Durham Bridge Club
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Membership Successes

2023 NEBA
Summer Pairs
Frank Bouweraerts
Irina Hendrickx

2022 NEBA
Swiss Pairs
John Dobson
Audrey Bainbridge

2021 NEBA
Gazette Cup
Joan Crompton
Irene Burns

2021 Runners-Up
For Champion Pairs
Dorothy Pearson
Susan Penswick

2021 EBU
Easter Congress
9 High Tournament
Irina Hendrickx
James Foster

Club Tournament Winners

Club Champion
Evening 2022
Audrey Bainbridge

Club Champion
Afternoon 2022
Adrian Darnell

Durham City
Trophy 2022
Bill Dixon & Peter Sykes

Sykes Cup
Nigel Martin
& Adrian Darnell

Cansino Cup
Pairs 2021
Margaret McCabe &
Iain Gordon


Monday night lessons
Hints and Tips for the Novices section from Monday night lessons

Overcalling 1

1. When one of your opponents has opened the bidding, you can overcall in another suit.

2. An overcall has 3 possible benefits: (i) It makes it harder for the opener (and their partner) to easily find their best contract.  (ii) The overcaller may ‘win’ the contract for their side.  (iii) It helps with the defence (letting overcaller’s partner know which suit to lead).

3. Criteria for making an overcall: an overcall should be made on a 5+ card suit. It is sensible that the suit quality of an overcall contains at least 2 of the top 4 honours – for example an overcall in a suit at the 1-level could be made on: AKxxx, or KJxxx.  You only need 9 (or more) points to make an overcall at the 1-level, for example: ♠ KQxxx  Axx  xxx ♣ xx.

4. Responding to an overcall: overcalls in a suit are not forcing. The overcaller’s partner should note the suit bid, so they can lead it if they are defending. Overcaller’s partner can support the suit bid but usually with slightly more points than a simple response to an opening bid. At this stage, the advice would be to have at least 3 card support (so there is at least an 8 card trump fit) and 9 or more points. It is OK to support partner's overcall of 1♠ with ♠ Jxx KJxx  xxxx ♣ Ax by raising to 2♠ . If the overcaller's partner bids a new suit it is not forcing but it must have an overcall’s suit quality and shows no support for partner's suit.

5. Remember when you are bidding (whether opening, overcalling or responding) it is not just the total number of points you hold but where the points/honours are placed. For example, you would not overcall 1♠ with ♠10xxxx Axx Jxx ♣Ax but you would with ♠AJ10xx Axx xxx ♣xx.

From Monday night lessons (Peter Sykes)

Basic opening leads 1

Against a suit or NT contract, the best choice of opening lead is:

1. Lead partner’s suit: lead a small card from an honour with 3+ cards (eg from Q75 lead the 5) or the top card from a doubleton (eg from 93 lead the 9; or from Q4 lead the Q) or the top card from three small cards. The lead of  small card tells your partner that you have an honour in the suit led.

2. Lead the Ace from AKx(x).

3. Lead the top of a sequence such as QJ10, or J109 (or even from a partial sequence such as KQ10 or QJ9).

From Monday night lessons (Peter Sykes)

Opening leads 2

Against a suit contract, other choices of opening lead are:

1. Lead the lowest card* from a four (or three) card suit with an honour (eg from Q962 lead the 2 or from K65 lead the 5) - a small card promises an honour (or may be a singleton). Low means you like the suit you lead. Not recommended in opponents suit.

2. Lead a singleton if you hope to gain a ruff in that suit (you should usually have at least 3 trumps).

3. Lead top of a doubleton (eg ¨73 lead the 7) if you hope to gain a ruff in that suit.

4. Lead a trump to cut down the number of tricks declarer can make by cross ruffing.

5. If you hold an Ace, the advice is don’t lead a small card away from an Ace against a suit contract.

Against a NT contract, other choices of opening lead are:

1. Lead fourth highest* from 4 or more cards to an honour in your strongest suit.

2. Lead the top of an ‘interior’ sequence such as KJ10x (lead the J), or Q109x (lead the 10) to try to establish tricks in that suit.

