Welcome to Basement Bridge

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

Thursday, 19 July 2012


"As I've said before," said Spock, "killing partner is not necessary or helpful. And it ruins the baize..."
"But, but, but.. " said the very large Klingon, dropping his partner, "Twice he didn't continue the suit he led at trick one. We coulda had them down twice. That is not acceptable on my planet. He needs to know my attitude to failure, know what I'm saying?"
"I think he'd rather know your attitude to the suit led, wouldn't he?"
"Huh? Are you implying it's all my fault?"
"Yes that's right I am indeed. You could have an agreement that the card played by opening leader's partner, when not forced to play high, can be an ATTITUDE signal. ie whether or not you want partner to continue that suit when they can. Say partner leads QS against 3NT and you hold 109653 in the suit. If Dummy (or Declarer)  wins the trick, now your card can be attitude showing. The 9 will encourage partner to continue the suit later, and the 3 will be discouraging. Now partner knows what to do. Simple huh?"
"Hmm maybe. But what if you only have one valuable high card to play to encourage with? That's a problem, no?"
"It is indeed. Very well spotted. This is why a lot of players actually play what's called REVERSE ATTITUDE. ie a LOW  card is encouraging, the high one discouraging (Hi hate, Lo like...) In the previous example the 3 would be encouraging. You will of course have to watch every single card partner plays, now won't you? Working out what Declarer has; where's their weakness? In fact, do this anyway: all the time. Otherwise you're only playing half the game."

Thursday, 12 July 2012


I don't see" said Dag the Romulan, "what difference it makes knowing how many of a suit your partner holds. I want to know where their Aces are!"
Spock chuckled to himself. "But what if partner holds no Aces?"
"Then I wanna know about Kings, Queens, whatever. It's all about the big cards anyway."
"Not at all!" countered Spock firmly. "On the contrary there are a lot of situations where you need to know how many of a suit partner has, simply so you can work out how many cards DECLARER has in a particular suit. Think about it. You're defending a slam and at trick 12, you have so far won one trick and need another one to defeat the contract. You now hold  QD and QH, both of which you know to be winners. Declarer leads a Club. Which Queen do you discard? Is it a guess? Do you toss a coin? Is one suit prettier than the other? How on earth can we know?"
"It's always a guess in those situations," said the Romulan. "50 - 50."
"No, " said Spock, "In fact if you play properly with your partner it is NEVER a guess. Why? Because partner should show you the length in each of their suits so it is known to you exactly what Declarer's distribution is, so you know exactly which Q to keep and so defeat the contract. Letting slams slide through is always a disaster."
"How can partner tell me all that without kickin' me under the table? That's ridiculous."
"Very simply. When you follow suit, both of you should always play a High card followed by a Low card to show an even number in a suit. This is called a Peter. Now if you know partner has 2 or 4 in a particular suit, you can see how many you and dummy hold so you can soon tell how many Declarer is likely to hold by subtracting that number from 13."
"What if they hold an Odd number - 3 or 5, say?"
"Then you don't Peter. You play the cards from Low to High instead."

It's a good idea to train yourself to do this all the time - in every suit. So it naturally becomes a habit to count out Declarer's shape. Then you'll never have to guess again which Q to keep!