Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Phillip Alder
Newspaper Enterprise Assn.
Bridge is not a game for cowards. On occasion, however, caution is clearly correct. At other times, though, you must decide whether to take a calculated gamble. Look at the East hand in the diagram. Despite your one-heart overcall, the opponents barrel into six spades. Would you double, asking partner to lead a diamond, the first suit bid by the dummy?
East might have overcalled two no-trump, the Unusual No-Trump, showing at least 5-5 in hearts and clubs, the two lowest unbid suits.
If West does as asked and your heart ace stands up, you will defeat a slam that would presumably succeed on the heart lead that partner would probably make without your double. Do not fear that an opponent has a red-suit void; that is extremely unlikely. But there is another risk ó what is it?
At the table, East did double six spades, which seems the percentage action to me. When it was passed out, West led the diamond six, East ruffed, then cashed the heart ace for down one.
Plus 100 was much better than minus 980, the result on a heart lead. But South should have taken heed of the warning sign and retreated to six no-trump. Note that that contract cannot be defeated, declarer having five spades, six diamonds and one club on top.
Finally, why did West select the diamond six, not a top-of-nothing eight? Because when you are giving partner a ruff, your card sends a suit-preference signal, telling him where your potential re-entry lies. With no entry card, West led his middle diamond.

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