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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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. Lets take a quick look at our sections:
Encyclopedia thousands of Bridge terms organized
alphabetically by category, including:
Rubber. Terms also include a star proficiency rating to the
left of each term: 1 Newcomer, 2 Novice, 3 Intermediate, 4
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
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,
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.
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.
"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
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
(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
P - 1S;
2C - 2D;
Reverse Drury, 2D promises an opening hand, but what
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
(1C) - P - (P) - 2N;
2N is strongly invitational (not Unusual Notrump).
Next month, we will discuss the Forcing Pass bid.
More on Forcing bids
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
3. Responder belatedly rebids a once-bid suit; thus the re-rebid
Lou Bluhm authored this creative convention. Is there a Bluhmer
in your future?
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 Sales@BridgeHands.com
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 Advanced@BridgeHands.com
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 &