Bridge Problem 247


Bridge Problem by Patrick Jourdain

Bridge Problem 247 for August 2010


How should West play Four Spades? North leads the Q.

West                                        East
 K Q J 10 9 8                           A 5 4 2
 A 3 2                                      K 5 4
 9 5 3                                       A 7 2
 J                                              Q 10 3

An answer to Bridge problem 247

There are nine top tricks and the club suit provides the thirteenth provided you handle the entries carefully. You must win the opening lead in the West hand, draw trumps using West’s high cards and then play the J. The defense win and switch, best, to a diamond. You win at once and play a second club discarding a diamond. The defense can win and cash a diamond, but then you can win the heart switch and ditch a losing heart on the good club.

A non-prize problem for August 2010

How should West play Seven Spades on a trump lead?

West                                           East
 A Q 5 4 3                                  K J 9 8
 A J 8 3                                      K Q 6
 A                                               K 8 4
 A J 10                                       9 6 4

An answer to a Non-prize problem

Irving Gordon & Boris Schapiro reached this unfortunate grand slam in the 1999 European Senior Teams in Malta. Any legitimate line seemed sure to fail so Gordon tried some larceny. He cashed all his major suit winners, abandoning the K with no entry in dummy. For his last four cards, he held three clubs and the diamond ace. Dummy held three diamonds and a club. In the ending, both defenders, convinced partner had only two diamonds left, felt obliged to hang on to three diamonds. As a consequence, when Gordon played the ace of clubs he saw the pleasant sight of the king from one defender and the queen from the other! Slam made.

This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.

Bridge Problem 248


Bridge Problem by Patrick Jourdain

Bridge Problem 248 for September 2010


North opens Three Spades which goes round to West who bids 3NT. North leads Q. How should West play?

West                                      East
 K 4                                        A 6
 A J 2                                     Q 5 3
 A K 4 2                                 7 6 5 3
 K 10 6 3                               Q J 4 2

An answer to Bridge problem 248

North will not have both heart king and club ace so declarer should win the first trick in dummy and take the heart finesse. If that loses and North clears the spades you are assuming South will have the club ace and no spades left to play.

If you play on clubs first and South wins to clear the spades North may have an entry either with the heart king or the third diamond.

North holds:

 Q J 10 9 7 5 3   K 6   Q 9 8   9

This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.

Weak 2 Bid (Part 1)


by Eddie Kantar
Originally Published on February 2, 2007

The Weak Two Bid is an opening bid of 2?, 2?, or 2? (not 2?) describing a hand with a strongish six-card suit along with 7-9 HCP (6 or 10 HCP are exceptions, particularly 10).

It can be compared to an opening three bid, the difference is that a three bid normally shows a seven-card suit.

The distribution of the weak two bidder’s hand rates to be 6-3-2-2, 6-3-3-1 or 6-4-2-1.
Notice: no five-card side suits, no voids.

Suit strength can vary with the vulnerability and seat. Ideally three or four of the top five honors will head the suit. Practically, two of the top five honors along with the 98 or 97 attached will do just fine, thank you. Suits that look like: AK10765, AK9732, KQ9732, AJ9843, QJ10432, KJ9765 are fine. In addition, at favorable vulnerability liberties are allowed, particularly in third seat.

Third seat weak twos (after partner has passed) are often made with a strong five-card suit as a lead director. Partner is supposed to have four card support plus a side suit singleton or two side suit doubletons to raise a third seat weak two. Discipline!

Opening the following hand-type with 2? in third seat eliminates the necessity for many light third hand openings
? KQJ105
? K8
? J76
? 765

The advantages of opening a weak two are:

  1. limiting the hand immediately;
  2. directing the opening lead;
  3. taking away bidding space from the opponents.

Assume you deal and hold:
? 98
? AKJ986
? 98
? 1076

Not playing weak twos, you pass and hope to bid hearts later. However “later” may not happen!

East (you) South West North
Pass 1NT Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Pass

You can hardly expect your partner to lead a heart unless you beat on your chest. How much easier (and safer) to open 2?, limit the hand, and get the lead you want.


