Hand of the Week (updated February 17)

Bridge is a fascinating game because bridge players are always learning! Even though you have learned all the rules and know how to apply them, you must pay close attention to the bidding and communicate well with your partner if you want to be a strong, competitive player. You base your bidding on points and length of suits, but you should also re-evaluate your hand throughout the bidding. This is something that you can try to learn by reading books and studying, but you also need to analyse the situation and use your own judgment. Mistakes are beneficial for you as long as you learn something from them. Experience is often the best teacher!

Here are some games that I have actually played. I have picked these particular games because I felt I had learned something valuable from reviewing them afterwards. These hands can be a good learning tool for anyone wanting to learn more, but may be especially helpful for duplicate players who want to improve their scores.

Here are some suggestions: Try to bid the hands before looking at the bidding scenarios that are given. Set up the hands and have 4 players bid and play them before looking at the results. See how the bidding compares with the results shown.

This is also a good introduction to the game of duplicate for those wanting to try it. Why play duplicate bridge? These are some of my reasons why I play duplicate: It helps improve my performance and sharpens my skills; it helps me learn from my mistakes; I like to challenge myself to do better; I enjoy some good, friendly competition.

Why should social bridge players consider playing duplicate if they are not interested in competition? The benefit is that duplicate games are usually set up using a card dealer machine which deals hands with equal opportunities for both N/S and E/W to bid and take contracts. You won’t sit there for an afternoon never getting any points and the chance to bid. This won’t happen when a card-dealer machine deals computer-generated hands, but it can happen when humans shuffle and deal the cards. You will have more fun when you can bid and play hands as frequently as everyone else.

#23 – Hand of the Week
How would you bid E/W hands? If you were North, on lead, which card would you pick?

#22 – Hand of the Week
How will you handle an interfering bid after 1NT opening by partner?
Is a 5-3 fit in a major better than a 4-4 fit? With 5-4 in the majors, should you use Stayman or Jacoby?

#21 – Hand of the Week
Pre-emptive bids can be a boondoggle for the opponents.

#20 – Hand of the Week
Sometimes it is difficult to bid a slam.

#19 – Hand of the Week
Is it better to be in a NT contract or minor suit contract? Is a 7-card fit in a major better than a NT contract?

#18 – Hand of the Week
With a long, strong suit, be aggressive.

#17 – Hand of the Week
Slam is not always easy to bid. Sometimes slam will make because the risk is not there.

#16 – Hand of the Week
Slam was there. Why didn’t it make?

#15 – Hand of the Week
Partner opens with a Weak Two bid. Should you bid or pass?

#14 – Hand of the Week
Sometimes bridge can make you laugh. Playing with a partner who prefers 3NT contracts over any other game contract can be frustrating, but also interesting. A good sense of humor should be a pre-requisite to playing bridge.

#13 – Hand of the Week
A pre-emptive weak bid can be a good strategy, especially when your side is not vulnerable. Should you make a sacrifice or not?

#12 – Hand of the Week
Should you open 1NT or 1♠ with 5 spades and 16 HCP? Opinions vary on this. The results may surprise you.

#11 – Hand of the Week
Some players have all the luck. Bid to game and go down. Don’t bid to game and make it. <Sigh> We were Pair #7 East/West, bid appropriately, played the best we could, and yet got only an average board on this one.

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The hands below have been posted for a long time. The more recent ones are above.

#1 – Hand of the Week
Hint: Fits take tricks. Don’t rely on point count alone.

#2 – Hand of the Week
Which call would you make — double or overcall?

#3 – Hand of the Week
Overcalling with a NT bid, when appropriate, gives partner valuable information.

#4 – Hand of the Week
Should I focus on the safer minor suit or risk NT with a singleton?

#5 – Hand of the Week
Afraid to play your Ace? Then you may be giving the opponents a top board.

#6 – Hand of the Week
A skillful play of the hand can take enough tricks for game, even when it is not biddable.

#7 – Hand of the Week
A singleton in opponent’s suit should be evaluated accordingly.

#8 – Hand of the Week
With 18 HCP and a void in opponent’s suit, force partner to bid!

#9 – Hand of the Week
The meek vs. the brave … the scores are the proof as to whether your non-competitive strategy was a good one.

#10 – Hand of the Week
Both sides have equal points and both are vulnerable. Which side has the most stamina and courage to take the contract? Communication and trust between partners and analyzing the bidding helps!

Is anyone finding these hands helpful? I would like to know whether to keep posting them or not as they take some time to set up and explain. Please email me at info@ateacherfirst.com to let me know if you think it’s worthwhile for me to continue posting new ones.

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