Test Your Bridge Skills #36

This quiz was written by Oren Lidor.

Test Your Bridge Skills #36

Test Your Bridge Skills #36

Hand 1

What will you bid as South?

Best Answer: 4

You have a 4-4 Heart fit and 29-31 points together. Slam could be possible if partner brings the right cards. What are the right cards? Not wasted points in Diamonds. All other points are welcome. So, bid 4, splinter, which shows a Heart fit, singleton in Diamonds and a slam inviting hand. This bid will show a much better hand than just bidding 4 (which you would bid If you wanted just game) and ask partner to value their hand; if partner has wasted values in Diamonds they will sign off with 4. Otherwise, they would ask for aces and bid slam:

Even though you only have 15 points, you can see that 6 is a great contract. Partner should see from your singleton Diamond that there are no Diamond losers. Partners hand is also full of controls (Aces and Kings) on the other suits, which is why they are going to slam. 12 tricks are easily made via 2 Diamonds ruffs (+ 10 tricks on top: 1♠, 4, 1, 4♣). Another Diamond or Spade loser can go later (after pulling out the trumps) on the 4th Club.

Even though you have 16 points, your hand is no good for slam as you have lots of wasted values in Diamonds, resulting in lots of losers in other suits. Given that you have a sure Diamond loser, to make 12 tricks you would need 2 working finesses and trumps to be 3-2. Best to settle for just game.


  • Your 4 bid is splinter, slam invite, showing a fit with partner's suit and singleton or void in your bidden suit.
  • Partner should evaluate their hand now: If they have no wasted points in Diamonds and controls in the other suits, they should accept your invitation and go to slam. Otherwise, they should settle for game.

Hand 2

What will you bid as South?

Best Answer: 1♠

Game is clearly on, but there might be more.

So, how can we force the bidding to go on?

Playing standard sys, we need to use 4th suit forcing to keep the bidding going. So, here the 4th suit is Spades, so we need to bid 1♠, which could mean one of two things; either a natural Spade suit OR 4th suit forcing, which is not related to the Spade suit. If partner has 4 cards in Spades, they can bid 2♠ (or 3♠ with 15-17). Otherwise, they can just describe their hand; bid 1NT with a balanced hand and Spade stopper, bid 2♣ if Clubs are long or bid 2 with 3 cards in Diamonds (if nothing else to bid). Next you can bid 3, which is a slam invite, telling partner that your 1♠ bid was indeed 4th suit forcing. Doing this describes a strong hand with slam interest, and asks partner to start control bidding.

Note that a direct 3 bid would show 10-11 points, and be a game invite (unless there are other agreements). On the other hand Bidding 4th suit and later 3 would be a slam invite (and would show a better hand than bidding 4 directly, which would show no more than game interest).

The hand could be:

You can see that 6 is an excellent contract. Note that the 4♣ control DENIED ♠ control, which is why your 4 was also showing a ♠ control (with no control, after partner denied Spade control, you would simply bid 4). Partner can now value their hand more accurately and try slam.


  • When the responder bids the 4th suit in the 2 level – it is 4th suit forcing, game forcing.
  • When the 4th suit is at the 1 level (1♠), like in this hand, it could have a double meaning; either natural Spades with any range or 4th suit forcing, which is an artificial bid and game forcing.
  • You can agree that a 2 bid after bidding a previous 4th suit (1♠ here) shows a little more than opening (better than a direct 4 bid), but weaker than a 3 bid.
  • Some players agree that 1♠ is used as natural Spades and 2♠ is used as 4th suit forcing. But here, option for 2♠ was not given.
  • Some players play XYZ, which is an excellent system, but needs to be studied.
    It uses 2 way checkback (or 2 way new minor), after the opener bids their 2nd bid at the 1 level, using 2♣ for any invitational hand and 2 for any game forcing hand. There is more to it – so look for articles about it! As you can see these options were not given in the quiz.
  • Some players would prefer to bid 1 rather than 1. Note that 1 bid does not deny 4 cards major as it can still be bidden on the 1 level. You deny a major suit only when you skip it. It's a matter of style, but I suggest you bid 1 with strong/med hands and use a toy bid 1/♠ (skipping the ) with weaker hands as opponents might also bid to a high level and then you will not be able to show your major suit.

Hand 3

Against 3♠ you elected to lead the A. Your partner followed with the 2 and the declarer with the 5. How will you continue?

Best Answer: A and J

Against 3♠ you elected to lead the A. Your partner followed with the 2 and the declarer with the 5. How will you continue?

What is the meaning of partner's 2? Most likely a singleton, as with doubleton they will normally follow with the high card 1st (high – low).

Therefore, it seems that a Diamond continue is automatic now, to let partner ruff a Diamond. It's also important to play a high Diamond back, to signal a suit preference for Hearts. Partner now will return (after the Diamond ruff) Heart to your A and you could play another Diamond for another Diamond ruff, right? Not quiet, as the declarer has no more Diamonds and can overruff partner, meaning the defense will get only 3 aces and 1 Diamond ruff. That line will work only if partner has 3 trumps higher than the ♠8, so when the declarer overruffs the ♠10 with the ♠Q, your ♠8 will be promoted! But the odds for that happening are very low.

There is another way to guarantee 100% success (assuming partner does indeed have a singleton Diamond). Just let partner ruff the Diamond at the right time; play A and then J, which you will lose to the declarer's K. The declarer will try to pull trumps to win with the ♠A, and you can let partner ruff the Diamond by signaling with the 8, showing your suit preference for Hearts. Partner will ruff and play their 3rd Heart, which you can ruff with the ♠8 for 1 down.


