Bridge
Bridge
FOR
DUMmIES
2ND
by Eddie Kantar
‰
EDITION
Bridge
FOR
DUMmIES
2ND
by Eddie Kantar
‰
EDITION
Bridge For Dummies®, 2nd Edition
Published by
Wiley Publishing, Inc.
111 River St.
Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
www.wiley.com
Copyright © 2006 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published simultaneously in Canada
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by
any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted
under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright
Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, 978-750-8400, fax 978-646-8600. Requests to the
Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Legal Department, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 10475
Crosspoint Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46256, 317-572-3447, fax 317-572-4355, or online at http://www.
wiley.com/go/permissions.
Trademarks: Wiley, the Wiley Publishing logo, For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo, A Reference for the
Rest of Us!, The Dummies Way, Dummies Daily, The Fun and Easy Way, Dummies.com and related trade
dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United
States and other countries, and may not be used without written permission. All other trademarks are the
property of their respective owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor
mentioned in this book.
LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: THE PUBLISHER AND THE AUTHOR MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES WITH RESPECT TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS WORK AND SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT
LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. NO WARRANTY MAY BE CREATED OR EXTENDED BY SALES OR PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS. THE ADVICE AND STRATEGIES CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR EVERY SITUATION. THIS WORK IS SOLD WITH THE
UNDERSTANDING THAT THE PUBLISHER IS NOT ENGAGED IN RENDERING LEGAL, ACCOUNTING, OR
OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES. IF PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED, THE SERVICES OF A
COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL PERSON SHOULD BE SOUGHT. NEITHER THE PUBLISHER NOR THE
AUTHOR SHALL BE LIABLE FOR DAMAGES ARISING HEREFROM. THE FACT THAT AN ORGANIZATION
OR WEBSITE IS REFERRED TO IN THIS WORK AS A CITATION AND/OR A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF FURTHER INFORMATION DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE AUTHOR OR THE PUBLISHER ENDORSES THE INFORMATION THE ORGANIZATION OR WEBSITE MAY PROVIDE OR RECOMMENDATIONS IT MAY MAKE.
FURTHER, READERS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT INTERNET WEBSITES LISTED IN THIS WORK MAY HAVE
CHANGED OR DISAPPEARED BETWEEN WHEN THIS WORK WAS WRITTEN AND WHEN IT IS READ.
For general information on our other products and services, please contact our Customer Care
Department within the U.S. at 800-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.
For technical support, please visit www.wiley.com/techsupport.
Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may
not be available in electronic books.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2006926377
ISBN-13: 978-0-471-92426-5
ISBN-10: 0-471-92426-1
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
2O/QW/QZ/QW/IN
About the Author
Eddie Kantar, a transplanted Californian, is one of the best-known bridge
writers in the world. He has more than 30 bridge books in print, some translated into 8 languages, and is a regular contributor to the Bulletin, The Bridge
World, Bridge Today, and many other bridge publications.
Eddie, a two-time World Champion, is highly regarded as a player and known
as one of bridge’s great ambassadors.
Eddie learned to play bridge at age 11. By the time he was 17, he was teaching
the game to his friends. Eddie was so enthusiastic about bridge that he often
took his bridge books to school, hiding them behind his textbooks so that the
teachers couldn’t see him reading about bridge during class. At the University
of Minnesota, where Eddie studied foreign languages, he taught bridge to pay
his tuition.
Eddie gained stature as a player by winning 2 World Championship titles and
11 North American Championships. His North American titles include wins in
the Spingold Knockout Teams, the Reisinger Board-a-Match Teams, the
Vanderbilt Knockout Teams, and the Grand National Teams. Eddie is a Grand
Master in World Bridge Federation rankings and an ACBL Grand Life Master.
Today Eddie is best known as a writer, and many of his books are considered
classics. When not playing bridge or writing about the subject, he can be
found playing paddle tennis (an offshoot of tennis) or bridge at the paddle
tennis courts at Venice Beach (come and join the fun in either game). By the
way, Eddie is the only person ever to have played in both a World Bridge
Championship and a World Table Tennis Championship (he did better at
bridge).
Eddie was inducted into the Bridge Hall of Fame in 1996, the same year he
was inducted into the Minnesota State Table Tennis Hall of Fame.
Dedication
I’d like to dedicate this book to my mom and dad, who stuck with me even
when all the relatives were telling them that I’d come to no good end being a
card player and asking why I didn’t find a “regular” job like everybody else.
Thanks for hanging in there with me.
Author’s Acknowledgments
I have to start by thanking Joyce Pepple, the acquisitions director, who I convinced that the diagrams in the first edition had to go. She, along with Stacy
Kennedy, the acquisitions editor, were instrumental in convincing the powers
that be that the diagrams needed more of a “bridge look.”
Second, I would like to thank Georgette Beatty, my project editor. Georgette is
an absolute dream to work with. She couldn’t have been more supportive,
and her ideas, suggestions, and corrections were spot on each time.
I also had a great copy editor, Krista Hansing, and an equally wonderful technical reviewer, Cyndy Cradick. What a team!
But every team needs a coach and I had the best: my wife, Yvonne. Her patience
and understanding of just how far to go in this book saved me headaches and
heartaches, not to mention extra work. Just as with the first edition, there would
have been no second edition without Yvonne. I kid you not.
Publisher’s Acknowledgments
We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our Dummies online registration
form located at www.dummies.com/register/.
Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:
Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media
Development
Composition Services
Project Editor: Georgette Beatty
(Previous Edition: Mary Goodwin)
Acquisitions Editor: Stacy Kennedy
Project Coordinator: Jennifer Theriot
Layout and Graphics: Barbara Moore,
Heather Ryan, Alicia B. South,
Julie Trippetti, Erin Zeltner
Copy Editor: Krista Hansing
Proofreaders: John Greenough, Leeann Harney,
Christy Pingleton, Techbooks
(Previous Edition: Diane L. Giangrossi, Joe
Jansen)
Indexer: Techbooks
Editorial Program Coordinator: Hanna K. Scott
Special Help Victoria M. Adang
Technical Editor: Cyndy Cradick
Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker
Editorial Assistants: Erin Calligan, Nadine Bell
Cover Photo: © INSADCO Photography/Alamy
Cartoons: Rich Tennant
(www.the5thwave.com)
Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies
Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies
Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director, Consumer Dummies
Kristin A. Cocks, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies
Michael Spring, Vice President and Publisher, Travel
Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel
Publishing for Technology Dummies
Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User
Composition Services
Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services
Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services
Contents at a Glance
Introduction .................................................................1
Part I : Beginning with Basic Notrump Play ...................7
Chapter 1: Going to Bridge Boot Camp ...........................................................................9
Chapter 2: Counting and Taking Sure Tricks.................................................................19
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play ...................................27
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play........................................45
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract..............63
Chapter 5: Introducing Trump Suits ..............................................................................65
Chapter 6: Creating Extra Winners and Discarding Losers.........................................81
Chapter 7: Establishing the Dummy’s Long Suit ..........................................................91
Chapter 8: Getting Rid of Losers by Using the Dummy’s Trump Cards ..................103
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit............................111
Chapter 9: Starting with Bidding Basics ......................................................................113
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid............................................................123
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid ................................................................147
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener .........................................................................177
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder ...................................................................203
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding
Techniques ...............................................................225
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding...............................................227
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling............................................245
Chapter 16: Hitting Hard: Slam Bidding.......................................................................263
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score ...275
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts ...................................................277
Chapter 18: Defending against Trump Contracts .......................................................295
Chapter 19: Playing Second Hand ................................................................................311
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping .............................................................323
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge ........................345
Chapter 21: Joining Bridge Clubs and the Tournament World .................................347
Chapter 22: Playing Bridge on Your Computer and the Internet .............................357
Part VII: The Part of Tens ..........................................361
Chapter 23: Ten Ways to Be Kind to Your Partner .....................................................363
Chapter 24: Ten Great Bridge Resources (Besides This Book) ................................367
Index .......................................................................373
Table of Contents
Introduction ..................................................................1
About This Book...............................................................................................1
Conventions Used in This Book .....................................................................2
What You’re Not to Read.................................................................................3
Foolish Assumptions .......................................................................................3
How This Book Is Organized...........................................................................4
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play .........................................4
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract....................................4
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit .......................................................4
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques...........4
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score .........................4
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge.................................................5
Part VII: The Part of Tens ......................................................................5
Icons Used in This Book..................................................................................5
Where to Go from Here....................................................................................5
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play .....................7
Chapter 1: Going to Bridge Boot Camp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
Starting a Game with the Right Stuff..............................................................9
Ranking the Cards ..........................................................................................10
Knowing Your Directions ..............................................................................10
Playing the Game in Phases ..........................................................................11
Phase 1: The deal..................................................................................12
Phase 2: The bidding for tricks...........................................................12
Phase 3: The play of the hand.............................................................13
Phase 4: The scoring ............................................................................15
Understanding Notrump and Trump Play ..................................................16
Building Your Skills with Clubs, Tournaments, and the Internet .............16
Chapter 2: Counting and Taking Sure Tricks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Counting Sure Tricks after the Dummy Comes Down ...............................20
Eyeballing your sure tricks in each suit ............................................21
Adding up your sure tricks .................................................................24
Taking Sure Tricks..........................................................................................25
Starting with the strongest suit ..........................................................25
Taking sure tricks in unequally divided suits ...................................25
x
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play . . . . . .27
Establishing Tricks with Lower Honor Cards.............................................27
Driving the opponents’ ace out of its hole........................................28
Surrendering the lead twice to the ace and the king .......................29
Playing the short-side honors first ....................................................30
Using length to your advantage with no high honor in sight .........31
Practicing establishment.....................................................................32
Steering clear of taking tricks before establishing tricks................34
Taking Tricks with Small Cards ....................................................................35
Turning small cards into winning tricks: The joy of length ............36
Turning low cards into winners by driving out high honors ..........37
Losing a trick early by making a ducking play .................................39
Finding heaven with seven small cards.............................................41
Avoiding the risk of blocking a suit....................................................42
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play . . . . . . . . . .45
Slipping Lower Honors Past Higher Honors: The Finesse ........................45
Sneaking a king by an ace....................................................................46
Sliding a queen past the king ..............................................................47
Combining length with a finesse ........................................................48
Some finesses bear repeating .............................................................50
Finessing against split honors ............................................................52
Taking a surefire finesse when an opponent shows out..................53
Corralling a missing king .....................................................................53
Cutting Communications: The Hold-Up Play ..............................................55
Opening your eyes to the opening lead.............................................57
Dealing with the danger hand.............................................................59
Overtaking One Honor with Another...........................................................61
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract ..............63
Chapter 5: Introducing Trump Suits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
Understanding the Basics of Trump Suits ..................................................65
When trumping can save the day.......................................................66
When trumping can ruin your day .....................................................67
Eliminating Your Opponents’ Trump Cards................................................68
The dangers of taking sure tricks before drawing trumps..............68
The joys of drawing trumps first........................................................68
Looking at How Trump Suits Can Be Divided.............................................69
The four-four trump fit ........................................................................70
Other trump fits....................................................................................71
Counting Losers and Extra Winners ............................................................71
Defining losers and extra winners......................................................71
Recognizing immediate and eventual losers ....................................72
Identifying extra winners.....................................................................74
Drawing trumps before taking extra winners ...................................76
Taking extra winners before drawing trumps...................................78
Table of Contents
Chapter 6: Creating Extra Winners and Discarding Losers . . . . . . . . .81
Establishing Extra Winners in the Dummy .................................................81
Recognizing a great chance for creating extra winners ..................82
Determining when you can’t create extra winners ..........................82
Driving out your opponents’ honor cards to establish
extra winners.....................................................................................83
Making sure you can reach your extra winners ...............................84
Finessing for Extra Winners ..........................................................................85
The good and the bad: Times to try and times to avoid
finessing .............................................................................................85
Take your best shot: Finessing when you really need
extra winners.....................................................................................87
Determining How to Make Your Contract with Extra Winners.................88
Chapter 7: Establishing the Dummy’s Long Suit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91
Turning Small Cards into Winning Tricks ...................................................92
Knowing how to turn small cards into winners................................92
Playing the long suit to the bitter end ...............................................94
Banishing your opponents’ trump cards ..........................................94
Ending up in the right place — the dummy ......................................95
Setting Up a Long Suit with a Finesse ..........................................................96
Paying Attention to Long Suits in the Dummy ...........................................98
Winning tricks in long suits without honor cards............................98
Taking tricks in long suits with honor cards.....................................99
Understanding the dangers of setting up a side suit .....................100
Making a Grand Slam with Long-Suit Establishment ...............................101
Chapter 8: Getting Rid of Losers by Using the
Dummy’s Trump Cards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103
Understanding the Concept of Using the Dummy’s Trumps
to Your Advantage ....................................................................................103
Knowing When to Trump in the Short Hand ............................................104
Getting a grip on the basic method..................................................105
Postponing the drawing of trump ....................................................106
Saving Enough Trumps in the Dummy When Facing
a Counterattack ........................................................................................107
Steering Clear of Trumping Losers in the Long Hand .............................109
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit ............................111
Chapter 9: Starting with Bidding Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113
Grasping the Importance of Bidding .........................................................113
Surveying the Stages of Bidding.................................................................115
Opening the bidding ..........................................................................115
Being second in line ...........................................................................115
xi
xii
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Responding to the opening bid ........................................................116
Buying the contract............................................................................116
Passing the buck.................................................................................116
Looking at the Structure and the Rank of a Bid .......................................117
Knowing what elements make a proper bid ...................................117
Bidding suits in the proper order.....................................................118
Making the final bid............................................................................119
Putting it all together in a sample bidding sequence ....................119
Settling Who Plays the Hand ......................................................................120
Valuing the Strength of Your Hand.............................................................121
Adding up your high card points .....................................................121
Looking for an eight-card trump fit ..................................................122
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123
The Basics of Opening the Bidding............................................................123
Knowing when to get your feet wet .................................................123
Understanding when to bend the rules ...........................................124
Having the option of passing ............................................................124
Remembering your goal: The eight-card fit ....................................125
Opening the Bidding with 12 to 20 HCP in Your Hand.............................126
Eyeballing different distribution types............................................126
Opening with a one-suited hand.......................................................127
Opening with a two-suited hand.......................................................128
Opening with a three-suited hand....................................................129
Opening with a balanced hand .........................................................130
Opening the Bidding with 21 or More HCP ...............................................133
Opening 2⽤ with an unbalanced hand............................................134
Opening 2⽤ with a balanced hand ..................................................136
Knowing when not to open 2⽤ with a balanced hand ..................137
Making a Preemptive Opening Bid with 6 to 10 HCP ...............................138
Understanding your goals .................................................................139
Counting your tricks ..........................................................................139
Determining when to make a weak two bid ....................................141
Keeping within the parameters of the weak two bid .....................143
Opening with a preemptive bid at the three level..........................144
Opening with a preemptive bid at the four level............................144
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .147
Knowing When You Can Respond to an Opening Bid..............................147
Responding to a 1⽤ Opening Bid ..............................................................148
With 6 or more HCP and at least four cards in your suit ..............148
With suits of equal length..................................................................149
With 6 to 18 HCP and a balanced hand............................................150
Adding support points to your HCP ................................................152
Responding to a 1⽧ Opening Bid ..............................................................154
When clubs is your longest suit .......................................................154
How to get to game after a two-level response ..............................157
Table of Contents
Responding to a 1⽦ Opening Bid ..............................................................157
With fewer than three hearts ............................................................158
With exactly three hearts ..................................................................159
With four or more hearts...................................................................160
Responding to a 1⽥ Opening Bid ..............................................................163
With at least 6 HCP but no spade support ......................................163
With two five-card suits .....................................................................164
With two or more four-card suits .....................................................165
Responding to a 1NT Opening Bid .............................................................165
With a balanced hand or a six-card minor suit...............................167
With a five- or six-card major suit ....................................................168
With one or two four-card majors (the Stayman Convention) .....173
Responding with a Jump Shift ....................................................................175
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .177
Knowing When to Rebid and When to Pass..............................................177
Rebidding After a One-Over-One Response..............................................178
With a one-suited hand......................................................................179
With a two-suited hand......................................................................180
With a three-suited hand ...................................................................183
With support for your partner’s one-level major-suit
response...........................................................................................185
With a balanced hand ........................................................................187
With a rock crusher............................................................................190
Rebidding After a Two-Over-One Response .............................................191
Rebidding 2NT with a balanced hand..............................................191
Jumping all the way to 3NT...............................................................192
Raising your partner’s suit................................................................193
Rebidding a six-card suit ...................................................................194
Rebidding a second, higher-ranking suit (reversing) ....................194
Rebidding a second suit at the three level (a high reverse).........195
Rebidding After a Limited Response .........................................................197
When your partner supports your suit ...........................................197
When your partner responds 1NT ...................................................199
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .203
Becoming the Captain .................................................................................203
Limiting your hand.............................................................................204
When your partner limits her hand .................................................205
Rebidding After Your Limited Response of 1NT ......................................208
Sticking with notrump .......................................................................208
Choosing between two of your partner’s suits...............................209
Going with your own long suit..........................................................211
Rebidding After Your Partner Rebids 1NT................................................212
Rebidding Notrump After Your Partner Shows Two Suits ......................214
Rebidding with Four-Card Support for Your Partner’s Second Suit ......215
xiii
xiv
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Rebidding After Your Partner Repeats Her Suit .......................................216
Rebidding Your Long Suit............................................................................218
Rebidding After a Two-Over-One Response .............................................219
Playing the Waiting Game............................................................................221
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding
Techniques................................................................225
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding . . . . . . . . . . . .227
Getting Nasty with the Bad Guys: Overcalling .........................................227
Making a one-level overcall ...............................................................228
Making a two-level overcall...............................................................230
Making a weak jump overcall............................................................232
Making a 1NT overcall .......................................................................235
Respecting a two-over-one response from your opponents.........236
Listen Carefully: Responding to Your Partner’s Overcall........................237
Responding to a one-level major suit overcall ...............................237
Responding to a two-level overcall ..................................................242
Responding to a weak jump overcall ...............................................243
Responding to a 1NT overcall...........................................................244
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling . . . . . . . . . . .245
Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: The Penalty Double ...........245
Understanding the basics of penalty doubles ................................246
Knowing when to double...................................................................247
Talking Back: Redoubling ............................................................................249
Taking a Chance on a Takeout Double ......................................................251
Knowing when to make a takeout double .......................................251
Making a takeout double after an opening bid ...............................252
Making a takeout double after each opponent bids ......................252
Making a takeout double after you pass .........................................253
Passing after your partner’s takeout double ..................................254
Responding to a takeout double after your
right-hand opponent passes..........................................................255
Responding to a takeout double when you
have strength in the opener’s suit................................................257
Responding to a takeout double after your
right-hand opponent bids..............................................................258
Communicating Length: The Negative Double.........................................259
Making a negative double when you have hearts and
the opponents have spades ..........................................................259
Avoiding negative doubles when you hold five or six
cards in the opponents’ suit..........................................................261
Making a negative double after a weak jump overcall...................262
Table of Contents
Chapter 16: Hitting Hard: Slam Bidding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .263
Getting to Know Your Slams .......................................................................263
Bidding Notrump Slams ..............................................................................264
Moving quickly when you have the information you need...........264
Bidding 6NT after the responder shows limited HCP....................265
Inviting a slam with a 4NT bid ..........................................................266
Bidding Slams at a Trump Contract...........................................................268
Revaluating hands ..............................................................................269
Solving the ace problem with the Blackwood Convention ...........269
Asking for kings ..................................................................................272
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score....275
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .277
Making the Opening Lead against a Notrump Contract..........................277
Appreciating the importance of the opening lead .........................278
Listening to the bidding to create a plan of attack ........................279
Leading from length ...........................................................................280
Leading your partner’s suit...............................................................282
Leading unbid major suits versus unbid minor suits ....................283
Playing Third Hand against a Notrump Contract.....................................284
When your partner leads a low card and the dummy
has only low cards..........................................................................285
When you have two or three equal honor cards............................286
When you have both a lower and a higher honor card
than the dummy..............................................................................287
When your partner leads an honor card.........................................289
When your partner leads an honor and you have
a higher honor than the dummy...................................................292
When your partner leads an honor card in your suit....................293
Chapter 18: Defending against Trump Contracts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .295
Opening Leads against a Trump Contract ................................................295
When you have a sequence of three honor cards..........................296
When you have two touching honor cards.....................................296
When you have a short suit ..............................................................297
When your partner bids a suit..........................................................298
When one suit hasn’t been bid .........................................................300
When two suits haven’t been bid .....................................................301
When you have four trumps .............................................................301
When you want to remove the dummy’s trumps by
leading a trump ...............................................................................302
When you have the ace of a suit.......................................................303
When you have a suit with no honor cards ....................................304
Selecting the proper card for any suit .............................................304
xv
xvi
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Third-Hand Play against a Trump Contract..............................................305
When your partner leads an honor card.........................................305
When your partner leads a short suit .............................................309
Avoiding common errors...................................................................309
Chapter 19: Playing Second Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .311
Playing Second Hand with Vision...............................................................311
Blind man’s bluff: When the dummy’s on your right .....................311
You can see! When the dummy’s on your left.................................312
Defending with the Dummy on Your Right ...............................................312
Following a low lead with a low card ...............................................313
Covering an honor with a higher honor ..........................................314
Covering the last of equal honors in the dummy...........................315
Defending with the Dummy on Your Left ..................................................316
Using common sense .........................................................................316
Letting the declarer take a losing finesse........................................317
Leaving the dummy’s honors alone .................................................318
Using your aces constructively ........................................................318
Dealing with higher honors in the dummy .....................................319
Overpowering the opponents with honor cards............................320
Knowing when you’re beat................................................................321
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .323
Knowing What It Takes to Win....................................................................323
Making Your Contract..................................................................................324
Charting Your Points ...................................................................................324
Drawing Lines: The Basics of Scoring a Rubber.......................................325
Preparing your score pad..................................................................326
Starting the rubber.............................................................................327
Assessing the situation by eyeing partscores ................................327
Losing your beloved partscore.........................................................328
Drawing a new line .............................................................................329
Scoring bonus points for honors......................................................329
Being vulnerable and not vulnerable...............................................330
Getting closer to winning the rubber...............................................330
Lumping points after a game contract has been made .................331
Finishing the rubber...........................................................................332
Carrying over or not: Set and rotating games ................................333
Not Making Your Contract: Handling Penalties ........................................334
Scoring Slams................................................................................................337
Scoring Doubled and Redoubled Contracts .............................................339
Scoring doubled contracts................................................................340
Scoring redoubled contracts ............................................................341
Doubling your opponents into game ...............................................342
Another Option: Playing Chicago...............................................................342
Playing Duplicate Bridge .............................................................................343
Table of Contents
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge.........................345
Chapter 21: Joining Bridge Clubs and the Tournament World . . . . .347
Connecting with Your Local Bridge Club ..................................................347
Playing in Novice Tournaments .................................................................348
Preparing to play with others ...........................................................348
Accruing masterpoints ......................................................................348
Advancing in the Tournament World.........................................................350
Club tournaments...............................................................................350
Sectional tournaments.......................................................................351
Regional tournaments........................................................................351
National Championship tournaments..............................................352
International tournaments ................................................................353
Enjoying the Major Tournaments...............................................................353
Playing .................................................................................................353
Watching ..............................................................................................355
Attending free lectures ......................................................................355
Eating, dancing, and partying ...........................................................355
Chapter 22: Playing Bridge on Your Computer and the Internet . . . .357
Learning Bridge from Software Programs.................................................357
Audrey Grant’s Better Bridge Edition of Bridge Master 2000 .......358
BridgeMania ........................................................................................358
Learn Bridge the Easy Multimedia Way...........................................358
Learn to Play Bridge I & II..................................................................358
Surfing for Bridge Web Sites .......................................................................359
Playing bridge (against humans)......................................................359
Finding bridge information ...............................................................360
Part VII: The Part of Tens...........................................361
Chapter 23: Ten Ways to Be Kind to Your Partner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .363
Treat Your Partner Like Your Best Friend.................................................363
Tolerate Your Partner’s Errors ...................................................................363
Keep a Poker Face ........................................................................................364
Deal Well with Disaster................................................................................364
Play Conventions You Both Want to Play..................................................364
Pick Up the Slack for the Weaker Player ...................................................364
Own Up to Your Own Errors .......................................................................364
Offer Words of Encouragement ..................................................................364
Treat Your Partner the Same Whether You Win or Lose.........................365
Know When to Have Fun .............................................................................365
xvii
xviii
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Chapter 24: Ten Great Bridge Resources (Besides This Book) . . . . .367
The American Contract Bridge League .....................................................367
Your Local Bridge Club................................................................................368
Adult Education Classes..............................................................................368
Your Local Library and Bookstore.............................................................368
The Daily Bridge Column in Your Newspaper ..........................................369
Bridge Magazines .........................................................................................369
Bridge Bulletin ....................................................................................369
Bridge Today eMagazine ...................................................................369
The Bridge World ...............................................................................370
The Internet ..................................................................................................370
The Daily Bridge Calendar ..........................................................................370
Bridge Supply Houses..................................................................................371
Bridge Travel ................................................................................................371
Bridge instruction on cruise ships...................................................371
Bridge tours ........................................................................................372
Index........................................................................373
Introduction
B
ridge, quite simply, is the best card game ever. No other game even
comes close. Of course, I may be a little biased. I’ve been playing since I
was 11 years old, when my best friend’s father asked our gambling group,
“Why don’t you guys find a good game to play?” What I found was a great
game, and I’ve never looked back.
What exactly is it about bridge that fascinates countless millions, has fascinated countless millions, and will continue to fascinate countless millions?
Let me count the ways:
⻬ Bridge is a social game: You play with a partner and two opponents.
Right off the bat, you have four people together. Inevitably, you meet a
host of new friends with a strong common bond, the game of bridge.
Bridge is not an “I” game — bridge is a “we” game.
⻬ Bridge is a challenging game: Each hand is an adventure; each hand
presents a unique set of conditions that you react to and solve. You have
to do a little thinking. Studies have proven that playing bridge keeps the
brain cells active, which is helpful when you get a bit older.
⻬ Bridge is a game of psychology: If you fancy yourself a keen observer of
human behavior, look no further. You have found your niche. Players
aren’t supposed to show any emotion during the play, but the dam
always has a few leaks.
⻬ Bridge is fun: Hours become minutes! Playing bridge can mean endless
hours of pleasure, a host of new friends, and many laughs.
About This Book
If you’re an absolute beginner, this is the book for you. I take you on a handheld tour explaining the fundamentals in terms you can understand. I walk
you through the different aspects of the game, showing you real-life examples, so you can feel comfortable with the basics before you start to play.
If you have played (or tried to play) bridge before, this book still has much to
offer you. I condense my years of experience with the game into tips and
hints that can make you a better player. And you don’t have to read the book
from start to finish if you don’t want to; just flip it open and find the chapter
or part on the topic that you want to know more about.
2
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
If you’re a bridge novice, eventually you’ll have to play a few hands to feel
like a real bridge player. This book offers an easy-to-follow path that will
increase your comfort zone when you actually have to play on your own!
Conventions Used in This Book
No, not bridge “conventions” yet! The conventions in this section refer to
those used to help you navigate this book with maximum ease.
For example, I use a few symbols when referring to cards and bids. In a deck
of cards, you have four suits: spades (⽥), hearts (⽦), diamonds (⽧), and
clubs (⽤). When I refer to a particular card, I use abbreviations. For example,
the six of spades becomes ⽥6, and the jack of hearts transforms into ⽦J.
However, when discussing the final contract, I use 6⽥, not ⽥6.
I talk a lot about cards in this book. Sometimes I want to show you all the
cards in your hand, and sometimes I want to show you the cards in every
player’s hand (that’s 52 cards!). Instead of listing those cards in the text, I set
them aside in figures so you can more easily see who has which cards. The
cards in a hand are separated by suit, making it even easier to see each
player’s holdings.
In these figures, you may notice that I’ve assigned a “direction” to each of the
four players: You see a North, South, East, and West. Again, I use directions to
make it easier for you to follow the play as it goes around the table. For most
of the book, you are South. If I want you to see something from a different
perspective, I tell you where you’re seated.
When I talk about bidding (especially in Parts III and IV), I use a table like the
following to show you how a bidding sequence progresses.
South
West
North
East
1⽤
1NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
Don’t worry about what this bidding means. For now, I just want you to
understand that you read these tables starting at the upper-left corner, continuing to the right until the fourth player, and then back to the second line
and the first player. For example, for the preceding sequence, the bidding
starts with the first player, South (who bids 1⽤), and continues to the right
until the fourth player, East (who passes). Then the sequence goes back to
South, the first player, who passes.
Introduction
To top it off, I use a few other general conventions:
⻬ Italics highlight defined terms.
⻬ Boldface text highlights key words in bulleted lists and the action part
of numbered steps.
⻬ Monofont is used for Web addresses.
At times, it may seem that I overrun you with rules, but I’m just giving you
guidelines, something to get you started. When you begin to play, you’ll see
occasional exceptions to these guidelines. In bridge, “always” and “never”
don’t apply. Just remember that bridge is based most of all on common
sense. After reading this book, you’ll have a good idea of what to do when
you encounter new situations.
What You’re Not to Read
When I wrote this book, it wasn’t with the intention of telling you what not to
read! But if you can live without some items, they’re the sidebars (those
shaded gray boxes featured throughout the chapters). Actually, some of them
are pretty funny, but if you didn’t read them, you wouldn’t lose any of what
you’re supposed to be learning.
Foolish Assumptions
I’m assuming that you’re not going to understand everything that you’re
reading the first time around. Nobody does. Think of bridge as a foreign language. Patience, patience, patience.
I’m also assuming that you will go out and find three other people in your
shoes who want to play bridge so you can practice. This is the “living end”
for a beginner.
And I’m assuming that some of you want to understand the basics of bridge,
while others may be seasoned players who want to pick up a few new techniques. I’m foolishly assuming that I can help both groups.
3
4
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
How This Book Is Organized
You’ll find the book divided into seven parts, each focusing on a different
aspect of the game.
Part I: Beginning with
Basic Notrump Play
Chapter 1 starts at ground zero and describes the mechanics of the game,
giving you a bird’s-eye view of bridge. The rest of the part discusses various
techniques for taking tricks in a notrump contract.
Part II: Playing the Hand
in a Trump Contract
In this part, you discover the special know-how you need so you can bring
home the tricks when you end up in a trump contract.
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
This part also covers the fundamentals of bidding — when to bid, how high
to bid, and how to shut up your partner!
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced
Bidding Techniques
This part deals with defensive bidding, doubles, and redoubles. I also introduce slam bidding.
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense
and Keeping Score
You just can’t let your opponents walk all over you! In this part, you discover
how to stick out your foot and really trip up your opponents with stellar
defense. You also find out all about bridge scoring.
Introduction
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge
You will come to love this game. In this part, you can read up on finding the
best software, playing in clubs and tournaments, and playing on the Internet.
Part VII: The Part of Tens
In this part, you can read about the most important factor in any hand —
your partner. This part also offers a list of some really great bridge resources
that you can use after you put this book back on the shelf. (But of course,
you can always take this book off the shelf and use it over and over again!)
Icons Used in This Book
The icons used in this book highlight important topics and help you pick out
what you want to know.
Bridge has a language all its own, and I point you to a few key terms in this
new language.
If you can’t remember everything you read in this book, don’t worry, you’re
not alone — but do try to keep these items in mind.
I pack this book full of helpful hints that make you a smarter player, faster.
Watch out! You could lose many tricks or something equally disastrous if you
ignore items marked with this icon.
Where to Go from Here
I describe many plays and sample hands throughout this book. To get a real
feel for the game, try reading the book with a deck of cards nearby. In fact,
you can save yourself weeks or months of time if you lay out the cards that
you see in the example diagrams and play the cards as I suggest.
5
6
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Better yet, try to find three other players who want to play this exciting
game. You can read the book together and actually practice playing the
hands as you read. Experience is the best teacher, and if you’re not ready for
a real hand, you can use the material in this book as a kind of dry run.
If you are completely new to bridge, head straight to Chapter 1 so you can get
a feel for the game. If you’re an old bridge pro, you can start anywhere you
like and read the chapters in any order you like.
If, during the course of reading this book, you feel like you just have to get in
on the action, feel free to jump into any game you can find. Play as often as
you can. It’s the best way to learn. You can find information about bridge
clubs and tournaments in Chapter 21.
Finally, log onto the Net for more bridge info or even online play! Yes, you can
play online! Check out Chapter 22 for more on this topic.
Part I
Beginning with
Basic Notrump
Play
D
In this part . . .
on’t get scared off by the title of the first chapter —
“Going to Bridge Boot Camp.” I promise, I won’t ask
you to drop and give me 20 sit-ups. But you can consider
this chapter a kind of induction into the world of bridge; I
cover all the fundamentals you need to get a quick start
with the game.
In the rest of the part, I go over the various elements of
playing a hand at a notrump contract, in which the highest card in the suit wins the shootin’ match (the trick). I
show you how to count and take sure tricks, use winning
techniques, and outsmart your opponents.
Chapter 1
Going to Bridge Boot Camp
In This Chapter
䊳 Gathering what you need to play bridge
䊳 Spelling out your bridge ABCs
䊳 Building your bridge skills with available resources
W
elcome to Bridge Boot Camp! In this chapter, I talk about some basic
concepts that you need to have under your belt to get started playing
bridge. Consider this chapter your first step into the game of bridge. If you
read this whole chapter, you’ll graduate from Bridge Boot Camp. Sorry — you
don’t get a diploma. But you do get the thrill of knowing what you need to
know to start playing bridge.
By the way, I want you to know that you made a good choice, a very good
choice, about learning to play bridge. Perhaps I’m biased, but bridge is the
best card game ever. You can play bridge all over the world, and wherever
you go, you can make new friends automatically by starting up a game of
bridge. Bridge can be more than a game — it can be a common bond.
Starting a Game with the Right Stuff
Before you can begin to play bridge, you need to outfit yourself with some
basic supplies. Actually, you may already have some of these items around
the house, just begging for you to use them in your bridge game. What do you
need? Here’s your bottom-line list:
⻬ Four warm bodies, including yours.
⻬ A table — a square one is best. In a pinch, you can play on a blanket, on
a bed, indoors, outdoors, or even on a computer if you can’t find a game.
⻬ One deck of playing cards (remove the jokers).
⻬ A pencil and a piece of paper to keep score on. You can use any old
piece of paper — a legal pad, the back of a grocery list, or even an
ancient piece of papyrus will do.
10
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
I’ve been playing bridge for a long time now, so let me offer you a few hints on
how you can make getting started with the game a little easier:
⻬ Watch a real bridge game to observe the mechanics of the game.
⻬ Round up three friends who are interested in playing. Don’t worry if you
all don’t know what you’re doing. We all begin knowing nothing; some of
us even end up that way.
⻬ Follow the sample hands in this book by laying out the cards to correspond to the cards in the figures. Doing so gives you a feel for the cards
and makes the explanations easier to follow.
Ranking the Cards
A deck has 52 cards divided into four suits: spades (⽥), hearts (⽦), diamonds (⽧), and clubs (⽤).
Each suit has 13 cards: the AKQJ10 (which are called the honor cards) and the
98765432 (the spot cards).
The 13 cards in a suit all have a rank — that is, they have a pecking order.
The ace is the highest-ranking card, followed by the king, the queen, the jack,
and the 10, on down to the lowly 2 (which is also called the deuce).
Because each card has a ranking, the more high-ranking cards you have in
your hand, the better. The more honor cards you have, the stronger your
hand. You can never have too many honor cards.
Knowing Your Directions
In bridge, the players are nameless souls — they’re known by directions.
When you sit down at a table with your three pals to play bridge, imagine
that the table is a compass. You’re sitting at due South, your partner sits
across from you in the North seat, and your opponents sit East and West.
In Parts I and II of this book, you’re South for every hand, and your partner is
North. Just as in the opera, where the tenor always gets the girl, in a bridge
diagram, you’re represented as South — you are called the declarer, and you
always get to play the hand. Your partner, North, is always the dummy. Don’t
worry about what these terms mean just yet — the idea is that you play
every hand from the South position.
Chapter 1: Going to Bridge Boot Camp
Figure 1-1 diagrams the playing table. Get acquainted with this little diagram:
You see some form of it many, many times in this book, not to mention in
newspaper columns and magazines. For me, this diagram was a blessing in
disguise — I never could get my directions straight until I started playing
bridge.
Figure 1-1:
You’re
South, your
partner is
North, and
your
opponents
are East and
West.
North (Your Partner)
West
East
South (You)
Playing the Game in Phases
Obviously, more is involved in playing a game of bridge than I can tell you in
the following sections. If playing bridge were that simple, it wouldn’t be half
as challenging, rewarding, and fun (and you certainly wouldn’t need this
book). I’d like to give you a fast-forwarded view of one bridge hand so you
can get acquainted with how it all works.
First and foremost, bridge is a partnership game — you swim together and
you sink together. Your opponents are in the same boat. In bridge, you don’t
score points individually — you score points as a team. (To get the drift of
the first several parts of this book, don’t worry about keeping score. See
Chapter 20 to find out more about scoring if you can’t wait.)
Each hand of bridge is divided into four phases, which always occur in the
same order:
1. The deal
2. The bidding
3. The play
4. The scoring
11
12
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Phase 1: The deal
The game starts with each player seated facing his or her partner. The cards
are shuffled and placed on the table face down. Each player selects a card,
and the one who picks the highest card deals the first hand, but not before
the player to the dealer’s left cuts the cards. (After each hand, the deal
rotates to the left so one person doesn’t get stuck doing all the dealing.)
The cards are dealt one at a time, starting with the player to the dealer’s left
and moving in a clockwise rotation until each player has 13 cards (you deal
the entire deck of cards).
Wait until the dealer distributes all the cards before you pick up your hand.
That’s bridge etiquette lesson number one. I throw in a few other etiquette
tips throughout the book to keep you in line.
When each player has 13 cards, pick up and sort your hand using the following
tips:
⻬ You can sort the cards in any number of ways, but I recommend sorting
your cards into the four suits.
⻬ Alternate your black suits (clubs and spades) with your red suits (diamonds and hearts) so you don’t confuse a black card for another black
card, or a red card for another red card. It’s a bit disconcerting to think
you’re playing a heart, only to see a diamond come floating out of your
hand.
⻬ Hold your cards back, way back, so only you can see them. It’s difficult
to be a winning bridge player when your opponents can see your hand.
Phase 2: The bidding for tricks
Bidding in bridge can be compared to an auction. The auctioneer tells you
what the minimum bid is, and the first bid starts from that point or higher.
Each successive bid must be higher than the last, until someone bids so high
that everyone else wants out. When you want out of the bidding in bridge,
you say “Pass.” After three consecutive players say “Pass,” the bidding is
over. However, if you pass and someone else makes a bid, just as at an auction, you can reenter the bidding.
In real-life auctions, people often bid for silly things, such as John F. Kennedy’s
golf clubs or Andy Warhol’s cookie jars. In bridge, you don’t bid for cars, art
treasures, or precious gems; you bid for something really valuable — tricks.
Because the whole game revolves around tricks, you really need to understand
the term.
Chapter 1: Going to Bridge Boot Camp
Some of you may remember the game of War from when you were a kid. If you
don’t remember, just pretend that you do and follow along. In War, two players divide the deck between them. Each player takes a turn placing a card
face up on the table. The player with the higher card takes the trick.
In bridge, four people each place a card face up on the table, and the highest
card in the suit that has been led takes the trick. Because each player has 13
cards, 13 tricks must be fought over and won in each hand.
Think of bidding as an estimation of how many of those 13 tricks your side
(or their side) thinks it can take. The bidding starts with the dealer and
moves to his left in a clockwise rotation. Each player gets a chance to bid.
The least you can bid is for seven tricks, and the maximum you can bid is for
all 13. A player can either bid or pass at his turn.
The bidding goes around and around the table, with each player either bidding or passing until three players in a row say “Pass.”
The last bid (the one followed by three passes) is called the final contract. No,
that’s not something the Mafia puts out on you. It’s simply the number of
tricks that the bidding team must take to score points (see Parts III and IV for
more about bidding, and Chapter 20 for more about scoring).
Phase 3: The play of the hand
After the bidding for tricks, the play begins. Either your team or the other
team makes the final bid. Because you are the star of this book, pretend that
you make the final bid — for nine tricks. Therefore, your goal is to win at
least nine tricks in the hand.
If you take nine (or more) tricks, your team scores points. If you take fewer
than nine tricks, you are penalized, and your opponents score points. (See
Chapter 20 for the details on scoring.) In the following sections, I describe a
few important aspects of playing a hand of bridge.
The opening lead and the dummy
Once the bidding determines who the declarer is (the one who plays the
hand), that person’s partner becomes the dummy (no offense intended). The
person to the declarer’s left (West, assuming that you’re South) leads, or puts
down, the first card, called the opening lead, face up in the middle of the
table. The opening lead can be any card of West’s choosing.
13
14
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
When the opening lead lands on the table, the game really begins to roll. The
next person to “play” is the dummy — but instead of playing a card, the
dummy puts her hand face up on the table in four neat vertical rows, one row
for each suit, and then bows out of the action entirely. After she puts down
her cards, she says and does nothing, leaving the other three people to play
the rest of the hand. Ever heard of the Sphinx?
The 13 cards that the dummy puts down are also called the dummy. Yes, the
dummy puts down the dummy. I know, it doesn’t make much sense — I didn’t
make up these terms.
Because the dummy is no longer involved in the action, each time it’s the
dummy’s turn to play, you, the declarer, must physically take a card from the
dummy and put it in the middle of the table. In addition, you must play a card
from your own hand when it’s your turn.
The fact that the declarer gets stuck with playing all the team’s cards while
the dummy is off munching on snacks may seem a bit unfair. But you do have
an advantage over the defenders: You get to see your partner’s cards before
you play, which allows you to plan a strategy of how to win those nine tricks
(or however many tricks you need to make the final contract).
Following suit
The opening lead determines which suit the other three players must play.
Each of the players must follow suit, meaning that they must play a card in
the suit that’s led if they have one. For example, pretend that the opening
lead is a heart. Down comes the dummy, and you (and everyone else at the
table) can see the dummy’s hearts as well as your own hearts. Because you
must play the same suit that is led if you have one, you have to play a heart,
any heart that you want, from the dummy. You place the heart of your choice
face up on the table and wait for your right-hand opponent (East, assuming
that the dummy is North) to play a heart. After she plays a heart, you play a
heart from your hand. Voilà: Four hearts now sit on the table. A trick!
Whoever has played the highest heart takes the trick. One trick down and
only 12 to go — you’re on a roll!
What if a player doesn’t have a card in the suit that has been led? Then, and
only then, can a player choose a card, any card, from another suit and play it,
which is called a discard. When you discard, you’re literally throwing away
your card, knowing that it’s worthless because it’s not in the proper suit. A
discard can never win a trick.
In general, you discard worthless cards that can’t take tricks, saving goodlooking cards that may take tricks later. Sometimes, however, the bidding designates a trump suit (think wild cards). In that case, when a suit is led and you
don’t have it, you can discard from another suit or take the trick with a trump
card. See “Understanding Notrump and Trump Play” later in this chapter.
Chapter 1: Going to Bridge Boot Camp
If you can follow suit, you must. If you have a card in the suit that’s been led
but you play a card in another suit by mistake, you revoke. Not good; if you
are detected, penalties may be involved. Don’t worry, though — everybody
revokes once in a while. I once lost a National Championship by revoking on
the last hand of the tournament.
Playing defense
Approximately 25 percent of the time, you’ll be the declarer; 25 percent of the
time, you’ll be the dummy; and the remaining 50 percent of the time, you’ll be
on defense! You need to have a good idea of which card to lead in the first
trick and how to continue after you see the dummy. You want to be able to
take all the tricks your side has coming. Remember, defenders can’t see each
other’s hands so they have to use signals (yes, legal ones) to tell partner
what they have. They do this by making informative leads and discards that
announce to partner (and the declarer) what they have in the suit they are
playing.
I show you winning defensive techniques in Part V.
Winning and stacking tricks
The player who plays the highest card in the suit that has been led wins the
trick. That player sweeps up the four cards and puts them in a neat stack,
face down, a little off to the side. The declarer “keeps house” for his team by
stacking tricks into piles so anyone can see how many tricks that team has
won. The defender (your opponent) who wins the first trick does the same
for his or her side.
The player who takes the first trick leads first, or plays the first card, to the
second trick. That person can lead any card in any suit desired, and the other
three players must follow suit if they can.
The play continues until all 13 tricks have been played. After you play to the
last trick, each team counts up the number of tricks it has won.
Phase 4: The scoring
After the smoke clears and the tricks are counted, you know soon enough
whether the declarer’s team made its contract. You then register the score —
see Chapter 20 for more about scoring.
After the hand has been scored, the deal moves one player to the left. So if
South dealt the first hand, West is now the dealer. Then North deals the next
hand, then East, and then the deal reverts back to South.
15
16
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Play continues until one team bids and makes two game contracts, which is
called winning a rubber. When the rubber is over, everyone can go home or
start playing another rubber. If you play tennis, think of winning a rubber as
winning a set, not necessarily the match.
Understanding Notrump and Trump Play
The names of the first two parts of this book have some funny words in them:
trump and notrump. You can’t get very far playing bridge if you don’t decode
these funny phrases.
Have you ever played a card game that has wild cards? When you play with
wild cards, playing a wild card automatically wins the trick for you.
Sometimes wild cards can be jokers, deuces, or aces. It doesn’t matter what
the card is; if you have one, you know that you have a sure winner. In bridge,
you have wild cards, too, called trump cards. However, in bridge, the trump
cards are really wild because they change from hand to hand, depending on
the bidding.
The bidding determines whether a hand will be played with trump cards or in a
notrump contract (a hand with no trump cards). If the final bid names a trump
suit, that suit is the “wild” suit for the hand. For example, suppose that the final
bid is 4⽥ — this bid determines that spades are trump (or wild) for the entire
hand. For more about playing a hand at a trump contract, see Part II.
When the final bid ends in notrump, the highest card played in the suit that
has been led wins the trick. All the hands that you play in Part I are played at
notrump.
More contracts are played at notrump than in any of the four suits.
Building Your Skills with Clubs,
Tournaments, and the Internet
You know, you’re not in this bridge thing alone. You’ll find help around every
corner. You won’t believe how much is available for interested beginners.
Chapter 1: Going to Bridge Boot Camp
⻬ Clubs: Most bridge clubs offer beginning bridge lessons and/or supervised play.
⻬ Tournaments: Many tournaments offer free lectures for novice players,
as well as novice tournaments and supervised play. Watching experts
(or anyone else) play is free.
⻬ The Internet: Once you get the knack, you can play bridge 24 hours a
day on the Net . . . free!
To check this out, head for Part VI.
So what’s the fascination with bridge?
You may have met a few unfortunates who are
totally hooked on playing bridge. They just can’t
get enough of it. Being a charter member of that
club, I can offer a few words on why people can
get so wrapped up in the game.
⻬ One fascination is the bidding. Bidding
involves a lot of partner-to-partner communication skills, and cleverly exchanging
information between you and your partner
in the special language of the game is a
great challenge. Your opponents also pass
information back and forth during the bidding, so figuring out what they’re telling
each other is another challenge. Bidding is
such an art that some bridge books deal
entirely with bidding. (I cover bidding in
Parts III and IV.)
⻬ Another hook for the game is taking tricks.
You get to root out all kinds of devious ways
to take tricks, both as a declarer and as a
defender.
⻬ And don’t forget the human element. Bridge
is much more than a game of putting down
and picking up cards. Emotions enter into
the picture — sooner or later, every emotion or personality trait that you see in life
emerges at the bridge table.
17
18
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Chapter 2
Counting and Taking Sure Tricks
In This Chapter
䊳 Recognizing the sure tricks in each suit
䊳 Adding sure tricks to your trick pile
I
f you’re sitting at a blackjack table in Las Vegas, you’re a goner if someone
catches you counting cards. However, if you’re at a bridge table and you
don’t count cards, you’re one dead duck.
When you play a bridge hand, you need to count several things — most
importantly, you need to count your tricks. The game of bridge revolves
around tricks. You bid for tricks, you take as many tricks as you can in the
play of the hand, and your opponents try to take as many tricks as they can
on defense. Tricks, tricks, tricks.
In this chapter, I show you how to spot a sure trick in its natural habitat — in
your hand or in the dummy. I also show you how to take those sure tricks to
your best advantage. (See Chapter 1 for general information about tricks and
the dummy.)
Before the play of the hand begins, the bidding determines the final contract.
In Parts I and II of this book, I purposefully omit the bidding process. Just pretend the bidding is over and the dummy has come down. In Parts I and II, I
just want you to concentrate on how to count and take your tricks to your
best advantage. After you discover the trick-taking capabilities of honor
cards and long suits in the first two parts, the bidding makes much more
sense. If you can’t wait, turn to Part III to discover the wonders of bidding for
tricks. (I even include advanced bidding techniques in Part IV.)
20
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Counting Sure Tricks after
the Dummy Comes Down
The old phrase “You need to know where you are to know where you’re
going” comes to mind when playing bridge. After you know your final contract
(how many tricks you need to take), you then need to figure out how to win
all the tricks necessary to make your contract.
Depending on which cards you and your partner hold, your side may hold
some sure winners, called sure tricks — tricks you can take at any time right
from the get-go. You should be very happy to see sure tricks in either your
hand or in the dummy. You can never have too many sure tricks.
Sure tricks depend on whether you have the ace in a particular suit (either in
your hand or in the dummy). Because you get to see the dummy after the
opening lead, you can see quite clearly if any aces are lurking in the dummy.
If you notice an ace, why not get greedy and look for a king in the same suit?
Two sure tricks are better than one!
Basically, counting sure tricks boils down to the following points:
⻬ If you or the dummy has the ace in a suit (but no king), count one sure
trick.
⻬ If you have both the ace and the king in the same suit (between the two
hands), count two sure tricks.
⻬ If you have the ace, king, and queen in the same suit (between the two
hands), count three sure tricks. Happiness!
Mind your manners: Being a dummy with class
The dummy doesn’t do much to help you count
and take sure tricks except lay down her cards.
After her cards are on the table, the dummy
shouldn’t contribute anything else to the hand —
except good dummy etiquette.
or twitches. Sometimes such restraint takes
superhuman willpower, particularly when her
partner, the declarer, screws up big time. A
good dummy learns to control her baser
instincts.
As the play progresses, the dummy isn’t supposed to make faces, utter strange noises, or
make disjointed body movements, such as jerks
If you end up as the dummy and get fidgety, you
can always leave the table. The kitchen and TV
room offer ideal visitation possibilities.
Chapter 2: Counting and Taking Sure Tricks
In Figure 2-1, your final contract is for nine tricks. After you settle on the final
contract, the play begins. West makes the opening lead and decides to lead
the ⽥Q. Down comes the dummy, and you swing into action, but first you
need to do a little planning. You need to count your sure tricks. What follows
in this section is a sample hand and sample diagrams where I demonstrate
how to count sure tricks.
Eyeballing your sure tricks in each suit
You count your sure tricks one suit at a time. After you know how many
tricks you have, you can make further plans about how to win additional
tricks. I walk you through each suit in the following sections, showing you
how to count sure tricks.
North (Dummy)
765
J 10 9
A2
J 10 9 6 5
N
W
E
S
Figure 2-1:
Looking for South (You)
nine sure
AK8
tricks is
AKQ
KQJ5
your goal.
432
Walking through the spades
When the dummy comes down, you can see that your partner has three
small spades (⽥7, ⽥6, and ⽥5) and you have the ⽥A and ⽥K, as you see in
Figure 2-2.
North (Dummy)
765
N
E
Figure 2-2: W
S
Digging up
sure spade
tricks. South (You)
AK8
21
22
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Because the ⽥A and the ⽥K are the two highest spades in the suit, you can
count two sure spade tricks. If you also held the ⽥Q, you could count three
sure spade tricks.
When you have sure tricks in a suit, you don’t have to play them right away.
You can take sure tricks at any point during the play of the hand.
Counting some equally divided hearts
Figure 2-3 shows the hearts that you hold in this hand. Notice that you have
the five highest hearts in the deck, the ⽦AKQJ10, between your hand and the
dummy.
North (Dummy)
J 10 9
N
Figure 2-3:
E
Your hearts W
S
are heavy
with honor
cards. South (You)
AKQ
Your wonderful array of hearts is worth only three sure tricks because both
hands have the same number of cards. When you play a heart from one hand,
you must play a heart from the other hand. As a result, after you play the
⽦AKQ, the dummy won’t have any more hearts left (and neither will you).
You wind up with only three heart tricks because the suit is equally divided
(you have the same number of cards in both hands).
When you have an equal number of cards on each side, you can never take
more tricks than the number of cards in each hand. For example, if you both
hold four hearts, it doesn’t matter how many high hearts you have between
your hand and the dummy — you can never take more than four heart tricks.
Take a look at Figure 2-4 to see how the tragic story of an equally divided suit
unfolds.
In Figure 2-4, you have only one heart in each hand: the ⽦A and the ⽦K. All
you can take is one lousy heart trick. If you lead the ⽦A, you have to play the
⽦K from the dummy. If the dummy leads the ⽦K first, you have to “overtake”
it with your ⽦A. This is the only time you can have the ace and king of the
same suit between your hand and dummy and take only one trick. It’s too sad
for words.
Chapter 2: Counting and Taking Sure Tricks
North (Dummy)
Figure 2-4:
K
An honor
collision
N
causes
W
E
some honor
S
cards to
become
South (You)
worthless.
A
Checking out some unequally divided diamonds
In Figure 2-5, you can see that South holds four diamonds (⽧K, ⽧Q, ⽧J, and
⽧5), while North holds only two (⽧A and ⽧2). When one partner holds
more cards in a suit, the suit is unequally divided.
Figure 2-5: North (Dummy)
Some
A2
diamonds in
the rough:
N
An W
E
unequally
S
divided suit
can be a South (You)
gem.
KQJ5
Strong unequally divided suits offer oodles of tricks, providing that you play
the suit correctly. For example, take a look at how things play out with the
cards in Figure 2-5. Say you begin by leading the ⽧5 from your hand and play
the ⽧A from the dummy, which is one trick. Now the lead is in the dummy
because the dummy has taken the trick. Continue by playing ⽧2 and then
play the ⽧K from your hand. Now that the lead is back in your hand, play the
⽧Q and then the ⽧J. Don’t look now, but you’ve just won tricks with each of
your honor cards — four in all.
Lean a little closer to hear a five-star tip: If you want to live a long and happy
life with unequally divided suits that contain a number of equal honors (also
called touching honors, such as a king and queen or queen and jack), play
the high honor cards from the short side first. What does short side mean? In
23
24
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
an unequally divided suit, the player with fewer cards is the short side. In
Figure 2-5, the dummy has two diamonds to your four diamonds, making the
dummy the short side. When you play the high honor from the short side
first, you end up by playing the high honors from the long side, the hand that
starts with more cards in the suit, last. (In this example, you have the long
side.) This technique allows you to take the maximum number of tricks possible. And now you know why you started by leading the ⽧5 over the ⽧A. You
wanted to play the high honor from the short side first.
Coming up with no sure tricks in a suit with no aces: The clubs
When the dummy comes down, you may see that neither you nor the dummy
has the ace in a particular suit, such as the club suit in Figure 2-6. You have
⽤4, ⽤3, and ⽤2; the dummy has ⽤J, ⽤10, ⽤9, ⽤6, and ⽤5.
Figure 2-6:
Forget about North (Dummy)
J 10 9 6 5
counting
sure tricks
N
in a suit that
W
E
doesn’t
S
have the
ace in either
your hand or South (You)
432
the dummy.
Not all that pretty, are they? The opponents have the ⽤AKQ. You have no
sure tricks in clubs because you don’t have the ⽤A. If neither your hand nor
the dummy has the ace in a particular suit, you can’t count any sure tricks in
that suit.
Adding up your sure tricks
After you assess how many sure tricks you have in each suit, it’s reckoning
time. You need to add up all your sure tricks and see if you have enough to
make your final contract.
Just to get some practice at adding up tricks, go ahead and add up your sure
tricks from the hand shown in Figure 2-1. The total number of tricks is what’s
important, and you have the following:
Chapter 2: Counting and Taking Sure Tricks
⻬ Spades: Two sure tricks: ⽥A and ⽥K.
⻬ Hearts: Three sure tricks: ⽦AKQ.
⻬ Diamonds: Four sure tricks: ⽧AKQJ.
⻬ Clubs: No sure tricks because you have no ace. Bad break, buddy.
You’re in luck — you have the nine tricks that you need to make your final
contract. Now all you have to do is take them. You can do it.
Taking Sure Tricks
Having sure tricks is only half the battle; taking those sure tricks is the other
half. In the following sections, I show you how to do it.
Starting with the strongest suit
When you have enough sure tricks between the two hands to make your contract, you don’t have to take the tricks in any particular order. However, a reliable guideline to get you off on the right foot is to start by first playing the
cards in your strongest suit (the suit that offers you the most tricks). In the
case of the hand shown in Figure 2-1, start by playing diamonds.
For a moment, backtrack to West’s opening lead of the ⽥Q. Say that you take
the trick with the ⽥A, and now the lead is in your hand. You then take your
four diamond tricks (⽧AKQJ), and then you can take three more heart tricks
by playing the ⽦AKQ. Finally, you take your ninth trick with the ⽥K. Your
opponents take the last four tricks. No big deal — you’ve taken nine tricks
and made your contract.
Taking sure tricks in unequally
divided suits
Strong suits are a good source of tricks — the stronger, the better. If strong
suits are unequally divided between the two hands but have equal honor
cards in both hands, play the high honor from the short side first. The cards
in Figure 2-7 show you the advantage of starting with the short-side honor
cards.
25
26
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
North (Dummy)
QJ43
Figure 2-7:
Serving up
N
sure tricks,
E
starting with W
S
the shortside honor
cards. South (You)
AK2
In the example shown in Figure 2-7, you decide to play spades, an unequally
divided suit. You also (smartly) decide to play the high honors from the short
side (your hand is the short side because you have three cards to dummy’s
four cards). Play the ⽥A and then the ⽥K. You remain with the ⽥2, and the
dummy has two winning tricks, the ⽥QJ. Lead your ⽥2 and take the trick
with the dummy’s ⽥J. The lead is now in the dummy, and you can take a
fourth spade trick with the ⽥Q. You have just added four tricks to your trick
pile. There’s no stopping you now!
Chapter 3
Using Winning Trick Techniques
at Notrump Play
In This Chapter
䊳 Getting the most out of your lower honor cards
䊳 Squeezing tricks from your small cards
W
inning at bridge is a breeze if you always have enough sure tricks to
make your contract. The sad news is that you seldom have enough
sure tricks to make your contract. You must come up with other ways of
taking tricks, ways that may mean temporarily surrendering the lead to your
opponents. In this chapter, I show you clever techniques to win those extra
tricks that you may need to make your contract in notrump play. Specifically,
I explain how to establish tricks with lower honor cards and take tricks with
small cards. (Chapter 4 explains how to outsmart your opponents by sidestepping their high honor cards and cutting their lines of communication.)
Throughout this chapter, you may notice that many figures show cards in
only one suit. Sometimes I want you to focus on one suit at a time: In the following figures, you see suits that are ideal for creating extra tricks you need.
Don’t forget: I always put you in the hot seat by making you South — that’s
where the action is! (Your partner is North, and your opponents are West and
East. See Chapter 1 for more details about positions in bridge.)
Establishing Tricks with
Lower Honor Cards
When you don’t have the ace in a suit, you’re in bad shape as far as sure
tricks are concerned (see Chapter 2 for more about sure tricks). Not to worry.
Your new friend, establishing tricks, will see you through the tough times and
help you win extra tricks you may need to make your contract. Check out the
following sections for surefire techniques on establishing tricks.
28
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Establishing tricks is about sacrificing one of your honor cards to drive out
one of your opponents’ higher honor cards. You can then swoop in with your
remaining honor cards and take a bundle of tricks.
In case you’re wondering, your opponents don’t just sit around and admire
your dazzling technique of establishing tricks. Oh, no — they’re busy trying
to establish tricks of their own. In bridge, turnabout is fair play. Whatever
you can do, your opponents can also do. Many a hand turns into a race for
tricks. To win the race, you must establish your tricks earlier rather than
later. Remembering this rule will keep you focused and help you edge out
your opponents.
Driving the opponents’ ace out of its hole
The all-powerful ace wins a trick for you every time. But no matter how hard
you pray for aces, sometimes you just don’t get any, and you can’t count any
sure tricks in a suit with no aces. Sometimes you get tons of honor cards but
no ace, and you still can’t count even one sure trick in that suit. Ah, the inhumanity!
Cheer up — you can still create winning tricks in such a suit. When you have
all the honors in a suit except the ace, you can attack that suit early and drive
out the ace from your opponent’s hand. Here’s what you do:
1. Lead an honor card in the suit in which you’re missing the ace.
To get rid of the ace when you have all the honors except the ace, lead
the highest honor. So if you have the KQJ, lead the king to drive out the
ace. If you lead a low card, like the 6, 7, or 8, your opponents won’t have
to play the ace to take the trick. They can simply take the trick with a
lower card, such as the 9 or 10, and they still have the ace! Not good.
When you have equal honors in your hand (where they can’t be seen),
such as the KQJ, and wish to lead one, use the higher or highest equal to
do your dirty work. It is more deceptive. Trust me.
If the equal honors are in the dummy where everyone can see them,
which one to play is optional. It doesn’t matter, but to be uniform, we
will play the lower equal.
2. Continue playing the suit until your opponents play the ace and take
the trick.
3. After that ace is out of the way, you can count your remaining equal
honor cards as sure tricks.
Driving out the ace is a great way of setting up extra tricks. The cards in
Figure 3-1 provide an example of a suit you can attack to drive out the ace.
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play
North (Dummy)
K Q J 10
Figure 3-1:
You can dig West
for aces to
752
create
winning
tricks.
N
W
E
S
East
A98
South (You)
643
In Figure 3-1, you can’t count a single sure spade trick because your opponent (East) has the ⽥A. Yet the four spades in the dummy — ⽥KQJ10 — are
extremely powerful. (Any suit that contains four honor cards is considered
powerful.)
Say that the lead is in your hand from the preceding trick, and you lead a low
spade (the lowest spade you have — in this case, the ⽥3). West, seeing the
dummy has very strong spades, plays her lowest card, the ⽥2; you play the
⽥10 from the dummy; and East decides to win the trick with the ⽥A. You
may have lost the lead, but you have also driven out the ⽥A. The dummy
remains with the ⽥KQJ, all winning tricks. You have established three sure
spade tricks where none existed.
Suits with three or more equal honor cards between the two hands are ideal
for suit establishment. When you see the KQJ or the QJ10 between your hand
and the dummy, don’t think twice about attacking that suit.
Surrendering the lead twice to
the ace and the king
When you’re missing just the ace, you can establish the suit easily by just
leading one equal honor after another until an opponent takes the ace.
However, if you’re missing both the ace and the king, you will have to give up
the lead twice to take later tricks.
Bridge is a game of giving up the lead to get tricks back. Don’t fear giving up
the lead. Your high honor cards in the other suits protect you by allowing you
to eventually regain the lead and pursue your goal of establishing tricks.
Figure 3-2 shows a suit where you have to swallow your pride twice before
you can establish your lower honor cards.
29
30
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
North (Dummy)
Q J 10 9
Figure 3-2:
Flushing out
the ace and
the king.
West
8765
N
W
E
S
East
AK
South (You)
432
Notice that the dummy in Figure 3-2 has a sequence of cards headed by three
equal honors — the ⽥QJ10. The ⽥9, though not considered an honor card, is
equal to the ⽥QJ10 and has the same value. When you have a sequence of
equals, all the cards have equal power to take tricks — or to drive out opposing honor cards. For example, you can use the ⽥9 or the ⽥Q to drive out
your opponent’s ⽥K or ⽥A.
In Figure 3-2, your opponents hold the ⽥AK. To compensate, you have the
⽥QJ109, four equals headed by three honors — a very good sign. You lead a
low spade, the ⽥2, West plays the ⽥5, you play the ⽥9 from the dummy, and
East takes the trick with the ⽥K. You’ve driven out one spade honor. One
more to go. Your spades still aren’t established, but you’re halfway home!
The next time you have the lead, lead a low spade, the ⽥3, and then play the
⽥10 from the dummy, driving out the ⽥A. Guess what? You started with zero
sure spade tricks, but now you have two: the ⽥Q and ⽥J.
Playing the short-side honors first
Never forget this simple and powerful rule: When attacking an unequally
divided suit, where either your hand or the dummy holds more cards than
the other in that suit, play the high equal honors from the shorter side first.
Doing so enables you to end up in the long side, where the remainder of the
honors, and therefore the remainder of the tricks, are located. If you remember to play your equal honors from the short side first, your partner will
kneel down and declare you Ruler of the Universe.
Even if you don’t want to be Ruler of the Universe, just remember “short-side
honors first,” and you’ll know what to do when faced with cards like those
shown in Figure 3-3.
Liberation time! The short hand (your hand) has two equal honor cards, the
⽥KQ. Start by playing the ⽥K, the higher honor on the short side, and a low
spade from the dummy, the ⽥5. As it happens, East must take the trick with
the ⽥A because she doesn’t have any other spades.
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play
North (Dummy)
J 10 9 6 5
Figure 3-3: West
Don’t short8732
change your
short-side
honors.
N
W
E
S
East
A
South (You)
KQ4
You’ve established your spades because the ⽥A is gone, but you still need to
remember the five-star tip of playing the high remaining equal honor from the
short side next. Play the ⽥Q, which takes the trick, and then lead the ⽥4.
Dummy remains with the ⽥J109, all winning tricks. You have established four
spade tricks by playing the high card from the short side twice.
Using length to your advantage
with no high honor in sight
In this section, you hit the jackpot — I show you how to establish tricks in a
suit where you have the J1098, but you’re missing the ace, king, and queen!
If you don’t have any of the three top dogs, but you have four or more cards
in the suit, you can still scrape a trick or two out of the suit. When you have
length (usually four or more cards of the same suit), you know that even after
your opponents win tricks with the ace, king, and queen, you still hold
smaller cards in that suit, which become — voilà! — instant winners.
Perhaps you’re wondering why you’d ever want to squeeze some juice out of
a suit in which you lack the ace, king, and queen? The answer: You may need
tricks from an anemic suit like this to make your contract. Sometimes you
just get the raw end of the deal, and you need to pick up tricks wherever you
can eke them out.
When you look at the dummy and see a suit such as the one in Figure 3-4, try
not to shriek in horror.
Do those spades in Figure 3-4 make you a little queasy? True, it isn’t the most
appetizing suit you’ll ever have to deal with, but don’t judge a book by its
cover. You can get some tricks out of this suit because you have the advantage
of length: You have a total of eight spades between the two hands. The strength
you get from numbers helps you after you drive out the ace, king, and queen.
31
32
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
North (Dummy)
J 10 9 8 7
Figure 3-4:
You can
establish
tricks even West
if you don’t
AKQ
have the
ace, king,
and queen.
N
W
East
65
E
S
South (You)
432
Say you need to develop two tricks from this hopeless-looking, forsaken suit.
You start with a low spade, the ⽥2, which is taken by West’s ⽥Q (the dummy
and East each play their lowest spade, the ⽥7 and ⽥5, respectively). After
you regain the lead in some other suit, lead another low spade, the ⽥3,
which is taken by West’s ⽥K (the dummy plays the ⽥8, and East her last
spade, the ⽥6). After you gain the lead again in another suit, lead your last
spade, the ⽥4, which loses to West’s ⽥A (the dummy plays the ⽥9). You
have lost the lead again, but you have accomplished your ultimate goal. Don’t
look now, but the dummy holds two winning spades — the ⽥J10. Nobody at
the table holds any more spades; if the dummy can win a trick in another
suit, you can go right ahead and claim those two spade tricks.
Practicing establishment
Practice makes perfect, they say, so I want you to practice making your contract by establishing tricks. In this section, you hold the entire hand shown in
Figure 3-5. Your final contract is for 12 tricks. West leads the ⽥J. Now you
need to do your thing and establish some tricks.
Figure 3-5:
You can
establish West
the three
J
extra tricks
you need
with a
powerful
diamond
suit.
North (Dummy)
KQ6
AQJ
K Q J 10
A43
East
N
W
E
S
South (You)
A32
K98
6542
KQ7
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play
Before you even think of playing a card from the dummy, count your sure
tricks (see Chapter 2 if you need some help counting sure tricks):
⻬ Spades: You have three sure tricks — the ⽥AKQ.
⻬ Hearts: You have another three sure tricks — the ⽦AKQ. (Don’t count
the ⽦J; you have three hearts in each hand, so you can’t take more than
three tricks.)
⻬ Diamonds: Sad. No sure tricks — no ace, no sure tricks.
⻬ Clubs: You have three sure tricks — the ⽤AKQ.
You have 9 sure tricks, but you need 12 tricks to make your contract. You
must establish three more tricks. Look no further than the dummy’s magnificent diamond suit. If you can drive out the ⽧A, you can establish three diamond tricks just like that.
When you need to establish extra tricks, pick the suit you plan to work with
and start establishing immediately. Don’t take your sure tricks in other suits
until you establish your extra needed tricks. Then take all your tricks in one
giant cascade. Reread this tip; it’s a biggie.
First you need to deal with West’s opening lead, the ⽥J. You have a choice.
You can win the trick in either your hand with the ⽥A or in the dummy with
the ⽥Q. Your objective is to establish tricks in your target suit: the diamonds. Say that you decide to save your ⽥A for later, and you take the ⽥J
with the ⽥Q in the dummy.
Following your game plan, you lead the ⽧K from the dummy. Pretend that
West takes the trick with the ⽧A and then leads the ⽥10. Presto — your
three remaining diamonds in the dummy, the ⽧QJ10, have just become three
sure tricks because you successfully drove out the ace. Your sure trick count
has just ballooned from 9 to 12. Don’t look now, but you have the rest of the
tricks and have just made your contract.
After you have enough sure tricks to make your contract, do not pass Go and
do not collect $200; just take your tricks.
Next comes the best part: the mop-up, taking your winning tricks. Say that
you capture West’s return of the ⽥10 with the ⽥K. Then you take your three
established diamonds, your three winning hearts, your three winning clubs,
and finally your ⽥A. You now have 12 tricks, 3 in each suit. Ah, the thrill of
victory.
33
34
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Steering clear of taking tricks
before establishing tricks
Establishing extra needed tricks is all about giving up the lead. Sometimes
you need to drive out an ace, a king, or an ace and a king. Giving up the lead
to establish tricks can be painful for a beginner, but you must steel yourself
to do it.
You may hate to give up the lead for fear that something terrible may happen.
And you’re right. Something terrible is going to happen — if you’re afraid to
give up the lead to establish a suit. Most of the time, beginners fail to make
their contracts because they don’t establish extra tricks soon enough. Very
often, beginners fall into the trap of taking their sure tricks before establishing tricks.
I know that you’d never commit such a grievous error as taking sure tricks
before you establish other needed tricks. But just for the fun of it, take a look
at Figure 3-6 to see what happens when you make this mistake. This isn’t
going to be pretty, so clear out the children.
North (Dummy)
KQ6
AQJ
K Q J 10
A43
West
J 10 9 7
7632
A
10 8 6 2
Figure 3-6:
Beware of
taking
before
establishing.
N
W
E
S
East
854
10 5 4
9873
J95
South (You)
A32
K98
6542
KQ7
In this hand (showing all the cards from the hand in Figure 3-5), the opening
lead is the ⽥J, and you need to take 12 tricks. Say you take the first three
spade tricks with the ⽥AKQ, then the next three heart tricks with the ⽦AKQ,
and finally the next three club tricks with the ⽤AKQ. Figure 3-7 shows what’s
left after you take the first nine tricks (Remember: You need to take 12 tricks.)
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play
Figure 3-7:
You can’t
win the
three extra West
10
tricks you
7
need after
A
taking your
10
sure tricks
first.
North (Dummy)
K Q J 10
N
W
E
East
9873
S
South (You)
6542
You lead a low diamond. But guess what — West takes the trick with the ⽧A.
The hairs standing up on the back of your neck may tell you what I’m going to
say next: West has all the rest of the tricks! West remains with a winning
spade, a winning heart, and a winning club. Nobody else at the table has any
of those suits, so all the other players are forced to discard. West’s three
cards are all winning tricks, and those great diamonds in the dummy are
nothing but deadweight.
A word to the wise: Nothing good can happen to you if you take sure tricks
before establishing extra needed tricks.
Taking Tricks with Small Cards
Grab a man off the street, and he can take tricks with aces and kings. But can
that same man take tricks with small cards, such as 2s and 3s?
Only very rarely do you get a hand dripping with all the honor cards you
need to make your contract. Therefore, you must know how to take tricks
with the smaller cards. Small cards are cards that are lower than honor cards.
They are also called low cards or spot cards. You seldom have enough firepower (aces and kings) to make your contract without these little fellows.
Small cards may take tricks when attached to long suits (four or more cards in
the suit). Small cards start out looking pretty innocuous, but they sort of hang
out with the higher honors hoping to get into the action. Eventually, after all
the high honors in a suit have been played, the little guys start making appearances. They may be bit actors when the play begins, but before the final curtain is drawn, they’re out there taking the final bows — and taking tricks.
In the following sections, I give you the scoop on using small cards to your
great advantage.
35
36
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Turning small cards into winning
tricks: The joy of length
Deuces (and other small cards, for that matter) can take tricks for you when
you have seven cards or more in a suit between the two hands. You may then
have the length to outlast all your opponents’ cards in the suit. Figure 3-8
shows a hand where this incredible feat of staying power takes place.
North (Dummy)
AKQ2
Figure 3-8:
Small cards West
attached to
J98
honor cards
can become
winners.
N
W
E
S
East
10 7 4
South (You)
653
You choose to attack spades in the hand in Figure 3-8. Because the ⽥AKQ in
the dummy are all equals, the suit can be started from either your hand or
the dummy. Pretend that the lead is in your hand. You begin by leading a low
spade, the ⽥3, to the ⽥Q in the dummy, and both opponents follow suit.
With the lead in the dummy, continue by leading the ⽥K and then the ⽥A
from the dummy. The opponents both started with three spades, meaning
that they now have no more spades. That ⽥2 in the dummy is a winning
trick. The frog has turned into a prince.
