Friday, 24 November 2017

Pairs at the Club

Last Monday Phil Moon and I played in the Buchanan. We rather boldly put ourselves into the matchpoint points for Division 1 and 2 players, although neither of us plays for any team at the moment. But we were prompt, completed a half-table, and played reasonably well, finishing on 53%.

We got off to a great start. In fact, my highlight was on Board One. Defending against 1NT I counted that declarer had four winners for the last four tricks, but then realised that if I trapped him in dummy he couldn't get them all. A proud moment.

On the very next deal I picked up this monster hand:

♠ AKQ9654 ♥KJ43 ♦- ♣J2

When partner opened 1♥ I hatched a plan. I began with a 4♦ splinter, then after the expected 4♥ reply I cuebid 4♠. This was met with a cuebid of 5♣ and I was able to bid the slam. This was the full deal:


Phil decided to finesse Hearts for some reason resulting in an overtrick. Of the seven times it was played five times the contract was 6♥, then oddly once each for 3♥ and 3♠.

The hand above was my longest suit, but Phil kept on getting big hands. In general, these distributional hands didn't go well for us. Here's one below:


After North opened 1♠ Phil overcalled 5♦, the bid he was probably going to make anyway. With a good attacking hand South bid on to 5♠. With the West hand I tried 6♦. North pushed on to 6♠, and Phil had a think. To my horror, he pulled out 7♦, which was doubled. I thought I had a bit of defence and we might be able to beat 6♠, but in fact we can't, as long as they finesse Hearts (which they ought to after the 5♦ overcall). 7♦x-4 for -800 was worth 0% of the matchpoints, but in fact was a good sacrifice. Once they bid 6♠, we're stuffed. So maybe it's my 6♦ bid that cost us.

Later Phil had a solid nine-bagger in Hearts, and went for an immediate 5♥ overcall. This was doubled and one off, another bad one when they had no game their way.

I was dummy a lot, and only seemed to play 3NT contracts. That is until this hand, which I present as a play problem:


Phil opened 1♦, I replied 1♥, and he rebid 1NT showing 15-17. Since we don't play Checkback Stayman I jumped to 3♥, which Phil raised to game.

Looking at all four hands you can see that the defence can beat the contract easily with a Spade to the Ace, two Clubs and a Club ruff. You can also see that I have ten top tricks by drawing trumps and running the Diamonds. But of course, it's different for defence and declarer without seeing all the hands.

At the table, North lead the ♥J. My plan was to save the Diamonds until I'd drawn trumps, and try and ruff a Spade along the way. So I lead a Spade up. Things looked very rosy when South took his ♠A, and returned another trump. I won this in dummy, played a Spade to the King and ruffed a Spade. If I can just draw trumps now I'm guaranteed ten tricks even if Diamonds don't split, via 5 Hearts, 2 Spades including the ruff, and 3 Diamonds. But the problem is I'm stuck in dummy. On this layout I can just play three Diamonds, but I didn't know that.

Instead I lead a Club up to the Jack, reasoning that even if it lost worse case would be that I would lose a Spade and two Clubs (and my ten tricks weren't going anywhere - I was thinking of overtricks in fact). Then to my dismay, not only did North produce the ♣AQ she then gave her partner a ruff for one down.

I think I played it right though.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Social Game

Last night John Faben and Phil Moon joined Anna and I for some social bridge. It was a very enjoyable evening, the only disappointment being some gluten free biscuits.

We played a series of Chicago movements and generally bid and played pretty accurately. Featured below is the best hand I got; where of course I overbid:

No one vul
S deal
♠ A 9
♥ K Q 9 4 3
♦ A K 6 5 2
♣ A
♠ Q 4 3 2
♥ 8 5
♦ J 4
♣ T 8 6 4 3
♠ 7
♥ A J T 2
♦ Q T 7
♣ K J 9 7 2
♠ K J T 8 6 5
♥ 7 6
♦ 9 8 3
♣ Q 5

First hand vulnerable John opened a Weak Two, with a poor hand but decent Spades. I figured if he had even ♠KQxxxx slam could be good, so launched straight into Blackwood. I then had a vague thought that we might be better in Hearts or Diamonds but it was too late now, and John replied showing one Ace. I then asked for the Queen of trumps, which was denied, so settled for 5♠.

