Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jennbridge: A Hand from Louise

Here is a hand from one of my old friends from Cincinnati who I'll call Louise.  Louise is part of a group of well-to-do housewives who play day-bridge.  She has exceptional skills which she doesn't tout, preferring to fit in with her friends, who range in skill from average to above-average.  They don't discuss hands nor do they pay undue attention to results.  They attend local sectionals and occasional nearby regionals for a few days, preferring to spend time with their families.  Louise will be sending in hands from time to time.

Jennifer, this may be a good hand for your blog.  I especially liked it because it was against the nastiest pair at the club and we got a top!  I opened one notrump with this hand.

♠ K9x
♣ xx

Partner transferred to spades and then bid clubs.  I jumped to 4 spades and got a spade lead.

♠ AJxxx
♣ AQxxx

♠ K9x
♣ xx

I ducked the spade to my nine and took the club finesse.  RHO won and returned a heart.  I won the ace and cashed the ace and king of diamonds, pitching a heart from the board.  When I then cashed the spade king the queen came down doubleton on my right (to the apparent dismay of Mrs. Nasty).  A club to the board followed by a club ruff set up the clubs.  Now I simply ruffed a heart to the board and drew the last trump, making 6.  Mrs. Nasty said "it always makes 6" and I, of course, didn't say anything, but I knew that Mr. Nasty's lead was a big help.  When the scores came in we saw that we had a cold top!

By the way, Jennifer, I'll bet you and your partners have some fancy agreements for an auction like this.  Should I have rebid 3 spades after partner's 3 club bid or jumped to 4 spades?  What if I like clubs?

Finally, I love your Losing Trick Count booklet and am encouraging all of my partners to order their own copies from your blog.  Makes difficult hand evaluations a breeze! 

Thanks Louise, and thanks for the great hand.  It is especially fun to get good boards off opponents like that!

We play that after a transfer and a rebid of a new suit, a jump to 4 of the transferred suit shows a fit with a minimum, (fast arrival) while a bid of 3 of the transferred suit shows a hand willing to cooperate in a slam investigation.  For example, 1NT, 2H (transfer), 2S, 3C, 3S shows a good hand with a spade fit, while a jump to 4S shows a hand without slam interest.

If you are interested in partner's second suit--in this case clubs--you cuebid.  For example, 1NT, 2H (transfer), 2S, 3C, 3H shows a hand with a heart control which would cooperate in a slam investigation in clubs.

Of course, if you're not particularly interested in either suit you simply bid 3NT.

Hope you're having a great summer and look forward to hearing from you again.  Keep an eye on the Spingold in Toronto next week--we're playing in it!

See you at the table!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jennbridge: 26 Tricks

Here are a couple of hands from the first session of the Sonoma sectional held recently in which Bob and I posted a 70% plus game!


Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
♠ 9 7 2
K 9 7
K 5
♣ A 10 6 5 2
♠ J 8
6 5
A Q J 7 2
♣ 8 7 4 3
♠ 10 6 4 3
10 8 6 4 3
♣ K Q J
♠ A K Q 5
A Q J 10 8 4 3
♣ 9
PassPassPass2 ♣
Pass2 Pass2
Pass3 Pass4 NT
Pass5 Pass6
6 by South

Bob got a heart lead and, looking for that extra trick at matchpoints, played the ace of clubs followed by a club ruff.  When the queen and jack of clubs appeared, it cost nothing to lead a heart back to the board to ruff another club.  The hoped-for club holding appeared as the king was ruffed out, making the remaining clubs on the board good.  He was then able to pitch his diamond on the club ten, and either ruff or pitch his 4th spade, and make 7.  This was worth all 25 matchpoints.

Post-game calculations revealed that the specific holding of KQJ when missing 7 cards in the suit was a little less than 2%.  Looking for that favorable card combination, despite it being a low percentage chance,  however, can make a big difference in your score!


Board 9
North Deals
None Vul
♠ A K J 10 8 7 5 2

♣ Q J 8 4
♠ Q 3
J 9 7 4 3
Q 10 7
♣ 6 5 2
♠ —
A Q 10 8 5
K 9 8 6 4 2
♣ K 9
♠ 9 6 4
K 6 2
A 5 3
♣ A 10 7 3
1 ♠2 3
Pass3 Pass4 ♠
Pass4 NTPass5
Pass6 ♠All pass
6 ♠ by North

I opened 1S, East overcalled 2D, Bob bid 3D, showing a limit raise or better, and I had to decide how to proceed.  I have a 4-loser hand and partner is showing no more than 8 losers so we are in the slam zone.  How can I find out about controls?