Whenever you have four cards in a suit in one hand and three in the other,
and your opponents have the other six cards in the suit divided three in each
hand, you’re destined to take a trick with any small card attached to your
four-card suit.
Don’t expect that fourth card to turn into a trick every time, though. Your
opponents’ six cards may not be divided 3-3 after all. They may be divided
4-2, as you see in Figure 3-9.
When you play the ⽥AKQ as you do in Figure 3-9, East turns up with four
spades, so your ⽥2 won’t be a trick. After you play the ⽥AKQ, East remains
with the ⽥J, a higher spade than your ⽥2. Live with it.
Bridge is a game of strategy and luck. When it comes to taking tricks with
small cards, you just have to hope that chance is on your side.
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play
Figure 3-9:
You may not
be able to
use small
cards to
West
your
10 9
advantage
when your
opponents’
cards are
split 4-2.
North (Dummy)
AKQ2
N
W
East
J876
E
S
South (You)
543
Turning low cards into winners
by driving out high honors
Sometimes you have to drive out an opponent’s high honor card (could be an
ace, a king, or a queen) before you can turn your frogs into princes (or turn
your deuces into tricks). Figure 3-10 shows you how (with a little luck) you
can turn a deuce into a winner.
Figure 3-10:
Drive out
your
opponents’ West
high cards
10 9 4
to use your
low cards
successfully.
North (Dummy)
KQJ2
N
W
E
S
East
A87
South (You)
653
With the cards shown in Figure 3-10, your plan is to develop (or establish) as
many spade tricks as possible, keeping a wary eye on turning that ⽥2 in the
dummy into a winner. Say that you begin by leading a low spade, the ⽥3, and
West follows with a low spade, the ⽥4. You play the ⽥J from the dummy,
which loses to East’s ⽥A. At this point, you note the following:
37
38
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
⻬ The ⽥KQ in the dummy are now both winning tricks because your
opponents’ ⽥A is gone.
⻬ Your opponents started with six spades. By using Kantar’s subtraction
method (see the nearby “Subtracting your way to success” sidebar), you
know that your opponents now have only four spades left. Four is your
new key number.
After regaining the lead by winning a trick in another suit, lead another low
spade, the ⽥5, to the ⽥Q in the dummy (with both opponents following
suit). Your opponents now have two spades left between them. When you
continue with the ⽥K, both opponents follow suit again. They now have zero
spades left — triumph! The ⽥2 in the dummy is now a sure trick. Deuces love
to take tricks — doing so makes them feel wanted.
Subtracting your way to success
Happiness is having small cards that turn into
winning tricks. Misery is having small cards that
are winning tricks and not knowing it. Total
misery is thinking your small cards are winning
tricks only to find out they aren’t.
To know when your small cards are winners,
you must become familiar with the dreaded “c”
word, counting. If you count the cards in the suit
you’re playing, you can tell whether your little
guys have a chance. You have to do a little
simple subtraction as well, but I can assure you
it’s well worth the effort.
A neat way of counting the suit you’re attacking
is with the subtraction-by-two method. Follow
these steps for successful counting every time:
1. Count how many cards you and the dummy
have in the suit.
2. Subtract the number of cards you and
dummy have from 13 (the number of cards
in a suit) to get the total number of cards
your opponents have in that suit.
3. Each time you lead the suit and both opponents follow suit, subtract two from the
number of cards your opponents have left.
4. When your opponents have no cards left, all
your remaining small cards are winning
tricks.
With this method, the numbers get smaller and
become easier to work with. Some people think
doing stuff like this is fun — with any luck,
you’re one of these people.
You may discover an easier way of counting, but
for most people the subtraction-by-two method
works just fine. If you just have to be different,
here are a couple of other methods:
⻬ The digital (fingers and toes) method: This
method requires playing with open-air sandals so you can see your digits clearly.
⻬ The faking-a-count method: You look
intently at the cards that have been played
as if you’re counting them. Then you look up
at the ceiling as if you can see the count up
there, and finally, you nod sagely even
though you don’t have the vaguest idea of
how many cards your opponents have left.
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play
Make sure that you count the cards in the suit you’re attacking. You’re in a
pretty sad state if you don’t know (or aren’t sure) whether a low card in your
hand or in the dummy can be a winner, and you leave it untouched because
it’s such a small card.
Losing a trick early by making
a ducking play
Suits that have seven or eight cards between your hand and the dummy,
including the ace and the king, lend themselves to taking extra tricks with
lower cards, even though you have to lose a trick in the suit. Why do you
have to lose a trick in the suit? Because the opponents have the queen, the
jack, and the 10 between them. After you play the ace and the king, the opponent with the queen is looking at a winning trick.
When you know you have to lose at least one trick in a suit that includes the
ace and king, face the inevitable, and lose that trick early by playing low
cards from both your hand and the dummy. Taking this dive early on is called
ducking a trick.
Ducking a trick is a necessary evil when playing bridge. A ducking play in a
suit that has an inevitable loser allows you to keep your controlling cards
(the ace and the king) so you can use them in a late rush of tricks.
When you duck a trick and then play the ace and king, you wind up in the
hand where the small cards are — just where you want to be. In the following
sections, I present two situations in which you can duck a trick successfully.
When you have seven cards between the two hands
The cards in Figure 3-11 show how successful ducking a trick can be.
North (Dummy)
AK64
Figure 3-11:
Ducking a West
trick leaves
983
you in
control of
the suit.
N
W
E
S
South (You)
752
East
Q J 10
39
40
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
In Figure 3-11, you have seven cards between the two hands with the ⽥AK in
the dummy — a perfect setup for ducking a trick. You can only hope that
your opponents’ six cards are divided 3-3. To find out, you have to play the
suit three times.
You know you have to lose at least one spade trick because your opponents
hold the ⽥QJ10 between them. Because you have to lose at least one spade
trick, it’s better to lose the trick right away.
Play a low spade from both hands! No, you aren’t giving out presents; actually, you’re making a very clever ducking play by letting your opponents have
a trick they’re entitled to anyway.
After you concede the trick with the ⽥2 from your hand and the ⽥4 from the
dummy, you can come roaring back with your big guns, the ⽥K and the ⽥A,
when you regain the lead. Notice that because your opponents’ spades are
divided 3-3, that little ⽥6 in the dummy takes a third trick in the suit — neither opponent has any more spades.
When you have eight cards between the two hands
If the dummy has a five-card suit headed by the ace and the king facing three
small cards, you can usually take two extra tricks with a ducking play. See
Figure 3-12, where you make a ducking play, and then watch the tricks come
rolling in.
North (Dummy)
AK643
Figure 3-12:
Set up an West
avalanche
Q 10 9
of tricks via
a ducking
play.
N
W
E
S
East
J8
South (You)
752
In Figure 3-12, the opponents have five spades between the two hands,
including the ⽥QJ. You have to lose a spade trick no matter what, so lose it
right away by making one of your patented ducking plays. Lead the ⽥2. West
plays the ⽥9, you play the ⽥3 from the dummy, and East plays the ⽥8. West
wins the trick. Not to worry — you’ll soon show them who’s boss!
The next time either you or the dummy regains the lead, play the ⽥K and
⽥A, removing all of your opponents’ remaining spades. You have the lead in
the dummy, and the dummy remains with the ⽥64, both winning tricks.
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play
When you have five cards in one hand and three in the other, including the
ace and the king, you have a chance to take four tricks by playing a low card
from both hands at your first opportunity. This ducking play allows you to
save the highest cards in the suit intending to come swooping in later to take
the remaining tricks.
Finding heaven with seven small cards
Having any seven cards between the two hands may mean an extra trick for
you — if your opponents’ cards are divided 3-3. The hand in Figure 3-13
shows you how any small card can morph into a winner when your opponents’ cards are split evenly.
Figure 3-13:
You hold no
honor cards,
but you West
AQJ
have length
in one hand
to help you
win tricks.
North (Dummy)
94
N
W
E
S
East
K 10 8
South (You)
76532
You have seven cards between your hand and the dummy, the signal that
something good may happen for your small cards. Of course, you’d be a little
happier if you had some higher cards in the suit (such as an honor or two),
but beggars can’t be choosers.
Remember Cinderella and how her sisters dressed her up to look ugly even
though she was beautiful? Well, those five cards in South are like Cinderella —
you just have to cast off the rags to see the beauty underneath.
Say you lead the ⽥2, and West takes the trick with the ⽥J. Later, you lead the
⽥3, and West takes that trick with the ⽥Q. You’ve played spades twice, and
because you’ve been counting those spades, you know that your opponents
have two spades left. (See the earlier sidebar, “Subtracting your way to success,” for details on counting.)
After you regain the lead, you again lead a rag (low card) — in this case, the
⽥5. Crash, bang! West plays the ⽥A, and East plays the ⽥K. Now they have
no more spades, and the two remaining spades in your hand, the ⽥7 and ⽥6,
are winning tricks. You conceded three spade tricks (tricks they had coming
anyway), but established two tricks of your own by sheer persistence.
41
42
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Avoiding the risk of blocking a suit
Even when length is on your side, you need to play the high honor cards from
the short side first. Doing so ensures that the lead ends up in the hand with
the length — and therefore the winning tricks. If you don’t play the high
honor(s) from the short side first, you run the risk of blocking a suit. You
block a suit when you have winning cards stranded in one hand and no way
to enter that hand in order to play those winning cards. It’s too sad for words.
Figure 3-14 shows you a suit that’s blocked from the very start.
North (Dummy)
Q J 10 4 2
West
Figure 3-14:
963
Some suits
are born
blocked.
N
W
E
S
East
875
South (You)
AK
Figure 3-14 features a bridge tragedy: seeing the dummy come down with a
strong suit, only to realize that it’s blocked and you can’t use it. You have five
spade tricks, but may be able to take only two. After you play the ⽥AK,
you’re fresh out of spades, and the dummy remains with the ⽥QJ10.
If you don’t have an entry (a winning card) in another suit to get over to the
dummy, the dummy’s three winning spades will die on the vine.
The more poignant tragedy is when you block a suit by failing to play the
high card(s) from the short side first. Then you wind up in the wrong hand.
Instead of winding up in the long hand where the winning tricks are, you wind
up in the short hand with no more cards in the suit. Your partner’s winning
tricks may die on the vine if you can’t enter your partner’s hand in another
suit to take them.
Blocking your own suit brings to mind a true story that took place in a
swanky London bridge club some 60-odd years ago. I call this story my own
personal Gone with the Wind. I want to tell you this story to show you how
treacherous blocking a suit can be.
In what was a high-stakes game, North was the pro playing with one of the
weaker players at the club. The idea when playing with this young man wasn’t
Chapter 3: Using Winning Trick Techniques at Notrump Play
to win — that was impossible — but to hold your losses to as little as possible. The day was scorchingly hot, and all the windows in the club were wide
open. The pro happened to be sitting with his back to one of the windows.
The pro tried to arrange the bidding never to let his partner play a hand if he
could help it. The way the young man played a hand was just too painful to
watch. Then came the ill-fated hand to end all hands, shown in Figure 3-15.
Going against his better judgment, the pro allowed his partner to play the
hand. The final contract was for nine tricks (a staggering total for the young
gentleman).
North (The pro)
85
86
62
K Q J 10 7 6 5
West
J976
KJ2
KQJ9
83
Figure 3-15:
Blocking
suits blows
away your
tricks.
N
W
E
S
East
KQ42
Q 10 7 5
10 4 3
94
South (The young man)
A 10 3
A943
A875
A2
The opening lead was the ⽧K. After the pro put down the dummy, he went to
get a drink but couldn’t resist walking behind his partner to peek at what he
had. When he saw what the young man had, the pro was ecstatic. His partner
was actually going to take ten tricks: seven clubs (by playing the ⽤A from the
short side, and then a low club to the dummy’s ⽤10, followed by five more
winning clubs) plus three other aces. The pro was going to win a bundle.
Unheard of! He returned to his seat to enjoy the hand and also to figure out
how many pounds (the game was in England, remember) he was about to win.
The young gentleman took the first trick with the ⽧A and immediately led
the ⽤2. Instead of playing the high card from the short side (the ⽤A), he
played the low card from the short side. By this one stroke, the young man
had blocked the club suit.
Here’s what happened: After playing the ⽤2 and winning the trick in the
dummy with the ⽤10, the young man led a low club from the dummy back to
43
44
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
the ⽤A in his hand. Unfortunately, the dummy now held five — count ’em,
five — winning clubs. Poor South had no more clubs in his hand and no way
to get to the dummy in another suit (rendering all the remaining clubs in
North’s hand worthless). The club suit in the dummy was dead, totally dead.
The inexperienced young man had blocked the club suit and compressed
seven club tricks into only two club tricks, which is something you would
never do, right? Nod your head, for goodness sake.
When the pro saw the mistake the young man had made, he took his remaining ten cards and tossed them out the window. “Why are you doing that?” the
young man asked. “You won’t need them anymore,” the pro replied.
Chapter 4
Outsmarting Your Opponents
at Notrump Play
In This Chapter
䊳 Trapping your opponents’ honor cards with the finesse
䊳 Cutting lines of communication with the hold-up play
䊳 Playing two honor cards on the same trick
I
n this chapter, you discover how to establish tricks with lower honor
cards, as well as how to take tricks with small cards. As always, you work
with long suits, count your sure tricks, and play the high honors from the
short side. But you’re going to add some new trick-taking techniques to your
repertoire: the finesse, the hold-up play, and dealing with the danger hand.
Stay tuned.
Throughout this chapter, as in Chapter 3, many figures show cards in only
one suit. That’s because I want you to focus on just this one suit. In the following figures, you see suits ideal for creating the extra tricks you may need.
And again, I always make you South. (Your partner is North, and your opponents are West and East. See Chapter 1 for details about positions in bridge.)
Slipping Lower Honors Past Higher
Honors: The Finesse
In this section, I discuss another technique for establishing tricks (see
Chapter 3 for the basics on establishing tricks). This technique requires you
to start by leading the suit from the correct hand.
46
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
When you have the ace in a suit, you can just take the trick any time you
want. But what if you have a king in a suit but no ace? If you lead the king, the
opponent with the ace will zap it. In cases such as these, you need to lead
toward the king, meaning that you need to lead the suit from the side opposite the king. For example, if the king is in the dummy, start by leading the
suit from your hand; if the king is in your hand, start by leading the suit from
the dummy.
Welcome to the world of the finesse, a technique for taking tricks with lower
honor cards (jacks, queens, and kings) when your opponents have higher
honor cards (queen, kings, and aces). Think of your opponents’ higher
honors as big bullies that you have to sidestep.
Finesses are a fifty-fifty proposition. Because you can’t see your opponents’
cards, you can never be sure that your finesse will work. Each time you
attempt a finesse, you think to yourself, “Will my finesse work, or will it be a
bad day at the office?” Sometimes your only chance for extra tricks is to
attempt a finesse and hope that it works. After all, a fifty-fifty chance is better
than no chance.
When you want to take tricks with lower honor cards, such as the king,
queen, or jack, you need to lead from the side opposite the honor card you
want to take a trick with. Think of leading from weakness toward strength.
The following sections show you a few examples of finesses so you can get
acquainted with this new kid on the block.
Sneaking a king by an ace
Figure 4-1 shows a classic finesse position. You have the ⽥K in the dummy;
your opponents have the ⽥A. You want to take a trick with the ⽥K. Lead a
low spade from your hand, the ⽥3, from weakness toward strength.
Figure 4-1:
You can give
your
opponents’ West
AJ98
ace the slip
with a king
in the
dummy.
North (Dummy)
K652
N
W
E
S
South (You)
43
East
Q 10 7
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play
West happens to have the ⽥A. If West plays the ⽥A, your ⽥K becomes a
later sure trick because the king is now the highest-ranking remaining card in
the spade suit. If West plays a low spade, the ⽥8, you play the king and take a
trick immediately with the ⽥K. Your finesse works. No matter what West
does, you take either an immediate or an eventual trick with the ⽥K.
Now check out Figure 4-2, which presents a scenario just as likely as the one
in Figure 4-1.
Figure 4-2:
Finesses fail
when the
fourth hand West
Q 10 7
holds the
important
missing
honor.
North (Dummy)
K642
N
W
East
AJ98
E
S
South (You)
53
When you lead a low spade, the ⽥3, and then play the ⽥K in the dummy,
East (the last to play to the trick) takes your ⽥K with the ⽥A. Your ⽥K
doesn’t take a trick. Your finesse has lost. Don’t grieve — a finesse loses
about half the time. Everyone thinks that their finesses always lose while the
opponents’ finesses always win. It’s just a temporary pain. Successful
finesses even out over the long haul.
Sliding a queen past the king
Queens are akin to kings. If you want to take a trick with a queen, do her a
favor and lead toward her; she may be able to escape the clutches of the
king. Figure 4-3 shows you how the queen can elude the king.
North (Dummy)
8632
Figure 4-3: West
The queen
J97
can get past
the king in
this layout.
N
W
E
S
South (You)
AQ
East
K 10 5 4
47
48
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
You want to take a trick with your ⽥Q, but you don’t know who has the ⽥K.
Yes, you can see the ⽥K in East’s hand in the figure, but if you were playing
for real, you couldn’t see that ⽥K unless you were Superman.
Say you lead a low spade from the dummy, the ⽥2 — again, weakness toward
strength. East, the second to play after the lead, usually plays his lowest
card, the ⽥4, so as not to give away any information about his hand. You,
South, play the ⽥Q, which wins the trick. Your finesse works. If West (last to
play to the trick) had the ⽥K, your finesse would’ve lost.
Figure 4-4 shows another very common finesse involving the queen. This
time, the ⽥Q is in the dummy separated from her guardian, the ⽥A. Begin by
leading a low spade, the ⽥6, from your hand, the hand opposite the ⽥Q.
You’re hoping that West, the second hand, has the missing honor, the ⽥K. In
this case, West does have the ⽥K. Am I good to you or what?
Figure 4-4:
A very
common West
finesse
K 10 3 2
involves the
queen and
the ace.
North (Dummy)
Q54
N
W
E
S
East
J98
South (You)
A76
If West plays a low spade, the ⽥2, you take the trick with the ⽥Q; if West takes
the trick with the ⽥K, your ⽥Q becomes a later trick. Of course, if East, fourth
hand, has the ⽥K, it gobbles up your ⽥Q, and your finesse loses. C’est la vie.
Combining length with a finesse
When you take finesses in suits that have seven or more cards between your
hand and the dummy, meaning your side has more cards in that suit than
your opponents (known as length), you always have a chance of developing
an extra trick or tricks with small cards, as Figure 4-5 shows.
You have the ⽥A and ⽥K between the two hands, but you want more than
two tricks. You also want to take a trick with your ⽥J. You even want to take
a trick with your ⽥2. You may as well think big when you have seven or more
cards in the same suit between your hand and the dummy.
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play
North (Dummy)
543
Figure 4-5: West
The best of
10 9 7
two worlds:
finessing in
a long suit.
N
W
E
S
East
Q86
South (You)
AKJ2
You lead a low spade, the ⽥3, from the dummy (from weakness toward
strength), East plays low, the ⽥6, and you play the ⽥J. The ⽥J wins! Now
you can play the ⽥A and ⽥K, which both win tricks. Guess what? You’re the
only person left at the table with any spades. So once again, that lowly ⽥2
takes a trick for you. You’ve managed to take four spade tricks because you
combined a finesse with the power of length.
Of course, if West has the ⽥Q, your finesse doesn’t work. I hope you can
handle losing finesses because you’re going to lose them about 50 percent of
the time. When a finesse fails, keep your cool. Try to avoid showing emotion
during the play — otherwise, you give your opponents too big a high.
The story of Too Tall Tex
Once upon a time, there lived a bridge player
called Too Tall Tex. Tex was so tall that he could
easily look down into his opponents’ hands and
see all their cards. It didn’t take Tex long to
figure out that he played much better when he
knew where all the missing honor cards were
before he started to play. Too Tall Tex never lost
a finesse!
In one particular hand, Too Tall Tex (sitting South)
knew from his partner’s bidding that his team
should try for either 12 or 13 tricks. Tex was afraid
that if his partner, North, didn’t have the ⽥K he
would need a finesse to take all 13 tricks. Too Tall
Tex didn’t want to bid for 13 tricks until he took a
“surveillance.” So Too Tall Tex went out on a
scouting mission looking for the ⽥K.
West knew all about Too Tall. While Tex went
out on his scouting mission, West tucked his
⽥9 in with his clubs, making Too Tall Tex believe
that West’s ⽥K was a singleton, or the only
card he had in the suit.
When Tex saw that the ⽥K was a singleton and
thinking he had all the tricks in the bag, he
quickly bid for 13 tricks. The opening lead from
West was the ⽤Q, which Tex won in the dummy
with the ⽤K. At trick two, Tex led a spade to his
⽥A, expecting to snag West’s ⽥K (if West had
only the ⽥K, he would have had to play it in
order to follow suit). When West produced the
⽥9 instead, Too Tall Tex stormed away from the
table, shouting, “I can’t play in a game with
cheaters!”
49
50
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Don’t let the risk involved with finesses scare you away from trying them,
especially if you’re finessing in a long suit. A finesse in a longer suit has the
advantage of setting up small cards in the suit, even if the finesse doesn’t
work.
Some finesses bear repeating
Sometimes, the honor cards that you hold dictate that you lead from weakness toward strength twice. The only thing better than taking one finesse in a
suit is taking two finesses in the same suit. This move sounds tricky, but I
assure you it can be done: Just remember to lead from weakness toward
strength, and watch yourself slide right by your opponents’ honor cards. I
show you two different situations of double finessing in the following
sections.
Finessing with the king and the queen
I want to show you one particular situation that has a romantic pairing: the
king and the queen. The cards in Figure 4-6 show you a hand where you can
pull off this stunt.
Figure 4-6:
The king
and the
queen in the
dummy West
AJ42
have double
the
finessing
power.
North (Dummy)
KQ5
N
W
E
S
East
10 6 4
South (You)
873
In Figure 4-6, you have an item going on in the dummy between the ⽥K and
the ⽥Q. Bridge nuts try to clean everything up, so some call this coupling a
marriage, which is actually a pinochle term.
Forgetting the social aspects of the suit, you need to take as many spade
tricks as you can. Start by leading a low spade, the ⽥3, from your hand, from
weakness to strength. West can simplify your life by playing the ⽥A right
away, a friendly play that immediately makes both the ⽥K and the ⽥Q in the
dummy winning tricks for later use. But West thinks better of such a gift and
plays the ⽥2, allowing you to take the trick with the ⽥Q.
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play
You took a trick with the ⽥Q by leading toward it, and you must repeat the
process if you want to take a trick with the ⽥K. Return to your hand (South)
in another suit and lead another low spade, the ⽥7. If West takes the trick
with his ⽥A, your ⽥K becomes a later trick; if West plays low again, ⽥4, you
take the trick with the ⽥K. You prevail because West, second to play, has the
missing honor. You wouldn’t be so lucky if East had the ⽥A.
Finessing with a hole in your honor cards
Figure 4-7 shows you another suit where you can repeat your finesse to great
success. This particular finesse has “holy” overtones.
North (Dummy)
763
Figure 4-7: West
The ace,
10 8 4 2
queen, and
jack trap the
king.
N
W
E
S
East
K95
South (You)
AQJ
You have three honor cards in your hand (⽥AQJ), but they aren’t all equal
honors. Do you see that hole (missing honor) between the ⽥A and the ⽥Q?
A “holy” suit is a finessable suit.
Lead a low spade, the ⽥3, from the dummy (from weakness toward strength),
and when East plays low, the ⽥5, play the ⽥Q to win the trick. You remain
with the ⽥AJ in your hand, and if you want to take a trick with the ⽥J, you
need to return to the dummy in another suit and lead another low spade, the
⽥6. When East plays low again with the ⽥9, you play the ⽥J and take the
trick. Nor does playing the ⽥K do East any good — you just zap it with your
⽥A. You just took three tricks in the suit.
When you have equal honors in your hand, such as the ⽥QJ, play the higher
equal first. It makes it much harder for the defenders to know which honor
you are concealing. However, when you have equal honors in the dummy, the
hand that both your opponents can see, which honor you play first doesn’t
matter.
51
52
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Finessing against split honors
Sometimes your opponents have two important honors in the suit that you
want to attack. You should assume that those honors are split and that each
opponent has one honor. When you make this assumption and plan your play
accordingly, you’re playing for split honors.
You have a chance to play for split honors with the cards shown in Figure 4-8,
a hand where you can take two finesses. (See the previous section for the
basics on finessing twice in a suit.)
North (Dummy)
A J 10 2
Figure 4-8:
You can West
double your
K43
tricks by
playing for
split honors.
N
W
E
S
East
Q97
South (You)
865
In Figure 4-8, you have a powerful three-card honor combination in the
dummy: the ⽥AJ10. You normally attack suits with powerful honor combinations early. Because you’re missing both the ⽥K and the ⽥Q, two important
honors, assume that the honors are split between the two opposing hands.
Start by leading a low spade from your hand, the ⽥5, weakness to strength.
West, second to play, sees that the dummy has a higher spade, the ⽥A, than
West has with the ⽥K, so West properly plays low, the ⽥3. You insert the
⽥10 from the dummy, and East wins the trick with the ⽥Q, as expected (split
honors, remember?). Hang on, though; it ain’t over ’til it’s over.
After you regain the lead in another suit, you persist by leading another low
spade from your hand, the ⽥6. Once again, West properly plays low, the ⽥4,
and this time you insert the ⽥J from the dummy. Success! Your second
finesse has worked. The missing spade honors were split after all (the ⽥K in
one hand and the ⽥Q in the other). Of course they were split; I set them up
that way!
You have a little bonus in store for you, to boot. After your ⽥J wins the trick,
you take the next trick by playing the ⽥A. After both opponents follow, that
little ⽥2 in the dummy also morphs into a trick because nobody has any
more spades. Of course, you were counting cards, so you already knew that.
(See Chapter 3 for tips on how to count cards.)
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play
Taking a surefire finesse when
an opponent shows out
Finessing is a risky business. On a good day, all finesses work, but on a bad
day, don’t ask. However, you can take some of the risk out of finessing by
watching which cards your opponents play.
Finesses work best when you know who has the missing honors. However, at
times you can be smart without peeking over your opponents’ shoulders. Say
that you lead a suit, and one of your opponents shows out (discards a card
from another suit because she has no cards left in the suit that you’re playing). Now you can be sure that your other opponent has all the missing cards
in that suit, including any vital honor cards that you may be missing.
Figure 4-9 shows a suit where you can take a surefire finesse after your opponent shows out.
In this hand, you begin by playing the ⽥AK, the high honors from the short
side (the side with fewer cards — see Chapter 3 for details on playing from
the short side first). On the second lead of spades, East, who has no more
spades, makes a discard (shows out).
“Aha!” you say to yourself. If East has no more spades, West must have all the
missing spades, including the ⽥J. When you lead the ⽥4 and West plays a
low spade (in this case, pretty much any card below the ⽥J), you can rest
100 percent assured that you can play the ⽥10 from the dummy and take the
trick. After the ⽥10 wins, you can take a fourth trick with the dummy’s ⽥Q.
North (Dummy)
Q 10 3 2
Figure 4-9:
Showing out West
gives you
J9876
the green
light on a
finesse.
N
W
E
S
East
5
South (You)
AK4
Corralling a missing king
The more honor cards you have in a suit between your hand and the dummy, the
better your chances of taking all the tricks in the suit via a finesse. Sometimes
you strike gold and have a suit with four of the top honors, including the ace, but
you’re missing the king.
53
54
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
The telltale signs of a finesseaholic
Some players become addicted to taking every
finesse in sight. If you think you or your partner
is one of these people, check by looking for
these giveaway signs:
⻬ Prowling around looking for every opportunity to finesse, needed or not.
⻬ Taking practice finesses — finesses you
don’t need just to see whether they work.
⻬ Taking finesses for the sheer joy of it.
If you or your partner exhibits one or more of
these tendencies, you may need help. In
extreme cases, you may need to enroll in F.A.
(Finesseaholics Anonymous). Once enrolled, no
finesses until you graduate.
But seriously, the idea when playing a hand is to
avoid finesses in short suits, aiming instead to
take finesses in long suits. The reason is that
even if the long suit finesse loses, you frequently
can establish sure tricks with small cards after
the suit has been played several times.
To corral the king, start the suit by leading an honor card from the side opposite
the ace. Then hopefully watch your left-hand opponent squirm. Figure 4-10 gives
you a chance to make West very uneasy. In this suit, you’re missing the ⽥K.
Begin by leading the ⽥Q from your hand. Have you ever been caught in a
vise? Ask West. He knows how it feels right about now. If West plays the ⽥K,
the dummy wins the trick with the ⽥A. Then you can lead a low spade, the
⽥3, to the ⽥J (the high honor on the short side) in your hand. Finally, you
lead your remaining spade, the ⽥5, over to the dummy’s three winning
spades (the ⽥10, the ⽥9, and the ⽥4). What fun. You take five tricks.
If West doesn’t play the ⽥K when you lead the ⽥Q, play low from the dummy
and take the trick. Next, play the ⽥J (again the high card from the short
side). West is caught in the same pickle. If West plays the ⽥K, you zap it with
dummy’s ⽥A. If West plays low, the ⽥J takes the trick. West can kiss that ⽥K
so long, auf Wiedersehen, good-bye.
Figure 4-10:
You can trap
a missing
king by West
K87
leading from
the hand
opposite the
ace.
North (Dummy)
A 10 9 4 3
N
W
E
S
South (You)
QJ5
East
62
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play
You can corral a missing king if you have the rest of the honor cards. Always
start the suit by leading from the side opposite the ace. Hopefully, you have
an honor card to lead. If not, and the dummy has them all, lead a low card
intending to take a finesse. This story will have a happy ending if the second
hand has the king.
Cutting Communications:
The Hold-Up Play
When you play a notrump contract, the highest of the four cards played to
the trick takes the trick. In a notrump contract, you typically establish tricks
by driving out an opponent’s ace when you have the lower honor cards
between your hand and the dummy (see Chapter 3 for more details on this
technique).
Driving out the ace is great strategy, but don’t forget your opponents. They
have the opening lead and are also trying to set up tricks — perhaps by driving out one of your aces. The nerve! After they get rid of the ace in the suit
they’re attacking, they remain with winning tricks in that suit. Not good.
Can you do anything about it? Yes, you do have countermeasures. Enter the
hold-up play, a technique that may stop your opponents dead in their tracks.
No, the hold-up play doesn’t involve robbing a bank. The successful hold-up
play allows you to cut the lifeline between your opponents’ hands.
The typical hold-up play involves taking an ace on the third round in the suit
your opponents have led. The idea behind the hold-up play is to try to void
one opponent in this suit. Later, if the opponent who is void gets the lead, he
won’t have any cards left in the suit to lead over to his partner, who is sitting
over there champing at the bit with winning tricks.
A hold-up play usually follows this sequence:
1. Your opponents attack your weakest suit, in which you have the ace
but no other significant honor cards.
2. You see that you have to drive out an opposing honor card to make
your contract. In other words, you’re going to have to surrender the
lead.
To neutralize the suit that your opponents lead, you take the third round
of the suit, allowing your opponents to win the first two tricks — your
hold-up play in action.
55
56
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
3. You drive out the opposing honor to establish your extra needed
tricks.
4. You pray that the opponent who wins the trick doesn’t have any more
cards in the suit that was led originally.
Figure 4-11 shows a hand where you can commit the perfect crime — a successful hold-up play.
West
K Q J 10 9
10 8 7
6
K732
Figure 4-11:
This hand is
ready-made
for a holdup play.
North (Dummy)
65
A54
K Q J 10 9
654
East
N
432
W
E
J963
A87
S
J 10 9
South (You)
A87
KQ2
5432
AQ8
In the hand shown in Figure 4-11, you need to take nine tricks. West leads the
⽥K with the intention of driving out your ⽥A and then making the rest of his
spades into winning tricks. After the lead, the dummy comes down, and it’s
your turn to enter center stage by counting your sure tricks suit by suit
(Chapter 2 has more details on counting sure tricks):
⻬ Spades: One sure trick — the ⽥A
⻬ Hearts: Three sure tricks — the ⽦AKQ
⻬ Diamonds: No sure tricks — no ace
⻬ Clubs: One sure trick — the ⽤A
You have five sure tricks; you need nine, and those diamonds in the dummy
offer your only chance of making your contract. If you can drive out the ⽧A,
you get four diamond tricks just like that. But life isn’t quite that easy. You
have that little matter of the ⽥K lead to deal with.
In the following sections, I explain two crucial concepts in using the hold-up
play: paying attention to your opponents’ opening lead and dealing with the
danger hand.
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play
Opening your eyes to the opening lead
When you play a hand, the opening lead is a very important card because it
tells you a lot about what your opponents are up to. Make sure to take a good
look at the opening lead. Speaking from experience, the opening lead can
come back to haunt you if you don’t pay attention to it.
In the case of the cards in Figure 4-11, the lead of an honor card by West, the
⽥K, sends a special message around the table. It says, “Partner, my spades
are very strong, and I am leading my highest of three or four equal honors.”
In other words, West is saying loud and clear that he has the ⽥KQJ or the
⽥KQJ10. (For more information on the opening lead, see Chapter 17.)
Even though West holds ominous spades, you don’t have to just sit there and
take it. You should at least try to plot a countermeasure. Take a look at those
spades again, which you can see in Figure 4-12.
The two key suits in this hand are spades and diamonds. Spades is the suit your
opponents are trying to establish, and diamonds is the suit you want to establish. Because your opponents have the opening lead, they’re ahead in the race.
More contracts are lost at trick one than at all the other tricks combined!
Keeping that terrifying statistic in mind, take yet another look at those
spades in Figure 4-12. Notice that East has the ⽧A, the card you must drive
out to develop those four extra tricks you need.
Figure 4-12:
Take a
closer look
at West’s West
K Q J 10 9
spades
before you
plan your
play.
North (Dummy)
65
N
W
E
S
East
432
A
South (You)
A87
The good news is that your spade stopper is the ⽥A (a stopper is a card that
at least temporarily keeps your opponents from taking their winning tricks).
The bad news is that your opponents have attacked a suit in which you have
only one stopper: the ⽥A. If you win the first trick with your ⽥A, West
remains with four winning spades and East remains with two spades. If you
win the second spade, West remains with three winning spades and East with
one spade. And if you win the third spade, West remains with two winning
spades, and East has no more spades.
57
58
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
West has been able to set up (establish) his spades before you can even
begin to set up your diamonds. There’s trouble, right here in River City.
At least your spade stopper is the ⽥A. The ⽥A is a flexible stopper, the best
kind. A flexible stopper is one you can take whenever you want to. You can
take that ⽥A at trick one, trick two, or trick three. Does it matter when you
take the trick? It matters big time.
Say you win the ⽥A at the first trick, and you then lead a low diamond from
your hand, the ⽧2, and play the ⽧9 from the dummy. East takes the trick
with the ⽧A and leads a spade over to those lovely spades in West. West has
the ⽥QJ109, all winning tricks, which she takes one by one as you watch in
silent agony. You wind up losing four spade tricks plus the ⽧A. After you lose
these five tricks, you can’t take the nine tricks you need to make your contract. Your partner isn’t happy, but your opponents are. What went wrong?
Plenty.
Return to the scene of the crime (the first trick) and gaze once again at those
spades. This time, you’re going to let the bad guys have the first two spade
tricks, and you’re going to win the third round of the suit with the ⽥A. By
holding up the ace until the third round, you’ve isolated the two remaining
winning spades with West. East has none. Now you can turn your attention to
diamonds, arriving at the position you see in Figure 4-13.
The moment East wins the trick with his ⽧A, your sure trick count increases
from five to nine because you established four winning diamond tricks in the
dummy: the ⽧KQJ10. Wait, there’s even more good news: East doesn’t have
any more spades, while West is sitting over there with two winning spades.
By winning the third round of spades, you cut the spade lifeline between East
and West, forcing East to lead another suit upon winning the ⽧A. East does
best to shift to the ⽤J.
West
10 9
10 8 7
Figure 4-13:
6
Holding up
K732
your ace
averts
disaster.
North (Dummy)
A54
K Q J 10 9
65
East
N
9632
W
E
A87
J 10 9
S
South (You)
KQJ
5432
AQ8
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play
After you drive out the ⽧A and survive the spade onslaught, you have
enough tricks to make your contract, so take them! Win the ⽤A and take four
diamonds, three hearts, and two black aces for nine big ones.
Don’t even think of risking your contract by trying to finesse clubs by playing
the ⽤Q. The finesse goes smack into West, the guy with the two winning
spades. Only a finesseaholic makes such a play (see the earlier sidebar for
warning signs of this addiction).
Dealing with the danger hand
In bridge, when a particular opponent has winning tricks and can hurt you by
gaining the lead, you call that opponent the danger hand. For example, in
Figure 4-13, after you win the third round of spades, West is the danger hand
because West has two winning spades. Stay clear of West.
East has no more spades, so East is the nondanger hand. You can hang out
with East because East can’t hurt you even if East gets the lead in another suit.
In the following sections, I provide advice on handling several different
danger hands.
Voiding one opponent to isolate the danger hand
When you make a hold-up play, your intent is to void one opponent in the
suit that was led. Usually you’re trying to void the partner of the opening
leader — usually, but not always, as you can see in Figure 4-14.
In the hand in Figure 4-14, East bids spades, and West leads a low spade, the
⽥2. You win the third round of spades with your ⽥A, a flexible stopper. In
this case, East is the danger hand because he has two winning spades and
West has none. If you have to lose a trick, you hope that West wins that trick
because West has no more spades to lead.
Figure 4-14:
The third
hand, the
partner of West
the opening
832
leader, is
the danger
hand.
North (Dummy)
65
N
W
E
S
South (You)
A74
East
K Q J 10 9
59
60
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Using a flexible stopper to your advantage
A flexible stopper, which I mention in the section “Opening your eyes to the
opening lead” earlier in this chapter, is the highest remaining card in a suit.
Aces are always flexible stoppers, but a king can be a flexible stopper if the
ace has already been played. Figure 4-15 shows a hand where the king gets
“upgraded” to flexible-stopper status.
Figure 4-15:
A king is a
flexible West
stopper
QJ853
after the
ace is
played.
North (Dummy)
64
N
W
E
S
East
A72
South (You)
K 10 9
In this hand, West leads the ⽥5, and East plays the ⽥A. After taking the trick,
East returns the ⽥7. Your ⽥K is the highest outstanding spade and is a flexible stopper. You don’t have to take the trick just yet. You can play the ⽥10
and allow West to take the trick with the ⽥J. Say that West plays a third
spade, the ⽥Q, which you must take with your ⽥K. Fine. Because of your
hold-up play, you have cut your opponents’ spade lifeline. If East gets the
lead later in the hand, East can’t hurt you by playing a spade because he
doesn’t have any!
Avoiding a hold-up when you don’t have a flexible stopper
When your stopper isn’t flexible, grab the trick while you can. Figure 4-16
shows you when not to hold up.
Figure 4-16:
You
shouldn’t
hold up
West
when you
AQ732
don’t have
the highest
card in the
suit.
North (Dummy)
64
N
W
E
S
South (You)
K 10 9
East
J85
Chapter 4: Outsmarting Your Opponents at Notrump Play
West leads the ⽥3, and East plays the ⽥J. Grab the ⽥K! Your ⽥K isn’t the
highest outstanding spade. The ⽥A is still out there roaming around. If you
don’t take your ⽥K, East’s ⽥J will take the trick. Now East returns a spade,
and your ⽥K is mincemeat. You remain with the ⽥K10. If you play the ⽥10,
West wastes no time or effort snatching it up with the ⽥Q. If you play the
⽥K, West then tramples all over it with the ⽥A. East-West will take five spade
tricks, and you won’t take any!
You can make a hold-up play only when you have the highest card or the
highest remaining card in the suit. If you don’t have the highest card in the
suit, just take the trick.
If you have enough tricks to make your contract, take them. Whatever you
do, don’t take any finesses into the danger hand.
Overtaking One Honor with Another
When you’re taking tricks, sometimes you can’t afford to be miserly with your
honor cards. With equal honors between the two hands, you may have to
play two honors on the same trick (overtaking one with another) to wind up
in the hand with the greater length. It hurts only for a little while. Figure 4-17
shows you what you have to do.
At notrump, your goal is to take three spade tricks. Lead the ⽥K from your
own hand, overtake with the ⽥A in the dummy, and then play the ⽥Q and
⽥J from the dummy on the next two tricks. Voilà — three tricks. If you don’t
overtake the ⽥K with the ⽥A, you may not be able to reach the dummy in
another suit to take the other two spade tricks. Greed and miserliness will
beat you.
North (Dummy)
Figure 4-17:
AQJ
To take
three tricks
N
in this
W
E
round, lead
S
the king to
reach the
South (You)
dummy.
K
Figure 4-18 is another example of where stinginess strikes out.
61
62
Part I: Beginning with Basic Notrump Play
Figure 4-18:
North (Dummy)
Start with
AJ
the ace from
the short
N
side and
W
E
then
S
overtake the
jack with
South (You)
the king or
K Q 10 2
queen.
At notrump, you want to take four spade tricks. Begin with the ⽥A (the high
card from the short side, which is the dummy in this case) and play the ⽥2
from your own hand. Continue with the ⽥J from the dummy. Your hand
remains with the ⽥KQ10, all equal to the jack. Overtake the ⽥J with the ⽥Q
(or ⽥K), and take two more winning spades.
If you play the ⽥10 under your jack (ugly!), you’re stuck in the dummy and
may not be able to reenter your hand in another suit to take your remaining
spade winners.
When all your honor cards (or even spot cards) are equals, you may have to
overtake one with another in order to continue playing the suit. Just do it!
Part II
Playing the Hand
in a Trump
Contract
Y
In this part . . .
ou’ve come to the right part of the book if you want to
discover the beauty and glory of playing in a trump
contract. The addition of wild (trump) cards can wreak
havoc on your opponents. Unfortunately, it can backfire and
wreak havoc upon you if you’re not careful in the play of the
hand. In this part, I show you how to get the most out of a
hand when there’s a trump suit involved. Among other
things, I cover trump suits, counting losers, using extra winners to discard losers, and long suit establishment.
Chapter 5
Introducing Trump Suits
In This Chapter
䊳 Discovering the pros and cons of playing in a trump suit
䊳 Disarming your opponents by drawing trumps
䊳 Searching for eight-card and other fits
䊳 Keeping track of losers and extra winners
I
n this chapter, you discover how to use your trump suit to your best
advantage. I show you how to knock the wind out of your opponents’ sails
by preventing them from taking scads of tricks in their strong suits. I also
show you the proper sequence of plays, which allows you to take your winning tricks safely. In short, this chapter gives you your first taste of the wonderful powers of the trump suit.
Understanding the Basics of Trump Suits
In bridge, the bidding often designates a suit as the trump suit. If the final contract has a suit associated with it, ⽥4, ⽦3, ⽧2, or even ⽤1, for example, that
suit becomes the trump suit for the entire hand. (See Chapter 9 for a primer
on bidding; Parts III and IV are full of great bidding techniques.)
When a suit becomes the trump suit, any card in that trump suit potentially
has special powers; any card in the trump suit can win a trick over any card
of another suit. For example, suppose that spades is the trump suit and West
leads with the ⽦A. You can still win the trick with the ⽥2 (assuming that you
have no hearts in your hand and therefore can’t follow suit).
Because trump suits have so much power, naturally everyone at the table
wants to have a say in determining which suit is declared the trump suit.
Because bridge is a partnership game, your partnership determines which
suit is the best trump suit for your side.
In the following sections, I show you the glory (and potential danger) of
trump suits.
66
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
When trumping can save the day
You can easily see the advantage of playing with a trump suit. For example, if
you play a hand at a notrump contract, the highest card in the suit led always
takes the trick (see Chapters 3 and 4 for more information on playing at
notrump). If an opponent with the lead has a suit headed by all winning
cards, that opponent can wind up killing you. She can just keep playing all
her winning cards — be it four, five, six, or seven — taking one trick after
another as you watch helplessly. Such is the beauty and the horror of playing
a hand at notrump. You see the beauty when your side is peeling off the
tricks; you experience the horror when your opponents take trick after trick.
However, when the bidding designates a trump suit, you may well be in a
position to neutralize your opponents’ long, strong suits quite easily. After
either you or your partner is void (has no cards left) in the suit that your
opponents lead, you can just play any of your cards in the trump suit and
take the trick. This little maneuver is called trumping your opponents’ trick
(which your opponents really hate).
The hand in Figure 5-1 shows you the power of playing in a trump suit.
West
10 6
AKQJ2
8
10 9 5 3 2
Figure 5-1:
Your trump
suit stops
the
bleeding.
North (Dummy)
9853
763
AKQ
A76
East
N
74
W
E
10 9 5
J 10 7 5 4 3
S
J8
South (You)
AKQJ2
84
962
KQ4
On this hand, suppose that you need nine tricks to make your contract of
3NT (NT stands for notrump). Between your hand and the dummy, you can
count 11 sure tricks: five spades (after the ⽥AK are played and both opponents follow, the opponents have no more spades, so the ⽥QJ2 are all sure
tricks), three diamonds, and three clubs. (Chapter 2 has details on how to
count sure tricks.)
Chapter 5: Introducing Trump Suits
If you play the hand shown in Figure 5-1 in notrump, all your sure tricks won’t
help you if your opponents have the lead and can race off winning tricks in a
suit where you’re weak in both hands, such as hearts. Playing in notrump,
West can use the opening lead to win the first five heart tricks by leading the
⽦AKQJ2, in that order. To put it mildly, this isn’t a healthy start. You need to
take nine tricks, meaning you can only afford to lose four, and you’ve already
lost the first five tricks.
On this hand, you and your partner need to communicate accurately in the
bidding to discover which suit (hearts, in this case) is woefully weak in both
hands. When you both are weak in the same suit, you need to end the bidding
in a trump suit so you can stop the bleeding by eventually trumping if the
opponents lead your weak suit.
In Figure 5-1, assume that during the bidding, spades becomes the trump suit
and you need ten tricks to fulfill your contract. When West begins with the
⽦AKQ, you can trump (or ruff) the third heart with your ⽥2 and take the
trick. (You must follow suit if you can, so you can’t trump either of your opponents’ first two hearts.) Instead of losing five heart tricks, you lose only two.
When trumping can ruin your day
Bear in mind that your opponents can also use their trump cards effectively;
if they hold no cards in the suit that you or your partner lead, they can trump
one of your tricks. Misery.
After you have the lead, you want to prevent your opponents from trumping
your winning tricks. You don’t want your opponents to exercise the same
strategy on you that you used on them! You need to get rid of their trumps
before they can hurt you. This is called drawing trumps, which I show you
how to do in the following section.
A quick history lesson on bridge terms
Trumping is also called ruffing. The words trump
and ruff have a very interesting history. Trump
derives from Triomphe, a French game, which
may have something in common with Trionfi, an
Italian word used to describe tarot cards in the
15th century. Ruff derives from a variation of
whist (the predecessor of bridge), which was
known as Ruff and Honors for reasons lost in
the mists of time.
67
68
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Eliminating Your Opponents’
Trump Cards
If you can trump your opponents’ winning tricks when you’re void in the suit
that they’re leading, it follows that your opponents can turn the tables and
do the same to you. Instead of allowing your opponents to trump your sure
tricks, play your higher trumps early on in the hand. Because your opponents must follow suit, you can remove their lower trumps before you take
your sure tricks. If you can extract their trumps, you effectively remove their
fangs. This extraction is called pulling or drawing. Drawing trumps allows you
to take your winning tricks in peace, without fear of your opponents trumping them.
The dangers of taking sure tricks
before drawing trumps
Send the children out of the room and see what happens if you try to take
sure tricks before you draw trumps. For example, in Figure 5-1 (where spades
are trump), if you lead the ⽧2, West has to follow suit by playing the only diamond in his hand, the ⽧8. You then play the ⽧Q from the dummy, East plays
a low (“low” means “lowest”) diamond, the ⽧3, and you take the trick.
However, if you follow up by playing the ⽧A, West has no more diamonds
and can trump the ace with the ⽥6 because the bidding has designated
spades as the trump suit for this hand.
The same misfortune befalls you if, instead of playing diamonds, you try to
take three club tricks. East can trump the third round of clubs with the lowly
⽥4. Imagine your discomfort when you see your opponents trump your sure
tricks. They, on the other hand, are thrilled over this turn of events.
Try to draw trumps as soon as possible. Get your opponents’ pesky trump
cards out of your hair. Then you can sit back and watch as your winning
tricks come home safely to your trick pile.
The joys of drawing trumps first
To see how drawing trumps can work to your advantage, take a look at Figure
5-2, which shows only spades (the trump suit) in the hand in Figure 5-1.
Remember, your goal is ten tricks.
Chapter 5: Introducing Trump Suits
Figure 5-2:
Drawing
trumps West
removes
10 6
your
opponents’
fangs.
North (Dummy)
9853
N
W
E
S
East
74
South (You)
AKQJ2
Drawing trumps is just like playing any suit — you have to count the cards in
the suit to know if you have successfully drawn all your opponents’ trump
cards. For more about counting cards, see Chapter 3.
In the hand shown in Figure 5-2, you and your partner start life with nine
spades between you, leaving only four spades that your opponents can possibly hold. Suppose that you play the ⽥A — both opponents must follow suit
and play one of their spades. You win the trick, and you know that your opponents have only two spades left. Suppose that you continue with the ⽥K, and
both opponents follow. Now they have no spades left (no more trump cards).
You have drawn trumps. See? That wasn’t so bad.
Refer back to Figure 5-1 (where West begins with the ⽦AKQ, and you trump
the third heart with your ⽥2). After you trump the third heart, you draw
trumps by playing the ⽥AK. You can then safely take your ⽤AKQ and your
⽧AKQ — you wind up losing only two heart tricks. You needed to take 10
tricks to fulfill your contract, and you in fact finished up with 11 tricks. Pretty
good! Drawing trumps helps you make your contract, doesn’t it?
Looking at How Trump Suits
Can Be Divided
In Parts III and IV on bidding, you discover when to play a hand with a trump
suit and when to play a hand without a trump suit (notrump). In this section,
keep in mind that if you have eight or more cards in a suit between your hand
and the dummy, particularly in a major suit (either hearts or spades), you try
to make that suit your trump suit.
An eight-card fit (eight cards in a single suit between your hand and the
dummy) gives you a safety net because you have many more trumps than
your opponents: Your trumps outnumber theirs by eight to five. Having more
trumps than your opponents is always to your advantage. You may be able to
survive a seven-card trump fit, but having an eight- or nine-card trump fit
69
70
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
relieves tension. The more trumps you have, the more tricks you can generate, and the less chance your opponents have of taking tricks with their
trumps. You can never have too many trumps!
The fewer trump cards your opponents have, the easier it is for you to get rid
of their fangs, oops, I mean trumps.
In the following sections, I show you a variety of trump fits.
The four-four trump fit
During the bidding, you may discover that you have an eight-card fit divided
four-four between the two hands. Try to make such a fit your trump suit. A
four-four trump fit almost always produces at least one more trick in the play
of the hand, as opposed to notrump.
At a notrump contract, the four-four fit in Figure 5-3 takes four tricks. At
notrump, when each partner has four cards in the same suit, four tricks is
your max.
However, when spades is your trump suit, you can do better. In Figure 5-3,
suppose that your opponents lead a suit that you don’t have, which allows
you to trump their lead with the ⽥3. By drawing trumps now (see “Eliminating Your Opponents’ Trump Cards” earlier in this chapter for more on
drawing trumps), you can take four more spade tricks by playing the ⽥A and
the ⽥K from your hand (high honors from the short side first) and then playing the ⽥4 over to the ⽥J and ⽥Q from the dummy. You wind up taking a
total of five spade tricks — the card you trumped plus four more high spades.
North (Dummy)
QJ52
Figure 5-3:
In this four- West
four trump
9
fit, you can
take five
tricks.
N
W
E
S
East
10 8 7 6
South (You)
AK43
A four-four trump fit is primo. You can get more for your money from this
trump fit. Every so often you can take six (or more) trump tricks when you
have a four-four trump fit! Make keeping your eyes open for four-four trump
fits a habit.
Chapter 5: Introducing Trump Suits
Other trump fits
Eight-card trump fits can come in different guises. Consider the eight-card
trump fits in Figure 5-4.
Figure 5-4:
The many
faces of an
eight-card
trump fit.
Q42
North (Dummy)
1
KJ753
South (You)
J4
North (Dummy)
2
Q 10 7 5 3 2
South (You)
6
North (Dummy)
3
AJ97432
South (You)
Figure 5-4 shows examples of a 5-3 fit, a 6-2 fit, and a 7-1 fit. Good bidding
uncovers eight-card (or longer) fits, which makes for safe trump suits. There
is joy in numbers.
Counting Losers and Extra Winners
When playing a hand at a trump contract, your strategy is to count how many
losers you have. If you have too many losers to make your contract, you need
to look in the dummy for extra winners (tricks) that you can use to dispose of
some of your losers.
You may find this approach a rather negative way of playing a hand. But
counting losers can have a very positive impact on your play at a trump contract. Your loser count tells you how many extra winners you need, if any.
Extra winners are an indispensable security blanket to make your contract —
extra winners help you get rid of losers.
In the following sections, I define losers and extra winners and show you how
to identify them. I also explain when to draw trumps before taking extra winners and when to take extra winners before drawing trumps.
Defining losers and extra winners
When playing a hand at a notrump contract, you count your sure tricks (as I
describe in Chapter 2); however, when you play a hand at a trump contract,
you count losers and extra winners. Losers are tricks you know you have to
lose. For example, if neither you nor your partner holds the ace in a suit, you
know you have to lose at least one trick in that suit.
71
72
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Extra winners may allow you to get rid of some of your losers. What exactly is
an extra winner? An extra winner is a winning trick in the dummy (North),
upon which you can discard a loser from your own hand (South).
Get ready for some good news: When counting losers, you have to count only
the losers in the long hand, the hand that has more trumps. The declarer usually is the long trump hand, but not always.
Do me a favor and, for the time being, just accept the fact that you don’t have
to count losers in the dummy. Counting losers in one hand is bad enough;
counting losers in the dummy isn’t only unnecessary, but it also can be downright depressing.
Recognizing immediate and
eventual losers
Losers come in two forms: immediate and eventual. Immediate losers are
losers that your opponents can take when they have the lead. These losers
have a special danger signal attached to them that reads, “Danger —
Unexploded Bomb!” Immediate losers spell bad news.
Of course, eventual losers aren’t exactly a welcome occurrence, either. Your
opponents can’t take your eventual losers right away because those losers
are protected by a winning card in the suit that you or your partner holds. In
other words, with eventual losers, your opponents can’t take their tricks
right off the bat, which buys you a bit of breathing space (and some time to
get rid of those eventual losers). One of the best ways to get rid of eventual
losers is to discard them on extra winners.
You help yourself by knowing which of your losers are eventual and which
are immediate. Your game plan depends on your immediate loser count. See
“Drawing trumps before taking extra winners” and “Taking extra winners
before drawing trumps” later in this chapter for more about how to proceed
after counting your immediate losers.
Because identifying eventual and immediate losers is so important, take a
look at the spades in Figures 5-5, 5-6, and 5-7 to spot some losers. Assume in
these figures that spades is a side suit (any suit that is not the trump suit) and
hearts is your trump suit.
Figure 5-5 shows a suit with two eventual losers.
Chapter 5: Introducing Trump Suits
North (Dummy)
643
Figure 5-5:
N
An ace
E
protects W
S
eventual
losers —
temporarily! South (You)
A92
In the hand in Figure 5-5, as long as you have the ⽥A protecting your two
other spades, your two spade losers are eventual. However, after your opponents lead a spade (which forces out your ace), your two remaining spades
become immediate losers because they have no winning trick protecting
them.
In Figure 5-6, you have one eventual spade loser.
North (Dummy)
AK8
Figure 5-6:
N
Your ace
E
and king W
S
protect only
two of your
spades. South (You)
753
With the spades in Figure 5-6, the dummy’s ⽥AK protect two of your three
spades — but your third spade is on its own as a loser after the ⽥A and ⽥K
have been played.
In Figure 5-7, you have two immediate spade losers.
North (Dummy)
943
Figure 5-7:
You have a
N
pair of
E
immediate W
S
losers in
your own
hand. South (You)
82
73
74
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Notice that you count two, not three, spade losers — you count losers only in
the long trump hand (which presumably is your hand). You don’t have to
count losers in the dummy.
Identifying extra winners
Enough with losers already — counting them is sort of a downer. You can get
rid of some of your losers by using extra winners. Extra winners come into
play only after you (South) are void in the suit being played. Therefore, extra
winners can exist only in a suit that’s unevenly divided between the two
hands (and the greater length must be in the dummy). The stronger the extra
winner suit (that is, the more high cards it has), the better.
Yes, you can have extra winners in your own hand, on which you can discard
a loser (or losers) from the dummy. But actually gaining an extra trick from
this process is rare, so it won’t be covered in this book.
Figure 5-8 shows you two extra winners in their natural habitat.
North (Dummy)
AKQ
N
Figure 5-8:
W
E
You find two
S
extra
winners in
the dummy. South (You)
3
The cards in Figure 5-8 fill the bill for extra winners because spades is an
unevenly divided suit, and the greater length is in the dummy. After you lead
the ⽥3 and play the ⽥Q from the dummy, you’re void in spades. Now you
can discard two losers from your hand when you lead the ⽥A and the ⽥K
from the dummy. Therefore, you can count two extra winners in spades.
By contrast, the cards in Figure 5-9 look hopeful, but unfortunately, they can’t
offer you any extra winners.
Chapter 5: Introducing Trump Suits
Figure 5-9: North (Dummy)
You won’t
AKQ
find any
N
extra
winners in W
E
this suit, no
S
matter how
hard you South (You)
squint.
864
The cards in Figure 5-9 don’t fit the mold for extra winners because you have
the same number of spades in each hand. No matter how strong a suit is, if
you have the same number of cards in each hand, you can’t squeeze any
extra winners out of the suit. You just have to follow suit each time. True, the
⽥AKQ aren’t chopped liver; although this hand has no spade losers, it gives
you no extra winners, either. Sorry! The cards in Figure 5-10 contain no extra
winners, either.
North (Dummy)
AK76
N
Figure 5-10:
E
This hand W
S
has losers
but no extra
winners. South (You)
42
The dummy’s ⽥AK take care of your two losing spades, but you have nothing
“extra” over there — no ⽥Q, for example — upon which you can discard one
of your losers. This spade suit has no losers and no extra winners. You need
to have “extra” winners to be able to throw a loser away. In Figure 5-10, your
⽥A and ⽥K do an excellent job of covering your two spade losers, but no
more. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.
75
76
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Drawing trumps before
taking extra winners
After counting your immediate losers (see “Recognizing immediate and eventual losers” earlier in this chapter), if you still have enough tricks to make
your contract, go ahead and draw trumps before taking extra winners. That
way, you can make sure that your opponents don’t swoop down on you with
a trump card and spoil your party. Figure 5-11 illustrates this point by showing you a hand where spades is your trump suit.
Figure 5-11:
Be sure to
count losers
and extra
winners so
you have a
plan for the
hand.
West
J9
AKQ
J98765
10 8
North (Dummy)
6543
542
A43
AKQ
East
N
7
W
E
J 10 9 8
KQ
S
J97653
South (You)
A K Q 10 8 2
763
10 6
42
In the hand in Figure 5-11, you need to take ten tricks to make your contract.
West leads the ⽦A.
Before playing a card from the dummy, count your losers one suit at a time,
starting with the trump suit, the most important suit. You can’t make a plan
for the hand until your opponents make the opening lead because you can’t
see the dummy until the opening lead is made. But as soon as the dummy
comes down, try to curb your understandable eagerness to play a card from
the dummy and do a little loser counting instead.
⻬ In your trump suit (spades), you’re well heeled. You have ten spades
between the two hands, including the ⽥AKQ. Because your opponents
have only three spades, you should have no trouble removing their
spades. A suit with no losers is called a solid suit. You have a solid spade
suit — you can never have too many solid suits.
Chapter 5: Introducing Trump Suits
⻬ In hearts, however, you have trouble — big trouble. In this case, your
own hand has three heart losers. But before you count three losers,
check to see whether the dummy has any high cards in hearts to neutralize any of your losers. In this case, your partner doesn’t come
through for you at all, having only three baby hearts. You have three
heart losers, and they’re immediate losers.
⻬ In diamonds, you have two losers, but this time your partner does go to
bat for you, with the ⽧A as a winner. The ⽧A negates one of your diamond losers, but you still have to count one eventual diamond loser.
⻬ In clubs, you have two losers, but in this suit your partner really does
come through. Not only does your partner take care of your two losers
with the ⽤AK, but your partner also has an extra winner, the ⽤Q. Count
one extra winner in clubs.
Your mental box score for this hand reads as follows:
⻬ Spades: You have a solid suit, no losers.
⻬ Hearts: You must count three losers (the three cards in your hand).
⻬ Diamonds: You have one loser because your partner covers one of your
losers with the ace.
⻬ Clubs: You count one extra winner.
Next, you determine how many losers you can lose and still make your contract. In this case, you need to take ten tricks, which means that you can
afford to lose three tricks. (Remember, each hand has 13 tricks up for grabs.)
If you have more losers than you can afford, you need to figure out how to get
rid of those pesky deadbeats. One way to get rid of losers is by using extra
winners — and you just happen to have an extra winner in clubs.
Follow the play: West starts out by leading the ⽦AKQ, taking the first three
tricks. You can do absolutely nothing about losing these heart tricks — which is
why you call them immediate losers (tricks that your opponents can take whenever they want). Immediate losers are the pits, especially if they lead that suit.
After taking the first three heart tricks, West decides to shift to a low diamond, which establishes an immediate winner for your opponents in diamonds and an immediate loser for you in diamonds, once the ⽧A is played
from the dummy. You may have a strong temptation to get rid of that loser
immediately on the dummy’s clubs — it may be making you nervous just to
look at it. Don’t do it. Draw trump first. If you play the ⽤AKQ from the
dummy before you draw trump, West will trump the third club and down you
go in a contract you should make.
77
78
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
You need to draw trumps first and then play the ⽤AKQ. West won’t be able to
trump any of your good tricks, nor will East — they won’t have any trumps
left. You wind up losing only three heart tricks — and making your contract!
The most favorable sequence of plays, after losing the first three heart tricks
and winning the ⽧A, is as follows:
1. Play the ⽥A and ⽥K, removing all your opponents’ trumps.
2. Play the ⽤AKQ and throw that diamond loser away.
3. Sit back and take the rest of the tricks now that you have only trumps
left.
Any time you can draw trump before taking your extra winners, do it.
Taking extra winners before
drawing trumps
When you have more immediate losers than you can afford to make your contract, but you also have an extra winner, use that extra winner immediately
before you give up the lead in the trump suit. If you don’t, your opponents
will mow you down by taking their tricks all at once. However, if you can
draw trumps without giving up the lead, do that first and then take your extra
winner as in Figure 5-11.
Figure 5-12 shows you the importance of taking your extra winners before
drawing trump. In this hand, your losers are immediate — if your opponents
get the lead, you can pack up and go home.
Figure 5-12:
Take extra
winners to West
get rid of
A6
immediate
J983
losers
KQJ
9754
before
giving up
the lead in
the trump
suit.
North (Dummy)
10 5 3 2
AKQ
A72
832
East
N
74
W
E
10 7 6 2
10 6 4 3
S
A 10 6
South (You)
KQJ98
54
985
KQJ
Chapter 5: Introducing Trump Suits
In the hand in Figure 5-12, your contract is for ten tricks, with spades as the
trump suit. West leads the ⽧K, trying to establish diamond tricks after the
⽧A is played. After dummy’s ⽧A has been played, West’s ⽧Q and ⽧J are
promoted to sure winners on subsequent tricks.
After you count your losers, you tally up the following losers and extra winners:
⻬ Spades: You have one immediate loser — the ⽥A.
⻬ Hearts: You have one extra winner — the ⽦Q.
⻬ Diamonds: You count two losers, which are immediate after you play
the ⽧A.
⻬ Clubs: You have one immediate loser — the ⽤A.
You win the opening lead with the ⽧A. Suppose that you lead a low spade
from dummy at trick two and play the ⽥K from your hand, intending to draw
trumps, usually a good idea. (See “Eliminating Your Opponents’ Trump
Cards,” earlier in this chapter, for more information on drawing trumps.)
However, West wins the trick with the ⽥A, takes the ⽧QJ, and East still gets
a trick with the ⽤A. You lose four tricks. What happened? You went down in
your contract while your extra winner, the ⽦Q, was still sitting over there in
the dummy, gathering dust.
You never got to use your extra winner in hearts because you drew trumps
too quickly. When you led a spade at the second trick, you had four losers, all
immediate. And sure enough, your opponents took them — all four of them.
If you want to make your contract on this hand, you need to play that extra
heart winner before you draw trumps. You can’t afford to give up the lead just
yet. The winning play goes something like this:
1. You take the ⽧A at trick one, followed by the ⽦AKQ at tricks two,
three, and four.
2. On the third heart you can discard one of your diamond losers. This
play reduces your immediate loser count from an unwieldy four to a
workable three.
3. Now you can afford to lead a trump and give up the lead. After all, you
do want to draw trumps sooner or later.
If you play the hand properly, you wind up losing only one spade, one club,
and one diamond — and you make your contract of ten tricks.
You may think that playing the ⽦AKQ before you draw trumps is dangerous.
But you have no choice. You have to get rid of one of your immediate diamond losers before giving up the lead if you want to make your contract.
Otherwise, you’re giving up the ship without a fight.
79
80
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Chapter 6
Creating Extra Winners and
Discarding Losers
In This Chapter
䊳 Creating extra winners
䊳 Using finesses to establish extra winners
䊳 Determining how to make your contract
E
xtra winners are a two-fold blessing: They allow you to take tricks while
you discard losers. When you have an extra winner in the dummy, you
can play that winner and at the same time discard a loser from your hand.
(See Chapter 5 for details on discarding losers on extra winners.)
On a good day, you find extra winners perched in the dummy, just waiting to
take tricks for you. Unfortunately, those good days are few and far between.
On most days, you need to set up your own extra winners in order to make
your contract. I show you just how to establish extra winners in this chapter.
Establishing Extra Winners
in the Dummy
To create extra winners, a suit must
⻬ Be unequally divided (one hand holds more cards in the suit than the
other).
⻬ Have the greater length (more cards) in the dummy.
The more honor cards between your hand and the dummy, the better.
(Remember that the honor cards are the ace, king, queen, jack, and 10.)
82
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
In the following sections, I show you a perfect opportunity for creating extra
winners and explain when you can’t establish extra winners. I also give you
tips on driving out your opponents’ honor cards to set up extra winners.
Recognizing a great chance
for creating extra winners
Figure 6-1 shows you a suit that’s just prime for developing extra winners:
The suit is unevenly divided, with the greater length in the dummy. Plus, the
dummy holds three honors, a running head start.
North (Dummy)
KQJ
Figure 6-1:
This suit is West
laden with
10 8 7 4
potential
extra
winners.
N
W
E
S
East
A9632
South (You)
5
Start by leading the ⽥5. West plays a low spade, the ⽥4 (“low” in this book
means “lowest”), and you play the dummy’s ⽥J. Assume that the ⽥J drives
out the ⽥A in East’s hand. (See Chapter 3 for more information on driving
out the ace.) With the ⽥A out of the way, you have created two extra winners: the ⽥K and ⽥Q. The ⽥K and ⽥Q are extra winners because they’re
the boss spades (the highest cards left in the suit), and you have no spades
left. Later, when you play the ⽥K and ⽥Q, you can discard two losers from
your hand (see Chapter 5 to find out how to count the losers in your hand).
Determining when you can’t
create extra winners
Unfortunately, you can’t create extra winners in every suit you play. Figure
6-2 shows you the sad case of a suit that can’t yield any extra winners.
The suit in Figure 6-2 can’t produce any extra winners, no matter how hard
you try — these cards are evenly divided (both you and the dummy hold
three cards). You can’t create any extra winners in evenly divided suits.
Chapter 6: Creating Extra Winners and Discarding Losers
North (Dummy)
KQJ
Figure 6-2: West
This hand
10 9 7 4
strikes out
in extra
winners.
N
W
E
S
East
A53
South (You)
862
In Figure 6-2, suppose the lead is in the dummy from a previous trick and you
lead the ⽥J. (With equal honors you can just lead one of the equals without
having to lead from weakness to strength. See Chapter 4 for details on leading
toward a certain card.) Assuming that the ⽥J drives out the ⽥A in the East
hand, you establish two tricks, the ⽥K and ⽥Q, but no extra winners (see
Chapter 3 for more information on establishing tricks). You can’t use either of
the dummy’s spades to discard a loser from your hand because you have the
same number of spades as the dummy. With both hands holding the same
number of cards in the suit, neither hand runs out of cards in the suit before
the other, which gives you no chance to discard losers. Live with it.
Driving out your opponents’ honor
cards to establish extra winners
On occasion, you have to do a little work to make those extra winners appear.
You may have to drive out two honors in the same suit before you can create
any extra winners in that suit. But the bottom line is that the suit you’re
working with must be unevenly divided, with the greater length in the
dummy. You’re spinning your wheels if you try to create extra winners in an
evenly divided suit.
Take the cards in Figure 6-3 as an example.
Figure 6-3:
You can
drive out
some honor West
cards to
87654
create an
extra
winner.
North (Dummy)
Q J 10
N
W
E
S
South (You)
93
East
AK2
83
84
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
The cards in Figure 6-3 offer the opportunity to create an extra winner, but
you need to drive out the ⽥A and the ⽥K before you can claim the extra
winner. Start by leading a low spade, the ⽥3. West plays low, the ⽥4, and you
play the ⽥10 from the dummy. As it happens, the ⽥10 loses to East’s ⽥K.
After you regain the lead by winning a trick in another suit, lead your remaining spade, the ⽥9, West follows low again with the ⽥5, and you play the ⽥J.
This time the ⽥J loses to the ⽥A, also in the East hand. You’re left with the
⽥Q in the dummy — an extra winner because the queen is the highest
remaining spade at large and you have no more spades. After the dummy
regains the lead by winning a trick in another suit, play the ⽥Q and discard a
loser. Phew!
Making sure you can reach
your extra winners
When your suit fills the bill for creating extra winners but your equal honors
are divided between the two hands, play the high honor card from the short
side first. Doing so makes it easier to reach the extra winner(s) you create.
Playing the high honor cards from the short side is a bit like unblocking a
logjam; if you leave the honor in the hand with shortness, you leave the log in
place and potentially create a fatal blockage. Be a beaver — unblock those
honors!
In Figure 6-4, for example, you have three equal honor cards, the ⽥KQJ, but
the honors are divided between the two hands. Start by playing the ⽥K, the
high honor from the short side (South). Assume that your ⽥K loses to West’s
⽥A. The dummy is left with the ⽥QJ, and you’re left with the ⽥5. When you
regain the lead, you can lead the ⽥5 to the dummy’s ⽥J and then discard
one of your losers on the extra winner, the ⽥Q. If dummy regains the lead
first in another suit, just take your two winning spade tricks. Nice unblock.
Figure 6-4:
Create extra
winners by
playing the
West
high equal
A752
honor(s)
from the
short side
first.
North (Dummy)
QJ3
N
W
E
S
South (You)
K5
East
10 9 8 6 4
Chapter 6: Creating Extra Winners and Discarding Losers
Finessing for Extra Winners
When playing at a trump contract, you can take a finesse to create extra winners, just as you do at a notrump contract (see Chapter 4 for more on finessing). You need the following to take a finesse and establish extra winners:
⻬ An unevenly divided suit (the dummy holds more cards in the suit than
you do)
⻬ A majority of the honor cards, usually in the dummy
⻬ The absence of one or more of the top four honor cards
In the following sections, I show you when and when not to give finessing a
whirl. I also show you a desperation finesse.
The good and the bad: Times to try
and times to avoid finessing
When you behold such a treasure as the items in the earlier list, you can
create extra winners in that suit by taking a finesse, leading from weakness to
strength, usually a low card from your hand with the intention of playing an
honor card from the dummy. But keep in mind that luck plays a role when
taking a finesse. Because you don’t know who has the missing honor(s),
finesses work about half the time. Shed no tears if your finesse doesn’t pan
out. If the suit you’re finessing has enough honor cards between the two
hands, even if the finesse loses, you can still create at least one extra winner.
Check this out in Figure 6-5.
Figure 6-5: North (Dummy)
AQJ
Even when
your finesse
N
loses, you
W
E
wind up
S
with an
extra
winner! South (You)
43
85
86
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
In Figure 6-5, you have the makings of an extra winner in spades because the
dummy holds more cards than you, not to mention three honor cards.
You begin by leading the ⽥3, from weakness to strength. West also plays a
low spade, and you play the ⽥J from the dummy.
Say East has the ⽥K and takes the trick. It’s not the end of the world; the
⽥AQ in the dummy are the two highest remaining spades in the game — so
you know you can win two tricks with those cards. When you or the dummy
regain the lead by winning a trick in another suit, play the ⽥A, removing your
last spade, and then play the ⽥Q. By the time you play the ⽥Q, you won’t
have any more spades in your hand, so you can discard a loser. Voilà — an
extra winner!
If the ⽥J wins the trick, indicating that West figures to have the ⽥K, repeat
the finesse (see Chapter 4 if you need help seeing the advantages of repeating
a finesse). You must return to your hand with a winning trick in another suit
and lead your remaining spade, the ⽥4. Assuming West plays low, play the
⽥Q, which should win the trick. Finally, you can discard a loser on the ⽥A. In
this scenario, you not only create an extra winner, but your finesse also
works. Luck is on your side, and you don’t lose a trick.
On the other hand, in the cards in Figure 6-6, your honor strength isn’t strong
enough to create any extra winners. When you have only two honors in the
dummy and no honors in your hand, it helps if the two honors are equals such
as the queen and the jack or the king and the queen. Because that’s not the
case here, this isn’t such a hot suit to attack early on. True, if the finesse wins,
you have no loser, but no extra winner either. And if the finesse loses (if East
has the ⽥K), you lose one trick, and you have no extra winner to show for it.
In general, try to attack suits that have the potential for extra winners.
