Saturday, December 21, 2019

When Stuck, Make the "Least Bad" Bid + A Nondescript 9 Pt. Hand has Exciting Elements

It often happens that you don't have a good bid available; nothing describes your hand accurately. You are either too strong or too weak, or don't have the right distribution, etc., etc. In that case you may be forced to choose the best of several bad options.  Here is an example:

I held this hand recently in a club pair game.

                        ♠ 2
                        ♥ A J 10 3
                        ♦ K 10 5 4 2
                        ♣ J 3 2 

LHO dealt and passed and partner opened 1. RHO passed and I bid 1NT, forcing.  Partner rebid 2 and it was back to me. I couldn't think of a good bid. All bids were flawed.  A pass of 2 was both conservative and may be a poor fit, as partner may not have many clubs.  2 or 2 might be good places to play, but not worth committing to.  With no good bids, I thought about 2NT.  I would prefer to have a little more strength, but the distribution was good.  Also, I thought, 2NT was unlikely to be a worse score than any of the other possible misfits.  So, I trotted out 2NT--the "least bad bid".

Partner raised to 3NT and I awaited my fate. Sitting North, I received a spade lead and paused to count my tricks and study the hand.

                        ♠ 2
                        ♥ A J 10 3
                        ♦ K 10 5 4 2
                        ♣ J 3 2         
♠ 8 6
K Q 8 4
J 9 7 6       
K 5 4

 ♠ Q 10 9 7 4
  7 5
   A 8 3
 ♣ 9 8 6
                       ♠ A K J 5 3
                       ♥ 9 6 2
                       ♣ A Q 10 7

Hard to tell what would happen as each suit had problems as well as possibilities.  I won the A and played the 9.  West played an honor and I paused again.  She probably had both honors, and as transportation was a problem I decided to play low.  Furthermore, she was more or less endplayed as any thing she did at this point was likely to help my cause.  In fact, she returned a diamond which I ducked to East's ace. East returned a diamond and I won the J with my K. and now I had two diamond tricks and the contract was starting to look promising. 

It was time for the club finesse and I led the J from my hand.  West won and returned a diamond which I won with the 10. Now I should have plenty of tricks:  At least 2 hearts after a finesse (assuming both heart honors are onside), 2 diamonds, 3 clubs and 2 spades.  And HELLO--a bonus trick as West is squeezed on the 4th club fro dummy and needs to discard a heart in order to retain her winning diamond. 

The final tally was 2 spades, 3 hearts, 2 diamonds and 3 clubs for 10 tricks (430) and a top. One other pair played in 3NT and made 3.  The most common contract was 2 or 3.

It never fails to amaze me that a nondescript nine point hand, when looked into deeply, can yield up so many fascinating elements:  an impossible bid, an endplay at trick two and even a squeeze at the end! And let's not forget another reason we like bridge--sometimes we get to be courageous, creative  and lucky!

See you at the table!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Use Losing Trick Count for Accurate Hand Evaluation

I often run across hands where there is a total failure to use the simple hand evaluation tool of Losing Trick Count.  Here are two hands I played recently where the use of LTC gets you to the right contract, yet it was not used. One of these hands was even held by a flight A player who generally uses LTC.

1.  I played this hand in Terra Linda recently as East.

Dlr: N Vul: NS

                        ♠ A J 10 8 6
                        ♥ A J 8 2
                        ♦ K 6 3
                        ♣ 6          
♠ 4 3
K 6 5
9 4 2       
Q J 10 5 3

 ♠ Q 7
  Q 9 7 4 3
   J 10 8
 ♣ A K 9
                       ♠ K 9 5 2
                       ♥ 10 
                       ♦ A Q 7 5
                       ♣ 8 7 4 2

North opened 1 and I overcalled 2 with a less than optimum hand.  South bid 2 and pard bid 3.  Amazingly, everyone passed and I played in 3.  Down 4, minus 200 was, not surprisingly, an 85% board as NS can make a slam in spades!  What happened?

The answer is that South under-valued his hand and failed to make a limit raise.  He actually has a 7-loser hand, so could even consider forcing to game! Whether or not he forces to game, he should start with a bid of 3, showing a limit raise or better in spades. Admittedly, slam is not a good bet, as it depends on not losing a spade trick, but game should be easy to reach.

It is also possible that there was no competitive bidding at most tables, but that shouldn't be a reason for South to fail to use LTC and be very competitive with this hand.

