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Hand of the Day Archive 1
Wednesday 18th July

How many tricks can you make in No Trumps. Imagine you are in 6NT played by North on the lead of a low Spade. North wins ♠10 how should you continue? 

You now have three Spades, three Diamonds one Heart and two Clubs for a total of 9 tricks. You should look at each suit in order; Spades there is little chance of extra tricks West apears to have at least ♠ Qxxx; Hearts finessing K will add one trick if West holds Kx there are two extra tricks; Diamonds playing 9 finessing  J will add one trick however the Diamonds split (playing the top three Diamonds will make five Diamond tricks over half the time but you will make only three Diamonds 13% of the time); Clubs playing ♣K then finessing ♣Q will add three tricks if the Clubs are 3-3. This is a hand where you have to take your chances in order so play 9 finessing J, 43% of the time when the J is this will give you 12 tricks by then giving up a Heart so when 9 wins cross to ♠K play, A, K finding the bad news, now play 3 towards Q this will generate the two extra tricks required when Hearts break 3-3 or East has Kx or singleton K (you cannot afford to play A first) in this case Q will lose to K and now you can test the Hearts which break 3-3 making 12 tricks for +990. Note you still have the Club finesse in reserve if the other chances don't materialise. (If the Diamond finesse loses you can cash ♠K, play ♣K, finesse ♣Q if this suceeds and the suit breaks you have 12 tricks if the Club suit does not break you have to take the Heart finesse.) You can make 13 tricks but this puts the contract at risk.

Take your chances in order

Tuesday 16th July

West leads ♣3 to your ♣10 East wins ♣Q, plays Q low from dummy. How do you defend?

You should play low (smoothly) East is sure to follow with 5 to J you can win K and now East has no way back to the Diamond suit and will fail by several tricks.

Defenders can hold up too

Monday 15th July

An interesting problem. South with a balanced 11 should Pass, West should open 2, North does not have a bid so should Pass but South having Passed initially can Double for takeout. Now North has two choices bid 3NT or Pass hoping for +500 or +200 and game is not making. I would favour Pass at this vunerability. The analysis says the contract should fail by two tricks but practically the defence will make 6 tricks for +200 and in this case 75% of the matchponts.

It often pays to take the penalty

Thursday 12th July

This hand was interesting no one reached the 25 point game. North should open 1, South should respond 1♠, North will rebid 1NT showing a balanced 15-16 points South with 9 points should invite game with 2NT, North will accept showing exactly 3 Spades (in case South has five Spades) with a bid of 3♠ and with only four Spades North will bid 3NT. 

East should lead ♣10 as this is probably from ♣(K)109(xx) North should play low winning ♣Q. Now a low Club intending to play ♣8 East might win ♣K now even if East switches to a Diamond North will come to at least 9 tricks for +600.

Bid game with game values

Wednesday 10th July

An interesting hand from Wednesday mornings gentle play session. I was playing with Christine in her first duplicate session and we managed to bid as above. East will open 1 South might overcall 2♣ now West can bid a forcing 2 showing a five card suit I continued with 2♠ which does not show extra values Christine continued with 3 showing a six card suit which I was happy to raise to 4.  

After a Club lead West should win ♣A now a cross ruff seems a good idea so ♣K ruff a Club ♠ A, ♠ K ruff a Spade ruff a Club and now the defence can only take two Aces.

Think about the bidding


Tuesday 9th July

The bidding should be straightforward. When West opens 2NT East with 35-37 points in the two hands must bid slam. East could try Stayman but when West bids 3 must bid 6NT. Note 4NT is not Blackwood but quantitative as no suit has been agreed. 

Now how to play the hand. Most will lead a Club say ♣4 West will win ♣K. What next?

The key is how to play the Diamond suit, crossing to A then following with 5 will succeed over 85% of the time failing only when South has Kxxx.

