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Hand that is more complicated than it looks

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Those of you with reasonable ability to recall bridge hands will have noticed that there are three or four hands that I trot out every year or so – I do that mainly because they are helpful in developing your bridge thinking, but also because I really enjoy them.

This one is one of my all -time favourites – it looks simple, but if it were, it would not be in this column! See Figure 1.

Figure 1

In the bidding (see Figure 2), once North decided to open his 12-point hand, a reasonable decision as all the points are in the red suits, there was no stopping South.

Figure 2

(1) New Minor Forcing – this forces to game and asks partner if they have three spades.

(2) Yes I do. With only two spades North would bid two hearts if he had four hearts, or two diamonds if he had neither three spades or four Hearts.

(3) Roman Key Card Blackwood

(4) Playing 1430 this shows one or four key cards (see the end of this column for an explanation of RKC Blackwood)

The Slam is a good one, without a club lead! West, however, appeared to find the killer lead of the King of clubs.

You win that trick and play the Ace-King of spades and both opponents follow, so one of them is left with the good spade Queen. What you now have to do is try and get rid of your two losing clubs before the defender with the Queen can ruff and cash the club.

It seems that you can easily get rid of one club on the hearts, and then try the other on the diamonds, but that would need the opponents’ diamonds to be 3-3? Agree? Or is there another extra chance?

With only five hearts between the two hands it looks normal to start on hearts first, pitching one club, and then hold your breath and play the diamonds hoping for a kind break – but that, almost counterintuitively, would be wrong! And yet pretty much every player I have given this two, including some “world-class” players, chose that play.

So let me run you through why it is correct to play the diamonds first.

In order to succeed it seems that you need diamonds to be 3-3 at a minimum, but, there is an extra chance – if the player with the trump Queen has four or more diamonds! So you play on diamonds and lo and behold, this is the full hand (see Figure 3).

Figure 3

Now you pitch one club on the fourth diamond and then play on hearts throwing your other club – West can ruff the third heart but it is too late as there are no clubs to cash – slam made!

What if West ruffs the third diamond? Well, you were never making the slam anyway.

And what if diamonds are 3-3? Well, you now switch to hearts, try and take that pitch and then play the 4th diamond – which will work if West has three or more hearts.

Not easy, but I did warn you!

Now some more on RKC Blackwood

In RKC Blackwood there are five key cards – the four Aces and King of trumps, the trump suit already having been agreed.

Some people play 1430 and some play 0314, explained below.

Playing 1430 the responses are:

Five clubs – one or four KC

Five diamonds – three or 0 KC

Five hearts – two key cards, no trump Queen

Five spades – two key cards with the trump Queen

There are tons of gadgets you can add after this but other than the two below, I would keep it simple.

1, partner opens a major and you have five-card support – if partner employs RKCB show the trump Queen even if you don’t have it, as with ten cards the trump Queen is likely to fall.

2, if partner bids five clubs or five diamonds in response to RCKB and you still want to know about the trump Queen, bid 5NT. Partner now bids six clubs to deny the Queen and six diamonds to confirm it.

David Ezekiel can be reached on davidezekiel999@gmail.com


Friday, January 27


1. Pat Siddle – Tony Saunders

2. Elysa Burland – Pat Colmet

3. Jane Smith – Marge Way


1. Lorna Anderson – Joyce Pearson

2. Stephanie Kyme – Diana Diel

3. Dorry Lusher – Joe Wakefield

Monday, January 30


1. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

2. Charles Hall – Magda Farag

3. Judy Kitson – Gill Butterfield


1. Ed Betteto – Joe Wakefield

2. Caroline Svensen – Jane Clipper

3. Marge Way – Martha Ferguson

Tuesday, January 31


1. James Fielding – Ben Stone

2. Neil Gilbertson – Barbara Elkin

3. Carol Jones – Frances McManus


1. Geoffrey Walker – Margo Bingaman

2. Malcolm Moseley – Mark Stevens

3. Heidi Dyson – John Thorne

Wednesday, February 1


1. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

2. Charles Hall – Marge Way

3. Peter Donnellan – Martha Ferguson


1. Ed Betteto – Richard Hall

2. Des Nash – Tracy Nash

3. Pat Siddle – Diana Diel

Thursday, February 2

Senior/Junior Game


1. Gertie Barker – Sally Irvine

2. Lynanne Bolton – Linda Manders

3. Betsy Baillie – Erika Jones


1. Marge Way – Neil Gilbertson

2. Charles Hall – Desiree Woods

3. Jane Smith – Heidi Dyson

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Published February 04, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated February 03, 2023 at 8:40 pm)

Hand that is more complicated than it looks

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