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AGM Monday 28th 18.30

Hand of the Month No3
The 12th Trick

This Contribution from Ray on Board 17 Monday 21st October Claret Cup

This was not a success for Sheila and myself – 29%

 WEST           S AQ93                    S K8752        EAST

                      H QJ7                       H A65

                      D AQ3                      D K64

                      C A52                       C Q10

Is playing in NoTrumps better than in the 9 card Spade suit ?

Extra tricks in a suit contract come mainly from ruffing in the hand that has fewer trumps, or in either hand where trumps are equal. On this hand, the 5th Spade will win a trick in No Trumps,  and no more by possibly ruffing a Club.

On this hand, No trumps makes as many tricks as Spades, and gets the crucial extra 10 points.

We played in Spades – mistake!

Should a Slam be bid, or Game?

The most simple version of the Losing Trick Count suggests Game.

 ( West 6 losers, East 8 losers, 6+8 = 14 : 18-14 = 4 . So bid to the 4 level - or 3NT ) – or, take 14 from 24, which is the number of tricks you can expect to make - 10.

The New Losing Trick Count does better, suggesting that the hands can be expected to make 11 tricks ( 1.5 losers for each missing ace, 1.0 for each missing king, 0.5 for each missing queen gives West 6 losers,  East 8 losers, together 14 losers, take from 19 gives 5 , so bid to the 5 level ( well, stop in game) – or you can take 14 from 25 which is the number of tricks you can expect to make - 11

The Milton Count is 19+12 = 31, plus maybe a point for the 5th Spade. Arguably a bit light for a Slam in No Trumps ( 33 being sound on flat hands ) Fewer high card points are usually necessary for Slam in a suit, because of long suits and ruffing possibilities, but there are no extra tricks available on this hand from ruffs, and the 5th spade trick is also there in No Trumps.

 It looks like a slam will only make if North has both missing Kings – a 25% chance.

We stopped in Game – understandable mistake!

What is South’s best lead against 4 Spades ? ( or 6 S/NT )

South’s lead can only be passive, and a trump lead is least likely to save declare a guess – well done Brian. No lead gives declare the 12th trick, but a Heart or Club lead gives declarer no option but to play North for the King in the suit not led. ( Duck a Club lead establishing the CQ, then play North for the HK for the the 12th trick. A Heart lead, establishes 2 Heart tricks and you must play low to the CQ for your 12th )

How to play 4 Spades ( or 6 Spades ) on a Spade lead ?

It’s always possible to make 11 tricks ( 5 Spades, 3 Diamonds, HA + CA ) and another Heart whoever has the HK .

How to make the 12th?

The simple option is to accept the 75% chance that only 11 tricks are available. Take out trumps, play low towards the CQ, then play North for the HK. It works ! Slam made or Game + 2.

I decided to try for an elimination and throw in. ( This sounds clever, but trying to be so usually works badly for me – a little knowledge being a dangerous thing )

There is a brief explanation of "Elimnation and Throw in" play here 

I took out trumps, then played the HQ. It did not matter who had the HK, though North had it and sensibly covered. I won with the AH , eliminated Diamonds, and played HJ and Hx, throwing in North. Marion then had to give me a ruff and discard by returning a Heart, or lead away from her CK.

It worked ; it was pretty ; but was it any better than simply playing North for both missing Kings?

Although it doesn’t matter who held the HK, whoever is thrown in has to also have the CK. What are the odds on that? Furthermore South might have been able to win the 3d round of Hearts and save his partner from the end play. I suspect that Brian would have done this if possible, which is was not.

Anyway, I had some interest and fun to go along with our 29%

 How to bid this hand

I opened a mini no trump (10 – 12) Sheila bid 2 clubs (5 card Stayman) I bid 3 spades ( 5 spades and 12 points ) With a flat 19 and 4 spades, Sheila settled for 4 spades.

What if the opening was one no trumps (12 - 14) ?

