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Hand of the week
Hand of the week: 22/11/21 Board 7

Bidding

Six out of 12 pairs opened a weak NT. The strong no-trumpers may have had less of a problem with this hand as they won’t have the nightmare of their weak no-trump opening being doubled which all weak no trumpers dread. As a 1NT opening is a pre-emptive bid, players can become unstuck when the opposition is strong, a DOUBLE is thrown in and their partner does not have a 5+card suit to escape to. It pays to have a system where you can escape, to a 4-4 fit or at the very least a 4-3 fit. Four pairs out of six managed to navigate to 2S which was a 4-4 fit. Two pairs including ourselves arrived there conventionally (it’s unclear about the other two because no alerts were made). Either way, a conventional approach would have assured that the partnerships would get there. We use Halmic, which after a double, if a suit is bid, it is the lower of two equal length suits (usually 4 cards, can be 5). If this lower suit has hit the NT doubleton then opener will re-bid the next suit up and then responder will pass, or correct to their other equal length suit. There are a number of other systems equally as effective that can achieve this.

As the cards lie, we were lucky enough to be doubled in 2S, which looking at East’s hand is very tempting, but doubled or not doubled the play is key:

Play

East opening lead is D4. From the bidding the points are evenly distributed between the pairs. We have 19 pts and EW 21pts with the majority 15-17 of the opponents points held by east after his doubling of our opening 1NT bid. East also doubled the final contract of 2S and as we have 3 missing honours AQ&J we can place the top two and most likely all three honours with east.

East is under pressure to find an effective opening lead. The D4 was lead, if any other suit was chosen then East will be leading away from strength as he held honours in the other three suits. However, the lead of a diamond gave north a big advantage as dummy held a doubleton headed by the ace. With KJTx in hand West was forced to play the Q and the trick was won by north’s K. A small diamond was led to dummy’s ace with east playing the D8. This confirmed east held at least one more diamond.

A small club was led from dummy to the ace in hand and two more rounds of diamonds followed, jack & ten were played enabling declarer to discards two losing clubs in dummy. On the second round east can ruff but would have to play his SJ, so he discarded a heart. Play continues with a club ruffed in dummy and a heart led back won by east. Life is no easier for east as to what to do next. He plays ace of hearts followed by ace of spades and then the queen of spades. This last trick is won in hand with king of trumps and another club is ruffed in dummy. The opponents can only make one more trick with east’s Jack of trumps. The contract is made with an overtrick and a top board to NS secured by having an effective defence system in place when opponents double your weak no trump opening and there is no 5-card suit to run to.

ECAT Children in Need Sim Pairs: 8/11/21

Commentary_20211108.pdf

Hand of the week: 1/11/21 Board 13

In a night of many spade contracts played by NS this one is in many ways the most interesting.

At our table partner passed and E bid a weak 2D. Over to you and what do you bid with this shapely hand. I think it has to be 2S, 3S or 4S. Although partner has passed, 2S looks too weak for this hand.  3S is a possibility depending on what this shows your partner but really do you want to be in anything other than 4S. So, you bid 4S and hope for the best.

On QD lead what do you do?
 

With a lack of entries to dummy what is the best way to make your contract. I chose to take AD and lead AC and QC and hope that the opposition took KC and I could get to dummy and dump losing hearts on the master clubs. This sort of worked in that after W won the KC they led a diamond won by E and following a further diamond from E I ruffed high, played a high trump, crossed to the AS and then dumped my 2 H’s on the winning clubs, ruffed a H, drew the last trump and claimed. So that was 11 tricks. This turned out to be a joint top and so that lead this appears to be the winning line as 10 tricks should always be made. EW can hold this line to 10 tricks if E takes their AH at any time.

There were a number of different contracts and scores on the traveller including a 5DX-2 which was actually a good score for NS as there were a lot of 2S contracts making 10 ten tricks mainly and 3 lots 4S of going 1 off. There was even an ambitious 6S going 2 off.’

Hand of the week: 25/10/21 Board 9

There were a variety of contracts on this board

Some Norths opened a very light 1S, which got passed round to W who bid 1NT.

On one hand, at least, two passes went to South who opened, an even lighter, 2H. One way or another, some NS pairs found a H contract even though they’ve only got 15 pts.

Where 3 passes went to W who bid 1S most pairs got over-excited and went down in S or NT game. If E leaves 1S that steals the contract and got the best EW score.

Defences were interesting, too.

Hand of the week: 18/10/21 Board 3

West's 4C is a cue bid and highly encouraging.
E with nothing to cue bid but a strong hand after this bidding bid 5D.
West decided he would have a good play for slam.

A 3-0 trump break was the main danger but with that safely negotiated there was a straightforward line to 12 tricks.

 

Hand of the week: 11/10/21 Board 3

The 2S bid by W shows 5-5 in H and a minor, 5-11 pts.

Sitting W, what do you lead against 4S by S?