Before considering your response, keep in mind that your partner’s has about 7/8 HCP along with a reasonable six-card suit.

Your response depends to a large extent on how well you fit partner’s suit — unless you are blessed with an independent suit (can play opposite a singleton without trauma) of your own.

With a singleton in partner’s suit and no strong suit of your own, do not even think of bidding on unless you have 16+ HCP.

With a small doubleton in partner’s suit, you need about 15 HCP to bid on. However, with a doubleton honor in partner’s suit (Ax, Kx, Qx), and an interesting looking hand (no wasted jacks or queens) 14 HCP will suffice.

Hands with three or four card support normally do something. Frequently you “further the preempt” by raising partner to the three or four level. All you need is a little distribution plus a bunch of courage! Keep in mind the opponents figure to have a game, possibly a slam, so if they nail you with a penalty double and beat you a few tricks it may still be a good result.




Your advantage is that you know where your fit lies; the opponents have yet to find theirs. By raising partner’s suit, you make it that much harder for your opponents to uncover their fit.

Assume for the moment that your partner opens 2? and your right hand opponent passes. What are your options?

North (partner)    East      South (you)    West
2?                        Pass      ?


    1. Pass. Don’t even think of bidding on with the example beneath.?AJxx     ?2     ?J54    ?K943


    1. Bidding a new suit: A new suit in response to a weak two bid is forcing for one round. Responder must have at least a strong five card suit, more likely longer with opening bid values. With the example hand beneath, bid 2&spades, forcing for one round.Holding:   ?AKJ943     ?2     ?AQ10    ?109x


    1. Raising to 3?: This is strictly preemptive and opener is not allowed to bid on. Ever! Responder could even have less than the example hand.?87   ?K43    ?A9432    ?976Raise to 3?.


    1. Raising to 4?: A two-edged sword. You may have a good hand with hopes of making 4?, or you may be furthering the preempt, taking an advance sacrifice, so to speak. The opponents now have to find their fit at the four or five level never having had a chance to exchange any information.?AKJ3    ?Q5       ?4        ?A76432?4      ?KJ43     ?KJ743    ?1087Raise to 4? with either hand.


    1. Responding 2NT: A one round force asking partner to further describe his hand. At this point the opener has several options. Opener can:
        1. Return to the original suit, the weakest of all rebids.
        1. Raise to 3NT: This should only be done with a suit headed by the AK, AKJ, AKQ, or AQJ;
        1. Show a feature-perhaps an ace or a king.
        1. For example, having opened 2


        1. with:
        1. ?54


        1. AJ10xxx


        1. 54      ?K105
        In response to 2NT bid 3? to show side strength. If partner then returns to the three level of the agreed suit, you are allowed to pass, but the sequence is invitational. If responder bids 2NT and then bids a new suit, that is forcing.
    2. Responding 3NT: This response ENDS the bidding. Responder is not interested in hearing any more about your hand. Responder usually has a solid minor perhaps with a singleton or void in your suit. An example of a 3NT response to a 2? opening:?K4     ?2     ?AKQJ876     ?K76


  1. Responding 4NT: Simple Blackwood, perhaps Key Card Blackwood, to be determined by the partnership.

Stay tuned for Weak 2 Bids (Part II).



October 2012

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 | Tags:   

This column has been printed here with permission from Bridge Magazine



                                            ?K 9 5 3
                                            ?A K J 10 3
                                            ?J 10 4
?A 10 2
?8 7 5 3
?7 2
?A Q 9 2



WEST      NORTH      EAST       SOUTH

1?               Pass             1?

Pass          1?                Pass            2NT

Pass         3NT            All Pass


Partner leads the seven of clubs (second and fourth). Dummy plays the ten. Which card do you play?


                                            ?A K J
                                            ?A J 9
                                            ?A J 9 7 4
                                            ?10 9
?Q 10 7 6
?Q 10 8 3
?K Q 8 4



WEST      NORTH        EAST        SOUTH

1?                Pass              1NT

Pass            3NT            All Pass



West leads the six of spades, won by the ace. Dummy leads the ten of clubs. How do you play your clubs?