  • Your ♠8 is a valuable card because it is higher than all dummy's trumps. Think about the timing; specifically the right order to play your tricks on defense. Since partner has only 1 entry to their hand (the Diamond ruff), it's important to get to their hand at the right moment to let you ruff Heart – this is why you need to play the Heart's first, knowing that the declarer cannot pull out the trumps firsts, since you hold the ♠A. Upon winning the ♠A, you can let partner ruff diamond and get a Heart ruff with the ♠8 to set.
  • You need to be sure that the declarer has no more than 2 Diamonds or a second Diamond ruff by partner will not be possible if declarer can overruff.
  • When you let partner ruff, you can signal suit preference. Low card by you will ask partner to return with a low card (a Club in this case) after they ruff. Playing a high card will ask partner to return a high card after they ruffs (in this case a Heart).
  • Here your overcall bid is borderline. An overcall shows a good suit. Your suit is not great but you do have 6 cards in it, which is tempting to bid. On top of this, the vulnerability here is not on your side. If South elects to double your 2 (a re-opening double) there is a good chance that North will PASS, leaving the double as penalty given their good Diamonds. You will go down by at least 2 and maybe even 3 with a very accurate defense, which will be very costly.
  • North's Pass after the 2 bid denies 3 cards in Spades, otherwise they would've doubled (a support double) to show 3 cards in Spades.

Hand 4

You play 4 and West led the Q. Opponents won the trick and continued with a 2nd Diamond, which you ruffed. Now what?

Best Answer: Q and ♠ to the ♠J

You play 4 and West led the Q. Opponents won the trick and continued with a 2nd Diamond, which you ruffed. Now what?

From the bidding and the lead, it is easy to place the missing honors: The QJ are in West and almost everything else must be in East, to justify his opening bid. East must have both missing aces and at least 1 (or both) of the missing Spade honors.

Therefore, you need to keep all possible entries to dummy to make as many finesses as possible on East.

Ruff the second Diamond, play Heart to the Q and continue with Spade to the ♠J. West will take with the ♠Q and continue with another Diamond. Ruff again, play Heart to the A and now play the ♠10. This way you will be in dummy once again for a 3rd finesse. If East plays low, you will still be in dummy to play Club to the ♣K. If East covers with the ♠K you can win with the ♠A, and re-enter dummy with the promoted ♠9, to play Club from dummy to your hand. Do this and you will only lose only 1 Spade, 1 Club and 1 Diamond.

If, after Q, you play the ♠10, running it, losing to the ♠Q, and upon winning the A you play Spade to the ♠J – you will manage to avoid 2 Spade losers. But you have no more entries to dummy to play Club to the ♣K and you will be forced to eventually play Club from hand thus losing 2 Clubs. Likewise, if after A you play Club to the ♣K, you will avoid the 2 Club losers, but having no more entries to dummy you will be forced to play a Spade from hand, thus losing 2 Spade tricks.


  • Bidding and the lead card help you count and place the missing honors.
  • Timing the right order to play your tricks is crucial. Realizing you need to make a double finesse in Spades and another finesse in Clubs means you need 3 entries to dummy. You have only 2, but playing the Spades the right way can save you an entry (or create a 3rd entry if East covers with the ♠K). The "trick" is to play a low Spade to the ♠J at first and keep the ♠109 which will make sure you get to play for a third time from dummy, as the first attempt will likely fail, losing to West, and on second attempt you will capture East's honor.
  • Note that 1NT by the advancer (the partner of the overcaller) shows 9-12 points, as the overcall could be from 9 points, which is 3 points less than an opening. The response to an overcall in a new suit or in NT, must have 3 points more plus a stopper in opponent's suit. So with this hand you need to jump and show extras, for example with this hand you could consider bidding 4 directly.

About the Author

Oren Lidor is considered one of the best bridge teachers in Israel, is the author of 5 bridge books, and teaches bridge to people from all over the world on BBO.

17 comments on “Test Your Bridge Skills #36”
  1. so enjoyed particpating in the quiz ! I realise I have a lot to learn from Oren. Thank you so much!

  2. Nice quiz, with excellent analysis and explanations on what is the correct way to bid and play. Thanks! 🙂

  3. I have my 20/20 :). In the context of a basic bidding problem hand2 is just fine, after all we're not here to argue about which is the artificial gf setting bid. Other approaches are possible, sure.

  4. Hi play SAYC and don’t play splinter bitch. I play pretty vanilla so your responses are for people who are out of level, not the same as mine and on a couple of the hands I would’ve ended up in the right contract even though I bid more simply

  5. Another nice set. I got the first three, but fumbled the last. I miscounted the number of finesses needed, and played clubs first, thinking that should this lose to the ace, the opener is guaranteed to have both spade honors, and one spade lead will suffice. 16/20 served me right 🙂

  6. I disagree with 1S on the second hand. A likely 1NT rebid, for example, by partner puts you in worse shape than you are. He will misinterpret his spade holding no matter what you do later. So I would try a splinter bid. Ax is no different from a singleton, when you think about it. Of the bids offered, 4H at least gets us to the right game, and if partner has a King or Ace more than needed to open, maybe he/she will cue bid.

  7. Re hand 2. 1 Spd rebid is natural and forcing showing 4 spds. 4th suit forcing in this situation is a jump to 2S. Denies 4 spds but game forcing. This bid was not given as an option. Correct?