Make music with your Bridge partner

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And what kind of music do you make with your Bridge partner?
- Do you learn from one another?
- How do you resolve conflicts?
- Are you both adaptive?
- Do your style complement one another?
- Are you both passionate about your game?

Senior Moments, Intellectual Interludes or… whatchamacallit!

Call it what we will:
- Sorry, I didn’t sleep well last night partner
-  Opps, my bad, partner – my mind was preoccupied

- Ah, err, yes yes, I knew it was my lead
- it’s just that I was still thinking about the auction
- Wait a minute, aren’t we playing in a Notrump contract
- Oh sorry, I didn’t see your bid, played card…

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Well, Bridge players at long last there’s a song that’s dedicated for those whose gray matter takes an occassional “kick start” shall we say.  I should have known there’d be some strings attached when the government starting issuing Social Security checks!

Salute to our Seniors and those of us who enjoy our own senior moments,


5th World University Bridge Championship – Part 4

In round four of the 5th World University Bridge Championship, the
opposing teams were:

Taipei A
United Kingdom
China A
Germany B

Germany A
China B
Taipei B

If you would like to get caught up, here is our commentary from the first three rounds of play:
 Round 1        Round 2         Round 3

This time board 1 left all but two teams going down in part score, with one big swing in Germany’s favor. Risking a non-vulnerable penalty double at the 2 level is questionable at best, with way too many IMPs to the declarer when doubled into game. But this is college Bridge with competitive juices flowing at their peak. See hand records here.

What do you think of these hands and opponents doubling West’s 2 Hearts in a competitive auction?

Board 1 – see details here

Dealer: N Vul: None

J 9 4

A J 7 6

A 9 8 7

Q 5



Q 10 9 5 3

6 4

K 10 9 7 6

A 8 7 5 2

8 2

Q J 3

A 8 4


Q 10 6 3

K 4

K 10 5 2

J 3 2


North should not be proud with black suit J 9 4 and Q 5 – suspect values, but Bridge is a competitive game and typically opens most 12 HCP hand regardless of the vulnerability. Actually, East’s 11 HCP hand rates to produce at least as many tricks, bidding 1 Spade. Next South balances 1 Notrump with 8-10 HCP and a nice Spade Q 10 x x. Not want to miss out on the fun, the German West player called 2 Hearts figuring the Spade King was worth something in partner’s suit. After two passes to South reopening double, it’s back to North in the moment of truth. Fearing no evil holding the Heart A J x x over West, Indonesia converted the double to penalty. Unfortunately North/South couldn’t find the setting double-dummy trick, gifting 470 points and 10 quick IMPs to Germany.
While it was still waters for most teams on board 1, right away our youth were entitled to lots of thrills and spills on board 2. With North-South vulnerable, all the Aces, half the Kings/Queens and a double suit fit, good things can happen. But wait, looking at the North/South hands do you agree there’s more than meets the eye?

Board 2 – see details here

Dealer: S Vul: E/W

Q 7

A J 10 7 3

10 6

J 5 4 2


K J 8

9 4

Q J 9 5 4 3 2


10 9 6 4 2

8 6 5

K 7

10 7 6


A 5 3

K Q 2

A 8

A K 9 8 3

Ah, South’s dream came true and it’s time to wake up with this beauty. With 20 HCP, all values working and a nice Club suit most will probably open 2 Notrump and the optimists shooting a strong 2 Club opener with a handful of quick tricks. Either way, many West players will capitalize on the favorable vulnerability bidding 2 or 3 Diamonds. Next North makes a positive response in Hearts with 4 teams bidding 6 Hearts and one unfortunate pair bidding a fateful 7 Heart grandslam. Either the Diamond King or Queen was led, revealing whether the North/South pair play “systems on” over interference, i.e. transfers. Those venturing into a somewhat wobbly 6 Heart slam were gifted 12 IMPs by the fortunate lie of West’s Spade King and stiff Club Queen. Apparently the one pair missing slam mis-guessed the Clubs – with this holding after drawing trump declarer should win the Club Ace, then play low from North to see if East produces the Club Queen. On another note, North/South should be wary of their doubleton Diamond suit after West’s preempt. Yet good fortune came to the eager North bidders with declarer pitching the second Diamond on South’s fifth Club.
Board 3 was flat enough but on board 4 it was deja vu memories of board 1 from one pair. Despite all vulnerable most pairs allowed the annoying North/South overcallers to tout their Spade suit over East/West’s Heart suit.  First let’s look at the hand, then comes “truth or consequence!”

