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Bridge Hands

Some of the articles on this page are from the old website, but they are included here as they might still be of interest.

  World Bridge Games, Wroclaw, 3rd -17th September 2016

England Ladies team with our Derek as Non-playing Captain lost to China in the Quarter-finals of the World Bridge Games in Wroclaw, Poland.
Here is a hand from Round 1 of the Quarter-finals featured in Derek's blog. England won this round by 32-20 IMPs. Derek writes:
"Here is one of our early triumphs:

Board 14
Dlr: East
Vul: None

♠ Q T
 9 6 5
 Q J 5 3 2
♣ 6 5 2

♠ 9 6 4 2
 A 9 4
♣ A K J 7 4


♠ A K J 8 5 3
 A 8 4
 K 6
♣ T 9

♠ 7
 Q J T 7 3 2
 T 8 7
♣ Q 8 3

Using some "Zanussi" technology (the appliance of science) our pair bid with great accuracy:

Catherine Draper
Fiona Brown
2NT (1) 3  (2)
3  (3) 3♠  (4)
4♣  (5) 4  (5)
4  (5) 4NT (6)
5  (7) 5NT (8)
6  (9) 6  (10)
7♠  (11)  

1.     Forcing to game with at least four spades.
2.     Extra values and no shortage.
3.     Enquiry.
4.     At least six spades.
5.     Cue-bid.
6.     RKCB for spades.
7.     Two key-cards (not the queen of spades).
8.     Asking for kings.
9.     Either the diamond king, or both the king of hearts and the king of clubs (Fiona knew which).
10.   "Partner, we have all the key-cards, can you help me with third-round heart control?".
11.   "Yes!"

An excellent auction to an excellent contract, the reward for which was a gain of 11 IMPs...which reminds me...
...when I get home, I need to buy a new washing machine.


Watch Round 4 of the Quarter-final on Youtube. England won this round by 35-22 IMPs:
China vs England (Round 4 OR)

Watch Round 5 of the Quarter-final on Youtube. England lost this round by 30-33 IMPs:
China vs England (Round 5 OR)


Look at this amazing hand from 27th October, board 15. A very distributional hand with slams making in both directions. My partner made a brilliant bid which helped us bid a slam.
Well done partner!

The hand was-

West opened a heart and North overcalled unusual 2NT, showing the two lowest unbid suits - clubs and diamonds. This is a very distributional hand, ideally showing 6/5 in the two suits. East cheekily bid 3  (cannot blame him really) - this East is always an aggressive bidder. Now comes my partner's super bid of 4. My partner never used this bid before and he just invented it in desperation.  I took it as an unassuming cue bid - UCB - showing a good support for minors and willingnes to bid at least at 5 level. After 5  from West I bid 6♣  without much thinking, it just felt good. I guess my hand was better than it could have been. This was passed out and the contract made on a heart lead. Could the opponents have done more?

We were the only pair in green section to bid a slam and in red section also just one pair bid it. The other contracts were mostly 5♣  and 5♥.  Did anybody else use the unusual 2NT and a UCB in response to it? They seem ideal for this hand.

I discussed this hand with the Boss. Do you want to read the verdict?

  • East wasn't cheeky enough! He should have bid 4♥.
  • West wasn't cheeky at all and he should have been - he should have bid 6, if nothing else, as a sacrifice.
  • 4  bid by my partner was great, but it is best described as a slam try, although it is a UCB too. It doesn't necessarily promis both minors, it could be just one, but the hand is too strong to bid just 5♣ or 5.
  • 6♣  bid was fine and it is not surprising it felt cosy. However, if West bid 6♥, what would North do then? Double or bid 7♣ /  as a sacrifice? Not an easy decision! In fact Derek recommends you pass in pairs as you don't know if 6 makes or not, so if you bid on you might convert a top to a bottom. In teams you would probably bid 7♣/  as the auction at the other table might have gone different to yours and the difference between overall IMP gain or loss might not be as big as a loss from a making slam. I think I read a similar discussion in the book by S.J.Simon "Why You Lose at Bridge" (see Library).

