Interesting Hands
 
 
  The choice is yours

Hand 18 Wed 15 Jan 2019

What is the best contract to be in?

(3♣ is fouth suit forcing)

South's shape sounds like5-4-3-1 or possibly 5-4-2-2.
Either way S doesn't have a club stop.

11 pairs played in 3NT with only 4 making.  1 pair somehow reached 6NT.

I chose 4♠ which, given I've got two spade honours, means a 5-2 spade fit which hopefully should play well.

As indeed it does.

I don't know if some North's simply bid 3NT rather than 3♣ .

Last updated : 2nd Jul 2019 11:27 BST
  What is the best line?

Hand 13 Tue eve 6 Nov 2018

West leads the 8♠ .
Plan the play.

So what did you play from dummy at trick 1?

What actually happened.
Dummy played low as did East. Declarer won with the J♠ .
Whatever declarer now does he will be at least one off.  He tried to set up a club ruff but West won and led a spade, thus clearing the suit.
The contract is now minus 2.

At trck 1 dummy needs to cover the 8♠ . The 10 is the obvious card but the K works just as well.
The crucial point is the need to protect declarer's trump holding by forcing East either to win the trick or allow dummy to win it.

After this, with both red suit fimesses working, you'll emerge with +1 rather than -2.

Last updated : 10th Jun 2019 17:27 BST
  Which finesse or no finesse?

Hand 19 Tue eve 25 Sep 2018

You, West are in 6NT and receive the lead of the 8♣ on which S plays the 10♣ .
You cash the A♠ . Both follow low and then play five rounds of diamonds.
N plays 2 diamonds, 2 clubs and 1 heart.
S plays 3 diamonds and 2 spades (the nine and ten).

This leaves 

West                                    East
♠ KJ                                      ♠ 6
 J                                          AK95
 -                                          -
♣ KQ4                                 ♣ 7

What do you think each opponent holds?
How do you play now?

S almost cetainly has 3 clubs and 3 hearts left.
N therefore has 3 spades to the Q and 3 hearts.

                         North
                       ♠ Q87
                        Q87

West                                    East
♠ KJ                                      ♠ 6
♥ J                                         ♥ AK95
♦ -                                         ♦ -
♣ KQ4                                 ♣ 7

                           South
                         1032
                        ♣ J52

So, cash two club tricks and N must discard a spade and a heart.
Now cash the K♠ and S is squeezed and has to discard a heart.
Finally you can lead to the AK knowing the Q will drop and the 9 will be your thirteenth trick.

A satisfying double squeeze and that vital overtrick.

Last updated : 17th May 2019 16:36 BST
  Is something not quite right?


You are West.
The 1NT is announced as 15-17.
3  is alerted but 3♣  was not.
East asks South the reason for the alert who responds that it's 5 card puppet stayman.  No further clarification of this convention is sought.  East then asks North what he understood by the the 3♣ and receives the reply that he took it to be natural.

Partner leads the Q♣ .  Declarer wins with the King and leads the Q♠ .

What do you do?  (Don't spend too long on this because you may have already missed the point!)

1 The play is irrelevant.  Have you and/or your partner paid attention to the bidding and thought to call the director?

2. To start with I'll assume you have a knowledge of 5 card puppet stayman.  Hence 3♣ asked N to describe his hand.  3 showed at least one four card major.
You see that South has both four card majors and must therefore know they have a four card fit in a major.  Hence South should bid 3♠ which shows a 4 card heart suit (but doesn't deny 4 spades).
N would bid 3NT to deny a 4 card heart suit.  From N's 3 bid S knows N must therefore have a 4 card spade suit and bids 4♠ .

Except that South passed 3NT.  Some mistake surely?

I hope you have read Gordon Rainsford's article on page 58 of the October 2018 edition of the English Bridge magazine entitled "Unauthorised Information".  If you haven't, I strongly recommend it.

Here, South has taken advantage of the unauthorised information that North has forgotten their system (or as was the actual case N/S hadn't agreed that 5 card puppet stayman applied in this auction).  Either way, S should have ploughed on beyond 3NT to 4♠ .
Both 3NT and 4♠ should make 10 tricks so the director should have adjusted the score from +430 to +420.

In case you think I've got this wrong, I've checked the hand and my reasoning with Gordon Rainsford who has agreed with it.