Figure 6-6:
Creating an North (Dummy)
extra winner
AQ7
is easier
when the
N
two honor W
E
cards in the
S
dummy are
equals — South (You)
not the case
43
here.
Chapter 6: Creating Extra Winners and Discarding Losers
Take your best shot: Finessing when
you really need extra winners
The way you attack a suit depends on the number of immediate losers you
have and the number of extra winners you need. Desperate circumstances
call for desperate plays!
In Figure 6-7, you have a suit with one extra winner simply by playing the ⽥A
and ⽥K. You can get that extra winner without losing a trick — an attractive
prospect. But if your immediate loser count demands that you play spades
for two extra winners (or three tricks), you have to take a chance on a finesse
and lead a small card from your hand, from weakness toward strength. With
your heart in your mouth, try playing dummy’s ⽥J! If the ⽥J wins, you create
two extra winners; if the ⽥J loses, at least you gave it your all. Bridge isn’t for
the faint of heart.
North (Dummy)
AKJ
Figure 6-7:
N
Try to create
W
E
two extra
S
winners by
playing the
jack. South (You)
4
In Figure 6-8, you have only one honor card in the dummy, but beggars can’t
be choosers. Lead low with the ⽥3 from your hand toward the ⽥K in the
dummy. If West has the ⽥A and plays it, your ⽥K becomes an extra winner
because you have no more spades in your hand. If West doesn’t play the ⽥A,
you take the trick with your ⽥K, and your spade loser vanishes. If East has
the ⽥A and takes your ⽥K, don’t send me a tear-stained postcard bemoaning your fate; you took a risk that had a 50 percent chance of success.
Sometimes it’s just not your day!
Figure 6-8: North (Dummy)
K764
This hand
gives you a
N
fifty-fifty
W
E
shot at
S
creating an
extra
South (You)
winner.
3
87
88
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Determining How to Make Your
Contract with Extra Winners
In this section, I want you to look at a hand and determine if you need to
create any extra winners. In Figure 6-9, you can see both your hand and the
dummy’s. Count your losers suit by suit and determine whether a straightforward plan of attack will do or whether you need to create extra winners to
make your contract. (See Chapter 5 for more information about counting
losers.)
North (Dummy)
4
932
AKJ6
87532
N
W
E
Figure 6-9:
S
Use a
finesse to South (You)
dramatically
K Q J 10 9 3 2
reduce your
A74
2
loser count.
J9
For the hand in Figure 6-9, your contract is for ten tricks, and West leads the
⽦K. You count up the following losers:
⻬ Spades: One loser, the ⽥A, a trick they are sure to take.
⻬ Hearts: Two immediate losers (after you play the ⽦A): The dummy’s
hearts can’t cover your two remaining small hearts, the ⽦7 and the ⽦4.
⻬ Diamonds: No losers! In fact, you have one sure extra winner (the ⽧A
and ⽧K. One covers your ⽧2 and you still have an extra winner). You
may have two extra winners if you want to risk a finesse by leading a low
diamond to the ⽧J.
⻬ Clubs: Two immediate losers: The dummy doesn’t have any winners that
can cover the ⽤9 and ⽤J.
Chapter 6: Creating Extra Winners and Discarding Losers
You have to take ten tricks, so you can afford only three losers. But you have
five — count ’em, five — losers. The situation looks a little bleak, doesn’t it?
To make matters worse, all your losers are immediate after your ⽦A is gone.
The only resource you have is your diamond suit.
Getting rid of one heart or club loser by playing the ⽧AK isn’t enough. You
need to get rid of two losers if you want to make your contract.
So what can you do? Go for a finesse! Win the first trick with the ⽦A and lead
a low diamond, the ⽧2, to the ⽧J in the dummy. If your finesse works, you
can play the ⽧AK, and because you have no more diamonds in your hand,
you can discard two losers in either hearts or clubs. If the finesse loses
(because East takes your ⽧J with the ⽧Q), you will lose your contract big
time. However, you can console yourself knowing that you made the right
play, the gutsy play, the bridge play, the play that allows you to make your
contract if the finesse works.
Before leaving the hand in Figure 6-9, pretend for a moment that you need to
take only nine tricks with the same opening lead (West’s ⽦K). In this contract, you can afford to lose four tricks, so you only have to get rid of one of
your five losers to make the hand. Life is now a lot less challenging. Win the
first trick with the ⽦A and play the ⽧AK from the dummy, discarding one
loser from your hand on the second winning diamond, and then play a spade.
No risky finesse is necessary in this contract — your loser count tells you
how to play your diamond suit.
With all this finessing and creating extra winners going on, you may lose sight
of your goal, which is making your final contract. Don’t take any unnecessary
risks, such as an unnecessary finesse, unless you need to do so to make your
contract.
89
90
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Chapter 7
Establishing the Dummy’s
Long Suit
In this Chapter
䊳 Turning small cards into winners in the dummy’s long suit
䊳 Using finesses to set up long suits
䊳 Drawing trumps at the proper moment when establishing the dummy’s long suits
䊳 Making a grand slam by establishing a long suit
M
ost beginning bridge players rush to take aces and kings with the
speed of summer lightning. But after the high of taking those few tricks
is over, reality sets in. What now? The truth is that you seldom have enough
aces and kings to make any contract. If you think about it, all the aces (four)
and all the kings (four) add up to only eight tricks, and most contracts
require you to take more than that number. And how often do you think
you’re going to have all the aces and kings between the two hands? Almost
never, I’m afraid.
The answer to too many losers is being able to take tricks with the smaller
cards attached to five- or six-card suits in the dummy. When your partner
presents you with a five-card or six-card side suit (any suit that isn’t the
trump suit), he doesn’t expect you to just sit there and admire it; he expects
you to work with it so you can take extra tricks with the smaller cards in the
suit. And I show you just how to do exactly that in this chapter.
Laying out the cards as you read this chapter can help you see the plays
more clearly. Have your deck of cards handy as you read.
92
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Turning Small Cards into Winning Tricks
Whenever the dummy presents you with a five- or six-card side suit, you may
have a chance to turn one or more of the small cards in that side suit into
winning tricks. What you have to do is play the suit and keep playing the suit,
trumping one or two of those small cards in your hand, until both opponents
are void in the suit (in other words, they have no cards left in the suit). That’s
what the following sections are all about.
Knowing how to turn small
cards into winners
To turn small cards in long suits into winning tricks, here’s what you need:
⻬ A five- or six-card side suit in the dummy with fewer than three cards in
that suit in your hand.
⻬ A strong five- or six-card trump suit in your hand.
⻬ Entries to the dummy, which are high cards in the dummy either in the
trump suit or in a side suit. (See “Ending up in the right place — the
dummy” later in this chapter for more about entries.)
Squeezing tricks out of small cards in the dummy’s long suit requires a bit of
effort, and you may ask yourself if the tricks are really worth all the trouble.
To spare yourself any unnecessary work, don’t even think about messing
with the dummy’s long suit unless you have too many losers to make your
contract or too few dummy entries to pull off this little caper.
Figure 7-1 shows a hand where the three needed requirements come into
play, allowing you to establish the dummy’s side suit.
You and your partner determine during the bidding that your trump suit is
hearts, and you contract for ten tricks. West leads the ⽥A.
The first rule of playing a hand is to think before you do something silly.
If you need to take ten tricks, you can afford to lose three tricks. See whether
you have more than three losers, and if you do, whether you can get rid of
some of those losers.
Chapter 7: Establishing the Dummy’s Long Suit
West
AKQ
Figure 7-1:
654
Mine your
987
KQ76
small
diamonds in
this hand for
winning
tricks.
North (Dummy)
753
A32
AK432
J5
East
N
10 9 4 2
W
E
7
Q J 10
S
10 9 4 3 2
South (You)
J86
K Q J 10 9 8
65
A8
Take a look at your loser count for the hand in Figure 7-1 (see Chapter 5 for
more on counting losers in your hand): You usually start counting losers in
the trump suit, the most important suit. (In this case, start with hearts.)
⻬ Hearts: No losers — hearts is a solid suit. You can never have too many
solid suits.
⻬ Diamonds: No losers and some potential to establish small cards in the
suit (what this section is all about).
⻬ Clubs: One loser, which is eventual rather than immediate. The loser is
eventual because the ⽤A allows you to control the suit, but your ⽤8 is
still a loser.
⻬ Spades: Three relatively small spades in your hand add up to three
immediate losers because your partner also has three small spades —
the kiss of death. (Yes, the ⽥J is an honor card, but because the opponents have the ⽥AKQ, it has the value of a small card).
You need to win ten tricks, but you have four losers in your hand — one too
many to make your contract. The potential answer to your club loser is that
five-card diamond suit staring you in the face — your salvation. You need to
turn one of those little diamonds into a winning trick and then use that established diamond to discard your losing ⽤8. This maneuver sounds simple
when I say it like that, doesn’t it? Well, read on; the answer may not be as
simple as ABC, but I think you’ll agree it’s not rocket science either.
93
94
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Playing the long suit to the bitter end
In the hand in Figure 7-1, West begins by taking the first three spade tricks
with the ⽥AKQ and then switches (smartly) to the ⽤K, driving out your ⽤A
and turning your ⽤8 into an immediate loser. Fortunately, you have the lead,
and you also have a five-card diamond suit to work with. You want to establish the dummy’s long suit (make at least one of the small cards there into a
winner), so you have to play the suit and keep playing it until both of your
opponents run out of diamonds.
Start by leading a low diamond to the ⽧K in the dummy; both of your opponents play low. Next play the ⽧A; both of your opponents play low again. You
remain with three little diamonds in the dummy; the opponents each have
one diamond left. The next step is to lead a low diamond from the dummy
and trump it with the ⽦8. Do you see what happens? Each opponent has
played his last diamond, and suddenly both remaining diamonds in the
dummy are winning tricks! You’ve just set up a suit. But wait — you still have
one more hurdle to clear.
If this were a notrump contract, all you would need to do is lead a heart to the
⽦A in the dummy and take your two winning diamonds. Unfortunately, in this
hand, hearts are trump, and taking winning diamonds isn’t quite that easy.
Do you see those little hearts (four to be exact) in the West and East hands?
Until you remove all those hearts, your winning diamonds in the dummy are
worthless. If you try to play one, one opponent or the other will trump your
winning trick.
Banishing your opponents’ trump cards
After you establish your small cards, you can’t use them until you draw all
your opponents’ trumps. If you leave your opponents with trump cards, they
will trump the dummy’s established small-card tricks. Figure 7-2 shows only
the trump suit (the hearts) from Figure 7-1 after you’ve trumped a diamond.
You desperately need to draw trumps to protect the small diamonds you’ve
established as winners.
Your opponents have four hearts between their two hands. Those four hearts
are tiny, but until you get rid of them, they can pester you to death — or at
least to the death of your contract. Your plan of attack is to lead hearts three
times, removing each and every heart from your opponents’ hands. Now
nothing can rain on your parade.
Chapter 7: Establishing the Dummy’s Long Suit
North (Dummy)
A32
Figure 7-2:
Draw West
trumps to
654
protect your
established
winners.
N
W
E
S
East
7
South (You)
K Q J 10 9
Ending up in the right
place — the dummy
When drawing trumps to protect established winning tricks in the dummy,
some players draw trumps helter-skelter, ending up in one hand or the other
without focusing on a game plan of where they need to end up. These players
run the risk of ending up in the wrong hand.
The dummy’s established small-card tricks are of absolutely no use until you
draw trumps, ending up in the dummy.
Keep a high card in the dummy either in the trump suit or in a side suit so
you can reach your established tricks after you’ve drawn trumps. You have
only the ⽦A as a way to reach those beautiful diamonds, so for heaven’s
sake, don’t play the ⽦A until the last possible moment.
In the case of the cards in Figure 7-1, you have two winning diamonds in the
dummy, and you want to use at least one of them to get rid of your losing
club, the ⽤8. The only way to use those diamonds is by entering the dummy
with the ⽦A (leading a small heart from your hand to the ⽦A in the dummy).
The ⽦A is called a dummy entry. When your only entry to your established
tricks is in the trump suit, you have to draw trumps, ending in the dummy.
In Figure 7-2, you want to draw trumps, ending in the dummy. You play the
⽦K, West plays the ⽦4, the dummy contributes the ⽦2, and East plays her
only trump card, the ⽦7. You take the trick and then continue by playing the
⽦Q. West follows with the ⽦5, you play the dummy’s ⽦3, and say East discards a club. You take this trick as well. West still has one heart left. No problem; you lead the ⽦9, West plays the ⽦6, the dummy plays the ⽦A, and East
discards another club.
Congratulations. You’ve drawn trumps, ending in the dummy, where your two
established diamonds are waiting to take tricks for you. Teacher is proud.
95
96
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Setting Up a Long Suit with a Finesse
When you’re missing a critical high card in the dummy’s long suit, usually a
king, you may have to rely on a finesse. A finesse involves leading from weakness to strength, trying to win a trick with a lower honor card. To pull this off,
the player who plays second to the trick must hold the honor card you’re
missing. (I cover finesses in more detail in Chapter 4.)
Some five-card suits require a finesse before you can set them up. No problem; take the finesse! Win or lose, continue playing the suit at your next
opportunity. Then, when you trump the suit later, you create extra winners
that provide a home for some or all of your losers.
You can’t forget about entries to the dummy when setting up suits. After you
set up a suit by trumping the small cards, you need to reach the dummy,
where the established tricks reside, to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you
don’t have enough dummy entries to set up a long suit, forget it. You’re spinning your wheels.
Finessing in a side suit requires the following basic steps:
1. Determine which suit you want to work with and notice which of the
high honor cards you’re missing.
2. Determine how many cards your opponents have in that suit.
3. Lead from weakness to strength, hoping that the opponent who plays
second to the trick has the missing honor.
4. Establish the suit by trumping the dummy’s small cards until the
opponents are out of the suit.
5. Draw trumps, ending up in the dummy. If you can’t end up in the
dummy, draw trumps ending up in your hand and then enter the
dummy in another suit.
Most important when setting up a long suit is to be able to enter the
dummy after the opponents’ trumps have been removed so you can take
your winning tricks. Without that last dummy entry, you’re history.
6. Sit back and collect the tricks you’ve established.
Figure 7-3 shows a suit where finessing can establish an extra trick for you.
In Figure 7-3, you need to take three tricks from the diamonds. Say that
spades are trump, and you have high spades coming out of your ears. You
want to take the finesse in diamonds, and you’re missing the critical ⽧K. You
hope that West, who plays second to the trick, has it.
Chapter 7: Establishing the Dummy’s Long Suit
North (Dummy)
AQ732
N
Figure 7-3: West
This suit is
K 10 9 4
ready and
waiting to
be finessed.
W
East
J5
E
S
South (You)
86
Before you set up tricks by finessing in the diamond suit, ask yourself how
many diamond cards your opponents have. Otherwise, how will you know
when both of your opponents are void in that suit? Because you have seven
diamonds, you can be sure that they have six. Being able to count to 13 goes
a long way in this game.
Start by leading a low diamond, the ⽧6, from your hand toward the ⽧Q in
the dummy (weakness to strength). When West plays low, you play the ⽧Q
and take a finesse, which is a fifty-fifty proposition. Good news: The ⽧Q wins
the trick because West has the ⽧K. Your finesse worked! The opponents now
have four diamonds left.
When you continue by playing the ⽧A from the dummy, both opponents
follow low, and you play your remaining diamond. Your opponents have two
diamonds left. Flushed with success, you lead a low diamond from the
dummy. Alas, East discards, meaning that West has both remaining diamonds. The nerve! Never mind. You trump this diamond in your hand with a
spade, leaving the cards that you see in Figure 7-4.
You can still succeed, but you need two more dummy entries! Do you see
why? For openers, you have to get to the dummy to trump a diamond. After
you do that, the dummy’s remaining diamond is a winner because neither
East nor West has any more diamonds. If you can get to the dummy one more
time, you can play your established diamond and discard a loser. Phew!
Figure 7-4:
You still
need two
dummy
entries to West
set up one
K
of the
dummy’s
diamonds.
North (Dummy)
73
N
W
E
S
South (You)
East
97
98
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Taking matters into your own hands
I once played bridge with a woman who had
established a long suit in the dummy, but she
didn’t have an entry to the dummy to play her
established cards. She was very frustrated —
she had worked so hard to set up the suit, but
she had no entry, or path, to the cards in the
dummy. The next time her turn came to play, she
solved the problem by leaving her seat, walking
over to the dummy, and taking the established
tricks. She fixed the problem of how to get to the
cards in the dummy by taking matters into her
own hands; she became the entry to the
dummy! Please don’t try this yourself.
Paying Attention to Long
Suits in the Dummy
Trump cards can prove invaluable when establishing the dummy’s long side
suit. Tiny trumps can fell your opponents’ aces, kings, and queens in the suit
you’re establishing. In the following sections, I provide several scenarios in
which you can use your trumps to set up winners in the dummy’s long suit.
Winning tricks in long suits
without honor cards
You may not believe it, but you can set up tricks in long suits, even if you
don’t hold a single honor card (the ace, king, queen, jack, or 10). All you need
is a five-card (or longer) suit in the dummy, entries to the dummy, and persistence.
When attempting to coax a trick or two out of such a scrawny five- or six-card
suit, your strategy is to play the suit and keep playing the suit at every opportunity until your opponents finally run out of cards in the suit. Eventually
they will.
In Figure 7-5, I spring a really pathetic five-card suit on you — this is five-card
suit appreciation time.
Pretend that spades are trump and that this side suit greets you. This is a
side suit? Yes! This is a side suit! You can set up even a puny five-card side
suit such as the one in Figure 7-5? No kidding. It’s possible.
Chapter 7: Establishing the Dummy’s Long Suit
Figure 7-5:
You can
squeeze
some tricks West
out of this
K 10 9
suit despite
your lack of
honor cards.
North (Dummy)
87432
N
W
E
S
East
AQJ
South (You)
65
Start by leading a low diamond, the ⽧5 (one of your two kamikaze pilots
about to sacrifice themselves for the greater good). West plays the ⽧9, you
play low from the dummy, ⽧2 (what else?), and East takes the trick with the
⽧J. Say East leads some other suit, but you recapture the lead and obstinately play your second diamond, West plays the ⽧10, the dummy plays low,
⽧3 (surprise), and East takes the trick with the ⽧Q. West remains with the
⽧K, East remains with the ⽧A, and you’re void in diamonds. The dummy has
three diamonds left.
Because East has the lead, he can lead another suit. But you won’t be denied.
Enter the dummy in another suit by leading a low card from your hand to a
winning card in the dummy. Now trump a diamond with one of your spades.
East has to play the ⽧A, and West has to play the ⽧K. Presto, your opponents have no more diamonds, and you have two diamond winners in the
dummy. Of course, you still have to draw trumps, and you still need another
entry to the dummy to enjoy your two diamond winners. But you can do it!
Taking tricks in long suits
with honor cards
After the trauma of setting up the suit in the previous section, you need a
little breather; take a look at a five-card suit with a little more beef, such as
the suit in Figure 7-6. Say that spades is your trump suit.
Start by leading a low diamond, the ⽧7, to the ⽧Q in the dummy (from weakness to strength). West plays low, the ⽧5, and East captures the dummy’s
⽧Q with the ⽧A. Are you counting the diamonds? Big Brother is watching.
Your opponents started with six diamonds, and now they have four left.
99
100
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Figure 7-6:
With honor
cards in the West
dummy, this
10 9 5
suit has a
little more
meat in it.
North (Dummy)
KQ432
N
W
E
S
East
AJ6
South (You)
87
When you regain the lead in another suit, play a low diamond from your
hand, the ⽧8, and the ⽧K from the dummy, both opponents following with
low diamonds (West plays the ⽧9; East plays the ⽧6). Now they have two
diamonds left. When you continue by leading a low diamond from the
dummy, the ⽧2, East plays the ⽧J, and because you have no more diamonds,
you can trump the ⽧J with a spade; West follows with the ⽧10. Neither East
nor West has any more diamonds, so both of the dummy’s low diamonds
have turned into winning tricks! You’re setting up suits like a veteran. People
are noticing.
Understanding the dangers
of setting up a side suit
Setting up a side suit by trumping small cards from the dummy entails certain
risks. When you set up the small cards in a long suit, you often can’t draw
trumps first because you may need trump entries to the dummy to reach
your winners after you establish the suit. If the only entries to the dummy are
in the trump suit, you can’t put the cart before the horse; you have to use the
trump entries to help you set up the side suit. Hence, drawing all your opponents’ trumps has to wait.
The dangers of trumping a side suit increase when the opponents still have
trumps. When you trump a card, the player who plays after you may also be
void in that suit and may be able to play a higher trump card and take the
trick, called overtrumping. Overtrumping can be a major pain — and you
know where.
In addition, you may have entry problems. What if you set up a long suit and
then can’t get back to dummy to use it? Well, it’s just too sad for words.
You also need enough trumps in your hand to trump a card or two in the suit
you’re establishing and still have enough trumps left to remove all your opponents’ trump cards. Sometimes you’re not dealt such an embarrassment of
riches in the trump suit.
Chapter 7: Establishing the Dummy’s Long Suit
Don’t despair. I mention the downside to establishing a suit just to let you
know that it doesn’t always work out. Nevertheless, with a strong trump suit,
dummy entries, and losers in other suits, consider establishing a five- or sixcard side suit even though it may be so puny that you can’t bear to look at it.
Making a Grand Slam with
Long-Suit Establishment
Does establishing a suit seem like a ton of work? Sometimes it can be. But the
rewards can be great.
You can achieve greatness by setting up a long suit. In Figure 7-7, you accomplish a grand slam (taking all 13 tricks) by establishing a side suit. Making a
grand slam is even exciting for expert players who’ve seen it all (see Chapter
16 for the glorious details on slams). The risks when bidding for all 13 tricks
are high but can sure pay off if you make your contract.
West
Q J 10 8 4
Figure 7-7:
65
You can
10 9
10 7 5 3
take all the
tricks in this
hand by
setting up a
long suit.
North (Dummy)
AK3
Q2
K5432
642
East
N
965
W
E
743
QJ86
S
QJ9
South (You)
72
A K J 10 9 8
A7
AK8
Fasten your seat belt and take a look at the cards in Figure 7-7. Nothing is
quite like bidding a grand slam (contracting for all 13 tricks) and then taking
all 13 tricks. Your contract for this hand is 7⽦ (hearts is the trump suit).
West leads the ⽥Q.
101
102
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Whether you have to take 7 or 13 tricks, you still go through the same steps,
counting your losers and looking for extra winners:
⻬ Hearts: No losers, a solid suit
⻬ Spades: No losers (the ⽥AK take care of your two baby spades)
⻬ Diamonds: No losers and a five-card suit (hint, hint, hint)
⻬ Clubs: One eventual loser
You have one loser in clubs, the fly in the ointment. You must try to get rid of
that club on one of the dummy’s diamonds, but first you have to set up those
diamonds. Are you ready? You’ve been groomed for this!
Win the opening lead with the dummy’s ⽥K, and then lead a low diamond,
the ⽧2, from the dummy to the ⽧A in your hand (following the general principle of unblocking the logjam by playing the high card from the short side).
Both opponents play a low diamond at trick two, so they have four diamonds
left. Then lead a diamond, the ⽧7, from your hand to the ⽧K in the dummy;
again, both opponents play low so they have two diamonds left.
When you play a third diamond from the dummy, the ⽧3, East follows with
the ⽧J, you trump with the ⽦8, and West discards a worthless spade
because he can’t overtrump the ⽦8.
The two diamonds in the dummy still aren’t winners because East has the
⽧Q. Hang in there. Enter the dummy by leading the ⽦9 to the ⽦Q (always
using your trump entry before your side-suit entry), and then trump the ⽧4
from the dummy in your hand, flushing out the last obstacle to your happiness: East’s ⽧Q.
Don’t look now, but the ⽧5 in the dummy is an established trick. But wait,
you can’t use it until you draw trumps! Play the ⽦AK, drawing the opponents’ remaining trumps, and then enter the dummy by leading your remaining spade, the ⽥7, to the dummy’s ⽥A (dummy entry number two). Finally,
you can joyously, triumphantly, play your ⽧5, discarding your losing club.
You’ve just bid and made a grand slam by winning all 13 tricks, but you
needed the dummy’s ⽧5 to do it. How does it feel?
Chapter 8
Getting Rid of Losers by Using
the Dummy’s Trump Cards
In This Chapter
䊳 Looking for a short side suit in the dummy
䊳 Using trumps in the dummy to make extra tricks
䊳 Handling your opponents’ trump leads
䊳 Avoiding the use of trumps in the long hand
Y
ou find a bad apple in every barrel. You know the one I mean — that one
rotten apple that ruins the entire barrel of apples. In bridge, you also
come across some rotten apples — your losers, those losing cards that keep
you from making your contract.
Just as you can throw out a rotten apple, you can get rid of your losers. This
chapter discusses a fun and easy technique for ridding your hand of
unwanted losers by putting the dummy’s trump cards to good use. For other
methods to get rid of your losers, check out Chapters 5, 6, and 7.
Understanding the Concept of Using the
Dummy’s Trumps to Your Advantage
Playing a hand at a trump contract is all about getting rid of your side-suit
losers (a side suit is any suit that is not the trump suit). One of the easiest
ways to get rid of your losers is to put the dummy’s trump cards to work.
Exactly how do you do that?
104
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Look for a side suit in the dummy that has shortness: zero, one, or two cards
(a void, singleton, or doubleton), and then check to see whether you have
more cards in that suit than the dummy. When you find such an unequally
divided suit, you’re in business. Figure 8-1 shows how you can open up shop.
North (Dummy)
Figure 8-1:
73
Look for a
N
short suit in
E
the dummy W
so you can
S
trump your
losers. South (You)
654
Assume that hearts is your trump suit and that the spade suit in Figure 8-1 is
a side suit. Pretend that the dummy has three hearts.
The spades in Figure 8-1 meet the criteria; you see two spades in the dummy
and longer spades in your hand, an unequally divided suit. As it stands, you
have three losing spades in your hand (see Chapter 5 for details on counting
losers). However, if you lead spades twice and concede two spade tricks, the
dummy won’t have any more spades. When the dummy is void in spades, you
can trump your remaining spade loser from your hand in the dummy. Hey,
losing two spade tricks is better than losing three spade tricks.
Knowing When to Trump
in the Short Hand
When you trump your loser(s) in the dummy, you’re usually trumping in the
hand that has fewer trumps. For that reason, the dummy is called the short
hand. Now I’ll let you in on a little secret: Each time you trump a loser in the
short hand, you gain a trick.
As you see in “Steering Clear of Trumping Losers in the Long Hand” later in
this chapter, you don’t gain a trick when you trump one of the dummy’s
losers in the long trump hand. Your goal is to trump losers in the short hand.
Figure 8-2 presents a best-case scenario of trumping losers in the short hand.
Chapter 8: Getting Rid of Losers by Using the Dummy’s Trump Cards
North (Dummy)
Figure 8-2:
(None)
Finding a
side suit
N
void in the
W
E
dummy is an
S
ideal setup
for trumping
South (You)
losers.
9542
In Figure 8-2, you hit the jackpot. The dummy starts out void in spades, so
you plan to start trumping your spade losers as fast as you can. In the following sections, I show you a surefire way to trump losers in the short hand and
explain the importance of postponing the drawing of trumps.
Getting a grip on the basic method
The basic technique for trumping losers in the short hand, usually the
dummy, works like this:
1. Identify a side suit in which your hand has more cards than the
dummy, and the dummy has zero, one, or two cards in the suit.
2. Lead the suit until the dummy is void.
3. When the dummy is void, trump your remaining losers in that suit.
The cards in Figure 8-3 show you how the miracle of trumping losers in the
short hand plays out in a sample hand.
West
Q 10 6 5
Figure 8-3:
32
Count your
J98
AKQJ
losers
before you
decide to
trump in the
short hand.
North (Dummy)
43
54
AK765
8765
East
N
J987
W
E
A76
Q 10 2
S
10 3 2
South (You)
AK2
K Q J 10 9 8
43
94
105
106
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
In Figure 8-3, you have the following losers (see Chapter 5 for help on how to
count losers):
⻬ Hearts: One immediate loser because you don’t have the ⽦A.
⻬ Spades: One eventual loser, the ⽥2, unless you can find some way to
cover it.
⻬ Diamonds: No losers. The dummy’s ⽧AK cover your two little ones
(⽧43).
⻬ Clubs: Two immediate losers, the ⽤94; the dummy is no help at all.
On this hand, your contract is for ten tricks, and hearts is the trump suit.
West leads the ⽤AKQ. When West plays the ⽤Q, you have run out of clubs,
so you trump the ⽤Q with a low heart, the ⽦8, and it’s your lead.
You’ve lost two tricks, you have a certain loser in hearts, and you also have
the little matter of the ⽥2 to deal with. Find a way to get rid of that spade
loser, or you’re doomed. (Remember: You need to win ten tricks to make your
contract, so you can afford only three losers, and you’ve lost two clubs and
are sure to lose a trick to the ⽦A).
Sometimes losers can be discarded on the dummy’s long suit (diamonds, in
this case), using the technique discussed in Chapter 7, but not this time.
Even if you could set up the diamonds by playing the ⽧AK and then trumping one, you would have no entry to get back to the dummy to take the winning diamonds. Scratch diamonds; this suit has no losers, but it can’t help
you get rid of any losers from your hand. Try plan B: Search your hand for a
suit in which you have more cards than the dummy.
Take a closer look at that spade suit in Figure 8-3. You have three spades and
the dummy has two spades, the signal that you may be able to trump your
losing ⽥2.
Play the ⽥AK, voiding the dummy of spades, and then lead the ⽥2, trumping
it with the lowly ⽦4 in the dummy. Don’t look now, but you just got rid of
that losing spade. Your only remaining loser is the ⽦A, a card one of your
opponents still holds.
Postponing the drawing of trump
Clearly, you need to keep as many trumps in the dummy as you have losers
to trump. If you plan to trump one or more losers from your hand in the
dummy, well then, keep some trumps over there. You may have to defer drawing trump (extracting your opponents’ trumps — see Chapter 5 for details)
until after you trump those losers.
Chapter 8: Getting Rid of Losers by Using the Dummy’s Trump Cards
In Figure 8-3, you need to trump one spade before you draw the opponents’
hearts. If you draw trumps early and remove the dummy’s trumps, you won’t
be able to trump your spade loser in the dummy, and you’ll go down.
Frequently, you have a side suit that looks like the spades in Figure 8-4.
Figure 8-4: North (Dummy)
6
Keep your
trump cards
N
available for
W
E
use in a
S
typical side
suit like
this one. South (You)
A73
You have two spade losers, the ⽥7 and ⽥3, but if you play the ⽥A and void
the dummy in spades, you can eventually trump your two remaining spades.
Instead of two spade losers, you have no spade losers. Of course, you need
two trumps in the dummy to pull off this little caper.
Saving Enough Trumps in the Dummy
When Facing a Counterattack
By the way, your opponents are also at the table. They watch you try to
trump your losers in the dummy when you lead the dummy’s short suit, and
they don’t like it. You’re trumping their tricks! But for every strategy in
bridge, a counterstrategy exists.
Each time you give up the lead in the dummy’s short suit, expect clever opponents to return a trump. Each time they lead a trump, that’s one less trump in
the dummy you have to trump a loser. Of course, you can always hope that
they haven’t read this book . . . maybe they’ll lead something else, but don’t
count on it unless you’re playing against a close friend or a relative.
You may be able to take the sting out of your opponents’ trump leads if you
save enough trumps in the dummy to outlast their attack. Figure 8-5 shows
you a hand in which you can ward off any trump leads from the opponents.
107
108
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Figure 8-5:
Save West
enough
A Q 10
trumps in
752
the dummy
J98
KQJ9
when your
opponents
plot against
your trump
cards.
North (Dummy)
53
10 4 3
643
87542
East
N
KJ984
W
E
86
10 7 5 2
S
10 6
South (You)
762
AKQJ9
AKQ
A3
In Figure 8-5, your contract is to take ten tricks, and hearts is the trump suit.
West leads the ⽤K. First, you take stock of your losers (as I show you in
Chapter 5); you can afford to lose only three tricks:
⻬ Hearts: No losers
⻬ Spades: Three losers, the ⽥762
⻬ Diamonds: No losers
⻬ Clubs: One eventual loser, the ⽤3 (becomes immediate after you win the
⽤A)
The nerve of your partner to present you with such a dummy! However, you
do have a ray of hope. Did you notice that the dummy has two spades, one
fewer spade than you have? If you play spades twice before you draw trump,
you can void the dummy in spades. You can then trump your third spade
with one of the dummy’s hearts, reducing your loser count to three.
You have to give up the lead twice in spades, but even if your opponents lead
a trump each time they have the lead, you’ll still have one trump left in the
dummy that you can use to trump your third spade. Strike one for the forces
of light.
What about drawing trump first? Later, man, later. If you remove all the
dummy’s trumps, you won’t have a trump in the dummy to care for your
third spade. It’s too sad for words.
Chapter 8: Getting Rid of Losers by Using the Dummy’s Trump Cards
Steering Clear of Trumping
Losers in the Long Hand
If you can generate extra tricks by trumping your losers in the dummy, you
may think that you can generate extra tricks by trumping the dummy’s losers
in your hand. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
For a moment, turn things around and think about trumping a loser in your
hand — the long hand. Figure 8-6 gives you a chance to put this theory into
practice. Assume that hearts is your trump suit.
Figure 8-6:
Don’t
attempt
to trump
a loser in West
the wrong
10 9 8
hand — in
this case,
the long
hand.
North (Dummy)
765
N
W
E
S
East
43
South (You)
AKQJ2
You want to draw trump, and you play the ⽦AKQ, removing all your opponents’ trump cards. You remain with the ⽦J2, both winners. You score five
heart tricks. Agreed?
Now see what happens if your opponents lead a suit that you don’t have and
you trump the lead with your ⽦2. You remain with the ⽦AKQJ, four tricks,
plus the deuce you have already used. Same five trump tricks. Trumping with
the ⽦2 doesn’t give you an extra trick. But if you can manage to trump a
loser in dummy, you still have five winning heart tricks in your hand plus the
ruff in the dummy. Voilà. Six trump tricks!
Trumping in the long hand is a break-even play, at best, unless you’re trumping
in the long hand trying to establish the dummy’s long suit (see Chapter 7). On
the other hand, each time you trump in the short hand, you gain a trick.
109
110
Part II: Playing the Hand in a Trump Contract
Part III
Bidding for Fun
and Profit
T
In this part . . .
he number one cause of bridge disasters is improper
bidding. Think of the countless tricks that you
could’ve saved (from your opponents’ trick pile) if you’d
had a strong foundation in bidding.
In this part, you discover when to bid and when to apply
the brakes. I talk about opening, responding, and rebidding. In short, you see how to arrive at the best contract.
After you read this part, you’ll find fewer of your tricks
falling into the perilous hands of the opponents.
Chapter 9
Starting with Bidding Basics
In This Chapter
䊳 Understanding the importance of the bidding
䊳 Examining the progression of the bidding
䊳 Checking out a bid’s structure and rank
䊳 Finding out who plays and who watches
䊳 Determining the strength of your hand
B
idding for the proper number of tricks is an important part of the game
of bridge. Some would say it’s what the game is all about! Successful
bidding can either make or break your chances of fulfilling your contract.
In this chapter, you discover some of the fundamentals of bidding. You find
out how the bidding progresses around the table, the proper way to make a
legal bid, and how to assess the strength of your hand (so you can make good
decisions about how many tricks you and your partner can reasonably
expect to take). You certainly shouldn’t pass on this chapter.
Grasping the Importance of Bidding
Bidding determines the final contract for a hand. The pressure is on the partnership that gets (or buys) the final contract — whoever buys the final contract has to win the number of tricks that they contract for. If the partnership
fails to win that number of tricks, penalty points are scored by the opponents. If the partnership takes at least the number of tricks it has contracted
for, it then scores points. (I talk about scoring in Chapter 20.)
In addition to determining how many tricks a partnership needs to win, bidding determines the following:
⻬ The declarer and the dummy for the hand: For the partnership that
buys the final contract, the bidding determines who plays the hand for
the partnership (the declarer) and who gets to watch (the dummy). See
“Settling Who Plays the Hand,” later in this chapter, for details.
114
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
⻬ How many tricks the partnership needs to win: Each bid corresponds
to a number of tricks that a partnership thinks it can take. The partnership that buys the final contract says that it can win the number of
tricks corresponding to the final bid. That partnership’s only goal after
buying the final contract is to win at least the number of tricks the final
bid proposes to take.
⻬ The trump suit (if there is one) for the hand: Depending on the cards
held by the partnership that winds up playing the hand, there may be a
trump suit (or the bidding may end in a notrump contract). See
Chapters 3 and 4 to find out more about playing at notrump. Part II discusses playing at a trump contract.
Proper bidding also allows the partners to exchange information about the
strength (high card points) and distribution of their cards. (See “Valuing the
Strength of Your Hand,” later in this chapter, for more about these types of
information.) Through bidding, you and your partner can tell each other
which long suits you have and perhaps in which suits you have honor cards
(aces, kings, queens, jacks, and tens).
Based on the information exchanged during the bidding, the partnership has
to decide how many tricks the partners think they can take. The partnership
with the greater combined strength usually buys the contract (makes the final
bid). The declarer (the one who plays the hand) tries to take the number of
tricks (or more) that his side has contracted for. The opponents, on the other
hand, do their darndest to prevent the declarer from winning those tricks.
Partnerships exchange vital information about the makeup of their hands
through a bidding system. Because you can’t tell your partner what you have
in plain English, you have to use a bidding system. Think of a bidding system
as a foreign language in which every bid you make carries some message.
Although you can’t say to your partner, “Hey, partner, I have seven strong
hearts, but only one ace and one king,” an accurate bidding system can come
close to describing such a hand.
The bidding (or auction) consists of only the permitted bids; you don’t get to
describe your hand by using facial expressions, kicking your partner under
the table, or punching him in the nose. Your partner must also understand
the conventional significance of your bids to make sense of what you’re
trying to communicate about your hand and to know how to respond properly. If not, it’s the Tower of Babel all over again!
Of course, everyone at the table hears your bid, as well as every other bid at
the table. No secrets are allowed. Your opponents are also privy to the same
information your bid tells your partner. Similarly, by listening to your opponents’ bidding, you get a feel for the cards that your opponents have (their
strength and distribution). You can then use this information to your advantage when the play of the hand begins.
Chapter 9: Starting with Bidding Basics
Bridge authorities agree that bidding is the most important aspect of the
game. Using a simple system and making clear bids is the key to getting to
the proper contract and racking up the points. Bidding incorrectly (giving
your partner faulty information) leads to lousy contracts, which, in turn, lets
your opponents rack up the points when you fail to make your contract.
Surveying the Stages of Bidding
The bidding begins after the cards have been shuffled and dealt. The players
pick up their hands and assess their strength (see “Valuing the Strength of
Your Hand,” later in this chapter, for details). In the following sections, I
explain the different elements of the bidding process.
Assessing the strength of your hand is something I cover in more detail in
Chapter 10 and beyond. In this chapter, I just want you to concentrate on the
mechanics of the bidding process. Take one step at a time!
Opening the bidding
The player who deals the cards has the first opportunity to either make a bid
or pass. The dealer looks at her hand; if she has sufficient strength, she
makes a bid that begins to describe the strength and distribution (how the
cards are divided). If she doesn’t have enough strength to make the first bid,
called the opening bid, she can pass (not make a bid).
Being second in line
After the dealer bids or passes, the bidding continues in a clockwise rotation.
The next player can take one of two actions:
⻬ Make a bid higher than the dealer’s bid (assuming that the dealer makes
an opening bid)
⻬ Pass
He can’t make a bid unless he bids higher than the dealer’s bid. See “Bidding
suits in the proper order,” later in this chapter, for more information on determining whether one bid is higher than another bid. If you’ve ever attended an
auction, you can see why bidding is sometimes referred to as an auction —
each bid must outrank the previous one.
115
116
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Responding to the opening bid
After the second player makes a bid or passes, the bidding follows a clockwise rotation to the next player at the table, the dealer’s partner. If the dealer
opens the bidding, her partner is called the responder.
If the dealer opens the bidding, the responder has a chance to make a bid,
called a response. This bid begins to describe the strength and distribution of
the responding hand. The partnership is looking for some suit in which they
have eight or more cards together, called an eight-card fit. It may take a few
bids to uncover an eight-card fit. Sometimes it doesn’t exist. Very sad. The
responder also has the option to pass her partner’s opening bid, which communicates more information (albeit of a rather depressing nature) about the
strength of her hand.
Buying the contract
The bidding continues clockwise around the table, with each player either
making a bid higher than the last bid or passing. After three passes, the bidding ends. The partnership that makes the last bid has bought the contract
and plays the hand, trying to take at least the number of tricks that corresponds to the final bid.
During the bidding, think of yourself as being in an “up-only” elevator that
doesn’t stop until three of its passengers say “Stop!” (or, in this case, “Pass”)
consecutively. Furthermore, this elevator has no down button! The only way
you can refrain from driving the elevator up is by saying “Pass” when it’s
your turn to bid.
Passing the buck
Note one special case that comes up once in a while. Sometimes no one
wants to make a bid, as you can see in the following bidding sequence:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
The hand has been passed out. Nobody wants to get on the elevator, not even
on the lowly first floor! No player has a strong enough hand to open the bidding. When a hand is passed out, the cards are reshuffled and the same
person deals again.
Chapter 9: Starting with Bidding Basics
Looking at the Structure and
the Rank of a Bid
Bridge bids have a legal ranking structure all their own. Remember that each
new bid any player makes must outrank the previous one.
During the bidding, players call out their bids to communicate information
about their hands to their partners. Each bid corresponds to a predetermined “message” about the strength and distribution of your hand. Each bid
also corresponds to the number of tricks that you’re saying you can win.
In Chapters 10 through 16, you discover which bids to use to describe your
hand to your partner. In the following sections, I just want you to get
acquainted with the look and feel of these bids.
Knowing what elements make a proper bid
A bid consists of two elements:
⻬ The suit: For bidding purposes, you actually play five “suits”: spades,
hearts, diamonds, clubs, and notrump. (Note this expanded meaning of
a suit.)
⻬ The number of tricks you’re bidding for in that suit: You start with an
automatic six tricks, called a book (don’t ask me why), and build from
there.
When people make a bid, they don’t say, “I want to bid three in the spade
suit.” Instead, players use a special language. You announce bids as “four
notrump,” “three clubs,” or “two diamonds.” When you see bids referred to in
books (including this one), the bids are abbreviated to number and suit
symbol. For example, the written equivalent of the preceding bids looks like
this: 4NT (four notrump), 3⽤ (three clubs), and 2⽧ (two diamonds).
Each bridge hand consists of exactly 13 tricks; the minimum opening bid
must be for at least seven of those 13 tricks. Therefore, each bid has an automatic six tricks built into it; thus, a 1⽦ bid actually says that you think you
can take seven tricks, not one trick. In other words, your bridge elevator
starts on the seventh floor.
The numbers associated with a bid correspond to bidding levels. Bids of 1⽥,
1⽦, 1⽧, and 1⽤ are called one-level bids. A bid that starts with a 3 is a threelevel bid. The highest level is the seven level; doing a little math tells you that
7 NT, 7⽥, 7⽦, 7⽧, and 7⽤ are the highest bids because 7 + 6 = 13.
117
118
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Bidding suits in the proper order
During the bidding, players can’t make a bid unless their bid is higher than
the previous bid. In bridge, two factors determine whether your bid is legal:
⻬ Which suit you’re bidding
⻬ How many tricks you’re bidding for in that suit
During the play of a hand, the rank of the suits has no significance. The rank
of the suits matters only during the bidding. The suits are ranked in the following order:
⻬ Notrump (NT): Wait! You thought you were reading about the rank of
suits. I bet you don’t remember seeing a notrump suit in your deck of
cards. Well, okay — so notrump isn’t really a suit in the strictest sense of
the word. But notrump is a type of bid. In fact, notrump is the highest
“suit” you can bid. Notrump is the king of the hill when it comes to bidding — you can score the most points with notrump bids.
⻬ Spades (⽥): Spades is the highest-ranking suit (after notrump).
⻬ Hearts (⽦): Hearts ranks behind spades; hearts and spades are referred
to as the major suits because they’re worth more in the scoring (discussed in Chapter 20).
⻬ Diamonds (⽧): Diamonds don’t carry as much weight; they outrank only
clubs.
⻬ Clubs (⽤): Clubs are the lowest suit on the totem pole. Diamonds and
clubs are called the minor suits.
To remember the rank of the suits (excluding notrump), look at the first letter
of each suit. The S in spades is higher in the alphabet than the H in hearts,
which is higher than the D in diamonds, which is higher than the C in clubs.
To see how the rank of the suits comes into play during the bidding, consider
the following example. Assume that you are seated in the South position:
South (You)
West
1⽦
?
North (Your Partner)
East
Suppose that you open the bidding with 1⽦ (check out opening bids in
Chapter 10). Because the bidding goes clockwise, West has the next chance
to bid. West doesn’t have to bid if he doesn’t want to; however, the most
likely reason for not bidding is that West simply does not have a strong
enough hand. West can say “Pass” (which is not considered a bid).
Chapter 9: Starting with Bidding Basics
However, if West wants to join in the fun, he must make some bid that is
higher ranking than 1⽦. For example, West can bid 1⽥ or 1NT, but not 1⽤ or
1⽧ — because both bids are higher ranking than a 1⽦ bid.
On the other hand, if West wants to bid diamonds (a lower-ranking suit than
hearts), West must bid at least 2⽧ for his bid to be legal. That is, only by
upping the level of the bid (from 1 to 2) can West make a legal bid in diamonds (a lower-ranking suit than hearts).
Making the final bid
When three consecutive passes follow a bid, the last bid is the final contract.
The following issues are resolved when the bidding is over:
⻬ Notrump: If the final bid is in notrump, no cards are designated as wild
cards, or trump cards, during the hand (see Part I for more information
on playing at notrump).
⻬ Trump: If a suit is named in the final bid, that suit is designated as the
trump suit for the hand. For example, if the final bid is 4⽦, the trump
suit is hearts for that hand.
⻬ How many tricks need to be won: By automatically adding six to the
number of the final bid, you know how many tricks you need to take. For
example, if the final contract is the popular 3NT, the partnership needs
to win nine tricks to make the contract (6 + 3 = 9).
Putting it all together in a sample
bidding sequence
In the following example, you can see the bids each player makes during a
sample bidding sequence. You don’t see the cards upon which each player
bases his or her bid — it isn’t important for now. Just follow the bidding
around the table, noting how each bid is higher than the one before it.
Assume that you’re in the South position:
South (You)
West
North (Your Partner)
East
1⽦
Pass
2⽤
2⽧
3⽤
3⽧
4⽦
Pass
Pass
Pass
119
120
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
After your opening 1⽦ bid, West passes and your partner (North) bids 2⽤.
East joins in with a bid of 2⽧, a bid that is higher than 2⽤. When it’s your
turn to bid again, you show support for your partner’s clubs by bidding 3⽤.
Then West comes to life and supports East’s diamonds by bidding 3⽧. Your
partner (don’t forget your partner) chimes in with 4⽦, a bid that silences
everybody. Both East and West pass, just as they would at an auction when
the bidding gets too rich for their blood.
It has been a somewhat lively auction, and your side has bought the contract
with your partner’s 4⽦ bid, which means that you need to take ten tricks to
make your contract. If you don’t make your contract, the opponents score
penalty points and you get zilch. The final contract of 4⽦ also designates
hearts as the trump suit.
Notice the following points about the bidding sequence:
⻬ Each bid made was higher ranking than the previous bid.
⻬ A player can pass on the first round and bid later (as West did), or a
player can bid on the first round and pass later (as East did).
⻬ When three players in a row pass, the bidding is over.
Settling Who Plays the Hand
If your partnership buys the final contract, the bidding determines who plays
the hand (the declarer) and who kicks back and watches the action (the
dummy). For example, if the final contract ends in some number of hearts,
whoever bid hearts first becomes the declarer, and his partner is the dummy.
Take a look at this sample bidding sequence:
South (You)
West
North (Your Partner)
East
1⽦
Pass
2⽤
2⽧
3⽤
3⽧
4⽦
Pass
Pass
Pass
The contract ends in 4⽦, which is the final bid because it is followed by three
passes. Both you and your partner bid hearts during the bidding. However,
you bid hearts first, which makes you the declarer.
Chapter 9: Starting with Bidding Basics
The player to the left of the declarer (in this case, West) makes the opening
lead, and the partner of the declarer (North) is the dummy. After the opening
lead, the dummy puts down her cards face up in four vertical rows, one for
each suit, (with the trump suit, hearts, to the left), and bows out of the action.
Valuing the Strength of Your Hand
During the bidding, figure out the collective strength of your partnership’s
hands to accurately assess how many tricks you can take. Of course, you
have to determine how strong your own hand is before you can tell your partner. Consider two elements when valuing the strength of your hand:
⻬ Your high card points (see the following section for a definition)
⻬ The distribution of your cards (how your cards are divided in the various
suits)
How do you know how high to bid — or whether you should bid at all? The
strength and distribution of your hand, combined with the strength and distribution of your partner’s hand, tell you how many tricks to contract for —
or whether you should enter the bidding at all. In the following sections, I
give you an idea of what you need in terms of strength (high card points) and
distribution (the number of cards you have in each suit) to enter the bidding.
I dive into the details of these issues in the rest of Part III.
Adding up your high card points
Your honor cards (the ace, king, queen, jack, and 10 in each suit) contribute
to the strength of your hand. When you pick up your hand, assign the following points to each of your honor cards:
⻬ Aces: For every ace, count 4 points (A = 4 points).
⻬ Kings: For every king, count 3 points (K = 3 points).
⻬ Queens: For every queen, count 2 points (Q = 2 points).
⻬ Jacks: For every jack, count 1 point (J = 1 point).
The 10 is also considered an honor card, but, alas, it doesn’t count when
adding your points initially. Patience.
121
122
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
These points are called high card points (HCP). Most players use this barometer to measure the initial strength of their hand.
Each suit contains 10 HCP, totaling 40 HCP in the deck. When you know the
total HCP between the two hands in your partnership (which you find out
through the bidding), it’s easier to decide how many tricks to bid for.
Looking for an eight-card trump fit
Why should you care about the distribution of the cards (that is, how many
cards you or your partner has in any one suit)? For you and your partner to
land in a safe trump-suit contract, you want to have at least eight cards in the
same suit between the two hands, called an eight-card trump fit. Bidding to a
great extent is geared toward locating such a fit, hopefully in a major suit.
Chapter 10
Making a Successful Opening Bid
In This Chapter
䊳 Getting a grip on opening bid basics
䊳 Opening the bidding when you have 12 to 20 HCP
䊳 Making an opening bid with 21 or more HCP
䊳 Striking with preemptive opening bids
S
tarting off on the right foot is the first step to success at the bridge table,
and it all starts with the opening bid. In this chapter, I tell you everything
you need to know about the opening bid — the first bid made at the table. If
you aren’t familiar with the basics of bidding, check out Chapter 9 to pick up
some fundamentals.
The Basics of Opening the Bidding
After the cards are dealt, you pick them up, sort them, and evaluate the
strength of your hand. Depending on how strong your hand is, you may get a
chance to make the first bid, called the opening bid. But how do you decide
whether your hand is worth an opening bid? Read on.
Knowing when to get your feet wet
Two factors contribute to whether you have an opening bid:
⻬ Your high card points (HCP): Barring exceptions, you should have at
least 12 HCP to make an opening bid. (See Chapter 9 for more information on calculating your HCP.)
⻬ Your distribution (the way your cards are divided): Normally, you open
the bidding in your longest suit, which typically has four or more cards.
124
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Suppose that you deal yourself either of the hands you see in Figure 10-1.
Figure 10-1:
Add up your
HCP to
determine
whether you
can make
an opening
bid.
♠A K J 7 4 2 ♥K J 5 ♦J 4 2 ♣8
1
(13 HCP)
♠K Q 5 4 ♥A 3 ♦5 4 ♣K 10 7 6 2
2
(12 HCP)
You can open the bidding with either of these hands; both hands contain at
least 12 HCP, and each has a suit with four or more cards. So life is easy: You
open the bidding in your long suit, 1⽥ and 1⽤, respectively.
The player who makes the opening bid eventually tries to show both strength
and distribution to her partner. For example, if a player makes an opening bid
of 1⽧, you know that she has at least 12 HCP in her hand and figures to have
four or more diamonds.
Understanding when to bend the rules
In the previous section, I tell you that you need at least 12 HCP to make an
opening bid. I try to give you definitive rules, but not all bridge concepts are
cut and dried. As a case in point, the strength requirements for an opening
bid can sometimes be shaded a little.
For example, if you have a six-card suit or two five-card suits, you can open
the bidding with as few as 11 HCP. If your partner complains about you opening with fewer than 12 HCP, just tell your partner that you don’t need as many
points because you play so well.
Having the option of passing
The dealer has the first chance to make a bid. If she has sufficient strength,
she opens the bidding. She can also choose to pass (“pass” isn’t a bid).
When it’s your turn to bid (you may be first if you’re the dealer, or you may
get a chance to make the opening bid if the players before you pass), if your
hand doesn’t have enough strength to open, just say one word, “Pass,” and
don’t look glum. Even if you aren’t strong enough to open the bidding, you
can still join in later.
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
Remembering your goal: The eight-card fit
The first few bids in most bidding sequences are exploratory, like two fighters feeling each other out in the early rounds. Usually on the second bid,
called the rebid, one of the players comes clean and shows his strength
within a few points. Good news. Then his partner can add the total HCP
between the two hands to get a feel of how high to bid.
While all this telling and adding is going on, the partnership is trying to
locate a suit that both players like (one in which they have at least eight
cards between the two hands, also known as an eight-card fit); if they find one,
they try to make that suit the trump suit. Because hearts and spades (the
major suits) are the most rewarding suits to play in (turn to Chapter 20 for
more information on scoring), the partnership initially tries to find an eightcard (or longer) major suit fit. Much of the bidding depends on whether an
eight-card or longer major suit fit exists. If a partnership doesn’t have such a
fit, the partners may play the hand at notrump, in an eight-card or longer
minor suit fit (diamonds or clubs), or possibly a seven-card major suit fit.
When you open the bidding in a suit, your partner can’t possibly know
exactly how many cards you have in the suit. The opening bid is just the
beginning of your picture. After you make your rebid (which you hear more
about in Chapter 12) and, perhaps, a third bid, the picture of your hand starts
to come into focus. Even the greatest of paintings begins with a single stroke
of the brush.
The language of bidding: Talking to your partner
Bidding is an exchange of information. During
the bidding, you’re trying to telegraph details
about your cards to your partner. But what
about your opponents? What are they doing
while you pass this coded information back and
forth? They’re not reading a book, you know —
they listen to the bidding, too! This coded information that you pass to your partner may be in
a foreign language (the language of bidding),
but your opponents also speak this language.
Whatever you tell your partner, your opponents
hear and understand.
Your first impulse may be to develop some special bidding conventions that only you and your
partner know. However, according to the rules
of the game, you can’t have any bidding secrets
with your partner; the same goes for your opponents. So even though the opponents may be
bidding their heads off, you at least will know
what their bids mean. You, too, can be a major
league “buttinski,” as you see in Chapter 14.
125
126
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Opening the Bidding with 12 to
20 HCP in Your Hand
In theory, opening bids can be made at any level you like (see Chapter 9 for
more information on bidding levels). In practice, if you have enough points to
open the bidding, you usually start the bidding at the one level.
If your hand has 12 to 20 HCP, you usually trot out your longest suit at the
one level. If you have 21 HCP or more, turn to “Opening the Bidding with 21
or More HCP” in this chapter to see how to handle such hands. If you keep
picking up hands with 21 or more HCP, give me a call — I need partners like
you.
If both your HCP and your distribution help you decide whether to make an
opening bid, which factor is more important? One simple fact answers this
question: The longer the suit you have, the more tricks you are likely to take.
And that’s why you bid your longer — not necessarily your stronger — suit
first. It also helps you reach your partnership’s ultimate goal: locating that
all-important eight-card major suit fit. Remember: length before strength.
The distribution of your cards (the length of your suits) plus your partner’s
distribution plays a major part in determining how high you bid. You use an
established bidding method, called a system, to communicate your strength
and distribution. I discuss various common distributions, or hand patterns,
and how to handle them in the following sections.
If you don’t have three people to play with, dig up a deck of cards, shuffle it,
and deal out four hands. Count the points and notice the distribution of each
hand. See whether a hand is strong enough to open the bidding. Check the
distribution and ask yourself which suit you would bid first if the hand were
strong enough to open. It’s a quick-start way to get a feel for counting points
and checking hand patterns.
Eyeballing different distribution types
The distribution of your cards determines which suit you bid first. Every
hand you pick up will have one of the following characteristics:
⻬ One-suited: A hand with one five-, six-, or seven-card suit.
⻬ Two-suited: A hand with two five-card suits (5-5), or a five- and a fourcard suit (5-4), or a six- and a four-card suit (6-4).
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
⻬ Three-suited: Three suits with at least four cards (such as 4-4-4-1 or 5-4-4-0).
⻬ Balanced: A hand with no long suit and no really short suit. Balanced
hands come in three types: a hand with only one four-card suit, a hand
with two four-card suits, and a hand with a five-card suit. You can refer
to balanced hands numerically in terms of the suit length, putting the
long suit first: for example, any 4-3-3-3 shape, any 4-4-3-2 shape, or any
5-3-3-2 shape. All these distributions are considered “balanced.”
Astute readers may note that hands with a 5-3-3-2 distribution belong to two
different families because they can be put in the one-suited hand type, as well
as the balanced hand category. Who gets custody of the 5-3-3-2 hands?
Should they be considered one-suited hands or balanced hands? See
“Opening with a balanced hand,” later in this chapter, to find out the answer.
Opening with a one-suited hand
With rare exception, to open the bidding in any suit, you need at least four
cards in the suit. However, to open the bidding with 1⽦ or a 1⽥, you need at
least five cards in the suit. In the Standard American system (used by most
players in the United States), an opening bid of 1⽦ or 1⽥ promises at least
five cards in the suit. It’s called “Five Card Majors.” (When I first started,
everyone played “Four Card Majors”!)
If your hand has only one suit with five cards or more, you have a one-suited
hand. Take a look at the hands in Figure 10-2 to see some great-looking onesuited hands.
Figure 10-2:
With a onesuited hand,
open the
bidding in
your longest
suit.
♠5 4 ♥4 3 2 ♦K Q J 8 7 ♣A Q 2
1
(12 HCP)
♠A 2 ♥A 4 3 ♦K J 9 7 4 3 ♣K 5
2
(15 HCP)
When you have a one-suited hand and 12 to 20 HCP, you open with a one-level
bid in your longest suit. For example, in Figure 10-2, both hands are strong
enough to open 1⽧; both have at least 12 HCP and at least four diamonds.
If you have a one-suited hand and between 12 and 20 HCP, you usually open
at the one level and bid your longest suit. But if you have a six-card suit, you
can open the bidding with 11 HCP — another example of length trumping
strength.
127
128
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Opening with a two-suited hand
Hands with one five-card suit and one four-card suit (or two five-card suits)
are the most common two-suited distributions (5-4 or 5-5 shape). However,
hands with one six-card suit and one four- or five-card suit (6-4 or 6-5 shape)
are also two-suited hands. Figure 10-3 shows you some two-suited hands.
Figure 10-3:
Two suits
are
definitely
better than
one when
you open
the bidding.
♠4 3 ♥Q J 9 8 7 ♦K 6 ♣A K Q 2
1
(15 HCP)
♠K J 5 4 3 ♥2 ♦A K 10 9 8 ♣8 2
2
(11 HCP)
When you have a two-suited hand, you want to let your partner in on this
little secret. You open with the longer of the two suits, intending to bid (mention) the other suit at your next opportunity. By the way, your second bid is
called your rebid (you hear more about rebidding in Chapter 12).
If you have two five-card suits, bid the higher-ranking suit first (the rank of
the suits is spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs). See Chapter 9 for more information on ranking the suits.
Listen closely to this sage piece of advice from one of the all-time bridge
greats, Edgar Kaplan. He has said in print many times: “The answer to most
bidding problems is to bid your longest suit.” If you remember that you need
12 or more HCP to open the bidding and that you bid your longest suit first,
you will be a survivor.
In the first hand in Figure 10-3, you open the bidding with 1⽦ because your
hearts are longer than your clubs. Yes, I can see that the clubs are stronger
(clubs have more honor cards). Never mind — bid the longer suit first.
Length comes before strength both in the dictionary and in the bidding.
In the second hand in Figure 10-3, you have two five-card suits. Which one
should you bid first? You didn’t think you were going to get out of this chapter without any rules, did you? With two five-card suits, bid the higherranking suit first. Open 1⽥ with the intention of showing your diamonds
next.
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
Opening with a three-suited hand
This category is composed of hands that have three four-card suits and a singleton (a suit with one card), or one five-card suit, two four-card suits, and a
void (no cards in the fourth suit). If your hand contains one of these distributions, you have a three-suited hand or a three-suiter. Lucky you! These hands
come along rarely. But when they do, you’ll be prepared.
The cards in Figure 10-4 show you some classic examples of three-suited
hands.
♠4 ♥K Q 5 4 ♦A J 5 4 ♣Q 9 7 6
1
(12 HCP)
♠Q J 4 3 ♥4 ♦A K 7 6 ♣A K J 4
2
Figure 10-4:
Threesuited
hands are
rare in
bridge.
(18 HCP)
♠A 9 8 6 ♥Q J 4 3 ♦2 ♣A K 10 9
3
(14 HCP)
♠K J 4 3 ♥A Q J 3 ♦A J 9 8 ♣3
4
(16 HCP)
Three-suiters present a unique challenge. Bridge should offer a special opening bid that tells your partner, “You won’t believe this, but I have three fourcard suits!” Unfortunately, no such bid exists. However, you can follow a very
simple rule when opening with a three-suited hand.
When you have three four-card suits, open 1⽧. However, if your singleton is a
diamond, open 1⽤. This doesn’t mean that every time you open 1⽧ your
partner expects you to have three four-card suits. But he will be at least alive
to that possibility.
129
130
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Opening with a balanced hand
Balanced hands include hands with the following distributions in any suits:
⻬ 4-3-3-3: One suit with four cards and three suits with three cards
⻬ 4-4-3-2: Two suits with four cards each, one suit with three cards, and
one suit with two cards
⻬ 5-3-3-2: One suit with five cards, two suits with three cards, and one suit
with two cards
In the following sections, I discuss the opening bid with balanced hands that
have 15 to 17 HCP. I then focus on opening balanced hands with fewer HCP
(12 to 14 HCP) and those with more HCP (18 to 19 HCP).
Opening a balanced hand with 15 to 17 HCP (1NT)
With 15 to 17 HCP, life is so easy you won’t believe it. Open 1NT. You’ve just
gotten your hand off your chest with one bid by telling your partner your
strength and distribution. You can open 1NT with any hand in Figure 10-5.
♠K 4 ♥A J 6 5 ♦Q J 4 ♣A 10 8 7
1
Figure 10-5:
Opening
1NT tells
your partner
your
strength and
distribution
in one bid!
(15 HCP)
♠J 6 5 3 2 ♥A K J ♦K 5 4 ♣A 10
2
(16 HCP)
♠10 9 4 3 ♥A Q J ♦A Q 2 ♣K J 5
3
(17 HCP)
Each of the hands in Figure 10-5 is balanced, and each falls within the designated range of 15 to 17 HCP. Open any balanced hand pattern that has
between 15 and 17 HCP with 1NT.
In the interest of simplicity, open 1NT even with a five-card major suit and 15
to 17 HCP and a balanced hand. When you learn to hedge (or use your own
judgment), you can pick and choose between opening 1NT and opening with
your five-card major suit.
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
Opening with a 5-3-3-2 hand pattern outside the 1NT range
With a 5-3-3-2 pattern outside the range of a 1NT opening bid (15 to 17 HCP),
bid your five-card suit first. See, I’m breaking you in gently.
Opening with a 4-4-3-2 hand pattern outside the 1NT range
The 4-4-3-2 hand pattern (any 4-4-3-2 distribution) is the most common of all
hand patterns. You pick up this pattern about 20 percent of the time. Your
main concern when you open with a 4-4-3-2 hand pattern is to bid the right
four-card suit first.
If the hand contains a four-card major and a four-card minor, bid the minor
first; you can’t open with 1⽥ or 1⽦ unless you have five cards in the suit. So
with clubs and hearts, or clubs and spades, bid the clubs first. With diamonds and hearts, or diamonds and spades, bid the diamonds first. Figure
10-6 shows you two 4-4-3-2 hand patterns with both a minor and a major suit.
Figure 10-6:
Bid the fourcard minor
suit first
with a fourcard minor,
a four-card
major, and a
4-4-3-2 hand
pattern.
♠A K J 6 ♥6 5 3 ♦A J 8 7 ♣6 5
1
(13 HCP)
♠A 4 ♥K Q 8 7 ♦A Q 4 ♣K 10 7 6
2
(18 HCP)
In both of the hands shown in Figure 10-6, bid the minor suit first. In the first
example, open 1⽧, and in the second, open 1⽤.
When you have two four-card majors in a 4-4-3-2 hand pattern, open the bidding in your three-card minor. Consider the hands in Figure 10-7.
Figure 10-7:
Open with a
three-card
minor when
you have
two fourcard majors.
♠K Q 8 7 ♥A J 6 5 ♦K J 8 ♣10 5
1
(14 HCP)
♠A 9 8 7 ♥A K 9 7 ♦J 9 ♣A K 4
2
(19 HCP)
131
132
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
In these two 4-4-3-2 hand patterns, you would open with 1⽧ and 1⽤. Why?
You normally open the bidding in your longest suit. Why would you bid a
three-card suit when you have two four-card suits? When you open with a
major suit, you guarantee at least five cards in the suit. So when you have a
hand with two four-card major suits, you don’t have enough length to open in
either suit. Opening the three-card minor is considered the lesser evil.
Playing a five-card major system means making adjustments when you have
an opening bid with one or two four-card majors. The compromise solution
with 4-4 in the majors is to open the bidding with your three-card minor. You
tell a small lie, but you hope that your deception is temporary. On a good
day, your partner responds in a major suit, allowing you to come out of the
woodwork and support the suit. (See Chapter 11 for more on responding.)
Opening the bidding with a three-card minor is rare and is driven by the
requirement that a major-suit opening shows five cards. A three-card minor
opening is called a short club — or, even rarer, a short diamond. If anyone asks
whether you play “a short club,” your answer should be, “Yes, but only when
I have to.”
When you have two four-card minors with a 4-4-3-2 hand pattern, open 1⽧.
Opening with a 4-3-3-3 hand pattern outside the 1NT range
4-3-3-3 hand patterns are so blah: no long suits, no short suits, no nothing.
Fittingly, these patterns are called flat hands — kind of like a flat tire. Treat these
hands as balanced hands, and follow the guidelines outlined in this section.
Figure 10-8 shows you a few flat hands.
♠K J 4 3 ♥A Q 3 ♦6 5 4 ♣K 6 5
1
(13 HCP)
♠A 10 4 ♥K 6 5 2 ♦Q 6 5 ♣A K Q
2
Figure 10-8:
You have
two options
for getting a
handle on
flat hands.
(18 HCP)
♠K J 4 ♥Q J 3 ♦Q J 4 2 ♣K 9 7
3
(13 HCP)
♠K Q 3 ♥A Q 2 ♦K 8 7 ♣10 8 7 6
4
(14 HCP)
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
Being on your best behavior during the bidding
You must follow bridge etiquette during the
game — especially during the bidding. Here are
a few important points:
⻬ Try to use the minimum number of words
possible when you bid. If you want to pass,
say just one word: “Pass.” If you want to bid
3⽤, say “Three clubs.” No more, no less.
⻬ Be careful about how you use your voice.
You may be tempted to bid softly if you have
a weak hand or loudly if you have a strong
one. Remember to keep all your bids at the
same decibel level.
⻬ If your partner makes a bid that you don’t
like, don’t throw any looks and don’t use any
negative body language. If your partner
makes a bid that you do like, you also must
refrain from any telltale signs of major glee.
⻬ No matter what happens during the bidding,
keep an even keel. No emotional breakdowns. Bridge is too great a game to mess
it up with illegal signals.
In each case in Figure 10-8, you have enough HCP (at least 12) to open the
bidding. You have no long suit, but you do have too little (or too much) to
open 1NT, which shows 15 to 17 HCP (I discuss opening 1NT earlier in this
chapter). What to do?
⻬ With a 4-3-3-3 distribution and the four-card suit a major, open 1⽤. (You
can’t open 1⽦ or 1⽥ unless you have five cards in the suit, remember?
See “Opening with a one-suited hand,” earlier in this chapter.)
⻬ If the four-card suit is a minor, open the bidding in the four-card minor.
With the first and second hands in Figure 10-8, open 1⽤; with the third hand,
open 1⽧; with the fourth hand open 1⽤.
Open 1⽤ with any 4-3-3-3 outside the range of 15 to 17 HCP, unless the hand
has four diamonds — in that case, open 1⽧.
Opening the Bidding with
21 or More HCP
Sometimes you pick up such a wonderful hand that you think you must be
dreaming; you can’t believe that you have 21 HCP or more in your hand. Your
heart starts pounding a little faster, but you mustn’t do or say anything to let
on what you have — it isn’t ethical.
133
134
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
When you get a great hand like this, you usually open with 2⽤, the strongest
opening bid in bridge. The 2⽤ bid basically tells your partner that you can
make game in your own hand. With a little help from your partner, you may
even be able to bid a slam! (See Chapter 20 for the details on making game
and scoring slams.)
The 2⽤ opening is completely artificial, which is to say that the bid has nothing to do with the clubs in your hand; you may or may not have clubs. Your
second bid tells your partner the reason for your strong opening bid: It may
be because you have a very long suit.
In the following sections, I show you when to open with 2⽤ when you have
unbalanced and balanced hands. You also find out about the exception to
opening with 2⽤.
Opening 2⽤ with an unbalanced hand
You open most unbalanced hands with 21 or more HCP with 2⽤.
(Unbalanced hands include all hands that don’t fit into the balanced-hand
shapes as discussed in “Opening with a balanced hand,” earlier in this chapter.) Some hands that have 20 HCP also should open 2⽤, such as hands with
a seven-card major suit or hands with a six-card major suit that can take ten
tricks (or more) in their own hand.
Very strong unbalanced hands may look like the examples shown in Figure
10-9. You would open each of the hands in Figure 10-9 with 2⽤.
♠A 10 9 ♥A K Q 8 7 4 2 ♦2 ♣A K
1
Figure 10-9:
If you have
20 or more
HCP in an
unbalanced
hand, you
can open
with 2⽤.
(20 HCP)
♠K Q J 10 5 4 ♥A ♦A K Q J ♣9 5
2
(20 HCP)
♠4 ♥A K Q 4 ♦A 3 2 ♣A K Q 5 2
3
(22 HCP)
If you have a six- or seven-card major suit with 20 or more HCP, you have a
2⽤ opening bid. If you have an unbalanced hand with a five-card suit with 21
or more HCP, you also have a 2⽤ opening bid. (If you have a five-card suit
and a balanced hand, open 2NT with 20 to 21 HCP. See “Knowing when not to
open 2⽤ with a balanced hand,” later in this chapter, for details.)
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
Even a sleepy partner wakes up when the sound of a 2⽤ opening bid comes
from across the table. A 2⽤ opening bid means that big happenings are in the
air. All the hands in Figure 10-9 are very powerful. These hands can do great
things, no matter what garbage may be in their partner’s hand.
⻬ For example, the first hand in Figure 10-9 shows a 20-point hand that can
take 10 tricks: seven hearts, two clubs, and one spade.
⻬ The second hand is another 20-point hand that can take 10 tricks: five
spades, four diamonds, and one heart.
⻬ The third hand is a 22-point hand that has a strong potential for 10
tricks: four hearts, one diamond, and five clubs. Here you could use a
little help from your partner; a jack of hearts here and a jack of clubs
there would be nice cards to see in the dummy.
Notice that the first and second hands are stronger than the third, even
though they have fewer HCP. Why? Because the first two have longer suits.
If you open with 2⽤, you have aces and kings coming out the kazoo. You
want to make a forceful opening bid that tells your partner, “Partner, if you
value your life, do not pass until we reach at least a game contract. I have
enough tricks in my own hand to make game.”
I know that this chapter is about opening bids, but I want to go a little further
with the 2⽤ opening bid to show you how it really works.
The 2⽤ opening bid is completely artificial — you may or may not have
clubs. You just use the 2⽤ opening bid to tell your partner that you have a
knockout of a hand. You show your partner your “real” suit on your next bid.
Unless your partner has a five- or six-card suit of her own with seven or more
HCP, your partner’s initial response will be 2⽧, an artificial “waiting”
response (you find out more about responses in Chapter 11). Your partner
responds with this artificial bid because she’s waiting to hear your real suit.
Nine times out of ten, your partner’s response to your 2⽤ opening will be
2⽧. After those first two bids of 2⽤ and 2⽧, everything is on the up-and-up.
You and your partner then start bidding suits you really have. When it’s your
turn to bid again, bid your longest suit.
For example, consider the following bidding sequence:
You
Your Partner
2⽤
2⽧
2⽦
135
136
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
In this sequence, your 2⽤ bid says, “Partner, I’m loaded — don’t you dare
pass!” Your partner’s 2⽧ bid says, “I wouldn’t dream of it — tell me more.”
Then your 2⽦ bid says, “Hearts is my real suit. I was kidding about clubs.”
Why not just open 2⽦ and be done with it? Bidding takes place through conventions, and the meaning of an opening 2⽦ bid is that you have a weak hand
(see “Making a Preemptive Opening Bid with 6 to 10 HCP,” later in this chapter, for more information on opening the bidding with a weak hand). You
open with 2⽤ because that’s the conventional bid to show that you have
some real firepower in your hand. You also open 2⽤ so that you can
smoothly arrive at a game or a slam contract without worrying that your
partner will get cold feet and pass prematurely.
Opening 2⽤ with a balanced hand
About half the time that you open 2⽤, you have a balanced hand in the range
of 22 to 24 HCP. Don’t expect to get many hands in the 27- to 28-point range; it
won’t happen. If you play day and night and you get lucky, you may get a
hand like this once in the next ten years.