                                          ?K 9 5 3
                                          ?A K J 10 3
                                          ?J 10 4
        West                                                          East
        ?Q 8 6                                                       ?A 10 2
       ?K 9 4 2                                                     ?8 7 5 3
       ?9 6 4                                                         ?7 2
       ?8 7 3                                                         ?A Q 9 2
                                    ?J 7 4
                                    ?A J 10 6
                                    ?Q 8 5
                                    ?K 6 5


At the table, the declarer failed to put up an honour from dummy, meaning the problem did not arise. East had an easy play of the nine (playing low would also have worked).

As it is, if the lead is from four cards, you can afford to duck. The king will come down on the next round. Of course, if partner has four, communications are fluid anyway.

If you take the ace, you cannot return the suit safely unless the lead is from four. You would only take it if you intend to switch. That does not look right here. Your best chance surely is to make three clubs, a spade and one trick in partner’s hand.

The correct card to play is the queen, which loses to the king. You then wait for partner to gain the lead in hearts to continue clubs through dummy’s J-x.



                                         ?A K J
                                         ?A J 9
                                         ?A J 9 7 4
                                         ?10 9
      West                                                                 East
     ?10 8 7 6 4 2                                                    ?9
     ?K 5 4 2                                                            ?Q 10 7 6
     ?K 6                                                                   ?Q 10 8 3
     ?7                                                                      ?K Q 8 4
                                       ?Q 5 3
                                       ?8 3
                                       ?5 2
                                       ?A J 6 5 3 2



The original East covered the ten of clubs with the queen. Declarer won with the ace and returned the two. When West showed out, East allowed the nine to hold. Unable to set up the club suit, declarer went down.

‘Why not duck the club?’ North queried. ‘Even if they are 3-2, East could hold up and kill the suit. If you play for the king-queen onside, you have the entries to set up and run the suit.’

‘I guess I should not have covered in that case,’ East remarked. ‘With my eight of clubs, it looked right to cover the ten and nine. I suppose if I duck on the first round and cover on the second, declarer makes only two club tricks, which is not enough.’

West smiled. ‘At least, you knew not to signal with your eight of clubs. By the way you might have to exit with the three of diamonds if declarer tries an end play.’

BIL Session 2: “Introduction to Counting Part 2”


                                             Ellen Caitlin Pomer

Introduction to Counting: Lesson 2

Reading the Opponents’ Cards: Shape

                          From Thursday, October 2nd, BILlies Retreat

                                                                          Download PDF


As we continue to work on counting, we continue to count SHAPE. As we eventually move to counting High Card Points (HCPs), opponents counting declarer’s hand, opponents counting each other’s hands, the key to all, is PLANNING!. Note that typically in suit contacts we count losers and if our losers are say, one more, than we can afford, we determine if there is a way to collapse that loser. Counting can be key to this process.

At notrump, we typically count sure winners. We are in 3NT and can count 8 sure tricks. West is on lead and s/he plays the ?5. As declarer we hold the spade ?Axx.and there are two spades in dummy On the ?5, East plays the ?K, which we duck, and then East returns the ?T, which we also duck, then the ?2 is played by East, which we win.

How many spades do you think East has? If East knows how to give correct count, once he has played the King, s/he is left with the T2. Remainder count says you play high-low, just as you would if starting with two cards and giving count. By assuming East has three spades, declarer has 3 spades, 2 small spades in dummy, giving West five spades. We have a two way finesse in clubs to possibly pick up our ninth trick. With two losers already, take the finesse into East who we presume is out of spades. We may or may not make our contract, but if we finesse into West, and the finesse loses, we definitely lose the two spades from the lead, the club and two more spades which West holds on to. This is one of many examples how being aware of an opponent’s play can potentially give us the best chance.



West leads a heart and East cashes the ?AK then leads the ?Q.
Note that over two hearts, 3? shows five spades (with six spades South would likely make a Texas Transfer bid of  4?)  and is forcing. For more information on Texas Transfers. See .

