Lifestyle

All thoughts turn to Regional Tournament

All thoughts at the Bridge Club will now be firmly fixed on the Regional Tournament, which kicks off at the Fairmont Southampton on Saturday. January 25 and provides a solid week of bridge morning, afternoon and evening. Tournament chairwoman Sheena Rayner and chief director Sol Weinstein will be getting their teams ready to deliver another high-class event. I will be doing my panel shows on the Tuesday and Thursday of the tournament at noon and hope to see many of you there.

I will use the next three columns to help with your preparation for the event and today will talk about the no- trump bid in bridge, which is one of the most precise and descriptive bids in the realm of bidding — if used properly.

To get you started, I thought it might be useful to list a number of “agreements” you should have with your partner in the bidding involving no trumps. In most cases I will indicate my preference in that area.

What is your no-trump range? 15-17 or 16-18?

Do you play transfers? Are transfers on after interference? Most play that they are

What does it mean when partner opens a no trump, RHO overcalls and you double?

I strongly suggest that you play that as penalties — when the opponents stick their necks out, you must be in a position to lower the hammer.

Do you play Lebensohl after an opponent interferes over partners NT opening?

You should. It is quite complicated but if you use it at its simplest form it is really helpful. It allows you to retain the penalty double and since any overcall takes away your ability to use Stayman, you need something to help you cope with that and Lebensohl does that. Most pairs simply muddle through after an overcall of a no-trump opening and that works only some of the time.

When you Stayman and partner responds with a major, does 2NT by you promise the other major?

It should, or you should not have used Stayman in the first place. So 1NT-2C-2H-2NT is invitational with four Spades. And 1NT-2C-2H-3NT is a game going hand with four Spades, so partner can convert if she has four Spades and a useless doubleton. Of course 1NT-2NT is invitational to game and denies a four-card major.

What is the point range when you overcall an opening bid on your right with 1NT?

15-17? 16-18?

What does two Clubs by partner mean after your NT overcall? Is it Stayman?

I think not. The bid of the opponent’s suit should be Stayman and two Clubs, or any other suit, should be competitive and to play.

Are transfers on in this sequence?

I see no reason why not

What is the point range when RHO opens a suit, you double, partner responds at the cheapest level and you now bid 1NT or 2NT?

19-21 (with 16-18 you would have overcalled 1NT). Many players will, for instance, double a one-Club opening bid with Axx, Kxx, QJxx, Kxx and then bid NT when partner bids a Heart or a Spade — not good, and the problem was your first double. Learn to pass these hands and rely on partner to reopen with any sort of shapely hand with a few points if LHO passes.

You open one of a minor, partner bids one of a major and you jump to 2NT — what does this show?

It shows 18-19 hcp — if you have 15-17, you would open 1NT and if you have 20-22, you would open 2NT, so this bid fills that gap.

After 1Minor by partner — 1Major by you — 1NT by partner — is a new minor by you forcing and asking if partner has three-card trump support?

It should be — partner’s first responsibility is to show three-card support if he has it, or to show another major if he doesn’t, or take another bid if he has neither.

What does it show when LHO bids a suit and after two passes you bid 1NT?

I play this as 11-13, with a stronger hand, you reopen with a double and take it from there.

What does it mean when LHO opens a suit — partner passes — RHO bids another suit and you bid 1NT? Is it different if you are a passed hand?

This is a sandwich NT usually showing the other two suits in a weak distributional hand. If you have a strong hand you would double.

This is an easy convention to use, but a dangerous one because it usually just gives the opponents too much information. I would only use it at favourable vulnerability to allow partner to judge whether to sacrifice if opponents reach game. This convention comes with health warnings.

You open 1NT and partner bids 4NT. Is that Blackwood?

No — it is quantitative asking you to bid on if you are top of your NT range. I play that if you accept the invitation, you do so by now treating the 4NT as Blackwood and respond with key cards accordingly — just a safety-belt check to help partner. You could have 32 points but be missing two Aces.

Do you open a NT with a five-card minor in a 3-2-5-3 type hand?

You should, otherwise you will find it tough to get the strength of your hand over to partner.

Do you open a NT with a five-card major?

I would strongly recommend against it unless you have the systems (such as puppet Stayman) to let partner explore if you do.

Do you open 1NT with a 5-4-2-2 hand?

Most will, unless the 2-2 are both majors, which often leads to trouble.

Discuss all the above with your partner. What you agree upon is less important than actually agreeing on something!

Today’s hand is a quiz for you and I can absolutely guarantee that at the table 95 per cent of advanced players will get it wrong and probably 75 per cent of the “better” players will join them. No doubt in my mind.

Well, you are not at the table now, so take your time and come up with your answer — and then please have the strength to make the play at the table.

You open a strong two Clubs, partner bids two Hearts to show a bust and you jump to four Spades. The defence starts by cashing three Hearts and then switches to a Diamond — over to you.

S AKQJ10

H 852

D A

C AKQ2

S 432

H 743

D J985

C 654

I could give you the answer now, but will wait so that you have time to absorb the correct play once you have found it — you don’t have many choices so you should get there! Trumps break kindly.