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Mountnessing Bridge Club


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Hand played on 

March 27th 2008

Board number

16 (Red Section) 




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Submitted by

Two club members





































































Do you sometimes feel when a board has been played out that you wish you could do a rewind a try a different tack?  You wouldn't necessarily gain...


This fascinating board offers several lesson!  


West's 2 bid was alerted (Michaels' style, showing a two-suited hand, including the other major.  North's 3 was not alerted.  South's 4 showed a control in that suit, and 4NT was the popular 'Roman Key Card Blackwood' style, so the 5 response showed 0 or 3 of the 5 'Aces' - where the King of the agreed trump suit (hearts) counts as an 'Ace'.  Before the opening lead, North said that the 3 bid should have been alerted as a 'Splinter' bid, showing a singleton or void.  Given that a card had not been faced, the rules allow for the bidding to be 'wound back' to the un-alerted bid, but East chose not to.


The first problem arose due to the lack of the alert of North's 3 bid.  Without the alert,  East intended the double as a penalty double (in which case West should have alerted it...).  When North bid 5, East appeared to have (at least) one spade trick, an Ace, and surely a trump winner?  Hence the rather ill-fated double.  Mind you, if you trust partner's Michaels' bid, and believe the 3 to be natural, then that puts Declarer with a spade void, so no, you aren't going to make any spade tricks in defence!  If West leads a spade or a diamond against a heart contract by NS, then Declarer wins in hand and plays a trump to the Ace, and discovers the bad break.  Actually, this turn of events is not a problem: the nine of hearts is led from Dummy, intending to run it if East does not cover.  In practice the trick proceeds Ten, Jack, discard.  Now a spade is ruffed to regain the lead in Dummy and Dummy's last heart is led towards the K8 over East's known Q5 holding, so trumps can be drawn, and then all of Dummy's diamonds are enjoyed, yielding a total of 13 tricks.  Defending 5 doubled was not a happy experience for East/West, though they did manage to hold Declarer to 12 tricks, so it could have been worse!


Personally, had I held the East hand I would have doubled the 3 splinter bid - partner had already shown spades, and I want to show support for them!  A double of a conventional bid is taken to show values in the suit bid unless alerted otherwise.  Given the exceptionally flimsy original 2 bid, West is likely to stay silent, despite the encouragement from partner, but now East will probably not double the 5.   However, the sting in the tail is that without the double of 5, South may possibly have pushed on to 6 - a contract that was doubled and made with an overtrick at two other tables.  5 doubled with one overtrick scores 750, and even with two overtricks it only comes to 850, which is clearly not as bad as the minimum of 980 available through some version of a 6 contract.  


Perhaps East chose wisely when electing not to exercise the right to rewind the bidding!


A comment from West:


Yes - this was a very interesting hand, though I'm not sure every lesson has been drawn from it. I felt somewhat guilty about the Michaels bid on such a weak hand, mainly because I'd been complaining all evening about partner's tendency to steam in with a weak two on 9xxxxx, so it undermined my case for sound bidding somewhat. The case against unsound bidding is that it leads to disaster more often than not. In this case, there was no disaster (in a manner of speaking), but it could have led to an even better result, and it strikes me that it's important that when a bid like this gives the opportunity for a cheap save, that the opportunity is taken, though it's a difficult call.

It seems that the 3 overcall cannot be taken as a suit if partner hopes for a spade trick. Who in their right mind would bid 3 on Jxxx?  What would be the point of showing this useless feature? I didn't take the double of 3 as for penalties but co-operative in spades, hence I didn't alert it. But as I was so weak I decided not to bid on at that stage. My double of 5, since I would be on lead, can't be lead-directing and must show my minor.  

So, partner has a difficult decision, given her trump holding. Given her 11-count, and the opposition's interest in a slam, it's clear that I've not got a lot. She has a good picture of my hand. Unless the opponents are lunatics, I've a singleton or void in hearts, she has a singleton diamond, and we fit well in the black suits. Her trumps are (as it turned out) terribly exposed on the bidding, their location confirmed to the opponents by the final double.  I nearly bid 6, but didn't know how juicy partner's heart holding was. The working bid is for partner to bid 5 (which appears to go 1 off), and then either of us bids 6 over 6 if necessary. It's a close call over 6, but from the logic just rehearsed, it is clear to partner that I most likely can't provide a trick - even if I have K, this requires a 2-2 break in clubs (and given my evident lack of point count, I might be 6-5 or 6-6 in the black suits). I'm unlikely to hold A because South has (most likely) shown 3 key cards, East holds A, yet North has shown interest in a slam. OK - maybe the logic here is a bit dodgy - maybe South has 0 key cards; but if I have both A and K, the opponents have a combined 22-count, which doesn't seem terribly likely. The hypothesis that I have A is weakened by the 3 bid taken as showing a suit, and if it's a splinter, may show a void making my supposed A useless.  

Partner's double does have the name I suggested at the table - it's the Stripe-Tailed Ape Double - see below   


Striped-Tail Ape Double - An attempt to have the opposition settle for Doubled contract and miss slam, where the opponent will "run like a "Stripe-tailed Ape" to their long suit if opponent's redouble!  Obviously, this tactic only works with favourable vulnerability. Example:

(1D) - 1S - (2S) - 4S;
(4N) - P   - (5D) - X;