3. I leave you to think about the ethics of what would have happened if on seeing the lack of an alert by North to South's 3♣ bid, South hadn't alerted and simply bid 3NT.

4. Finally, if an opponent quotes a name of a conventional system they're using and you don't understand what it means, don't be afraid to ask for details.

Last updated : 22nd Apr 2019 11:44 BST
  It's only One Heart but don't go to sleep

Hand 8, Wed aft 27 March 2019.

N leads 10 . Plan the defence.

What is partner's diamond holding?

Almost certainly a doubleton. In which case declarer has KJx.
It looks likely N has a heart honour and so declarer is likely to take a trump finesse.
If so, partner will win and can lead his last diamond.

So, did you  duck the first trick?
If you did, you'll hold 1 to seven tricks for a good score.
If you didn't, W will make an overtrick and you'll get a bad score (because 1NT by W just makes).

Last updated : 27th Mar 2019 20:28 GMT
  Slams and leads

Hand 16 Wed aft 26 Sep 2018

The bidding shown wasn't quite what happened at my table but would have been plausible.

1. What do you lead?
2. If 6 dbled had been the contract, what would you have led?

If you've chosen the same card, why?
If you've chosen a different card, why?

The double of 6 must be Lightner asking for an unusual lead.
Not doubling 6 doesn't want an unusual lead.

So, against 6 you should lead a spade.  Your reasoning should be that against 6 partner wanted a club lead so as to ruff it but against 6 she doesn't.  The bidding suggests a 4-4 diamond fit and a 5-3 heart fit.  If this is the case then partner must have five hearts and will come to a natural trump trick and try as declarer might, he must either lose a trump and a spade or two trump tricks. If you lead a club, declarer should duck in dummy and shouldn't have much difficulty in making 12 tricks.

At my table the bidding was as shown up to and including East's 6 .  S passed and N bid 6♠ which was doubled and went five off.

Last updated : 22nd Mar 2019 16:51 GMT
  Consider your discards

Hand 1 Wed aft 11 July 2018.

You lead the 2♠ to the Jack, 3 and declarer's King.
Declarer now cashes the A and then leads the 10 overtaken in dummy, partner discarding the 5♠ .
Diamonds are now run.  Partner discards three more spades, declarer one heart and two clubs before it's your turn to make your first discard.
You will have to make two discards.  What will they be?

If partner can obtain the lead you want to keep all your spades.
If you don't think this is likely then should you hold onto your clubs or at least three of them in case partner has the K or Q?

I sugeest all this is irrelevant.  Declarer has bid hearts and is virtually certain to have the Ace and highly likely to hold the Jack.
The one card you mustn't discard is the 10 .

If you do, declarer will lay down dummy's A , note you discard on it and take the now marked heart finesse.
If instead you follow to the first round of hearts, declarer will now regard a heart finesse as risky knowing that if it loses, you will cash the A♠ and whatever spades you have left.

The 10 may be of no use to you but it sure is of use to your partnership.

Last updated : 27th Feb 2019 22:18 GMT
  A dubious overcall

Hand 12 Wed aft 5 Dec 2018.

The previous deal shown in this web page occurred very shortly before this one.  I was therefore still recovering from one the most resounding bottoms of my career.  You might wish to refresh your memory by having a quick look at "Bridge disaster?" Please don't open all four hands of this deal until you have read what follows.

I wasn't enamoured by my overcall of 1 heart.  I didn't like the prospect of overcalling 2NT (to show the two lower ranking unbid suits) given the vulnerability; so having had a slight hesitation I thought I'd be best to bid.  By the time my next turn to bid arrived I felt the situation was already out of control and we were due for another bad score.  You can probably imagine I felt like crawling under the table when we reached 6 hearts and my complete lack of surprise at the double.  Would partner ever play with me again?

Now look at the hands. Twelve tricks were a doddle. I could even have redoubled as this could hardly have been SOS!  Partner was somewhat surprised at me overcalling 1 heart but didn't show it.

I leave you to decide whether our top was deserved or undeserved.
 

Last updated : 7th Feb 2019 21:27 GMT
  Bridge disaster? Well certainly not a success

Hand 8 Wed aft 5 Dec 2018

I doubt you have ever seen such an auction before and probably won't again.  I was North.
To put it into context, before the round started N & S had discussed the use of the redouble and had agreed that it would always be for takeout.

