The Rueful Rabbit — Down the rabbit hole…

Trial Bids

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Dear Bridge Players,

Its time for a little theory so today I’ll rabbiting on about Trial Bids…

Most people know what trial bids are but when I consulted my bridge library and did a web search, none of the sources explained what range of suit holdings are good to initiate a trial bid or what you should accept the try and bid game.

Most examples only give idealised LST hands like Kxx opposite AQx. However if you restricted LST to this holding you would rarely use them. My objective is to help partnerships make a decision on what holdings to make these bids.

A trial bid is a game invitational sequence (usually in a major) where your partner has limited their hand. It shows a specific range of holdings in that trial suit and asks partner to bid game if they are –

A) Maximum for their bidding
B) Hold complementary cards in last suit bid.

There are two types of trial bids –

1) Long Suit Trials (LST) – Where you have 3 or 4 cards in a suit and you are asking partner to accept if that have high cards in that suit to complement you mediocre holding.
2) Short Suit Trials (SST) – Where have 1 or 2 cards in a suit and you are asking partner to accept if that have few wasted values in that suit to complement you poor holding. The theory being that if partner’s limited points are not there, they are helping your holdings in other suits.

Holding Initiate a LST? (Y/N) Should you Accept LST?
xxx(x) N N
Txx(x) N N
Jxx(x) N N
Qxx(x) Y N
Kxx(x) Y Borderline case
Axx(x) Y Borderline case
JTx(x) Borderline case Borderline case
QTx(x) Y Borderline case
KTx(x) Y Y
ATx(x) Y Y
QJx(x) Y Borderline case
KJx(x) N Y
AJx(x) N Y
KQx(x) N Y
AQx(x) N Y

You should also accept a LST with a doubleton with 2 of the top 4 honours.

Where I say a holding is a borderline case, then it up to you and your partner to decide whether it is OK to include or not. To make trial bids more useful, I’ve included more holding than might be used normally. The reason is that you rarely need 3 losers compressed to no losers. In the play of most hands, reduction to 1.5 losers (out of 3) is enough for practical purposes.

SST’s are easy, initiate a SST with a doubleton of singleton (non honours).
Accept if you are maximum or hold no values in that suit.

Soon, I’ll provide some detail on how to combing LST’s and SST’s into you bidding and the situations you can use it.

Have a good game,

Trials entry update

Paul Porteous has provided the official list. The schedule is due soon.

1. Mary Finn & Cian Holland, Anna Onishuk & Peter Clifford
2. Peter Pigot & Mark Moran, Terry Walsh & Derek O’Gorman, Ciaran Coyne & Donal MacAonghusa
3. John & Lucy Phelan, Jim Sexton & Jim Doyle
4. Teresa Rigney & Jill Kulchycky, Katherine Lennon & Kathleen Byrne
5. Diarmuid Reddan & Louise Mitchell, Bob & Maureen Pattinson
6. Brid Kirby & Gerri McMahon, Joan Kenny & Emer Joyce, Carol Ann Cummins & John Noonan
7. Willem Mevius, James Heneghan, Richard Boyd, Brian Sharkey, Norbert van Workoem & Marcin Rudzinski
8. Ranald Milne & B J O’Brien, Pat Barry & David Jackson, Another
9. Tom Hanlon & Hugh McGann, John Carroll & Tommy Garvey, Nick & Adam

Got a message from Eamon … fair play to man, he does not mince his words and not afraid to put his name to it.

Galligans View …

Those poor devils are going to spend two weekends bashing each other so that Team 2 can qualify to play against Team 9.

Galligans Team Analysis
Team 2 seems to have plenty of latent class in its ranks. I expect they will outlast the beatable Team 8 who will suffer some losses along the way.
Team 8 All capable players but their best bridge days are behind them although a rumour of a 5th younger and capable player exists as a possibility among their ranks.
Team 3. 2 regular partnerships who don’t lose many imps. However both these pairs will have a bad board in every match.
Team 1. Cian Holland a hardworking player who has some unused potential still. Peter Clifford a very steady thinking player. Anna Onishuk a fine player but likes the risk a little much for imps bridge. Mary Finn quietly competant. Could place 2nd.
Team 2. The class of the field anchored by the recent Galway individual winner. Favourites I expect.However I have reservations about the partnership work this team has done. It could be their undoing. They should use Obviously Pigot and Moran are a serious and capable partnership with plenty of exerience.
Team 4. An all female team. Jill and Theresa both played Camrose last year. Katherine Lennon has been a stalwart Wexford area player for many years. Kathleen Byrne I don’t know so well but this pair played for CBAI a few weeks ago in Malahide versus NIBU.
Mid table finish
Team 5 I am not making any comment about this team as I am afraid of Louise Mitchel.
Team 7 Backboned by the James Heneghan and another I think.This team can take some scalps but a few on the team severely overrate their bridge skills.
Team 6. Emer and Joan are doing the most work of any pair in Ireland at the moment. However is it good work? 30 failing putts is not good practice.
Brid Kirby has been a capable performer for many years. Gerri McMahon first came on my radar last year and seemed to survive pretty well. Went well in last years Camrose Trials for a long time. All these 4 players are BBO users. John Noonan and Carol Ann Cummins are a regular partnership of many years and are capable of inflicting damage when the wind is blowing well for them.