Slightly better is to cross to ♠A, then lead 5 to Q if South wins K then returns a Club West can win ♣A, play A finding out the bad news, follow with three more rounds of Spades, then three rounds of Hearts ending in the West hand. West holds ♣J 8 East has  J6 and South who has still to play to the 11th trick holds 109 ♣Q and has no good discard.

It is better if South does not win the first Diamond trick but West should still prevail West will cross back to A finding the bad news. Again West should play three more rounds of Spades, then three rounds of Hearts ending in the West hand. This time West holds ♣AJ 8 East has  J63 and South who has still to play to the 10th trick holds K10 ♣Q8 and has no good discard. If South discards a Diamond West can play a Diamond and finesse the ♣Q on the Club return or if South hangs on to both Diamonds ♣A will drop ♣Q establishing the ♣J. 

Leading towards Q without playing A succeeds over 89% of the time so one in 25 times you will make the extra trick and today is the day.

Look for extra chances

Monday 8th July

No-one managed to bid this hand correctly at the table. North should open 1NT South should transfer to Spades and then force to game with 3, North should bid 4♠ showing a minimum with 3 Spades and South with no slam interest will Pass. At the table players seem to have transferred to Spades the bid 2NT (when North with should bid 3♠ and South with 15 points will raise to 4♠) or used Stayman then bid 2NT. The only time you would want to play in 2NT is if North has 2 Spades, 3 Hearts and only 12 points so you must play with the odds and bid 3.

Now the play is also interesting assume East leads 5 (second highest from a bad suit) West will win K, then switch to  ♣3 (lead towards weakness in dummy) how should North play? 

Play with the odds

There appears to be a loser in Clubs, a Spade suit to negotiate and a fourth heart to deal with. Best is to win ♣A, finesse ♠K, cash a top Spade, cross to K, back to A, Q discarding ♣2, then when J falls play 10 discarding a second Club, cross to ♣K and cross ruff, East has a trump trick so North will make 11 tricks for +650.

Thursday 4th July

North will open 1NT and South should bid 2 a transfer to Hearts. (Otherwise West should Double to show 15 or more points when reaching game is then certain.) West should Double to show Diamonds and North will complete the transfer. East cannot bid not knowing the strength of Wests hand. When South passes West must bid having shown Diamonds 3♣ seems the best bid and East with 10 points will bid 3NT. As North is known to have nearly all of the outstanding points the play is not too difficult.

Bid game with game values

Wednesday 3rd July

What a strange hand! Not so much what you hold as the bidding. Partner has a balanced hand you have this strange distribution and neither opponent has a bid. So what is your plan?

You could bid 3NT or 5 directly. Better could be a 3 a slam try in Diamonds.

However the best option seems to be 2♣ Stayman. This gives some chance of slam. If partner bids: 

  • 2 You can bid 5 
  • 2 you could try 3NT hoping partner can stop the Clubs (if partner bids 4♠ you can bid 5♣ showing first round control in Clubs)
  • 2♠ you can bid 4♣ a Splinter bid showing a singleton or void Diamond

So in this case you will end up in 5 by East for +400 as South is sure to lead  K.

Don't worry about this hand too much nothing similar likely to happen to you again!

Think about using Stayman


Tuesday 2nd July

No North/South succeeded with this hand today. What should you do with this hand after South opens 1 and West overcalls 1♠?

After the 1♠ overcall North must bid 1NT showing 8-11HCP with a Spade stop (1NT is stronger over the intervention). Now South with 19 points will bid 3♣ forcing to game and the part score will be avoided. At the table all four pairs failed to reach game probably because North passed rather than bidding over 1♠.

Bid game with game values

Monday July 1st

I think North has too many HCP in the black suits and might settle for 3NT hoping to make the same number of tricks as those in Hearts. However two intrepid pairs reached the reasonable slam this is certainly better than 50%. West makes the helpful lead of ♣A and plays a second Club South will win ♣Q. South has nine tricks on top. How should you play the hand?

