By Prof. Tony Campbell

A KEY issue when playing bridge is being on top of the scoring system. This is vital when playing in a pairs competition and when playing in a teams’ event. This is never truer when having to decide whether to make a sacrifice bid, knowing you can’t make the contract. Here is such a hand where East/West made the right decision and won the day. It is always important to remember that sacrifices non-vulnerable against vulnerable are the most common because of the score difference and benefit to the side that makes the sacrifice.

The Auction

North has a nice hand, but not enough to open two clubs or two diamonds, so simply opens one spade. East, knowing his partner cannot have that many points, as he has passed, made the pre-empt bid of three clubs, ready for a sacrifice if the opponents bid a game in spades. South, with only six points, was in a dilemma. But, after some thought, wisely decided to compete with a bid of three spades. West competed with four clubs, giving his partner the option of sacrificing with five clubs if North bid game. Indeed, North, with six spades and seventeen points, had no hesitation in bidding four spades. East paused. What did West have to bid four clubs? Well obviously, some clubs. But what else? Should East pass, double, or sacrifice with five clubs. West must have something else for his bid at the four level. But even so four spades must be making, and East can see seven tricks in his hand. He just needs one extra from West to make the sacrifice worthwhile. Three down doubled is good non vulnerable, but not four down. So East judged that the sacrifice bid of five clubs was the right one, expecting to go perhaps three off doubled for a loss of 500 points, which was better than the 620 North/South would score if four spades makes. Let’s see how it turns out.

The play

South began with a small spade, indicating he had three spades with an honour. North won the trick with his king, following this with his ace. Knowing both East and West had no more spades, another spade would be a disaster, as it would give declarer a ruff and discard. So North continued with the king of diamonds, which won the trick, South encouraging with the seven, as they played a card play convention known as HELD = High Encouraging, Low Discouraging. North now knew South must have the ace of diamonds, so he could continue with the queen, which also won. A third diamond was ruffed by declarer in hand. East then drew the three trumps that were held by North/South with his ace and king of clubs. Declarer then play a small club to dummy’s queen and then a club back to hand, followed by his last two clubs, in the vain hope North/South would discard some of their hearts. However, wisely South kept his queen, jack and ten of hearts. So, after East played the ace and king of hearts, South won the last trick. Thus, declarer won six club tricks and two hearts, three down doubled for a loss of 500 points. Well bid, for North makes four spades - six spades, one heart, as the ace and king are split between East and West, and three diamonds.

What have we learnt?

1. A jump bid over an opening major bid can be useful, particularly if your partner has passed.

2. It is often a good idea to pass a sacrifice bid to give your partner the option of doubling or going on to five of your major.

3. When you have a long suit take care not to give the opponents the opportunity of a ruff and discard, enabling them to get rid of a loser.

Penarth club news

Our membership secretary, Meryl Skipper, with the help of Sarah Amos at Cardiff, has done a brilliant job for members of the Penarth and Sully clubs by setting up a way of playing duplicate sessions online as a club, using Bridge Base online (BBO). The sessions will be at 2pm on Wednesdays and 7pm on Fridays. These start this Wednesday February 10th. Please contact me or Meryl if you want to join. Peter Sampson’s ladder competition continues. It is aimed at members of the four local clubs: Penarth, Sully, Barry and Dinas Powys. The current positions are: in first place Angela Hudson and Rod Hudson, in second place Peter Millar and Mick Green, in third place Patsy Cohen and Peter Millar, and in fourth place Mike Downey and Roy Holloway. Well done all. 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, My articles are online at www.penarthtimes/bridge. Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance. Many of our bridge players have had their first dose of the COVID vaccine. So, it may not be virtual table up for much longer!