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For bridge hands of interest

Active and passive in defence

Bridge teachers often like to “sex up” their lessons with exotic aspects of play. Victorian instructor Jeff Fust’s past lessons in Sydney focussed more on the staples of defence.

Go passive when the opponents have no long suit or other imminent source of tricks. What do you lead as North?

Dealer West

          S 8742
          H KJ73
          D 64
          C K85
WEST                EAST
S AQJ               S KT6
H AQ2               H 984
D KT87              D QJ52
C AJ3               C T64
          S 953
          H T65
          D A93
          C Q972

2NT    Pass    3NT    All pass

Read more: Active and passive in defence

Delicate deductions

The director is called because a score was written as 650 but the contract and tricks suggest the score should be 450. What is the error? Solution later.

But first, a play problem. You are South, declarer in 4S. West, who had opened 1H, starts by leading the A-K of hearts; you ruff the second round. Next you draw trumps with the Q-J (they split 2-2) then lead a club towards dummy, with the CK appearing from West. What is your plan from here? 

Dealer West, EW vul.

          S K932
          H 32
          D T73
          C A862
          S AQJT4
          H 5
          D AJ42
          C Q53

Read more: Delicate deductions

Elopement and other adventures

Ten years ago in August the North Shore Swiss Pairs was won by Ted Chadwick and Jeanette Reitzer. Here is the undisputed “deal of the event”, with South the declarer in 6H:

          S AJ97
          H A6
          D KT8763
          C 4
WEST                EAST
S T5432             S KQ86
H 7                 H T983
D J94               D Q52
C KQ92              C JT
          S —
          H KQJ542
          D A
          C A87653

Read more: Elopement and other adventures

May the fourth suit force be with you

Even after your side has bid three suits, you are sometimes still uncertain of which denomination (which suit or notrumps) to head for.

There is no need to bid the fourth suit just to show strength there – a notrump bid would be appropriate in that case. Instead, a bid of the fourth suit is used to show doubt about the final destination. This is commonly called “fourth suit forcing” (4SF).

This fourth suit bid shows nothing further about the hand (except strength), it just asks for more information. In reply, you may:

  • return to partner’s first suit with three cards there
  • bid notrumps with the fourth suit stopped
  • rebid your second suit with five cards
  • raise the fourth suit with four card support
  • rebid your first suit with extra length
  • with nothing to say, do as best you can!

How forcing is the fourth suit? The traditional standard was that it showed invitational values or better. However, a survey of experts revealed that most now use it as forcing to game.

Here are a couple of other results of an Australian poll. The bidding proceeds:

Opener  Responder
1H      1S
2C      2D(4SF)

Choose your rebid as opener with:

S K5
H AT654
D 42
C AQ63

Read more: May the fourth suit force be with you

Lower than the two

In one Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown – on a particularly bad day – complains: “I feel lower than the two of clubs.”  Sometimes, however, the two is not a bad card to hold.

Put yourself in the place of Bronwyn Swaddling, sitting South as declarer in a notrump slam on the following deal, on a diamond lead. Cover the East-West cards and work out your line of play:

          S AK2
          H A
          D T5
          C AKQJ962
WEST                EAST
S Q93               S T875
H T9732             H J865
D K864              D QJ9
C 7                 C T8
          S J64
          H KQ4
          D A732
          C 543

Read more: Lower than the two

Lightner strikes

When the opponents bid to a voluntary slam (as opposed to a sacrifice) you are not going to get rich by doubling them for penalties; they will usually not go down by more than a trick or so. It makes more sense to use the double to try to defeat the contract. But how does this work?

As early as 1929, when contract bridge was a mere four years old, Theodore Lightner suggested that a double of a freely-bid slam should ask partner to make an unusual lead. This will usually be dummy’s first bid side suit, or the leader’s longest suit. Typically, the Lightner double is based upon a void.

The leading pre-war bridge authority, Ely Culbertson, refused to endorse the Lightner double, reputedly because the first time it arose when Culbertson was partnering Lightner, the latter doubled for an unusual lead having forgotten that he himself was on lead, resulting in disaster.

However, the Lightner double has long been accepted as part of expert bidding. Your opponents bid to 6S and you have the following hand:

S A2
H —
D J76542
C Q9863

If partner will be on lead against 6S, you should double, Lightner. If dummy has bid hearts, or if you have shown the minors via an Unusual Notrump bid, then it is clear for partner to lead a heart – remember, the Lightner doubles asks for an unusual lead, such as dummy’s first bid suit, and not a suit you showed.

If there are no clues from the bidding, partner’s hand will have to suggest which lead you want. Your double suggests you have a void (and are looking for an opening round ruff) so partner who probably has lots of hearts can hopefully deduce that is likely to be your void.

Cover the North-South cards on the following deal from the 2008 European Championships. The Italian West opened a weak 2S. East started by replying 2NT as a strong enquiry and after West showed extras, 6S was reached. South doubled. Decide how you would declare as West on the HQ lead.

Dealer West, NS vul.

          S —
          H QJT732
          D QJ932
          C T7
WEST                EAST
S KQ7542            S J963
H K                 H A6
D 8654              D AKT7
C J4                C AQ2
          S AT8
          H 9854
          D —
          C K98653

The HK wins after which the SQ drives out the SA from South’s hand, with a heart returned. Over to you.

Read more: Lightner strikes

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