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  Nov. 06/99






by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish


 Today's deal was played in a recent club team-of-four league match, boards duplicated for all matches.

North-South vulnerable South deals

A K J 6 4 2
10 9 8 6 3

A 4

K 10
Q 10 9 7 5

K Q 10 3

A 5
8 3
K 7 5 2

J 8 7 5 2

  Q J 9 8 7 6 4 3 2

J 4

9 6

West North East South
Dbl End    

Opening Lead:

 Most South players risked a 4
opening at unfavourable vulnerability. Whether East-West were playing penalty doubles or takeout doubles, West could hardly afford to pass. The West hand is a prototypical "optional double," suggesting a balanced hand with sound values. East is expected to pass such a double unless he believes he has a chance to make the five-level (or higher). It is more popular to play doubles of all preemptive openings as takeout, but many prefer to draw the line at the 4 level: doubles of 4 and higher are penalty.

 Most Easts passed West's double, even if it was for takeout. When West led the
K and not the A, it seemed that declarer would be able to scramble home. He won the A, threw two diamonds on high hearts, and ruffed a diamond. We can see that a high trump from hand would have secured the contract (the defence cannot untangle a third trump winner) but the expert Souths knew that this was the wrong percentage play. If trumps were 3-1 either the ace or the king would be singleton twice as often (combined) as the ten; if trumps were 2-2 it would usually make no difference which spade South led first. Sagely, these declarers advanced the 6. West won the ten and led a third heart, enabling East to ruff with the A. The K was a third trump winner for the defence and so declarer was one down after all.

A few Easts bid 4NT, showing at least two places to play. West bid 5
in case East held both minors; North doubled and led a high heart. If South did not ruff to return a spade, the best the defenders could do was two down (low heart to ruff, spade ruff, trump ace), plus 500. Curiously, where the lead of the K might have been from ace-king or king-queen, South was more likely to ruff and lead a spade. Now he could ruff another heart and give North a second spade ruff. Down 800.