Social Lesson #16 – Bridge Partscore Contracts – Gaining Entries, Finesses, Unblocking, Endplays

Greetings Bridge Friends!

At long last, we conclude our series on Bridge promotion plays looking at partscore contracts and focusing our attention on gaining entries.  And while it might seem easy to make a contract when not playing for a game bonus, our opponents have other ideas – particularly when THEY have their fair share of honors.  In this lesson we begin with 10 hands, yet before the play is through, we expand the hand permutations and associated play to a whopping 35 hand variations.  So while sometimes a less than perfect line of play might turn out okay, be careful – on the next hand the opponents line of play may improve, our their card distribution might change and all is lost!

While finesses and ruffs often come into play for the declarer, promoting a long suit can be even more effective to gain extra tricks.  Yet when we are playing in a 1 or 2 Notrump contract, suit promotion plays are also the favorite play tactic for the defenders.  As always, we begin play in a suit contract by counting our losers, while in a Notrump contract we count our winners – desperate to first win our tricks before the opponents promote THEIR suit.  Today in our lesson on entries, we start off making obvious unblocking plays before delving into other options including ruffs, unintuitive finesses, endplays, and astutely using our power of observation.  Yes, it helps when we carefully use the power of observation, put on our thinking cap to make crucial inferences and “count out the hand.”  As we progress through each hand, as always we will explore what’s going on in the minds of each player, observing leads, attitude and count signals.  And while we will be making inferences as the play progresses, no, it won’t require you to head for Scotland Yard to follow the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes.

Part 1 – Entries and Promotion Play for all audiences – click here to view 23 minutes of video
Free, Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2 – 18 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 3 – 19 minutes of video
Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 4 – 27 minutes of video
Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 5 – 28 minutes of video
Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 6 – 17 minutes of video

But wait, there’s more!  Yes, in partscore contracts it is imperative that the defenders also put on their thinking caps and avoid “getting sleepy” during play!  Do you know when to cover an honor that has been led from the dummy?  Or when you should make a ducking play to gain extra tricks?  On a fair share of our hands, finding the best defense will also require YOU as the defender to count out the distribution on a suit… assuming your partner is cooperative.  And even your poor hand with no more than a lowly 10 on a punky side suit, you might want to hang onto it and to score the setting trick!  Of course, as declarer it is our duty to dazzle the opponents using tactics like falsecards, pseudo squeezes and the like.

Here at BridgeHands on all of our Bridge hands are full of discussions and analysis on hand evaluation, bidding and play with over 2 hours of animated card play with commentary.  Visitors are welcome to view the Part 1 series of our video lesson with several hands including critical decisions that will influence our card play.  Those with the Free BridgeHands membership may also watch Part 2 where we review another three hands with provocative play tips and strategies to ensure you bring home the contract. As a Premium and ULTRA member, you are welcome to enjoy the entire six-part lesson segments and future shows during your membership subscription period.   And as always, be sure to check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive that is growing by leaps and bounds, by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Happy Trails,

BridgeHands

Social Lesson #15 – Bridge Suit Promotion Part II, Rule of 7, Hold Back, Endplay, Loser on Loser, Safety Plays, the Dangerous Opponent and more

Greetings Bridge Friends!

Here we go again with more on promotion plays and another 24 challenging yet glorious hands to quench your declarer thirst to bring home that game, slam or even a grandslam contract.  As always, we start off by considering our objective.  In a suit contract we begin by counting our losers, while in a Notrump contract we count our winners – desperate to first win our tricks before the opponents promote THEIR suit.  Depending on factors like our quick tricks, running suits, shortage, leads, bids and the like, after long (or even short honor-bound) suit promotion, we begin by considering ruffing and finesse plays.  As in our prior lesson, we will start off seeing the consequence when the declarer makes a quick play without evaluating the best line of play to make their objective.  Then we will carefully cover the best line of play declarer to proudly bring home our contract.

Part 1 – Promotion play for all audiences – click here to view 29 minutes of video
Free, Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2 – 34 minutes of video
Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 3 – 35 minutes of video
Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 4 – 41 minutes of video
Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 5 – 40 minutes of video

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Social Lesson #14 – Bridge Suit Promotion, Rule of 7, Hold Back, Endplay, Loser on Loser, Safety Plays, the Dangerous Opponent and more

Between promotion, ruffing and finesse plays, certainly promotion plays gain us the most tricks hand over hand.  And when promotion plays are used in connection other plays, we rack up even more tricks.   In this two-episode MEGA lesson (Lesson 14 and 15), we will cover a whopping 37+ hands.  And if that is not enough, for each hand we will take 2 (or more) attempts, first illustrating the problem when we do not use our arsenal of suit promotion options, second where we us e one of a handful of suit promotion techniques .

