Release 2.19n

Malcolm Pryor is currently representing England's senior team in the 44th World Team Championships in China. Click on d'Orsi Trophy for up to date results.

Some of the Suffolk player's matches are likely to be on line via Bridge Base Online, which you can watch for free, although the time difference is not the kindest. The daily schedule (British time) is

  • Session 1 03.00-05.20
  • Session 2 06.30-08.50
  • Session 3 09.30-11.50)

England is fielding four teams in the championships - Open, Ladies, Seniors and Mixed - and all have made a good start.

Chris Chambers was a member of a team which did particularly well at the EBU Summer Meeting in Eastbourne.

Malcolm reports on a slam hand in the final match which helped to determine the finishing positions. To read more, click on Suffolk@TheNationals


Suffolk travelled to Barleylands to take on Essex at the weekend and, unusually, two of the three matches ended in 10-10 draws.

The A team held a solid lead with the final eight board session to go but the hosts staged a comeback to prevail 12-8. Both the B and C teams tied their games.

To see all the results, click on Suffolk v Essex


Minutes of the Club Representatives meeting which took place in July are now available. Click on CLUB REPS to read


Rick Hanley explains why we should all switch from 0314 to 1430 when using Roman Key Card Blackwood. Click on RKCB to read more.


Card players and the Nature v Nurture debate: Glyn Button harks back to his experience in the 1950s.  Click on 2½NoTrumps, the antidote to traditional bridge chronicles, to read more. 


Suffolk’s three teams were involved in close finishes in their matches against Northants on Sunday.

The A team lost narrowly 9-11; likewise the B team 7-13, while the C team (pictured below) had something to smile about by winning 12-8.


Don't you just wish sometimes that you could play a hand again?

Well, you can...thanks to the wonders of Bridgewebs.

The 'Play It Again' feature is not that well known, but easy to use.

On your club website (or this one) just go to Results, click on any pairing and you will see below the hand 'Play It Again' (arrowed)

(if any club webmaster would like the graphics for this article to upload on to their website just e


Norman delves into a devious play during a hand at Stowmarket bridge club. Click on MoreOrLess to find out more.

If you play an unusual or interesting hand at your club, Norman would love to hear about it. Just email him at Hand of the Week

The EBU has offered some guidance on ensuring the 'security' of duplimated boards at clubs, which has been endorsed by the SCBA. To read more please click on SECURITY

Richard Evans & Paul Rickard are the webmasters running Suffolk's dedicated bridge website.

If you would like to publicise a forthcoming event or submit a news item for this website click Richard or Paul

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Rick Hanley - Captain's Log
WHY '1430' IS SUPERIOR TO '0314'

Roman Key Card Blackwood: Why it’s time to switch to 1430


Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB), in which the King of trumps represents a fifth key card, is the slam-bidding convention of choice for most Suffolk players. 

Over 4NT, the typical pattern of responses is:

5♣ = 0 or 3 key cards

5 = 1 or 4 key cards

5 = 2 or 5 key cards without Q trumps

5♠ = 2 or 5 key cards with Q trumps

I will refer to this version of RKCB as 0314, in line with the 5♣ and 5 responses. 

However, an alternative version (“1430”) is now favoured by many of the country’s leading players. In 1430, the 5♣ and 5 responses are reversed such that:

5♣ = 1 or 4 key cards

5 = 0 or 3 key cards 

Apparently, Andrew Robson felt that he once lost a crucial match with the England team because they played 3014 rather than 1430. But, how exactly could something like that have happened? What is the point of making things more complicated by adding this tweak? 

Take a look at the hand below for an example of the benefits of 1430 relative to 0314. My team-mates (Michael Sherer, Bill Tweddell, Jeff Orton) and I had fought our way through to the quarter-final of the EBU online-knockout competition, beating a team of England juniors in the round of the last 16. The quarter-final was fairly even with eight boards remaining. Then this deal appeared with both of our pairs playing 3014 while the opposition played 1430. 

North (Dealer)

KJ753  Q9764  K ♣ A


A  AK102  A98643 ♣ K3

With E/W passing throughout, the opposition bidding went: 1♠-2 (game forcing), 2-3, 4♣-4NT…. Playing 1430, North responded 5♣. South could now bid 5 to ask for the Queen of trumps. 5 would have denied Q , but North was able to bid 5♠, showing both the Q and the K♠. A grand-slam was now declared, and it duly rolled in after a spade ruff had brought down Q♠. When our team sat N/S, however, North’s (3014) response to 4NT was 5. Unable to bid 5D to locate Q, South signed off in 6 for an 11imp loss. 