2. I held this hand recently as North. After two passes I opened 1.  Pard bid 2 and that was the final contract.

Dlr: S Vul: None

                         A K Q 8 5
                        ♥ 5 3
                        ♦ 9 5
                        ♣ K 10 3 2         
♠ 9 6 2
A 10 9 8 4
J 5 2       
A 6

 ♠ J 3
  K Q 7 6 2
   K 10 4 3
 ♣  5 4
                       ♠ 10 7 4
                       ♦ A 8 7 6
                       ♣ Q J 9 8 7

A club was led and I made 5.  It always makes 4.  After the hand I asked my partner why, with 8 losers, he didn't bid 2, Drury, showing a limit raise. He admitted that he should have. Interestingly, most pairs didn't properly evaluate their hands and failed to reach game so our score was about average.  It was definitely a lost opportunity, however.

Stay alert (as I tell my bridge students) and don't forget to use LTC for accurate hand evaluation!

See you at the table!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Welcome to Jennbridge!


Tips for Astonishing Success at  Bridge Tournaments


Would you like to have more fun and greater success at bridge tournaments? Then this book is for you. The Bridge Tournament Handbook is for busy advancing players who want some great tips to tune up their game before heading off to a tournament - or even their local bridge club. It presents valuable information that you can refer to again and again, so can be used as a reference book.

Written for intermediate/advanced players -- with a dash of information for newer players.

Did you know that there are steps you can actually take to prepare for a bridge tournament? Just like professional athletes prepare for competition, we, as bridge players can prepare for competition. There are steps we can take to gain more confidence, more focus and the right mindset. We want to be confident, alert and bold. The Bridge Tournament Handbook will help you hone your skills and get you into the winning mindset. Hundreds of insightful tips from teachers and experts illustrated with great hands from actual tournaments. 

Bridge is the most entertaining and intelligent card game the wit of man has so far devised.           Somerset Maugham
  • Playing at the Nationals and Other Tournaments (For Newer Players)
  •  Focus, Concentration and Improving Memory (Memory is everything!) 
  •  Convention Card Review, Plus Larry Cohen's Classic Tips to Simplify 
  • Strategy and Tips for Pair Games 
  • Strategy and Tips for Team Games
  • Probability of Suit-Divisions Table (A great reference source)
  • Bidding Tip: Losing Trick Count (Contains my NABC handout)
  • Declarer Play Tip: Counting (For serious players: Improve your counting for excellent play!)
  • Defensive Tip: Carding, Discarding and Signals & Opening leads
  • Expert Bidding Secrets (Not taught in bridge lessons!)
  • Card Play Principles: Restricted Choice, Rule of 11
  • Great tips from Teachers and Other Experts: Gerry Fox, Jo Ginsberg, Peggy Tatro, Bruce Blakely, Sara Rothmuller, Bob Klein, Kathy Venton, Kate Hill 

A. Types of Pair Games                                                                  
B. Types of Team Games                                                                
C. Types of Masterpoints
    This handbook is filled with hundreds of great (previously unpublished) tips for tournament success and presents a valuable roadmap to navigate the rough waters of competitive bridge and get you on the winning path! 

    One copy: $14.95. Bridge Bulletin Special: 2 copies for $24.95! 
    Order from the PayPal button on the top right. **Discounts for bridge teachers.
    Questions: Contact me at 

    Guaranteed to elevate your game or your money back! See book reviews on top right. 

    Thanks - See you in San Francisco! I will be a "celebrity speaker". Come say hello!

    Wednesday, September 25, 2019

    Losint Trick Count Q & A

    Here's an email I received this week about using Losing Trick Count.

    Hi Jennifer,

    Question on how the bidding should have gone with a 1,5,6,1 distribution please.

    N: S K84, H QJ3, D J2, C J976         7LTC, 12 pts
    S: S 97652, H K5, D K53, C 643      9LTC, 6 pts
    E: S AQJ3, H 862, D AJ, C AT98      7LTC, 16 pts
    W: S T, H AT974, D QT9842, C 7   6LTC, 6pts

    I was West and with a 6 losing trick count opened 1H. Right, Wrong?

    Bidding: P – 1H – P – 1S; P - 2D – P – 3NT we went down 1

    Bridge printout says we make 2NT, 4H, 4D.

    So with my 5-6 west hand, should I have opened or passed?
    Or how should this board have been bid? Maybe to get to 4H or 4D?