Unfortunately John's only points outside Spades were the fairly useless ♣Q, so this was going to be a struggle.

He got a lead of a low Heart to the ♥A and ♥J return, then drew trumps losing one to the ♠Q. He now needed the rest. Under the pressure of running his trumps West had to discard the ♣K which gave declarer another trick but that was only his tenth (five Spades, one Hearts, two Diamonds, two Clubs). I thought you might be able to make it if you both ruff the Club in dummy and set up Hearts for a Diamond discard, but I'm not sure if you've got the entries for that.

I just put the hand into Bridge Solver (with the exact spot cards above, which might not be accurate), and it confirms that only 10 tricks are available. If you try and set up the Hearts you end up ruffing too many times in your hand, and West gets a long trump trick. So North's exuberant bidding is to blame.

At the end of the evening Anna emerged as the individual winner.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Nice day for bridge

On a family holiday in Nice I made contact with a couple of local Bridge Clubs, but we never quite made it. Instead we played a few hands in the villa. Our opponents had just been taught overcalls, and this was one of the demonstration hands from their lessons:

No one vul
S deal
♠ x x x
♥ J T x x
♦ x x
♣ A J x x
♠ A K J x x
♥ x x
♦ K T x
♣ T x x
♠ Q x x x
♥ Q x
♦ Q 9 x x
♣ K Q x
♠ x
♥ A K x x x
♦ A J x x
♣ x x x

I opened the South hand 1♥, West overcalled 1♠ and North raised to 2♥, just as the teaching notes suggest. Now East has a decision. In the beginner course in Norwich Bridge School the responses to overcalls are more or less the same as responses to opening bids, so with 11 points East should bid 3♠.

I don't think this is a particularly good system, as when responding to overcalls playing strength and number of trumps are much more important than High Card Points, but it keeps things simple. Here, East only bid 2♠, not unreasonable.

I then bid 3♥ as South, just competing the hand with a known nine card trump fit. This bid is not invitational, and Anna passed anyway with a minimum.

With trumps behaving there are an easy five trump tricks, two Aces and two ruffs in dummy so 3♥ made easily.

Despite having more High Card points if East-West get to 3♠ they will do well to make it. They need this lucky layout in Clubs with the Ace onside, and also to find the Jack of Diamonds.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Scottish Schools Bridge Championship

Last week I took 11 pupils to the Stirling and Union Bridge Club for the Schools Championship. This is the third time I've been, and I think it was the best yet. As in previous occasions, the battle was between us and Hutchesons' Grammar School, and they took the prizes. There were eight teams altogether:

1st Hutchesons' Manta Rays
2nd Hutchesons' Coyotes
3rd HSOG Beetroots
4th Aberdeen Plus
5th HSOG Dragon Fruits

Report on SBU website here.

This was the most exciting hand

My pupils have between 0.5 and 2.5 years experience, and we've barely got on to slams. So I was delighted to see that my top pair bid 6NT here, and they even got the Spade finesse correct for an overtrick. Some other less experienced declarers played in 3NT and made 11 tricks. It's a good teaching hand, as 12 tricks are guaranteed as long as you do the seemingly obvious thing of tackling Spades before cashing all of your winners.

The Hutchesons' Seniors were more adventurous. The Coyotes bid to 7NT, via keycard asking for Kings and Aces, and the Manta Rays somehow got to 7♠. Both pairs made 13 tricks, and you can't do better than that.