I have to say that I don't agree with East's double but it led to a spectacular success.
When the bidding came round to me I was all set to bid 2 hearts but thought we might be missing a 4-4 spade fit; hence my redouble.
I managed not to drop my cards when S passed and we all had a good laugh at the end of the hand.

The moral of the story (if there is one)?
When you agree that all redoubles are for takeout, remember the additional proviso that this only applies when you have a weak hand.  If you're known to have a strong hand - as here- then it means you mean it!

On the following Sunday I had a heart attack.  Shortly afterwards, partner e-mailed me asking if this hand had been the cause.  It hadn't occurred to me that bridge could have such a profound consequence.

Last updated : 22nd Jan 2019 11:15 GMT
  Listening to the bidding

Hand 8 Tue eve 3 July 2018

1. What do you lead with the bidding shown - the 1NT showed 12-14 pts.

2. If the bidding had been  
   W        N         E         S
   P         1NT     P          2S
   P          3H      P          3NT

what would you lead?  Here 1NT = 10-12 pts.  2S is the Baron convention where N would bid 2NT with a minimum hand else his lowest four card suit.

1. Most tables would have had this bidding and led their fouth highest spade.
Declarer now rapidly cashes 10 tricks.

2. Here East paused for thought and led the 2♣ reasoning that declarer couldn't have a four card club suit but could still have a four card spade suit.
The defence took the first five tricks.

Last updated : 1st Jan 2019 18:33 GMT
  A Bluff?

Hand 10 Tue eve 3 July 2018

The 1NT rebid showed 12-16 pts.

East led the 2♠ , West the 7 and you win with the 10.
Plan the play.
 

You would like to lead from dummy to take the diamond finesse and lead towards your KQ of hearts.  Unfortunately you don't have sufficient entries and using your A♣ early on doesn't look the brightest of ideas. To concentrate your mind, your opponents are strong players.
You know E has four spades to the AJ but who has the nine?

What follows will not accord with the line recommended by the Play it Again feature as it cannot be regarded as scientific but deals with the impression you give to defenders. 
When a declarer attacks a suit it means he's looking to set up tricks in that suit, hence defenders should lead another suit.
When defending with dummy on your right, you look at dummy's weakness and expect to lead that suit unless there's a very good reason not to.

Here, declarer bore these two adages in mind and led a low club at trick two, covered East's 5 with his 8 and W won.  After a long think W led the 7 .  Put yourself in West's place; what would you have done?

This line of play could have gone horribly wrong if West had had lots of clubs but it proved to be worth trying.

When the J won, declarer led the K♠ and was pleased to see the 9♠ appear from East.  This play couldn't really lose even if the nine hadn't appeared.
After that the play went - E took his A♠ and led a diamond won by declarer. A spade from declarer taking the finesse and cashing the fourth spade on which E discarded two hearts.  a heart from dummy taken by East's Ace.  East could have salvaged one trick now by leading a club to remove dummy's entry but instead chose to lead a diamond. Declarer now made the rest for the result of 1NT + 3.

Last updated : 2nd Dec 2018 15:22 GMT
  Leading against a pre-empt

Hand 10 Mon eve 11 June 2018

So, after this short auction, what do you lead?

Five Easts played in 5♣ .  Two Souths led the Q and three led the 10 .

With this type of auction, i you have an Ace and in the absence of any other information such as a bid from partner, it's usually best to lead it.
If you don't you might never make it.
Here East will make 13 tricks if you don't.

Last updated : 3rd Nov 2018 17:32 GMT
  Should you play with the odds?

Board 18 Tue eve 15 May 2018.

S leads the 4 . You win in dummy and lead the club.  N plays the 3♣ .  How do you play and why?

I am obliged to one of my readers for this suggestion as to how you should play and why.
His reasoning is that everyone will at least be in 5♣ and many are likely to be playing in 6♣ .
6♣ is cold whether you take the finesse or not.  Hence you cannot beat these pairs whatever you do.
Those declarers in 5♣ will most likely play with the odds and take the finesse. (Note: if N has all three clubs you will lose one club trick whatever you do) If you do likewise you can expect to get a joint bottom.  So, by playing the Ace you'll either get a complete bottom if the finesse was the correct play, or something like an average if, you drop a singleton King.

I leave you to decide.

Finally, would you have raised to 6♣ with West's hand?

Last updated : 15th Oct 2018 17:23 BST