Bridge New Year’s resolutions

I’m just finishing up a Beginner’s Bridge series at our Huffman Road location at the Baptist Church this past week.

The class included a small, but dedicated group of adults who have learned the basics of the world’s best card game.

Make no mistake about it, you can learn how to play hearts or spades in about fifteen minutes.

You can’t do that with bridge.

You need to read, read, read and play, play, play in order to get better.

I’ll be starting another free seven-week series on Feb. 10. Call 205-451-5997 to reserve your seat(s).

One particular area that novice or intermediate players have trouble with is the second bid by responder, the partner of the opening bidder.

The problem that arises is that responder forgets that he’s the captain of the bid.

It’s his responsibility to place the contract at the right level and in the right denomination.

With the opponents passing, the sequence 1C-1D, 1H-?, what does partner’s hand look like?

He has 3-4-or 5 clubs and four hearts, which leaves as few as four diamonds/spades or as many as six.

What didn’t partner bid? Two clubs, meaning he doesn’t have six or 1NT, meaning he has controls in the other suits and 12-14 HCP.

He didn’t jump to show a strong hand, which means opener most likely has a 5-4 hand and a bare opener. With controls in diamonds and spades, bid NT.

If faced with the devil’s choice holding two clubs and three hearts—a 7-card fit in both suits—choose clubs, making the sequence 1C-1D, 1H-2C.

Declarer is much better off playing in a 5-2 trump suit than a 4–3 suit because if the opponents force you to trump, you can quickly lose control of the hand.

Again, it is responder who must guide the team to the right contract.

Winners this week:

Monday: Jerrie Friar and Liz Milko, Judy Converse and Kathryn Howell, Clark Ogle and Russell Smith. In the evening game, Bob Teel and Sue Kusler finished first Lorette and Clark Ogle, then Janet Johnson and Barbara Dawson.

Thursday: Lynne and Guy Martin, Jerrie Friar and Judy Chase, Judy and Don Hasseld, Judy Converse and Kathryn Howell, Liz and Tom Milko.

Friday: Lynne and Guy Martin, John Lusco and Mac LaCasse, Geri Dodson and Jan Lovorn, Judy Chase and Jerrie Friar, Judy and Don Hasseld, Jo Weatherly and Charlotte Lusco.

Saturday: John Lusco and Mac LaCasse, Judy Chase and Jan Lovorn, Frances Hereford and Ruth Baldwin, Kathryn Howell and Adelaide St Raymond.

Tip of the Week:

In suit contracts don’t lead away from an ace unless you have the king. Save your ace to capture your opponent’s king or queen.

I teach leading the top of a sequence, including ace from ace-king. In the unusual holding of an ace-king doubleton, lead the king first, followed by the ace.

This backwards sequence tells partner that you have a doubleton.

An alert partner will try to give you a suit preference discard (high card, lead the higher of the remaining two suits, not trumps; low card, lead the lower of the remaining suits, not trumps.)

Hand of the week:

South ruffs the second heart, cashes the ace of diamonds, ruffs a heart in hand and ruffs a second diamond on the board and comes back to his hand with a spade ruff.

On the third diamond lead, West inserts the eight of clubs, forcing declarer to ruff with the king.

Back to his hand with a club, drawing the remaining trumps, and a fourth diamond is led, ruffing with the board’s last spot trump, East’s king falling.

Declarer claims, his remaining diamonds are now good!

John Randall and his wife Linda direct the Shelby County Bridge Club. For more information about the club, classes, tournaments and other events, Randall can be reached by e–mail at letsplaybridge@riverchasebridge.com.