The best chance of extra tricks is in the Heart suit so K then Q (honors from the short hand first) and when West discards there are five Heart tricks by taking the marked Heart finesse (11 in total). Now as East has four Hearts the missing queens are more likely to be with West. So before cashing the Hearts it is best to play ♠A in case East has a singleton ♠Q, ♣Q, finesse J, cash two more Hearts, play A then K hoping Q drops (better to try for doubleton Q than doubleton ♠Q 4-2 is more likely than 5-2). Then if nothing good has happened take the Spade finesse for 12 tricks scoring +980. As it happens everything works.

As declarer make a plan

Thursday 27th June

Only two pairs out of six bid to slam on this hand. The sequence above shows how the hand might be bid. West will open 1♠, East already thinking about slam should try to find out as much asc possible about West's hand by bidding 2, West will rebid 2NT showing 15-16 points, a greedy East might bid 3♠ (intending to explore the possibility of 7♠ should West show five Spades by raising to 4♠) and in any event East with 35 or 36 points must bid 6NT over the 3NT response (or over 2NT). There are eleven top tricks and you can take the Diamond finesse in either direction making 12 or 13 tricks. 

Bid slam with slam values

Wednesday 26th June

This hand is interesting because of the results achieved at the table. Three pairs played in 3NT, one in 2♠ and only one in the correct contract of 4♠. Everyone should lead Q two players found another lead at the table. Declarer will play ♠A then finesse ♠Q losing to West making 10 tricks in a Spade contract. Now the problem with 3NT is that if you lose a Spade the defence should cash three Heart winners (lucky it could be more) holding you to nine tricks in this case as the Hearts are 4-4.

So back to the bidding how do we reach 4♠ . With a good 11 points South should invite game by transfering to Spades then bidding 2NT most of the time North will have three or more Spades and will end up in 4♠  (if North with 12 points bids 3♠ South should raise counting extra points for the singleton). In this case North has a maximum with 3♠ and should bid 4♠. I guess the shape pursuaded some Norths to bid 3NT this is a mistake on two counts South has not shown a balanced hand and the high cards held suggest suit play rather than No Trumps. If South had enough points for game (add ♠Q) and the same shape over 2♠ the correct bid would have been 3♣ showing either a very strong hand or some concern about 3NT as the final contract. So a bid of 3NT would show a balanced or semi-balanced hand. 

A transfer followed by a bid of 2NT does not necessarily show a balanced hand

Monday 24th June

There were three good slams today Several pairs bid 6♠  on board 3. Nicky and Ian did well to bid and make 6 on board 22. The hand above is board 2 the key is to realise how strong the West hand is. West will open 1 , East should respond 2♣ showing 10 or 11 points, West will force to game with 3, South will bid 4 showing at least two card support. Now the moment of truth East has 10 or 11 high card points and you have 21 points if East holds A you should be able to discard a Spade (or Club loser from hand) if not where are his points (Club values could be good too). Perhaps best is 5 asking East to bid 6  with a good Heart holding and East with good Hearts and two more kings should have no trouble in bidding 6

Sometimes you have to take a chance with a good hand

Thursday 20th June

North will open a Weak 2♠, West will overcall 2NT 16-18 with 2 Spade stops and East should transfer to Hearts. Most West's will make 3 as North cannot get a Heart ruff without help and a trump promotion in the Spade suit is difficult for the defence to see and organise. In any event it is better than 2NT which will probably make only 5 tricks. Notice if you do not play transfers in this position you cannot bid 3 as this would be a game force. 

Stayman and Transfers apply when the first natural bid by your partnership is 1NT or 2NT

Wednesday 19th June

There are probably many bidding sequences on this hand. The Double of 1 in the sequence above is not ideal but it is one way to make sure a Spade fit is not missed. Also if West bids 3♣ instead of Double North may be disuaded from bidding 3. Certainly if West is allowed to show some values East at the vulnerability should Double 4. Bidding 3 may result in missing a game. The other thought is if South bids 4 immediately will this avoid the contract being Doubled. I think its a tough call but I think an immediate 4 will pay off in the long run.

