Never Lose Hope

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Portrait Aviram1

Aviram1 is an Elite series player on Funbridge. He found this deal interesting and wanted to share it with the Funbridge community.

Never Lose Hope

As a new participant in the Funbridge team tournaments, Aviram1 makes a special effort to bring his best game. However, Partner (Argine) doesn’t always follow suit…

The following hand took place in the last team round. 


Holding that quite nice collection, I naturally open 1♥. West passes and Partner responds 1♠.

I now have a slightly uncomfortable decision to make: I have some extras but no obvious rebid. I don’t like a 3♥ rebid, since my hearts are not very good. I don’t have a real second suit to rebid. A 2NT rebid is possible and in retrospect I think it is the lesser evil.

At the table however, concerned not to miss a vulnerable game, after checking the meaning of a 3♣ (over)bid and noting that Argine allows it to be made with just 3 cards, I chose to bid 3♣. I was hoping I could manage the following. Argine happily (for a robot) raises me to 4♣. I now, somewhat concerned, intend to bid 4♥, hoping it is a natural bid. But pointing my cursor at that bid, I see that Argine defines it as a cue bid (agreeing Clubs as trumps). Not what I intended…

Actually, no bid now can release me from playing in Clubs (4NT is RKCB)! Still, on the up side, Argine might certainly have five clubs and my hand, with all those controls and Q in Partner’s first suit, is quite good for slam. So if committed to cue bids, I might as well comply. I bid 4♦ showing the lowest control. Argine bids 4♥ – a cue bid (shortness in light of my AK) – and I, with my less than desired trump holding, trying to stop the inevitable, bid 5♣.

Argine, the optimistic (for a robot), not aware of my concerns, raises to 6♣. I have a passing thought of converting to NT, but still hoping Argine will produce five trumps and seeing the possible need to develop Hearts with ruffing, I pass. This, with dummy revealed, is now the situation:


Argine didn’t stand up to expectations and our trump holding is less than what the book would recommend for trump contracts, let alone slam… In other words – I remember once or twice playing some better contracts… 

OK then, as much as I would like letting the optimistic Argine play that hand herself, it’s currently not an option, so let’s try to see what can be done here.

Even if trumps and spades both break 3-3, I only have 11 tricks. After the diamond lead, the immediate problem is once I give the hand in trumps, opponents will cash a diamond trick and I am down. So before drawing trumps, I must cash the spade winners, hoping they break 3-3, and discard my diamond loser. Then I still have to produce one more trick. If I try to develop hearts, hoping for a 3-3 break and ruffing in dummy, then once I give the hand in trumps, even if trumps break 3-3, opponents will play a second diamond. It will shorten my trumps and deny an entry to the developed Hearts. But I see another possibility: maybe I can add tricks by ruffing in my hand (aka “dummy reversal” for an already reversed dummy…). That seems to be the only option, so I begin by cashing the three high spades, happy to see they break and discard my diamond loser. I now ruff a diamond in hand, and turn to Hearts, cashing the AK and discarding a spade from dummy. Then I ruff the next heart with a low trump in dummy. Now one more diamond ruffed low in hand and the sun begins to shine.


I ruff a heart with the Q in dummy, East underruffs. I am home. West has the K of Trumps and I have all the tricks I need. A spade ruffed in hand with the remaining trump A (Isn’t it fun ruffing winners?) and a heart towards dummy’s remaining trump honour, scoring it “en passant” (Opponents completing 4 underruffs!). That’s my 12th trick. I need no more and opponents may take all the rest.

So it turns out a trump holding of QJxx opposite Axx is sometimes enough to take six trump tricks.

Well bid Argine!

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  1. Very elegant, but why not discarding the last diamond instead of a spade on the king of hearts and then play ace of clubs and small club to the dummy? That way you should make the contract with 3-3 in both spades and clubs but regardless if the king of clubs is to the right or left, ie double the chance!

    • You have a point. However, on the high hearts, Argine (an avid count giver) signals odd from both sides, so assuming they are 3-3, all I need is the club K with west, a 50% chance, better than 3-3.

  2. Great article, and your play was inspired!

    At the same time, the bidding sequence that got you into trouble in the first place begs the question – for the Funbridge managers: why does Argine use such an inflexible bidding system and then not apply her own rules? I ask because I have got into similar bidding messes with Argine. Her raise of 3 Clubs to 4 is downright wrong – it contradicts what the bidding hints say. And the fundamental problem is her insistence that you need a very good suit (7 cards) to make a jump rebid in Hearts or Spades. Most everyday players, including me, do not apply that rigid requirement. Funbridge: can you adjust Argine’s system?

  3. In addition to West having K of clubs you need East with 4 cards in Hearths. Otherwise east could overruff your small Trump from dummy.
    Very useful and nicely written article.
    Thank you!

    • Useful article elegantly composed, Well done Aviram!

      I also have the interesting hand in challenge where we had dispuit with my friend (fortunately I won, so my mood was more joyful :). I can describe, Maëlle. If you like drop me msg in funbridge

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