Tip #11 - Instructive Hands

Instructive Hands

At times you come across a hand or set of hands that are of great interest. Undertaking some analysis of these hands can prove very instructive, both from bidding and play points of view.

Consider the following set of hands.


♠ Q 6 4
10 9 6 4
10 9 4 2
♣ 7 3


As can be seen there are a variety of contracts that could be played, with various degrees of success. North/South could get to diamond and spade (and possibly No Trump) contracts and East West could be in Heart or Club contracts. Some contracts could be doubled.
Consider possible bidding sequences, starting with South as dealer. What to open with this 20 point hand? If you follow previous tips it won’t be 2, as there is no 5+ card suit and the singleton Q should be discounted (it’s no better than the 2 at this stage), thus giving an 18 point hand. So what to open? The suit below the singleton is a good option, but a spade or club openers are possibilities. Some will just count the 20 points and open 2 regardless.

♠ K 10 5 2

A K 8 7 2 8 3



W + E

♠J 7
J 5 3
7 6 5
♣J 10 9 5 2


♠ A 9 8 3
♣ A 8 6 4



Now go through likely bidding sequences for each of the possible opening bids and see where these may end up. Mix it up with vulnerabilities and see what differences this may make.
West also has quite a strong hand so decisions need to be made over whether to make a takeout double or bid 2. Over 1 opener, double by West, does North throw in a cheeky 2 bid? If he does South may get a bit over excited expecting a bit more. If North passes, East takes the force to 2♣ then South can show their strength by reversing to 2♠ and North can either pass or correct to 3. As you can see there are lots of possibilities, so try them out and see what you can learn.

Now try the same process with West as dealer, with the obvious 1H opener and passes by North and East. South can now either double for take out or cue bid. Consider what West could do over either of these bids, and then what North could do over whatever West bids. East’s bidding is easy, pass!

Now consider the play of the hands in the various likely contracts. Against a South suit contract, West leads A, but what next after the Q drops from South. See what plays allow South to make 3, or even 4 Diamonds, and 2 Spades. If South is somehow in No Trumps on the 7 lead, East needs to be awake and apply the rule of 11. This will reveal that South has one card better than the seven and this is surely an honour. If the J is put up then South now has two heart stoppers, so East should play low, trying to signal a heart continuation when West is next in. Similarly, if North is in no trumps then what card should East lead from their partner’s suit? The J lead, in this case, is not very successful, again giving North two heart stoppers. I prefer when holding three cards to an honour to lead the smallest card. This should signal to partner that you hold something in their suit.

Now consider the plays with West declarer in hearts and East declarer in clubs (God help them!). A forcing game will be the best in this case so Diamond leads are the order of the day. But see what happens on other leads, North might like to see if they can get club ruffs in a heart contract by leading their doubleton. West might be happy for North to get a ruff so shortening their trumps and therefore keeping trump control.

Finally, if N/S are declaring see what are the best plays to make the maximum number of spade tricks.