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Bold Bids Collect Daily Double

  by Richard Pavlicek

The North American Bridge Championships — in addition to the competitive challenge — provide the opportunity to renew past acquaintances. While in Salt Lake City with my son, Rich, we met Jonathan Steinberg of Toronto, an old friend and former partner of my son. He and Rich decided to play the Life Master Pairs, one of the toughest events. I wish I could say they won, or even came close.

Steinberg was North on today’s deal from a knockout team event. After West’s one-heart opening, he used the “Michaels cue-bid” to show a two-suited hand containing the unbid major suit (spades) and an unknown minor suit. East crowded the bidding with four hearts, however, South would not be shut out with his powerful spade fit.

6 S× South
Both Vul
S A K Q 10 6
H Q J 4
C K J 8 6 4
1 H
6 H
2 H
6 S
4 H
5 D
4 S
5 S
S 7 5
H A K 9 6 5 3
D Q 10 2
H 10 8 7 2
D A K J 9 6
C 10 9 5 2

Lead: H A
S J 9 8 4 3 2
D 8 7 5 4 3
C 7 3

Everything seemed peaceful when four spades was passed around to East, but the cannons were just being reloaded. East bid five diamonds (perhaps to direct a diamond lead), South contested with five spades, and West joined the fun with six hearts. Steinberg’s instinct was to double this — a profit is a profit — but his experience said no. The outcome of a freakish deal is unpredictable, and the winning action is often to bid one more for the road. Six spades!

This was doubled by West on general principles, but the defenders soon would be reeling in misery. The heart and diamond voids, plus the ace-queen of clubs onside, gave declarer an easy road to 12 tricks. The score: 1,660 points.

The above alone makes this deal newsworthy, but what makes it remarkable is the result at the other table. Steinberg’s teammates (East-West) experienced a similar competitive auction, but they were allowed to play in six hearts — doubled. Declarer had no difficulty, losing only a trump trick (the club queen is discarded on the diamond suit). The score: 1,660 points.

A perfect daily double! Slams were bid, doubled and made at each table in different directions. Steinberg’s decision not to double six hearts created a swing of 3,320 points for his team.

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© 1988 Richard Pavlicek