Chuck Arthur

MSC 11

This hand came up during a match in Hazel’s IMP league last night. East is the dealer; NS vulnerable.













West North East South
3 Pass
4   Pass   Pass Double
Pass  4   Pass  4  
Pass ??    

What do you bid at the ?? Your partner is a very good player.

Play or defend 1

This was deal 9 from the STaC (Sectional Tournament at Clubs) game Thursday afternoon, November 17, in a 20 table game at Hazel’s Bridge Club. Have a look at this layout. Would you rather play or defend a contract of 4 of a major? There seem to be four losers and no place to dump any of them. This is what happened at our table.


3 diamonds was preemptive, although nobody asked, You can follow the play by pressing the Next button (above) a few times, or by reading the explanation following. North cashed the Ace of diamonds, and switched to the 10 of clubs. Declarer won the ace and cashed two top trumps. Then he went after hearts. North declined to ruff in on the third round, so declarer cashed a fourth round, North still discarding. Declarer then exited with a club and South had to win but was endplayed. She had to lead a diamond yielding a ruff and a sluff.

Double dummy, 4 spades played by West can be broken. It takes a middle club lead at trick 1 to do it.


Again, you can follow the play by pressing the Next button a few times, or by reading the explanation following. North leads the 10 of clubs. It is immaterial what declarer does; let us say that he wins it, following the previous line of play. Now when North gains the lead with the Queen of spades, the defenders can use their diamond winner to untangle their winners in clubs, using diamonds as the communication suit,  crossing to the King of clubs, back on a high diamond, and cashing the Queen of clubs, The losers are 1 spade. 2 clubs, and 1 diamond.

4 spades is unbreakable (double dummy) when played by East. 4 hearts can be made no matter whether East or West declares. Why doesn’t the same defence work against 4 hearts played bt West as when West declared 4 spades?


I couldn’t concoct a legitimate auction to have West the declarer in 4 hearts, so I just had him bid it. Once again, you may follow the play by sucessively pushing the Next button immediately above, or by following my explanation following. Have North lead the 10 of club; Declarer wins the ace and draws trump. Now before knocking out the Queen of spades, he executes a scissors coup, leading a diamond himself. The defenders can cash one diamond and the King of clubs, but then must yield a sluff and a ruff. One of the black losers disappears; there is still one black loser, but 4 hearts is just in.

Those interrested may view the virtual traveller here. There was a scoring error: NS 20 vs. EW 12 actually made 4.

MSC 10

Here are two quick problems that David Cohen asked me to solicit you for answers.

First problem; vulnerability unknown.













West North East South
1 Pass ??


Well, do you “Walsh” this hand, bid 1 diamond, or something else altogether?

Second problem; EW vulnerable, NS not.













West North East South
Pass Pass
 1 1nt  2   ?? 


2 notrump would be lebensohl. Do you trot it out?

To submit your answers, first decide on your answers; then click on the word Comment or Comments at the top of this blog entry. That will cause this blog entry to be isolated (with the comments that others have made) and to be displayed. At the bottom of those comments, there will be a frame displayed where you may key in your answers as a comment.


YBJ (You Be the Judge) is a feature of TBW (The Bridge World) magazine. They present a situation that has arisen, that has resulted in a disaster. Readers are asked two questions.

  1. Assign the blame as a percentage. Which player was more to blame, or were they equally to blame?
  2. Which bid or play was the worst?

The problem is presented to an expert panel; they are expected to justify their opinions with logic. Their consensus answer becomes the standard for judging the rest of the world. The general readership is invited to submit their answers as well. This thing is run as a contest; the winner gets something like a free 1-year subscription to TBW. Let me try that format for this blog post, without the prize.

South was the dealer with everybody vulnerable. It was a 24½ table game at matchpoints. We (East-West) were playing 2 over 1. Our style was that a 1 diamond opening promised at least 4 unless we were exactly 4=4=3=2. 1-level bids by responder after a takeout double were forcing; 2-level bids were not.









West Chuck

















West North East South
 1 Dbl  Pass  Pass 


Needless to say, 1 diamond doubled was not a success! NS can make 4 diamonds. Clearly, either of us might have bid something to avoid the disaster. East might have been one spade, even though that was forcing. I might have redoubled to scream “Get me out of here.”

Who was more wrong? Which action or inaction was the worst.

If interested, you may view the virtual traveller here.

To submit your answers, first decide on your response; then click on the word Comment or Comments at the top of this blog entry. That will cause this blog entry to be isolated (with the comments that others have made) and to be displayed. At the bottom of those comments, there will be a frame displayed where you may key in your answers as a comment.

Defence 1

I do not know how best to present this hand. I want you to follow along as a few cards are played; then I want to ask you a question. That would seem to indicate that I present the hand as a BBO movie. The trouble is, I don’t seem to be able to create a BBO movie with a partial deal. If I use one of the non-BBO formats, I won’t be able to have you play specific cards during the first part of the play. Use of the Next button is a nice feature of the BBO movie. Another problem: I am not sure whether I want to give you the North or South hand as a defensive problem. Enough with my ramblings: I’ll just give the whole hand and you may comment on it if you choose.

 Some of you may recognize the hand. The game is IMPs; you are playing in a team league against some pretty stiff competition.


NS were playing standard leads, UDCA, and no Smith. Press the Next button above to follow the play to the first few tricks.

At the table, North continued a heart at trick 6 and declarer wrapped up 10 tricks. Clearly we have 5 tricks to take an defense. How best can we take them?

It looks like NS are cold for 10 tricks in hearts. Can North ever reasonably intorduce this suit?

One thought that I had on defense was perhaps South, knowing that clubs are going nowhere, should discard a club to discourage that suit. Which club should he discard? Perhaps a very low spot should encourage hearts; a very high club should say “spades”, and a middle club spot would be neutral.

Any thoughts?


The game was matchpoints in a 21 table game, 20 top. I was South; West was the dealer; nobody was vulnerable. We were playing 2 over 1 forcing to game.














West North East South
Pass 1 1 2
Pass  2   2 3  
Pass  4   Pass  Pass

This one is for Bill Kertes. At the end of the auction, as the dummy was coming down, North asked “Was 3 hearts forcing?”. I replied that it was. Bill, who had been kibitzing, walked away from the table at this point and discussed something with another, I do not know whom. When he returned, at the end of the hand, he said that I should post this hand on my blog; that he had received a second opinion; that the person agreed with him… that 3 hearts was only invitational. For sure, had there been no interference, it would have been forcing, and would have shown a stronger hand than had I bid 4 hearts directly.

I am sure that you are going to tell me that at the point that I bid 3 hearts, 3 spades would have been a superior bid. Perhaps so, but I did not want to chance the auction getting too convoluted. What about it folks… was 3 hearts forcing?

To see the whole deal and the virtual traveller. click here.

To submit your answer, first decide on your answer; then click on the word Comment or Comments at the top of this blog entry. That will cause this blog entry to be isolated (with the comments that others have made) and to be displayed. At the bottom of those comments, there will be a frame displayed where you may key in your answer as a comment.

The Wednesday Game

The Wednesday Game (you may click on that name to visit the site) is both the name of a website and a game held the first Wednesday of each month. There is nothing ACBL-wise official about this game; it costs no extra to play in it and no charity or international fund benefits from it. Players at participating clubs throughout North America  (perhaps the whole world, as far as I know) play a set of pre-dealt hands. These are not specially arranged: simply random computer dealt hands. Prior to the first Wednesday, the guru at that website emails materials to the participating clubs to allow them to pre-deal the hands. After the game, participants may visit the website where the hands are analyzed. During that Wednesday, one requires a password (given to the players at the completion of the game) to access the analyses for the current month, until play is complete at clubs on the west coast. There is a wealth of additional information at the website; for instance there is what he calls a BridgeOpedia where he keeps many articles on various topics in bridge.


Dealer: West

Vul: EW

Deal: 16























West North East South
1 Pass 3 Pass
4nt Pass 5 Pass 
6   All Pass    

This was one of the hands this month. I was West. I did not think that my hand quite met the standards for an almost-forcing-to-game 2 clubs, so I opened it 1 heart. 3 hearts was a limit raise; 4 notrump was RKCB; 5 hearts showed 2 keycards and denied the Queen of trump. I knew that we had all the keycards but that we were off the Queen of trump, so I checked out at 6 hearts.

