Seven Notrump

In which some people who play bridge blog about it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nothing to hide

Welcome, reader from! Incidentally, we've completely stopped playing rubber bridge for money, preferring the intangible joys of a running score tally instead, but I'm sure we're all planning to declare the small amounts we did earn.


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Monday, March 19, 2007

Playing without a suit fit

From Craigslist:

If you like to play cards and want to learn to play bridge, then this might be for you. I teach a beginners bridge class for guys on Tuesday night. It is closes optional. Nudity is not required. It is clothes optional. It is NOT a sex group.

There are currently 7 guys in the group; 4 gay, 2 bi, and 1 straight. The purpsoe is to learn to play bridge in a relaxed environment. If interested drop me an email and I'll send you more information.

Who's to say it might not improve one's game? Unfetter the body and you unfetter the bidding! It also opens up a new range of ways that a bored dummy can pester the other players. I like Marya's suggestion though that they play with giant cards to maintain modesty.


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Clip and save

For those of us who learned on the cheat sheet and want to keep abreast of the latest modifications, I've added a "printme" flag to all my posts here that directly refine our system.

Here is the collected works.

As always, everything is open to debate and discussion, but printing that one page might be handy if you forget certain conventional responses.


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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Shape recognition

One of the prerequisites for keeping an accurate running card count in your head is to become very conversant with the various hand shapes, so you don't even have to think about them:

4333    4432    4441

5332    5422    5431    5440    5521    5530

6322    6331    6421    6430    6511    6520    6610

7222    7321    7330    7411    7420    7510    7600

8221    8311    8320    8410    8500

9211    9220    9310    9400


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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Nilsy's first slam

Or, a rousing turn on the Blackwood-go-round

Pass♣ ♦ 2NT
Pass♥ Pass♣ 
Avid followers of the spreadsheet up there ^ will notice that Nils's score leapt up last night by a dramatic 3,000-odd points. That was due in large part to a lovely small slam that I pushed him into semi-unwittingly. I opened strong with 20 points and AKJxx of hearts. After his 2NT, I should have had the sense to stop us in 3NT, but I wanted to show my hearts, and then he jumped past the stopping-point with his next bid of 4C, which I understood to be denying heart support (in fact he had Qxx in hearts and was just temporizing to show strength). I bid 4NT hoping we would play it right there, but the idea of playing in no-trump was thus far only in my mind, and Nils heard the bid as Blackwood ace-asking in a to-be-determined suit contract. Maybe he hoped I knew his secret hearts and would land us there. He showed the missing club ace, and I deposited him in a vulnerable small slam in no-trump, figuring that asking about kings would benefit the defense more than us, and that he wouldn't pass 5NT anyway, just as he hadn't passed 4NT despite my hopes. I had my eye on Wendy, the diamond overcaller, for the missing points anyway. Marya led a middling spade, which dummy won with the doubleton ace.

I clambered around to look at Nils's hand, which was a little sparse-looking, with no kings and one ace. I have no confidence that I would have made the contract. Wendy indeed had the kings of diamonds and clubs -- an opening diamond lead through dummy's A-Q would have set us -- but Marya had long spades topped by that suit's king, and she hoped to establish them. But Nils played it carefully and like the pro he is, losing an eventual trick to the club king, winning the heart return (a spade would've killed us then for sure, but I don't think Wendy had one to lead), and then establishing the long club suit in his hand and squeezing Wendy like a delicious organic tangerine till her errant diamond king fell under the ace on the last trick, winning the slam and the rubber.


  At Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:05:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

It occurs to me after the fact that this search for a fit, which turned out serendipitous, was a direct outcome of last week's conversion to weak twos.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


After an interesting evening of exploring weak twos, I don't think we're at all ready to abandon the concept (as Caroline suggests) but one improvement at least is called for. The opener's rebid over a 2NT response to a weak-two opening, indicating a feature in a side suit, was not terribly useful. Mr. Harold Ogust agreed, and invented the Ogust convention (slightly modified below):

You open a six-card suit with a weak-two bid.