Vunerability should influence your bidding

Tuesday 19th June

This is a difficult hand to bid. West will open 1, East must bid 1♠, West has a tough desision but bidding 2 seems best (the other option is 1NT), now East has the tough desision but should either raise to 3 inviting game when West with 18 points will jump to 5 or bid 2NT when West will raise to 3NT. In either case game will make (3NT needs the Heart finesse to work or no Club lead but scores better).  The point is with 26 points game should be reached. 

Bid game with 25 or more points

Monday 17th June

Three pairs did well bid a small slam. South will open 1♠, North should respond 2♣ (responder should bid four card suits in ascending order), South will jump to 3♠ a game force with 15+ high card points and 6+ Spades. Now North knows the partnership has at least 33 points enough for slam. North should check for Aces and Kings with Blackwood then bid a slam. In this case 6NT scooped all the matchpoints.

Is it possible to bid seven? The sequence above is Roman key card Blackwood 5♠ shows 2 key cards and ♠Q, 5NT asks for Kings and 6 shows K and denies ♣K as well as K. Now South must have at least one queen for the 3♠ bid so North could bid 7♠ (slightly better than 7NT) hoping South holds Q or ♣Q or if not you will need at least one finesse to work. (South has shown 12 points from the Blackwood responses so should have at least 3 points in Queens and Jacks. North is missing Q,  QJ and ♣Q. If South has 4+ points the grand slam is always making. So the only problem is when Souths 3 points are specificaly QJ and even with this holding there are still chances.)

Discover partners hand from the bidding.


Thursday 13th May

The bidding should start as shown. What should West do after the 1NT bid?

Paul was the only one to find the correct answer which is is to Pass. The only other choice is to bid 2♥ it is possible that partner has three Hearts but it is against the odds. East will have at least seven cards in the minors so 1NT should play well. East has denied four Spades by bidding 1NT so you should not bid 2♠ which should show at least 17 points and is forcing (bidding over the barrier or a reverse). The defence is difficult but you will make at least as many tricks in No Trumps as in Hearts for a better score.

Wednesday 12th June

What do you when South opens 1NT?

Andrew found the best solution by passing, making seven Diamonds and A for +200  and a top score.  Unless you can make an unlikely 5  or 3NT with the opponents vunerable this is certain to be the best result.

Tuesday 11th June

When you are holding 14 points and partner opens the bidding the one thing you must not do is make a bid partner can Pass. This was obviously a problem with this hand. For most the bidding will start as shown above. Three West's made a non forcing Heart bid either 2  showing 6-9 points and a 6 card suit or 3  showing 10-12 points and a 6+ Heart suit. One West bid 2NT showing 11-12  inviting game and one West allowed East to play in 4♣. So what is the best bid? Have a think then press the show answer button to see my thoughts.

Clearly any bid of game is better so 3NT or 4 or even 5♣ would have given all the matchpoints. The best bid is 2♠ East has already denied four or more Spades so cannot raise to game, it is a responder reverse so it is forcing to game, in this case East will bid 2NT (stronger than 3NT) or 3NT with Diamond stops and you will reach 3NT for a top board. However the point is that whatever East responds West has an answer if East bids 2NT or 3♣ or 3  West can bid 3 showing a 6 card suit, if East bids 3  showing three Hearts West can raise, if East bids 3♠  showing no Diamond stop less than 3 Hearts as well as 3 good Spades East can continue with 4♣ and East can bid 4  with 2 Hearts or continue on to 5♣ with a 6 card Club suit.

Do not give partner the option to Pass below the level of game when you have game values

Monday 10th June

This hand was played in 1NT at all tables. At three tables South was declarer presumably on the auction above. What should you lead? 