The winning team with coach John Dimambro

The Cauliflowers

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Playing from the wrong hand

I played in a Charity Teams Event at the Buchanan Bridge Club last week. On one hand declarer won a trick in dummy, then played a card from his hand. The card was already on the table, when dummy pointed out that it was from the wrong hand. I was the defender last to play, and said that I accepted the wrongly played card. Dummy then chimed in to say that declarer can "do what he likes", and could change his card if he wanted to (no one else had played yet). It didn't really matter, to me or anyone else, so declarer put the card away and lead from dummy.

I think I was right though - declarer cannot show a card from the wrong hand then play from the correct hand, as the wrongly played card could be viewed as fishing to see how the defenders react.

Here's the full deal:


Presumably North-South were playing a Strong NT as North opened 1♣. I had the 15 point East hand but settled for overcalling 1♥. The opponents finally settled in 2♠.

I won the Heart lead then switched to a Diamond, which declarer won in dummy. He then lead the ♣J from hand, and I thought "great I'm going to win my ♣K" and so accepted the lead, before we agreed he should play from the right hand. But maybe my eagerness made him suspicious, or he just wanted to continue the suit he'd committed to playing, because he then lead the ♣A from dummy without finessing.

After that we defended well. I recognised the possibility that partner might have the missing ♠Q and ruffed a trick high, and we went on to score Spade tricks separately and reduce declarer to 2♠-1. This gained 4 IMPs when our team-mates played the unlikely contract of 2♣ from South (South was starting an escape from 1NTx and North left it in). Even more surprising is they made it. Why was no one playing with Diamonds as trumps?

The event was the Erskine Charity Handicap Teams. There were eight teams, and before the handicap was applied we scored 68/140 VPs, for 5th place.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

What happens if dummy plays the wrong suit?

What happens if dummy doesn't play the suit that declarer asked for? Normally everyone notices and it's quickly corrected. But what if declarer doesn't notice and plays a card too, and only then notices the mistake?

That was the situation last night, in a teams match at the Buchanan Bridge Club. Here's the full deal and auction:


I sat East and despite the vulnerability went for a risky third in hand weak 2♥. South doubled and I got a bit worried when Phil raised me to 4♥. As he said afterwards, he was stretching, and I'd already stretched. South now bid 5♦, passed out, and hit a fine dummy. On the first trick Phil lead the ♥K, which of course declarer won with his Ace.

At trick two declarer called for a Heart, but dummy played a small Club. I was East and also heard "Club" so played a Club, and declarer didn't notice the error so discarded a Club. Phil also thought declarer had asked for a Club, and saw three Clubs in front of him, so of course followed suit and won the trick with his ♣A. At this point declarer noticed the error and the director was called.

The director (who was, incidentally, our team-mate!) ruled that there was no way of telling who had said what but since declarer had played a card himself without correcting the mistake the trick stood.

Fortunately, it didn't matter as declarer still had twelve tricks, and can never get more than twelve. At the other table our team-mates collected 1100 for 5♥x-4.

The event was the Buchanan Congress Teams, for which Phil and I had partnered Ricky Finlayson and Horst Kopleck. They produced a couple of great boards, including 1♦xx-2, and we made a lot of games and bid three slams. In fact the only two game swings out I can blame myself for. Firstly I ducked an Ace against a slam ("Classic Danny" Anna said with delight when I told her), and on the other one we failed to find 4♥:


I transferred to Hearts, went as far as 3♥ but couldn't quite make it to 4♥. We beat 3♠ by a trick but lost 11 IMPs. About half the tables in the Men's and Women's congresses got to game.

Overall we finished on 110 VPs out of 140 to top the standings.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Don't alert any doubles in Scotland

In Scotland, no doubles or redoubles are alertable. This, I suppose, is the SBU solution to how to cope with the myriad meanings of doubles that people play. It seems reasonable enough, but caused us to come unstuck last week. It was Matchpoint Monday at the Buchanan Bridge Club, playing with Phil Moon.