3. It’s OK to lead from an Ace in your best suit against NT (eg lead 2 from A1042).

*What is the ‘lowest/4th highest card’? When your partner leads a card, how do you know if it is their lowest? For example, a 4 will usually be your partner’s lowest card (check for the 3 & 2) but an 8 will not usually be their lowest (it could only be their lowest if partner holds a suit such as Q98). There aren’t any ‘certainties’ - the lowest card is based on what you can see and know.

From Monday night lessons (Peter Sykes)

“Take out” double

To make a “take out” double you must have opening points (12+) and you must be short in the opening bidder’s suit (0, 1 or 2 cards) – ignore ‘wasted’ points in opener’s suit. After an opening bid of 1♣ ,  it is perfectly sound to make a “take out” double with ♠ A10xx  KQxx  QJxx ♣ x but not with ♠ A10xx  KQxx  xxx ♣ QJ. A "take out" double is made at your first opportunity to bid. You can only make a “take out” double when the opposition have opened the bidding.

Responses to a "take out" double: the partner of a “take out” doubler must bid unless there is an intervening bid from opener’s partner. With 8 points or fewer (even 0), the “take out” doubler’s partner must bid a suit at the lowest level, make a jump bid with more than 8 points to show partner you are stronger. After 1 - Dble - Pass, bid 1♠  with ♠Qxxx  xx  xxx ♣ xxxx, but bid 2♠  with ♠ KQxx  xx  xxx ♣ AJxx – always prefer a 4 card major to a minor.

From Monday night lessons (Peter Sykes)

Bidding with more balanced hands after opponents have opened

Remember to bid game you usually need 25 or more points between both hands.

1. When you have a balanced hand (eg 4-4-3-2, 5-3-3-2 or 4-3-3-3) of 15-16 points, with a stopper in the opening bidder’s suit (eg KJx), overcall 1NT. For example, if the opposition have bid 1© and you hold ªAxx ©KJx ¨QJ10x §KQx then overcall 1NT.

2. Responding to an overcall of 1NT by partner: (i) with fewer than 9 points: either pass (when balanced) or take out into your long (5+) suit.

(ii) with 9 points: invite game, by either bidding 2NT to show a balanced hand (asking partner to bid 3NT with a maximum of 16 points) or bid 3 of a five-card major.

(iii) with 10+ points bid game (either bid 3NT if balanced or bid 4 of a major, with at least a 5 card suit, very occasionally bid 5 of a minor when unbalanced).

(iv) You should agree with your partner to play the same responses as over a 1NT opener (eg 2§ as Stayman and 2 /  as Transfer bids).

3. Do not overcall 1NT with a balanced 12-14 points.

4. With even more points (ie 17+ points) make a “take out” double of the opponents bid first (forcing partner to bid) and then bid NT at your next bid.

5. With an exceptional hand ( ie 20+ pointsmake a “take out” double first and then cue bid the opponent’s suit (which is forcing) on your next bid - this is very rare and shows a really powerful hand.

From Monday night lessons (Peter Sykes)

Summary of the bidding

There are four situations in which you enter the bidding: as opener; as responder to opener; as 1st opposition bidder; opposition responder. Note which player opens the bidding, if it’s your side then there is a set of guidance for responding.

(a) You are the opening bidder. You need: 12+ points; balanced hands bid NT either on the 1st or 2nd round; unbalanced hands bid their longest suit first; strong hands (20+) open at the 2-level.

(b) You are responding to your partner’s opening bid. You need: 6+ points to support partner’s suit with 4 cards; with a balanced hand respond in NTs atthe apporpriate level; otherwise explore by bidding your own longest suit. NB 25+ points are needed to bid game.

(c) the opposition have opened – you need: 9+ points and a 5+ card suit with 2 of the top 4 honours to overcall in a suit; 12+ points and a shortage in the opponent’s suit to make a “take outdouble15-16 points with a stopper in the opponent’s suit to overcall 1NTany other strong hand (17+ points) may make an initial “take out” double; pass with a balanced 12-14 points or just length in the opponents’ suit.

(d) Replying to partner’s overcall: you need: 9+ points to support a suit overcall; replying to partner’s “take out” double: 0+ points as you must respond to a “take out” double.

From Monday night lessons (Peter Sykes)

Card play

Always count your top tricks and work out how many extra are needed to make your contract. If you cash your winners immediately, then you are establishing tricks for the opposition not yourself. On some hands you may need a combination of techniques to provide the number of tricks your contract needs.