Derek also gave the hand to a couple of his expert friends to bid with him as an exercise (during the tea breaksmiley). Here is the auction:

  1   2NT(1) 4(2) 4NT(3)  
  5(4) 6♣(5) Pass Pass  
  6(6) Pass Pass Pass  

(1) Unusual 2NT, showing clubs and diamonds
(2) Weak, length in trumps
(3) Slam try, showing either both minors or diamonds
(4) Diamond void, thinking if partner has A♠, slam makes
(5) Feels good
(6) No defence to 6♣, so 6  is a sacrifice, but if it makes all the better
  Fit-showing Jump

Board 22 from 15th September 2015.

This hand features one of my favourite conventions - Fit-showing Jump. On this hand it helps to find the final contract after some aggressive bidding by the opponents.


(Is this yet another proof that bridge is a sport?)

North opens 1♣  and East overcalls 1. South would now love to communicate to his partner that he has a nice fit in clubs and also a decent 5 card spade suit. He might not be able to do this if he just bids 1♠  intending to show club fit later, as the opponents are likely to steal the bidding space with some aggressive bidding. So after 1  - bid 2♠, fit-showing jump, showing 5 spades and a fit in clubs. This enables North to bid game after the E/W diamond  barrage. The hand requires careful play. On a diamond lead knock out A early to avoid being forced in diamonds later. You will lose 2 trumps and the A.

::When responding to partner's opening bid, jump in a new suit either by a passed hand or after opponents intervention is a fit-showing jump, showing fit for partners suit as well as the new 5 card suit.

See article in the English Bridge magazine or the book '25 More Bridge Conventions' by B. Seagram - see Library.

  Chinese Finesse

Chinese finesse is defined as an attempt to win a trick by leading an unsupported honour.

  ♠  A 5  
♠  K 8 6 2   ♠  J 10 7
  ♠  Q 9 4 3  




If South wants to avoid a loser in spades, he may try the effect of leading the queen from his hand. In the situation on the diagram West may well decide to duck fearing that South has Q J 10 with or without the 9.

On the hand above contract is 4♠  by West. Lead J.
It looks as if declarer should lose two trumps, a club and a heart. Declarer played on trumps first and after a few tricks played queen of hearts from dummy. South was caught unprepared and didn't cover with his king. If South covered with the king, North/South would get a trick in hearts.
Declarer breathed a sigh of relief -  game made! He pulled off a finesse that is not a finesse - a Chinese finesse.

I remember some advice Derek gave us a long time ago in the lessons: When dummy comes down and declarer is planning the play, you should be planning the defence. So North should think which card to play if declarer leads a club, heart or spade from hand, and South should think which card to play if declarer leads a heart or a spade from dummy. This way you are prepared for anything!

See article 'Cover an Honour with an Honour Part I' from English Bridge magazine.

  Bidding Grand Slam - Scientifically

Board 26 from 4th August 2015. How would you bid 7♠ , 7  or 7NT by N/S on this hand? Scientifically of course.

Me and my partner somewhat stumbled to 6♠ after a 2♣ opening. Nobody bid a grand slam. What a pity to miss it, especially if it is biddable! 
I discussed this hand with the boss,  The hand is probably not strong enough for a 2♣ opener, which also wastes valuable bidding speace. I'll present a possible auction in Answer 1.

Here are some replies we had from our members:

Answer 1:
How about this one:
1♠         2♠ 
31        42 
4NT3      54 
55        66 

(1) long suit trial
(2) good hand, diamond fit
(3) RKCB 1430 for spades
(4) 0 keycards as expected
(5) asking for queen of trumps
(6) have queen and K + K♣  (we either cue king we've got or, if two kings, king we haven't got)

Diamonds are better contract as can discard any club losers on spades.
Some might argue that 1♠  and 2♠  are underbids, but they work quite conveniently on this hand because they allow trial bid which finds diamond fit.

