade play.

Analysis for 9th August 2022 : Board 22 :

     Most E/W pairs failed to make the most of today's hand.       Although a small slam is almost s  50/50 bet, I would suggest a sequence ending in 3NT is normal and the question is just how many tricks you should make.    East has an obvious 1H opener and West should suggest a slam by jumping to 3C, which silences North.      After a rebid of 3D (side-suit) by East, West settles for 3NT leaving any further progress to East who declines and passes 3NT.

     North leads SK and declarer counts 8 top tricks but eleven if the clubs break normally, i.e. 3-2 and so there is no point ducking two rounds of spades as overtricks count!       You thus win SA at trick 2, cash CAK (getting the good news) and then DA, HA (in case of singleton HK) and cross to DQ to run your four club winners discarding hearts from dummy before crossing to DK at trick 12 (unless South showed out on  DQ when you take the marked finesse against North's DJ).        When DJ drops under DK you score +690 for a joint top.

Analysis for 2nd August 2022 : Board 19 :

       A difficult hand for N/S to bid and play this week on which no N/S's managed to maximise their potential.       South opens a routine 1S - highest ranking suit with 5-5 shape intending to rebid 2H over a simple response.      West, however has good prospects of winning the bidding duel and jumps to 3C showing a decent opening hand with at least six clubs at the adverse vulnerability.      North does not want to be shut out and stretches to raise to 3S and South with good shape bids the thin 4S game.

      West leads off CAK and South ruffs the second round.        West probably has DK and SK for the strong bidding and you have to hope that trumps break normally (i.e.3-2 or 2-3) and one of your side-suits breaks so you can develop long suit winners.       You should thus start by cashing SA in case West has singleton SK and play a second trump.      West will win SK and probably switch to HJ which you win with HK..       If hearts are 3-2 or 2-3 then you have no problems bringing in the suit but it pays to have a second string to your bow by playing DA, then D10  before drawing the last trump.       West must win DK and if the hearts do not break then West's likely shape will then be  3-1-6-3.        In this case you can win a spade exit in dummy or ruff a club exit in hand and cross to SQ in order to test the diamond break which happens to be 3-3 so you throw three hearts on DQ74.     If West could have exited in hearts then the hearts will provide tricks after conceding the third round.             .  

Analysis for 26th July 2022 : Board 17 :

      A tricky hand for both N/S and E/W today.       North has a routine 1S opener but then East has to decide between a 2D overcall or 3D (if playing weak jump overcalls).      I suggest that the suit is not self-sufficient enough (i.e. playable opposite a singleton for four or five tricks)) to warrant the pre-emptive option but 2D is a fair bid.     South bids a natural 2H, forcing for one round and showing at least five hearts but is dreading a 2S rebid by North.     In this scenario you have to decide on the next round between a pass and a sub-standard 2NT normally showing 11hcp but perhaps the diamond holding is worth a trick or two.      After a pass from West, North has then to decide between raising hearts to the three or game level rather than repeat  spades.      Because the hand has only three trumps the shape does not warrant a raise to game with this minimum opener and 3H becomes the final contract.

      West naturally leads East's suit (DQ) and you should realise that you don't have the entries to dummy to set up and enjoy discards on dummy's long spades after cashing HAK and so you must play to ruff as many diamonds as possible.       Win DA at trick one and ruff a low diamond, cash SAK (discarding club losers), ruff a third spade and lead D9.       West probably ruffs with HJ and you overruff with HA and hope West having started with three spades only cannot overruff,.     However all is well as East shows out on the fourth round of spades so you can ruff and lead DJ.      Either you ruff with H9 and make two more trumps in hand or West ruffs in with HQ and you make the last three trumps in hand for the same ten tricks and a top. i  .   .

Analysis for 19th July 2022 : Board 5 :

        Several E/W pairs failed to bid today's game or failed to play it properly to give then their best chance of a plus score.       After a routine pass from North, East obviously opens 1C and West responds 1S after a pass by South.      East has 16hcp and should rebid 1NT (15-16hcp) rather than rebid 2C which shows a minimum opener or make a jump rebid of 3C which would show the extra strength of the hand but a better suit.        West should make a try for game by bidding 2NT showing 9hcp or a poor 10hcp and East with a maximum for the 1NT rebid should bid a forcing 3S to offer a choice of games, viz. 4S with a five card  spade suit or 3NT otherwise.       This bid is inferentially forcing because you would not want to play in a 4-3 fit at the three level rather than 2NT.

       South leads a fourth highest heart and declarer counts only five top tricks.       Your first thought is if you play on clubs by losing two clubs you set up your required four tricks.      However, by the time you have knocked out the CAK, the defence will have set up at least two hearts which together with two clubs and DA will lead to a one trick defeat.      The alternative play of playing on your six card fit (diamonds) rather than your eight card fit (clubs) hopefully gives you an extra three tricks and then you have to hope that the spade suit provides four tricks which happens if SJ drops in two or three rounds (a 52% chance).       So win HA straightaway - there is no point ducking a round as the hearts are probably 4-4 anyway because of the H2 lead  -  and lead DK, following with DQ if ducked.      If the defence ducks twice you say well defended to the opposition and go one down but they are likely to win DK in case their partner has DQ and continue hearts to knock out your second  stop.       In this case, you win HK, cash DQ, cash SAQ and (a) if North shows out you finesse S10 and cash DJ10 &  SK  or (b) if both opponents follow and SJ has appeared you cash SK10 and DJ10 or (c) if SJ has not appeared you cross to SK and cash DJ10 plus S10 if spades are 3-3 after all. 

Analysis for 12th July 2022 - Board 11:

     A difficult hand that most E/W pairs failed to find the best scoring contract.       After a routine pass from South, West opens 1D and North also has an obvious pass.       East has a choice of responses, both denying either major, viz. 2D or 1NT.       1NT protects the HK against an opening lead but 2D has its virtues as well as you have a maximum for the bid and can raise 2NT by partner to the 3NT game.      Despite the shape, West should rebid 3NT as partner is likely to have some length in clubs as both major suits have  been denied.      It is true that 5D may be the best contract but it is likely that it will go off if South has HA and if both contracts make then it is likely that an overtrick or two will mean that 3NT outscores 5D.

     North will start by leading a club and you win CA and cash five rounds of diamonds throwing a club from dummy putting pressure on the defenders,  noting that North probably throws a couple of hearts and spades suggesting that North has HA and South the SK.      When you then run S10 to South's SJ, South has to give the lead to dummy, normally by leading C10 to CK and a spade to S9 allows you to cash three spades  for ten tricks and a top score.        

Analysis for 28th June 2022 : Board 19 :

       An awkward hand for N/S to bid and play as half the field failed in their game.        There is no foolproof way of handling 4441 hands (i.e. with a singleton club) with 12-14hcp as you cannot show your shape after the more than likely 2C response.      You can open 1H and rebid 2D but partner will assume you have five hearts and jump in hearts with three card support.       I prefer to open 1D and rebid 2D as partner is unlikely to look for the 5D game and partner is likely not to be short in diamonds as then a response of one of a major is more likely than 2C.      On today's hand, however, it is West who bids 2C, North bids a forcing for one round 2S and South has an easy raise to 3S whether East chips in with 3C or not.      North then has an easy raise to 4S and the vulnerability prevents E/W from competing further.

      East leads C4 and West wins CA and should realise that a heart switch may help declarer and so should exit with a trump.       The contract will make if you avoid losing three hearts as you can play to only lose the opening club outside of the hearts.      The low club lead suggests that East has CK and probably one of DK and HAK.        If East has DK then West will have HAK to make up the values for the vulnerable 2C overcall so you can build a heart trick by leading to HJ and then leading to HQ.        Thus I believe the best plan is to win the trump exit at trick 2 with SJ, lead DQ and when East does not cover, win DA and ruff a diamond high, intending to cross to SA and ruff another diamond as West is probably short in diamonds, being long in clubs.      When DK appears on the second round you merely cross to SA and discard a heart on DJ.       You can then concede two hearts and cross-ruff the remainder.      If West shows out on the second or third round of diamonds then East has DK and you play West for HAK as suggested above.

Analysis for 21st June 2022 : Board 18 :

       A routine hand for E/W pairs to bid this week but half the field failed to make their game.       East ipens 1H being too strong for a weak 1NT opener and with N/S silent West responds 2C (being too strong to respond 1NT) and over partner's 2NT bds 3H to offer a choice of games (if East holds 5 hearts) but East naturally signs off in 3NT.

       South leads a four highest D2 and East wins DK over North's DJ.       East counts three top clubs, two top hearts and a diamond so far and needs to develop three more.       If clubs are 3-3 you have an extra trick there but there is no hurry to test the break as you can establish one spade and one diamond by forcing out the opponents Aces.        The diamonds appear to be 4-3 given the lead with South holding DA and so your contract is not in danger if you tackle the suits in the correct order, as you expect North to have length in spades from South's failure to lead one at trick 1.        The best chance of an extra trick in hearts is to cash HAK and play a third round which wins against any 3-3 break or doubleton HJ or HQ.        However, if South wins HQ and switches to spades with SJ you need to hope that North has SA10 and cover with SQ.       If South wins HQ and leads a second diamond you can force out SA and make your contract losing only a heart, a spade and two diamonds as you now have nine tricks with three clubs,three hearts, two diamonds and a spade plus a tenth trick if the clubs break 3-3.       

Analysis for 14th June 2022 - Board 21

       Most E/W pairs had trouble bidding and/or playing today's hand.         North has a near opening but should pass at the adverse vulnerability.         East has a 6-5 hand and as the England international Andrew Robson decreed "6/5 come alive" East should open the hand despite the lack of working hcp.       However the hand should not open 1D as it is after all a minimum opener and should open the more important (for pairs bidding) 1S.        South despite the poor quality suit should overcall 2H and West has a difficult bid with 2S, 3C and a take-out double being possibilities.      I would settle for 2S and North supports partner with 3H although double is a useful convention in this sequence to suggest a hand worth an unassuming cue-bid i.e. a game try in hearts.       Over North's 3H, East's double is also a game try, the reason being that when the opposition support a suit a double is then a game try in their suit.      In this situation West is well worth a re-raise to 4S.

       The defence starts off with HAK and declarer ruffs the second heart, crosses to SA and leads a diamond to DJ playing for the 2H overcaller (who is without HAK) to hold DA.        South wins DA and leads a club and declarer wins dummy's CA, leads a diamond to DK, cashes SK, ruffs the diamonds good and just concede SQ to make ten tricks when the diamonds and spades both break normally, i.e. 3/2. 

Analysis for 7th June 2022 : Board 17 :

       A difficult hand for N/S pairs to bid this week as five of a minor is rarely a good source for master points.        North usually opens 1H and East overcals 1S despite the holding in the opposition's suit.       South has a misfit for partner's suit so it is better to make a sputnik (or take-out) double rather than bid 2C or 2D which might force partner to rebid hearts.        West bids 2S (or possibly 3S) defensively and South should consider whether 3NT is a likely contract.       As partner might prefer to bid 1NT with a good spade holding rather than double on the first round of bidding North should bid 4C and South has a easy raise to 5C.       There is nothing to the play.      E/W should take their two spade tricks and give in.

Analysis for 31st May 2022 - Board 5 :

       A routine 4H for N/S pairs today, but several pairs went down when they failed to negotiate the 4-1 trump break (which occurs on 1 in 4 hands approx.).      With no obvious lead, East should prefer to lead from the longest side-suit rather than DK hoping for a ruff in the hope that declarer loses control of the trump suit.       Declarer wins SA over SK and would like to enter dummy in order to try the trump finesse.        However, there is no hurry and so a club finesse first loses to West's CK.       West naturally continues with a spade and North wins SQ, crosses to CQ and leads H9.      When West plays HK you expect East to have either started with three or four hearts and you should consider what will happen if the trumps are 4-1.      You should now just cross to HQ and take the diamond finesse.       When it loses, East can do you no harm.      If a spade is led. you ruff in dummy, cross to HJ10 (drawing trumps) and cash DAJ and CA for eleven tricks.      If East could exit with a diamond then you win in hand, ruff a spade and cross to HJ10 claiming eleven tricks again.       However, If East exits with a heart you just settle for your ten tricks and contract.       The key to the hand is not playing too many rounds of trumps before setting up your side-suit winners.

Analysis for 24th May 2022 Board 3

       Most N/S pairs struggled to find the best spot on today's hand.       South generally opened 2C (strong, not necessarily clubs) and presumably North erred in making a conventional (waiting) bid of 2D before South rebids 3C.       A simple bid other than 2D (including 3D) should show a decent five card suit and traditionally at least an Ace and a King in the hand.       Thus North should start with 2H and South should immediately show the eight card fit by raising to 3H - although if flat with a lot of hcp it is best to rebid 2NT and then show the heart support on the next round.        North can then launch into 4NT (RKCB), following with 5NT to find 4 Aces (including HK) and either DK or CK as well.       This should encourage North to bid 7H which must have several chances including setting up partner's long suit maybe with a couple of ruffs but on the actual hand thirteen tricks are on top and you might regret not bidding 7NT for the extra 10 points although on the actual hand nobody at all contracted for thirteen tricks.

Analysis for 17th May 2022 : Board 22 :

      Most E/W pairs struggled on today's deal because freakish distributions are hard to judge.       East has a routine 1H opener and South at the vulnerability should make a weak jump overcall of 2S (showing six decent spades and 5-10hcp).      West has no option but to call 3D, forcing for one round, North routinely passes and East has to choose between a rebid of 3H or 3NT.      3H is best because West can cue-bid 3Sto ask East to bid 3NT with a spade stop,      However, as the diamond suit is not solid I believe the best bid now is 4D leaving it up to partner to pass or raise to 5D.       If West expected to make 5D it should be bid there and then instead of 4D so East has no qualms about passing 4D and this turns out to be a joint top.if the defence follows the normal pattern.       North is likely to lead S10 and South is likely to cash SAK in the hope that North has a singleton S10.        However this proves to be disastrous as West discards a losing club on the third round of spades and then DAK drops North's DQ.      .

Analysis for 10th May 2022 : Board 17 :

        A marginal hand in the bidding and play for both sides with today's hand.       North has to decide whether to open 1H or a weak 2H.      I think 2H is better because of the lack of controls (Aces and Kings).       East has a tricky decision over 2H whether to make a take-out double or a thin 2NT to show the extra power - 15hcp instead of 12ish hcp for a normal take-out double.       I favour 2NT ostensibly showing a good 14 to 18hcp with a decent heart stopper or two.       After an obvious pass from South, West has enough strength to insist on game and starts with 3C, usually played as some form of Stayman and raises partner's major to 4S.       I think the simplest bidding idea is to play the same responses to a 1NT (in 2nd or 4th position) or 2NT strong overcall as you would over an initial 1NT opening.

        There is nothing to the play in 4S - you just draw trumps in 3 rounds and lead up to your club honours twice to set up four trumps. three clubs, two hearts and DA for your ten trick contract. with the small chance of an overtrick when you play DA and another near the end hoping the defender that wins the trick has no third diamond and is forced to give you a ruff and a discard (ruffing in one hand and discarding a diamond from the other hand)

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Analysis for 3rd May 2022 : Board 3 :

       A part-score battle for a change for today's hand of the week.      After an obvious pass from South, West opens 1S and North should bid 2D rather than make a take-out double as a jump to 3C from partner would be embarrassing.       After two passes West should reopen with a double or 2H according to the partnership style and South competes with 3D over East's retreat to 2S.

      East leads SQ and continues with S6 to West's SK.       Since East's spade play is consistent with two spades only you know that declarer has four spades and three or four hearts (otherwise East would have wanted to play in hearts not spades).       Thus declarer has at most one club.      You cannot attack declarer's entries to dummy's clubs as North can get to dummy by ruffing a spade or two.       A trump switch will not work if North has a singleton club even if East has a diamond honour, so you lead HK to North's presumed HA.        Declarer can knock out CA if a singleton club is held or ruff a spade and try the ruffing finesse in clubs if void but East can win CA and lead a second heart to West's HQ.        A third round of hearts, ruffed, will hold declarer to eight tricks.

Analysis for 26th April 2022 : Board 5:

       Many N/S pairs failed to chalk up this 4S game.       North has a routine 1S opener and East an obvious pass.       South is not quite worth a jump raise despite the magnificent trump support for partner and should respond 2S.        West is likely to essay 3H although the SQ is a wasted value and North should jump to game because of a well-positioned HK.

       Although not best for the defence East is likely to start with HJ which West wins with HA and switches to D10 suggesting that East holds DQJ.       Declarer thus wins DA, draws trumps by cashing SAK and then HK and DK hoping that West had started with D10x.      However, West shows out but now North can surely claim as West is marked with CK to justify a three level 3H overcall.           Declarer merely cashes CA and exits with C4 to West's CK, West being end-played to concede a ruff and discard whether a heart or a club follows.      This exit is ruffed in one hand while a diamond is ditched from the other hand, losing in all just one heart, one club and one diamond only at the end.

Analysis for 19th April 2022 : Board 12 :

       With no E/W bidding the thin 6H small slam on today's hand it was important to score as many overtricks as possible.      The normal bidding should be a routine 1S from West, a pass from North (The club suit is of a too poor quality to venture an overcall), a forcing 2H response from East and a well-judged jump to the 4H game by West with two AKs and an outside singleton.

       South leads DJ and dummy wins DA unblocking D9 from hand as a routine measure in case you wish to finesse against South's likely D10 at a late stage and you should start with a small trump from dummy in case North has a singleton HQ or HK.      When H10 wins you suspect that North has started with H KQxx but if North has only H KQx  you need to hope North has at least two spades in order to make twelve tricks.       You cash CA, ruff a club low on the table and  lead H9.      North should cover this with HQ otherwise you let H9 win, cross to SQ, cash HA, cross back to SA and lead SK and whether North ruffs in or not you discard your losing club and make twelve tricks for a top.      If North covers H9 you know the trump position when South shows out so you win HA and cash SAK and throw your losing club but North must come to two trump tricks (or a club and a trump) to hold declarer to eleven tricks.

Analysis for 5th April 2022 - Board 11::

     Quite a few N/S pairs had difficulty in bidding today's hand.      South has a minimum 1H opener and North bids 2C after West's obvious pass.     If East passes, South rebids 2D and North makes a game try by bidding a conventional fourth-suit forcing 2S, South retreats to 3C and North settles for a part-score by bidding 3D.       East is likely, however, to butt in with 2S and South should now pass to show a minimum opener with 5 hearts.       North bids 3D which although highly encouraging is not forcing as a 3S cue-bid is available to show the values for 3NT without a spade stop.      South has no reason to bid any further, having a potentially wasted three hcp in spades.

         There is nothing special to the play of the hand after being careful to knock out the major Aces and taking the club finesse before cashing DAK and throwing a club on SQ, allowing East to ruff in with DQ at some stage by leading top hearts and thereafter cross-ruffing the remainder for +130, losing one heart, one spade and one trump. 

Analysis for 29th March 2022 - Board 8 :-

      Many E/W pairs failed to make the most of today's hand.        West opens 1H and North should not overcall 2C as the suit is not good enough and should pass.       East has an easy 1S response and South an obvious pass.       West may be tempted to rebid 2C but should rebid 1NT to show a non-minimum values, usually 15-16 hcp.       East then has an easy sign-off of 4S.

      South leads D3 and declarer expects to lose one trump on a normal 3-2 trump division and therefore requires only one diamond to be lost if the club finesse is off-side.        However, if you win DA at trick 1 and lead a trump the defence will duck the first round of trumps intending to cash two diamonds when a second round of trumps is led.        Also, if you play DA and a second round of diamonds instead of a trump, then the defence will play Ace and another trump to leave your second diamond loser exposed.                The solution to this dilemma is to duck the first trick to West.        If West plays a second diamond to dummy's DA then you cross to HK and ruff your diamond loser and then start on the trumps.          Otherwise, if West plays SA and another trump, you draw the outstanding trump (discarding a club), cash HK, cross to HA and ruff a heart.        If the HQ has dropped in three rounds of the suit you cross to dummy to discard a club and a diamond on the set-up hearts and make an overtrick.        When HQ is still out on a 4-2 heart break you take the club finesse for an over trick but when it loses you win the minor suit exit in dummy, ruff a fourth round of hearts and cross to dummy with the other minor Ace to discard your diamond loser on the 5th round heart winner.     All these paths should lead to +420 on the actual hand.

 

 

Analysis for 22nd March 2022 - Board 20:

     Most E/W pairs failed to score convincingly on today's hand.       West has a near 1D opener but should pass as the hand is lacking in controls (Aces and Kings).       North has to decide o opening 1C or a weak 1NT and most players prefer the 1C opener with likely an easy 1S rebid.       East is minimum for a (strong) 1NT overcall but should bid to get the strength across to partner and West has an easy raise to 3NT.

      South - with scant strength outside a weak five card suit - should lead C8 and North should play C10 at trick 1 to preserve communication with partner.       East wins CQ and plays DA and crosses to DK.       It is safe now to lead HQ as nine tricks are secure.      North will cover HK and you can cash  SA & HJ and cross to H10 to run four diamond tricks and finish with eleven tricks.

Should North duck HQ, you simply cash your diamond tricks and take the heart finesse later for the same eleven tricks with nine tricks assured as all you can lose is HK and CAKJ.

Analysis for 8th March 2022 : Board 20:

        A marginal hand for E/W who should end up in game - either 4S making +650 or 3NT making +630 or +660 depending on the defence.      After an uncontested auction starting 1S from West and 2C from East, West has to decide on a rebid of either 2S or 3S which has the advantage of showing six spades.      I would err on the side of caution and rebid 2S as the club and heart honour may be worthless and would pass partner's jump to game with 3NT.

            South leads from the weak heart suit as nothing else appeals (H7 or H5 according to choice and North plays Ace and another.       East wins and leads S9 to S!0 & SJ which North should smoothly duck.       Although SK may be with South you should continue with SA and force out SK with SQ.       North will probably exit with a third heart and you can then cross to CQ in order too cash three spade winners before crossing to three more club winners for +660 and a joint top..

Analysis for 1st March 2022 - Board 8 :

        A problem hand for N/S today.        After three routine passes South opens a Benji 2D showing a game-going hand and over North's 2D relay rebids 2NT showing 23-24hcp.       North is tempted to pass this but with nine cards in the majors should hope for a fit as North's hand is probably entryless otherwise.       With five hearts and four spades you would have transferred with 3D intending to rebid 3S over the 3H transfer.      In order to transfer with 3H and rebid 4H you need to be at least 5-5 in the majors.      To allow for the current distribution most club pairs play 3S as showing this shape (5S & 4H) and South shows support by bidding 4H which North obviously passes.

