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N-S vul, at IMPs scoring you hold as South: ♠K854 AK74 KQ32 ♣J


W      N       E       S

1♣     P       1     Dbl   

P       1♠      2♣     ?

What do you bid?



Here is another example of opponents not heeding the vulnerability, and bidding accordingly. Yes, South has a nice 15 HCP hand with a singleton. However 4-4-4-1 hands are quite often over-valued, and play relatively poorly.


Although 3♠ seems right on values, it went for -500 when West doubled. This is despite partner holding four spades (he could have had 3-2-3-5 shape, with dealer bidding 4-3-3-3) and an ace!!


2♠ was plenty. Opposite a potential zero counting, a free 2♠, vulnerable against not, shows a very good hand, around a strong no-trump range. South will likely compete with 3♣ If West has a little better hand he can compete to 3♠ and now you can raise to four. The full deal:



♠ J932
♥ 1085
♦ A974
♣ 92

♠ AQ76
♥ 3
♦ 65
♣ AQ7654

Bridge deal

♠ 10
♥ QJ962
♦ J108
♣ K1083


♠ K854
♥ AK74
♦ KQ32
♣ J


After a heart lead to the 9 and A, declarer reasonably tried a spade to the 9 and 10. After that he could not avoid losing three more trumps a club, and a hearts for +500 for E-W.


Lessons to Learn


1)    A bid by partner red vs white shows solid values. A raise to 2xSx on this deal with the unfavourable vulnerability shows a hand with the strength consistent with South’s actual holding.


2)    Remember North was forced to bid by your takeout double.


3)    Although at first glance West seems to have made an agtressive double. However, he has very good defensive hand. On repeated club leads he can expect declare to lose control and either score extra club tricks or all four of his trumps.



N-S vul, IMPs, as South you hold: ♠AKQ1062 KJ762 A ♣5











What do you bid?

Here is a hand from the April 2014 Winnipeg Regional where my opponent was unsure as to what was the best course of action. There are four ‘reasonable choices’:


1)    Double

2)    3♠

3)    4

4)    4♠.


The actual West chose double - not the best choice. The reason is that partner will play you for a more balanced hand, and may jump in clubs expecting you to have at least three of them. North may even pass the double with a bad hand and Jxxxx in diamonds.

Three spades is too conservative. This could get passed out when you have a slam in hearts. For example North would pass with: ♠x Qxxx Axxx ♣xxxx, and a cold 6xHx is missed.


The next choice is 4. This makes sure you get to game, but loses hearts as a potential trump suit. An advantage of this bid is that it brings slam into the picture (See Hand 75).


The final choice 4, also brings slam into the picture and specifically shows at least five cards in each major with a strong hand. The more distribution, the less high cards are needed for this call. I think this is the bid most players would make, and I am with the majority.


However there is a key element missing in this analysis. You must ask yourself the question, ‘What will I do after partner’s response to any of these choices?’ After a double and a 3NT bid by partner I will bid 4 spades. Over a major response I will cue bid 4 clubs.

Over a raise of 3 spade I will ask for key cards. If partner bids 3NT I will bid 5xHx, trying to catch up.


Over any bid over my 4 spade call I will likely cue bid clubs in case there is a grand, on the way to 6 spade.


Finally over 4 diamonds. The important auction is if partner bids 4 hearts. The correct rebid by you is 4 spades. This implies a much better spade suit than hearts, and is a mild slam try, otherwise you would have passed 4 hearts, or started with 3 spades. The full deal:





   Bridge deal






Lessons to Learn


1)    Even after you find a good bid, explore if there is a better one available.


2)    A cue bid of 4 diamonds does not promise a diamond control.


3)    Analyze what partner may bid, and what you will do then. This process may help you detect flaws in your original plan, and come up with an improved choice.


4)    Notice this potential auction I addressed over a 4xSx initial call:














5xCx is a cue bid in support of spades. The important lesson here is if partner jumps to game in a suit, a new suit at the five level cannot be natural to find a better place, as the 4 hearts has promised a self-sufficient suit. So 5 clubs on this auction is a slam try with 1st round control in clubs.



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Intended audience: Intermediate and up



E-W vul, matchpoints, as south you hold: ♠1093 ♥- ♦AJ84 ♣A107642


West     North    East     South

-        1♠      2♦        ?



What do you bid?



The question you need to answer is whether to penalize the opponents in 2♦, or bid game or maybe slam with a fit for partner’s suit and three first round controls.


In favour of doubling (playing negatives doubles you pass, and your dependable partner will reopen with a double):


·        They are vulnerable

·        You are not

·        You have four tricks in your own hand.



On the other hand:


·        You have great slam potential if partner fits clubs.

·        There is a better chance that partner has some clubs (or longer spades) as you expect him to have diamond shortage.


What do you do?


The Last Question (But not the least)


There is an extremely important question you must ask yourself – where are the hearts?


Yes you are missing 13 of them!!West could have 7 or more, as he hasn’t had a chance to bid, but most likely they are split between West and North. Partner rates to have a two suiter.


True, he could be something like 5-4-1-3 and slam will be a very good chance against even a minimum opening. But the right bid is to pass for penalties. You should get at least +500. This is better than +480, and even if slam makes, few if any will bid at the local duplicate game.