I was not too surprised to be doubled in 3♠, as we had clearly been pushed up a level in a competitive auction. But then North revealed that South's original double (of 1♠) had in fact been penalties. If we'd have known this we certainly wouldn't have bid up to 3♠, but, as they pointed out, in Scotland no doubles or redoubles are alertable. I suggested that perhaps they could have let us know about this before the start of the round, and North apologised and offered to call the Director. I said no, and grimly played the hand. At least I knew where the trumps were, and was delighted to finesse the spades;7 on the first round. It was still off for -500 and 16%.

The reason I think that North-South should let us know about this unusual double before the start of the round as otherwise it means you have to ask about every single double, just in case it's something odd, which gets a bit silly. Indeed, North-South said themselves that they play all doubles as penalties "except in obvious situations", though clearly they have a different for obvious than me!

After this mishap, things went rather well for us. For example, consider the hand below.


I had the East cards and was poised to bid a reckless 2♠ if 2♥ was passed out to me. Then when it came round to me in 4♥ I considered a bold 4♠ sacrifice. If partner had a few good cards, surely I could scrape together seven tricks for three off doubled and a good score at the vulnerability? I bottled it though and passed. As it is, we were lucky and declarer misplayed the hand for 4♥-1 to give us 72% (just losing out to those who got to defend 3NT).

In fact, with a very suitable dummy I might make eight tricks in 4♠x, but going two off or three off would have both resulted in a score of 56%, so perhaps I should have done it.

Our roll of good fortune kept up until the last round. Then in the last three boards we threw it away as I misdefended, we went off an extra trick in game, then I arranged a score of 0% on this deal:


I was North and opened 1♣ (rather than 1♦ giving a 2♣ rebid) and when Phil replied 1♥ I settled for 2♣. Phil now jumped to 3♥, which some might play as forcing, but we were on the same wavelength as I took it as invitational. But rather than make a disciplined pass I made a very poor bid of 3NT. Phil trusted me far too much and passed this - with his long Hearts he should maybe bid 4♥ as he knows I won't have many entries to his hand in 3NT.

In 3NT I got the expected Spade lead. I was hoping for a dream dummy, with a few clubs (maybe even the Queen) and a couple of quick tricks. I didn't get it though. With the very favourable Club layout I could in fact have taken seven or eight tricks, but I didn't play for it, and my bidding matched my play and I went off four. Holding it to two off would have still only got us 26%, whereas 3♥ might make or go off one for a good score on a misfit deal.

We finished on 55%, coming 12th out of 52 pairs. Without the last three boards we would have won the event, but then if you take away your worst three boards you're always going to do a lot better.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Expert Error

I subscribe to Mr Bridge magazine. It comes in the post once a month and is a fun mix of bridge quizzes, stories, and adverts for cruises. One new column is Sally's Slam Clinic, where English expert Sally Brock diagnoses what went wrong with slam bidding. This month, I decided to send her one:

The question I asked Sally was, could North-South have got to slam? Or rather, in the style of most of the letters that are written to Mr Bridge, I asked could my partner have done more?.

As for the bidding, Sally said that South must have slam ambitions to be bidding both minors like that, else he would have signed off in 3NT. So North should recognise that, and having 18 points compared to a minimum of 15, should bid on. She suggested North bid 4♣ over 3♦ (or perhaps 3♠, which I didn't understand). Then the partnership can get to 6♣.

As for the play, Sally said that actually 6♣ isn't a great contract. After the losing Diamond finesse you have three options:

  • A Heart finesse (which works, and is what Anna did when playing 3NT+3)
  • Drawing two rounds of trumps only then playing Diamonds, hoping the hand with the last trump can't ruff or they are 3-3 (which fails)
  • A Heart-Diamond squeeze, hoping that one defender has both four Diamonds and the ♥K (which fails)

Since only one of the three options works, Sally said that actually we were lucky to avoid 6♣!

Beginner Blunder

I haven't played any competitive bridge for the last few months, so instead here's a hand where I could have done better.

The deal is taken from a hand taken from a beginner's class in Norwich, which was reproduced and given to me as declarer. It was setup so that if declarer gets it right they always make it. It ought to have been easy - but I bodged it.

No one vul
S deal
♠ Q J 3 2
♥ x
♦ K J x x
♣ Q x x x
♠ x x x
♥ Q T x x x
♦ x
♣ K x x x
♠ x
♥ K J x x
♦ Q T x x x x
♣ A J
♠ A K T 9 8
♥ A x x
♦ A x
♣ x x x

I was South. We quickly got to 4♠ and after some thought, West lead a Diamond. There are clearly ten tricks (five trumps, three Hearts, two Diamonds), it's just a case of taking them all.

The whole point of the hand, I realised afterwards, is to be wary of the singleton Diamond and draw trumps before playing Diamonds. To do this, while also getting the two Heart ruffs, you have to return to hand after each ruff with a trump. So, after winning the initial Heart in hand, the sequence might be: ♥A, Heart ruff, trump back to hand, Heart ruff, trump back to hand, draw trumps and claim.

I didn't do that though. After the first Heart ruff I drew two rounds of trumps, ending in hand, and lead up to the ♦K. So I have been a bit careful, and was hoping the person with a singleton Diamond was out of trumps. He wasn't, but because I was leading up to the ♦K (rather than cashing it) I still had ten winners available if they couldn't take three Clubs, which indeed they couldn't.

So I made 4♠=, but missed the point of the hand. The notes said "remember, trumps can be used as transport between the hands too." It's a tough game.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Blyth Valley Bridge Club #3

This week Anna and I were back in a bridge club together, for the first time since last August, which was also in Blyth Valley Bridge Club in Walberswick. As before, we went for the afternoon game and the grand parents had the pleasure of looking after our little monster.

It's a lovely place to go for a game, and lots of people recognised us and gave us a warm welcome. There was also a slight undercurrent of suspicion, as we had won the last time we were there (see here) and in fact the time before that too (see here). We now had a reputation, which I think became slightly self-fulfilling as people played worse than normal against us.

Anna and I defended most hands, and defended them pretty well. Overall we didn't make too many mistakes, and of course benefitted from a few gifts as is the way with matchpoint scoring. The only hand where we thought we could have done better was when Anna made two overtricks in 3♥, and we then found everyone else had bid the game.

After a surprisingly chilly week on the East coast (colder than Scotland) suddenly the sun came out, and with the heating on full blast, it got pretty warm. Sitting by the window I felt I was getting a tan on the back of my neck. Then someone decided the glare of sunlight was too much and moved the table ten feet into the middle of the room and closed all the curtains too.

At the halftime break I went to check my phone for any news of the baby, and when I returned found I had last choice of the biscuits. Still, it was a delicious cup of tea.

There were two hands of interest:

No one vul
W deal
♠ A K J x x
♥ x x
♦ A J T x x
♣ x
♠ x x
♥ K x x x
♦ K x x x
♣ A T x
♠ Q x x x x
♥ A J T x x x
♦ x
♣ J
♠ x
♥ Q
♦ Q x x
♣ K Q x x x x x x

I had the nice North hand and opened 1♠. East decided he was too weak to overcall and passed. Anna was South and made a very disciplined bid of 1NT (Bernard Magee would be proud). But on her next bid she weighed in with 3♣ I reluctantly passed as North with a singleton Club, and was even more nervous when she bid 4♣,. But Anna knew what she was doing, 4♣ is a good contract and since East-West had a massive heart fit they can make ten tricks easily.

In 4♣ Anna got a friendly Spade lead, and was able to discard her singleton Heart and make the contract comfortably. This got us a good score when the deal really belonged to East-West.

