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by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 Today's deal was played in the 1997 European Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal. The featured auction took place in the Open Series match between strong teams from Germany (North-South) and Sweden.

 When you finish giggling, assess the blame for the North-South "disaster that wasn't" i.e. East could have passed out 4
and collected a series of 50-point undertricks. In an impressive array of ignoble candidates, what was the worst call in the auction?

Neither side vulnerable
South deals

  J 7 5 4
9 8 4

A 9 5 4 3 2
Q 9 8
J 7 5
K 8 5 2
J 10 8
A K 10 6 3 2
6 2
Q J 6 4 3
A K Q 10 3
A 10 9 7
K Q 7 6


West North East South
Pass 1 2 4(1)
Pass Pass Dble 4NT
Pass 5 Pass 6
Pass 7 Pass Pass

(1) Intended as void-showing

Opening Lead:

 East's natural 2
overcall triggered a chain of events that would have to be considered anything but natural. South intended his 4 bid as a void-showing splinter in support of ... all the other suits. Unfortunately for him, North deemed a jump to game in his suit to be eminently natural, and passed. East, who shared the screen with North, would have been told that 4 was natural... had he asked, but in search of untold riches, doubled for penalty. When the dust had cleared, North-South had scampered out to warmer climes and scored up a cold grand slam.

 Kraft: This would never happen to our home bridge enthusiasts. South would not dare jump to 4
on this auction and assume his partner could read it as a fancy splinter in support of persons unknown.

 Kokish: Yes. Although logic dictates that 4
should not be natural after East's natural overcall, it is always dangerous to make an out-of-left-field artificial bid that partner, under battle conditions, might well misinterpret as natural. I believe in treating an expert partner like an expert and I must confess that I have some sympathy for poor South. But not enough sympathy to endorse his action.

 Kraft: But 4
was not the worst bid in the auction, was it?

 Kokish: Nope. The worst bid had to be East's double. The double he intended as penalty worked nicely as a 'takeout' double ... for his opponents. Gilding the lily, greedy, naïve - call it what you want....