By Professor Tony Campbell

THE coronavirus pandemic has clearly had a huge impact on sporting events.

This is going to be a challenging time for bridge clubs like Penarth with a substantial number of members over 70.

The club is suspended until further notice. Penarth and Sully Bridge Clubs are keeping in close touch and will be following government guidelines.

Both had their usual sessions last week. Here is a fascinating hand from Penarth, that many players might expect to bid a slam on. But it turned out were there were several outcomes at different tables, including 5 or 6 hearts by North\South, and a sacrifice of 5 clubs doubled by East/West. But if the defence is correct, 6 hearts cannot be made.

A typical bidding sequence is shown. With a good 5 diamond suit, this has to be the best opening bid. If partner has a major, great. But if he bids 2 clubs then North has enough points, with a good distribution, to reverse and rebid a major, and look for 3 NT. But, once South has shown a heart suit, game must be on, and a slam if South has some points. The 4 club bid is a splinter, showing 4 hearts, and either the ace of clubs, or a singleton or void in clubs. South can now see there is a good chance of a slam. When North shows two key cards, he must have either two aces, or the ace of diamonds and the king of hearts. So, South can bid six hearts.

If he had the ace of spades, North would have cue bid it. Two pairs did indeed play in 6 hearts, making. While one East/West pair sacrificed in 5 clubs doubled for the loss of 300, a good result. Most Easts would lead the queen of clubs at trick 1 against 6 hearts. But North has shown control of clubs, either with the ace or a singleton. If it is a singleton, then South must have this covered with the ace. So, the correct lead must be a small diamond. Declarer will then draw trumps.

But, when West wins the first spade with the ace, he plays another diamond to East’s king. 6 hearts one off.

The contract makes if the opening lead is a club, as South can discard his losing diamonds in time on North’s winning spades. 3NT makes. But this is a poor score after a club lead. This is quite a challenging hand. So please email me your comments.

Given the concern about coronavirus, Penarth Bridge Club will have to suspend its activities very soon. It may already have done so by the time this article comes out. Please keep a close eye on the web site for further information https://www.bridgewebs.com/penarth/. Or email me campbellak@cf.ac.uk.

With the support of Penarth Times, I will continue writing these articles during the crisis. I hope you are still able to enjoy them. Please let me know your thoughts. There are several online bridge sites, some of which allow you to play with a partner of your choice. If you have an interesting hand online, please let me know, with the bidding sequence, and I hope to use it in one of these articles.

Keep safe. Keep well.

Weekly results at Penarth Bridge Club

Tuesday March 10th 2020

1st Peter Craig & Marnie Owens (70.0%), 2nd Joy Seculer &Meryl Skipper (66.3%), 3rd Patsy Cohen & Jim Elder (53.8%). 1st on handicap Peter Craig & Marnie Owens.

Thursday March 12th 2020

1st N/S Peter Sampson & Viv Duckers (63.3%); 1st E/W Mary Cartright & Diane Jenkins (69.2%)

Friday March 13th 2020

1st Tony Ratcliff & Mike Downey (72.9%); 2nd Tim Barsby & Nalini Dawen (56.9%), 3rd equal Carol Cochlin & Marnie Owens and Mia Deschepper & Ceri Pierce (53.7%). 1st on handicap Tony Ratcliff & Mike Downey.