1NT is always an interesting contract. The best lead is a Spade we have learnt to lead ♠10 from this holding and is the most sucessful on this occaision (♠6 is also good but if declarer plays ♠7 from dummy he there are 7 tricks available). Two pairs found a low Spade and beat the contract by one. The other lead was 10 when declarer should play low from dummy ending up with 7 tricks for +90 (1♠ 2 1 3♣). Two North pairs played 1NT having either opened 1NT or after 1♣ P 1 P 1NT. Now this contract can always make as East is almost endplayed at trick 1 the best lead is 6 which will probably hold North to 7 tricks. At one table somehow West managed to play in 1NT and made 6 tricks. Leads have a major influence on results.

It's usually best to lead your longest suit against No Trumps prefering a major suit to a minor suit

Thursday 6th June

West will Pass, North will Pass, East will start with 1, South wanting to ensure a Club lead will bid 2♣, West should compete with 2, North should continue with 2♠ this should be a 5 Card suit with a tolerence for Clubs also as North has already Passed it is no longer forcing (with 6 or more Spades North would have opened with a pre-empt) and South happy to play in Spades will Pass. If West gets into the action with 2 over the 2♣ bid (showing either 3 Hearts and 6-9 points or 4 Hearts and 2-5 Points), when North bids 2♠ East knowing there is at least an 8 card fit will bid 3  for a good score.

Support partner with 3 cards and 6-8 points after intervention.


Wednesday 5th May

There were unusual results on this hand. The auction should proceed as shown once South has shown 19 points 6NT seems the only bid to make. (5NT is not Blackwood but invitational to 6NT). You can lead  9 towards dummies  K for the 12th trick (13 if West ducks). In fact only one pair bid the slam but then slipped in the play. 


Tuesday June 4th

With a balanced 15 points South will open 1  (the hand lacks intemediates and has three suits with a single honour so 1NT is not an unreasonable alternative), West has no option but to Pass, North will respond 1♠ , South will rebid 1NT showing 15-16 points, North will force to game with 3  and South should bid 4♠  showing a minimum hand with three Spades. 6♠  is a good contract requiring Spades 2-2 or the  J to fall in three rounds or the Club finesse however two of the four pairs yesterday failed to bid game.

Bid game with game values 

Monday 3rd June

This was the bidding at our table. The first decision is whether to open 1♠  or 4♠ . Opening 4♠  means you might miss slam if partner has a good hand but as in this case you may stop the opposition reaching their contract. There is nothing wrong with West's Double but East unluckily picked the wrong suit. Many players play 4NT in this position to show two places to play (with Spades you can Pass 4♠).  5 will make but 6  is the contract. With an extra Spade and a good hand I felt justified in bidding 5♠  espechally at this vulnerability.  If East had bid 5  West would have passed 5♠  to show slam interest and with so much more than he might have East could bid 6 . A tough hand for East/West.

Pre-emptive bids make you guess

Thursday 30th May

North will open 1NT, East will overcall 2♣, South has no convenient bid as well as knowing the partnership has at most 24 points so will Pass (this must be done in tempo or North will have difficulty bidding) , West will Pass, North should make a takeout Double and now whether South decides to Pass for +300 or bid the result will be improved.

You can Double for takeout after opening 1NT with a doubleton in the suit bid and a 4432 shape .

Wednesday 29th May

South will open 1NT, North will bid 2© a transfer to Spades, East should Double to show Hearts, South will complete the transfer and West with 13 points not including the ♠ K should jump to 4©. North will lead ª6 to ªA, switch to ¨3 West will win ¨A, draw trumps ending in dummy, play §3 South will win §A, play ¨8 to ¨J and West will claim the rest making 10 tricks for +420. 

Remember a Double of an artificial bid shows the suit bid

Tuesday 28th May

This should be a fairly simple game to bid but three of the four pairs ended up in a Heart part score. Once East opens 1NT West should commit to game by using Stayman and on finding a Heart fit bid game. The three pairs in Hearts all made 10 tricks. Only one pair reached game on this hand a poor 3NT which slipped though on a misdefence but at least West recognised the need to bid game with game values.

Bid game with game values