On to my second chosen board:

No one vul
W deal
♠ A K
♥ Q x x
♦ x x x
♣ A K x x x
♠ J T x x
♥ A K J x x
♦ J T x x
♠ Q x x
♥ T x x x
♦ A K x
♣ Q x
♠ x x x x x
♥ x
♦ Q x x
♣ J x x x x

West took a bold view and opened his hand 1♥. I might have done the same. I had the North hand and decided to bid 1NT instead of 2♣. East raised to 3♥, natural, where in fact double would have made more sense as she knows her side have the majority of the points so I'm not likely to be making 1NT.

When 3♥ came back round to me I really thought about doubling, reckoning I had four tricks with my two AK's and perhaps a trump trick. I passed, but when I saw dummy wished I had doubled as I could now see that my ♥Q was going to make a trick. I cashed my ♠KA (with the ♠K first to show it was a doubleton, but I don't think my partner would have cared anyway), then started on Clubs. When the very first one was ruffed I was glad I hadn't doubled, but also saw we had a ten card Club fit so wished I'd overcalled 2♣.

Needless to say, when I played these hands at home with my parents there were totally different contracts on both - I think that's what makes them interesting hands.

In the last few hands of the afternoon I had the opportunity to bid fairly aggressively, and put some pressure on the opponents. On the first hand they bid to a very reasonable game that went off on a bad trump break, and took this to heart. So on the next board when West was invited to game she accepted, but then informed her partner and the table "You're not going to make this!", which we thought was unduly pessimistic. As it turned out she was right, with another bad trump split he didn't make it (six off).

In the end we finished with the top score of 64%, so I was slightly embarrassed about winning again but glad that it was such a nice afternoon.

I got stuck with the Fruit Club

Tuesday, 31 January 2017


Do you call the director when someone revokes? I do. Following David Stevenson's advice every week in Mr. Bridge magazine a friendly club is one where there is no hesitation in calling the director and accepting her ruling. Much better than the players trying to sort it out themselves.

My policy was tested last night. I was at the Buchanan Club in Glasgow, and the contract was 5♦x. The auction was as below:


I had the North hand, with fine Diamond support for partner, which I only showed at the five level. Anna asked me when I showed her the hand why I didn't support earlier, and I wasn't really sure, but I think it was because I thought the 3♥ bid was a mix-up so my strategy is to stay out of it.. Anyway, it worked well and 5♦x has excellent play, with just a Club loser and eventually a Diamond.

Partner was well on the way with a cross-ruff, when I noticed that after a Spade lead West discarded a Club. Then on the next trick she followed with a Spade. I was dummy - but thought it within my rights to point this out.

After a bit of turning cards over we realised West had indeed revoked, someone said it didn't matter as she didn't win the trick, then someone asked if I wanted to call the director. I said yes. The rules for a revoke are pretty simple - the defence forfeits one trick if they win the revoke trick, and one further trick assuming they win a trick subsequent to the revoke. In this case that meant a one trick transfer, so we made an impossible 5♦x+1. The revoke had not been crucial, only causing an overtrick.

There was no hard feeling, and we moved on swiftly. The opponents were not too aggrieved as they had previously made a great 6NT (at aggregate scoring), which always helps.

This was my first night at the Club in a while, and it was a very enjoyable evening playing with standby June, after my partner was late. Except he wasn't really late, arriving at 7:13 pm for a 7:15 pm start. But bridge clubs tend to be pretty punctual, and in fact at 7 pm we were all set to go and at ten past we went ahead without him.

I like playing in new partnerships, and happily agree to everything the other person suggests. So I readily accepted the suggestion for Reverse Benji, which seems to be the club standard, even though I'm a bit shaky on it. As the first round started June tried to rapidly communicate a few other things, then someone knocked over a glass of Coke so we had to change the table cloth, and it was rather a chaotic start. But I felt happy enough, the merits of a new partnership is everyone keeps it simple, and I'm protected from my usual flaw of over-thinking it.

