Take-out Doubles
         The Jordan Convention
        Cue Bidding
        Declarer's Choice:
                DUMP or TRUMP 

Bridge bidding for the most part is done in code. (see Codes and Ciphers.) A 2 C response by your partner to your 1 No Trump opening is the code for bid your four card Major. A 2 D rebid by you decodes into I have no four card Major. Codes and bids send messages. And a good partner is a good receiver; he interprets the messages correctly.
       There are no secrets in Bridge. That is, your Bridge bidding codes (or conventions) have to be known to your opponents, and of course, hopefully, to your partner. This includes special discard and lead conventions. 
      One way to let your opponents in on all your coding stuff is by having this information written down on a convention card. If you do not have a Convention Card, you can get one at a Bridge supply company. These Cards (the reverse side of the Private Score cards) are also given out by the Directors at local clubs or tournaments. If you have not done so, fill out the Card before the bidding starts. 
       Your opponent has the right to examine the Card and even ask questions. The questions should of course pertain to Bridge. Any other kind of questions you need not answer. You have the same rights and privileges when it comes to examining your opponent's Convention Card. 
        If a convention is really complicated, it is only fair to  alert your opponents before you start the bidding. This pervert gives them a chance to come up with defensive bids to deal with your special conventional bids. Conventions that are fairly standard can be alerted or announced during the bidding sequence. 
       This month's hand will consider Take-out Doubles and the Jordan Convention. We will also have a look at slam bidding without the use of two popular conventions: Blackwood and Gerber. Finally, we will analyze the hand from trick one and try to avoid some obvious and not so obvious pitfalls.

South opens the bidding 1 H and West has the perfect hand to make a Take-out Double. A Take-out Double is not the opposite of an Eat-in Double. Although an Eat-in Double does sound more nourishing. (Those players at the cutting edge of Bridge bidding are working on the Drive-thru Double.) Doubling opponent's bid of a suit at the one level is always for take-out. Take-out means partner, take me out by bidding. I want to get into this auction. I have an opening hand of 13+ points; short in opponents' bid suit; and support for all the unbind suits. So partner, take me out, make a bid. The code here also says Partner, I am not doubling for penalties. (A Penalty Double is usually made in a louder voice than the Take-out Double. Some players even stand up or use extraneous gestures.)
          In this case, East is forced to bid even if he has ZERO points. There are, however, two exceptions:
                1. North makes an intervening bid. Then 
                    East is off the hook and can pass.
                2. East wants to convert partner's Take-out 
                    Double to a Penalty Double. East should 
                    have 5 or more cards in the suit bid (or 
                    four very good ones) and some outside 
In the situation here, North has a bid. In SAB (Standard American Bidding), North with 10 + points would Redouble
          The Redouble basically says: partner, I have at least 10 points and with your 13+ points, this is our hand. We are going to play this hand in a part score, game or slam; or we are doubling our opponents for penalties
        In this hand, North can Redouble but elects to use a simple, easy to remember convention. The problem with using too many or too complicated bidding conventions is the danger of memory overload. Some of the possible disastrous outcomes of memory overload are playing in a 3 card trump suit or in a Doubled / Redoubled contract that the opponents easily make with some over tricks.
          The convention that North now uses is known as the Jordan Convention. (Nothing to do with basketball.) Since this an unusual convention, it has to be alerted. North bids 2 No Trump and South says Alert!  Now when it is a Defender's  turn to bid, he can ask South what the 2 No Trump bid by North means. East does this and South says: 2 No trump over a Take-out Double is the Jordan Convention. It shows a hand with 10+ points and support for my bid suit of Hearts. (If she did not have support for Hearts and had 10+ points, she would just Redouble.) Now East is off the hook and can pass. 
          The wheels of greed and optimism are spinning inside South's head. She believes that if North has a certain type of hand, they have a shot for a slam. Should she use the Blackwood Convention which asks partner how many Aces she has? She could, but that void in Diamonds makes this a very special situation. 
         South elects to use control showing cue bids. These are used only after the trump suit is agreed upon or implied. And with the use of the Jordan Convention, there is an implied trump suit, which is Hearts. So any other suit bid shows first round control - an Ace or a void - in that suit. These Cue bids are done up the ladder, that is, from the bottom up. So South bids 3 D. North cannot mistake this bid. South is not trying to find a trump fit in Diamonds. They have already agreed to play this hand in Hearts. The 3 D bid has to be a Control Cue bid which says: partner I have an Ace or a void in Diamonds and an interest in Slam. It is your turn to Cue Bid. North does this by bidding 4 C. (She has the A C.) South shows the A S with a 4 S bid. That is enough for North (with that singleton Spade her hand has increased in value). North bids 6 H.