(a) In a suit contract, drawing trumps or cross ruffing: draw trumps to prevent opponents from ruffing your winners. If trying a cross ruff, cash winners first and then proceed to cross ruff the hand. It is OK to leave out an opponent’s outstanding trump if it is larger than yours (rather than using two of your trumps to do so).

(b) Establishing tricks ‘by force’Using a sequence of cards to drive out opposition winners (eg with §QJ10x, play the §Q; and next the §J to establish your §10). The advice is to play honours from the short hand first.

(c) Establishing tricks ‘by length’: exhaust the opponents of their cards in a suit in which you have greater length. Remember, if there are 5 missing cards, a suit is likely to split 3-2 (missing an odd number of cards, suits normally splits ‘evenly’) with 6 missing cards a suit is likely to split 4-2. So with ¨Kxx opposite ¨Axxxx, if you lose a trick by playing a small card from each hand, then when you regain the lead, play the K and a small card, followed by the A and the two remaining small cards will (probably) become established.

(d) Establishing tricks ‘by position’ (the finesse): promoting a card is dependent on the position of the opponent’s card. If you have ©65 and dummy has ©AQ, then leading the ©5 towards the ©AQ and playing the Q, wins when your left hand opponent has the ©K (ie half the time). This technique is called a finesse and is achieved by leading towards an honour and hoping that your left hand opponent holds the key card which allows your card to win.

From Monday night lessons (Peter Sykes)

Advanced Opening Leads

It is suggested that players read "Winning No Trump Leads" and "Winning Suit Contract Leads" - Both by Bird and Anthias. Below is a summary.

Against 3 No Trumps

1) Unless there is a very good reason not to - Lead a Major Suit - This applies when either the opponents do not use Stayman or if the response to a Stayman call of 2♣  is 2  

2) Do not lead a Major suit, however, (unless your suit is very strong), if the 1NT bidder shows a major and the Stayman asker converts to NT.

3) Most 3NT contracts will have 25 - 27 high card points. If your partner holds the stronger hand, try and find his major - usually by leading your weaker major suit (3 card suits are preferable)

4) Surprisingly leading a doubleton honour pair in a major (KQ, QJ) is a very good lead - you hope partner has length and your honours can set up the suit

5) Leads from 6 card suits (unless you hold most of the high card points) tend to work out badly. Partner is likely to have a singleton and cannot help set up the suit

6) Leading unsupported Aces is not that bad an idea - you retain the lead and once you see dummy you can then switch to the most promising suit. The downside is that it can set up an extra trick for declarer, so I would not do so if partner is known to have a weak hand. (from the bidding).

7) Leading from a 4-card suit headed by a King or Queen is not a good idea - it costs 1/2 a trick on average with limited rewards. Against 1NT, however (when partner is likely to be stronger), aggressive leads can turn out well. Against 3NT - be passive.

8) If intending to lead a suit holding two touching honours e.g. KQXX(X) - lead one of the honours. It stops declarer winning a trick cheaply.

Against Suit Contracts

1) A singleton (non trump) is almost always the best card to lead

2) Leading a doubleton can work well - the idea is not so much to get a third round ruff, but to set up partner's honours, which are more likely to cash since declarer will have more cards in the suit.

3) If partner is known to be weak, however, leading a doubleton is less effective.

4) Leading a trump should be avoided - it gives up a tempo and can give declarer a free finesse. Only lead a trump if a) your other suit combinations are dangerous i.e. headed by Kings and Queens or b) declarer is playing in his second suit - since then he will be anting to ruff his first suit in dummy.

5) In duplicate bridge, the primary concern for an opening lead is safety. The lower the top card, the safer the lead. Underleading suit combinations such as KJXX, QTXX, are particularly risky.

6) In duplicate bridge it is usually a winning decision to cash an Ace against a Slam (also applies to 6NT). Failure to do so often results in declarer winning 13 tricks in the other suits.

7) If opponents are obviously sacrificing over your suit contract - lead your suit. Opponents will be short and therefore more likely to be able to throw away a loser.


Pay attention to the bidding to estimate where partner's strength is and the most likely suit. "Blind leads are fordeaf players" - Terence Reese.