Team 4 to win …with several crushing wins.

Projected placings
1. Team 2
2. Team 1
3. Team 8
4. Team 3
5. Team 6
6-8 Teams 4 ,5 ,7

That should drive Team 7 on to greater effort.

No offence is intended here.
All estimations are based on teams published originally by Rabbit. An extra piece of class on Team 1 might help.

Results: Paddy Walsh Invitational

Dear Bridge Players,

David Walsh just sent me the results of the Paddy Walsh Invitational held in the Galway Bridge Centre this weekend. There was a great field and great craic. This competition is held on the last Sat/Sun in August every year.

Congrats to Donal MacAonghusa emerged on top.

Donal is better known as a pro poker player and is based in the Connemara deep.
He has the ‘genial chancer’ look about him but anyone who scratches below the surface will realise that there is an awful lot going on under the hood. So this win comes as no surprise.

1st: Donal MacAonghusa – €500
Joint-2nd: Karel De Raeymaeker – €250
Joint-2nd: John Clarson – €250

Ist Session: Ciaran Coyne €100
2nd Session: Richard Boyd €100
3rd Session: Tom Hanlon €100
Best Lady/Junior; Bernie Rafferty €100

Well done again to David for promoting and organising this great annual competition. Fergal O’Boyle directed to his usual excellent standards.

Here are the totals for the top 10 of 24 runners.

1 Donal MacAonghusa 191.5
2 John Clarson 191.0
2 Karel De Raeymaeker 191.0
4 Ciaran Coyne 189.0
5 Pat Quinn 187.5
5 Tom Hanlon 187.5
7 Terry Walsh 185.0
8 Bernie Rafferty 183.5
9 Richard Boyd 182.5
10 David Walsh 181.0

Have a good game,

I took a picture on my Rabitfone

Dear Readers,

I’m off topic today but I wanted to post this picture I snaped on my Rabitfone in my Rabitmobile as a hopped slowly in a traffic jam.

I agree that in some areas that ‘Women are born leaders’ as this driver says below her number plate. However, I think life has dented this womans leadership abilities. Are playgirls leaders? Do leaders drive ’94 reg cars?


What do you return?

Dear Bridge Players,

I was watching some trialists the other night on BBO and the following hand croped up.

East is an experiended player but didn’t get this right. So I suppose the problem is not that easy.

The Bidding

4C…P……5C All Pass

I really like Easts 3D bid for the lead and indicating Spade support.

The Lead

West lead the D6, small, Ace and 7.

The Problem
What sould East play next? Spade, Heart, Diamond or a Club?
I also need your reasoning and I’ll publish best explaination.


Have a good game,

Irish Trials News

Dear Bridge Player,

After much burrowing for information, I’ve come up with the following entry list for the Open Camrose Trials. This is not official as I’ve sourced the names from friends of friends of enemies of friends …

1. Pat Barry & David Jackson, Ranald Milne & B J O’Brien
2. John & Lucy Phelan, Jim Doyle & Jim Sexton
3. Cian Holland & Mary Finn, Anna Onishuk & Peter Clifford
4. Mark Moran & Peter Pigot, Terry Walsh & Derek O’Gorman, Ciaran Coyne & Donal MacAonghusa
5. Teresa Rigney & Jill Kulchycky, Katherine Lennon & Kathleen Byrne
6. Bob & Maureen Pattinson, Diarmuid Reddan & Louise Mitchell
7. Willem Mevius & Norbert van Workoem, Richard Boyd & Brian Sharkey
8. Joan Kenny & Emer Joyce, Brid Kirby & Gerri McMahon, Carol Ann Cummins & John Noonan
9. Tom Hanlon & Hugh McGann, John Carroll & Tommy Garvey, Nick & Adam

A Controversial View by Anonymous
“A mixed bag” is how one trials commentator put it. He went on to say that “Many players say they are entering for the practise. I don’t like this as a reason when it comes to representing your country. It implies that these players care less than those who have expectations of competing. The result of caring less is skewed results. If the IBU/CBAI had PROPERLY stratified competitions during the year there might be less incentive for players to use the Open Trials as a practise session. The IBU/CBAI have no incentive to change this as it means they collect more entry fees and they don’t have to go to the trouble of organising a better stratification system.”