There is no rush to lead the Ace of trumps. That is always a winner. If any player can find a way of losing a trick with the Ace of trump, they would get the Nobel Prize in Bridge. 
          The best lead, even at the six level, is from top of a sequence. In this case it is the K D. Maybe the Q D can be promoted to a winner. Then the A H will be the setting trick. This will happen if both Declarer and Dummy each have more than two Diamonds. But this is not to be. Dummy comes down with the A D which Declarer plays and then discards from the closed hand. Any subsequent Diamond lead will be ruffed. 

Many contracts are made or broken on the first trick. And often the play or plan that seems obviously correct will lead to failure. At times intuition will not work and the Declarer has to go counter intuitive. A quick and intuitive analysis of this hand by Declarer: I want to first get rid of my Spade loser. Trick One: play the A D and DUMP a low Spade (2 S) from the closed hand. Trick Two: play the 5 S to the A S. Trick Three: and ruff the 
S in Dummy. Result, no Spade losers. Great! 
         In actuality this strategy could lead to down 1. The Declarer will always lose the Ace of trump (A H). However, even though the Spade losers have been eliminated, there is still possibly a Club trick loser. 
         So, further analysis leads to the conclusion that the Club suit is the key to success. It is the Club loser, not the Spade loser, that has to be Dumped on the A D. Fine, but then what? Ruff the two Spade losers in Dummy? This seems sort of obvious. Declarer has to configure the possible sequence of plays. Play the A S; ruff a Spade; back to hand by ruffling a Diamond; ruff the last Spade; play trump; then win . . .  STOP! 
        What is the position after 4 rounds of play? Dummy has no Hearts (ruffed 2 Spades and played a Heart.) and closed hand has the K S. It is now possible for a Defender to win with the A H and return a Spade for the other Defender to ruff. South is helpless; Dummy is out of trump and the closed hand has to follow suit with the K S. Down 1. 
        Maybe the Defender will not find the Spade continuation after winning with the A H. That is a possibility; but a plan that depends on a defensive error is not very wholesome or satisfying. 
         There are card combinations in which the above plan might work. Perhaps the Defender who wins with the A H does not have a Spade to return. Or if Spades split 4/4. In both these cases Declarer's strategy will succeed. However, none of these distributions are highly favorable percentage wise. What to do?
PLAN: Continue looking for the highest percentage play. We have seen that it is crucial to get rid of both Club and Spade losers. Is there a way to achieve both these objectives?
         Yes! As a matter of fact, with the proper use of TRUMP, one suit (Clubs) can be set up so that its winners can be used to DUMP the losers of the other suit (Spades). Let's see how it's done. 
         Dummy has a 5 card Club suit and Declarer started with 3 Clubs. There is a 67% chance that the distribution of the 5 outstanding Clubs in Defenders' hands is 3/2. If two rounds of Clubs are played and the third round TRUMPED, then the rest of the Clubs will be winners. And then the two Spade losers in South's hand can be DUMPED on the two Club winners in Dummy. 

 PLAY: Win the opening lead of the K D with Dummy's 
D and DUMP the 3 C from the closed hand. Now play the 4 H from the table to the K H. East plays a low Heart and West wins the trick with the A H. Good! No 4/0 Heart split and the A H is out. 
         Win whatever West returns (the Q D is as good as anything) and play the J H. West shows out, which means that East still has a Heart left. Should South now play the Q H pulling East's last trump? NO! NO! NO! The Q H is the only entry to Dummy's good Clubs. 
        So now play the K C, then J C to the A C. Play a small Club from Dummy and RUFF it. (If East ruffs this,  South just over ruffs.) Now for the Coupe d'Entre: playa  small Heart to Dummy's Q H. In one stroke this pulls East's last trump and is the entry to Dummy where two beautiful winning Clubs are waiting to be played. 
         On these two winning Clubs, Declarer DUMPS the two losing Spades. The rest of the hand is the A S, K S, winning trump and history. 6 H bid and made.

HOT TIP: if playing in a suit contract and you have an 8 card suit (that is not split 4/4), then try to set that suit up, by ruffling or finessing. Then you can DUMP losers on that suit's winners.

When making a plan keep looking! Know in your heart that the highest percentage play might not be the most convenient or intuitive play. And regardless of the final plan, it is frequently the basics of DUMP TRUMP or FINESSE that serve us best.


1. Can the hand be made if East has 3 trump to the Ace? 

2. Can the hand be made if East has 4 trump to the Ace?


There is not much the Defenders can do. Just follow suit and try not to revoke.