Cambs & Hunts Bridge

Newsletter Number 35 30 September 2003

Editors:  Chris Jagger, 2 Wycliffe Road, Cambridge CB1 3JD, Tel: 01223-526586 and
Jonathan Mestel, 180 Queen's Gate, London SW7 2BZ, Tel: 01223-329671.
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The next newsletter is scheduled to appear on 30th December. Please try to get copy to us no later than 15th December. All contributions welcome!


We repeat! All contributions welcome. Has your club no news? Did no one play an interesting or amusing hand over the summer? Even Aunt Agony has been reduced, somewhat transparently, to writing a letter to herself. The Newsletter/would be better/with your views/not Clerihews.


This and previous newsletters can be found on the County Web page, whose URL is given above.


In this slightly slender issue Chris Jagger discusses sequences over a 2NT rebid and the Lady Milne over a telephone. Aunt Agony receives a squeeze from a suitor. John Turner descibes a nail-biting finish from the Cambs & Hunts League, and another Laws & Ethics article discusses whether or not `he who hesitates is lost.' There is the usual round-up of News and Results.

Play problem

H K97
D A842
C QJ104
W         E
S Q2
C AK975

You are playing 6 of a minor from the West hand, after North has opened 1h and competed again in hearts at a high level, South passing throughout. North leads the other minor. You discover that South has 4 trumps. How do you play? (See page 3.)

The Lady Milne

by a husband

Ring-ring. I answer the phone.

"You hold - AQx Jx AJ10xxxxx. Partner opens 2s, showing 5-5 in two suits. What do you bid?"

Normally I would be hesitant at this point - there's no crime worse than getting bridge problems right. However, it is Friday night, and having had a whole week of being at work to recover from last weekend's labours, I am wide awake, and more than capable of spotting a clue. My wife does not play a two-suited weak two, so one of the opponents obviously held this hand - no harm getting this one right.


"That would have worked okay. The Irish lady passed, missing a thirteen card fit and going quietly off in spades."

I'm not the sort of chap who makes Irish jokes, or comments about women's bridge, so I move swiftly on to establish how things are going. It is the Lady Milne - between the five home nations - and the first match has got off to a narrow win for England.

Actually another possible shot on the hand would be 3NT. You are expecting partner to have diamonds as her second suit, and so on a perhaps likely heart lead, 3NT may well scrape home.

From then on I received matchly news bulletins of the progress of the team, only missing out when Cath cunningly contrived to sit out a set in order to watch the French Open Ladies' Final.

After a while the following hand came down the wire:

Game All
S QJ54
H AK87432
Dealer N
S 1073
H -
D 107542
C J8632
W         E
S K82
H 106
D A96
C AK1097
S A96
H QJ95
D QJ83
C 54

Cath had an uneventful auction to 4h, after East overcalled in clubs, and West did not deem the hand worthy of any action. At the other table the auction was far more exciting, but also instructive:

   North       East       South       West   
1h 2c 3d* P
4NT* P 5c* 6c
P P X all pass

5c showed 1 or 4 of 5 aces. Can you spot the five crimes? The first I think belongs to South - one assumes that 3d was a fit jump, but this looks like someone with a new toy who wants to use it! Passing with five card support for partner is rather timid, whilst the Blackwood bid was not only optimistic, but would not have helped at all if partner had two aces but two spade losers off the top. Passing and then later saving is usually a bad strategy, as opponents are far less likely to go wrong. Here it is doubly bad as the opponents have just found out whether they have enough aces for slam - surely they are not going to have much of a problem deciding what to do over 6c?! Perhaps the greatest crime lay with North - having found out that there were two aces off the slam, she passed, presumably allowing her partner to bid on should she fancy!

Overnight England had gone into the lead, with the crucial match being against the second favourites, Scotland, who had been faring badly but had a team full of experience.