Here is the full deal (hands rotated):


♠A K J 8 2 

♥A 9 6 4

♦7 5  

♣9 8


♠Q 6 5                                            ♠ 7 4  

♥Q J 10 3 2                                     ♥ K 8 7 5

♦3 2                                               ♦ K Q 10 9 6    

♣J 5 3                                            ♣ K Q


♠10 9 3


♦A J 8 4 

♣A 10 7 6 4 2


I did not go for penalties and bid 3♣ instead, and we ended up in 4♠. Although easily makeable, partner had a bit of blind spot at trick one and went down. You are the J♣ away from making 6♣, but even if you had this card, it is tough to get to the minor suit slam. 2♦goes for 800, and would have been a top.








Intended audience: Intermediate and up


N-S vul, IMPs, as south you hold: ♠J10 A10 KQ972 ♣AKQ7. The auction:























What do you bid?



I think this hand is a good example of bidding constructively, trying to decide how high to bid.


South’s first double shows a good opening bid. His 3 shows a hand simply too good to bid 2. This hand is close to a minimum for this sequence. Your partner has come to life with a cue bid. What does he have?


First he has diamond support. Otherwise he would either pass, bid a new suit or bid 3NT. What about values? He probably has one sure trick. Does three spades mean anything? True he could have simply bid 4, but he probably wanted to keep 3NT open in case you have a stopper. What should you bid? 4. This will be plenty high enough. Partner was catering to you having one of the following hands:


♠Ax Kx KQJxxx ♣AKx or

♠x A10 KQ9872 ♣AKQ7


Partner actually held ♠xx J9xx Axx ♣109xx and passed 4, which made on the nose.



Lessons to Learn


1. Remember to make decisions in the context of the auction. Here you are a minimum for your double followed by three diamond approach, which is why four diamonds is right.


2. Another way to look at it is that North has a maximum, considering his passes and two bidding opponents. His 3 spades, therefore, is a very good bid recognizing this point.



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Intended audience: Intermediate and up



Neither vul, matchpoints, as south you hold: ♠K1032QJ1094 4 ♣QJ3


West     North    East     South

1♠       -        1NT        P

2      P        2♠          P

2NT    P       3          ?



What do you bid?

Don’t double!! This is what the actual south did last night in an online game. First, if they play 3NT you will be on lead. Secondly, the opponents are about to bid 4! How do you know?


West has 5-2-4-2 shape with 17-18 HCPs. Why? First they have that number of points as they are inviting game knowing east has at most 9 (or a bad 10)HCPs. You know their shape as they have read my books and they know to pattern out with either 5-1-4-3 or 5-3-4-1 shape.


East has accepted the game invitation, showing hearts, at least five good ones, and giving West a chance to pick the final contract.



Here is the full deal (hands rotated):


♠Q 6 


A 10 8 6 5 3  

♣10 8 6 4


♠A J 8 7 4                                                  ♠ 9 4

K 5                                                           A 8 7 6 2

K Q J 3                                                     9 7       

♣K 4                                                          ♣ A J 10 6


♠K 10 3 2

Q J 10 9 4

♣Q J 3


You lead a heart and luckily nip 3 one trick, risking -730. Had you passed West would have bid 4.



Lessons to Learn


1.Don’t double a part score when the opponents are in a game forcing auction.


2.This is one of the rare times that it is best to lead a high trump and not a singleton.


3.Make sure you understand the opponents’ auction.


4.Don’t make a lead directing double when you are most likely going to be on lead. All you are doing is helping the future declarer use this information to play the hand better.



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Both vul, IMPs at IMPs scoring you hold as south: ♠A K93 AK106 ♣AK1063




What do you open?




NOTE:Just to let you know my new book, The Right Bid at the Right Time is has been released and is available for purchase.


Here is a hand from a recent match between two tops teams in the Canadian Online Teams Championship. Sitting South was a so-called expert. He decided to open 2NT.


Yes, this is close to the right point count. Yes, this simplifies the auction. Yes, this is one of the worse bids I have seen from a high caliber player.


Yes, that is unfortunately true. Time and time again I see players showing notrump shape with singletons. (Haven’t seen it with a void yet!) This is lazy bidding. First your auction is easier, but inaccurate. Natural bidding will be beat notrump auctions 9 times out of 10. Another reason players do this is that they can all but guarantee they will be declarer. What that has to do with Partnership Bridge, I am not sure.


The best bid is 1♣. One bids are up to 21 HCPs. That is what you have. Having said that the only reason I open 1♣ is that your suits are the minors, which are notorious difficult to describe when you have to start at the two level. Better to open 1♣ and make a one round force with 2♦. You can still force to game.


This hand is VERY good. Much better than your high card will indicate. Much better than a 2NT opener. Give partner ♠xxxx ♥Qx ♦Qxxxx ♣xx and 6♣ is an excellent contract.


Back to what happened at the table? South got his just desserts in my view. The full deal:




♠ Q108764
♥ A65
♦ 53
♣ Q2

♠ KJ932
♥ QJ10
♦ 82
♣ J94

Bridge deal

♠ 5
♥ 8742
♦ QJ974
♣ 875


♠ A
♥ K93
♦ AK106
♣ AK1063



North transferred into 4♠, down one when declarer’s play matched his bidding.




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