Prof. Tony Campbell

WELL done to those of you who picked up last week’s ‘deliberate mistake’.

The hand should have been played by South not North as written, because of the artificial two heart bid after the opener had shown a big hand by opening two diamonds. As promised, here is a hand where signalling the length of a suit is crucial to get the opponents one off in a three no trump contract.

The Auction

West, with a balanced 14 points, opens one no trump. Her partner with five hearts makes the transfer bid of two diamonds. As instructed, West bids two hearts. But after East responds with two no trumps, which shows she has five hearts and eleven points, West is happy that they have the magic 25 points between them, and so bids three no trumps.

The play

North begins with the king of diamonds. But why not the ace? Here we see a convention played by several players at Penarth and other clubs, where the lead of the ace promises the king and is asking if partner has the queen. Whereas the lead of the king is asking partner, here South, how many diamonds do you have? Declarer plays the four of diamonds from dummy, South the five of diamonds, and declarer the three of diamonds! South’s play is known as a ‘peter’ and shows an even number of cards in the suit. North watches carefully and sees that the two of diamonds is missing from the first trick.

South must therefore have four diamonds, and declarer, West, can only have three diamonds. So North is happy to continue with the ace and then the eight of diamonds, won by West’s jack, but establishing North’s nine. If South had shown only three diamonds North would be unwise to continue with them as it would set up both the jack and the ten, giving declarer the extra trick she needs to make the contract. But North/South also know that East/West only have 25 points between them.

Thus, North knows his partner South must have eight points. West looks at the hand. She can see eight tricks, and a ninth if she can make three spade tricks.

So, she plays a small spade towards dummy, finessing against the king by playing the jack, hoping that North either has two or three spades to the king. Unfortunately for declarer, this is won by South who still has a diamond to return to North’s winning nine. North then plays a small heart, and declarer is now in trouble.

She wins this with her ace and plays four clubs, winning them all. She then plays the ace and another spade, winning this with her queen, but losing the last trick to North’s ten. In fact, the three no trump contract can make if West plays the ace and another spade before playing clubs, as South wins the second spade with the king, setting up the other two spades West needs to make the contract. As it is, three no trumps goes one down, North/South making two spades and three diamonds.

What have we learnt?

1. In defence, signalling to your partner through your card play is a vital part of bridge and is perfectly allowed. Here the adage is Ace for attitude, King for count.

2. A ‘peter’ in British Bridge jargon is a useful card play to show your partner you have an even number of cards in that suit, typically two or four. In a trump contract, if you show two cards when partner has the ace and king, this may enable you to take a ruff on the third trick. The origin of the word ‘peter’ in bridge is not entirely clear, but it seems to relate to a ‘fall of in power’.

3. Watch out for who is declarer if there is an artificial bid during the auction, as in last week’s hand.

Penarth club news

As you will have realised it is easy to make mistakes when working out these hands, particularly as, at present, they are mostly invented in my head. I am pleased to say that my cousin Justin Cooper, a very good player himself, has kindly agreed to check them before I send the article to Penarth Times. Peter Sampson’s ladder competition continues. It is aimed at members of the four local clubs: Penarth, Sully, Barry and Dinas Powys. There are several new pairs, including myself.

The current positions are: in first place Peter Millar and Mick Green, in second place Patsy Cohen and Peter Millar, in third place Angela Hudson and Carolyn Matthews, and in fourth place Viv Duckers and Vernon Pearn. Well done all. Our secretary, Meryl Skipper, is working hard to get some club events going this year on BBO or RealBridge. Our weekly zoom bridge classes continue, triggered by an email from a regular Penarth Times reader. Let me know if you would like to join us. I usually use the Penarth Times hands as a basis for discussion.

Further information

If you have any views, hands, and information you would like to share, please email me, campbellak@cf.ac.uk. My articles are online at www.penarthtimes/bridge. Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance. Virtual table up!