By Prof Tony Campbell

EVERY winter, Cardiff Bridge Club run a team of four league over several weeks, either side of Christmas, involving some ten teams.

This is quite a tough competition, as there are a substantial number of top players, including several internationals. Each team plays two sets of seven boards against two other teams each night. At last week’s event, our team included three regular members of our Penarth club, and one who plays there occasionally. Legend dictates that slams win matches. Such a potential slam turned up. Precision bidding is essential, if you want to get good results against stiff opposition. In the hand shown, 6 spades is a good contract by North. But this slam is difficult to bid. A bidding sequence is shown, but depends on a splinter bid. If South decides to bid 4 spades over North’s weak initial 2 spade response, then that is the end of the auction. The splinter bid shows a good hand, support for spades, and first or second round control in diamonds, probably the ace.

So North is now happy to cue bid his ace of hearts. North then showed two key cards in response to South’s 4NT. Reasoning that this means North must have the ace of spades, the ace of hearts, and either the king of hearts or king of diamonds for his opening bid, South can count 12 tricks, and so bid 6 spades. North’s Ace and King of hearts meant that there were no heart losers. So, six spades makes easily, so long as either the spade finesse wins, the club finesse against the queen wins (75%), or the queen drops by ruffing the third club in hand. In fact, both finesses were successful.

But, dropping the queen fails as East has four to the queen. In fact, my partner and I failed to bid the slam. Yet North made thirteen tricks by taking both the spade finesse and club finesse. Under normal circumstances playing for a 3-2 club break is a better percentage at around 64% compared with a finesse at 50%. But after a diamond lead, the two finesses are the correct play, as North cannot get back to South’s hand after drawing three rounds of trumps. In six spades, after a heart lead North can enter dummy with the Ace of clubs, take the spade finesse, draw trumps, and play to drop the queen of clubs by ruffing. So North makes 12 tricks – 6 spades, 2 hearts, 1 diamond and 3 clubs. Although this was a bad board for us, we played several other hands well, winning both sets against this team, one set and honours even against the other team. With a bonus point, the Penarth players thus gained twelve points in all, A terrific result.

Weekly results at Penarth Bridge Club in the annual Club pairs competition

Tuesday Feb 18th 2020

1st Equal Trish Tracey & Clywd Jones with John Salisbury and Tim Barsby (63.0%) 3rd Martin Thomas & Val Hetheridge (51.6%). 1st on handicap: John Salisbury and Tim Barsby.

Thursday Feb 20th 2020

1st N/S Chris Davies & Diane Jenkins (55.0%); 1st E/W Brian Hardy & Peter Craig (69.2%)

Friday Feb 21st 2020

1st Carol Cochlin & Marnie Owens (64.6%); 2nd Tony Campbell & Trish Tracey (63.9%); 3rd Mike Downey & Roy Holloway (51.4%). 1st on handicap Carol Cochlin & Marnie Owens.

We were delighted to welcome back Marnie Owens after she broke her ankle. Well done on winning this Friday. Penarth Bridge Club meets every Tuesday and Friday at Trinity Church Hall, Woodland Place, CF64 3EN. There is plenty of parking. We ask players to be in their seats by 6.45 pm, so that we can set the movement. You can have a printout of the hands at the end of the play. You can compare your results on the web site. There is an improvers session every Thursday morning at 10 am. We have social events during the year. Contact Professor Tony Campbell or see the web site for further information. Table up.