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   Nov.  19/99






by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 Is it ever correct to put your contract in jeopardy in an attempt to make an overtrick? At duplicate scoring the answer is "yes," because small total-point differences can swing many match (comparison) points. At other forms of scoring, however, the answer would be "almost never." The value of an overtrick is 20 or 30 points, but the value of a slam is in the thousands, a game in the hundreds, and a partial far in excess of the relatively small total recorded on the scoresheet (because of the greater chance to win game and rubber). South fell from grace in today's deal by taking a small risk in quest of an overtrick, but we can sympathize with him. Let's see whether you share our compassion.

Both sides vulnerable  East deals

  5 3
10 8
Q 9

A K J 7 6 4 2

A 4 2
J 7 6 5 3

Q 10 9 8

K 10 7 6
Q 9 7 5 3
10 8 4 2

  Q J 9 8
A J 6 4 2

5 3

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

Opening Lead:

 It s a popular misconception that North's sequence is a signoff. As his 3
rebid must be considered in light of his initial two-level response, the proper adjective to describe his two-step approach is "invitational." With less (remove the K, for example), North would start with 1NT, hoping to show his clubs later. South, with extra values, fast winners, and a mild club fit, was right to try 3NT, and the contract was excellent.

 After winning the first diamond, South counted winners and determined that he needed six club tricks, not all seven, to make 3NT. He devised a sound plan: he would lead a club, and if West followed, he would play low from dummy. If East showed out, a later finesse would bring in six tricks, while if East followed, the ace and king would take care of the rest of the suit.

 But even the best-conceived plans can go astray. When declarer led the first club towards dummy, West played the queen! This play hypnotised South and caused him to forget his carefully crafted strategy. In the belief that he could now record an overtrick with no risk, South captured West's queen with the king. When East showed out, declarer's jaw fell, and so did his contract, because dummy's clubs perished for lack of an entry.

 "Who was that masked man?" thought declarer, with pain in his heart.