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Indiscretion Bears a Steep Price

  by Richard Pavlicek

The next time you consider making a takeout double just because you have 13 points, remember today’s deal, which occurred in the Life Master Pairs in Chicago earlier this month. Perhaps you will be able to empathize with the poor South player who had to play a doubled contract because of his partner’s indiscretion. I was West, and Brian Glubok of New York City was East.

1 S× South
None Vul
S A Q 8 7
H Q 4
D K 8 5 4
C Q 5 2
1 H
1 S
S 3
H A K J 6 3
D 10 9 6
C A 9 8 6
TableS K J 10 9
H 10 2
D A Q 2
C K J 7 3

Lead: H K
S 6 5 4 2
H 9 8 7 5
D J 7 3
C 10 4


West routinely opened one heart, and North doubled — a poor decision with minimum strength, including the likely useless heart queen. (A good general rule is to not to count a stray queen or jack in the enemy suit when making a suit overcall or takeout double.) East redoubled, and South rescued his partnership to one spade (where else?). This was passed around to East, who doubled for penalty.

West led the heart king, then shifted to a spade, which declarer ducked to East’s nine. Glubok now made a superb, farsighted play — he led a spade right into the ace-queen. On the surface this looks silly, but at worst it will break even; if spades are not continued, declarer will ruff a club in his hand. A complete analysis shows that East’s play gains a trick for the defense.

Declarer, in a hopeless situation, led the heart queen to West’s ace; West led the diamond 10 to East’s queen; and East continued spades to drive out the ace. East won the next diamond lead, drew the remaining trumps, and the defenders won the rest of the tricks.

Declarer won only two tricks, the ace and queen of trumps. The price of indiscretion? Minus 1100. An expensive way for North to learn that nonvulnerable does not mean invulnerable.

The third annual Royal Viking Pairs will be held Tuesday evening, Sept. 19 at bridge clubs throughout North America. Instant scoring, valuable prizes, and a souvenir booklet by this writer. Contact the club nearest you for details.

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© 1989 Richard Pavlicek