Playing Intermediates #003 - What is the meaning of leading intermediates?
After West opens 1 ♠ and East responds 1 NT - Forcing, East/West must proceed carefully ... anything that can go badly in bridge, often does. DD (double dummy) East/West should reach 3 NT or 4 ♠. After opening 1 ♠, a jump rebid of 3 ♠ by West is only invitational (not forcing), East can Pass 3 ♠. West should consider a jump-shift to 3 ♣ which makes the auction forcing and gives East a chance to bid the hearts. After 3 ♥ (6+ hearts, no fit in spades), West can decide on 3 NT or 4 ♠ (I like 4 ♠).
Leading from a doubleton is not typically a good lead, unless, one has 1st or 2nd round control of trump. So playing with Emma, one of our junior bridge players, the lead of the ♣ 7 is typically a discouraging lead (attitude towards clubs). Emma makes a world class play, ducking the ♣ 7 to declarer. Declarer leads the ♥ J which I win with the ♥ K (lower of touching honors) and lead the ♣ 2 (the echo), Emma now wins her ♣ A and leads a 3rd club which I get to trump with my ♥ 4. I duck the next heart to Emma's ♥ Q for down two (-2).
Emma plays with me in open games ... when people ask her how long she has been playing bridge and she answers "about two years" ... I love it! I am so proud of Emma (and all of our junior bridge players) - not many players with 2 masterpoints, regardless of age, could make this play.
Playing Intermediates #002 - How do you play card combinations without the intermediates?
There is nothing special about this auction, after an opening bid of 1 NT, all pairs should reach the 4 ♠ contract.
With the notrump opener (strong hand) on the right, North does not want to lead a king or lead away from a king, so the ♦ 5 looks safe. Analyzing the play of the hand, surely East/West will find their heart tricks so the contact seems to hinge on finesses against the two black kings (ominous). West wins the opening lead in hand with the ♦ A (hiding the ♦ K) preserving the ♦ Q as an entry to dummy to take a finesse against the ♣ K.
So how does West play on spades (card combinations 101), William Root (teacher, author, etc.) says in his book How to Play a Bridge Hand that "you cannot learn to play a hand (of bridge) until you learn to play a suit." Holding ♠J8x opposite ♠AQxxx (missing not only the ♠ K, but also the ♠ 10 and ♠ 9) it cannot be right to lead the ♠ J to finesse for the ♠ K. If North covers the jack with the king then it is possible to loose 2-tricks to the ♠ 10 and ♠ 9 and in this textbook case South, in fact, holds ♠ 10976.
The correct play is small to the ♠ AQ (lead up to honors) and if the ♠ Q wins cash the ♠ A, hopefully dropping the ♠ K. On this deal the ♠ K drops right away and East only loses 1 spade trick. Ok, so when this board was played in spades it was -1 (down one) three times and -2 (down two) four times and played in 2 ♠ two times. Down one for -100 was 4.5 matchpoints for 56.2% on this deal ... the big matchpoints were for the two part-scores (go figure).
Below I posted the Find the Jack deal where East/West, after finding an agreement in spades, East bids 3 ♣ ... so the question is "whether 3 ♣ is Alertable?" as some kind of game try. Yes? No?
The key is what are the partnership agreements regarding game tries ... as per Doug Grove/ACBL game tries come in three basic flavors -- long suit, help suit, and short suit. The first two are not Alertable; the last one is Alertable. A short suit is defined as two or fewer cards because anything longer is deemed a "suit".
If East/West are playing some generic version of help suit game tries or natural bid game tries (i.e., not short suit game tries) and holding ♣ AKJ2 in clubs, 3 ♣ is not Alertable.
Playing Intermediates #001 - This deal starts a series focusing on playing intermediate (body) cards of 7s, 8s, 9s and 10s.
Playing with Diana Mullaly we find ourselves in a 4 ♠ contract with a combined 21 hcp and respective shortness in hearts and clubs (24 shortage pts), not a really good contract (8.5 winners) but on the positive, lots of good 8s, 9s and 10s. NTWC (not the worst contract) ever played.
When North leads the ♣ 4 (out of turn) Diana accepts the lead and makes me play the contract from West. (oh thanks!) This contract cannot be made unless the ♣ Q is onside, so take the "opening lead finesse" to the ♣ 10 (huge card) and the ♣ 8 back to the ♣ J.
Ok, things are looking up, if everything else goes well, I can ruff a heart in dummy and put two losing hearts on the ♣ AK. So now is the time to make a play on spades (trumps). Most players focus on the missing ♠ A, but the name of the game is find the ♠ J and the ♠ A will take care of itself. I have kibitzed Bill Wisdom (Salisbury, NC) many times and am always impressed with his play of intermediate cards of 7s, 8s, 9s and 10s. So, I lead the ♠ 9 from dummy - which BTW now deprives North of a diamond ruff - and when it holds, lead the ♠ 3 to the ♠ 10 picking up the ♠ 8 (leaving South with ♠ AJ) and neither the ♠K or ♠ Q have been played yet.
Now ♥ A, trump a heart in dummy with ♠ 4 and lead the ♣ A (pitching a heart), then the ♣ K. With the lead of the ♣ K South is now 'en passant' South either pitches (in which case, pitch a heart) or trumps with ♠ A (again, pitch a heart) or plays the ♠ J (over trump, trump last heart) ... either way, I can now get back to dummy with a trump or diamond for 10 tricks.
I often get the question, if after a forcing notrump (1NtF) does the bid of a minor require an Alert or Announcement ... the answer is no. The ACBL Alert Chart is very clear that Two-of-a-minor after a forcing or semi-forcing 1NT response is not alertable. Once the forcing notrump has been announced system responses may require the rebid of minor without the values or shape to make other bids.