Answer 2:
A member sent this lovely auction:
1♠      2 
4NT1   52
5♠3     6♣4

(1) RKCB 3041
(2) 1 keycard, ie K
(3) Any help in spades? Meaning K♠  or Q♠?
(4) Yes, and I have K♣ 

Now we can be fairly certain that we can discard club losers on spades and can count 13 tricks.
In this auction I particularly like 5♠  bid, asking for help in spades. Bidding suit one step up from the reply to RKCB is normally asking for the queen of trumps. Two steps up or more can be used to ask for help in the suit bid. Negative reply to this bid is trump suit at the minimum level. Positive reply is bidding anything extra we have, like a king.

Answer 3:
From an expert pair (names not mentioned) - they play 5 card majors.

1♠       21
2NT2   3♠3
4NT4   55
56     67

(1) good raise in hearts
(2) slam try
(3) concentration of values in diamonds (3 would show clubs, 3 hearts, 3♣ nothing to show)
(4) RKCB 1430
(5) 0 key cards as expected
(6) asking for queen of trumps
(7) showing king he hasn't got. K already shown in (3), so he has K♣ as well.

RKCB was for spades but 7 is a better slam than 7♠  because some losers could be discarded on spades.


Answer 4:
Another expert pair playing strong club gave the following auction:

1♣1      22 
23      3♣ 
34      3♠5
46      47 
4♠7      4NT8

(1) 16+
(2) 8+ and diamonds
(3) relay, then 3♣ is natural
(4) relay
(5) spades, so the shape is 3154
(6) agreeing diamonds
(7) cue
(8) don't know what this is
Diamonds is a better slam than spades as spades can be used to discard losers.

  Slam Card Play

After some intrepid bidding you find yourself, as West, in 6 . How do you play the hand on the spade lead to give yourself the best chance?
(When you play K , South drops Q ).

The hand was played in the club and one pair bid and made it.-
There are two finesses to be taken, the diamond finesse and the club finesse. The contract makes, if at least one of them works, but they have to be taken in the right order. Two entries are needed to hand in order to take the second finesse, if the first one fails. So -

  • Win A♠  and discard a diamond on K♠ .
  • Now play K  (Q  drops), and a heart to the A .
  • Take the diamond finesse. If this loses, second diamond cannot be cashed as you thoughfully discarded a diamond on the K♠ . If A  is onside, the finesse wins, when you regain the lead you can discard the club loser on K and contract makes.
  • If the diamond finesse loses, after you regain the lead, cross to hand with a spade ruff and take the club finesse.


  Responding to Pre-empts

Somebody asked me: "Would you ever bid 3NT in response to your partner's 3  or 3♠  opening?
I thought, surely not, if partner has lots of hearts or spades you want to be in a major suit game. But this reminded me of a hand from my bridge lessons (long time ago). So I dusted the blue folder with bridge notes and opened the section entitled "Responding to Pre-empts with Strong Hands". Right in front of me was this hand:



♠  Q J x x
  A x x
  K Q 10
♣  K Q 10
   And the auction next to it was:
    3     3NT
    If you bid 4 , it might go down here.

Or this hand...
♠  Q J x
  K Q
♣  A K Q J x x x x
    3     3NT
    Long minor will provide plenty of tricks and we have the other suits stopped.

But here...
♠  Q J x
  Q x
♣  A K Q J x x x x

    3     Pass
No point fighting hearts, we are not going to be in game.

And then...
♠  A K x x
  x                OR
  K Q x x
♣  A K x x

   ♠  A K x x
  K Q x x
♣  A K x x x

3     4 
We should be in game, but which one?  s is our best bet.
We might lose a couple of trumps and A .
That's weird. With trump fit above, we bid 3NT, without trump fit here, we are in a suit contract.
  An Old Gold Cup Hand

Derek gave me this hand, showing auction and opening lead. He played the hand in a Gold Cup match.

