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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

Imagine you are sitting in fourth seat. Everyone passes and it is up to you to decide whether or not to open. Do you bid or do you pass with the eleven point hand below?

S: KJ98
H: AK109
D: 9854
C: 10

Many bridge players are familiar with the rule of eleven and the rule of twenty. The rule of fifteen is less well known. It applies when you are trying to decide whether to open in fourth seat after three passes. It states that, if your points plus the number of spades in your hand add up to fifteen, then open. It may sound a bit arbitrary, but makes sense. If you are light on points, then you should hold something in spades, because, if you open, then either the opponents or your partner are likely to bid spades at some point (it being the boss suit). If you cannot either frustrate your opponents or support your partner in spades, then you will probably end up with a negative score. This hand was played recently in a duplicate game. At all but one table the hand was passed out. Only at the table where the bidder used the rule of fifteen was this hand opened. East-West were vulnerable and East dealt. The bidding was brief:

North passed South’s 1H bid because South was a previously passed hand and North’s hand only just met the requirements of the rule of fifteen. So 1H was the final contract. This was the full deal:

A low club was led to the king and ace. Trumps were pulled in two rounds and a diamond led to the ace. Then the ten of spades was led towards board and ducked all round. A second spade was taken by the ace, but this was the first and last trick for the defence (the only way for the defence to make a second trick is an opening lead of the ace of spades and a spade continuation, ruffed by East). Now declarer’s hand is good (the low club can be ruffed on board and the queen of spades is marked with West). As the cards lie, N-S can make a small slam, all on a deal which most players passed out!
I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands—please do contact me at [email protected] Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For information on the Club go to the website

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Bridge in Paradise