Saturday, 9 March 2013

Notes from Norman

These are some things I learnt from Norman's bridge class at the Buchanan Club last Thursday.

1. Strong replies to 1NT.

We play that any three level response to 1NT is a slam try with a good six card suit and a good hand. For example:


What about opener's next bid? It works like this:

3♥/3♠ Natural, showing 5 card suit and suggesting 5-3 fit
3NT Jx or worse in responder's suit
Anything else Cue Bid, with Qx/xxx or better in responder's suit.

The auction at the top actually happened with me and Norman. I was the 1NT opener who had to rebid. I had ♠KJx ♥KQx ♦xxxx ♣AJx . What's my bid? With Norman's help I got it right on the third attempt (4♣).

2. Finesse or Drop?

In the hand above I actually ended up in 6♦ (as did Anna on the other table). We had one clear trump loser, so needed to play this Spade suit for no loser.



It looks like with only six cards the only sensible thing to do is finesse. But actually, you can do better. Norman's advice is this. Play off all your other winners, so you're down to just the Spade suit. This is risky, as if you now lose the lead you'll lose the rest, but is the best chance to make your slam. As you're playing off winners count the Spades being discarded. If there's four enemy Spades left you play for the drop, if there's five Spades left you finesse.

As it happened I got a nice Spade lead and made the slam. Anna didn't and had to finesse and go one off.

3. Check your checkback

After the following type of auction:


What can East rebid with extra length in Majors?

2♣ Checkback, with 5 Spades or 4 Hearts (or both).
3♥ 5 Spades 5 Hearts or better
3♦ 5 Spades 5 Diamonds or better

As a follow up point on Checkback, suppose the auction is:

1NT-2♣ -

West is being asked if he has three Hearts or four Spades. What should he reply if he has both? The surprise answer is that he should bypass bidding 2♥ and go for the 4-4 fit by bidding 2♠. That way if you have a double fit you play in the 4-4 fit and not the 5-3 (note this is different from normal Stayman, where if you've both Majors you bid 2♥, the lower bid).

4. Jumps to the five level.

This causes a lot of confusion. I think it's always going to be a bit confusing. Here's a summary of what it means when you jump to either 5 trumps or 5NT.

In an auction where it's not clear what trumps is:

5NT Pick a slam

In an uncontested auction when you've agreed trumps:

5 trumps Small slam invite. Bid 6 with 'good' trumps.
5NT Grand slam invite. Bid 7 with two of AKQ in trumps.

In a contested auction:

5 trumps Small slam invite. Bid 6 with second round control (King or singleton) in opponent's suit
5NT Grand slam invite as before.

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