You are South holding:

S J 9 8 H K J D A K 6 C Q 9 5 3 2

South dealer, EW vul.

You open with 1C and the bidding goes:


Are you going to pass, double, or bid 5C? Should you choose to defend, what will you lead?

Scroll down to see if your decision would have worked at the table.

This was board No 3 of Netherlands vs Norway for the 1993 Bermuda Bowl final. The auction was identical at both tables, something not very frequent nowadays with all these complex bidding systems used by top players.

Partner's triple raise gives you the assurance of at least 10 trumps, which is a factor in favour of bidding on. The vulnerability is another factor in the same direction. As against that, the opponents have bid under pressure and their game may well be down, all the more since you have two quasi certain diamond tricks.

Hence, it was eminently reasonable to pass. The lead was irrelevant, because the full deal was:

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

As the cards lie, 4H is cold against any lead and defence. On the other hand, 5C will go probably two down (but possibly only one down), perhaps undoubled. In any case, -50 (best scenario) to -300 (worst scenario) represent a handsome gain against the 620 available at 4H.

At the table, both Helgemo and Westerhof passed. You see, it was just the 3rd board of a long match and when one is playing his very first world championship final, one tends to be prudent and try to avoid phantom saves. Later on, both teams had ample opportunity to show their courage and after 160 boards the Dutch emerged champions!

In the Ladies final (USA v Germany), East and West did not enter the bidding at either table! The respective Souths opened a nebulous 1D or a medium (14-16) 1NT, which silenced West. Both Norths bid 2NT for the minors, so N-S were able to play a peaceful club partial.

Special thanks to Yvan Calame for the HTML conversion!

Nikos Sarantakos,
Luxembourg, June 1998

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