By Prof Tony Campbell CBE

GIVEN the possibility of an overtrick in three no trumps, it is often tempting to bid this in pairs, as opposed to four or five in a minor suit.

Here is an example of a hand that turned up recently in the Penarth-Sully bridge clubs online bridge session, where a diamond contract was, in fact, superior to the alternative three no trumps.

The Auction

North opened his four-card major, hearts. South did not have enough points to bid two diamonds, a response bid at the two level typically requiring at least eight points. Instead, South chose to bid one no trump, a bid that partner would expect to be based on six to eight points.

West, non-vulnerable, took the risk of overcalling his five-card spade suit. North, with seventeen points could see game in three no trumps being on if partner had a good spade stop. So, he made the asking bid of three spades.

outh did have a good spade stop but declined to bid three no trumps. South could work out that they could at most have twenty-three points between them. This was simply not enough to make three no trumps. So, he escaped to four diamonds. North got the message. Partner was very weak, and probably had six diamonds.

The play

West was on lead and paused. South did not like three no trumps. Thus West thought his partner must have an honour in spades, possibly the king. So, he started with the ace of spades. When his partner, East, played the ten, realising South must hold the king of spades, West switched to a small heart, the two. North played his king of hearts, the trick being was won by East’s ace. East then played the five of spades, won by South’s king.

Declarer now took the diamond finesse by playing a small diamond towards dummy’s ace and queen. The queen won the trick. Declarer followed this with the ace of diamonds which dropped West’s king. Declarer paused. He was going to have to make a guess about the clubs. Or was he? West had led a small heart at trick two, suggesting he had the jack.

So, declarer played the queen of hearts from dummy, followed by a small heart which he ruffed in his own hand, dropping the jack. Eureka! He now did not have to worry about who had the queen of clubs. He crossed back to dummy with a diamond and played the ten of hearts, discarding one of his clubs in hand.

Declarer then conceded the ace of clubs to East, and claimed the rest of the tricks, making ten tricks in all – two spades, two hearts, and six diamonds, well bid and well played. Three no trumps goes one off, provided East/West defend carefully. West starts by leading his fourth highest spade, won by North’s jack.

With no obvious entry to dummy, North plays the ace and queen of diamonds, won by West’s king. West cleverly plays another small spade, as he knows his partner, East started with three, and the ace of clubs will be an entry for East to return a spade.

Declarer wins this in dummy and cashes four more diamonds. But he is now doomed. Playing a heart from dummy North plays the king from his hand, the trick being won by East’s ace. East now plays his last spade, the ten.

West overtakes dummy’s queen with his ace, and cashes two more spade tricks. A club then puts North in the dilemma of whether to play the king or jack. Playing the jack North still goes one off. If he decides to play the king, he goes two off.

What have we learnt?

1. Sometimes it is worth the risk of bidding one no trump with only five points and a long minor.

2. Bidding the opponents overcall suit is useful when looking for a stop in three no trumps.

3. When you have bid a weak one no trump response, you have to decide whether to escape to your long minor after your partner has bid no trumps.

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.

Wednesday 2nd June; 1. Jayne Greatrex and John Pikoulis (62.7%); 2. Val Davies and Carol Cochlin (54.8%); 3. Irene Thomas and Carolyn Matthews (54.8%). Friday 4th June; 1. Mike Downey and Joy Seculer (73.8%); 2. John and Roy Holloway (55.0%) 3. Judy Collins and Janet Cunnington(53.8%). Please contact me or Meryl if you want to join. Peter Sampson’s Spring ladder was won by Jenny Vaughan and Nalini Dewan who beat Angela and Rod Hudson 56.5 % to 43.5%. Well played.

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.