Here is the full deal:

You start with two sure heart losers, West leading the ?8 which East wins with the heart King and returns the heart Ace while West plays the heart two. West’s high-low and East’s bid of 2?, certainly allows us to place six hearts with East. We start with two heart losers, and a potential trump and diamond loser. After winning the club King, you play a spade and lose to the ?K. You draw the rest of trumps, noting that West has only one trump, leaving East with three. After pulling trump, it is best to ruff a heart and a club, discovering that East started with three spades, six hearts and at least three clubs. S/he has at most a singleton diamond so you cash ?K and finesse ?J.



A 2NT overcall shows at least 5-5 in the minors. Be disciplined and do not make this bid with 5-4 and for sure not 4-4 in the minors. This convention is called Unusual Notrump and see: 4NT is Roman Key Card Blackwood (RKCB) and here ?5 shows two Aces and the spade Queen. For more information on RKCB see: Note that I turn to the online site, ‘Bridge Guys’: it is convenient; has a huge library of terms and conventions; and, gives interesting variations used by many bridge players. Thus when I want quick information on a convention, say RKCB, I use ‘Bing’ and type in Bridge Guys Roman Key Card Blackwood’. (Yes, I prefer Bing over Google and feel free to ask me during our next class : )

Here is the full deal:

Given West is most likely to have 5-5 in the minors, albeit s/he could be 6-5, we start with a lot of great information regarding West’s shape and it therefore makes most sense to count the West hand. When West leads the K, you win with the diamond Ace, draw trump. West therefore started with a doubleton in spades, and at most a singleton heart. Lead to dummy’s ?Q and finesse the ?9.



Here 3NT shows a strong balanced hand with hearts stopped. A 2NT bid over a weak two bid shows the equivalent of a 1NT opener, with a strong 15 to 18 (unlike the regular 15-17), balanced HCPs with the prior weak two bid suit covered. Here 3NT should show a 2NT opener (20-21 HCPs) or hearts stopped and a long running suit such, typically a minor, such as AKQJTxx. Or AKQJxxxx. A version of the Rule of Seven says that your partner is likely to have 7 HCPs over a pre-empt and your values, hopefully filling in a stopper(s) where you may lack with the latter example of a 3NT bid.

Why not double? The South hand has a notrump shape of 3-3-4-3. West leads a heart. East wins ?A and plays the ?Q.

Here is the full deal:

You have to decide if your clues thus far lead you to assume that RHO has 6 hearts. The weak 2 bid, and the high-low by LHO would lead one to believe that RHO started with 6 hearts. Always be cautious on this as some pre-empt with five. We know the count in spades and we play our diamonds, with East showing three.. If RHO started with 6 hearts, then he must therefore be exactly 2632. When you cash the KQ of clubs, RHO can’t have any more clubs so it’s a certainty that the finesse will work.


West leads ?Q. The ?3 bid should show a pre-emptive 7 spades.

Here is the full deal:

At notrump you count sure winners and plan how to develop more tricks. Here you must find a 12th trick and to start, diamonds are most promising. So you start with 2 sure spade winners; 2 hearts; 3 diamonds if you finesse and lose to the ?K; and, 3 clubs for a total of 10 sure tricks.

If the diamond finesse is on, we are up to 11 tricks and if clubs come home we have 12. There is no choice how we have to play diamonds so we play that suit first. Good news, the finesse works and we are up to 11 tricks. We take the first three diamonds, finding West with 2 small diamonds,

Let’s assume West has seven spades based on the bidding and count signal; therefore, we assume seven spades and know of two diamonds. If clubs are 2 with West and 3 with East, we can cash out. But such is not the case. With West having one club, we need to double finesse East against the JT84. But is there a way to tell? How do we get a count on hearts to know how to play clubs? Think!

The answer is to duck a heart! This lets us play three rounds of hearts before committing to clubs. If West follows to two hearts, clubs are breaking. But what if West follows to 3 rounds of hearts? Then West has 7-3-2-1 shape. So West should have a singleton club. How do we play clubs? Think!