When the 2⽤ bidder has a balanced hand in the normal range of 22 to 24
HCP, the opener rebids 2NT to show her strength. When you have such a
hand, the bidding sequence looks like this:
You
Your Partner
2⽤
2⽧
2NT
Your opening 2⽤ bid says, “I have a great hand.” Upon hearing your 2⽤ bid,
your partner responds 2⽧, a “waiting” response that doesn’t say anything
about her hand (she just wants to get the bidding back to you to hear more
about your hand). When it’s your turn to bid again, you rebid 2NT, which tells
your partner “My great hand is balanced and I have 22 to 24 HCP.”
When your partner hears your 2NT rebid, your partner becomes the captain
(the one who makes the final decision of how high to bid) because you have
limited your hand. Limiting one’s hand means showing your partner both your
point count and your distribution.
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
If your partner opens 2⽤ and rebids 2NT, you can pass. This is the only rebid
after a 2⽤ opening that can be passed. However, do bear in mind that even a
pitiful hand with only 3 HCP is enough to try for a game contract (see
Chapter 20) if your partner opens 2⽤ and rebids 2NT.
If you have a hand like the one shown in Figure 10-10 — one with 27 or 28
HCP — open 2⽤ and rebid 3NT to show your mammoth strength.
Figure 10-10:
Rebidding
3NT when
you have a
balanced
hand with 27
to 28 HCP.
♠A K Q J ♥A Q ♦A Q J 3 ♣K J 5
(27 HCP)
In Figure 10-10, the bidding would go like this:
You
Your Partner
2⽤
2⽧
3NT
The sequence shows that you have a balanced hand with 27 or 28 HCP. After
you bid 3NT, your partner can pass or do whatever he pleases.
Because it takes about 33 HCP to make a slam (slams involve bidding and
making at least 12 of the 13 tricks; see Chapter 16 for more about slam bids),
your partner looks for a slam holding as little as 6 HCP, facing your 27 points.
What you have together counts most. Togetherness.
Knowing when not to open 2⽤
with a balanced hand
Some strong balanced hands don’t open 2⽤. With a balanced hand and 20 to
21 HCP, open 2NT. With 25 to 26 HCP, open 3NT.
Figure 10-11 shows you three hands primed for 2NT and 3NT opening bids.
137
138
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
♠A K 4 ♥Q 10 8 7 ♦A K J 4 ♣K 3
1
Figure 10-11:
You have a
bunch of
notrump on
your hands:
bidding 2NT
and 3NT.
(20 HCP)
♠A Q ♥K 9 6 5 4 ♦K Q 4 ♣A Q 3
2
(20 HCP)
♠A 6 5 ♥A K Q ♦A K Q ♣Q J 6 5
3
(25 HCP)
In the first two hands in Figure 10-11, open 2NT; in the third, open 3NT.
Making a Preemptive Opening
Bid with 6 to 10 HCP
The less you have, the more you bid. Sounds crazy, right? Not so crazy. If you
don’t have enough HCP to open the bidding at the one level (you need at
least 12 points to open), you may still have enough in your hand to open the
bidding. Alice in Wonderland in your own backyard.
With only 6 to 10 HCP in your hand and a strong six-, seven-, or eight-card
suit, consider making a weak opening bid, also called a preemptive opening
bid. A preemptive bid bypasses the one level and goes directly to the two,
three, or four levels. When you make such a bid, you are preempting your
opponents by stealing their bidding space. They don’t like it. They hate it.
Preemptive opening bids are based primarily on tricks, not on HCP. That is,
your bid is based on a long suit (of at least six cards). Such a hand is worth
something if that suit is the trump suit, but otherwise it may be worthless.
The purpose of preemptive bids is to obstruct the opponents from arriving at
their proper contract by forcing them to enter the bidding for the first time at
an uncomfortably high level.
In the following sections, I talk about the various opening preemptive bids at
your disposal as well as the mega-importance of counting your tricks.
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
Understanding your goals
When you have a very weak hand (10 HCP or less), it figures that your opponents have the majority of the strength in the hand. This strength means that
your opponents can usually make some contract, perhaps a game contract,
or perhaps even a slam contract (see Chapter 16 for more on slam contracts).
Of course, a preempt makes life tough for your partner as well; a preempt
involves a risk. Nevertheless, when looking at a long suit without many HCP,
you want to make that suit trump, if possible.
Think of a preemptive opening bid (an opening bid that starts at the two,
three, or four levels) as a sacrifice. When you make a preemptive opening
bid, you are prepared to lose several hundred penalty points if you don’t
make your bid (see Chapter 20 for more on penalty points). But losing those
several hundred penalty points is peanuts compared with what you can lose
if the opponents bid and make game or a slam.
Face it: When you hold a weak hand, you probably will lose points. The best
way to hold down your losses is to strike first with a preemptive opening bid
if you have the right type of hand to pull one off.
A preemptive opening bid frequently prevents your opponents from arriving
at a reasonable contract, let alone their best contract. To arrive at a reasonable contract (that is, to know how many tricks to bid for), a partnership has
to exchange information. Ideally, this exchange takes place at the one and
two levels. However, if you start the bidding at the two, three, or four levels,
you’ve stolen these levels from your opponents. Without these levels to
exchange information, your preemptive bid often reduces your opponents to
guesswork. Even the best players have difficulty arriving at their optimum
contract when they have to start the bidding at high levels.
Opponents hate preempts — and if they hate preempts, you know it must be
right to make them.
Counting your tricks
Tricks form the foundation of preemptive bidding. If you know approximately
how many tricks you have and about how many tricks your partner has, you
get a good idea of how many tricks your side can take.
Try to make as accurate a preempt as possible to combine maximum safety
with the maximum ability to mess up your opponents. You want to show your
partner approximately how many tricks you can take; your partner already
knows that you have a weak hand, pointswise, when you preempt.
139
140
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Suppose that you hold the hand shown in Figure 10-12.
Figure 10-12:
This
weakish
hand has
only 9 HCP.
♠K Q J 4 3 2 ♥4 ♦K 7 6 ♣9 8 7
(9 HCP)
The hand in Figure 10-12 is nothing to write home about. True, the hand has a
six-card spade suit, but it has only 9 HCP. With a six-card suit, you need at
least 11 HCP to open the bidding with a one-level bid. If the number of HCP
was the only criterion for opening, you would have to pass.
But take a closer look at that spade suit. Pretend that spades are trump and
that your partner has a couple of little spades — average expectancy when
you have a six-card suit. How many spade tricks do you think you can take
with this hand shown in Figure 10-13?
Figure 10-13:
Count the
tricks in your
long suit to
decide West
A 10 9
whether a
preemptive
bid is
worthwhile.
North (Dummy)
65
N
W
E
S
East
87
South (You)
KQJ432
When you have eight cards total in a suit between your hand and your partner’s hand, your opponents’ five cards are usually divided 3-2. In other
words, one opponent has three spades and the other two spades. Suppose
that you lead the ⽥K and West takes the trick with the ⽥A. Later you play
the ⽥Q and ⽥J. Now your opponents have no more spades. Your three
remaining little spades are all tricks. You have taken five tricks from this
spade suit. Any hand worth five tricks may be grounds for a preemptive bid.
Counting tricks in long suits is relatively easy. Assume that you have a sixcard suit and that you want to guesstimate the number of tricks that you can
take from the suit (you can never be 100 percent sure because you can’t see
your partner’s cards). Just follow these steps:
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
1. Look at the honor cards at the head of your suit and estimate how
many tricks you think you can take with those honors.
2. Then add an automatic three to that number.
The three represents the fourth, fifth, and sixth cards in the suit. After
you play a long suit three times, the fourth, fifth, and sixth cards figure
to be tricks because normally nobody else at the table has any more
cards in that suit.
Suppose that you have a suit like this: AKQxxx (x means any small card). The
AKQ are three sure tricks — add the three length-tricks to equal six tricks. Or
try this suit, for example: QJ10xxx. The QJ10 is worth one trick, so 1 + 3 = 4 —
you can estimate four tricks. Estimating tricks is easiest when you have three
equal honors at the head of your suit, such as AKQ = 3, KQJ = 2, or QJ10 = 1.
Just to give you an idea of approximately how many tricks you can expect to
take with some other six-card suits, consider this little guide:
⻬ AKJxxx or AQJxxx
5 to 6 tricks
⻬ AKxxxx, AQ10xxx, AJ10xxx, KQ10xxx
Close to 5 tricks
⻬ AQxxxx, AJ9xxx, KQxxxx, KJ10xxx
4 to 5 tricks
⻬ A109xxx, K109xxx, Q109xxx, KJxxxx, or QJ10xxx
4 tricks
Any 109 (the 10 and the 9) combination in the middle of a suit enhances the
suit. Suits headed by the A109, K109, Q109, or even J109 can take more tricks
than you may expect because of the 10 and the 9.
Determining when to make a weak two bid
In the Standard American system that you’re playing, an opening bid of 2⽧,
2⽦, or 2⽥ is called a weak two bid. You use a weak two opening bid to tell
your partner that your hand has the following characteristics:
⻬ A six-card suit, headed by two of the top four honor cards, any three
honors, or the A109, K109, or Q109. In other words, if this suit becomes
the trump suit, you can expect to take four or five trump tricks.
⻬ A hand with 6 to 10 HCP (never more than 10 HCP).
⻬ A hand with no five-card side suit, no side four-card major suit, and no
void suit.
An average opening weak two bid can take five or six tricks. If a hand can take
more than six tricks, it is too strong for a weak two bid.
141
142
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Notice that you don’t see an opening bid of 2⽤ on the weak two bid list. An
opening bid of 2⽤ is reserved for a truly powerful hand — hands in the range
of 21 or more HCP (see “Opening the Bidding with 21 or More HCP,” earlier in
this chapter, for information on opening with strong hands). Don’t open 2⽤
with a weak hand unless you’re into catastrophes!
Suppose that you pick up the hand shown in Figure 10-14.
Figure 10-14:
This hand is
ripe for a
weak two
bid.
♠4 ♥A K 6 5 4 3 ♦6 5 4 ♣9 4 3
(7 HCP)
You have fewer than 10 HCP, a six-card suit, no void suit, no five-card side
suit, and no side four-card spade suit (the other major) — looking good.
Count your tricks. At the head of the hearts (your longest suit), you have the
⽦AK, worth two tricks. The fourth, fifth, and sixth hearts are all considered
tricks (because of your length), so you have about five tricks. You have a perfect hand for a preemptive bid. Open 2⽦.
You may also pick up a hand like the one shown in Figure 10-15.
Figure 10-15:
Make a
weak two
bid with this
weak hand.
♠6 5 ♥5 4 ♦Q J 10 8 4 3 ♣K Q J
(9 HCP)
In the hand shown in Figure 10-15, you have fewer than 10 HCP, a six-card suit,
no void, no side five-card suit, and no four-card major. Count your tricks — in
diamonds you have four tricks (the QJ10 is one and the three little cards are
three more), and in clubs you have two tricks. You have a six-trick hand, the
maximum for making a weak two bid. Open 2⽧.
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
Keeping within the parameters
of the weak two bid
If you have more than six tricks, your hand is too strong (in tricks) to open a
weak two bid. If you have 11 or more HCP, your hand is too strong (in point
count) to open a weak two bid. When making a weak two bid, stay within
your trick and point count ranges. If you do, your partner can get an accurate
picture of what you have; he can add his tricks to your tricks and start working out the best contract. When making a preempt, it’s just as dangerous to
be too strong as to be too weak.
A weak two bid should tell your partner that your hand is of interest only in
the suit you have just bid. If you have a side four-card major, your preemptive
bid may preempt your side out of uncovering your best fit!
Take a gander at the cards in Figure 10-16 to see some hands that may fool
you into thinking that you could open with a weak two bid.
Figure 10-16:
A side fourcard major
disqualifies
your hand
for a weak
two bid.
♠A 10 9 7 6 5 ♥5 4 ♦2 ♣Q J 10 9
1
(7 HCP)
♠A 10 9 7 6 5 ♥Q J 10 9 ♦5 4 ♣2
2
(7 HCP)
Both hands in Figure 10-16 may look ripe for a weak two bid, but only the first
hand qualifies. It can take about six tricks (four in spades and two in clubs); it
has no side four-card major and no void. The second hand contains a side
four-card major (hearts), so it’s a no-no as far as opening 2⽥.
Don’t open a weak two bid with a side four-card major. You may miss a fourfour fit in that suit if your partner has length in that suit. Open 2⽥ with the
first hand in Figure 10-16; pass with the second.
143
144
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Opening with a preemptive
bid at the three level
An opening three bid (3⽥, 3⽦, 3⽧, or 3⽤) is similar to an opening weak two
bid, except for the following two tiny differences:
⻬ You have a seven-card suit.
⻬ You can have a void (a suit in which you have no cards) in the hand.
If opening at the two level makes your opponents uncomfortable, imagine
their aggravation level when you open at the three level. The higher you
open, the more space you take away, and thus the more difficult you make it
for them to communicate efficiently. They may not be able to bid at all.
You can make opening three bids in all four suits. The club suit finally gets to
join the party, unlike with the weak two bid. You can open with a three bid as
long as you have a seven-card suit, but again, no side four-card major.
Figure 10-17 shows a hand in which you can open with a preemptive three bid.
In Figure 10-17, you have 7 HCP; your club suit offers the chance to take five
tricks (the ⽤QJ10 are worth one trick, and count the four little clubs as tricks
as well). Throw in the ⽥A, and you have a six-trick hand; open 3⽤.
When you have a seven-card suit, count four tricks for the fourth, fifth, sixth,
and seventh cards in the suit, no matter how small the cards are. The length
of the suit turns those cards into tricks.
Figure 10-17:
Stifle the
opponents
with your
opening
three bid.
♠A 10 5 ♥4 2 ♦6 ♣Q J 10 7 6 5 4
(7 HCP)
Opening with a preemptive
bid at the four level
An opening four bid is like an opening three bid, except that the four bid features an eight-card suit (or a 7-4 hand pattern). If an opening weak two irritates your opponents, and an opening three bid drives them up the wall, an
Chapter 10: Making a Successful Opening Bid
opening four bid sends a dagger straight into their hearts. Few partnerships
can recover from one of these monster preempts.
To open with a four bid (4⽥, 4⽦, 4⽧, or 4⽤), your hand must have
⻬ Between 6 and 10 HCP (no more than 10)
⻬ Seven or eight tricks (count an automatic five tricks for length)
⻬ An eight-card suit or a seven-card suit with a four-card side suit
When you get a hand like this, make your opponents pay by opening with a
four bid. I show you how in the following sections.
If you make disciplined preempts (that is, your hand fulfills the criteria for
making the bids you make), you’ll be a feared opponent. If you make undisciplined preempts (yielding to temptation), you’ll be a feared partner! Although
you can have fun opening with a bombshell such as a 4⽦ bid in the hope of
messing up the opponents, if you have the wrong sort of hand for the bid
(not enough tricks), you run the risk of losing a zillion points, not to mention
your partner’s trust — the one thing you can’t afford to lose. On a bad day,
your partner may also have a really weak hand, and you may lose big-time
when you preempt.
When you have an eight-card suit
The cards in Figure 10-18 give you a taste of the great feeling you get when
you open a four bid.
Figure 10-18:
Your
opponents
won’t like
your
opening four
bid.
♠5 ♥A 8 7 ♦5 ♣Q J 10 7 6 4 3 2
(7 HCP)
The ⽤QJ10 are worth one trick. Added to that, you get five length tricks —
and don’t forget to count the ⽦A. You have a seven-trick hand — open 4⽤
and watch the suffering begin.
Why will your opponents suffer? Either they have to pass and possibly let
you steal them blind, or one of them has to take a huge risk and come in at
the four level before knowing what the other partner has. If your partner has
a terrible hand, well, how do you spell “a disaster in the making”?
145
146
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
When you have a 7-4 hand pattern
Opening with a four bid gives you a feeling of power. Take a look at the cards
in Figure 10-19 as an example of a show of force.
Figure 10-19:
Seven and
four, close
the door —
on your
opponents!
♠3 ♥K Q J 10 8 7 3 ♦A 4 3 2 ♣4
(10 HCP)
You have a 7-4 hand pattern, acceptable for an opening four bid. You also
have 10 HCP, also acceptable. Count your tricks. In hearts, you have six
tricks, missing only the ⽦A. In diamonds, you have a trick, and that fourth
diamond has some potential to become a trick. At the very least, you have
seven tricks, possibly more. Open 4⽦.
Chapter 11
Responding to an Opening Bid
In This Chapter
䊳 Responding at the one level in different suits
䊳 Responding at the two level in different suits
䊳 Responding in notrump
䊳 Raising your partner’s suit with a jump shift
Y
our partner has opened the bidding. Congratulations! Your side has
made the first step toward determining the best contract. Now it’s your
turn at bat. Get ready to tell your partner, the opener, some details about
your strength and distribution. In this chapter, I show you what you need to
respond at the one and two levels to your partner’s opening bid. I also show
you a neat trick called a jump shift. For more details about opening bids,
head to Chapter 10.
Knowing When You Can Respond
to an Opening Bid
When your partner opens the bidding in any suit, the opening bid tells you
some important information:
⻬ Your partner usually has between 12 and 20 HCP (11 HCP is possible but
relatively rare).
⻬ With rare exception, your partner is bidding his longest suit.
Unless your partner marches to the beat of a different drum or hasn’t read
this book, you can bet that the preceding points accurately describe your
partner’s hand.
After the opening bid, you have some picture of what your partner’s hand
looks like, but it isn’t very sharp. The preceding points cover a wide range of
148
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
possible hands. Typically, you can’t find out too much about your partner’s
hand from an opening bid. You need to start describing your own hand and
wait for your partner to further describe his strength and distribution.
After your partner opens the bidding, the person to your right gets a chance
to bid. Then you, the responder, begin to describe your hand with your
response to the opening bid.
To make any response to an opening bid, you need at least 6 high card points
(HCP) in your hand (see Chapter 9 for details on figuring HCP). If you have
fewer than 6 HCP, just pass. If you have 6 or more HCP, your first obligation is
to bid your longest suit. Not necessarily your strongest suit — your longest
suit. Sometimes, however, you may want to respond in notrump or support
your partner’s suit. I discuss all three of these options in this chapter.
If you have 6 or more HCP, you must make some kind of response. You may
have to get creative with your response, but with 6 HCP, you owe your partner at least one noise.
Responding to a 1⽤ Opening Bid
Imagine that your partner opens the bidding with 1⽤. Read on to find out
what to do when it’s your turn to bid after your partner opens 1⽤.
With 6 or more HCP and at least
four cards in your suit
To respond to an opening bid of 1⽤, you should have
⻬ 6 or more HCP
⻬ Four or more cards in the suit you want to bid
If you have fewer than 6 HCP, pass. If you have 6 or more HCP, your plan is to
show your partner your longest suit at the one level. The suit you bid must
have at least four cards — hopefully five or six.
Suppose that you’re gazing at the cards shown in Figure 11-1.
In Figure 11-1, you respond 1⽦. You have 6 or more HCP, and hearts is your
longest suit.
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
Figure 11-1:
Respond to
an opening
bid of 1⽤ in
your longest
suit at the
one level.
♠Q 5 4 ♥A J 6 5 4 ♦J 4 3 2 ♣3
(8 HCP)
When you respond to a one-level bid with another one-level bid, you are said
to be bidding one-over-one. This response shows that you have 6 or more
HCP and length in the suit you bid. Because this bid doesn’t show any maximum number of HCP, your bid is called an unlimited response.
When you respond in any new suit, such as a 1⽦ response to a 1⽤ opening
bid, your partner must bid again. Your partner can’t pass; as the opener, he
must honor any unlimited response with another bid. You may turn out to
hold a mountain (a great hand) and be on your way to the stratosphere. In
that case, you won’t be too happy if your partner passes and grinds play to a
halt at the one level. Sure, at the one level, you would make your contract,
but you would also miss out on much tastier rewards, such as a game or slam
contract. (See Chapter 20 for more about scoring these contracts.)
With suits of equal length
Responding at the one level in your longest suit first, as I describe in the previous section, may become second nature. However, sometimes you may
have two or even three suits of equal length, as the hands in Figure 11-2 show.
Figure 11-2:
You may
have to
choose
between
suits of
equal length
when
responding
to an
opening bid.
♠3 ♥A 9 4 3 2 ♦A K 7 6 5 ♣9 4
1
(11 HCP)
♠A K 5 4 ♥Q J 5 4 ♦9 7 6 ♣3 2
2
(10 HCP)
♠K J 4 3 ♥J 10 7 6 ♦Q 9 4 3 ♣2
3
(7 HCP)
149
150
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
In the first hand in Figure 11-2, you have two five-card suits; in the second
hand, you have two four-card suits; in the third hand, you have three fourcard suits.
With two five-card suits, you always bid the higher-ranking suit first. A simple
rule — no exceptions.
With two or three four-card suits, you normally, but not always, bid the suit
closest in rank to your partner’s suit. That’s the most economical call. This is
known as bidding your suits up the line. In other words, with four spades and
four hearts, bid 1⽦ in response to a 1⽤ opening bid.
In the first hand in Figure 11-2, you respond 1⽦; in the second hand, you also
respond 1⽦; and in the third hand, you respond 1⽧. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
With 6 to 18 HCP and a balanced hand
A balanced hand has no really long suit and no really short suit. When you
have a balanced hand with no four- or five-card major suits (spades or
hearts), respond with some number of notrump according to the following
scale:
⻬ Respond 1NT if you have 6 to 10 HCP.
⻬ Respond 2NT if you have 13 to 15 HCP.
⻬ Respond 3NT if you have 16 to 18 HCP.
If you have four or five cards in a major suit, respond in the major at the one
level (if possible) first, reserving the option of bidding notrump later.
You can use this scale to respond to opening bids of 1⽧, 1⽦, and 1⽥, as well
as the 1⽤ opening.
If you have precisely 11 or 12 HCP with a balanced hand (as you do in Figure
11-3), your hand is too strong to respond 1NT and not strong enough to
respond 2NT. What to do? You bid your longest suit and then bid 2NT the
next chance you get.
In Figure 11-3, respond 1⽧ and then bid 2NT the next time you get a chance
to bid (see Chapter 13 for more information on bidding again when you are
the responder).
If you have more than 18 HCP, you can virtually guarantee a slam, which you
can read more about in Chapter 16.
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
Figure 11-3:
Make the
best of an
awkward
situation by
bidding in
your longest
suit at the
one level.
♠A 7 5 ♥K 4 3 ♦Q J 6 4 ♣J 10 5
(11 HCP)
Take a look at the hands in Figure 11-4 to get some practice responding to a
1⽤ opening with a balanced hand.
⻬ In the first hand shown in Figure 11-4, respond 1⽥, bidding the major
suit first. Priority number one!
⻬ In the second hand, respond 1NT because you have four cards in your
longest suit, a minor suit, and notrump takes precedence when you have
the necessary HCP.
⻬ In the third hand, respond 2NT; once again, your four-card suit is a
minor, and you have between 13 and 15 HCP.
⻬ In the fourth hand, respond 1⽧. With 11 HCP, you are too strong to
respond 1NT and not strong enough to respond 2NT. You must bide your
time by bidding your longest suit.
♠A J 5 4 ♥6 5 4 ♦6 5 4 ♣A 10 4
1
Figure 11-4:
Don’t let
your blasé
balancedhand
pattern
deter you
from making
a good
response.
(9 HCP)
♠Q 4 3 ♥Q 7 6 ♦K J 5 4 ♣6 4 3
2
(8 HCP)
♠A J 5 ♥K 10 4 ♦K 10 6 2 ♣Q 5 4
3
(13 HCP)
♠Q J 2 ♥Q 7 4 ♦A 10 7 5 ♣Q 10 4
4
(11 HCP)
151
152
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Adding support points to your HCP
Every so often, you get four or more clubs, the suit your partner has opened.
If your partner opens 1⽤ and you don’t have four or five cards in a major
suit, and you don’t have a balanced hand with some strength in the unbid
suits, you raise clubs, sort of like a last option.
When you have support for the suit your partner bids, you can add extra
points, called support points (SP), to your hand for your short suits (voids,
singletons, or doubletons). Short suits offer your partner a chance to trump
his losing cards in your hand. How does this upgrade work? It all depends on
how short your short suit is and how many trumps you have. By the way, you
can never have too many trumps. In the following sections, I show you an
easy scale to use when you factor in support points, and I warn you about the
wrong times to use support points.
Using a support point scale
When supporting your partner’s suit with four or more cards, use the 1-3-5
support point scale and add the following SP to your HCP (the final total is
expressed in SP):
⻬ Add 1 SP for each doubleton (a two-card holding in a side suit).
⻬ Add 3 SP for each singleton (a one-card holding in a side suit).
⻬ Add 5 SP for a void (a side suit in which you have zero, nada, zilch, zip
cards).
After you add these SP, think in terms of your “new” support point total. But
remember, you can add SP to your HCP only when you’re supporting a suit
that your partner has bid. Shortness in side suits becomes valuable only
when you have trump support; your shortness allows your partner to trump
his losers in that suit with your trumps (see Chapter 8).
After you count up your SP and add them to your HCP, respond to a 1⽤ opening bid according to the following scale:
⻬ 6 to 9 SP: Raise your partner from 1⽤ to 2⽤.
⻬ 10 to 12 SP: Raise your partner from 1⽤ to 3⽤.
⻬ 13 or more SP: Bid your longest side suit, planning to bid clubs at the
three level later. However, if the hand is balanced and has 13 to 15 HCP,
bid 2NT.
Take a peek at the cards in Figure 11-5 to see how adding SP figures into
responding to a 1⽤ opening bid.
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
♠5 4 ♥6 5 4 ♦10 7 6 ♣A K 5 4 3
1
(7 HCP + 1 = 8 SP)
♠A ♥Q 6 5 ♦10 9 5 2 ♣Q 10 7 5 4
2
Figure 11-5:
Factor in
points when
you have
support for
the suit that
your partner
bids.
(8 HCP + 3 = 11 SP)
♠K 5 3 ♦A 9 7 5 ♣K 10 8 6 4 3
3
(10 HCP + 5 = 15 SP)
♠K Q 8 7 ♥4 3 ♦5 2 ♣K J 9 7 6
4
(9 HCP + 2 = 11 SP)
⻬ In the first hand in Figure 11-5, you pick up 1 point for having a doubleton, and your proper response is 2⽤.
⻬ In the second hand, you can add 3 support points for the singleton,
which means that you should respond 3⽤.
⻬ In the third hand, you pick up 5 support points for the void you have in
hearts; your response is 1⽧ (diamonds are your longest side suit), and
you intend to bid 3⽤ at your next opportunity. You’re too strong to bid
3⽤ directly.
⻬ In the fourth hand, you have four spades, so show the major first (major
suits always get the red carpet treatment); respond 1⽥ and then bid
clubs next.
Avoiding the premature addition of support points
Some bridge players fall in love with singletons and voids. They love them so
much that they count extra points for them right off the bat. Do everything
you can to avoid becoming one of these players. They are a tragedy waiting
to happen because they fail to appreciate that short suits are good only when
you have support for your partner’s suit. You need a good fit before you can
count extra for short suits.
Figure 11-6 illustrates the dangers of adding SP to your HCP prematurely.
153
154
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Figure 11-6:
Don’t get
smitten with
your
singletons,
doubletons,
and voids.
♠A 6 5 4 ♥J 10 8 7 ♦K 8 7 4 ♣2
(8 HCP)
In Figure 11-6, you have 8 HCP plus four cards in each of three suits — potentially excellent support for your partner if he bids any of those suits. Feel free
to add 3 SP (for your singleton club) if your partner opens 1⽧, 1⽦, or 1⽥.
But some partners (mine included) have the irritating habit of bidding your
short suit. When this happens, keep your cool and don’t add any SP to your
hand. Only if your partner later mentions one of your four-card suits do you
count extra points for shortness.
Unless you have X-ray vision and can see through the backs of the cards, you
can’t tell whether your short suits are worth anything until you hear the bidding. The bidding tells you whether your short suits are valuable or worthless. Remember, support in your partner’s suit makes your short suits more
valuable; don’t count for shortness until you find a fit.
Responding to a 1⽧ Opening Bid
When your partner opens 1⽧, you respond almost the same way you would
respond if your partner opens 1⽤ (as described in the preceding section). In
fact, your response differs in only one case — when your long suit is clubs.
When clubs is your longest suit
Clubs is a lower-ranking suit than diamonds, so you can’t respond 1⽤ to
show clubs as your long suit. Remember, during the bidding, each successive
bid must be higher than the last bid. After your partner opens 1⽧, you can’t
backtrack and respond 1⽤.
If you want to respond with clubs, you have to bid 2⽤. However, to make this
response, which pushes up the level of the auction by a step, from one to
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
Making the call: Problem hands
You can’t always find one “right” bid for a hand. If
only it were so. Many hands present close-call
decisions. For many hands, you become like the
baseball umpire who decides whether each pitch
is a ball or a strike. Some calls are obvious; others
raise the dander of the pitcher or the batter.
One of the most popular bridge magazines in the
world, Bridge World, features a great monthly
column called “Master Solver’s Club.” In this
column, 25 or so top bridge experts are shown a
hand and told how the bidding goes up to a certain point, where it is now the experts’ turn to
bid. Each expert makes what he thinks is the
right bid and usually makes a comment to justify the bid. You’d think that most of the experts
would come up with the same bid for the same
hand, but it never happens. Each sample hand
attracts at least three, four, and sometimes as
many as eight different bids, plus lively (and
funny) comments about the hand.
Sometimes the magazine tries to trick the
experts by feeding them the same hands they
gave them 20 or more years ago, to see if they
come up with the same bids. Most of the
experts don’t recognize the hands and come up
with different bids and different comments,
sometimes even ridiculing bids they themselves
suggested in the past for the same hand! (See
Chapter 24 for more on bridge magazines from
all around the world.)
two, you need 11 or more HCP (or 10 HCP if you have a six-card suit). A bid of
2⽤ is an unlimited response (this bid doesn’t show any upper limit to the
HCP in your hand), but it does show a respectable hand.
Naturally, problems arise when your long suit is clubs and you aren’t strong
enough to respond with 2⽤. If you have less than 6 HCP, you can always
pass, but if you have more than 5 HCP but less than 10 HCP, you have to
come up with some response.
If you have at least four cards in a major suit (spades or hearts), you can
respond with a one-level bid in that suit. But if your only long suit is clubs,
and you don’t have enough strength to respond 2⽤, and you don’t have four
cards in either major suit, respond 1NT.
The 1NT response to a 1⽧ opening bid doesn’t necessarily guarantee a balanced hand; only the 1NT response to a 1⽤ opening bid promises a balanced
hand (see “With 6 to 18 HCP and a balanced hand,” earlier in this chapter).
For example, the hand shown in Figure 11-7 is strong enough to respond (you
have 6 HCP), but not nearly strong enough to respond 2⽤. Solution: Respond
1NT and hope that you can show your clubs later. When you bid clubs later,
your partner will know you have a weak hand because you bid 1NT first.
155
156
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Figure 11-7:
You can
respond
1NT to a 1⽧
opening bid
when you
have a long
club suit.
♠A 5 4 ♥5 4 3 ♣Q 10 8 7 4 3 2
(6 HCP)
The cards in Figure 11-8 show several hands in which clubs is your longest
suit. Your partner has opened the bidding 1⽧. What do you do?
⻬ In the first two hands in Figure 11-8, you meet the requirements to
respond 2⽤, although the first hand just barely makes the cut because
of the six-card suit.
⻬ On the third and fourth hands, you don’t have enough HCP to respond
2⽤ (you need at least 11 HCP). However, you need to make a bid
because, in both cases, you have more than 6 HCP.
• On the third hand, respond 1⽥; although spades is not your
longest suit, at least it’s a suit that can be shown at the one level.
• Respond 1NT on the fourth hand because you don’t have a fourcard major suit to bid and you aren’t strong enough to respond 2⽤.
♠A 5 4 3 ♥6 ♦K 4 ♣Q J 9 5 4 3
1
Figure 11-8:
These
hands
require
different
responses
to a 1⽧
opening bid
when clubs
is your
longest suit.
(10 HCP)
♠A 5 4 3 ♥5 4 ♦6 5 ♣A K J 5 4
2
(12 HCP)
♠K J 9 7 ♥5 4 3 ♦2 ♣Q J 8 7 3
3
(7 HCP)
♠Q 10 8 ♥4 3 2 ♦J 5 ♣A Q 8 4 3
4
(9 HCP)
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
How to get to game after
a two-level response
Because you usually need at least 11 HCP to make a 2⽤ response to a 1⽧
opening bid, more often than not, you have opening bid strength when you
respond at the two level (a two-over-one response).
Partners love to hear two-over-one responses, especially when you have
what you’re supposed to have for the bid — and we’re solid citizens, aren’t
we? When you respond two-over-one, your partner knows that you almost
always have enough strength for an opening bid. Your partner’s opening bid
strength combined with your opening bid strength is usually enough to arrive
at a game contract. See Chapter 20 for more about game contracts.
Responding to a 1⽦ Opening Bid
When your partner opens the bidding 1⽤ or 1⽧, he may have five, six, or
even seven cards in the suit. He may also have a balanced hand with four (or,
in emergencies, even three) cards in the suit. When your partner opens a
major suit (1⽦ or 1⽥), your partner must have five or more cards in the suit.
Many times, you make the same response to a 1⽦ opening bid as you do to a
1⽥ opening bid. Turn to “Responding to a 1⽥ Opening Bid,” later in this
chapter, to see how responding to a 1⽥ opening bid differs slightly from
responding to a 1⽦ opening bid.
During the bidding, you and your partner want to locate a suit in which you
have eight or more cards between the two hands (an eight-card fit). You may
not always have an eight-card fit, but if you do, happiness is just around the
corner when you make that suit the trump suit.
If your partner opens 1⽦ and you have three or more hearts, you have found
your eight-card fit. It’s blasphemous not to show your partner this fit at some
point during the bidding.
Because locating an eight-card fit in a major suit is so important (you can
score beaucoup points with such a fit), place your hand in one of the three
following categories (covered in the following sections) when you’re formulating your response to a 1⽦ opening bid:
⻬ Hands with fewer than three hearts
⻬ Hands with exactly three hearts
⻬ Hands with four or more hearts
157
158
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Playing bridge would be so much easier if you could just lean over and whisper the number of hearts and HCP that you have, but the rules of the game
forbid such direct communication. You have to use the special language of
bidding — a bidding system — to tell your partner what you have.
With fewer than three hearts
Oh, great. Your partner has just opened with 1⽦, and you have fewer than
three hearts in your hand. What should you do?
When you have fewer than three hearts and at least 6 HCP, you have to come
up with some response. Your first instinct should be to look for your longest
suit. If you have to go to the two level to bid your longest suit, you need 11 or
more HCP. If you don’t have that strong of a hand but you do have four
spades, respond 1⽥ because spades is a higher-ranking suit than hearts.
If your longest suit is clubs or diamonds, you need 11 or more HCP to
respond 2⽤ or 2⽧. If you don’t have the necessary HCP (you have 6 to 10
HCP), cough up a 1NT response, the catch-all response for all weak hands
that don’t have support for your partner’s suit and don’t have a four-card or
longer suit to bid at the one level.
Each of the hands shown in Figure 11-9 shows a hand with fewer than three
hearts.
⻬ In the first hand in Figure 11-9, respond 1⽥, your longest suit showing 6
or more HCP.
⻬ In the second hand, also respond 1⽥; with two four-card suits (spades and
diamonds, in this case), go up the bidding ladder starting with the suit
your partner has opened, 1⽦, and bid the first suit you come to. The first
suit after hearts is spades and you have four spades. Perfect. Respond 1⽥.
⻬ In the third hand, respond 1⽥; with two five-card suits, bid the higherranking suit first.
The cards in Figure 11-10 also feature some possible responding hands with
fewer than three hearts.
⻬ In the first hand in Figure 11-10, respond 1NT, showing 6 to 10 HCP; you are
not strong enough to bid 2⽧, which shows 11 or more HCP.
⻬ In the second hand, respond 1⽥; you aren’t strong enough to respond 2⽧,
but you are strong enough to respond 1⽥, which shows 6 or more HCP.
⻬ In the third hand, respond 2⽧ — although you have only 10 HCP, you have
a six-card suit.
⻬ In the fourth hand, respond 1NT because you don’t have the 10 HCP you
need to introduce your six-card suit at the two level.
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
Figure 11-9:
With fewer
than three
hearts, you
have
several
options for
responding
to a one
level
opening bid.
♠A K 8 7 6 ♥4 ♦A J 5 4 ♣Q 6 5
1
(14 HCP)
♠A 10 8 7 ♥4 3 ♦A K 8 7 ♣J 4 3
2
(12 HCP)
♠A 10 7 4 3 ♦A K Q 8 7 ♣9 4 3
3
(13 HCP)
♠Q 9 4 ♥5 2 ♦A J 8 5 4 ♣9 4 3
1
(7 HCP)
♠Q 9 4 3 ♥5 2 ♦A J 8 5 4 ♣9 4
Figure 11-10:
Respond
carefully to
a one level
opening bid
when you
have only
one or two
hearts.
2
(7 HCP)
♠K 4 3 ♥2 ♦A Q J 8 5 4 ♣8 4 3
3
(10 HCP)
♠K 4 ♥2 ♦Q J 5 4 3 2 ♣J 9 4 3
4
(7 HCP)
If you have fewer than three hearts plus a balanced hand, you can use the
2NT and 3NT responses with the following HCP ranges:
⻬ Respond 2NT if you have 13 to 15 HCP.
⻬ Respond 3NT if you have 16 to 18 HCP.
With exactly three hearts
If your partner opens the bidding with 1⽦ and you have three hearts in your
hand, you have just located that all-important eight-card fit. An eight-card fit
often produces an extra trick or two in the play of the hand. When you find
an eight-card fit, never let it go.
159
160
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
When you realize that you have an eight-card fit, this is what you do:
⻬ Revalue your hand upward. Even with three-card support, you get to add
points (support points, or SP) for short suits, but not as many. Instead of
the 1-3-5 support point scale you use when you have four or more cards
in your partner’s suit (see “Using a support point scale,” earlier in this
chapter), you use a more modest 1-2-3 support point scale when you
have three-card support.
⻬ As ever, add your HCP to your SP to get the true value of your hand
expressed in SP:
• Add 1 point for each doubleton.
• Add 2 points for a singleton.
• Add 3 points for a void.
⻬ Show your partner your support and your strength.
You can make one of three responses, depending on how many SP you have
after you revalue your hand:
⻬ 6 to 10 SP: Respond 2⽦.
⻬ 11 to 12 SP: Respond in your longest suit, and then bid 3⽦ at your next
opportunity.
⻬ 13 to 16 SP: Respond in your longest suit, and then bid 4⽦ at your next
opportunity.
The cards in Figure 11-11 show a few examples of responding hands with
three hearts.
⻬ In the first hand, add 1 point for the doubleton diamond, bringing you to
9 SP and a response of 2⽦.
⻬ In the second hand, add 2 points for the singleton club. Your hand now
weighs in at 11 SP, enough to bid 2⽧. Then bid hearts next time around.
⻬ You don’t have any short suits in the third hand, but you have enough
HCP to respond 2⽦.
With four or more hearts
Having four or more hearts when your partner has opened with 1⽦ should
be near the top of your wish list. When you have such great support for your
partner’s major suit, you know you have a great fit: at least nine hearts
between you. You get to add even more SP to your hand because your shortside suits pay even higher dividends for your partner, who should be able to
trump at least one or two of his losing cards in your hand (see Chapter 6 for
the details on trumping losers).
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
♠A 4 3 ♥Q 5 4 ♦4 3 ♣Q 8 7 6 5
1
(8 HCP + 1 = 9 SP)
♠A 4 3 ♥K Q 4 ♦10 8 7 6 5 4 ♣2
Figure 11-11:
Three hearts
make an
eight-card
fit.
2
(9 HCP + 2 = 11 SP)
♠A 6 5 ♥K 5 4 ♦J 5 4 3 ♣9 8 4
3
(8 HCP)
If you have four or more hearts, return to the 1-3-5 scale of SP (as I discuss in
“Using a support point scale,” earlier in this chapter):
⻬ Add l point for each doubleton.
⻬ Add 3 points for a singleton.
⻬ Add 5 points for a void.
Signals create scandals
Most bridge players bend over backward to be
ethical, but every once in a while, you run
across partners who can’t resist the temptation
to cheat by using illegal signals.
Many years ago, a famous cheating scandal
arose at a World Championship. One partnership was accused of using illegal signals to tell
each other how many hearts they had. It was
alleged that they signaled each other by holding their cards so that a certain number of fingers showed when they had a certain number
of hearts. The accused partnership denied the
charges, even though the captain of the offending team forfeited all matches. The case eventually went to a court of law, and the accused
were found not guilty.
I was once witness to a famous cheating scandal during the 1975 World Championship in
Bermuda. We were playing against two Italians
who were accused of passing information by
kicking each other under the table. To prevent
this illegal spread of information, a huge board
was secretly placed under the table. Not knowing about the board, I inadvertently crashed my
leg into it the next day. Ouch.
Despite the use of the board to prevent cheating, the U.S. team considered withdrawing from
the tournament. The offending pair was barred
from play, so we stayed. The Italians did, however, go on to win the championship in a very
exciting finish. My friend Walter Bingham, who
covered the event for Sports Illustrated, wrote
a great article about the scandal called “The
Foot Soldiers.”
Because of scandals such as these, some
people watch every move they make at the
bridge table, to avoid any suspicion of signaling.
161
162
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
After you revalue your hand, your response depends upon your new total.
Your original HCP count is out-of-date; you add the old HCP to your SP and
get a new, improved SP product.
When you have four or more hearts, make one of the following responses
based on your new point total:
⻬ With 6 to 9 SP: Respond 2⽦.
⻬ With 10 to 12 SP: Respond 3⽦.
⻬ With 13 to 16 SP: Respond in another suit and then leap to 4⽦ at your
next opportunity.
The cards in Figure 11-12 show you several hands with four or more hearts.
♠A 8 7 6 ♥J 8 7 6 ♦4 3 ♣8 7 2
1
(5 HCP + 1 = 6 SP)
♠K 8 7 6 ♥K J 5 4 ♦J 9 5 4 ♣2
Figure 11-12:
You can
respond in
several
different
ways when
you have
four or more
hearts.
2
(8 HCP + 3 = 11 SP)
♠4 ♥A 8 7 4 3 ♦J 9 8 4 3 2 ♣3
3
(5 HCP + 6 = 11 SP)
♠9 2 ♥K Q 4 3 ♦A Q 9 7 6 ♣8 6
4
(11 HCP + 2 = 13 SP)
In the first hand, after revaluing your hand, you clock in with enough points
(6) to squeak out a 2⽦ response. In the second hand, your hand grows from 8
to 11 HCP. You can jump to 3⽦. This jump support for a partner is called a
limit raise; this bid shows a fair hand, but it doesn’t force your partner to bid
again. Your partner can pass if you make a limit raise, but only if he has a
very minimum hand for his opening bid.
The opener passes a limit raise with only a minimum opening bid. Because
the responder shows a pretty fair hand, the opener normally bids game with
any hand that has a singleton or two doubletons. The opener passes with 12
to 13 HCP and a 5-3-3-2 distribution (no singleton and no two doubletons).
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
The cards in the third hand in Figure 11-12 show a case in which you can
respond 4⽦ with a weak freak, a response that catapults you directly to
game! You have a hand with beaucoup trump support, not much in the way of
high cards, and a side suit of five or six cards. To make a weak-freak jump
response to game in your partner’s suit, your hand must have
⻬ Five or more hearts
⻬ 2 to 7 HCP
⻬ A total of 10 or 11 cards between your hearts and your long side suit
In the case of the third hand in Figure 11-12, your hand meets all three of
these criteria — thus, the weak-freak response of 4⽦.
Weak freaks take a huge number of tricks. You don’t have to worry about
points when you have a freak hand. Get thee not to a nunnery, but to a game
contract of four of your partner’s major.
In the fourth hand in Figure 11-12, your hand blossoms from 11 HCP to 13 SP. In
this case, you are too strong to make a limit raise of 3⽦. To get this message
across to your partner, respond 2⽧ (diamonds is your side suit), and then leap
to 4⽦ on your next bid. The rest is up to your partner; you have shown your
strength and your support. At least your partner can’t sue you for nonsupport.
Responding to a 1⽥ Opening Bid
Spades is the “boss” suit. Whichever partnership has the majority of the
spades rules the world. If your partnership has the spades and your opponents want to compete against your spade bids, they have to increase the
level of the bidding. If you want to compete against any suit they bid, you
don’t have to worry about increasing the level because you have spades, the
highest-ranking suit in the deck. Having spades can make your day.
Basically, you respond to a 1⽥ opening bid exactly the same way you respond
to a 1⽦ opening bid. Do I hear a big cheer forming in the background? See
“Responding to a 1⽦ Opening Bid,” earlier in this chapter, for the details. In the
following sections, I show you several responses to a 1⽥ opening bid.
With at least 6 HCP but no spade support
When your partner opens the bidding with 1⽥, you can’t mention your longest
suit at the one level — period. Lacking spade support but having 6 or more
HCP, you have to bid something. If you aren’t strong enough to respond in your
longest suit with a two-level response (you don’t have 11 or more HCP), you
163
164
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
must respond 1NT. This means that responding 1NT to a 1⽥ opening bid can
show some really strange distributions, such as the one in Figure 11-13.
Figure 11-13:
Bid 1NT
when you
have a
strange
distribution.
♥4 2 ♦K 6 5 4 3 2 ♣K 9 7 4 3
(6 HCP)
Suppose that your partner opens 1⽥ and you have the hand shown in Figure
11-13. You aren’t strong enough to respond 2⽧, by a long shot, but you have
to bid something (you do have 6 or more HCP). Welcome to the 1NT garbagecan response. You can make a 1NT response to a 1⽥ opening bid with some
really bizarre hands. When you respond with 1NT to a 1⽥ opening bid, your
partner can expect anything!
With two five-card suits
If you have enough strength to bid at the two level (11 or more HCP), your
responses are identical to those to a 1⽦ opening bid.
For example, with two five-card suits, respond in the higher-ranking of the
two suits. The cards in Figure 11-14 provide a few examples of hands with two
five-card suits.
Figure 11-14:
Bid the
higherranking suit
if you have
two fivecard suits.
♥A J 5 4 3 ♦6 5 4 ♣Q 9 7 4 3
1
(7 HCP)
♥A J 5 4 3 ♦A 9 4 ♣Q 9 7 4 3
2
(11 HCP)
In the first hand, respond 1NT because you don’t have the 11 HCP necessary
to respond with 2⽦. In the second hand, respond 2⽦ because you have the
necessary HCP to make a two-level response, and hearts outrank clubs.
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
With two or more four-card suits
If you have two or more four-card suits, bid the lower-ranking suit at the two
level first. Check out Figure 11-15 for examples of hands with two or more
four-card suits.
⻬ In the first hand, respond 2⽤ — the first four-card suit you come to —
starting from spades and working your way up the ladder from the
bottom rung.
⻬ In the second hand, respond 2⽧, the first four-card suit you come to
starting from spades and going up the ladder from the bottom.
⻬ Respond 1NT with the third hand because you aren’t strong enough to
bid any of your four-card suits; you have only 9 HCP.
♠4 ♥A J 10 4 ♦K J 9 5 ♣Q 10 8 4
1
Figure 11-15:
With two or
more fourcard suits,
respond in
the lowerranking suit.
(11 HCP)
♠5 4 ♥A K J 6 ♦A 10 8 5 ♣5 4 2
2
(12 HCP)
♠9 ♥K Q 8 3 ♦J 10 8 7 ♣K 9 4 3
3
(9 HCP)
Supporting your partner’s spades or responding 1NT, 2NT, or 3NT is identical
in meaning to those responses for a 1⽦ opening. See “Responding to a 1⽦
Opening Bid,” earlier in this chapter, for more information on making those
responses.
Responding to a 1NT Opening Bid
When your partner opens 1NT, you have a pretty clear picture of what he has:
a balanced hand and 15 to 17 HCP — no more, no less.
When your partner opens 1NT, assume that he has 16 HCP — that way, you
can never be off by more than a point.
When your partner opens 1NT, your own long suits take on a little extra
luster because you know that your partner has at least two cards in your suit
165
166
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
(your partner must have a balanced hand to open 1NT; see Chapter 10 for
more details). If your partner has two cards in your suit, at least one of them
probably is an honor card.
After you estimate the strength of your partner’s hand, you can start looking
at your own hand. The fact that your partner has a strong hand and at least
something in every suit means that your long suits are worth more than
usual. In fact, you can upgrade your hand by the following scale:
⻬ A five-card suit headed by two honors is worth 1 extra point. For example, KJ976 = 5 points, not 4.
⻬ A five-card suit headed by three honors is worth 2 extra points. For
example, KQJ42 = 8 points, not 6.
⻬ A six-card suit headed by the ace or king is worth 2 extra points. For
example, A97632 = 6 points, not 4.
⻬ A six-card suit headed by two of the top three honors or any three
honors is worth 3 extra points. AQ8432 = 9 points, not 6. AK10875 = 10
points, not 7.
Responding to 1NT is much easier than responding to any other bid because
your partner’s high-card range is so narrowly defined. With other opening
bids of one of a suit, the range of the opening is really wide, but 1NT has a
range of only 3 points. Because a 1NT opening bid tells you so much about
your partner’s hand, you can formulate a pretty specific plan of attack for
your response, which includes the following:
⻬ If you have 10 points or more (using the preceding revaluation scale),
you want to play in a game contract.
⻬ If you have 9 points, you want to invite game by asking your partner to
bid game if he has 16 or 17 HCP, or stay out of the game with only 15
HCP.
⻬ If you have 0 to 8 points, you want out either in 1NT or at the cheapest
possible level in another suit.
Your distributional strategy, which I cover in the following sections, works
like this:
⻬ If you have a balanced hand, keep the bidding in notrump.
⻬ If you have six cards in a major suit (spades or hearts), make that suit
trump.
⻬ If you have four or five cards in a major suit, you have ways of finding
out if you have an eight-card fit before returning to notrump.
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
With a balanced hand or
a six-card minor suit
In this section, I discuss how to respond to the 1NT opening if you have a balanced hand or a hand that includes a six-card minor suit (clubs or diamonds). The cards in Figure 11-16 show some sample balanced hands.
Figure 11-16:
Evaluate
your points
before
responding
to 1NT when
you have a
balanced
hand or a
six-card
minor suit.
♠K J 5 ♥A 7 5 ♦9 8 7 ♣10 5 4 3
1
(8 HCP)
♠K 4 ♥3 2 ♦A 10 8 4 2 ♣J 9 8 4
2
(8 HCP + 1 = 9 SP)
♠Q 6 5 ♥5 4 ♦A Q 7 6 4 2 ♣8 7
3
(8 HCP + 3 = 11 SP)
When you have a balanced hand, you can add extra points to your HCP tally
according to the scale mentioned at the start of this section. After you revaluate your points, you can respond to a 1NT opening bid according to the following scale:
⻬ With 0 to 8 points: Pass
⻬ With 9 points: Bid 2NT
⻬ With 10 to 15 points: Raise to 3NT
These counts assume that you have made the upward adjustments necessary
for your long, strong suits. With a better hand, you can start thinking about
slams, which you hear more about in Chapter 16.
In the first hand in Figure 11-16, pass because you need 9 points to respond
2NT and look for a game; you have no reason to assume that game will be
sensible here, so stay low. On the second hand, you have 9 points (you’ve
given yourself an extra point for the five-card diamond suit headed by two
honors), enough to raise to 2NT.
A 2NT response is called an invitational bid. When you respond 2NT, you
show your partner 9 points and “invite” your partner to bid for game if he has
enough points (he needs 16 to 17 points). If your partner has only 15 points,
he should regretfully decline your invitation and pass.
167
168
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
With the third hand in Figure 11-16, respond 3NT to show 10 to 15 points; you
have 8 HCP and 3 extra points for the six-card diamond suit, headed by two
of the top three honors.
With a five- or six-card major suit
With a five-card major suit, you consider making your suit the trump suit.
When you have a six-card major suit, your strategy is to definitely make the
six-card suit the trump suit — no matter how weak your hand is. If you have a
six-card major suit, you can respond with zero points! After all, the 1NT bid
shows a balanced hand, so you know that you have an eight-card fit.
The cards in Figure 11-17 show you a prime example of a six-card major suit.
Responder (You)
♠J 10 9 8 3 2
♥8 7
♦3 2
♣10 7 6
(1 HCP)
N
W
E
S
Figure 11-17:
You have a Opener (Your Partner)
really long ♠Q 4
major suit
♥A K 5 4
but hardly
(17 HCP)
any points. ♦A 8 7 4
♣A 5 4
You may look at the cards in Figure 11-17 and think, “Why do I need to end up
with spades as the trump suit? Can’t I just pass and end up taking just as
many tricks at notrump?” To answer this question, I want you to count the
number of tricks you would take at notrump with this hand (see Chapter 2 for
more about counting tricks in notrump). Here’s a list by suit:
⻬ Spades: 0 tricks (no ⽥A)
⻬ Hearts: 2 tricks (you have the ⽦AK)
⻬ Diamonds: 1 trick (the ⽧A)
⻬ Clubs: 1 trick (the ⽤A)
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
Even though your spades are long and reasonably strong, you can’t take a
single spade trick. After you drive out the opponents’ ⽥A and ⽥K, even a
blowtorch can’t get the lead into the dummy, and the established spade
tricks wither on the vine. However, if you played this hand with spades as the
trump suit, you can count the following number of tricks for each suit:
⻬ Spades: 4 tricks (the ⽥10983 after the ⽥AK are driven out)
⻬ Hearts: 2 tricks (the same ⽦AK)
⻬ Diamonds: 1 trick (the same ⽧A)
⻬ Clubs: 1 trick (the same ⽤A)
You end up taking four more tricks if spades is the trump suit. Clearly, you
need the bidding to end with spades as the trump suit, without getting your
partner too excited about your bid so that he heads for the stratosphere
while you’re trying to get out with your life at as low a level as possible.
Six-card suits don’t have to be headed by high honors to take tricks when
they’re trumps. By attrition, three or four of the little ones is good. Why?
After the suit has been played two or three times, nobody else at the table
will have any!
When your responding hand has a six-card major suit facing an opening 1NT
bid, that suit must be made the trump suit. The 1NT bidder will always have
at least two cards for you — sometimes even three or four cards to help you.
So play the final contract in your suit at all costs. But how do you do that?
Ah, there’s the rub.
Responding in the suit beneath your real suit
I’m about to tell you something rather shocking. For a moment, put yourself
in my hands entirely and trust me as you have never trusted me before.
When you have a six-card major suit, however many HCP you have, you use a
very strange convention to show your major suit to your partner: You
respond in the suit beneath your real suit! This means that you respond 2⽦ if
you have six spades and 2⽧ when you have six hearts. Wild!
Responding in the suit beneath your real six-card suit (you do the same with
five-card majors) may seem outlandishly strange to you. However, this is an
established convention with a strong compelling reason behind it. Your partner knows what your response really means; your partner knows that you’re
really showing spade length when you respond with 2⽦.
For the cards shown in Figure 11-17, the bidding goes like this:
169
170
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1NT
2⽦
2⽥
Pass
During this bidding sequence, you and your partner communicate important
information. When your partner opens with 1NT, he says, “I have 15 to 17 HCP
and a balanced hand.” Your 2⽦ response says, “I can’t believe that I’m doing
this, but I have spades, not hearts! Can you hear me over there? Eddie Kantar
told me to make this bid, and I hope that you understand it!” Your partner
stays cool and bids 2⽥, which says, “Will you please stop panicking? I know
you have spades. That’s the convention. I hear you loud and clear, and I’m bidding 2⽥ as requested.” The responder passes, saying, “Thank you. Mission
accomplished. We have reached the best spot; time to end the auction.”
Using the Jacoby Transfer
You find out pretty quickly that the stronger of the two hands in a partnership should be the declarer (by bidding the trump suit first) whenever possible. When the declarer is the stronger hand, high cards are concealed from
the opponents, making their defense that much harder.
When you respond to a 1NT opener by bidding the suit beneath your major
suit, you end up transferring the play to the strong hand. Instead of you playing the hand in your long suit, your partner does; you show the suit, and your
partner bids it. Your partner becomes the declarer, and you get the coffee.
Your partner is programmed to bid 2⽥ when you respond 2⽦ and is similarly
programmed to bid 2⽦ when you bid 2⽧. Your partner’s programmed
responses are called completing the transfer. By transferring, you achieve a
number of aims, but the simplest of them is to make the strong hand the
declarer.
Transfers are the brainchild of Oswald Jacoby and are often called Jacoby
Transfers. Jacoby was one of the top players in the world in his day. To see a
Jacoby Transfer in action, take a peek at the cards in Figure 11-18.
For the cards in Figure 11-18, the bidding looks something like this:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1NT
2⽧
2⽦
4⽦
Pass
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
Responder (You)
♠3 2
♥K J 10 8 7 6
♦A 5
♣7 3 2
(8 HCP + 3 = 11 revalued points)
N
W
E
Figure 11-18:
S
You can use
a Jacoby Opener (Your Partner)
Transfer ♠K J 5 4
with a six♥A 2
card major
(16 HCP)
suit. ♦K Q 4
♣K 6 5 4
When the bidding opens with 1NT, you respond with 2⽧, which tells your
partner, “I want to play the hand in hearts. Eddie told me to bid 2⽧, and he
promised me that you would help me by bidding 2⽦.” Your partner
responds, “Yes, sir,” and bids 2⽦. You have enough points and length in
hearts to contract for game, so you rebid 4⽦. Your partner then passes.
Notice how much easier it is to play 4⽦ from the strong hand (the hand with
all the points). Whatever suit the opponents lead comes right up to your
partner’s strength. It’s an advantage for the stronger hand to be the last
person to play to a trick.
You can also use the Jacoby Transfer with a five-card major suit. If you have a
five-card major and a balanced hand, the bidding may go something like this:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1NT
2⽧ (transfer to 2⽦)
2⽦
Pass (0 to 8 points)
2NT (9 points)
3NT (10 to 15 points)
Check out the cards in Figure 11-19 to see a hand in which you can use the
Jacoby Transfer with a five-card major suit.
171
172
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Responder (You)
♠K Q 8 7 3
♥9 4 3
♦A J 2
♣4 2
(10 HCP + 1 = 11 revalued points)
N
W
E
S
Figure 11-19:
Transferring Opener (Your Partner)
with a five- ♠A J 3
card major
♥6 5
suit is a
(16 HCP)
smart move. ♦K Q 8 7
♣A Q 8 7
For the cards shown in Figure 11-19, the bidding goes like this:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1NT
2⽦
2⽥
3NT
4⽥
Pass
Your 2⽦ response tells your partner, “I have at least five spades. I hope you
remember that this response means that I have spades.” Your partner’s 2⽥
response confirms that he has, in fact, remembered. Your next bid of 3NT
tells your partner, “I’m giving you a choice of contracts. I have a balanced
hand with five spades. You decide whether to play in 4⽥ or 3NT.”
Your partner has three spades, making his bid of 4⽥ a very easy choice to
make. If he had only two spades, he would pass 3NT, knowing of only a sevencard fit.
If you’ve never played with someone, it doesn’t hurt to ask whether that
person uses Jacoby Transfers before you start playing. Bidding conventions
work only when both players in a partnership know and use the same conventions! Amen.
You can also use Jacoby Transfers after your partner opens 2NT. Again, a bid
of 3⽧ shows at least five hearts, and a bid of 3⽦ shows at least five spades.
Again, the target is to get the strong hand to be the declarer as often as possible. When your partner completes the transfer, he isn’t showing support for
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
your suit; he often has a doubleton. So if you’ve transferred with a five-card
suit, go back to notrump. Your partner will know what to do.
With one or two four-card majors
(the Stayman Convention)
Your partner has just bid 1NT. If you have one four-card major with 9 or more
HCP, or two four-card majors with 8 or more HCP, you’re strong enough to
respond. The question is, with what bid?
Your goal is to find out whether your partner also has four cards in the same
major suit you do (you’re looking for that magical eight-card major-suit fit).
Thank goodness you can use a convention (oh no, not another one!) to find
out just what you need to know.
Pull up your chair a little closer; you’re about to join a group of millions of
bridge players who use the Stayman Convention, an artificial response of 2⽤
that has nothing to do with clubs, but that asks your partner if he has a fourcard major. The object of the bid is to find out at the lowest level possible
whether your partnership has a fit in either spades or hearts.
Artificial responses are bids that don’t mean what they say. Instead, an artificial response conveys a preprogrammed message to your partner.
When you respond with 2⽤ to a 1NT opening bid, you’re asking your partner
if he has a four-card major suit. If he does, he responds at the two level in the
major suit in which he has four cards by bidding 2⽦ or 2⽥. If he doesn’t
have a four-card major, he bids 2⽧, which tells you, “Sorry. I don’t have a
four-card major.”
When the Stayman Convention works
The cards in Figure 11-20 show you a hand in which you can use the Stayman
Convention quite effectively.
The bidding for the cards shown in Figure 11-20 goes like this:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1NT
2⽤
2⽥
4⽥
Pass
173
174
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Responder (You)
♠K Q 8 6
♥9 4
♦Q 9 8 7
♣A 5 4
(11 HCP)
N
Figure 11-20:
E
Tell your W
partner
S
about your
four-card Opener (Your Partner)
major(s) ♠A J 4 3
with the
♥6 5 2
Stayman
(17 HCP)
Convention. ♦A K 6 5
♣K Q
In this hand, your 2⽤ response is made with this in mind: “I have enough
power in my hand to bid 3NT because I have 11 HCP, but first I want to check
to see if you have four spades. I hope you know I’m not trying to show you
clubs.” Your partner’s response of 2⽥ says, “Of course I know you’re not
showing clubs. Everybody in the world plays the Stayman Convention. I know
you’re asking whether I have a four-card major. I sure do, and it’s spades. Is
that the major suit you’re looking for?” Your 4⽥ bid joyfully proclaims,
“That’s the major suit I’m looking for!” And you’re right to be happy; 4⽥ is
the best game contract for these two hands.
When the Stayman Convention doesn’t work
You can’t expect to find the four-card suit you need each time you use the
Stayman Convention. Sometimes your partner has the other four-card major;
sometimes your partner doesn’t have a four-card major at all. The cards in
Figure 11-21 show you a case in which using Stayman doesn’t make the
desired connection.
For these two hands, the bidding goes like this:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1NT
2⽤
2⽦
3NT
Pass
Chapter 11: Responding to an Opening Bid
Responder (You)
♠K Q 7 6
♥6 4
♦Q 9 8 7
♣A 5 4
(11 HCP)
N
E
Figure 11-21: W
Your
S
Stayman
response Opener (Your Partner)
doesn’t ♠A 4 3
make a
♥Q J 10 9
connection
(15 HCP)
in this hand. ♦A 6 5
♣K J 9
Your 2⽤ says, “I hope you remember that we use the Stayman Convention,
and I’m asking you if you have a four-card major.” Your partner’s 2⽦ bid says
loud and clear, “I have four hearts. How does that grab you?” That’s not the
response you were looking for, so you bid 3NT, which says, “Sorry, man,
that’s not the major I was looking for. I’m heading back to notrump because
we don’t have an eight-card major suit fit.” Your partner then passes, telling
you, “You’re the boss.”
When your partner doesn’t have the four-card major suit you’re looking for,
bid 2NT with 9 HCP, or bid 3NT if you have 10 to 15 HCP.
If you open the bidding 1NT, your partner’s response of 2⽤ asks if you have a
four-card major. For example, if you bid 2⽦ and your partner goes back to
notrump, you know that his four-card major is spades. If you bid 2⽥ and he
goes back to notrump, you know that he has four hearts. Good thinking. The
only problem is that now the opponents also know that, and it may help them
make a strong opening lead.
Responding with a Jump Shift
When your partner opens the bidding and catches you with 17 or more HCP,
not only is game a certainty, but slam is a strong probability. To tell your partner the good news, you usually jump shift, responding one level higher than
necessary in another suit. Your jump shift is a game force (neither player can
pass until a game contract is reached). Indeed, you frequently wind up in a
slam contract after a jump shift. (See Chapter 16 for more about slam bidding.)
175
176
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
The two most frequent reasons for jump shifting are
⻬ To show a hand with a strong five- or six-card suit with 17 or more HCP.
(You can jump shift with 16 HCP if you have a seven-card suit).
⻬ To show a hand with four- or five-card support for your partner’s suit,
plus 17 or more SP.
Figure 11-22 shows you an example of a jump shift with a six-card suit.
As you are busily adding up your points, you hear your partner open 1⽤.
Respond 2⽥ (not 1⽥), a jump shift that alerts partner that game is a certainty
and slam is on the horizon. At your next opportunity, repeat your spades
(telling your partner that your jump shift was based on a long, strong suit).
A jump shift can also be based on support (usually four or more cards) for
your partner’s suit, plus 17 or more SP. Jump shift in your longest side suit,
and then return to your partner’s suit. Figure 11-23 gives you another chance
to make your partner happy.
Your hand has just blossomed to 17 SP (add 1 for each doubleton), enough to
jump shift. After your partner bids 1⽦, respond 3⽧ and then return to hearts.
Figure 11-22:
You can
jump shift
when you
have a sixcard suit
and at least
17 HCP.
Figure 11-23:
Use a jump
shift when
you support
your
partner’s
suit and
have at least
17 SP.
♠A K J 9 5 2 ♥A 8 2 ♦K Q 4 ♣7
Responder (You)
(17 HCP)
♠A 2 ♥K 10 8 5 ♦A J 8 5 4 ♣K 4
Responder (You)
(15 HCP + 2 = 17 SP)
Chapter 12
Rebidding by the Opener
In This Chapter
䊳 Deciding whether to rebid
䊳 Figuring out what to rebid after different responses
A
fter you open the bidding and your partner makes a response, do you
have to bid again, or can you just pass? In this chapter, I tell you everything you need to know about your second bid, called your rebid, including
when you can just pass and forget the whole thing.
What happened to your opponents? Have they taken a vow of silence not to
come in and confuse your bidding? Of course not! However, I give your opponents the day off in this chapter. You may find it easier to work through the
principles of rebidding without any interference from your opponents. You
can read about the nasty things your opponents can do to you (and what you
can do to your opponents) during the bidding in Chapter 14.
Knowing When to Rebid
and When to Pass
You made the opening bid (see Chapter 10) and listened to your partner’s
response (see Chapter 11). After that, do you absolutely have to bid again?
Your decision depends on the response your partner makes.
Your partner’s response can be unlimited, meaning that it shows a minimum
number of points, with no upper limit. Or your partner’s response can be limited, a bid that shows a narrow range of points.
178
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
You can’t pass an unlimited response. You’re allowed to pass a limited
response if you believe that you’re in a safe contract and that making a game
contract is unlikely.
For example, if your partner responds in a new suit, you can’t pass:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽤ (12 to 20 HCP)
1⽦ (6 or more HCP)
Because your partner has changed suits, your partner has made an unlimited
response, so you dare not pass. Your partner may have a very strong hand,
and a game or a slam may be in your future (see Chapter 16 for more about
slams). If you passed now, you’d miss the chance to find out how strong a
hand your partner has. If you drop your partner at the one level, be prepared
to duck quickly. When your partner makes an unlimited response, your rebid
further describes your hand. Many times your rebid will limit your hand,
allowing your partner to figure out the combined assets of the partnership.
Listen to your partner’s response to your opening bid very carefully because
you employ two completely different rebid strategies, depending on your
partner’s response.
As soon as your partner makes a limited bid (raises your suit, bids 1NT), you
can pass if you have nothing more to say.
Rebidding After a One-Over-One
Response
When your partner responds to an opening bid at the one level, she makes
what is called a one-over-one response.
Before you rebid, classify your hand by strength by totaling your high card
points (HCP; see Chapter 9 for details):
⻬ 11 to 14 HCP: Minimum zone (11 is an exception)
⻬ 15 to 18 HCP: Intermediate zone
⻬ 19 to 20 HCP: Rock crushers, or hands with mondo points (a few awesome 18-point hands sneak into this category)
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
Distributions or hand patterns (the way your cards are divided among suits)
also influence your rebid. You may have
⻬ A one-suiter: A hand with a six- or seven-card suit
⻬ A two-suiter: A hand with nine or more cards in two suits (the shorter
suit must have at least four cards)
⻬ A three-suiter: A hand with three four-card suits, or one five-card suit
and two four-card suits
⻬ A hand with support for your partner’s suit: Typically three- or fourcard support for your partner’s major suit
⻬ A balanced hand: Normally hands that are divided with any 4-3-3-3 or
any 4-4-3-2 hand pattern
When you open the bidding, you often have two or three chances to describe
your hand. You can have only 1 of 635,013,559,600 possible hands, so how
can you find it difficult to describe your hand to your partner? Yes, you face
a daunting task, but when you get the hang of it, you can give your partner a
pretty clear picture of your hand. Read on to figure out how to plan your next
move after a one-over-one response.
With a one-suited hand
You’ve got one long suit (with six, maybe seven cards), and one long suit
only. You open the bidding with a one-level bid in your long suit, and your
partner makes a one-over-one response. Now you want to show your partner
that you have a one-suited hand.
However, you also must show your strength. If you have a minimum hand,
you rebid your suit at the two level; if you have intermediate strength, you
rebid your suit at the three level.
Figure 12-1 shows you a couple of hands that allow you to test these strategies.
♠K 4 3 ♥3 2 ♦Q 4 ♣A K 9 7 3 2
Figure 12-1:
Only one of
your suits is
long enough
to rebid.
1
(12 HCP)
♠K 4 3 ♥3 ♦A 5 4 ♣A K J 9 8 7
2
(15 HCP)
179
180
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
For each of the hands shown in Figure 12-1, suppose that the bidding begins
as follows:
You
Your Partner
1⽤
1⽦
?
In the first hand in Figure 12-1, you have a minimum-range opening bid, 12 to
14 HCP, so make a minimum rebid. Rebid 2⽤, the cheapest club bid you can
make, to show that you have long clubs — usually a six-card suit.
In the second hand, you have an intermediate-range hand, 15 to 18 HCP.
When you have an intermediate one-suiter, jump to the three level in your
suit. In this case, rebid 3⽤ to tell your partner that your hand is in the 15 to
18 HCP range.
After you rebid your suit, you have made a limited rebid. At that point, your
partner knows your strength and distribution. Your partner becomes the captain. After either player makes a limited bid, the partner is considered the
captain of the hand . . . at least temporarily. The captain knows his partner’s
strength and distribution and is frequently in a position to pass, bid game, or
even try for a slam! However, if the captain still doesn’t know how high to bid,
he can make an invitational bid, reversing the captaincy and asking his partner to make the final mistake — I mean, decision.
Notice that in the cards in Figure 12-1, you rebid a six-card club suit. You can
also rebid a five-card suit, but you rarely do because you almost always have
something better to tell your partner. As a general rule, the responder assumes
that the opener has a six-card suit when the opener rebids his original suit.
You can voluntarily rebid a five-card suit that’s dripping with royalty — a suit
with four honor cards and one small card, for example. When your five-card
suit reeks of honor cards, treat it as a six-card suit and rebid it.
With a two-suited hand
When you have two five-card suits or one five-card and one four-card suit, you
have a two-suited hand. When rebidding a two-suited hand, you tend to show
your second suit (you have already shown your first suit with your opening
bid) with your rebid. In the following sections, I describe rebidding your
second suit at the one and two levels. (See “With a rock crusher,” later in this
chapter, for details about bidding a two-suited hand with 19 or 20 HCP.)
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
Bidding your second suit at the one level
Count your blessings if you have two suits to show during the bidding. Bidding
two suits is great because it gives a partner a choice of trump suits. Bidding
two suits can also be a challenge to your partner because it doesn’t define your
hand’s strength all that narrowly — you’re showing 12 to 18 HCP, a very wide
range.
Heaven is bidding both of your suits at the one level. However, you often
find yourself in Hades because the rank of your partner’s response makes it
impossible to get the second suit in at the two level, let alone the one level!
The cards in Figure 12-2 allow you to spend some time in seventh heaven
because you can show your second suit at the one level.
♠A J 6 5 ♥3 2 ♦9 2 ♣A K 5 4 3
(12 HCP)
1
Figure 12-2:
Whenever
possible,
rebid your
second suit
at the one
level.
♠A J 6 5 ♥3 2 ♦K 8 ♣A K Q 5 4
(17 HCP)
2
♠A J 6 5 ♥3 2 ♦4 ♣A Q 9 7 6 5
(11 HCP)
3
For each of the hands shown in Figure 12-2, suppose that the bidding begins
as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽤
1⽦
?
In Figure 12-2, you should rebid 1⽥ with all three hands; the rank of your
second suit allows you to bid your second suit at the one level. In other words,
you can bid spades (your second suit) at the one level because spades rank
higher than hearts (the order of the suits, from highest to lowest, is spades,
hearts, diamonds, and clubs). You have just bid both of your suits at the one
level. Very economical. Nice going. You’ve told most of your story and not
181
182
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
climbed too high in the bidding; your partner can choose what to do and
where to go starting from the first floor of the bidding elevator.
When the opener bids two suits, the opener’s second suit is almost always a
four-card suit. The responder shouldn’t expect to have an eight-card fit with
the opener’s second suit unless the responder also holds four cards in that
suit.
Bidding your second suit at the two level
The rank of your two suits may not allow you to bid your second suit at the
one level, and you may have to bid the second suit at the two level. Guess
what? Bridge has a little rule for whether you can rebid your second suit at
the two level. How did I know you were longing for another rule?
Assuming that your partner has made a response at the one level, if your
second suit is lower ranking than your first suit, no problem. Just bid your
second suit at the two level. But if your second suit is higher ranking than
your first suit, you must have 17 HCP or more to show the second suit at the
two level. If you don’t have those 17 HCP, you need to come up with some
other rebid: perhaps 1NT, perhaps supporting your partner’s suit, perhaps
rebidding your own suit, something, anything. What you can’t do is show
your second suit or, worse, pass out of frustration.
The cards in Figure 12-3 ask you to decide whether you’re strong enough to
show your second suit at the two level.
♠5 4 ♥6 5 ♦A K 5 4 3 ♣A Q 4 3
1
Figure 12-3:
Whether
you can
bid your
second suit
depends on
the ranks of
your first
and second
suits.
