By Prof Tony Campbell

WHEN playing a hand as declarer a key issue is what number of cards your opponents’ hold in particular suits.

But is there any way to find this out without a CCTV camera!?

Here is a hand that was played last week on Bridge Base Online where declarer found a way to work out how many clubs his left-hand opponent held, helping him to make the contract of three no trumps.

The Auction

The bidding in this hand was critical for information to declarer. West opened one diamond with only 11 points. Fair enough with five/four in the minors. North was non vulnerable and chose to jump to two hearts, showing six hearts and less than ten points.

East was now faced with a dilemma. A double would suggest to his partner, West, that East held four spades.

And to bid three clubs was a bit high. So, East chose to take a risk. He bid two no trumps even though he did not have a heart stop. West was very happy to convert this to three no trumps with the ace and queen in North’s suit.

The play

South was on lead, and rightly chose not to lead his partners suit, hearts, expecting East as declarer to hold honours in hearts. So, South led the queen of spades. North, rightly, won the trick with the ace and returned his seven of spades. East, after some thought, won this with his king.

Now declarer considered his options. How can he find eight more tricks? If the diamond finesse against the queen works, and the diamonds are 3/3, declarer still needs at least two tricks in clubs. But if South gets in, he will surely cash all his winning spades and the contract will go down.

So is there a way to work out the club distribution in the North/South hands? Yes, there is. After winning with the king of spades, declarer played the king of diamonds, followed by a small diamond, playing the jack from his hand, which won. The ace of diamonds then revealed exactly what North held originally.

He has shown up with two spades, six hearts on his two heart bid, only two diamonds, and therefore three clubs, probably to an honour. This meant that South only had one club, probably an honour. So, declarer was clear now.

He played a small club to the ace in his hand, dropping South’s king, followed by a small club to the ten in dummy, won by North’s queen. North is now fixed! He can’t play a heart to dummy’s ace and queen, so had to play back a club.

This was won by dummy’s nine, followed by the jack, and seven in declarer’s hand, discarding a small diamond from dummy. West as declarer then played a small heart to dummy’s ace, followed by the queen, which was won by North’s king. North had no option now but to concede the last trick to declarer’s jack of hearts, declarer making ten tricks – one spade, two hearts, three diamonds and four clubs, well played for a good score of 430.

What have we learnt?

1. A weak two overcall can disrupt the opposition bidding without risk of being doubled for penalties.

2. Think about what the bidding tells you followed by the card play.

3. Work out a strategy to reveal how many cards an opponent holds in a particular suit.

Penarth club results

Here are the results of last week from the Penarth-Sully online bridge, details and the hands are available on the Penarth Bridge Club web site.

Click on Results and then the date. Wed. 5th May; 1. Ann Hirst and Avril Collins (63.2%); 2. Judith Lewis and Joan Andrews (56.3%); 3. Alice Highley and Henry Lewin (54.9%). Fri 7th May; 1. Tony Campbell and Simon Brindle (68.1%); 2=. Mike Downey and Joy Seculer (59.7%); 2=. Linda Houston and Sue Jones (59.2%). 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. Val Hetheridge and Sean MacDougall 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.