By Prof Tony Campbell

THE East Wales Bridge Association (EWBA) holds a team of four league every year. Of course, this year it is online. There are three divisions. Our team, representing Penarth Bridge Club, has climbed its way into Division 1.

We are Penarth Menagerie, named after the famous bridge books, based in The Griffins club, written by the Scottish international Victor Mollo in the 1960s. His books were called Bridge in the Menagerie, where players were named after animals. I leave you to guess what sort of player the Hideous Hog was.

They have recently been reprinted, and are well worth a read, quite educational. We played our first match last week against a strong team from Cardiff Bridge Club. Beginners at bridge are usually taught that they can open at the one level if they have thirteen points. But with twelve points you can open one no trump or one of a suit if you have five cards in it. With a six card suit you only need eleven points. But here is a hand that shows what a good idea it is to open with eleven points without a six-card suit.

The Auction

East, with five hearts and four spades, rightly opened one heart. Several players would pass with this hand. But with five/four in the majors it is well worth a bid. In fact, I play a system where I would open two hearts, which shows 5/4 in the majors with 11-15 points. South overcalled one spade. But West jumped to four hearts. This was pre-emptive, aimed at putting off the opposition. And yes, it put North into a dilemma. After some thought he bid four spades, which East doubled.

The play

So, what would you lead with West’s hand? He decided to lead the three of hearts. East won this with the ace and played the ace and king of diamonds, setting himself up for a ruff if his partner got in before his trumps ran out. East followed the ace and king of diamonds with a small club which West won with the ace. Presuming his partner had originally the ace and king of diamonds bare, West led his last diamond, which East ruffed.

East then led a small heart which South, as declarer, ruffed in dummy. Declarer then drew the remaining trumps with the queen, ace and king of spades. He then played a small club to dummy’s king and discarded his last club on dummy’s queen of diamonds. Two down for a loss of 300 points, making only eight tricks – five spades and a spade ruff in dummy, one club and one diamond. In fact, this was a good sacrifice, as East/West can make five hearts, losing just one spade and one club. An interesting competitive hand. In fact, in the end it was a very close match. Penarth Menagerie lost by one IMP, with final victory points being shared 10/10. Well played all.

What have we learnt?

1. When you are five/four in the majors, it can pay dividends to open with only ten or eleven points. The distribution making up for any deficiency in points. But there is a system where you would open two hearts with such a hand.

2. In a competitive auction it can be a good idea to jump in a pre-emptive bid, as here with West’s four heart bid. It puts the opposition into a dilemma. They have to guess whether to bid further, double or pass. This required very careful judgement.

3. Equally when your partner has pre-empted you have to decide whether to double the opponents overcall or carry on in your suit, as a sacrifice or to make. The judgement on this is particularly difficult when you are vulnerable, and the opposition are not. If you can make game, the opposition can afford to go three off for a loss of 500 versus your 620.

Penarth club news

Our membership secretary, Meryl Skipper, with the help of Sarah Amos at Cardiff, has set up a way of playing duplicate sessions using Bridge Base online (BBO) at 2pm on Wednesdays and 7pm on Fridays.

Here are the results of last week, details and the hands are available on the Penarth Bridge Club web site. Just click on Results and then the appropriate date. Wed. 10th March; 1. Roy and John Holloway (64.4%); 2. Carolyn Matthews and Tony Campbell (60.0%); 3Megan Morley and Sally Livesey Davies (55.7%).

Fri. 13th March; 1. Kay Dyer and Mick Green (66.7 %); 2. Helen Houston and Nalini Dewan (57.9%); 3. Roy and John Holloway (56.4%).

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. Rod Hudson and Hilary Morgan; 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.