Our agreement for discards - low means like - was tested on the very first round, when I lead a Diamond and dummy won with a singleton Ace. When I got in later I remembered my had partner played an encouraging 2♦, but did this still apply now that dummy was out of Diamonds? I decided it did, and didn't want to lead anything else anyway, so continued with a Diamond, giving declarer not one but two extra tricks. Afterwards, everyone said I should have switched to a Club.

On the one where Reverse Benji came up I surprised partner by responding to her 2♦ opening with 2NT (should have just relayed with 2♥), but we got to the right contract anyway.

We had a few bad contracts that were off two, but also made a couple of good games that not everybody was in. At the end of the night I said "that was quite a steady night" at exactly the same time my partner said "that was a bit up and down". Overall we finished about average, but with the scores very close we were only 500 points from winning - certainly close enough for me to put it down to the opponents bidding that 6NT against us.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Pairs at St Andrew

My parents have been learning to play bridge, and have so far had three months of lessons. These have focused almost exclusively on bidding, and have got as far as one level openings and responses. So it was a big step up when last night I took my Dad to the St Andrew's Saturday evening tournament, a No Fear event. On the upside, this is an event advertised for beginners and looked after by Raymond, a very patient mentor to many new bridge players.

I tried to remember my first experiences playing competitively. My hands shook and I was glad to get a bad hand and have nothing to do. I noticed the same thing in my partner. Of all the new things (Bridgemates, Stop and Alert cards, contracts above 4♠, competitive bidding, changing seats, "any questions?"), the one that surprised him most at the start was the fast pace. Despite being a beginners tournament a rather ambitious 28 boards were scheduled, with rounds of four boards every 25 minutes. I think for the first few deals Dad was just focusing on finding the right card and following suit.

There was no messing about from our opponents - and they quickly bid to games and slams. Dad made his first ever overcall, and was rewarded for his bravery when I was able to lead a Diamond to his ♦AK and beat 6♥.

To begin with he was blessed with bad hands, but then came the moment that certainly relaxes me - when you get to be declarer for the first time:

♠ 9 5 3
♥ A J 7 4 3
♦ 6
♣ 7 6 3 2
♠ A J T
♥ Q 8
♦ J T 8 5
♣ A K Q 4

South has a balanced 17 points so opened 1♣. I was North and have a nice hand in support of Clubs, and thought about passing out 1♣ just to make things easy. But then I remembered my rule; to bid with beginners as normal. So I replied 1♥, and Dad replied 1NT showing a balanced 15-17. Textbook bidding! Then I bid 2♣, passed out.

This is a nice hand for your first ever hand, with a good chance to ruff some Diamonds in dummy. It was duly wrapped up, 2♣+1.

There was no let up to the fast pace. I kept up my policy of bidding as I normally would, and landed Dad in his first ever slam. He was South, I was North:

♠ A K 6 5
♥ K 2
♦ Q 8 6
♣ K Q 6 2
♠ Q 9 3
♥ A Q 6 5
♦ A 7 5 3
♣ A 5

I've starred the 2NT rebid as it was accompanied by an apology "I'm not really sure what I'm doing here". I took a look at my 17 points and decided it was time for some decisive action. "I bet you weren't expecting this!" I said as I bid 6NT. "You can have a biscuit if you make it" I added.

He didn't make it, but still took a biscuit (or two). But from this failure came the highlight. After playing three rounds of Spades, Dad cashed the long Spade from dummy. Afterwards he admitted "I was 99% certain it was a winner".

After another biscuit, things picked up and we finished well. Or at least I'm guessing we did, as the scores weren't posted online.

Overall it was a very enjoyable experience. It's always great to get to the bridge club, and play a few hands. I didn't mind it when we got a bad result. And we did get a few bad results, but some good ones too.

Honey the bear