Given that the player who responds to his or her partner’s 4NT is more likely to hold one key card than zero key cards, 1430 is likely to provide a much more useful response (5♣) than 0314 (5) when hearts are trumps. This is because, as in the above example, 5 can subsequently be used to discover whether partner holds Q. This is valuable not only when a grand-slam is in the offing; the presence or absence of Q of trumps in partner’s hand can also be crucial in determining whether to bid 6 or to stop in 5 on other hands. 

In fact, we ended up losing the match by more than 11 imps, so our choice of 0314 responses was less destructive for us than it was for Andrew Robson. However, it could easily have been critical. It’s time to change.


“Be ready for Board 1”


The 2018/9 Suffolk county bridge season finally came to an end on June 6 with the completion of the 40-board final of the Championship teams contested by Hanley (Rick Hanley & Peter Sutcliffe; Karen & Malcolm Pryor) and Price (David Price & Jane Moore; Jenny Price & Cleopatra Hensby). These two teams were contesting the final for the third year running, although this time Karen & Malcolm replaced Peter Gemmell and Chris Chambers in the Hanley team.

One of the biggest swings came on the first board that I played and was particularly painful. I played in 4 as South following the 9♠ lead to the Q and King. There are now nine top tricks plus a club ruff for an apparently easy game. At trick two, I played A to which all followed. I then played a second top heart, but East showed out. What would you do next?

I carelessly crossed to ♠A (West playing the eight) and led a club to the King and West’s Ace. West led back a heart which I won on table and led a club. East won the ♣Q and gave West a spade ruff. There was now an unavoidable 4th loser in one of the minor suits. What I should have done was to cash the two top diamonds, play a heart to the nine and ruff a diamond. A spade to dummy allows the last trump to be drawn to cash the final spade. Well done to Cleopatra and Jenny and who found this line at the other table for 10 imps to Price. The West and East hands were:

Not a great start, but fortunately there were still 39 boards left! As with the previous encounters between these teams, it turned out to be a very tight match with the Hanley team edging it by 56-42 imps. Congratulations must go in particular to Karen and Malcolm who also won the Winter League with the Sherer team, the Abbeygate Shield with the I&K team and the Mid Anglia Pairs. Thanks to Chris Green and Michael Sherer who played for the Hanley team in the December qualifier.


Heartless Norfolk


Imagine you are playing in a teams match against strong opposition and pick up the following hand:

♠ 9754  83  102 ♣ KQJ107

Your partner (South) opens 2♣ (strong and game forcing). Your right hand opponent bids 2  and you pass awaiting developments. Left hand opponent now bids 2 which comes back to you, your partner passing. You now double and left hand opponent  converts to 3. Partner now bids 3 . You bid 3♠ but partner bids 4. What is going on here? You confirm with West that East’s 2 bid was not alerted as artificial. What do you do? Pass/Bid 4♠/Bid 5♣? Make your decision before looking below. 

This was the dilemma facing Andrew Moore who was my partner in the recent ECL A-team match against Norfolk.  Andrew chose 5♣, but what do you do when partner now bids 5?

Wisely Andrew chose to pass this time. Here are the other three hands:

You can see that East’s (Stuart Langridge) bid of 2 was a psych. It completely misrepresented his hand in an attempt to keep us out of hearts and it nearly succeeded. When we ended up in 5 , West can make the heroic defence of leading a low diamond. A spade return now defeats the contract. What a coup that would have been, but fortunately West (Paul Darby) understandably led A.  Psychs were once a feature of the game even at international levels but are much less common these days as bidding systems have become more sophisticated. Unsuccesful psychs sometimes marked the end of previously cordial partnerships, but note that East’s psych is pretty safe because he has little chance of playing in hearts given his diamond holding. Psychs are sometimes considered a little underhand but Andrew and I both enjoyed this one. 


