Sunday, 25 November 2012

Christmas Special

The PERFECT present for a bridge loving friend or relative.   A GIFT VOUCHER for one year’s membership at No Fear Bridge. 
If your loved one is a beginning or improving Acol bridge player – give them a gift that will last all year. 

With this voucher your friend or relative will get one whole year’s worth of:
  • Fun
  • Interactive learning
  • Practice between classes or club sessions
  • Opportunity to improve their bridge skills
  • Learning at their own pace in their own time on their own computer
CLICK HERE to purchase right now.  Your voucher and card will be delivered in a few short days.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Bridge Lessons: Online Bridge Lessons

Bridge Lessons: Online Bridge Lessons: Welcome to Bridge Lessons - A Publication of Blueberry Bridge . A series of 12 lessons for complete beginners wanting to learn Acol bridg...

Monday, 1 October 2012

Blueberry Bridge

I have a birth announcement.  My new site, Blueberry bridge was born today.  It's dedicated to helping beginners learn how to play Acol bridge.  You can see it HERE.

It's going to be a selection of fairly random hints and tips for beginning and improving Acol bridge players.  I'm not disciplined enough to give the site a real structure and a lot of the content has been moved from an old site of mine that no longer exists.

I should organise, but so far I haven't.  Maybe I will one day.  Look on it as an opportunity to browse at random through Acol bridge conventions, play and bidding.  

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Blackwood Bidding Convention

If you think that you and your partner have enough points to bid for a slam it can be essential to know that you have enough aces (and kings) - to avoid the embarrassment of losing that vital trick to an ace held by the opposition.  It is possible to hold enough points and still be missing an all important card.

This is where the Blackwood bidding convention comes into its own.  It is a way of asking your partner how many aces (and/or kings) they hold, to ensure that you have enough high cards to make the contract.

You can read more about Blackwood and see how it works if you click here.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Leading Away From A King

The opening lead in a game of bridge can be the crucial card that helps your partnership to defeat the contract.  Most players accept that you should never lead away from an Ace - it can give away a trick, especially if the opposing partnership hold a singleton king.

Does the same thing apply to leading away from a king?  Usually, it is safe to lead away from a king and in most circumstances it is unlikely that it will give away a trick.  You can read more about leading away from a king and see a working example if you click here.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Bridge lessons For Beginners

I have been busy working on a new website - bridge lessons for beginners.  It's a site for beginning Acol bridge players - the system usually used in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

It assumes that the reader has no bridge knowledge at all and starts right at the beginning by telling you how to add up the number of points in your hand, progressing through some basic jargon to how to play the cards.

It then starts looking at basic bidding techniques, starting with explaining how to decide who opens the bidding in each game.

Using this site, anyone should be able to start playing Acol bridge.  You can then sign up for your two week trial at No Fear Bridge and practice and learn online, with fun exercises, quizzes, hands to play, progress chart, hands of the day, handouts, flash cards and much more.  Join now by clicking here.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Rule of 15

We are West and the last person to bid in the opening round.  We hold the following hand:
Before reaching us the bidding has gone as follows:
North  East   South  West
Pass     Pass   Pass      ?
Our hand only 11 points.  As a general rule any player holding fewer than 12 points should pass.  Can we safely open the bidding or would it be better for us to pass to and for the cards to be redealt?

As no-one else has opened the bidding, it appears that the card points are evenly distributed between the sides.  We know that there is a total of 40 points distributed between the four hands.  We have 11 of them.  That tell us that there are 29 points distributed between the other three players.  We know that no-one has 12 or more points  because if they did they would have opened the bidding.

If we bid, the game might be played in our choice of contract, but it is also possible that the opponents could overcall us.  If that happens, it would have been better for us if we had just passed.

How do we decide if we should open or pass.  This is where the Rule of 15 comes in.  You can read all about it and take a quiz to test your knowledge by clicking here.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Rule of 20

The Rule of 20 is a handy bridge bidding technique which is used in the opening round of bidding.  It has a very specific use, namely helping you to decide if your hand is suitable for making the opening bid.  As a general rule a hand should contain 12 high card points (HCP) to be suitable for making the opening bid.  Occasionally, though, you might have a hand that you think is suitable or opening even if it contains fewer than 12 points.  

