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Cagey Bidding Nets Reward

  by Richard Pavlicek

The late John Crawford, one of the shrewdest bridge players of all time, was famous (perhaps infamous) for his clever bidding tactics. For example, as dealer he once picked up nine spades headed by the ace-king and he passed! The bidding was opened in fourth seat by his right-hand opponent and he passed again! When the opponents finally reached four hearts, he backed in with four spades. This was promptly doubled on general principles, and he made it for a top board. Everyone else with his hand opened the bidding four spades, and the opponents were stampeded to the five level. Crawford’s strategy, in theory, was inferior to the preemptive approach; but it often succeeds in practice if used sparingly. It pays to mix ‘em up once in a while.

Alan Kleist of Ft. Lauderdale used this tactic on today’s deal from the Grand National Teams qualifying held last Sunday at the Pompano Beach Bridge Club. Kleist, South, passed as dealer and then overcalled three diamonds after West opened a weak two-bid and East responded in spades. At his next turn he bid five diamonds — the contract he had in mind all along — and East ended the auction with a double.

5 D× South
E-W Vul
S J 10 9 3
H A 10 7 4 2
C Q 9 4

2 H
3 S


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

Lead: S 2
H 3
D A 10 8 6 5 4 3 2
C A 10 6 2

Five diamonds is by no means a laydown, but Kleist found a way to make it. The spade lead was ruffed and dummy was entered with a heart to lead a low club; jack; ace. A club was returned to the queen and king, and East led another spade which South ruffed. A low club was led to dummy’s nine, then a diamond through East held him to one trump trick.

East could defeat the contract by playing low on the first club lead, as this prevents a later entry to dummy. Curiously, the only way to succeed against perfect defense is for declarer to lead the club 10 from his hand at trick two.

Kleist’s team, which included Ed Silver, John Lyddon and Jim Long, led the qualifiers with a perfect record.

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek