Bridge Brief Broadcast Archive

Back to Bridge Brief Archive Index

July 7, 2003
Two Step by Step Hands

Instructions: Step by Step is a bridge problem presented in serial form. Read each panel and work out the answer to the question or questions asked before turning to the continuation. This is similar to the thinking process your should go through as you bid and play a hand.

Step by Step

[1]

Sitting South and playing in the local duplicate you pick up this hand:

South

J10943
Q10
AQ8
Q97

Right hand opponent is the dealer and everyone is vulnerable. The auction begins:

West North East South
    Pass ???

This is not an opening hand. Even the players that like to open slightly on the lighter side should not open this hand. Other than pretty good suit texture, the hand is full of negative features. It is mostly queens and jacks (honors that are over valued to begin with). It also does not have two defensive tricks which is a great test to use when considering a minimum opening bid. Without two defensive tricks just pass and then bid later if it seems appropriate. This hand has only 1½ defensive tricks (AQ).

The auction continues:

West North East South
Pass Pass
1 Pass 1 ???

Do you want to overcall?

This hand is not worthy of an overcall either. There are a number of good reasons why you should not enter the bidding at this point in the auction.

Can you identify the reasons not to bid? Try to list them now before looking at the next section.

[2]

Reasons not to overcall:

1-  The spade suit is not high enough quality. You have no reason to believe that a spade lead is correct.
2-  Partner had an opportunity to take action over the 1 opening and did not. This is the easiest opening bid to overcall. Partner very likely has a poor hand.
3-  You are in the middle of a live auction. To bid might give the opponents an opportunity that they do not deserve. The opposition hands are undefined as to strength.
4-  You will have another opportunity  to bid later if the opponents stop at  a low level and indicate that your side has working values.

You pass and the auction continues. You are glad that you did not bid.

West North East South
Pass Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
3NT Pass Pass Pass

Partner leads the 3 and the dummy comes into view. What does the opening lead tell you? You now know exactly how the hearts are distributed around the table. Decide before looking at the next section.
 

 

North

 
  ???  
  ???  
  ???  
  ???  

West

 

East

???   862
???   A64
???   KJ1096
???   84
 

South

 
  J10943  
  Q10  
  AQ8  
  Q97  

[3]

The Rule of Eleven tells you that there are eight hearts higher than the 3 in East, West, and your hand. You can see five of them so declarer has three. Declarer would have bid 1, not 1 with four, so hearts are 5-3-3-2 with partner having five.

You play the Q (third hand high) and declarer follows with the 5. You continue with the 10 and declarer wins the K while partner follows with the 2. Declarer now leads the 5, partner plays the 2, and the J  is played from dummy. Your play.

It is time for the hold-up play, but you must use it now. Play low and 3NT goes down. Play the Q and declarer has the tempo to set up and cash the diamond suit. Partner’s play of the 2 was a count signal showing an odd number. If partner has three diamonds, then declarer has only two. Without the diamonds declarer has only 8 tricks.

The complete hand:

 

North

 
  5  
  J9732  
  432  
  J1062  

West

 

East

AKQ7   862
K85   A64
75   KJ1096
AK53   84
 

South

 
  J10943  
  Q10  
  AQ8  
  Q97  

Step by Step

[1]

At your weekly rubber bridge game you deal the first hand and pick up:

South

AJ9876
AQ
2
A632

It looks like it is going to be a good evening. A medium strength hand of 17 points (15 HCP plus 2 points for the spade length). The auction proceeds.

West North East South
1
Pass 2 Pass ???

You have two acceptable rebids. A jump rebid to 3 would show a medium strength hand of 16+ to 18 and a six card spade suit. A 3 rebid would show a second suit of at least four cards, but responder would not know about the sixth spade. Opener should avoid bidding a new suit at the three level with only a minimum hand (in fact, officially it describes a hand with the same strength as a reverse or medium strength). If partner is not that sophisticated then choose 3, otherwise 3 is the better choice. The auction continues:

West North East South
1
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 4NT Pass ???

Partner launches into Blackwood ace asking, what is your response? With three aces you bid 5 (5 shows either 0 or 4, 5 shows one, 5 shows two, and 5 shows three). Before looking at next panel, answer these questions:

What is the purpose of Blackwood?

What is the meaning of a follow up 5NT bid by partner?

[2]

The purpose of Blackwood is make sure that the partnership is not missing two aces. It is used on hands where it has already been determined that the values are within the slam zone (33+ points). It is NOT to make sure you have ALL the aces before you bid slam. Bidding slam off one ace is perfectly acceptable. A follow up bid of 5NT by partner would be Blackwood continuation. It  asks about the number of kings, guarantees that the partnership holds ALL the aces, and invites you to bid a grand slam directly or show the number of kings.

The auction continues:

West North East South
1
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 4NT Pass 5
Pass 5NT Pass ???

Hopefully partner knows where he is headed and you have no kings to offer so a bid of 6 is in order. You respond to 5NT on the same scale as 4NT (clubs = 0 or 4, diamonds = 2, etc.).

West North East South
1
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 4NT Pass 5
Pass 5NT Pass 6
Pass 7 Pass Pass
Pass

Partner signoffs in 7. You get the K as an opening lead and cannot wait to see dummy.

 

North

 
  KQ10  
  K4  
  A8753  
  KQ4  

West

 

East

???   ???
???   ???
???   ???
???   ???
 

South

 
  AJ9876  
  AQ  
  2  
  A632  

Partner has a pretty decent hand but a quick count of winners comes up with only twelve tricks. There is unfortunate duplication in hearts. You have six spades, two hearts, one diamond, and three clubs and need one more. What are the possibilities for a thirteenth trick? Decide now before looking at the next section.

[3]

If spades divide 2-2 then you can trump the losing club in dummy for your thirteenth trick. If spades do not divide 2-2 (they will be 3-1 most of the time) then you can finish pulling trump and hope that clubs are 3-3 (they will be 4-2 most of the time). That is not a bad line of play. You win anytime spades are 2-2 (about 41%) or clubs are 3-3 (36% of the remaining 59% or 21%). That adds to a 62% chance of success. Not bad. You win the A. Cash the K (everybody follows) and then cash the Q (RHO shows out). Spades are 3-1 with LHO having three.

Shrugging your shoulders you go after the club suit. LHO trumps the second club! Clubs were breaking 5-1. You now have to go down one. “Unlucky”, you remark to partner. “We had a good shot at it.”. “Unlucky?”, says partner. “There is a 95% line of play. As the cards lie it is cold for thirteen tricks.”

Win the A. Trump a diamond with the A. Spade to the K. Trump a diamond with the J. Spade to the Q. Trump a diamond. Heart to the K. Trump a diamond. Club to the K. Cash the remaining spade in dummy. Cash the Q. Cash the A. Cash the A. Easy game.

 

North

 
  KQ10  
  K4  
  A8753  
  KQ4  

West

 

East

532   4
J985   107632
KQJ104   96
10   J9875
 

South

 
  AJ9876  
  AQ  
  2  
  A632  



-Gary King

©2003 The Bridge Companion. All rights reserved.