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Seminars

Declarer Play in 1NT
Defence in 1NT

These seminars are about 1NT contracts and the particular tactics that are used in these contracts. Patience is a major theme in both seminars – being passive in the cardplay rather than active. Another main topic is frozen suits.

The contract is very common and the variance in the standard of play is often large – there is always room for improvement.

Bidding 4-4-4-1 Hands
Bidding 4-4-4-1 Hands after Opening

Both these seminars deal with the trickiest shape to open the bidding with 4-4-4-1 The first seminar deals with the opening bid specifically. Which suit do you open with a weak opening hand? How do you deal with very strong hands with 4-4-4-1 shape?

The second seminar takes the bidding further on – you have opened the bidding but what happens next? Rebidding no-trumps, splinters and reverses are some of the topics that come up.

Acol Revision - Opener
Acol Revision - Responder
Acol Revision - Responding to 1NT
Acol Revision - Doubles & Overcalls

A series of four seminars designed to take the client back over the basics of Acol.
Opener: basic opening bids and planning your rebid.
Responder: basic responses and planning the rest of the auction.
Responding to 1NT: Stayman and Transfers.
Doubles & Overcalls: basic take-out doubles and overcalls and their responses.

Hand Evaluation in No-trumps
Hand Evaluation in Suits

These seminars look at hand evaluation when you have a fit (in suits) and when you do not have a fit (in no-trumps).

When you have a fit, the losing trick count is a very valuable form of hand evaluation and is worth trying to use. However, there are a lot of extensions to this method: we cover half-losers and acelessness – two very important aspects.

Without a fit we use the point count system, but this often needs a bit of tinkering – how are your honours working, how many tens and nines do you have, what about the shape of your hand?

Better Leads
Better Switches

The Leads seminar takes a closer look at leads – covering the basic leads at the start, you delve a little deeper in to more difficult leads and the reasons for them. Making better leads is wonderful for a partnership – there is so much to gain from this.

Switching tends to revolve about dummy. We discuss how to read dummy and work out what to switch to without needing a signal from your partner. Knowing when to switch and when to continue partner's suit is fundamental to great defence.

Opening with Distributional Hands
Overcalling with Distributional Hands

How to deal with hands that have long suits and shortages – they come up more and more if you use computer dealt hands and getting used to them is important. They are great fun when you learn to handle them.

Opening and responding includes: when to open light, Splinter responses and pre-emptive openings.

Overcalling includes: bidding to the level of your fit, two suited overcalls and bidding the opponents' suit.

Competitive Bidding
Competitive Doubling

This topic is fundamental to duplicate pairs – bidding more to get better scores. We talk about -50 and -100 as being good scores because they score better than letting your opponents make a contract. We talk about competing to the 3-level over the 2-level as much as possible. Bidding to the level of your fit to get in the way of the opponents.

The doubling seminar takes the topic further and examines how to keep the bidding open by using more take-out doubles and by doing so, ending up with some very pleasant penalty scores in your favour: working as a partnership to get the most from your cards.

Declarer Play in No-trumps
Declarer Play in Suits

The aim of these seminars is to reinforce basic declarer play tactics including hold-ups, entry conserving plays and patience in 1NT contracts. In suit contracts we discuss drawing trumps and when not to draw trumps: for ruffing, entries and to manage your losers.

Basic Defence
Leads

Defence is tremendously difficult and very few people ever get taught about it. The defence seminar aims to make sure that you have the basics in place, telling you when to take your aces and how to use your other high cards. These are our two easiest defence seminars, but this one is still not for beginners.

Knowing which suit to lead is difficult and then choosing the right card is important too! The Leads seminar takes you through the whole of your lead style and then tells you how you can make expert leads to make your partner happy. This is a little more straightforward than the Basic Defence seminar.

Counting Defence
Disrupting Declarer

Taking your defence to another level will increase your scores hugely. These seminars aim to make you think how declarer is going to play his contract and therefore how you might defend in order to disrupt him. We also focus on the need to give count when following suit: if you can give a signal to tell your partner how many cards you hold it will help him in many ways. This is not a straightforward subject, but if you can master it you will reach another level in defence.

