By Prof Tony Campbell

AS I have pointed out in previous articles there is only one card game of pure skill – SNAP. As with all other cards games lady luck always has a role to play. So it is worth knowing some of the percentages. For example, a finesse is 50% with no other information. While a 3/2 trump split occurs on average 68% of the time. Here is a hand played recently online where the player with a very big hand weighed up the percentages and obtained a very good result.

The Auction

North opened with two clubs, which he and his partner played as a game force, that is South must keep the bidding going until game is reached. The problem is what should South bid. A slam must be on, but how can he tell partner he has two aces and a king. The answer is to use cue bids. Two diamonds is negative, but a response of three spades in their system showed two aces of the same rank, in this case clubs and diamonds. North now got excited, as he can see at least 12 tricks so long as the spades split 3/2. If South has a king in addition to his two aces then a grand slam should be on. So North’s Blackwood in this case asks for kings, as South has already shown two aces. Once North knew South has either the king of diamonds or clubs, he was happy to bid seven no trumps. This has a percentage chance of some 75%, with a 3/2 spade break or dropping the jack of spades if the spades are split 4/1.

The play

East led the queen of hearts., which was won by North’s ace. He then drew three rounds of trumps, and played the king of clubs. He then crossed over to dummy with the ace of diamonds, and threw a losing diamond on the ace of clubs. After the king of diamonds North ruffed a diamond, and claimed the rest of the tricks, making thirteen – seven spades, two hearts, two diamonds and two clubs for a huge score of 2220 and a top. Well bid.

What have we learnt?

1. When using a game force opening bid it is worth having a system to show strengths at the first response. So here North/South played a cue bid system. Two diamonds was negative. Two hearts, two spades, three clubs or three diamonds showed the relevant ace. Whereas two aces were shown by three hearts, spades or no trumps in the order of CRO – colour, rank, other. A response of two no trumps would have denied an ace but shows eight plus points and at least one king.

2. When bidding, and during the play, it is worth familiarising yourself with the odds of particular distributions. These are available on line. For examples see In the hand here the overall percentage chance of not losing a spade was at least 75%.

Further information

Cardiff Bridge Club have set up a league with up to four divisions. Contact Liz Atkinson if you have a team that would like to join. But I have an idea on how we could reopen Penarth Bridge Club safely. Watch this space! 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. Professor Brian Morgan, of Cardiff Metropolitan University, and I have set 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.