I decide to bid 3H, control-showing, although I am aware that partner may interpret it as a help-suit game try.  I am, of course, desperate to hear a club cuebid.  No luck--partner jumps to 4S.

Now what?  My hand is so good that I can't let the auction die without a fight.  Plus it against my principles--I figure that if you don't give these powerful hands the respect they deserve, the Card Gods may punish you with an eternal supply of 4-3-3-3 ten counts!

I bid 4NT, keycard and partner shows 2 aces.  I bank on one of them being the ace of clubs and jump to 6 spades.  I win the diamond lead, draw trump, take the club finesse and make 7.

What an easy game...:-)  Plus 1010 is worth 23.5 out of 25 matchpoints.

See you at the table!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jennbridge: Changes Brewing

Jennbridge has a new, updated look after 4 years.  Plus, the Jennbridge archives have been streamlined and much of the old material set aside for editing for future publications.

Expect some new contributors! While on a recent visit to the midwest to visit family, I stopped in at my old bridge club in Cincinnati and played on a team with some friends. They were interested in my Losing Trick Count booklet as well as this blog and agreed to send me hands from time to time. As these are interesting characters, as well as fine players, this should be fun.

We will be hearing from, among others, Jack, the local club professional, a brilliant player and my first teacher. When I first made it to the Cincinnati bridge club in the late 80's after some years of social bridge, I was quickly shuttled to Jack for private playing lessons to get my game in shape, thus being spared agonizing years of mediocre play. Jack doesn't have much sympathy or patience with the average local players and can be found at the racetrack when not at the bridge club. 

On a final note, I am collecting questions on the Losing Trick Count booklet and will publish FAQ in due course.  Also, I'll be giving a free question and answer session at the Bridge Gallery.  Send in your questions and stay tuned.

See you at the table!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jennbridge: Bridge World Letter

The Bridge World has published a letter of mine in the July issue and titled it Temporarily a Trump Squeeze.  It pertains to a hand I wrote up in my blog as  They have given me permission to reprint it here.

Temporarily a Trump Squeeze
To The Editor:
As South, playing in three spades, I had lost three tricks, was on lead, and had a complete distributional count here:

♠ J 8

♣ K J 3
♠ —

J 6 3
♣ ? ? ?
♠ Q
J 7 4

♣ ? ?
♠ 5

A 10
♣ A 10 9

After I cashed the club ace-king and the queen failed to drop, I led a trump, and West was squeezed on the next trick.   
Jennifer Jones  Santa Rosa, CA

This apparently-uncommon form of squeeze (sometimes necessary; leading a trump would fail if there were no club tenace) matches the current usual definition of "trump squeeze", which is:  "a squeeze in which the ability to ruff after the squeeze is consummated is essential", for North must be able to ruff after West unguards a minor.  Bridge lexicography is one tough game--almost as tough as bridge itself!  We are inserting "in a menace suit"  after "ruff" in our definition in the Glossary at  So today this is a stepping-stone trump squeeze, but tomorrow it will be a fratricidal simple squeeze.

I agree--I'd rather try to execute the play than handle the lexicography!  For a complete description of the hand see my original blog entry:

For more information on The Bridge World, go to:

See you at the table!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jennbridge: Use It or Lose It

Recently I picked up, in first seat with both vulnerable:

♠ x
♣ AT98

I opened 1 Diamond.  LHO passed, Jenn, my partner, bid 1 Spade, and RHO intervened with 2 Hearts.  The hand isn't strong enough to rebid 3 Clubs or 2NT, so I passed.  Jenn now reopened with a double and I bid 3 clubs.  She then cue bid 3 Hearts, and I bid the obvious 3NT.  LHO led a high spot card in hearts, and I looked at:

♠ A Q x x
A 10 x
♣ Q J x x x
♠ x
K 10 x
K Q J x x
♣ A 10 9 8
Pass1 ♠2 Pass
PassDblPass3 ♣
Pass3 Pass3 NT
3 NT by South

