By Prof Tony Campbell

ONE of the challenges in bidding at bridge is how to communicate the exact strength of your hand to your partner so that you do not miss a game.

Here is a good example of this, using what is known as a reverse bid, which enabled North/South successfully to bid a game in four hearts.

The Auction

South as opener has a very good hand, 5/4 in hearts and spades, with eighteen points. He opened one heart. As they were playing ‘four card majors’, South had only guaranteed four hearts at this stage, but could have had five or even six.

North had a flat hand with eight points, so he responded with one no trump. In contrast to last week’s hand, North has now denied having four spades. However, South wishing to show his partner he had a strong hand made a reverse bid of two spades. North now knew that South had at least seventeen points with five hearts and four spades. So, with a combined twenty-five points and three hearts to the queen, he was happy to make the game bid and jump to four hearts.

The play

West was not happy to lead away from his ace and queen of clubs towards South’s strong hand, and so led the eight of diamonds. South as declarer assumed that East must therefore have the king, and so played low from dummy, overtaking East’s ten with the ace. Looking at the hand South could see it was a good percentage game, a 75% chance in fact, based either on the spade finesse winning or West holding the ace of clubs. In fact, both were in declarer’s favour.

South first started to draw trumps, playing first the ace of hearts. But hold on a minute, declarer needed to take the spade finesse. So, he broke the ‘golden rule’ of playing high cards first from the short suit, winning the next trick with the king of hearts and then the queen in dummy, leaving one trump outstanding with East. South then tried the spade finesse, playing the jack from dummy. East refused to cover, so this won. South then took two more spade tricks, covering East’s queen on the third spade with the ace. South then drew the last trump, followed by his fourth spade. He then led a small club towards the king in dummy.

West won this with the ace, and then played a diamond, which was won by East’s jack. The king of diamonds was then trumped by South, who won the last two tricks with the king of clubs and his last trump. So, South made his contract with an over trick, making eleven tricks – four spades, five hearts, one diamond and one club, for a score of 650. Well bid and played.

What have we learnt?

1. If you have a strong hand it is always worth using the so-called reverse bid to indicate this to your partner, typically with 5/4 in the two suits bid.

2. With a maximum bid of one no trump and three cards in the suit in which you know your partner holds five, you can jump to game.

3. When playing a suit, check which hand you want to end up in.

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 18 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, and in third place Debbie Dawkins and Hilary Morgan.

If you have any views, experiences and information you would like to share, please email me. Meanwhile, good luck with your online bridge. 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.