       East leads D10 and South wins DK perforce - noting that to have any chance of the contract the trumps must break 3-2 and East must have the CA.       Thus after winning trick 1 and cashing HAK declarer cashes the second top diamond and plays SAK9 overtaking with S10 when East drops SQ singleton and follows by discarding a club.      East  can win SJ but is end-played as a diamond exit allows South to ruff in hand and discard a club from dummy.       A spade exit would allow dummy the entry to lead a club towards CK or a club exit would allow declarer to score CK.          In this way South chalks up the game score.  

Analysis for 22nd February 2022 : Board 13 :

     Few E/W pairs managed to chalk up a game on today's combined 26hcp.       After a routine pass by North, East opens 2C Benji and rebids 2S after a relay of 2D by West which is strong but not forcing according to most styles.        West is worthy of a further effort and 2NT describes the hand with useful holdings in the other three suits.        East  has a difficult bid now and should choose between 3S and 3NT, not 4S as the suit needs more intermediates but West should try 3NT anyway.        

      North, on lead, has to choose between H4, the unbid major, or D4 hoping to find partner holding a diamond honour.       If a diamond, West wins DK over DQ and immediately finesses SJ, playing SAK and another when the finesse wins and nine tricks are there with five spades, one diamond, one club and two hearts.       The defence cannot take more than two diamond tricks before you can cash nine and will probably end up giving you an overtrick.       On a heart lead you win HA and start on spades from the top which works for five tricks if the spades are 3-3 or S10 or SQ drop doubleton.        This play is 2% inferior to the finesse of SJ first but you cannot afford to play on another suit immediately.       When SQ drops you cash SJ and the other top heart and exit to South's S10 to set up your nine tricks.

Analysis for 15th February 2022 : Board 9:

     A defensive hand for N/S this week on which many pairs failed to hold their opponents to eleven tricks.      North has a routine pass and East a routine 1S opener.      South has to choose between a pass and a weak jump overcall but the suit quality is poor and a pass is preferred.      West jumps to 3H to show slam interest and a good suit and East rebids 3S to show 5+ spades.      West bids 4NT (RKCB) and is disappointed by the 5D one-Ace reply and signs off with 5S.

     South should not lead a heart or a trump as the bidding suggests that dummy's heart suit will provide discards and you should make an attacking lead rather than a passive one.      The DA might be the winning lead but the odds favour the CJ lead.     Winning CA at trick 1 North should realise that (a) partner does not hold CK and (b) if CJ was singleton then East would have five clubs and would probably have rebid 4C rather than 3S.     You should thus switch to D9 to hold declarer to eleven tricks.      Declarer wins trick 3, cashes SAJ & HA, ruffs a low heart with SQ (in case hearts are 4-1) and crosses to SK to claim the rest of the tricks with dummy's hearts and a trump for trick 13.

      A useful bidding idea is to play sequences such as 1S-2H-2/3S-4NT as RKCB asking in spades and 1S-3H-3S-4NT as asking in hearts.

Analysis for 8th February 2022 - Board 6:

     Match pointed pairs is about extracting as many tricks as possible as safely as you can.     Few E/W pairs managed this to today's deal.       After two routine passes, West opens 2C (Benji) and with N/S silent throughout rebids 2NT (showing 21-22hcp) over partner's relay 2D.      East should bid 3C Puppet Stayman to see if partner's response shows five hearts and settles for 3NT when partner denies any four or five card major.

     North leads SK and South discourages with S2 and declarer realises that South is the "danger hand" which needs to be kept off lead and ducks SK to force North to switch suits.     With clubs likely providing five tricks you would then have nine top tricks and the suit best developed to provide overtricks is diamonds.     Thus you should win C7 exit from North with CJ,  lead D3 from dummy and insert D9 when South follows low.      North can win DJ but has no useful continuation with both heart and spade leads giving away a trick and so exits with a diamond to declarer's DA.     If South has both DQ & DJ this play wins or if the defender with  DQ started with DQx or DQxx declarer can now cross to CQ and cash DK106 discarding SJ & HQ5, making eleven tricks.       If DQ does not fall you take the heart finesse and end with nine or ten tricks.

Analysis for 1st February 2022 - Board 9:

      Most E/W partnerships had trouble with today's hand although it should be straightforward playing modern Benji ACOL.     After a routine pass by North, East should open 2NT to show 19-20 (2C rebidding 2NT shows 21-22) and West responds 3C Puppet Stayman and East rebids 3H (showing 5H in the modern style) and West raises to the 4H game.      Note the responses to 3C are usually 3NT showing less than for hearts and less than four spades or 3 of a major showing five or 3D showing at least one four card major.       Over 3D the best continuation is to bid the suit you haven't got so that the stronger hand is declarer if you have a fit.      Thus 3H shows 4S, 3S shows 4H and you can play 4D as showing both four hearts and four spades so opener bids the suit held at the four level.

       Routine technique lands the game after South cashes two clubs and switches to a trump.      You win HJK noting the three-two trump division and lead DQ.       South can duck a round or two and take the third round but you enter dummy with a heart to HQ in order to dispose of your losing spade on a fourth round of diamonds.      Luckily the defence cannot take a third round diamond ruff as the defender with two diamonds has only two hearts.

Analysis for 25th January 2022 - Board 9:

    Most N/S failed to chalk up +400 for game in clubs on today's hand.      Normally the scoring system favours game in a major or 3NT but neither are options on today's deal and North's final bid is emminently reasonable.        I would open 1C rather than a Benji 2C rebidding 3C and East has an normal 1H overcall, South a 2D response and West a pre-emtive jump to 3H despite the adverse vulnerability over which North has no real option other than to bid 5C.

     With two possible diamond losers and one possible spade loser you should try and combine your options, starting by ruffing the heart lead and - leaving the trumps alone for now -  lead D9 towards DK hoping that East has DA.       West wins DA and exits safely with a heart which you ruff and lead DJ to East's DQ.      East exits with a heart which you ruff, cash CA and lead a club to DQ (drawing the outstanding trump) and ruff a third round of diamonds.       If they fail to split 3-3 you take the spade finesse for your contract but when they do break 3-3 you throw your losing spade on D6 which is now good and claim eleven tricks.        It is important to delay drawing trumps until you have tested how the diamonds lie.

Analysis for 18th January - F2F Board 16:

A bidding problem hand for N/S which was only solved by one N/S with the biddding as specified.      West has an obvious pass and North's hand is not great - a possibly wasted Spade honour, minimum hcp and lacking in controls and I recommend a pass if vulnerable.      However Non-Vul it is important to suggest a diamond lead if you end up defending so I would accept a 1D opener.      East bids an intermediate 3C, 11-15hcp and six clubs and this creates a bidding problem for South.     A double in this position should show 9+hcp and at least 4-4 in the majors.        Although CK is apparently worthless you stretch and double for take-out.       North does not want to pass for penalties with such poor trick taking potential and guesses to bid 3H hoping for five hearts opposite and is delighted to see dummy when raised to game.       East has no good lead and chooses HQ which declarer should win with HA, cash H10 and leaving the last trump outstanding lead D8.      If West ducks, you win D10 and continue with DJ discarding a club from dummy and eventually use HK as entry to cash two diamond winners before leading SQ.       East does best to win DA and the defence cash their other two aces for - 420. 

Analysis for 11th January 2022 - Board 14:

      East has a not-perfect but perfectly acceptable weak 2S opener and South has an obvious pass.     A bid of 2NT by West would be a game try and any other bid is normally to play.       With a minimum opening hand  only and with no fit for spades you thus have no game interest and should bid a non-forcing 3D intending to play there.       North has other ideas and bids 3H for which South has a marginal  raise to game.      East leads D8 which then runs to DQ and declarer rues the fact that the hands do not filt together well as DA is apparently worthless and probably three clubs and a spade to lose.       All is not lost - until the fat lady sings - as they say.       You must hope to set up S10 for a discard of a club hoping that the clubs are blocked with one hand holding CAQ or CKQ or CAK.       Ergo, you cash DA (discarding a club), ruff the low diamond, cross to HA and lead SQ before drawing trumps as dummy has no other entry.      East can cover with SK but miraculously SJ drops singleton and so S10 is set up.        So you just cash HK, cross to HQ (drawing the outstanding trump) & cash S10.      All you lose is just three clubs.     Your plan if the SJ has not dropped wouls be to cross to HK and lead your second spade hoping to set up S10 as mentioned above.

Analysis for 30th November 2021 : Board 8

     A competetive hand this week.       West has a routine 1S opener and North has a routine 2H overcall.       East has a spade raise halfway between 2S and 3S and probably decides to bid just 2S intending to accept a try for game by partner.       South should however bid to the limit with 4H as partner is likely to be short in spades - both opponents having bid spades and West sacrifices with 4S expecting it to be cheapish.       However North accepts the push and bids 5H which is passed out.

    East realises that declarer probably has a singleton spade and so starts with DQ to West's DA and SK follows to declarer's SA.       Realising that West probably has either CA or HK to make up opening values declarer hopes that HK is held and sure enough when North leads C8 towards  dummy the CQ holds the trick and HQ, H10 and HA drawing the last outstanding trump (HK).       Now all declarer has to do is force out CA and access dummy with a diamond ruff to cash CK6 discarding the two diamond losers to fulfil the eleven trick contract. 

Analysis for 23rd November 2021 : Board 21 :

      A few points of interest in today's hand  both in the bidding and the play.       North has an obvious pass and some intrepid Easts would open 1S but I don't recommend this as partner will usually push you too  high and so I would pass.       South has the hcp for a 2NT opener but not the shape and so should open 1D.       West could overcall 1H to help the defence but generally most players will pass.       North has insufficient hcp to call 2C and should thus bid 1S and South will now bid 3NT.

       East with a good suit but no entries to cash the long cards if partner turns up with HQ should prefer a short-suit leaad in the hope of striking partner's suit.     I would lead S8 (or S7 if you prefer MUD from three small).  As East does not know if declarer has SQx or singleton SQ the S5 will be played to trick 1 and declarer wins SQ.    With no immediate entry to dummy, declarerr is forced into playing CA and another to East's CK and the switch to H6 gives declarer a problem and H2 should be played  which West wins with H10. and continues S7 to West's SA for another heart from West.       Declarer  should now finesse HQ to guarantee the contract as West would have overcalled 1H with DK in addition to HKJ10xx.       Whether West exits in hearts or spades, declarer has two entries to take and repeat the diamond finesse after cashing the fifth club.        In hindsight if you had taken a losing heart finesse at trick four you could end up with ten tricks but that's bridge.  

Analysis for 16th November 2021 : Board 16

      A few E/W pairs failed to make  overtrick(s) on today's hand which is essential in order to score well.        The bidding also raises a few points of interest.      East opens 1D after two passes and West responds 1H.      With the opposition silent East rebids 2NT showing 17-18hcp and West should bid 3S to check if there is any major suit 8 card fit.      Note this bid shows 4-4 shape in the majors and not 5H & 4S as with that hand West would bid a forcing 3H offering a choice of games between 3NT and 4H if opener has 3H.     Without 3H but with 4 spades opener should then bid 3S over 3H to continue the search for a major suit fit.     Over 3S East naturally bids 3NT as 4 spades are not held.

     South naturally leads SQ and with strong spades in dummy should win SK and start by leading a heart towards dummy's HKQ.       If HQ holds, you return to hand with DQ to lead a second heart, won by South with HA.        South switches to clubs and CQ from North is taken by declarer's CA and S3 is led, ducking when South plays S10 in order to retain a finesse position in spades for two more tricks.      South wins perforce and leads a club to North's CK but West can win the club continuation with CJ, finesse S9, cash HK & SA & DAK and also the thirteenth diamond when the suit splits 3-3.       You should earn a very successful +630.

 

Analysis for 2nd November 2021 : Board 14

      Congratulations to the one pair who bid and made 6NT presumably on the given auction although your correspondant managed to play in spades for a below average score.       South will lead D10 won by declarer with DK.         If the CK is with South then you need the spades 3/2 with SQ with North - a less than 50/50 proposition.        You thus cross to HK and lead C2 to C8 from North and CQ wins.        Taking this at face value you can count two clubs, three diamonds, four hearts and two spades which gives you eleven tricks.       This means that a simple spade finesse of SJ would give you a 50/50 chance of success now.         However  you should look for a better chance.       This is either SQx doubleton or the hand with SQxx(x) holding four or more diamonds.        So cross to DQ and lead C10 to North's CA who exits with DJ.        When you cash your remaining three top hearts throwing a spade South shows four hearts and will now be squeezed when you cash CK.       If D9 is thrown by South then D6 and SAK make up the last three tricks otherwise SAKJ will drop SQ whether North or South hold it!  

Analysis for 19th October 2021: Board 6:

      This board was misplayed by the majority of N/S pairs.      East has a near opener but should pass as dealer.   South opens 1H and after West passes, North responds 1S.        South rebids 2NT to show a strong hand amd now North should bid 3S showing 5 spades and offering a choice of games between 4S (with 3 card support) or 3NT.      This bid is commonly misunderstood by beginers as it is systemically forcing because you should not be playing in 4-3 fits rather than NT and you should not "sign off" in 3S if weak - just pass 2NT!      Over 3S, South could bid 4C to show slam interest and CA but North has a weak hand and is not interested, merely signing off with 4S.

      East probably leads HK and dummy wins HA, declarer shedding a diamond.      Now it is important to play on your side-suit (clubs) before touching trumps and you play CA followed by C6.      When West does not play CK you should duck, hoping that East holds CKx doubleton.       West wins with C10 and probably switches to S2 which you win with SQ, ruff a club with SA, cash SK when the clubs break 3-3, ruff a heart back to hand and draw the remaining trumps, cash winning clubs, then DA and concede just one club and one diamond for +450 and a near-top!     Note if the clubs are 4-2 you need to ruff two clubs in dummy and hope the trumps are 3-2.

Analysis for 12th October 2021 : Board 13:

     My favourite (?) board number: 13 had interesting points in the bidding and play for N/S.       North has a routine weak 1NT and South transfers to 2H having a five card major.      The standard meaning of the now natural bid of 3D is game forcing - not my favourite meaning - and inviting a slam in one of the red suits.      If this is your interpretation then you have to bid 2NT showing 11-12hcp which will be plenty high enough if partner passes.      Over 2NT, North bids 3H intended to play - showing 3 card support and bottom end of the 1NT range.        When the eight card fit has been announced, South should bid 4H having extra playing strength when the fit has been found.   

     East is likely to lead DQ which is helpful to declarer because of the combined strong middle cards held.      However, it is necessary to tackle trumps straight away otherwise you risk a diamond ruff.      So you win DK and play HAK (noting West has a trick with HQ) and now you should lead a club playing C9 assuming West plays low.     You need to stop West gaining the lead when two trumps can be drawn for one by cashing the master HQ.      East will exit with a club to your CA but you lead D8 to D10 and dummy's DA and exit with D3 to your D7 setting up D9 in dummy for a spade discard.       You can then cross ruff spades and clubs allowing West to overruff at some stage but making the rest but one and chalk up an overtrick. 

Analysis for 5th October 2021: Board 19:

      A bidding problem for N/S this week where only 1 in 4 pairs reached the optimum 3NT.        If North were the dealer the bidding could go uncontested 1D-2C-3D-3NT.        However on the actual deal, after a pass by South, West will open 1H despite the lack of Aces and minimal hcp plus a poor suit.      Playing weak jump overcalls at this (favourable) vulnerability North should double which when bidding over partner's new suit response shows similar values to the jump rebid as suggested above.        South bids 2C and over North's 2D can make a forward-going natural bid of 2NT which North raises to 3NT expecting 5 or 6 tricks in diamonds.        West leads H6 to East's H9 and declarer's HQ and D2 is led intending to finesse but when DQ pops up you run six diamond tricks discarding a heart, two spaes and a club and play CA and a club to C9 placing West with CK to make up opening values.       If this loses to CJ you settle for your ten top tricks but if it forces CK you have eleven or twelve tricks for a clear top. 

Analysis for 28th Sept 2021 : Board 7

      A play problem for N/S this week.      After routine passes by South & West, North opens 1H, South has just enough to respond 2C, North rebids 2NT and South offers a choice of games with a forcing bid of 3H showing three card support.       North naturally raises to 4H and East leads a club (C10 usually in case CJ is in dummy).    West wins CA and continues with C8, won by declarer with CK.      The normal way to play this trump suit is to cash a top heart and cross to dummy and lead a heart to H10 or duck with H2 if West plays HK in case West has HQJxx when you can re-enter dummy and finesse H10 and cash the HA drawing trumps.      If the H10 loses on the second round then the suit is breaking 3/2 and HA will draw the last trump.      When you cash HK the HQ drops so you lead a diamond to D9 and when it wins you lead a trump to H10, cash HA and give West the master trump.      Whether West leads a club (which you ruff throwing a spade from dummy) or a spade (which you win with SA, cash DA and repeat the winning diamond finesse throwing two spade losers on the 4th and 5th round of diamonds.        In this way you claim an overtrick.

Analysis for 21st Sept 2021 : Board 4

     A tiny part-score hand for a change this week.      West has an obvious opener of 1D as it is losing policy to open a weak 1NT with two suits wide open, not to mention being 1hcp light.     North should overcall 1S to show a decent five card rather than make a take-out double to suggest strength.     East has a routine 2C response and West rebids 2D having had the hoped-for 1S rebid stolen by the N/S opposition.      North passes because South could not raise a bid and East has to contemplate further action.      With a better six card club suit East could make a forward going but not forcing bid of 3C but with the current hand should pass and settle for a makeable part-score.      The traditional lead for North from CAK doubleton is the King hoping to follow with CA, put partner in and get a club ruff in return.        However, seeing dummy, North switches to a trump in an attempt to stop a spade ruff in dummy.      Declarer should refuse the free finesse against DJ and rise with DK, follow with DAQ (fortunately drawing the outstanding trumps) and lead CJ to North's now bare CA.      You now have four discards on dummy's set-up clubs together with the major Aces and your last two trumps to garner eleven tricks and +150.       This score was, surprisingly, hardly ever achieved.     Note that if you let the diamond run to your hand and cross to DK in order to lead a club the defence will be able to switch to a heart (preferably HK) to kill dummy's only entry to these winning clubs.

Analysis for 14th Sept 2021 : Board 4

       A bidding problem for E/W this week.      West opens the obvious 1D and East responds 1S rather than raise partner's suit as it is winning bridge to explore for major suit fits rather than play in a minor suit.       South is well worth a butt-in of 2H and West should consider the best way forward to describe the hand held.       A pass would show a minimum opener and 3C a minimum opener with a good side-suit but you have extra values.      A double would not be for penalties but showing 15+hcp so that is a possible rebid.       However the best bid is a jump to 4C which although not forcing is forward going and showing the true potential of the hand.       Over 4C, East, with a good fit and SA should jump to game with a bid of 5D.

       There are no problems to the play of the hand and after the defence try to cash two hearts you ruff, likely draw the trumps in two rounds (three rounds if necessary) and then knock out the CA to secure eleven tricks and your contract. 

Analysis for 7th Sept 2021 - Board 5:

       Today's hand has points of interest in the bidding and the play.       North should open a weak 2H, albeit being minimum for the bid and South should go direct to 4H.     3NT+1 is the top score you might say but needs a misdefence and is a losing option in the long run.      Play in North's long suit as entries to develop South's suits will be sparse.      East usually will lead D10 and you should win in dummy and cash HA, cross to hand with a club ruff and consider how to play the trrump suit.       If the suit is 3-3 it makes no difference how you continue but if the trumps are 4-2 the remaining possible doubletons start off as either HKx, Jx, 9x or 64 (since H52 went on the first round of trumps).       The other point to consider is th So I think the right card to play now is HQ which gains aginst both Jx or 9x.       West wins  HK and exits with a club but you discard a spade to ensure you don't lose a spade trick.       You then cross to DK to lead H10 to East's HJ and ruff a club back to hand to draw West's H6 with your H8 and cash two winning diamonds and SA.        Although the spades lay favourably you couldn't safely play on spades without riking your contract but 4H making should be well above average.    

Analysis for 20th August 2021:

       The trump break is unfortunate as you know from the bidding that East probably has DK as well as HKQxxxx to justify a weak 2H opener.        You need to hope that the club suit will provide a discard for your second diamond and you must thus play carefully in case West has a singleton club - if clubs are 5-Nil you will have to rely on the diamond finesse after all!.        You win HA and SQ and then must cash CA at trick 3, cross back to SAK and lead C4 towards dummy.       If West ruffs in you play small from dummy and win West's diamond exit with DA and cash CKQ5 (discarding D8) and claim.        Therefore West must play low to give the defence a chance and you win CQ,  ruff a heart back to hand and repeat the process, winning CK.       However now you can ruff the fourth round of clubs and do not care if West overruffs and you can enter dummy with DA and discard D8 on C5.

This will be my last daily hand of the week - until the next pandemic! - as I am on holiday for two weeks.

Hand of the week will resume on Tuesday 7th September in the usual format discussing one of the night's hands and I hope to see you all face to face for the first evening of bridge.

Analysis for 19th August 2021:

        The opposition bidding suggests that East has opened on probably minimum values since West has raised to 3H.       Therefore West is showing some playing strength and/or shape vulnerable and East is likely to be shapely.       Although the odds of a singleton King are practically 50%, this means that probably neither opponent is likely to have a singleton trump King as it woulld be suicide for West to raise without some outside playing strength, i.e. DK and/or SK.       The best plan is thus to finesse SJ after winning HA and cashing CAK and HK.      When the trumps behave all you lose is DK and raack up your contract.       If East shows out you have to win SA and exit with a spade hoping West has the finessable DK and has to lead away from DK or give you a ruff and discard.

 

Hand for 20th August 2021:

                                                     North:      S       Q   2

                                                                      H       6   4   3

                                                                      D       A  Q   J

                                                                      C       A  K   Q   5   3

 

                                                     South:      S       A  K  10   6   5   4   3  

                                                                      H       A

                                                                      D       8   6

                                                                      C       6   4   2

 

East opens a weak 2H, you jump to 3S (Intermediate), partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5C (3 of 5 Aces) and partner jumps to 6S.       West leads HJ to your HA but trick 2 is made up of S37Q plus East discarding H7.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 18th August 2021:

      The bidding suggests that West likely has CK in addirion to HKJxxx and so it would not be a good plan to rely on the club finesse so you are in danger of losing two clubs and two diamonds.       The best plan is to win HA, ruff a heart, cash SA & CA, cross to SK (drawing the last outstanding trump) and lead a club from the table, ducking when East plays C10.       If East is left on play (a) a club sets up a diamond discard on the thirteenth club (or CQ as the case may be), (b) a heart gives you a ruff and discard and you ruff in your hand and discard a club from dummy and  (c) a diamond into dummy's DAJx allows you to win DA over a defence diamond honour and lead DJ to set up D10 by force.        If West overtakes East's club and switches to a diamond you allow it to run to East's diamond honour and is end-played as above.