If you start with an honour in your hand, then play low to dummy, you will pick up the singleton Jack or Ten when you do not know the count. Such is the correct way to play the suit when you do not know the count. But we do know the count so it’s right to start with the ?Q in dummy. This allows us to pick up the same singleton Jack or Ten, and also allows you double finesse East when West’s singleton is a small card.

Why did we only cash three diamonds earlier? Think! Look at what happens if we cashed all four. When we play the ?Q and then a low club, East can split his/her honours from JTxx and we don’t have a way to get back to dummy to repeat the finesse. By saving one high diamond, we have a re-entry to dummy when we need it.


West leads ?6. East takes ?AQ then switches to a heart. You win the heart and play the ?AK and East shows only one diamond. How do you make 3NT?

Notes from the Bridge World

a)Marty Bergen’s website is at A 10-time national champion, Marty has produced 36 booklets and 17 audio visual lessons as part of his “Secrets To Winning Bridge” series. You can check out his website at They all contain great information that you will find nowhere else and are written in an entertaining and easy to read style. For more information, go to

b)Visit one of my favourite websites, Larry Cohen’s at There are so many articles you will find enjoyable and educational. Larry is an acclaimed player and writer who retired from competitive bridge to write, teach and offer fantastic cruises. Among many accomplishments, Marty and Larry are responsible for bringing the Law of Total Tricks to the bridge world.

c)As founder of Bridge Forum, (, I am having the website completely revamped. Do you have ideas you would like to see on the site? A bookstore attached? A bidding panel for intermediates? All my notes from volunteer teaching? Guest stars’ articles? Quizzes? You tell me and email me at

Bridge Problem 256


Bridge Problem 256 for May 2011

How should West play Three Notrumps on an unopposed auction? North leads a heart.

West                                   East
 A Q 9 6                              4 3 2
 A Q 3 2                             K
  6 5 4 3                              A K
  10                                      Q J 9 5 4 3 2

An answer to Bridge problem 256

You have to win the first lead in dummy and need to set up the clubs. If you play a low club to the ten and that wins there are insufficient entries to dummy to set up clubs even when they are 3-2. If you play the queen or jack of clubs from dummy you will fail when the clubs are 4-1. You can improve your chances by entering a hand with the ace of spades at trick two and playing a club from hand. Should North prove to hold singleton ace or king you will be able to play low from dummy and use the two diamond entries to establish clubs. If North plays low you have to overtake and hope the clubs break.

Should South win the first club and play another spade you cover his lead and the nine protects you from losing three spade tricks.

A non-prize problem for May 2011

After two Passes East opens a weak Two in Diamonds and South overcalls Four Hearts to end the auction. West leads a diamond. East makes two diamond tricks and then switches to a club. How do you play? Trumps break 2-2.


West                             East
 Q 8 7 3                        J
 8 5 2                           A K Q 10 9 3
 K J                               10 5
 Q 7 3 2                       A K 10 6

An answer to a non-prize problem

Morten Andersen was declarer on this deal from the 1997 Politiken World Pairs in Denmark. The club switch was likely to be a singleton and the spade honors to be divided. Could West be squeezed? Andersen won the ace of clubs, drew trumps in two rounds, and exited with the spade jack.

West held  A 10 9 4. If he played low he would certainly be squeezed later so he went up with the ace. However, he was now endplayed in an unusual way. He was forced to exit with a middle spade. Declarer covered in dummy and ruffed out East’s king. This transferred the spade menace to West so when the trumps were cashed West was squeezed in the black suits.

West held:  A 10 9 4   J 6   8 7 3   J 9 8 4

This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.


BIL Session 1: “Introduction to Counting Part 1”



Ellen Caitlin Pomer


From Thursday September 18th, 16:15 ET, BILlies Retreat

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Ellen Caitlin Pomer has been teaching online for nearly 17 years. She is co-author of the acclaimed ‘Standard Bidding with SAYC’ and founder of Bridge Forum ( She returns to bridge teaching in the BIL, where she has taught many topics, and is delighted to be back teaching ‘Introduction to Counting’. She is also available for private sessions. She can be reached at Please advise others that if they wish to receive these notes, that they should email me with their full name and BBO I.D. Enjoy!

