Red Common Game
Friday June 18
2021Analysis by John Jones

Hand  1 – This deal illustrates why good bidders subtract a point when holding 4333 hands.  I’m sure that a common but inaccurate auction for East/West is: Pass   1NT   3NT.   Blah!!!   I put the hands into the Kaplan – Rubens hand evaluator:   and sure enough the East hand is worth 14.10 and the West hand is worth 8.85.   How do you correctly bid low enough on these 4333 hands?  Pass  1D   1NT   Pass,  will get you to 1NT, a fine contract.

Hand 2 – Most pairs will arrive in 4S.  Maybe a brave MP pair will risk 3NT for the extra 10 points.  13 tricks are available in either spades or NT.  The first 11 tricks are top tricks: 6 spades, 1 heart, 2 diamonds, and 2 clubs.   The 12th trick isn’t difficult with the DQ onside.  The 13th trick requires a squeeze.   To arrive at 13 tricks against a heart lead, win the opening lead and lead the DT which will be covered by the DQ.  Now run 5 of the spade tricks pitching hearts from the North hand.  East can’t guard both clubs and hearts.  Even if West had a third club and could guard clubs, a double squeeze would exist.

Hand 3 – South will probably pass in first seat and West will open a strong NT.  North should now use whatever bid the partnership uses to bid for the majors.  It is best to show  both majors, not diamonds and a major – majors score better.  Now if South bids game it is reached, but if South invites then game will be missed.  It will be a little easier for South if the partnership is playing 2C is the bid that shows both majors.  South can bid 2D, asking North for their longer (or if equal length, better textured) major.  When North bids 2H, South should probably try 4H.

Hand 4 – E/W will arrive in 3NT, likely on the sequence 1D – 1S, 2C – 2NT, 3NT – Pass.  The best opening lead of a spade is nearly impossible to find, so ten tricks (one spade, three hearts, three diamonds and three clubs) will be scored frequently.

Hand 5 – North will either open 1D or 1C.  The argument for 1D is to be able to rebid 2C and be able to show both suits.  The argument for 1C is the clubs are so strong that they are equivalent to a 6-card suit.  I would choose 1C, but 1D is reasonable.  South will respond 1S.  North will rebid 2C regardless of what the opening bid was.  South will either bid a semi-artificial 2D or a Fourth Suit Forcing 2H, depending on the opening bid.  The 5-3 spade fit will be found.  South may well bid whatever form of Blackwood the partnership plays, and 6S will be reached.  If the HA is not cashed on the opening lead, it can go away as declarer winds up with 14 winners without touching hearts.  Declarer may need to reenter dummy with the DQ to finesse against the S9 after taking the spade finesse and finding out about the 4-1 break.

Hand 6 –   After East passes, South has a choice of calls with the AKQxxx of diamonds.  In aggressive partnerships, this hand is too good for a white versus red weak two bid, and should open 1D.  Conservative partnerships will open 2D.  If North bids 2NT over the weak 2D opening, whether the 2NT bid is asking for a feature, Ogust, or asking for a singleton, the proper response is 3NT – showing the top three diamond honors.  This doesn’t come up very often, but is a part of the structure.  3NT should be reached regardless of the methods.  Declarer would need see through the cards glass not to win the lead at the first opportunity, cross to a diamond and try a spade to the jack.  Declarer might well score only 9 tricks if the defense has start with 2 rounds of hearts followed by the CK shift.

Hand 7 – When I learned how to play bridge in 1974, we were taught to open that hand with 1C.  I suspect every West will open 1S in today’s world.  A contract of 4S will be reached and turn 11 tricks.

Hand 8 – South will open 1D and North will respond 2C.  Now auctions will diverge.  I like 1D – 2C, 2D – 2NT, 3C – 3NT, 4D – 4H, 5C – 5S- 7C – Pass.  South’s 4D shows extras with a slam try.  After North gets the two aces cuebid, bidding the grand is easy for South.  Note that 5S can’t be a cuebid of the king, because it past five of the trump suit and allows partner to try the grand.

Hand 9 – This auction may start with everyone bidding: 1D by North, 1H by East, 1S by South, 2C by West.  Pass, Pass, 2D will be followed with 3 quick passes.  Declarer in diamonds will lose a trick in every suit and make 9 tricks.

Hand 10 – West will have a choice opening a third chair 1NT or 1H.  1H works better on this deal, but I confess I would open 1NT.  If 1NT is declared by West the likely lead is a 4th best diamond.  After winning the DQ in hand West has no entry to dummy.  So they will lead the KH out of their hand, knowing that the HQ is never going to be a singleton.  Wait, a miracle, the HQ is singleton!  Declarers in NT will make between 7 and 9 tricks depending on how well they guess thereafter.  Wests who open 1H might well buy it there.  The same HQ miracle is there.  Declarers in hearts will likely make 8 or 9 tricks.

Hand 11 – A 3rd seat 1NT opening by North will give South a close decision of whether to Stayman.  If South bids 2C then 3NT will be reached.  A conservative pass will end the auction.  In this case, 9 tricks are very difficult to find.  Yes, 9 tricks are available if declarer somehow knows to play West for the doubleton heart ten/nine.  Beyond that, declarer will likely fail to acquire 9 tricks.

