One of the best things about going down south to play bridge in the England U25 training weekends was the fun and games that took place when we got home after the long day’s analysis. We tended to go and find some food on the way home and we’d all talk about what version of bridge we were going to play that night. Usually we’d end up settling for a takeaway and we’d head back to play our bridge.

We normally chose to play my favourite game called ‘pass left’. Basically what happens here is you deal the hand as normal but after you’ve finished bidding you pass your hand to the person on your left and play the hand almost as normal, however there is no dummy (if there was a dummy then everyone apart from the player on the right of the dummy would know every single card assuming their memory was working!).  Obviously this has huge implications on the way you bid, because you know whatever you hold will be in defence against you if you come to declare.

So, if you hold a good hand, that is actually bad news because when you come to play the hand, your left hand opponent will be the one actually holding it and often beat your contract. What this means is you have to bid in an exact opposite way to normal which makes for very interesting auctions indeed!  So let’s say you hold:

♠ AKQ10xx

♣ x

Obviously a monster hand if you were playing normally, but this is pass left, you need to pre-empt your opponents out of the bidding as they’re sure to have game on at least in a major. So your opening bid? I would suggest 5D – this is sure to upset their quest to finish in 4 of a major. If they manage to find 5 of a major and partner doesn’t find a double (note partner needs SHORT trumps and a POOR hand to be confident of a double) then perhaps you could come in with 6C to suggest a ‘two-suited’ hand, because in this game shortage is equivalent to length! Well what about if you hold a poor hand? Say:

♠ x
♣ Jxxx

So the way to roughly analyse your hand in this game is subtract your points from 20 to get your ‘count’ and then for your shape, roughly a singleton is equivalent to a 6 card suit, a doubleton is about a 5 card suit and a void is 7+. This is all guess work of course because who knows what your right hand opponent is going to pass you!

So anyway with this hand I would open 1S and when they come in with hearts (they’re bound to bid – everyone always does playing pass left!) then you can ‘show your diamond suit’ and see where partner wants to play. The same principles to normal bridge apply and with support (in this case shortage as well) partner can raise you and with cards in the opponent’s suit (in this case no cards!) and no support for you then partner can try to play in no trumps.

I agree it’s a confusing variant of an already confusing game but it brings a great element of luck and fun to bridge, ideal for us youngsters!