Board 4 – see details here

Dealer: W Vul: All

A J 8 4 3

10 5 4 3


A 9 2


10 7

A K Q 9 6

K 5 2

10 4 3

K Q 5

J 7 2

J 9 8 7

Q J 7


9 6 2


A 10 6 4 3

K 8 6 5

One East player (USA B) was apparently annoyed enough to risk doubling France’s 3 Spade overcall with a trump King-Queen third and secondary honors in the minors. True, when partner has a sound opener and you hold 10 scattered points its worth considering a vulnerable penalty double. Here East has big trump Spade honors behind declarer and perhaps East was taught the “Rule of 23″ figuring pard’s 13 + 10 = DOUBLE!
After the Heart lead to West’s Queen, with a quick “eyes right” looking at the dummy its clear to play trump (which would set the set the contract). Looking at the North/South hand with only 4 quick tricks, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to start cross-rufing red suits. So if West doesn’t go for the
trump switch on trick 2, declarer could ruff 3 Heart tricks in dummy and a few Diamonds in North’s hand to bring home the doubled contract. Indeed, that was USA’s fate, with 730 points and 12 IMPs to France. So again, the part score penalty doublers left the board with their heads reeling.
Okay, we will finish or overview of this round with an exciting distributional hand.

Board 10 – see details here

Dealer: E Vul: All


 A Q

 K 6 4 3

 K J 9 7 5 4


 8 7 5

 8 7 5 4

 Q 10 7

 Q 8 6

 A K J 9 6 4 3 

 K 10 9 3 2

 - -



 10 2

 J 6

 A J 9 8 5 2 

 A 3 2

 Vulnerable or not, with a 7=5=0=1 shape and reasonable values East has big plans on this hand.  After all, with a mere 10 HCP shouldn’t East be able to count on partner West to come up with two tricks?  As it turns out, despite holding a lackluster flat hand West does have a nice complement of major suit placeholders which limits the opponents trick taking ability.   Not surprisingly, the bidding ranged from 6 Spades in the East (doubled both times) to 6 Diamonds in the South (also going down),  5 and 6 Clubs in the North (6 making slam but not deserved), 5 Hearts bid twice and doubled once (making but not deserved), 5 Spades doubled and making (earning well deserved bonus point for making 11 tricks), a few 4 Heart games making, and one lonely 3 Heart contract making 5!  Wow!
Some East’s will be tempted to open 4 Spades, quite an understatement for a hand with perhaps 5 losers.  With East’s excellent Spade honors and suit length, Heart’s are hardly worth mentioning for several bids.  As it turned out, most of our field went with the reasonable 9 card Heart fit and contract.  The typical bidding will begin 1 Spade by East around to 2 Clubs by North, although some busy-bidder South’s just can’t help but overcall in Diamonds (not wise when vulnerable).  When West passes East loses a few heartbeats until North bids 2 Clubs.  From here, it’s doubtful many East players could avoid the urge to make a bid jump in a major and by looking at the final contract, it’s probably a jump in Hearts. 
And so at the end of this explosive board, the scores ranged from 16 IMPs for 6 Clubs making slam in the North to 5 Spades doubled and making in the East for 13 IMPs in the other direction.  No wonder Bridge can get in the veins of our bright collegiate Bridge players.
And so at the end of Round 4, China Taipei B team slipped down a few notches to third place. Here’s how the top
teams stacked up:
Poland 87
USA A 81
France 77
China Taipei B 69
China A 69
Germany A 68

Until next time, enjoy the good life at the Bridge table!

Bridge Players – let’s sing Boom De Ah Dah!

