Monday, 3 June 2013

Senior Moments at the GBC

In September 2013 the Bridge World Championships take place in Bali. The Scottish Seniors had a fundraiser on Saturday, £20 each for some lessons from the experts, then a 16 hand tournament.

There were about 40 people seated in front of a speaker and projector. The talks were:

Derek DiamondImportance of Agreements
Willie Coyle Transfer Responses
John 1 Double 1NT with 14+
Iain Sime Slam Bidding
John 2 Counting

In Importance of Agreements people kept asking "What should you bid here?" and he kept saying, "Bid what you like, just agree it with partner.". My notes say:

  • Raise 1♦ to 2♦ with ♠xxx ♥xxx ♦AKx ♣xxx.
  • In the auction 1♦-1♠; 2♥-3♦, is the 3♦ forcing or not? (me and Anna say no).
  • With ♠xx ♥AKQx ♦KJxxx ♣KQ open 1♦ and rebid 2NT. No need to reverse to show Hearts as we play Checkback Stayman.
  • After 1NT is overcalled with 2♠, partner can bid 2NT to ask for the minor.

In Transfer Reponses I was baffled for the first ten minutes until he gave some examples and I knew what he was talking about. Basically, after partner opens you bid one below the suit you actually have. For example, if partner opens 1♣ and you have Hearts you bid 1♦. I can definitely see the advantage of this in giving you a bit more space, but I still don't fancy it.

In Double 1NT with 14+ the speaker convinced me that you should double a weak 1NT with any hand that has 14+ and is balanced. He called this a competitive double. If partner is weak (0-6) and has a five card suit they remove the double, else they pass. If the opponents bid again the next double from either you or partner is takeout, but after that any further double is penalties. In fact, as a general rule,

  • The third double by our side is always penalties.

Me and Anna have decided to adopt this new competitive double. After all, it's what the Italians do.

We had a break now, but only one cup of tea, then two more talks. I was wilting by this point but was still very interested in Slam Bidding. This was a whistlestop tour of eight slam bidding conventions. What I took on board was:

  • After the opponents interfere with our RKCB:
    Pass = 1/4 keycards, x/xx = 0/3 keycards, next step = 2 keycards without queen, next step after that = 2 keycards with queen.
  • Minorwood means 4m is RKCB, except in competition.
  • Redwood means the suit above the agreed minor at the 4 level is RKCB, and 4NT is now a cue.
  • Kickback is like Redwood but for any suit being trumps.
  • Last Train means that when only one cue bid is available below game it's a general slam invite, e.g. in 1♥-4♣; 4♦, the 4♦ is a general slam invite, not promising a Diamond control.
  • If opponents double a cuebid, a redouble shows 1st round control (and pass is stronger than bidding).
  • If a major is agreed 3NT is a serious slam try.
  • A raise to 5M asks for control in the enemy suit or unbid suit. Replies are to bid 6M with second round control, 6 something else with first round control. If there is no enemy or unbid suit 5M asks about trump quality.

A lot of stuff there! There was a handout. Anna says she's going to read it.

The last talk was on Counting. As we were behind on time and people were getting fidgety this was abbreviated, but included some useful inferences. I remember:

  • Everyone bids Spades if they have them, so it's normally possible to work out where all the Spades are.
  • The best passive lead is a trump

I'm a doodler

After the hands we had a 16 Board tournament. The idea was that the SBU members would sit with other players, to give them a chance to play with an expert. I thought that was the whole point of the event, but Anna wasn't that keen, so we remained as a pair. Perhaps she thinks she is already playing with a super expert (ME)?

After four hours listening to Bridge Lectures we were not at our best. On our first hand (Board 13) Anna made a weak jump overcall of 2♥ with ♠- ♥QJ75432 ♦J2 ♣Q932, then once I supported came back in with 5♥ over their 4♠. This was doubled and down two. Afterwards our expert Derek pointed out that the bidding suggested the opponents had a 4-4 Spade fit, so even though Anna had a Spade void she can pass confident I have five. I did indeed have five Spades, and was itching to double 4♠. The reason I'm mentioning this is because a similar situation came up later, and this time were were able to make a crushing penalty double of our opponents, getting them three off in 2♠x-3 on Board 12.

Towards the end things picked up, and we had a few very good results, mostly through pushing the boat out and being a bit lucky. On Board 15 I could have played a comfortable 3♥ but raised to 4♥. Although this made exactly there was no point bidding it really, I'd have got almost as good a score for 3♥+1 with none of the risk.

My featured hand is one where we defended extremely frugally to take down Scottih Senior John 1.

EW vul
S deal
♠ T 9
♥ A T 8 6 4
♦ 7
♣ Q J T 8 3
♠ J 7 5 2
♥ 3
♦ A J 9 5 3
♣ A 4 2
♠ Q 6
♥ K Q J 7 5
♦ 6 4 2
♣ 7 6 5
♠ A K 8 4 3
♥ 9 2
♦ K Q T 8
♣ K 9

John1 opened 1♠ and his partner replied 1NT. He rebid 2♦, and partner corrected to 2♠, the final contract. Thus South is known to have at least 5-4 shape in Spades and Diamonds.

I was West, and chose the ♥3 as the opening lead. Even though I've got four trumps, so a ruff doesn't necessarily help, I like leading singletons and I've nothing else to lead. Declarer won this with the Ace (preventing an immediate Heart ruff), and played a Diamond to the King and my Ace. Now that dummy is void in Diamonds I switched to a low Spade. This might cost a trick leading from my ♠J, but I was relieved when Anna played the ♠Q and declarer the ♠A. Declarer now took his Diamond ruff, and played a Club up from dummy. Anna played the ♣5, showing odd count, so after a lot of thinking to check I'd got it right, I let the ♣K win. Declarer now exited with a Heart, which I could have ruffed but instead let it run round to Anna, who won. She returned a Diamond, which declarer won in hand.

The situation is now as below, with declarer in hand having won five tricks so far, and us two. I'm definitely getting my ♦J, ♣A and a trump, and need to get another trump to take it down. As you can see, I'm always getting two trumps, but at the time I didn't know who had the ♠6, and was worried about getting endplayed.

♥ 8 6
♣ Q J T
♠ J 7 5
♦ J
♣ A 4
♠ 6
♥ Q J 7
♣ 7 6
♠ K 8 4 3
♦ T
♣ 9

Declarer led a Club from hand. I won my Ace, cashed the ♦J. I was now planning to exit with a Club, leaving me with three trumps remaining. I'd then be forced to win the 11th trick (the one you don't want to win, with three cards left), and end up giving declarer the last two. But what's this? Anna ruffed my winning ♦J, and led through a winning Heart. Now when declarer ruffed high I was guaranteed to get my two trump tricks, so we took it one off. This was the optimal defence, but on the actual layout wasn't necessary.

It was a good board for us, and I remember on the traveller someone else had made nine tricks in 4♠-1 (bad bidding, good play).

Overall we finished on 58%, which was surprisingly joint second and one Matchpoint behind first.

Here's a link to the speaker's notes: Competition Transfer Responses.


  1. Did Willie give any context for using transfer responses to one club? Are they worthwhile in a 4-card major, weak notrump system for instance?

  2. Hmm I can't remember. I think the system he introduced transfer responses to was 5 card Majors and weak NT?

    Most of the talk did focus on the situation when you open 1 Club, and the opponents interfere with a double. Responder then has the useful extra option of passing then bidding on the next round, to show a hand with two places to play (which you could do without playing transfer responses too).

  3. I've added a link at the end, to the speaker's original article.