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									Volume 6, Issue 1                News for Serious Duplicate Bridge Players                        January 2011

               Simple Lebensohl                                            For Prior Issues
             Provided by Neil H. Timm
                                                                    Go to
When playing in club games, I have noticed that                     Click on BRIDGE NEWS
many club players do not play Lebensohl, Transfer
Lebensohl, Rubinsohl, or Rumpelsohl; they appear
to be too complicated. What I find is that Club                             Bridge Tips
Players play the limited “Stolen Bid” convention.
The purpose of the stolen bid convention is to               1) Attitude signals are generally played on
allow Stayman and Jacoby transfer sequences to               partner’s lead.
proceed as if no overcall had been made. Thus, in
the bidding sequence                                         2) Count signals are generally played on declarer’s
         Partner          Opponents               You
         1NT              2♣                      Dbl        3) When following suit, play the lowest of
playing “stolen bids”, a double is Stayman. In the           touching honors.
following sequence,
                                                             3) When leading an Ace and dummy has the king,
         Partner          Opponents               You        partner generally gives a suit preference signal.
         1NT              2♦                      2♥
                                                             4) Suppose you hold K 10 6 5 2 and lead the five
the heart bid is a transfer to spades or if the              in a notrump contract where dummy has the 8 7 in
bidding sequence is:                                         the suit and partner wins the ace. Partner returns
                                                             the three and declarer plays the queen from his
                                                             hand. Do you your take the king? And hope
                                       Continued on page 2   partner has the jack. Yes! If partner held, A93 he
                                                             would have led the nine; instead, he returned the
INSIDE THIS ISSUE                                            three, he must hold AJ93.

1     Simple Lebensohl                                       Tip: When returning partner’s suit, lead your top
                                                             card from an original 3-card holding, or your
1     Bridge Tips
                                                             original fourth highest from a 4-card holding.
3     The Law Revisited
                                                             5) When discarding cards, always keep the same
7     Bid and Play the Hand                                  number of cards as the hand sitting in dummy/
                                                             with declarer.
8     Safety Plays

                                                     Newsletter 1
                                    Continued from page 1

                                                             2♠     Transfer to clubs with a correction to
          Partner       Opponents                You
         1NT            2♥                       Dbl         2NT    Natural 8-9 HCP
then double also requests a transfer to spades.              3NT    to play
There are two very serious problems with “stolen             4♣     5-5 in the majors
bids” after 1NT openings.
                                                             4♦/4♥ Texas Transfers
(1) They do not allow the use of a penalty double
which is a powerful deterrent to opponents                   Another option is to play 4-way transfers, but
contemplating an overcall after a strong 1NT                 most club members do not use this option so I do
opening.                                                     not recommend it in “Simple Lebensohl”.

(2) It is not always possible to make a stolen bid,          Overcall of 2♣ (Natural/Undefined/Two Suited)
especially when the overcall is artificial, as in for
                                                             Double Penalty
example with the Landy and Cappelletti defenses
to no trump openers. In Cappelletti, 2♦ shows the            If 2♣ is natural, then 3♣ is Stayman
majors, so you can hardly want your partner to
transfer into hearts with a stack of hearts behind           If 2♣ is undefined, then bid your 5-card suit at the
him/her. The same is the case with Landy where               two level (transfers are off)
now 2♣ shows majors. Now Stayman doesn’t
make a lot of sense.                                         If 2♣ is a known two suiter, then a cue-bid of the
                                                             lower ranking know suit is Stayman and a cue bid
Playing any more sophisticated system, a double              of the higher ranking suit is game force
of an artificial one or two- suited hand is for
penalty. However, if the bid of 2♣ shows an                  2NT is a relay bid to 3♣ (Lebensohl)
unknown single suited hand, it remains Stayman.              3NT to play with stoppers if suits are know
Other bidding sequences are more complicated
and most club players will not invest the time to            4♣     5-5 in the majors
learn either more fully.
                                                             4♦/4♥ Texas Transfers
If you are not going to learn a more complicated
alternative, and would still like to penalize them           Natural Suit Overcalls (2♦/2♥/2♠)
for interfering, what can you do? Give up “Stolen
                                                             All Doubles are for penalty
Bids” and play Simple Lebensohl over a 14/15-17
notrump opening. The Simple Lebensohl system                 All cheapest two level bids are to play
follows many of the bids in both Lebensohl and
Transfer Lebensohl with simplification.                      Three level bids are transfers and a transfer into
                                                             their suit is Stayman without a stopper.
                Simple Lebensohl Bids
                                                             2NT is a relay bid to 3♣ (Lebensohl) over a suit
Over a Double                                                bid
2♣      Stayman                                              3NT to play with a stopper
2♦/2♥ Jacoby transfer to hearts and spades,                  4♣ 5-5 in the majors
                                                             4♦/4♥ Texas Transfers