My partner was on lead. Had he been playing with Tony Forrester (who really dislikes partners leading from Kings) he may have opted against his actual lead. This particular partner rather likes the exciting defences that follow the generally accepted dodgy lead away from a King so he led a club.

Small C lead to A. C returned at trick 2 and ruffed. S to QS finding out the bad news. Finesse QD, cash AD and ruff a diamond. JC run from dummy discarding a H. AH from west and another H ruffed with the 9S and over ruffed. This leaves the 4-card ending:

E with T65S + KD

S with AK8S + TD

South cashed AS, KS and lost the last two tricks for 2 down. South can save a few matchpoints by exiting with the 10D at trick 10 which endplays E who has to lead into S's tenace.

The contract can also go off on the AH lead but a diamond lead disastrously allows the contract to make.

Hand of the week: 11/10/21 Board 12

After a competitive auction we (EW) ended in 4H doubled which makes due to the position of the J Clubs.

At the point we bid 4H it was unclear as whether this would make or if off improve our score over letting the opponents make 3 Spades. The danger is that you provoke opponents into 4 Spades and if this happens the best you can do is double them for one off. Even this is fraught with danger as the scoresheet shows with some making 4 Spades. Hopefully you lead a top Diamond and see a somewhat scary dummy. The only hope is that partner has a Club trick and you need to switch, if you don’t they discard the losing club on a Heart.

A thin line between success and disaster!

Hand of the week: 4/10/21 Board 8

We promptly made 11 tricks and got a bad score.
Should West have done more? Should East have done more?
What would you have done?
 

East has 10 points and 8 losers (the Q is balanced by the A), and the UCB shows a good raise to 3H (including having 4H).
W has 12 points and 7 losers, a classic minimum opener.
8 losers plus 7 losers means that 3H should be the bid from W.
We make 11 tricks .
However, on the losing trick count you can consider deducting a further loser for having more than 4 trumps when you have agreed the trump suit (so it is a 7 loser hand when opening and becomes a 6 loser hand when the trump suit is agreed) and a 5-4-3-1 shape is usually favourable.
So maybe 4H was the right bid, but is a very close decision.
What do you all think?

Probably in a teams match you bid 4H every day of the week, but at pairs exercise a bit more caution.
Hand of the week: 27/9/21 Board 12

Do you bid 4C or pass?

Things to consider:

  1. We as E/W are not vulnerable and N/S are. So if 3D is making then 4C could be a good score even if it doesn’t make.
  2. However, is 3D actually going to make and if it doesn’t and 4C go off,  then 4C is going to be a bad score.
  3. W has a good hand but with partner saying nothing then do you really want to be in 4 of a minor.

I think the crucial point here is that W has the AD and based on the bidding it is likely that E has at most 1D and so W is likely to be able to ruff his losing diamonds. So bid 4C and hope it makes or that 3D makes and 4C is a good sacrifice.

Once bid the play is reasonably trivial on the lead of the KD. Take AD and ruff 2 diamonds in dummy, crossing to hand via the AS. Then it just boils down to where the AH is and today is your lucky day as KH makes and 10 tricks roll in.

Hand of the week: 13/9/21 Board 20

How do you play following KD lead by S?

Danger is in Diamonds and E lets first trick go.

Second trick is a low D from S to the AD. Runs 6 Club tricks.

To make 11 tricks E has to finesse the Queen of Hearts knowing that she will lose Ace of Spades: finesse works and she is OK.

If she takes the first Diamond trick it actually makes 12 tricks but very risky.

Will Pavry

 

EBED Autumn Sim Pairs: 6/9/21

20210906_commentary.pdf

Hand of the week: 23/8/21 Board 12

Interestingly, we were the only ones in 6H.

E opens 1S, the hand satisfying the rule of 20. When W bids 2D, E knows partner satisfies at least the rule of 14 and jumps to 3H showing a 2-suited hand.

W bids 4H and E bids 4NT agreeing H. W's 5S shows 2KCs + trump Q. Having a void, E bids 6H.

Luckily a C is not lead and dummy has A spades. After drawing trumps, run the S dumping C and cross-ruff C and D at the end making 13 tricks.

 

Dave Allen

Hand of the week: 16/8/21 Board 16

This was an interesting hand with games possible in Hearts and Clubs by N/S and in Spades by E/W, and all 3 contracts were sometimes bid and made if left at game level only.

With 1 spade opening does North bid to shut out West or move slowly (which was my thought) to look for a slam?

Every table followed up with a variety of competitive bidding. There should be no slam, but you need a very correct defence to stop 5 spades and a more obvious defence to stop 6 clubs and 5 Hearts but sometimes both were successful.

Hence N/S varied from 100% against 2 Robots (nice to criticise them!) when in 6 clubs, to 4% when leaving West in 5 Spades!

John Skinner

Hand of the week: 9/8/21 Board 8

Lots of people didn’t get to slam, how should the board be bid?
 

We bid as follows to reach 6NT, but in fact should have bid 7NT.

