Stuart King

Hello World

Having spent the last week or so becoming accustomed to WordPress I thought it was time to actually sit down and write my first blog.

First things first, I’m Stuart King, a PhD student in Mathematics at the University of Bristol. I learnt to play bridge a little over 5 years ago when I was an undergraduate at the same institution. I have been devoid of a regular partner since James Boulton – with whom I learnt the game – moved to the North of Scotland a little over 2 years ago. Since then I’ve been playing bridge semi-regularly with a lot of different partners.

This September, however, has seen somewhat of a revival of the university club. Where last year we struggled to get a four together this year we regularly get 3 tables attending our Monday evening teaching session. As such I have started a new serious partnership with Mungo Jackson, we’ve only played together a few times but we seem to gel resonably well.

My blog is going to be me rambling about whatever bridge related things I happen upon, I imagine that will mostly be interesting hands that come up (and usually how I butchered them!) and the evolution of my new partnership and our bidding methods.

I’ll end this post with a hand that came up a little before Christmas, it was one of the first times Mungo and I had played together at the local club. We hadn’t really had much a system discussion, we were playing some flavour of SAYC when I picked up this lovely hand as East, third in, game all:




Partner, helpful as always, opens the expected 1♠. My 2 prompted the equally obvious 2 rebid from partner. Having already decided on my plan of bid diamonds then clubs over and over until P gets the message, I plodded on with 3, forcing to game. 3 showed 5-5 in the majors, and as per the plan I continued with clubs. Partner then bid 4NT. What does this mean? Well it certainly wasn’t RKCB, as one of our few agreements was that we only played Blackwood if we had explicitly agreed a suit beforehand. I guess it was an attempt to play but I saw no reason to stray from The Plan and bid clubs yet again. Partner, after a short think raising to 6! This was the bidding;

West North East South
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
4NT Pass 5 Pass
6 Pass Pass Pass

Firstly was my plan the right thing? What would you have done? Secondly what do you expect (hope) partner holds?

It turns out Partner did get the message and was holding about as perfect a hand as you could imagine for the bidding:





Do you agree with Mungo’s bidding? I really like the 4NT, it must show cards in my suits, I don’t like my 5, I really should realise whats going on and bid 6.

The play wasn’t quite so interesting. After receiving a non-trump lead I set about ruffing two diamonds in Dummy and claimed shortly after the queen dropped on the second round of the suit and I discovered trumps weren’t 5-0.

Needless to say this was a good score for us, but do we really belong in 6? On a trump lead I need diamonds 3-3 or the queen to drop,  which is it a little over 50%, so I think that we do.

What do you think?


Dave memphis mojo SmithFebruary 2nd, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Welcome to the blogosphere.

Stuart KingFebruary 3rd, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Thanks 🙂

Allan StauberFebruary 5th, 2011 at 2:28 am

Hi Stuart,

I’m in the U.S., and I’m not exactly an expert on British royalty. That being the case, I didn’t realize that Great Britain had a King right now — from the House of Stuart or otherwise. 🙂

Perhaps you’ve had the misfortune to suffer thru some of my ramblings on here. Sorry about that. Many players think my bridge and other ideas are best described as being multi-delusional! Since I also majored in math, I correct them & say the word they are looking for is “multi-dimensional”.

As for the deal, here are my opinions/observations. I try not to be a “result merchant” so my choices may not always work very well on various actual deals, but here goes:

1. Initially, I also would like to bid both minors until the cows come home. However, after bidding each one only once, things are probably going downhill pretty fast. I’m not super duper optimistic about making any game after pard’s 3H bid.

Is this an unusual situation for Hamman’s Rule? That is, “When 3N is a possibility, choose it.” Actually, my hunch is that this “rule” was around long before Hamman. Even when some of us had little experience, and had never heard of Hamman, it seemed to be a rather commonplace tactic. Presumably, this is something a lot of players discovered independently. BTW, there also were, “Grab it (that is, NT) first” and “Play all misfits in NT.” — although these may not be quite universal truths.