                                                    Newsletter 2
After a 2NT Overcall (Strong/Minors)
Double is Stayman (if Strong)
3♣ is Stayman (if Minors) and 3NT is to play with stoppers in the Minors
3♦ is transfer to hearts with a correction if needed to spades
3♠ is natural
3NT to play with stoppers
4♣ show 5-5 in the majors
4♦/4♥ Texas Transfers
                                           The Law Revisited
                                           Provided by Neil H. Timm

Larry Cohen (1972) in his book “To Bid or Not to Bid” developed a series of rules using the total number of
trumps between two hands on when to compete to the three level. For example with only sixteen trumps and
both sides vulnerable he shows that it is better to let the opponents play in three hearts and for you not to bid
three spades when both sides have only 16 trumps. He calls this “chart logic”. To see this more clearly lets
look at the chart, assuming nobody doubles.

                                   Both Sides Vulnerable with 16 Trumps

       Contract played in three spades                Contract played in three hearts

Our Tricks won                 Our Score              Their Tricks won        Our Score
       10                      +170                          6                +300
        9                      +140                          7                +200
        8                      -100                          8                +100
        7                      -200                          9                -140

From the chart, we see no matter how the trumps break, when both are vulnerable, that it is better to allow
the opponents play the contract in three hearts.

Rule: When both are vulnerable do not compete to the three level with only 16 trumps.

Or, given that both sides have eight trumps between them, both can be expected to make eight tricks, making
either two hearts or two spades. This being the case, you must bid to the three level in hearts; however, do
not compete to the three level in spades when both sides are vulnerable ---- this is the “LAW”!

In Larry’s new book “Following the Law” the sequel To Bid or Not to Bid, he has a simple formula that may
be used when both sides are vulnerable.

Formula: ∑Trumps – 11 = ∑ Bids

                                                  Newsletter 3
Where the symbol ∑ denotes “SUM OF”; thus, applying the formula 16 -11 = 5. The bid of 3♥ + 2♠ = 5 so
do not bid to the level of three spades.

Important Note: The formula should only be used when both sides are vulnerable.

What happens when both sides are non-vulnerable? Again, we may make a chart, again assuming no

                                Both Sides Non-vulnerable with 16 Trumps

       Contract played in three spades               Contract played in three hearts

Our Tricks won                Our Score              Their Tricks won       Our Score
       10                     +170                          6               +150
        9                     +140                          7               +100
        8                     -50                           8               +50
        7                     -100                          9               -140

From the chart we see that by competing to the three level, when both sides are non-vulnerable, succeeds in
three out of four cases. Thus, while the formula fails we may always use chart logic and bid to the three level
when non-vulnerable and having only16 trumps.

What if the spade bidder is vulnerable and the heart bidder is non-vulnerable. Then we have the following
chart, again assuming no doubles.

                               Spade (V) and Hearts (NV) with 16 Trumps

       Contract played in three spades               Contract played in three hearts

Our Tricks won                Our Score              Their Tricks won       Our Score
       10                     +170                          6               +150
        9                     +140                          7               +100
        8                     -50                           8               +50
        7                     -200                          9               -140

And finally, suppose the heart bidder is vulnerable and the spade bidder is not. Then we have the following
chart with no doubles.

                               Spade (NV) and Hearts (V) with 16 Trumps

       Contract played in three spades               Contract played in three hearts

Our Tricks won                Our Score              Their Tricks won       Our Score
       10                     +170                          6               +300
        9                     +140                          7               +200
        8                     -50                           8               +100
        7                     -100                          9               -140

                                                 Newsletter 4
From the charts we have the following rule.

Rule: Never compete to the three level when both sides are vulnerable or with unfavorable
vulnerability with only 16 trumps. However, with favorable vulnerability or both non-vulnerable,
compete to the three level playing three spades over three hearts.

