Happy Holidays

 Hi All,

I know we've all got the Covid Blues. Penny has come forward just when we need a smile. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Dave

                           Happy Holidays

This COVID thing's getting harder to swallow.
With nine months gone by and still more to follow.
But we can't lose our humor. We can't lose our hope,
Though it's easy to moan and it's easy to mope.
Catch up on projects, clean closets, scrub floors,
Whatever you choose you must do it indoors.
After a while the closets are clean, the projects all done.
Now what, you wonder, what shall I do for some fun?
No movies, no parties, no family or friends.
Aaagh!  We cry loudly, will this ever end?
Take a deep breath, have patience. We don't have a choice.
Find something to take your mind off the trouble and noise.
Sudokus are good.  Word puzzles, too.
But if you want something REALLY good to do, 
Play Bridge!  Seriously, that's my advice.
It's amazing how fast the time goes. So quick! In a trice!
Dave's lessons come through, even though he's not here.
"You must show preference." I hear in my ear.
Or perhaps an echo from a lesson long past
On reverses or transfers, maybe the rebidding class.
I admit it's not like a partner sitting across
to reassure and comfort when you've taken a loss, 
Or smiling delightedly when you've made a hard bid.
(Plus the computer doesn't know how to kid.)
It's true. Missing Thursdays is a hard cross to bear.
Perhaps the New Year will see us back there.
Until then, though, I hope your Holiday's healthy.
When you reconvene Thursdays, we'll all feel quite wealthy
To see friends again and get back to normal.
No need to break ice, no need to be formal.
I guess we'll just have to wait for awhile
And try to stay positive, face the day with a smile.
Happy Holidays to you!  Happy New Year as well.
I hope your 2021 is incredibly swell.

Question of the Week 19

 Hi All,

The North who sent this board could make several slams, but settled for 4 Spades with overtricks. How should it go?



                     ª A K Q J 9 7

                     © 9 3

                     ¨ A J 5

                     § Q 3

West                                  East

ª 4 2                                  ª 8 3

© J 7 6                                © K Q 10 8 5 4

¨ 9 8 3                               ¨

§ J 10 5 4 2                         § K 9 8 7 6


                     ª 10 6 5

                     © A 2

                     ¨ K Q 10 7 6 4 2

                     § A


North opens 1 Spade, East overcalls 2 Hearts to show his 13-16 points and 6-card suit and South bids 3 Diamonds to show 4 or more Diamonds and 10 or more points. North wants to get to game and can't bid anything that partner can pass short. He's not sure if partner has Spade support and he fears a 4-3 Diamond fit, so just bids what he thinks he can make, 4 Spades.

South passes, but might stop to ponder slam chances. She has adequate Spade support and figures partner for about 19 points or more with the Spade fit. She reevaluates to 16-17 points and her 7-card suit might set up.

South would like to check the Aces, but they have not overtly shown a fit which rules out Blackwood and Control Bids. She might bid 5 Spades to show the trump support, extra strength and to invite slam or she might just blast to 6 Spades.

That process is difficult for South, so let's suppose she instead cue-bids 3 Hearts in the Negative Double seat. This takes advantage of East's helpful overcall and promises support for North's Spades and enough strength for game.

Now North will reevaluate his hand for around 21-22 points with a good fit opposite partner's 13 or more points. He bids 4 No Trump, Blackwood, and, when partner shows two Aces, bids 6 Spades. He makes it easily with an overtrick, but  neither partner could see 13 sure tricks so they don't bemoan missing the grand.

Good luck and stay well.  Dave

Question of the Week - 18

Hi All,

This hand was sent by a pair who bid 4 Spades with the below hand and took all the tricks. Let's see how it went. 

Dealer W

Vulnerable none                    


                     ª J 9 7 6 4


                     ¨ K 8 5 3

                     § A Q 8 3

West                                  East

ª 2                                    ª 3

© 9 7 3 2                           © A K Q 10 6 5

¨ 10 7 6 4                         ¨ Q J 9 2

§ K 6 5 2                           § 9 7


                     ª A K Q 10 8 5

                     © J 8 4

                     ¨ A

                     § J 10 4


West passed, North opened 1 Spade and East overcalled 2 Hearts. South loved his hand, but was unsure about the Hearts and Clubs so jumped to 4 Spades. In the analysis, they wondered if the Jacoby 2 No Trump would help and a nice couple at the table suggested that a 3-Heart cue-bid would be the same as a takeout double.

This confirmed my rule to never take advice from nice people at the table. As to Jacoby, I don't recommend it and I don't think it's applicable in the Negative Double seat anyway. 

If South has no forcing bid, he must bid what he thinks he can make. His jump to 4 Spades was not unreasonable, but he might stop and think about slam. He reevaluates his hand to about 21 points opposite partner's 14 or more. If he can't find a way to get more information, he has to guess. If he can force partner to rebid Spades, he can use Blackwood or Control Bids to check the Aces or controls. Let's see what Lesson 4 has to offer.

A double would be Negative, promising Clubs and Diamonds, so that's out. A No-Trump bid would promise stoppers in the opponent's suit, so that's out. What else do we have in our toolkit for the Negative-Double seat.

A cue bid of 3 Hearts promises support for partner's suit and forces to game. Some play this cue bid as an invitation, but, in either case, North will rebid his Spades and South can probe for slam.

Look Ma, no alerts.

