By Prof Tony Campbell

A DILEMMA you are often faced with in bridge is whether to take a finesse, when you have the opportunity of discarding a loser in that suit later in the play.

Such a hand turned up recently in the Penarth-Sully bridge club session. As South, would you take the diamond finesse in this hand?

The Auction

South opened two clubs which in their Benji type system showed a good nineteen or twenty points, or eight playing tricks in a suit yet to be shown. North’s two diamond bid asked which type of two club bid did South have. With twenty points and stops in all four suits South was happy to bid two no trumps. North knows they have enough points for game. But should it be three no trumps or four spades? North’s two heart bid showed he had five spades. With four good spades South was tempted to break the transfer and bid four spades, but restrained himself by simply responding three spades as requested by his partner. North’s three no trump bid then asked his partner, South, to choose. It was simple for South. With four spades and two doubletons it was an easy choice. Four spades was his bid.

The play

West was on lead and paused. He knew South had a good nineteen or twenty points from his two no trump bid, and presumably a stop in all the suits. So, he chose the safest option and lead a trump, the four of spades. South won this with his ace and drew the last two trumps with dummy’s king and queen. Before playing the clubs declarer paused. He would certainly have a discard from dummy on his last club. But which should it be, a heart or a diamond? West had taken the safe option of leading a spade, suggesting he had the ace of hearts or the king of diamonds or both. If he had both, then declarer would have to lose two tricks. But if declarer discarded correctly then he would make an extra overtrick, an important issue when playing in a pairs competition. So, declarer played the king of clubs from dummy followed by the jack. He then won a third club in hand with the ace, and then the queen. Now was the crucial decision, playing his last club he hesitated again before deciding whether to discard a heart or diamond from dummy. Thinking back, he remembered that East had discarded three of hearts on the ace of clubs. He knew that East/West were playing what is known as reverse attitude. If the first discard is a small one, this shows the player likes this suit. So, East’s first discard of the three of hearts should show he had the ace, unless he was very canny and was deliberately misleading declarer. After some thought, declarer decided to discard the two of diamonds from dummy on his last club. South then returned to dummy by playing the ace of diamonds followed by the queen, which was covered by West’s queen and ruffed in dummy. Declarer then played the eight of hearts from dummy. Eureka! East took the trick with his ace, leaving the king of hearts making in declarer’s hand. Declarer therefore made twelve tricks: four spades, one heart, one diamond and a diamond ruff and five clubs. Well bid and well played.

What have we learnt?

1. Transfer bids over a one no trump opening, or a two no trump as here, are a vital part of your armoury, giving crucial information to your partner and ensuring that the contract is played by the hand with the most points.

2. Sometimes whether to take a finesse or discard a loser as here is just a guess. A 50-50 chance. But always take care to watch the oppositions’ discards. This may give you an essential clue on what to play.

3. Take care when you use your discard system in defence as this gives information to declarer as well as your partner.

Penarth club results

Here are the results of last week sessions 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 30th June; 1. Jayne Greatrex and Tony Campbell (61.9%); 2. Tisch Beere and Anita Charles (56.3%); 3. Pat James and Philip Bottrill (54.5%). Friday 2nd July; 1. Patricia Cohen and Mike Downey (70.8%); 2nd equal Anita Charles and Tisch Beere with Judy Collins and Janet Cunnington (54.2%); Please contact me or Meryl if you want to join. Peter Sampson’s highly successful ladder has started again. 1. Meryl Skipper and Joy Seculer; 2. Mike Downey and Roy Holloway; 3. Angela Hudson and Carolyn Matthews. The Penarth team played in the WBU team of eight final last Sunday. We came third with 85 Victory points. The winners were Cardiff with 103 Victory points, and the North Wales team second with 89 VPs.

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.