How do you decide whether or not to open the bidding in this situation?  You use the Rule of 20.

What is The Rule of 20?

Add up the number of high card points in your hand.  Add to that the length of your two longest suits.  If the total is 20 or more then your hand is suitable to open the bidding.  
How to Use the Rule of 20
The easiest way to explain how to use the rule is to show you some example hands.
Hand 1
(spades) K 10 5 4
(hearts)  J 5 2
(diamonds) A K 9 6 4
(clubs) 7
This hand has 11 HCPs. Our two longest suits are spades and diamonds, which contain 4 and 5 cards.  If we add 11, 4 and 5 we get a total of 20.  This hand satisfies the Rule of 20 and we can open the bidding. 
Hand 2
(s) 6 5
(h) K Q 10 9 5
(d) K Q 6 4 3
(c) 9
This hand has 10 HCPs.  The two longest suits each contain 5 cards.  If we add 10, 5 and 5 we again get a total of 20, so this hand also satisfied the Rule of 20 and we can open the bidding. 
Hand 3
(s) Q 10 7
(h) A J 7
(d) 8 3
(c) K J 8 6 3
Hand 3 has 11 HCPs.  The longest two suits contain 5 cards and 3 cards.  If we add 11, 5 and 3 we get a toal of 19.  This hand DOESN'T satisfy the Rule of 20 so we must pass. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

How To Play Bridge

I also run a beginner's bridge blog with lots of hints and tips on how to play bridge.  You are welcome to head over and take a look.

If you read through the home page of the site you will find a few practice hands and tests designed to help you learn how to play bridge.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The Rule of 14

When replying to partner's opening bid of one of a suit, it is usual to make a bid of our own in Acol bridge if we hold 6+ points.

As a general rule, we shouldn't raise to the two level if we hold less than 9 points. If we can't support partner's suit and hold another suit that we are able to bid at the one level then there isn't usually a problem - we bid it. If we don't hold a suit that can be bid at the 1 level, then we bid 1NT. As a responding bid, 1NT doesn't tell partner we have a balanced hand, it just tells them we have 6+ points and so have to make a bid.

Look at this hand which we hold when replying to partner. Partner has opened with a bid of 1 spade.

Spades: 8 7
Hearts: Q J 8 3 2
Diamonds: Q 7 5 3
Clubs: J 6
Ideally we would like to bid 1 heart, but as partner has already bid spades we can't bid hearts without raising to the two level.  We have to bid 1NT.
Are there any circumstances where we can bid at the two level even if we hold fewer than 9 points?
This is where we use the:
Rule of 14.
This rule is used in one circumstance only - when replying to partner's opening bid of 1 of a suit and when holding 6 - 8 points and when our longest suit has a lower rank than the suit bid by partner.  Add up the number of points in your hand and then add that to the number of cards in your longest suit.
If the total = 14+ then we can use the Rule of 14 and make our bid at the two level.
In the previous example that would give us a total of 6 (high card points) plus 5 (cards in longest suit) = 11.  The hand doesn't satisfy the Rule of 14 and should be bid as 1NT.
Some More Examples
Example 1
Our hand
S: J 8 6
H: 10 3
D: K 6 4
C: K J 10 8 2
Partner opened the bidding with 1H.  Ideally we would bid 1C, but that is a lower rank bid than partner's opening so we would have to raise to the two level.  If we use the Rule of 14 we get a total of 13.  We have 8 points in hand and 5 cards in our longest suit.  The total is less than 14 so we bid 1NT.
Example 2
Our hand
S: 9 4 2
H: J
D: J 8 5
C: A Q 9 7 3 2
Again, partner has opened the bidding with 1H. Ideally we would like to make a club bid, but to do so would have to bid at the two level.  We apply the Rule of 14.  We cold 8 points in hand and we have 6 cards in our longest suit.  This gives us a total of 14, so this time we satisfy the Rule of 14 and can bid our clubs at the two level.

