Release 2.19q

EBU National Pairs

The pairs who scored 55% or more

at our club sessions on 8th

and 15th February are: -

Richard Gwyer & Frank Gilchrist

Syd Gwyer & Paul Gregory

Ian Roach & Richard Freeman

Sue Phillips & Vicky Lees

You are now entitled to enter the

Regional Finals on 24th March.

You will receive an email from the EBU. 

More details: -




Zoom Notes
Notes from Zoom Sessions

Notes from Gentle Bridge  Zoom Meetings

February 12th

How high with negative doubles? 1D - 1S from opponent - double from your partner is takeout promising 4 of the other major(hearts) but what if they make a jump overcall? Double is still takeout even if it's 3 spades. Of course you would need a stronger hand this time as you are forcing partner to the 4 level. Doubles of 4 level bids are optional. 

Stayman - only when you have a 4 card major. With 5 always transfer except when you have both majors and are weak 5/4. Then Stayman gies you the possibiity of finding a 4-4 fit. If P bids 2 diamonds just rebid your 5 card major. 

P opens 1 club, you have 13 points with 5 diamonds and a small doubleton spade. Left hand opp bids 1 spade. Your P bids 2 clubs what do you do? With 13 points opposite an opening bid you want to be in game so you can't make a bid that can be passed. You have K10 of partner's clubs and would like to bid 3NT but with no spade stop this is unwise. The answer is to bid 2 spades - the opps' suit. This is game forcing and asks P if they have a spade stop. If so they bid 2NT and you can bid 3. With no spade stop P rebids their suit or gives support to your diamonds. 

With 4 points and a singleton in partner's opened suit do you pass? Yes!

You have 6 clubs and 7 points and your P opens 1 diamond - you have a singleton diamond. Don't bid 2 clubs you aren't strong enough. Just Bid 1NT. This shows you are quite weak with no 4 card major - or you would have bid it. 

Can you use Stayman and transfers when your partner overcalls 1NT (15-18 points) I recommend you do but you must discuss this with your partner to avoid unpleasant accidents!

Your P opens 1NT. You have 11 points with a 4 card major and 4 clubs (J1096.) Opponent on your right bid 2 clubs - what do you do? You could bid 2NT but I think double is better. Because partner's opener is a limit bid your double is penalties. Your side has at least 23 points and your P has at least 2 clubs so opps are very unlikely to make this so double them.

Is a jump rebid of your suit forcing such as 1heart then 3 hearts? The answer is - if your partner's response is at the 1 level it isn't completely forcing - although highly invitational. If your partner's response was at the 2 level eg 1 heart - 2 clubs then 3 hearts is game forcing. This is because with a 2 level response you are promising 9+ points and P with around 16 and a good 6 card suit will want to play in game. 

Stayman and transfers over a 2NT opener by P? Yes definitely but again you must agree it with your P. 

Michaels cue bids. Not for the faint - hearted! They go like this. You have 5-5 in 2 suits and your right hand opp opens one of your short suits. If you bid their suit (eg 1 club - 2 clubs from you) you are showing 5-5 in the majors. If their bid is a major then you bid it to show 5-5 in the other major and a minor. With both minors, or the 2 lowest suits, jump to 2NT (the 'unusual NT') This can be with a hand with fewer than opening points but it is best if most of your points are in your long suits. Good luck with that!

can you open 1NT with 11 points? Yes - if you like the look of it and are not vulnerable. Equally, you can open it on 15 if you don't like the look of it.

February 4th

Counting. According to Andrew Robson it is THE most important part of the game. We all know to count trumps. With 8 of them between us, when the opponents follow to the first 2 rounds you know they have divided 3-2 and therefore there is only one left out. However, it also may happen that you have a side suit (non-trump suit) with 8 between you - do the same count. I have frequently seen opps play 3 rounds of this suit leaving themselves with two small cards. These are now winners but I often see them trumped unnecessarily and therefore wasted. Maybe your side suit has only 7 cards. However, if all follow to 3 rounds and you have one left it is a winner - the 13th card of the suit. I often see this trumped too - why?

Counting the declarer's hand when defending can be productive. First, count how many trumps he started with. You can do this by watching how many trumps your partner followed to and how many dummy started with. You now know how many he has left. That's a good start and a good habit to acquire. 