The above rules are based upon our chart analysis and bidding the majors. What if one side is bidding a
major and the opponents are bidding a minor? Again, when both sides are vulnerable, we may use the
simple formula. Looking at an example, suppose the opponents open the bidding 2♦ and your partner bids 2♥
followed by a bid of 3♦ by the opponents. Should you bid 3♥ with three hearts?

Applying the formula there are probably 9 (diamonds) + 8 (hearts) = 17 trumps and 17-11 = 6. Thus, bid 3♥
over 3♦.

However, suppose the bidding went:

RHO           YOU            LHO              PARTNER
2♦ (weak)     pass           3♦               Dbl
Pass          ??

Now what do you bid? At equal vulnerability bid your three card major. However, it they are vulnerable and
you are not, pass.

The next logical question you must ask yourself is what happens when both sides have 17 trumps in the
majors? This is more complicated. However, let’s begin with a logic chart assuming no doubles.

                                 Both Sides Vulnerable with 17 Trumps

       Contract played in four spades              Contract played in four hearts

Our Tricks won               Our Score             Their Tricks won      Our Score
       10                    +620                          7             +300
        9                    -100                          8             +200
        8                    -200                          9             +100
        7                    -300                         10             -620

                              Both Sides Non-vulnerable with 17 Trumps

       Contract played in four spades              Contract played in four hearts

Our Tricks won               Our Score             Their Tricks won      Our Score
       10                    +420                          7             +150
        9                    -50                           8             +100
        8                    -100                          9             +50
        7                    -150                         10             -420

                                                Newsletter 5
The charts suggest that if the opponents can win only 8 or 9 tricks in four hearts that we should not bid four
spades winning the same number of tricks.

Based upon 10000 deals, the likelihood of winning 10 tricks occurs about 10% of the time while winning 8
or 9 tricks occurs almost 33% of the time. Hence, it is best to complete to the four level and bid four spades
over four hearts with only 17 trumps. However, if you were to apply the formula, 17-11=6 it would suggest
that one not compete to the four level. You will be down at least one trick.

Rule: With 17 trumps (vulnerable or non-vulnerable), one may sometimes complete to the four level
when bidding spades over hearts.

Rule: With 17 trumps, never bid to the four level of a minor over a three level major suit bid with
equal or unfavorable vulnerability.

When bidding four spades over four hearts and both sides vulnerable, the formula suggested that one not
compete at the four level. However, by taking into account hand shape (distribution), double fits, and poor
honor combinations, one may adjust the “Formula” for the law to better decide whether to bid or pass. Let’s
see how it works.

1) For hands with poor honor combinations subtract one trick; however, with few honor combinations add
one trick.

2) For a double fit in two suits, add one trick; but, for a negative fit subtract one.

3) For balanced (flat) hands, subtract one trick; however, for non-balanced hands add one trick.

4) For poor trump quality, subtract one trick (no A/K/Q); however, with a high honor or good intermediaries
add one trick.

Taking these factors into account the formula becomes:

Adjusted Formula: ∑Trumps – 11 + positive factors – negative factors = ∑ Bids

Adding the adjustments to the formula allows one to apply it in more situations since if the factors allow
one to reach the 19 “trumps” level observe that 19 – 11 = 8, allows each to bid to the four level (e.g. 4♥ over
4♣/4♦, or 4♠ over 4♥, but not 5♥ over 4♠).

We now look at an example. You hold the following hand knowing the opponents hold nine hearts and both
are vulnerable.

♠J8765 ♥QJ2 ♦J762 ♣Q

Applying the formula with no adjustment 18 – 11 = 7 you expect to be down only one so you might bid four
spades if you were to make no adjustments. However, with spades as trumps subtract one (-1) for no high
honor, for poor honor combinations outside of trump subtract one (-1), for the unbalanced hand add +1.

Using the formula with adjustments we have that 18 – 11 -2 +1 = 6. You should not bid to the four level
even with 10 trumps!

                                                   Newsletter 6
Do not apply the law without taking into account adjustments.

We look at a second example from Larry Cohen’s new book. Your partner opens 2♥ and you hold the
following hands:

1) ♠K104 ♥K876 ♦QJ3 ♣QJ4

2) ♠K43 ♥KJ76 ♦QJ43 ♣54

In both situations you have 10 trumps with say 18 total trumps, 18 -11=7 so do you bid 4♥ over 3♠?