As expected, you will see the Rule of 7 come into play on a fair number of Notrump contracts.  However, over the series of 16 hands (plus several warm-up hands) in Lesson 14 Day 3, we will learn that like all so-called “rules,” it pays to carefully consider other factors before blindly playing hands by rote.  Ditto on holdback plays when the opponent s lead a side suit where we have a 5 or 6 card suit – while we worry that the opponents may soon ruff the suit, when holding Ace-third opposite 2 or 3 little, sometimes we ought to duck winning the first trick.

Regarding safety plays, we will reinforce the wisdom of playing unfavorable odds (like 4-1 opponent suit splits) when we need to make a critical contract.   Then there’s the spooky “dangerous opponent,” the situation when our house of cards would fall apart (figuratively) should we let a certain opponent on the lead.  The consequence will likely lead the opponents to trap our finessable honors, promote THEIR suit, or both!

Loser on loser plays make sense when giving up a losing trick will gain more than one trick elsewhere (including avoiding a dangerous opponent).

Part 1 – Promotion play for all audiences – click here to view 40 minutes of video

Free, Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2 – 27 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 3 – 32 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 4 – 33 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 5 – 30 minutes of video on how to make challenging slam contracts and other tricky plays

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Social Lesson #13 – Bridge Safety Play, Endplay, Spot Cards and more…

Okay, now that we are getting the hang of suit promotion, finesses and ruffing as the declarer, let’s turn our attention at some new tricks to develop extra tricks at the table.   Yet before we begin counting our proverbial chickens before the eggs have hatched, in many situations its more important to ensure we will make our auction than risking an unfortunate suit distribution by the opponents that might cause us to lose the contract.  Enter the Safety Play where we are willing to give up an overtrick to the opponents in order to safely fulfill our contract.  For instance in a 3 Notrump contract with no outside entries to the dummy that contains a 5-3-3-2 long minor suit headed by the Ace and King and 3 little in declarers hand, opener should duck one trick in dummy and THEN later win the two top honors to make four total tricks (assuming the opponents hold the likely 3-2 suit distribution).   And how about a similar situation when declarer holds 3 in the minor suit and opener holds a 6 card suit headed by the Ace-King-Queen – now what?  True, the opponents 4-1 suit split is only a 28 percent chance, but wouldn’t you normally want to make the contract more than three-quarters of the time?

As we have discussed in our prior Polling You lesson # 52-54, the Endplay can is a great alternative to making a “brute force” finesse play in certain circumstances.  The most classic form of the endplay is when the declarer has a combined major trump suit length of 9 cards, 4-2 or 4-3 in two side suits, and a 3-3 “mirrored” declarer-dummy suit length fit in a third suit that contains an Ace-Queen combination.  In this situation, rather than risking the 50-50 percent finesse attempt, the declarer is wise to “strip down” the 4-3 and 4-2 side suit before allowing the Left Hand Opponent to gain the lead.  That way the LHO is stuck for a lead, either finessing self or partner in the waiting Ace-Queen side suit, or leading a suit that dummy will ruff and the declarer pitching a side suit loser in their own hand.

Lastly, we will look at several situations where either the declarer or the dummy (or both) can potentially gain a critical trick with a side suit 10 or less.  After all, promotion is a beautiful thing, even if it is no more than a side suit in Bridge!   So let’s check out our bidding play of Bridge hands here at BridgeHands with over 15 hand variations and 100 minutes animated card play with commentary.

Visitors are welcome to view the 28 minute, Part 1 series of our video lesson with a handful of subtle variations that will influence our card play.   Our Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy the entire four-part lesson segments.   Additionally, be sure to check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Part 1 – Declarer play for all audiences – click here to view 28 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2 – 27 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 3 – 21 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 4 – 25 minutes of video on how to make challenging slam contracts

Happy Trails,

BridgeHands

Social Lesson #12 – Bridge Suit Promotion, Holdbacks, Endplays, Bath Coup, Frozen Suit, Rule of 7 and more…

Once again it’s time to play in a 3 Notrump contract so declarer’s primary focus is to make extra tricks – primarily using suit promotion and finesses.  You know the drill, promote our long 5 card suit and madly pitch losers in the other hand.  Of course the opponents have the same idea, promote THEIR suit before the declarer does – after all, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.  And oh, by the way, the opponents have a possible advantage making the first lead.   At any rate, in this episode we will head off on another direction, exploring other declarer play strategies including:

Hold-up plays, end-plays, avoid leading frozen suits, entries/re-entries for repeated finesses, Bath Coup, unblocking and more.

