Release 2.19o

Green pointed Swiss Pairs and Swiss Teams Level 4 events taking place on BBO, click here for a brochure.  

Midlandscc No Fear events 

9 high 29th Jan 2022

6 high 26th Mar 2022

Contact Webmaster

Please email the webmaster with any news, comments and pictures to be included on the website.

0 0 0 0 0 0
Pages viewed in 2021
Recent Updates
Home Page
29th Nov 2021 11:31 GMT
News Page
24th Nov 2021 11:46 GMT
MCOL (Dawes) 2021/22
24th Nov 2021 11:42 GMT
OnLine League timetable 20-21
3rd Nov 2021 21:34 GMT
Hand of the week
A bad hand for Lucas twos (James Vickers)

Lucas twos are a convention that are popular in certain regions of the country. I don't know who Lucas was, but if they invented the system, they weren't alone, because similar ideas come up in other parts of the world. Muideberg twos are a very similar Dutch invention. They can be combined effectlvely with a multi-2 to enable you to open many more weak hands than if you just play straight weak twos and have to wait to be dealt a six-card suit. The accompanying four-card side suit that these bids promise gives you some added playing strength and reduces the risk of a big penalty, and also offers a haven if partner has a misfit for your first suit. 

Lucas twos are popular in Shrewsbury, but not in many other parts of the county, which is how I came to open one on board 19. My 2 bid showed five hearts and four cards in a second suit, and around 5-10 points. It's important to note that not all hands that meet those criteria are opened. The quality of the heart suit made me think twice, but the club suit is reasonable. Michael Byrne recommended at a seminar he gave for the county that the hand should not be playable in a third suit should partner have a good holding, so if it had a decent three-card spade suit that would be another reason not to open. I probably wouldn't have opened this had I been vulnerable. 

The responses are pre-emptive raises to three with three-card support, or to four (usually) with four-card support. This last bid could be a pre-empt, or have a good expectation of making. With a strong hand and no clear direction, partner can bid an artificial 2NT, and with a weak hand without a fit the next suit up (here 2♠) to sign off in opener's second suit. 

West had an obvious double, and when North passed, East had an even more obvious pass. Should North have passed? We play the same responses over a double as over a pass, so 2♠ would have been a rescue bid, however, there's no guarantee that hearts isn't our best fit, and although it's likely, there's no guarantee that EW are going to pass the hand out. I agree wth her pass. The only benefit of bidding is that it might cause the opponents some doubt and lead them to swap a lucrative penalty for a lower-scoring contract of their own. 

The play was expectedly brutal. After cashing a top spade, West switched to ace and another diamond. East ruffed high and switched back to spades. I ruffed the third round and saw no alternative to leading clubs from my hand. West took the king with the ace, cashed the ace of trumps and switched back to diamonds. East ruffed, I threw a club and got in with the jack of clubs when East led queen and another. I just had to have the presence of mind to exit with a low trump to endplay East so that I could score the last two tricks. 

Two other pairs (both with Shrewsbury connections) shared the same fate of scoring -800 against their vulnerable game. One pair use an immediate redouble for rescue, and so ended up in 3♣, but for the same score. This is a playable method, although it seems sensible just to keep the normal pass-or-correct 2♠ that you use over a pass if you want to play in opener's second suit. The redouble can then be used to show a strong hand that wants to penalise the opponents' runout. 

So this is a hand where Lucas twos worked out badly, but I'd like to think they bring more benefit than harm in the long run. 

Takeout doubles at different levels of bidding (James Vickers)

This week's hand was a painful lesson. I was East, and passed as dealer. My left-hand opponent opened 3♠, my partner doubled for takeout, and I really had nothing I could do but hope my partner had the hand beaten. The futility of bidding can be shown by applying the law of total tricks: if I assume my partner has the classic 1-4-4-4 shape, the opponents have nine spades between them, and we have eight hearts and eight clubs. Thus there are 17 total tricks. It's true that if we can make ten tricks in hearts then bidding 4 will beat defending 3♠x (+420 rather than +300), but it's much more likely that both contracts are going down. 

My partner led A  and when I saw the dummy I could only console myself that others would be in the same position, and perhaps I had taken the least painful option by passing. Unfortunately, it wasn't so. South took eleven tricks for -730, and no one else played in 3♠x. My only consolation was that bidding would have probably led to a worse score: NS can make a partscore in our best suits, and North has a clear double of anything we choose to bid, so we'd probably end up -1100. 

Some Souths had opened 1♠, and after a double and redouble from North, sensibly retreated to 2♠ to show a distributional one-suited hand that wasn't really worth an opening bid. North had then driven to game, which made undoubled for an average score. Others had opened 4♠ and played there, or 3♠ and been raised to four. 

