Google BridgeHands

 HOME  Encyclopedia  Newsletter  Laws  Products  Services  Reviews  Tournaments  Blog  Training  Practice   HELP
 You are at:

BH SHDC Small Logo
BridgeHands eMagazine Newsletter
Intermediate & Advanced: eMagazine #0 December 2005


in this issue


Do it with Finesse

Navigating BridgeHands

Game Tries, Losing Trick Count, and Cover Cards

Forcing Bids

Nice Bluhmer, partner!



Do it with Finesse

Back in our early days of Bridge we learned the basics of the finesse, elementary card combinations including tenace holdings. Later, we worked our way through repeated finesses, the backward finesse, the two way finesse and tactics as the endplay, ruffing finesse, marked finesse, obligatory finesse, etc.

For the serious Bridge student, BridgeHands has a comprehensive list with hundreds of suit combinations, organized by HCP held by the opponents. For instance, let's say you've wondered about the difference in odds holding these hands when partner holds 4 little cards:

A K Q 10
A K Q x

Looking at the table where opponents hold 1 HCP, we see the following odds to drop opponents' Jack:

#39. A K Q 10 = 87%

#40. A K Q x = 68%


While looking at this table (where opponents hold the Jack), notice that in most cases we should play to drop their lowly honor, assuming our strategy is to maximize our tricks. Scanning the table, it's an easy matter to note the exceptions: holding a singleton (4-1, 5-1), holding 5- 2 (with Q 10 in one hand).

Next, let's consider the line of play when opponents hold the Queen - suit combination with 2 HCP

A K J 10

x x x x

Looking at Case 68, we note a 53% probability to make 4 tricks. Case 68 recommends first playing the Ace, then finessing the Queen. Scanning this table, we often see a recurring pattern of play (#22, 29, 33, 35, 36, 39, 40, 42, 45, 46, 52, 52-56, 55-59, 62- 64, 68).

Like other learning experiences, Bridge player acquire and process information through various methodologies:


Receptive: Linear info/data Directive: Lessons/practice Guided: Problems/simulation Explore Loosely structured



As Bridge players progress to higher levels, their educational needs also change from a structured environment to one that is more exploratory. By spending some time acquainting yourself with the themes of the Finesse tables, you will be able to synthesize general themes of play. Improving Bridge players discover they don't need to memorize these tables.


You can use a table like this in two ways:

1. Learn one case, then look for similar percentages to the right.

2. Find identical percentages on the right, then look to the left for similar hand pattern characteristics.

Try it - you and your partner will like it!




Tip of the Month: Laws - Accidentally dropped card

Oops, while sorting my cards, I dropped one on the table face up. Now what?

Of course, we'll call the Director to help us if we are playing Duplicate Bridge. If the bidding began, Law 24 tells us the cards remain faced during the auction period. Obviously, Unauthorized Information may exist - Law 24 dictates if either a honor or 2+ cards are faced, the Offender's partner must pass one time - perhaps resulting in a passout! If you are lucky enough to become declarer, you may pick up the dropped card/s. If your side defends, the card/s become penalty cards during play with Laws similar to cards faced during play (non-honor Minor Penalty card, honor or multiple faced cards require Major Penalty treatment). And if partner's forced pass damages the Non-Offending Side (opponents), equity is restored according to Law 23.

Hmmm, what about when a card is faced before the anyone has bid and no one has played the board (first round)? According to Law 6, the Director may allow a reshuffle (particularly in a team game).

So, what's the tip you ask? Get in the habit of always counting and sorting your card beyond the table surface. Then if a card is dropped on the floor, no penalty is incurred for faced card/s (assuming partner cannot see through the table).

Find out more about Suit Combinations....



  Dear Bridge Friend,

Welcome to our introductory issue of BridgeHands Newsletter for Intermediate and Advanced Bridge Players. While this issue will highlight features of the BridgeHands website, we promise to include the type of interesting Bridge information you'll find in future issues.