Better slam bidding with Marty Bergen: Consulting the Oracle


Rick Hanley Jeff Orton

Here is a hand from a recent EBU online knockout teams match, played on BBO, in which my partner and I (Jeff Orton) were playing with team-mates Bill Twedell and Michael Sherer. Fortunately we won the match, but we lost imps on this particular board.


Playing 15-17 NT and a short club, you hold: 

♠ AQJ2  A63  AJ64 ♣ Q10


Partner opens 1♣, you reply 1♠ and partner rebids 1NT (12-14). Do you bid 3NT (to play) or 4NT (quantitative invite to slam)? As I had a flat hand, and our partnership had at most a combined 32 HCPs, I bid 3NT. 


Jeff held: 

♠ 54  KJ2  Q53 ♣ AKJ85


Both K♠  and K were onside and 12 tricks rolled in. Sadly the opposition bid 6NT and we lost 11 imps. Oh dear, perhaps I was to blame for not bidding the slam?


I had recently bought two excellent books on slam bidding (“Better slam bidding with Bergen” and “Slam bidding made easier”) from the website of the great bridge writer and 10-time North American national champion Marty Bergen (

I noticed that he said on his website that he was prepared to discuss hands played on BBO for 1$ a minute. What better way to spend my recently acquired birthday cash than to email Marty and ask for his opinion? How did he rate my bidding? Within a couple of hours, I discovered the answer. He didn’t rate it at all!! Nor did he rate my partner’s bidding as being much better.


Marty Bergen

Here are the full details of Marty’s response (reproduced with his permission):

This was very bad hand evaluation by both players.

Relevant for both players.
I define any suit with 3+ honours and 4+ cards as a quality suit.
They are rare.
Any time you have a quality suit, add 1 HCP to the value of your hand

Your partner

Add 1 HCP for his quality suit

He is also blessed with a five-card suit. Add 1 point for that.

It is OK for him to consider his Q not worth 2 HCP.
If he wanted to subtract 1 point for that, it is sensible.

So, with 15-16 points, he should open 1NT.

Before the auction beganyou have 18 traditional HCP.  

add 1 HCP for quality spade suit
add 1 HCP for 3 aces.  Aces are underrated honours. Their real value is 4.5
Subtract 1 HCP for your dubious
So, your hand is worth 19 HCP before the auction began

Then, when partner opened 1, you immediately restore the 2 HCP for the Q

(Note that here, your Q was worth a lot, and even the 10 was potentially useful
s were 5-1)

So, you had 20 HCP.  When partner showed 12-14, you definitely are worth a quantitative raise to 4NT.  He obviously would accept.

Of course, after a 1NT opening, you would force to slam.

6NT is not cold, but it is a good contract, and would be helped by a lead of either unbid suit.


So there you have it. If you want to bid good slams (and games), don’t bid like I did and mechanically count up your traditional HCPs. Upgrade your hand on the basis of its quality features and take it from there.


Has Andrew Robson improved your card play?


Did you attend the excellent Masterclass teaching session by Andrew Robson that Clare Bridge club organised in November? If so, a hand from a recent Ipswich and Kesgrave club session would have provided a good test of how much you had absorbed on that occasion. 

On the hand in question (see below), South dealt and passed, as did West and North. East (myself) opened 1NT (15-17). South overcalled 2 and East/West ended up in 4 spades played by West. North led a heart to the A, K and a low heart. West ruffed high while North discarded. West now crossed to the ♠A and ♠K of spades in dummy and led a diamond to get back to hand to draw the last trump. The question is which diamond should he play from hand? Should he play the King, the Jack, or do you think it is a 50/50 guess? Make your decision before reading on.



My partner, who had not attended the masterclass, decided to play the King. Was this right? Andrew Robson urged us to count the high card points that an opponent has played and use that knowledge in conjunction with the bidding to determine the course of action. The key issue in this hand is that South had not opened the bidding and had already shown AKJ = 8 points. If he/she had also held the A, then he/she would surely have opened 1. In all probability, the A must therefore be with North. So declarer should have played the J and would have made the contract because North held the Ace but not the Queen. 

According to the traveller, only 2/5 declarers made 10 tricks in spades on a heart lead. So this hand did not fool my partner alone. If you decided on the same play as he did, you might like to know that Clare Bridge club are holding another Andrew Robson Masterclass in Lavenham on Feb 1st (see the SCBA website for details). Can you guess what my partner received for Christmas?