 

Hand for 19th August 2021:

                                                    North:      S      Q  8  7  6  5

                                                                     H      A  K

                                                                     D      A  Q  6  4

                                                                     C      A   6

 

                                                    South:      S      A   J 10  9  8  2

                                                                     H      8   6

                                                                     D      J   3   2

                                                                     C      K  9 

 

West opens a weak 2H, partner doubles for take-out, East raises to 3H,  you bid 3S, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5D (1 of 5 Aces) and partner jumps to 6S.      West leads HQ.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 17th August 2021:

         You have two spades and a club to lose and so appear to need trumps 3-2.        With West showing six spades on the bidding the odds of a 4-1 break are likely to have increased from the normal one in four chance.      However you can prevail if you can ruff (diamonds) twice in your hand.        Therefore you start by winning SA (East has a singleton on the bidding so you must not duck), then cashing HKA (West discarding a spade), cashing DKA, ruffing a diamond low, crossing to CAK and leading a fourth diamond from dummy ruffing if East follows suit or discarding a club if East ruffs in when you eventually making HQ6 by force.

 

Hand for 18th August 2021:

                                                   North:       S       K  J  9  8  3

                                                                     H       A  2

                                                                     D       A  J  5

                                                                     C       6  4   2

 

                                                    South:      S       A  Q 10  7  4

                                                                     H       9

                                                                     D       10  4  2

                                                                     C        A  Q  4   3

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2H, partner cue-nids 3H showing a spade raise, you rebid 3S and partner raises to 4S.        West leads H7.       Plan the play.            

Analysis for 16th August 2021:

       With East opening a weak 2H on HKQxxxx it is probable that West has one or both of the minor suit Kings and so the best plan is to try and keep East off lead and hope that West has to eventually give you a trick.       Therefore you win HA, draw trumps with SAK and lead a club covering East's C7 with C8 and West's C9.      West will lead a club to East's CQ and your CA but you lead S7 to dummy's S8 and lead a third club from the table.       If the clubs are 3-3 you can discard a diamond on the thirteenth club and take the diamond finesse for an overtrick.        All is not lost when East shows out as West can win and cash another club  but you discard a diamond from dummy.        West is then end-played to lead a diamond into your DAQ or give you a ruff and discard when you ruff in your hand and discard a diamond from the dummy eventually ruffing DQ for ten tricks.

 

Hand for 17th August 2021:

                                                     North:      S      A  8  3

                                                                      H      A  7  5

                                                                      D      A  7  4  3

                                                                      C      A  K  6

 

                                                     South:      S      7  5   2

                                                                      H      K  Q  6  4  2

                                                                      D      K  6

                                                                      C      8   4   3

 

West opens a weak 2S, partner doubles for take-out, you bid 3H and partner raises to 4H.     West leads SK.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 15th August 2021:

       The bidding tells you that since East has DA then West has CK so there is no point leading up to your CQ in the hope that East has CK.        Also the opposition spades are likely to be 4-3 as West would probably overcall 1S if holding SA10xxx rather than double for take-out.       This means that West's likely shape is 4-1-4-4 or 4-1-3-5 since East obviously has long diamonds from the four-level intervention.       You have lost a diamond and a spade and so you need to restrict your club losers to one!      The best plan is to draw trumps in one or two rounds (as necessary), cash your last top spade and then lead CQ intending to run it but covering CK with CA.       You are playing for East to have CJx or C10x or CJ10 and you then cross back to hand with a trump to lead C2 towards C953 in dummy.      If East plays an honour under dummy's CA, the C9 will either win a trick by force or if East wins a club honour but then has to concede a ruff and discard allowing you to ruff in dummy and discard a club from hand.

 

Hand for 16th August 2021:

                                                     North:      S      K  Q  8  6  4  2

                                                                      H      A

                                                                      D      7   6  5

                                                                      C      5   4  3

 

                                                      South:     S      A   J  9  7  3

                                                                      H      3

                                                                      D      A  Q   8

                                                                      C      A   J   8  2

 

East opens a weak 2H, you overcall 2S, West bids 3H but partner jumps to 4S.       West leads HJ.

Plan the play. 

Analysis for 14th August 2021:

       You ruff the second spade and draw trumps in four rounds and unfortunately the bidding has not suggested the location of DQ.     With West holding at least nine cards in the majors it is unlikely that length is held in either minor so it would be unwise to rely on the diamond finesse.       Marginally the best plan is to cash DAK gaining if DQ is doubleton with either East or West, then cashing CK and crossing back yo CA to cash your last trump (discarding two diamonds from dummy), cross to DAK and play CK and cross back to CA.     When you now play your last trump discarding DJ from dummy you will prevail if the hand that holds DQxx also holds three or four clubs when either the DQ will be discarded setting up your D10 or the CA7 will win the last two tricks.

 

Hand for 15th August 2021:

                                                     North:      S     5  4  2

                                                                      H    10 9  6  5  2

                                                                      D    10

                                                                      C     A  9  5  3

 

                                                     South:      S     K Q  J

                                                                      H     A  K  Q  J  8  7

                                                                      D     J

                                                                      C     Q  4   2

 

You open 1H, West doubles for take-out, partner jumps to 3H pre-emtively, East bids 4D and you bid 4H.

West leads DK (East overtaking) and switching to S9 (West winning SA over SJ and exiting with S3). 

Plan the play. 

Analysis for 13th August 2021:

      The bidding tells you that West has led a singleton diamond with East holding seven to DKQ.        So there is a good chance that West has more trumps than East which is all you need to make your contract despite an apparently useless CAK in dummy.         You win DA at trick 1 and cash SA at trick 2.        If both opponents follow you continue with S2 and then hopefully West wins and has to lead a club or a heart to give you an entry to dummy to throw your D3 on CK.        When East shows out you cash SAK and exit with S2 achieved the same ending.      Note it does West, holding S103 to jettison S10 as then dummy wins S8 and cashes CAK to end up with an overtrick.

 

Hand for 14th August 2021:

                                                    North:      S      8   4

                                                                     H      6   2

                                                                     D      A   K  J   3   2

                                                                     C      K   Q  7  5

 

                                                    South:      S      9

                                                                      H     A   K  Q  J  10  8

                                                                      D     10  6  4

                                                                      C      A   6  2

 

You open 1H. West overcalls 1S, partner doubles for take-out, you jump to 3H, partner bids 4C, you bid 4H, partner invites slam with 5H and you bid 6H.        West leads SK and West overtakes with SA and exits with S2.         Plan the play.

Analysis for 12th August 2021:

      You have on the face of it five hearts, three spades and DA and if the trumps are 3-3 you can set up dummy's clubs for a diamond discard or possibly squeeze West who you know from the bidding has DK & CQ.       If you overruff East at trick 3 you need trumps 3-3 to be able to enjoy SJ as the only way back to hand is a club ruff.     The main flaw in this plan is that a 3-3 break is against the odds and a 4-2 break is roughly 50%.        Therfore the best plan is to not overuff at trick 3 but discard a diamond instead.       You can then win East's exit of a diamond or spade, draw four rounds of trumps, cash three top spades, ruff back to hand and cash SJ amounting to ten tricks.

 

Hand for 13th August 2021:

                                                    North:       S      8   5

                                                                      H      J  10  7

                                                                      D      J   8   2

                                                                      C      A   K  8  5  2

 

                                                    South:       S      A   K  Q  J  7  6  4  2

                                                                      H      A   K   6

                                                                      D      A   3

                                                                      C      Void

 

East pre-empts 3D and you jump to 6S.       West leads D4.        Plan the play.   

Analysis for 11th August 2021:

     You try SQ at trick 1 but East plays SK and you win SA.       The bidding tells you that West who would surely have led a club otherwise has probably CAQJ, SJ, DQ & a guarded HK to make up a 12hcp 1NT and therefore there is no point in taking the trump finesse.       The only conceivable way of playing the contract is to win SA, finesse D10, cash DA, cross to HA and discard a spade on DK before leading a trump to West's HK.       Eventually you ruff a spade in the dummy and just concede two clubs and one trump in making ten tricks.

Hand for 12th August 2021:

                                                    North:      S     A  K Q

                                                                     H     4  3  2

                                                                     D     A  7

                                                                     C     J  8  6  4  3

                                                     South:     S     J  8  3  2

                                                                      H    A  K Q  J  10

                                                                      D    Q  9

                                                                      C    10 7

West opens a weak 1NT, you overcall 2H after two passes and partner raises to 4H.      West cashes CAK and leads C2 which East ruffs with H8.      Plan the play. 

Analysis for 10th August 2021:

       The play to the first two tricks places the spade honours and suggests that East is short in clubs are that this suit will not break 3-3.      However, the good news from the bidding is that West appears to have the DK as East would probably have opened 1S rather than 2S with SAQJxxx and an outside King.       Therefore the best play is to plan for a dummy reversal, ruffing four times in hand and using dummy's three trumps to draw the oppositions trumps.        You start by winning CA at trick 2, ruffing a spade, finessing DQ, ruffing a spade high with HA, crossing to DA, ruffing a diamond high with HQ, leading a trump to dummy's H9, ruffing a diamond with HJ, crossing to dummy with S10, cashing HK (discarding a club) and cashing CKQ for twelve tricks.

 

Hand for 11th August 2021:

                                                     North:       S        Q  5

                                                                       H        Q  9  7  6

                                                                       D        A 10

                                                                       C         9  5  4  3  2

 

                                                      South:       S         A  7

                                                                        H         A  J 10 8  5  4

                                                                        D         K  J  3

                                                                        C        10  8

 

West opens a weak 1NT, you jump to 3H after two passes and partner raises to 4H.       West leads SJ to SQKA.

Plan the play.       

 

Analysis for 9th August 2021:

         You have two potential diamond losers if the suit breaks 4-1 (a one in four chance) plus a spade as the bidding tell you that the spade finesse is not likely to succeed and only one discard on the third top club.        You can give yourself a slight extra chance by playing an elimination.        Win H10 at trick 1, cross to SA, cross to HQJ (drawing the outstanding trumps), cross to CK, cross baxk to CAQ (discarding SQ), ruff a spade and lead D4 playing D2 when East follows with DJ.         As long as either East or West does not have DQJ109, your contract is safe against any other 4-1 break.        On the actual hand shown if East wins  with the singleton Jack then a ruff and discard follows, you ruffing in one hand and throwing a diamond from the other so you can ruff your fourth round diamond loser in the hand you have just discarded from.         It does West no good to overtake DJ with DQ and lead D10 as you play low from the following hand, win a top diamond and finesse against the D9 to make three diamond tricks in all!.

 

Hand for 10th August 2021:

                                                     North:       S        K  10  9

                                                                       H        K  10  9

                                                                       D        A   Q  3  2

                                                                       C        A   3   2

 

                                                     South:       S        2

                                                                       H        A   Q   J  4  3  2

                                                                       D        5    4

                                                                       C        K   Q   5  4

 

East opens a weak 2S, you overcall 3H, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5D (1 Ace), partner enquires with 5H, you bid 6C (HQ & CK) and partner signs off with 6H.       West leads S7 which East wins with SJ and switches to C10.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 8th August 2021:

      The bidding tells you that West probably has DAKxxx & CQJ10xx and probably 6/5 shape as well to justify intervention at the three level vulnerable.       Therefore it is likely that East has a singleton heart and a singleton trump or both and cashing SAQ indicates a singleton trump and so you draw the last outstanding trump with SK.        You are in danger of losing two diamonds and two hearts but you can end-play East by cashing CKA and leading a diamond to dummy's Jack.       East can win but cashing DK gives you a heart discard on DQ with SJ as entry or you ruff a club exit in one hand and discard a heart from the other, eventually ruffing a fourth round of hearts for ten tricks, losing just one heart and two diamonds.        Were East to have a second heart you merely play H10 and the hearts are 3-2 and so you have a fourth round heart winner.

 

Hand for 9th August 2021:

                                                   N orth:       S       9  5

                                                                      H      K  Q  J  10

                                                                      D      K  7   5   4

                                                                      C      A  Q   8

 

                                                  South:         S      A  Q

                                                                      H      A   9   8  7  6

                                                                      D      A   8   3  2

                                                                      C      K   4

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 1S, partner cue-bids 2S to show a good heart raise, you rebid 2NT, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and jumps to 6H after your 5C response (3 Aces).     West leads H4, East following with H2.     Plan the play.

Analysis for 7th August 2021:

      You have eleven tricks on top as you can pick up 5 clubs on any 5-0 split by first cashing CA and if West shows out you finesse C9 or if East shows out you finesse C8.        However the bidding tells you that the normal play of leading towards HQ hoping East has HK will fail.       You could win SK, cash your eight minor suit winners and play SA and another expecting West to win and be forced to lead away from HK but that would fail if East has S10xx and West unblocks SJ.        The best line is to duck the SQ lead and hope that West has three or four spades when a positional squeeze will occur.        You win SK, cash five clubs discarding two hearts from dummy, cash HA (known as a Vienna Coup which occurs when you cash a winner in the hand opposite the squeeze card), cash DAQ and cross to DK.       This leaves you with just HQ and S5 and dummy with SA6.        If West has not discarded HK (when you can cash HQ & SA) then SA6 will win the last two tricks.

 

Hand for 8th August 2021:

                                                   North:       S      K  J  8  5

                                                                     H      6   5  4  3

                                                                     D      Q  J  7

                                                                     C      K   9

 

                                                   South:       S       A  Q 10  6  3

                                                                     H       A  K  10  8

                                                                     D       6   4

                                                                     C       A   2

 

You open 1S, partner responds 2NT showing a good raise to at least 3S, East doubles conventionally showing an unusual 2NT overcall (5/5+ both minors), and you jump to 4S.       West leads HQ, East playing H7 to your HAand East discards a club on your second top spade.       Plan the play. 

Analysis for 6th August 2021:

     Your contract depends on a 3-2 split in diamonds or spades or possibly just the diamond finesse if as expected you have two heart tricks.        You thus play H10 at trick 1 and win HA over East's HQ.       The bidding tells you that West is long in clubs and likely long hearts as well and so the possibility that West has a singleton diamond or spade is strong.        If you go for spades breaking and they break badly then you can be prevented from enjoying a good break in diamonds as you have no certain entry therafter to dummy.         Therefore the best plan is to cash DK and if DQ is singleton, cash DJ, cross to SQ, cash DA and give up a diamond with SK as entry.      If the diamonds break 3-2  then you cross to DA and give up a diamond with SKQ as entry.         In either case you make  five diamonds, two spades, a heart and a club at least.      If the diamonds prove to be unsetupable then you cash SKQ and hope the spades break normally 3-2 with CA as entry for your four spade tricks making six spades, two diamonds, a heart and a club at least.

 

Hand for 7th August 2021:

                                                   North:       S       A   6   3   2

                                                                    H       A   8   5

                                                                    D       A   Q  8

                                                                    C       Q   8   3

 

                                                   South:      S       K   5   4

                                                                    H       Q   7

                                                                    D       K   6   2

                                                                    C       A   K   J  9  2

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1H, partner doubles for take-out, you rebid 1NT, partner invites slam with 4NT and you accept with 6NT.       West leads SQ.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 5th August 2021:

      The bidding and lead tell you that East probably hash CAQJ10x(x) plus HAQ or at least HA so you are in danger of losing a club, a diamond and two hearts.      The best plan is to set up dummy's diamonds assuming they break normally (3-2).      The trouble is that if West wins the third round of diamonds a heart switch may defeat the contract straightaway.      An alternative plan is to play CK at trick 1 losing to CA and instead of ruffing the club continuation discard a diamond and ruff the third top club high with SA, cash SKQ, cash DAK, ruff a diamond with SJ and cross to S10 to discard two hearts on D85.       If all is well you end up just losing two clubs and one heart.

 

Hand for 6th August 2021:

                                                     North:       S       K  Q

                                                                       H       J  10  2

                                                                       D       A   7   6   5   4   3

                                                                       C       8   3

 

                                                     South:       S       A   8   6   5   4   2 

                                                                       H       A   3

                                                                       D       K   J

                                                                       C       A   J   4

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2C, partner bids 2D, you rebid 2NT and partner raises to 3NT.       West leads H4.

Plan the play.

 

      The bidding tells you that East has DQJxxx(x) so may be short in spades plus probably CK.       The best plan therfore is to win DK at trick 1, draw trumps with HAK, cash SAK & DA and lead D10 and discard your losing spade as East wins DQ.       If East can exit with a third spade, you ruff and hope that spades are 3-3 when you can throw CJ on the thirteenth spade.        If East has only two spades then he or she is end-played to either give you two club tricks or a ruff and discard when you throw a club from hand and ruff in the dummy.

 

Hand for 5th August 2021:

                                                    North:       S       10  6  2

                                                                      H        K  8

                                                                      D        A  K  8  5  4

                                                                      C        K  8  4

 

                                                    South:       S        A  K  Q  J  8  5

                                                                      H        J   7   4

                                                                      D        7   3   2

                                                                      C        5

 

Partner opens 1NT, East bids an intermediate jump overcall of 3C and you bid 4S.      West leads C9.     Plan the play.  

Analysis for 3rd August 2021:

      East has opened 2H on a very poor suit and so is likely to have a seven card suit plus either DK plus one or both of CAK.      With four spades, three hearts and DA you only need to generate one extra trick.       If you lose a diamond to East you will go down if West has CAJ9x or CKJ9x.        Therefore the best play is to cash DA aftert winning HA at trick 1 in case East has a singleton DK.       Note leading DQ from hand does not promote a third diamond trick and you are safe from losing four clubs if West wins DK.       When DK drops you just cash out for an overtrick.

 

Hand for 4th August 2021:  

                                                     North:        S       K   7   6   5

                                                                        H       J   9   8   3

                                                                        D       A  10  9

                                                                        C       A  10

 

                                                    South:         S       A   3  2

                                                                        H       A   K  Q  10  7  2

                                                                        D       K   4

                                                                        C       Q   J

 

You open a Benji 2C, partner bids 2D, West doubles for a diamond lead, you rebid 2H, partner jumps to 4NT (RKCB) , you respond 5C (3 "Aces") and partner signs off with 6H.East opens a weak 2H, you bid a strong 2NT and partner raises to 3NT.       West leads D3.       Plan the play. 

Analysis for 2nd August 2021:

       The contract is straightforward if the trumps are 3-2 or 4-1 with a singleton Jack but the bidding tells you that trumps 4-1 is a distinct possibility.       The normal way to play trumps with this combination is to cash HAK and if West shows out you can take the marked finesse of H10 and not lose a trick.       However having ruffed the first heart you are in danger of being defeated if West has HJxxx as careful defence will result in West ruffing the fourth round of clubs denying you the fifth round winner.      Therefore the best way to play the hand is first cash SAQ at tricks 2 & 3 and if either hand has SJx left you continue by playing top clubs until the defence ruffs in, win the next trick with DA or a spade ruff with the last trump and finally cross to HK in order to discard one of your diamond losers on the fifth club.

 

Hand for 4th August 2021:

                                                    North:       S       Q  J  7  3

                                                                      H       A  4

                                                                      D       A  8  4  3   2

                                                                      C       6  3

 

                                                    South:       S       A  K  9 

                                                                      H       K  Q  J

                                                                      D       Q  J   6

                                                                      C       Q 10  8  7

 

East opens a weak 2H, you bid a strong 2NT and partner raises to 3NT.        West leads H5.         Plan the play.

Analysis for 1st August 2021:

        The bidding tells you that East has both minor Aces in addition to the missing spade honours.       So you start with Two spade winners and a spade ruff on the table with H2 and lead a diamond to East's D10 and your DQ.       With five trump winners in addition to the first four tricks all you need is one more diamond winner.      If trumps are 3-3 you have no problems if the diamonds are 3-2.     However you should consider what would happen if East has DA109 and West DJx and you try a low diamond from hand at trick 5.     Then West will win DJ and switch to CJ, forcing you to ruff the second round of clubs and you will have lost control if trumps break 4-2 with the odds as you cannot lose a third diamond to East's Ace without CA forcing a trump winner for the defence.       The safe way to play the hand is thus to exit with DK  at trick 5.       West can win DA but H9 is there to take care of a spade force and CK is there to stop you being forced in clubs so you have the tempo to give up a third diamond trick provided the suit breaks normally, i.e. 3-2.        You just need to draw trumps in four rounds and cash a fourth round of diamonds.

 

Hand for 2nd August 2021:

                                                    North:      S      K   7   4

                                                                     H      8   7   4

                                                                     D      3   2

                                                                     C      Q  J   8  3   2

 

                                                    South:      S      A  Q  10  6  5

                                                                     H      Void

                                                                     D      A   6   5   4

                                                                     C      A   K  10  9

 

East opens a weak 2H, you double, partner bids 3C, you bid 3S and partner raises to 4S.      West leads HA.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 31st July 2021:

      Having lost (fortunately only) two clubs you cannot make your contract if you lose a spade and a trump.       If you try the spade finesse and it fails the best chance is to assume that trumps are 3-2 with West holding HQx or HQxx.      Therefore it is prudent to first finesse the SQ at trick 4.        When it wins you can afford to make a safety play in trumps by cashing HK and then leading H2, playing H9 if East follows, otherwise play HA and follow with H6.        This manoevre guarantees only one loser in trumps if either East or West has HQ10xx.

 

Hand for 1st August 2021:

                                                  North:       S       8   5

                                                                    H       9   2

                                                                    D       8   5   4   2

                                                                    C       K   8   5   4   3

 

                                                  South:       S       A   Q   6

                                                                    H       A   K   Q   J   10

                                                                    D       K   Q   5    4    3

                                                                    C        2

 

East opens 1S, you double for take-out, partner bids 2C, you jump to 3H and partner raises to 4H.      West leads S4.

Plan the play. 

Analysis for 30th July 2021:

       The bidding and play so far indicate that West has HA10742 precisely (since H3 in in dummy) plus singleton DK and presumably at least one club honour as well.     You would have had an easy ride if West held DKx(x) but instead you try CA and another.      This runs to C10 from dummy and East exits with H9 after winning CK.       West wins HA and clears the hearts by leading H2, dummy winning HQ.      Now cashing DQ puts pressure on West and when a spade is thrown rather than a club you know the initial shape was 4-5-1-3 and you know SQKA will draw the remaining opposition spades and S10 will give you your ninth trick.     If a club was thrown on DQ you have a guess whether to finesse S10 or play for the drop but you should probably play for the latter as the overcall on 10hcp would be more likely than 9hcp including a poor suit and a singleton King.

