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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

                                  A Diamond in with your Hearts?               

Welcome to the first Daily Hand for 2021. Before we look at the problem with which we left you last year, a word about a couple of changes for this year. The first is that Wednesdays will be known as “Jan’s Day”. Jan Cormack has been one of this country’s top players for many many years and used to have a regular bridge column in New Zealand Women’s Weekly. Her articles were always very interesting, clearly and well-written, were on a given subject and featured one or two bridge hands. Jan has given me permission to reproduce some of the articles in this column. I hope you will enjoy Wednesdays or “Jan’s Day”.

 Then, on Thursdays, we will feature a deal for our less experienced players, our keener Junior and Intermediate players. Everyone is invited to read them, of course, and if you, an Open player, found it too hard, then blame it on the setter! No need to admit any shortcomings of your own!

For now, let’s go back to our last posed problem in 2020, which featured two questions, maybe three!

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

East Deals
N-S Vul
W   E
10 9 8 4 3
A K Q 8 5
West North East South
    Pass 1 
1  1  Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass ?


A 20-count to start 2021. Nice to have that many high card points. So, just two questions: well, three really!

Do you agree with your 1Diamond-small opening bid? If not, what would you prefer?

In the above sequence, what is your next bid?

Our Panel were split as whether to open “the higher of 2 5-card suits", as we learnt at an early stage in our bridge careers, or to open our “real suit” pretending that our diamond suit was only 4-carded. It certainly looked somewhat tatty compared to our clubs!

Stephen Blackstock “Prefer 1Club-small: I think 1Diamond-small is poor and prefer 1Club-small. Not that anything will make the auction easy, but it has to be better to start with your strongest suit (stronger by a long distance!).”

Peter Newell “Prefer 1Club-small: since clubs are so much better so partner will not evaluate his hand so well. -Treat it as a 4/6 so 1Club-small and reverse into diamonds.”

Not so our other Wellingtonian:

Nigel Kearney “100% agree with 1Diamond-small. This is not enough for a 2Club-small opening, especially when holding the minor suits.”

Not a word about 1Club-small. Kris Wooles agreed with Nigel. However, more support for 1Club-small:

Pam Livingston “Prefer 1Club-small and reverse into diamonds.  The club suit is so strong and the diamond suit has no honours so will pretend it is only a four- card suit.  This leaves more room in the auction also.”

While some lukewarm support for 1Diamond-small from:

Bruce Anderson “Not enamoured with 1Diamond-small as the opening bid but it seems to me anything else is a greater misrepresentation of the hand.” 

1Club-small does seem to have merit but we will return later to one of our Panel who held the hand and had great success from doing what we learnt back in our first days of bridge. Note, though, that this is no 2Club-small opening…not strong enough and by the time you have bid both of your suits naturally, you will be up to 4Club-small!

However, what to bid after our partner has bid spades twice? We do have a decent hold in the opponent’s suit. So, do we go for 3NT, at Pairs, often a great idea? Tempted is:

Kris Wooles “4Spade-small:  but 3NT is a little tempting with my 20 count and double heart stop.”

Bruce Anderson “4Spade-small: the problem with bidding 4Club-small is that partner may give preference to my weak diamond suit rather than bid spades for the third time, even with a six-card suit.

So, I take the view partner has a weak(ish) responding hand with six spades, and that this is the game most likely to make.”

Stephen Blackstock “4Spade-small. Has to be a sensible contract if partner is competent and the 3Spade-small bid can be trusted to show 6+. At IMPs, 4Club-small is the straightforward action, but at Pairs I can’t afford to be raised to five of a minor when 4Spade-small is scoring +620. And not a 4Heart-small slam try as my trump support isn’t good enough, and in any event, North can’t be expected to guess that my first bid suit is bereft of all values.”

And still disagreeing with Stephen, or risking that raise to 5 of the minor:

Nigel Kearney “4Club-small. 4Spade-small looks a better game than 3NT and we can stop there if partner just has spades and not much else.”  While giving the main reason why 3NT is a poor choice is:

Pam Livingston “4Spade-small: Partner has 6+ spades.  If weak and lacking entries then 4Spade-small is a better prospect than 3NT.  If interested in slam my Spade-smallA can't be bad - along with my other goodies.”

We know our partner has at least 6 spades or else would have bid either 3Diamond-small, or 3Heart-small. Communicating between the two hands in 3NT is bound to be hard. Look at the actual deal where there is a triple hold in the enemy suit:

East Deals
N-S Vul
K Q 8 7 5 2
Q 10 7
Q 5 2
J 10
J 8 4 3 2
A K 6
9 6 3
W   E
9 6 4 3
9 6 5
J 7
J 10 7 4
10 9 8 4 3
A K Q 8 5
West North East South
  Andi Boughey   Matt Brown
    Pass 1 
1  1  Pass 3 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
All pass      


Indeed, triple holds in all three suits except diamonds! Yet, only 10 tricks in 3NT even if you manage to guess the diamond position correctly. You should because there is not much else for West to have for their overcall than high diamonds.

However, one of those to hold the South hand, at the recent Papatoetoe 5A Pairs, was Matt Brown. With Andi Boughey, he bid the hand as above. Poor East did the normal thing and led their partner’s suit. Andi won, cashed Spade-smallA then Club-smallA and ruffed a club. Then came two more high spades and a second heart to dummy. By the time East was able to ruff the fourth round of clubs, Andi had no diamonds left in her hand and made two overtricks.

Whether this justified the 1Diamond-small opening, you be the judge as West would have overcalled irrespective of which minor was opened. Had West passed, East would be more likely to lead dummy’s second (shorter?) suit than their first.

It was certainly “right on the night” to emphasize a long diamond suit! Andi and Matthew went on to score over 76% that evening, thanks to the above and a few other boards, and to win the 3-night event by over 20%. Maybe opening as we were told on “Day 1” was not such a bad idea after all!  

Matt and Andi 2018.jpg 

Matt’s cards were well sorted (he opened 1Diamond-small)..and
with Andi came out well on top.

In dummy or in hand?

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


You are in 4Heart-small and receive from West the lead of Club-smallA followed by Heart-small6 switch. East follows with a low heart.  Plan the defence. In which hand do you win trick 2? See you on “Jan’s Day”.

Richard Solomon


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