(13 HCP)
♠5 4 ♥A Q 4 3 ♦A K 5 4 3 ♣4 3
2
(13 HCP)
♠5 4 ♥A K J 8 ♦A Q J 8 6 ♣K 3
3
(18 HCP)
♠4 ♥K Q 9 4 ♦A K J 9 7 6 ♣A 2
4
(17 HCP)
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
Assume that the bidding begins like this:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽧
1⽥
?
In the first hand in Figure 12-3, your second suit, clubs, is lower ranking than
your first suit, diamonds. When your second suit is lower ranking than your
first suit, you have no headache: Just bid the suit at the two level — 2⽤.
In the second, third, and fourth hands in Figure 12-3, your second suit, hearts,
is higher ranking than your first suit, diamonds. When your second suit is
higher ranking than your first suit, you need 17 or more HCP to bid the second
suit. If you don’t have those 17 HCP, you can’t show your second suit. You have
to find some other rebid.
⻬ In the second hand, you don’t have nearly enough strength to show your
second suit, hearts, because you have only 13 HCP. Instead, rebid 2⽧ as
a last resort.
⻬ In the third and fourth hands, you’re strong enough to show your
second suit, so rebid 2⽦.
Bidding a higher-ranking second suit at the two level is called reversing. After
a one-level response, reverses show a minimum of 17 HCP. Your partner can’t
pass a reverse. In other words, a reverse is a forcing bid, and your partner
must bid again. As a responder, it’s always music to one’s ears to hear your
partner reverse.
When you have a 6-4 hand pattern, such as the one shown in the fourth hand
in Figure 12-3, you can reverse with as few as 16 HCP. (With 6-4, bid some
more!) You can also reverse with 16 HCP if all your points are in your two
long suits. When all your strength lies in your two long suits, award yourself
an extra “purity” point, which brings you up to the 17 points you need to
rebid a second, higher-ranking suit.
With a three-suited hand
You’ve got a three-suited hand when you have three suits with four cards in
them and a singleton in the fourth suit (a suit with one card). Lucky you.
183
184
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Are you the gambling type? If you are, you can bet that when you have a threesuited hand, your partner’s response will be in your short suit. It never fails.
However, if your partner responds in one of your four-card suits, your birthday has come early.
Figure 12-4 shows two example hands in which you have a three-suited hand.
Figure 12-4:
With three
four-card
suits and
one short
suit, you
may have to
bid up the
line.
♠A J 6 5 ♥K Q 6 5 ♦2 ♣A 9 8 4
(14 HCP)
1
♠K Q 9 8 ♥4 ♦A K 9 8 ♣10 8 7 6
(12 HCP)
2
In the first hand in Figure 12-4, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽤
1⽧
?
When your partner responds in your short suit (what else is new?), bid the
next highest-ranking four-card suit (called bidding up the line). In the case of
the first hand in Figure 12-4, you would rebid 1⽦.
In the second hand in Figure 12-4, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽧
1⽦
?
In this case, you would rebid 1⽥, your next highest-ranking four-card suit.
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
With support for your partner’s
one-level major-suit response
Whenever your partner makes a major-suit response of 1⽦ or 1⽥, go out of
your way to support your partner’s suit. In the following sections, I discuss
raising your partner’s major suit to the two and three levels.
Raising to the two level
You can support a one-level major-suit response with either three or four
cards in your partner’s suit. However, if you have three-card support, you
must have a side-suit singleton or small doubleton (two small cards). If you
don’t have a side-suit singleton or small doubleton, don’t support your partner’s suit just yet.
If you make a simple raise from the one level to the two level, you show a minimum hand with 13 to 15 support points (SP). You get to add SP to your hand
for short suits whenever you support your partner’s suit. (See Chapter 11 for
more information on support points.)
Take a look at the hands in Figure 12-5 to decide whether you can support
your partner’s one-level major-suit response.
♠A 4 3 ♥K 10 5 ♦4 3 ♣A Q 8 7 6
(13 HCP + 1 = 14 SP)
1
Figure 12-5:
Look for the
proper rebid
after a
one-level
major-suit
response.
♠A 4 ♥K 10 4 3 ♦4 3 ♣A J 8 7 6
(12 HCP + 2 = 14 SP)
2
♠A 4 3 ♥K 10 5 ♦J 9 8 ♣A J 5 4
(13 HCP)
3
For each of the hands in Figure 12-5, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽤
1⽦
?
185
186
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
In the first two hands, you can comfortably raise your partner’s response of
1⽦ to 2⽦. The raise from one to two shows a minimum hand (13 to 15 SP)
with three- or four-card support.
Be sure to revalue your hand when raising your partner. With the first hand in
Figure 12-5, add 1 extra point for your doubleton diamond; with the second
hand, add 2 extra points, one for each doubleton. In the third hand, you have
no side-suit singleton or weak doubleton, so don’t raise.
With a “flat” hand in the third hand in Figure 12-5 (a 4-3-3-3 distribution), a
1NT rebid showing 12 to 14 HCP more accurately describes your hand. Don’t
even think about raising your partner with a flat hand! (See “With a 4-3-3-3
pattern,” later in this chapter, for more about rebidding with this type of balanced hand.)
Raising to the three level
In Figure 12-6, you can jump raise your partner’s suit from the one level to the
three level to show your extra strength. However, for a jump raise you need
four-card support.
Figure 12-6:
Jump over
the two
level
straight to
the three
level when
you have
extra
strength.
♠A 7 2 ♥A K 6 5 ♦3 ♣K 8 7 4 3
(14 HCP + 3 = 17 SP)
The bidding for this hand has gone about its merry way like this:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽤
1⽦
?
The hand in Figure 12-6 starts out as a minimum hand (you have 14 HCP). If
your partner had responded 1⽧, your short suit, the hand would stay a minimum and you would rebid 1⽦.
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
Never add extra points to your hand when your partner bids your short suit.
However, if your partner responds 1⽦, a suit for which you have four-card
support, your stock goes way up. You can add 3 extra points for your singleton diamond, so your minimum hand has now blossomed into an intermediate hand.
The hand now evaluates to 17 SP. With 16 to 18 SP, jump raise to the three
level; in this case, jump to 3⽦.
Partners love to hear you raise their major suit responses, particularly with a
jump. It means that your side has found a great fit. In addition, your partner
gets to play the hand if the final contract ends in the “agreed” major suit.
With a balanced hand
Three classic shapes form a balanced hand: the 4-3-3-3 shape, the 4-4-3-2
shape, and the 5-3-3-2 shape. Balanced hands don’t offer many options when
it comes to rebidding. You can support your partner’s suit, rebid notrump, or
introduce a second four-card suit at the one level. I explain how to respond
with each balanced pattern in the following sections.
With a 4-3-3-3 pattern
If your partner responds in your four-card major, raise it. If your partner
responds in any other suit, rebid some number of notrump depending on
your point count.
The cards in Figure 12-7 let you rebid with a flat 4-3-3-3 hand pattern.
Figure 12-7:
You have
very few
options for
making a
rebid with a
flat hand.
♠K J 4 ♥Q 10 7 ♦K 5 4 ♣A 8 7 2
1
(13 HCP)
♠K J 4 ♥Q 10 7 2 ♦K 5 4 ♣A 8 7
2
(13 HCP)
187
188
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
You open 1⽤ with both hands in Figure 12-7. How do you rebid?
⻬ On the first hand, rebid 1NT over any one-level response because you
don’t have four-card support for whichever suit your partner responds
with.
⻬ On the second hand in Figure 12-7, rebid 1NT if your partner responds
1⽧ or 1⽥; raise a 1⽦ response to 2⽦.
If you have 18 or 19 HCP with this distribution, jump to 2NT on your second
bid. This bid will be music to your partner’s ears!
Even with a flat hand, you can raise your partner’s major suit response when
you have four-card support, but not with three-card support. Make your partner happy and tell him about the fit. Did you know that bridge is a game of
fits and misfits? You can take that any way you like!
With a 4-4-3-2 pattern
The most common balanced hand distribution is the 4-4-3-2 pattern. With
15 to 17 HCP and this hand pattern, as the old joke goes, “you wouldn’t have
started from here” because you would have opened 1NT. If you open one of
any suit with a balanced hand, your hand should be in the 12 to 14 or 18 to
19 HCP range (see Chapter 10 for details).
The hands in Figure 12-8 show you a couple of 4-4-3-2 hand patterns.
Figure 12-8:
You usually
rebid at the
one level
with a 4-43-2 hand
pattern.
♠A J 4 2 ♥3 2 ♦K J 6 2 ♣A 10 7
(13 HCP)
1
♠K Q 5 ♥3 2 ♦A 10 3 2 ♣A 9 7 6
(13 HCP)
2
In both of the hands in Figure 12-8, the bidding sequence is this:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽧
1⽦
?
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
Anytime you can rebid your second suit at the one level with minimum or
intermediate zone hands (with 12 to 18 HCP), do it. On the first hand in Figure
12-8, rebid 1⽥. If your partner responds in your doubleton suit and you
would have to introduce your other suit at the two level, rebid 1NT instead,
as in the second hand in Figure 12-8.
To rebid a second suit at the two level, you need at least nine cards between
your two suits. If you have only eight cards, rebid 1NT instead.
With a 5-3-3-2 pattern
In this section, I discuss only 5-3-3-2 patterns with 12 to 14 HCP; with 15 to 17
HCP, you would have opened 1NT in the first place.
When you make a rebid with a 5-3-3-2 pattern, either rebid some number of
notrump or raise your partner’s suit. To raise your partner’s suit directly with
three-card support, your trump suit should be headed by at least the ace, the
king, the queen, or the J10.
The cards in Figure 12-9 allow you to rebid with a 5-3-3-2 hand pattern.
Figure 12-9:
You can
rebid
notrump or
raise your
partner’s
suit with a
5-3-3-2 hand
pattern.
♠A J 4 ♥K 10 4 ♦5 4 ♣A J 6 5 4
(13 HCP)
Open the bidding with 1⽤. If your partner bids your doubleton suit, diamonds, rebid 1NT. If your partner responds with 1⽦ or 1⽥, raise to 2⽦ or
2⽥. In each case, you’ve limited your hand and your partner has enough
information about your hand to decide what contract is best. Notice that
you don’t rebid your five-card club suit. Raising your partner or rebidding
notrump is the higher priority.
Finally, if your partner responds 1NT or raises to 2⽤, both limited responses,
you become the captain (the partner of the player who first limits her hand is
the captain). It’s your duty to decide whether to go on or pass. Because you
have a minimum hand and your partner has advertised a weak hand, just pass.
189
190
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
With a rock crusher
Say you have a two-suited hand, with at least nine cards in the two suits (5-4,
5-5, 6-4), along with 19 to 20 HCP. Open the bidding in your longest suit. If
your partner makes a one-level response, jump the bidding one extra level in
your second suit. This second-round jump from one suit to another is called a
jump shift. A jump shift is forcing to game.
Do you want to see a typical jump shift? I thought you’d never ask:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽤
1⽧
2⽦
In this sequence, you jumped (skipped one level) in a new suit at your second
turn. You could have bid 1⽦, but you chose to jump. Why? Because you
wanted to show a rock crusher.
When your partner responds at the one level and you want to make sure that
your partner bids again, jump shift. A jump shift is a game force that shows a
mountain of a hand.
On a good day, you’ll pick up a rock crusher that has four-card support for
your partner’s suit. With that hand, you don’t have to jump in a new suit
because your partner has just bid your second suit. Make him happy and
jump all the way to game. Jumping to game shows a great hand, naturally,
because your partner may have as few as 6 HCP. In fact, you need at least 19
SP to pull off this leap all the way to game. The cards in Figure 12-10 show a
hand with which you can make this fantastic leap of faith.
Figure 12-10:
Jump to
game when
you have 19
or 20 points.
♠A K 7 4 ♥A 7 ♦K 4 ♣Q J 8 6 2
(17 HCP + 2 = 19 SP)
For this hand, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽤
1⽥
?
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
Your partner’s response allows you to revalue your hand upward. You can
count one additional point for each doubleton, so your point total zooms to
19 SP. Rebid 4⽥, a game bid, to reflect that strength.
When you have four-card support for your partner’s one-level major-suit
response, jump to game in your partner’s suit with 19 to 21 SP.
Rebidding After a Two-Over-One
Response
You’ve hit the jackpot. Nothing too bad can happen to you if your partner is
strong enough to respond in a new suit at the two level after you open at the
one level. A two-over-one response has no upper limit of HCP; it’s an unlimited
response. A two-over-one response can be a springboard to a game or a slam.
When your partner makes a two-over-one response, you know the following:
⻬ She has a minimum of 11 HCP (may be 10 HCP with a strong six-card
suit — an exception).
⻬ She promises to bid again. That promise, written in blood, allows you to
relax, knowing that your next bid can’t be passed.
After a two-over-one response, you have options, all good ones, which I discuss
in the following sections. Possibilities include limiting your hand by rebidding
some number of notrump, supporting your partner’s suit, or rebidding your
original suit. You also can rebid a second suit. Bidding a second suit does not
limit your hand.
Rebidding 2NT with a balanced hand
With 12 to 14 HCP and a balanced hand, you plan to rebid 1NT over most oneover-one responses. (See “With a balanced hand,” earlier in this chapter, for
more about this rebid.) But your partner may double-cross you and respond
at the two level. No sweat — rebid 2NT, which still shows 12 to 14 HCP.
Suppose that you deal yourself either of the hands shown in Figure 12-11.
191
192
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Figure 12-11:
With a
balanced
hand and 12
to 14 HCP,
rebid 2NT
after a twoover-one
response.
♠A J 4 ♥K 10 8 ♦K Q 6 5 ♣J 6 5
(14 HCP)
1
♠A J 4 2 ♥K 10 ♦A J 9 6 ♣8 7 6
(13 HCP)
2
On the first hand, open 1⽧, intending to rebid 1NT over a 1⽦ or 1⽥ response.
However, if your partner crosses you up and responds 2⽤, rebid 2NT.
On the second hand in Figure 12-11, you also open 1⽧. If your partner
responds 1⽦, 1⽥ is the proper rebid; if your partner responds 1⽥, a raise to
2⽥ is correct. However, if your partner responds 2⽤, 2NT is the proper rebid.
The hand is not strong enough to rebid 2⽥; rebidding a higher-ranking suit at
the two level after a two-over-one response (reversing at the two level) shows
15 or more HCP. In addition, when you reverse, your first suit is supposed to
be longer than your second suit. (I cover reversing later in this chapter.)
Jumping all the way to 3NT
With 18 to 19 HCP, balanced, you’re too strong to open 1NT (15 to 17 HCP), and
too weak to open 2NT (20 to 21 HCP). The solution: Open your longest suit and
then jump in notrump. After a two-level response, jump directly to 3NT.
The cards in Figure 12-12 show you an example of jumping in notrump.
Figure 12-12:
Jump to
3NT with 18
or 19 HCP.
♠A J 5 ♥K J 5 ♦Q 10 8 7 ♣A K 4
Opener (You)
(18 HCP)
In Figure 12-12, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽧
2⽤
?
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
If your partner had responded 1⽦ or 1⽥, you would have jumped to 2NT.
However, your partner has responded 2⽤, so jump to 3NT.
Raising your partner’s suit
If you have three- or four-card support for your partner’s two-level response,
don’t hold back; show this support by raising your partner’s suit, particularly
when it’s a major suit. Bear in mind that the responder can make a two-level
response in clubs or diamonds with a four-card suit (fairly rare) but must
have five cards to make a two-level response in a major suit. The bottom line
is that you normally need four-card support (or three neat ones, such as AKx,
AQx, or KQx) when raising a two-level minor suit response. However, a twolevel response of 2⽦, for example, guarantees at least five hearts, so you can
raise your partner with any three hearts.
The cards in Figure 12-13 show you a neat example of when you have the support you need to raise your partner’s two-level response to the three level.
Responder (Your Partner)
♠8
♥K J 9 4 3 2
♦A K 3
♣10 9 3
(11 HCP)
N
W
E
Figure 12-13:
S
With this
hand, you’ve Opener (You)
got the ♠A K J 5 3
gusto to go
♥A 6 5
all the way
to game. ♦5 4
♣J 8 5
(13 HCP)
Supporting your partner’s major suit is the way to go with the following bidding sequence:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
2⽦
3⽦
4⽦
Pass
193
194
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Your partner’s 2⽦ response promises a minimum of a five-card heart suit
with at least 11 HCP. Your 3⽦ rebid tells your partner, “I’m impressed. Well,
I’m not about to rebid a five-card spade suit with Kantar watching my every
move when I have three-card heart support for your five- or six-card heart
suit.” Your partner’s 4⽦ bid joyfully says, “I should hope not.” When you
pass, you’re telling your partner, “What an easy game. You bid a suit, I support the suit, and we get to game. What could be better?”
If you want to win at bridge, raise your partner’s major-suit responses.
Rebidding a six-card suit
Whenever you have a hand with just one long suit, you normally rebid the
suit. You want to show your partner a six-card suit and, at the same time,
show your strength. If you have a minimum-zone hand of 12 to 14 HCP, make
a minimum rebid; if you have an intermediate-zone hand of 15 to 17 HCP,
make a jump rebid.
For example, rebid your imaginary six-card heart suit as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽦
2⽤
2⽦ (12 to 14 HCP)
Keep in mind that you can open the bidding with 11 HCP and a six-card suit.
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽦
2⽤
3⽦ (15 to 17 HCP)
Rebidding a second, higher-ranking
suit (reversing)
If you have a two-suited hand, you generally rebid the second suit and tell
your partner the glad tidings as soon as you can.
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
However, if your second suit is higher ranking than your first, you need 15 or
more HCP to show the second suit. If you don’t have 15 or more HCP, find
another rebid. Your options include rebidding your original suit, raising your
partner’s suit, or rebidding a minimum number of notrump. Passing isn’t an
option.
Suppose that you pick up either of the two hands shown in Figure 12-14.
♠K Q 8 7 ♥A J 10 7 6 ♦Q 2 ♣5 4
Figure 12-14:
Try
reversing
with more
than 15 HCP.
(12 HCP)
1
♠K Q J 7 ♥A J 10 7 6 ♦A 8 ♣5 4
(15 HCP)
2
For both of these hands, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽦
2⽤
?
On the first hand, you aren’t strong enough to rebid 2⽥, a reverse, so you
content yourself with a 2⽦ rebid. Your hearts are quite chunky, so you’re
telling a little white lie to suggest that you may have six hearts. If your partner has four spades, he’ll rebid 2⽥ over 2⽦ and the spade fit will be uncovered anyway. On the second hand, you’re strong enough to reverse; rebid 2⽥.
Rebidding a second suit at the
three level (a high reverse)
Sometimes a partner’s two-level response forces you all the way to the three
level to show your second suit. Bidding a new suit at the three level is called
a high reverse by some. To make a high reverse, you need 15 or more HCP. If
you don’t have 15 or more HCP, find another rebid. Rebidding your original
suit, rebidding 2NT, or raising your partner’s suit are three live possibilities.
195
196
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
The hands in Figure 12-15 show you when you can reverse at the three level
and when you need to take an alternative route.
Figure 12-15:
You need at
least 15 HCP
to bid your
second suit
at the three
level.
♠A K 10 4 2 ♥7 3 ♦A J 4 2 ♣6 5
(12 HCP)
1
♠A K 10 4 2 ♥7 3 ♦A K J 2 ♣6 5
(15 HCP)
2
In both sample hands, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
2⽤
?
Perfect. In both cases in Figure 12-15, your second suit is lower ranking than
your first, so you don’t have to worry about any silly rules. Just rebid your
second suit — rebid 2⽧ with both hands.
Now assume that you have the same two hands shown in Figure 12-15, but
this time, the bidding goes like this:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
2⽦
?
Your partner’s 2⽦ response forces you to the three level to show your second
suit, diamonds. You need 15 or more HCP to show that second suit at the three
level. On the first hand, you don’t have the HCP you need, so rebid 2⽥. On the
second hand, you do, so be my guest and show your second suit. Rebid 3⽧.
You can’t always show your second suit. If showing your second suit after a
two-over-one response means going beyond the two level of your first suit,
you need 15 or more HCP. With fewer than 15 HCP, find another rebid.
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
Rebidding After a Limited Response
When your partner makes a limited response, showing her strength within a
few points, the fog clears (at least, it’s supposed to!). You can add the strength
of the two hands together and have a good idea of how high to bid. You then
become the captain. The captain makes the decisions of whether to close up
shop and pass, to bid game, to issue an invitational bid to game, or even to
slam. In the following sections, I discuss what, if anything, to rebid after the
two most common limited responses: when your partner supports your suit
and when your partner responds 1NT.
When your partner supports your suit
When your partner supports your suit at the two level, you can assume that
she has 6 to 10 SP.
8 SP is the average strength for a single raise.
Whenever your partner raises your suit, your hand improves because an
eight-card (or longer) fit has been found. How do you know you have a fit? If
your partner raises you voluntarily, that eight-card fit is like an elephant in
your sock drawer — you just can’t miss it.
Your partner has already added extra points for short suits to revalue her
hand properly. Now you, too, can add extra points when you uncover an
eight-card or nine-card fit. How many points should you add?
When you first pick up your hand, you just count your HCP. You don’t add
for shortness or length because you haven’t found a fit yet. However, if you
uncover an eight-card fit, you can add extra points to your hand by using the
following scale:
⻬ Add 1 point for each doubleton.
⻬ Add 2 points for each singleton.
⻬ Add 3 points for a void.
If you know you have a nine-card fit, make the same calculations but give
yourself two additional happiness points. Eight-card fits are nice, but ninecard fits are great.
When you’ve been supported, you get to count extra points for side-suit
shortness. The total of your HCP plus your short suit points is expressed in
revalued points (RP). Had any alphabet soup lately?
197
198
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Figure 12-16 shows three hands in which your partner has raised your 1⽦
opening bid to 2⽦, frequently showing three-card support. You have to
revalue your hand and decide what to do.
♠7 5 ♥A Q 8 7 6 ♦A Q 4 ♣8 7 6
1
Figure 12-16:
Revalue
your hand
upward
after you
find a fit.
(12 HCP + 1 = 13 revalued points)
♠A Q 2 ♥A K J 8 5 ♦9 8 6 2 ♣2
2
(14 HCP + 2 = 16 revalued points)
♠5 ♥A Q 9 5 3 ♦A K Q 4 2 ♣8 7
3
(15 HCP + 4 = 19 revalued points)
After you find an eight-card fit and revalue your hand, you decide how high to
bid by using the following scale:
⻬ If you have 15 RP or less, pass. Game is too remote.
⻬ If you have 16 to 17 RP, you have a reasonable chance for game. Therefore,
with this strength hand, you invite game, perhaps by bidding 3⽦. Your
partner passes with 6 to 7 SP, bids 4⽦ with 9 to 10 SP, and flips a coin with
exactly 8 SP. It’s that close.
⻬ If you have 18 or more RP, take a chance and bid game.
On the first hand, with 13 RP, pass because you have no chance for game, even
facing a maximum in your partner’s hand. On the second hand, with 16 RP,
invite game by bidding 3⽦. On the third hand, you can leap all the way to 4⽦
because your hand is now worth 19 RP, enough to bid game. The one who
knows, goes.
If your partner makes a limit raise by jumping directly to 3⽦ in her first
response, showing 10 to 12 SP with four-card support, pass with 5-3-3-2
distribution and 12 or 13 HCP. Bid game with all other hand patterns, regardless of strength. You would pass a limit raise with the first example hand in
Figure 12-16 and bid 4⽦ with the other two hands.
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
When your partner responds 1NT
The 1NT response is a limited response, and, as with all limited responses,
the partner of the limited hand has a much better picture of the overall
strength of the two hands and becomes the captain. When your partner
responds 1NT, this is what you know:
⻬ She has 6 to 10 HCP.
⻬ In response to a 1⽤ opening bid, the 1NT response promises a balanced
hand; in response to any other suit, the bid doesn’t guarantee a balanced hand.
⻬ When the responder bids 1NT, she may have a long suit and may not be
strong enough to bid it at the two level. (She doesn’t have 10 HCP with a
six-card suit or 11 or more HCP.)
⻬ A 1NT response to your major suit opening bid denies three-card support for your major suit.
The opener, the captain, must remember all these things when making a rebid
after a 1NT response. In the following sections, I show you how to rebid after
your partner’s 1NT response, whether you have a balanced or unbalanced
hand.
When you have a balanced hand
The cards in Figure 12-17 give you a chance to rebid after your partner has
responded 1NT. When you have a balanced hand, use this suggested scale to
determine your next bid, keeping in mind that many 15- to 17-point balanced
hands open 1NT.
⻬ With 15 or fewer HCP, pass; game is too remote.
⻬ With 16 to 18 HCP, raise to 2NT, an invitation to the waltz. If your partner
has 8 to 10 HCP, she accepts and bids 3NT. With 6 to 7 HCP, she passes.
⻬ If you have 19 HCP, bid 3NT.
Figure 12-17:
You have
several
options for
rebidding
with a
balanced
hand after
a 1NT
response.
♠A Q 8 4 2 ♥A 6 5 ♦K 6 2 ♣J 7
(14 HCP)
199
200
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
So far, the bidding for this hand has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
1NT
?
Because you have a balanced hand and your partner has bid notrump, you
should be content with a notrump contract. In Figure 12-17, you have fewer
than 16 HCP, the minimum needed for an invitational raise to 2NT, so pass . . .
quickly.
The cards in Figure 12-18 give you another chance to rebid after a 1NT
response.
Figure 12-18:
After your
partner
responds
1NT, check
your HCP
count
before
rebidding.
♠K Q 10 8 5 ♥K Q 4 ♦A 2 ♣A J 4
(19 HCP)
1
♠A Q 4 3 2 ♥A J 3 ♦Q 4 3 ♣A 10
(17 HCP)
2
In both hands, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
1NT
?
On the first hand in Figure 12-18, you have a balanced hand with 19 HCP,
enough to go directly to game. Bid 3NT. Even if your partner has a pitiful 6
count, you will have 25 HCP between the two hands and your partner may
have a chance to make the contract. Besides, you don’t have to play the
hand — your partner does.
Chapter 12: Rebidding by the Opener
On the second hand in Figure 12-18, you have a choice between opening 1⽥
and opening 1NT. I advise you (for the time being) to open all 5-3-3-2 hands
that have 15 to 17 HCP with 1NT. Later you’ll learn how to pick and choose.
But hey, it’s fine that you open 1⽥ here.
With 17 HCP, you have a game facing good news (8 to 10 HCP in your partner’s
hand), but you want to stay low facing bad news (6 to 7 HCP in your partner’s
hand), so you make the good news/bad news ask of 2NT. If your partner has 8
to 10 HCP, she raises to 3NT. If your partner has 6 to 7 HCP, she passes. Every
story doesn’t have a happy ending.
When you don’t have a balanced hand
What if your partner responds 1NT and you don’t have a balanced hand? No
sweat. If you have a six-card suit, rebid it; if you have a second, lower-ranking
suit, bid it. You know your partner doesn’t have support for your first suit;
maybe you’ll get lucky with your second suit.
The cards in Figure 12-19 show an unbalanced hand.
Responder (Your Partner)
♠4
♥A 8 7 6
♦J 10 7 6
♣J 9 7 6
Figure 12-19:
N
Make a
E
rebid of your W
six-card suit
S
or a second,
lower- Opener (You)
ranking suit ♠A K 8 7 6
with an
♥4 3 2
unbalanced
hand. ♦K Q 8 7
♣4
(6 HCP)
(12 HCP)
Look how the bidding has gone so far with this hand:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
1NT
?
201
202
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
You have an unbalanced hand, and you know that your partner doesn’t have
spade support (if she had support, she would have raised to 2⽥). Look for
a home in another suit. Show your second suit and bid 2⽧. Bidding a new
lower-ranking suit doesn’t necessarily show extra strength. The range of that
2⽧ bid is 12 to 18 HCP.
Guess what? You have found a home. Your partner is allowed to pass your
second suit with a weak hand that likes your second suit more than your
first, and you end up in a very cozy contract, thank you very much.
Good bidders rebid only a six-card major suit after a 1NT response. After all,
a 1NT response denies three-card major suit support. Rebidding a five-card
major suit after a 1NT response has all the earmarks of a death wish.
Chapter 13
Rebidding by the Responder
In This Chapter
䊳 Determining who’s the captain
䊳 Making the best rebid you can make
Y
our partner has opened the bidding, and you have responded. Your partner has bid again, and now it’s your turn to bid again. You can either pass
or make another bid, called a rebid. In this chapter, I give you all kinds of tips
and hints on what to bid at this stage of the game. (See Chapter 10 for more
about opening bids, Chapter 11 for more about responding, and Chapter 12 for
more about rebidding by the opener.)
Becoming the Captain
During the bidding, each player tries to determine his partner’s strength and
distribution. Your partner’s hand (your partner opened the bidding) can fall
into any of the following ranges:
⻬ 12 to 14 high card points (HCP): Minimum range (11 HCP is an exception)
⻬ 15 to 18 HCP: Intermediate range
⻬ 18 to 20 HCP: Rock-crusher range (18-point hands go both ways!)
Your hand, as the responder, can fall into any of the following four ranges:
⻬ 6 to 10 HCP: Minimum range
⻬ 11 to 12 HCP: Invitational range
⻬ 13 to 17 HCP: Game, or possible slam range
⻬ 18 or more HCP: Likely slam range
204
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
After either player reveals her range, which is called limiting one’s hand, the
partner of the player who has revealed her range becomes the captain. The
captain knows how many total points are held by the partnership; the captain uses that number to determine how high to bid. And, of course, each
player knows that after she limits her hand that her partner is the captain.
The captain can sometimes determine which trump suit is best for the hand
after her partner has limited her hand. During the bidding, your first objective is to try to locate an eight-card (or longer) major suit trump fit. If you
find one, your quest is over; make that suit your trump suit.
As the responder, you frequently have a pretty clear picture of your partner’s
hand after she bids a second time, particularly if her second bid is a limit bid
(anytime the opener rebids anything but a new suit, the opener’s rebid is limited). Before you make your rebid, the topic of this chapter, ask yourself the
following two questions:
⻬ What has my partner already told me about her hand with her first
two bids?
⻬ What have I already told my partner about my hand with my original
response?
Your rebid depends on your answers to these two questions.
In the following sections, I explain what happens to the captaincy when you
limit your own hand and when your partner limits her hand.
Limiting your hand
You may have already limited your hand with your first response. For example, you may have raised your partner’s suit, or you may have responded
some number of notrump, both limit bids. After you limit your hand, your
partner becomes the captain. You’re off the hook; no more decision making
for you to add to the gray hairs — unless your partner turns the tables on
you by making an invitational bid. An invitational bid basically asks you if you
want to go game or get out while the getting is good. If your partner makes an
invitational bid, you have to decide whether to bid game or hunker down in
a partscore (see Chapter 20 for more about partscores). Such an invitation
transfers the responsibility (and also the blame) back to you; you are now
about to become the hero . . . or the goat.
Pretend that you and your partner have exchanged the following info:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽦
2⽦
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
Your response shows 6 to 10 support points (SP), and it’s a limited response.
Because you have limited your hand by showing your points and distribution, your partner becomes the captain. In this case, your partner usually
makes one of the following three rebids:
⻬ Pass: Telling you that the partnership doesn’t have enough for game
⻬ 3⽦: An invitational bid, telling you that your partner isn’t sure whether
enough points exist to bid game
⻬ 4⽦: Telling you that the partnership has 25 or more revalued points
between the two hands (remember that both hands can add extra points
when a fit has been uncovered)
The 3⽦ asks for more information. It invites you to bid game (4⽦) if you
have a maximum raise (8 to 10 SP) and asks you to pass if you have a minimum raise (6 to 7 SP).
An invitational bid in this sequence reverses the captaincy. After an invitational bid, you, not your partner, must decide whether your partnership has
enough points for game.
When your partner limits her hand
Your partner, the opener, can also limit her hand by supporting your suit,
rebidding her original suit, or bidding some number of notrump. If your partner limits her hand, you become the captain. I give you a few sample hands
to bid in the following sections.
With an eight-card fit
In each of the hands in Figure 13-1, it’s up to you to decide whether you have
enough points to bid game. Remember the following scale if you have a fivecard suit that has been supported, indicating a likely eight-card fit:
⻬ Add 1 point for each doubleton.
⻬ Add 2 points for each singleton.
⻬ Add 3 points for a void.
However, if there is a known nine-card fit, add two more points. A nine-card fit
often plays one trick better than an eight-card fit.
205
206
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
♠A J 6 5 ♥6 5 ♦K J 6 ♣A 10 9 7
Opener (Your Partner)
(13 HCP)
♠K Q 9 3 2 ♥Q 8 3 ♦9 4 3 2 ♣3
1
Responder (You)
(7 HCP + 2 = 9 points)
♠K Q 9 7 3 ♥A J 4 3 2 ♦10 8 ♣8
Figure 13-1:
Listen
to your
partner’s
rebid before
revaluing
your hand.
2
Responder (You)
(10 HCP + 3 = 13 points)
♠K Q 9 3 2 ♥A 10 4 ♦10 9 3 ♣J 5
3
Responder (You)
(10 HCP + 1 = 11 points)
For each of the hands in Figure 13-1, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽤ (12 or more HCP)
1⽥ (6 or more HCP)
2⽥ (13 to 15 SP)
?
In each case in Figure 13-1, you’ve made an unlimited response that shows 6
or more HCP. Your partner still doesn’t know which range your hand is in.
However, when your partner raises your suit to 2⽥, she makes a limit bid
that shows a minimum-range hand, and you become the captain.
If you feel that you have found a home for your partnership (an eight-card
fit), add the two hands together and see whether you have a total of 25 or
more revalued points between the hands. If you do, bid game. If you can’t
have 25 or more revalued points, pass. If you can’t be sure, ask your partner
for more information by bidding 3⽥. When you ask your partner for more
information, she then becomes the captain.
In each of the hands in Figure 13-1, you have found a home. Even though your
partner can have three spades to raise your one-level major-suit response,
you know that you have at least eight spades between the two hands. Time to
add the two hands together — almost.
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
Before you can add the two hands together, you must revaluate your hand
after your suit has been supported and you know that you have an eight-card
fit (or longer).
After revaluating your hand, you can decide what to do with each of the
hands in Figure 13-1.
⻬ For the first hand, which revalues to 9 points, you don’t have enough for
game, so you pass.
⻬ For the second hand, which revalues to 13 points, you have enough for
game, so rebid 4⽥.
⻬ For the third hand, which revalues to 11 points, you have invitational
strength, so rebid 3⽥.
After your suit has been raised from the one level to the two level, a threelevel bid in that suit by you invites your partner, the opener, to bid game.
Your partner passes with a minimum hand (13 SP) and bids game with a maximum (14 or 15 SP). With the hand in Figure 13-1, which revalues to 14 SP,
your partner bids 4⽥.
With at least a seven-card fit
When your partner raises your suit, she shows a minimum opening bid with at
least three-card support. This makes you the captain; you know her range —
but she doesn’t know yours. You can settle down at the two level if that seems
high enough, or you can look for more if you aren’t satisfied with a low-level
contract. In Figure 13-2, you see two hands in which your partner raises your
four-card major suit.
♠A J 9 4 ♥K 9 3 2 ♦10 3 ♣J 5 4
Figure 13-2:
These
hands have
at least a
seven-card
heart fit.
1
Responder (You)
(9 HCP)
♠A J 9 ♥K 9 3 2 ♦10 3 ♣K 10 8 7
2
Responder (You)
(11 HCP)
The bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽧ (12 or more HCP)
1⽦ (6 or more HCP)
2⽦ (13 to 15 SP)
?
207
208
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
After your partner raises your suit, you have found a seven-card heart fit (at
least). At this point, you can either put up or shut up. In the first example in
Figure 13-2, you have only 9 HCP, and facing a maximum of 15 SP, you have
no ambition for game because you can’t have more than 24 revalued points
between the two hands, and you need at least 25 revalued points to bid game.
When your four-card suit is raised to the two level, you can’t be sure of an
eight-card fit, so just count your HCP. You’re in a comfortable spot, so why
look for trouble? Pass. If it turns out that you wind up in a four-three trump
fit, so be it. It builds character to play an occasional seven-card trump fit.
When the opener’s second bid shows a minimum-range hand (12 to 14 HCP),
the responder needs 11 or more HCP to consider making a forward-going
second bid.
With the second hand in Figure 13-2, you have enough to bid on, but not
enough to drive to game. You can describe your hand accurately by bidding
2NT. What does this sound like to you? You have just found a fit in hearts,
and here you are veering off into notrump. Did you mis-sort your hand and
suddenly find that two of your red cards were diamonds, not hearts? No.
Your 2NT rebid says, “Do you really want to play hearts? I have only four
hearts, and if you raised me with three hearts, maybe we belong in notrump.
I also have enough to try for game. Make the decision: game or partscore,
hearts or notrump?” All those questions and inferences from just one bid!
After the opener raises your major suit, a 2NT rebid by you, the responder,
shows 11 or 12 HCP and four cards in your major suit.
Rebidding After Your Limited
Response of 1NT
When you respond 1NT to your partner’s opening bid, you limit your hand,
showing 6 to 10 HCP, and your partner is captain. Nevertheless, developments
may force you to make yet another decision. I show you a few of those developments in the following sections.
Sticking with notrump
Take a look at the cards in Figure 13-3 to see some hands in which your partner’s rebid may force you to bid again.
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
♠J 4 ♥K 5 ♦Q 6 5 4 3 ♣J 5 3 2
Responder (You)
(7 HCP)
1
♠4 ♥K 5 2 ♦Q 6 5 4 3 ♣J 5 3 2
Figure 13-3:
You may
still be up
to bat after
your 1NT
response.
Responder (You)
(6 HCP)
2
♠K 4 ♥A J 6 5 ♦10 8 7 6 ♣J 3 2
Responder (You)
(9 HCP)
3
For each of the hands in Figure 13-3, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽥
1NT
?
If your partner has a balanced hand and wants to keep the bidding in
notrump, she will make one of the following bids:
⻬ Pass: Your partner has no hope for game (she has 15 or fewer HCP).
⻬ 2NT: This invitational bid shows 17 to 18 HCP. If you like notrump, bid
3NT with 8 to 10 HCP and pass with 6 or 7 HCP.
⻬ 3NT: She counts 25 points between the two hands (she has 19 or more
HCP). The one who knows, goes!
Note: With 16 HCP and some hands with 17 HCP, your partner opens 1NT herself.
If your partner invites you to game by bidding 2NT, refuse the invitation by
passing with the first two hands. With the third hand, accept and bid 3NT.
Choosing between two
of your partner’s suits
After your 1NT response, your partner may choose to bid a second suit.
Unless you have a six-card suit of your own (see the following section), your
partner wants to know which of her two suits you prefer.
209
210
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
If you have an equal number of cards in both suits, you absolutely must
return to your partner’s first suit, which is the longer one.
The cards in Figure 13-4 show you a hand in which you must choose between
two suits that your partner bids.
Responder (You)
♠9 3
♥A K
♦9 7 4 3
♣J 9 5 3 2
N
W
E
Figure 13-4:
S
Choose
carefully Opener (Your Partner)
between ♠A J 10 7 6
your ♥Q 8 4 3
partner’s
♦A K 10
suits.
♣4
For this hand, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽥
1NT
2⽦
2⽥
Pass
In this bidding sequence, your partner’s opening bid of 1⽥ says, “I like this
chapter. I get an opening bid on every hand.” Your 1NT response says, “Stop
your crowing; I have nothing again.” When your partner rebids 2⽦, she asks
you, “Which of my suits do you like better?” Your 2⽥ response says, “I don’t
like either one, but I prefer spades to hearts because I have an equal number
of cards in both suits. Besides, Kantar is watching my every move.”
When your partner passes, the unspoken message is, “Thanks for giving me
a break and allowing me to play this hand in spades, where we have seven
trump cards between our two hands, not in hearts, where we have only six.”
Obviously, you need to outgun the opponents in the trump suit — not necessarily in terms of the high cards, but more in the numerical department. You
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
must have more trumps than they do, or else bad things can happen. Very,
very bad things. Don’t ask.
Ideally, you want to have eight or more trump cards between the two hands
every time you play a trump contract. However, in the real world, you don’t
always get an eight-card fit. You may have to make do with a seven-card
trump fit. If you wind up playing a contract with fewer than seven trump
cards between the two hands, the wheels have come off. So when giving preferences to your partner, make sure that you concentrate on playing in the
trump suit in which you expect to have the most cards, not the one in which
you have the highest cards.
Going with your own long suit
In Figure 13-5, you get a second chance to bid your own long suit.
Responder (You)
♠7
♥4 2
♦K 9 4 3
♣Q J 10 8 7 4
(6 HCP)
N
Figure 13-5:
E
When the W
two hands
S
don’t mesh,
you may Opener (Your Partner)
choose to ♠A Q 8 4 3
bid your ♥K Q 9 3
(13 HCP)
own long
♦
Q2
suit.
♣6 3
In this hand, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽥
1NT
2⽦
3⽤
Pass
211
212
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
If your bids could talk, they’d be shouting the following messages to each other:
1⽥: “I have five or more spades with 12 or more HCP.”
1NT: “Good for you. I have a weak hand with only 6 HCP, but I have to
respond, or you’ll disown me; I am not nearly strong enough to bid 2⽤
with my six-card suit, which would show 10 or more HCP, so I am hedging
with 1NT.”
2⽦: “Hey, there. Hearts is my second suit. Which of my two suits do you
like better?”
3⽤: “I hate both of your suits, but I have a strong six-card suit of my own,
which is clubs.”
Pass: “This is the end of the trail, amigo. You have shown six or more
clubs, and we have an eight-card fit, but because you guarantee a weak
hand and I have a minimum hand, I know enough to get out of this mess
right now.”
When your partner bids two suits, just remember the following points:
⻬ With an equal number of cards in each suit your partner bids, take your
partner back to her first suit. However, if you have a strong six-card suit
of your own without support for either of your partner’s suits, bid it!
⻬ To raise your partner’s second suit directly, you need four-card support
because you always assume that your partner has four cards in her
second bid suit, and you are looking for an eight-card trump fit.
Rebidding After Your Partner Rebids 1NT
A 1NT rebid comes up frequently because balanced minimum hands are very
common. Thus this typical sequence:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽤
1⽦
1NT
?
Take a good look at this sequence. You hear this type of sequence so often
that you may start to hum it in your sleep.
When your partner rebids 1NT, this is what you know:
⻬ She has a minimum-range hand (12 to 14 HCP).
⻬ She has a balanced hand. Her likely shapes are 4-3-3-3, 4-4-3-2, or 5-3-3-2.
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
If you, too, have a balanced hand, add your points to your partner’s (her
rebid shows 12 to 14 HCP, so assume 13 points as a ballpark figure). Your next
move is to decide whether the two hands have a combined total of 25 HCP,
enough to try for game, 3NT. Don’t forget to tack on an extra point if you have
a five-card suit headed by two honor cards or two extra points if you have a
five-card suit headed by three honors.
The three examples in Figure 13-6 give you a chance to decide what to do
after your partner’s 1NT rebid.
♠A J 6 ♥6 5 ♦K J 6 ♣A 10 9 7 2
Opener (Your Partner)
(13 HCP)
♠10 4 3 ♥A Q 8 3 2 ♦Q 7 4 ♣6 4
1
Figure 13-6:
You can
respond
to your
partner’s
1NT rebid
in one of
several
ways.
Responder (You)
(8 HCP + 1 = 9 points)
♠K 3 2 ♥A K 8 3 2 ♦10 7 5 ♣K 4
2
Responder (You)
(13 HCP + 1 = 14 points)
♠K 3 2 ♥A Q 8 3 2 ♦10 7 5 ♣J 4
3
Responder (You)
(10 HCP + 1 = 11 points)
You have a balanced hand in all the examples in Figure 13-6, so notrump is
your home (you want the bidding to end in a notrump contract). Now you
just need to decide how high to bid.
⻬ In the first hand in Figure 13-6, you have 9 revalued points and should
pass because you have no chance for the 25 HCP you need for game.
⻬ In the second hand, you have 14 revalued points and should raise to 3NT
because you know of at least 25 HCP between the two hands.
⻬ In the third hand, you have 11 revalued points and should invite game
by bidding 2NT; you may or may not have 25 HCP between the two
hands — you have to let your partner tell you whether you do. If your
partner has 13 HCP and a good five-card suit or 14 HCP, your invitation
will be accepted; with less, it should be passed.
213
214
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Rebidding Notrump After Your
Partner Shows Two Suits
If your partner bids two suits and you’re not thrilled with either, you may
want to veer off into notrump. A notrump rebid gets you out of the awkwardness of playing in a trump suit with only seven cards between the two hands.
Just be sure to tell your partner your strength.
If you want to make a notrump rebid, show your HCP according to the following scale:
⻬ 7 to 10 HCP: Rebid 1NT, a minimum-range hand.
⻬ 11 to 12 HCP: Rebid 2NT, an invitational-range hand.
⻬ 13 or more HCP: Rebid 3NT — go straight to game with this count. The
one who knows, goes!
The cards in Figure 13-7 show some hands in which rebidding notrump is on
target.
For each of the following hands, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽧
1⽦
1⽥
?
You have no support for either of your partner’s suits, but you do have a balanced hand. A notrump rebid is called for in each of the responder hands
shown in Figure 13-7.
⻬ In the first hand, rebid 1NT, showing 7 to 10 HCP.
⻬ In the second hand, rebid 3NT, showing 13 or more HCP.
⻬ In the third hand, rebid 2NT, showing 11 to 12 HCP.
The 2NT rebid showing 11 to 12 HCP is one of your best friends. You use it in
many sequences to invite game.
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
♠A J 6 5 ♥5 4 ♦A K 9 8 3 ♣Q 5
Opener (Your Partner)
(14 HCP)
♠10 8 3 ♥A Q 9 4 ♦3 2 ♣K 9 3 2
Responder (You)
(9 HCP)
1
Figure 13-7:
Rebid
notrump
when you
don’t have
support for
either of
your
partner’s
suits.
♠10 8 3 ♥A Q 9 4 ♦3 2 ♣A K J 4
Responder (You)
(14 HCP)
2
♠10 8 3 ♥A Q 9 4 ♦3 2 ♣A J 8 6
Responder (You)
(11 HCP)
3
Rebidding with Four-Card Support
for Your Partner’s Second Suit
When the opener bids two suits, the second suit is presumed to be a fourcarder. To support a second suit directly, the responder (you) needs four-card
support. In fact, you promise it in blood!
Consider this oh-so-typical bidding sequence:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽤
1⽦
1⽥
?
If you’re sitting over there with four spades, by all means let your partner in
on the secret.
⻬ With 7 to 10 SP, raise to 2⽥.
⻬ With 11 to 12 SP, raise to 3⽥.
⻬ With 13 to 16 SP, raise to 4⽥.
215
216
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Figure 13-8 gives you a chance to look over some second-suit raises.
♠A J 4 3 ♥7 4 ♦K 5 ♣A Q 9 7 4
Opener (Your Partner)
(16 HCP)
♠K 7 4 2 ♥A 6 5 3 2 ♦9 8 ♣3 2
1
Responder (You)
(7 HCP + 2 = 9 SP)
♠K 9 8 4 ♥A 6 5 3 2 ♦9 8 ♣K 2
Figure 13-8:
Raising a
second suit
promises
four-card
support.
2
Responder (You)
(10 HCP + 2 = 12 SP)
♠K Q 8 4 ♥A K 5 3 2 ♦9 8 ♣3 2
3
Responder (You)
(12 HCP + 2 = 14 SP)
The first responder hand in Figure 13-8 has 9 SP, counting one support point
for each doubleton, so a raise to 2⽥ fills the bill. The second hand revalues
to 12 SP, again adding one point for each doubleton, enough to invite game
with a jump to 3⽥. The third hand revalues to 14 SP, enough to bid game
directly by leaping to 4⽥. The one who knows, goes!
Rebidding After Your Partner
Repeats Her Suit
If your partner has a six- or seven-card suit, you can expect your partner to
bid that suit at least twice, maybe three times. When your partner rebids a
suit, she has limited her hand, meaning that you’re the captain. If you have
support for the suit, you have found a home, but how high should you bid? It
depends on your partner’s strength added to your strength.
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
Consider the following two bidding sequences:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽦
1⽥
2⽦ (11 to 14 HCP)
?
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽦
1⽥
3⽦ (15 to 17 HCP)
?
In these two sequences, you know that your partner has at least six hearts,
possibly seven. In the first sequence, your partner makes a simple rebid at
the two level, showing a minimum hand; in the second sequence, she jumps
to the three level, showing an intermediate hand.
Point-count ranges aren’t written in stone when it comes to long suits.
Experienced players upgrade their hands when they hold a long, strong suit
because such suits take many tricks in the play of the hand.
The cards in Figure 13-9 illustrate your partner making a jump rebid.
Responder (You)
♠K 4
♥A J 5 2
♦8 7 4 3
♣10 8 2
(8 HCP)
Figure 13-9:
When your
N
partner
E
makes a W
jump rebid
S
with her
long suit, Opener (Your Partner)
assume that ♠A Q J 10 5 3 2
she has ♥3
(15 HCP)
at least
♦A K 2
15 HCP.
♣J 3
217
218
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
In Figure 13-9, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽥
1NT
3⽥
4⽥
Pass
Your partner’s opening bid of 1⽥ shows five or more spades with 12 or more
HCP. You respond 1NT because you aren’t strong enough to bid at the two
level. Besides, you don’t have three-card support for your partner’s suit.
When your partner bids a suit and then jumps the bidding in that suit, assume
that your partner has an intermediate-strength hand (15 to 17 HCP) but, more
important, one that can take about eight tricks. Because you have two taking
tricks in your hand, go for it: Bid 4⽥.
Rebidding Your Long Suit
Sometimes you (the responder) have a long, strong suit. Strong six-card suits,
especially major suits, were put on this earth to be bid and rebid. But don’t
forget that you also have to tell your partner your strength. Any hand that has
a six-card suit has extra trick-taking potential, particularly if a fit is uncovered.
So what’s the best rebid when you have a long suit typically headed by a
couple of honors? Long suits in the responding hand are grouped according
to this scale:
⻬ If you have a minimum-range hand (6 to 9 HCP), rebid your six-card suit
at the cheapest level possible.
⻬ With an intermediate-range hand of 10 to 11 HCP, jump to the three level
in your suit, an invitational rebid.
⻬ With a game-going range hand of 12 to 16 HCP, get thee to game by jumping to game in your long suit.
Note: With 17 or more HCP, the responder jump shifts immediately.
The cards in Figure 13-10 give you a chance to decide whether your long suit
is long enough to rebid, and how high to rebid if it is strong enough.
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
♠7 5 ♥A K 6 5 4 ♦A Q 8 7 ♣J 4
Opener (Your Partner)
(14 HCP)
♠A Q J 10 3 2 ♥3 ♦9 3 2 ♣8 7 4
Responder (You)
(7 HCP)
1
Figure 13-10:
Stick with
your long
suit of six
cards,
especially
when you
have a
major suit.
♠A Q J 9 3 2 ♥3 ♦K 9 3 ♣K 7 4
Responder (You)
(13 HCP)
2
♠A Q J 8 3 2 ♥3 ♦K 9 3 ♣9 8 3
Responder (You)
(10 HCP)
3
For each of the hands in Figure 13-10, you and your partner have the following dialogue:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽦
1⽥
2⽧
?
On the first hand in Figure 13-10, rebid 2⽥ to show your minimum-range
hand. Your partner passes. No game in sight. On the second hand, jump to
4⽥ to show a game-going range hand. And on the third hand, jump to 3⽥ to
invite your partner to bid game. Your partner, with 14 HCP, accepts and bids
4⽥, thank you very much.
Rebidding After a Two-Over-One
Response
Most of the responder’s rebidding headaches arise after a one-over-one
response, followed by the opener mentioning a second suit. At that point,
three bids have been made, and neither player has made a limit bid. Both
hands have problems determining each other’s strength.
219
220
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
However, if the initial response is two-over-one, the opener already knows
that you have 11 or more HCP, eliminating the possibility that you (the
responder) have a weak hand. The responder figures to have a hand that fits
into one of the following ranges:
⻬ 11 to 12 HCP: Invitational strength
⻬ 13 to 17 HCP: Game-going strength, at least
The examples in Figure 13-11 show you how the responder defines his hand
after a two-over-one response. Remember, the responder already has shown
at least 11 HCP.
♠A J 8 4 3 ♥K Q 8 3 2 ♦K 4 ♣2
Opener (Your Partner)
(13 HCP)
♠6 ♥10 7 4 ♦A K J 9 5 ♣A K J 9 5
Responder (You)
(11 HCP)
1
Figure 13-11:
The
responder
completes
the picture
after
the twoover-one
response.
♠K 9 6 ♥4 ♦A 6 3 ♣K 9 8 5 4 3
Responder (You)
(10 HCP + 2 = 12 SP)
2
♠3 ♥A J 6 5 ♦5 3 2 ♣K Q J 4 3
Responder (You)
(11 HCP + 3 = 14 SP)
3
The bidding for this hand has gone as follows:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽥
2⽤
2⽦
?
You must make a rebid because a two-over-one response promises a second
bid. In addition, no one has limited a hand yet. No one has rebid a suit, raised
a suit, or bid notrump, so the traffic light is set firmly on green.
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
Ask yourself what you know about your partner’s hand. So far, your partner
has shown you the following:
⻬ A range of 12 or more HCP (an unlimited range)
⻬ The likely possibility of five spades and four hearts
What does your partner know about your hand? So far, you have shown your
partner the following:
⻬ 11 or more HCP, possibly 10 HCP with three spades and side suit
shortness — a hand too strong to raise to 2⽥
⻬ Four or more clubs
In the first responder hand in Figure 13-11, you should rebid 2NT, showing
11 to 12 HCP. Notice that you can rebid 2NT with a singleton in your partner’s
first-bid suit. When you don’t like either of your partner’s suits and you need
to bid again, bidding notrump is an option.
On the second hand, bid 2⽥. You have 12 SP for spades (2 extra for the singleton with three-card support), and now is the time to let your partner in on
that little secret.
In the third hand, you have four-card support for your partner’s second suit.
You can revalue your hand, bringing it to 14 SP (3 extra for the singleton) —
go ahead and jump to 4⽦.
After you make a two-over-one response, your partner already knows that
you have at least 11 HCP. With 11 or 12 HCP, don’t do any jumping — just
make a minimum rebid.
Playing the Waiting Game
After the opener bids twice, the responder may still not have enough information to place the final contract. In such cases, the responder usually bids a
new suit, a waiting response, which forces her partner to bid again. The waiting response gives the opener another chance to further describe her hand.
The opener can’t pass when the responder bids a new suit, which is an unlimited bid. The opener cannot pass an unlimited bid. However, notrump bids
are limited bids, which can be passed.
221
222
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
The cards in Figure 13-12 show an example of this waiting response in action.
Responder (You)
♠5
♥A K 9 5 4
♦3 2
♣A K J 3 2
(15 HCP)
Figure 13-12:
N
Wait for
E
more W
information
S
from your
partner Opener (Your Partner)
when you ♠A K 9 4 3 2
can’t place ♥2
(12 HCP)
the final
♦K Q 6
contract.
♣9 8 5
Assume that the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (Your Partner)
Responder (You)
1⽥
2⽦
2⽥
3⽤
3NT
Pass
Here’s how this bidding sequence unfolds:
1⽥: “I have at least five spades. I happen to have six spades, but you
don’t know that yet.”
2⽦: “Of course I don’t know you have six spades. In the meantime, I want
to tell you that I have a minimum of 11 HCP with at least five hearts, so
I’m expecting some action here.”
2⽥: “I’m suggesting a six-card spade suit or five strong spades. I have a
minimum-range hand, so don’t get too carried away. I have just limited
my hand, making you the captain. Good luck!”
Chapter 13: Rebidding by the Responder
3⽤: “I have some more to tell you about my hand. I’m bidding a new suit,
which does not limit my hand, so you have to bid again.”
3NT: “I have strength in the unbid suit, diamonds, and I’m not in love with
either of your suits. After all, you have two suits under control, I have the
other two suits, and 3NT is game.”
Pass: “So be it!”
Bob Hamman, a many-time world champion, says, “3NT ends all auctions.”
With all due respect (I better say that — he’s a former partner!), it doesn’t
end all auctions, just most of them.
223
224
Part III: Bidding for Fun and Profit
Part IV
Taking Advantage
of Advanced
Bidding Techniques
Y
In this part . . .
ou can’t let the opponents push you around in the
bidding. You’ve got to get in their hair and make their
lives miserable. In this part, I introduce you to defensive
bidding techniques, including overcalling, jump overcalling, and the takeout double. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
In addition, I introduce you to slam bidding, a really exciting part of the game. You and your partner bid all the way
to the six or seven level, contracting for 12 or 13 tricks! Of
course, you have to take that number of tricks to get the
huge bonuses that await you. I show you how to do it.
Buckle up.
Chapter 14
Creating Interference:
Defensive Bidding
In This Chapter
䊳 Interfering in your opponents’ auction with overcalls
䊳 Determining how to respond to your partner’s overcall
J
ust because an opponent opens the bidding doesn’t mean that you and
your partner lose the use of your vocal cords. You may be able to interfere with a bid (or bids) to make it that much harder for your opponents to
reach a good contract.
Indeed, your side may have more strength than your opponents, and you or
your partner may wind up playing the hand. However, even if your opponents
do play the hand, your interference bid(s) may cause them to reach a lousy
contract. They may not be able to locate their best fit, and do they ever hate
that! Equally important, your opponents may reach their best contract, but
you may have tipped off your partner to the winning opening lead.
In this chapter, you discover how to use defensive bidding to your advantage.
In short, you see how to become a difficult opponent. And you see what your
opponents’ bids mean if they do the same to you; after all, turnabout is fair
play.
Getting Nasty with the Bad Guys:
Overcalling
No matter how much you like your opponents, don’t resist the temptation to
mess up their bidding. It’s a jungle out there. Here’s your short list of ways to
really annoy your opponents after they open the bidding:
228
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
⻬ Bidding a different suit, called an overcall. If you bid a suit at the one
level, you make a one-level overcall.
⻬ Bidding a suit at the two-level, surprise, a two-level overcall.
⻬ Jumping the bidding (skipping a level) in another suit is a weak jump
overcall.
⻬ Bidding 1NT is a one notrump overcall.
You can start harassing the opposition as soon as they open the bidding. At
least consider overcalling every time the opponents open the bidding. To
overcall, you need a strong five- or six-card suit. If you have that strong suit,
high card points (HCP) become less important.
In this book, you sit at the South position (see Chapter 1 for more about positions in bridge). Overcalls apply whether the player who opened the bidding
is on your right (you are second to bid) or on your left (you are fourth to bid).
The following sections show you how to get the most mileage out of your
overcalls. When bidding defensively after your opponents have opened, you
want to achieve maximum irritation at minimum risk, while still hoping to bid
constructively when you have a good hand. An ambitious target, but you can
manage it.
Making a one-level overcall
When your opponents open the bidding, a one-level overcall has an annoyance factor. To bid a suit at the one level after an opponent has opened the
bidding, you need
⻬ 10 to 16 HCP
⻬ A five- or six-card suit headed by two of the top four honors, any three of
the five honors (the 10 counts as an honor card too), or the A109, K109,
Q109, or J109
In other words, you need a decent-looking five-card suit, not one that looks
like something the cat dragged home.
Pretend that East to your right opens the bidding with 1⽧:
East
South (You)
1⽧
?
West
North (Your Partner)
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding
You know that you want to interfere with East’s bid, if at all possible; after all,
you want to help your partner find a good lead, bug your opponents, and
maybe play the hand, don’t you? In Figure 14-1, you see four different hands
that you may hold when trying to decide whether to overcall East’s opening
bid of 1⽧.
♠A 4 ♥K Q 10 8 7 ♦8 7 ♣J 8 7 6
1
Figure 14-1:
You need
at least 10
HCP and a
respectable
looking fivecard suit
to make a
one-level
overcall.
(10 HCP)
♠A Q 9 4 3 ♥3 ♦9 8 ♣K J 10 8 7
2
(10 HCP)
♠A K J 9 7 ♥9 4 2 ♦K J 3 ♣K 4
3
(15 HCP)
♠A K 8 7 ♥5 4 ♦K 9 8 4 ♣10 8 7
4
(10 HCP)
The first three hands in Figure 14-1 all fit the mold for an overcall: 1⽦ in the
first instance, 1⽥ in the second and third examples.
The second hand in Figure 14-1 has two five-card suits. Whether you are the
opener, responder, or overcaller, you always bid the higher ranking of two
five-card suits first.
Notice that the third hand in Figure 14-1 has opening bid strength, which is
very common (see Chapter 10 for more about opening bids). With a range of
10 to 16 HCP, many overcalls show opening bid strength. Just because you
have an opening bid doesn’t mean that another player will not open before
you get the chance to open. After all, a deck has 40 HCP!
The fourth hand in Figure 14-1 is the black sheep of the family. This hand
doesn’t have a five-card suit. No overcalls with four-card suits; you have to
pass with this hand.
You make your one-level overcalls in Figure 14-1 in the second seat. The
opponent on your right opened the bidding, and you were second to bid. You
can also make overcalls in the fourth seat, when you are the last person at
the table to bid.
229
230
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
For example, if you had either the second or third example hands shown in
Figure 14-1 and the bidding had gone like this:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽧
Pass
1⽦
?
You would still overcall 1⽥ in the fourth seat.
Making a two-level overcall
Your opponents’ bidding or the rank of your long suit may make it impossible
for you to name that suit at the one level. For example, the opponent on your
right may open 1⽦ and you have diamonds, a lower-ranking suit, as your
long suit. To mention your diamonds, you have to bid 2⽧. In other words,
you have to make a two-level overcall.
A two-level overcall takes away some space from the opponents, but it ups
your side’s risk — you are at the two level, not the one level, after all. You
need a pretty good hand to up the ante with a two-level overcall. Specifically,
you need the following:
⻬ A hand that would have opened the bidding if you had had the chance
⻬ More often than not, a six-card suit headed by two honor cards or the
A109, K109, Q109, or J109, along with 11 HCP
⻬ If your overcall is based on a five-card suit, a suit topped by three or
more honor cards, along with 12 HCP
It really helps to have strong intermediate cards in your suit (eights, nines,
and tens) when you make a two-level overcall. You’re sticking your neck out a
bit when you make the bid — that’s the time to have some stuffing in your
suit that the intermediate cards provide.
A world of difference exists between these two sequences: AQ743 and AQ1096.
With the latter sequence, you can make a two-level overcall; the weak intermediate cards in the first sequence increase the risk that you may get doubled
(see Chapter 15 for more on doubling).
To get a better look at some two-level overcalls, take a peek at the hands in
Figure 14-2. For each of these hands, East, to your right, opens 1⽦. It’s your
turn.
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding
♠6 5 ♥4 ♦A K J 7 6 4 ♣K 9 5 4
1
(11 HCP)
♠A J 8 7 ♥K Q 9 4 3 ♦K 3 ♣5 4
2
Figure 14-2:
Beware of
attempting
the feared
two-level
overcall
with no
safety net.
(13 HCP)
♠9 5 4 ♥K 5 4 ♦A Q 8 4 3 ♣K 3
3
(12 HCP)
♠K 4 ♥Q J 3 ♦K 8 6 5 3 2 ♣Q 9
4
(11 HCP)
In the first hand in Figure 14-2, you can overcall 2⽧; you have opening bid
strength plus a strong six-card suit — just what the doctor ordered.
In the second hand in Figure 14-2, you can’t overcall, for the following reasons:
⻬ No overcalls with four-card suits (you were looking at that spade suit,
weren’t you, and not the long hearts?). You can’t — and don’t want to —
bid the opponent’s suit. Why bid hearts knowing that the opponent to
your right has five or more of them?
⻬ The opponents open in your longest suit.
When the opponents bid your longest suit, the trap pass offers your best
strategy. The trap pass allows you to hide in the bushes, waiting to pounce
later if your opponents have an accident and finish up in hearts. At that
point, you can lower the boom on them with a penalty double (which I cover
in Chapter 15); but wait until they have climbed a bit higher before you bring
down the ax!
With the third hand in Figure 14-2, you also have to pass. Your hand is strong
enough and your suit is long enough, but, alas, your five-card suit isn’t strong
enough because you don’t have three honors. Where’s the meat?
Sadly, on the fourth hand in Figure 14-2, you must also pass. Your hand is
strong enough and your suit is long enough, but, again, your suit isn’t strong
enough. You also have an aceless wonder, another downer.
231
232
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Making a weak jump overcall
A weak jump overcall, or preemptive jump overcall, is not a simple overcall,
such as a bid of 1⽦ over your opponent’s opening bid of 1⽧. A weak jump
overcall skips one entire level of bidding and goes straight to 2⽦, 2⽥, or 3⽤
over an opponent’s 1⽧ opening bid. (Bidding 2⽤ over the opponent’s 1⽧ is
a simple overcall, not a jump overcall because you bid clubs at the lowest
legal level. A jump overcall would be to bid 3⽤.)
Despite its name, this bid actually has a lot of offensive power. A weak jump
overcall forces your opponents to enter the bidding at a higher level than
they may want to. A weak jump’s main aim is to screw up the opponents’ bidding, and you can make one at your first opportunity, regardless of whether
the opening bid comes on your right or on your left.
A jump overcall implies that you have a limited number of HCP. Jump overcalls make it that much harder for the opponents to find a fit because you
steal bidding space and foul up their constructive bidding. Weak jump overcalls are extremely effective defensive weapons; as usual, the combination of
maximum irritation with minimum risk is your goal. Another way to think of a
weak jump overcall is to think of an opening weak two bid. They are almost
identical. See Chapter 10 for details on weak two bids.
If your hands meet the following conditions, the time is ripe for making a
weak jump overcall:
⻬ 6 to 9 HCP
⻬ A six-card suit headed by two of the top four honors, three of the top
five honors, or the A109, K109, or Q109
If you have more than 9 HCP, make a simple overcall by bidding your suit at
the lowest possible level, without jumping.
In the following sections, I show you how to make jump overcalls at the two,
three, and four levels.
Making a two-level weak jump overall
To see a weak jump overcall in the making, take a peek at Figure 14-3.
Figure 14-3:
A weak
jump
overcall is
about to be
in full effect.
♠K Q J 8 7 6 ♥6 ♦Q 5 4 ♣9 8 7
(8 HCP)
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding
With this hand, you would have opened 2⽥, a weak two bid if you had been
allowed to get your blow in first.
However, an opponent may open the bidding with some suit at the one level
before you can bid 2⽥. No matter. Jump to 2⽥, bidding one level higher than
necessary. With 10 or more HCP, simply overcall 1⽥.
A weak jump overcall takes away bidding space from your opponents. When
you have a strong six card suit with a weak hand in HCP, think “weak jump
overcall” and then do it!
Check out the hands in Figure 14-4 to get more of a handle on making weak
jump overcalls.
♠K Q 9 8 4 3 ♥A J 4 ♦Q 5 4 ♣3
1
(12 HCP)
♠4 ♥A K J 9 7 6 ♦8 7 ♣9 4 3 2
2
Figure 14-4:
Count your
HCP
carefully
before
making a
weak jump
overcall.
(8 HCP)
♠A 9 7 6 5 3 ♥K 2 ♦K 9 ♣6 5 4
3
(10 HCP)
♠A K Q 10 8 7 ♥6 5 4 ♦4 ♣K Q 4
4
(14 HCP)
Assume that the opponent on your right (East) opens the bidding with 1⽧;
you are South and, thus, next to speak.
⻬ In the first hand in Figure 14-4, overcall 1⽥; you’re too strong to make a
weak jump overcall.
⻬ In the second hand, everything is perfect for a weak jump overcall, so go
for it and bid 2⽦.
⻬ In the third hand, you have too many points and your suit is too weak
for a weak jump overcall; overcall 1⽥.
⻬ In the fourth hand, overcall 1⽥; again, you’re too strong to make a weak
jump overcall.
233
234
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Making a three-level weak jump overcall
A weak jump overcall at the three level is the equivalent of an opening three
bid. Again, your defensive bid robs your opponents of a huge amount of bidding space — generally good tactics.
To make a three-level weak jump overcall, you need the following bullets in
your gun:
⻬ 6 to 9 HCP
⻬ A seven-card suit headed by the ace or any two of the top four honor
cards
Show your opponents no mercy when you have a seven-card suit. Make them
suffer. When you make a three-level weak jump overcall, their wheels are
likely to come off. You’ll see.
The cards in Figure 14-5 show you some hands in which you need to decide
whether you can make a weak jump overcall at the three level.
♠A J 10 8 6 5 2 ♥4 ♦5 4 ♣Q 10 5
(7 HCP)
1
♠4 ♥A 5 4 ♦4 3 ♣K J 10 8 6 3 2
(8 HCP)
2
Figure 14-5:
Make a
three-level
weak jump
overcall
whenever
you can.
♠A K J 5 4 3 2 ♥4 ♦A 8 7 ♣8 7
(12 HCP)
3
♠5 ♥A K 4 ♦K 2 ♣K Q 10 7 6 3 2
(15 HCP)
4
For the hands in Figure 14-5, assume that the bidding has proceeded as follows:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽧
Pass
1⽦
?
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding
In the first hand in Figure 14-5, all the conditions are right to make a threelevel overcall — bid 3⽥. In the second hand, you can make a three-level overcall with 3⽤ — stick it to them! In the third hand, you can overcall, but only
with 1⽥; you can’t make a weak jump overcall with every seven-card suit.
You may be too strong! You intend to bid again the next time it is your turn. In
the fourth hand, overcall 2⽤. You are too strong to make a weak jump overcall. You plan to bid again with this hand.
Making a four-level jump overcall
If you hold an eight-card suit in the range of 6 to 12 HCP, make a jump overcall
straight to the four level. For example, if you are fortunate enough to have the
hand shown in Figure 14-6, bid 4⽦ the first time you get a chance to bid.
Figure 14-6:
Thank your
lucky stars
and go for
an overcall
at the four
level with
this hand.
♠3 ♥A Q J 9 7 6 3 2 ♦3 ♣Q 10 4
(9 HCP)
What happens next? You have just jumped to game in the teeth of an opponent’s opening bid, and you may find nothing from your partner. Will someone fall off a chair? Will you be doubled and find a heap of garbage coming
down in the dummy? Or will the contract roll home with an overtrick or two?
Who can say? That’s the beauty of a preempt. No one knows how it will work
out, but if you make the bid on the right sort of hands, you should come out
on top.
Making a 1NT overcall
When the opponents open the bidding, you may choose to bid a suit, of
course. But you can also overcall 1NT. The overcall of 1NT is similar, almost
identical, to the opening bid of 1NT (see Chapter 10 for more details). The
1NT overcall shows 15 to 18 HCP, a balanced hand, plus strength in the suit
that has been opened. So you need a pretty good hand to make the bid.
The hand in Figure 14-7 shows a typical example of a 1NT overcall.
235
236
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Figure 14-7:
You need a
balanced
hand and 15
to 18 HCP to
overcall
1NT.
♠A J 4 ♥K Q 5 ♦Q 10 8 7 ♣A 10 3
(16 HCP)
In Figure 14-7, you have 16 HCP and a balanced hand pattern of 4-3-3-3. No
matter which suit the opponent on your right opens, overcall 1NT.
Respecting a two-over-one response
from your opponents
When your opponents respond two over one (a two-level response in a
new suit) showing 11 or more HCP, be very careful about making a two-level
overcall.
When the responder bids two over one, the opponents usually have 24 or more
HCP between them. That leaves the good guys with 16 HCP, max. Face it — you
are outgunned. To enter the bidding after a two-over-one response, you need a
powerful six-card suit, with most of your high cards in that suit. Your overall
strength is less important. Basically, you make the bid to indicate a good opening lead because it is unlikely that your side will play the hand.
Say that you’re faced with the following bidding sequence:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽥
Pass
2⽧
?
What would you do if you had the cards shown in Figure 14-8?
With the first hand in Figure 14-8, pass with the speed of summer lightning.
Yes, I see your 14 HCP, but I also see a mangy five-card suit instead of a powerful six-card suit. Also, with this hand, you would be lucky to find your partner with a stray jack or queen because the opponents apparently have at
least 24 points between them. You can’t take many tricks facing a whole heap
of nothing.
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding
Figure 14-8:
Jump
back — you
have to
respect a
powerful
two-overone
response.
♠A 5 4 ♥A Q 6 5 4 ♦K 5 4 ♣J 4
1
(14 HCP)
♠5 4 ♥A K J 10 8 7 ♦4 ♣J 7 4 3
2
(9 HCP)
Often your opponents’ bidding tells you how strong your partner’s hand is!
When both opponents bid, add their supposed high card strength to yours
and subtract the total from 40, which tells you how strong your partner is. Be
prepared to be depressed.
In the second hand in Figure 14-8, bid 2⽦. Look at that suit. That is what twolevel overcalls are all about — strong suits. Not a strong hand, only 9 HCP,
but a great suit; all those high hearts, it warms the heart.
If your two-level overcalls aren’t all that strong in high cards, nobody will call
the cops. However, if the suit that you bid isn’t a six-card suit dripping with
honor cards, even 911 won’t be able to save you.
Listen Carefully: Responding
to Your Partner’s Overcall
After an opponent opens the bidding and your partner overcalls, you know
that your partner has a five- or six-card suit — more often than not, a fivecard suit at the one level and a six-card suit at the two level. The strength of
your hand plus the number of cards you hold in your partner’s suit dictates
your response. In the following sections, I explain how to respond to a variety
of overcalls from your partner.
Responding to a one-level
major suit overcall
If your partner overcalls 1⽦ or 1⽥, you know that she has at least five cards
in her suit. If you have three or more cards in your partner’s suit, you have
found the Holy Grail. In the following sections, I show you how to respond
237
238
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
when you find yourself in this situation; I also explain how to proceed when
you have fewer than three cards in your partner’s suit and when you have a
balanced hand.
Having three or more cards in your partner’s suit
If you have three cards in your partner’s overcalled suit, you have located an
eight-card fit. This is no time for secrets; raise your partner’s suit! This advice
applies whatever the level of overcall you’re responding to — in fact, the
higher the level of the overcall, the faster you should raise!
