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APR_08_EB_p11 North 14/3/08 2:16 pm Page 11

The best tip


I ever


WHAT is the best piece of advice you ever

received regarding the game of bridge? A

pet convention perhaps, a cute way to play ♠ A 64

Layout 1

♠ 9752

Freddie North

the cards, or maybe something to do with ♥ A 82 N ♥ K653


the bidding. Free advice from dubious ♦ A K S ♦ 10 5

quarters is seldom in short supply, and dos ♣ A K953 ♣ 864

and don’ts seem to figure all too promi- Contract: 3NT by West. Lead: ♦6.

nently in the great scheme of things. But ♠J83

a real gem that stands you in good stead North leads a diamond from his five-card ♥ Q 10 9 4

for your bridge life – now that is some- suit but when you play on clubs they ♦Q8763

thing special; and when you recognise it, it divide as expected (three-two) and so you ♣J

will surely make a significant impact on score your game with four clubs, two ♠A64 ♠ 9752


your game. Perhaps you get this gem from diamonds, two hearts and one spade. ♥A82 W E ♥ K653

a book, a trusted friend or tutor. In any Now, with a slightly stronger hand – ♦AK S ♦ 10 5

case I want to pass on what I consider was well, West has one more point – this is the ♣AK953 ♣ 864

the best piece of advice I ever received. situation: ♠ K Q 10

It was about fifty years ago and it came ♥J7

from those redoubtable twins, Bob and Jim ♦J942

Sharples. In the opinion of many know- Layout 2 ♣ Q 10 7 2

ledgeable people around at the time, the ♠ KQ4 ♠ 9752

Sharples brothers were just about the best ♥ A82 N ♥ K653


bidders in the country. From personal ex- ♦ AK S ♦ 10 5 Declarer cashed the ace of clubs at trick

perience, I know what a great feeling it was ♣ AK953 ♣ 864 two and then, noting the fall of the jack,

to have them as part of the team playing played a low club to dummy’s eight and

in the other room. One could be completely South’s ten. Back on lead with the king of

confident that they would reach the top Again, North leads a diamond and the diamonds, declarer entered dummy with

spot time after time, and in competitive clubs behave, but 3NT must fail. Missing the king of hearts, finessed the nine of

situations they were just superb. that fourth ace in spades – although there clubs to bring in the suit without further

So what was this memorable gem that is an extra point in lieu – means that the loss, winning the race for his nine tricks

impressed me so greatly and has been such defence win the race, scoring three dia- before the opposition could muster five.

an invaluable ally to me over the years ever monds, one club and the ace of spades.

since? Very simply it was this: Let’s go back to Layout 1. What do you Summary

open with the West hand? I’ve tried it on

a number of very experienced players Remember, with all forms of fine adjust-

Hands containing all four aces must and the answer is: ‘2NT, we play 20-22 so ment little things can swing the balance one

be upgraded by adding one full why not?’ The reason ‘why not’ is because way or the other. The principle of adding an

point to the point-count total. you have all four aces, not to mention the extra point for the aces is sound enough,

five-card suit. but a five-card suit, or good stuffing (tens

With our fine-tuning, adding one point and nines), could clinch the case. For ex-

When you think that a single ace is slightly to the total, we would open 2♣ and rebid ample, I would be wary about adding extra

undervalued at four points, and then you 2NT, showing 23-24 points. This sequence for: ♠ A 5 4 3 ♥ A 5 2 ♦ A 7 2 ♣ A 6 5,

are lucky enough to be allotted all four, it’s would enable East to keep the bidding because of the poor shape and lack of

not unreasonable to consider a little fine- alive until game (3NT) is reached. If the intermediates. Yes, we could add one point

tuning. After all, an ace takes a fast trick, opening bid is 2NT no doubt East would for the four aces but remove it for the dis-

which is something that cannot always be pass, and who could blame him? advantages noted.

said of a king or a queen. When Layout 1 occurred at the table the However, add some undergrowth,

Suppose you reach 3NT with these two clubs did not divide kindly so declarer had ♠ A 10 9 6 ♥ A 10 2 ♦ A 10 8 ♣ A 9 7, and

hands: to be careful. This was the full deal: the extra point is fully deserved. April 2008 English Bridge 11


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