Please note that due to the holy Jewish holidays, there will be no session on Thursday, September 25th and will resume Thursday, October 2rd at 4:15pm Eastern. To all Jewish members who celebrate these holidays, I wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy Jewish New Year.

We will look at a variety of issues which are involved with counting.

Bridge is a game of counting so let’s break it down as to when you count.

a) When declarer does not have what we call a ‘cold’ contract (i.e. more losers than s/he can afford to make the contract), counting may help. We will see examples where this is true.

b) Defenders count declarer’s hand. If, for example West opens 1NT and the contract becomes 3NT, and declarer has shown 17 HCPs (High Card Points) and declarer must have the missing ?A, as partner has signalled s/he doesn’t like hearts, (to be discussed below) South now knows that partner must have the ?K (as declarer can’t have the ?A and the missing ?K). When in, North should feel free to lay down his ?A from AQJ as partner should have the Club King, and in doing so, you can defeat the contract if you get your tricks in time.

c) Defenders give count to one another, but when? When on defense, and your partner leads, you give attitude. Thus partner leads the ?2 and you hold the JT63, play the Ten (lower of two equally ranking cards) to say you like the suit. But when declarer plays a suit, give count, thus traditionally high-low with an even number of cards (8652) and low-high with an odd number of cards (J32).

What if the suit has been played one round? Now we are giving remainder count. Thus with 852 remaining in the above example, we now play low-high, thus the 2; and with J3 left from the above J32, we play the Jack if it makes sense to do so.

Remember it is very important to give your partner count on defense but you must be the judge. If giving count or attitude in a specific situation only helps declarer, LIE!


More Tips for Counting

a) The bidding at the table gives enormous help. For example, if an opponent, say East, opens a weak two 2?, and North-South land up in 4?, declarer already starts with a good count on the opponents cards, knowing one opponent has six in a suit.

b) The lead is also a key for declarer. Say you are in 4?, and your opponent, who passed in first seat, leads the .?AK. Later s/he shows up with the Club King. There is no way s/he can have the missing ?K or s/he would have opened the bidding.

Mike Lawrence, a member of BBO, wrote: ‘How to Read Your Opponents’Cards’ many years ago and has two CDs on counting: ‘Counting at Bridge’ and ‘Counting at Bridge 2’. I highly recommend you consider purchasing Lawrence’s first CD, with software by BBO’s founder, Fred Gitelman, from the BBO ‘Online Store’.

Below you will find the four hands we counted for your review, while hand 4 is ‘homework; which we will discuss at our next session.

Reading the Opponents’ Cards: Counting Shape



The bidding could be better! The 5? bid, as we will see, with 4NT as RKC Blackwood shows 2 controls — the, two Aces and the Queen of hearts.. Even though South is heading toward notrump, you respond to 4NT based on the last suit bid unless, thus 5? showing two Aces and the ?Q.


West leads the?T. What is your plan?

Here is the full deal:

You cash your winners outside of clubs — 3 spades, 3 hearts, 3 diamonds — so you need to win 4 clubs. As you cash your winners, we count one opponent’s hand, say West, here. We find out that West follows to one spade, two hearts, and East follows to only two diamonds: We know that West’s shape is 1-2-6-4. While West has four clubs and East only two, it is twice as likely that West has the ?J and he does. It is not a done deal that West has the club Jack, but this is an informed decision. With a club finesse to the Ten, declarer has 13 tricks.


West leads the ?T.

Here is the full deal:

Thus far East has shown 6 hearts and 2 spades and by playing on diamonds, declarer knows West’s shape: 2-6-3-2. (How does declarer know that East has only 3 diamonds? Note that on the run of extra spades to get more information (a common technique), East played a diamond. Counting the hand we know East has two clubs and one must be the ?K as East needs the king for his opening bid given East has the ?A. So the issue is not which hand holds the ?K — that we have come to know — but how many clubs does East holds? Now we know to lead a club to the Queen, cashing the ?A, dropping the ?K.


West cashes ?AK and follows with the ?3. East ruffs and exits with a club.

