By Prof Tony Campbell CBE

A GREAT difficulty in bridge is the situation when you hold a very good hand but your partner often has few points.

The temptation always is to bid too far. Such a hand occurred recently in the Penarth-Sully weekly bridge sessions.

The Auction

North as third in hand felt it worth showing his five-card heart suit even though he only had eleven points. East had no hesitation in doubling asking partner to bid his best suit. South was tempted to bid two diamonds but being vulnerable decided caution was the best choice and passed. West had to bid, so he showed his four-card spade suit.

With more points, perhaps nine or more he would be expected to jump. East now has a dilemma. West could have as many as eight points, which would give them 26 between them, enough for four spades or three no trumps. In the end, after a long pause, East bid two no trumps, which in their system showed exactly eighteen points. West with only five points passed. As you can see the contract is a disaster. Though East’s bid is understandable.

The play

North is now pleased that he had opened a heart on his eleven points, particularly when he saw South lead the ten. This meant that declarer was likely to have three to the queen. South only needed one entry and the defence would take four heart tricks. Declarer played low from dummy, as did North, East winning the trick with his queen. Declarer paused to consider the hand. He could see he had four more certain tricks. But how should he play the spades? After some thought declarer played the two of spades from hand. South played low. North won the trick after declarer played the jack from dummy. Taking the safe option, North returned the four of clubs, a MUD lead (Middle, Up, Down).

Declarer won the trick with his ace and, in the hope South was left with the singleton ace, played the three of spades from hand. South won this trick with the ten and immediately led the six of hearts. Dummy’s king was doomed. Declarer played it and the trick was won by North’s ace.

North then proceeded to play three more hearts, winning them all. After some thought he led the seven of clubs, declarer wining the trick with his king. He then played the seven of spades from hand, South winning the trick with his ace. South now knew declarer only held three clubs to begin with thanks to his partner’s MUD play. So, he led the nine of clubs, which was won by declarer’s queen. East then played his last spade, the trick being won by dummy’s eight.

Declarer then played the four of diamonds from dummy which he won with his ace, the only card he was left with as he had to discard the three and jack of diamonds on North’s last two hearts. The end-result was that declarer won just six tricks – one spade, one heart, one diamond and three clubs for a score of – 200. Bad luck. It is always difficult in these circumstances to pass with a big hand.

Probably two spades or one no trump would have been reasonable after West’s one spade response to East’s double. East must have eighteen for a one no trump response after West’s one spade, since with 15-17 points East would have bid one no trump after North’s one heart opener.

What have we learnt?

1. Often with a five card major it is worth opening this with only eleven points when you are third in hand after two have passed.

2. With a good point count a double is the only sensible bid for East on this hand.

3. After a weak response from partner at pairs it is often advisable to pass and play the contract in one spade. This has a chance of making in fact, as North is not able to cash his four heart tricks as was in no trumps.

At teams it would be understandable if East bid again after his partner’s one spade. The best bid is one no trump, which must show eighteen points, as he did not bid one no trump over North’s opening one diamond.

Penarth club results

Results from the Penarth-Sully sessions. Friday 23rd July; 1. Judy Collins and Janet Cunnington (58.8%); 2.= Alan Lightbody and Avril Collins with Mike Downey and Joy Seculer (56.3%). Wednesday 28th July; 1. Judy Collins and Janet Cunnington (67.5%); 2. Irene Thomas and Carolyn Matthews (56.2%); 4: Pat James and Philip Bottrill (46.2%); Friday 30th July; 1. Marnie Owens and Peter Craig (72.5%; 2. John Salisbury and Tony Campbell (67.5%); 3. Joy Seculer and Mike Downey (47.5%). The current first three positions in Peter Sampson’s ladder are: 1. Meryl Skipper and Joy Seculer; 2. Peter Millar and Mick Green; 3. Mike Downey and Roy Holloway.

Further information

If you have any views, hands, and information you would like to share, please email me, Keep well. Keep safe. Bon chance.