Question of the Week - 17

 Hi All,

This question concerns whether to pass or transfer when partner opens 1 No Trump and you have a scrawny 5-card major and 0-7 points. These can be difficult, but you must place the contract. You can't always be right, but you can neither pass nor transfer arbitrarily.

You usually figure partner for 4 tricks and he's probably in trouble. What would you do with the first hand below?


                     ª 10 9 8 7 6

                     © 5 2

                     ¨ 9 5

                     § 8 6 5 3


You add no tricks in No Trump and never get the lead to enable declarer to lead toward his honors. Ugh! If, however, you transfer to 2 Spades, you may take 2 trump tricks and declarer can lead twice to his honors. You may greatly ease the pain and might even make 2 Spades. How about the hand below?


                     ª 10 9 8 7 6

                     © 5 2

                     ¨ 9 5

                     § K Q J 2


This time you may get two or even 3 tricks and declarer can lead twice toward his honors. You have a good chance for 1 No Trump and see no need to go for 8 tricks in Spades. Pass!

Most of the time, you'll be somewhere between with a tough choice. You must thnk it over and place the contract as best as you can. That's Bridge! Good luck and stay well, Dave

Question of the Week - 16

 Hi All,

Only one question this week. A lot of pairs got to 4 Hearts and some make an overtrick. It also makes 6 Diamonds, but no one bid it. The only question was about the general approach to the hand.

W Dlr
N-S Vul


                     ª 109653

                     © 3

                     ¨ K5

                     § KQ976

West                                  East

ª K84                                 ª 2

© 98                                   © AKJ6542

¨ 9862                               ¨ AQJ3

§ A1052                             § 8


                     ª AQJ7

                     © Q107

                     ¨ 1074

                     § J43

At the writer's table, East opened 4 Hearts and all passed. At another table, East opened 1 Heart, West responded 1 No Trump and East jumped to 4 Hearts. Finally, the writer pondered a 2-Club Forcing Opening and asked for my thoughts.

1. I will start with the worst of these approaches and take them in order until I get to the best. East's hand has 19 points, 15 HCPs and 8 sure tricks. None of these meet any criteria for a 2-Club Forcing Opening. It would probably go 2 Clubs, 2 Diamonds, 2 Hearts, 3 Hearts (promising extra values) and East might try for slam, hopefully stopping at 5 Hearts. Even then, not everyone made 5 Hearts. More importantly, why lie to partner?

2. Next comes the opening 4 Hearts. It get's them there, but East has no idea what partner has. Opener's first responsibility is to describe his hand and East has told partner that he has 7 sure tricks when he has 8. He has not told partner that he has a second suit. He is way too strong for a preempt. West will always pass with his 7 points, but with a different 7 points, slam could be laydown. Again, why lie to partner?

3. At last, East opens 1 Heart. If West can't respond, game is unlikely. When West responds 1 No Trump, East jumps to 4 Hearts. Perfect? No! West has 6-10 points, but some 6-10 points are better than others. East hasn't really given partner any info to evaluate his hand and make decisions. Again, he hasn't even shown his second suit.

This jump would be excusable if he had no forcing bid and had to bid what he hoped he could make. That is not the case here. Why not give partner as much information as possible, so that he can contribute?

4. Finally, East opens 1 Heart, West responds 1 No Trump and East describes his hand with a jump-shift to 3 Diamonds. Now, West can see two suits and 19 or more points in partner's hand. They're forced to game and both can contribute. West has already told partner that he doesn't have 3 Hearts, so raises to 4 Diamonds to show the fit. Now they are in good position to find the best contract and their trust in each other is undamaged.


Question of the Week - 15

 Hi All,

Another question about basic bidding on the board shown below.



                     ª K 8 5 2

                     © K 10 5 3

                     ¨ K 5 3

                     § 7 3

West                                  East

ª                                       ª A Q J 9 7

© Q J 9 6 4                         © 8

¨ 9 8 7                               ¨ J 10

§ Q 10 9 5 2                       § A K J 8 6


                     ª 10 6 4 3

                     © A 7 2

                     ¨ A Q 6 4 2

                     § 4


West dealt and passed, North passed, East opened 1 Spade and all passed. East made 1 Spade for 80 points, but other E/Ws bid part scores in Clubs for 90-130 points. East had two questions:

1. Should he instead have opened 1 Club?

2. Should West have responded 2 Clubs over his 1 Spade?

1. No. Our Lesson 2 prescribes opening the higher ranking of two 5-card suits regardless of relative strength. To do otherwise makes it impossible for opener to properly describe his hand. Stick with that!

2. No. A response of 2 Clubs would be a gross overbid, promising 10 or more points. West can't take points for his void in partner's suit; Partner may just rebid it. If he does respond 2 Clubs anyway, East will see a good Club fit and 10 or more points opposite his 18-20 points. Any red-blooded East would describe his hand by jumping to game and would go down for an even worse score. 

Assuming that they wouldn't do either of those things, how did some pairs get to 2 Clubs? I can see only one somewhat reasonable sequence. West's pass is justified, but, if he is uncomfortable with his void in partner's suit, he may keep the bidding open with 1 No Trump. The rules most of us follow say that you must respond with 6 points, but they don't say that you can't respond with a reasonable 5 points.

This is risky and they will go down at 1 No Trump, but in this case East will surely rebid 2 Clubs. As long as they don't get carried away to game, they should make par.

Good luck and stay well, Dave