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Greedy Double Backfires

  by Richard Pavlicek

The Chicago Cubs were trouncing the Braves; the sky was decorated by a hot-air-balloonist meet — but these events were scarcely noticed by the hundreds of avid bridge players who attended the Labor Day Regional in Atlanta.

The six and one-half day tournament was divided into many separate events designed to please both experts and novices alike. Today’s deal, from the Flight A Knockout Teams, created quite a sensation.

6 NT× South
N-S Vul
H K 9 8 6 5 3
D 9 2
C A K 7 6 5

1 S

2 H
5 C

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

Lead: H 4
S K J 2
H A Q 2
D A K J 8
C J 4 3

The bidding, East’s in particular, may not meet with everyone’s approval. With only North-South vulnerable, East was intent on sacrificing — his bid of six spades may seem crazy, but that contract could be set only five or six tricks (doubled) for 900 or 1100 points while his opponents would have scored 1430 points if allowed to play in six hearts.

South was aware of this and pushed on to six notrump, hoping for the maximum plus score. West ended the auction with a greedy double.

To protect his honor holdings, West led his singleton heart (note that any other lead would lose a trick) and South won the ace. Having only 10 sure tricks, declarer decided to run the entire heart suit, discarding one card from each suit.

West had to find five discards. The first four were easy — three spades and a diamond; but then what? After a little agony, West parted with a diamond.

Declarer then cashed the ace-king of diamonds to drop West’s queen and continued with the diamond jack. West now had to find another discard. His only hope was to discard the spade queen (a club discard gives declarer an overtrick), but South was in command of the situation.

The spade jack was led to establish South’s king and West was endplayed. Whichever club he led, declarer would win the rest of the tricks.

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© 1984 Richard Pavlicek