N/S Vul
S Q2
C AK975
Dealer W
S K9865
H AQ106432
D 3
C -
W         E
S 10743
H 85
D 1065
C 8632
H K97
D A842
C QJ104
   West       North       East       South   
1h 2NT P 5c
5h P P X

Cath opened 1h, and the auction came back at the five level. Undaunted, it seemed to be a choice between 5h, and 5d. In this situation, where it is quite likely that you might have a big spade fit, it is sensible to use the cue of their suit as showing both majors, with better hearts. However, given the quality of this heart suit it is far from clear whether it is wise to show the spades - in spite of the four card spade support, 5h actually plays better.

Strangely enough, the auction was completely different in the other room, though the same principle could have been applied: 1h-2d-P-3NT. West could have considered bidding 4d, but instead passed. This made +660 to go with -300 for a valuable swing to England.

By now England had only one match to play - and the event was already won! So time to take a well earned break and prepare for the most important session of the weekend - the banquet!

(The other editor takes over at this point to fill up some space.)

I note that 6 minor is excellent on this last hand. Many people claim that their UNT is either weak or strong but not intermediate, yet in my experience they mostly bid it anyway with a hand like North's. This can make it difficult to reach the right level. Once North has bid 2d, it seems to me that 3NT is a lazy bid, and I prefer to temporise with 2h. Give West the dK and 5d could make while 3NT fails, and 6d could be on, as here.

So how should one play a minor slam? This was the hand on the front cover. If trumps are 3-1 there is no problem, as a spade ruff in hand or two heart ruffs in dummy provide the 12th trick. But suppose we are in 6c on a diamond lead. A diamond ruff is quite possible if spades have not been mentioned, so we start by drawing trumps. Once we find out West had 12 major cards we could argue that with either 6-6 or 4-8 she would have bid differently. If we're confident of reading the bidding and discards we can play off all our minor winners forcing her to come down to either Kx A, when we endplay her in hearts, or K Ax, when we drop her king. But we might misread the position on a bad day.

An alternative line is to leave one card in each minor in dummy and then run hJ. If West wins with hQ she is endplayed, while if it goes hQ, K, A and West exits with a low heart we can run it to h9, making unless East has hQ10. Both these lines are excellent; I prefer the latter on most plausible auctions, because I don't always count to 13 reliably.

Letter to Aunt Agony

Dear Auntie,

Last night I let through a slam by discarding from the wrong suit. This made me wonder - can one ever be squeezed in just one suit?

Yours sincerely, A Single Suitor.

P.S. Are you married?


Dear Single Suitor,

Strange that you should ask - for the first time in my life I recently came across a `one suit squeeze' - they are very rare in practice. The idea is that if you throw a low card you can be endplayed, but if you throw a high one declarer can establish another winner.

In a recent Gold Cup match we played in 4h, West having overcalled in diamonds.

S AJxx
H 9xx
D 8xx
S Qxxx
H Qx
C xx
W         E
S K10xx
H Kxx
D 10x
C 10xxx
S x
H AJ108x
D K9x
C AQxx

West led a club to the king, and partner now finessed h10 to West. Winning the club continuation with cJ, declarer played off 3 more trumps and the other clubs. West now had to come down to 5 cards. If he keeps Qx - AQJ - declarer can play to sA and ruff a spade and then exit with a low diamond. But if instead he keeps dAQx. declarer crosses to sA, and leads a diamond from dummy to the 9 and Queen. When West exits with his last spade, declarer ruffs and leads dK pinning East's d10, making the last trick with dummy's d8!

So West maintained a flexible diamond position by coming down to sQ and dAQJx. My partner now led his last trump, while I beamed approvingly. The position was:

S on lead
H -
D 8xx
C -
4h by S
H -
C -
W         E
S K109
H -
D 10x
C -
S x
H x
D K9x
C -

West threw sQ, dummy a small diamond and East s9. But now my heart sank as partner began to ponder. All he had to do was play a spade to the ace, and West would be caught in a `single suiter.' If he throws d7 he is endplayed with dJ, but if he throws dJ, declarer leads towards d9. If East inserts d10 declarer covers and makes the last trick with d9. But note this doesn't work if East held two diamond honours, say dJ10, as he has an entry to a winning spade.