Television Discovery Channel shares a fun video “The World Is Just Awesome” with a cute jingle “Boom De Ah Dah.”

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Like the astronauts say to one another, “It never gets old, huh?” To which the colleague responds, “Nope.”

How about it Bridge players who love our game – are you ready to sing “Boom De Ah Dah” between Bridge hands or rounds in duplicate Bridge play?

5th World University Bridge Championship – Part 3

Continuing on our review of the exciting 5th World University Bridge Championship, round three reviewed more insights into the abilities, cunning, and tournament team competition.  As play continues day after day, regardless of ones age the intensity of competition can take its toll on a player.  Okay, let’s head for the tables and kibitz a few boards. See here for Round 1 and Round 2. Board 1 started off peacefully enough with our players in a Diamond part score.  But then came boards 2-4, most in 3 Notrump contracts with dramatic results! 

See hand records here.


Board 2 – see details here

Dealer: E
Vul: N/S


10 3 2

A K 9 8

J 8 7 6 5


8 6 3

A J 7 6

Q J 10

A Q 9

A Q J 10 4

8 4

7 6 4 3

K 2


K 9 7 5

K Q 9 5

5 2

T 4 3


After West opens a minor, responder East bids 1 Spade and opener rebids 1 Notrump (with a few weak Notrump openers having a different auction).  For the Notrump rebidders, one wonders if a fair number of players do not play a checkback mechanism (New Minor Force, etc) to find a 5-3 Spade fit on this hand.  Or do you think that perhaps responder East didn’t value the hand as and invitation hand with 11 distribution points (one extra for the good 5 card spade suit)?  Well, as luck would have it, the 3 Notrump contract rolls home nicely while those in a Spade game find themselves short two tricks.  What do you suppose is going on here? Perhaps some of our cunning West players denied showing three card suit, eh?  Taking a closer look a West’s hand, with 3=4=3=3 holding, the shapeless hand has no ruffing values.  And with the soft Diamond Q-J-10 holding those slow trick suggest, if not beg, a Notrump game.  So those in 3 Notrump game picked up  close to 10 IMPs.  And one of the North/South teams – best to remain nameless, figured vulnerability must be for sissies.  While competing in part score has its time and place, the mystery pair bid-em-up to a remarkable 3 Heart contract in the South, going down four doubled for a painful 1100 points.  Ouch.

Players were asked about special habits before the game:

WANG, Jui Chinese Taipei HUNG, Chieh-Hsing Chinese Taipei
Practice with my teammates. Make sure team’s strategies before game start. The most important is unspoken consensus, we should realize teammates each other, how to defend and attack. Actually I don’t. But I am considering that a bridge game takes 2 hours and keeps high tense. I need to pay more concentration on it, so I think there has different quality of wisdom and strength between bridge and other sports.

Next, on board 3 a few pairs tripped up trying to get the beloved ninth trick in 3 Notrump.  Check out the hand and plan your play.

Board 3 – see details here

Dealer: S
Vul: E/W

K 10 8 4 2

J 9 5 4

T 9 7


A J 9 3

K 3 2

K 8 6

A J 6

6 5

A 7 6

A Q J 5

9 8 5 4

Q 7

Q 10 8

4 3 2

K 10 7 3 2

Quick tricks: 1 Spade, 2 Hearts, 4 Diamonds, 1 Club.  Clearly with East’s “body cards,” the nice Club 9-8-x-x and West’s A-J-6 this suit is the only chance for redemption.  Those who lead the Club 9 and let it ride if South does not cover, were rewarded making game.   We take solace for the few who overlooked the values of the spot cards, missing the opportunity to finesse of South’s Club 10.  Been there, own that tee-shirt.

Astute Bridge players take notice when they see one singleton, another stiff singleton often lurks in the shadows.  And so it goes for both North and South on the next hand.  Consider the auction an final contract on this misfit, or is it?