4 points opposite a 2NT opener - do you bid and if so Stayman with a 4 card major? With good 'intermediates (9s and 10s) I do but pass is also OK. 


1NT - 3 clubs - what sort of hand would this show? It should show a distributional hand with 6+ clubs and a willingness to go past 3NT. It is forcing to game and maybe showing slam interest. If I have 12 or 13 points and 5 or 6 clubs I would normally ignore the clubs and bid 3NT. 


Opening weak 4441 hands (12-14 points) Open the bottom suit except when the singleton is a spade in which case open 1 diamond. Never open a major suit. When vulnerable I might even pass a poor 12 point hand. With 15+ points it is easier as you can rebid notrumps if P bids your singleton. 


Doubling a 5 level bid by opps when you have bid game. If you have bid game knowing your side has the balance of the points and opps bid at the 5 level - double it. It is usually a 'sacrifice bid' meaning they hope to lose less that the value of the game you would have made. If you don't double it you will get a poor score on the hand. very occasionally you will bid your suit again over them but only if you are very confident of making 11 tricks. 


Michaels cue bids. These were invented to show 5-5 or better when opps open. For example opps open 1 diamond. With 5-5 in the majors you bid 2 diamonds. This might not have opening points but the shape makes up for it. Your P can bid one of your suits with 3 or more. If opps open a major the bid of their suit shows 5 of the other major and a 5 card minor. If you don't cue bid but jump to 2NT instead this shows 5-5 in the lowest 2 suits. It is sometimes known as the 'unusual 2NT'.

January 28th

Responding to partner's overcall. Overcalls differ from opening bids in that a suit will be at least 5 cards and may not have opening points - although a 2 level overcall, particularly if vulnerable, should be close to an opening bid. If you bid another suit this should not be to 'rescue' partner because you only have 1 of her suit. If you are not very strong it is best to pass. Therefore if you do bid another suit you are showing strength and possibly some support for partner. If partner's bid is a major suit you should raise with 3 cards even if quite weak. If you have near to opening points with 3 cards in partner's major, rather than just raising bid the opponents' suit. Eg 1diamond from opps, 1 spade from P -pass - 2 diamonds from you says 'I have 3 or 4 card support in spades for you - are you any good? If the overcall is weak (less than opening points) P will just repeat his spades and play in 2 spades. If he has a decent hand he can bid another suit or jump in spades. This is known as the 'unassuming cue bid'.

Bidding over a weak 2 by the opps. If you overcall a weak 2 you will have at least opening points. With a 5 card suit it is usually better to bid it rather than doubling for takeout. Double shows shortage in the opening suit and a willingness to play in one of the other suits so you will have at least 3 cards in each.

Opening with less than 12 points. By all means if you have 'shape' and not less than 10 points. With 5-5 or a good 6 card major I open with 10 ( don't open weak 2 if the suit is strong) With 7 losers and 11 I open. 

Responding to parnter's transfer with a 4 card fit. With 4 of the transfer suit I jump a level with 4. Some pairs like it to be 4 and a maximum. I Play it as 4 and a minimum but with 4 and a maximum I ‘break the transfer’ - either to a suit with a ‘feature’ not necessarily 4 cards as you have already agreed the suit to play in by breaking the transfer or in my system to a losing doubleton. With no losing doubleton I break to 2NT. If P is very weak and just wishes to play at the 3 level they can ‘retransfer’ by rebidding the suit they used to transfer ie 3 diamonds for hearts or 3 hearts for spades. 

When you rebid 1NT or 2NT you will be balanced or semi balanced. If not it is better to rebid a second suit. However, if you have a singleton in P’s suit you can rebid notrumps with the other 3 suits well held maybe 4441.

Doubling. Jeremy mentioned that Bernard Magee had said that people don't double enough. I agree. There are two reasons for doubling, one is takeout or asking and the other is penalties. Takeout doubles take many forms. The basic one is a double of opps' opened suit which shows a good hand with, in principle, shortage in the opened suit. This asks P to bid their best suit. As P, if the next hand passes, is obliged to bid he might be very weak. So what does he do if not too weak, say 7-10 points? He jumps a level in his suit. This is not forcing, it just shows some values. What would he do with more? If he has a 5 card major he would bid game directly. If he isn't sure what the game is going to be he can bid the opps' suit to ask P to choose but also saying he has close to game values. If he had a holding in the opps'suit he can bid notrumps. What do you do if the app on your right raises his P's opened suit and you are quite good but not sure where you are going? Answer is double too. So the bidding goes 1D from opponent, double from P, 2 Ds on right double from you. This is known as a co-operative double saying 'P we are going somewhere but I don't yet know where.'