Here is the full deal:

You win, cash trump and two more clubs. When East discards on the third round, you know that West started with 2-5-1-5 shape, so you can lead to dummy’s ?K and finesse the ?J with certainty


West cashes ?AK. You ruff and….

Here is the full deal:

… knocks out the ?A. East does best to return a club. To count the hand, play ?AK and ruff the ?J. Now you know West started with two hearts and two clubs. Presumably he had six spades for his opening bid so he must have three diamonds. This means that West has only one diamond. Play the ?K in case the singleton is the ?Q and when it is not finesse the ?J.



West leads ?8 and East cashes ?AK. West plays ?2 on East’s second heart. East leads a third heart and South trumps with the ?Q while West discards a small club. Declarer now leads trump with West holding one trump and East, the remainder. What line of play do you now take to give yourself the best chance of making this contract given you already have 3 losers?

Bridge Problem 246


Problem 246 for July 2010


How should West play Six Diamonds after the bidding shown below where North has opened a weak two in hearts? North leads ?10


West                                East
? K 5                               ? A J 10 8 7
? A 9 8 5 3                     ? 2
? A K J 10 9 3                 ? Q 2
? None                        ? A 9 8 7 6

West             North                 East                  South

2?                 Pass                    Pass

5?                 Pass                     6?                      All Pass


An answer to Prize problem 246


Hopefully North, who has six hearts, has at most two clubs. You play low from dummy at trick one and ruff low in hand. You play one high trump from hand to see if they are 5-0. If both follow you play the ace of hearts and ruff a heart high then a second low club ruffing in hand. Then you run all the trumps throwing clubs from the dummy. You finish by playing ?K and finessing ?j. This loses to South but provided he is out of red cards he must concede the rest to a dummy.

If the trumps are 5-0 (suppose North has 5) you assume he has led a singleton club and return to hand with a spade to the king continuing as before.


A non-prize problem for July 2010


West is in Four Hearts at Pairs on the lead of ?2 after the bidding shown below. The opponents, playing Standard American, lead 3rd and fifth. What is South’s shape and how do you play for maximum tricks?

South                West                 North                East

1?                       1?                     3?                       4?

Pass                  4?                    All Pass

3? was pre-emptive and 4? a splinter

West                                 East
? 5 4                                 A K 10
A K 5 2                         ? J 9 8 6 4 3
?  A 2                               Q 9 8 5
? K J 10 8 4                     None

An answer to a non-prize problem

This deal is from the 1999 Life Masters Pairs at the ACBL Fall Nationals. Eddie Wold, partnering George Rosenkranz, worked out South’s shape must be 4-3-3-3. Reasoning: North has shown five clubs so South has three, the spades must be 4-4 because neither opponent has bid the suit, and West cannot have more than three diamonds or he would have opened that rather than 1?. Therefore he has three hearts.

So Wold discarded a diamond from dummy on the opening lead and later crossed to the top spades to lead the ?J for a finesse. Result: 12 tricks and 68/77 match points.

South held: Q J 7 2  ? Q 10 7  ? K 6 3  ? A 5 3

This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.

Bridge Problem 249


Bridge Problem by Patrick Jourdain

Bridge Problem 249 for October 2010

How should West play Three Notrumps? North, who as a dealer, opened 1, showing five, leads a diamond.


West                               East
 Q J 7 3 2                       6 5 4
 A K Q                           J 10 2
 8 3                                A K Q J 10
 Q 5 4                            J 10

An answer to Bridge Problem 249

Assume North has the missing honors and less than four hearts. If declarer plays a club at once North wins and plays the second diamond. The run of the diamonds squeezes West in front of North.

Instead, declarer should cash precisely one heart and then play a club. North wins and plays the second diamond. The difference is that now declarer can run the diamonds throwing two big hearts from hand and follow with the J. Five cards remain and the number of spades North holds is known.

Suppose North has three spades. Then, without cashing the last heart, East exits with a club. North can win and exit to either hand but is then endplayed with a spade. If North keeps only two spades East can cash the third heart throwing a spade from hand and come to a club trick later.


A non-prize problem for October 2010  (Make that September!)