You can practice using the Rule of 14 if you join No Fear Bridge for your two week trial membership.

Acol players (UK, Ireland, NZ) can join HERE.

American Standard players can join HERE.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Beginners Bridge Holidays 2012

The sun is shining and I'm sitting in the garden with a cup of tea and my laptop.  Time for the annual round-up of beginners bridge holidays.  It's easy to find weekends/weeks and other breaks for experienced bridge players, but it's harder to find holidays aimed specifically at beginners.

HF Holidays are running a 4 night break for complete beginners at Alnmouth in October 2012.

Begin Bridge run several events throughout the year for beginning bridge players, including at least two weekends aimed at absolute beginners.  For 2012 the absolute beginners weekends are in Windermere and then Harrogate.

If you fancy a break in France, Dordogne Bridge Holidays run courses for all levels, including beginners.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Fourth Suit Forcing

Fourth suit forcing is a bridge convention and it is used to help decide the best contract.  It is a bid used by the responder if they have 11+ points and is used if:

  • Three suits have already been bid (hence the name)
  • You don’t have a fit (8+ cards in a suit) with your partner
  • You DON’T have a stopper in the remaining (4th) suit.
At this stage (3 suits already bid) a bid of the fourth suit doesn’t mean that you hold good cards in the suit and want to bid it.  It is a conventional bid which means “I don’t have a stopper in this suit, what else do you have?”
If the declarer’s answer is “yes, I do have a stopper in that fourth suit” then they can bid No Trumps.
Here is an example to help explain:
Responder holds: Spades  K J 8 5 2, Hearts 7 4 3, Diamonds A 6, Clubs A Q 7
Opener bid 1D, responder bid 1S.  Opener rebid 2C.
This hand has enough points for a NT bid, but doesn’t have a stopper in hearts. Three of the four suits have now been bid, so if responder bids the remaining suit (hearts in this case) the bid is asking the opener if they stopper in that suit. If they do, they bid NT. If they don’t have a stopper in hearts they must make another bid.  As the name implies, the bid of the fourth suit is a forcing bid and the opener must bid again.
Remember that 4th Suit Forcing should only be used if you have 11+ points.  You can use 4th suit forcing at the 3 level if you have 13+ points as you know you and partner have at least 25 points (partner held the 12 points or the equivalent to open) and are looking bid for game.
Openers Rebids
With stopper in fourth suit
  • If the opener has a stopper in the fourth suit but just a minimum opening hand (12 -13 points) then s/he should bid 2NT
  • If the opener has a stopper AND 14+ points then s/he can bid 3NT as they know there are enough for game.  (14 + partner’s minimum of 11)
Without Stopper in Fourth Suit
  • If the opener has extra length in either their first or second bid suits they should rebid them.  A rebid of the first suit would show 6 cards and a rebid of the second suit would show 5 cards.
  • With 3 card for responder’s original suit and minimum points, bid two of the responder’s suit.
  • With 3 card support in responder’s original suit AND 13+ then make a jump bid.
The main aim of answering a 4th Suit Forcing bid is tell your partner something that they don’t already know, if possible.
Here are a few examples:
Example 1
Opener has Spades – 6, Hearts – K 5 2, Diamonds, A Q 9 5 3, Clubs K 10 7 3.
Opener bid 1D, Responder bid 1S, Opener rebid 2C, Responder bid 2 H.  The 4th suit forcing bid by responder shows 11+ points
Opener has a stopper in hearts but only minimum points (12), so bids 2 NT.  Responder can rebid 3NT with 13+ points.
Example 2
Opener has Spades – 8, Hearts – K 9 4, Diamonds – A Q J 7 3, Clubs K Q 6 5.  The bidding went as before in example 1.  But this time opener holds 15 points and so can go straight to 3NT
Example 3
Opener has Spades – J 6 3, Hearts – 8, Diamonds – A Q J 7 3, Clubs – K Q 9 4. Bidding as before.  Opener doesn’t have a stopper in hearts but can rebid 2S to show 3 cards in spades.  It’s possible responder might hold 5 spades.  They already know opener doesn’t have four, otherwise opener would have supported their first bid of 1S.