Board 4 – see details here

Dealer: W
Vul: All

K 7 6


K J 7 3

A 8 6 3 2

8 5 4 3

K 10 8 2

Q 8 4

J 5

A 10 9 2

9 3

6 2

K Q T 7 4


A Q 7 6 5 4

A 10 9 4


Most competitive duplicate players open 11 HCP hands with a singleton and that’s about the worth on North’s holding.  Thoughtful players always consider their rebid before slapping down a bid – here with 3=1=4=5 shape and a minimum hand, the thinking North’s open 1 Diamond planning to rebid 2 Clubs (avoiding the 2D reverse or 1C-2C rebid problem).  So after 1D – 1H; 2C – ? what should South bid next:

2S – Fourth Suit Forcing, artificial?
3H – Ostensibly invitational for most, with 13 HCP plus distribution seemingly a underbid?
3N – Thrusting into game, hiding two extra Hearts held by South?
4H – Hoping partner has some Heart support?

Temporizing with a 2S (artificial Fourth Suit Forcing) call seems like the best place to start.  If so, North will  probably bid 3C to show the extra Club and lacking three card Heart support.  That that point our field of Souths could no longer procrastinate had to choose between a Heart and Notrump game.  Nine of fourteen chose 3 Notrump, the other 5 in 4 Hearts.  For either contract, a Spade was frequently led – only a few found the setting high Club lead when North played a Notrump game (although four were able to set Notrump with a Spade lead).  Back to the bidding, assuming South’s artificial 2S call is game forcing then a rebid of 3H would show 6 Hearts.  In this situation, should North bid 3N or 4H?  With a singleton honor ranking of Jack, 4H by North seems a reasonable call – holding primary honors (Aces/Kings) and a worthy honor, partner South should have a reasonable play for a Heart game.  Unfortunately, two of our five team struggled with declarer play here.  What happened?  Apparently some of declarer South’s both mis-guessed the two-way Diamond Queen finesse and needlessly lost a second Heart to go down one.   At times Bridge can be exciting, other times a lonely moment suggesting time for reflection.  And that pretty much sums up the energy of an International team game, right?

After the bell was called on round 3, the top team rankings were:

Chinese Taipei B – 62
Poland – 62
USA A – 56
France – 56
Germany A – 54

REALLY? Get ready for the latest catch phrase/buzzword…

Over the years we’ve seen lots of TV commercials and movies with  quotes, buzzwords and catchy phrases that have enter our culture.  For better or worse, some of these enter the Bridge table. albeit tongue in cheek, just for fun/humor, delight, befuddlement or aghast).  Remember these?
- I’ll be back
- May the force be with you
- Go ahead, make my day

Could this be the latest one we hear at the Bridge tables?

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Someone makes a peculiar bid:  really?

Partner exposes the dummy:  Really?

The opponents announce the resulting score of 1000+:  REALLY???

A player interrupts Bridge play to take a mobile call: $%^&***REALLY***%#@!

Happy Bridging – Really! (wink)

Photographs: Duplicate Bridge Players at Tournaments

Competitive duplicate Bridge is a game of intense concentration.  In many pair games, over a 200 minute session players only spend 15 minutes with each pair of opponents.   An unfortunate consequence is that all too often Bridge players do not have an opportunity to meet and get to know their opponents at the table.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone out there who attends a lot of tournaments took pictures of many of the players?  Wouldn’t it be great if those pictures were posted on the Internet?  Wouldn’t it be awesome if those pictures included the names of the players so we could get address them by name in the future?

Well folks, we have an angel out there among us!  ACBL Director Jonathan Steinberg has been uploading dozens of Bridge player photos at tourneys he attends.  The pictures are nicely organized by tournament, complete with thumbnail pix along with the names of the Bridge players (easier said than done).   Check out Jonathan’s photo gallery to see some familiar faces and enjoy putting some names to Bridge players that you’d like to know on a first name basis

Here’s a link to Jonathan’s photo gallery of duplicate Bridge tournament players

Looking at his personal website, here you can see a picture of the man behind the camera

Well done, Jonathan!

5th World University Bridge Championship – Part 2

Continuing on our review of the exciting 5th World University Bridge Championship, round two offered opportunities for the college teams to leverage their Bridge acumen. See here for round 1 play. Right away on the first board, the bidding tested the mettle of our youth.

