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JUST BRIDGE...

 

THAT WAS THE LEAD THAT WASN'T

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, August 1999. The players on the 12 teams that had not qualified for the knockout stage of the World Junior Teams Championship were eligible to compete for a secondary title in the Junior Swiss Pairs. Although age was the only restriction, only four of the 24 pairs entered (three involving Canadians) took the opportunity to form transnational partnerships.

 Toronto's Mike Nadler and Norway's Oyvind Saur were in contention all the way, tying for first with Saur's Norwegian team-mates, Boye Brogland-Chris Kristoffersen. A better IMP "quotient" gave Norway the gold.

 When these pairs met, one momentous deal turned the match. Saur, West, had to select an opening lead against 7NT redoubled from the following collection:

 
QJ8743 32 Q4 763, after this lively auction:

 

West North East South
OS CK MN BB
    2 3
5 7 Pass Pass
7 Pass Pass 7NT
Pass Pass Dbl Rdbl
End      


 Make your selection before reading further.

 Could Nadler possibly have an ace? And if he did, was it necessary to lead that suit? Saur, going for the big set, led the
Q. This was the full deal:

 
6 4
A J 7 2

A K Q J 10 8 4

Q J 8 7 4 3
3 2
Q 4

7 6 3

K 10 9 6 5 2
A 9 7
9 8

9 2

  A
K Q J 10 8 5
K 10 6 5 3

5


 Brogeland won the
A, cashed clubs, and guessed diamonds correctly for thirteen tricks; plus 2980. A heart lead would have swung 3380 points and led to the playing of "Oh Canada" at the Closing Ceremonies.

 Kokish: A double of a freely bid slam traditionally demands or at least suggests a particular lead. South's 7NT was not quite of that ilk, however, so Saur was more or less on his own. South's 7NT marked him with the
A. If East held the    A, he might have doubled 7, intending to lead it, and if he had the A, it could hardly disappear. If he held the A, however, it was more attractive to double 7NT than 7. Perhaps East was most likely to hold the A.

 Kraft: Oh, sure. I feel for Saur. The straightforward spade lead to knock out the
A might have produced a huge penalty. Did declarer have to have five tricks in an unbid suit?

 Kokish: Mike Nadler is the proprietor of a thriving bridge club called ... "Doubles". Is this the Twilight Zone, or what?