End Bit
Teams 1 through 8 will fight it out over the weekends of 12 and 19th of September. Then the winner of the first 2 weekends have the pleasure of facing team 9 in the final on the 7th November.

You will also notice a changed lineup in the Open team playing in Beijing – the O’Briains taking the place of Nick and Adam.

Ciaran Coyne is the NPC of the Open team going to Beijing – We note he will be vieing to represent Ireland in the Camrose.

Have a good game,

Irish Senior practise matches

Dear Bridge Player,

As you will see from my picture (top left) that I have a magnificent set of ears – What you may not know is that I put them to good use not only at the table but also when I’m sipping my sherry in the bar.

Last night I overheard that The Irish senior team (who qualified for Beijing) will be playing some practise matches on BBO over the next few weeks. The first is tomorrow starting about 8 PM (GMT).

Senior Lineup :
David Jackson – Pat Barry
Rex Anderson – Pat McDevitt

Their intended victims will be :
Terry (Bad Boy) Walsh – Peter (Good Boy) Goodman
Michael (Crazy Man) McDonagh – James (The Boy) Heneghan

Edit: A member of the public suggested the chalengers nicknames so I was happy to oblidge. I’m sure I’ll get others!

Not sure how the betting should go … But John Comyn will probably run a book on it.

I’ve no other details as of yet.

Have a good game,

Result: The Senior team handed out a comprenensive thrashing to the youth team.

Rueful Hand

Dear Bridge Players,

I thought it was time to show you how my mistakes turn to gold sometimes…

Here is a hand from the club a few nights ago. As usual I was playing with the Hideous Hog but this time I was unlucky enough to be declared. The defenders were Karapet on my left and the Unlucky Expert on my left.

Here is the hand …

The bidding was simple transfer sequence followed by an invite to game.

P – (P) – 1NT – (P)

2D – (P) – 2H – (P)

2NT – (P) – 3NT Passed out.

Karapet lead the DT, UL following the 8. I played the H5 from dummy UL played low and I accidently droped the 2 from hand. I waited some time for Karapet to lead but he was just looking at me! Eventually I found out that I had won – Strange! I know from experience that when in luck you continue the same suit. West discarded a couple of black cards which later turned out to be spades.

I thought the Heart suit was setup so I decided to cash out my DK and run for home and enter dummy on the 3rd round of clubs. Surprisingly UL won and played another diamond followed by the SA. Then he said you had the rest.

For this 3NT + 1, I got all the matchpoints. I’m not really sure what happened at the other tables. I know the HH was very pleased with events. I went to the bar and rewarded myself with a sherry.

Have a good game,


The Rueful Rabbit is pleased to welcome a new contributor to my Blog from Britain

From Our English Correspondent
Anthony Woodcutter

Column á Clef
“Would the loquacious Lancastrian like to enlighten his country cousins from across the Irish Sea with a column?” emailed the Rueful Rabbit.

As a strong supporter of building bridges between the Home Nations, I just couldn’t resist, particularly in view of the deleterious impact on Anglo-Irish relations of Ireland’s recent return to the Camrose. In the last three years I have heard more than one English International mutter that it is about time the stupid bloody competition was abolished. Perhaps the Camrose should be replaced by something a little less divisive, such as a qualifier for an all-British Isles Bridge Squad. What could we call such a team? Bionic – Bridge Isles Of the Northern Island Chain? But I expect the Scots would prefer a combination of Team Ireland and Team Scotland, while the Welsh might well decide it is time they learnt to swim!

Aficionados of my column in the Cablegram will know that I often feature brilliancies by my former bridge partner. What can I do? He sends me so many wonderful hands, and his own paper can’t be expected to publish them all. But to balance the books here is a rare example of blundering by the Big Boy. As I know only too well, even the great and the good can fall from grace. The other players’ names have been disguised to protect the innocent so let’s just say it was a case of Our Kid versus the Wunderkind, the Long Fellow versus the Mick on the Make.
Mercifully, the bidding is unknown to me. Modern bidding methods leave me as cold as Yorkshire Pudding. Pointless overcalls. Preempts on any five-card suit. Conventions that give the oppo more info than partner. Slam tries on hands that in my day as an International would have barely qualified for a limit-raise. These days you don’t bid what you think you can make but anything that will raise the hacketts of your long-suffering correspondent. In life no good deed goes unpunished; in Bridge no sin goes unrewarded, as the following hand will demonstrate.