I suppose 3N could be down or make overtricks. Perhaps the lead will make a big difference??? Especially at MP scoring, maybe it’s right??? Plus, I do have “UNUSUAL NT” on the conv card! Doesn’t 3N describe my hand perfectly? Ha! Ha!

For you result merchants out there, it would make anywhere from 3 to 7 (7 on perhaps a spade lead won in dummy). In addition, even if the hearts were favorable (favourable for some people!), the defense might be reluctant to set up the suit for declarer. My guess is that pairs in 3N by S would usually beat those who got to only 5C.

2. Given that you bid 4C, I don’t think your partner should bid 4N. Apparently, you have extreme length and/or you’re trying for slam in the minors despite his 5-5 (maybe even 6-5 w/ maybe a bad 6?) in the majors. In light of that, he has monstrous support for you. I would jump to 6C w/ his hand. Even a 5-2 fit should be reasonable most of the time.

I don’t feel that 4N must show cards in your suits, as you believe it does. What else would he do with mainly/all major suit honors and no real support for your suits?

Also, on the actual hand, he can’t be sure that 4N is making. It may depend on who has the HJ.

With his monster minor suit cards, I’d bid 6C right there.

3. Once he did bid 4N, I would pass with your hand. He’s heard the bidding, and wants to play there. Of course, I don’t think he really should have wanted to do that!

4. After you bid clubs yet again, with his hand I’d be kind of worried we’re missing 7C! However, I don’t see how to invite it. Perhaps if you had no major suit losers and were missing basically the DA & CK, you then could bid it yourself over 6C.

5. Anyway, you got to 6C!

I think it is even better than you indicated. In addition to what actually happened (a heart lead?), sometimes you might get a spade lead. That virtually would ice it up. If you got a diamond or club lead, you could try the SK and have good chances of getting rid of the hear loser. It would be very tough (sometimes stupid 🙂 ) for E to duck smoothly. If he plays low, you still could give up on that chance and try to ruff out diamonds.

Good luck in your bridging!

Al the Plumber

Ross TaylorFebruary 5th, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Welcome to bridge blogging Stuart. I also like your partner’s 4NT bid – less so his 6C bid. I would be fine stopping in 5C on these cards and would not beat yourself up for not bidding 6C over partner’s 4NT.

Also, another way to approach your hand could be to bid 5 clubs over 3H to convey the dramatic shape a bit better – and to entice a pass, a correction, or a slam bid in one of your suits.

Stuart KingFebruary 8th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

@Ross Taylor – 5C on the third round looks really nice, and probably does get the point across. Thanks for the suggestion.

@Allan Stauber – As you say with misfit hands pretty much anything could be right! 3NT over 3H is certainly, shall we say, interesting, lol!

I guess 4NT could have been on not quite so shiny honours in my suits but would you really want to play in 4NT with 3 small minor suit cards? My thoughts are probably not, if bad things are happening (and we’re already too high) we will go off fewer tricks in a suit and if good things are happening we can probably make a suit slam. I guess it comes down too how many hands can you make 3NT but not 6m?

Allan StauberFebruary 11th, 2011 at 3:43 am

Hi Stuart,

A problem has developed for your pard when he bid 4N.

Assuming he’s 5-5 in the majors, what can he do if he pretty much has all/most of his HCP’s in the majors & is 2-1 either way in the minors? Supporting with say xx or a stiff honor looks pretty dubious. Even supporting with a doubleton honor and x in the other minor can be wrong.

Rebidding even a strong major again is fraught w/ danger.

He often is trapped with no other bid; frequently he seems to stuck w/ 4N.


Stuart KingFebruary 12th, 2011 at 3:01 am

I fully understand why you think 4NT might want to be bid on that sort of hand but I’d rather make as cheap a bid as possible when I still want to investigate strain. I guess my problem is what would you bid with 5-5-1-2 with a couple of honours in the minor suits? I would want to bid 4NT with some chance to play there but if partner expects you to bid 4NT with three blank minor suit cards, is he going to ever let you play there?

I guess my thoughts are that in these types of situation it makes more sense to me to play the lowest available bid as the most ambiguious rather than a higher one.

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