Deals on which one side has 21 points and the other 19, with only one player having a suit as long as six cards, are not often very exciting. Today’s deal from a high-level Australian tournament was an exception. Love all, dealer North:
At the first table North passed as dealer, East opened the bidding with one diamond and South overcalled one no trump. West showed admirable confidence in the soundness of his partner’s opening bid by doubling, and no one made any further contribution to the auction. On the best lead of the queen of hearts, the defenders could have taken six tricks; on the worst lead of a low diamond, they could have taken one. Instead West led a spade, and South swiftly cashed five tricks in that suit and six in clubs before conceding the last two. The unusual outcome of one no trump doubled making with four overtricks gave a score of 580 to North-South.
At the second table North chose to open with a modern-style pre-empt. His bid of three clubs was doubled by East for takeout – an aggressive but not wholly unreasonable action. South raised quietly to four clubs, hoping to provoke West into an indiscretion, and succeeding beyond his wildest dreams when West bid four spades. That was an aggressive and almost wholly unreasonable action. No doubt West hoped that East would be shorter in clubs and longer in spades than was actually the case, and West’s honours in the red suits were likely to pull their weight, but even so it would have been more prudent for West to double to show a few values rather than committing his side to a 10-trick contract. When four spades came round to South, he doubled it. If North had led his trump, South’s correct defence would be to win with the 10, cash the king of clubs to warn partner not to discard from that suit, and then draw the rest of the trumps. That would mean 11 tricks to the defence, probably a world record against a freely bid game, so in some ways it was a pity that North instead led the ace of clubs. The contract still went five down doubled, and North-South from the first table must have been rather surprised to lose 11 IMPs for their result.