Hand of the Month - May 2006


This month's hand turned up during our April Unit game. It's called, "How to Turn +50 into -1770."
You, South, are the dealer, and no one is vulnerable. You pick up this hand:

♠ J 9 8 5 2
♥ A
♦ A 8 3
♣ A 10 8 7

A nice, normal opening bid of 1♠. The auction quickly reaches the stratosphere:

West North East South



1♠
Pass 4NT Pass 5♠
Pass 7♠ Pass Pass
Double Pass Pass Pass

You are using plain vanilla Blackwood, so your 5♠ call showed your 3 aces. The opening lead is the ♥2 (3rd - 5th best leads), and you find yourself facing this:

♠ A K 7 4
♥ K Q J
♦ K 9
♣ K 9 6 3

♠ J 9 8 5 2
♥ A
♦ A 8 3
♣ A 10 8 7

Well, chief? It’s not the world’s best grand slam contract, although it certainly isn’t the worst. Let’s see: you can ruff the losing diamond in dummy, and discard two clubs on the ♥K Q. You have a potential trump loser, although you’re OK if an honor drops singleton on your right, or the queen is singleton on your left, or they are 2-2 and you guess correctly. That's how you'd play it without the double. But what on earth has West doubled on?

The only possible answer is, he’s sitting behind you with all the trumps and rose-colored glasses. Indeed, if your opening bid included one of the top spade honors plus the jack, you’d be doomed. Without the double, you’d probably lead a small spade to the ace, and down you would go when East showed out.

Since you can no longer ruff your losing diamond in dummy (you need all four of dummy’s trumps to pick up West’s holding), the only hope you have is that clubs are 3-2.

So: after winning the ♣A, you take a deep breath and lead the ♠9, intending to run it if West plays low. He does, you do, and it wins. (At this point East is about to have a coronary over West’s double.) Return to hand in diamonds and lead a small spade. This time West plays the ♠10 so you win, return to hand with a club (if West is void and ruffs you weren’t making this contract anyway), and lead another small trump, covering whatever West plays. Then drop the last outstanding trump, discard two clubs on the ♥K Q, cash the ♣K and hold your breath. Eureka! Both opponents follow so you ruff a club with your last trump, lead over to the ♦K and discard your losing diamond on the good club. Thirteen tricks.

Evidently, West needs to read S.J. Simon on the mathematics of doubling. (The book is "Why You Lose at Bridge."). The complete hand:

♠ A K 7 4
♥ K Q J
♦ K 9
♣ K 9 6 3

♠ Q 10 6 3♠ - -
♥ 10 8 6♥ 9 7 5 4 3 2
♦ Q 5 4♦ J 10 7 6 2
♣ J 5 4♣ Q 2

♠ J 9 8 5 2
♥ A
♦ A 8 3
♣ A 10 8 7


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