  • Navigating BridgeHands

    It all begins at BridgeHands home page, our master navigation page. Navigation access to major BridgeHands sections is available is at the top of each BridgeHands webpage. The home page also includes many sub-links found in those sections. Let’s take a quick look at our sections:

    Encyclopedia – thousands of Bridge terms organized alphabetically by category, including:

    Duplicate, Bidding, General, Play, Conventions, Jargon, Rubber. Terms also include a “star” proficiency rating to the left of each term: 1 – Newcomer, 2 – Novice, 3 – Intermediate, 4 – Advanced

    eMagazine – provides access to our subscription signup page and access to our archives.

    Laws – curious about a Bridge ruling? In addition to all the Contract/Rubber and Duplicate Laws, you will enjoy our complete reference library with lots of indices and cross-references.

    Products – check out interesting products offered by other Bridge vendors: Books, Software, flash cards, pamphlets, videos, and magazines

    Services – we offer BridgeHands Question & Answer EMAIL support, this free monthly eMagazine, and online Bridge webpage hosting for players, teachers, professionals, cruise directors, and Clubs.

    Reviews – check out our awesome index and details of over 1,500 Bridge books, categorized by New Books, Book Name, Bridge Topic, Author, Favorites, Target Audience (proficiency), and Bridge Category! We have a similar section for Bridge cruise ships and are planning other areas. Another great feature allows you can share your constructive opinion with other BridgeHands readers.

    Tournaments – want to review results from a prior major ACBL or WBF championship? We have an archive of their files at BridgeHands.

  • Game Tries, Losing Trick Count, and Cover Cards

    It's a frequent scenario - responder supports opener's major suit by raising to the 2 level. Holding 19-21 points, opener can easily jump to game; with a minimum 12-14 point values, opener quickly passes. Bidding basics recommends raising the major to the 3 level holding a medium hand (15-18 points). Let's look at a few examples of opener's hand:

    A K 4 3 2   5 4 3 2   K 5   3 2  7 LTC
    A K 4 3 2   A 4 3 2   K 5   3 2  6 LTC
    A K Q 3 2   A Q 2   K 5 4   3 2  5 LTC


    Over time, we have learned the value of using various game trial bids to improve accurate game bidding. From a Losing Trick Count perspective, opener's game try is applicable holding 6 LTC; pass with 7 LTC, jump to game with 5 LTC - regardless of high card points. Why? We need 10 tricks to make game. When responder makes a major suit raise (including a "constructive raise" holding 8-10 points), responder's hand typically covers 1 or 2 of opener's losers - see Cover Cards. But that's not enough to make game, falling 1-2 tricks short. That's where game trial bids come into play, providing methods to discover hands when responder's shape and strength provides the critical third cover card.

    The "Kokish" Game Try convention offers several unique techniques for the 6 LTC opener to explore game, including: short suit game try (new suit bid at 3 level), asking bid help-suit game try (responder identifies help suit), and trump suit game try

    A K 4 3 2   A 4 3 2   K 5   3 2  6 LTC


    Here's an illustrative example where responder's hand complements opener's 6 LTC (above):


    10 9 8   K Q 5   A 7 6   7 6 5 4
    Using the Kokish ask (trump suit + 1), bidding goes:
    1S - 2S;
    2N - 3H;    Responder offers help in Hearts
    4S          Opener accepts
    The above example is not particularly dramatic - 
    opener has 16 HCP and responder has 9 HCP.  Here's 
    a second example (same bidding) underscoring the 
    importance of responder's help suit to find 
    game on fewer points:
    A K Q 4 3 2   K 4 3 2   3 2   3 2
    10 9 8 7   A 5   A 6 5 4   6 5 4 3


    In summary, opener's game tries are useful after responder's major suit raise when holding 6 LTC. Although responder often holds 1-2 cover cards, various game try conventions are useful to explore game contracts when the partnership does not hold 25 points.