With 19 points, partner  might bid a Quantitative 4 no trumps ( asking partner to  pass, or bid 6 no trumps with a maximum )

We play Gerber over any natural no trump bid, so checking for aces with 4 clubs, and for kings, with 5 clubs would be an alternative route looking for a slam ( missing 2 kings, 5 no trumps would be the contract )

Some might use Stayman to locate the spade fit, and have a go at 6 spades, knowing between 31 and 33 points were held, maybe after using RKCB to check for key cards.

What if the opening bid was one spade? ( playing 5 card majors, or not liking opening one no trump with a 5 card major )

Knowing the partnership held 31+ points, and 9 spades, a slam in spades might be bid immediately, or via whatever control asking/showing system was available.



A winning hand at teams

A Contribution by Pete S:

We were playing a Division 1 Match against a team just promoted from Division 2. Greg opened 1S in 1st seat. Looking at my hand with 19 High card points (HCP)

My hand was  

♠  AQ
♣ AJ3


 I know we need to be in at least a game contract, probably, a small slam (12 tricks) or possibly a grand slam contract. At this stage I don’t know what denomination (suit or NT) it will be. What I need to find out from Greg is what his rebid is. The Opener’s rebid after a suit opening is the most important information on which to gauge what the final contract is likely to be.

To find out,  I bid 2D; it is not necessary to jump to show a big hand, in fact it makes things more difficult for the opener as it takes up valuable bidding space. I really want to be in charge of deciding where we end up as it’s easier for me to find out than Greg, and Greg replies 2H.

The bidding so far 1S  : 2D (showing at least 10HCP, and not 4 card Spade support)                  2H

This I am very pleased to hear as  it now looks that we are going to end up in a H contract, and the prospects of Slam have increased markedly. I still don’t know however what Greg’s full hand  shape is. I now bid 3C which in our system asks the opener to tell me more about what his hand contains; in itself it does not promise any holding in Clubs, so must be alerted. We play it as a  game force bid, ie we cannot stop bidding until after a game contract has been reached.

Thinking about what his reply would mean to me, I considered

3D would show at least 3d suit and by implication a shortage in Clubs

3H would show a 5 card suit, and by implication he may have longer spades and at most 3 minor suit cards.

3S would show no stop in C for NT contract, and not  3 card d suit.

3NT would show a Club stop and not 5 Hearts.


Greg bid 3NT.

Decision time for me.  Choices – 4NT asking for Controls is not possible as in our system it is a range probe and can be passed. Also I believe we should be playing in a 4-4 major suit fit (H) but Greg doesn’t and although we have a way after a suit has been agreed to find out whether the responder holds the Q of trumps, I cannot use it. So I thought the options were 5H or 6H , expecting Greg to raise 5H to 6H if he had anything extra in his hand. In the end it was close my eyes time and bid 6H, which was passed out. So the whole bidding sequence, with no opposition input was as follows:

                        1S          2D

                       2H           3C alerted

                       3NT         6H

The QD was led and I put my hand down, and Greg stared at the table for a few minutes. This would likely have a critical impact on the outcome of the match.

Teams  - Contract 6.  Q¨ Lead

Dummy        ♠  AQ



♣ AJ3

Declarer        ♠  KT762



  ♣ QT82

Top tricks – 3♠ , 4 , 1 , 1♣ 

What do you play at trick 1?

Losers  from dummy’s point of view - 3 , 1♣ 

Losers from declarer’s hand 2♠ , 1♣ 

Do you decide to win the A , draw a number of trumps set up setup spades and finesse the club? or is there a another way?

I decided to give up on the ♣ finesse, ruff 2 s draw trumps, and play the winning black cards in Dummy. With dummy on lead

Dummy  ♣ J3  A8

Declarer ♠  K ♣ QT8                      

Play 3♣ from dummy, K♣  goes up contract made.

The opponents who were in the same contract played A  at trick  1 and went off due to the club finesse being wrong,   breaking 4-1 and  ♠  4-2. As a result we won the match narrowly.

Previous Hands of the Month

Hand of the Month No 1