The opening lead was the King of spades. I won and drew two rounds of trump, discovering that I had a trump loser. Suddenly, my chances of making this slam had decreased dramatically. At first glance, it seems that the club loser is unavoidable, but I had what I thought was a pretty good plan. I cashed my diamond winners, ruffing dummy’s last spade along the way, and cashed one high club. Then I threw in North with her trump winner. If she holds the Queen of clubs along with her trump winner, she is now endplayed. Alas, it was not to be; she had an easy exit in the 10 of clubs and I went one down. This line of play works whenever North has the Queen of clubs (50%) plus some extra chances: singleton Queen, Qxxx, or Qxxxx with South. I make these extra chances to be 5/10*28.26%  + 1/2*3.91% = 16.08%. Altogether that is a 66.08% chance of success.

Perhaps that was a good plan, but not good enough. Two declarers, John Cunningham and Steve Gittens were in slam and made it. They followed a line of play similar to mine up until the point where I cashed one hign club. They cashed TWO high clubs before throwing North in with their trump winner. Now North was truly endplayed and the slam came home. That line of play works whenever South has the Queen of clubs any number of times (again 50%, but a different 50) plus some extra chances: North having the singleton Queen or Qx of clubs. I make those extra chances to be 16.39%. Altogether, that is a 66.39% chance of success. I was bitten because I took a line of play that was 0.31% inferior. I am simply not good enough to work out those probabilities in my head at the table. My hat is off to John and Steve who, I guess, were.

You may see the virtual traveller here.

It is still forcing

This hand occurred during a club game at matchpoints; I was West.

Dealer: East

Vul: Both























West North East South
2 Pass
2    Pass 3   Pass 
3   Pass  6    All Pass


Isn’t that East hand beautful? It would be such a pity to have it go to waste.

My 2 hearts was our artificial negative: it showed less than 4 HCP or 1 King. I did not much fancy bidding 3 spades at my second turn, but thought it my duty since 3 clubs was forcing. Partner’s 6 spades ended what I thought was an efficient and fine auction. There was not much to the play. North cashed the Ace of hearts and switched to a diamond. I drew trumps and claimed, although I did have to ruff the club suit good.

I was somewhat astounded to find that we received such a good score on this deal. We played it on round 4, so it had only been played a few times by the time that we played it, but by then it was the top score EW. I did not think that we had done anything so wonderful to deserve it; to me, the auction and play were straightforward. Things changed somewhat; in the end, we received 21 out of 25 matchpoints. 5 of us were tied at 1430; 2 EW’s outscored us at 1460, obviously when NS forgot to cash their Ace of hearts. Take a look at the virtual traveller here. Notice all those EW pairs who played in 3 clubs and made 5 for +150. They almost certainly had the same start to the auction (up to the 3 club rebid) as we did, but then West passed. Clearly, those Wests looked only at their own measly collection and decided that this was not forcing. My recommendation is this: openers below game rebid (having opened 2 clubs) is still forcing for one more round. There are too many hands that opener can hold that he does not want to make a unilateral decision just yet.


The game is matchpoints: an 18½ table game at your local club. You are South, East deals, you are vulnerable, the opponents not.













West North East South
1 1NT
2   3  ??


You and your partner have agreed to play systems on after a notrump overcall: without the 2 raise, 2 would have been a transfer to hearts. Not much has been discussed past that. Does the club raise change anything? Undiscussed, how would you have taken 2 diamonds? What should the default treatment be? After the hand is over and you have a chance to discuss with partner how we are going to treat this in the future, what would be your input? What is your recommendation for a general structure here?

If you wish to participate in this blog entry, submit your answers as a comment. First decide on your answers to the above questions. Then click on the word Comments or Comment at the top of this blog entry. It will display all the comments made so far by others; try to avoid reading the other comments. At the bottom, it will give you the opportunity to submit your own comment. After you have posted any comment that you wish to make, you may see the hand record and virtual traveller by clicking here.


The scene is a quasi-regular match in the club IMP league. You deal as South; both sides vulnerable.














West North East South
pass  2   pass  2  
double  redouble pass ?? 


2 was your only forcing opening; 2 was artificial promising at least a King or 4 HCP.

What do you bid now? Make your decision before opening the comments on this blog entry.

Check back here in a few days when I shall post the North hand.