You can respond to your partner’s one-level overcall according to the following scale:
⻬ 7 to 10 support points (SP): Raise to the two level
⻬ 11 to 14 SP: Raise to the three level
⻬ 15 or more SP: Jump to game
After you locate an eight-card fit, you get to add SP for shortness in the side
suits (the nontrump suit). Add 1 point for every doubleton (two-card suit), 2
points for a singleton (one-card suit), and 3 points for a void (no cards in the
suit). If you have four-card support, add 1 point for each doubleton, 3 points
for a singleton, and 5 points for a void. The identical scale you use when supporting an opening bid. See Chapter 11 for more about SP.
Say that the bidding goes like this:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽧
1⽦
Pass
?
The cards in Figure 14-9 give you a chance to respond to this one-level overcall with a variety of hands.
In the first hand, raise to 2⽦. You have eight support points, giving yourself
one extra for the doubleton club. Do not bid 1⽥. You already have an eightcard major suit fit; be content.
When your partner overcalls in a major suit and you bid another suit, you
deny three or more cards in your partner’s major suit.
In the second hand in Figure 14-9, jump to 3⽦. Your hand has sprouted to
13 SP, adding three points for that singleton diamond because you have fourcard support. The rest is up to your partner — he can pass or bid game,
depending on what he has.
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding
♠A J 8 7 2 ♥Q 8 4 ♦10 8 7 ♣9 6
1
(8 SP)
♠A J 10 4 ♥K Q 7 6 ♦4 ♣9 8 4 3
Figure 14-9:
Consider
your SP as
you decide
what to say
after your
partner
makes an
overcall.
2
(13 SP)
♠6 4 ♥Q J 4 ♦A K 9 8 ♣A 10 8 7
3
(15 SP)
♠A 5 4 ♥J 3 2 ♦J 5 4 3 ♣8 3 2
4
(6 SP)
In the third hand, jump all the way to 4⽦. You have 15 SP, facing at least 10 HCP
in your partner’s hand, putting you in the game zone (your partner has a minimum of 10 HCP for the overcall). The player who knows what to do should take
the pressure off his partner.
On the fourth hand, you have to pass. You have only 6 SP, not to mention that
your hand is of the hated “flat as a pancake” variety, with the dreaded 4-3-3-3
shape. The disadvantage of this shape is that your partner can’t trump anything in your hand because you have no short side suit. Don’t punish your
partner by raising to the two level with this piece of unmitigated junk.
Having fewer than three cards in your partner’s suit
When your partner overcalls and you have fewer than three cards in his suit,
you can’t support your partner. However, if you have enough points to bid,
you may feel like introducing a decent five- or preferably six-card suit of your
own. A five-card suit should be topped by at least two of the top four honors
plus intermediates. Experienced players know how important intermediate
cards are in long suits. All you need is
⻬ Eight or more HCP
⻬ A respectable five-card suit (you know what that means)
If you have 8 to 12 HCP, bid your suit at the lowest level possible; with 13 to
16 HCP, jump the bidding in your suit. A jump response (bidding your suit at
one level higher than you need to) to a one-level overcall is a highly invitational bid; your partner can pass only with a minimum hand.
239
240
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Take a look at the following bidding sequence, where you find yourself
responding to your partner’s 1⽦ overcall:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽧
1⽦
Pass
?
See what you would do to respond in each of the hands shown in Figure 14-10.
⻬ In the first hand, bid a peaceful 1⽥. Your partner will know that you
have five decent spades, fewer than three hearts, plus 8 to 12 HCP. Your
partner can pass your 1⽥ bid if she wants.
⻬ On the second hand, jump to 2⽥. A jump response to your partner’s
one-level overcall typically shows a strong six-card suit with 13 to 16
HCP. Just what you have! Your bid is highly invitational, meaning that
your partner can pass only with a really minimum hand and no spade
support.
⻬ On the third hand, bid 2⽤. Bidding a new suit at the two level strongly
hints at a six-card suit, again showing a moderate hand of 8 to 12 HCP. It
is nonforcing (your partner can pass); your partner can bid with extra
values for his overcall or for any other good reason.
⻬ On the fourth hand, jump to 3⽤, an invitational bid. You want to show
your partner that you have the values for an opening bid, plus a strong
six-card suit. You just did.
♠A K Q 6 5 ♥4 ♦6 5 4 ♣10 8 7 5
1
(9 HCP)
♠A K J 6 5 4 ♥4 ♦5 4 3 ♣A Q 5
2
Figure 14-10:
You have
fewer than
three cards
in your
partner’s
overcalled
suit.
(14 HCP)
♠6 4 3 ♥5 4 ♦A 4 ♣K Q 10 8 7 4
3
(9 HCP)
♠A 5 4 ♥4 3 ♦6 2 ♣A K Q J 7 6
4
(14 HCP)
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding
Branching off into notrump
When your partner overcalls at the one level, your hand may lack three-card
support or a long suit, which suggests a balanced hand. If you have honor
strength in the opponent’s suit, you can branch off into notrump by using the
following scale (another scale!):
⻬ 9 to 12 HCP: Bid 1NT
⻬ 13 to 15 HCP: Bid 2NT
⻬ 16 or more HCP: Bid 3NT
When evaluating your hand, subtract 1 point if you have a singleton in your
partner’s overcalled suit. On the other hand, you can add a point to your
hand if you have the ace, king, or queen in your partner’s suit.
Check your notrump responses to the one-level overcall, shown in Figure 14-11.
Assume that the bidding progresses as follows:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽦
1⽥
Pass
?
♠5 4 ♥A Q 8 7 ♦K J 5 4 ♣10 9 3
1
(10 HCP)
♠J 4 ♥K Q 5 ♦A K 8 7 ♣10 9 4 3
Figure 14-11:
Decide
carefully
whether to
respond to
an overcall
in notrump
and how
high.
2
(13 HCP)
♠K ♥A J 6 2 ♦K Q 8 7 ♣Q 10 8 7
3
(15 HCP + 1 = 16 revalued points)
♠4 ♥A 9 3 2 ♦Q 5 4 3 ♣J 6 3 2
4
(7 HCP – 1 = 6 revalued points)
In the first hand in Figure 14-11, bid a quiet 1NT. You have the points and
strength in the opponent’s suit, hearts.
241
242
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Any notrump bid after the opponents have bid promises strength in their
suit(s). You do not promise strength in the unbid suits (notice your clubs).
On the second hand, you can cough up a 2NT response, showing 13 to 15
HCP. The bid is invitational. Your partner can pass if the hands don’t add up
to 25 HCP.
On the third hand, don’t fool around; bid a direct 3NT. Your partner should
have at least 10 HCP, bringing the total to 26 points (the magic number for
bidding game). Did you remember to give yourself an extra point for the ⽥K?
With the fourth hand in Figure 14-11, get out while the getting is good. Pass.
You do not have enough to bid. Did you remember to subtract 1 point for the
small singleton in your partner’s suit? Just nod.
The best rule in all of bridge is this: When you don’t have enough to bid,
pass. Amen.
Responding to a two-level overcall
Two-level overcalls show the strength of an opening bid, typically with six-card
suits. If your partner makes an overcall of 2⽤ or 2⽧, and you have strength in
the opponent’s suit, think about the possibility of playing in notrump. If you
have a decent holding in the opponent’s suit and a balanced hand, respond in
notrump according to the following scale:
⻬ 10 to 12 HCP: Bid 2NT
⻬ 13 to 16 HCP: Bid 3NT
Of course, you have other options; you may have a strong five- or six-card
heart or spade (major) suit that you want to show, or you may raise your
partner’s suit to the three level if you have 7 to 10 SP plus three-card support.
The cards in Figure 14-12 give you a chance to test your sea legs when
responding to a two-level overcall. For each of the hands in the figure,
assume that the bidding has gone like this:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽥
2⽧
Pass
?
Chapter 14: Creating Interference: Defensive Bidding
In the first hand, trot out 2NT; you have high cards in spades to control the
opponent’s suit, your ⽧K is worth an extra point bringing you up to 12
points, a maximum for your 2NT bid (10 HCP but 12 revalued points). In the
second hand, try 2⽦, a strong five-card suit. Maybe your partner has heart
support. In the third hand, leap to 3NT. Clubs are for peasants. When you
have a choice of bidding notrump or bidding a minor suit (clubs or diamonds), notrump prevails. In the fourth hand, raise to 3⽧, a typical raise
with 9 SP (one extra for the doubleton spade).
♠A J 4 ♥8 4 3 ♦K J 7 ♣Q 10 7
1
(11 HCP)
♠5 4 ♥A K J 9 3 ♦Q 8 ♣8 4 3 2
Figure 14-12:
Responding
in notrump
is an option
to a twolevel
overcall
from your
partner.
2
(10 HCP)
♠K 9 8 ♥A J 4 ♦4 3 ♣K Q 8 7 6
3
(15 HCP)
♠7 6 ♥A 9 8 4 ♦J 10 8 ♣K 9 4 3
4
(9 SP)
Responding to a weak jump overcall
When responding to any preemptive opening bid or overcall, you’re better
off adding your tricks to your partner’s tricks rather than your HCP to your
partner’s HCP. When your partner makes a jump overcall at the two level, he
promises to take five or six tricks; at the three level, he promises six or seven
tricks. So if you have a modicum of support plus a hand that looks like the
two hands may add up to ten tricks (assuming your partner has bid a major
suit), go for it. Invite your partner by raising to the three level, or bid game
(4⽦ or 4⽥) if you can see a likely ten tricks.
How do you count tricks? Well, an ace is one trick, an ace and a king in the
same suit is two tricks, a singleton with trump support is two tricks, and —
hang on to your seat belt — a king is worth a half a trick! Why? If you want to
take a trick with a king, you lead from weakness to strength and play the king.
243
244
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Half the time it takes a trick, half the time it doesn’t! An ace-queen combination is worth a trick and a half! You lead low to the queen and if the queen
wins, you take two tricks; if it loses, you take one trick. Anyway, adding tricks
to tricks is the idea. If this doesn’t make sense to you, raise your partner to
game with 16 or more HCP.
Responding to a 1NT overcall
“System is on” — that is, you respond to a 1NT overcall exactly as you do to a
1NT opening bid, which I discuss in Chapter 11. In other words, you can still
use the Stayman and Jacoby transfer responses.
Chapter 15
Double Trouble: Doubling
and Redoubling
In This Chapter
䊳 Doubling your pleasure
䊳 Choosing to redouble
䊳 Making a takeout double
䊳 Trying a negative double
T
he title of this chapter, “Double Trouble,” may give you a little hint of
what to expect. Double can have several possible meanings, and when
you say, “Double,” your partner is going have to sort it out!
Not to worry, I’ll help you. For openers, penalty doubles tell your partner to
please shut up and pass — the opponents have bid too much. And let’s not
forget “redouble.” If you sock it to them with a penalty double, they may stick
it right back to you by redoubling. This says, “Brother, you’ve just made a
huge mistake doubling me, and I’m upping the ante to four times what the
normal score would have been — one way or the other.” Excitement!
On the other hand, takeout and negative doubles ask your partner to please
open his mouth and bid! Keep the faith; I know you can handle all this!
Putting Your Money Where Your
Mouth Is: The Penalty Double
Knowing when to make a penalty double, a bid that tells your partner and the
world that the opponents have overreached themselves, is truly the hallmark
of a winning player. You’re most apt to lash the opponents with a penalty
double after they’ve bid to a game contract or higher. In the following sections, I explain the basics of penalty doubles and show you when to double.
246
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Understanding the basics
of penalty doubles
Nobody bids perfectly. Accidents happen, and signals get crossed. Here’s a
short list of some of the ways that their (and your) bidding can go awry:
⻬ Hope springs eternal: Some players see every hand through rosecolored glasses. Consequently, they overbid frequently. They wind up
in stratospheric contracts that they can’t possibly make.
⻬ Misunderstandings: Each partner interprets a bid differently, sometimes
very differently. Don’t be surprised if at some point in an auction your
partner thinks that you have a great hand when you’ve been trying to
get the message across that your hand couldn’t take a trick even if your
opponents got up and left the table. Trouble looms.
⻬ Sacrifice bidding: The opponents may decide that their hands just stink.
They may prefer to lose points taking the contract away from you (even
though they know that they can’t make what they bid) instead of letting
you bid and make your contract. Because this can be a good defensive
move (or a disastrous one), you have to know how to take advantage
when it comes up. See Chapter 14 for more on defensive bidding.
When one of the above scenarios takes place, either you or your partner
must be on the ready to wield your most potent and dreaded weapon: the
penalty double.
A penalty double tells your partner (and your opponents) that you think that
your opponents have made a big mistake and that they can’t make their contract. Penalty doubles usually take place toward the end or at the end of a
bidding sequence (after you’ve given them enough rope to hang themselves).
After you say “double” (just that one word), your partner usually passes. Of
course, you can double them again if they extract themselves (running) from
the frying pan by escaping to another contract.
If you double the opponents and they don’t make their contract, you get at
least twice as many points as you would have received if you had not doubled. Of course, if they make a doubled contract, they rack up twice the
points they would normally get for making the contract. (See Chapter 20
for more information about the points you score for making a contract.)
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling
Knowing when to double
The penalty double offers a formidable weapon that keeps your opponents
from stepping all over you. If they know that you won’t ever double them,
they will take all kinds of liberties in the bidding.
However, you must use the penalty double wisely. You seldom just double
“on spec.” You need to know the proper times to unleash this lethal weapon,
as I show you in the following sections.
Doubling when your opponents overbid to a sky-high contract
Go ahead and double when you know that the opponents have just gotten
beyond their depth. For example, suppose that you pick up the hand shown
in Figure 15-1.
Figure 15-1:
Doubling
can turn a
sorry hand
into mucho
points.
♠A K ♥10 8 7 6 ♦6 5 4 ♣8 4 3 2
(7 HCP)
This hand is not very promising because you don’t have high card points
(HCP). However, the opponents bid back and forth, and lo and behold, they
wind up in a contract of 6⽥! The opponents have to take 12 tricks. You look
at your hand and see that you have two sure spade tricks (see Chapter 2 to
find out how to count sure tricks). Unless your opponents have a few cards
up their sleeve, and then some, they can’t possibly take 12 tricks because
your ⽥A and ⽥K will take two tricks leaving them 11 at most.
Double! They can’t make 6⽥. You have just made a penalty double telling
your partner that good things are about to happen, so please pass.
Passing when you have five or more cards in the suit bid to your right
Like everything else, you can get carried away with too much success. You
double a few contracts, you defeat (or “set”) the contracts, and suddenly you
think that you created the game of bridge. Be careful. Don’t double unless
you have the proper hand. The worst possible moment to double a contract
for penalties is when your partner expects a completely different hand type
than the one you have. Does that sound absurd? A prime example appears in
Figure 15-2.
247
248
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Figure 15-2:
When you
have five
or more
cards in
your
opponents’
suit,
proceed
with
caution.
♠5 ♥A K Q 9 8 ♦A Q 8 7 ♣10 8 7
(15 HCP)
You hear the following as the bidding progresses:
East
South (You)
1⽦
?
West
North (Your Partner)
The person to your right has actually opened 1⽦, your longest and strongest
suit. In addition, you have 15 HCP. How can you show your partner all of
these hearts? You can’t . . . just yet. Pass! If you double 1⽦, it’s not a penalty
double; it’s a takeout double showing short hearts with support for the other
suits, plus at least 11 HCP (see “Taking a Chance on a Takeout Double,” later
in this chapter, for details). Your partner, relying on you for spades, will bid
spades for all eternity — until the opponents double you!
When the person to your right opens the bidding and you have five or more
cards in that suit, just pass! You may be able to make a penalty double later;
you can’t double right now because a first-round double is a takeout double
showing shortness in the suit they have bid, plus support for the other suits.
You’re asking your partner to bid!
For example, you have the cards shown in Figure 15-3.
Figure 15-3:
Beware of
doubling at
your first
chance.
♠A 4 3 2 ♥4 3 ♦5 4 ♣A K J 10 8
(12 HCP)
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling
The bidding for this hand is humming right along:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽥
Pass
2⽤
?
Are you going to teach them a lesson by doubling? You are? Better watch out.
Again, you’re doubling at your first opportunity (your partner passing);
you’re making a takeout double showing the other two suits. Your partner
thinks that you have diamonds and hearts, and you actually have clubs and
spades. If you double now, I don’t know you.
Talking Back: Redoubling
Some opponents don’t like to be doubled. For some, doubling has the same
effect as waving a red flag at a bull. Your opponents may think that your
assessment is wrong. They may think that they can make their contract,
double or no double.
Your opponents have an equally impressive way of telling you that they think
that you have made a colossal mistake by making a penalty double (the nerve
of you). One of your opponents can redouble. If three passes follow the redouble, the deal is sealed — the side that made the last bid is playing a redoubled contract.
If the redoubled contract is defeated, the doubling side scores four times
their normal score; if the contract is made, the redoubling side gets at least
four times their normal score. (See Chapter 20 for details on scoring.) As a
result, redoubled contracts tend to be played very slowly.
The following bidding sequence shows a redouble in action:
South (You)
West
North (Your Partner)
East
1⽥
2⽦
4⽥
5⽦
Double
Redouble
Pass
Pass
Pass
Oh, boy! The final contract is 5⽦, redoubled. To get to this point, each
player’s bid has broadcast some pretty clear messages.
249
250
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
⻬ When you doubled, you said, “I don’t think you guys can make 5⽦.”
⻬ West’s redouble said, “Oh, yeah? Well, I think that we can, and you are
going to pay big time for your double!”
⻬ Your partner then passed, which told West, “I trust my partner. Go
ahead. We want to see you make 5⽦.”
⻬ East is content, in effect saying, “I trust my partner.”
⻬ Your final pass said, “Okay, bring it on — let’s see who has made the last
mistake.”
With so many points at stake, blood flow has been known to increase. Keep
your cool in one of these redoubled contracts and try to think clearly.
Of course, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander; if the opponents
double you in your contract and you think that they are way off base, you can
redouble them.
In addition to the rare redouble that follows a penalty double, bridge features
a far more common use of the redouble. It occurs after your partner opens
the bidding, the next hand makes a takeout double (see “Taking a Chance on
a Takeout Double,” later in this chapter, for details), and you have 11 HCP or
more. This usually spells big trouble for your opponents. An example of this
form of redouble appears in Figure 15-4.
Figure 15-4:
You have
the power to
redouble a
takeout
double.
♠A J 5 4 ♥4 ♦K Q 9 4 ♣Q 9 4 3
(12 HCP)
The bidding for this hand may go something like this:
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽦
Double
Redouble
West
What exactly does this bidding sequence say so far?
⻬ North’s bid says, “I have 12 or more HCP with at least five hearts.”
⻬ East chimes in with a takeout double, saying, “I also have 11 or more
HCP, plus support for the other suits.”
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling
⻬ You counter with a redouble, saying, “Partner, don’t worry about their
takeout double. I have 11 or more HCP and we have the opponents outgunned point-wise. They could be in heaps of trouble if they don’t have
an eight-card fit. After all, they have to bid something, or let you play 1⽦
redoubled, which you should make easily. You have hearts, and I have
everything else. They may not have a home. Maybe we can lash them
with a penalty double when they try to squirm out of this.”
A start like this usually winds up with a happy ending for the opener’s side.
Taking a Chance on a Takeout Double
What in the world do you do when the opponents open the bidding, you have
a singleton or a doubleton in their suit, enough points to join in the action,
but no long suit to overcall? You have an out. Open your mouth and say one
word: “Double!”
You may think that you double only when you don’t think that the opponents
can make their contract (see “Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: The
Penalty Double,” earlier in this chapter). However, far more often you use
that one word double to show your partner that you have 11 or more HCP,
along with three- or four-card support for each of the unbid suits. This
double, called a takeout double, is often made directly after your right-hand
opponent opens the bidding. The takeout double is by far the most flexible
weapon in your entire armory of defensive bids. (I cover defensive bidding,
including overcalls, in Chapter 14.)
A takeout double asks your partner to bid his longest unbid suit if the next
hand passes. Any suit that your partner bids will be just fine with you because
you have promised support for each of the unbid suits. Basically, a takeout
double avoids guessing which of your two or three four-card suits to bid. By
doubling, you are, in effect, bidding all your suits at once!
In the following sections, I show you a variety of instances in which you may
want to make a takeout double during the bidding process.
Knowing when to make a takeout double
How do you know when to make a takeout double? Consider making a takeout double when your hand looks like this:
⻬ 11 or more HCP — no upper limit; you can have 20 HCP
⻬ Shortness (void, singleton, or doubleton) in the suit that your opponent
has bid
251
252
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
⻬ Three or four cards in each of the unbid suits
⻬ Distribution usually of 4-4-3-2 or 4-4-4-1, but it can also be 5-4-3-1 or
5-4-4-0; the opponents opening the bidding in your short suit
Making a takeout double
after an opening bid
Figure 15-5 gives you a look at the most common takeout double sequence of
all, the double of an opening bid.
Figure 15-5:
You can
make a
takeout
double after
an opening
bid.
♠A J 5 4 ♥5 ♦A Q 6 5 ♣Q 10 6 5
(13 HCP)
The bidding starts like this:
East
South (You)
1⽦
Double
Figure 15-5 shows the ideal distribution for a takeout double: a singleton in
the opponent’s suit, an opening bid of your own, plus four-card support for
each of the unbid suits. In fact, this is such an ideal distribution that you can
make a takeout double with as few as 11 HCP. About 90 percent of the time,
a takeout double shows 12 or more HCP. Now, assuming that the next hand
(West) passes, your partner must bid, regardless of strength, and you find
your fit; it works like a charm.
Making a takeout double
after each opponent bids
Takeout doubles can also be made after each opponent bids a different suit.
You would consider making a takeout double if you want to show length in
the two unbid suits. Figure 15-6 gives you a look at such a takeout double.
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling
Figure 15-6:
Double in
this hand to
show both
unbid suits.
♠A 4 3 ♥K Q 5 4 ♦5 4 ♣A Q 9 8
(15 HCP)
The bidding has progressed as follows:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽧
Pass
1⽥
Double
This time your double says that you have opening bid strength with at least
four-card support for each of the two unbid suits, clubs and hearts. It’s as if
you bid both suits at once! If your partner has four or more clubs, or four or
more hearts, he has an easy response, knowing of an assured eight-card fit.
Making a takeout double after you pass
If you pass originally, you can’t have an opening bid, but you can still make a
takeout double. If you make a takeout double after you pass, you show 10 to
11 HCP, with shortness in the opponent’s suit(s). Figure 15-7 shows you a
hand in which you can make a takeout double after you pass.
Figure 15-7:
You can
pass and
then come
to life with a
takeout
double.
♠A J 4 3 ♥K Q 4 3 ♦10 9 4 3 2
(10 HCP)
The bidding for this hand takes this interesting turn:
South (You)
West
North (Your Partner)
East
Pass
Pass
Pass
1⽤
Double
253
254
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Perfect! You have support for any suit that your partner cares to bid. Even
though you passed originally, this hand has big trick-taking potential for any
suit that your partner bids. Your hand will make a great dummy.
Notice you wouldn’t make a takeout double in Figure 15-7 if your opponent
had opened the bidding in another suit because you wouldn’t have support
for the other three suits. Takeout doubles work best when your opponent
opens the bidding in your short suit.
Passing after your partner’s
takeout double
When your partner makes a takeout double and the next hand passes, you
have to bid, right? Not if you have five cards in the opponent’s suit topped by
four honors, or six cards in the opponent’s suit topped by three honors. Just
pass and let the opener suffer dealing with your basketful of powerful trumps.
Figure 15-8 shows you an example of how to stick it to your opponents.
Figure 15-8:
Pass after
your
partner’s
takeout
double
when you
have a lot
of strength
in your
opponents’
suit.
♠Q J 10 9 7 4 ♥A 5 ♦J 3 ♣10 8 7
(8 HCP)
The bidding has progressed as follows:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽥
Double
Pass
Pass
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling
How do you tell a double from a double?
With two kinds of doubles, takeout and penalty,
how can your partner know which double you
mean? It would be nice if you could say, “This is
a penalty double, partner! Don’t bid!” Or, “This
is a takeout double, partner — bid something!”
In lieu of such illegal communication, use the
following guidelines to help you tell a penalty
double from a takeout double:
⻬ If you double any opening suit bid lower
than 4⽥, it’s a takeout double.
⻬ If you double at your first opportunity, and
your partner hasn’t bid yet, it’s a takeout
double.
⻬ If you pass originally and then double at
your first opportunity, and your partner
hasn’t bid yet (“pass” is not considered a
bid), it’s a takeout double.
⻬ If you double after the opponents have
agreed on a suit at the two level or three
level, it’s a takeout double.
⻬ If you double a game or slam contract, it’s a
penalty double.
⻬ If you double the opponents’ 1NT opening
bid, it’s a penalty double.
⻬ If you double after your partner has bid any
number of notrump, it’s a penalty double.
⻬ If you open the bidding, next hand doubles
(takeout) and your partner redoubles showing 11 or more points, any subsequent
double by either you or your partner is a
penalty double.
Remember not to say “Double!” louder when
you’re making a penalty double, no matter how
enthusiastic you are about the possibility of
making your opponents pay through the nose.
Changes in your voice are considered illegal.
Shouting “Double!” isn’t the ethical way to tell
your partner what your double means. One guy
once got so excited that he stood up on his chair
to scream, “Double!” What kind of a double do
you think that was?
If West passes, how much fun do you think that West will have dealing with
your spades when spades are trump and your partner has a strong hand?
Answer: Not much.
Responding to a takeout double after
your right-hand opponent passes
When your partner makes a takeout double and the next player passes, your
partner expects you to respond even though you may, and often will, have a
very weak hand. Whatever you do, don’t pass (unless you have five or six
cards in the opener’s suit headed by multiple honor cards; see the previous
section.) You can’t be too weak to respond to a takeout double.
255
256
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Because you almost always must answer a takeout double if the next hand
passes, how will your partner know whether you are broke (and just coughed
up a response because you were afraid your partner would ax you if you
didn’t) or whether you really have a few goodies?
When your partner makes a takeout double and the next hand passes, use
the following scale of responses when you plan to bid a suit:
⻬ With 0 to 8 HCP: Bid your longest unbid suit. Your partner assumes 4 to
5 HCP when you make a minimum response to a takeout double, but you
could have 0 HCP!
⻬ With 9 to 11 HCP: Jump the bidding one level in your longest unbid suit.
This lets your partner know that you aren’t broke.
⻬ With 12 or more HCP: You may be so thrilled to have an opening bid of
your own facing a takeout double that you almost have to control yourself from cheering out loud. If you have a five- or six-card major, one
option is to leap straight to game; however, you have another option.
Are you ready for this? You bid the opponents’ suit! You read right. When
you bid the opponents’ suit, called a cue bid, you tell your partner that
you have a whale of a hand and that you are sure that a game — maybe
even a slam — is hiding in the hand someplace. Your cue bid asks your
partner to further describe her hand. It also buys time to arrive at the
best contract. When you make your first cue bid, you know that you have
arrived.
Figure 15-9 gives you a chance to practice your responses to a takeout
double.
♠Q 5 4 3 2 ♥J 10 5 4 ♦4 ♣10 5 4
Figure 15-9:
You can
honor your
partner’s
takeout
double in
one of
several
ways.
(3 HCP)
1
♠6 5 4 3 ♥A K 6 5 ♦K 4 3 ♣5 4
(10 HCP)
2
♠5 4 2 ♥A Q ♦K 4 3 2 ♣A 10 8 7
(13 HCP)
3
The bidding has gone as follows:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽥
Double
Pass
?
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling
On the first hand, respond 2⽦. Just do it! Your spades are not nearly strong
enough to pass the double. On the second hand, jump to 3⽦ to show 9 to 11
HCP. On the third hand, respond 2⽥, a cue bid, showing 12 or more HCP. This
tells your partner that the sky’s the limit and to start looking for an eight-card
trump fit.
Responding to a takeout double when you
have strength in the opener’s suit
You may have strength in the opponents’ suit, but not enough length or
strength to pass after your partner’s takeout double. When this happens, try
responding 1NT, 2NT, or 3NT. You don’t have to worry about having strength
in the other suits; your partner has promised strength in those suits with her
takeout double.
When you have strength in the opponent’s suit, respond in notrump to your
partner’s takeout double according to this scale:
⻬ With 6 to 9 HCP: Respond 1NT.
⻬ With 10 to 12 HCP: Respond 2NT.
⻬ With 13 to 16 HCP: Respond 3NT.
Figure 15-10 shows you how to handle responding hands to a takeout double
when you have strength in the opponents’ suit.
♠A J 4 ♥Q 10 7 3 ♦5 4 ♣10 5 4 3
(7 HCP)
1
Figure 15-10:
You have
strength
in your
opponents’
suit, so try
responding
in notrump.
♠6 3 ♥A K J 2 ♦Q J 4 2 ♣9 4 3
(11 HCP)
2
♠J 5 ♥A Q 8 ♦5 4 3 ♣A Q 8 7 4
(13 HCP)
3
Pretend that the bidding has gone as follows:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽦
Double
Pass
?
257
258
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
With the first hand, respond 1NT, which is more descriptive than 2⽤. With
the second hand, respond 2NT, which is better than responding 3⽧. (You
have to jump the bidding in your suit when you have between 9 and 11 HCP.)
With the third hand, leap to 3NT, in preference to showing your clubs. Minors
are for peasants when notrump is an option. It takes only 9 tricks to make
game in notrump, but it takes 11 tricks to make game in either clubs or diamonds. Who doesn’t like shortcuts?
Responding to a takeout double after
your right-hand opponent bids
When your partner makes a takeout double and the next hand bids, you’re off
the hook. You no longer have to bid; your partner has another chance to bid,
and if she has a strong hand, she will make further noises.
Nevertheless, if you have 5 or more HCP outside of the opponents’ suits, plus
a four- or five-card unbid suit, by all means let your voice be heard. In other
words, bid your suit at the one or two level! Figure 15-11 shows you that the
game is all about courage.
Figure 15-11:
Make your
voice heard
when your
opponent
bids after
your
partner’s
takeout
double.
♠K J 5 4 ♥6 5 4 3 ♦4 3 2 ♣Q 6
(6 HCP)
1
♠5 4 3 ♥8 6 4 3 ♦2 ♣K Q 10 8 7
(5 HCP)
2
♠8 4 3 ♥J 8 7 4 ♦J 8 3 2 ♣9 4
(2 HCP)
3
The bidding has gone as follows:
West
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽧
Double
1⽦
?
In the first hand, you have enough to bid 1⽥. In the second hand, you have
enough (barely) to bid 2⽤. In the third hand, pass and thank East for taking
you off the hook.
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling
Communicating Length:
The Negative Double
As if you don’t have enough double trouble already, I want to introduce you
to yet another form of takeout double, called the negative double. And what
exactly is a negative double? I thought you’d never ask.
The responder can make a negative double (but you just say the one word
“double”) only after his partner opens the bidding and an intervening overcall takes place. The main purpose of the negative double is to tell the opener
of four- or five-card length in the unbid major(s) when, for one reason or
another, you can’t just bid the major.
In the following sections, I show you when to make and avoid negative doubles. See Chapter 14 for full details on overcalls.
Making a negative double when you have
hearts and the opponents have spades
When your partner opens the bidding and second hand overcalls 1⽥, you
may have enough to respond, and you may have four or five hearts. Why not
just bid 2⽦? Because a 2⽦ response shows at least five hearts with 11 or
more HCP. You may have five hearts with fewer than 11 HCP or you may have
four hearts. In neither case can you bid 2⽦. Enter the negative double. This
double of 1⽥ tells your partner that you either have four hearts with 8 or
more HCP (an unlimited bid) or five hearts with specifically 7 to 10 HCP, a limited bid. The subsequent bidding will clarify which type of hand you have.
Assume that the bidding sequence has gone as follows:
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽤ or 1⽧
1⽥
?
West
Consider the responding hands in Figure 15-12. Hearts is your longest suit
(you have five in each hand), and keep in mind that a 2⽦ response promises
five hearts with 11 or more HCP.
259
260
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Figure 15-12:
You may not
need to
make a
negative
double
when you
hold five
hearts.
♠8 5 3 ♥A K J 7 4 ♦K 3 2 ♣4 3
1
(11 HCP)
♠8 5 3 ♥K Q 8 7 4 ♦K 3 2 ♣4 3
2
(8 HCP)
The first hand in Figure 15-12 fills the bill: five hearts and 11 HCP. Respond
2⽦. The second hand has five hearts but only 8 HCP. It’s not strong enough
to respond 2⽦, but it is strong enough to make a negative double, which
shows 7 to 10 HCP.
In Figure 15-13, it’s time to deal with responding hands that have four hearts,
the more common length. For openers, you can’t respond 2⽦ with four hearts,
no matter how strong you are, so forget that. However, you can make a negative double with 8 or more HCP.
Figure 15-13:
Holding four
hearts
instead of
five is more
common
when you
make a
negative
double.
♠8 5 3 ♥A K J 4 ♦10 8 7 ♣10 4 3
1
(8 HCP)
♠8 5 3 ♥A K J 4 ♦10 8 7 ♣A Q 3
2
(14 HCP)
Both hands in Figure 15-13 have four hearts with 8 or more HCP. Double with
both hands. But how will your partner know that you have 8 HCP in one hand
and 14 HCP in the other? She won’t — until you make your next bid. When you
make a negative double with 11 or more HCP, you come out of the bushes on
your next bid perhaps by raising your partner’s suit or bidding some number
of notrump. In the meantime, your partner, the opener, rebids as if you had
responded 1⽦.
Chapter 15: Double Trouble: Doubling and Redoubling
Avoiding negative doubles when you hold
five or six cards in the opponents’ suit
Negative doubles show support for the unbid major(s), deny three or more
card support for your partner’s major suit opening, and deny five or six cards
in the suit that’s been overcalled to your right. But sometimes, it’s necessary
to play the waiting game and pass.
See Figure 15-14 for a hand in which you don’t want to make a negative
double. As in the previous section, assume that the bidding sequence has
gone as follows:
Figure 15-14:
Don’t make
a negative
double
when you
hold the
opponents’
suit — in
spades!
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽤ or 1⽧
1⽥
?
West
♠A Q 10 8 4 3 ♥5 4 ♦Q 4 3 ♣J 6
(9 HCP)
East has overcalled 1⽥, your six-card suit! Is he kidding me? Your gut reaction may be to say “Double” and teach this guy a lesson he won’t soon forget.
The trouble is, your double is not a penalty double showing spades — it’s a
negative double showing hearts!
If you double, you’ll learn a lesson that you won’t soon forget! Your partner
will think that you have four or five hearts and won’t dream that you have five
or six spades! So what should you do when you have five or six great cards in
their suit? Make the best bid in bridge: Pass! Many good things can happen if
you pass; one shudders to think of what can happen if you double now.
A negative double of a 1⽥ overcall forces the opener to bid a suit at the two
level, and 8 or more HCP are needed by the responder. However, if the overcall is 1⽦, a negative double by the responder shows exactly four spades;
bidding 1⽥ shows five or more spades. Both bids can be made with 6 or
more HCP.
261
262
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Making a negative double after
a weak jump overcall
In case you think the opponents are always friendly enough to overcall at the
one level, think again. Opponents are forever making weak jump overcall bids
to screw you up. And what is your defense? Usually a negative double. And
what does a negative double mean at the three or four level? It means that
you have a good hand, 10 or more HCP, without a really long suit to bid. It
says to your partner, “They are trying to screw us big time, and I’m not about
to let it happen!”
The hand in Figure 15-15 shows a classic case of using a negative double after
a weak jump overcall.
Figure 15-15:
Combat a
weak jump
overcall
with a
negative
double.
♠A 8 7 3 ♥4 3 ♦K 5 4 ♣A 7 6 4
(11 HCP)
For the hand in Figure 15-15, assume that the bidding has proceeded:
North (Your Partner)
East
South (You)
1⽧
3⽦
?
West
You can’t let your opponents steal the bid when you have two aces and a king
and your partner has opened the bidding. Besides, you don’t have a long suit
to bid. The answer is to make a negative double telling your partner that you
have 10 or more HCP, usually a hand without a long suit and let your partner
decide what to do. Who knows? Your partner may have four spades to match
up with your four spades, or may be able to bid 3NT holding the ace or king
of hearts, and so on. Every so often your partner may pass a negative double
and the three or four level with length and strength in the opponent’s suit,
converting your lovely negative double into a penalty double!
Chapter 16
Hitting Hard: Slam Bidding
In This Chapter
䊳 Understanding different types of slams
䊳 Slam bidding at a notrump contract
䊳 Bidding trump slams
䊳 Asking for aces and kings with the Blackwood Convention
O
nce in a while, you and your partner have so much strength between
your two hands that you can try for a small slam, which means bidding
all the way to the six level. You may even be so bold as to try for a grand
slam, going all the way to the seven level. In this chapter, I show you what
you need to know to climb to such heights.
Getting to Know Your Slams
“What is a slam?” you may justifiably ask. “First Kantar has me trying to get
to game, and now he wants me to bid even higher?” Calm yourself; a slam
comes in two varieties, small and grand.
⻬ A small slam involves bidding and taking 12 of the 13 tricks, and, therefore, involves bidding to a six-level contract.
⻬ A grand slam requires you to successfully contract for all 13 tricks, a
seven-level contract. Grand slams are exciting . . . and scary.
Ninety-five percent of all the slam contracts you bid will be small slams (sixlevel contracts). Bidding a grand slam means going for all 13 tricks, so you
really need to have a lot of confidence that you and your partner have the
World’s Fair between you before you attempt one.
When you bid a small slam, you have a little breathing room. You can afford
to lose one trick. Besides, it’s such a downer to bid a grand slam and take
12 tricks — you score nothing and the opponents score points! Had you bid
for 12 tricks, you would have scored in the neighborhood of 1,000 points.
(See Chapter 20 for more information on scoring.)
264
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Slam bidding falls into two groups: notrump slams and trump (or suit) slams.
I give you a look at both types in this chapter.
Bidding Notrump Slams
Typically, the two main ingredients to bid all the way up to 6NT are
⻬ A balanced hand facing a balanced hand
⻬ 33 high card points (HCP) between the two hands
In the following sections, I give you examples of when to bid notrump slams
immediately and when to wait for more information.
Moving quickly when you have
the information you need
Wouldn’t you like to see a hand in which you have the power to make a small
slam at notrump? Look no further than Figure 16-1.
Responder
♠Q 8 7
♥A K 3
♦K Q 5 4
♣K J 4
(18 HCP)
N
W
E
S
Figure 16-1:
You can Opener
take these ♠A K 4 3
cards all ♥Q 6 5
the way
♦A J 4
to a slam.
♣Q 8 7
(16 HCP)
With your eyes on a small slam, the bidding goes as follows:
Opener
Responder
1NT
6NT
Chapter 16: Hitting Hard: Slam Bidding
The responder can’t always get such a quick fix on her partner’s values, but
in this case, the responder sees enough points between the two hands to go
for the gold at an early juncture. The responder has 18 HCP. The responder
knows that the opener has 15 to 17 HCP plus a balanced hand because she
opened with 1NT. (See Chapter 10 for more about this and other opening
bids.) Therefore, the two hands add up to at least 33 HCP.
Five- and six-card suits headed by honor cards (such as the ace, king, queen,
and jack) increase in value facing a balanced hand. See Chapter 11 for more
on responding to 1NT with long, strong suits. Translation: You don’t need 33
HCP to bid 6NT when one or both hands have long, strong, suits, but it helps!
An old bridge-playing sage once said, “The one who knows, goes.” As soon
as you have gathered enough information from the bidding to know that you
have at least 33 HCP between the two hands, and both hands are reasonably
balanced, don’t waste any time bidding 6NT. Just do it. Practice saying “6NT”
in front of a mirror if you think you’ll freak out by jumping all the way from
the one level to the six level.
Bidding 6NT after the responder
shows limited HCP
After you bid 6NT, you don’t have to worry about further bidding; you are
the captain because your partner made the first limit bid, 1NT. You make the
final decision and your partner obeys. (See Chapter 13 for more about the
captaincy.)
Sometimes the opener becomes the captain because the responder limits her
hand first. Take the cards in Figure 16-2 as an example, where you are the
opener and your partner’s response shows a limited number of HCP.
The bidding for this hand should go all the way to a slam, as in the following
sequence:
Opener (You)
Responder
1⽥
2NT
6NT
Pass
First things first. The opener is the captain because the responder has made
a limit bid, 2NT, showing 13 to 15 HCP. Second, the opener, knowing her partner has a balanced hand, adds 2 extra points for her strong five-card spade
suit headed by three honors. (This happens to be the same revaluation scale
responder uses when responding to a 1NT opening bid with a strong five-card
suit. See Chapter 11 for more about responding to a 1NT opening bid.)
265
266
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
Responder
♠Q 3
♥K 10 3 2
♦A 10 8
♣A 7 5 4
(13 HCP)
N
E
Figure 16-2: W
The opener
S
adds up the
points Opener
between the ♠A K J 6 5
two hands ♥A J 4
and goes for
♦K 5
a slam.
♣K 6 5
(19 HCP)
The opener’s hand is now worth 21 points. With a count of 21 facing a minimum of 13 HCP, the magic 33 HCP exists and the opener bids 6NT.
Inviting a slam with a 4NT bid
Sometimes the captain (who can be either the opener or the responder) can’t
be sure of 33 HCP between the two hands. Instead of guessing, the captain
invites a slam by bidding 4NT, as she would with the hand in Figure 16-3.
Responder
♠A K 9 3
♥A Q 5 2
♦A Q 10
♣3 2
(19 HCP)
N
W
E
S
Figure 16-3: Opener
Feel out the ♠Q 6 5
possibility of ♥K 10 4
a slam by
♦9 5 4
bidding 4NT.
♣A K 10 4
(12 HCP)
Chapter 16: Hitting Hard: Slam Bidding
The responder invites a slam in the following bidding sequence:
Opener
Responder
1⽤
1⽦
1NT
4NT
Pass
The opener has a balanced hand with 12 HCP but scrapes the bottom of the
barrel and comes up with a 1⽤ opening bid. The responder, with 19 HCP, has
visions of a slam — but first looks for an eight-card fit.
If your side has an eight-card fit (or longer), you no longer need 33 HCP
between the two hands to make a slam. You can often make a slam with 2
or 3 HCP less.
The 1⽦ response in Figure 16-3, the lower ranking of two four-card suits,
gives the opener a chance to raise hearts or rebid 1⽥, bringing either fit to
light. (The 1⽦ response is unlimited; it shows 6 or more HCP, so the opener
must bid again. Must!)
The opener’s 1NT rebid shows 12 to 14 HCP plus a balanced hand. The 1NT
rebid denies holding four hearts and is unlikely to hold four spades. Now
the responder knows that no eight-card major suit fit is hiding in this hand.
Nevertheless, with 19 HCP, a slam may be in the works if the partner has a
maximum of 14 points, or even 13 with a strong five-card suit. The responder
invites a slam by bidding 4NT. The opener has no trouble whatsoever declining this invitation by passing.
When your previous bid is 1NT, 2NT, or 3NT, an immediate raise to 4NT is
invitational and asks you to bid 6NT with a maximum, but to pass with a minimum. Every notrump bid you make has a range, frequently a three-point
range. For example, a 1NT opening shows a range of 15 to 17 HCP. If your
partner bids 4NT, an invitational raise, check to see whether you’re at the top
or at the bottom of your range and bid accordingly.
When your partner invites you to a slam by raising to 4NT after you open
with 1NT or 2NT, revalue your hand, taking into account that strong five-card
suits should be upgraded. Make a rebid according to the following scale:
⻬ With 15 revalued points: Pass.
⻬ With 17 revalued points: Bid 6NT.
⻬ With 16 revalued points: Pass with any 4-3-3-3 pattern (the pits), but bid
with any other pattern. You might even hedge by bidding 5NT, throwing
the ball back in your partner’s court. You are telling your partner you
267
268
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
have enough to go on (16), but not enough to bid 6NT. You’re asking him
to make the final decision to either pass or bid 6NT. Partners just love it
when you throw the ball back into their court after they just threw it
into yours!
Bidding Slams at a Trump Contract
When you bid a slam at notrump, you do it with power. You overwhelm your
opponents with aces, kings, queens, and jacks. When you bid a slam at a trump
contract, whether it is a small slam or a grand slam, you do it with a little
finesse. You don’t need quite so many HCP. What works best is when there is a
good trump fit and each player has a different short suit. Unbalanced hands
take more tricks at a trump contract than balanced hands.
Here’s a list of what you need to bid a slam at a trump contract:
⻬ A strong combined trump suit: If you have any doubts about bidding a
slam, particularly because of a mangy trump suit, sack the whole idea
and play the hand in game.
⻬ 33 or more revalued points between the two hands: Both hands revalue
after an eight-card fit or longer has been located. Don’t even think about
bidding a slam unless you have a good trump fit and the two hands total
at least 33 points after revaluation.
⻬ At least three of the four aces between you: Any one ace can be missing, but it’s definitely not healthy to bid a slam missing two aces!
⻬ No two immediate losers in any one suit: You don’t want your opponents rattling off the ace and king of the same suit, defeating your slam
before you even get started! (See Chapter 5 for details on recognizing
immediate losers.)
Say that your partnership gets the hands in Figure 16-4. I know that you can’t
see your partner’s hands while you’re actually bidding — I just want you to
see the building blocks that go into making a slam at a suit contract.
Go over the checklist and see if you have the power you need between the
two hands to make 6⽥:
⻬ Strong combined trump suit? Yes, in spades.
⻬ 33 or more revalued points? Yes, you have 33 points before revaluation.
⻬ At least three aces between the two hands? Yes.
⻬ Two immediate losers in any suit? Yes — and that’s the wrong answer if
you want to bid and make a slam. Look at the hearts in each hand. You
don’t have the ace or king, which means that the bad guys have them
and they may lead that suit.
Chapter 16: Hitting Hard: Slam Bidding
You don’t want to be in a slam contract with these two hands.
In the following sections, I give you pointers on tallying revalued points and
figuring out how many aces and kings you and your partner have.
Responder
♠Q 10 8 7
♥J 5 2
♦3
♣A K Q J 10
(13 HCP)
N
W
E
Figure 16-4:
S
Go through
your Opener
checklist ♠A K J 3 2
before you ♥Q 3
go for a
♦A K Q J 10
slam.
♣2
(20 HCP)
Revaluating hands
When an eight-card or longer trump fit has been uncovered, both hands
revaluate upward, tacking on extra points for side-suit shortness. (See
Chapters 11 and 12 for the scales to use.)
You may start with 25 to 26 HCP between the two hands, but after revaluation, you may cross into the 32 to 33 HCP zone. You may have a slam staring
you in the face — provided that the hand passes the previous checklist test.
So be awake; when you find your fit, start the revaluation. A quiet game hand
can rip off its shirt and, beneath its mild-mannered exterior, be . . . a slam.
After you discover a fit, the wilder the distribution of the two hands, the
better. If both hands are balanced, more losers have to be taken care of and
both hands tack on fewer revalued points.
Solving the ace problem with the
Blackwood Convention
It’s just too embarrassing to bid a slam only to see the opponents taking the
first two tricks with aces. That should not happen. You should have a way,
269
270
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
and you do, to determine how many aces your partner has. Consider the
hands shown in Figure 16-5.
♠A K 8 5 4 3 ♥K Q J 10 2 ♦A ♣4
Opener (You)
(17 HCP)
1
♠Q 10 7 6 ♥7 6 ♦K Q 9 8 ♣K 5 3
Responder (Your Partner)
(11 SP)
2
Figure 16-5:
Find out
how many
aces you
and your
partner
have with
the
Blackwood
Convention.
♠Q 10 7 6 ♥7 6 ♦K 6 5 ♣A 8 7 6
Responder (Your Partner)
(10 SP)
3
♠Q 10 7 6 ♥A 7 ♦10 8 7 6 ♣A 7 5
Responder (Your Partner)
(11 SP)
4
For each of the hands in Figure 16-5, the bidding has gone as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
3⽥ (10 to 12 support points)
You are the opener, and your partner may have each of the three responding
hands. On each hand, your partner makes the same response of 3⽥. Are you
in the slam zone? You know that your partner has four spades and about 10
support points (SP; see Chapter 11 for more details), but what about you?
You have 17 HCP plus two singletons, each worth 3 points. Your hand is
worth a whopping 23 points.
More important, just look at your hand. What tricks can you possibly lose?
Certainly, you have no spade losers with 10 spades between the two hands,
including the ⽥A and ⽥K. Certainly, you have no diamond losers. The only
possible losers you can have are one in hearts and one in clubs.
Chapter 16: Hitting Hard: Slam Bidding
However, if your partner has the ace in either of those suits, you have only
one loser. If your partner has the ace in both of those suits, you have no
losers. If your partner has neither ace, you have two losers. You must find out
how many aces your partner has so you know whether you can make a slam!
It would be nice to say, “Hey, partner, how many aces do you have? That’s all
I need to know.” But unfortunately, the rules forbid such direct questions.
Would you believe it? Bridge offers a very popular bidding convention that
allows you to ask that burning question about missing aces, legally.
A bid of 4NT (as long as the previous bid is not 1NT, 2NT, or 3NT) asks your
partner how many aces she has. This handy little convention is called the
Blackwood Convention, after Easley Blackwood of Indianapolis, Indiana. Way
back in 1933, Blackwood had a hand in which he wanted to know how many
aces his partner had. So he invented a bid of 4NT, called it the Blackwood
Convention, and turned himself into a legend. With this simple bid, he
invented one of the most beloved conventions of all time.
When you play the Blackwood Convention, you use the following responses
to 4NT to tell your partner how many aces you have:
⻬ 5⽤: 0 or all 4 aces
⻬ 5⽧: 1 ace
⻬ 5⽦: 2 aces
⻬ 5⽥: 3 aces
If your response to 4NT is 5⽤ and your partner can’t tell from your previous
bidding and her own hand whether you have zero or all four aces, change
partners — quickly!
The following bidding sequence shows you how the Blackwood Convention
would play out facing the first hand in Figure 16-5:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
3⽥
4NT
5⽤
5⽥
Pass
Blackwood is a great convention for staying out of slams if you are missing
two aces. On this hand, you have to give up on the slam because your partner’s bid of 5⽤ showing 0 aces tells you that you’re missing two aces.
271
272
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
In the second hand in Figure 16-5, the bidding would go like this:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
3⽥
4NT
5⽧
6⽥
Pass
In this hand, your partner’s 5⽧ response shows one ace, so you can bid 6⽥
knowing that you are missing only one ace. Well done!
In the third hand in Figure 16-5, the bidding progresses as follows:
Opener (You)
Responder (Your Partner)
1⽥
3⽥
4NT
5⽦
7NT
Pass
Your partner has two aces and responds 5⽦. Bingo. You bid 7NT because you
don’t have any losers. You can count 13 notrump tricks: six spades, five hearts,
and two minor suit aces. As easy as pie!
A contract of 7NT is actually safer than 7⽥ because every so often the opening lead is trumped by the third hand, leaving the declarer in shock.
Just because you have all the aces doesn’t mean that you can take all the
tricks. You have to be able to count 13 tricks (which may include trumping
your losers in the short hand or setting up the dummy’s long suit; see
Chapters 7 and 8) before you bid a grand slam. Blackwood should carry a
government health warning, really — aces on their own are not enough to
ensure a slam.
Asking for kings
After you ask for aces and you find that you have all four, you may suddenly
be thinking about a grand slam! But first you may need to check on the
number of kings your partner holds. Not to worry, Easley Blackwood has
thought of everything. If the Blackwood bidder follows up a 4NT ace-ask with
5NT, he promises his partner all four aces are held jointly and asks his partner for kings. If you have your eyes on a grand slam, you may also need to
locate any missing kings.
Chapter 16: Hitting Hard: Slam Bidding
Use the following responses to tell your partner about the number of kings
you have, after the king-ask of 5NT:
⻬ 6⽤: 0 or all 4 kings
⻬ 6⽧: 1 king
⻬ 6⽦: 2 kings
⻬ 6⽥: 3 kings
Look at Figure 16-6 to see the Blackwood Convention for kings in action.
Responder
♠K Q 2
♥A 8 7 6
♦A K Q
♣8 7 6
(22 HCP)
N
W
E
S
Figure 16-6:
Cast your Opener
nets for ♠A J 10 9 6 4 3
some kings ♥K 3
(8 HCP)
with a bid
♦
2
of 5NT.
♣8 7 6
The bidding for this hand could proceed as follows:
Opener
Responder (You)
3⽥
4NT
5⽧
5NT
6⽧
7NT
Pass
273
274
Part IV: Taking Advantage of Advanced Bidding Techniques
The responder uses the Blackwood Convention and finds one ace and one
king in the opener’s hand. Armed with this information, the responder (you)
can actually count 13 tricks:
⻬ Spades: Seven tricks (your partner shows a seven-card suit for the 3⽥
opening bid)
⻬ Hearts: One trick — your ⽦A
⻬ Diamonds: Three tricks — your ⽧AKQ
⻬ Clubs: One trick — your ⽤A
⻬ Kings: One trick — your partner has either the ⽦K or the ⽤K
Add ’em up — your total number of tricks comes to 13! When one suit
(spades) produces seven tricks, a slam can be made with fewer HCP than are
needed when both hands are balanced.
Part V
Playing a Strong
Defense and
Keeping Score
A
In this part . . .
fter you play bridge for a while, you discover that
you are playing defense about half the time. Many of
the contracts that the opponents reach can be defeated
by accurate defense (provided that neither you nor your
partner makes a major goof). In this part, I show you how
to take all your defensive tricks so the declarer doesn’t
get away with murder during the play of the hand.
After each hand is over, it’s time to tally up the score. In
this part, I explain how to keep score and show you why
knowing the score as the game progresses is so very
important.
Chapter 17
Defending against Notrump
Contracts
In This Chapter
䊳 Making the best opening lead
䊳 Playing third hand like a pro
D
efensive play is partnership play. Together with your partner, you can
work to keep your opponents from making their contract. As you read
this chapter on defensive play against notrump contracts, you may notice
how similar defensive play is to declarer play. Both sides are trying to take
tricks by using the same techniques.
However, one significant compelling difference distinguishes declarer play from
defensive play. When you play as the declarer, you have full access to your
partnership’s cards — you can see your own hand and your partner’s hand,
the dummy. As the declarer, you can plan your plays. When you play defense,
planning your plays becomes much harder because you can’t see your partner’s hand. Obviously, more intuition and deduction have to go into defense.
In this chapter, I cover opening leads and third hand play in a notrump contract. See Chapter 18 for details about defending against trump contracts.
Making the Opening Lead against
a Notrump Contract
Even a strong defensive player can get lost without a little help from his partner. One way to pass information across the table legally is with the card(s)
you lead. Your opening lead tells your partner quite a lot about what you
have in the suit you are leading. That information, in turn, helps your partner
plan the defense.
278
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
When you defend a notrump contract, your side and your opponent (the
declarer) both try to accomplish the same things:
⻬ You both want to establish tricks in strong suits. With the KQJ10, for
example, you both want to drive out the ace and establish three tricks.
⻬ You both want to take tricks with small cards in long suits by relentlessly playing the suit until your opponents run out of cards in the suit.
After you get rid of their cards, your remaining cards in that suit are winning tricks.
The defense has one big advantage: tempo. By virtue of the opening lead, the
defense gets a vital opportunity to take the lead in the race to establish their
suit. As the poet said, “Thrice blest is he who gets his blow in first.” Starting
with the opening lead, the defense hopes to strike at the declarer’s weak
point. Then the defense goes for the soft underbelly.
In the following sections, I explain the importance of the opening lead and
show you how to use the bidding to help plan your opening lead strategy.
Appreciating the importance
of the opening lead
The defenders make the first lead, called the opening lead. At times, an opening lead is pure guesswork. After all, you can’t see your partner’s hand, and
you may not have a clear-cut lead.
On the other hand, you may be able to work out what to lead from your own
hand; you may have a strong suit of your own to lead, for example. Your partner may have helped you with the opening lead by making a bid — particularly
an overcall to show a strong suit (see Chapter 14 for details on overcalls) — or
you may have an inkling of the best lead by listening to your opponents’ bidding. From their bidding you may be able to work out the suits in which they
are well heeled and in which they may have nothing.
For these reasons, the opening lead gives the defense an overwhelming advantage. Sometimes the declarer can’t overcome the head start that the defense
gets with the opening lead. As a defender, if you can find the declarer’s Achilles’
heel, you may find yourself working wonders and taking tricks from nowhere.
Statistically, the opening lead is far and away the most important single card
the defense plays. You would be a world champion if you made the best opening lead on every hand! You wouldn’t even have any competition for the title.
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts
Listening to the bidding to create
a plan of attack
Before you make your opening lead, you have to listen to the bidding.
Sometimes the bidding provides enough information about the hand to fill a
library, and sometimes the bidding doesn’t provide enough information to
fill the surface of a postage stamp. However, most of the time the bidding furnishes you with some clues to the best opening lead.
During the bidding, the opponents frequently tell you how strong they are
and in which suits they do and don’t have strength. The clearer the picture
you get of both their hands, the more likely you are to find the most lethal
lead. If you watch TV or otherwise zone out during the bidding, don’t expect
to make a killer opening lead.
Just to show you how much you can find out from keeping a keen ear on the
bidding, take a peek at the following bidding sequence. You are now West,
and South is the declarer:
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
South
Pass
Pass
Pass
1NT
Pass
3NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
These cats have told you nothing. No suits have been bid. All you know is
that South has a balanced hand in the 15 to 17 high card points (HCP) range,
and North, a passed hand (who couldn’t open the bidding) has enough to
raise to game, presumably 10 to 11 HCP. However, you do know that North
didn’t bother to use the Stayman Convention (see Chapter 11 for information
on using Stayman when responding to 1NT), so North probably doesn’t have
a four-card major.
Now check out this sequence:
South
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
1⽤
Pass
1⽧
Pass
3⽤
Pass
3⽧
Pass
3NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
279
280
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Again, South is playing a contract of 3NT, but in the process of arriving at this
contract, the opponents showed you two suits, clubs and diamonds. South has
long and strong clubs, and North has the same sort of holding in diamonds.
The declarer will use these two suits to take tricks. You also know a little about
your partner’s hand, albeit through negative inferences; your partner didn’t
have enough points or a good enough suit to come into the bidding even at
the one level at his first turn. Don’t expect the moon from him.
So which suit should you lead? Unless you are a close relative of the declarer,
lead a heart or a spade. Which one? Try the longer suit. If they’re both the
same length, lead the stronger.
Before selecting your opening lead, listen to the bidding, and then decide
which suit to lead and pick the right card in that suit. Nine times out of ten, you
will lead either your fourth highest card or the top of a sequence in your longest
suit. I go into more detail on your lead choices in the following sections.
Don’t expect to make the winning lead on every hand. Nobody does. First of
all, you can’t always trust the opponents’ bidding. And even if you weigh all
the information perfectly, you can still be unlucky — everyone’s favorite
excuse.
Leading from length
Because your goal is to establish tricks, and because tricks come from long
suits, your best shot is usually to lead from your longest suit. The hand in
Figure 17-1 gives you a chance to kick off with your longest suit.
Figure 17-1:
Your best
chance for
establishing
tricks is to
start with
your longest
suit.
♠K J 7 4 2 ♥J 9 8 2 ♦5 4 ♣J 7
(6 HCP)
The bidding for this hand has gone as follows:
South
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
1NT
Pass
3NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts
Because neither opponent has bid a suit, you have no clues to help you sniff
out their weakness. When the opponents haven’t given you any tips on their
favorite suits, try to take tricks by establishing winners in your long suit. You
want to lead from your longest suit, spades. But which spade?
After you choose a suit to lead, you need to determine whether that suit is
headed by three consecutive cards, where the highest of the three must be
an honor. If your suit is headed by the AKQ, KQJ, QJ10, J109, or 1098, you’ve
been blessed with a three-card sequence. When you have such a sequence,
lead the top honor. For example, if you have the ⽦QJ1032, lead the ⽦Q. You
can never have too many sequences!
If your longest suit doesn’t sport any consecutive honor cards, just lead the
fourth highest card in the suit. Start from the highest card in the suit, count
down four places, and throw that fourth highest card face up on the table. In
Figure 17-1, where your longest suit doesn’t have any consecutive honor
cards, you lead the ⽥4, the fourth highest card in your suit. Leading your
fourth highest often tells your partner how many cards you have in the suit,
which can be very helpful.
Say for a moment that you have the cards in Figure 17-1 again and the bidding
has gone as follows:
South
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
1⽥
Pass
2⽤
Pass
2NT
Pass
3NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
You must make the opening lead, and you have plenty of information from
the bidding to help you decide which card to lead. The opponents have bid
spades and clubs. Because you don’t want to lead suits that the opponents
have bid, lead a diamond or a heart, whichever suit is longer. In this case, you
lead the ⽦2, your fourth highest heart.
If your opponents bid both of your long suits, so you have only two or three
cards in the unbid suits, you may try a short-suit lead hoping you lead partner’s strongest suit. If the opponents bid all four suits, you’re on your own!
You may treat the auction as if they had bid none of the suits, and fall back on
old faithful, your longest suit.
281
282
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Leading your partner’s suit
You may not always want to lead your longest suit. For example, you may not
want to lead it if
⻬ An opponent bids your longest suit
⻬ Your partner bids another suit
In the interest of partnership harmony (particularly marital partnership harmony), lead your partner’s suit, especially if your partner has overcalled (see
Chapter 14 for more on overcalls). Overcalls show strong five- or six-card
suits. Your partner uses overcalls to tell you what to lead. Of course, if your
partner bids two suits, you must choose between the suits. If you don’t lead
either of your partner’s suits, the suit you lead had better be pretty strong, or
you’d better be a pretty fast runner.
Say that you have the hand shown in Figure 17-2.
Figure 17-2:
You may
have to lead
a short suit
if your
partner
overcalls it.
♠10 4 ♥Q 7 4 3 2 ♦K 6 5 ♣9 8 7
(5 HCP)
For Figure 17-2, the bidding has gone as follows:
North
East (Your Partner)
South
West (You)
1⽤
1⽥
2NT
Pass
3NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
Had your partner not bid, your lead would be the ⽦3, fourth highest from
your longest suit. However, because your partner overcalled, by all means
lead a spade — but which one?
⻬ Anytime you have two cards in the suit that you want to lead, lead the
higher card, period. In the case of Figure 17-2, lead the ⽥10.
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts
⻬ With three cards headed by one honor card, lead your lowest card. For
example, from A83, lead the 3; from K72, lead the 2; and from Q65, lead
the 5.
⻬ If you have three cards headed by two honors, lead low unless the
honors are of equal value. If the honors are equals, called touching
honors, lead the higher honor. For example, from QJ4, lead the Q
because the two honors are equals. However, from the Q103, lead the 3
because the two honors aren’t equals.
⻬ In bridge, the honor cards are the AKQJ10. The lower cards, meaning all
the other cards in a suit, are called spot cards. If your suit has no honor
card in it but is topped by three or four spot cards, lead the top of the
spot cards. This is called leading top of nothing. That is to say, from the
853 or the 8532, lead the 8. When you have four worthless cards, you
don’t lead the fourth-best card. The lead of a low spot card promises at
least one honor card in the suit.
Use top-of-nothing leads as a last resort. You may decide to lead top of
nothing if it is the only unbid suit, for example.
If your partner bids a suit, you tend to lead that suit. However, if you have a
suit of your own headed by a strong honor sequence, you can overrule your
partner and lead your suit. Just how strong must your sequence be? It depends
on how much you like your suit and how much you trust your partner! (And
also whether you are bigger or can shout louder than your partner, if necessary!) Leading your partner’s suit keeps her happy, but you have to go with
what you think is best and let the chips fall where they may.
If the opponents bid your longest suit, you usually look elsewhere for another
lead. However, if you have a strong honor sequence (AKJ, KQJ, QJ10) in that
suit, lead it anyway.
Leading unbid major suits
versus unbid minor suits
When you lead against a notrump contract and the choice of leads is between
an unbid major suit (hearts or spades) and an unbid minor suit (clubs or diamonds), tend to lead the unbid major. Opponents go out of their way to bid
major suits. If they don’t bid them, they usually don’t have them. On the
other hand, opponents routinely conceal minor suits.
For example, you have the cards shown in Figure 17-3.
283
284
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Figure 17-3:
When
choosing
between an
unbid major
and unbid
minor suit,
stick with
the major.
♠Q 10 7 4 ♥A 6 5 ♦5 4 ♣Q 10 7 4
(8 HCP)
The bidding has gone as follows:
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
South
Pass
Pass
Pass
1NT
Pass
3NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
Should you lead the ⽥4 or the ⽤4? Because your opponents haven’t bid
spades and North didn’t use the Stayman Convention (indicating no four-card
major), the dummy’s length figures to be in the minors. So try the ⽥4 — it’s
your best shot in the dark.
However, if your choice of leads is between an unbid major and an unbid
minor, and you have a sequence of honor cards in the minor suit, lead the
minor.
Playing Third Hand against
a Notrump Contract
Your partner makes an opening lead. The dummy comes down, the declarer
plays a card from the dummy, and suddenly it’s your turn to play, making you
third hand. By the time you have to play, you have heard the bidding, you have
seen your partner’s opening lead, and you have seen the dummy. Now you
need to digest and try to process all this information. Are you still having fun?
Your partner will lead either a low card, typically fourth highest from her
longest suit, or an honor card, top of a sequence. Your play depends on
whether your partner leads a low spot card or an honor card, and what you
see in the dummy.
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts
Your play to the first trick and the next trick, if you win the first one, are the
two most important cards you play during the entire defense. They set the
pattern for the whole hand; if you start off on the right foot, you may deal
the declarer a blow from which he can’t recover. If you mess up . . . but you
won’t, will you? Just stick to the pointers in the following sections; I show you
the proper card to play as third hand and the proper card to return in your
partner’s suit if you take the trick.
In the following sections, I use spades as the example suit in most of the figures. Dig up a deck of cards, remove the spade suit, lay the cards out on the
table, and use those spades to follow the description of the play throughout
the sections. The play relates absolutely equivalently to the play in any suit.
Don’t think that you always have to lead spades, although I know some players who would be better off if they did just that!
When your partner leads a low card
and the dummy has only low cards
When your partner leads a low card and the dummy has only low cards, play
your highest card. Third hand high is an easy term to remember, and playing
third hand high is a great defensive rule.
To understand the idea behind playing third hand high, think about your
partner’s opening lead. You know that your partner has an honor in the suit
because she led a small card. Therefore, you play the third hand high to protect your partner and prevent the declarer from winning a cheap trick.
Figure 17-4 shows you a hand in which you’d better play third hand high.
Figure 17-4:
Play third
hand high
when your West (Your Partner)
A 10 8 6 4
partner and
the dummy
have low
cards.
North (Dummy)
532
N
W
E
S
East (You)
KJ7
South (Declarer)
Q9
Your partner leads the ⽥6, his fourth highest spade; the dummy plays low
and you hold the ⽥KJ7. Which spade should you play? In Figure 17-4, you
play the ⽥K because the ⽥K and ⽥J are not equals. The ⽥K takes the trick.
285
286
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
In Figure 17-4, if you had played the ⽥J on the first trick, an ugly play, the
declarer would have taken the trick with her ⽥Q, a trick to which she isn’t
entitled. You would play the ⽥J only if you were playing against a good friend
or a close relative. If you play the ⽥K and then the ⽥J, the higher of your
two remaining spades, you take the first five spade tricks.
If your partner leads a low card and the dummy has small cards, play third
hand high. If you remain with two cards in the suit, play the higher of the
two cards.
When you have two or three
equal honor cards
When you have equal high cards (such as the KQ, QJ, J10, or 109) in the third
seat, play the lower or the lowest equal. This method of playing the lower or
lowest equal in the third seat is a universal agreement. The whole world does
it this way! By playing the lower or lowest equal, your partner can often tell
what cards you don’t have! For example, if you play the king, you can’t have
the queen. If you play the queen, you can’t have the jack, and so on.
The cards in Figure 17-5 give you a chance to choose between two equal
honor cards in the suit your partner leads.
Figure 17-5:
You want to
play your
lower or
lowest
equal to West (Your Partner)
J972
help your
partner
figure out
what the
declarer
has.
North (Dummy)
53
N
W
E
S
East (You)
KQ6
South (Declarer)
A 10 8 4
Your partner leads the ⽥2, his fourth highest spade, the dummy plays low,
and you expertly play the ⽥Q, the lower of your equal honors (you intend to
play the ⽥K, the higher of your two remaining cards, the next time you get a
chance).
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts
Had you played the ⽥K for the first trick, your partner would be fooled. Your
partner would assume that the declarer has the ⽥Q on the premise that you
would have played the ⽥Q if you had both the ⽥KQ.
When third hand plays by the rules, the opening leader can deduce who
holds certain cards. For example, knowing that third hand will play the lower
of equals allows the opening leader to figure out who has the missing ⽥K in
Figure 17-6.
Figure 17-6:
Playing the
lower equal
in third seat
West (You)
can help
Q 10 8 2
your partner
determine
where the
king is.
North (Dummy)
754
N
W
E
S
East (Your Partner)
A
South (Declarer)
3
You (as West) lead the ⽥2, the dummy plays low, and your partner (as East)
plays the ⽥A. Who has the ⽥K? Well, you don’t have the ⽥K and the dummy
doesn’t have it. The right answer must either be South, or else the ⽥K has
fallen on the floor and no one has it.
Remembering the rules of playing third hand, you know immediately that
South has the ⽥K. If your partner has the ⽥AK, the proper play is the ⽥K,
the lower equal. When she plays the ⽥A, she’s practically shouting that she
doesn’t have the ⽥K. Elementary, my dear Watson.
As an aside, I once showed the cards in Figure 17-6 to a class and asked who
had the ⽥K. Some said South and some said East. One of my students
decided she wasn’t taking any chances, so she answered, “Southeast!”
When you have both a lower and a higher
honor card than the dummy
The dummy doesn’t always have just low cards. Sometimes the dummy
comes down with an honor (or two) in the suit your partner leads, but you
may happen to have a higher and a lower honor than the dummy’s honor. In
the following sections, I show you how to handle this when it comes up.
287
288
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
When holding back your high honor works
Say that your partner leads a low spade, and the dummy tables with an honor
in spades. You, the third hand, have a higher and a lower spade honor card
than the dummy. What to do? It’s simple:
⻬ If the dummy plays low, play your lower honor. When the dummy plays
low, you keep the honor that is higher than the dummy’s honor, to zap it
later. It’s like you’re keeping guard over the dummy’s honor.
⻬ If the honor is played from the dummy, cover with your higher honor.
The cards in Figure 17-7 provide a prime example of when you should hold
back your high honor when the dummy has a lower honor.
Figure 17-7:
Have a
higher
honor
waiting in West (Your Partner)
J 10 6 3
the wings
when the
dummy
plays an
honor.
North (Dummy)
K74
N
W
E
S
East (You)
AQ2
South (Declarer)
985
Your partner leads the ⽥3, her lowest spade (you know that the ⽥3 is her
lowest spade because you are looking smack at the ⽥2) and the dummy
plays low, saving the ⽥K for later. You have an honor that is higher than
the dummy’s honor, the ace, and an honor that is lower, the queen. Play the
lower honor. In this case, you know that the queen will take the trick. But
don’t play the ace next and turn that king into a trick. Save the ace to smack
the king dead the next time the suit is played.
When holding back your high honor doesn’t work
Holding back your higher honor doesn’t always win the trick for you.
Sometimes the declarer has a higher honor than your honor. Take a peek at
Figure 17-8 to see what I mean.
In Figure 17-8, your partner leads the ⽥2, the dummy plays low, and you correctly play the ⽥J. (Big Brother is still watching!) But this time, the declarer
(South) takes the trick with the ⽥K. Don’t despair — despite this momentary
setback, you’ve made a good play.
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts
Figure 17-8:
Sneak
attack:
South West (Your Partner)
steals your
10 9 4 2
thunder with
a higher
honor in
this hand.
North (Dummy)
Q83
N
W
E
S
East (You)
AJ5
South (Declarer)
K76
If you had erred by playing the ⽥A, the declarer would have taken two later
tricks with the ⽥Q in the dummy and the ⽥K. This way, though, the declarer
takes only one trick, the ⽥K. You are hovering over the dummy’s ⽥Q with
your ⽥A, making it impossible for the declarer to take a second trick with the
⽥Q. If you patiently wait for your partner to lead the ⽥10 the next time on
lead, your neat play at trick one will pay dividends. At that point, when the
⽥Q is played from the dummy, you zero in on it with your ⽥A so the
declarer takes only one spade trick, not two.
When your partner leads an honor card
Your partner may lead an honor card, thus suggesting a sequence in the suit.
The lead of an honor card shows a sequence of three equal (consecutive)
honors, or the third card in the sequence can be missing by one link. For
example, the KQJ and the KQ10 are considered sequences; the KQ963 is not
considered a suit headed by a sequence.
In the following sections, I show you how to read your partner’s honor card
lead and how to respond appropriately.
Deducing what sequence your partner has
Your partner can lead five possible honor cards: the ace through the 10. Each
honor card lead suggests a different holding.
After your partner leads an honor, assume that your partner has one of the
following sequences:
⻬ The ace: The lead of an ace, the strongest honor lead, shows a suit
headed by the AKJ or the AKQ.
⻬ The king: The lead of a king shows a suit headed by the KQJ or the KQ10.
⻬ The queen: The lead of a queen shows a suit headed by the QJ10 or
the QJ9.
289
290
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
⻬ The jack: This one is a little tricky. The lead of a jack can show a suit
headed by the J109 or the J108, or a suit headed by the AJ10 or the KJ10.
⻬ The 10: Are you ready for this? The lead of the 10 shows suits headed by
the 1098 and the 1097, as well as suits headed by the A109, the K109, or
the Q109.
When your partner leads an honor card, you may have one of the following
holdings in your partner’s suit:
⻬ An honor equal to the one your partner has led
⻬ A higher unequal honor
⻬ Any doubleton honor (two cards headed by one honor card)
⻬ No honors (bummer)
Your job is to tell your partner which of these holdings you have. And how do
you do that? Keep reading.
Showing an equal honor
If your partner leads an honor card and you have an equal (touching) honor
card, you want to let your partner in on the secret. In Figure 17-9, you want to
tell your partner all about your equal honor. No, you can’t do it by smiling;
that’s illegal.
Figure 17-9:
Tell your
partner
that you’ve
got an West (Your Partner)
Q J 10 9 2
equal honor
with an
encouraging
(high) spot
card.