Looking at the two hands, I was somewhat sorry that we didn't get to 6 Clubs, which requires the same club finesse to make as does 3NT. (You only have 8 winners in no-trump without more than 1 club trick).  However, the combined hands aren't that strong in high cards, so I just tried to do my best in 3NT.  I played dummy's heart, and RHO played the jack, which I won with the king.  I am now making either at least 12 tricks, if the club king is onside, or going down.  So I went to the board in diamonds and took the club finesse (I played the queen, so if it won, I could repeat it easily).  RHO had Kxx of clubs, so I ran the clubs, then the diamonds.  As I played all these winners, RHO was getting more and more uncomfortable.  When I took my last diamond at trick 11, this was the position:

♠ A Q x

♣ —
♠ x x x

♣ —
♠ K x

♣ —
♠ x
♣ —

I played a low spade on the last diamond, and RHO essentially conceded, pitching a spade and making it obvious that she had the king and was squeezed.  (If she pitches the ace of hearts instead, my 10 is good.) So I made seven for a great matchpoint score. 

So the moral of this story is, sometimes you have to use it (an ace) or you lose it, even in no-trump. 

Good luck!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jennbridge: Bidding Strong Hands

There was a fair amount of discussion after the game Friday on the best way to bid this strong hand (board 19).  Bob, my partner, opened 2 clubs and I held the following:

♠  x
♥  AJ1098x
 ♦  AJxxx
 ♣ x

We generally bid 2 diamonds "waiting" in response to 2 clubs, reserving the cheapest 3-level bid for the rare "second negative" bid.  If we have a suit we want to tell partner about (5-card suit with 2 of the top 3 honors, or 6-card suit with 3 of the top 5, for example) we go ahead and bid it.  Therefore, I bid 2H.

Partner now bid 2S and I showed my second suit, 3D.  Pard now bid 3NT.  Should I carry on, and if so, how?

I decided that with two aces and two good 5 card suits, I was worth another call opposite a 2 club opener, so I bid 4NT, quantitative.  Pard now jumped to 6NT and got a club lead.

♠  x
♥  AJ1098x
 ♦  AJxxx
 ♣ x

♠  AKQxx
♥  Q
 ♦  Kx
 ♣ AKJxx

The play was not difficult.  He overtook the queen of hearts with the ace and knocked out the heart king.  He now had 3C, 2D, 3S and 4 heart tricks.

We have never adopted the bid of 2H showing a double negative and 2N showing hearts for several reasons:
  • 2D waiting works quite well, is still used by many top pairs, and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"!
  • 2H as a second negative comes up rarely and takes away the opportunity to bid hearts naturally.  (It also requires firm follow-up agreements, which, in my experience, many pairs don't have.)
  • 2NT showing hearts is the worst part of it as it "wrong-sides" the notrump, takes up a lot of valuable space and requires even more elaborate follow-up agreements.
When possible, keep things simple.

See you at the table!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jennbridge: A Bidding Challenge

Playing matchpoints, both vulnerable, RHO passes and you hold:

♠  A
♥  T875432

 ♦  64
 ♣ QJ3

Do you bid or pass?  If you bid, what do you  bid?

I prefer my preempts to be sound in front of an unpassed partner, particularly in second seat.  So I passed.  LHO passed, and partner, in fourth seat, opens 2NT!  Now what?  Do you put partner into 4 hearts or try for slam?  If you want to try for slam, how would you do it?

I took the low road and made a Texas transfer of 4 Diamonds and passed partner's 4 Heart reply.  The hand has 7 losers, and I didn't see a good way to describe this hand to partner.  There are two possible ways to try for slam:  (1) transfer with 3 Diamonds, and raise partner's 3 Heart rebid to 4 Hearts; (2) make a Texas transfer of 4 Diamonds, then over partner's 4 Hearts, cue bid 4 Spades.  (1) probably wouldn't have worked, but (2) would have at least gotten partner interested, as she held

♠  J85
♥  AKJ

♣ AK83

After an unspecified slam try, it would be hard  to move toward slam because of the 3 quick spade losers.  However, after partner makes a Texas transfer followed by a cuebid of 4 Spades, I would bid slam with these great hearts and outside controls.

So did you come up with the winning sequence?  If you look at the combined hands, you will see that all it takes to make a GRAND slam is for LHO to not hold all three missing hearts, about an 85% chance.  Six hearts is a lock.  Yet out of 8 pairs, only one got as far as 6 Hearts.  I  think that this is a sufficiently difficult problem for consideration in Bridge World's Challenge the Champs, so I submitted it. 

Good luck!