The Free Lance-Star – 8 Jul 1974 by Steve Becker

West dealer, Neither Side Vulnerable

Opening lead — queen of spades.

The value of a hand is often greatly affected by bids the other players make, and a good part of what is called bidding skill rests on how well one is able to re-evaluate a hand as the picture keeps changing.

Here is a dramatic example of the principle from the 1972 national team of four championship. Probably most players would pass with the West hand, but Mike Becker, son of this writer, opened the bidding as dealer with a club. North bid a diamond, which East (Andy Bernstein) passed. A double by East would have been for takeout, in their partnership style, and Bernstein therefore felt constrained to pass.

Despite his anemic values, West decided to compete further when he doubled for takeout after South’s pass of a diamond. East was happy to let the double stand, but South was not. He ran to one heart.

Sensing that the opponents were in deep trouble, West this time doubled for penalties and, after North had made an SOS redouble, also doubled one spade which became the contract.

West’s bidding was indeed remarkable. He had opened with absolutely minimum values and then proceeded to double every time it was his turn — just as though he had opened the bidding on a super hand.

Moreover, West made the effective opening lead of the queen of spades. Declarer ducked in dummy quite naturally assuming that West had the Q J and East the ace, whereupon West played the ace and another spade.

South eventualy went down three for a loss of 500 points, though he could have saved a trick in the later play. West was excepcionally well rewarded for recognizing that even a minimum opening bid sometimes changes the complexion completely and becomes a powerhouse.