Try this hand

For bridge hands of interest

Trial bids

After a major suit fit has been agreed at the two-level, a bid of a new suit is a “trial bid”, inviting game and showing some length in that suit.

How does this help partner? Consider the following pairs of hands:

WEST          EAST
S AKJ32       S 865
H J2          H QT5
D AJ642       D 873
C 4           C KQ53

Playing in a spade contract, declarer has one likely loser in spades, two in hearts, two in diamonds and one in clubs. About seven or eight tricks is the likely limit.  

WEST          EAST
S AKJ32       S QT5
H J2          H 865
D AJ642       D KQ53
C 4           C 873

The West cards remain unchanged, while East’s suits have been swapped around. This time there are five top tricks in spades and another five in diamonds, for ten in total. It would be dismal to miss out on game – but how to bid it this time and stay out of it with the other pair of hands, when the total points are the same?

Read more: Trial bids

My brilliant Korea

Australia’s best-known bridge player is Ron Klinger, one of the world’s leading bridge writers. One of the main benefits for subscribers to his website,  is that a new bridge problem is uploaded each day. The following deal comes from the website in the past and was titled “My Brilliant Korea, starring Gabby Feiler”. It comes from the Pacific-Asia Youth Teams some years ago in Seoul.

South is declarer in 5D, after an auction in which East overcalled spades. West leads the S3. 

Dealer North, NS vul.

S K75
H 98

S 4
H JT76
D KQJ8765
C 5

Read more: My brilliant Korea

Stopper showing

Duplicate players prefer to be in 3NT rather than game in a minor – except if 3NT is slated for defeat. Consider these hands: 

S 82     S 43
H AK6    H QJ5
D AK642  D T9753
C AJ4    C KQ3

West opens 1D and East raises to 2D; so far so good. Now West, who has been told to avoid game in a minor, bids 3NT instead. 

Spades are led and declarer sees immediately that the contract will be defeated when 5D was cold on a normal diamond break. So would that have been a better bid? 

S 82     S QJ5
H AK6    H 43
D AK642  D T9753
C AJ4    C KQ3

With East’s major suit holdings swapped, 3NT will outscore 5D. But is there a way to know which contract is best?

Read more: Stopper showing

Aiding partner

This week’s deals come from a past Swiss Pairs night at Trumps. On both deals, you must help partner find the winning defence.

On our first deal, most Easts bid 5D, some hoping to make, others as a sacrifice against a 4S contract. South leads the SK; how should the defence proceed? 

Dealer North, NS vul.

          S A8653
          H QJ9743
          D J
          C 3
WEST                EAST
S 2                 S T74
H K6                H AT
D A643              D KQ9852
C J98762            C KQ
          S KQJ9
          H 852
          D T7
          C AT54

Read more: Aiding partner

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