Hand 12 – This dull deal will likely have most East/West pairs quickly arrive in 4H and receive the DQ lead.  With everything sitting well, I expect all declarers to take 12 tricks for an average board.

Hand 13 – Easts declaring in a heart partial won’t like the SJ lead.  But they will survive if they win in hand, pull trumps, and attack diamonds to arrive at 9 tricks.

Hand 14 – After East passes, the decisions begin.  South gets to open a 5-card weak two that is the partnership style.  If South opens 2H, West will likely overcall 3C.  On this auction, North might try any of: Pass, Double, 3H, 3NT, or 4H.   If South passes the first time, West will open 1C and North will overcall 1D.  East has enough to make a negative double, showing 4 cards in both majors.  Now South may bid 1H, planning to raise diamonds later.  Thus, this competitive deal could go in several different ways.   The side which defends will generally be better placed.

Hand 15 – 7NT and 7S are both easy to get to if East/West stay silent.  For example, the auction might go: 1C – 1S, 2NT (18-19) – 4C (Gerber), 4NT (3 aces) – 7NT.  Easy cheesy!  But if West butts in with 3D, it might throw a monkey wrench into the works.   Maybe it’s still too easy.  But preempts work, and it’s the only possible way to slow North/South down on the actual deal.

Hand 16 – North will normally get to open 1C in 4th chair.  How South raises clubs will depend on North/South’s methods.  If North/South is playing standard raises then 2C looks right.  If North/South is playing Inverted raises, then 3C preemptive will be the call.  Either way 5C is not too hard to get to.  The play is trivial.  North/South can be forgiven if they try slam.  It takes 2-2 trumps or a singleton Q or J in the right hand.  That makes the unlucky 6C a 52% contract.

Hand 17 – A pass out is a possibility on this deal.  East might be tempted to open the AK, A hand.  Normally, I like upgrading AK, A hands into opening bids.  However, this hand has the AK, A all in short suits, making them less valuable, while the four-card suits are both awful.  South might consider opening in 3rd chair.  But 4333 hands are no bargain, and one should avoid opening light in bad suits.  So opening 1C looks wrong.  A 1H opener?  Maybe that’s best.  If South opens 1H, a Drury bid by North keeps the partnership low enough at 2H.  The lucky club layout will enable North/South to take 9 tricks.  If East/West declares it will likely be in 1NT.  This is a difficult deal to defend if the West hand is hidden.  1NT might well be allowed to make.

Hand 18 – West will get to open 1C in 3rd chair.  North should now overcall 1S, not making a takeout double.  If the long suit were a minor, a takeout double would be best.  However, with a 5431 hand and 5-card major which can be overcalled at the 1-level,  overcalling the 5-card major is normally the route to take.  On this deal, East/West’s ten-card fit is better than North/South’s eight-card fit.  While its nice to own spades, its even better to have ten trumps.  Guessing the singleton king of clubs is just too tough with not enough information, but 9 tricks are available even with the unlucky trump finesse.

Hand 19 – The South hand is not a sound opening bid.  The North hand is a balanced 15 HCP, but it is normally a good idea to devalue 4333 hands.  So a 1C opener by North would be my choice.  Regardless of how the auction begins, North/South will likely play in hearts.  A pair that gets to game better have their guessing shoes on and find the SQ.  Pairs that declare from the South side may get some help as either a diamond or a spade lead is helpful.  A North declarer will surely (don’t call me Shirley!) get a CQ lead.

Hand 20 – To open a weak-two bid or not, that is the question.   West is faced with a decision of opening a vulnerable weak-two on a horrid suit, which isn’t to my taste.  If West passes, South gets to open a weak-two with a nice suit but holding a four-card major.  Having four spades will deter some from opening 2D, but with the solidity of the diamond suit including four of the top six cards, I would give 2D a try, even vulnerable.  If South opens 2D, West has an easy takeout double.  Most East/West pairs will declare in hearts, with ten tricks being fairly easy.  If North/South declares in diamonds, taking nine tricks will likely be possible, as the double-dummy defense of negotiating a spade ruff is just too obscure.

Hand 21 – South will open 1H in 3rd seat.  If North uses the old Goren evaluation and counts three points for the singleton with three trumps and raises to 2H, then arriving in game will be swift and easy.  Declarer should defer drawing trumps until the club ruffs are taken, and ten tricks become easy.

Hand 22 – The Bridge Composer double dummy analysis shows that East/West have two different games available, 3NT or 5C.  Good luck getting anyplace close to those games using rational bidding!  A more likely scenario is that West declares 1NT or that East declares a club partial.

Hand 23 – After South passes in first chair, West will likely preempt East with a 3D opening bid.  East might proceed with a 3H response, which is 100% forcing in normal methods.  West will then choose between 3NT, 4D, or maybe a descriptive 4C call.  11 tricks are available either NT or diamonds on this lucky layout.

Hand 24 – If South opens 1D, West will overcall 1NT.  Many Norths will raise to 2D and that will end the auction.  Tricks in diamonds aren’t going to be plentiful. For East/West to collect all their tricks, West needs to underlead the AJx of spades to East’s SK and get a club shift.  That’s nowhere near the horizon for pairs not blessed with a hand record!  Most Souths will scramble home with eight tricks in diamonds.