Do you see how to make if East holds dJ10? My partner did. He exited with dK before cashing sA! The defence would have had a choice between establishing d9 or leading into dummy's sAJ. But on the actual hand, West cashed 4 tricks while I gnashed my teeth.

Should partner have got it right? I think so. Is West really likely to have kept dAQxx and thrown all his spades? This would be a tremendously farsighted defence, the actual lay-out was much more likely.

Yours, still seeking a perfect partner, Auntie.

Continuations after a 2NT rebid

by Chris Jagger

Modern thinking is that sequences such as 1c-1h-2NT-3h are forcing - it is important to be able to find the right fit when game is on, and since many now play that the 2NT rebid is 18-19, finding the right game is more important than being able to play in 3h.

At the same time, some people would be reluctant to pass many hands with a six card suit, even if they are below the traditional 6 points required for a response at the one level. (The reason for this is two-fold: passing these hands may well miss your best fit, and also it allows opponents an easy entry into the auction.)

You may notice that these two attitudes do not sit very happily together! On the one hand you respond light on the basis of a long suit, and on the other you are not even allowed to play in it if partner responds 2NT - not unlikely given how weak you are!

To combat this, I recommend the use of Puppet Signoff, involving a 3c enquiry (not to be confused with 3c checking for majors, a more popular convention, but not one I'd recommend). This has two benefits - you can sign off in your suit, and also have extra ways available to show other hands. The downside is that you lose 3c as a natural bid (don't underestimate this downside, though this can be accommodated to some extent).

When the auction starts 1c-1d-2NT, 3c asks partner to bid 3d, no matter what he has. [Incidentally, many people inaccurately describe this as a transfer to 3d. Technically it's a relay to 3d, as it doesn't show anything extra in diamonds. (ed)]

Then after 3c-3d:

Pass = wanting to play there.

3h/s = four card suits, denying five diamonds, unless you have no slam interest.

3NT = mild slam try with a natural 3c bid.

4c = stronger slam try, natural.

4d = what you fancy.

4h/s = splinters, with five diamonds and four clubs.

If you don't use 3c, but directly bid something else, what does that show?

3d = 6+ diamonds with a slam try, no major (then major bids are cues.)

3h/s = 4 card suits with at least five diamonds, and some slam interest.

4 level = splinters for diamonds (over which 4NT is to play, other bids are cues.)

Finally, for those that like puppet Stayman over a 2NT opening - where you bid suits you haven't got, in an effort to get the stronger hand playing the contract - you will notice that there is another chance to use that principle here. If the auction starts 1c-1d-2NT-3c-3d you can now reverse the meanings of 3h/s, so that you bid the suit that you haven't got. Over 3h, partner can then bid 3s to deny spades, but show that he has four hearts, in case responder has both majors.

I've glossed over what happens when it starts 1minor-1Major-2NT. The principle of using 3c to sign off in your original suit is the same. Some of the other continuations are different - I leave you to devise your own, or drop me a line and I'll send you full details!

The C & H League

by John Turner

Last Newsletter, Chris Larlham described the League position at the end of April, at which point the Division 1 outcome was nicely poised, with three teams in contention. Saffron Walden had scored 75VPs (max 20 per match) from their six matches, whilst Cambridge 1 and the University were on 70 and 59 respectively after five matches. With Cambridge 1 playing their final match (v Ely) before the University (also v Ely), this meant that Cambridge 1 had to score at least 6 VPs to outscore Saffron Walden, but would have to score at least 9 VPs (i.e., not lose by more than 4 IMPs) to be certain of beating the University too and winning the League.

Cambridge 1 (Cynthia Kirkby, Bob Speller, Ann Curtin & John Turner) began against Ely with three dreadful results, but then things improved a little. After 23 of the 24 boards, it was extremely tight as we were down by 3 IMPs, but on the last board we gained 8, so we had done just enough for victory.

