Handing out lessons from experience

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Happy new year again and I hope you all had a great holiday season.

A couple of you felt that last week’s column was a bit “harsh” — I concede that it was direct, but if you read it again it would appear harsh only to those who complain that they are not getting any better but then refuse to do anything to correct that. This is a glorious, incomparably open-ended and complex game, and to reap the full benefits of what it has to offer, one needs to do a bit of work.

Moving on. The 2018 Tournament Schedule has just been released and with the first major not till the end of February, all eyes will be on the Bermuda Regional which starts on January 27 — more on that in later columns.

This week’s hand came up on BBO last night and had a number of interesting facets — bidding, doubling and declarer play.

Dealer E N/S Vulnerable

S QJ832

H K765

D 102


I held the South hand above with Jean Johnson as North and the bidding was more than interesting.

The Bidding

East South West North

1C DBL (1) 3C (2) 4C (3)

Pass 4H Pass Pass

DBL (4) Pass Pass Pass

1. I hated my double on this hand as nine times out of ten your partner bids a Spade and you are stuffed. You cannot bid 1 NT if East passes over partners Spade bid as that would show 19-21 so your best option is to bid 2 Diamonds showing the red suits.

2. A weak hand with Clubs

3. Thankfully not a Spade bid and the 4 Clubs was clearly asking me to choose a major, which I did.

4. Worried me a bit as East was a pretty good player.

West led a Diamond to the Queen and my Ace, and I immediately played a Heart to the King and Ace, noting with interest the play of the 8 from West given East’s double.

East returned a Diamond which I won with the 10 in dummy to play the 6 of Hearts and when East followed with the 2, I was at a crossroads. In the end I decided to play the 4 from my hand and the 6 won the trick.

The full hand:


S QJ832

H K765

D 102


West East

S 765 S AK10

H 8 H AJ92

D 9865 D Q74

C Q10865 C943


S 94

H Q1043


C A72

Now it became easy — King of Clubs, Ace of Clubs, Club ruff, finesse the Heart Jack, draw trumps and cash two more Diamonds — contract made with three Heart tricks, four Diamond tricks, two Clubs and a Club ruff.

The Lessons

1. Be careful when making a takeout double with a hand like the South one and remember that you cannot rebid 1 NT if your partner bids a suit you don’t like. That bid is reserved for when you have 19-21 HCP and RHO opens

2. Get lucky when you double with that hand and find your partner with a fit.

3. Be careful when you make a penalty double as it gives a lot of information away. I have some sympathy with East as he has 4 good trumps and the AK10 of Spades behind the hand that has shown Spades — this time it was costly.

4. As declarer, be brave and be prepared to make what you think is the right play, knowing that every so often you will end up with egg on your face — as I would have done here if West started with 98 of Hearts and East AJ2.

5. If it all goes wrong — move on to the next hand.

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Published Jan 6, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 8, 2018 at 9:15 am)

Handing out lessons from experience

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