TMI at the bridge table: starve your opponents

  • Figure 1: South Dealer N/S Vulnerable, you are South

    Figure 1: South Dealer N/S Vulnerable, you are South

  • Figure 3: play the Ace dropping the Queen and claim your slam

    Figure 3: play the Ace dropping the Queen and claim your slam

  • Figure 4: the full hand

    Figure 4: the full hand

  • Figure 2: the bidding was revealing with this weakish hand

    Figure 2: the bidding was revealing with this weakish hand

Results to May 28

Thursday, May 21

1, Rachael Gosling — Stephan Juliusburger

2, George Correia — Tim Mardon

3, David Sykes — Edward Betteto

Friday, May 22


1, Charles Hall — William Pollett

2, Elizabeth Baillie — Christine Lloyd-Jennings

3, Alan Douglas — Heather Woolf


1, Craig Hutton — Clifford Alison

2, Margaret Way — Edward Betteto

3, Patricia Siddle — Marilynn Simmons

Saturday, May 23

1, Katyna Rabain — M Louise Payne

2, Inger Mesna — Diana Downs

3= Claude Guay — Sharon Shanahan

3= Marion Silver — Duncan Silver

Monday, May 25

<499 points

1, Claude Guay — Sharon Shanahan

2, George Correia — Tim Mardon

3, Desmond Nash — Tracy Nash

Open Game


1, Edward Betteto — Jack Rhind

2, Rachael Gosling — Stephan Juliusburger

3, Diana Diel — Julia Patton


1, Joyce Pearson — Christine Lloyd-Jennings

2, Marilynn Simmons — Patricia Siddle

3, Annabelle Mann — Heather Woolf

Tuesday, May 26 <149 points

1, Sarah Bowers — Stuart Clare

2, James Mulderig — Robert Mulderig

3, Marion Silver — Duncan Silver Open Game

1, William Pollett — Linda Pollett

2, Margaret Way — Fabian Hupe

3, Elizabeth Baillie — Lisa Ferrari

Wednesday, May 27


1, Marilynn Simmons — Alan Douglas

2, Diana Diel — Patricia Siddle

3, Margaret Way — Miodrag Novakovic


1, Gertie Barker — Jane Smith

2, Magda Farag — Sheena Rayner

3, Judy King — Martha Ferguson

Thursday, May 28


1, Elizabeth McKee — Linda Pollett

2, Gregor Von Bulow — Fabian Hupe

3, Rosemary Smith — Alan Douglas


1, David Sykes — Edward Betteto

2, Claude Guay — Sharon Shanahan

3, Gertie Barker — Jane Smith

A number of you clearly liked last week’s hand, which led you through counting one of the opponents cards and allowing you to then work out what to do in the critical suit.

So I’m going to build on that this week with a hand that is mainly about declarer play, but also a bit about the dangers of giving the opponents too much information in the bidding.

You are South in Figure 1.

However, the bidding was revealing [Figure 2]

The 2NT by West was the “‘Unusual NT” showing a weakish hand with 5-5 in the minors and inviting partner to sacrifice if his hand warranted it.

North’s four? was clearly a splinter agreeing Hearts and showing a singleton Diamond and with her great controls South bid the small slam in Hearts.

West leads the 2 of Spades — it looks like you have an unavoidable Club loser so you have to avoid a loser in the trump suit — how do you play it?

Do you play for the drop (8 ever, 9 never) or, knowing that West is short in Hearts do you play east for Qxx?

You win the Spade, cash the Heart King and lead a low Heart and East plays low — now what?

Before you decide — what do you know about the hand?

Well, you know West has ten cards in the minors and yet he led a Spade so it must be a singleton — so his hand must be 1-2-5-5 meaning he has two Hearts.

So you play the Ace dropping the Queen and claim your slam — see the full hand in Figure 3:

Okay now let’s rewind — same hand, same bidding but this time West leads the Queen Diamonds — the Heart play goes the same way, you play the King and lead a low one and East follows, so how do you play it this time?

Reverse your thinking — would West lead a passive card like the Diamond Queen if he had a singleton Spade?

Almost certainly not — so this time his hand is probably 2-1-5-5 with a singleton Heart, so you should take the finesse this time! See the full hand in Figure 4.

All of this is inference — once in a while an opponent will make an off shape bid and fool you, but you can’t worry about that — you have to play for what usually happens and as long as you are right four times out of five you will end up a very big winner.

Notice how much the bidding, and the subsequent lead, gave away in both situations.

Obstructive bids are fine if they get you to a good sacrifice, but they often end up telling declarer how to play a hand. So use them carefully, and usually only at favourable vulnerability as that is when the risk reward becomes reasonable.

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Published May 30, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated May 30, 2020 at 7:55 am)

TMI at the bridge table: starve your opponents

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