Let’s look at each of the hands. With hand (1) you have the King of trump (+1), but many Q’s and J’s in the
other suits (-1), and a flat hand (-1) thus 18 – 11 -2 +1 = 6, do not compete to the four level!

With hand (2) you also have the King of trump (+1), a flat hand (-1), but fewer minor honors in the other
suits; thus, 18-11-1+1=7, compete to the four level.

To read more on making adjustments to the LAW of Total Tricks, read Larry Cohen’s (1995) book
“Following the Law the Total Tricks Sequel.”

                                      Bid and Play the Hand
South is the Dealer – Bid and the play the hand






                                     ♥ - A 10 8 5 2



Bidding the Hand
South has 17 HCP, with five hearts most players would open the hand 1♥. (1) Playing Standard American,
north would bid 2♣, and south would bid 3NT. (2) Playing the 2/1 Game Force system, some may again bid
2♣ if on their convention card the box “Game Forcing Except When Suit Rebid” marked intending to next
bid three clubs. South would again jump to 3NT; alternatively, if 2♣ is played as a game force bid North
may alternatively bid 1NT (either forcing or non-forcing). South would raise 1NT to 2NT and North would
again bid 3NT. (3) Because South is 5-3 in the majors; some may open the hand 1NT to show values with
one bid (protected by a transfer to hearts with three). With only one heart and playing 4-way transfers, North

                                                  Newsletter 7
would bid 2♠ as a transfer to clubs. With Q6 in clubs, south would super accept and bid 2NT, again North
would bid 3NT. In this example, no matter what standard two club system you play, all pairs should arrive at
the same game contract of 3NT.
What if you played “Simplified Precision” by Timm (2010), now South would open 1♣* (alert) and North
would bid 2♣* to show a long minor with two of the top three honors. South would bid 2NT* (which minor)
and North would respond 3♣*. South would again bid 3NT. If you played the Rodwell and Meckstroth
version of Precision which is similar to Precision Today, you would again open 1♣*; however, the bid of
2♣* by North shows 8+ HCP and a five card suit of any quality. Next, south would bid 2NT* (showing a
minimum hand) and North would bid 3NT. Again, no matter what Precision bidding system you played, all
pairs would again arrive at the game contract of 3NT.
Because all the “standard” bidding systems would lead to the same contract of 3NT played by south, your
success depends not on bidding, but upon play of the hand!

Play of the hand
The opening lead by west is his fourth best spade ♠4; North wins the Jack and east plays the ♠3 (standard
count-which shows three spades). If you played up-side down count, you would play a high card (♠9). How
do you play the hand? Counting your winners, you have eight top tricks and need only one more for your
Some may look at the club suit and think that with only five clubs out they are most likely to break 3-2,
giving you about a 2/3 = 66% chance of making your contract. What if they break 4-1 (about 25%), can you
do better. Before playing clubs, look at diamonds; if they break 3-3 (36%), dummy’s fourth diamond is your
ninth trick. If diamonds do not break, 3-3 you may stay alive by falling back on clubs now giving yourself
about an 80% chance of making your contract. At trick two, duck the diamond (a safety play) and win the
spade return.
Note that you may SHOULD NOT first test clubs and then fall back on diamonds if clubs do not break 3-2.
Your club suit is the entry to your fourth diamond; diamonds must be played first. How did you do? The
deal follows.                                  North

                               ♠- Q J

                               ♥- 7

                               ♦- 7 5 4 2

            ♠- K 10 8 4 2      ♣- A K 7 5 4 2   ♠- 9 5 3

West        ♥- Q 9 4 3                          ♥- K J 6      East

            ♦- J 9 8                            ♦ - Q 10 6

            ♣- 9              ♠- A 7 6          ♣- J 10 8 3

                               ♥- A 10 8 5 2

                               ♦- A K 3

                               ♣- Q 6


                                                Newsletter 8
This hand is from the book by Eddie Kantar (2009) “Take all Your Chances at Bridge” page 11 published by
Master Point Press.