  • 2C  (showing 23+ points)
  • 2D (relay)
  • 3NT  (this jump showed I had enough points to play on my own (25 points balanced hand)
  • 6NT  (my partner had 9 points so 25 + 9 = 34 )  obvious Slam

I think my partner should have gone to 7NT or at least asked for Aces: we use 4C to do this when in NT contracts but he wasn’t brave enough.  Never mind we still got a good score of 75%.

Hand of the week: 2/8/21 Board 19

How does E play when partner leads KS?

Inspired players take the A and lead a Club for a ruff, making KC later.
An inspired W may underlead Spades and try and persuade partner to give a ruff that way.
Due to friendly D break 5D makes otherwise, although the review on the website says 10 tricks only in Diamonds. No H game as long hand has to ruff and no C game due to the trump break.

Hand of the week: 26/7/21 Board 19

Why I hate robots angry

At the end of an evening where there seemed to be more than usual part-score hands, we encountered the robot pair. As South I opened a fairly obvious 3S. West's (robot) 3NT overcall is described as "2-5 ♠♣, 16-22 HCP, stop in ♠". What does East (robot) bid?

East leaps to 7H: how does he know West holds AC? I try 3C but my lead is immaterial and he runs off 13 tricks, adding insult to injury by discarding DAKQ from hand.

Most EW are in 6H, making +1 and scoring 35%, though two pairs realise that if 6H is making, so probably is 6NT - scoring 75%. So a cast-iron bottom for us, below even the brave souls who sacrificed in 6S.

Nick Kerry

Hand of the week: 12/7/21 Board 6

I liked hand 6 where declarer was booked to make 1NTX but got the timing wrong so we got lucky and ended up +500 rather than -180.

It’s a fascinating play hand. How do you play 1NTX on the auction shown?

Tony's (South) double showed an opening hand and short C; whilst we do not necessarily have the balance of points (indeed we haven’t – 19 versus 21 for declarer) all suits appear to be breaking badly for declarer so I doubled in case we could get it off. Double dummy we can’t. But declarers don’t always get it right.

I was happy with my double, and still would have been even if declarer had made his contract.

Tony led KH and hastily switched to a S when I showed out. Declarer correctly ducked the first S leaving me on lead with the QS to return a S which declarer won to switch to a D – 6-3-J-A. I returned a 3rd S, which declarer needs to win and then play on C to get home. AC followed by small to the Q will surely draw all South’s clubs and, if 1 only of the minor C honours is with South (surely likely?), declarer can then finesse against me to make 4 C tricks and then throw South in with the last S for an end play and his contract.

Instead, declarer ducked the 3rd S leaving the tempo with us: he now can’t end play South. Tony won and then put declarer in with his last S: declarer is now doomed. In an effort to get to dummy for the marked C finesse he then ended up going 2 off.

In such ways do tops emerge!

Andrew Moore

 

Hand of the week: 5/7/21 Board 1

This week several hands were very distributional, but this was the most interesting.

Should East open at the one level, as being strongish, or pre-empt? Should South then overcall or jump to 4S?

Play looks quite tricky: everyone received the lead of QH - there are potentially 1 diamond and 3 club losers. Declarer made 9, 10 or even 11 tricks, though only one of those who bid game made it.

Hand of the week: 28/6/21 Board 19

Board 19 was a tricky hand to declare. 4S was made by Jo Bell, Caro Hunt and Helen Mason but they all received relatively favourable leads. Everyone else went down. My partner received a spade lead. How would you plan the play with trumps breaking 4-0?

My partner won and played a trump to table. He led J diamonds to Q, K, A.  This was an error because its best to develop the long suit rather than go for a ruff, but its not fatal. Opponents led back a trump and my partner won in hand, leaving the A on the table. What now?

Clearly clubs must be attacked at this point, and A and another is probably best. However, my partner led a club to the J, K and 4. Another club followed, West played the 7. Do you play the A or the 8?

Unluckily, the 8 lost to the Q and the contract was now 2 down. The play of the A instead of the 8 means that the contract makes so long as declarer continues clubs and ducks the diamond return.

In my partner’s defence I must add that, unlike mine, his play was otherwise faultless, both at Clare and, on the day before, for the Suffolk A-Team against Norfolk.

Rick Hanley

Hand of the week: 21/6/21 Board 7

This hand (double dummy) can be game in diamonds for EW (slam if played by W) or game in hearts for NS. But most E ended in 4S or 3NT. Either is doomed to failure against the right lead but a few escaped intact. Look here for details.

Board of the week: 14/6/21 Board 7

Even by Clare standards this hand was unusual, played 10 times it managed to produce 9 contracts and 10 different results. Can you work out (guess!) what these might be before looking at Board 7 in Monday 14th June results.

Hand of the week: 14/6/21 Board 9 - example question

What do you bid sitting W?

A bit of a gamble ... the optimum contract as the cards lie is 5Hx by South as both 4H and 4S are making. But if you bid 4S you're relying on East rather than North to hold a singleton heart.