Of several interesting hands in the last match I offer two quite close bidding decisions. Firstly, non-vulnerable you hold KQ109x xxxx K Qxx and your partner opens 1NT (12-14), oppo being silent. Suppose you try Stayman, as I did: partner responds 2h. Do you try for game? After some agonising I decided to pass -– lots of winners, sure, but perhaps too many losers. This worked out well even though pard had a maximum Ax AKJx Qxxxx xx, because hearts were Q10xx offside. Oppo went to 4h, going one off doubled, so we gained 6 IMPs.

The other hand (the critical Board 24) also involved a borderline decision opposite a weak NT opener. At love all you hold A108x x A109xxx Q10 and hear pard open 1NT (12-14). Again, it initially seems to be ‘just a ten count’ but, with the extra tens, the 4-card spade suit and the strongish diamond suit this seems to be worth a game try. 4s, 5d and 3NT are well within range, and even 6d is excellent opposite Kx Axx Kxxx Kxxx. What do you do if your RHO (1) passes, (2) overcalls 2h? With (1) it looks clear to try Stayman, as Ann did, getting a 2s response from me. She then jumped to 4s, which made with an overtrick, even though I held a minimum J9xx Axx xx AKxx. Had I responded 2h, Ann could bid 2NT ; if I had bid 2d, she could of course Pass, but that's a bit feeble and I'm sure she would have bid on with 2NT or perhaps 3d. At the other table Cynthia came in with 2h over 1NT, giving responder a more cramped decision. Lebensohl, if you're playing it, allows responder to show both his 4-card major and his lack of a heart stop: depending on which version you're playing, responder bids either 3h directly or 2NT followed by 3h after opener's required relay of 3c. If opener has neither a spade suit nor a heart stop himself he'll usually bid 4c, which in this case responder will convert to 4d –- or possibly even 5d, since on that sequence there are no values wasted in hearts and the fit may be terrific. Thus Lebensohl deals with this case pretty well. The Ely responder, however, (who I assume wasn't playing Lebensohl) bid 3d, Bob competed with 3h, passed back to responder, who now chose to pass. 3h went two off undoubled, and 8 IMPs to us.

The League's first year in its new format has been a huge success, attracting a remarkable 30 teams, arranged in 4 divisions of 7 or 8. It replaces the South Cambs League, which for various reasons had not attracted such interest. Those who campaigned for it and sorted out the finer details are to be congratulated. As one would expect, Chris Larlham runs the new League with exemplary efficiency. The C & H League is here to stay!

Laws & Ethics part 2 - Hesitations

by Chris Jagger

Last issue we considered the unauthorised information that can arise from alerts - this time we consider hesitations. Before we go on though, let me stress - that thinking is part of the game! There is absolutely nothing wrong with hesitating (provided that it is because you are thinking about what you are going to do - if instead you are dreaming about the delights of supper, then a quick apology and at least everybody knows that you were just daydreaming).

However, hesitations can lead to unauthorised information. If you hesitate then partner is not allowed to use any information from knowing that there was some doubt as to what you should do. One of the most obvious instances of this is where a player makes a slow double. Compare the following:

1. You see opponents bid, exclaim in amazement, and slam the double down.

2. You firmly but in tempo place the double down.

3. You scratch your nose, look thoughtful, and carefully lay the double down.

4. You look lugubriously at the ceiling, then ask partner to get you a drink, and when he returns, you sigh a little and say `Double?' with raised inflection.

In each case your partner must assume that you have simply doubled the contract - the only authorised part of all this is the double. Deliberately using the unauthorised information is against the rules, and should lead the director to adjust the score.

However, more often it is the case that people do not deliberately use the information, but may nevertheless use the information, and this may still lead to an adjustment. Many decisions are difficult ones, and people frequently are subconsciously influenced to do what they know to be right. So if the director is called in this situation, and even if he adjusts the score, there is no implication that you have been `cheating' or `unethical,' but merely that you took a decision that perhaps would not have been taken in the absence of the information.

