By Prof Tony Campbell

WELCOME back to the Carte Blanche Club where anything goes.

It was the last board of the evening of the club’s annual team of four competition, where Fragile Florence won the day over Tommy Knowitall, because she had missorted her cards. But it is also a lesson in how to prevent a contract making by holding up a winning card.

The Auction

Tommy Knowitall opened the bidding as South with one heart. His partner, The Duchess, responded with one spade. Tommy Knowitall then bid two no trumps, which in their system showed exactly eighteen points. The Duchess wasn’t quite sure how many points her partner actually had, but knowing him, she felt he would be cross if she didn’t bid three no trumps. However, she suddenly remembered a similar hand from last week and made the correct bid of three spades. Her partner had told her last week that this was forcing, showing five good spades, and asking her partner to choose between three no trumps and four spades, if he had three cards in this suit.

The play

Wild Willy as West was in a quandary as to what to lead. Typically, after some thought, he made the wild lead of the two of clubs. Hoping his partner had four cards in this suit, he could see they could make three club tricks if South only had one stop. Fragile Florence as East hesitated, but decided to play the queen, Tommy Knowitall holding up his ace. Wild Willy smirked as he realised he had found a great lead. Believing that her partner must have led his fourth highest, Florence led her six of clubs at the next trick. Tommy, suspecting Wild Willy had made one of his lucky leads from three to the king won with his ace. Tommy Knowitall put his cards face down on the table, and, with a frown, stopped to think about the hand. If the spade finesse was right and the hearts no worse than 4/2 the contract was cold, as he knew the club suit must be blocked.

So, he led a small spade and played the queen from dummy. Fragile Florence without any hesitation played her six of spades. Tommy Knowitall knew that Florence was not good enough to hold up the king if she had it. So, he played a heart from dummy, winning this with his ace, following this with his second spade and finessing again, this time with the jack. Florence hesitated as she didn’t know what to discard. Then she gasped as she suddenly realised she had missorted her hand.

She had put the king of spades with her clubs by mistake! She carefully took this out and placed it on the table, winning the trick. Tommy Knowitall glared at her and sighed as he realised that by chance she had made the correct play. She then played a club back to Willy’s king, who had forgotten South had opened the bidding with one heart. So, he played a heart back, which Tommy Knowitall won with the ace. He then cashed four more hearts, Willy discarding two spades, and Florence two diamonds. Now declarer was stuck, as he had to lose the ace of diamonds. He played the king, which Florence won with her ace.

She then triumphantly won the next trick with her queen of clubs. Tommy won the last trick with his queen of diamonds. One down, losing one spade, the ace of diamonds and three clubs, for a loss of 100 in a contract that was made at the other table by Lucky Lucy. Here, West started by leading a small diamond, which East won with the ace. He returned another diamond, which was won by Lucy’s king.

As in the other room, Lucy then played a spade, finessing with the queen in dummy. This time East, with only a doubleton king, didn’t dare hold up, and won, returning another diamond. It was all over, as Lucky Lucy won the rest of the tricks, making eleven in all – four spades, four hearts, two diamonds and the ace of clubs, for a score of 660. So, the score to Fragile Florence’s team was 760, equivalent to 13 IMPS. As a result, they won the competition, Tommy Knowitall trying to explain to his fellow teammates how he went down in a contract that was cold, as the hearts were 3/3.

What have we learnt?

1. If you have a good five card major it is advisable to bid it again if your partner has bid two no trumps. Three hearts or three spades is then forcing asking your partner to choose between four of the major or three no trumps.

2. When declarer makes a finesse, it is often a good idea to hold up your winning card, particularly if there are no entries in dummy.

Current positions in Peter Sampson’s bridge ladder

Peter Sampson’s ladder competition continues to be a success, continuing for 22 weeks with 24 competing pairs. It adds an extra bit of excitement and fun to the games, and Peter sends out the results weekly. Current leaders are Angela and Rod Hudson, followed by Jim Elder and Meryl Skipper, with Peter Millar and Mick Green in third place, and Debbie Dawkins and Hilary Morgan in fourth place. There will be a Christmas Competition, so Peter is not taking in anymore pairs until after Christmas. The prizes are sponsored by The Pen & Paper Stationary Co Ltd and are for the top pair, the pair having the most wins during the period before Christmas, and the pair playing the highest number of different pairs.

Further information

There will be a SIMS event for Penarth and Sully bridge clubs on Tuesday 10th November. in aid of Children in Need. Please contact me if you would like to play. 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 well. Keep safe. Bon chance. Virtual table up. But there is hot news. There is a new online British bridge site, Real Bridge. This looks really good, as you can see everyone live, and talk. More next week about this experimental site. So maybe at last it is going to be Real Table up!