Welcome to Basement Bridge

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

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Three weeks out from Arcturus V, Spock was mentoring the Enterprise Team for the Intergalactic Pairs Championships. His message was simple:
"Let us not think of defence: let us think of attack. Attack is the best form of defence.  In any battle in military history the side with greater teamwork will triumph. You must work together with partner - not alone in magnificent but ultimately doomed isolation.
When we lose an auction one of the opponents becomes Declarer. We must not then subside into a world of dreary defence. We must, in concert with partner, ATTACK the declarer. We have one small advantage. We only have to take care of our own hand; Declarer has to work simultaneously with both his side's hands."
" 'Ang on, 'ang on, 'ang on," interrupted a cockney character who only appears in the background of Episode 6 (Mudd's Women)  " 'Ow come, guvnor, it's easier for us who can only see one 'and? I'd ravver see two anyday, know what I mean?"
"But you can see two hands. You have the advantage that you can see one of the Declaring sides hands. The declarer, on the other hand, can see neither of your defensive - sorry, attacking - hands. Therefore you and your partner can communicate in subtle underhand ways. You can pass information, like secret policemen, about what you hold in each suit so you may thwart Declarer."
"I s'pose, " chirped the cockney, "that'd be the Thwart Police, eh?"
"An interesting example of Earth humour. However, my intention is to enlighten you on the Three Paths of Signalling. And these three Paths are: Count: Attitude and Suit Preference. With these three weapons we can wreak havoc against the citadel of The Contract.
That's all for now. I shall be taking a break in the Holo-Deck, but on my return I will endeavour to show you how to walk the Three Paths of Signalling.
Live Long and Prosper!"

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


"So tell me," said Alice surveying the wreckage of the tea party, "When should a King cover a Queen?"
"As often as possible!" guffawed the Mad Hatter.
"Don't be so rude!" squawked Alice.
"Relax. Have some more of the Herbal Tea," smiled the dozy Dormouse.
"No, I'm sorry, I'm absolutely serious." said Alice seriously.
"Never a truer word.." said the Hatter.
"The thing is, one always says one should always cover an Honour with an Honour, when that Honour is led from one's right. But is that always so? Aren't there any times at all when it could be wrong to do so?" asked Alice.
The Hatter, the Dormouse and the March Hare looked at each other quizzically, raised a forefinger to their lips and looking skyward all said: " Hmmm."
"Hmmm what then? What Hmmm? What's with the quizzical hmmming?"
"You see, "said the March Hare lugubriously, "It all depends."
"That's right, so right," said the Hatter. "Everything always depends on everything else, don't you know?"
"There's no earthly point in stomping off like that, Alice dear." Said the Hare. "I will attempt to explain. If declarer has Qxx in dummy and plays the Q you definitely should play your K. The idea is to promote a lower card in your partner's hand - such as the 10 or J. If however dummy's suit is QJxx you should - in general - not cover the Q but wait until the J is played and then cover that. i.e. cover the second honour in a sequence. On top of that you need to be beware of what Declarer's shape might be. A trap for the unwary is this one:
Dummy has QJ10x and the Q is led. You hold Kxxx. If you can see the possibility that Declarer may hold either Ax or A singleton then you should NEVER cover at all!"
"Just what I said," said the Hatter. "It all depends! Maybe I could sell you a Thinking Hat, Alice, dear?"

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


Tigger was jumping up and down. He was VERY excited. The other three players - Owl, Rabbit and Pooh held down the table to stop it being thrown over. All that had happened so far was that Tigger's partner, Rabbit, had opened 1C. This was not normally something to get quite so excited about but Tigger was prone to such emotional outbursts due to over attentive parenting in early life. When the tumult subsided, Pooh passed with the superior insouciance he reserved for really really bad hands. Then an over-excited Tigger bid STOP 2S! Owl peered over his half-moon spectacles and said: "Good hand, eh?" Tigger was about to start jumping up and down again when Rabbit curtly interrupted: "Unauthorised question. Unnecessary information. Disregard." Owl passed with a barely concealed smile playing round his pointy little beak. The auction progressed in haphazard fashion until it became clear to all that Rabbit was void in Spades, who tried to salvage the situation by bidding 6NT. Owl Doubled rather too quickly, but the contract was 3 down Doubled for -800.
"You see," said Owl, "about all Tigger and Rabbit can actually make is 3NT. Your response of 2S was a strong hand (17+) with slam interest. Yet as you can see, the partnership was nowhere near the slam zone."
"But, but, but," stammered a much quieter Tigger,  "I had 15 points and 5 spades. Game was on and, well, maybe slam, but I had to tell partner I was strong straight away, didn't I?"
"No, not really, not at all. If you had had a VERY good six card suit and 17+ HCP then maybe, but even then that may not be the best way for the auction to proceed. As it was Rabbit had no Spades while I - your respectful opponent - had SIX of them."
"But I didn't know that!" wailed Tigger.
"Precisely." said Rabbit. "You had no idea what my hand was. You careered off into the unknown before finding out what my hand was like from my natural re-bid. You cut out an entire two levels of bidding, so it was almost impossible for us to have a constructive auction. What's wrong with 1S? It's forcing - I can't pass - and you also then get to hear my rebid before judging which game - or possible slam - to aim for. There really is no need to go jumping about just because Game is on!"

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


The vagaries of scoring, I hear you call. What does it mean? How does it work? And why? And why should we worry about it?
Why? Because - nothing else matters! Fits, contracts, slams, part-scores, sacrifices - everything is subject to the SCORE.
We sacrifice when we are Not Vul against Vul, because if we go 3 down doubled we lose 500 against their 600+ Game score This is equivalent to a plus of 100.
If we are Vul against NV and we go 3 down doubled we lose 800 against their 400+ game score. BAAAAD. A minus of 400.
Tactics tactics tactics.
Playing Rubber Bridge you are Game and 60 and you pick up this:


There are 2 passes to you. What do you bid? 1D, rebidding 2NT is the classic "book" bid. But look at the score. You only need 40! That's 1NT. So bid it. Yes bid 1NT at that score. At teams or Duplicate it would be a simply terrible bid (because Game might be on), But at Game and 60 it's a great bid. Close out the rubber. Slam is a distant paradise to be ignored at all costs. The bid is determined by the score. Not your hand.


A Heart is opened on your right. You're playing Duplicate. What do you bid? The book might say 1NT (showing 15 - 17 and a H stop) But how does Vulnerability affect your strategy?  Consider if they are Vul and you are not, then the best you might make is 3NT for 400. However, what if you PASS, and then partner re-opens with a Double? Now if they go 2 off you make 500! Bit of a pipe dream maybe. But it happens. On the other hand swap the Vulnerability and everything else changes as well. Now if you pass and partner doubles, they go 2 off for only 300, whereas you might make 600 in 3NT. The score again determines how you bid; what your strategy might be. Honestly, the only thing that really, really, really matters is - THE SCORE!