 

Hand for 31st July 2021:

                                                North:       S      A  Q  2

                                                                  H      K  J  4  2

                                                                  D      K  J  5

                                                                  C       4  3  2

 

                                               South:        S       J 10 4

                                                                  H       A  9  6  5

                                                                  D       A  Q 3

                                                                  C       Q  9  8

You open a weak 1NT, partner bids 2C (Stayman), East doubles for a club lead, you bid 2H and partner raises to 4H.

West leads C6 and East plays CAK10 but fortunately West follows to all three rounds.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 29th July 2021:

          The 3-Nil trump break is not unexpected given East's bidding on such a poor hand.        However the fact that East must have CK for the opening bid makes the contract a certainty.        You cash a second round of trumps, cash SA, cross to SK, discard a spade on DK, ruff a spade, finesse CQ, ruff a fourth round of spades and exit with a trump.      East either has to give you a ruff and discard when you ruff in dummy throwing a club from hand and ruff a club for your twelfth trick.       Otherwise if East exits with a club you run it to your CJ.

Hand for 30th July 2021:

                                                   North:       S     Q   2

                                                                     H     Q  J   3

                                                                     D     Q  6   4  2

                                                                     C     J  10  4  3

 

                                                  South:        S     A  K  10 5

                                                                     H     K   8   6

                                                                     D     A   9   5  3

                                                                     C     A   7

 

You open 1D, West overcalls 1H, partner raises to 2D, you invite game with 2NT and partner raises to 3NT.

West leads H4 which runs to your HK.  You cash CA , lead C7 to dummy's C10 and CK from East who exits with H9.  Plan the play.

Analysis for 28th July 2021:

       The spade finesse unexpectedly losing was a bitter blow as you have now lost three tricks and cannot afford a diamond loser as well.       The only hope left is to hope that East has the three trumps and so you can squeeze West in the minors and so you must risk cashing your last two spade winners (discarding D3) and then lead a trump to your HJ.      You now hold just DQ10 and H8 and dummy holds DA8 & C6 with West holding C10 & DKJ.      When you cash your last trump (H8) West has no answer (a) If a club is thrown dummy ditches D8 and DA & C6 win the last two tricks and (b) if a diamond is thrown dummy ditches C6 and DK falls under DA so you win the last trick with DQ.

 

Hand for 29th July 2021:

                                                   North:       S      A  8   6

                                                                     H      A  K  7  5  4  3

                                                                     D      J

                                                                     C      J   6  5

 

                                                   South:       S      K   5  4  3

                                                                     H       9   8  6  2

                                                                     D       A  K

                                                                     C       A  Q  9

 

East opens a weak 1NT, partner doubles, West rescues to 2D, partner cue-bids 3D, you bid 3H, partner bids 4H, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5C (3 "Aces"), you bid 5D and raise partner's signoff of 5H to 6H.  

West leads D7 to DJQA and discards D2 on HA.    Plan the play. 

Analysis for 27th July 2021:

        The only danger to your contract as the trumps are not 5-Nil on the opening lead is if West holds all three missing clubs and DA is off-side.        However all you need to do is draw trumps (in four rounds if necessary) and lead specifically C9 and duck if West plays CJ or C10.        If East wins and switches to diamonds you only can lose two diamonds and one club as CA will draw the remaining outstanding club.       If West shows out on the first club you merely play Ace and another setting up the clubs and again you only have three possible losers.       If East shows out on the first club and exits with a spade you play Ace and another club (following with C89) giving West a second club trick but effecting an end-play since a spade lead sets up a spade trick in dummy to discard D4 using C5 overtaking with C6 as entry to dummy.        Otherwiser a diamond exit by West gives you a trick with DK.  

 

Hand for 28th July 2021:

                                                North:      S      A  K  J  9

                                                                 H     Q 10  6

                                                                 D      A  8

                                                                 C      K  Q  6  5

 

                                                South:      S     10  4  3

                                                                  H     K   J  9  8  4

                                                                  D     Q  10 3

                                                                  C      4   3

 

Partner opens 1C, you respond 1H, West butts in with 2D, partner doubles for take-out, you bid 2NT, partner bids 3H and you settle for 4H.      West leads CJ to CQA, East exits with C7 to West's C8 and your CK, HQ is won by West with HA, you ruff C10, cash HK(both opponents following), lead S10 which runs to East's SQ and win the S2 exit in dummy with SJ.       Plan the further play       

Analysis for 26th July 2021:

       You win the HA at trick 1 as the bidding tells you that this suit is breaking 1-5.     However the bidding also tells you that East holds DQ to justify a 1H overcall on such a poor suit.       So you cash SQA, finesse DQ, cash DA and ruff a diamond high before crossing to S10 and cashing your last two trumps (discarding  clubs from dummy).       With four cards left you hold H43 & CAJ in your hand with dummy holding HKJ9 & C6,        If East has only thrown one of his original five hearts you cash CA and lead a heart to dummy's H9 and when East wins this the forced heart exit runs to your major tenace in dummy.      If East has thrown two  diamonds when you cash your remaining trumps you also lead a diamond to D9 but win the spade exit with SA and cash HKJ as HQ will now drop under HK.

 

Hand for 27th July 2021:

                                               North:       S       Q   J   6

                                                                 H       K  10  8

                                                                 D        5   3

                                                                 C        A   6   4   3   2

 

                                               South:       S        A

                                                                 H        A   Q  J   9   5

                                                                 D        K   4

                                                                 C        Q   9   8   7  5

 

West opens 1NT,  East transfers with 2H, you double, West bis 2S, you bid 4C and partner bids 4H. 

West leads H6 and East follows with H3.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 25th July 2021

      The bidding tells you that the diamond suit is Nil-6 otherwise East would surely have led partner's overcalled suit.      So you win HA at trick 1 but must draw trumps straightaway with SAQ - they turn out to be 2-2 - and ruff a heart.      When you cross to CK and ruff another heart East follows and you thus know  East's shape is 2-3-6-2.      You cross to CA stripping East of clubs and lead a diamond covering East's card so D8 will win unless East splits DKQ when you win DA.       Now in either case a diamond to North's D10 end-plays East who can win and give you a marked finesse in diamonds or a ruff and discard which you ruff in hand and discard a diamond from dummy, eventually ruffing your diamond loser in dummy.

 

Hand for 26th July 2021:

                                                North:       S      A  K  5  3

                                                                  H      A  K  J  9

                                                                  D      4   2

                                                                  C      6   3  2

 

                                                South:       S      Q  J 10 7  2

                                                                  H      4   3  2

                                                                  D      A  Q  3

                                                                  C      A   J

 

Playing 5 card majors, partner opens 1C, East overcalls 1H, you bid 1S, partner jumps to 3S and you sign off in 4S.

West leads D8.       Plan the play.            

Analysis for 24th July 2021:

        With six trumps and Ace and an Ace-King your tenth trick should come from a spade ruff in the dummy.        However if you let East win trick 1 and switch to a trump yhe defence will be able to prevent you ruffing a spade by playing trumps at every opportunity.        It is therfore right to rise with DA at trick 1 and lead a spade.        Now the defence cannot stop you ruffing a spade as you can ruff a third diamond high or win CK and exit with a second spade.       The nine top tricks and a spade ruff add up to ten tricks and you fulfil your contract.

 

Hand for 25th July 2021:

                                                North:       S       A  Q  9  8

                                                                  H      10  5  2

                                                                  D      10  5  4

                                                                  C       A  K  2

 

                                                South:       S       K  J  10  7  6

                                                                  H       A

                                                                  D       A   J   8  2

                                                                  C       8   5   4

 

East opens 1D, you overcall 1S, partner cue-bids 2D, you bid 2NT and partner jumps to 4S.        West leads HJ.

Plan the play. 

Analysis for 23rd July 2021:

       You naturally duck SQ lead to cut the defence's communications but there is no value in ducking a second spade allowing a switch to hearts so you win SA at trick 2.         Now the simple way home is to unblock CAK and exit with a spade.        West can cash two spade winners but any subsequent exit allows you entry to dummy to claim ten tricks and an overtrick.

 

Hand for 24th July 2021:

                                                North:       S       J   5

                                                                  H       A 10  6

                                                                  D       A   8  5  2

                                                                  C       A   5  4  3 

 

                                                South:       S      10  9  8

                                                                  H       K  Q  J  9  8  7

                                                                  D       J  10

                                                                  C       K   J

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 1S, partner doubles for take-out, East bids 2S, you bid 3H and partner raises to 4H.

West leads D6.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 22nd July 2021:

      The bidding and lead tell you that West has SKJxxx(x) so there is no point ducking the first spade and might indeed lose a tempo which enables the defence to switch to trumps to attack dummy's entries.      You should win SA and take an immediate diamond finesse.        When it unexpectedly loses to DK, West leads S6 to East's SJ and exits with a trump.       However, you still have the time to play for split honours in diamonds as you can win a trump exit in hand, cash DA, cross to CK and lead D10 for a ruffing finesse.       You can thus discard your losing third heart on D9 and just lose two tricks to exactly fulfil your contrac.

Hand for 23rd July 2021:

                                                 North:       S       A  4   3

                                                                   H      Q  J

                                                                   D      J  10

                                                                   C      Q  J  10 8  7  5

                                                 South:       S      6   5   4

                                                                    H     A   7   5

                                                                    D     A   K   4  3  2

                                                                    C     A   K

You open 1D, West overcalls 1H, partner bids 2C and you rebid 3NT.    West leads SQ, following with S2 to East's SK.  Plan the play. 

Analysis for 21st July 2021:

      You are in danger of losing two trumps if the hearts are not 2-2, a club and a diamond if you misguess whether East or West has DQ.        West appears to have most of the hcp to justify the 1S overcall but you should plan to avoid this guess.        You should win CA at trick 1, cash HA and SAK, ruff a spade and exit with your second club.       Whoever wins this trick is end-played and if West wins and exits with a winning spade you ruff in dummy and if East can overruff you restrict your trump loser(s) to one only and obviously a red suit exit by West will similarly cut your possiblr losers by one.        If East wins the second club you just cover East's red suit exit and restrict your losers  in either suit by one.

Hand for 22nd July 2021:

                                                  North:       S        A  Q  7

                                                                    H       10  9  3

                                                                    D       10  9  3   2

                                                                    C        K  Q  3

 

                                                  South:       S        10  9

                                                                    H          A  K  2

                                                                    D          A  Q

                                                                    C          A  J  10 9  8  2

 

You open 1C, partner responds 1D, East butts in with 1S, you bid 3C, parner bids 4C and you raise to game with 5C.

West leads S5.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 20th July 2021:

         The diamond switch seems to indicate that East has DKQ as well as Jxx and West therefore has SK to justify an opening 1H bid.      You do not want West to exit in clubs at a late stage and force you to lead a diamond off the table.       So you should start the trumps by leading SQ from hand and sure enough East discards a club.        However you think West's likely distribution is 4-6-1-2 and you should cash CAK before leading a trump to SA and exiting with SJ.       West cannot do anything bettewr than exiting with a heart and you ruff, cash S10 and you are just left with trumps and a winning club.

 

Hand for 20th July 2021:

                                                  North:       S      A  K  2

                                                                    H      5   4  3

                                                                    D      A  J   6  5  3

                                                                    C      3   2

 

                                                  South:       S      4   3

                                                                     H     A   Q  9  8  7  6

                                                                     D     K  10  4

                                                                     C     A   4

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 1S, partner bids 2D, East bids 2S, you bid 3H and partner bids 4H.      West leads CK (East playing CJ).        Plan the play.

Analysis for 19th July 2021:

      If trumps are 2-2 you have an easy thirteen tricks.        However when the opposition bid vulnerable at the two-level on minimal values you should expect bad breaks and plan accordingly.        You cannot prevail if West has all four missing trumps but there is a safety play available if East has all four of them.       You should start by winning HK(discarding DK), cashing HA(discarding DA) and lead a trump from dummy playing S9 if East follows with S8.       If this wins you cash SAK and run winners until East ruffs in making twelve tricks.       If it loses then SAK will draw the remaining trumps unless the clubs are 5-Nil and you lose a ruff.       If East plays an honour on the first round of trumps you cover, cross to C10 and lead a second spade, winning as cheaply as possible and cross to CK to play a third trump towards your S97 and East can only make one trump trick.

 

Hand for 20th July 2021:

                                                North:      S       3  2

                                                                 H       5  4

                                                                 D       A  J  10   8  6  4

                                                                 C       A  K  Q

 

                                               South:       S       A  Q  J  10  8  7  6

                                                                 H       Q  3

                                                                 D       3

                                                                 C       J  10 9

 

West opens 1H, partner overcalls 2D, East bids 2H and you bid 4S.       West cashes HAK and exits with D5.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 18th July 2021:

    You routinely duck the second spade and win the HA exhausting West of the suit.        However for reasons explained below you must discard a heart, say HA (for style) on the SA.        To make your contract you need to bring in the diamond suit and four diamonds, three hearts and SA & CA add upp to nine tricks and your contract.       Although you expect DQ to be with the spade overcall, you intend finessing into the 'safe' hand (West) anyway as the defence cannot then cash spade winners.      Therefore you cross to DA, cash HKQ and lead DJ.       If East covers with DQ then dummy's D10 will block the run of the suit but instead of continuing diamonds you simply cash HJ (discarding the blocking D10) and cash D98 and the black Aces for an overtrick.         You obvioisly have no problems on any 3-2 diamond break if DJ is allowed to hold.

 

Hand for 19th July 2021:

                                                  North:        S        4   3   2

                                                                     H        A  K

                                                                     D        Q  8   7   6   3

                                                                     C        K 10  2

 

                                                  South:        S        A  K   9   7   6   5

                                                                     H        Void

                                                                     D        A  K

                                                                     C        A  Q   J   5   3

 

West opened a weak 2H, you double after 2 passes, partner bids 2NT, you bid 3S, partner bids 4S & you jump to 6S. 

West leads HQ.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 17th July 2021:

      You appear to be in danger of losing a club, a diamond and two top trumps.     The best plan is to try and lose a trick to East when holding a doubleton honour in trumps and only hearts left and therefore is forced to concede a ruff-and-discard.     So you start with a trump at trick 2 after winning HA.     West wins SA bare and leads DQ (East discarding a heart as SK would be ruffing a loser) and so you win DK and lead CK.     West wins and leads a second diamond but you win DA (East discarding another heart), ruff a club, cash HK, ruff a heart, ruff a club and exit with a second round of trumps and East has to lead a heart or a club allowing you to ruff in dummy and discard your third losing diamond from hand.

 

Hand for 18th July 2021:

                                                North:      S      5   3

                                                                 H      A  K  Q

                                                                 D      A 10  9

                                                                 C      A  J  10  3  2

 

                                                South:      S      A  8   7

                                                                 H      J  10  3

                                                                 D      K  J   8  7  6

                                                                 C      5   4

 

Partner opens 1C, East overcalls 1S, you bid 1NT, partner raises to 2NT and you bid 3NT.        West leads S9.

Plan the play.

 
Analysis for 16th July 2021:

        If the spades break normally, viz. 3-2 you can throw a spade on the third top heart and ruff the third round of the suit in order to discard your second diamond on the fourth round spade winner.        However if spades are 4-1 you will prevail if the hand with four spades also holds DK so the play is to run all your trumps except one (discarding a spade and a diamond) and cah HAKQ (discarding a spade) and play SKA.       If either opponent discards on SA, you cash DA (dropping DK if the same opponent has four spades & DK), ruff a spade back to hand and cash DQ.       If both opponents follow to SA you persue the original plan and ruff a spade, cross to DA and discard DQ on the winning S8.

 

Hand for 17th July 2021:

                                               North:      S      10  8  6  5  4

                                                                H       K  9  4

                                                                D        8  6  4  3

                                                                C       10

 

                                               South:      S        Q  J   9  7  2

                                                                H         A  5

                                                                D         A  K  9

                                                                C         K  8  4

 

East opens a weak 2H, you make a strong 2NT overcall, partner transfers with 3H and you jump to 4S.

West leads H8.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 15th July 2021:

      You ruff the first heart and cash SKA noting that East shows up with two trumps and test the clubs with CAK.        If the clubs are 3-2 you just take the diamond finesse for an overtrick.       If West turns up with four clubs you just concede the fourth round and West has to either lead into your major tenace in diamonds or give you a ruff and discard enabling you to discard a diamond from one hand and ruff in the other and then ruff the third round of diamonds to make your slam.      If East turns up with four clubs all you need to do is cash DAK and exit with a club end-playing East.       This is because East's shape is known to be 2-6-1-4 and you simply discard a diamond from one hand and ruff the heart exit in the other hand.

 

                     

Hand for 16th July 2021:

                                                North:      S      A  8  7  4  2

                                                                 H      A K  Q

                                                                 D      A  7

                                                                 C      5  4   3

 

                                                 South:     S      K  6  3 

                                                                  H      5  3

                                                                  D      Q  4

                                                                  C      A  K  Q  J  10  9

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1D, partner bids 1S, you jump to 3C, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond (2 Aces + KQ), partner bids 5NT and bids 7C over your 6D (1 King).       West leads C6 (East following).

Plan the play.

Analysis for 14th July 2021:

      The bidding tells you that all the suits are breaking badly and you will need a degree of luck to persevere.      With East holding at least 5 diamonds and hearts and hopefully two spades otherwise the 5-1 trump break will kill you, it means that at most a singleton club is held so you are in danger of a club ruff as well as DA being ruffed if you don't take it at trick 1.      If you start on the trumps however the first round will be ducked by the defence and losing the second round exposes you to three diamond losers!        It's best to play and hearts by lead HQ and hopefully East has just one of the missing heart honours to go along with DKQJ.       Either you ruff out East's top heart and lead SK or West has a problem on winning HK when you throw a club on HQ (loser on loser).      West cannot lead a diamond and a heart spears East's HA so you win a club exit and lead SK.      West can win SA and give East a club ruff but cannot stop you from ruffing a diamond on the table with S9, not making your contract but you don't overbid on the next hand at least! 

 

Hand for 15th July 2021:

                                                North:      S      K  Q  9  5  3

                                                                 H      2

                                                                 D      9   7  3

                                                                 C      K  Q  5  4

 

                                                South:      S      A  J  10 9  4  2

                                                                 H      Void

                                                                 D      A  K   J

                                                                 C      A   6   3  2

 

East opens a weak 2H, you jump to 4S, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and jumps to 6S over your 5C response.

West leads H5 to East's HQ.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 13th July 2021:

       The contract is not good and you need some luck with a favourable distribution of the side-suits.      The bidding tells you that West has HQJ10xx plus probably the SK to justify the vulnerable overcall and HQ lead.      You have no problems if the clubs are 3-3 but that is against the odds so you initially plan to just cash two rounds of clubs and two rounds of trumps and lead towards your CQ hoping that whoever had the short clubs also had short trumps.     However there is an extra chance available to this plan of dropping SK doubleton with West which is quite possible with the heart holding held.     The best plan is thus to win HA lead, play DA, cross to D9 and ruff a spade.        When SK falls you cross to DK (drawing the last outstanding trumps if 3-2), discard a heart on SQ and claim an overtrick if the clubs are 3-3.       Were the trumps 4-1 then you can cash DK, CA, DQ, HK, SQ (discarding a heart) and then try the clubs for an overtrick.

 

Hand for 14th July 2021:

                                               North:      S       9  2

                                                                H      Q  J  10  3

                                                                D      A   5   2

                                                                C      A   K  Q   7  

 

                                               South:      S      K  Q   J  10  3

                                                                H      Void                                                                                                                                       

                                                                D      10  7   4   3

                                                                C       9   5   4   3

 

Partner opens 1C,  East overcalls 2NT (Unusual, both red suits 5/5+), you bid 3S and partner bids 4S.

West leads D6.       Plan the play.      

Analysis for 12th July 2021:

       The trump break is disappointing but the bidding tells you that West has DJ10xxxx and probably a club honour or two but just one of the top heart honours (else HAK may have been led.     It is thus necessary to play on hearts (as one opposition ruff will be with East's natural trump trick) and you can prevail if all you lose is two hearts and one trump.     You win SJ and must avoid playing your winning diamonds too early as you know from the bidding that East has only two as West has six and so you lead H6 towards dummy.      If East wins a top heart and leads a heart to West to obtain a ruff, you can just cross to DQ to take a trump finesse, draw a third round of trumps and eventually ruff a fourth round of hearts in dummy.      If West wins a top heart and exits with diamonds you finesse the SQ, cash SA & CAK and discard a club on DK.       East can ruff in or wait until HQ loses to East and cash a top trump but North has the 13th trump and HJ for ten tricks.

 

Hand for 13th July 2021:

                                                North:       S       Q  7  6  2

                                                                  H       A  K  3

                                                                  D       K  9   2

                                                                  C       6   3   2

 

                                                South:       S       A

                                                                  H       7   6   4

                                                                  D       A  Q  J  10  3

                                                                  C       A  K  Q   5

 

You open 1D, West overcalls 1H, partner makes a negative double, you jump to 3C, partner bids 3D, you bid 3H, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and over your 5C response jumps to 6D.       West leads HQ.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 11th July 2021:

      The bidding tells you that West has long spades headed by SKQ and probably the HK to justify a vulnerable two level bid so the simple method of the heart finesse for your twelfth trick is not a good idea.       You should aim to end-play West to lead away from the HK.      Therefore you should start by winning SA and ruff a low spade with C10 before drawing trumps in two or three rounds as necessary.         Now cash DAKQ and lead SJ, discarding H2, a loser on loser play.      West can win SQ but then has to either lead a heart into your major tenace or lead another side-suit which you ruff in dummy and discard HQ from hand.

 

Hand for 12th July 2021:

                                               North:       S      8  6  5  4  2

                                                                 H     Q  J  2

                                                                 D     A  Q

                                                                 C     6   3  2

 

                                               South:       S     A  Q  J  3

                                                                 H     6   5   4  3

                                                                 D     K  6   2

                                                                 C     A  K

 

West opens a weak 2D, you bid a natural strong 2NT after two passes, partner transfers with 3H and you jump to 4S.      West leads DJ and you win DA and lead S4 to SJ (West discarding D4).       Plan the play.

Analysis for 10th July 2021:

       When the oppoosition open the bidding on minimal values you can expect bad breaks to your suits and the fact that a spade was led suggests at leadt five are held as the suit is so poor.       Also West might have started hearts holding HAK but is likely to hold four or five hearts because of the sub-minimum strength of the opener (Major suits are more important too get into the bidding).       You have no problems if you can guarantee five club tricks so the best plan is to eschew the free S10 spade trick and rise with SQ and lead a club to the C10 unless East plays the Jack.       This proves to be a good investment as West throws a diamond and you cash CA, cross to DA, run four more club tricks and two more spades for an overtrick.     Note you cannot afford to lose a club trick to East if East holds HK9x as H9 lead through your holding and a further heart after winning the second round with HA allows the defence to take four or five heart tricks to defeat your contract.