Board 1 – see details here

Dealer: N
Vul: None

A K 8 5


K 8 5 2

K 9 7 3


A 9 6

Q 10 9 7

A J 6 5 4


K Q 8 7 3

A J 6 4

Q 8 2

Q J 10 9 6 3 2

J 10 5 4



After North opens in a minor and East overcalls 1 Heart, some South players will bid 1 Spade (counting master Spade suit distribution points) while others may preempt up to 3 Spades.  Preempting when holding a 4 card side suit major with honors is usually a no-no when partner is not a passed hand.  But after RHO overalls 1 Heart, a Spade preempt will tempt some younger players exuding their fair share of flair.  Incidentally, when preempting with length in opponents suit you’re almost guaranteed partner will be short in opponents suit so expect a bump from pard.   With ideal cards (two Aces and stiff Spade), West will upgrade the hand and bid 4 Hearts.  And indeed, with 13 HCP and a Heart singleton North will easily bid 4 Spades with no wasted values (all primary honors).    Some East/West players  figured it was double time while others rightly pushed to 5 Hearts, enticing a phantom 5 Spade sacrifice, down 1 (always doubled).   And so when the dust cleared, those in 4 Spades made game with a few earning an overtrick with North’s Kings behind West’s Aces and South’s minor suit singleton cards in the closed declarer hand.  Interestingly, playing double dummy N/S can make 10 tricks in Spades with E/W able to make 10 tricks in the three remaining suits.

On board 2, it turns out the “minors” (school youth) should avoid playing in the MINORS.

Board 2  – see details here

Dealer: E
Vul: N/S

K 10 9 6 3 2

Q 10 4 3

K 5


J 8 7

A K 9 8 5 2

10 9 6


A Q 5 4


8 3

J 9 8 6 5 3

J 6

A Q J 7 4 2

A Q 10 4 2

South probably admires this shapely holding before opening 1 Diamond (regardless of 6-5-2-0 shape, no strong 2C openers here please).  Now its West’s turn to preempt, either 2 Hearts with a six bagger or maybe 3 Hearts with favorable vulnerability and pard’s passed hand.  Regardless, North will overcall in Spades.  But for those frisky West’s who shoot in a 3 Heart call to North’s 3 Spades, South has an real problem with no Spades and no Heart stopper.  Those in 3 Notrump made an easy game, some with overtricks while those in 5 or 6 Diamonds suffered their plight.  Mom said life wasn’t always fair.

Okay, one more hand. This time its dealer North to shoot high in first seat, but how high is right?

Board 5 – see details here

Dealer: N
Vul: N/S

6 4

A K Q 10 9 7 5 4 3



Q 9 8 5


Q 9 8 3 2

6 4 3


8 6

K J 10 7 6 5

A K Q 9

K J 10 7 3 2



J 10 8 7 5

Well, if we preempt 2 Hearts with six, 3 Hearts with seven, and 4 Hearts with an eight bagger, do we risk 5 Hearts with nine?  And if so, do the college youth have a conventional agreement asking partner to respond at 6 with wither the trump Ace or King, and 7 with both?  Probably not likely.  For those who sanely start with 1 Heart (adverse vulnerability) will find opponents quickly bidding a Diamond game that easily makes book.  If so, North will persist to 5 Hearts, not quite “walking the dog” (rebidding slowly) as expected.  Either side can make 11 tricks in their red suit, so with Heart being boss the 5 Heart contract gets top points for those North’s who pushed onward.  Yet the college teammates didn’t travel that far just to toss cards without putting some skin in the game.  And so some E/W erroneously doubled 5 Hearts while others pressed on to 6 Diamonds, also doubled but it turned out to be a great sacrifice saving 10 IMPs or more.  And so it goes, playing computer dealt random hands with seemingly wild distributions – probably shuffled far more often and thus more random than most of us humans could/would/should do.

