Bridge Today Daily Column

Issue #83 - Oct 5


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North dealer

All vul


You, West, hold:


J 9 7 5

K J 9 8 5

9 8

3 2


West  North  East  South

-     1D     pass  2C

pass  2D     pass  2NT

pass  3D     pass  3H

dbl   4C     pass  4NT

pass  5D     pass  6NT

(all pass)


Your lead.










From "Bridge Hands to make you laugh . . . and cry" by David Bird and Nikos Sarantakos, Batsford Books, 2004

[Highly recommended! The back cover describes this book perfectly: "Sit back and enjoy the hands and the stories, nearly all of which come from the very highest level of the game. By studying (and, let's admit it, enjoying!) the misfortunes of others, you can avoid suffering such disasters yourself."]


How about 3NT failing when 6NT is successful? This deal arose in the 1997 McCallan Pairs in London.


North dealer

All vul



        A K Q

        7 6 2

        A K 10 6 5 3



West            East

J 9 7 5         10 6 4

K J 9 8 5       A 4

9 8             7 2

3 2             10 9 8 7 6 4



        8 3 2

        Q 10 3

        Q J 4

        A K Q J


West    North   East    South

Szwarc  Lauria  Bompis  Versace

-       1D      pass    2C

pass    2D      pass    2NT

pass    3D      pass    3H

dbl     4C      pass    4NT

pass    5D      pass    6NT

(all pass)


Lorenzo Lauria and Alfredo Versace are one of the world's strongest pairs. Having paid this tribute, we feel free to say that we do not admire their bidding here. When bids such as 2D and 2NT are forcing, as in the two-over-one systems, it can be difficult for either player to express his strength. Auctions tend to ramble on and eventually rely on mere guesswork.


A heart would be an obvious lead against 3NT. Against 6NT it would be a bizarre choice, particularly when the contract had been bid despite West having advertised strength in the suit. Henri Szwarc has our full sympathy for his spade lead. It must have been a sickening moment when declarer spread his hand, claiming all thirteen tricks.


[Editors: After reading this hand, we are now playing that if one partner doubles a suit for the lead, and the other partner doubles the final contract, it means "Go ahead and lead the suit you doubled!"]


Three North-South pairs (out of eight) bid a slam on this deal and two were successful. The other successful pair was Michael Rosenberg and Seymon Deutsch. They made 6D from the North seat when Gabriel Chagas elected not to lead the HA even though his partner, Zia Mahmood, had made a lead-directing double for hearts during the auction. Why? Well, some boards earlier, Zia had made a psychic lead-directing double on three small, causing declarer to take a losing line. Suspecting Zia of attempting to repeat this triumph, Gabriel Chagas opted for a spade lead! The loss just about cancelled the gain from the previous psych, but it gave reporters a good story.


What happened to the five North-South pairs who showed some restraint and stopped at the game level? No fewer than three of them went down in 3NT, losing five heart tricks. Despite North-South holding 31 points between them, no game is possible against best defense.



Bridge Today Digest Daily is edited by Pamela and Matthew Granovetter

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