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by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish


 Styles in fashion may repeat themselves; retro is often chic. Styles in bidding may change too, but they rarely retrogress. Bidding principles are revised when they are superseded by more efficient techniques and the process is usually a slow one.

 It is in the domain of contested auctions (when both sides are attempting to buy the contract) that the evolution of bidding ideas has been most visible. For example, many traditional penalty doubles are now widely employed as takeout.

Neither side vulnerable
West deals

  8 6 4 2
8 7 3 2
10 4

K Q 4

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

J 10 9

  A 7 5
A K 7 6 5 2

A 8 7


West North East South
Pass Pass 1 2
2 Pass Pass Dble
Pass 3 Pass Pass


 There was a time when every experienced player would double 1
for takeout with the South hand and show diamonds later if not inconvenient. Modern methods advocate a simple but sound 2 overcall, to emphasise the key feature of the hand. Later, South can double a further heart bid to show extra strength and fair support for the black suits. Old-fashioned rules would have labelled this reopening double as penalty because South had bypassed a previous opportunity to make a takeout double of hearts.

 It looks as though South is doomed to defeat in 3 on two rounds of hearts: two trumps, two spades, and a heart to lose. When counting losers doesn't lead to success, try counting winners.

 If he can cash six high-card tricks, three ruffs in hand will see him home. Ruff the second heart, play ace-king of trumps, go to a club, ruff a second heart, cross in clubs, ruff a third heart, cash both black aces. Nine tricks.

 Pretty play, but East missed an opportunity. With South marked with at most one heart on the bidding, East can overtake the Q and switch to the Q, leaving declarer an entry short for the vital third ruff in his hand. Declarer will lose five tricks after all.