Bridge with Bland

Bridge with Bland: 3.11.20

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, was said to have spent eight hours diagramming and analyzing one seemingly straightforward play. This month’s hand also appears simple but demonstrates the complexity of our game. We don’t have eight hours to break down each hand, but we need to make our 7 minutes productive.

Vul: Both
Dealer: South

the bidding
2 NT


3 NT


Opening lead: ♥ 3
♠ J 6 5 4
♥ J 4 2
♦ 9 8 7
♣ K 5 4

♠ 10 7 3 2
♥ Q 8 7 3
♦ Q 4 3 2
♣ 8

♠ Q 9 8
♥ K 10 6
♦ K 10 6
♣ J 9 7 3

♠ A K
♥ A 9 5
♦ A J 5
♣ A Q 10 6 2

Bidding Commentary:
1. A strong and forcing two-♣ bid, followed by two No Trump shows 22-24 HCP. Depending on how the responder shows values, this is not forcing. A common treatment is to respond two ♦s with at least an Ace or a King. If this is your style, then two ♣s opener and two ♦s responder forces hand to game. If responder bids two ♦s and opener bids two No Trump, the opener’s hand is unlimited. The value of this bid is keeping the three level open for systemic bids, be it Stayman, Transfers or whatever.
2. With game values, when partner opens No Trump, forego Stayman with 4-3-3 distribution.

Lead Commentary: Most of the time, it’s safer to lead from a major rather than a minor with relatively equal length and strength. Minor suits often are concealed during the bidding, but major suits seldom are. With this month’s hand, ♥s are stronger than ♠s, so lead a ♥.

Play Commentary 1: With a combined holding, your hand and Dummy’s Ace-Queen-9 or Ace-Jack-9 (this hand) play low from Dummy.

Defensive Commentary: When Dummy plays low at first trick, East plays the 10. When third hand has a higher and a lower honor than Dummy, play the lower one.

Play Commentary 2: Counting tricks, declarer has two ♠s, one ♥ and one ♦, so he needs five ♣ tricks to make the contract. The ♣ suit should be played to guard against a 4:1 split. This is done by playing a high honor from the long hand, then cross to the honor in the short hand. If second hand shows out, finesse the 10 coming back. Five tricks in ♣s, two ♠s, one ♥ and one ♦. Contract bid and made.

NOTE: This ‘seemingly simple’ hand has five protocols for bidding, play and defense. Think deep from both sides of the table.

tip of the day
Do you have any hints to help my partner and me with opening leads?
The quickest and best advice I can give is to concentrate on the bidding and try to get a picture of the opponents’ hand through the auction before you lead.

Do you have a good bridge tip? Email


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