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by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 Kokish: At last month's World Junior Teams Championship I encountered a vast array of outrageously weak one- and two-suited openings and overcalls. I did not need confirmation from the under-26 set that standards have slipped dramatically because the evidence has been mounting for years.

 Kraft: Have you found that these weak bids show a profit on balance?

 Kokish: No, although the successes can be spectacular. I am convinced, however, that it really pays to develop a comprehensive set of agreements to counter this epidemic of germ warfare. Today's deal, from the 1999 Canadian Teams, is a case in point.

Neither side vulnerable
West deals

Q 10 9 4 3
K 10 9 6 5 4 

4 2

A K J 10 9
8 7 6

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

Q 9 8 3


West North East South
  SW   DM
1 2(1) 3(2) 4
Dble Pass Pass Pass

(1) Hearts and a minor; 5/5+

(2) Diamonds, competitive+

Opening Lead:

 Edmonton's Steve Willard introduced his two-suiter with a Michaels cue-bid of indeterminate strength. East was able to name his suit via transfer bid without overstating his strength; with a better hand, he would bid again in competition or over West's "expected" 3
in an uncontested auction. West would bid "more" than 3 with extra values. Without these agreements, East would have to pass with a weak hand, intending to bid later, or (by agreement) bid directly with the weak one-suiter and double or cue-bid with a stronger one.

 South, Dick McKinney (also Edmonton) could hardly bid less than 4
, although he must have had a suspicion that North's minor was diamonds. West had the best hand at the table, but realising that the hands would not fit very well for both sides, doubled for penalty. East, who had been able to suggest his hand type earlier, was not tempted to try 5.

 Kraft: West's double, with no semblance of a trump trick, might be deemed presumptuous, but it was well reasoned. Did he lead trumps early?

 Kokish: Yes, after the
K held the first trick. Declarer could have crossruffed for seven tricks but tried to build a club trick and a second trump lead held him to six trump winners; down 800. At the other table, East-West went minus 500 in 4 doubled, so the team with the two plus scores gained 16 IMPs.

 Kraft: Maybe I'm mellowing, but I can't help feeling that North-South were a trifle unlucky this time.