 

Hand for 11th July 2021:

                                                North:      S      A   J   3

                                                                 H     10  8   4

                                                                 D      Q  5   3

                                                                 C      9   7   6  5

 

                                                South:      S      2

                                                                 H      A  Q   2

                                                                 D      A  K  10

                                                                 C      A  K   Q  J  10 8

 

You open an artificial game-forcing 2D, West butts in with 2S, passed round to your 3C, partner raises to 4C, you cue-bid 4D, partner cue-bids 4S and you jump to 6C.        West leadss SK.        Plan the play. 

Analysis for 9th July 2021:

      The bidding tells you that East has five spades but not necessarily both SK & SQ.      The normal play on the lead is S7 to guarantee a trick with SJ or S10 but that is not the whole story.      If East pays a spade honour at trick 1 and you play on clubs, East will win the second round and exit with a spade to dummy's SJ locking you in dummy and the defence is a tempo ahead and you are unlikely to come to nine tricks.     The best plan is to play SJ at trick 1 and win SA over East's SQ.      East will continue spades if you duck the first spade but if you win SA and knock out the CA you expect that the defence will give you your ninth trick with DQ or S10 in order to reach your three winning clubs.

 

Hand for 10th July 2021:

                                                North:      S      K  Q  6  5

                                                                 H      3

                                                                 D      A

                                                                 C      K  Q  9  8  7  6  2

 

                                               South:       S      A 10  4

                                                                 H      Q 10  7  6

                                                                 D      J   6   5  4

                                                                 C      A  10

 

West opens 1S, partner jumps to 3C (Intermediate) and you bid 3NT.       West leads S5.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 8th July 2021:

         When the opposition bid vulnerable at the two-level or above on minimal values you can bet your bottom dollar that they have plenty of shape.      You can tell from the bidding on this hand that West has at least five spades and five hearts and two trumps unless holding 6-5 shape as the club lead is an obvious singleton.    (a)  If East has DA, then West will give West a diamond ruff and be able to cash a heart to defeat the contract unless the shape is 6/5-1-1.       (b) If West has DA, a heart lead to East's HA or HK will allow West to obtain a club ruff for one off.       (a) is more likely as West would probably have led a top heart holding HAK and so the best plan is to win the club lead, cash SK, overtake SQ with SA and lead S10 discarding HQ when as likely from the Michaels' intervention  West has SJ.      You can then ruff West's heart exit and force out DA and you will make your contract if West has DA as expected or West has started with only one trump.       This manoevre is called a Scissors Coup, named by the late bridge great Terence Reese owing to it snipping the defence's communications with each other.      

Hand for 9th July 2021:

                                               North:      S       J   7

                                                                H      A  Q  5  4  2

                                                                D      A   7  5  4

                                                                C      Q  4

 

                                               South:      S      A  10  6

                                                                H      J    7

                                                                D      Q   8   6

                                                                C      K   J  10  9  8

 

Partner opens 1H, East overcalls 1S, you bid 2C, partner bids 2D, you bid 2NT and partner raises to 3NT.

West leads S4.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 7th July 2021:

     With a likely two spades plus a club to lose you are reliant on no loser in both trumps and diamonds.       You win SA and realise that you need East to hold HK and CAK if DK is off-side as East has not got a second spade to lead to his partner's two spade winners.      If trumps are 2/1 any trump lead at trick 2 will suffice but if East has HK108 you need to lead HJ.        If East covers to win HA and lead D9.        West may cover with DK but you win DA and lead H2 to your H9, cash HA & DQJ and lead H4 to dummy's H5 to discard a black suit loser on D10, thus making a well-deserved overtrick.

 

Hand for 8th July 2021:

                                               North:       S      A  10 5

                                                                 H      5   4  3

                                                                 D      9   8  7

                                                                 C      K  Q 10 9

 

                                               South:       S      K  Q

                                                                 H      Q

                                                                 D      K  Q  J 10 6  5

                                                                 C      A   J  7  2

 

You open 1D, West cue-bids 2D (Michaels', both majors at least 5-5), partner bids 2S (showing a stop), you rebid 4D and partner raises to game with 5D.       West leads C3.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 6th July 2021:

        The contract is secure if the clib side-suit breaks normally, i.e. 3/2.       However the bidding tells you that bad breaks are likely so you should ruff the DK lead (carefully with H5) and start on the clubs by cashing CK and leading CQ.       If either hand ruffs you cash HAK drawing the remaining outstanding trumps (even if they originally broke 3-Nil), following with H67 and can then set up the club suit by a ruff with H8 and lead H2 to dummy's H3 in order to cash CA76 (discarding S34Q).

 

Hand for 7th July 2021:

                                               North:      S      A  7  4

                                                                H      J  5  3  2

                                                                D      A 10 8  7

                                                                C      Q  J

 

                                              South:       S      5  3  2

                                                                H      A Q  9  7  6  4

                                                                D      Q J  9

                                                                C      6

 

You open a weak 2H, West overcalls 2S and partner raise you to 4H.      West leads SK (East following with SJ).

Plan the play.

Analysis for 5th July 2021:

       The bidding tells you that West holds SK & CK in addition to the DA lead and presumably the lead is a singleton owing to the potentially dangerous heart switch.        Hopefully West with long spades will not have four hearts as well and you should play for a partial elimination and throw-in.        You carefully follow to DA with D5, cash HA & HK, ruff a heart high, lead D6 to dummy's DQ (drawing the outstanding trump) and lead S10, discarding a club when East cannot cover.       West has to lead a black suit and either (a) a spade allows you to take the marked finesse of SQ in order to discard CQ4 on SAQ or (b) a club exit allows you to win CAQ, lead D2 to dummy's D3 and discard C4 on SA.

 

Hand for 6th July 2021:

                                              North:       S       6  5

                                                                H      A  K  3

                                                                D      10 4

                                                                C       A  7  6  5  4  2

 

                                              South:       S       A  Q  4  3

                                                                H      10  9  8  7  6 5  2

                                                                D       Void

                                                                C       K  Q

 

West pre-empts 3D, you bid 4H after two passes, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and bids 6H over your 5D response.

West leads DK.       Plan the play.

 

Analysis for 4th July 2021:

       The bidding tells you that East has HSJxxx(x) and you hope the H9 lead is a singleton and duck the first round in both hands.        Note that it is a losing play to play H10 from dummy at trick 1 as then you have no chaance of avoiding an inconvenient heart continuation holding only HAK as  entries to your hand.       However, West continues with a heart which you win perforce with HK.      The bidding tells you that East also probably has  CA as the heart suit is only HQJxxx.        Although it seems that your only winning option is to play West for CJ, it does you no good to run C10 as  East will win CA and knock out HA leaving you with only two club tricks (CKQ) as you have no way of reaching hand to cash C98.       Your only chance therefore is to play West for CJx doubleton and play CQ at trick 3 and follow with CK when East correctly ducks.       When CJ drops you have four clubs, two hearts, two top spades and DA for nine tricks and your contract.


Hand for 5th July 2021:

                                              North:        S      A  Q  10

                                                                 H      A  K   5  2

                                                                 D      K  Q   3

                                                                 C      6   5   3

 

                                              South:        S      Void

                                                                 H      9   6

                                                                 D      J  10  9  7  6  5  2

                                                                 C      A  Q   4  2

 

West opens 1S, partner overcalls a strong 1NT and you jump to 5D.          West cashes DA and switches to H7.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 3rd July 2021:

          It looks as if you have to set up tour heart suit via a finesse and a couple of hesrt ruffs but the best plan is to win CK and lead C4 hoping that West's lead is not a singleton and then play on a high cross-ruff.      If West follows to the second club you just need to win CA, cash SA & HA and cross ruff hearts and spades knowing you cannot be overruffed.

 

Hand for 4th July 2021:

                                              North:      S       A  K  9

                                                               H      10 5  3

                                                               D       A  J  4  2

                                                               C       K Q  2

 

                                             South:       S       8  2

                                                               H       A  K  6

                                                               D       6   5  3

                                                               C      10  9  8  7  6

 

Partner opens 1D, East overcalls 1H, you bid 1NT, partner invites with 2NT and you bid 3NT.     

West leads H9.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 2nd July 2021:

     The bidding and play so far tells you that the hearts are 6-4 and West has DK or CK or both minor kings.       You can deduce from that that if the CK finesse works then so will the DK finesse and also that if the diamond finesse is wrong then the club finesse will also be wrong!        There are three plans to consider (a) Ruff at trick 2 and cash SAKQ.       If the trumps are 3-3 you then make either 11 or 12 tricks depending on where DK is positioned.  (b) ruff the second trick and lead S2 (losing to East probably) and winning the club exit, cashing SAKQ and relying on West holding DK and thus making 11 tricks.  (c) Discard a club on the second heart, winning the spade exit and cashing AKQ and leading another if the trumps are 4-2 and making ten tricks if DK is on-side.       It is unlikely that West - holding six hearts - has three spades as well and I think the choice is between line (b) and (c) and I give the vote to (c).

 

Hand for 3rd July 2021:

                                              North:      S       A  10  5  3  2

                                                               H      10

                                                               D       A  Q  J  8

                                                               C       A  5   2

 

                                             South:       S       9

                                                               H       A  Q   8  5  4

                                                               D       K  10  9  7

                                                               C       K   6   4

 

You open 1H, partner responds 1S, East overcalls 2C, you pass, partner cue-bids 3C, you bid 3D, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5H and partner signs off with 6D.        West leads C7.       Plan the play.

                                                                                   

:.        

Analysis for 1st July 2021:

       You contract is a good one but when the opposition bids at the four level vulnerable you should expect exotic distribution and should plan your card play carefully.     When West leads HK not expecting many tricks in the suit it is unlikely that a singleton in one of the other two side-suits (although a void is possible in any suit including trumps).      You have two losing hearts and a possibly losing SJ and you cannot afford to ruff H3 with S8 as East is likely to overruff and exit with a trump leaving you with an inescapable heart loser.      The best plan is to win HA, ruff H3 with SA!, Cash CA, ruff a club and ruff H6 with S8.      If East can overruff you have to hope that West at least one diamond when you can win East's exit in hand and draw trumps.      The reason I played on clubs rather than diamonds is because West is more likely to hold CK than East owing to the positive 4H overcall.

 

Hand for 2nd July 2021:

                                               North:      S      7  5

                                                                H      J  2

                                                                D      A  Q  9  8  6  2

                                                                C      8   5  3

 

                                               South:      S      A  K  Q  6  2

                                                                 H     10

                                                                 D      J 10  3

                                                                 C      A  Q 10  4

 

West opens 1H, partner overcalls 2D, you jump to 3S and partner raises to 4S.       West leads HAK (East petering to show an even number).      Plan the play.    

Analysis for 30th June 2021:

      The bidding tells you that you are in danger of losing two diamonds and two spades with West almost certainly holding SA considering the spade overcall.      The best plan is to hope diamonds break normally (3-2) and set up two late diamond winners in order to discard two spades so that all you lose is two tricks.         Therefore you should start by ducking the opening HQ lead.  West can switch to a diamond but you win DA, cash HAK (discarding your last two diamonds), ruff a diamond high, cross to C9, ruff a diamond high, cross to c10, draw the outstanding trump (if necessary) with CQ and cash D108 (discarding S34).         All you lose is a heart and SA.

 

Hand for 1st July 2021:

                                               North:       S      A  8

                                                                 H      8

                                                                 D      7  6  4

                                                                 C      A  8  6  5  4  3  2

 

                                               South:       S      K  Q 10 9 7  6  5

                                                                 H      A   6   3

                                                                 D      A   K

                                                                 C      Q

 

You open a Benji 2C, West overcalls 4H, you bid 4S after two passes, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5C, partner asks with 5D, you bid 5D (SQ & DK) and partner bids 6S.      West leads HK.      Plan the play. 

Analysis for 29th June 2021

        The bidding tells you that West has five or more spades and probably DK for the overcall but you should give yourself other chances.         You should win CQ, cross to H8 , cross to SA, cross to H9, cash CAK (discarding SJ), ruff a spade with HA, lead HQ to HK and lead a diamond, playing D8 if West does not play an honour and then claiming your contract since East will be end-played to either give you DAQ or lead a black suit allowing you to ruff in one hand and discard a diamond from the other.       If, however, West inserts D9 , D10 or DJ you win DA, cross back to HJ and lead a diamond which wins if West puts up DK or if East started with DKx doubleton when the above end-play similarly applies.

 

Hand for 30th June 2021:

                                                 North:       S      7   5

                                                                   H      A  K   6

                                                                   D      A  10  8  7  6

                                                                   C      Q  10  9

 

                                                 South:       S       K   6   3

                                                                    H       2

                                                                    D       5   3   2

                                                                    C       A   K  J  8  7  6

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner bids 2D, East bids 2S, you bid 3C, partner cue-bids 3S and you setlle for 5C.

West leads HQ.       Plan the play. 

Analysis for 28th June 2021:

     You ruff the third diamond and lead a spade to SJ which holds.     You only appear to have problems if the trumps are 4-1 (a one in four chance, so you should plan ahead for this eventuality).     If West has four spades you will go down if you play a third round of trumps as a fourth round of diamonds will force you if dummy has no trump left but if East has the length a diamond lead will not be possible.     So lead S5 at trick 5 to your SK and continue with a low spade to SQ when West shows out.      East takes SA on the third round of trumps but can do no damage as you can win CA or HA and draw the last outstanding trump with S10 and cash your club & heart winners.    If East shows out on the second spade you can stil prevail as long as West has at least three hearts as SQ in dummy is available for the fourth round of hearts if West ruffs in.

 

Hand for 29th June 2021:

                                                 North:       S       A  J

                                                                   H       A  Q  10  7  4  2

                                                                   D       A  Q   8

                                                                   C       Q  2

 

                                                 South:       S       10  2

                                                                    H       K  J  9  8  6

                                                                    D        5  4  2

                                                                    C        A  K  9

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 1S, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and bids 6H over your 5H response.       West leads CJ.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 27th June 2021:

The trap on today's hand is to draw trumps - you should virtually guarantee your contract by cross-ruffing and leaving clubs and trumps alone!         Win SA, ruff a spade low. cross to DA, ruff a spade high, cash DK, ruff a winning diamond, ruff a spade high, ruff a winning diamond, ruff a spade high and a high trump in dummy adds up to ten tricks.      East can ruff West's winning club trick at the end!

 

Hand for 28th June 2021:

                                                 North:       S       Q  J   5

                                                                   H       Q 10  4

                                                                   D        8  7   3

                                                                   C        K 10  7  6

 

                                                 South:       S        K 10  8  6  2

                                                                   H        A   K  J  7

                                                                   D         9   2

                                                                   C         A   3

You open 1S, West overcalls 2D, partner bids 2S, you invite game with 3S and partner raises to 4S.

West leads three top diamonds (East following upwards to all three rounds).      Plan the play.

Analysis for 23rd June 2021:

    The trump break is unfortunate but you should have no problem as you do not need to play the heart finesse which anyway appears to be wrong on the bidding.      You win SA, cash SK & CK, cross to CA, ruff a club, cross to DA, cross to DK, ruff a diamond, cash HA and throw East in with the third round of trumps.      East is then forced to lead a heart into dummy's HKJ tenace.

I am away for a few days.     the column will resume on Sunday 27th June 2021:

Hand for 27th June 2021:

                                                  North:      S      A   5  4  3  2

                                                                   H      A  J   9

                                                                   D      A  2

                                                                   C      8   5   3

                                                   South:     S      6

                                                                   H      K  Q 10  2

                                                                   D      K  Q  J  10

                                                                   C      K   J  9   4

You open 1H, West overcalls 2C, partner bids 2S, you bid 2NT, partner bids 3H and you bid 4H.

West leads SK.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 22nd June 2021:

       The contract appears safe with just two diaonds to lose and so you can try for overtricks.      If clubs break 2-2 you have no problem throwing a diamond on the fifth club for twelve tricks.       However the clubs are more likely to break 3-1 and so you have no discard on the fifth club.       The bidding tells you that East has led a singleton so East is the danger hand.       You should win DA and cross to S10 and lead H7 on which East will probably play HA in case you have HK singleton.       You ruff and lead a trump to SQ and lead H10.       If East covers you ruff, draw the last outstanding trump and cross to CK and lead H9.      If East cannot cover you throw a club and claim the rest as West cannot lead a diamond and you thus discard D95 on CA54 (after cashing CQ and leading C9 to CA) and claim two overtricks.

 

Hand for 23rd June 2021:

                                              North:      S      K  9  7  4  3

                                                               H     K  J  2

                                                               D     K  6  3

                                                               C     K  2 

                                              South:      S      A  8  6  5  2

                                                               H      A  4  3

                                                               D      A  7

                                                               C      A  9  4

 

Partner opens 1S, East overcalls 2H, you cue-bid 3H showing spade support, partner cue-bids 4C, you bid 4NT (RKCB) andsign off in 6S over partner's 5D response.      West leads SQ (East discarding a diamond).       Plan the play.

 

                                              

                                                                    C     K  2 

 

P     :.

       With tops in all the side-suits and no apparent losers it is easy to misplay this hand and win CA in order to lead a trump but that line leads to defeat as West will draw three rounds of trumps limiting you to only two ruffs in dummy and two ruffs in hand and therefore a trick short.       You don't mind losing all of HAKJ as long as they come from overruffs so play CK, ruff a club, cash DAK, ruff a diamond, cash SA, ruff a spade, ruff a diamond and ruff a spade for your tenth trick before leading a trump.

 

Hand for 22nd June 2021:

                                                  North:      S      Q  10

                                                                   H     10   9  7

                                                                   D       8   4  2

                                                                   C      A   K  5   4  3

 

                                                 South:       S      A   K  J   9  8  3

                                                                   H      Void

                                                                   D      A   9   5

                                                                   C      Q   9   7  6

 

You open 1S, partner responds 1NT, East overcalls 3D (an Intermediate Jump Overcall), you bid 3S and partner raises to 4S.       West leads D3.       Plan the play.                                                                        .

Analysis for 20th June 2021:

      It appears that West who overcalled 2D will likely have most of the missing SK, CA and HA.       However, East may have one or two of these cards if West's overcall was based on a long suit of seven cards.       This  is also likely when the suit strength is minimal (and you hold DAKJ).        Despite this, you need not concern yourself with the heart position as you should win SA at trick 1 and lead HJ intending to finesse.        If you lose to singleton HK in the West hand then the defence has no safe exit as a spade allows you to set up SQ for a club discard by ruffing and a minor suit card enables you to win a minor honour.        Naturally if East shows out on the HJ lead from dummy you rise with HA and then play HQ to West's HK effecting the same end-play as mentioned above.       If HJ wins you lead SQ for a ruffing finesse discarding CQ if not covered before cashing HA and ruffing a diamond in the dummy.

 

Hand for 21st June 2021:

                                                 North:       S      A   7  3  2

                                                                   H      8   6  5  3  2

                                                                   D      6   3

                                                                   C      A   8

 

                                                 South:       S      4

                                                                   H      Q  10  9   7   4

                                                                   D      A   K  10  8

                                                                   C      K   9   4

 

West opens a weak 1NT, passed round to your 2H overcall and partner raises to game with 4H. 

West leads CJ.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 19th June 2021:

        It seems from the bidding that West - missing AK of the suit overcalled  - will have CK and SA and therefore it does not appear to be a good plan to lead up to SK hoping East holds SA.      The best plan is to try and set up a fifth spade if spades break 4-2 or 2-4 as expected.         So win the DK and lead S2 from hand hoping the trumps are not 4-Nil.       You then win the diamond continuation and continue with SK to West's SA.       West can cash a third round of diamonds but cannot lead a club as you let it a low club run to your CQ and probably exits with a trump which you win with H10, ruff a spade with HK, cross to HQ, ruff a spade with HJ, cross to HA (drawing the last outstanding trump), discard a club on S8 and claim the rest with good trumps and CA.

 

Hand for 20th June 2021:

                                                 North:      S      A  Q  J  4 2

                                                                  H      J 10  8  4

                                                                  D      6   5

                                                                  C      4   3

 

                                                 South:      S      7

                                                                  H      A  Q  9  7 6  5  3

                                                                  D      A  K  J

                                                                  C      A  Q

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 2D, partner raises to 2H and you raise to game with 4H.      West leads S5.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 18th June 2021:

       The bidding tells you that West has long spades and so it is unlikely that your diamond side-suit will break 3-3 and therfore it is prudent to hope that diamonds does not break worse than 4-2 which anyway is the most likely split for that suit.       You should therefore cash DAK at trick 3 after winning the spade lead and ruff a low diamond with HK (West discarding a spade).        It is now not the time, however, to start on the trumps as you should cross to CA, ruff a fourth round of diamonds with H6, ruff a spade and then lead a trump.        The defence can win HA but you ruff their exit card and draw trumps (hopefully they are not 0-5) and cash the fifth round of diamonds.

 

Hand for 19th June 2021:

                                                North:      S      8  7   6  5  3

                                                                 H     A  Q 10

                                                                 D     6   3   2

                                                                 C     A  9

 

                                                South:      S     K  2

                                                                 H     K  J  9  8  7  6

                                                                 D     A  K  7

                                                                 C     Q 10

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 2D, partner bids 2S, you cue-bid 3D and partner jumps to 4H.

West leads DQ.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 17th June 2021:

      You ruff the third club in dummy and are surprised to see West follow suit, then a trump to S10 holds and you take stock.       When both the opposition bid on minimal values you should not expect normal breaks as they are bidding on distribution and so it is quite possible that trumps are 4-1 (a one in four chance).       Unless East has miscounted or misbid, West has one of the major Queens outside of the CAKQxx already shown and East has HKQ or HK & SQ.        Further it is likely that East is 5/4/3/1 shape as 1NT has not been opened and six clubs are not held according to the first three tricks.       If you cross to D10 to repeat the "working" trump finesse and West wins SQ a diamond continuation will lock you in dummy leaving you with two heart losers to go with two clubs.      The only way to guarantee your contract is to lead SJ at trick.        Now you have a trump in dummy to cover a club exit by the defence and/or you win a diamond exit and draw the outstanding trumps before claiming the rest with diamonds and HA.

 

Hand for 18th June 2021:

                                                North:      S     10  8  6  5  2

                                                                 H      K  6

                                                                 D      7   3

                                                                 C      J   9  7  3

 

                                               South:       S      A

                                                                 H      Q  J 10  9  8  7

                                                                 D      A  K  Q  4  2

                                                                 C      A

 

You open a Benji 2C, West overcalls 2S and you bid 4H after two passes.   West leads SK.    Plan the play.                         

