Too Risky


24th May – Board 7. Game All. Dealer South.
It would be tempting for East to protect with 2H in the pass out position on the hand shown below but playing pairs and with the wrong vulnerability it is perhaps a little too risky.

North:
S Q 8 5
H 9 8
D A J 9 8 4
C Q 6 4

West:
S K 7 6 3
H 10 2
D Q 10 5
C 9 7 5 2

East:
S A J 10
H K 6 5 4 3
D K 7
C K 10 3

South:
S 9 4 2
H A Q J 7
D 6 3 2
C A J 8


  West
 North
  East
  South
    
   
   
    1NT
     End
   
   
   


South will likely make nine tricks in 1NT on a club lead assuming he plays a diamond to the nine at trick two but just eight on a spade lead. (It is hard to say which is the best lead for West.) East might consider bidding 2H but with such poor impletion in his suit it doesn’t look right. That bid would pass round to North who should double, not for penalties but to show he is alive and that his side has the balance of the points. South would pass and collect 500 but even one down is rewarded with 200 points, just about the worse thing that can happen playing pairs when neither side has the values for game.

Too Ghastly


24th May – Board 23. Game All. Dealer South.
One of the hardest things in bridge is to know when a bid is forcing or not and here it was imperative that East/West were on the same wavelength.

North:
S K 10 9 7 6 4
H A 6 5
D 10
C Q J 3

West:
S Q J 5
H K 7 4 3 2
D A 9 4
C K 10

East:
S A 2
H none
D K Q 8 7 5 2
C A 9 8 6 2

South:
S 8 3
H Q J 10 9 8
D J 6 3
C 7 5 4


  West
 North
  East
  South
    
   
   
    No
    1NT
     2S
    3D
    No
    3NT
     No
    4C
    No
     5D
     No
    6D
   End


3D in this auction is absolutely forcing and cannot be passed. (Which is why Lebensohl was invented!) Note also that 1NT is a better bid than 1H on those West cards being a better overall description of the hand, with the thought of having to rebid the suit after a 2C response being too ghastly for words. Similarly 4C is forcing because you never remove a game contract into a partscore! 5D shows positive support and overall liking of the hand leaving East in no doubt to bid on to the slam. As it happens all thirteen tricks are available with the minor suits being well behaved.

Not A Fan


17th May – Board 4. Game All. Dealer West.
I’m not a fan of traditional Benji Acol because the ‘big’ bid of 2D quite often gets the auction to start at an awkward level. The hand below is a case in point.

North:
S 10 6 3
H Q 5
D 10 8 6 5 2
C 10 9 2

West:
S K Q 8 7
H A K J 10 2
D A K Q
C 6

East:
S 5 2
H 7 4
D J 9 4 3
C A J 8 7 5

South:
S A J 9 4
H 9 8 6 3              
D 7
C K Q 4 3


  West
 North
  East
  South
     2D
    No
    2H
    No
     3H
    No
    ???




See what I mean? If East now bids 4C the auction is at the 4-level without any fit forthcoming and the alternative of 3NT is just a leap in the dark. Much better to play the old traditional way when the bidding would go 2C-2D-2H-3C-3S-3NT. Although both 3NT and 4H make the former is by far the easier and on a normal low diamond lead declarer will plonk down the two top hearts and come to an easy eleven tricks.

No Entry


17th May – Board 7. Game All. Dealer South.
Bridge can be terribly frustrating at times – nearly all the time! -  as those sitting East/West would have realised on the hand shown below.

North:
S A Q 9 6 3
H 5 3
D 6 2
C A K 10 6

West:
S J
H A
D K Q J 10 9 8 5
C Q 9 8 4

East:
S 10 7 4 3
H K Q J 10 8 7
D A
C 5 3

South:
S K 8 5
H 9 6 4 2              
D 7 4 3
C J 7 2


  West
 North
  East
  South
     1D
    1S
    2H
    2S
     3D
    No
    4H

    No
   5D/End





When I watched this hand my gut instinct would have been to pass 4H but in the event neither of the red suit games stood a chance of making due to a similar problem – the singleton red ace blocking the route to the other hand and in any event 5D has three top losers. In practice both games should fail by three tricks. The highest contract that can be made is 2D by East/West but there is not one chance in a million that that would ever happen.

The Name Of The Game


3rd May – Board 4. Game All. Dealer West.
Playing pairs is a completely different proposition from team’s play. When playing pairs garnering as many tricks as possible is the name of the game and makes all the difference between a top and a bottom. Take the following hand from last Thursday:

North:
S Q 10 9 7 6
H A 10 5 4
D K 10 8 5
C none

West:
S K 4
H 9 8 2
D J 9 4
C K Q J 7 6

East:
S A 8 5 2
H J 3
D 7 6 2
C A 9 5 2

South:
S J 3
H K Q 7 6              
D A Q 3
C 10 8 4 3


  West
 North
  East
  South
     No
    No
    No
   1NT
     No
    2C
    No

    2H
    End





North is quite right to use Stayman and not just transfer to spades in case a 4-4 fit comes to light, much preferable to 5-3. West will undoubtedly lead a top club, ruffed in dummy, but declarer must not now draw trumps and set up the spades. That will result in a loss of two spades and two clubs and although the contract makes it will not be nearly good enough. Before drawing trumps attack the long side suit first, retaining trumps in dummy to deal with any further club leads. Nine tricks, a bottom, will transform into eleven tricks, a top!