Lead: After some thought(!) ♣J.

How should the hand be played?
Just to get you going, here are some clues:
Double is a Lightner double, asking for an unusual lead (I wonder why?)
West knows about the Lightner double, but cannot make up his mind which suit to lead. Why?

And take your time, this is a difficult hand, but a very interesting one too.


East must be hoping for a diamond ruff, so West has 5 diamonds. West should lead his longer minor, except they are both the same length, so he cannot make up his mind which one to lead. So, West must have three trumps.
You hope therefore that the full deal is as above.
Win ♣A discarding Q! Draw trumps, discarding a small   and ♣  from dummy. You can see 10 top tricks: 6 spades, 3 clubs and the A. You need 2 more from somewhere. So lead K, and East must duck it, or otherwise he would have to lead back either a ♣  or a , either of these would give you the two extra tricks.
Now you lead a small   towards dummy. If West ducks it, 10 becomes your 12th trick, and if he takes it, either the diamond or club return gives you your last trick.
Do you see now why you had to discard Q in trick one? If you discarded a small , West would take your subsequent   lead and return a , which would leave you locked in hand, so that you would not be able to reach the winning clubs in dummy.

  Prize Quiz No 1 - May 2002












What do you bid as South with each of the hands below?

♠  10 7 3
  J 10 8 4 2
  7 3
♣  5 4 3

♠  Q 8 7 3
  9 8 4
  K 8 7
♣  J 7 4

♠  K 10 9 8
  9 8 4
  K Q 7 3
♣  10 4

♠ Q 8 7 6 4 3
 Q 4
 9 8 7 4
♣ 4

♠  10 9 7 5
  8 4
  K Q 7 3 2
♣  10 4

♠  10 9 7 5
  8 4
  K Q 7 6 3 2
♣  4


♠  10 7 3
  J 10 8 4 2
  7 3
♣  5 4 3

Bid 1NT or 1♠ .
You would have prefered your partner did not double at all. If you were stronger, you could pass, but if you pass with this hand, the danger is that the contract will make. Also, even if you pass and the contract does not make, you would probably get a bad result, as your partner is likely to be very strong, and was intending to bid again. There is a danger with bidding 1♠, partner might assume that you have 4 of them and raise you with only 4 cards. However, it does show that you are weak. On the other hand 1NT describes your shape well, but not your strength, you could have between 0 and 9 points.

♠  Q 8 7 3
  9 8 4
  K 8 7
♣  J 7 4

Bid 1♠ .
You should obviously bid spades here, but how many? You have a few points but your hand is very flat. So bid just 1♠  and then if the opponents compete, bid again, showing your values.

♠  K 10 9 8
  9 8 4
  K Q 7 3
♣  10 4

Bid 2♠ .
You have a nice hand. It is flattish, but you have quite a few points. So bid 2♠, telling your partner, that if he/she had opened 1♠, you would have comfortably responded with 2♠ .

♠  Q 8 7 6 4 3
  Q 4
  9 8 7 4
♣  4

Bid 1♠ .
I know, this is hard to swallow. Being competitive at heart, you feel you want to bid 4♠ . But if your partner has a very strong hand (the double and bid kind - not unlikely, looking at your tram ticket), you might have just taken all her bidding space away, before she had a chance to tell you more about her hand. For example she might have x AJx AKQx AKQxx, and the best spot 6  might be difficult to reach. If your partner is not that strong, the opponents will bid again and you can bid your spades to your hearts delight.

