By Prof. Tony Campbell

A DIFFICULTY many beginners have is what to respond when their partner opens the bidding.

My wife is one of these, and has asked me to give an example. A key issue is how many points do you need to respond at the two level. So here is a hand that shows what to do if you have a five card suit, but less than eight points as responder.

The Auction

North has a big hand with eighteen points, and hopes for game if his partner has any support for spades. Now what should South bid? Most players expect the responder to have at least eight points to reply at the two level. Here South only has seven points and three spades, so the best bid is one no trump, not two clubs. Some North’s got too excited by this, and, with eighteen points and a five card suit, made the mistake of jumping to three no trumps. Here the bid by North of two diamonds showed a strong hand with five spades and at least four diamonds. South has the king of diamonds and three spades, and felt game was possible, so jumped to three spades. North was now happy to convert this to four spades.

The play

East started with the king of hearts, West playing the five to show he had four cards in this suit. This is known as “Petering”, a play originating from whist, the term being invented by the conservative nineteenth century politician Lord Henry Bentick, who named the play after the nautical Blue Peter flag. East can see the two of hearts is missing, so his partner must have “Petered”. East now knows declarer only started with two hearts, and was happy to continue with the ace of hearts followed by another, forcing North to win with a trump. Declarer can now see ten tricks as long as the spades break 3/2, a 68% chance. So North played the ace, king and queen of spades, removing all the trumps from East/West, and then played the king of diamonds. This was won by West’s ace, who then played his last heart, which was trumped by North. Declarer now claimed the rest of the tricks, making ten – five spades, three diamonds and two clubs, well bid.

What have we learnt?

1. The one no trump response to an opening bid by your partner is useful as it tells the opener what the limit is to your points. This shows typically 6-8 points and a flat hand. Some players would also respond one no trump with a weak nine points. A response here of two clubs would show at least eight points and probably five clubs. A bid of three spades would show ten points and four spades.

2. With a strong opening hand you have make a decision if your partner has responded with one no trump after your opening bid at the one level. Here North has a good eighteen count. But with two doubletons, three no trumps does not look attractive. Those who bid three no trumps instead of four spades went one off, East/West taking the first four heart tricks and the ace of diamonds.

Further information

When the local bridge clubs closed because of COVID a WhatsApp group was formed for players from the Penarth and Sully clubs to get in touch so that they could arrange games online. The secretary of Penarth Bridge Club, Peter Sampson, thought it a good idea to introduce a little bit of competition. So, taking an idea from his squash playing days, he formed a ladder competition. Play is on Bridge Base Online (BBO). The ladder has been a great success, continuing for 16 weeks with 24 competing pairs. It just adds an extra bit of excitement and fun to the games, and Peter sends out the results weekly. If you would like to join, more details can be had from Peter at Current leaders are Angela and Rod Hudson, followed by Peter Millar and Mick Green, with Philip Bottrill and Carol Cochlin third. 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 also very good and may be open again for new registrations. 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.