By Prof Tony Campbell

THE Stayman convention is a must for all bridge players, asking partner after a one no trump opening if he has a four card major. Typically the person who bids two clubs with have at least ten points. If partner has a maximum no trump opening then either four of a major or three no trumps will be on. However Stayman is also useful if responder has a weak hand, with a distribution not suitable for one no trump. Such a hand turned up last week when I was playing with my regular partner online.

The Auction

I as South with a balanced hand and thirteen points opened one no trump. North only had eight points. So what would you do with this hand? Several players passed, and left South in one no trump. However my partner rightly bid two clubs. If I have a four card major then he will pass leaving me in two hearts or two spades. If I did not have a four card major then North, knowing South must have at least three diamonds, will leave me in two diamonds, as happened on this hand.

The play

West led the four of clubs, the fourth highest of his best suit. East won this with the king and returned the ten of clubs. I, as declarer, covered this with the queen and trumped West’s ace in dummy. I then played a small diamond to my ace, and led my last club, which I ruffed again in dummy. I then played the king of diamonds, crossing back to my hand on the next trick with the ace of spades. I then drew the last trump with my queen, and played the nine of spades. West wrongly covered this with the jack. Dummy’s queen was overtaken by East’s king. East then returned a small club, which I ruffed with my last trump. I then played a spade back to dummy, and led the last spade, discarding a heart from hand. I was then forced to lead a small heart from dummy, which was won by East’s queen, who won the last trick with his winning nine of clubs. I therefore made the contract plus one, nine tricks – two club ruffs in dummy, four diamonds, the king in dummy and three in hand, and three spades. Well bid partner. Those who chose to leave North in one no trump did not fare so well. East started off with his fourth highest club, the three. West won this with the jack, played the ace, and then a small club back to East. So East/West won the first five tricks. East then played a small diamond, which declarer won in dummy. He then cashed three more diamonds ending up in his hand. South then won the next trick with the ace of spades, followed by the nine of spades, which was won by East’s king. East then wisely played a small heart to West’s ace, the last two tricks being won in dummy. So South only made six tricks in one no trump, one off – two spades and four diamonds, East/West making seven tricks – five clubs, one spade and one heart.

What have we learnt?

1. Stayman is an essential part of your armoury after your partner opens with one no trump.

2. With a weak hand the Stayman two club bid may lead you to a more secure contract, even if the opener does not have a four card major.

Further information

I wonder what you did during the long lockdown. I spent a lot of my time writing a scientific mystery novel I have been meaning to write for thirty years. Its title is Mirror Image – what Darwin missed. It is available at Griffin Books, Penarth, and also online at The story is set in the stunning scenery of Anglesey. The hero, surprise-surprise, is a brilliant biochemist and a keen bridge player. There is a whole chapter based at the local bridge club, with an amazing, even crazy, hand I am sure you will enjoy. In spite of many shops, restaurants and pubs opening, sadly there is little chance of bridge clubs resuming in the near future. Penarth and other Wales’ clubs have many members over 60. We are the high risk group, and must be protected. Professor Brian Morgan, of Cardiff Metropolitan University, and I are setting up a Wales COVID communication group between the business, education, science and arts sectors to help find creative solutions to the restrictions the SARS-Cov2 coronavirus has imposed on us. See If you have any views, experiences and information you would like to share, please email me. Meanwhile, good luck with your online bridge. Bridge Club Live (BCL) is very good and may be open again for new registrations. BBO is still open for registrations. Contact for information. You can always find my articles online at www.penarthtimes/bridge. Keep an eye on Email me if you have anything you would like me to discuss Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance. Virtual table up.