  :: .

Analysis for 16th June 2021:

        It looks natural to play S3 from dummy at trick 1 but in fact this play jeopardises your contract.       All would be well if East plays SK at trick 1 as you can win the next spade with SA.         However, an astute defender will play a low spade at trick 1 (or cover S10 with SJ) and although you can then force out DQ you will be denied an entry to cash winning diamonds even if you discard SA on DA.       The bidding tells you that East has SK so the simple way to make your contract is to rise with SA at trick 1, overtake DK with DA and lead diamonds until the DQ is won by the defence.      They cannot then prevent you from leading a spade from dummy to eventually score SQ and three winning diamonds.

 

Hand for 17th June 2021:

                                                 North:      S      6   5   3   2

                                                                  H      8   5

                                                                  D      A   K  Q  J  10

                                                                  C     10  6

 

                                                 South:      S      A  K  J  10

                                                                  H      A  J   9   7

                                                                  D      6   3

                                                                  C      J   3  2

 

East opens 1C, you make a take-out double, West responds 1H, partner doubles for take-out, you bid 1S, partner invites with 3S and you raise to game with 4S.        West leads C7 and East plays CAKQ (West following with C68).      You ruff in dummy and lead a trump to S10 which holds.       Plan the play. 

Analysis for 15th June 2021:

      The bidding tells you that both black suits are likely to break badly as West has at least five spades and five hearts and also you haven't had a singleton diamond led.      Also you know that East has at most one spade and may have all the outstanding trumps.      You thus need to play carefully as you have to ruff at least two of your spade losers knowing East can overruff a low trump from dummy and the opening lead has taken an entry to dummy out before you can unblock DK.     I think the best plan is to win HA, cross to SA, overtake DK with DA and lead a second spade from dummy.     If East ruffs in you retain your SK in hand and East can do you no damage as you will then be able to cash CA (West discarding a heart), ruff two spades high and lead a small club from dummy to your C10.     If East does not ruff you win SK, cash CA and play as above ruffing two spades high and conceding a spade at the end.     If East shows out on the first spade lead you should duck a second spade lead in both hands and follow the above plan.

 

Hand for 16th June 2021:

                                                 North:     S     A  10  3

                                                                 H     A   J  10  2

                                                                 D     K

                                                                 C     A   J  10  4  3

 

                                                 South:     S     Q   5   2

                                                                 H      7   5

                                                                 D      A   J  10  9  8  7

                                                                 C      8   6

 

Partner opens 1C, East overcalls 1S, you bid 1NT & partner raises to 3NT.    West leads S7.    Plan the play.

Analysis for 14th June 2021:

        The bidding has been quite instructive with West showing six or seven clubs and four hearts plus SAK when East turns up with CK at trick 1 when you try CJ and you win CA.       This leaves West with at most one diamond and possibly a void.       If East has a singleton club you cannot avoid a ruff but you start with a spade hoping to make something of SQJ.       West wins SA and exits with HAQ to dummy's HK and you should now take the risk of a diamond to D10 and exit with S9.        After West wins SK and HJ you can win any return and cross to DK, ditch a club on SQ, finesse DQ and cash DA (dropping East's DQ ) and claim the rest of the tricks to fulfil your contract.

 

Hand for 15th June 2021:

                                                  North:       S      3   2

                                                                    H      A  9  8  7

                                                                    D      A  3  2

                                                                    C      Q  J  3  2

 

 

                                                  South:       S      A  K  8  5  4

                                                                    H      2

                                                                    D      K

                                                                    C      A  K  9  7  5  4

 

You decide to open 1C, West cue-bids 2C (A Michaels' Cue-bid showing 5-5+ with both majors), partner jumps to 4C, you bid 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5C (3 Aces) and partner signs off with 6C.       West leads HK.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 13th June 2021:

       The exact duplication of distribution of your hand with dummy means the hands do not fit well and you need a lot of luck to make your contract.     The bidding tells you that East has at most two cards in hearts and at most two cards in spades but West's bidding without SAQ & HAK suggests a 6-5 shape is more likely than 5-5 and East is probably not 0-10-1-1 and so may be 2-1-9-1.       As West has sole control of the third round of both majors it is disappointing that you do not have a side-suit winner to effect a squeeze.       I think the best plan is to win HK at trick 1, cross to DA, finesse SQ and cash SA.       Now the coup-de-gras :-  lead a small trump from dummy which East perforce has to win but with only diamonds left you ruff in hand (discarding H2 from dummy), cash CQJ10 and lead C9 to dummy's CA and cash dummy's C8 (discarding S5 from hand).      Dummy has S2 & H3 remaining and you have HA5 left.      If West has two hearts left you cash dummy's S2 and lead to your HA at trick 13.      If West has a heart and a spade left (and you have a perfect count of the hand as West's shape is known to be 5-6-2-0) then HA5 win the last two tricks.

 

Hand for 14th June 2021:

                                                  North:      S      Q  J  8  5  3

                                                                   H      K 10 7

                                                                   D      K  6  2

                                                                   C      J   8

 

                                                  South:      S     10  9

                                                                   H       9  8  5

                                                                   D       A  J 10  8  5

                                                                   C       A  Q  4

 

West opens 1C, partner opens 1S, you bid 1NT, West rebids 2H, you bid 3D after two passes and everybody passes.

West leads C10.      Plan the play.                

 

Analysis for 12th June 2021:

       The diamond switch is worrying and if East has a singleton the defence will ruff the diamond continuation to defeat your contract.    However, on  the actual hand the diamond continuation is not ruffed but you must take your only chance for the contract and delay touching trumps.      You either win the second diamond with DJ or cross to CJ and lead a heart to HQ, the finesse being marked by the bidding as working in order to discard your third diamond on HA.         Then it is time to lead a trump to SK and West's SA.       You can now overruff when West leads a third diamond and all you lose is the defence's three Aces.

 

Hand for 13th June 2021:

                                               North:      S       A  Q  2

                                                                H       K  3  2

                                                                D       3

                                                                C       A  8  7  6  5  4

 

                                               South:      S       5  4  3

                                                                H       A  5  4

                                                                D       A

                                                                C       Q  J 10 9  3  2

 

You open 1C, West bids 2C ( A Michaels' Cue Bid showing both majors), partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5S (2 Aces & CQ) and partner bids 6C.      West leads HQ.       Plan the play.        

Analysis for 11th June 2021:

          The bidding and play so far tells you that West has five or six hearts headed by the HK and probably at least two of the missing three Kings as well to justify a vulnerable overcall on a weakish suit.         You win HQ at trick two and can count four tricks outside of diamonds with at least four diamonds (five if West has DK) and possibly another trick in spades.        If, however you lose a trick then a further two rounds of hearts ( you naturally ducking the second round to severe the defence's communications) will allow West to set up two further heart winners so you cannot afford to play on diamonds at first.        The card to play at trick 2 is SJ.        This may slip through West's SK and you then run DJ not caring if East has DK as you have nine tricks with two spades, two hearts, four diamonds and a club.         If West wins SK and plays a heart you duck, win the next heart and then try the diamond finesse ending up with nine or ten tricks depending on the position of DK.

 

Hand for 12th June 2021:

                                                 North:       S       9  8  4

                                                                   H      A  Q  7

                                                                   D      K  Q  6  5

                                                                   C      K  Q  5

           

                                                 South:       S      A  Q  J  10  6  2

                                                                   H      4

                                                                   D      J   8  7

                                                                   C      J   9  6

 

You open a weak 2S, West overcalls 2D and partner bids 4S.        West leads C10 to CQ & CA and East exits with D8.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 10th June 2021:

        You appear to have no problems unless the outstanding diamonds break 3-1 (the expected break) plus the trumps being 4-1 (a 1 in 4 chance).      If West has HK1098 then you are doomed but if East has this holding it is prudent to plan ahead for bad breaks without risking your contract on normal breaks.      Therefore you start by ruffing the first spade in hand and play Ace and another heart (East playing H910 as you win the HJ with West showing out.       With hopefully two clubs, two spades and three trumps already in the bag you cash DA and now require just two tricks from HQ76.        You cross to CAK, cash SAK, ruff a second spade with H6 and exit with a diamond.        West can cash DQJ but the last two tricks are you holding HQ7 over East's HK10 and you must come to a trick with HQ.

 

Hand for 11th June 2021:

                                                  North:      S       5  4

                                                                   H       6  3

                                                                   D       A  Q  10  8  4

                                                                   C      10  7   6   2

 

                                                  South:      S       A  Q   J

                                                                   H       A  Q   2

                                                                   D       J   9   7  2

                                                                   C       A   J   4

 

You open 1D, West overcalls 1H, partner raises to 2D and you sign off with 3NT.       West leads H7 to East's HJ.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 9th June 2021:

        When a player shows length in one suit and instead leads the lowest card in a another side-suit you can be fairly sure it is a singleton (especially if the overcalled suit is raised although this is not the case here).       You win CK at trick 1 and lead a spade to dummy's S10 and unfortunately East's wins SA and continues with CQ which you know West can ruff and obviously switch to HK since the bidding marks West with six hearts and DJ to justify a vulnerable overcall.        It is essential now to duck CQ to correct the timing for a squeeze.       East will lead another top club and East ruffs and as predicted switches to HK but now you win HA and cash all four trumps left.       The last trump will either squeeze East in clubs and diamonds if four diamonds are held or in the hand given squeeze West in hearts and diamonds as the play so far indicares that West's shape is 2-6-4-1.

 

Hand for 10th June 2021:

                                                 North:      S      A  K  6  2

                                                                  H      A  4

                                                                  D     10  7  6  3

                                                                  C      A  K  9

 

                                                 South:      S      Void

                                                                  H       Q  J  7  6  5  3

                                                                  D       A   8  5  4  2

                                                                  C       5   3

 

Partner opens 1D, East overcalls 1S, you bid 2H, partner bids 2NT and you sign off with a bid of 4H.

West leads S8.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 8th June 2021:

         The diamond honours appear to be with West so there is no reason not to win the second trick.     You appear to have one spade, three hearts and one diamond and so four club tricks will add up to the nine required.       However, you should play the hand through in your mind before committing to the decisive play.        If you win the  second trick and cross to CA to finesse CJ and it loses you have your four required club tricks but cannot make your expected nine tricks as East would be certain to switch to a spade and you cannot untangle your winners.        The recommended line is thus to lead C2 from dummy at trick 3 and play C5 from hand.       West can win and cash two diamonds but you are now in a position to take the remainder as long as the clubs were 3-2 originally (or if West had four) as you now can unblock HQ, cross to CA in order to cash HAK and take the marked finesse of CJ to win the rest of the clubs.

 

Hand for 9th June 2021:                                                                                                                                                                                                             North:      S      10  4

                                                              H       A   2

                                                              D       A   K  8  7  5

                                                              C       8    6  4  3

 

                                             South:      S       K   Q  J  9   7

                                                              H       J    7

                                                              D       Q   6

                                                              C        A   K  5   2

You open 1S, West overcalls 2H,partner bids 3D, you cue-bid 3H, partner bids 3S and you bid 4S.       West leads C7 and East plays C9.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 7th June 2021:

         You ruff the third spade carefully with H9 but you should forget about first drawing all the outstanding trumps in three rounds and then taking the diamond finesse for a possible overtrick (throwing your singleton club on D7 if West held DKx(x).       This is because the bidding tells you that East holds both DK and CA as otherwise West would have opened the bidding 1S!       You then lead C7 to dummy's C9 not caring if East holds CJ as you let the trump exit run to dummy's H8 and play the ruffing finesse in clubs, ruffing out East's CK, drawing trumps and using DK to get to dummy to throw DQJ on the two set up club winners.

 

Hand for 8th June 2021:

                                               North:      S      8  7  4

                                                                H     Q

                                                                D      A   7  5  2

                                                                C      K   J  4  3  2           

 

                                               South:      S      A   5   2

                                                                H      A   K   3  2

                                                                D      8    6   4

                                                                C      A    6   5

 

You open 1H, West makes a take-out double, partner re-doubles, you rebid 1NT and partner raises to 3NT.

West leads DK and follows with D10.      Plan the play.

                                                                                   H

                                                           .

Analysis for 6th June 2021:

        You win CK lead with CA and cash SA knowing that the contract is secure if the trumps break 1-1 as you just lose one club and ruff your other minor cards in dummy.      The bidding tells you that West has long clubs and therfore may be short in hearts and/or trumps.      In the unlikely situation that West is void in spades you should play on hearts by cashing HAK (discarding a club), ruff a heart, cash DA, ruff a diamond, ruff a heart, ruff DQ and hopefully throw a second club loser on the fifth heart which will be a winner if the hearts are 4-3.      If East is void in spades the heart play above is unlikely to work as it needs West to hold at least four hearts.      With only three hearts West will overruff with SK and cash a club.     Therefore, the best plan is probably to cross to HK and take the diamond finesse at trick 3 in order to discard a club from dummy on DA.

 

Hand for 7th June 2021:

                                               North:      S       4   3  2

                                                                H       8

                                                                D       A  10  7  3   2 

                                                                C       K  Q  10 9

 

                                               South:      S       10  6

                                                                H        A   K   Q   J  10  9  7

                                                                D        Q   J   8

                                                                C        7

 

After three passes you open 4H which concludes the auction.     West leads SAKQ (East playing 578).   Plan the play.     

Analysis for 5thJune2021

       The bidding suggests that West has the vast majority of the missing hcp and so  it is probably best play to win CK at trick 2 and try to cash CA as that suit is your best source of tricks.          If West does not have CQ then DQ is likely to be finessable and if West has a second club then you ruff the third round setting up the suit not caring if West overruffs.       Even if the CA is ruffed the trick may come back when you cash SA. You would the win West's diamond exit with DA, ruff a heart and then lead CJ for a ruffing finesse.      Your plan is to ruff one heart on the table and throw the other losing heart on a club winner playing West for SK and not more than two more trumps.       As the cards lie you cash CJ at trick 4 discarding a heart and when West ruffs the most you lose is a heart and two spades to make your contract exactly.

 

Hand for 6th June 2021:

                                               North:       S      8   7  6  5  4

                                                                 H      A  K  7  3  2

                                                                 D      7

                                                                 C      6   4

 

                                               South:       S      A  Q  J 10  9  3

                                                                 H      5

                                                                 D      A  Q  6

                                                                 C      A   5  3

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2C, partner bids 4S and you bid 6S.       West leads CK.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 4th June 2021:

        The bidding tells you that East has both red Kings to accompany CKQJ10x(x) so you should win CA, ruff a club, finesse HJ, ruff a club, finesse HQ, ruff a heart with SA, cash SK (East discarding a spade), cross to S10 and cash SQJ (drawing all the outstanding trumps) and cash HA & AD for twelve tricks.       East would have bid hearts with five rather than clubs but you must delay playing trumps to allow for a bad trump break.

 

Hand for 5th June 2021:

                                              North:       S      A   7

                                                                H      J

                                                                D      K  J  4

                                                                C      A  K  J 10  7  4  3

 

                                              South:       S      Q 10  9  6  5  3

                                                                H      Q   7  4

                                                                D      A   5   3

                                                                C      5

 

West opens 1H, partner bids an intermediate jump overcall of 3C, you bid 3S and partner raises to 4S.

West cashes HK and switches to C2.        Plan the play.

 

Analysis for 3rd June 2021:

        The bidding marks East with long hearts (because of the scarcity of hcp held) headed by HKJ and probably one or both side-suit Queens as well.       So it is a reasonable bet that the diamond finesse is right and you have an easy eleven tricks.      On the other hand the long hearts suggest short diamonds and tghus DQ could well be off side.        The best time to take a finesse is when you are not bothered if it fails but an alternative way to play the diamond suit is cash DAK and lead a third round - if East has DQ all you have lost is an overtrick as East cannot hurt you by winning more than one heart.        There is another line to play safe for the contract by winning HA at trick 1 and finessing S10.        You expect it to lose but you now have the chance of spades 3-3 producing your ninth trick.       You win East's diamond exit and cash SAK and if the suit breaks evenly you cash S2, DA and three clubs to fulfil your contract. 

 

Hand for 4th June 2021:

                                               North:       S       A   K   6  5  3

                                                                 H       4   2

                                                                 D       A   Q   6  4  2

                                                                 C       9

 

                                                South:      S       Q   J   10  2

                                                                 H        A   Q   J   6

                                                                 D        8    5

                                                                 C        A    8   7



You open a weak 1NT, partner transfers with 2H, East overcalls 3C, you bid 3H (natural but showing 4 card spade support and a maximum 1NT opener), partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5S (2A+SQ) and partner bids 6S.

West leads C4.       Plan the play. 

Analysis for 2nd June 2021:

        The contract is not good as you only have eleven tricks (fice clubs, four hearts and two diamonds).        However the defence does not know they have two cashing spade tricks.      The bidding tells you that East has DQJ10xx(x) and at least SA or SK to justify the overcall of 1D.      You will have no chance if East has both SAK but you have a reasonable chance if West has one of them.       Therefore, you should win DK at trick 1, lead HJ to dummy's HK - West may think East has HQ! - and lead S2 inserting SJ when East plays low.       West will win but if West continues partner's suit (diamonds) you win DA and cash five clubs followed by four hearts  (discarding S10 from dummy).        East will then be squeezed in diamonds and spades as one of SA & DQ has to be discarded setting up either D9 or SQ as your twelfth trick.

 

Hand for 3rd June 2021:

                                              North:       S      A  K  10  2

                                                                H      Q 10  2

                                                                D      10  9  2

                                                                C       A  K  9

 

                                              South:       S       7   6  3

                                                                H       A   4

                                                                D       A   K   J  8  6

                                                                C       Q   J  10

 

You open 1D, partner responds 1S, East overcalls 2H, you double (showing hcp), partner cue-bids 3H and you bid 3NT.       West leads H9.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 1st June 2021:

       The bidding suggests that East holds CKJxxx(x) and therefore the option of setting up the club suit if breaking 4-3 is not a worthwhile option.        The contract is thus poor and you need a great deal of lick and should hope for a favourable distribution of the high cards.        If HA is right that probably the spade honours will be wrong to justify East's intervention.      You should thus ruff the club lead in hand.and lead a trump hoping West has HA.          This passes off OK when the King drops HJ from East..      Now you try cashing DAQ and exit with a trump hoping that East would win and have to lead a black suit.         If East can exit with a diamond you lead a spade to dummy's S10 hoping to end-play East.

 

Hand for 2nd June 2021:

                                                North:      S     Q  10  2

                                                                 H     A   K   3

                                                                 D     8    5

                                                                 C     K   Q 10  9  8

 

                                                South:      S     J    5   4

                                                                 H     Q   J  10  9

                                                                 D     A   K   9

                                                                 C     K   J   2

 

Partner opens 1C, East overcalls 1D, you bid 1H, North decides to rebid 3C and you decide to bid 6NT. 

West leads D7 to East's D10 and your DK.         Plan the play.        

        You appear to have six top trumps, two top diamonds, two diamond ruffs in dummy and HA and therefore need one further trick to fulfil your contract.       All will be well were the SA with West but the bidding (and lead) tell you that that is a forlorn hope and it seems you require the diamonds to break 4-3.       With West holding length in spades West may hold length in diamonds and so you should have a second string to your bow!        Having lost trick 1 to SQ you win West's club exit in hand perforce and cross to HA and ruff a heart before cashing DA and ruffing a diamond.         Now ruff a second heart, ruff a low diamond and ruff a third hear before cashing your last two trumps.         With dummy holding SK4 & H9 and you holding S5 & DKJ you can count West as having DQ10 and (hopefully) SJ.        The coup-de-gras occurs when you lead S5.        If West plays SJ you duck in dummy and if East allows SJ to win you win the last two tricks in hand with DKJ and if West overtakes SJ with SA you win the last twoo tricks in dummy with SK & H9.       Easy, peasy!

 

Hand for 1st June 2021:

                                                North:      S      A  Q 10

                                                                 H      K  7

                                                                 D      A  Q  6

                                                                 C      A  Q  8  4  3

 

                                                 South:     S      9   5  4  3

                                                                  H    10  9  8  7  5  4

                                                                  D     K  9  5

                                                                  C     Void

 

       Partner opens a Benji 2C, East doubles (penalty), you bid 2H, partner bids 2NT(21-22), you bid 3S, partner 3NT and you settle for 4H.      West leads DJ.       Plan the play.  

Analysis for 30th May 2021:

       The bidding suggests that West has HKQ, DK & CAK to justify the bidding.      Before you play a card to trick 1 therfore you should envisage how the play will go throughout the hand and not make a hasty play.       Suppose you win HA, cross to DA, cross back to SK and follow with DQ (discarding a club).      West can then win DK and cash CAK and dummy is in trouble, not being able to discard a heart or SA and so discardsa diamond winner.      Now a spade exit by the defence leaves West in control as you can cash your diamond winners but West with HQ and a spade to lead to partner's SQ.       So it is imperative to duck HK at trick 1.      Everything  is plain sailing then as declarer wins whichever major West continues, unblocks DQ and enters dummy in the suit West has not led, i.e. if a spade then win SK, cross to DA,  finesse HJ and lead DQ forcing out DK and CAK can do you no damage.       Otherwise you win HJ on a low heart, cross to DA, cross to SK and lead DQ to force out the defence's DK.

 

Hand for 31st May 2021:

                                               North:       S       K  4  3  2

                                                                 H       A  9  8  4  2

                                                                 D       8

                                                                 C       8  7  6

 

                                                South:      S       5

                                                                  H      6

                                                                  D      A  K  J  5  4

                                                                  C      A  K  Q  J 10 9

 

You open 1C, partner bids 1H, East overcalls 1S, you reverse into 2D, partner jumps to 4C, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5D and you sign off with 6C.     West leads SQ which you allow to win and switches to C4 (East following with C2).    Plan the play.  

Analysis for 29th May 2021:

       A 5-Nil trump break will defeat the contract and a 3-2 trump break will make the contract a trivial make.       Therfore, you hatch a plan for trumps 4-1 and start by ruffing a small heart from dummy and follow by cashing SAKQ.      If West has four trumps you follow with CAK & DA and exit with a trump.         In this case, West has to either give you two tricks with HA & CQ on which you discard your two losing diamonds or lead a diamond giving you four diamond tricks if diamonds break 3-2.         If East has four trumps you should cash CAK & DAK and exit with a trump hoping that East has only two diamonds.

 

Hand for 30th May 2021:

                                                North:      S       A  K

                                                                 H       A  J  10

                                                                 D       Q  J  10  9  6  5  3

                                                                 C       5

 

                                                South:      S       J  10  9 

                                                                 H       4   3   2

                                                                 D       A

                                                                 C       Q  J   9  7  3  2

 

Partner opens 1D, you respond 1NT, West makes an intermediate jump overcall of 3H and partner bids 3NT.