The Count seminar is a conceptual one which requires a leap in your defence and is therefore a more difficult level.

Disrupting declarer is also difficult, but more absorbable.

Thinking Defence in No-trumps
Thinking defence in Suits

Taking your defence to another level will increase your scores hugely. These seminars will give you ideas on how to get your mind in gear for the defence: by thinking about each suit before they are led. We talk about which suit to switch to and how trump leads and switches can work to your advantage. There are ideas that will improve players of all levels.

Defence as Partner of the Leader
Partner of the Leader after Trick 1

As usual defensive seminars are difficult. Plenty of us get taught what to lead, but we very rarely get taught what to do as the partner of the leader. What card should we play at trick one? How do we analyse the lead – is it length, shortage, is it form an honour, or from weakness?

The second seminar takes us further in to the defence. Again, analysing the lead and deciding whether to continue the suit, or to switch. And what suit should we switch to?

Signals
Discards

These seminars focus on the mechanics of defence: giving signals when necessary, but focussing on the important signals. Count is the dominant signal, with attitude following and then a small mention of suit-preference.

Discards focuses on one of the most difficult aspects of bridge, which is to keep the right cards – suit-preference signals might gain on 1 in 20 hands, but keeping the right cards tends to gain on 1 in 2. This topic is slightly easier because the ideas involved are more straightforward. Easier to take in, not necessarily easier to enact.

Defensive Plan: BOLD
Defensive Plan: TIPS
Defensive Plan: LIFE

This is designed as a threesome – three parts of the defensive plan. The three titles represent the ideas:

Bidding, Objective, Lead and Dummy = BOLD
Using the bidding, knowing your aim, choosing the lead and analysing dummy.

Top tricks, Increase tricks, Partner and Stop Declarer = TIPS
Count your tricks, look for methods to increase your tricks. What do you need from partner and then look at dummy and identify declarer's plan – aim to stop it.

Love, Important cards, Four-card suits, Execution = LIFE
Using signals (giving & receiving [love]), identifying important cards, being careful with discards – keeping your four-card suits. And finally looking at the execution of the plan – entries and timing.

This is quite an ambitious set of seminars and will certainly test you.

Take-out Doubles
Penalty Doubles

The first seminar deals with take-out doubles of suit opening bids and responding to them. The second seminar deals with the interesting subject of penalty doubles – very few people have learnt much about these, other than doubling a 1NT opening. We talk of doubling no-trumps, partscore contracts and game contracts. The aim of the seminar is to get players to double much, much more!

Drawing Trumps
Trump Control

The first seminar deals with the trump suit and whether we should draw trumps or not. We are taught as beginners to draw trumps as soon as possible. However, there are plenty of reasons to delay and this seminar explains them all.

Trump control is a little more difficult because we talk about smaller trump fits and bad breaks. When things go wrong how can you keep control? Ideas, like ducking an early trump, or throwing a loser instead of ruffing.

Endplay
Avoidance

This topic deals with slightly more advanced declarer play. Some of the hands are straightforward, whilst others are quite difficult.

Endplay deals with the strategy of putting an opponent on lead when he has to give you an advantage – forcing him to lead in to an ace-queen holding or to give a ruff and discard.

Avoidance play deals with keeping one particular defender off lead because he can do damage to your contract.

Making the Most of High Cards
Finessing

On Declarer play: deals with situations that occur on every deal you play. Learning to make the most of your high cards – particularly leading low towards your high cards.

The second seminar is on a similar topic, but this time focussing on finesses of all different types. Leading up to two or more cards and playing a lower card to try to gain an advantage.

Opener's Rebid
Responder's Rebid

These seminars look at the third and fourth bids of the auction and the conclusion thereafter. The first seminar looks at the late auction from opener's point of view, whilst the second seminar looks at it from responder's point of view.

Topics include no-trump rebids, reverses from opener and responder and fourth suit forcing.

Game Tries
Support in Competition

Game tries deals with major raises like 1♥-2♥ and then the continuation. Inviting games, making competitive raises, etc. There are also some no-trump game tries.