                                             SAFETY PLAYS
                                             Provided Neil Petrie
       Taking a SAFETY PLAY is to ensure one’s contract against the worst possible distribution of the
opponents’ cards. There are basically two types of safety plays: 1) those that guard against adverse breaks
without sacrificing any advantage, and 2) those plays that deliberately sacrifice a trick that might possibly be
won in order to guard against the loss of two tricks.
       This latter type of safety play is controversial since match point duplicate play rewards those who
may make overtricks rather than those who ensure their contracts. Good bridge technique requires ensuring
contracts rather than risking them. Despite this fact, one hears that safety plays should only be made at imp
scoring or Rubber Bridge scoring, while one needs to go all out to gain a top board at match points. Thus it
is simply a fact that match point scoring encourages risks that are counter to sound technical play.
        Here is an end position from a hand played at a recent club game that illustrates the problem. The
contract is 4 hearts. Two tricks have been lost. Trumps are gone except for the last trump in dummy, and
the rest of the contract hinges on the side diamond suit. How do you play this suit?
         Declarer’s remaining cards:                  Dummy:
       xx                                             A
       ---                                            x
       Kxx                                            AJ9x
       x                                              ---
         The “normal” play of the king followed by a finesse to the jack will yield all the tricks if queen third
is onside: making five. What if the jack loses to a doubleton queen offside? A black suit return locks
declarer in dummy. When the diamond ten fails to fall under the ace, a second diamond trick is lost and the
contract goes down. But what match point player will want to make the technically correct safety play of the
ace first, followed by a small one to the king, and a third diamond toward the remaining J9? This will
ensure 3 tricks and the contract unless there are four diamonds to the Q10 behind dummy. And it actually
loses nothing or gains if east have the doubleton 10 or Q.
PROVIDING FOR THE 4-0 BREAK: Safety plays that give up nothing.
1. Axxx                KQxxx
2. A10xx               KQ98x
3. A9xx                KQ8xx

NINE-CARD FITS MISSING THE Q (J): Using the principle of restricted choice.
1. 98x          AK10xxx

                                                  Newsletter 9
2. A10xx          K98xx
3. KJxx           A9xxx

EIGHT-CARD FITS MISSING TWO HONORS: You must first determine how many tricks you
need in these suits (or how greedy you are for all of them since these plays deliberately concede a trick
to avoid the possibility of losing two in the event of a 4-1 break).
1. Jxx            AK9xx
2. 10xx           AK8xx
3. xxx            AQJxx

        The contract is 4 spades, with left-hand opponent having over called 2 clubs. Opening lead is the
club Q. Plan the play.
Declarer: AQ10xx                        Dummy: J9xx
            Axx                                   Kxx
            Ax                                    Kxx
            xxx                                    AKx
         Here is a slightly different problem that requires a careful decision at trick one.
Declarer: KJ10xx                        Dummy: Qxxx
             Kxx                                   Axx
             Kx                                    Axx
             Axx                                   Kxx

          How do you play this suit for all the tricks? How do you play it to avoid two losers (if possible)?
         AQ109xx(x)       Assume a nine-card fit, either 7-2 or 6-3.

        Assume that these suits are in a dummy that contains no outside entries. In the first example, you
lead toward dummy and the jack pops out. In the second example, a small card comes out when you lead
toward dummy.
         1. AK10xxxx            xx
         2. AKJ9xxx             xx

                                                   Newsletter 10
       Here is an example of an opportunity to make a spectacular safety play. Your contract is 4 hearts.
       Rather than cash two spade winners, the defense starts with the King of diamonds. If hearts and
       clubs behave, you’ll take the rest of the tricks! Plan your play.
       Declarer: xxx                  Dummy: xx
                  AKJ10xxx                      xx
                  x                             Axx
                  xx                            AKQJxx

1. The contract is 3NT (forget about the fact that 5 clubs may be a superior spot. You, after all, are a match
point player looking for the extra points in no-trump). You receive the expected spade lead, winning the 9
with the jack. If you can find the minor queens, you’ll wrap up all the tricks for a sure top! Plan the play.
       Declarer: KJx                 Dummy: x
                  Axx                           Kxx
                  xx                            AKJxxx
                  A109xx                        KJxx
2. The contract is 4 hearts. The opening lead is the spade Q. Plan the play. Hint: as always, count your
tricks carefully, both potential winners and losers.
       Declarer: Ax                  Dummy: Kx
                  KJ9xx                         A10xx
                  Kxx                           AQJx
                  Kxx                           xxx

                                                Newsletter 11
                February 2011 “Bridge News” Topics
Bridge Note – Computer Programs in Bridge
Cue Bidding Confusion
Double Dummy Analysis and Randomness of Hands
Computer Analysis of NT Hands
When Should One Pass, Rules of 20 and 15

                                      Newsletter 12

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