North (Dummy)
653
N
W
E
S
East (You)
K84
South (Declarer)
A7
Your partner leads the ⽥Q, the dummy plays low, and you come out of your
shell with an encouraging equal honor signal, by playing the highest spot
card you can afford: in this case, the ⽥8. Now your partner assumes that you
have a high honor. If you play the ⽥4, your lowest spade, a discouraging
signal, your partner assumes that you have no honors in spades. See Chapter
18 for more details on when your partner leads an honor card.
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts
Showing a higher unequal honor
When your partner leads a 10 or jack, it may not be the top of a sequence —
your partner may have higher honors in the suit. You must play third hand
high if you have a higher unequal honor and the dummy has low cards, as in
Figure 17-10.
Figure 17-10:
Don’t let
your partner
down — go West (Your Partner)
K J 10 8
up with a
higher
unequal
honor.
North (Dummy)
64
N
W
E
S
East (You)
A93
South (Declarer)
Q765
Your partner leads the ⽥J. Play the ⽥A and then the ⽥9, the higher of your
two remaining spades. South’s ⽥Q is caught in a vise and can’t take a trick.
Play the same when your partner leads the 10 and the dummy has small
cards — play any higher unequal honor that you may have, to protect your
partner’s holding.
Showing a doubleton honor
When you have a doubleton honor, play it! It hurts only for a little while.
Although this may look like an unnecessary sacrifice of a high card, just do it.
Courage.
Figure 17-11 shows you a case in which you need to play high, called overtaking, if your honor is higher than your partner’s.
Figure 17-11:
Clear the
decks;
unblock West (Your Partner)
your
KQJ92
doubleton
honor for
the greater
good.
North (Dummy)
654
N
W
E
S
East (You)
A7
South (Declarer)
10 8 3
291
292
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Your partner leads the ⽥K; you have just two spades, but you do have a doubleton honor. Play your honor; play that ⽥A, even if you have to overtake
your partner’s trick. Just do it! After you win the trick and return a spade,
your partner takes four more spade tricks, or five in all.
If you wimp out and play your seven on the first trick, you win the second
round of spades with the ⽥A. But then what? You have no more spades.
Don’t look at me. You blew it one trick earlier when you didn’t overtake
your partner’s spade lead with your ⽥A. It’s almost too tragic for words.
Overtaking a king with the ace is not as awful as it looks if you consider that
your partner usually has the KQJ or the KQ10 in that suit. You’re actually
doing your partner a favor by overtaking the king — you’re clearing the way
for her to take a bundle of tricks!
This same principle, of playing your high card when you hold any doubleton
honor, applies whatever honor card your partner leads and whatever honor
card you hold.
Showing no honors
When your partner leads an honor and you don’t have any honors, play your
lowest card, a discouraging signal. Your partner will get the picture — you
don’t have an honor in the suit.
When your partner leads an honor and you
have a higher honor than the dummy
Frequently, when your partner makes the opening lead of an honor card, the
dummy also has an honor card, but on a good day, you have a higher honor
than the dummy’s honor. Take the cards in Figure 17-12 as an example.
Figure 17-12:
The dummy
has an West (Your Partner)
honor, but
Q 10 9 8
you have a
higher
honor.
North (Dummy)
J65
N
W
E
S
East (You)
K73
South (Declarer)
A42
Chapter 17: Defending against Notrump Contracts
In Figure 17-12, your partner leads the ⽥10 (top of an interior sequence), the
dummy plays low, and you have a higher honor than the dummy, but no lower
honor. No matter: Your partner is leading an honor, so you need to save your
honor to zap the dummy’s honor later.
Your proper play is the ⽥7, your highest spot card, to say that you have an
honor in your partner’s suit. Let your partner’s honor card do the dirty work
of driving out the declarer’s honor card.
If you play the ⽥7, the declarer takes the trick with the ⽥A, his only trick, and
you and your partner remain with the ⽥K and ⽥Q. If you play the ⽥K at the
first trick, the declarer wins the ⽥A and later can lead a low spade toward his
⽥J. Partner wins the ⽥Q, but declarer gets a second, undeserved trick with
the ⽥J.
When your partner leads an
honor card in your suit
During the bidding, you may have mentioned a suit, and your partner may
lead that suit. If your partner leads an honor card that’s going to take the trick,
give her either an encouraging signal (play a high spot card), if you want the
suit continued, or a discouraging signal (play your lowest spot card), if you
want your partner to lead another suit. Even if your partner’s honor card isn’t
going to take the trick, signal the same so your partner will know whether to
continue the suit or try something else when she regains the lead.
Figure 17-13 allows you to explore your options when your partner leads an
honor in a suit that you mentioned during the bidding.
West (Your Partner)
K6
985
9752
Figure 17-13:
7652
Your partner
leads an
honor in the
suit that
you bid.
North (Dummy)
43
Q64
Q J 10 9
K Q 10 9
East (You)
N
A9872
W
E
A K J 10
83
S
43
South (Declarer)
Q J 10 5
732
AK6
AJ8
293
294
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
The bidding for this hand has gone as follows:
East (You)
South
West (Your Partner)
North
1⽥
1NT
Pass
3NT
Pass
Pass
Pass
Your partner dutifully leads the ⽥K, and now you can make either an encouraging or a discouraging signal. Do you want a spade continuation, or do you
want another suit played even more? Better take a good look at your hand
and then make a quarter turn to the right with your neck (always a good
idea) to look at the dummy.
See the ⽦AKJ10 in your hand and the ⽦Q in the dummy? If somehow your
partner can be persuaded to lead a heart, your side can take four heart tricks,
not to mention the two tricks from the ⽥AK. Play the ⽥2 to tell your partner to
lead something else. How will your partner know that “something else” means
to lead a heart? (Remember, you can’t beat on your chest or stare at the hearts
in the dummy to help your partner!)
Your partner, being very observant, notices that your ⽥2 is a discouraging
signal and that you are asking for another suit. But which other suit? Your
partner makes a quarter turn of his neck to the left (another good idea) and
looks at the dummy, trying to figure out what you have in mind.
Your partner sees strong clubs and strong diamonds in the dummy; if you
don’t want spades, and the clubs and diamonds in the dummy are strong, it
must be logical that you want hearts. If your partner “reads” your signal and
plays a heart, you can proceed to take enough heart and spade tricks to defeat
your opponents’ contract by two tricks. If your partner plays anything else,
the declarer makes the 3NT contract by establishing a ninth trick in spades.
As the player who makes the lead, pay attention to your partner’s signal.
Even though your partner has bid a suit and you lead a winning card in that
suit, your partner will tell you whether to continue the suit or whether to
switch to something else.
Chapter 18
Defending against
Trump Contracts
In This Chapter
䊳 Making the all-important good opening lead
䊳 Playing third hand properly
A
fter your opponents arrive at a trump (or suit) contract, you need to
swing into defense. You may need to make the opening lead, or you may
need to play third hand (your partner leads, dummy plays a card, and there
you are in third seat). Both positions, which I cover in this chapter, offer you
the chance to stop your opponents’ contract dead in its tracks. (Head to
Chapter 17 for defensive tips against a notrump contract.)
Opening Leads against a Trump Contract
When you defend a notrump contract, you tend to lead from your long suit,
trying to establish small cards in that suit. This strategy doesn’t always work
against a trump contract. If either the declarer or the dummy is short in that
suit, your good trick will be trumped. Bummer. To retaliate, at times you can
return the favor and trump the declarer’s or the dummy’s winning tricks if
you or your partner are void in the suit that’s led.
Because you have the advantage of the opening lead, you can map out your
defensive strategy depending on the bidding and your hand. In the following
sections, I spell out your options for opening leads when defending against a
trump contract. The opening lead is critical, so let’s not blow it!
296
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
When you have a sequence
of three honor cards
Sequences of honor cards (three adjacent honors or the third card in the
sequence missing by one place) make such strong leads that you must have a
good reason not to lead one if you are lucky enough to have one. The stronger
the sequence, the better. Suits headed by the AKQ, AKJ, KQJ, KQ10, QJ10, QJ9,
J109, or J108 are particularly attractive.
When you’re blessed with such a sequence, you lead the top (or highest)
card from the sequence.
When you have two touching honor cards
Almost as good as three touching honors at the head of your suit are suits
headed by two touching honors. Suits that have two touching honors, such
as the AK632, KQ6, QJ82, or J1053, also warrant leading the top card.
Versus trump contracts, you can lead the top of two touching honors,
whereas at a notrump contract, you need three touching honors (or the third
card missing by one place) to lead the top card.
To see the power of leading the top card in a suit headed by two touching
honors, look at Figure 18-1.
Figure 18-1:
Make the
opening
lead of the
top card
with
touching
honors.
♠A K 6 5 ♥4 3 ♦Q 6 5 4 ♣10 7 6
The bidding for this hand has gone as follows:
South
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
1⽦
Pass
3⽦
Pass
Pass
Pass
Chapter 18: Defending against Trump Contracts
You must make the opening lead, and you know that the dummy has heart
support for South and a moderate hand; South has a minimum opening bid
because he passed an invitational bid from North. What should you lead?
Ah, look no further than that ⽥A. The lead of the ace from the ⽥AK is one of
the strongest of all opening leads, for three reasons:
⻬ You take the trick (South and North are 99.99 percent sure to have at
least one spade each).
⻬ You can study the dummy while retaining the lead to plan what to do next.
⻬ You see your partner’s signal advising you what to do next.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
I advise you to lead the ace from the AKx(x) at trick 1 only. (The x’s stand for
small cards in the suit that goes along with the AK.) After trick 1, the lead of
an ace denies the king and the king is led from the AKx(x). Why? Because you
seldom lead an ace at trick 1 without the king to back it up, but you often
lead an ace without the king later in the hand to see if your partner has the
king. You don’t want your partner to think that you have the king when you
lead an ace after trick 1. Trust me.
When you have a short suit
Leading a short suit (a singleton [one card] or a doubleton [two cards])
against a trump contract is a very tempting lead — few can resist it. If your
lead works out, you can trump one or two of the declarer’s tricks before the
declarer can draw trumps. (Drawing trumps means extracting your opponents’ trump cards before taking your sure tricks; see Chapter 5 for details.)
But don’t rush to judgment every time you have a short suit lead available. At
least glance at your trump suit first. You may not want to trump anything —
your trump holding may be too strong. For example, if you have the QJ10 of
the trump suit, trumping with one of these honor cards doesn’t gain you a
trick; you have a certain trump trick anyway.
Figure 18-2 shows an example of when you don’t want to lead a short suit.
Figure 18-2:
Don’t make
a short suit
lead with
this strong
trump
holding.
♠A K ♥3 ♦K Q 5 4 ♣10 8 7 4 3 2
297
298
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
The bidding for this hand has gone as follows:
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
South
1⽤
Double
Pass
2⽥
Pass
4⽥
Pass
Pass
Pass
What is your opening lead? Listen to the opponents’ bids. You expect South
to have 9 or 10 high card points (HCP) with four or five spades, and North
has a good hand, probably short in clubs. Most takeout doubles are made
with shortness in the opener’s suit. The shorter you are in the opener’s suit,
the more support you have for the other suits.
Because you have the ⽥AK, the two highest cards in the trump suit, you
have two sure trump tricks. It doesn’t benefit you to trump a heart (your
short suit) with either the ⽥A or the ⽥K. You will be trumping with a sure
spade trick anyway. So a heart lead does not look like such a great idea. But
if your spades are something like ⽥AK7, ⽥A7, ⽥A72, or ⽥842, trumping a
heart with a small spade is a great idea.
When you have certain trump tricks (KQJ, QJ10, or J1092), don’t bother leading a short suit; you don’t want, or need, to trump anything. Lead something
else. The proper opening lead for Figure 18-2 is the ⽧K. Why? Because you
want to build up a trick. Once the ⽧A is driven out, the ⽧Q is a trick. And if
partner happens to have the ⽧J, maybe two tricks can be taken.
When your partner bids a suit
When your partner bids a suit, you tend to lead that suit. One of the reasons
your partner bids a suit is to help you out on the opening lead. Unless you
can find a strong alternative lead, look no further than your partner’s suit.
For example, take a look at the hand in Figure 18-3.
Figure 18-3:
Lead your
partner’s
suit when
you can.
♠A 7 6 2 ♥8 4 3 ♦J 10 5 4 ♣9 3
Chapter 18: Defending against Trump Contracts
The bidding for this hand is:
South
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
1⽦
Pass
2⽧
3⽤
3⽦
Pass
4⽦
Pass
Pass
Pass
A good card to put on the table, assuming that you value your life, is the ⽤9
(you always lead the top of a doubleton) because your partner bid clubs.
When you lead your partner’s unsupported suit (you have never raised or
helped the suit), lead the top of doubleton and low from any three or four
cards. A high card lead in an unsupported suit indicates shortness.
If you have supported (or raised) your partner’s suit, indicating that you have
at least three cards in the suit, lead low if your highest card is an honor. If you
have no honor in the suit, lead your highest card. Your partner can usually
tell which is which by looking at the size of card you lead.
Finally, if you have the ace in your partner’s suit, supported or not, lead
the ace.
After you play with different people, you may notice that at every table sits at
least one self-designated teacher. Conservative estimates say that the advice
given by these “teachers” is on target about 23 percent of the time. Be forewarned. You may hear one of these self-appointed teachers tell you to lead
the highest card in your partner’s suit no matter what you have. Don’t believe
it. You lead low when you have three or four cards headed by an honor in
your partner’s suit (or any suit for that matter).
The cards in Figure 18-4 show you why to disregard unsolicited advice.
Figure 18-4:
Walk the
other way
when
someone West (You)
tells you to
Q32
always lead
the highest
card in your
partner’s
suit.
North (Dummy)
864
N
W
E
S
East (Your Partner)
A975
South (Declarer)
K J 10
299
300
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Say that your partner has bid spades. If you lead the ⽥Q (ugliness!), the
declarer must wind up taking two tricks with the ⽥KJ10. However, if you lead
the ⽥2, your partner wins with the ⽥A (third hand high when dummy has
low cards) and then plays a low spade. The declarer can take only one trick.
If the declarer plays the ⽥K, your ⽥Q is the highest outstanding spade. If the
declarer finesses the ⽥J, you win with the ⽥Q.
When one suit hasn’t been bid
During the bidding, your opponents may mention three out of the four suits.
When the opponents bid three suits, consider leading the unbid suit. That
doesn’t mean that you should never lead a suit that the opponents have bid;
your own hand may tell you that it’s right to lead one of their suits. If you
have the AKQ in their suit, or a singleton (one card), it may be clearly right to
lead the suit. But as a general rule, you tend to look for the opening lead in
places where the opponents have not advertised strength, and the unbid suit
is a likely candidate.
The cards in Figure 18-5 give you a chance to make the opening lead in the
only suit that your opponents haven’t mentioned during the bidding.
Figure 18-5:
Try leading
the suit that
your
opponents
don’t
mention
during
bidding.
♠Q 10 4 2 ♥K 8 3 ♦J 8 3 ♣10 9 7
The bidding for this hand is as follows:
South
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
1⽤
Pass
1⽥
Pass
3⽤
Pass
3⽧
Pass
5⽤
Pass
Pass
Pass
Even on Mars, they lead a heart on this bidding. When the opponents bid
three suits and don’t end up in notrump, the unbid suit is usually a good bet.
Lead the ⽦3, low from a suit headed by any honor other than the ace.
Chapter 18: Defending against Trump Contracts
When two suits haven’t been bid
When two suits have gone unmentioned during the bidding, you usually lead
one of those suits, but which one? The right one! Just kidding.
When you need to choose between two unbid suits, lead from the stronger
suit. However, if one of the suits is headed by an unsupported ace (an ace
without the king), lead the other suit. The card you lead in the other suit
depends on what you have in the suit. For example: top of a two- or threecard sequence; low from three cards headed by an honor; or the fourth highest with four or more cards.
The cards in Figure 18-6 give you a chance to choose between two unbid suits.
Figure 18-6:
Choose
carefully
when you
select an
unbid suit
to lead.
♠9 3 ♥K J 4 3 ♦A 8 7 5 ♣8 4 3
Just look at the exciting bidding for this hand:
South
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
1⽥
Pass
2⽤
Pass
2⽥
Pass
4⽥
Pass
Pass
Pass
In general, eliminate clubs and spades as possible lead choices because the
opponents have bid these suits. You can choose between hearts and diamonds. Because your diamonds are headed by the ⽧A, lead the ⽦3, fourth
highest from a nonsequential suit
When you have four trumps
Long suit leads aren’t quite as fashionable against trump contracts as they
are against notrump contracts. However, leading from your longest suit
makes good bridge sense when you’re blessed with four trumps.
301
302
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
If you have four trumps, the idea is to try to run the declarer out of trumps
by making him trump the suit you are leading. A good bet is to lead the
fourth highest card from your long suit unless the suit is headed by a
sequence, then lead the top card.
When you pick up the hand in Figure 18-7, you may be able to force the
declarer to give up a few of his beloved trumps.
Figure 18-7:
When you
have four
trumps, lead
from your
long suit.
♠A 9 4 3 ♥K 10 7 4 3 ♦6 5 ♣J 5
The bidding for this hand goes as follows:
South
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
1⽥
Pass
2⽥
Pass
3⽥
Pass
Pass
Pass
Because you have four trumps, you decide to lead from your longest suit
rather than from one of your doubletons (diamonds or clubs). The proper
opening lead is the ⽦4, your fourth highest heart, and hope you can make
declarer trump hearts a couple of times. If declarer started with five spades
and has to trump twice, you will have more spades than the declarer. Great
news for you; terrible news for the declarer.
When you want to remove the dummy’s
trumps by leading a trump
Trump opening leads should be saved for specific occasions; the old advice
of “When in doubt, lead a trump” really means that if you’re too lazy to work
out the right lead, lead a trump!
Kidding aside, sometimes leading a trump card can be a primo idea. For
example, if the declarer bids two suits, and you are very strong in one of
those suits, but the opponents wind up in the other suit, you usually lead a
low trump.
Chapter 18: Defending against Trump Contracts
In Figure 18-8, you get a chance to lead a trump.
Figure 18-8:
Steal the
opponents’
thunder
by opening
with a
trump card.
♠A Q 10 9 ♥6 4 3 ♦K 5 4 ♣J 8 3
The bidding has taken this interesting turn:
South
West (You)
North
East (Your Partner)
1⽥
Pass
1NT
Pass
2⽦
Pass
Pass
Pass
You can almost see the dummy’s cards before they come down. The dummy
has about 7 points and is short in spades, perhaps a singleton spade, probably with three or maybe four hearts. The declarer, who bid spades first, has
five spades and probably four hearts.
What is the declarer going to do with those five spades? She is going to try
to trump as many of them as she can in the dummy (see Chapter 8 for more
information on trumping losers in the dummy).
What can you do to stop the declarer from trumping those spades in the
dummy? You can lead a trump. Each time you lead a trump, the dummy has
one fewer heart for the declarer to use to trump spades. After you get rid of
the dummy’s trumps, your remaining spades will all be winning tricks.
In the case of Figure 18-8, lead a low heart. You are so tough on defense. Is it
any wonder that your opponents are becoming intimidated?
When you have the ace of a suit
Yes, it’s great fun to lead an ace and take a trick. But don’t forget that aces were
put on this planet to capture kings and queens, not deuces and threes. If you
wait to play your ace, you usually get more for your money.
303
304
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Nevertheless, you may come across instances when you may need to bang
down an ace on the opening lead:
⻬ If your partner has bid the suit.
⻬ If the opponents have bid every other suit.
⻬ If the opponents have arrived at a six or seven level (slam) contract.
(See Chapter 16 for more about slams.)
⻬ If you have a singleton ace (the ace is the only card that you have in
the suit).
⻬ If you have a doubleton ace (the ace plus one low card), you may be
lucky enough to find your partner with the king. Your partner wins the
second lead of the suit and then plays the suit a third time, and you can
trump this third round of the suit, generating an extra trick for your side.
Whenever I try that lead, my partner seldom has the king; perhaps you
will have better partners!
If you need to lead a suit that’s headed by the ace, lead the ace. If you underlead the ace (lead a low card in the suit instead of the ace), you may lose
your ace altogether! If one opponent has a singleton and the other has the
king, you have just “gone to bed” with (or lost) your ace. The next time you
play the ace, the opponent who started with a singleton will trump.
When you have a suit with no honor cards
Welcome to the pits. It doesn’t get much worse than having to lead from an
empty suit with no honors in it. You have three or four cards, but for some
reason, every other suit is taboo. The right lead from this holding is the top
card (called the top of nothing), but you don’t have to like it.
When you lead the top of three or four small cards in an unbid suit, your partner may think that you are leading from a doubleton and, subsequently, misdefend. If instead you lead your lowest card, your partner may think that you
have an honor and may also misdefend. No matter what you lead, you get
into trouble. For that reason, leading anything from a three- or four-card suit
is near the bottom of the list. Leading the top card is slightly the lesser of two
evils, but I don’t know you if it doesn’t work out!
Selecting the proper card for any suit
After you select a suit to lead, you need to select the right card in the suit.
For the most part, you lead the same card against a trump contract as you do
against a notrump contract. When you decide upon the suit, lead any of the
following that apply to your suit:
Chapter 18: Defending against Trump Contracts
⻬ Top of any doubleton; for example, the 8 from the 83 or the queen from Q6
⻬ Top of three or four small cards; for example, the 7 from the 7643
⻬ Low from three cards headed by one honor; for example, the 4 from
the K64
⻬ Top of two touching honors; for example, the Q from the QJ76 or the
jack from the J106
⻬ Top of a three-card sequence of honors; for example, the K from the
KQJ4
⻬ Fourth highest from any four-card suit or longer that is not headed by a
sequence or two touching honors; for example, the 3 from the Q10632
⻬ The ace from any suit that includes the ace; for example, the A from the
A8743
Third-Hand Play against
a Trump Contract
Versus a notrump contract, more often than not, your partner leads a low
card, fourth highest from his longest suit. Versus a trump contract, more
often than not, your partner leads an honor card or from shortness.
You see more honor card leads against trump contracts because the requirements for leading an honor are less severe than against a notrump contract.
Versus a trump contract, you need two, not three, touching honors to lead
an honor. As a result, the lead of the ace from the AKx(x) (those x’s stand for
small cards in the suit) and the lead of the king from the KQxx(x) are regular
customers versus a trump contract. Also, because you can trump the opponents’ winning tricks when you are void in a suit, your partner may often lead
a singleton or perhaps the top of a doubleton against a trump contract.
Regardless of your partner’s opening lead, you want to be prepared when it
comes your turn to play third hand, which means that you’re the third person
to play to the trick. In the following sections, I show you what to do when
your partner leads an honor card or from a short suit. I also explain how to
avoid some common third hand errors.
When your partner leads an honor card
When your partner leads an honor card (the ace, king, queen, or jack), she
expects a little help from you in the form of an attitude signal. An attitude
signal is a play that tells your partner whether you like the suit she has led.
305
306
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
You can make two types of attitude signals to convey your feelings about
your partner’s lead (and neither deal with glaring across the table!):
⻬ An encouraging signal: By playing the highest spot card (any card that
isn’t an honor) you can afford, you indicate that you want your partner
to continue the suit.
⻬ A discouraging signal: By playing your lowest spot card, you tell your
partner that you have no interest in that suit.
What determines which signal you use? Broadly speaking, if you have an
equal honor in the suit that your partner has led, you give an encouraging
signal. If you have three or more worthless cards in the suit, you give a discouraging signal. Those are the basic guidelines. Your partner will watch
your attitude signal and proceed accordingly.
Sometimes the spot card that you play may not be all that easy for your partner to read; a 9 is a big card and a 2 a small one, but what about a 5 or a 6?
Sometimes your partner has to wait to see the second card you play in the suit.
⻬ If the second card is lower than the first (a high-low signal), it is considered encouraging and asks your partner to continue the suit.
⻬ If the second card is higher than the first (a low-high signal), it’s considered discouraging.
The following sections cover both high-low and low-high signals.
The high-low signal
Versus a notrump contract, the high-low signal (or simply playing a high spot
card) shows an honor, usually an equal honor. However, versus a trump contract, a high-low signal can also show a doubleton. The high-low doubleton
signal is given primarily when your partner leads the ace, typically from the
AKx(x).
A high-low signal in a trump contract suggests that your partner play the suit
a third time. When you give a high-low signal, you will either produce an
equal honor or trump the third round, both winning scenarios.
The hand in Figure 18-9 gives you a chance to see an encouraging signal in
action.
Your opponents have landed in a 4⽦ contract, which means that hearts are
trump and they need to win 10 tricks.
Your partner leads the ⽥A, which almost always means that your partner
has the king as well. If your partner has the ⽥AK and you have a doubleton,
you can trump the third round of spades. Obviously, a good defensive move
is to trump your opponents’ tricks as soon as possible — after all you need to
Chapter 18: Defending against Trump Contracts
take only four tricks to defeat their contract. Start by playing the ⽥9, and
then play the ⽥3 when your partner continues with the ⽥K, a high-low signal
showing a doubleton. Nice signal.
Figure 18-9: West (Your Partner)
AK982
Go full
43
steam
10 9 8
ahead by
QJ2
giving an
encouraging
high-low
signal.
North (Dummy)
Q65
KQ98
AQJ2
43
East (You)
N
93
W
E
52
K765
S
10 9 7 6 5
South (Declarer)
J 10 4
A J 10 7 6
43
AK8
When your partner sees that ⽥9, clearly she recognizes the start of a highlow signal showing either an equal honor or a doubleton. Because the only
equal honor is the ⽥Q, and because the dummy has it, your partner brilliantly deduces that your high-low signal must be showing a doubleton.
Your partner continues with the ⽥K and then a third spade, allowing you to
trump the dummy’s ⽥Q. Now you have the lead. Make a quarter turn of your
neck to the right, and what do you see in the dummy? You see weak clubs and
strong diamonds. I do not generally stoop to verse, but “When the dummy is
to your right, lead the weakest suit in sight.” Lead the ⽤10, top of a sequence.
The declarer wins the trick, plays the ⽦K and ⽦A to draw trumps, ending in
his hand, and leads a low diamond to the ⽧J in the dummy, taking a finesse
(see Chapter 4 for more about finesses). He hopes to find your partner with
the ⽧K, in which case he will make his contract by avoiding a diamond loser
altogether.
No luck. You have the ⽧K, and you end up defeating the contract by one trick.
You have actually taken two defensive tricks with that meatball hand of yours!
The low-high signal
When your partner leads a high honor card and you have worthless cards in
that suit, waste no time in telling your partner to cease and desist by playing
your lowest card. The next time the suit is played, play a higher card confirming weakness (low-high). Keep in mind that the 3 followed by the 2 is a highlow signal (strength) but a 3 followed by a 4 is a low-high signal (weakness).
307
308
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Figure 18-10 shows a hand in which you need to give a low-high signal to turn
your partner off.
Figure 18-10:
Tell your
partner that West (Your Partner)
AKJ2
you have no
5
support for
6432
her high
QJ96
honor card
opening
lead with a
low-high
signal.
North (Dummy)
763
10 8 7 6
A Q J 10
42
East (You)
N
984
W
E
932
987
S
A 10 8 7
South (Declarer)
Q 10 5
AKQJ4
K5
K53
Once again the opponents wind up in a contract of 4⽦; hearts are trump and
your opponents need to win 10 tricks to make their contract. Your mission:
to defeat the contract by winning four tricks. Your partner leads the ⽥A.
You have zilch in spades, so you pass that message across the table to your
partner by playing your lowest spade, the ⽥4. When your partner determines that the ⽥4 is your lowest spade (your partner has the ⽥2 and can
see the ⽥3 in the dummy), your partner knows that you can’t have a doubleton spade or even the ⽥Q, or else you would have started a high-low encouraging signal.
Instead of plunking down the ⽥K and setting up a trick for the ⽥Q that the
declarer surely has, your partner smartly shifts to the ⽤Q, the top of the
sequence. When you see the ⽤Q, you know that the declarer has the ⽤K, so
you take the trick with the ⽤A (the declarer may have a singleton king!). Now
you return a spade, the suit that your partner has led. When the declarer
plays the ⽥10, your partner wins the trick with the ⽥J, and continues with
the ⽥K, capturing South’s ⽥Q for the fourth and setting trick.
If your partner makes the Nervous Nellie play of the ⽥K at the second trick,
establishing a trick for declarer’s queen, the declarer winds up losing two
instead of three spade tricks and makes her 4⽦ contract. Because of accurate defensive signaling, the declarer loses three spades and one club, and
winds up going down one trick. Nice defense.
Chapter 18: Defending against Trump Contracts
When your partner leads a short suit
The three most common leads versus trump contracts are the ace from
AKx(x), the king from KQ, and short suit leads. The first two are easy to spot
because the size of the card hits you in the face. You have to be a bit more of
a detective to spot a short suit lead. When your partner leads something like
the 5, you may have to wait until you see your partner’s second card.
⻬ If his second card is a 3, a high-low, a good chance exists that your partner has led high from a doubleton, so you try your darnedest to make
your partner happy by leading the suit a third time so he can trump.
If your partner has bid the suit and then leads high-low, your partner
can’t be showing a doubleton; he’s showing you a five-card suit. For
example, from the Q10653, your partner leads the 5 and then plays the 3
next, if possible. As third hand, you’re expected to play third hand high
when your partner leads low.
⻬ If your partner leads a 5 followed by a 6, a low-high, your partner can’t
have a doubleton; your partner is leading low from an honor. Keep that
fact in your memory bank in case you want to return the suit.
The trick is to watch the first card closely so you know whether the next one
is higher or lower.
Avoiding common errors
I see two errors in third hand play against a trump contract that surface so
frequently. Here they are; forewarned is forearmed.
Being sure to play the ace when the declarer has the king
When your partner leads the queen, and you have the ace, and the king isn’t
in the dummy, the declarer must have the king. At times, that king will be a
singleton, such as in Figure 18-11. In such cases, it behooves you to overtake
the ⽥Q with the ⽥A. If you don’t and the declarer has a singleton king, you
will never hear the end of it. Later, when you do play your ace, declarer will
trump it. Guess what? You have gone to bed with another ace!
North (Dummy)
75432
Figure 18-11: West (Your Partner)
If you don’t
Q J 10 9
play the
ace, you’ll
lose it.
N
W
E
S
East (You)
A86
South (Declarer)
K
309
310
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
When your partner leads the ⽥Q, play the ⽥A. If you don’t, you may have to
kiss your ⽥A goodbye. Maybe you can use it on the next hand. Ha ha.
Staying safe by unblocking the suit with ace doubleton
When your partner leads the king and you have ace doubleton (Ax), overtake
with the ace to unblock the suit, just as you would at notrump. Just do it; the
eyes of Texas (and your partner) are upon you. The cards in Figure 18-12
show you how vital this overtake can be.
Figure 18-12:
Avert
disaster by
overtaking West (Your Partner)
KQJ32
your
partner’s
king with
your ace.
North (Dummy)
754
N
W
E
S
East (You)
A6
South (Declarer)
10 9 8
Your partner leads the ⽥K, showing that he also has the ⽥Q. When you have
an ace doubleton, overtake the ⽥K with the ⽥A! It hurts for only a little
while. By doing so, you give yourself a surefire way of taking three tricks in
the suit.
Your partner has either led from a KQJ combination, as in Figure 18-12, in
which case your side takes the first three spade tricks, or your partner has
led from the KQxx(x) and the declarer has the J109. No sweat. Your partner
wins the second spade with the queen and then leads a low spade, which you
trump. You’ve got them coming and going.
Chapter 19
Playing Second Hand
In This Chapter
䊳 Formulating your strategy for defending against the dummy
䊳 Seeing the dummy’s cards and acting accordingly
W
hen you make an opening lead, you play first to the trick. When your
partner makes an opening lead, you play third to the trick and are called
third hand. When you’re the last player to play to a trick, you are fourth hand.
This chapter discusses your strategy for defending when you play second to
a trick, or second hand. The strategies outlined in this chapter apply mainly
to notrump or to any side suit at a trump contract (side suits are those suits
that aren’t the trump suit). Second hand play in the trump suit is discussed
separately.
Haul out the spades from some handy deck. You can help yourself follow the
explanations in this chapter if you have the cards in front of you.
Playing Second Hand with Vision
Whenever you play second hand, either the declarer or the dummy has led
the suit initially. Your plays are governed by which opponent leads the suit
first and whether a low card or an honor card is led. I show you how to react
in each situation.
Blind man’s bluff: When the
dummy’s on your right
If, during the course of play, some suit is led from the dummy, the North hand,
then you, East, are second to play, as shown in Figure 19-1. In this scenario, you
can’t see the hand that plays after you, the declarer’s hand. Basically, you play
second hand blind, meaning that you may have to guess at what the declarer
has in his hand.
312
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
North (Dummy)
Figure 19-1:
You have
the dummy
on your
right.
West (Your Partner)
East (You)
South (Declarer)
You can see! When the
dummy’s on your left
When the declarer, South, leads the suit first, then you, West, are second
hand, as shown in Figure 19-2. But this time you can see the dummy, the hand
that plays after you, and that helps because the declarer’s options from the
dummy are limited by the cards that you can see in the dummy. After all, if
the dummy has only small cards, you can take the trick cheaply.
North (Dummy)
Figure 19-2:
The dummy
ends up on
your left.
West (You)
East (Your Partner)
South (Declarer)
Because playing second hand blind (the declarer plays after you do) differs
from playing second hand sighted (the dummy plays after you do), I divide
the rest of this chapter into two sections that cover your course of action in
each of these scenarios.
Defending with the Dummy
on Your Right
When the dummy is on your right and leads a suit, you are second to play. In
the following sections, you pick up some clever strategies for playing a smart
second hand defense. Obviously, following these general guidelines doesn’t
guarantee that you’ll play the right card every time. But you’ll usually be
Chapter 19: Playing Second Hand
right, and at least you won’t slow the game to a crawl every time you play
second hand.
Following a low lead with a low card
When the dummy leads a low card, you normally play the lowest card you
have, which is called playing second hand low.
You can play second hand low most of the time. In fact, it is an exception not
to play second hand low when the dummy leads a low card. You don’t give
away any secrets when you play second hand low.
Figure 19-3 shows you one good reason to play second hand low.
Figure 19-3:
Avoid a
crash West (Your Partner)
landing by
K
playing
second
hand low.
North (Dummy)
643
N
W
E
S
East (You)
A8752
South (Declarer)
Q J 10 9
In this hand, hearts are trump and the dummy leads a low spade, ⽥3. You
play a low spade, ⽥2, giving your partner a chance to take a trick, perhaps
with a singleton honor (an honor that’s your only card in the suit). Had you
played your ⽥A, you would have brought your partner’s ⽥K down to earth
with a sickening crash. Ugh.
Exceptions to playing low occur if you have a sequence of three or more
equal cards headed by an honor, such as the QJ104 or the J1098. If you do,
play your highest equal, the same card you would have led had you been on
lead. Your partner now has a readout as to what you have in the suit.
However, when the dummy leads a low card and you have two consecutive
honors such as the QJ4 or the J104, play low.
A different sort of exception occurs in a side suit at a trump contract only.
⻬ If the dummy leads a singleton (a one-card holding in a suit) and you
have the ace, play it.
⻬ If the dummy has a doubleton (two cards) and you have the AKx(x) (the
x’s stand for unimportant small cards in the suit), take the trick with the
king.
313
314
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
If you decide not to play second hand low, and you play high and blow a
trick, at least tell your partner that you meant to play low, but the wrong card
fell out of your hand. It’s how one saves face.
Covering an honor with a higher honor
When the dummy leads an honor card (10 or higher) and you have a higher
honor card, gently place your honor right on top of the dummy’s honor. By so
doing, you force the declarer to play yet another honor to that trick. After at
least three honor cards are played to the same trick, lower spot cards have a
way of becoming winning tricks; it’s called promotion — the reason you cover.
The cards in Figure 19-4 give you a chance to do a little promoting.
Figure 19-4:
Take that:
Your honor West (Your Partner)
is bigger
76432
than the
dummy’s
honor.
North (Dummy)
Q5
N
W
E
S
East (You)
K 10 9
South (Declarer)
AJ8
If the dummy leads the ⽥Q, play the ⽥K, covering an honor with a higher
honor. If you see the declarer take the trick with the ⽥A, don’t think that you
have wasted your ⽥K — think that you have promoted your ⽥10. After the
⽥AKQ have been played, the ⽥J becomes top dog in the suit. But after the
⽥J is played, the ⽥10 moves up a notch to top rank. You have the ⽥10. Long
live tens!
If you stubbornly refuse to play your ⽥K, the ⽥Q takes the trick, and the
declarer remains with the ⽥AJ. The declarer then takes the next two tricks
by leading the ⽥5 to the ⽥J. You wind up with nothing.
Covering an honor with a higher honor can work in strange and wonderful
ways that save you from losing tricks. Take a look at Figure 19-5 to see what
I mean.
If the dummy leads the ⽥5, play the ⽥6 (playing second hand low; see the
previous section for more details). However, if the dummy leads the ⽥J, play
the ⽥Q. If you play the ⽥Q, the declarer wins the ⽥A. The ⽥K and then the
⽥10 are also high, but eventually your partner’s ⽥9 tops the declarer’s ⽥8. If
you cover an honor with a higher honor, the declarer takes only three spade
tricks.
Chapter 19: Playing Second Hand
Figure 19-5:
Covering
an honor
with an West (Your Partner)
honor can
9432
promote an
8 or a 9 to a
winning
rank.
North (Dummy)
J5
N
W
E
S
East (You)
Q76
South (Declarer)
A K 10 8
If you don’t cover, the ⽥J wins the trick, and later your queen drops and
declarer takes three more tricks with the AK10. Your side gets zilch. By not
playing the queen and allowing her to promote your partner’s 9, you have not
done Her Majesty justice.
If you cover an honor with an honor and the declarer takes the trick with yet
another honor, three of the top five honors vanish on one trick. Suddenly the
lower honors, and the eights and nines, sit up and take notice because they
soon become winning tricks. You cover an honor with an honor to promote
lower honors (not to mention eights and nines) for either you or your partner.
Covering the last of equal
honors in the dummy
When the dummy leads one of several equal (consecutive) honors, do not cover
the first honor; instead, cover the last equal honor. For example, if the dummy
has two equal honors, such as the QJ6 or the J103, cover the second honor led.
If the dummy has three equal honors, such as the QJ10 or the J109, cover the
last equal led from the dummy. I explain why in the following sections.
When the dummy has two equal honors
In Figure 19-6, the dummy has two equal honors. Which one should you cover?
North (Dummy)
QJ9
Figure 19-6: West (Your Partner)
Cover the
10 3 2
second of
two equal
honors led.
N
W
E
S
East (You)
K765
South (Declarer)
A84
315
316
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
If either honor (⽥Q or ⽥J) is led from the dummy, play low. When the second
honor is then led from the dummy, cover that one with your ⽥K. Even though
your ⽥K loses to the ⽥A, your partner’s ⽥10 becomes the highest remaining
spade. If you cover the first honor, the declarer wins the ⽥A and can lead a
low spade, finessing the dummy’s ⽥9 and taking all three tricks.
When the dummy has three equal honors
Figure 19-7 gives you a look at a dummy that has three equal honors.
Figure 19-7:
You can
cover West (Your Partner)
the last of
9743
three equal
honors from
the dummy.
North (Dummy)
Q J 10
N
W
E
S
East (You)
K852
South (Declarer)
A6
Whichever honor is led from the dummy, say the ⽥Q, don’t cover. When
a second honor is played, don’t cover again. Now you can see how your
patience pays off. If you play low twice, the declarer takes the first trick with
the ⽥Q and the second trick with the ⽥A, and winds up taking only two
spade tricks. If you mistakenly cover the first or second honor, the declarer
takes three tricks because dummy’s remaining spade is a winning trick.
Defending with the Dummy on Your Left
When the dummy is on your left, you can see what’s in the hand that plays
after you do. When the dummy is visible, you usually know what the declarer
is planning to play from the dummy. In the following sections, I show you a
variety of strategies for playing second hand with the dummy on your left.
Using common sense
When the dummy is on your left, you can often just let common sense take
over. The cards in Figure 19-8 show you a case in which you can very easily
think through your defense because you can see the dummy.
Chapter 19: Playing Second Hand
Figure 19-8:
Sometimes
you really
can trust
West (You)
your
KQ2
instincts
with the
dummy on
your left.
North (Dummy)
A
N
W
East (Your Partner)
643
E
S
South (Declarer)
J 10 9 8 7 5
In Figure 19-8, no matter which spade South leads, play the ⽥2 because you
can see that the ⽥A must be played on this trick. By playing the ⽥2 first, you
conserve your ⽥K and ⽥Q for taking later tricks.
Letting the declarer take a losing finesse
When the dummy is on your left, give the declarer a chance to take a losing
finesse when the suit has a hole (broken honor strength) in it. How do you do
that? Play low! Figure 19-9 shows a dummy that’s missing the ⽥Q between
the ⽥K and the ⽥J.
North (Dummy)
K J 10
Figure 19-9:
Give the West (You)
declarer
A874
room to take
a losing
finesse.
N
W
E
S
East (Your Partner)
Q932
South (Declarer)
65
Suppose that the declarer leads a low spade, ⽥5. When you can see broken
honor strength, play low, ⽥4, and give the declarer a chance to take a losing
finesse. If the declarer finesses the ⽥10, your partner wins with the ⽥Q, and
you can take another trick with your ⽥A the next time you get a chance.
(Check out Chapter 4 for details on finesses.)
317
318
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Leaving the dummy’s honors alone
When the declarer leads a low card toward the dummy, you generally don’t
have to waste your nines, tens, and jacks to force an honor out of the dummy;
those honors will be played anyway. The cards in Figure 19-10 show you what
to do when the declarer leads up to an ace in the dummy.
North (Dummy)
A965
Figure 19-10: West (You)
Avoid
K 10 2
forcing out
honors from
the dummy.
N
W
E
S
East (Your Partner)
Q
South (Declarer)
J8743
If the declarer leads a low spade, the ⽥3, don’t (do not, not, not) play the
⽥10 to force the ⽥A out of the dummy. The declarer intends to play the ⽥A
anyway, and the card you play to force the ⽥A out may be a card that can
take a later trick if you keep it.
If you play low, the ⽥2, the declarer plays the ⽥A, dropping your partner’s
⽥Q, but you remain with the ⽥K10 over the declarer’s ⽥J for two tricks. If
you play the ⽥10, the declarer plays the ⽥A, which he was going to do
anyway; you get only one trick, the ⽥K.
Using your aces constructively
Use your ace to capture something worthwhile — such as an honor card.
Don’t use your ace on a low card unless you need just one more trick to
defeat the contract, then take it.
Figure 19-11 gives you a chance to make good use of your ace.
North (Dummy)
K75
Figure 19-11:
Use your West (You)
aces wisely
A32
when the
dummy is on
your left.
N
W
E
S
East (Your Partner)
J 10 9 8
South (Declarer)
Q64
Chapter 19: Playing Second Hand
Suppose that the declarer leads a low spade, ⽥4. If you play low, ⽥2, the
dummy takes the trick with the ⽥K — big deal. If you play your ⽥A, the
dummy not only takes a later trick with the ⽥K, but the declarer takes a trick
with the ⽥Q as well. By playing your ⽥A, you capture air: You get the
declarer’s ⽥4 and the dummy’s ⽥5. If you play low, later you capture
declarer’s ⽥Q with your ⽥A and declarer takes only one trick. Aces were
bred to capture kings and queens, not fours and fives!
Dealing with higher honors in the dummy
Your real problem arises when the declarer leads an honor, you have a higher
honor, and the dummy has a higher honor yet.
If the declarer leads an honor in a side suit (any suit other than the trump
suit) and you have one higher honor, follow these guidelines:
⻬ If the dummy has one higher honor than you, don’t play your honor.
⻬ If the dummy has two higher honors than your honor, play your honor.
I cover both of these scenarios in more detail in the following sections.
When the dummy has one higher honor
In Figure 19-12, spades are trump and South leads the ⽥J. Don’t cover when
the dummy has one higher honor. In this instance, you have ⽥Q, but the
dummy has ⽥A.
North (Dummy)
A874
Figure 19-12:
The dummy West (You)
has one
Q32
higher
honor than
you have.
N
W
E
S
East (Your Partner)
6
South (Declarer)
K J 10 9 5
Sometimes the declarer leads an honor just to coax you into covering. In this
case, for example, the declarer almost surely doesn’t intend to take a finesse —
the declarer intends to play the ⽥AK. He’s just offering you a little bait — don’t
bite! Play low.
319
320
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
When the dummy has two higher honors
In Figure 19-13, South leads the ⽥J. If you cover with the ⽥K, the declarer
takes only one trick, the ⽥A. If you play low and the dummy plays low, your
partner wins the ⽥Q, but next time the declarer leads low to the ⽥10 and
takes two tricks: the ⽥10 and the ⽥A.
North (Dummy)
A 10 3
Figure 19-13:
Watch out West (You)
for the
K64
dummy’s
two higher
honors.
N
W
E
S
East (Your Partner)
Q9872
South (Declarer)
J5
You cover an honor to promote nines and tens for either you or your partner.
However, if you can see both of those cards in the dummy, no promotion is
possible, so don’t cover. (See “Covering an honor with a higher honor,” earlier in this chapter, for more information about promotion.)
Overpowering the opponents
with honor cards
If the declarer leads an honor and you have two higher honors, cover the
declarer’s honor with your lower honor. You need to play one of your honors
in Figure 19-14.
Figure 19-14:
Snatch
up the West (You)
opponents’
KQ9
honor cards
with your
own honor.
North (Dummy)
A32
N
W
E
S
East (Your Partner)
54
South (Declarer)
J 10 8 7 6
If the declarer leads the ⽥J or ⽥10, cover with the ⽥Q, your lower equal. If
you do, you will take two tricks with your ⽥K and ⽥9. In the world of promotion, nines are big cards, very big cards.
Chapter 19: Playing Second Hand
In general, whether you decide to cover or not to cover, do it nonchalantly, as
if you couldn’t care less about what is going on. If you start hemming and
hawing, sweat starts appearing, and you finally play low, a declarer who isn’t
comatose will pick up on your strange behavior and work out that you must
have the missing honor. If you play low quickly, you can fool even the best
declarer.
Knowing when you’re beat
When the dummy’s cards are higher than your cards, don’t fight it — just
play low. For example, you need to play low when you have the cards shown
in Figure 19-15.
North (Dummy)
A Q 10 8
Figure 19-15: West (You)
You can’t
KJ92
fight higher
cards in the
dummy.
N
W
E
East (Your Partner)
S
South (Declarer)
3
South leads a low spade, ⽥3. You see that whichever spade you play, the
dummy has a higher one — play low. Don’t waste an honor. For all you know,
the declarer may intend to play the ⽥A.
321
322
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Chapter 20
Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
In This Chapter
䊳 Understanding the basics of making contracts and racking up points
䊳 Walking through the scoring of a rubber
䊳 Administering penalties
䊳 Scoring slams, doubled contracts, and redoubled contracts
䊳 Opting to score Chicago style and playing duplicate bridge
C
an you imagine playing a game without knowing how to keep score? You
wouldn’t know who was winning, how many points you needed to win,
or when to stop playing.
Bridge is no different. You can’t bid, play, or defend intelligently unless you
know how to keep score. You need to know how high to bid and how many
tricks you need to take to have a chance at winning. Read this chapter to discover everything you need to know about this important aspect of the game.
Knowing What It Takes to Win
During the bidding, you hope to end up in a reasonable contract that you can
make. If you make your contract, you score points toward making game; to
make game, you need to score 100 points. The first team to score game twice
wins the rubber. You get a big bonus for winning the rubber, so you may often
take risks and shoot for game — even if you have only a 50 percent chance
for success.
In bridge, whichever side wins the rubber doesn’t necessarily win the match.
If you play tennis, think of the relationship of sets and matches — whoever
wins six games first wins the set, but not necessarily the match. In bridge,
whoever winds up with the most points at the end is the winner.
324
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
After a rubber is finished and tallied, a new rubber begins; you can keep playing until someone falls asleep at the table, or to a specified time, or even to a
specified number of rubbers. You don’t have a limit — you play to whatever
both parties agree. Assuming that you keep playing with the same partner,
after the final rubber is scored, you know which team is the winner. If you
change partners after each rubber, keep individual scores after each rubber.
I’ve seen people play all day and all night, but about three hours at a stretch
is my ideal cup of tea.
Making Your Contract
Bridge scoring revolves around the final contract (as determined by the bidding) and the number of tricks actually taken by the side buying the contract.
If your final contract is 3⽤, your goal is to win at least nine tricks and clubs
are trump, the “wild” suit. If you take exactly nine tricks, you make your contract. If you take ten tricks, you have made your contract plus an extra trick,
called an overtrick. In bridge, as the side buying the contract, you score
points only if you make your contract or if you make your contract with overtrick(s). Overtricks score points for your side but don’t contribute toward
completing a game contract of 100 or more points.
To calculate the number of tricks you need to take to fulfill your final contract, add six to the number, or level, of the bid. For example, if your final
contract is 5⽥, you need to take 11 tricks to make your contract (5 + 6 = 11).
If you don’t make your contract, the bad guys (the opponents) rack up
penalty points and your side gets nada for your efforts. For example, if you
take eight tricks in your contract of 3⽤, you would be one trick short of
making your contract (and concede one undertrick); your opponents would
get to add points to their score.
Your goal on every hand is to make your contract; overtricks are icing on the
cake, and undertricks, though inevitable, are something you try to avoid.
Charting Your Points
Remember in grade school when your teacher gave you those awful multiplication problems? Did you find it easier to use a multiplication table than calculate in your head? If so, the following table is for you. Just look up your
score in Table 20-1 instead of fooling with a bunch of math every time you
need to keep score.
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
Table 20-1
Charting Your Score
Tricks Taken
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
Notrump
40
70
100
130
160
190
220
Spades
30
60
90
120
150
180
210
Hearts
30
60
90
120
150
180
210
Diamonds
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Clubs
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
Table 20-1 shows you how many points you score if you make your contract.
Your score for making your contract depends on which suit your final contract is in and how many tricks you take. If you don’t make your contract, you
don’t have to worry about this table. If you don’t make your contract, you
don’t score any points — your opponents do (see “Not Making Your Contract:
Handling Penalties,” later in this chapter, for more information about how to
score when you don’t make your contract)!
Keep in mind that the first six tricks (the six tricks you automatically add to
your bid) don’t count in the scoring:
⻬ Each trick in hearts or spades is worth 30 points.
⻬ Each trick in clubs or diamonds is worth 20 points.
⻬ The first trick in notrump is worth 40 points, but each subsequent trick
is worth 30 points.
Eventually the day will come when you’ll know how to keep score without
carrying this book around! But for now, just use Table 20-1 to score the points
you win for making your contract. When you first start to play bridge, concentrate on the game and how to play it instead of fiddling with a bunch of
math that’s already been done for you!
Drawing Lines: The Basics
of Scoring a Rubber
Scoring in bridge is a cumulative process that takes in several factors. In the
following sections, I discuss what contributes to your score and how to score
these elements when you play an actual rubber. I walk you through the scoring of a rubber just to show you how the whole process comes together.
325
326
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Preparing your score pad
When scoring a rubber, think of you and your partner as “We” and the opponents as “They.” Everyone uses this standard notation for scoring at bridge.
Normally, everyone keeps a score of the rubber in front of them so they can
see how the rubber is progressing and how many points they need to make
game. You can keep score on just about anything, but bridge score pads are
easily available if you can’t be bothered to draw a few lines on a piece of
paper for yourself.
The whole process starts by drawing a line so your score pad looks like the
one shown in Figure 20-1.
Figure 20-1:
Draw a
couple of
lines on
your score
pad to start
the scoring
process.
We
They
Do you see that horizontal line? That line isn’t exactly sacred, but it is important. Beneath the line goes your score toward game (the 100 scoring points
you’re seeking); above the line go the following:
⻬ Your overtricks
⻬ The penalty points you pick up when your opponents don’t make their
contract
⻬ Various bonuses you can pick up, such as for winning the rubber
Of course, your opponents get all those points above and below the line on
their side if they defeat your contract, make their contract(s), and win the
rubber. Fair is fair.
Compared to what goes on beneath the line, what goes on above the line is
child’s play. Looking beneath the line tells you where the real action is.
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
Starting the rubber
When either side makes a contract, the trick score for the bid goes under the
line; the score for any overtricks goes above the line.
For example, on the first hand of this sample rubber, pretend that you and
your partner arrive at a contract of 2⽥ and take ten tricks. You have made
your contract plus two extra tricks or overtricks. To make 2⽥, you needed to
take eight tricks, but by sheer brilliance on your part (or mistakes on your
opponents’ part), you took ten tricks. Drumroll, if you please. You enter your
points so your score pad looks like the one shown in Figure 20-2.
Figure 20-2:
Entering a
trick score
and
overtricks
for the first
rubber.
We
They
60
( The two overtricks )
60
( The 2♠ contract )
Of course, if your opponents had been the pair that had bid and made 2⽥
with two overtricks, you would enter that pair of 60s on the “They” side of
the score sheet instead.
Assessing the situation
by eyeing partscores
You need to score 100 points under the line to make game. When you begin
the rubber, you have nothing under the line, so at the start, you need 100
points. But if you bid and make a contract for less than game, such as 2⽥,
you have a partscore or a partial. In this case, you have a partial of 60 points
under the line, so you need 40 more points to reach your goal of 100 and
make game.
The number of points that you score under the line dictates how high you
need to bid (how many more points you need) to make a game. Conversely,
you need to track your opponents’ position as well to know what contract
would be game for them — if they make it, of course.
327
328
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
For example, if you score 60 points below the line on the first hand, you need
40 more points for game. Referring to Table 20-1, you see that you can get 40
or more points by bidding 1NT, 2⽤, 2⽧, 2⽦, or 2⽥. In other words, you don’t
have to risk bidding higher because you need only 40 points to complete
your partial and make game.
Your opponents, on the other hand, look at your partscore and try not to let
you buy the contract too cheaply. To prevent you from making game, your
opponents try to make you bid higher by perhaps making risky interference
bids (see Chapter 14 for more on defensive bidding). Their goal is to force
you up a level or two into a riskier contract.
Losing your beloved partscore
During the play of a rubber, partscores count toward making game. However,
after one partnership makes game, the other partnership loses its partscore,
if it has one. If you lose your partscore, you have to start all over toward
making game!
For example, in the sample rubber, pretend that, on the second hand, your
opponents bid 4⽥ and take exactly ten tricks. When you look at Table 20-1,
you see that your opponents have made game because they have scored 120
points for making their 4⽥ contract. You enter their score under the “They”
column and draw a line across the pad (see the next section) so the score
pad looks like the one shown in Figure 20-3.
Figure 20-3:
Making
game,
drawing a
new line,
and losing
your
partscore.
We
They
60
60
120
On the first hand, you bid 2⽥, they erred on defense, and you took ten tricks,
giving you a 60 partscore toward game. On the second hand, they bid 4⽥,
took the same ten tricks, and made game. Remember, the points you win for
making your bid go under the line, and extra tricks go above the line.
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
And what about your 60 partscore? Do you know what “history” means?
Your 60 has just become history. You will get those 60 points later when the
rubber is scored up, but for now, under the new bottom line, you have zilch.
You have to start all over for those 100 points you need to make game. Your
opponents have killed your partial and are in the driver’s seat. You need to
bid and make two games to win the rubber; they need to bid and make only
one more game to win the rubber.
Perhaps you’re sorry now that you didn’t bid 4⽥ on the first hand so you
could have made game. You will find it counterproductive to worry about
what could have or should have been bid. Play to the future. The past is history. The top players have the exceptional quality of shrugging off both their
own and their partners’ errors and not worrying about them. (Yes, even the
best players in the world make mistakes.) Mistakes can eat you alive if you
insist on dwelling upon them.
Drawing a new line
After either side scores 100 or more points beneath the first line, you draw a
new line, indicating that a game has been bid and made (refer to Figure 20-3).
Now both sides have to start all over to score 100 points because neither side
has any points under the new bottom line.
The goal is to bid and make two game contracts. So even though your opponents may be ahead in the race, it doesn’t mean that they have crossed the
finish line. You must retain your fighting spirit.
Scoring bonus points for honors
You can score bonus points for any of the following situations:
⻬ If a hand is played at notrump and any one of the four players has all
four aces, that team gets a bonus of 150 points above the line.
⻬ If a hand is played at a suit contract and any one player has four of the
top five trump honors (AKQJ, KQJ10, AQJ10, AKJ10), that team gets
100 points above the line, called 100 honors.
⻬ If any one player has all five trump honors (AKQJ10), that’s worth a
150-point bonus above the line, called 150 honors.
I emphasize that these bonuses go above the line; they do not help you win
the rubber. In a sense, these bonuses reward you solely for the luck of being
dealt particular cards.
329
330
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Declare the bonus points for honors only at the end of the hand, before the
next hand begins. Don’t declare them during the play of the hand because it
gives the opponents (and your partner) too much information about your
hand.
Being vulnerable and not vulnerable
After a team bids and makes a game contract (100 points), that team is called
vulnerable. Being vulnerable is like being halfway there. In the case of the
sample rubber, after the second hand, your opponents are vulnerable and
you are not. It seems strange to be vulnerable when you’re ahead, but these
are the terms.
If your side is vulnerable, you need to make only one more game contract to
win the rubber and enjoy a large bonus. Is there a downside to being vulnerable? There’s a downside to everything.
The penalties for not making a contract (going down) when you are vulnerable
are twice as stiff as the penalties for going down not vulnerable (see “Not
Making Your Contract: Handling Penalties,” later in this chapter, for more information on penalties). Now maybe you can see why it’s called being vulnerable.
Getting closer to winning the rubber
After a game contract has been made, both partnerships begin anew trying to
make another game contract. Of course, the partnership that made game first
is closer to winning the rubber.
For example, on to the third hand of the sample rubber; the opponents bid 2⽧
and take nine tricks, scoring 60 points (see Table 20-1 to see how many points
they get). Your opponents scored 40 points for making the contract and
another 20 points for the overtrick. The score pad now looks like Figure 20-4.
One vulnerable kibitzer
When Harold Vanderbilt, an early bridge player,
was on a cruise codifying the rules of the game,
he was trying to find precisely the right term for
the fact that the side that had scored up a game
may lose larger penalties as a result. A young
lady looking on (the Yiddish term for a looker-on
is a kibitzer) suggested “vulnerable” as the
answer. Vanderbilt adopted her suggestion, and
it is solemnly recorded that this is the first and
last time that a kibitzer has ever made a useful
suggestion.
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
Figure 20-4:
Making a
game
contract
takes a
partnership
halfway to
winning the
rubber.
We
They
60
20
60
120
40
You can enter the score for overtricks above the first horizontal line. Your overtricks don’t contribute to making game, so you can keep them out of the way.
Also note that the situation is getting a little hairy in the sample rubber. Not
only are the opponents vulnerable (they have bid and made a game contract),
but now they have a partscore of 40, which means that they need only 60 more
points to make a second game and put you away by winning the rubber!
To complete their 40 partial, all they have to do is bid and make 2⽦, 2⽥, 2NT,
3⽤, or 3⽧, or more. Those first three contracts require taking eight tricks;
the last two require nine tricks.
Why bid higher than necessary to make game? When you have a partscore,
just bid enough to complete your partscore and make game. If you overbid,
you risk going down and blowing it all.
Lumping points after a game
contract has been made
After a game contract has been made with or without overtricks, each partnership can enter the total score, including overtricks, beneath the line, just
as long as the total score is 100 or greater. (Before a game contract has been
made, each partnership can enter only its trick score under the line.) You can
combine, or lump, all your points instead of splitting them up above and
below the line, if you want.
When you eventually add everyone’s score at the end of the rubber, it doesn’t
matter whether the scores are above or beneath the line; the points all count
the same. But during the rubber, what’s under the bottom line is important
because it tells you whether either side has a partial score toward game.
331
332
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
In the sample rubber, on the next hand (the fourth hand of the rubber), you
and your partner finally arrive at the game contract of 3NT and take ten
tricks. You have bid and made game! The score pad now looks like the one
shown in Figure 20-5. You made 130 points total (100 for making your contract of nine tricks and 30 points for your overtrick), so you can enter 130
below the line. You just lumped!
Figure 20-5:
Lumping
overtricks
with your
trick score
after a game
has been
bid and
made.
We
They
60
20
60
120
130
40
You don’t have to lump. Technically, you can still split your score into overtricks and trick points. For example, in Figure 20-5, you could put 100 under
the line and 30 above the line, but lumping is the way to go because the score
card looks less cluttered this way. It’s not an issue of tactics or strategy —
just saving space, and ink from your pen! Everybody lumps!
Aha! After this hand, you, too, are vulnerable (have bid and made game). In
fact, both sides are now vulnerable.
As for your opponents’ partial score of 40, it’s history. Your opponents haven’t
lost their partscore completely; they just have to start all over in their quest
for 100 game points. They can’t use those 40 points as a stepping stone any
longer. You have wiped out their partial — which is always gratifying when
you do it, always irritating when they do it to you.
Finishing the rubber
Play continues until one partnership bids and makes two game contracts.
The first partnership to make game twice wins the rubber and collects some
mighty hefty bonus points.
In the sample rubber, both sides are vulnerable and neither side has a
partscore. The suspense in this rubber is almost too much to bear, right? On
the next hand, your final contract is 4⽦ and you take 11 tricks. Don’t look
now, but you have just bid and made your second game contract. Your side
has won the rubber!
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
After a partnership wins the rubber, both sides add the total number of points
they scored during the rubber. You get to count all the points, regardless of
whether they are above or below the line.
You won the sample rubber in the last hand. You bid 4⽦ and took 11 tricks,
so your trick score of 150, which includes your overtrick of 30 points, can be
lumped under the line. You have bid and made two games before the opponents, so you have won the rubber.
Now for the good news. You get 500 points for winning the rubber if your
opponents are vulnerable. If your opponents are not vulnerable when you
win the rubber, you score 700 bonus points. (For more details on vulnerability, see “Being vulnerable and not vulnerable,” earlier in this chapter.)
After the rubber has been won, you draw a double line after the last game
score and add both partnerships’ total points for the rubber. You add all the
points, both below and above the line, and enter the total below the double
line. The score sheet for the sample rubber now resembles Figure 20-6.
We
They
500
Figure 20-6:
Add the
total points
after a
rubber
is won.
60
20
60
120
130
40
150
900
180
Your side has scored a total of 900 points, while your opponents have scored
180. You have won the rubber by a total of 720 points. You didn’t think I was
going to let you lose your first rubber, did you?
Carrying over or not: Set
and rotating games
If you decide beforehand that you will play more than one rubber with the
same partner, you are playing what is called a set game. If you play a set
game, the difference in the scores from the previous rubber(s) can be carried
over and put above the line when the next rubber begins, which is called carrying over the score.
333
334
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
In the sample rubber, it turns out your side has won 720 points (900 – 180 =
720). If you went on to play another rubber with the same partner, you would
start the second rubber with 720 points above the line. It’s like having a head
start, in that although these points do not count toward making game, they
represent the running total in your favor. Opponents hate to see those “carryover” scores staring them in the face every time they glance at the score. If
you carried over the points from the last rubber, the score pad would look
like Figure 20-7 at the beginning of the next rubber.
We
Figure 20-7:
Carrying
over your
score.
They
720
However, if you decide to switch partners after each rubber, you are playing
in a rotating game. In a rotating game, you change partners after each rubber,
and each player keeps an individual score.
Not Making Your Contract:
Handling Penalties
In some rubbers, one or both partnerships can’t make a contract, even if their
lives depend upon it. When you don’t make your contract, you’re penalized
when it comes to reckoning time at the end of the hand. Welcome to the sad
world of going set, going down, or failing. All these terms mean the same — you
didn’t take enough tricks and didn’t make your contract. When you come up
short on your contract, the missing tricks are called undertricks.
When you don’t make your contract, your opponents score points above the
line according to the following scale:
⻬ 50 points per trick if you’re not vulnerable
⻬ 100 points per trick if you’re vulnerable
Note that the opponents’ status is irrelevant — your status determines the
penalties that you concede.
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
As an example, pretend that you have just started the second rubber of a set
game (see “Carrying over or not: Set and rotating games,” earlier in this chapter, for more on set games). You and your partner won big in the first rubber,
and you get to carry over 720 points from the first rubber.
On the first hand of the second rubber, you go for broke and bid 3NT, trying
for game. No luck. You take only eight tricks. You go down one trick not vulnerable. For each nonvulnerable undertrick, you lose 50 points. Those 50
points go above the line on your opponent’s side. Had you gone down two
tricks, they would have chalked up 100 points above the line. It doesn’t hurt
too much if they score points above the line at 50 points a shot; it’s the points
below the line that kill you. Your new score sheet looks like Figure 20-8.
Figure 20-8:
Your
opponents
add points
above the
line when
you don’t
make your
contract.
We
They
720
50
Not so terrible. But in the next hand, you have more bad news to report. Your
opponents bid 4⽦ and take 11 tricks, scoring 120 points and an overtrick of
30 points, for 150 points total. Now, because they made a game contract, your
opponents are vulnerable. The new score looks like Figure 20-9. Lumped, of
course, because a game contract has been made with an overtrick.
Figure 20-9:
Your
opponents
are
vulnerable
after making
a game
contract.
We
They
720
50
150
335
336
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
In the next hand, they try to put you away by bidding 4⽦, a game contract.
This time your defense is razor-sharp, and they take only eight tricks. They
have failed by two tricks, vulnerable. Vulnerable undertricks are worth 100
points a pop, so you get to put 200 points above the line on your side. Now
the score looks like Figure 20-10.
Figure 20-10:
Your
opponents
messed up,
and you add
points
above the
line.
We
They
200
720
50
150
In the following hand, your opponents bid 3⽤ and take ten tricks. Your new
score sheet looks like Figure 20-11.
Figure 20-11:
Your
opponents
make
another
partscore.
We
They
200
20
720
50
150
60
The noose is tightening. Your opponents are vulnerable with 60 on (that is,
they have a 60 partial). Record your opponents’ overtrick of 20 points above
the line on the score pad. No lumping until a game contract has been bid and
made. (See “Lumping points after a game contract has been made,” earlier in
this chapter, for details.)
Finally, you fight back and put it all together on the next hand. You wind up in
4⽦, taking 12 tricks making your game contract with two overtricks. You
record your score of 180 points (120 for your contract and 60 points for your
overtricks) as shown in Figure 20-12. More lumping.
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
Figure 20-12:
You are
vulnerable
at last after
making a
game
contract.
We
They
200
20
720
50
150
180
60
Finally, tragedy strikes as your opponents bid 3NT and take 11 tricks, which
is the second game contract that they bid and make; they score 100 points
for their contract and 60 points for their overtricks. Your opponents have
won the rubber and get a 500-point bonus because you’re vulnerable. Time to
tally up, as shown in Figure 20-13.
We
They
500
200
20
720
50
150
Figure 20-13:
You can’t
win every
rubber!
180
60
160
1100
940
Your carryover has shrunk from 720 points to 160 points (1100 – 940 = 160).
At least you’re still ahead.
Scoring Slams
Game contracts put you in line for eventual bonuses if you win the rubber.
Slam contracts give you immediate bonuses. Bidding to the six level (a small
slam) or bidding to the seven level (a grand slam) is exciting and also perilous.
337
338
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Bidding to the six level means that you have to take 12 tricks, all the tricks but
one; bidding to the seven level means that you have to take all 13 tricks! (Head
to Chapter 16 for more details on slams.)
Clearly, if you’re going to stick your neck out that far, you should be rewarded
with a nice bonus if you make your contract. After all, you could have settled
for a game contract with much less risk.
The number of bonus points that you receive for bidding and making a
slam depends upon whether you’re vulnerable at the time (see “Being vulnerable and not vulnerable,” earlier in this chapter, for more information on
vulnerability):
⻬ Not vulnerable small slam = 500 bonus points
⻬ Vulnerable small slam = 750 bonus points
⻬ Not vulnerable grand slam = 1,000 bonus points
⻬ Vulnerable grand slam = 1,500 bonus points
Slam bonuses are mouthwatering, but don’t forget, you have to make your
contract to get them. Not only do you get nothing if you fail, but, worse, your
opponents get penalty points if you don’t make your contract (the usual
50/100 points a time for each undertrick; see the previous section). The
bottom line is that you have to know what you’re doing bidding at those rarefied levels.
Figure 20-14 shows you a small slam bonus in action. In Figure 20-14, you and
a new partner have just started a rubber by bidding and making 6⽥. You
receive 180 points as your trick score and a bonus of 500 points for bidding
and making a slam, and the icing on the cake: Now you are vulnerable.
Figure 20-14:
Making a
small slam
right off the
bat.
We
They
500
( Small slam, not vulnerable, bonus )
180
( Trick score )
Suppose that good fortune visits you again, and you bid and make a second
slam — back-to-back slams! On the next hand, you bid and make 6⽤, a vulnerable small slam. Take a look at your score now, as shown in Figure 20-15.
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
Playing for loot
You can still find a few bridge clubs in the United
States, mostly in New York, where people play
for money only. A select few players actually
make a living playing in these clubs day in and
day out. In a high-stakes game, winning or
losing a rubber can run into hundreds, even
We
Figure 20-15:
You really
sock it
to your
opponents
with two
slams in a
row.
thousands, of dollars. If you play in a home
game, you can decide to play for whatever
stakes, if any, suits the table. However, these
days most bridge clubs feature duplicate bridge
tournaments (as well as lessons) where the
winners get masterpoints, not money.
They
700
( Small slam, vulnerable, bonus )
750
500
180
120
2250
( Trick score )
0
It doesn’t get much better than this. The 750 above the line is your bonus for
bidding and making a vulnerable small slam. The 700 above the line is your
bonus for winning the rubber because your opponents aren’t vulnerable. The
120 points is your trick score for bidding and making 6⽤. Was that a big, fat
rubber, or what?
Scoring Doubled and Redoubled
Contracts
Excitement now looms on the horizon. The final contract has been doubled
and may even be redoubled! The stakes have just been raised. In the following sections, I show you how to score doubled and redoubled contracts; see
Chapter 15 for the full scoop on doubling and redoubling.
339
340
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Scoring doubled contracts
Your opponents may arrive at a final contract that either you or your partner
think is just too high. For example, if the opponents bid 7NT, meaning that they
must take all 13 tricks, and you are on lead with an ace, you know that they
can’t take all 13 tricks. You have a weapon (a bid) at your disposal to let the
opponents know that they have made a big mistake. You can say “Double” (“I
dare you”) when it is your turn to bid. If you defeat the doubled contract, you
get at least double your normal penalty score for the undertricks; if the opponents make the doubled contract, they get double their trick score plus 50 for
the insult.
I show you how to score doubled undertricks and overtricks in the following
sections.
Doubled undertricks
Say that the final contract is doubled (it often is). If the declarer fails to make
the contract, losses are tabulated depending upon the vulnerability of the
declaring side. The score for defeating the contract goes above the line of the
doubling side.
Nonvulnerable undertricks in doubled contracts carry the following penalty
points:
⻬ Down 1 = 100 points
⻬ Down 2 = 300 points
⻬ Down 3 = 500 points
⻬ Down 4 = 800 points
Each subsequent undertrick is worth 300 more points to the doubling side.
Vulnerable undertricks in doubled contracts carry the following penalty
points:
⻬ Down 1 = 200 points
⻬ Down 2 = 500 points
⻬ Down 3 = 800 points
⻬ Down 4 = 1,100 points
Each subsequent undertrick is worth 300 more points to the doubling side. It
gets pretty wild.
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
Doubled overtricks
Sometimes the doubling side gets it all wrong and the declarer not only
makes the contract, but makes it with overtricks, to boot. For these overtricks, the declarer gets the following bonus points:
⻬ Each doubled overtrick, nonvulnerable = 100 points
⻬ Each doubled overtrick, vulnerable = 200 points
Scoring redoubled contracts
Some players treat a penalty double as a personal insult. Those players are
prone to say, “Redouble” (“I double-dare you”), quadrupling the stakes! When
a contract is redoubled and not made, the penalties quickly grow to behemoth proportions. When the contract is made, the lucky declarer and his
partner get four times the trick score and a bonus of 100 on top of that for
the extra insult. I show you how to score redoubled undertricks and overtricks in the following sections.
Redoubled undertricks
Score the following points for nonvulnerable undertricks in redoubled
contracts:
⻬ Down 1 = 200 points
⻬ Down 2 = 600 points
⻬ Down 3 = 1,000 points
The redoubled score is exactly double the score that it would be in a doubled
contract.
Score the following points if the bidding side is vulnerable and the contract is
redoubled and not made:
⻬ Down 1 = 400 points
⻬ Down 2 = 1,000 points
⻬ Down 3 = 1,600 points
Double the score, compared to going down in a doubled contract.
341
342
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Redoubled overtricks
Sometimes the redoubling side makes overtricks. When this earth-shattering
event happens, everything is quadrupled:
⻬ Each nonvulnerable redoubled overtrick = 200 points
⻬ Each vulnerable redoubled overtrick = 400 points
If you’re playing for money, bring quite a bit along if you or your partner
make several doubles and redoubles that don’t work out. Of course, if they
do, you’ll leave with pockets full.
Doubling your opponents into game
When you double a partscore and the opponents make the contract, they get
double their trick score below the line, plus 50 points above the line for insult.
Say that you double a contract of 2⽤ and the opponents make it. Instead of
scoring 40 points beneath the line, they get 80 points beneath the line (plus
50 above the line, for the insult), but they still need 20 more points to rack up
a game.
But if you double a contract of 2⽦ and the opponents make it, instead of
60 points beneath the line, the opponents score 120 points beneath the line
(plus 50 above the line). Disaster has struck. You have doubled the opponents into game! If they weren’t vulnerable, they are now; if they were vulnerable, they have just won the rubber!
Be very careful about doubling a partscore contract that puts the opponents
into game if they make it.
Another Option: Playing Chicago
A second way to keep score is called the Chicago method. This popular
method speeds up the game enormously because each rubber consists of
exactly four deals. In the simplest and most popular version, you don’t have
to mess with partscores above and below the line.
If you are playing in a rotating game (a new partner after each rubber), cut the
cards for partners (with the two highest cards playing against the two lowest.)
The high card deals. In this variation, you get a bonus — an extra diagram!
