By Prof Tony Campbell

THIS week I have chosen another interesting hand from Peter Sampson, our secretary at Penarth Bridge Club.

Once again it is from his ladder competition on Bridge Base Online (BBO). Most players were playing the Benjy weak two bid. So, the question is how is it possible to reach the game contract in four hearts? It is a difficult one. But here are my suggestions on how to bid it.

The Auction

North opened the bidding with a Benjamin weak two, having six spades, a maximum of ten points and a good heart suit. South paused. If his partner North had ten points and at least three hearts, four hearts might be on. So, South made the ambitious bid of three hearts. North now with a maximum and four hearts was delighted to bid game.

The play

One of the challenges at bridge is what to lead at the first trick. My wife keeps telling me this!! I will be dealing with examples of this in future articles. Here it was a simple choice for West, and he led the king of diamonds, which won. Seeing a void in diamonds now in dummy West switched to the ten of clubs, East winning the next two tricks with the ace and king of clubs. But that was it for the defence. East returned a spade which declarer won with the ace. He then drew four rounds of trumps, and won the rest of the tricks with dummy’s spades, making the contract – ten tricks: five hearts and five spades. Well bid. At some tables South passed the opening two spades, which was a bad result. At some other Tables North ended up playing in four spades, which was doomed. After cashing the ace and king of clubs East switched to a heart, suspecting his partner might have a void. West ruffed and returned a diamond to East’s ace, who returned another heart for a further ruff by West. Two off for a bad score.

What have we learnt?

1. After a weak two bid by partner it can be worth a try for game if he has a maximum, even if you only have thirteen points.

2. But make sure you end up in the right game to avoid ruffs by your opponents.

Club news

Sadly, this weak we mourn the death of one of Wales’ stalwarts at bridge, Mike Hirst. Mike was one of the great characters of Welsh Bridge. He was still a visiting member at Penarth, and also played at Sully with his wife Anne, When I came to Cardiff from Cambridge in 1970 I was 25, and joined Cardiff Bridge club. At that time Mike and Patrick Jourdain were the top Welsh pair. They gave myself and my partner a lot of support, playing with us at the Porthcawl Congress and for South Glamorgan. So, I have happy memories of those bygone days 50 years ago. But for me other things took over and I stopped playing bridge for 40 years. C’est la vie.

Peter Sampson’s ladder competition continues to be a success, continuing for 25 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 Peter Millar and Mick Green in second place, Jim Elder and Meryl Skipper in third place, and Avril Collins & Angela Hudson 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

The SIMS event for Penarth and Sully bridge clubs will now be on Monday 9th November. in aid of Children in Need. We will be using the new online British bridge site, Real Bridge. This looks really good, as you can see everyone live, and talk. 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. So maybe at last it is going to be Real Table up!