And while we often use the Rule of 7 to disrupt the opponents transportation, we will also witness when NOT to use the rule.   In each of our 7 hands, we will have 2-3 variations to witness the consequence of declarer and opponent lines of play.   So don’t delay, come by BridgeHands and watch 75 minutes of our show, complete with a bit of theory and lots of bidding and animated card play with commentary.

Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy the three-part lesson segments.   Additionally, be sure to check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Part 1 – Declarer play in 3 Notrump contracts – for all audiences – click here to view 22 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2 – 25 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 3 – 30 minutes of video

Happy Trails,

BridgeHands

Social Lesson #11 – Bridge Declarer Play, Part 2, Pull trump?

You are playing in a suit contract and you have two choices – pull trump and either promote a side suit, or first ruff losers in dummy’s short side suit.   But wait, there ARE other considerations when we should “do something else” before playing trump, right?

In this lesson we will start off considering what to do after the dummy hits the table and we say, “Thank you partner.” Sometimes we count winners, sometimes we count losers, and for those who love counting you’ll probably do both!

In this lesson while we will focus on bidding and play, we will start off segment one and two reviewing the fundamentals of making your best lines of play.  Certainly paying attention to entries and transportation is important, yet knowing the odds based on normal suit distribution as well as “extra information” learned during bidding and play can also help you bring home that close contract.  And yes, at BridgeHands you can count on us to take a close look at “human factors” – considering opponents gestures, mannerisms, delays, hesitations and the like (as well as tips on how to avoid doing so ourselves).

To get warmed up, we will start off slowly bidding and playing an easily attainable contract suit contract using our classic declarer play methods.  Then over the next 11 hands, we will learn from the Good, the Bad and the Ugg (in fact, sometimes even the opponents give the declarer an unnecessary trick).  So better we learn from our animated screen players than when your are orchestrating your declarer play with your hopeful partner praying for you…  So as always, we will entertain you with hand variations to underscore valuation with illustrative bidding examples with lots variations including animated card play and commentary.  Of course here at BridgeHands, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and as always you’ll see lots of action playing hands at the table!

So sit right up and tune in to our BridgeHands videos!

Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy the three-part lesson segments (part 2 is 46 minutes, split into Part 2a and 2b).   Additionally, be sure to check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Part 1 – Declarer play in suit contract – for all audiences – click here to view 29 minutes of video

Free, Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 1b with 5 hand variations and 23 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2 discussing when NOT to pull trump – 16 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2b with 3 hands and 24 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 3 with 4 hands and 27 minutes of video

Happy Trails,

BridgeHands

Social Lesson #10 – Bridge Declarer Play, Part 1, Look-alike Hands

After several episodes on major suit bidding, let’s take a break and turn our attention to declarer play.  Early in our Bridge career we learned the three principal ways to earn extra tricks: ruffing, finessing and suit promotion.   We will start of this series of lesson episodes focusing on 3 Notrump contracts – after all, everyone loves making a game bonus!  Fair enough, so that narrows our play strategies to promotion plays and finessing.

As soon as the Left Hand Opponent faces their opening lead, it’s time for our fearless declarer to put on their thinking cap and orchestrate their aggregate resources to seize nine or more tricks.  While 25-26 points is usually enough to make our beloved 3 Notrump beloved game contract, the pesky opponents are making plans of their own to set the contract.  They too, would love to promote their long suit and/or garner enough finesses to make 5+ tricks and set declarer’s contract.

In this lesson we will highlight how to evaluate our winners and losers, differentiate slow and fast tricks, evaluate the probabilities/odds of common play tactics based on suit splits and outstanding High Card Points, experience the benefits of hold-back plays, witness a sleepy defender and the consequence of not “splitting honors,” paying careful attention to maintaining entries into distant hand and more.

We will start off slowly bidding and playing an easily attainable contract with 30-31 points between the dummy and declarer hand (hopefully not exploring slam which requires 33 points).  Then over the next 10 hands the declarer will have to earn their keep, playing an onslaught of 25-26 point hands.  And while they may look similar and in some cases be the same, the defenders hands will change and require varying tactics to bring home the contract.  Better yet, we will witness some defender plays offering “gifts” during errant play – better to watch the transgressions here before heading to the table with your partner!  And as always, we will entertain you with hand variations to underscore valuation with illustrative bidding examples with lots variations including animated card play and commentary.  Of course here at BridgeHands, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and as always you’ll see lots of action playing hands at the table!

So sit right up and tune in to our BridgeHands videos!

Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy the three-part lesson segments (part 2 is 46 minutes, split into Part 2a and 2b).   Additionally, be sure to check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Part 1 – Introduction to declarer play – for all audiences – click here to view 28 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2a with 6 hands and 24 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2b with 4 hands and 19 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 3 with 4 hands and 18 minutes of video

Happy Trails,

BridgeHands

 

Social Lesson 9 – Responder With Long Minor Suit & No Fit

Here we go again with a long minor suit, but this time after partner opens in a major suit we as responder not only do not have a fit but on many hands we do not have 10 or more playing points (High Card Points plus effective distribution points for a promotable suit with useful honors).    I’m sure some of our readers are tempted to “just do it” and make a 2 level call in their 5+ card minor suit despite not holding the required 10+ points.  Yet that kind of anti-partnership trouble can get you in trouble with both your partner as well winding up bidding too high in an unattainable contract.

And the alternative?  Yeah, responding with a 1 Notrump bid despite having an unbalanced hand.  True, with something like a 6-3-3-1 shape including a singleton in partner’s major suit may present challenges.  Yet with no better bid, sometimes we are forced to choose the “least evil” action and hope for the best.

In this lesson we will focus on declarer play, with special attention to promoting a suit with entries, Entries, and ENTRIES!   And as always, we will entertain you with hand variations to underscore valuation with illustrative bidding examples with lots variations including animated card play and commentary.  Of course here at BridgeHands, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and as always you’ll see lots of action playing hands at the table!

So sit right up and tune in to our BridgeHands videos!

Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy both lesson segments as well as the Social Part 2 lesson.  Better yet, check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Part 1 – Basics of responder’s bidding with no partnership fit & less than 10 playing points  – for all audiences – click here to view 24 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2 with 6 hands and 34 minutes of video

Happy Trails,

BridgeHands

 

Social Lesson 8 – Standard American, Responder 10+ points & No Fit

The plot thickens, responder with 10 or more valuation points yet the players seem to have misfitting hands.  What’s a bidder to do: persist onward – full speed ahead, yield to partner’s suit with a singleton, head for Notrump, Pass or… ?

As we learned in our prior session, when responder makes a 2 level bid in a new suit the call is 100 percent forcing, regardless of whether your side has a part score in a Rubber Bridge game!  And responder also promises a rebid except when opener makes a weak bid (showing 12-13 points), such as rebidding 2 Notrump or rebidding responders suit at the 3 level.   Okay, so far so good but what happens next – enter the mysterious land of responder and opener rebids.

In this lesson we will use a sharp eye to closely examine some of the subtleties of hand evaluation, bidding and just plain old common sense.  And as always, we will entertain you with hand variations to underscore valuation with illustrative bidding examples.  Of course here at BridgeHands, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and as always you’ll see lots of action playing hands at the table!

So sit right up and tune in to our BridgeHands videos!

Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy both lesson segments as well as the Social Part 2 lesson.  Better yet, check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

Part 1 – The ins-and-outs behind forcing bids and illustrative examples – for all audiences – click here to view 22 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2 with 5 hands and 27 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 3  with several more hands and 25 minutes of video

Please login or register to view this content.

Happy Trails,

BridgeHands

 

Social Lesson 7 – Standard American, Responder Bids Toward Game

Okay, it’s time to step up responders bidding a bit.   Playing the Standard American system, after opener begins bidding in a major suit, with 10+ points for responder its paramount to find the best bid.  Of course, the fun is just getting started.  Now both the opener and responder must be on their proverbial toes to succinctly and accurately describe their hand with the ensuing rebids.

After responders two-level response, almost all opener bids are forcing.  Not only will we entertain you with lots of bidding examples, but in this video lesson we will also have the opportunity to actually play an assortment of hand – some with straight forward play, others not so much.  In fact, here at BridgeHands some of the hands we have prepared might make you pause and take a second look before bidding.   But the good news is that if you can master bidding and play of our hands, you will be well equipped for real Bridge at the table.   Tip – in addition to going for the obvious finesse and side-suit ruffs, be aware of opponents suit distribution and entries when trying to promote the dummy’s side suit.  Oh yeah, also be on the lookout for the situation when a suit does not break favorably!

So sit right up and tune in to our BridgeHands videos!

Premium and ULTRA members are welcome to enjoy both lesson segments as well as the Social Part 2 lesson.  Better yet, check out the hundreds of hours of videos in our archive by clicking “Index to Videos” on the navigation above or simply click this link.

General Audiences – click here to view our Teaser

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 1 with 34 minutes of video

Premium and ULTRA Members click here to view Part 2 (play at the table) with 32 minutes of video

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Happy Trails,

BridgeHands