Chapter 20: Wrapping Up with Scorekeeping
Draw two intersecting diagonal lines (called a wheel). Put a number 1 in the triangle closest to the dealer. After the hand is played, write a 2 in the next triangle to the left indicating who deals next, until all four deals have been played.
In addition, the same “We” and “They” diagram, shown earlier in this chapter, is
used for scoring, but it doesn’t need horizontal lines. Each of the four scores is
lumped! Any partscore bid and made is worth an extra 50 points. So if you bid
and make 2⽦ you get 110 points, not 60 points. All game and slam bonuses are
included in one lumped score. A nonvulnerable game is worth an extra 300
points, a vulnerable game an extra 500 points. Penalty points go to the partnership that defeats the contract on their side of the vertical line. After four hands,
total up the damages and move onto the next wheel.
A Chicago rubber consists of four deals with prearranged vulnerabilities:
⻬ On the first hand, neither side is vulnerable.
⻬ On the second and third hands, only the dealer’s side is vulnerable.
⻬ On the fourth hand, both sides are vulnerable.
If a hand is passed out (nobody can scrape up an opening bid), the hand is
redealt with the same dealer.
Playing Duplicate Bridge
Finally, a very popular variation called duplicate bridge, played in bridge
clubs, is scored exactly the same way as Chicago. The difference is that
everyone in the room (East-West pairs and North-South pairs) all play the
same hands against different opponents. After the session is over, you can
compare your scores on all the hands against the scores of the other pairs
sitting in your direction who played those same hands. Not to worry; a director moves the hands around the room, and a computer does all the scoring
work for you. You know how you stand minutes after the game is over. It’s
great fun. You’ve got to try it.
343
344
Part V: Playing a Strong Defense and Keeping Score
Part VI
Becoming
Addicted to Bridge
A
In this part . . .
fter you play a few hands, you may find that you
can’t stop playing bridge. If this happens, call a
doctor — you may be a bridgeaholic. The only cure for
your addiction is play, play, play.
To satisfy your craving for bridge, you can turn to this
part to read about playing in bridge clubs (where other
fanatics like you can be found), in tournaments (where the
serious bridgeaholics hang out), on the computer, and on
the Internet (where you can get support from fellow
bridgeaholics as far away as China and, of course, play
some bridge).
Chapter 21
Joining Bridge Clubs and
the Tournament World
In This Chapter
䊳 Finding a place close to home to play bridge
䊳 Playing your way up in the tournament ranks
䊳 Discovering the social side of bridge
T
he title of this chapter may make you feel like you’re being pushed out
the door before you’re ready, but that’s not so. Although bridge clubs and
tournaments often cater to more advanced players, both also offer services
for novice players, both give you a chance to meet other newcomers to the
game, and both give you the chance to play bridge against players of your
own skill level.
Connecting with Your Local Bridge Club
Depending on where you live, you should be able to find a bridge club within
striking distance. If you can’t find the address and telephone number for a
bridge club in your local telephone directory, call the American Contract
Bridge League (ACBL) at 901-332-5586 to obtain a club directory or a referral
to the nearest club. (See Chapter 24 for more information on the League.)
After you find your local bridge club, call to see what it has to offer. Most
clubs have beginner’s lessons, as well as supervised play sessions — right up
your alley. The club managers will treat you royally; beginners are the
lifeblood of the game. The clubs need you!
Some services, such as the lessons and supervised play offered by local
clubs, may have fees attached, but they are minimal and well worth the
expense.
348
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge
Playing in Novice Tournaments
After you gain some confidence with your play, you may consider the next big
step: playing in a novice tournament. You can find these novice tournaments
staged at your local bridge club.
In most of these games, you can ask questions as you’re playing. In short, you
don’t have to sweat bullets playing in novice tournaments — you can ask a
more advanced player if you aren’t sure about your next move.
Guess what? You may even enjoy the novice tournaments. Most people begin
to enjoy these tournaments after they see that they’re going to survive.
In the following sections, I give you a few pointers on preparing to play in a
novice tournament and explain how you gather masterpoints.
Preparing to play with others
Before you play in a novice tournament, you’ll probably be nervous. It’s
normal, so don’t sweat it. And don’t worry about making mistakes; it’s
inevitable. Keep in mind that everyone else is in the same boat you are —
probably with the same thoughts and feelings. If you treat the tournament as
a fun learning experience, you’ll do just fine.
When you begin playing in novice tournaments, you’ll find that 99 percent of
the people whom you meet and play against are pleasant and eager, and you
are bound to make many friends who share bridge as a common interest.
Of course, you can also expect to find the 1 percent who can’t control themselves when something goes awry. These types like to lay the blame for their
mistakes on their partner. Don’t worry about these jokers. If they get out of
line once too often, the club owner will bar them for a month or two — an
eternity to a bridge player.
Accruing masterpoints
The American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) records the successes of its
members in tournament play by awarding masterpoints. If you join the ACBL,
the League tracks your masterpoints and sends you a record every few
months so you can see your progress.
Chapter 21: Joining Bridge Clubs and the Tournament World
You don’t have to win (or even come in second) in tournaments to win
points. You can garner fractional points by placing third, fourth, or even fifth,
depending upon the number of players who are competing.
Masterpoints come in colors. You can win black, silver, red, or gold points,
depending on the importance of the event. At first, you will probably be winning black points, the color you pick up in club games. When you start playing in the larger tournaments (see “Advancing in the Tournament World,”
later in this chapter, for details), you can win the prettier-colored points. The
points you win are all of equal value, but you must win a minimum number of
each color to attain the ultimate goal — Life Master.
The ACBL gives you a title according to how many masterpoints you rack up.
Table 21-1 shows how many masterpoints you need to achieve each title.
Table 21-1
Racking Up the Masterpoints
ACBL Title
Masterpoint Requirement
Rookie
0–4.99
Junior Master
5–19.99
Club Master
20–49.99
Sectional Master
50–99.99
Regional Master
100–199.99
NABC Master
199–299.99
Life Master
300 and higher
To reach the upper plateaus, some of your points must be in particular
colors. In other words, you have to win some of your masterpoints in larger
tournaments, which means leaving the safety net of your local bridge club to
get them.
When you play through enough blood, sweat, and tears to amass 300 of these
coveted masterpoints, the ACBL makes you a Life Master and rewards you by
sending you a gold card with your name emblazoned on it. What can you do
with that gold card? You can board a bus, show the driver your card, and
then pay your fare. After you pay, the driver will let you stay on the bus.
Seriously, you do get the following benefits from being a Life Master:
349
350
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge
⻬ Bragging rights for the rest of your life
⻬ Eligibility to play in certain restricted events
⻬ Respect
I got my gold card when I was 24 years old. Some players don’t have to wait
as long as I did — some child phenoms have become Life Masters at the age
of 10! Of course, their parents taught them to play as soon as they uttered
their first word.
When you start playing in novice tournaments, you will eventually start to win
masterpoints. When you get your first masterpoint, you’ll be hooked, baby.
Because everyone wants to get to that magic 300 points needed to become a
Life Master, most everyone knows to the fraction of a point just where they
stand. Of course, they act as if it’s not important to them. I once played with
a lady who was approaching Life Masterdom (300 points) and I asked her,
“Rea, how many masterpoints do you have?” She said, “Oh, I don’t know —
who cares? About 278.63.”
Advancing in the Tournament World
Tournaments come in many sizes, shapes, and locations, offering a variety of
skill levels and prizes. One day you may find yourself ascending in the tournament world. But when you first begin to play bridge, you may want to
attend the tournaments to meet other players and watch some of the best
players in action. All the tournaments are ACBL-affiliated, and anyone can
play in most of them (although some events may require a minimum number
of masterpoints to enter). I describe the different tournament levels in the following sections.
How can you find out when and where these tournaments are so you can do a
little planning? Join the ACBL. Joining is your second good move — reading
this book was your first. After you join the ACBL, you get the League’s monthly
magazine (“It’s great — I write two articles each month,” he added modestly)
that gives you all the details on tournaments, instructional material, and much,
much more. For more information on joining the ACBL, see Chapter 24.
Club tournaments
When you screw together your last ounce of courage and charge off to play in
your first club tournament, there’s no turning back. You’ll soon be ringing the
phone off the hook down at the club, asking for the latest tournament information, or you can check the ACBL Web site (www.acbl.org) for all sanctioned
events.
Chapter 21: Joining Bridge Clubs and the Tournament World
Hooked on bridge at an early age
I started playing in local bridge tournaments
when I was 14 years old. I was so hooked by the
time I entered high school that I hid bridge
books inside my regular schoolbooks so I could
study bridge during class. Once when the rest
of the class was being raucous, my teacher
pointed me out to the class as a shining example of good behavior, saying, “Why can’t you
have study habits like Eddie? Look how quiet he
is!” Thank goodness the teacher wasn’t closer
to my desk.
Sectional tournaments
You may see many of the same people from your club tournaments when you
enter a sectional tournament. Sectionals mostly draw their competitors from
the immediate area. Card fees (the fees for entering the tournament) are a
little higher at sectional tournaments because you’re playing in a larger
venue and somebody has to pay the rent. The higher card fees may be worth
your while if you’re trying to accrue masterpoints: You receive more masterpoints for placing in sectional tournaments than in club tournaments.
Sectional tournaments usually last three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Most tournaments offer events for everyone, including novices, and you can
play as much or as little as you like.
Regional tournaments
You’re moving up in the world when you enter a regional event. Regional
tournaments usually take place in a classy hotel or a convention center (the
extra space is necessary because of the larger number of participants).
Regionals offer the players an opportunity to win a substantial number of
gold and red points, awards that are necessary to achieve the rank of Life
Master. Experts often come out of the woodwork from other states to play in
regional tournaments. Masterpoints flow like champagne at these events.
Regional tournaments last one week, sometimes longer. Anyone can play, and
often the tournaments offer events for players with any number of masterpoints — from 0 to 60,000!
351
352
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge
Keeping your cool
Winning a World Championship is the ultimate
high for a bridge player — it’s an experience
that never fades from memory. The play is
always exciting. For example, in Rio de Janeiro
in 1979, the U.S. team played the mighty Italians
in the finals of the World Championships. On the
very last hand of the match, my partner, Billy
Eisenberg, and I just managed to defeat the
opponents’ contract by one trick. Had the
Italians made that contract, they would have
walked away with the prize. To this day, that
hand still sends shivers down my spine.
Of course, such high-stakes play can get to your
nervous system. In another Championship, I
made a costly bidding decision. Billy saw how
upset I was and tried to calm me down by
saying all the right things, such as “You couldn’t
be sure,” “Don’t let it get to you,” and “It’s only
one hand.” Then, to show me how calm he was
about the situation, he picked up a gum wrapper on the table and lit it, thinking it was a cigarette. Sure, Billy, we were both cool.
National Championship tournaments
The Nationals take place three times a year in the United States, and thousands of people descend from nowhere and everywhere to attend. If you get a
chance to attend a National Championship, by all means do it. I went to 93 of
them in a row before I finally missed one!
National tournaments are ten days of fun and/or hard work, depending on
which way you want to go. Although the Nationals do feature some big-time
players doing what they do best, the tournaments also boast novice events
every day and night.
If you don’t feel quite up to playing at that level, you can kibitz, or watch (for
free!) some of the best players in the world, not to mention celebrities such
as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two real bridge aficionados. Non-American
stars are now coming in droves to the National Championships and earning a
living by playing on sponsored teams. Certain important National events
decide qualification for the U.S. Team in World Championship play.
Nothing matches the feeling of winning a National tournament. True, you
don’t play for money, but the glory and ego gratification can’t be discounted!
Paul Soloway and I once played on a team that won a National event. The
event ended one day before the tournament was officially over, so I decided
to head home. On the way out of the hotel, I saw Paul in the lobby and asked
him why he wasn’t going home. He said that he wanted to stay for an extra
day of adulation.
Chapter 21: Joining Bridge Clubs and the Tournament World
International tournaments
International tournaments are glamorous affairs, usually held in phenomenal
locales such as on the French or Italian Riviera. The tournaments often take
place in lush casinos, with large cash prizes going to the top finishers. The
casino owners hope that after you win in the tournament, you want to put
some of your prize money into the casino slot machines or baccarat tables.
My favorites were in Rio, Manilla, Marbella, Monte Carlo, Paris, Deauville, and
the isle of Lido, a stone’s throw from Venice.
International tournaments differ from the United States National Championships in several ways. In international tournaments
⻬ You compete for cash prizes, not masterpoints. (The ACBL is toying with
the idea of initiating cash prize tournaments in the United States. Right
now, you play only for glory and masterpoints when you play in U.S.
tournaments.)
⻬ You get to play in exotic locales.
⻬ You play one long session per day, usually from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., rather
than two 31⁄2-hour sessions per day.
⻬ You have a better chance of seeing even more international stars, including many world-class women experts.
Enjoying the Major Tournaments
What are you going to do at major tournaments, where everyone looks like a
bridge shark ready to eat you alive? Well, you have several neat options,
which I describe in the following sections.
The bottom line is that you have to get your feet wet by attending a tournament. Even if you only watch until you gather up your courage to play, so be
it. You won’t be sorry. When you give tournament play a whirl, you’ll be
hooked like the rest of us. Furthermore, if I see you playing in the midnight
game, I’ll understand.
Playing
The major tournaments offer players a chance to play in four sessions a day.
(A session consists of 26 hands, played against 13 different pairs of opponents.) Of course, you need the endurance of a marathon runner to even
353
354
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge
think about playing this much. Major tournaments offer a morning, an afternoon, an evening, and a midnight session. Each session lasts about 31⁄2 hours.
Would you believe that some people play three sessions a day and think
nothing of it? A few nut cases (who are addicted beyond repair) play all four
sessions. One tournament now offers five sessions a day. Give me a break!
I once played in a tournament that lasted nine days (meaning that I could
have conceivably played in 36 sessions if I had decided to forgo sleeping
entirely). At the end of the tournament, they awarded a prize to the only
person who played in all 36 sessions. I expected to see a weight lifter come
up and get the award — but, no, it was a little old lady in her 70s!
Big tournaments have novice events for players with 0 to 5 masterpoints, as
well as events for players who have many more masterpoints. The bottom
line is that you wind up playing against people who play like you do.
You are charged by the session — card fees currently range from $8 to $12 a
session at sectional and regional tournaments, and about $5 more per session at National tournaments. Novice events are a bit cheaper, and at the
National Championships, they even set aside one “free day” for novices and
junior players.
When the session is over, you get a printout, called a hand record, of the
hands you have just played. You get to review all your mistakes (“accidents”
is what you call them), if your partner hasn’t already reminded you of them.
Hand records are great for discussing hands with your partner or even with
your opponents. If you have a guru, you can go over your bids and plays (if
you can remember them) with him or her. Everyone likes hand records.
Suppose that you come to a tournament and you don’t have a partner. Not to
worry, most tournaments have professional matchmakers just waiting for you
at the partnership desk. Just tell the people at the partnership desk your vital
statistics (how many masterpoints you have), and they will find someone with
about the same number of masterpoints as you have. If they can, the matchmakers will even try to pair you up with someone of the same or opposite sex,
depending upon your preference. I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
When some people arrive at the partnership desk, they inflate their masterpoint total a bit so they will be fixed up with a player who has more masterpoints, presumably a better player. Now I’ll let you in another little secret: It’s
even money that the player who gets matched up with the “inflator” has also
inflated his or her masterpoint total! What goes around comes around.
The greatest bridge stories of all come from pairings at the partnership desk.
Don’t be afraid to try it.
Chapter 21: Joining Bridge Clubs and the Tournament World
Pulling a late-nighter
Once at a National Championship, I was on a
late-night panel flanked by three panelists and a
moderator. We were being peppered with questions from people who never wanted to go to
bed. Finally, mercifully, the moderator asked for
just one more question. He recognized a player
who asked, “Does anyone want to form a
quorum for a membership meeting after the
panel?” (A few people actually raised their
hands.) The moderator said that this wasn’t the
kind of question he was looking for, and he
asked for one more question. A man in the back
raised his hand and asked about a bid he had
made (which some of his friends had criticized).
The late Jim Jacoby, one of the panelists,
offered to field the question. He said that
anyone who would make such a bid would also
vote to attend the meeting after the panel.
Watching
Bridge is a strange game. The people who watch don’t pay a cent to attend
the tournaments. Only the performers, the players themselves, pay the card
fee to participate — sort of a role-reversal. If you get lucky, you can pull up a
chair behind some of the best players in the world and watch them perform.
But you have to be quiet — very, very quiet.
Attending free lectures
All National Championship tournaments offer at least two free lectures a day,
one before the afternoon session and one before the evening session. In addition, the Nationals offer two novice lectures each day. You don’t even have to
play in the tournament to attend the lectures. The lecturers are often worldrenowned players who zero in on a practical topic, and many have quite
humorous stories to tell. When I lecture, I go over instructive hands that I
was involved in. These hands usually have a humorous ending where someone has goofed big time. The audience gets a big kick out of hearing that
experts can go wrong too. I try to work in some really good bidding, play, and
defensive tips, along with telling them the crazy things that have happened in
my classes. I see smiles on most people’s faces when they leave the lecture.
Eating, dancing, and partying
After every evening session at a National tournament, free food is offered —
and it’s good stuff. After the game, everybody is starving, but they seldom
run out of food until you get to the front of the line. Just kidding.
355
356
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge
Starting at about 11:30 p.m. at National events, the tournament organizers
offer the players either dancing, professional entertainment, or both.
Sometimes the local unit may put on a well-known musical with accompanying
bridge lyrics. Again, it’s all free. Of course, not everyone sticks around to
enjoy it — some actually choose to go home and go to bed, even though it
means missing the midnight games. Keep in mind that some of these loonies
have only played 10 or 11 hours by the time the midnight session rolls around.
It seems that most bridge players hate to go to sleep. In truth, you have to
unwind a bit. It isn’t easy to go right to sleep after you play bridge. When they
finally do get a little sleep, they get up at noon. Each night you can find parties
all over the place. If you have social-butterfly instincts and don’t mind going to
bed at about 3 or 4 in the morning, bridge tournaments are really for you.
Chapter 22
Playing Bridge on Your Computer
and the Internet
In This Chapter
䊳 Practicing bridge with computer software
䊳 Making use of bridge games and resources online
Y
our computer isn’t just for work, you know. Your computer also offers
the opportunity to play a few hands, no matter who’s around, no matter
what time of day or night it is, and no matter where you are. In addition, with
Internet access, you can tap into the online bridge world and play with bridge
fanatics all over the planet (yes, they do play bridge in Iceland).
Learning Bridge from Software Programs
Sorry to break the news to you, but so far no one has come up with software
that can play bridge at an expert level. However, the quality of the software
has improved immensely over the years. The beginner bridge programs in
the following sections give you a chance to practice your bidding, card play,
and defense without risking the embarrassment of an angry partner. A computer program allows an additional benefit: You can always have the last
word by simply quitting the program!
Computer bridge programs, like everything else to do with computers,
change fast enough to make your head spin. You can find many new bridge
programs wherever you buy software online or from local bridge supply
houses (see Chapter 24 for details on these houses). Rarely can you find
bridge software at regular computer stores.
358
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge
Audrey Grant’s Better Bridge Edition
of Bridge Master 2000
This program easily leads the new player from basic concepts of play into
more difficult levels. Each deal is accompanied by an animated “bridge
movie” that explains the correct line of play and the reasoning that leads to
the solution. This program is available for Windows only.
BridgeMania
World-renowned bridge experts Matthew and Pamela Granovetter present a
most comprehensive computer bridge course with BridgeMania. Beginners
get a complete initiation. Learn bidding play and defense with tutorials on
every aspect of the game. Practice your knowledge with the extensive exercises provided. BridgeMania is compatible with Windows only.
Learn Bridge the Easy Multimedia Way
This program teaches beginners by using video, sound, and animation to present 40 interactive lessons on basics, bidding, play, and defense. You’ll find
an unlimited number of quizzes, so you can practice as much as you like.
This program is available for Windows only.
Learn to Play Bridge I & II
The Learn to Play Bridge series includes two programs, and both are available
as free downloads through the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) at
www.acbl.org/learn/tpb.html.
⻬ The first program is a comprehensive course in bridge designed for
people who have never played but want to learn the game.
⻬ The second program takes the beginner to the intermediate level.
Both of the Learn to Play Bridge programs contain excellent graphics and hundreds of quizzes and other interactive exercises. These programs are a fun
and effective way to study the game. They were written by Fred Gittelman, a
world-class player. The programs are available as free downloads and available for Windows only.
Chapter 22: Playing Bridge on Your Computer and the Internet
Surfing for Bridge Web Sites
The Internet provides a vital forum for bridge players all over the world.
Currently, you can find hundreds of bridge-related Web sites that offer everything from bridge games to bridge instruction. The following are my picks for
Web sites where you can play bridge and dig for bridge info.
Playing bridge (against humans)
The Internet allows players all over the world to play against each other
online, keep abreast of the latest conventions, find out what’s happening in
the bridge world, and connect with suitable partners. One can also kibitz (or
observe) famous experts because bridge players from novices to experts all
enjoy playing online. The following sections feature some tempting options.
Bridge Base Online
Bridge Base Online (BBO) (www.bridgebase.com/online) is a free online
service in which more than 100,000 people (including many new players)
from all over the world play bridge over the Internet.
BBO regularly produces live broadcasts of major tournaments. This is a great
way to watch the world’s best players in action.
MSN Games
MSN (www.zone.msn.com/en/bridge/default) is a free online service that
offers the possibility to play many different games, including bridge. Players
from all over the world participate at this site, which offers the following:
⻬ Great practice or a low-pressure game
⻬ Casual play with other gamers
⻬ Playing in better games when you’re ready to get serious
OKbridge
OKbridge (www.okbridge.com) bills itself as the original Internet bridge
club. After spending a few minutes at this site, you’ll see just how wonderful
and helpful it is. The resources available here are easily among the finest
offered on the Net.
For a fee of some $100 a year, OKbridge offers possibilities of playing 24/7
with your own foursome, playing with a partner of your choice, or just digging up a partner if you don’t have one.
359
360
Part VI: Becoming Addicted to Bridge
You can match wits or kibitz some of the game’s top players. Some of the
stars on view are Paul Soloway and Benito Garozzo, both many-time World
Champions. Yours truly also contributes a weekly column.
If you intend to play on OKbridge, don’t forget to stop by the library to check
out the glossary of abbreviations used during the play — otherwise, how
could you possibly know that “GLP” stands for “Good luck, partner.”
Finding bridge information
You can locate plenty of entries of bridge-related topics by accessing search
engines such as Google, Yahoo!, or Netscape Navigator. For example, just by
typing in “bridge for beginners,” you’ll be amazed by what you’ll find! In addition, the following Web sites have links and useful information for all kinds of
bridge players.
The American Contract Bridge League
This fabulous Web site (www.acbl.org) has loads of information for new
players, and the ACBL has created a Web site for young people: www.
bridgeiscool.com.
Joining the ACBL is a very good idea. The ACBL is an excellent source of
information of current events in the bridge community, bridge clubs all over
America, and new conventions and techniques. Membership is $26 for the
first year. After that, membership is $35 per year or $95 for three years. If you
are 26 years old or younger, membership costs $14 per year. The ACBL
encourages younger players as much as it can.
The Bridge Bulletin is the official monthly publication of the ACBL. It is worth
many times more than the yearly dues. The magazine includes a special section for new players called “Play Bridge.” It also includes sections for intermediate and advanced players with monthly articles by various bridge
writers, including yours truly.
The Bridge World
The Bridge World (www.bridgeworld.com), the popular offline publication,
puts a sampling of its content online at this site (see Chapter 24 for more on
the offline version of the magazine). Here you find a brief introduction to the
game, bridge practice hands and puzzles for intermediate-level players, and
the obligatory plea for subscriptions to the offline magazine.
You may also check out the “References and Miscellaneous” section. You hit
the jackpot in the section with a bridge glossary. If you ever wondered what
an Alcatraz Coup is, wonder no more. (It’s an illegal, deliberate failure to
follow suit in order to gain information from the opponents.)
Part VII
The Part of Tens
I
In this part . . .
t wouldn’t be a For Dummies book without a Part of
Tens. I found it very hard to keep the chapters in this
part limited to only ten items apiece. After all, I can think
of more than ten ways to be kind to your partner. And it
wasn’t easy to hold down the ten best bridge resources,
either. However, you can’t go wrong with the ten that have
been listed. “Nor can you go wrong reading this book,” he
added very immodestly.
Chapter 23
Ten Ways to Be Kind
to Your Partner
In This Chapter
䊳 Improving your chances of winning by treating your partner well
䊳 Having fun at the bridge table
M
ost bridge players value a reliable, happy partner above anything else.
It’s important to the success of your partnership that you work
together as a team. You both want to win, so you can’t gain anything from
getting upset when play doesn’t go exactly as planned. It seldom does! In this
chapter, I give you tips on keeping your partner one happy camper.
Treat Your Partner Like Your Best Friend
Even if you don’t know your partner well, treating her with respect improves
her play. Treat your partner like your best friend, and you’ll be repaid in
“spades.” Be a pleasant, courteous opponent, and you’ll win everyone’s
“hearts.”
Tolerate Your Partner’s Errors
Don’t keep harping on your partner’s errors — just forgive and try to forget
(at least until after the game). After all, do you want to be reminded of all the
mistakes you’ve made? (Everybody makes mistakes, including you.) If you
have constructive criticism, save it for after the session, when you’ll both be
calmer. Expect (demand) that your partner show you the same respect.
364
Part VII: The Part of Tens
Keep a Poker Face
Never make any facial or body mannerisms that indicate whether you’re
pleased or displeased with a bid or play. You’ll lose the table’s respect. Facial
and body mannerisms can be construed as illegal signals.
Deal Well with Disaster
A truly good partnership handles the inevitable disaster with a touch of
humor. If your partner doesn’t have to worry that you’ll have an apoplectic fit
whenever something goes wrong, he’ll play better.
Play Conventions You Both Want to Play
Don’t force your partner to play your favorite conventions. A partner worried
about a convention inevitably makes more errors in the bidding, play, and
defense, not to mention screwing up the convention if it comes up.
Pick Up the Slack for the Weaker Player
The better player in a partnership should make the weaker player feel at
ease. Make your bids, leads, and signals as simple and clear as possible, and
don’t give an inexperienced partner tough contracts to play. When you judge
that it’s going to be a tough hand to play, bid conservatively.
Own Up to Your Own Errors
Avoid the human tendency to lay your own errors at your partner’s doorstep.
It makes a weaker partner feel good to know that you, the stronger player,
make errors as well — and are a big enough person to admit them.
Offer Words of Encouragement
Give your partner a few words of support after the hand is over, particularly
if he doesn’t make his contract. “Tough luck” and “Nice try” go over better
than “My great-grandmother could’ve made that hand in her sleep.”
Chapter 23: Ten Ways to Be Kind to Your Partner
Treat Your Partner the Same
Whether You Win or Lose
When the session is over, win or lose, tell your partner how much you
enjoyed playing with her (no matter how you feel). Kind words mean the
world to a player who knows that she hasn’t played well. It also shows class.
Know When to Have Fun
When all is said and done, you play bridge to have fun, and so does your
partner. You’ve done your job if your partner leaves the table happy.
365
366
Part VII: The Part of Tens
Chapter 24
Ten Great Bridge Resources
(Besides This Book)
In This Chapter
䊳 Checking out clubs and classes
䊳 Looking at other helpful resources
T
his book tells you everything you need to know to sit down and start
playing bridge. When you get hooked on the game, you may want to
explore for bridge information that goes beyond the reach of this book. In
this chapter, I point out references and resources that you may find handy.
The American Contract Bridge League
Joining the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) is a “must do.” The
ACBL is an excellent source of information about current events in the bridge
community, bridge clubs all over America, and new plays and techniques. It
maintains a fabulous Web site (www.acbl.org) with lots of information for
new players, and the ACBL has created a Web site for young people: www.
bridgeiscool.com.
Bridge Bulletin is the official publication of the ACBL and is worth many times
more than the yearly dues. The magazine includes a special section for new
players, called “Play Bridge,” as well as sections for intermediate and
advanced players with monthly articles by various bridge writers, including
yours truly.
368
Part VII: The Part of Tens
Membership is $26 for the first year. After that, membership runs $35 per year
or $95 for three years. If you are 26 years old or younger, membership costs
only $14 per year. (The ACBL encourages younger players as much as it can.)
You can contact the ACBL at the following address:
American Contract Bridge League
2990 Airways Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38116
Phone 901-332-5586
Fax 901-398-7754
Your Local Bridge Club
The local bridge club is a great place to go when you’re starting out with
bridge. Clubs offer all kinds of enticements, but best of all, you can get
together and play with people who are at approximately your skill level.
Nothing can supplant actual play for gaining experience. Suddenly the books
you read, even this one, make more sense because you actually experience
what you read about.
See the previous section on the ACBL for more information about how to contact bridge clubs in your area.
Adult Education Classes
Some adult schools offer bridge classes at modest prices and give you an
opportunity to meet beginning bridge players like yourself. Check your local
high school or parks and recreation department for adult education classes
in your area. You may get lucky.
Your Local Library and Bookstore
Most libraries have a reasonable selection of bridge books, and borrowing a
book is cheaper than buying one, especially if you’re just starting out with
the game. Of course, your local bookstore also may be stocked with the latest
bridge books if you want one of your own.
Chapter 24: Ten Great Bridge Resources (Besides This Book)
The Daily Bridge Column
in Your Newspaper
Some people who don’t even play bridge read the bridge columns because
they’re amusing. A good column is informative, instructive, and entertaining.
The major bridge columnists usually come through on all three counts. Here
are your five best bets, in no particular order (they’re all good):
⻬ “Daily Bridge Club,” by Frank Stewart
⻬ “Goren Bridge,” by Omar Sharif and Tannah Hirsch
⻬ “The Aces on Bridge,” by Bobby Wolff
⻬ The New York Times bridge column, by Phillip Alder
⻬ “Bridge,” by Steve Becker
Shop around in other major newspapers if you can’t find the column you want
to read in your regular newspaper. (Try finding additional newspapers at your
local library or bookstore; see the previous section for details on these places.)
Bridge Magazines
Some of the information in the following magazines may go a little over your
head until you have played a little bridge, but all of them also offer articles
for beginners.
Bridge Bulletin
See “The American Contract Bridge League,” earlier in this chapter, for
more information on the ACBL and its offerings, which include this fabulous
magazine.
Bridge Today eMagazine
This world-class, colorful bridge magazine caters to intellectual players. The
contributing writers are top of the line. A subscription costs $33 for 12 issues,
and you’ll need to download each month’s magazine from www.bridgetoday.
com on the Internet. Bridge Today also offers a daily e-mail bridge column five
days a week, 50 weeks a year for $35. The Web site has a 10-lesson beginners’
program offered for $39.
369
370
Part VII: The Part of Tens
The Bridge World
The Bridge World is the granddaddy of all bridge publications and is the most
respected bridge publication in the world. Unfortunately, the magazine is
aimed primarily at advanced players. However, don’t despair; The Bridge
World offers information for players of all levels, including beginners, at its
Web site (www.bridgeworld.com).
You can contact The Bridge World at the Web site or at the following address
for current subscription information:
The Bridge World
P.O. Box 299
Scarsdale, NY 10583
E-mail [email protected]
Web site www.bridgeworld.com
The Internet
The Internet is such a great resource for bridge players, I devote most of
Chapter 22 to the subject. Please check there for more information on getting
bridge information and playing bridge online.
The Daily Bridge Calendar
The Daily Bridge Calendar is not only a regular calendar but also a valuable
source of bridge tips. Each day features a bridge problem with a solution on
the flip side of the page. Also, the last 11 pages offer explanations of the most
popular conventions.
The calendar has proven extremely popular since its inception in 1994. Seven
leading international experts (including moi) write the problems.
You can get The Daily Bridge Calendar at most bookstores, bridge clubs, or
bridge supply houses (see the next section), or from the publisher at the following address:
Ashlar House, Inc.
39 Parkview Place
Brampton, ON, Canada
L4W 4P7
Phone 888-453-1976
E-mail [email protected]
Chapter 24: Ten Great Bridge Resources (Besides This Book)
Bridge Supply Houses
Want a bridge book, bridge software, or a bridge-related gift? You can get all of
these items, plus a friendly voice, if you call one of these supply houses. You
can ask for a free catalog before you make any truly momentous decisions.
American Contract Bridge League, Inc.
2990 Airways Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38116
Phone 800-246-2743 or 901-332-5586
Fax 901-398-7754
Web site www.acbl.org
Baron Barclay Bridge Supplies
3600 Chamberlain Lane, Suite 230
Louisville, KY 40241
Phone 800-274-2221
Fax 502-426-2044
E-mail [email protected]
Web site www.baronbarclay.com
Master Point Press Publishers
331 Douglas Ave.
Toronto, ON, Canada
M5M 1H2
Phone 416-781-0351
E-mail [email protected]
Web site www.masterpointpress.com
Bridge Travel
Would you like to go on a bridge cruise? Would you like to spend a week at a
beautiful five-star hotel and be surrounded with bridge activities? Read on.
Bridge instruction on cruise ships
Cruise ships offer an unequaled opportunity to immerse yourself in bridge
activities. Many major cruise ships set sail with a bridge teacher on board.
When the ship is at sea, you get a lesson in the morning and the chance to
enter a friendly tournament in the afternoon. However, you can just play
bridge in the card room, if you prefer. Check with the cruise line you’re interested in to verify whether it offers a bridge program.
371
372
Part VII: The Part of Tens
Bridge tours
Bridge tours offer great opportunities to play bridge to your heart’s content
at some really great places. I can unhesitatingly recommend two such tours,
but you can type “contract bridge tours” into your favorite search engine for
more options.
Conlin Enrichment Tours
3270 Washtenaw Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone 888-426-6546 or 734-677-0900
Fax 734-677-0901
E-mail [email protected]
Web site www.conlintravel.com
Finesse West Tours
P.O. Box 50166
Pasadena, CA 91115
Phone 800-548-8062 or 626-564-9327
Fax 626-564-0536
Web site www.finessewest.com
Index
• Numerics •
1♣ response, 148–154
1♦ response, 154–157
1♥ response, 157–163
1♠ response, 163–165
1NT opening bid, 165–175
1NT overcall, 228, 235–236, 244
1NT rebid, 212–214
1NT response
one-level major suit overcall, 241–242
rebid, 199–202, 208–212
1-3-5 support point scale, 152–153, 161
2♣ opening bid, 134–138
2♣ response, 154–157
2♦ bid, 136
2NT rebid, 214–215
2NT response
one-level major suit overcall, 241
1NT opening bid, 167
rebid after two-over-one response,
191–192
two-level overcall, 242
3NT rebid, 192–193, 222–223
3NT response
one-level major suit overcall, 241
two-level overcall, 242, 243
4NT bid, 266–268, 271
4-3-3-3 hand pattern
balanced hand opening, 130, 132–133
rebid after one-over-one response,
187–188
4-4-3-2 hand pattern
balanced hand opening, 130, 131–132
rebid after one-over-one response,
188–189
takeout double timing, 252
4-4-4-1 hand pattern, 252
5-3-3-2 hand pattern, 130, 131, 189
5-4-3-1 hand pattern, 252
5-4-4-0 hand pattern, 252
6NT bid, 265–266
7-4 hand pattern, 146
10 card, 290
•A•
ACBL. See American Contract Bridge
League
ace
driving out, 28–29, 55
finesse, 46–47
flexible stoppers, 60
hold-up play, 55–61
lead information, 289
opening lead against trump contract,
297, 303–304
point value, 121
second hand with dummy on left, 318–319
slam bidding at trump contract, 268–274
sure trick counting, 20, 24
third-hand play errors, 309–310
“The Aces on Bridge” column (Wolff), 369
advice, 299
Alcatraz Coup (illegal play), 360
Alder, Phillip (bridge columnist), 369
American Contract Bridge League (ACBL)
contact information, 367–368
information resources, 360
local clubs, 347
masterpoints, 348, 349
overview, 367
supplies, 371
artificial response, 173–175
Ashlar House, Inc. (publisher), 370
attitude signal, 305–308
auction
definition, 114
opening bid basics, 125
process, 115
Audrey Grant’s Better Bridge Edition of
Bridge Master 2000 (software), 358
374
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
•B•
balanced hand
definition, 150
notrump rebid after limited response, 209
notrump slam bids, 264–268
1♣ response, 150–151
1NT response, 166–168
opening bid with 12 to 20 HCP, 130–133
opening bid with 21 or more HCP, 136–138
overview, 127
rebid after limited response, 199–201
rebid after one-over-one response,
179, 187–189
trump contract slamming, 269
Baron Barclay Bridge Supplies
(retailer), 371
BBO (Bridge Base Online), 359
Becker, Steve (“Bridge”), 369
behavior
bidding etiquette, 133
dummy, 20
fascination with game, 17
finesse, 49
penalty double, 255
redoubling, 250
treatment of partner, 364
bid. See also rebid
etiquette, 133
experts’ opinions, 155
fascination with game, 17
importance, 113–115
language, 117, 125
mistakes, 246
negative doubles, 259–262
notrump slams, 264–268
opening lead against notrump contract,
279–280
overview, 12–13
penalty double timing, 247–249
rank of suits, 18–119
redoubling, 249–250
sacrifice, 246
sample, 119–120
stages, 115–116
structure, 117
system, 114, 126
table conventions, 2
takeout double, 252–258
trump card, 16
trump suit example, 67
up the line, 150
bid, defensive. See defensive play
bid, opening
balanced hand, 130–133
basics, 123–125
information for response, 147–148
minimum, 117
negative double, 259–260
1♣ bid, 148–154
1♦ bid, 154–157
1♥ bid, 157–163
1♠ bid, 163–165
1NT bid, 165–175
one-suited hand, 127
overview, 115
6 to 10 HCP, 138–146
takeout double, 252–254
three-suited hand, 129
12 to 20 HCP, 126–133
21 or more HCP, 133–138
two-suited hand, 128
bid, preemptive opening
goal, 139
opening four bid, 144–146
opening three bid, 144
overview, 138
trick counting, 139–141
weak two bid, 141–143
bid, slam
jump shift, 175
notrump, 264–268
overview, 263–264
scoring, 337–339
trump contract, 268–274
Blackwood Convention (playing process),
269–272, 274
Blackwood, Easley (bridge player), 271
blocking a suit, 42–44
body language, 114, 133, 161
bonus
honor cards, 329–330
rubber win, 323
small slam, 338
book, 117, 368
Index
bridge
observing games, 10
phases, 11–16
positive features, 1
Bridge Base Online (BBO), 359
Bridge Bulletin magazine, 360, 367, 369
bridge club
overview, 347, 368
skill building, 17
tournaments, 350
“Bridge” column (Becker), 369
Bridge Master 2000, Audrey Grant’s Better
Bridge Edition (software), 358
Bridge Today magazine, 369
Bridge World magazine, 155, 360, 370
Bridgemania (software), 358
buying the contract, 113, 116, 120
•C•
captain
definition, 136
1NT response, 199
process of becoming, 203–208
slam bidding, 265–266
card. See also specific types
deck cutting, 12
fee, 351, 354
ranks, 10
sorting after deal, 12
supply list, 9
symbols, 2
card distribution
balanced hand, 130
one-over-one rebid, 179
takeout double, 252
12 to 20 HCP, 126–133
types, 126–127
card, honor
bonus, 329–330
definition, 10
dummy’s winners, 98–100
extra winner creation, 83–84, 85, 86
finesse technique, 45–55
high-low signal, 306–307
hold-up play, 55–61
low-high signal, 307–308
opening lead against notrump
contract, 283
opening lead against trump contract,
296–297
overtaking, 61–62
point value, 121–122
ranks, 10
second hand with dummy on left, 318–321
second hand with dummy on right,
314–316
spot card trick taking, 37–39
third hand defensive play,
286–294, 305–310
trick establishment, 27–35
unequally divided suit, 23–24
card strength
bidding stages, 115
opening bid basics, 124
opening bid with weak hand, 139
point value, 121–122
carrying over the score, 333–334
casino, 353
chart, scoring, 324–325, 326
cheating, 161
Chicago rubber, 342–343
children, 351
club, bridge
overview, 347, 368
skill building, 17
tournaments, 350
club
bid ranks, 118
1♣ response, 148–154
scoring chart, 325
symbol, 2
2♣ opening bid, 134–138
2♣ response, 154–157
color, masterpoint, 349
common sense, 316–317
completing the transfer, 170
computer software, 357–358
Conlin Enrichment Tours, 372
counting tricks
overview, 19
preemptive opening bids, 139–141
process, 20–21
subtraction method, 38
suits, 21–24
375
376
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
covering honor with honor, 314–316, 320
cruise, 371
cue bid, 256
•D•
Daily Bridge Calendar, 370
“Daily Bridge Club” column (Stewart), 369
danger hand, 59
dealer, 115–116, 124
dealing cards, 12, 15
declarer
bidding sequence, 120–121
versus defense, 277
definition, 10
importance of bidding, 113
opening lead, 13–14
trick stacking, 15
defensive play
versus declarer play, 277
opening lead against notrump contract,
277–284
opening lead against trump contract,
295–305
overcalling, 227–237
overview, 15, 227
response to overcall, 237–244
second hand with dummy on left, 316–321
second hand with dummy on right,
311–316
third-hand play against notrump
contract, 284–294
third-hand play against trump contract,
305–310
deuce, 10, 37–38
diamond
bid ranks, 118
1♦ response, 154–157
scoring chart, 325
symbol, 2
2♦ bid, 136
digital method, 38
direction
bidding sequence, 120–121
conventions, 2
opening lead, 13
overview, 10–11
discard, 14
discouraging signal, 306
distribution, card
balanced hand, 130
one-over-one rebid, 179
takeout double, 252
12 to 20 HCP, 126–133
types, 126–127
double
negative, 259–262
overview, 245
penalty, 245–249
redouble, 249–251
scoring, 340–341
takeout, 251–258
doubleton
takeout double, 251
third hand in notrump contract, 291–292
third hand in trump contract, 310
drawing trumps
advantages, 68–69
definition, 67
extra winners, 76–79
four-four trump fit, 70
opening lead against trump contract,
297–298
overview, 68
spot cards, 92–95
trick taking before, 68
trumping losers, 106–107
driving out the ace, 28–29, 55
ducking a trick
eight cards in hand, 40–41
overview, 39
seven cards in hand, 39–40
dummy. See also short hand
bidding sequence, 120–121
defense with dummy on left, 316–321
defense with dummy on right, 311–316
definition, 10, 13, 14
driving out the ace, 28
etiquette, 20
extra winner creation, 81–84
importance of bidding, 113
loser discarding, 103–109
opening lead, 13–14
Index
sure trick counting, 20
trumps with spot cards, 92–95
winners in long suit, 98–100
duplicate bridge, 343
•E•
eight-card fit
captaincy, 205–207
definition, 69, 116
1♥ response, 157–160
opening bid basics, 125
opening four bid, 145
overview, 71
rebid after limited response, 197–198
response to one-level major suit overcall,
238–239
eight-card trump fit, 122
Eisenberg, Billy (bridge player), 352
emotion
bidding etiquette, 133
dummy, 20
fascination with game, 17
finesse, 49
penalty double, 255
redoubling, 250
treatment of partner, 364
encouraging signal, 306, 364
entertainment, tournament, 355–356
entry
definition, 42, 92
finesse for length setup, 97, 98
importance, 96
side suit dangers, 100
trumps with spot cards, 96
equally divided suit
overview, 22–23
trick establishment, 28–30
equipment, 9, 371
etiquette
bidding, 133
dealing rules, 12
dummy, 20
novice tournaments, 348
penalty double, 255
eventual loser, 72–73
extra winner
advantages, 81
creation, 81–89
definition, 72
identification, 71–72, 74–75
trump drawing, 76–79
•F•
facial expressions, 114
faking-a-count method, 38
fee, tournament, 351, 354
feelings
bidding etiquette, 133
dummy, 20
fascination with game, 17
finesse, 49
penalty double, 255
redoubling, 250
treatment of partner, 364
final contract
buying process, 116
definition, 13
overview, 119
penalty double timing, 247
scoring guidelines, 15–16, 324
trick taking before trick establishment,
34–35
finesse
emotion, 49
extra winner creation, 85–87, 89
hold-up play, 59
honor card, 45–55
length setup, 96–98
overview, 45–46
second hand with dummy on left, 317
Finesse West Tours, 372
five-card suit
notrump slam bidding, 265
one-level overcall, 228–229
penalty double timing, 247–249
response to 1♣ opening bid, 164
response to 1NT opening bid, 168–173
two-level overcall, 230–231
5-4-4-0 hand pattern, 252
5-4-3-1 hand pattern, 252
377
378
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
5-3-3-2 hand pattern, 130, 131, 189
flat hand, 132
flexible stopper, 58, 60
following suit, 14–15
four-card suit
rebid with support, 215–216
response to 1NT opening bid, 173–175
response to 1♠ opening bid, 165
four-four trump fit, 70
4-4-4-1 hand pattern, 252
4-4-3-2 hand pattern
balanced hand opening, 130, 131–132
rebid after one-over-one response,
188–189
takeout double timing, 252
four-level weak jump overcall, 235
4NT bid, 266–268, 271
4-3-3-3 hand pattern
balanced hand opening, 130, 132–133
rebid after one-over-one response,
187–188
•G•
game length, 324
Garozzo, Benito (bridge player), 360
Gittelman, Fred (bridge player), 358
“Goren Bridge” column (Sharif and
Hirsch), 369
grand slam
definition, 101, 263
process, 101–102
scoring, 338
trump contract, 272–274
•H•
Hamman, Bob (bridge player), 223
hand, balanced
definition, 150
notrump rebid after limited response, 209
notrump slam bids, 264–268
1♣ response, 150–151
1NT response, 166–168
opening bid with 12 to 20 HCP, 130–133
opening bid with 21 or more HCP, 136–138
overview, 127
rebid after limited response, 199–201
rebid after one-over-one response,
179, 187–189
trump contract slamming, 269
hand pattern, 126, 179. See also specific
patterns
hand record, 354
hand signal, 161
hand strength
bidding stages, 115
opening bid basics, 124
opening bid with weak hand, 139
point value, 121–122
hand, unbalanced
opening bid with 21 or more HCP, 134–136
rebid after limited response, 201–202
HCP. See high card point
heart
bid ranks, 118
negative double, 259–260
1♥ response, 157–163
opening bid basics, 125
scoring chart, 325
symbol, 2
hedge, 130
high card point (HCP)
captaincy, 205–208
negative doubles, 259–262
notrump slam bids, 264–268
1♣ response, 148–154
1♦ response, 154–157
1♥ response, 157–163
1♠ response, 163–165
one-level overcall, 228–229, 237–242
1NT opening response, 165–175
1NT overcall, 235–236
one-over-one rebid, 178–179
opening bid basics, 123–124
opening bid with 6 to 10 HCP, 138–146
opening bid with 12 to 20 HCP, 126–133
opening bid with 21 or more HCP, 133–138
overview, 121–122
penalty double timing, 247–249
ranges, 203
rebid after limited response, 197–202
rebid after 1NT rebid, 213–214
rebid after repeated suit, 216–218
Index
rebid after two-over-one response,
220–221
repeated rebidding of long suit, 218–219
response requirements, 148
slam bidding at trump contract, 268–274
takeout double, 251, 253, 256–258
two-level overcall, 230–231
two-level overcall response, 242–243
two-over-one rebid, 191–196
weak jump overcall, 232–235
weak jump overcall response, 243
high reverse, 195–196
high-low signal, 306–307
high-stakes game, 339, 352
Hirsch, Tannah (“Goren Bridge”), 369
hold-up play
danger hand, 59–61
opening lead, 57–59
overview, 55
sequence, 55–56
holy suit, 51
honor card
bonus, 329–330
definition, 10
dummy’s winners, 98–100
extra winner creation, 83–84, 85, 86
finesse technique, 45–55
high-low signal, 306–307
hold-up play, 55–61
low-high signal, 307–308
opening lead against notrump
contract, 283
opening lead against trump contract,
296–297
overtaking, 61–62
point value, 121–122
ranks, 10
second hand with dummy on left, 318–321
second hand with dummy on right,
314–316
spot card trick taking, 37–39
third hand defensive play,
286–294, 305–310
trick establishment, 27–35
unequally divided suit, 23–24
•I•
immediate loser, 72–73, 77
information exchange, 114, 125, 139
international tournament, 353
Internet resources, 17, 359–360, 370
invitational bid, 167, 204
•J•
jack, 121, 290
Jacoby Transfers, 170–173
jump raise, 186–187
jump response, 239, 240
jump shift
overview, 175–176
rebid after one-over-one response,
179, 187–189
•K•
Kantar’s subtraction method, 38
Kaplan, Edgar (bridge player), 128
kibitzer, 330, 352
king
driving out the ace, 28–29
finesse, 46–55
flexible stoppers in hold-up play, 60
lead information, 289
lead toward, 46
point value, 121
slam bidding at trump contract,
269, 272–274
sure trick counting, 20
third-hand play errors, 309–310
trick establishment, 28–30
•L•
language, 360
lead
definition, 13
driving out the ace, 28
driving out the king, 28–29
379
380
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
lead (continued)
first trick, 15
missing king, 54–55
partner’s honor card lead, 289–294
top of nothing, 283
toward the king, 46
with trump, 302–303
lead, opening
defense against notrump contract,
277–284
defense against trump contract, 295–305
definition, 278
hold-up play, 57–59
importance, 278
overview, 13–14
Learn Bridge the Easy Multimedia Way
(software), 358
Learn to Play Bridge series (software), 358
lectures, 355
length
dummy’s winners, 98–101
extra winner creation, 81–84
finesse, 48–50
grand slam process, 101–102
1♣ response, 149–150
1♦ response, 154–156
opening bid against trump contract,
301–302
opening bid with 12 to 20 HCP, 128
opening lead against notrump contract,
280–281
rebid after limited response, 211–212
repeated rebidding, 218–219
setup with a finesse, 96–98
side suit dangers, 100–101
trick establishment, 31–32
trick taking with spot cards, 35–37
trumps with spot cards, 92–95
lesson, bridge, 347, 357–358, 368
library, 368
Life Master title, 349–350
limit bid, 204
limit raise, 162, 198
limited hand, 136, 204–208
limited response
definition, 177
rebid after, 197–202, 208–212
long hand, 72, 109
long side
dummy’s winners, 98–101
extra winner creation, 81–84
finesse, 48–50
grand slam process, 101–102
1♣ response, 149–150
1♦ response, 154–156
opening bid against trump contract,
301–302
opening bid with 12 to 20 HCP, 128
opening lead against notrump contract,
280–281
rebid after limited response, 211–212
repeated rebidding, 218–219
setup with a finesse, 96–98
side suit dangers, 100–101
trick establishment, 31–32
trick taking with spot cards, 35–37
trumps with spot cards, 92–95
long suit
dummy’s winners, 98–101
extra winner creation, 81–84
finesse, 48–50
grand slam process, 101–102
1♣ response, 149–150
1♦ response, 154–156
opening bid against trump contract,
301–302
opening bid with 12 to 20 HCP, 128
opening lead against notrump contract,
280–281
rebid after limited response, 211–212
repeated rebidding, 218–219
setup with a finesse, 96–98
side suit dangers, 100–101
trick establishment, 31–32
trick taking with spot cards, 35–37
trumps with spot cards, 92–95
low card
attitude signal, 306
definition, 10
4NT bid, 266–268
opening lead against trump contract, 304
second hand with dummy on right,
313–314
third hand high, 285–286
Index
trick taking, 35–44
trumping a trick, 92–95
low-high signal, 306, 307–308
luck, 36, 85
lumping points, 331–332
•M•
magazines, 369–370. See also specific
magazines
major suit
balanced hand opening bids, 132
definition, 69, 118
1♣ response, 150–151
1NT response, 168–175
opening bid basics, 125
opening lead against notrump contract,
283–284
making game, 323–324, 327–334
marriage, 50
Master Point Press Publishers, 371
masterpoint
novice tournament, 348–350
partners at tournaments, 354
minor suit
balanced hand opening bid, 132
bidding order, 118
1NT response, 167–168
opening lead against notrump contract,
283–284
mistake, 363, 364
misunderstanding, 246
money, playing for, 339, 353
MSN games (Web site), 359
•N•
National Championship tournament, 352
negative double, 259–262
The New York Times bridge column, 369
newspaper, 369
nine-card fit, 197, 205
nondanger hand, 59
North position, 10–11
notrump (NT)
benefits and drawbacks, 66
bid ranks, 118
definition, 16
final contract, 119
finesse technique, 45–55
four-four fit, 70
hold-up play, 55–61
one-level major suit overcall response,
241–242
1NT opening response, 165–175
opening lead defense, 277–284
overtaking honors, 61–62
rebid after limited response, 208–209
rebid after partner shows two suits,
214–215
scoring chart, 325
slam bidding, 264–268
small card trick taking, 35–44
third hand defensive play, 284–294
trick establishment with honor cards,
27–35
novice tournament, 348–350
NT. See notrump
•O•
OKbridge (Web site), 359–360
1♣ response, 148–154
1♦ response, 154–157
1♥ response, 157–163
1♠ response, 163–165
one-level bid, 117
one-level overcall, 228–230
1NT opening bid, 165–175
1NT overcall, 228, 235–236, 244
1NT rebid, 212–214
1NT response
one-level major suit overcall, 241–242
rebid, 199–202, 208–212
one-over-one bid, 149
one-over-one rebid
balanced hand, 187–189
jump shift, 190–191
one-suited hand, 179–180
overview, 178–179
partner’s one-level major-suit response,
185–187
three-suited hand, 183–184
two-suited hand, 180–183
381
382
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
one-suited hand
opening bid, 127
overview, 126, 127
rebid after one-over-one response,
179–180
1-3-5 support point scale, 152–153, 161
opening bid
balanced hand, 130–133
basics, 123–125
information for response, 147–148
minimum, 117
negative double, 259–260
1♣ bid, 148–154
1♦ bid, 154–157
1♥ bid, 157–163
1♠ bid, 163–165
1NT bid, 165–175
one-suited hand, 127
overview, 115
6 to 10 HCP, 138–146
takeout double, 252–254
three-suited hand, 129
12 to 20 HCP, 126–133
21 or more HCP, 133–138
two-suited hand, 128
opening bid, preemptive
goal, 139
opening four bid, 144–146
opening three bid, 144
overview, 138
trick counting, 139–141
weak two bid, 141–143
opening bid response. See response
opening lead
defense against notrump contract,
277–284
defense against trump contract, 295–305
definition, 278
hold-up play, 57–59
importance, 278
overview, 13–14
overcall
definition, 228
negative double, 261–262
one-level, 228–230
one-level major suit overcall response,
237–242
1NT overcall, 228, 235–236
requirements, 228
two-level, 228, 230–231
weak jump, 228, 232–235
overtaking honors
defensive play, 291–292
overview, 61–62
overtrick
doubled scoring, 341
redoubled scoring, 342
score for making contract, 324, 331
overtrumping, 100
•P•
paper, 9
partial, 327–329
partner
bidding significance, 114
importance, 11
information exchange, 114
kind treatment, 363–365
tournament play, 354
vulnerable team, 330
partscore, 327–329
passed hand, 279
passed out hand, 116, 343
passing
bidding process, 115, 116
definition, 115
etiquette, 133
opening bid basics, 124–125
overview, 12
penalty double timing, 247–249
versus rebidding, 177–178
redoubling, 249–250
takeout doubles, 253–257
penalty double
definition, 246
emotion, 255
overview, 245–246
versus takeout double, 255
timing, 247–249
penalty scoring, 334–337
playing for split honors, 52
poker face, 364
practice
Internet resources, 360
trick establishment, 32–33
Index
preemptive jump overcall
definition, 228
negative double, 262
process, 232–235
response, 243–244
preemptive opening bid
goal, 139
opening four bid, 144–146
opening three bid, 144
overview, 138
trick counting, 139–141
weak two bid, 141–143
promotion, 314–315, 320
psychology, 1, 17
•Q•
queen
finesse, 47–48, 50–53
lead information, 289
point value, 121
sure trick counting, 20
questioning during game, 348, 355
•R•
rebid. See also bid
captain’s role, 204
definition, 125, 137
four-card support, 215–216
HCP ranges, 204
after limited response, 197–202, 208–212
after 1NT rebid, 212–214
overview, 177
after partner repeats suit, 216–218
after partner shows two suits, 214–215
versus passing, 177–178
repeating long suit, 218–219
responder’s considerations, 204
slam bidding, 267
after two-over-one response,
191–196, 219–221
rebid after one-over-one response
balanced hand, 187–189
jump shift, 190–191
one-suited hand, 179–180
overview, 178–179
partner’s one-level major-suit response,
185–187
three-suited hand, 183–184
two-suited hand, 180–183
redoubling
process, 249–251
scoring, 340–341
regional tournament, 351
respect, 363, 365
responder
definition, 116, 148
rebid considerations, 204
response. See also specific type
definition, 116
experts’ opinions, 155
HCP ranges, 203
information in opening bid, 147–148
jump shift, 175–176
negative double, 259–262
new suit, 149
1♣ response, 148–154
1♦ response, 154–157
1♥ response, 157–163
1♠ response, 163–165
one-level major suit overcall, 237–242
1NT overcall, 244
1NT response, 165–175, 208–212
overcall, 237–244
point requirements, 148
slam bidding, 265–274
takeout double, 255–258
two-level overcall, 242–243
2NT response, 167
waiting, 221–223
weak jump overcall, 243–244
retailer, 371
revalued point (RP), 197
reverse, 194–196
revoking, 15
rotating game, 334, 342
rubber
Chicago-style play, 342–343
definition, 16
making game rules, 323–324
scoring guidelines, 325–334
ruff
definition, 66
dummy’s winners in long suit, 98–100
383
384
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
ruff (continued)
example, 66–67
grand slam process, 101–102
length setup with finesse, 96–98
side suit dangers, 100–101
spot card, 92–95
•S•
sacrifice bid, 246
scoring
bonuses, 329–330, 338
carried over scores, 333–334
charts, 324–325, 326
Chicago method, 342–343
duplicate bridge, 343
end of rubber, 332–333
final contract, 15–16, 324
lumping points after contract, 331–332
making game, 323–324
noncontract penalties, 334–337
overview, 13, 15–16, 323
partscores, 327–329
penalty doubles, 246
score pad preparation, 326
score pad records, 327–334
slam bidding, 337–339
vulnerable team, 330
second hand
dummy on left, 316–321
dummy on right, 312–316
sectional tournament, 351
seven-card fit, 207–208
seven-card hand, 39–40, 41
7-4 hand pattern, 146
Sharif, Omar (“Goren Bridge”), 369
short club, 132
short diamond, 132
short hand. See also dummy
definition, 104
loser trumping, 104–107
short side
definition, 23–24
dummy’s loser cards, 104–107
extra winner creation, 84
identification of value, 154
opening lead against trump contract,
297–298
trick establishment, 30–31
showing out, 53
side suit
dangers, 100–101
definition, 72
finesse for length setup, 96–98
grand slam process, 101–102
loser discarding, 103–109
second hand with dummy on right,
313–314
trumps with spot cards, 92–95
signaling
scandals, 161
third hand against notrump contract, 294
third hand against trump contract,
305–308
singleton
definition, 49, 129
opening bid, 129
support points, 152–154
takeout double, 251, 252
six-card suit
notrump slam bidding, 265
1NT response, 167–173
rebid after two-over-one response, 194
two-level overcall, 230–231
6NT bid, 265–266
slam bid
jump shift, 175
notrump, 264–268
overview, 263–264
scoring, 337–339
trump contract, 268–274
sleep, 356
small card
attitude signal, 306
definition, 10
4NT bid, 266–268
opening lead against trump contract, 304
second hand with dummy on right,
313–314
third hand high, 285–286
trick taking, 35–44
trumping a trick, 92–95
Index
small slam
definition, 263
notrump contract, 263–267
scoring, 338
trump contract, 268–274
software, 357–358
solid suit, 76
Soloway, Paul (bridge player), 352, 360
sorting cards, 12
South position, 10–11
SP. See support point
spade
bid ranks, 118
negative double, 259–260
1♠ response, 163–165
opening bid basics, 125
scoring chart, 325
symbol, 2
split honor, 52
spot card
attitude signal, 306
definition, 10
4NT bid, 266–268
opening lead against trump contract, 304
second hand with dummy on right,
313–314
third hand high, 285–286
trick taking, 35–44
trumping a trick, 92–95
Stayman Convention (response), 173–175
Stewart, Frank (“Daily Bridge Club”), 369
stopper, 57
strength of hand
bidding stages, 115
opening bid basics, 124
opening bid with weak hand, 139
point value, 121–122
subtraction, 38
suit. See also specific type
balanced hand, 130
card sorting tips, 12
definition, 117
distribution of hand, 126–133
equally divided, 22–23
following, 14–15
legal bids, 118
opening bid basics, 124–125
opening lead against notrump contract,
280–284
opening lead against trump contract,
297–305
overview, 10
ranks, 118–119
rebid after limited response, 210–212
rebid after partner shows two suits,
214–215
rebid after repeated suit, 216–218
sure trick counting, 20–24
trick taking, 25–26
unsupported, 299
suit, major
balanced hand opening bids, 132
definition, 69, 118
1♣ response, 150–151
1NT response, 168–175
opening bid basics, 125
opening lead against notrump contract,
283–284
suit, minor
balanced hand opening bid, 132
bidding order, 118
1NT response, 167–168
opening lead against notrump contract,
283–284
suit, side
dangers, 100–101
definition, 72
finesse for length setup, 96–98
grand slam process, 101–102
loser discarding, 103–109
second hand with dummy on right,
313–314
trumps with spot cards, 92–95
suit, trump
benefits, 66
bidding, 16
definition, 14
divisions, 69–71
drawbacks, 67
extra winner identification, 71–79
final contract, 119
importance of bidding, 114
385
386
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
suit, trump (continued)
lead with, 302–303
loser counting, 71–74
loser discarding, 103–109
overview, 65
rebid after limited response, 211
slam bidding, 268
suit, unequally divided
ducking play, 39–41
extra winner creation, 81–84
overview, 23–24
spot card trick taking, 36
trick establishment, 30–31
trick taking, 25–26
supplies, 371
support point (SP)
captaincy, 207
jump shift, 176
1♥ response, 160–162
overview, 152
premature addition, 153–154
rebid after limited response, 197–198
rebid after one-over-one response,
179, 185–187
scale, 152–153
sure trick. See also trick
adding guidelines, 24–25
counting tips, 20–24
definition, 20
taking tips, 25–26
trick establishment practice, 33
trump drawing, 68
•T•
table, 9, 10–11
takeout double
negative double, 259–262
overview, 251
versus penalty double, 255
timing, 251–252
taking tricks
definition, 13
lack of flexible stoppers, 60–61
long suits with honor cards, 99–100
long suits without honor cards, 98–99
spot cards, 35–44
sure tricks, 25–26
before trick establishing, 34–35
trump contract, 71–79
before trump drawing, 68
teacher, 299
10 card, 290
thinking skills, 1
third hand
notrump contract, 284–294
trump contract, 305–310
three-card minor opening, 132
three-level bid, 117
three-level weak jump overcall, 234–235
3NT rebid, 192–193, 222–223
3NT response
one-level major suit overcall, 241
two-level overcall, 242, 243
three-suited hand
opening bid, 129
overview, 127
rebid after one-over-one response,
179, 183–184
Too Tall Tex (bridge player), 49
top of nothing, 304
touching honors, 283, 290, 296–297
tours, 372
tournament
club level, 350
entertainment options, 355–356
international games, 353
lectures, 355
National Championship, 352
novice level, 348–350
observation, 355
playing guidelines, 353–355
regional level, 351
sectional play, 351
skill building, 17
World Championship, 352
transferring play, 170–173
trap pass, 231
travel, 371–372
Index
trick. See also sure trick
discard, 14
fascination with game, 17
overview, 12–13
scoring guidelines, 324, 325, 327–334
stacking guidelines, 15
winning process, 13–15
trick counting
overview, 19
preemptive opening bids, 139–141
process, 20–21
subtraction method, 38
suits, 21–24
trick establishment
definition, 28
lower honor cards, 27–35
trick taking before, 34–35
trick taking
definition, 13
lack of flexible stoppers, 60–61
long suits with honor cards, 99–100
long suits without honor cards, 98–99
spot cards, 35–44
sure tricks, 25–26
before trick establishing, 34–35
trump contract, 71–79
before trump drawing, 68
trump contract
opening lead defense, 295–305
slam bidding, 268–274
third-hand play, 305–310
trump suit
benefits, 66
bidding, 16
definition, 14
divisions, 69–71
drawbacks, 67
extra winner identification, 71–79
final contract, 119
importance of bidding, 114
lead with, 302–303
loser counting, 71–74
loser discarding, 103–109
overview, 65
rebid after limited response, 211
slam bidding, 268
trumping a trick
definition, 66
dummy’s winners in long suit, 98–100
example, 66–67
grand slam process, 101–102
length setup with finesse, 96–98
side suit dangers, 100–101
spot card, 92–95
trumps, drawing
advantages, 68–69
definition, 67
extra winners, 76–79
four-four trump fit, 70
opening lead against trump contract,
297–298
overview, 68
spot cards, 92–95
trick taking before, 68
trumping losers, 106–107
2♣ opening bid, 134–138
2♣ response, 154–157
2♦ bid, 136
two-level overcall
definition, 228
process, 230–231
response, 242–243
two-over-one response, 236–237
weak jump, 232–233
two-level weak jump overcall, 232–233
2NT rebid, 214–215
2NT response
one-level major suit overcall, 241
1NT opening bid, 167
rebid after two-over-one response,
191–192
two-level overcall, 242
two-over-one response
definition, 157
overcall, 236–237
rebid, 191–196, 219–221
two-suited hand
opening bid, 128
overview, 126
rebid after one-over-one response,
179, 180–183
387
388
Bridge For Dummies, 2nd Edition
•U•
•W•
unbalanced hand
opening bid with 21 or more HCP, 134–136
rebid after limited response, 201–202
underleading, 304
undertrick, 324, 334, 340, 341
unequally divided suit
ducking play, 39–41
extra winner creation, 81–84
overview, 23–24
spot card trick taking, 36
trick establishment, 30–31
trick taking, 25–26
unlimited response, 149, 177–178
unsolicited advice, 299
unsupported suit, 299
U.S. versus Italy World Championship
game, 352
waiting response, 221–223
weak freak, 163
weak jump overcall
definition, 228
negative double, 262
process, 232–235
response, 243–244
weak opening bid
goal, 139
opening four bid, 144–146
opening three bid, 144
overview, 138
trick counting, 139–141
weak two bid, 141–143
weak two bid, 141–143
wheel, 343
wild card, 16
winning a set, 16
Wolff, Bobby (“The Aces on Bridge”), 369
World Championship tournament, 352
•V•
Vanderbilt, Harold (bridge player), 330
voice, 133
voided player, 59, 66
vulnerable team, 330, 343
BUSINESS, CAREERS & PERSONAL FINANCE
Also available:
0-7645-5307-0
0-7645-5331-3 *†
⻬Accounting For Dummies †
0-7645-5314-3
⻬Business Plans Kit For Dummies †
0-7645-5365-8
⻬Cover Letters For Dummies
0-7645-5224-4
⻬Frugal Living For Dummies
0-7645-5403-4
⻬Leadership For Dummies
0-7645-5176-0
⻬Managing For Dummies
0-7645-1771-6
⻬Marketing For Dummies
0-7645-5600-2
⻬Personal Finance For Dummies *
0-7645-2590-5
⻬Project Management For Dummies
0-7645-5283-X
⻬Resumes For Dummies †
0-7645-5471-9
⻬Selling For Dummies
0-7645-5363-1
⻬Small Business Kit For Dummies *†
0-7645-5093-4
HOME & BUSINESS COMPUTER BASICS
Also available:
0-7645-4074-2
0-7645-3758-X
⻬ACT! 6 For Dummies
0-7645-2645-6
⻬iLife ‘04 All-in-One Desk Reference
For Dummies
0-7645-7347-0
⻬iPAQ For Dummies
0-7645-6769-1
⻬Mac OS X Panther Timesaving
Techniques For Dummies
0-7645-5812-9
⻬Macs For Dummies
0-7645-5656-8
FOOD, HOME, GARDEN, HOBBIES, MUSIC & PETS
Also available:
0-7645-5295-3
0-7645-5232-5
INTERNET & DIGITAL MEDIA
⻬Bass Guitar For Dummies
0-7645-2487-9
⻬Diabetes Cookbook For Dummies
0-7645-5230-9
⻬Gardening For Dummies *
0-7645-5130-2
⻬Guitar For Dummies
0-7645-5106-X
⻬Holiday Decorating For Dummies
0-7645-2570-0
⻬Home Improvement All-in-One
For Dummies
0-7645-5680-0
Also available:
0-7645-1664-7
0-7645-6924-4
* Separate Canadian edition also available
† Separate U.K. edition also available
⻬2005 Online Shopping Directory
For Dummies
0-7645-7495-7
⻬CD & DVD Recording For Dummies
0-7645-5956-7
⻬eBay For Dummies
0-7645-5654-1
⻬Fighting Spam For Dummies
0-7645-5965-6
⻬Genealogy Online For Dummies
0-7645-5964-8
⻬Google For Dummies
0-7645-4420-9
⻬Microsoft Money 2004 For Dummies
0-7645-4195-1
⻬Office 2003 All-in-One Desk Reference
For Dummies
0-7645-3883-7
⻬Outlook 2003 For Dummies
0-7645-3759-8
⻬PCs For Dummies
0-7645-4074-2
⻬TiVo For Dummies
0-7645-6923-6
⻬Upgrading and Fixing PCs For Dummies
0-7645-1665-5
⻬Windows XP Timesaving Techniques
For Dummies
0-7645-3748-2
⻬Knitting For Dummies
0-7645-5395-X
⻬Piano For Dummies
0-7645-5105-1
⻬Puppies For Dummies
0-7645-5255-4
⻬Scrapbooking For Dummies
0-7645-7208-3
⻬Senior Dogs For Dummies
0-7645-5818-8
⻬Singing For Dummies
0-7645-2475-5
⻬30-Minute Meals For Dummies
0-7645-2589-1
⻬Home Recording For Musicians
For Dummies
0-7645-1634-5
⻬The Internet For Dummies
0-7645-4173-0
⻬iPod & iTunes For Dummies
0-7645-7772-7
⻬Preventing Identity Theft For Dummies
0-7645-7336-5
⻬Pro Tools All-in-One Desk Reference
For Dummies
0-7645-5714-9
⻬Roxio Easy Media Creator For Dummies
0-7645-7131-1
Available wherever books are sold. For more information or to order direct: U.S. customers visit www.dummies.com or call 1-877-762-2974.
U.K. customers visit www.wileyeurope.com or call 0800 243407. Canadian customers visit www.wiley.ca or call 1-800-567-4797.
SPORTS, FITNESS, PARENTING, RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY
Also available:
0-7645-5146-9
0-7645-5418-2
⻬Adoption For Dummies
0-7645-5488-3
⻬Basketball For Dummies
0-7645-5248-1
⻬The Bible For Dummies
0-7645-5296-1
⻬Buddhism For Dummies
0-7645-5359-3
⻬Catholicism For Dummies
0-7645-5391-7
⻬Hockey For Dummies
0-7645-5228-7
TRAVEL
Also available:
0-7645-5438-7
0-7645-5453-0
⻬Alaska For Dummies
0-7645-1761-9
⻬Arizona For Dummies
0-7645-6938-4
⻬Cancún and the Yucatán For Dummies
0-7645-2437-2
⻬Cruise Vacations For Dummies
0-7645-6941-4
⻬Europe For Dummies
0-7645-5456-5
⻬Ireland For Dummies
0-7645-5455-7
⻬Judaism For Dummies
0-7645-5299-6
⻬Martial Arts For Dummies
0-7645-5358-5
⻬Pilates For Dummies
0-7645-5397-6
⻬Religion For Dummies
0-7645-5264-3
⻬Teaching Kids to Read For Dummies
0-7645-4043-2
⻬Weight Training For Dummies
0-7645-5168-X
⻬Yoga For Dummies
0-7645-5117-5
⻬Las Vegas For Dummies
0-7645-5448-4
⻬London For Dummies
0-7645-4277-X
⻬New York City For Dummies
0-7645-6945-7
⻬Paris For Dummies
0-7645-5494-8
⻬RV Vacations For Dummies
0-7645-5443-3
⻬Walt Disney World & Orlando For Dummies
0-7645-6943-0
GRAPHICS, DESIGN & WEB DEVELOPMENT
Also available:
0-7645-4345-8
0-7645-5589-8
⻬Adobe Acrobat 6 PDF For Dummies
0-7645-3760-1
⻬Building a Web Site For Dummies
0-7645-7144-3
⻬Dreamweaver MX 2004 For Dummies
0-7645-4342-3
⻬FrontPage 2003 For Dummies
0-7645-3882-9
⻬HTML 4 For Dummies
0-7645-1995-6
⻬Illustrator CS For Dummies
0-7645-4084-X
⻬Macromedia Flash MX 2004 For Dummies
0-7645-4358-X
⻬Photoshop 7 All-in-One Desk
Reference For Dummies
0-7645-1667-1
⻬Photoshop CS Timesaving Techniques
For Dummies
0-7645-6782-9
⻬PHP 5 For Dummies
0-7645-4166-8
⻬PowerPoint 2003 For Dummies
0-7645-3908-6
⻬QuarkXPress 6 For Dummies
0-7645-2593-X
NETWORKING, SECURITY, PROGRAMMING & DATABASES
Also available:
0-7645-6852-3
0-7645-5784-X
⻬A+ Certification For Dummies
0-7645-4187-0
⻬Access 2003 All-in-One Desk
Reference For Dummies
0-7645-3988-4
⻬Beginning Programming For Dummies
0-7645-4997-9
⻬C For Dummies
0-7645-7068-4
⻬Firewalls For Dummies
0-7645-4048-3
⻬Home Networking For Dummies
0-7645-42796
⻬Network Security For Dummies
0-7645-1679-5
⻬Networking For Dummies
0-7645-1677-9
⻬TCP/IP For Dummies
0-7645-1760-0
⻬VBA For Dummies
0-7645-3989-2
⻬Wireless All In-One Desk Reference
For Dummies
0-7645-7496-5
⻬Wireless Home Networking For Dummies
0-7645-3910-8
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF

advertisement