How should West play Four Spades? North leads a heart to South’s ace, the jack of hearts wins the next trick and then the defense forced a trump off dummy.


West                                 East
 K J 9 3                            A 10 6 2
 Q 7 6                              10 2
 A 7                                  K Q J 10 9 5 2
 10 9 6 3                         None

An answer to a Non-prize problem

The deal is from the 1999 IOC Grand Prix semifinal between Italy and France. The defenders were Lauria & Versace. North held  Q 8 7 5 and a singleton diamond. The French declarer erred by playing the ace of trumps and then a low one to the nine but the defender let this hold and there was no recovery. If you start by running the ten that is better but still leads to defeat if North ducks.

The only winning line is to start with a low spade to the nine. If that loses you are in control.

If it holds, you now play a low spade to the ten! If that loses the trumps are 3-2, and if it wins you can draw trumps using the diamond ace to return, and run the diamonds.

This is a real-life example of the textbook safety play where you finesse in both directions to succeed.

This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.

Bridge Problem 250


Bridge Problem 250 for November 2010


To celebrate Bridge Magazine’s 250th Prize Problem I present something a bit more complicated than usual.

How should West play Four Hearts? North, who opened a weak notrump, leads the K on which South drops the queen, and follows with a low club to South’s jack.


West                                   East
 A Q 2                                5 3
 A 10 5 3 2                        Q J 4
 Q J 3 2                              A K 6 5 4
 8                                        10 9 4

An answer to Bridge problem 250

North must hold both missing kings so West is forced to ruff the second club for fear of a spade switch. To guard against the danger that North has four trumps West should continue with a low heart. If North wins this or the next high heart from dummy and plays A West now refuses to ruff, throwing a diamond or spade. He wins any continuation from North, draws trumps and runs the diamonds for ten tricks.

However, if North has  Kxxx he does best to duck both Q and J. West cannot continue trumps and North threatens to cut West off from the fifth diamond by being careful to ruff the fourth round.

West switches to diamonds. After three rounds suppose North still has  Kx and no diamonds. West must not play a fourth diamond or North will ruff and exit with K or a club to leave West with two spade losers.

So after the third diamond declarer must play the last club and throw a small spade from hand. North is endplayed with an ace of clubs into conceding a trick. A fourth club is ruffed with dummy’s small trump whilst declarer disposes of Q. North can ruff the next diamond but the West hand is high.

A non-prize problem for November 2010

For the 250th Problem corner here is a famous deal from the past. How should West play 3NT after South opened a weak Two spades? North leads 3

West                                        East
 K Q J 8                                  5 3
 A K 8                                    9 7 5 3 2
 Q 10 8                                   K 6 5
 K J 6                                     Q 10 9

An answer to a non-prize problem

Bobby Wolff faced the problem of making 3NT as West on this deal from the 1998 Macallan Pairs:

                                         ♠ 2
                                          J 10 6
                                          A 9 7 3 2
                                        ♣ A 8 5 4
West                                                                      East
 K Q J 8                                                                5 3
 A K 8                                                                  9 7 5 3 2
 Q 10 8                                                                 K 6 5
 K J 6                                                                    Q 10 9
                                      ♠ A 10 9 7 6 4
                                       Q 4
                                       J 4
                                     ♣ 7 3 2


North, Alfredo Versace, led a diamond to the jack and queen. Wolff realized he must tackle clubs first to threaten North’s entry to the diamonds but he made a key play of the jack of clubs, overtaking in dummy with the queen when North ducked. Next came a spade off dummy.

Lauria rose with the ace and the defense cleared the diamonds. Declarer has only eight top tricks but when he cashed the spades North was squeezed in three suits when he was down to:

 None   J 10 6   9 7   A

If North threw a winning diamond declarer could set up another club safely. So Versace discarded a heart, hoping partner held the suit. So Wolff made an overtrick.

Now try going back to the third trick. When a spade is led off dummy assume South puts in the nine. West wins and switches back to clubs. He can set up his seventh and eighth trick in the minors and after cashing all other winners can play a spade. South is all spades and has to concede the ninth trick to West.

This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.