    At this time, we are playing Standard American. Any thoughts on how to evaluate and bid this board etc. would be greatly appreciated?

    Thank you.


    Dear 6-5 friend,

    Although you only have six losers, you don't have enough HCP to open the bidding. You should be "in the range" – probably at least 10 HCP. Also remember this: losing trick count does not really apply until you find a fit.
    That being said – once you open, your partner has heart support and should always take you to game in hearts, not NT!
    Now let's look at how the auction should have gone. Your partner would open 1NT and you would transfer to hearts. Now you might consider taking another call, say, 3D, at which point he would jump to four hearts with his maximum. His hand will play great in hearts with his aces, three trumps and ruffing value.

    Good luck!

    * These topics are covered in my articles in the Bridge Bulletin; the most recent series published in May, 2018 through Oct., 2018.
    *For more info, grab a copy of one or both of my LTC books, available on this site.

    See you at the table!

    Sunday, September 22, 2019

    A One (1) Loser Hand!

    Playing pairs at the Santa Rosa Sectional yesterday, I was stunned to pick up this hand.

    ♠ AKQ1092
    ♣ AKQ4

    I didn't bother counting the points...I don't think I've ever seen a hand like this!

    After RHO passed, I duly opened 2♣. Partner, Bob Klein, bid 2, waiting, and I bid 2♠.

    As he considered his rebid, I considered mine. "If he shows a 'double negative', I will still bid a slam", I thought. Or...he may hold one of the other kings which would be great.

    4♠ was his rebid.  Wow!  Not a strong bid, but showing a little something.

    I couldn't resist. From the bidding box I pulled out the 7♠ card!

    Everyone at the table was quite surprised.

    Now let's see what he's got.  The J♣ was led.

    ♠ J75

    ♠ AKQ1092
    ♣ AKQ4

    There it was--the K!  Now I needed to be able to get to the board, and that could be accomplished in a couple of different ways.  If spades broke 2-2 it would be easy.

    I played the A♠ and K♠ and all followed!  Now I cashed the A and the top clubs (which broke 4-2) and ruffed the 4th club with the J♠. My diamond loser was discarded on the K and I scored up my grand.

    At the end of the round, Bob asked me what my hand was and pointed out that it was a ONE LOSER HAND! (Bd. 13, second session.)

    I could have bid RKC and then asked for kings to arrive at the same contract.  I kind of liked to just leap there, however, due to a bit of fun bridge superstition I have. I refer occasionally to the "Bridge Gods" and believe that if you don't pay maximum respect to great hands, that the Bridge Gods will not bless you with others in the future!

    Plus 2210 was worth 15 out of 19 matchpoints and helped us to a high overall finish.

    See you at the table!

    Sunday, August 18, 2019

    Tip from Bridge Tournament Handbook Leads to Great Score

    This email just arrived from Laura Kenney, wife of Gene Simpson, popular bridge professional. Laura is an excellent player in her own right, and recently bought my new book in Terra Linda.

    Gene and I had a sit-out for boards 29 and 30.  I started reading your book.  Of note is page 10 on competitive bidding.

    Shortly thereafter, I was sitting South for Board 3.   I dealt and passed. West opened 1D, my partner passed, and East thereafter preempted 3D. 

    While it may be that a 3H call by South is an obvious choice for a good bridge player, I was a bit afraid to make it, especially since my partner  could not bid over West's 1D opener (and Gene and I make very light overcalls).  In any event, you inspired me to bid 3H -- you really did -- and that got us a good result.....I was down one and 3D was cold.  The most common result on the board was E-W plus 110.

    So thank you!

    Thank you Laura!  Here is the hand she is referring to:

    Board 3
    South Deals
    E-W Vul
    J 9 8
    Q J 10
    A 7 2
    10 9 5 3
    A 7 6
    K 5 2
    K J 10 3
    K 8 7


    K 10 5
    9 8
    Q 9 8 5 4
    Q J 2

    Q 4 3 2
    A 7 6 4 3
    A 6 4

    As South, Laura passed initially.  West opened 1, East jumped to 3 and it was her call. She was a little reluctant to come in with a 3bid, but that bid led to an 80% board.

    The tip she refers to from my book is actually a fabulous tip from Marty Bergen, a great writer and teacher. One of a collection of tips from some of the best bridge writers in the country.  The Bridge Tournament Handbook will transform your game.  Buy now to read this tip and many more like it!

    See you at the table!