So was my partner's double to blame? It's minimum in strength, and one card away from the perfect takeout shape for a takeout double of 1♠. Should she have doubled an opening bid of 2♠, or 3♠? It's slightly more dangerous competing at higher levels, as we're that much more likely to go down at the minimum level we have to bid. I like to have a token extra high-card point to double at each extra level of play, so I wouldn't have doubled 3♠ with that hand, but I'm not saying I'm right. Last week on board 16 both of us failed to act over West's 2 opener (non-vul vs vul), I with a minimum, flawed takeout double (♠K105 85 AQ94 ♣K964, only three spades and twelve points) and she with a weak no trump hand in the pass-out seat (♠J94 KQ103 K53 ♣A102). Even beating them three tricks undoubled wouldn't make up for the 3NT we can make our way. 

I have looked through my bookshelf to see if I can find support for my approach to doubling pre-empts. Albert Dormer in The Complete Book of Bridge recommends a six-loser hand for a minimum direct seat takeout double of a weak two, and Sally Horton in Double Trouble seems to agree that you need a little extra strength, but often have to double on less perfect shapes. She wisely, but not very helpfully, says that although doubling is dangerous with these imperfect hands, so is passing. Maybe you just can't get these hands right all the time. 

Suit combination in 6NT (James Vickers)

I held the North cards in the County Pairs game on Wednesday night (11/8/21). My partner opened 1♣ and rebid 1NT over my 1 response, showing a balanced hand with 15-17 points and at least four clubs. What should I do now? 

We have a combined 32-34 points, so slam is certainly a possibility, even a likelihood. I have club support for partner, so have to think about the possibility of a club slam, as well as 6NT. At matchpoint scoring you should be content with playing in the safest slam if you think most of the field won't bid beyond game, otherwise try for the highest-scoring slam. I didn't really give much thought to trying for 6♣, because I thought most people would be in a slam, there was no guarantee that 6♣ would be safer than 6NT, and we didn't really have a good way of showing a strong club raise. If we played 2 here as new minor forcing, or a game-forcing Stayman, I could start with that, but the only bid I could think of was 4♣, and that seemed to be excessive with such modest support. 

So I thought my choices were 6NT and an invitational 4NT. 

I decided my good supply of aces and honour combinations qualfied for an upgrade, and just bid 6NT. This was the choice of everyone bar one who had had the same start to the auction, and even of those where South had opened a strong no trump. I think it shows good judgement not to look for 6 as an alternative by bidding Stayman. There's no guarantee that 6 will be better than 6NT, and any unnecessary bidding may tip the opposition off to a favourable lead. 

Every West led ♠9 against 6NT. Your contract looks safe so long as you can make three club tricks, and there are fair chances of making four for an overtrick. You obviously don't want to make only two. How should you play the club suit, at matchpoints and at IMPs? 

To help you out, there were three lines chosen by our South players, each roughly equally popular. They were: 

(1) Cash the ace, then lead low. 

(2) Run the queen. 

(3) Lead small to the queen. 

At IMPs, you want the line that's least likely to result in two losers. You should probably adopt the same safety play at matchpoints if you think you're likely to be the only table in 6NT (or one of very few), but that's not the case here. If there's a fair chance of making an overtrick, you should take it so long as it doesn't jeopardize your chances of taking three by too much. If you think most tables will be in 6NT, you want to take the line that will give you the most tricks in the long run. 

So which line will you go for? 

It may surprise you to learn that line 1 is best at neither form of scoring. The play that gets you the most tricks in the long run is line 2. (If the queen holds, run the jack next. If it loses, cash the jack.) This will get you four tricks 14% of the time, three tricks 73% of the time and two tricks 13% of the time for an average expectation of 3.00 tricks. 

The safety play for at least three tricks is line 3. (If the queen holds, lead small to the jack next.) This will decrease your chance of making four tricks to zero, but increase your chance of making three to 97%, and give you an average expectation of 2.97 tricks. 

So well done if you chose line 2, particularly if you did it for the right reasons. If you went for line 3, you might have had good reasons for doing so (perhaps misjudging the number of tables that would reach 6NT), and in any case the difference between these plays is only slight. I can't swear I wouldn't have chosen line 1. I don't have percentages for that line, perhaps someone would care to work them out. It seems to me that line 1 caters for a singleton honour in either hand but loses two tricks when East has a small singleton, whereas running the queen loses two tricks only when there's a singleton king with West. Line 3 also loses two tricks to a singleton king with West, but perhaps has the edge over the others because if either hand shows out on the first round it enables you to still make three tricks.