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 Oct. 20/99






by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 With both sides vulnerable, South holds:

Q943 AKQ8 K102 A7

 West deals and the bidding begins:


West North East South
2(1) Pass 3(2) ?

(1) 6-card suit, 6-11 HCP
(2) No game interest

 What action would you take with the South hand? Decide before looking at the full deal.

Both vulnerable West deals

J 10 6 4 2
A 8 4 3

10 8 4

K J 10 6 5 2
9 5
6 5

Q J 3

A 7
7 3
Q J 9 7

K 9 6 5 2

  Q 9 4 3
A K Q 8
K 10 2

A 7

 East's raise to 3
covers a lot of ground. Facing a known commodity (less than opening values, reasonable six-card suit), he is in a strong position to push his opponents around, both with weak hands and hands rich in defence. South is in a very exposed position. Any action he chooses might work badly and he knows it. East-West are having much more fun than North-South so far and it's easy to see why weak two-bids are so popular everywhere.

 South could pass. 3
might fail, with no plus available to North-South on offence, but South really is too strong to give up on the vulnerable game bonus without a fight. A bold 3NT might work; South has something resembling a spade guard and nine tricks might come in if North provides some length and strength in one of the minors. South might double 3 for takeout, asking North to bid his best suit at an appropriate level, but South is really only interested in hearts unless North has a long suit. There is one more option, although it's hardly obvious - an unorthodox 4 overcall on a four-card suit.


 The East-West bidding suggests that North will be short in spades and therefore likely to produce some heart support. 4 would be a good contract opposite jack-third of trumps and some minor-suit strength, or as little as five small hearts and the queen-jack of diamonds. If an imperfect action is required, why not try the one that seems to need the least from partner to be successful?

 At the table, Toronto's John Carruthers overcalled 4
and North provided a suitable dummy. Declarer lost only one spade, one diamond, and one club. A takeout double would work also (North would respond 4) but 3NT would be beaten if the defenders attack clubs without establishing declarer's Q. The conservative pass would net only 200 points on defence. Was 4 just a lucky shot? We prefer to call it an intelligent gamble. Did you choose a winning action?