After the second round, the field results of 14 teams began to spread out with the top 4 teams contesting the lead:

China B = 41 VP,  Israel = 40 VP,  Polan = 38 VP,  Chinese Taipei B = 37 VP

We welcome you to check out more results from the remaining boards on the second round.  Stay tuned for more…

5th World University Bridge Championship – Part 1

In this series, we will take a look at some of the exciting hands from the 5th World University Bridge Championship during August, 2010, held in Chinese Taipei.  Watching this video is a great start, illustrating the energy, compassion and competitive flair for International University Bridge:

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Or click:

The competition is part of the International University Sports Federation. What’s that you say – Bridge is not a sport? Not true for the IUSF, whose motto is “Excellence in Mind and Body.” It’s terrific to see that on the international front to see our exciting game of Bridge highlighted as a premiere sporting event, acknowledging our game’s contribution to excellence of the mind. Here’s a listing of their 29 competitive categories.

Okay, let’s head for the tournament results here. When it’s all said and done, we see the winners were: Poland, France, and Israel edging out the “A Teams” of USA, Germany and China (who entered two teams).

Looking at Round 1, Board 13 provided revealed the defender’s ability to find the correct lead.





Most teams played 3 Notrump in the East, down 1.  Those doing their homework knew to lead the Diamond King, the top of a broken sequence.  However, several leaders went wayward with a Spade lead that allowed West to go up with the Jack in dummy for a quick 9 tricks.  That lead costs their team a painful 12 IMP swing.  Yet its lessons like these that reinforce Bridge axioms like leading from the top of a sequence suit.  Promoting a student to a graduate is great – ditto on a well-deserved suit promotion.

Arguably one of the most exciting hands on the first round was Board 12, a competitive slugfest for our youth not concerned with trivial matters like unfavorable vulnerability.


Both sides may have 20 High Card Points, yet in a trump suit it’s all about length.  And when both sides have a double fit, the sky can be the limit in bidding and tricks made.  At the University level, only a few  North-South partnerships might have a special bid (like opening an artificial 2 Notrump) to show 5-5 in the minor suits.  With unfavorable vulnerability, most mortal youth will be contented to open 1 Diamond anticipating a Club rebid should opponents find a Spade fit.  And Spade fit they do find – a whopping 6-5 fit that quickly propels East in a 4 Spade contract after West’s 4 Spade shutout bid.  At this point, most North-South pairs were shutout yet the fearless USA Team A, Taipei Team B and Poland rolled the dice bidding 5 Clubs.  Twice 5 Clubs was doubled, making 6 for 950 points; Israel sensed the big fit persisting upward to 5 Spades, down one doubled for 200 to Poland, far better than the sting of losing 950 points.

Look for more rounds of analysis here at our BridgeBlog.   See Part 2 here.

Bridge Online University Team Championship

If you can’t beat them, join em!  Back in the 1930s (or so I am told) during the great depression, our Bridge game was king.  With few distractions from radio and no television or internet, Bridge was the most fun you could have this side of  the price for a few decks of cards.  Fast forward 80 years and the internet is “where it’s at” for youth and young adults.  Internet games are a hip as ever, but these days the latest buzz is “First Person Shooters” and “Massive Multi-user Online Games.”   So is there a place left for our old fashion Bridge card game?

Absolutely yes, if the good folks at Online University Championship have to say anything about it!  Using Bridge Base Online, each country has representative teams to play against one another in the virtual world of the Internet.  Playing on BBO, 16 teams teams from 4 continents duke it out for fame, their college, and country.

The first online University Teams Championships were held in 2008 / 2009, attended by 16 teams from 4 continents. Italy won the final against Norway.

In October 2010,the 2nd World Teams University Bridge Championships continues on internet BBO playing 32 boards (hands) using duplicate knockout Bridge scoring.   But for now, let’s take a look at some of the exciting hands from the 5th World University Bridge Championship during August, 2010:

In coming days we will take a look at results and bidding on some of the more exciting hands.  Here is a list of the teams:

  • Chinese Taipei B
  • China B
  • Germany A
  • USA A
  • Indonesia
  • United Kingdom
  • Poland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • France
  • USA B
  • Germany B
  • China A
  • Chinese Taipei A
  • Stay tuned…