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!

Much Improved


3rd May – Board 13. Game All. Dealer North.
A lot of hands improve considerably as the auction continues, often when a double fit comes to light.

North:
S J 7 5 4 2
H A 10 3
D 5
C A K 8 4

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

East:
S A K 8 3
H K Q 8 2
D J 10 3 2
C 6

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


  West
 North
  East
  South
    
    1S
    No
    2C
     No
    3C
    No

    4S
    End





There is no doubt that North has at least a five-card spade suit in the auction shown because if he was 4-4 in the blacks he would have to be 3-2 in the other suits and would have opened, or rebid, in no-trumps. (Remember you never open 1S with a triple four, one hand.) All this means that South has a clear-cut raise to game and even with the bad break coming to ten tricks should not prove too difficult a task.

From The Book


26th April – Board 11. Love All. Dealer South.
‘Book’ hands seldom come up but this deal from Thursday night was an exception.

North:
S Q J 8 7
H K J 2
D 10
C K Q 10 7 5

West:
S A
H A Q 5 4
D K 8 7 2
C J 4 3 2

East:
S 2
H 10 9 3
D A Q J 6 5 4 3
C A 8

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


  West
 North
  East
  South
    
   
   
    3S
     Dbl
    4S
    5D

    End


With both heart honours in the North hand 5D looks set to fail with the loss of two hearts and a club but on the likely spade lead declarer has a chance to shine by playing ace and another club early. With careful management he can contrive to ruff both remaining clubs after drawing trumps and simply run the ten of hearts. North can win but has to either give a ruff and discard or lead up to the heart tenace.