Negative doubles. I have talked about these before but they occur when opps intervene after you P has opened. Say P opens 1 diamond and the opponent on your right overcalls 1 spade and you have 4 hearts and 4 clubs with 7+ points, what do you do? You can't bid 2 hearts as this would promise 5 and anyway you aren't strong enough. Double is the answer. It promises 4 of the other major so P can happily bid hearts if he has 4. 

Doubles of low level bids are always for takeout. Doubling a low level suit contract for penalties is extremely risky as it may double them into game if it makes. The exception is the double of a 1NT opener which is always for penalties. It shows at least 16 points. If opps make further bids double is now for penalties. 

Penalty doubles. Apart from the double of 1NT penalty doubles usually occur at a higher level. The most common is when you freely bid a game and opps sacrifice at the 5 level. Unless you decide to bid your suit over them at the 5 level you should always double them. The other time is when you have a 'nasty surprise' which can be a very bad trump division. However, if you have 5 small trumps and not a lot else this is not sufficient reason to double. Sitting over the bidder of the suit with a strong 4 card trump holding such as KQ102 and a possible trick elsewhere then chance it.

January 21st

Never 'underlead' (lead 4th highest) an Ace against a SUIT contract. If you are desperate to lead that suit, or partner has bid it, lead the Ace. Otherwise you may not make it if they have a singleton.


Opening 1NT with 11 points. Yes if your shape is 4432 with good intermediates (9s and 10s) and you are not vulnerable. Otherwise no


Negative doubles. Very useful if you are 'stuck for a bid' when opps overcall your partner's opening bid. For example, P opens 1 diamond and you have 7 or 8 points and 4 hearts. You would bid I heart but the app on your right overcalls 1 spade. You can't bid 2 hearts because you don't have 5 and anyway you haven't enough points - you need 9+ to bis a new suit ate the 2 level. The answer is 'double'. This says you have enough points to respond but no biddable suit at the 2 level and you have 4 of the other major - in this case hearts. I have attached a note on this.

Losing trick count.

  1. Axx is 2 losers Ax is 1, a singleton is 1 and a void 0. Kxx is 2 Kx is 1, QJx is 2.
  2. With a good trump fit for partner assume her opener is 7 losers.
  3. Add your losers to 7 and subtract the result from 18.
  4. This is the level you are prepared to go to if P is minimum. If P isn't minimum she can go one more or two more depending how many she has. 

With a balanced 15/16 you open a suit and are planning to rebid 1NT if P changes the suit. If opps overcall and P bids a new suit at the 2 level she should have 9+ points so you can bid 2NT. If P passes don't be tempted to bid notrumps as P may be weak. With 17/18 and no stop in opps' suit if P passes you can double for takeout saying you are quite strong and asks P to have another go. With a stop you can bid 1NT.

Signalling. I play a simple system. First discard is either encouraging in that suit with an 8 or 9 or discouraging with a 2 or 3. After that I play high/low with an even number or low/high with an odd to help P count the hand. Some people play that in reverse ie 2 or 3 encouraging and 8/9 discouraging. (Actually that is what I do) With a doubleton on P's lead I always play high/low. If I lead a doubleton it is always high/low. 


Counting. Hard but satisfying. First count trumps. If dummy has 3 and you have 2 and P shows out on the second round how many has declarer got? The answer is 7. (2+1+3 = 6 take from 13 =7) after that note how many times D follows to another suit. If twice and then trumps one you know he had 2 therefore he had 4 cards in the remaining suits. Try it. It will lift your game to a higher plain.

January 14th

Do you transfer with a strong hand? I always transfer because I want to find out more about partner's hand. You can of course jump to 3 of your major which shows a strong hand and is game forcing but it takes up a lot of bidding space.

Stayman with less than 11 points? Only when you have both majors 5/4. You could transfer to the longer one but you are giving up on a possible 4-4 fit in the other. If P bid 2 diamonds you just bid your 5 card suit which is a 'sign-off'.