This last point is too often misunderstood - I recall a top county player making the decision `I am not adjusting because I know that Y is a very ethical player.' Whether or not Y is ethical is not at issue. (Closet lawyers may like to spot the subtle second reason that this statement may be a misjudgement.)

In each case your partner should aim to take the same action as if you had simply doubled. If he has an obvious course of action he should take it. But what if he does not? What if he is 50-50 as to what he would normally do? Should he toss a mental coin to decide? Unfortunately not. He should actually take the action he thinks is least likely to succeed. So if you doubled in a voice of thunder, and your partner has a marginal decision, he will know that it will actually be right to pass. However, he must stray the other way, and remove the double. On the other hand, if he doubled after a considerable pause, you should err towards leaving the double in. But bear in mind that this is only for close decisions - if your partner makes a slow double and most people would remove on your hand, there is no reason why you should not do likewise.

WARNING: Laws and ethics articles can seriously damage your health! When playing bridge try to be fair to others, and hope that they will be fair to you. But bear in mind that you are not playing in the World Championships!

Results Round Up

Jubilee Swiss Pairs: (22 pairs entered)

1. G Birdsall, S Zakrzewski

2. V Milman, N Stelmashenko

3= I Aldridge, M Knights

3= L Manning, E Manning

3= R and S Oakford

6= M May, N Pimblett

6= M Seaver, A Stenner

6= J Chapman, M Scanlon

9. P and K Riley

10. C Parker, P Jackson

In the Eastern Counties League, the County had results 11-9, 5-15 and 2-18 against Essex.

In the County Knockout final JAGGER (Jagger, Wightwick, Mestel) bt LARLHAM, going on to come 4th in the Pachabo.

The Cambs & Hunts League was won by Cambridge 1 (Curtin, Turner, Speller, Kirkby) (see page 6.) The 2nd, 3rd and 4th divisions were won by Cottenham, Thursday 2 and Saffron Walden 3 respectively.

In the Nicko, the Cambridge A went out in the quarter finals. In Crockfords, Chris Jagger's team came fourth. Jonathan Monroe, John Haslegrave, Toby Kenney and Teymur Tahseen won the Easter Festival Swiss Teams B Flight. Catherine Jagger and Roger Gibbons won the Hamilton Cup - the Swiss Teams event at the Spring Foursomes. The University team finished 8th in the regional final of the Garden Cities. Gareth Birdsall was 3rd in the Bournemouth Swiss Teams. Mary Knights won the Northants One Day Swiss Teams. Catherine Jagger was in the winning ladies team in the Lady Milne (see page 3.) Rod and Sue Oakford were 5th in the Corwen, Kevin Smith and Joanne Caldwell being 8th. Suzanne Cohen came 3rd in the mixed teams at the European Championships. Chris Jagger came 4th in the Brighton Swiss Pairs. James Chapman & Geraint Harker, and Paul Huggins & Toby Kenney were 3rd and 4th out of six pairs in the junior trials. Peter Burrows was 5th in the Eastbourne Seniors Pairs. Sheila Parker, Don McFarlane, Gareth Birdsall & Sonia Zakrzewski came 3rd in the Bedford Swiss Teams.

Master Points: Cath Jagger is now 7th in the Gold Point standings, and is the highest placed woman nationally. Chris Jagger is still up there somewhere too.


Dates for your diary


12th Oct ECL v Northants (A)
17th Oct Closing date for County KO entries
26th Oct Newmarket Swiss Teams
9th Nov ECL v Norfolk (A)
23rd Nov ECL v University (A)
7th Dec Garden Cities Club Teams of Eight


25th Jan County Individual Final
1st Feb ECL v Beds (H)
22nd Feb County Pairs Final
14th Mar ECL v Suffolk (A)
20th Mar New Players Tournament
6th June Jubilee Swiss Pairs