West dealer, Game all

You are South holding:

S K Q 9 4
H 3
D Q 10 9 7 6 5
C A 5

Partner opens 1H at second seat and you are obliged by system to reply 1S (since 2D would be game forcing). You regret your call because the auction goes:

Bjerregard Weinstein Morath Stewart
Pass 1H Pass 1S
3C Pass 3NT Dble
4S Pass 5C ??

Perhaps you disagree with the double of the enemy 3NT but this cannot change now. The question is: Pass, double or bid 5D?

            (Scroll down and find out what happened.)

This was Board 20 from Sweden vs USA II for the Round Robin of the 1991 Bermuda Bowl, played in Yokohama.

Because of the initial reply of 1S, the diamond suit was lost. It certainly seems very perilous bidding now 5D. With a certain trump trick and a singleton in partner's suit, Fred Stewart doubled 5C. He was not pleased with the outcome when the full deal turned out to be:

                            S J 2
                            H J 10 9 5 4 2
                            D A K J 8
                            C 6

S 10 8 7 6 5                                         S A 3             
H Q 8                                                H A K 7 6
D ---                                                D 4 3 2
C K Q J 8 7 3                                        C 10 9 4 2

                            S K Q 9 4
                            H 3
                            D Q 10 9 7 6 5
                            C A 5    

As you see, 5C is cold. To add insult to injury, 5D is also cold your way! At the other table, the Swedish N-S managed to bring the diamonds into light and they reached 5D, they were doubled and they made it easily, gaining no less than 17 IMPs!

Assuming that opponents are sane, their auction gives a few clues that would suggest a 5D bid by South. West passed as dealer and then he came into a live auction at sandwich position with a jump overcall. Why did he not open with a club preempt? He must have major length, almost certainly in spades, judging by his later 4S bid. East bid 3NT after having passed over 1H. He figures to hold length and strength in the heart suit. West ran from 3NT doubled. This suggests a lot of distribution and extreme shortness in a suit, almost certainly diamonds. All this points to the fact that partner rates to have at least decent support for your diamonds.

As it happens, in defiance to the LAW, there are two more total tricks than total trumps (22 vs 20). So, bidding on was the winning option as cards lay.

What about the double of 3NT? If you find it a trifle naive, you may be right, but take into account that it was perpetrated in another table as well. But there, neither East nor West ran: they stood their ground and they went five down vulnerable for 1400!

Special thanks to Al "BiigAl" Lochli, District 16 ACBL Internet Coordinator for assistance with the HTML presentation.

Nikos Sarantakos,
Luxembourg, June 1998

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