In 4th seat after left hand app bids 1NT and you have 17 points and a good 6 card club suit - do you double or bid 2 clubs. I double. There is a slight disadvantage in that P is on lead and therefore unlikely to lead your long suit but you should have enough to beat 1NT doubled. If P is very weak she may take out the double into her suit so you just bid 3 clubs and play there.

Switching from suit to suit. If you lead 4th highest against opps' notrump contract generally just keep 'plugging away' with this suit unless it is obvious to switch. Switching from suit to suit often gives away an unnecessary trick. 

Against 1NT, in order to beat it you will need to make tricks in more than one suit but it is still risky to switch.

If opps open a weak 2 in, say, hearts and you have a strong balanced hand but no heart stop, if you now bid 3 hearts you are saying 'P - bid 3NT with a heart stop'. With no heart stop P bids their suit, hopefully the other major.


January 6th

Opening 5/5 hands. You can and should open hands with two 5 card suits with fewer than 12 points although it is best if most of your points are in the long suits. 10 points would probably be the low point. Always open the higher ranked suit so you can bid, and maybe rebid, the lower suit. When you bid the second suit twice partner will know you are 5/5 or maybe 6/5. 

A change of suit by partner after you have opened is forcing - ie you have to bid again. However, if an intervening opponent overcalls, the force is removed as partner has another chance to bid. With a minimum hand and not much support for partner you can pass. One other time when you can pass partner's change of suit is if P has passed originally. So if it goes pass-pass and you open and P responds at the 1 level eg 1H - 1S you can pass if you are minimum and have 3 of P's spades and no sensible rebid. With 4 I would raise anyway. 

You open 1H P responds 1S you rebid 2C and P now bids 2NT. Is this just to show point count (11/12) or is it a wish to play in notrumps - the answer is both. It suggests a balanced hand with the unbid suit (diamonds) well held as you would expect a diamond lead after this bidding. 

After 1D - 2D (which denies a major suit) what does 2H from opener mean? It is a notrump 'probe' ie it shows a strong hand with interest in playing in notrumps rather than diamonds. It shows values in hearts (not necessarily 4 cards) but maybe a weakness in one of the other suits. With something in one of these and a maximum 2D bid (8 or 9 points) responder can bid it or with something in both she can bid 2NT (opener has shown the values for 2NT ie 17-18 points.) With a minimum 2D response you just subside in 3 diamonds. 

Overcalling with a strong hand. The upper limit for a suit overcall is about 16 points so what do you do with 18 points and a good spade suit - as Jo had? Answer is you double first. P is forced to bid something and you now bid your spades - maybe jump a level. P may wonder why you didn't overcall in spades originally but should come to the right conclusion - ie you were too strong. 

'Lead-directing doubles.' When opponent on your right makes an artificial bid such as a Stayman 2 clubs or a 2D transfer bid, if you have a strong holding in that suit and a reasonable hand you should double. If the opps end up playing the contract and your P is on lead she has an easy decision as to which suit to play. Alternatively, she has the opportunity to bid that suit herself with a decent holding in it and you may be able to win the contract your way. 

4441 hands - which suit to open? Usually the bottom one except when the singleton is a spade in which case you open 1D. Never open a major. The reasoning is that partner is likely to bid the suit in which you are short. If it's a spade you rebid 2 clubs. This sounds like 5/4 in Ds and Cs but this is one of the problems with 4441 hands - sometimes you tell a fib. However, it is better to fib in a minor as P may rescue you by bidding notrumps. If your singleton is a club you open 1D and hope P will bid a major. If, unfortunately, she bids 2 clubs you have to bid 2D - another fib. In this case however she may well bid NTs. 

Playing 3NT - don't be in a rush to cash a long suit unless you can see 9 tricks. It is more important to lose a loser in order to set up the extra tricks you need - you can always cash your long suit later and, also, you may need the 'entry' cards in that suit to access the winners you have set up. I call this suit your 'comfort blanket'! It may give you a warm feeling to grab an early 5 tricks but it may cause problems later and it will help opps to signal to their P which the early loser play doesn't give them the opportunity to. 

Lead towards high cards not away from them. With, say, KJ4 on table and 652 in hand lead a low card towards the KJx. I don't worry about the Ace - the opps are always going to make this, It is the Queen I want to avoid them making if possible. If they play low, put in the Jack. 50% of the time it will force the Ace or even win if AQ are on the left. Even if the Queen wins you have a second chance to make a trick as long as you lead towards the King.