By Prof Tony Campbell

OFTEN a challenge in bridge is what to do when you have a big hand, with a lot of points but not enough to bid a game force such as 2 clubs or 2 diamonds, depending on your system. A useful ploy is what is called a reverse, where you rebid a higher suit after opening with the lower one. This shows at least 15-16 points, and probably 5-4 four in the two suits. Such a hand turned up at Penarth Bridge Club just before Lockdown. This hand also illustrates another vital concept – always show your partner you have a four card major, even if it has no honours in it.

The Auction

North has a strong hand, 19 points, though the singleton Queen of clubs was unlikely to be of much value. He opened one heart, his five card suit, ready to reverse with 2 spades if his partner responded with two clubs or two diamonds. But here, his partner correctly responded with 1 spade, even though he had no honour in this suit. North, with four spades himself and 19 points, was happy to bid four. However, with only 8 points and a weak spade suit many South’s responded to North’s opening of 1 heart with 1 no trump. South must therefore have 6-8 points, so in this case North knew they had at least 25 points between them, and bid 3 no trumps. South as declarer can make 9 or 10 tricks in no trumps, with a score of 600 or 630, but makes 11 tricks with spades as trumps for the better score of 650, a top. Let’s see how the play goes in the two contracts.

The play

When South was in four spades, a club lead was won by South’s ace, after dummy’s queen was covered by East’s king. If the spades are 3-2, a good percentage (68%), and the heart finesse wins, South can see 11 tricks. With no more clubs in dummy he is safe here. So South played the ace and another spade. West won with his king and played another club, which was ruffed by dummy. South then played a small heart from dummy, winning this with the ace, following this with the heart finesse. The king of hearts was then ruffed by East’s queen of spades, declarer discarding his last club. East led another club, which South ruffed in hand, discarding a heart from dummy.

He then played a diamond which was won by North’s ace, followed by another heart which South ruffed with his last trump, dropping West’s queen. North is now high, left with one spades, and the king and queen of diamonds. So declarer won the rest of the tricks, 11 in all – 5 spades, 2 hearts, 3 diamonds and 1 club, for a top. Well bid and well played. However those declarers in 3 no trumps did not fare so well. West again led the 3 of clubs, his fourth highest in the suit.

Dummy’s queen was overtaken by East’s king and the trick won with South’s ace. He is now a bit worried, as he can only count seven certain tricks. If the heart finesse is wrong, then East will come back with a club to West’s jack, and the defence may then make 4 or 5 tricks straight off. In fact, South played the ace and then a small heart, taking the finesse with the jack, which won. He then played two more hearts, West winning the second with the queen. South has already shown up with 8 points, so West knows his partner must have the queen and jack of spades. So he then led the king of spades, which was won by dummy’s ace. South cashed the last heart and the ace, king and queen of diamonds from dummy. But, he cannot get back to his hand to make the last diamond. So he had to concede the last two tricks to East’s queen and jack of spades, making only nine in all – 1 spade, 4 hearts, 3 diamonds and 1 club. Not so well bid.

What have we learnt?

1. When you have a strong hand don’t be in too much of a hurry to open at the two level. A much better option is the reverse showing a strong hand to your partner.

2. Always show a four card major at the one level after your partner has opened, even if your major is weak in honour cards.

Further information

I hope some of you have had a go at the double dummy problems at Double Dummy Corner is written by Hugh Darwen at http://www.doubledummy.net, something I loved doing from Bridge Magazine when I was a student. There is a large archive of problems, the latest being 183. Good luck with your online bridge. Bridge Club Live (BCL) is the best and may be open again for new registrations. Bridge Online Base (BBO) is OK, but the software is not as good as BCL. BBO is still open for registrations. Contact meryl.skipper@icloud.com for information. I hope you are able to keep copies of my articles as I build them up. Please let me know if they are useful. You can always find my articles online at www.penarthtimes/bridge. Keep an eye on https://www.bridgewebs.com/penarth/. Email me if you have anything you would like me to discuss campbellak@cf.ac.uk. Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance. Virtual table up.