West leads HK.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 28th May 2021:

         When you are in a bad contract you look for favourable distributions to allow you to succeed.       Conversely, if you are in an apparently good contract you should prudently look for snags.       On today's hand you expect to lose two trumps only if the trumps break normally.       However, if trumps are 3-Nil you could lose three trumps and a heart unless you play perfecrly.       The 100% line is to win DA at trick 1 and folllow with CQ and a club to C10 without touching trumps.       East ruffs in and leads HQ but you win HK and ditch a heart on CA as East ruffs in again and exits with HJ.       You are still in control however as you win HA and lead CK discarding your last heart as East ruffs in again but now you ruff H10 in hand and claim ten tricks and your contract as all you lose is SAKQ.

 

Hand for 29th May 2021:

                                                North:       S      5

                                                                  H      A  6  4  3  2

                                                                  D      J 10  3  2

                                                                  C      Q  J  7

 

                                                South:       S      A  K  Q  7  6  4  2

                                                                  H      Void

                                                                  D      A   K  6  4

                                                                  C      A   K

 

East opens a weak 2H and you decide to bid 4S.        West leads H9.         Plan the play.     

 

 

 

Analysis for 27th May 202;1

         The bidding tells you that East will not have CKQ as well as the HAKJ implied by the play to tricks 1 and 2 because of the failure to open the bidding in first seat.      Thus you are in danger of losing at least two clubs, one heart and so you appear to need trumps 3-3 which is well against the odds.      However you can throw two clubs on dummy's long diamonds (having drawn trumps).      Therefore you should take precautions against the likely 4-2 trump break by ruffing the second heart at trick 2 and leading S5!       East will win but is stymied because a third heart lead can be ruffed in dummy and you would then cross to DK to cash SAKQ (drawing East's SJ10x) and cash CA & DQAJ9.       Otherwise you win East's club, diamond or trump exit and again draw trumps with SAKQ followed by the rest of your winners to add up to ten tricks.

 

Hand for 28th May 2021:

                                                North:      S      J  9  7  4

                                                                 H      A K  5

                                                                 D      A

                                                                 C      A  K  J 10 6

 

                                                South:      S     10  8  6  5  3  2

                                                                  H      7  6  4  2

                                                                  D      3

                                                                  C      Q  3

 

West pre-empts 3D, partner doubles and raises your 3S bid to game with 4S.       West leads DK.        Plan the play. 

Analysis for 26th May 2021:

       The only danger to the contract is that all three red-suit finesses lose, i.e DKQx with East and HK with West.       In order to give yourself the best chance you should win SQ lead with SA , draw trumps with CAKQ (West discarding two spades) and lead the HA and a low heart from hand.        If the heart finesse was right all along then East win win HK and exit with a heart but you cash HAQJ and run DJ end-playing East.        A diamond would give you two diamond tricks and a spade gives a ruff and discard allowing you to ruff in dummy and discard a diamond from hand.        If West wins HK - it is likely that West will duck form HK and H10 wins when you continue hearts and a diamond now will likely end-play East when you play low from dummy - and switches to a diamond you duck and East is end-played if the hearts are 4-2 otherwise you need split honours in diamons to bring home your contract.

 

Hand for 27th May 2021:

                                                North:      S      9  7

                                                                 H     Q  6

                                                                 D     A  J  9  6  2

                                                                 C     9  6  3  2

 

                                               South:       S     A  K  Q  3  2

                                                                 H     10

                                                                 D      K  Q 10

                                                                 C      A  J   5  4

 

East passes as dealer, you bid 1S, partner responds 1NT, East overcalls 2H, you double, partner bids 3D and you settle for 4S.       West leads H9 to East's HJ and HK.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 25th May 2021:

       There is no certain way to play this contract but given the pre-empt showing seven or eight clubs it is likely that West is short in hearts, diamonds and/or trumps.        I would hope that West has two hearts at least - East is likely to have the greater length - and (leaving trumps alone) try to cash  HAKQ.        If West follows to all three you ditch a club from dummy and just continue with SA and C6 and all will be hunky-dory unless West has eight clubs as you ruff a club in dummy with S6 and rely on the trumps behaving.       If West has two hearts only (very likely) and ruffs the third heart then you overruff. cross back  to SA and lead a club, ruffing in dummy unless West ruffs high.       If West ruffs with SK you merely throw a club, win a diamond exit, cash SA and ruff a club in dummy.

 

Hand for 26th May 2021:

                                               North:      S     5

                                                                H    10  6  2

                                                                D     A  8  5  3  2

                                                                C     A 10 9  4

 

                                               South:      S     A

                                                                H     A  Q  J  4

                                                                D     J 10  9

                                                                C    K  Q  J   8  3

 

West opens a weak 2S, passed round to your take-out double. partner bids 2D, you bid 4C and partner raises to 5C.

West leads SQ.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 24th May 2021:

     On the bidding East is likely to hold both red Kings but there is no immediate entry to dummy to take advantage of their location.      The best plan is to win SA at trick 1 and lead HQ.      If the trumps break normally (2-1 or 1-2) East will win HK, cash two spades and switch to a club but you win CA, lead H7 to dummy's H8, run DQ, cross to DA, lead H5 to dummy's H6, lead DJ for a ruffing finesse and discard C5 on this trick if East plays low or on D10 using H8 to dummy's H10 as an entry to cash the set up diamond winner.       The above plan is slightly better than the alternate plan of just winning SA & CA and exiting with a black card in which case whoever wins has to give you an entry to dummy by leading a red sui,        This is because the recommended line wins if West has HK singleton or HKx doubleton as well as East holding both red Kings.. 

 

Hand for 15th May 2021:

                                                North:       S      J  6  2

                                                                  H      8  4

                                                                  D      A  9  7  6  5  3

                                                                  C      3  2

 

                                                South:       S      A  Q  7  5  4  3

                                                                  H      A  K  Q  J

                                                                  D      2

                                                                  C      A   6

West pre-empts 3C, passed round to your double, partner bids 3D and ypu end procedings with 4S. 

West leads CK.       Plan the play.

 

.

Analysis for 23rd May 2021:

        The Nil-5 trump break is a bitter blow but there are still chances if East has three or four diamonds to fulfil your contract.    You start with cashing SQJ & DKAQ before ruffing a club (overruffing if necessary).        If East shows up with four diamonds and has not ditched one on the second club you are safe to cash DK (discarding SK from dummy), ruff a spade with HQ and ruff a third club (overruffing if necessary), cross to HK and lead a fourth club with just HA 10 left over East's HJ9.        If East discards a diamond on the second club you are safe (as East's shape is 3-5-4-1) to lead to dummy's SA in order to lead the third club and as before cross to HK at trick 11 to lead a club towards your trump tenace.

 

Hand for 24th MAy 2021:

                                                North:       S      6   5  3

                                                                  H     10  8  6  2

                                                                  D      Q  J 10 4

                                                                  C      8   6

 

                                                South:       S      A   4  2

                                                                   H     A  Q  J  9  7  5

                                                                   D     A   5

                                                                   C     A   5

 

You open a conventional 2C, partner bids a negative 2D, East overcalls 2S, you bid 3H and partner bids 4H.

West leads S8.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 22nd May 2021:

       Having lost three clubs you cannot afford to lose a trump.         If trumps are 3-2 you have no problems and if West has HJ9xx you must lose a trump so you should allow for East holding HJxxx.       If this is the case, it is crucially important to win DA at trick 4 and ruff a diamond straightaway.      If East has HJxxx then West must be 4-1-44 on the bidding and the play to the early tricks.       You follow with HA and H6 to dummy's HK, ruff a second diamond, cash SK, lead a spade to SJ and lead CJ discarding SK if East does not ruff in.      Otherwise you are in dummy at trick 12 and can overruff East and draw the last trump to fulfil your contract.       It was necessary to reduce your trump length to be the same as East's in order to perform a trump coup.

 

Hand for 23rd May 2021:

                                                North:       S       A  Q  J

                                                                  H      K  Q  5

                                                                  D      A  Q   8

                                                                  C     10  8   6  3

 

                                                South:       S      K   8  4

                                                                   H     A  10  8  7  4

                                                                   D     K   J   9  5

                                                                   C     5

 

You open 1H, West pre-empts 4C and partner bids 6H.         West leads CK, East overtakes with CA and exits with H2 and dummy wins H5 as West discards a club.         Plan the play.

Analysis for 21st May 2021:

       The contract is over-optimistic but at least has chances.      You could just draw trumps and play West for CQ & CJ but that is only a 25% chance.       The bidding tells you that after trick 1 East is in sole charge of the second round of hearts and you should be able to effect a double squeeze which is a better chance.       You win HA and DA (drawing the outstanding trumps), cash CAK hopefully leaving West in sole charge of the third round of clubs and run run all your trumps coming down to S9 & H8 at trick 12.       Dummy (discarding after West) has kept SA8 & C8 and therefore discards C8 (unless West has thrown both CQ & CJ.      The screw then passes to East who has to discard from HK and two spades.         If East has discarded HK, HQ & H9 you cash H8 but if neither C8 or H8 are now goof then neither East nor West can hold on to two spades and SA8 win the last two tricks.       A perfect double squeeze that just needs East to hold less than three clubs or West to hold CQJ which is quite possible when East holds six hearts.

 

Hand for 22nd May 2021:

                                                 North:      S      A   J  5

                                                                  H      K   3

                                                                  D      A   J  4  2

                                                                  C      J   7  6  2

 

                                                 South:      S      K  Q  2

                                                                   H      A  Q 10  8  6  2

                                                                   D      9

                                                                   C      10  5  3

 

West opens 1C, passed round to your itermediate jump overcall of 2H, raises to 4H by partner.      West leads CAKQ (East discarding a spade on the CQ).       Plan the play.

Analysis for 20th May 2021:

       The bidding places East with HKQ9xx and probably the CA to make up an opening bid and so it is important to block the run of the heart suit at trick 1 by rising with dummy's H10 and ducking East's HQ who switches to C3.        It is important now to rise with CK and duck a diamond to keep communication with dummy in the likely event that diamonds will break 3-1 before West can continue the defence's heart attack before you have set up nine tricks.        You make two spades, one heart, six diamonds and one club for an overtrick.

 

Hand for 21st May 2021:

                                                North:       S       A  8  5

                                                                  H       A 10 4  3

                                                                  D       A  9  8

                                                                  C       A  K  8

 

                                                 South:      S       9

                                                                   H      8  2

                                                                   D      K  Q  J 10  7  6  5  3

                                                                   C      10 9

 

East opens a weak 2H, you bid 5D, partner bids 5NT and you bravely accept partner's grand slam try and bid 7D.

West leads HJ.       Plan the play. 

Analysis for 19th May 2021:

       There are no problems if the trumps split normally (2/1) or if the club finesse is working.       However, the club finesse figures to be off-side with the vulnerable overcall but there is no need to commit to the finesse straightaway.        So you win SA (discarding a diamond from dummy) and cash HA  (East discarding a spade) & follow with HK and DA in the hope that West's spirited bidding was based on DK singleton and plenty of possible ruffs.       When DK drops you are home by following with D5.      West is ruffing a loser if D5 is ruffed and then it is a simple matter to set up the diamond suit with one ruff using a spade ruff and CA as entries to return to dummy and discard C4 on a set-up diamond winner.       Similary if West discards on D5, you win DQ and ruff a diamond not caring if West overruffs or not and using a spade ruff and CA to ruff the fourth round of diamonds and return to dummy to again discard C4 on a set-up diamond winner.

 

Hand for 20th May 2021:

                                                North:       S      5  3

                                                                  H      J 10 6

                                                                  D      A  K  8  6  5  4  3

                                                                  C      J

 

                                                 South:      S       A  K  9  4

                                                                   H      A   5  3

                                                                   D      7   2

                                                                   C      K  10  9  6

 

West leads H5 to dummy's H10 and East's HQ which you correctly duck and East switches to C3.        Plan the play. 

Analysis for 18th May 2021:

        You have no problems if the trumps behave normally (3-2) and so you should envisage how to possibly recover from a 4-1 Break (A 1 in 4 chance).      You win CK at trick 3 and cash SA and lead S2 to SK discovering the 4-1 break.        If trumps had been 3-2 you jusr ruff a heart back to hand and draw the last trump with HQ and claim twelve tricks conceding a club at the end.        If West has the four trumps then you will go down but otherwise you ruff HJ, cash DAK, cross to CA, ruff DJ and exit with C3.       Whoever wins this trick allows you to make both SQ and S10 as you are playing after East's SJx and thus fulfil your contract.

 

Hand for 19th May 2021:

                                                 North:       S       Void

                                                                   H       A  3  2

                                                                   D       Q  7  6  4  3  2

                                                                   C       A  Q 10 9

 

                                                 South:       S       A   5

                                                                    H      K   J   8  7  6  5  4

                                                                    D      A   5

                                                                    C      J   4

 

You open 1H, partner bids 2D, East overcalls 2S, you bid 3H, West bids 4S, partner bids 5H, East bids 5S and partner bids 6S.       West leads S4.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 17th May 2021:

     Although the bidding suggests that the diamond finesse will be successful you should look for a better plan.         Forewarned by the bidding that a dummy reversal and 4-3 heart break is not going to happen you need to envisage a winning distribution of the opponents cards and plan a cross-ruff instead.      It is best to win HA, cash DA & DK, CK & CA before ruffing a heart, ruff a club,ruff a heart (overruffing if necessary), ruffing a club and lead a heart for another ruff or overruff with SA on table for your twelfth trick.         If  East ruffs in with S9 or S10 you can throw your losing diamond, win the spade exit in dummy and lead another heart (overruffing as necessary).

 

Hand for 18th May 2021:

                                                North:      S      K   6

                                                                 H      J   5  4

                                                                 D      J   4  2

                                                                 C      A   8  6  5  4

 

                                                South:      S      A  Q 10  9  7  2

                                                                 H      10  3

                                                                 D       A   K

                                                                 C       K   3  2

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2H, partner doubles showing hcp, you jump to 3S and partner raises to 4S.

West leads HAK (East following with H2 & D5) and switches to D3 (East playing D10).        Plan the play.

Analysis for 16th May 2021:

      Prospects are not good on the bidding as CQ figures to be with the overcall strength but you should first duck a diamond in case the suit breaks 3-3 or to prepare for a squeeze if the hand with four diamonds has CQ.       A secondary chance is if CQ drops doubleton.        You ruff the third spade high, draw trumps in three rounds and duck a diamond in both hands.      East wins and continues diamonds so you win with DK, cash CAK and lead your last trump.      If C10 is not a winner at this stage then it is likely that DA6 will be both be tricks.

 

Hand for 17th May 2021:

                                               North:      S       A   Q  J

                                                                H       A   J  7  6  3

                                                                D       K   J  8

                                                                C       K   7

 

                                               South:      S       K   8  6  5  2

                                                                H       10

                                                                D        A   6  4

                                                                C        A   8  5  3

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2H, partner doubles showing hcp, you rebid 2S, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5C (2A +KS), and partner settles for 6S.        West leads HK.      Plan the play.                                                                    .

Analysis for 15th May 2021:

       With five hearts, four diamonds and two black aces, you need to generate an extra trick tn order to make your slam.        One (but hopeless) idea is to duck the lead, win SA on spade continuation, cash HJ & HA, play four rounds of diamonds discarding a spade (hoping the hand with long trumps cannot ruff in), ruff a spade, cash CA, ruff a club, draw trumps and cash winning diamonds.         However you have the perfectly reasonable line of a dummy reversal which just depends on trumps being 3-2.         You win SA at trick 1, cash CA, ruff a club, cash HA, cross to HJ, ruff a club, cross to DK, ruff a club, cross to DA, draw the outstanding trump with HQ (discarding a spade) and cash DQJ for twelve tricks.

 

Hand for 16th May 2021:

                                                 North:        S        Q   9  3

                                                                    H        K   J  6

                                                                    D        A   6  5  4

                                                                    C        A   J  7

 

                                                 South:        S        4   2

                                                                    H        A  Q 10  8  4

                                                                    D        K   3  2

                                                                    C        K 10  2   

 

Partner opens 1D, East overcalls 1S, you bid 2H, partner bids 2NT, you bid 3H and partner bids 4H.

West leads S8 to East's S10, and East leads SAK.        Plan the play.         

Analysis for 14th May 2021:

       With only seven tricks on top you need a heart trick (or two) so it seems you must duck the first club as the clubs will probably be 2-5 on the bidding.      This manoevre is in order to stop the defence from winning three  and two hearts.    However, you don't want the defence to switch to diamonds so you should follow with C10 under CJ at trick 1 to encourage a club continuation by the defence.         You thus win the second club honour at trick 2 and lead a heart hoping for split honours in the suit.        In this case, if West wins a top heart the defence cannot continue clubs and if East wins a top heart and clears the club suit hopefully West has the other top heart and East has no immediate entry to cash the set-up club suit.  Before leading a second heart you should unblock SKQJ as a matter of standard technique but you should win four spades, two hearts, two diamonds and one or two clubs to fulfil your contract.

 

Hand for 15th May 2021:

                                                 North:       S       A  5  4

                                                                   H      Q  J  6

                                                                   D      A  K  6

                                                                   C      A   8  6  4

 

                                                 South:       S      9   8  3

                                                                   H      A  K 10  8  5

                                                                   D      Q  J  8   3

                                                                   C      Q

 

Partner opens 1C, you respond 1H and West overcalls 1S, partner jumps to 2NT and you bid a forcing 3H.        Partner cue-bids 4C to show secondary heart support and CA, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5C, you enquire with 5D, partner bids 6D to show DK & HQ and you settle for 6H.         West leads SK.       Plan the play.         

Analysis for 13th May 2021:

       The bidding tells you that East probably has seven or more clubs and thus you should expect a bad trump break with West holding the length.       So your first step after winning CA should be to cash SA - if East plays S10 then the odds would favour running SJ next but on today's hand East discards a club and West thus has SQ108 left and a certain trump trick.       Your only hope now is that West follows suit when you cash your winners and you can force a ruff at trick 11 which means West needs to have at least three diamonds and three hearts and a second club.        Winning the DAQK indicates that East has a doubleton diamond and so you are safe to cash DJ discarding a heart.         You  now need to reduce your trump holding to the same length as West in order to effect the end-play and so you ruff a club, follow with HQAK, ruffing the third heart,       Now the coup-de-gras : ducking a trump in both hands and West has to lead away from SQ10 enabling you to take the last two tricks with SJ & SK.

 

Hand for 14th May 2021:

                                                North:       S       K  Q  J

                                                                  H       Q  J   7  6

                                                                  D       K   7  5  3

                                                                  C       8   2

 

                                                South:       S       A  10  7  3

                                                                  H       10  9  4

                                                                  D        A   6

                                                                  C        A  10  9  6

 

You open 1NT (12-14), partner bids 2C Stayman, East doubles for a club lead, you bid 2S, partner cue-bids 3C and you bid 3NT.        West leads C7 and East plays CJ.         Plan the play.

Analysis for 12th May 2021:

      West has shown normally six  spades and thus is unlikely to hold four or more diamonds.        The contract depends on not losing two diamonds.         If the suit breaks 3-2 you can just draw trumps and just lose at most DK.         However you cannot afford to lose DK and a ruff so it is prudent to draw three rounds of trumps before tackling the diamond suit.        Of the 4-1 breaks, West has a singleton 9 or 10 twice as often as a singleton King so you should lead CJ after winning SK at trick 1 and drawing trumps in three rounds.       East can cover with DK but you win DA, cross to SK in order to lead D3 intending to just cover East's card.       If West wins D6 with D8 the the suit is 3-2 and the remaining diamond (S10) will drop when you cash DQ.       If East plays D7 you win DQ, and concede D6 to East's D10 thus making D8 the winning diamond (on the fourth round) and so you make twelve tricks with four diamonds, five hearts, one club and two spades.

 

Hand for 13th May 2021:

                                               North:       S        K  5  2

                                                                 H        A  K  6

                                                                 D        K  J  9  7

                                                                 C        8   5  3

 

                                               South:       S        A   J  9  6  4  3

                                                                 H        Q   J  4

                                                                 D        A   Q 10

                                                                 C        A

 

East pre-empts 3C, you jump to 4S, partner bids 4NT (RKCB) and over your 5C response (3 Aces) bids 6S.

West leads C9 to East's CJ.       Plan the play.  

Analysis for 11th May 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has the remaining Queens to make up a 1NT opener and probably has four trumps as well when East plays SJ at trick 4 when you can SA.       All you need therefore is to make three more trump tricks to go with the ruff at trick 3, SA, DAK & HAKQ so you merely need West to follow to three hearts and three diamonds in order to make your contract.        You then cash SK, HAKQ, DAK, ruff a diamond and lead your fourth heart.       If West ruffs high, S10 is now the master trump and otherwise S10 wins a trick "en passant"  as you know that East cannot overruff.

 

Hand for 12th May 2021:

                                                 North:        S       A  4

                                                                    H       A  Q  10  9  6

                                                                    D       J   8    5  4  3

                                                                    C       2

 

                                                  South:       S       K   2

                                                                    H       K   J   2

                                                                    D       A   Q   6

                                                                    C       A   J   10

 

West opens a weak 2S, partner cue-bids 3S (Michaels', hearts and a minor), you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner bids 5S (2 Aces & HQ), and you settle for 6H.        West leads SQ.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 10th May 2021:

           East's double for a diamond lead tells you that rising with DQ is a forlorn hope and the contract appears to rely on a successful guess as to the location of HQ.        However, the best plan is to initially play for split honours in clubs - win DA over East's DJ, cash CA & SA, cross to S9 and lead CJ discarding a diamond if it is not covered by CQ or CK.      You then ruff West's diamond exit, cash HAK and try the ruffing finesse in clubs if HQ has not dropped in two rounds throwing HJ if a club honour does not appear.       When HQ drops doubleton (an 18% chance) you don't need to risk the club finesse and you just claim twelve tricks.

 

Hand for 11th May 2021:

                                               North:       S      10  8   5

                                                                 H       K  4

                                                                 D       K  7   4  3

                                                                 C       7   6   4  2

 

                                               South:       S       A  K   7  3  2

                                                                 H       A  Q   6  2 

                                                                 D       A  10

                                                                 C       J   8

 

West opens a weak 1NT, passed round to your double, passed round to East who runs to 2C (Clubs & a higher suit), passed round to partner who bids 2D, you bid 2S, partner invites with 3S and you bid 4S.        West leads three top clubs (East petering to show an even number).       You ruff and cash SA (East following with HJ).       Plan the play.