  • Forcing Bids

    What, we are going to discuss forcing bids for intermediate and advanced players? Well, there are some sequences that occasionally trip up a player so perhaps the premiere issue of BridgeHands is the ideal time to confirm your partnership agreements.

    (P) - P - (P) - 2S
    Some partners play fourth seat 2 level to show an intermediate hand with a good suit, perhaps 6-7 LTC

    P - 1H;

    Partner passes but then jumps in a new suit - perhaps playing a fit-showing jump

    P - 1S;
    2C - 2D;

    Playing Reverse Drury, 2D promises an opening hand, but what else?

    1C - 1D;
    1H - 1S/2S;

    Natural or Fourth Suit Forcing (artificial)? The answer probably depends on "which side of the pond" you reside.

    1C - 1D;
    1H - 3C;
    Forcing or invitational? Check your agreements.

    1D - 1S;        1D - 1S;
    1N - 3S;        1N - 2C;
                    2D - 3S;

    This one also depends on your methods. If partnership plays New Minor Forcing, this sequence is often played as invitational; first going through NMF would then be game forcing. In fact, the New Minor Forcing convention has many possible permutations worthy of discussion (interference, passed hand bidding based on Notrump range, etc)

    1D - 1S;

    Most agree opener's reverse bid is one round forcing (also see Lebensohl over reverses)

    1D - 1S;
    2N - 3S;

    After opener's jump rebid showing strength, responder's bid is game forcing.

    (1C) - P - (P) - 2N;
    2N is strongly invitational (not Unusual Notrump).

    Next month, we will discuss the Forcing Pass bid.

      More on Forcing bids
  • Nice Bluhmer, partner!

    A unusual auction?

    1D - 1H;
    1S - 1N;
    2C - 3H!;

    What in the world does 3H show here? Right, this is a Bluhmer, showing a big fit in partner's last bid suit (Clubs here) - it says nothing about the responder's Heart suit. Notice the criteria for the Bluhmer:
    1. Responder has denied extra length in suit initially bid suit, typically making a balancing rebid
    2. Opener makes a third suit re-rebid, showing shortness in responder's suit
    3. Responder belatedly rebids a once-bid suit; thus the re-rebid is conventional.

    Lou Bluhm authored this creative convention. Is there a Bluhmer in your future?

      Bluhmer Convention
  • BridgeHands Q & A EMAIL Support
    BridgeHands offers Question and Answer EMAIL Support for your Bridge related questions. BridgeHands EMAIL responses are focused and often include a weblink to learn more details on your own. You may ask questions as often as you like and always buy more time as needed. BridgeHands EMAIL responses include a time log with your account balance.

    At an introductory price of $35 per hour, the Intermediate-Advanced Q & A service usually requires only 5 minutes to answer normal questions. Serious prospective customers are entitled to one complimentary EMAIL Q & A response after submitting a brief marketing survey to BridgeHands - we look forward to your business.

    Ready to order now? Great! Please EMAIL and ask for BridgeHands Intermediate-Advanced Q & A EMAIL service. You will receive an EMAIL invoice - click on "PAY NOW" at the bottom of the EMAIL. Your web browser will connect you to a secure webserver to process your credit card or other online account. That's it - you can then send your Questions directly to

    Also see BridgeHands Q & A for more information and other billing options (fax or phone). For the curious, we have archived sample Q & A sessions.

    Introductory Price: $35 per hour - Intermediate & Advanced

    Learn more...



    Forward email

    © Copyrighted Material - BridgeHands | 12 Lone Oak Court | Petaluma | CA | 94952


    HOME  Encyclopedia  Newsletter  Laws  Products  Services  Reviews  Tournaments  Blog  Training Practice Links HELP
    Contacts: Sales  Support  Reviews  Q&A    Disclaimer    Privacy    © 2005 BridgeHands   Updated 01/22/11