Welcome to Basement Bridge

Weekly updates from Kit Jackson offering hints and tips for the modern Bridge player. Enjoy!

Thursday, 22 March 2012


"There are situations," said Spock, "where you may want to make exactly the same bid, but each time you want that bid to have different meanings."
"But this cannot be possible," said the Romulan, "It is , as you would say - illogical."
"Precisely so. But let us look at a possible scenario. Partner deals and opens 1NT (12 - 14) and the opponent on your right (RHO) makes an overcall of 2S. (5+ Spades. Less than 15 HCP). you hold this:"


"You want to be in game," said Spock, "but which one? So what do you bid?
"Um, 3N, 4H or 5C all look possible contracts," said the Romulan. "So I must bid a game forcing 3C and see what partner does."
"Exactly so. But what if you hold a hand like this?"


"Now" said Spock, "You do NOT want to be in game. On the other hand you don't want to sell out to a measly 2S do you?"
"No way Jose!" thundered the Romulan. "So I bid a non-forcing 3C..... Er, uh-oh. Molto Problemo, huh?"
"Oh yes indeed. How is partner supposed to be able tell when you bid 3C that it's either (1) forcing to game, or (2) just a mild competitive bid with no further ambition?
The Romulan frowned. "I hope partner is psychic? Or maybe I cough when I am weak?"
"That is called cheating and I hope you never consider such a thing. Also, partner is never psychic and can be guaranteed to get it wrong. However there is a little wrinkle that can iron out these situations.  What you can do is use the bid of 2NT as a TRANSFER to Clubs when you are weak, and a direct bid of 3C when you are strong. This leaves you with DOUBLE for the invitational hand that would have bid 2NT without the overcall. Be aware that this is NON - standard and must be agreed with partner before the game commences."

You can use this with any suit, but make sure you discuss it beforehand!


0 - 9 with a 4+ card fit:

Inspector Mainwaring  was teaching the platoon bridge for the annual match against the ARP.
"Now look here, men. This a very big thing I am going to put in front of you - Wilson - take that man's name."
"But you know his name."
"Yes of course I know his name, what I meant was - oh never mind. Now pay attention. Partner opens one of a suit, but the dastardly swine on your right makes an overcall. What's the drill, Corporal?"
"Don't panic!"
"Absolutely correct. We will: number 1: look at our hand. Number 2: evaluate said hand. Number 3 make requisite bid according to instructions. What're you doing Pike?"
"Looking for my instructions, Sir."
"Well you won't find them in there, will he Wilson?"
"Ah but you see, Sir , he just might.."
"Stupid boy. This lesson is about what to do when partner opens, RHO overcalls and we have support but a weakness."
"How weak is weak? You see I've got a weakness..."
"I don't think we need to know that  Godfrey. Anyway, weak is anything less than 10 points. The general principle is to make life as difficult as possible for the opposition. So we set a trap; a minefield. What do we do Walker?"
"Bugger about a bit Sir."
"Exactly so - Oh I say.. Quieten down now men. This is serious stuff. Righty-ho - partner opens 1S, opponent overcalls 2H and we hold this motley collection:
What do we do? No no no. 2S won't win us any match points. And no, nor will 3S. No, the answer here is to bid 4S! They'll jolly well find it jolly hard to bid 4H now won't they eh?"
"They don't like it up 'em do they Sir?"
"That's the ticket, men. When you're weak with a fit, bid like a tiger, stiffen the sinews etc and all that malarkey. Remember - weak hands pre-empt!"

Saturday, 10 March 2012


Responding with 10 - 12, 4 card fits:

"Responding to partner's opening is not always a straightforward issue" said Bond James Bond.
"And how, James, would you like me to respond to you?" pouted the delectable Ritzi Cream. "Don't you want always for me to respond in the same way?" she breathed breathlessly.
"Not at all, no way. It depends what happens between us. Especially if there's a good fit..."
"Oh James..."
"You see, when partner opens there are three things that can happen before responder gets to bid."
"Three things? But does that matter?"
"Oh yes. Indeed it does my little angel. When partner opens there is an opponent on your right who will get to bid before you do. And that Right Hand Opponent (RHO) will possibly do one of three things: they will Pass, Double or Overcall. And what you as responder will do is dependent on RHO's action. Take this hand where you have a good fit for partner:

"Partner opens 1 H. Depending on what RHO does you can make 3 different bids. If they Pass you will bid 3H (10 - 12, 4 card support - the Limit Raise.) If they Double you will bid 2NT (the Limit Raise after a double!)) and if they overcall you will cue-bid their suit (10+, 4 card support). The same hand: three different bids depending on which of the three things RHO bids."
"You mean... it's not just what's in your hand," sighed Ritzi, "but what the opposition do as well?"
"Perfectly right, shweetheart..."

Thursday, 1 March 2012


Mr Brown was regretting the punishment meted out to William. Having eaten the prize pork pie his mother baked for the WI, William's punishment was to make up a 4 for bridge instead of playing with the Outlaws. He responded by surreptitiously underbidding his hand at every opportunity. William knew this infuriated his father, as it does every bridge player. During the tea break Mr Brown took his recalcitrant son aside.
"Yes that's me."
"Will you listen?"
"I have a choice?"
"Stop it! Now, when you are dealt a hand at bridge your first instinct should be for you and partner to bid - and make - a Game."
"Oh Right. Why's that then, father?"
"The reason is a game attracts a bonus score of  of 300 or 500. All you have to do is make 3NT, 4H, 4S, 5C or 5D. The toughest games to make are 5C and 5D (11 tricks) so most of the time you try to constrict yourself to 3NT (9 tricks) or 4 of a major (10 tricks)"
"Oh I seee.  You want the bonus?
"Yes William I do."
"Isn't that a bit greedy? It's not really fair goin roun biddin and makin games all the time. Shouldn we jus bid a bit an play a bit?"
"Bridge, William, is a competitive game. The idea is to outscore the opponents as often as possible. To beat them. To win. The best way to do that is to bid the games you can make.  Occasionally it gets even better than that and you bid (and make) a slam. Occasionally it gets worse and all you can make is a part score. But Game is your primary goal. It follows therefore that when you and partner start to have a bidding conversation your initial notion is simply to try to discover whether or not you can in fact make one of these game contracts. That is your ambition between you. Slowly you gather together the pieces of the intellectual jigsaw and there comes a point when one of you - it is usually only one of you - knows for certain that game is or is not on. Whichever one of you that is must make now THE DECISION. You must, William, become more decisive. Bid up. Bid the games. Is that clear?"
"Oh yes father. Very clear..."
For the rest of the afternoon William resolutely bid slams as often as possible. When they failed William remarked "I thought you wanted the bonus father..."