Support in Competition looks at competitive bidding, particularly when a fit is found: comparing the competitive raises with genuine game tries. Emphasising that going down can be a good result.

Landy
Stayman & Interference over 1NT

These seminars deal with a 2♣ bid over a 1NT opening from both sides of the table: showing how Stayman differs from Landy. I recommend Landy as a defence to 1NT since it is relatively straightforward: it uses a 2♣ overcall to show both majors.

The first seminar focuses on Landy, whilst the second seminar looks at Stayman on weak and strong hands and dealing with interference over your conventions.

Losing Trick Count

When you have found a fit, you then need to decide at which level to play – evaluation is essential for finding it. The point count is not quite sufficient for a better player's needs. The losing trick count allows a player to fully evaluate a hand including high cards, shortages and lengths – allowing you to bid to aggressive games and slams.

Advanced Losing Trick Count

The losing trick count is a good method of evaluation, but not perfect – it needs judgement alongside. Rather like the point count system it needs tweaking. Topics include acelessness, queens by themselves, cards in partner's suits and cards in the opponents' suit.

Improve your Bridge Memory

Most players struggle to retain all the relevant information in a bridge hand. This seminar gives all sorts of tips to help. Some are simple ideas and others are a little bit more intricate. Great fun and hopefully useful too.

Overcalling
Dealing with Overcalls

The first seminar focuses on the reasons for overcalling: lead-directing, disruptive, competitive and sacrificial; it also focuses on the importance of vulnerability.

The second seminar puts you on the other side of the table, as opener, and explains how to deal with overcalls, using a bid of their suit to show strength. Both seminars will emphasise the part-score battle which is crucial in duplicate bridge.

Bidding at Duplicate Pairs
Play at Duplicate Pairs
Defence at Duplicate Pairs

Designed as a triple. So many players have played duplicate pairs for a long time, but have never quite learnt the tactics of the game. The three seminar shows how your bidding, your play and finally your defence, should be adapted.

Bidding: choosing the best game: minor, major or notrumps and then dealing with partscores and loving -50 and -100. Bidding more, tends to gain.

Play: we see a traveller and can see how important overtricks are as well as the extra 10 points for no-trumps.

Defence: your aim is not always to defeat a contract – avoiding giving away tricks is so important. Trump leads can be very useful in this form of the game.

Penalty Doubles
Play and Defence of Doubled Contracts

Very few players double enough – this seminar aims to explain how to do it and encourages you to do it more. Doubling no-trumps, partscores and games.

Once you double for penalties you then have to defend the contract – this can often be difficult – this seminar gives advice on how to get it right and make sure you get as many points as you deserve (as usual defensive seminars are more difficult) .

Pre-emptive Bidding
Defence to Pre-empts

The first seminar talks about all aspects of pre-emptive threes: including vulnerability and position; contrasting a second hand vulnerable pre-empt with a third hand favourable pre-empt.

The second seminar talks about bidding after your opponent has opened with a pre-empt: take-out doubles and aggressive competition.

Responding to 1NT: Transfers
Responding to 1NT: Stayman

The first seminar deals with red-suit transfers in response to 1NT. The second seminar deals with Stayman.

The two seminars together give a full system in response to 1NT – I recommend that most players play this system because a 1NT opening is a very frequent bid (especially the weak no-trump), so having a precise system of responses is important. Furthermore, since it comes up a lot you will get plenty of use out of it!

Ruffing as Declarer
Stopping ruffs as a Defender

Making the most of your trumps as declarer – understanding the difference between ruffing in the short trump hand and the long trump hand. Deciding when to draw trumps and when to delay.

Looking at the same subject from the defence's perspective: aiming to stop declarer ruffing in his short trump hand and also disrupting his plans in other ways.

Sacrificing
Two-suited overcalls

Sacrificing is when you bid a contract expecting to go down, but aiming to give away fewer points than your opponents might make in their contract. This is a crucial and exciting aspect of bridge in all forms of the game. Bidding more tends to be the message especially when you have support for your partner's suit.

Two-suited overcalls make use of the 2NT overcall (Unusual 2NT) and an overcall in the opponents' suit (Michaels' Cue Bid) to show two-suited hands. These can be very powerful bids and are especially good at locating sacrificial contracts, so the topics link together neatly.

