By Prof. Tony Campbell

MINOR suit games are often difficult to decide on, three no trumps often being the preferred contract. Here are two very similar hands, one of which was played in the Club’s session on BBO last week. They illustrate this dilemma well and also show that the play may be different when playing in a game contract of five clubs compared to stopping in four.

The Auction

In hand 1, East with twelve points and a balanced hand opened one no trump. South with fifteen points doubled. If West had a five- card suit, he would have redoubled, instructing partner to bid two clubs, which West would pass or correct. Instead, he bid two clubs, telling partner ‘Rescue me, I have no five-card suit and very few points.’ So, East bid his best suit, two hearts. South feels game may be on.

If so, they would score 600 points in five clubs or three no trumps but would need to get two hearts four off to get a better score as East/West were non-vulnerable. So South bid three clubs. North with nine points and four clubs knowing his partner has at least fifteen points decided to try for game and bid four clubs. With no stop in hearts, he was reticent to bid three no trumps after East had bid hearts. Hand 1 was the actual hand, and just a few Souths bid game with five clubs.

The play

West, on lead, lead the three of hearts, his partner’s suit. North paused and examined the hand carefully. East won the first trick with the ace and the next with the king. He followed this with the queen of hearts which declarer ruffed in his hand. At trick one he had realised that East on the point count must have the king of clubs and so he could only make the contract if it was a doubleton. So he crossed to dummy with the ace of diamonds and played the two of clubs finessing with queen in his own hand which won. He then played the ace of clubs, dropping East’s king. The rest was simple.

With no more trumps out, declarer played the ace, king and queen of spades, followed by the king and queen of diamonds, winning the last two tricks with his trumps. Thus, South made the contract with eleven tricks – three spades, three diamonds, four clubs and a club ruff.

Well played. Now consider hand 2 which occurred a few weeks ago in a team of four event. South ended up in three no trumps. Realising he must only lose one club trick, he rightly refused the club finesse, playing the ace of clubs and then a small club from dummy towards his queen. This play wins when the clubs are 2/2, when East has KJx, or when West has a singleton king. If he takes the club finesse here, he goes one down in three no trumps.

What have we learnt?

1. If you have 15 plus points after an opponent has bid a weak no trump, double.

2. There is an escape route if your partner’s one no trump opener is doubled, and you have very few points. Redouble tells partner you have a five -card suit. Two clubs says I don’t have one. Pass says I am happy to leave the doubled contract stay.

3. Take care when deciding to take a finesse. It can be safer not too, as in hand 2 here.

Penarth club news

Our membership secretary, Meryl Skipper, with the help of Sarah Amos at Cardiff, has setup a way of playing duplicate sessions using Bridge Base online (BBO) at 2pm on Wednesdays and 7pm on Fridays. Here are the results of the second week, details and the hands are available on the Penarth Bridge Club web site: Wed. 17th February; 1. Roy and John Holloway (65%); 2. Meryl Skipper and Joy Seculer (61.7%);3.

Carolyn Matthews and Tony Campbell (53.9%). Fri. 19th February; 1. Mike Downey and Joy Seculer (67.4%); 2. Tony Campbell and Simon Brindle (64.6%); 3. Marnie Owens and Peter Craig (63.9%).

Please contact me or Meryl if you want to join. The current positions in Peter Sampson’s ladder are: 1. Angela Hudson and Rod Hudson; 2. Mike Downey and Roy Holloway; 3. Peter Millar and Mick Green. Our weekly zoom bridge classes continue. Let me know if you would like to join us.

Further information

If you have any views, hands, and information you would like to share, please email me, My articles are available online. Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance.