Daily Bridge Tip 46

There’s no right answer because it’s a question of partnership agreement and judgement.

There are three possible meanings if you decide to double
(1) Take out
(2) Penalties
(3) Optional showing some high cards

Each of these agreements works well on some hand types and badly on others so it comes down to what works best most frequently.

(1) is unambiguous in that opener is expected to take out unless she has good trumps and wishes to make a penalty pass. The problem with this agreement is that frequently partner takes out into a non making contract when 4 ♠ cannot make.

(2) is also unambiguous in that opener is expected to pass other than in exceptional circumstances. The problem with this agreement is that overcaller gets away undoubled unless you either have good trumps or a very good hand.

(3) is much more flexible and requires opener to pass unless she has a hand that is much better suited to offense than defense, and expects to make the 5 level contract. South is expected to have at least two tricks in defense to double. The problem with this agreement is that it requires good judgement from both opener and her partner.

On the hand in question, you have to pass playing (1) and (2).
Playing (3) it’s a close call between pass and double but pass is probably best because you don’t have two certain defensive tricks. Experts will be divided on whether to pass or double!

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Daily Bridge Tip 45

This is an innocuous situation which is easy to get wrong.

(a) You have to hope East holds both the Jack and the Queen. The correct line is to run the 10.

(b) The correct play is to run the 10 and if it loses to the Jack or Queen you play the Ace on the second round. If West shows out on the second round you have a marked finesse on the third round. If West follows to the second round the suit has split 3-2.
An alternative line is to cash the Ace and then play low to the 10. This allows you to pick up the suit for 3 tricks whenever East started with QJxx, but gives up a trick unnecessarily whenever East started with QJx or QJxx or QJxxx.

(c) The correct line is to run the 10.

The best line is the same in all cases
In all cases you can’t do anything if West started with QJxx or QJxxx.

DON’T CASH THE ACE AND KING UNLESS YOU KNOW THE SUIT SPLITS 3-2

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Daily Bridge Tip 44

It’s generally correct to delay the spade guess as long as possible.

The temptation is to draw trumps, cash your clubs and hope to guess right in spades.

That will work fine if trumps are 3-3 (36% of the time ) but consider what happens if they are 4-2 (48% of the time).

If they split 4-2 you’ll have no trumps left when you play a spade and you’ll lose an extra diamond trick after the ♠ A has been taken. Down one.

THE SECRET IS TO PLAY A SPADE IMMEDIATELY so that you have trumps in dummy to cope with a further diamond lead.

You still have to guess the spade position correctly, but you need to do that anyway.

Of course the same play would be necessary if dummy had ♠ KQ52

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Daily Bridge Tip 43

All you really want to know is how many spade losers partner has.

Bid 5 ♥ which asks partner the question.

The responses are:

Pass with neither first nor second round control in spades
Bid 5 ♠ with ♠ A (because 7 ♥ may be on)
Bid 5 NT with the guarded King (which allows you to play in 6 NT if necessary)
Bid 6 ♥ with a singleton spade

IF THE OPPONENTS HAVE BID ONE SUIT, A RAISE OR LEAP TO THE 5 LEVEL OF THE AGREED MAJOR ASKS YOU TO BID A SLAM WITH FIRST OR SECOND ROUND CONTROL IN THEIR SUIT.

Do not confuse this with 1 ♥ – 4 ♠ – 5 ♥ which is a competitive bid at the 5 level.

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Daily Bridge Tip 42

Slam will be touch and go because West is expected to have a balanced 16-17 count.

West has made an invitational raise and you decide you will bid slam.

DO NOT simply bid 6 NT (unless you are playing pairs and are prepared to risk 6 NT failing in order to get a better score)

At teams or IMPS it is better to explore the possibility of a suit fit because a 4-4 fit will generally play better in that suit than in notrump.

East should bid 5 ♣ the lowest 4 card suit with the intention that you both bid your suits up the way until a fit is found. If a fit isn’t found you play in 6 NT.

On this hand, after East bids 5 ♣, West simply bids 6 ♣.

This hand came up last night and as you can see 6 ♣ makes easily but 6 NT cannot make.

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Daily Bridge Tip 41

You have a choice between passing and playing at the 3 level in a minor suit.

But which minor suit?

I’m assuming you play 2 ♠ is a transfer to clubs and 2 NT is a transfer to diamonds.
If you play 2 NT is a transfer to an unspecified minor you will have to guess which suit is best!

Most players agree to break a transfer when they like the suit. This typically works well when you transfer into a major suit.

A better plan is to reverse that rule when you transfer into a minor suit.

If you play 2 NT is a transfer to diamonds then opener bids 3 ♣ if she DOES NOT LIKE diamonds and bids 3 ♦ if she LIKES diamonds.

This means that if opener bids 3 ♣ you can pass and play in the assumed better minor fit.

THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT NOT ONLY DO YOU PLAY IN YOUR BETTER FIT BUT THE STRONGER HAND ALWAYS PLAYS THE HAND.

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Daily Bridge Tip 40

One option is to finesse ♦ 10 and then finesse ♦ Q which gives you a 75% chance.

A better plan is to take the 100% line.

After ♠ K holds, play ♠ Q and discard ♦ 10.

West will win ♠ A but you can now go to dummy again with ♣ K and discard ♦ Q on the winning ♠ J.

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Daily Bridge Tip 39

You may well have agreed to show attitude when partner leads the Queen.

But is this the most useful piece of information to give partner in this situation?

Look at it from partner’s perspective.

Declarer will play the King if she holds it.

When declarer plays low from dummy she holds either Kxx or xxx

If declarer holds Kxx, this will become apparent when it is played on the first trick.

If declarer holds xxx, partner will know you hold the King from the play to the first trick

In this situation, an attitude signal is superfluous.

Give a COUNT OR SUIT PREFERENCE SIGNAL (BY AGREEMENT) rather than an attitude signal.

Of course if declarer plays the Ace from dummy, you must give an ATTITUDE SIGNAL because the position of the King has not been revealed.

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Daily Bridge Tip 38

You have a choice of bids 1 ♠ and 2 ♥

1 ♠ shows an unlimited hand, whereas 1 ♥ shows a limited hand.

When you have a WEAK hand and a choice between a limited bid and an unlimited bid, choose the limited bid.

BID 2 ♥

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A herogram

I always knew that Damien was an asset to our club but his efforts in the past few weeks deserve this herogram. Running the club in normal times must be demanding but these times require a different and untested approach to keeping us playing bridge. Damien provides clear and detailed guidance, sets up initiatives such as this website, makes videos, liaises with other bodies to establish tournaments, helps with queries…I could go on. Many thanks.