Analysis for 9th May 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has all the missing Kings and Queens and you have to hope that the trumps are not 4-Nil.    The usual way to play this kind of weakish trump fit is to duck one round, take the spade continuation (SQ) and leave the trumps alone thereafter.       As the bidding tells you that West will win the second diamond and cash a third trump you will be unable to ruff a diamond in dummy.       So you should plan for a kind of dummy reversal anticipating to ruff three hearts in hand.        You win HA, ruff a heart, cross to C10, ruff a heart, cross to CJ and ruff a fourth heart.      Even if West can overruff you still come to a trump and two club winners and DA for ten tricks otherwise you cash your winning clubs and DA for ten tricks.

 

Hand for 10th May 2021:

                                               North:       S        10  9  7

                                                                 H         K 10 9  4

                                                                 D         Q  2

                                                                 C         J  10  9  8

 

                                               South:       S         A  K  Q  J  8  5  2

                                                                  H         A  J  3

                                                                  D         A  6

                                                                  C         A

 

You open an artificial 2C, partner responds an artificial 2D, East doubles for a lead, you jump to 3S, partner bids 5S and you bid 6S.        West leads D7.        Plan the play.                                                                              .

Analysis for 8th May 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has five or more spades heading by the SA only with probably strength in diamonds rather than hearts owing to the opening lead which you naturally win with HK.     It appears that you have a choice of setting up the hearts although it appears that East has the length in the suit and also going for diamond ruffs.      So after HK you cross to DA and ruff a diamond, cash HA to avoid being stuck  in dummy if the defence ducks your later first spade lead, cross to CQ and ruff a  second diamond, cross to CK (noting trumps are 3-1 with West holding the length), ruff a third diamond loser with CJ and lead SJ.       West either has to lead a black card to enable you to cash CA (drawing the outstanding trump) plus SKQ or ruff a possible heart exit in hand before claiming CA & SKQ.        Note the Dentist Coup (Cashing HA as suggested above) , a manoevre named by the late great Terence Reese because of the element of extraction.

 

Hand for 9th May 2021:

                                               North:      S      8   5  2

                                                                H      A 10 4  2

                                                                D      J   3

                                                                C      A  J 10  5

 

                                               South:      S      A   9  7  6  3

                                                                H      Q

                                                                D      A   8  2

                                                                C      K  Q  6  4

 

West opens a weak 1NT, you double after two passes, passed round to East who bids 2D (diamonds and a major),

you bid 2S, and partner raises to 4S.       West leads SK.       Plan the play.

      With only seven tricks on top only due to the spade duplication you need 2 extra tricks which appear to only come from the red suits.       This can come either by winning four diamond tricks if East has DQ or DJ singleton or West has DQJ doubleton or if diamonds are 3-2 and you can manoevre an end-play forcing West to give you a second heart trick.         There is no advantage in ducking the heart lead as West may switch to clubs and you can also block the defence running West's suit by covering a possible second heart lead by East.      So you win HA and cash DK (no honour appearing) and follow with  D2 to dummy's D8 and East's DJ.     When East exits with a spade it is likely that the heart suit is 6-2.      You win SK, cash DA10 and duck a club in both hands, East winning CK and exiting with a spade to your SA.     You can now place twelve of West's cards - six hearts, 3 diamonds, one club and two spades, so you cash CA and SQ and lead H9.      Either West has to allow this to hold for your ninth trick or overtake, cash HQ but concede a trick to your HJ for your ninth trick.

 

Hand for 8th May 2021:

                                             North:      S        J   8

                                                              H        A  K  J  6  3

                                                              D       10

                                                              C        J   9  6  3  2

                                       

                                             South:      S        K  Q  3

                                                              H         5  2

                                                              D         A  6   3  2

                                                              C         A  K  Q  7

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner bids 2H, you jump to 3NT, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5C and partner signs off with 6C.       West leads H10.        Plan the play.

Analysis for 6th May 2021:

        The bidding and lead tells you that East has HQJ10xx(x) and DA to make up the vulnerable 1H overcall.       You start by winning HA at trick 1, cashing CK, crossing to C10 (West discarding a heart) and leading a diamond from the dummy in the hope of East holding a singleton DA.       When East withholds DA, you win DQ and have a choice of hoping for a doubleton DA (poor odds) or hoping the spades are 3-3 or either East or West has SJx alone (reasonably likely).      However the defence may discard badly and it does no harm to cross to SQ and cash three more clubs.       On the first you throw a heart, then a diamond and on the last top club you throw another heart unless East has thrown three hearts which will mean your H9 is a boss.      If East has thrown two more diamonds and no spades you exit with D8 to DA singleton at this stage and make SA, HK and DK9 at the end.       Otherwise you cash SA, cross to HK and play the spades from the top hopefully ending with a lucky overtrick.

 

Hand for 7th May 2021:

                                               North:       S        Q  J   2

                                                                 H        9   3

                                                                 D        A  10  8  3

                                                                 C        A   6   4  2

 

                                               South:       S        A   K   4

                                                                 H        A    J   7  2

                                                                 D        K    7   4  2

                                                                 C         5   3

 

You open 1D, West overcalls 1H, partner cue-bids 2H (showing a good 3D raise without a heart stop) & you bid 3NT.

West leads HK.       Plan the play.

 

Analysis for 5th May 2021:

       With two diamonds and  a heart to lose  it appears you need the club finesse although the bidding suggests this is likely to be wrong, East having opened the bidding.       With only an eight card trump suit there can be no perfect elimination play possible as there will not be a trump left in dummy if all the trumps are drawn.       However you should try the partial elimination instead which offers a small extra chance.       Duck the first trick in both hands forcing East to win, Ace the heart continuation, cash SAK (leaving the last trump outstanding) and then play DA and another.        When East cannot exit with a diamond or a trump you are home as even if East unblocks DK, West cannot overtake DJ without it costing declarer's tenth trick.

Hand for 6th May 2021:

                                              North:       S       A  Q

                                                                H       6   2

                                                                D       K  9  8  3

                                                                C       A  Q  J 10  3

 

                                              South:       S       K 10  9  4   2

                                                                H       A   K  9  4

                                                                D       Q   4

                                                                C       K   8

 

Partner opens 1C, East overcalls 1H, you bid 1S, partner jumps to 3D, you bid 4NT (RKCB) and over partner's 5C response (3 of the 5 Aces) you settle for 6NT.       West leads H7 to East's H10.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 4th May 2021:

       When the opposition pre-empt you should try and allow for freakish distribition and play carefully.       West is likely to hold strength in both majors and can probably be embarrased in the end position but you cannot draw trumps straightaway as you need to ruff two clubs on the table.      What you must not do is give East the chance to obtain the lead (via SJ or ruffing a spade and switch to hearts dislodging dummy's HA.      The best plan is thus to win SA, cross to CA, ruff a club, lead D7 across to D8. ruff a club, overtake DK with DA and run all your trumps playing for West to come down to SQ & HKJ.      You then exit with S6 and let the heart exit run to your HQ for your twelfth trick.

 

Hand  for 5th May 2021:

                                               North:      S      9   8  3

                                                                H     A  10

                                                                D     10  8  5  3

                                                                C      A  Q  6  5

 

 

                                               South:       S     A  K  Q 10  4

                                                                 H      8  4

                                                                 D      A  9   6   2 

                                                                 C      7   2

 

East opens 1H, you overcall 1S, partner cue-bids 2H to show a good spade raise, you try for game with 3D and partner accepts and bids game with 4S.      West leads H3.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 3rd May 2021:

      Your contract is in danger of losing four spades and HA only if West's overcall suit is SK10863 or SK10863.       In either of these cases you need to rise with SA to block the run of the suit.       If  West holds both HA and DK you are also likely to be doomed to defeat and must hope that East has one of these cards but West must surely hold one to justify a vulnerable overcall.      The Rule of eleven tells you that East two cards higher than S6 and so has a doubleton SQ10, SK10, SK9, SQ9, S108 or S109 as presumably S6 would not be led from any combination containing S10 & S9.      Holding SK9 or SQ8, East would surely unblock the high honour so the odds just favour playing low at trick 1 as you can block the run of the defence suit by ducking S10 if East's doubleton is SK10 or SQ10.        After East wins SQ and S10 you win the club exit with CA and knock out HA, winning East's club exit and losing DK to West setting up your ninth trick for your delicate contract.

       Incidentally if West has led from SKQxxx then after winning SJ you must cross to dummy and take the diamond finesse first before tackling hearts in the hope that West has only one of DK & HA.

 

Hand for 4th May 2021:

                                              North:      S      A  9  7  5  3

                                                               H      A  4  2

                                                               D      K  Q 7  5           

                                                               C      3

 

                                               South:     S      6    2

                                                               H      Q   5

                                                               D      A   J  10  9  8  4

                                                               C      A   6   2 

 

East opens 3C, you overcall 3D, partner bids 4NT (RKCB), you respond 5H(2 Aces) and partner bids 6D.

West leads SK.        Plan the play.              

Analysis for 2nd May 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has at least five spades and is likely but not certain to hold DQ so you should make the diamond finesse your last resort.       A better plan is a dummy reversal where you plan to make ruffs with the long trump hand and use the short trump hand to belatedly draw trumps assuming they break normally, i.e. 3-2 in this case.       You still have the diamond finesse as a final chance if the trumps prove to be 4-1.       So ruff the second spade lead high, cash CA, lead  C4 to C9 and ruff dummy's third spade, cross to HK, ruff dummy's fourth spade, cross to DK, draw the last outstanding trump with CK (discarding a diamond) and cross to hand to cash DA & HAQJ.

 

Hand for 3rd May 2021:

                                               North:       S       A   7   2

                                                                 H       J  10  9  2

                                                                 D       J   9   7  2

                                                                 C       K   5

 

                                               South:       S       J   5   4

                                                                 H       K  Q   7

                                                                 D       A  Q  10

                                                                 C       A   9   6  4

 

You open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner doubles for takeout, you rebid 1NT, partner invites with 2NT and you bid 3NT.   West leads S6.       Plan the play.     

Analysis for 1st May 2021:

       You know from the bidding that West has CKQxxx(x) and probably DA.       So win CA, draw trumps in two or three rounds, eliminate the heart suit by playing HA, HK, ruff a heart and exit with a second club.       If East wins this trick and switches to a diamond you play D8.      Dummy wins DQ and you exit with a third round of clubs.       West can win C9 but is end-played to either give you a trick with DK or give you a ruff and discard and you ruff in one hand and discard a losing diamond in the other hand.    Either way you end up with ten tricks losing just two clubs and one diamond.

 

Hand for 2nd May 2021:

                                               North:      S      8  7  3  2

                                                                H     K  2

                                                                D     K  7  5  4

                                                                C     K  9  2

 

                                               South:      S     4

                                                                H     A  Q  J  5

                                                                D     A   J  6

                                                                C     A  Q  J 10  4

 

After two passe you open 1C, West overcalls 1S, partner bids 2D, you cue-bid 2S, partner bids 3C, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5C and you bid 6C.      West leads SAK.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 30th April 2021:

        The bidding tells you that East has HK & DQ to make up a vulnerable overcall so you will be able to put pressure on in the end position to make your optimistic grand slam.       You merely win DK at trick one, cash three top spades (drawing the outstanding trumps), cash HA (known as a Vienna Coup in squeeze play terminology), cash CAK (discarding a diamond), ruff a club back to hand and run all your trumps.        Your last two cards are HQ & D9.       If East has discarded HK you cash HQ and lead to DA but otherwise East will have bared DQ and DAJ will win the last two tricks.         If you don't cash HQ early East will still be squeezed but you have to guess which suit (of diamonds and hearts) has been unguarded.

 

Hand for 1st May 2021:

                                             North:      S     A   J  8  6

                                                              H     K  8  2

                                                              D     Q  6  4

                                                              C     A   7  3

 

                                             South:      S     K  Q  9  7  4

                                                              H     A   3

                                                              D     K  10  8

                                                              C      6   5   4

 

You open 1S, West overcalls 2C, partner bids 3C (a good spade raise), you bid 3S and partner raises to 4S.

West leads CK.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 29th April 2021:

       You win CK at trick three having lost SA & CA and lead a heart to the HK and ruff a spade and cash HA (East contributing HQ and East discarding a club).      The spade overcall looks a bit thin without a diamond honour but you don't need to assume how the diamonds are divided as you know from the bidding that West has five or six spades and thus East has two or three.        You just need to ruff a club and ruff a spade to ensure that East is out of spades and then run DQ if not covered.      If East is able to win DK then any continuation costs a trick as a diamond picks up the defence's DJ and a club allows you to ruff in one hand and discard a losing diamond from the other hand.       You don't need to guess the position of the diamond honours to make your contract.

 

Hand for 30th April 2021:

                                                  North:       S       Q   7   3

                                                                    H       A   7

                                                                    D       A   J   5

                                                                    C       A   K   9   5   3

 

                                                  South:       S       A   K   9   8  6  5  2

                                                                     H      Q   5

                                                                     D      K   9    2

                                                                     C       4

 

Partner opens 1C, West overcalls 1D, you respons 1S, partner rebids 2NT, you bid 4NT (RKCB), partner responds 5C (3Aces), you enquire with 5D, partner bids 6C (SQ + CK) and you risk 7S.     West leads D7 to D5,10,K.     Plan the play. 

                                                    .

Analysis for 28th April 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has all 12 missing hcp including CKJ & HA so there is no point leading a club towards CQxx hoping that East holds CK.      After winning SK and cashing DJ10 to draw West's known doubleton trump holding you lead H2.       West has to play low otherwise you can discard a club on SA and CQ on HK after unblocking HQ and so HK will win trick 4.      You then cash SA discarding C3 and run five further rounds of trumps watching West's discards.        On your last trump you discard S9 unless West has discarded SJ & S10 when you discard a club and cash CA & S9.        It should be reasonably easy to decide whether West 's last three cards are HA and CKJ or singleton CK, HA and another major suit card.             If the former you exit with HQ and West has to lead away from CKJ to give you CQ as a trick, otherwise you cash CA and cross to CQ to make your twelvth trick.

 

Hand for 29th April 2021:

                                                 North:      S      J   8  5  2

                                                                  H     K  10 9  7

                                                                  D     A   9   4

                                                                  C     7   5

 

                                                 South:      S     K

                                                                  H     A   J   8   6   5   4

                                                                  D     Q  10  3

                                                                  C      K  Q   2

 

After three passes you open 1H, West overcalls 1S, partner raises to 2H, East bids 2S, you make a trial bid of 3D and partner jumps to 4H.       West leads S10 to East's SA and East exits with C9 to CQA and West exits with CJ.

Plan the play.

 

Analysis for 27th April 2021:

   The bidding and play to the first trick places West with SAQxxx and either HA or CK to make up a reasonable 1S overcall.      So it appears that you cannot force out HA to make your hoped for nine tricks as the defence will then likely cash the next four tricks in spades for one off.      There is a chance however that West has HA and East has CK but you must play carefully to make the most of this good fortune if clubs are 2-4.       You win SJ at trick 1, cash DQ, lead specifically D8 to DK, finesse C10, lead DJ to DA, finesse CJ, lead D2 to dummy's D3, finesse CQ and cash CA for your ninth trick and fulfil your contract.

 

Hand for 28th April 2021:

                                               North:       S      A   9   4

                                                                 H     K   5   3

                                                                 D     K   Q   4   3

                                                                 C     A    3   2

 

                                               South:       S     K

                                                                 H     Q    2

                                                                 D     A    J   10   9   8   7   6

                                                                 C     Q    5    4

 

West opens a weak 1NT, partner doubles for penalties, East bids 2H (showing hearts and spades), you jump to 5D and partner raises too 6D.        West leads SQ.         Plan the play.

Analysis for 26th April 2021:

        The bidding tells you that West has led a singleton so you win DA and cash SA (East discarding a club).       You now know that you will not succeed in ruffing diamonds in dummy as West will ruff in and you cannot overruff.        However, all you need now is for hearts to break no worse than 4-2 (or singleton Q) but you must be careful not to draw three or four rounds of trumps.      With no apparent entry to dummy you need to enlist West's help!      At trick 3 you should cross to HA, ruff a low heart with SK, cross to CK and ruff a low heart with SQ.      Unless West has underruffed on the last trick you play SJ10 and exit with your last trump (discarding D4).       Of course if West had "wasted" a trump by underruffing you exit one trick earlier with S5.      In either case,  West has to then give you the lead in dummy in order for you to cash HKJ7 and CA and thus you fulfil your contract.

 

Hand for 27th April 2021:

                                                 North:      S      10  9  8

                                                                  H       K  7  2

                                                                  D       A  K  4  3

                                                                  C       4   3  2

 

                                                 South:      S       K  J

                                                                  H       Q  J 10

                                                                  D       Q  J   8  2

                                                                  C       A  Q  J  10

 

You open 1D, West overcalls 1S, partner jumps to 3D and you bid 3NT.       West leads S5.       Plan the play.

Analysis for 25th April 2021:

        With only seven tricks on top you need to make more than one extra trick from the diamond suit.      You expect West to have DA on the bidding although that is not guaranteed and thus have a reasonable play of low to DK and ducking on the way back hoping for a doubleton DA.       However that is odds against so you should look for a better plan.     As you can afford to lose a heart and two diamonds the best plan is to first duck HQ, win the heart continuation and lead D2 intending to just cover West's card hoping that you can follow with D9 if West plays D3 or D8.       East can then win cheaply with D8 or D10 or DJ but has no hearts left to clear West's hearts as the hearts are expected to be 6-2 on the bidding.      You then win East's black suit exit in hand and lead a second diamond to DK and assuming both opponents follow you can clear the diamonds with a third round when DK wins.      If West plays D10 on the first round you have to win DK and follow with D7 ducking if East plays D8 or covering D10 or DJ with DQ to set up D9 as a third round winner.     Unless West has DAJ10 you will be able to make two spades, two hearts, three diamonds and three clubs for a well-deserved overtrick.

Hand for 26th April 2021:

                                                North:      S      4  3  2

                                                                 H     A  K  J  7  3  2

                                                                 D     3   2

                                                                 C     A  K

 

                                               South:       S     A  K  Q  J 10 5

                                                                 H     4

                                                                 D     A  10  9  5  2

                                                                 C     4

 

Partner opens 1H, East opens 2D, you bid 2S, partner jumps to 4S, you bid 4NT (RKCB) and over partners 5H response you jump to 6S.        West leads D6 to East's DJ & your DA.       East discards a club on SA.      Plan the play. 

Analysis for 24th April 2021:

       There is no certain best play for the contract.      The bidding tells you that East is limited and as well as honours in hearts will have probably one of DAQ but probably not both and probably will be shorter in diamonds than East so it looks like you need to guess the diamond suit correctly.      The best line could be to win HA, cross to SKQ, ruff a heart and lead DJ.         This is a good pschological play as East holding DQ will be loth to play it thinking you have DA rather than West.      When West wins DA the likely heart exit allows you to discard a club from dummy and eventually ruff two clubs on the table.       A diamond exit will give you a free finesse aginst the missing honour and a club exit allows you to play for split honours - one defender holding the CJ and one holding CQ.

 

Hand for 25th April 2021:

                                                 North:       S      A  7  4  2

                                                                   H      9  3

                                                                   D      K  9  7

                                                                   C      A  K  7  3

 

                                                  South:      S      K  9  3

                                                                    H     A  K  5

                                                                    D     Q  6  5   4  2

                                                                    C     Q  8

 

West opens a weak 2H, partner doubles for take-out and you jump to 3NT.       West leads HQ.        Plan the play. 

Analysis for 23rd April 2021:

     The contract is good but you need to play carefully to avoid losing three diamonds and a club.       You should win SK at trick 1, cross to H10, lead a second spade to SA, ruff a spade high with HA, cross to H9, ruff a spade and only now play CA and another club.         Unexpectedly East can win this with CK but you can just cover the diamond East exits with and West is end-played to either give you a trick with DK or give you a ruff-and-discard - you ruff in one hand and throw a diamond from the other hand and so only lose a club and two diamonds to chalk up your contract.

 

Hand for 24th April 2021:

                                                North:       S      A   6  5  3

                                                                  H      A

                                                                  D      K  J  10  9  8

                                                                  C      K  10  9

 

                                                South:       S      K   Q   J  9  8  7

                                                                  H       8   7

                                                                  D       2

                                                                  C       A   8   7  6

 

Partner opens 1D, East bids 2H (weak) at favourable vulnerability, you bid 2S, East jumps to 4H, partner cue-bids 5H and you jump to 6S.       West leads H10.      Plan the play.

Analysis for 22nd April 2021:

        The bidding tells you that East has all the three missing Kings and DQ  included in the 1NT opener.       Therefore you can put pressure on East by running your long trump suit.       You win DA, cross to one of the major suit aces, cash the other Ace (optional) and play CA and CQ forcing out East's CK.      When West shows out you know you have no further problems as East cannot lead a diamond without setting up your DJ and if a major is led you ruff a King or on a small card exit you let it run to dummy's Queen discarding a diamond.      Perforce East has to exit with a trump to avoid setting up your twelvth trick.      Now you just run all your trumps but one coming down to SQ, HQ & DA in dummy and a trump and DJ10 in hand.      If East has not discarded a major suit King (in which case you lead to DA to cash the appropriate Queen discarding your last diamond) the DQ will now drop under DK and you return to hand with a ruff to cash DJ.

 

Hand for 23rd April 2021:

                                                  North:      S      A  K  5  2

                                                                   H      Q  J  9  6

                                                                   D      9   5  3

                                                                   C      Q  4

 

                                                  South:      S      8   3

                                                                   H      A   K  10  7  3  2

                                                                   D      K  10   6

                                                                   C      A    7

 

You open 1H, West overcalls 2D, partner cue-bids 3D to show a good heart raise and you jump to 4H.    West leads SQ.

Plan the play.

Analysis for 21st April 2021:

        With East holding DA, West has to have SA and likely SQ as well as CK to justify a vulnerable two level overcall on only a Queen high five card suit.       To allow for the clubs being 4-1 you must now run your four heart winners.        To keep three more clubs to stop the run of the suit West has to discard two cards from SAQ and two diamond winners.        All you need to do now is finesse CJ and exit with a spade and West has to give you the last two tricks with CA9.        If you take the club finesse early West can throw two clubs on the hearts and you go one down.

Hand for 22nd April 2021:

                                                 North:       S       Q  10  5  2

                                                                   H       Q  10  8  7  2

                                                                   D       A   K   5  4

                                                                   C       Void

 

                                                 South:       S       A

                                                                   H       A

                                                                   D       J   10   2

                                                                   C       A    Q   J   10  9  6  4  3

East opens a weak 1NT, you double for penalties, West bids 2H (showing both majors, partner doubles for penalties, East converts to 2S and you jump to 6C.        West leads D9.       Plan the play. 

                                                                                       C

    J  10    .