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Sarah Amos’ Advice for Singletons

Sarah Amos’ Advice for Singletons Posted by Maddey at First for BridgeTuesday 6th February 2024

Sarah Amos

So you’ve decided on a First for Bridge holiday, and you’ve pored over the brochure and picked your ideal destination. After weeks of anticipation, you arrive at the hotel to be greeted by a lovely, friendly director and hosts and, as you’ve come on your own, you have just been introduced to a prospective new partner. This must be what a blind date feels like!

“Just play this evening and see how it goes,” says the host, so you sit down in a quiet corner to have a chat about systems. You quickly discover that you don’t usually play the same system, so where do you start? I recommend the lowest common denominator approach to begin with, otherwise known as KISS (Keep it Simple Sunshine). How about this:

  • Basic ACOL 12-14NT
  • Stayman and red suit transfers
  • Weak 2s in Diamonds, Hearts and Spades with a 2NT enquiry (agree your responses!)
  • 2NT 20-22 balanced with Stayman and red transfers
  • Blackwood 4NT (basic or RKCB)
  • Discard system – pick one you both know or if you can’t, then choose HELD (High encouraging, low discouraging)

When you decide on any particular gadget, please go through it in detail to ensure your understanding is the same. I once agreed to play fourth suit thinking that it was forcing to 2NT and didn’t promise anything in that suit. My partner thought it was forcing to game and showed an honour in the suit – 3NT-5 wasn’t a good result! It is important that you don’t agree to play anything you are uncomfortable with as that will only lead to unnecessary stress.

That should be enough to get you through the first session! When your first night goes well, you might start to think about adding on some extra bits and bobs. What about a defense to 1NT? If you both play the same one (check you actually do), that’s great. If not, try this:

2♣= both majors

2= a six card major

2= 5+ hearts and a 4+ card minor

2♠ = 5+ spades and a 4+ card minor

The next best gadget in my armory is a two-suited overcall. For simplicity (I am at heart a simple soul) I like Michael’s Cue Bids along with the Unusual NT

It works like this: over a minor two of that minor shows at least 5-5 in the majors and over a major a cue of that major shows 5+ in the other major and a 5+ minor. Over any 1 level suit opening 2NT shows the lowest two unbid suits.

1♣        2♣ = 5 and 5♠

1        2 = 5 and 5♠

1        2 = 5♠ and a 5 card minor

1♠        2♠ = 5 and a 5 card minor

1♣        2NT = 5 and 5

1        2NT = 5 and 5♣

1        2NT = 5♣ and 5

1♠        2NT = 5♣ and 5

That should be enough to see you through the next few sessions!

Like any blind date, the match makers won’t always get it right – we try, but we are only human after all. So, if you play one or two sessions with your “date” and you find you are really not getting on, please talk to your hosts. They are there to try to ensure everyone has the best possible holiday, so don’t just suffer in silence! Let us know how you are feeling, and we will do our level best to find you a partner who will make you happy – if not ever after, at least for the next session or two.

If you’re feeling inspired to join me on a fantastic bridge holiday, secure your place today!