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North-South vulnerable, North deals

NORTH

♠7 4 3

♥A 5 3

♦K Q 7 6

♣K J 10

WEST EAST

♠K ♠A J 10 9 8 5 2

♥10 9 ♥Q 7 6

♦A J 8 4 3 2 ♦10

♣9 6 5 2 ♣8 7

SOUTH

♠Q 6

♥K J 8 4 2

♦9 5

♣A Q 4 3

The bidding:

NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST

1♦ 3♠ Dbl Pass

4♣ Pass 4♥ All pass

Opening lead: Ace of

Today’s deal is from a match between world-class experts representing England and Poland. What would you have bid as North over partner’s negative double? There is no comfortable bid, so an expert will choose the bid that is least uncomfortable.

My grandmother, sitting West, would have defeated four hearts by leading the king of spades — her singleton in partner’s suit. She would surely have shifted to the ace of diamonds and led another diamond, giving her partner a ruff and an entry to cash the ace of spades. But these were world-class experts, remember. West led the ace of diamonds and continued with the eight of diamonds as a suit-preference signal for spades. East was no guppy, reading the situation perfectly. East ruffed the diamond and under-led his ace of spades to West’s king. West, on lead with the king of spades, could no longer defeat the contract. This would have been a great defense had West started with a doubleton king of spades and only five diamonds, but it wasn’t the right defense here.

What happened at the other table? North decided to pass his partner’s negative double and the defense prevailed by one trick. This was a good decision, in theory, as four hearts can be beaten, but it didn’t work out that way. North had bragging rights in the postmortem, but his team lost a game swing despite his “good” decision. (02/26/19)

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