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Playing with Stanley…and like him!

Well, that has to be a compliment. It certainly would be true on the following board from play at Akarana. The moral of what follows is:

Never be fazed

By the difficulty of the contract

By a lack of trumps

Or both!

So, Owen Camp held the following: Spade-smallA96  Heart-small874  Diamond-small654  Club-smallK1085

and heard his partner, Stanley, open 1Diamond-small and his right hand opponent overcall 1Heart-small.

What should he bid? Enough to be in the action but nowhere to go. A negative double shows a 4 card spade suit. Owen did not have four. So, he could not double. Instead, he bid 1Spade-small.

What? You think that shows more than four spades? not tell Owen. Three is enough for him!


Owen’s left hand opponent supported hearts and pretty soon, Owen found himself in 4Spade-small (what could Owen do? Stanley had bid 3Heart-small asking for a hold. Three to the 8 was no hold. So he rebid 3Spade-small!) on the lead of Heart-smallA. These were the four hands:

Board 9
North Deals
E-W Vul
Q J 10
J 3
A J 9 4
7 4 3 2
A 10 5
10 7
Q 7 6 3
W   E
K 8 5
K Q 9 6 2
9 8 3 2
A 9 6
8 7 4
6 5 4
K 10 8 5


A good dummy? “Thanks partner”. Stanley spread out his trumps. The number did not increase by doing so!

The defence started with three rounds of hearts with Owen ruffing the third round in dummy. Next came Spade-smallQ and then Spade-smallJ covered and won with the ace. West must have been mildly surprised when their partner followed to the third round of trumps. (Remember, Stanley was literally playing the dummy hand: it is not as though he had been the creative one.)

However, West’s surprise turned to agony by what happened next… four rounds of diamonds. West could ruff or not ruff but not ruffing meant throwing a couple of clubs while ruffing meant leading away from the Club-smallQ.

West could choose their poison but either way, this “sub moysian” fit had enabled Owen to make 10 tricks.

A couple of North-South pairs were successful in 3NT (heart lead out of turn?) but a couple were not and the rest of the field played and made club partials.

Redefinition of a bid

Maybe we have a new definition to the bid of 1Spade-small in the sequence:

West          North         East            South

1Diamond-small              1Heart-small              1Spade-small

In olden days, it used to show a five card or longer spade suit. Nowadays, the correct definition is “any number of spades but not four”.

Never ever be put off or fazed

If you find yourself short in the number of spades.

In trumps, quality not quantity is extremely handy

And a decent dummy provided by Stanley.

Richard Solomon



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