Your partner has 12+ points and likes the suit, and thinks you have a shot at game. To evaluate what a good final contract would be, she bids 2NT. This asks you to describe your hand as follows:

  • Respond 3C if you have minimum points and a poor suit (only one of the three top honors [AKQ] in your bid suit).
  • Respond 3D with minimum points and a good suit (two of the three top honors in your bid suit).
  • Respond 3H with maximum points and a poor suit.
  • Respond 3S with maximum points and a good suit.
  • Respond 3NT if you have all three top honors in your bid suit.

That information should allow responder to pick an appropriate contract in which to play.



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Monday, March 05, 2007

Weak twos

There's been a lot of buzz, but I believe it's time to give this a try for real. An opening bid at the two-level does not mean what it used to. Memorize what follows (or comment with quibbles and alternate suggestions).

Open 2D, 2H, or 2S if you have exactly six cards in the suit and 6-10 7-11 points. Your points should lie primarily in the bid suit, and you should not have a four-card side suit (especially not a major).

With a strong hand, open 2C. This promises 20 or more points (or a couple less with a great strong suit) and says nothing about your club holding.

Responses to a weak-two opening

You're not forced to respond.

  • With a doubleton at least in partner's suit and 7-13 points, you can raise in the same suit. Opener should pass.
  • With a longer fit and greater than opening strength, jump to game.
  • With a five-card suit and good point count, bid that suit. To bid at the three level, you should have a six-card suit and/or 15+ points.
  • To invite partner to game, bid 2NT. This promises 14+ points and invites the opener to show a feature in another suit -- an ace, king, void, or singleton -- by bidding that suit at the three level. If opener has none of the above, she rebids the original suit. If the original suit is rock-solid -- headed by three honors, say -- she can rebid 3NT. See Ogust.
  • To invite partner to slam, bid 4NT: Blackwood!

Responses to a 2C opening

You are forced to respond.

  • With 7+ points and five diamonds, hearts, or spades, bid that suit at the two level.
  • With 7+ points and balanced distribution, bid 2NT.
  • With less than seven points and/or no particular suit you like, bid 2D. Opener will name her favorite suit. You are still forced to respond -- raise that suit to the three level if you like it okay and have five or more points, or bid 3C as a sign-off if you have very low points and nothing else to offer.



  At Monday, March 05, 2007 3:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

tell me you are not going over to the dark side! oh, how i loathe weak 2 contracts. (i know, let's get in a partial to play out a lousy hand versus some opponents who probably have something better!) perhaps if i just keep not playing very often by the next time i do, you will all have come to hate them, too.


  At Monday, March 05, 2007 4:18:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

let's get in a partial to play out a lousy hand versus some opponents who probably have something better

That's it exactly! Over a weak-two opening, the opponents don't have a chance to find their fit, and they can't set us in our long suit. The hope is that it'll produce more aggressive, competitive play, as opposed to the current climate wherein everyone politely, patiently bids to describe their hands and whomever has the best fit and the most points is allowed to calmly reach and play their ideal contract -- undoubled of course. And two-bids are almost never seen.

  At Monday, March 05, 2007 10:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hmm. Well, a couple things: it seems to me that the way to get people to play more aggressively is to play more agressively and egg people on a bit. That is, you can play weak twos just for the sake of playing them, and it won't necessarily make you a more aggressive player.

That said, the bit about the long suit might lessen the suckage. I've not seen that as a prerequisite to the weak two bid before, and everyone ends up getting set, which is what I was imagining, not poor ops don't get to play their suit.

  At Monday, March 05, 2007 11:42:00 PM, Blogger Paul said:

How did/do the Columbia people play their weak twos -- just with five-card suits? That sounds too weak.

I agree that bidding more aggressively is a good way to encourage others to do the same; but without the conventions in place to support aggressive bids all you can do, besides doubling often, is stuff like open 11-point hands at the one level, etc., and doing that tends to get you set repeatedly, because you're bending the rules and nobody else is. That -1700 rubber from February 20 at Marya's is a sad artifact of that sort of aggression.

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