All News

Daily Bridge in New Zealand

                              Too good to pass but nothing to say!

The Christmas holidays have “passed” for another year. It’s OK. More public holidays in a couple of days’ time! Hopefully, you “passed” them in an enjoyable way. However, what about the problem we left you before Christmas? Is it another case of “passing” or are you going to conjure up a bid?

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

West Deals
E-W Vul
W   E
J 8 7 6 3
A K 10 4
West North East South
1  Pass Pass ?


Not too much bidding to digest there. You are playing Pairs and 1Spade-small promises at least a 5- card suit.

Two pretty good suit holdings but not your longest suit! Worth a bid and if so what?

Matt Brown “Pass: Finally, a unanimous decision!” 😉

Thanks, Matt but why?

Kris Wooles “Pass: I’m not vul against vul opponents , no obvious alternative, no obvious upside in bidding. Might get 100/200 given they are vulnerable.”

All alternatives seem rather flawed. There’s 1NT:

Michael Ware “Pass: Double is too likely to lead to a minus. Too good for 1NT.
Might miss a game, but the vulnerable undertricks will compensate a bit, hopefully.”

For many, 1NT in the “pass out” position is a weaker hand, more likely in the 12-15 hcp range. However, that is not the case for all.No unanimous Panel!

Michael Cornell “1NT: which I play as strong (15-18)  in last seat over 1 of a major opening.Obviously we are close to beating 1Spade-small but it is not certain and even if we can, 100 may not be enough .

The worst case scenario is if partner transfers to his 5 card heart suit, which he then passes, but I can still see 110 or more.(where are his losers apart from hearts?)

I asked Michael why he plays a strong no-trump overcall here when a major is opened. He replied that it is difficult with say a 16-17 count after you double and are then almost obliged to bid 2NT to show your point count following partner’s 2-level response. Your partner will not appreciate the 2NT bid if they have a fine 2 hcp! 

Pam Livingston “1NT: Many people play 11-14 for 1NT in this seat. I prefer to keep to the normal over call meaning of around 15-18. I’m not crazy about my singleton heart of course. Second choice is pass. 

Firmly in the “Pass” camp and looking for a plus score are:

Peter Newell “Pass: It’s Pairs. So, I think it’s our best chance of a plus score and a fair chance of +200 which will be good unless we can make game.

I think most of the time we won’t make game. Partner is likely to have hearts. Our spades won’t be a source of tricks. So partner will have to have great cards to make the most likely game 3NT. Bidding is problematic anyway –

  • too strong for a balancing NT and I don’t want partner to transfer to hearts while
  • double with short hearts is not great either even though 2NT rebid over 2H would show about 16-19 –

So, pass looks best and alternatives look horrible to me...”

Bruce Anderson “Pass: This is a hand with a lot of defence and little offensive potential. The obvious alternative is 1NT. But I am too likely to hear a transfer to hearts, and if left in INT, that contract may well be going down. This is likely to be a hand where a plus score is good.

And with some regrets:

Stephen Blackstock “Pass: Reluctantly, but the signs are there to suggest that defending 1Spade-small may be the best chance for a plus. The key to winning at Pairs is not risking your plus score in a doubtful cause.

With probable spade shortage, partner doesn’t have enough for a 2Heart-small overcall or a weak jump. So, EW have some kind of heart fit, maybe a big one. I might greatly regret giving them a chance to find it.

Assume North has some scattered values but not enough to double. If I re-open with a take-out double (the only rational alternative to pass as I am out of range and off shape for 1NT), probably North will bid 2Heart-small. Then I am forced to bid 2NT which will play awkwardly whether or not he has high card heart values – and in any event, I will be raised to 3NT. The likely outcome of a double on the South cards is a negative score either defending hearts or playing a NT contract. I expect to take about six tricks defending 1Spade-small; if North has anything, they are down.

Could pass be wrong? Absolutely! Give North Spade-smallx Heart-smallAxxx Diamond-smallxx Club-smallQxxxxx and 1Spade-small is a favourite to make as is 6Club-small! So at IMPs this is a difficult guess (I would double), but at Pairs I believe pass is right although it will not always look very right on the scoresheet!”

Stephen is the only panellist to highlight the danger of the opponents having a heart fit which they cannot find if you pass. However, yours truly had just a little support for the action he took at the table, perhaps not an action to show a player new to the game and one which led to a poor result:

Nigel Kearney : “2Club-small: Unorthodox, but I expect most times we will not get more than 100 from defending 1Spade-small and we have a good chance of 110 in clubs.”

Half right, Nigel. You could score 110 or more but not in clubs. However, those with a major fit usually outscore those with a minor fit…and how to get to our best contract? Too hard for everyone on the night!

diamonds the forgotten suit.jpg


The forgotten suit 

West Deals
E-W Vul
J 6 5
J 10 8 7 5 4
7 5 3
A K Q 10 5
A K 4 3 2
6 3
W   E
9 2
Q 10 8 7
9 2
Q 9 8 6 2
J 8 7 6 3
A K 10 4
West North East South
1  Pass Pass 2 
2  Pass Pass 2 NT
3  All pass    


After the 2Club-small bid, West was not shy at introducing their second suit, leaving South to try again with 2NT (do 2 wrongs make a right?)  though West stepped in with 3Heart-small to end the auction, a comfortable make even with a misguess in spades. There was no plus score to be gained from defending 1Spade-small even though West is unlikely to play spades correctly.

With the same shape and less high card points, passing seems obvious though the South hand does have potential were a fit to be found. However, discovering diamonds where 10 tricks are indeed possible was too hard for anyone who bid over 1Spade-small.

Bread and Butter

 As 2021 beckons, a reminder that success in bridge does not come that often from brilliancies. It comes from following a few basic rules. So, no brilliant defence is required on tomorrow's problem. Are you ready?


South Deals
Both Vul
J 7 6 2
8 2
K 10
A 10 9 7 6
W   E
K 10 5
Q J 5
Q 9 5 3
Q J 8
West North East SouthHeart-small
  dummy you  
Pass 1  Pass 2 
All pass      

 Your partner leads Diamond-small6 (leads are 2nds and 4ths) which declarer wins with Diamond-smallK in dummy and plays Heart-small2 to your Heart-small5 and declarer's Heart-small6, your partner winning with Heart-smallK, Next comes Diamond-small2 to Diamond-small10, your Diamond-smallQ and declarer's Diamond-smallK. Declarer cashes Heart-smallA with your partner contributing Heart-small4 and then plays Club-smallK and a second club to dummy's Club-small9 and your Club-smallJ. (Your partner played Club-small2 followed by Club-small3.) What next?

Richard Solomon


Go Back View All News Items

Our Sponsors
  • NZB Foundation
  • Ryman