By Prof Tony Campbell

ONE of the difficulties when you are declarer in a game contract is finding a bad trump split, when you start to draw trumps.

Here is a hand with several interesting aspects to it, including the danger of trying to find a sacrifice bid in a minor suit, and what to do when you have a four nil trump break against you.

The Auction

With five/five in the majors the best bid is to open one spade, hoping to be able to bid your hearts twice indicating 5/5. The 2 no trump bid by East is the unusual which we have seen before in these articles. But this was risky, as East needs more points for this bid, as the sacrifice in five diamonds should have led to a bad result. The unusual 2 no trump bid should show ten cards in the minors, as here.

But it can be used with 5/4 in diamonds and clubs. South was in a quandary after the unusual no trump bid by East. He decided to double, hoping this indicated points and four cards in the heart suit. North was very happy then to show his second suit and bid three hearts. With only twelve points he felt he was not strong enough to bid four hearts. East was sure that the opposition could make four hearts.

So, he made the immediate sacrifice of five diamonds knowing that they could afford to go three of doubled against a vulnerable game the other way. Now, what would you bid with South’s hand? South was pretty sure North was short in either clubs or diamonds, and possibly both, and took the risk of bidding five hearts rather than doubling East’s fjve diamond bid.

The play

Knowing his partner must have at least one of the top honours in diamonds, East led the three of diamonds. West won this with the king and followed it with the ace of diamonds. But what to lead next? West with four trumps decided on a small spade, hoping his partner had the queen, and that he would be able to overruff dummy at some point.

Declarer won this with dummy’s king and led the two of hearts. After playing the ace he discovered the bad news, a four nil trump break. But North could see he could still make the contract if East/West spades were 3/3. So, he played the ace of spades followed by the three, ruffing in dummy with the nine of hearts. Phew, the spades were 3/3 against him? North needed to get rid of his losing diamond.

So, he discarded this on the ace of clubs. It was not necessary now to play the king of clubs, as he could catch the jack of hearts. Declarer played the queen of hearts, followed by the ten. West held up his jack, but to no avail. Declarer returned to hand by ruffing a small club from dummy.

He then dropped West’s jack of hearts by playing his king and claimed the rest of the tricks as all his remaining spades were winners, making eleven tricks in all – four spades, five hearts in hand and a heart ruff in dummy. Well bid and well played.

After winning the first two diamonds West would have been better playing a third diamond, forcing declarer to ruff in dummy. But North can still make the contract so long as he plays the cards carefully. Five diamonds played by West doubled goes four off against best defence – ace and king of spades and clubs, and two ruffs for a loss of 800. Not a good result.

What have we learnt?

1. With 5/5 in the minors the unusual two no trump bid is useful for finding a sacrifice bid against a major game by the opposition. But take care not to use this bid with a very weak hand.

2. When there is a bad trump break as here, take care to play the cards in the right order.

Penarth club news

Our membership secretary, Meryl Skipper, with the help of Sarah Amos at Cardiff, has set up 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. 24th March; 1. Val Davies and Carol Cochlin (67.8%); 2.Roy and John Holloway (59.4%); 3. Meryl Skipper and John Pikoulis (59.2%). Fri. 26th March; 1. Roy and John Hollloway (69.8 %); 2. Mike Downey and Joy Seculer (55.6%); 3. Avril Collins and Val Hetheridge (50.8%). 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. Anne Hirst and Patsy Cohen; 3. Carolyn Matthews and Patsy Cohen. 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.