Identifying Slams
Bidding Slams

The first seminar is aimed at trying to identify the type of hands you should be looking for slams with. So often, it is only after the partnership make twelve tricks that they consider a slam. Choosing the right hands on which to get excited and those with which to slow down is the crux of the seminar.

The second seminar deals with how to bid the slams. It starts with quantitative bidding and then goes on a journey through all the various slam techniques: Blackwood, cuebidding and splinters amongst others.

Splinters
Cue-bids

To bid more slams and bid them accurately you do have to use cue-bidding: this is not an easy topic, but it is certainly worthwhile for any aspiring player. A splinter is a bid that shows a singleton (or void) in the suit bid and support for partner's suit at the same time. On 50% of all hands that I am asked how a pair might have bid a slam, the answer will be by using a splinter bid or by cue-bidding.

Key-card Blackwood

A seminar on slam bidding focussed on the use of simple Blackwood with the king of trumps included. It looks at the types of hands that should (or should not) use Blackwood. It then looks in to bidding grand slams too.

Squeezes
Trump Control 2

Squeezes is the hardest seminar that I do – the ideas inside the seminar can be managed by most players, but to put them in to action requires a lot of brain power!

It is an entertaining seminar which shows what can be done with a pack of cards. The subject is declarer play and involves developing more tricks by forcing the opponents to throw the wrong cards.

Trump control 2 deals with declarer play and the control of the trump suit. A much easier subject until the last part of the seminar when we deal with trump coups which come in to a similarly category to squeezes.

Suit establishment in No-trumps
Suit establishment in Suits

These seminars on declarer play focus on the establishment of suits, including ideas such as the Entry Rule which help you to work out whether you can manage to make use of a long suit. The first seminar deals with establish suits by force in notrump contracts, whilst in the second seminar suits can be ruffed good.

Supporting Majors
Majors in Competition

Supporting majors deals with all the conventions and bids that can be used when supporting you partner's major. It includes a new convention: the Jacoby 2NT – using the 2NT response as an artificial bid which shows support for the major and strength for game. This convention allows for more accurate slam bidding.

The second seminar deals with the same subject but after the opponents come in to the auction. The topics include competitive bidding, bidding the opponents' suit and bidding to the level of your fit.

Supporting Minors

Supporting minors deals with all the conventions and bids that can be used when supporting you partner's minor – this includes no-trump trial bids – aiming for 3NT rather than 5-of-a-minor because it scores so much more and is easier to make. It also deals with a new convention: inverted minors. This helps bidding quite a few minor suit hands and can help finding slams too.

Take-out Doubles for Improvers
Responding to Doubles for Improvers

This seminar aims to demonstrate the use of take-out doubles – it explains the idea behind them and then the kinds of hands that might make them. The second seminar shows how you respond to the double, when to jump respond and when to pass.

Weak Twos
Defence to Weak Twos

These seminars teach Benjaminised Acol: using 2♥ and 2♠ as weak bids and using 2♣ and 2♦; to show all your strong hands.

Defence to weak twos talks about how to bid after your opponents open a weak two.

It is always a good idea to learn about popular conventions even if you do not plan to play them yourselves because it makes defending against them so much easier.

Teams of Four
Safety Play

The most common game played at international level, teams of four is becoming more and more popular at club level too. It is a lovely way to play with 8 players at a dinner party as well. The seminar shows how the game works, how to score it and also the tactics that can be employed to well at it.

Safety play deals with declarer play which is particularly relevant at Teams play but much of it is valuable at all forms of the game. It involves making plays that guard against bad breaks or unlucky cards, by playing safe to guard your contract.

Game Tries in Majors
Game Tries in Minors

Looking at the auction after 1♥-2♥ and the various continuations. Showing help suit game tries as the best way for trying for game and also explaining the competitive raise to 3♥.

Looking at auctions where the minor suit is supported and how the partnership aim for no-trumps, using no-trump trial bids. Exploring the various options available, including bids in the opponents' suit, fourth suit forcing and some slam bidding.