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For bridge hands of interest

IMP Pairs

Pairs or ordinary duplicate is normally scored at matchpoints, where scoring even 10 or 20 points more than the other players on the same board gives an absolute top. In contrast, playing for IMPs (normally used in teams scoring), it is the size of the score that is critical, rather than (say) paltry overtricks. IMP Pairs are gradually becoming more common, such as in our weekly Swiss Pairs on Wednesday evenings.

Consider this hand from the inaugural IMP Pairs World Champions in 2006:

Dealer North, Nil vul
WEST                EAST
 Q872               J6
 QJ                 AK7432
 T72                854
 JT85               K4

Read more: IMP Pairs

Safe play wins the day

This hand comes from the South-West Pacific Teams, Australia's premiere bridge championship which is held in late January in Canberra.

Because you are playing teams, the scoring is at IMPs, meaning that overtricks are unimportant. The key is to play safely for your nine tricks.

You are West in a contract of 3NT, on the lead of the S5 from North. Plan the play.

WEST           EAST
 QJ2           A3
 AK87          432
 K72           AJT854
 J74           QT


Read more: Safe play wins the day

Splintering to slam

One of the most useful conventions for slam bidding is the splinter bid, whereby an "unnecessary jump" shows a singleton or void in the bid suit, a fit for partner, and values for game at least.

How should you bid these North cards after South opens the bidding 1D and the opponents are silent?

Dealer E, NS vulnerable


Read more: Splintering to slam

Avoidance the key

On the deal below, North opened 1C, East made a takeout double, and South responded 1H. This relieved West of the obligation to answer the double but there was no reason not to show the spades anyway, as the bidding was still at the 1-level. North's jump raise showed a heart fit and 16-18 total points, so South accepted the invitation to game.

WEST                EAST
 JT982              K654
 4                  K76
 862                KJT9
 7632               A4

      1C     Dble  1H
1S    3H     Pass  4H
All pass

West leads the SJ, and declarer tries dummy's SQ, but is not surprised when East contributes the SK. What are your prospects? How should you proceed?

Read more: Avoidance the key

Exploration is the key

Partner opens 1D (the opponents are silent throughout), and you have the following hand:

NORTH (you)

A new suit by responder is forcing, so there is no need to do more than a quiet 1H at this stage. Opener rebids 1NT. How should you proceed?

Read more: Exploration is the key

Understanding the unusual

At favourable vulnerability, you pick up the following:

SOUTH (you)

Your left hand opponent opens 1H and partner overcalls 2NT. This is the Unusual 2NT, showing at least 5-5 in the minors and (usually) a weak hand. East jumps to 4H and you decide to pass, due to the lack of a clear alternative. When it goes back to your partner, however, she backs in with a bid of 4NT, passed back to you for a decision.

1H    2NT    4H    Pass
Pass  4NT    Pass  ?


Read more: Understanding the unusual

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