♠  10 9 7 5
  8 4
  K Q 7 3 2
♣  10 4

Bid 1♠  but 2  is O.K. too. Both with this hand and the one below you want to slip both spades and diamonds into the auction. With this hand you want to keep the bidding level reasonably low, as you are not very strong. So bid 1♠  and if you have a chance to bid again at 2 level, you bid 2  showing your second suit. Partner will know you have 4 spades and 4 or 5 diamonds - if you had 5 spades, your would have bid spades again. However, if you respond 2, this can work well too, particularly if the opponents bid their hearts again. You would then bid 2♠, still keeping the bidding low.

♠  10 9 7 5
  8 4
  K Q 7 6 3 2
♣  4

Bid 2 .
This hand has quite a lot of playing strength, so you can afford to bid diamonds first, and then mention spades later.

Phew! That's it. This quiz has been much harder than I first thought. I intended all questions to have a unique answer, but it has been drawn to my attention that this is not necessarily the case. However, as bridge is not an exact science, this is hardly surprising.

  The Simple Squeeze

This hand recently came out of our dealing machine.

At one table South opened 1♠  and North bid 3NT - point based game raise (pudding raise). After some cue bidding and Roman Keycard Blackwood, the contract was 6♠. ♣ J lead was won by ♣ A. Declarer then drew trumps in two rounds, QAK , ruff a  , KQ♣ , gave a heart to the opps, contract made. 12 tricks made on all tables.

In the pub we were looking at the hand diagrams from Dealmaster and the Deep Finesse said that 7NT makes. "How on Earth can you make 7NT?" exclaimed Jimmy in disbelief. "5 spades, 3 diamonds, 3 clubs and 1 heart - that's 12 tricks". The magic word "squeeze" was mentioned. We need one extra trick from either hearts or diamonds. East is guarding both hearts and diamonds so the squeeze might work. Let's try this:

  • play 5 rounds of spades, East discards 2 spades and 3 clubs.
  • play 3 clubs, East discards, say, 1 diamond and 2 hearts (or do you prefer something else?)
  • play 4 rounds of diamonds, East discards remaining 3 diamonds and another heart
  • cash Ace of hearts and -

Hey presto! You made 13 tricks.

Magic! This is referred to as a Simple Squeeze. The squeeze works when you need one extra trick from one of two suits and one of the opponents is guarding (holding length) in both of these suits. Your two suits mustn't be in the same hand however - in the hand above North is holding hearts and South diamonds. Also you must have communication between the two hands open - in the hand above this exists for both hearts and diamonds.

  A Hand from the Past

If you would like to see how useful cue bids can be, read this article about the award winning auction.

Romex Award for best auction

Players: Derek Patterson and Pat Collins, Great Britain

Author: Brian Callaghan, Great Britain

Source: from the 1995 Lederer Memorial Invitational Teams

The Romex Award, donated by George Rosenkranz of Mexico, is given each year by the International Bridge Press Association to the pair that provides the best auction of the year. The author of the article about the auction also receives an award.

Both vul.
Dealer North

 ♠ 10 9
  5 4
  J 9 7 3 2
 ♣ J 6 5 3

♠ A K 8 2
 A J 9 8
 10 8 4
♣ 9 7
  ♠ Q
 K Q 7 6 3
 A 6 5
♣ K Q 8 2
  ♠  J 7 6 5 4 3
 10 2
 K Q
♣ A 10 4


West North East South
Collins Priday Patterson Edwin
  Pass 1  1♠ 
2♠  Pass 3♣  Pass
3♠  Pass 4  Pass
4♠  Pass 4NT Pass
5  Pass 6  All Pass







This deal defeated all but one of the East-West pairs. The key is that East's Q was worth a whole trick so his two diamonds could be discarded on West's top spades. Most Easts heard their partners make a bid to show a raise in hearts after South had overcalled in spades, and most of them quickly jumped to game. Derek Patterson hit the jackpot by making a trial bid of 3. When Pat Collins cuebid in spades he showed a diamond control in return, and Collins cuebid in spades again. Now that he knew his Q was working he could use Blackwood and bid slam. This won 13 IMPs for his team.