The contract was 7H Doubled, played by South, Wunderkind, in partnership with “Dr Who”. Our Kid, the doubler, was sitting East and was partnered by “Miss Moneypenny”, who led the 3 of trumps. As soon as dummy appeared “Dr Who” immediately announced that he was going to get a drink and, viewing dummy, Our Kid could see why. How many times a week do you find yourself doing that, Whoie boy? I’ll never know how they managed come second at Stratford.

This was the hand layout from East’s point of view:



Wunderkind won the first trick in hand and then played the ace and the 2 of spades at which point Our Kid paused for thought. Partner’s play to the first spade indicated four cards in the suit, which meant that Wunderkind had a singleton and was trying to induce the play of the King. But “Miss Moneypenny” loved deceptive plays herself and given Our Kid’s double might have thought she had the luxury of messing about. If so, the boy wonder might have the Jack and was trying to steal a trick. If I play the King, Our Kid must have thought, it will cost a trick if Wunderkind has a singleton spade but it will cost two tricks if I duck and he has Jx because then the King can be trapped by playing the Q10. So the odds favoured playing the King.
Wunderkind ruffed Our Kid’s King and then played a trump to the Ace of hearts. The Queen of spades quickly followed, declarer discarding a club. Then came the ace and six of diamonds and Our Kid found himself on the horns of the same dilemma. Did declarer have the Jack? Partner’s play to the first diamond trick (the 2) indicated that she had one or three. Wunderkind’s discard of a club rather than a diamond on the spade queen suggested that “Miss Moneypenny” had three diamonds and that playing the King would enable declarer to ruff, cross to dummy with the ace of clubs, drop the Jack of diamonds on the Queen and discard his final losing club on the 10. On the other hand, if declarer has three diamonds there would still be time enough to win a trick in that suit.
So, going with the odds once again, Our Kid played low, Wunderkind, needless to say, won with the Jack and then played three more rounds of trumps, discarding the Queen and 10 of diamonds. This was the position after 10 tricks:




Wunderkind led his last trump, “Miss Moneypenny” played the 10 of clubs and declarer discarded the 10 of spades. If Our Kid threw a club the A2 would bring home the bacon and discarding the diamond King would establish declarer’s last diamond. At this point Our Kid’s thoughts must have turned to the post-mortem. What do you call a double deception followed by a double squeeze? A Chump Coup? And what would Wunderkind’s ghostwriter make of this little performance? He could see the hand heading in the next book: “How to Rob Sonone” or maybe something more sardonic: “Finally, after 800 years of hurt…” Worse still, what will the sponsor think?

For the record the full hand was:

If this hand seems familiar to you, dear reader, it is because it is, and it is not because it has been featured by six other Bridge columnists this week. Bridge Base Online, you see, has a new feature – Feast of Fictional Fun ( ) – which allows you to download and play fictional hands from satirical bridge books. I kid you not, and if you don’t believe me you can feck off.

This particular hand comes from a classic of the genre, but for copyright reasons I am not allowed to identify its source. Amazingly, the play of the hand at the “table” went exactly the same way as in the book! As Terence Reese liked to say, in the Bridge world life often imitates art, especially when you are accused of cheating. Or, as I am fond of saying myself, it’s a case of wheels within wheels within wheels.

Eamon’s hands 1 & 2

Hand 1

Great, a friendly lead … I hope I can keep west in lead for the remaining 31 boards in this match!


Unless hearts are 3-3 (very unlikely), you have a heart loser.
Our only obsticle is when trumps are not 3-2. If trumps are 5-0, you have no chance. So we must come up with a plan to discard a heard should the 4-1 trump break materialise.

The obvious source for a H discard is in clubs. To best use our 3 remaining entries to dummy, we should come to hand withthe DK and bang down the CA. After a diamond to the ace we’ll know about trumps. Ruff a club and playthe QD andgive the opponents there trump if they break 4-1.When trumps are 4-1,you will make your contract if clubs are 3-3 or the CK drops doubleton.

This only works less 50% of the time? Why now go for the best line?

Cash the DA and play a heart, if righty ruffs, he ruffs air! Later you re-enter dummy to lead another H up.

Agail this relies on a trump break no worse than 4-1

Hand 2

Again Mr.Friendly on lead – Has he backed us to win?

Win the HK, lead the CA and duck a diamond. This will establish the diamonds while keeping control of clubs. No return can hurt us now. When we cash the CK, we can ditch a spade and run for home.

Have a good game,