Do not stand on strict ceremony
Pink Floyd, a great English rock band and one of the pioneers of electronic music, recorded a song called “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.” Bridge players, when they are confident of the right destination, should head straight there; no stopping to admire the planets on the way to the sun.
In this deal from a duplicate, what should South bid after East opens one diamond?
There were 15 tables in play. At an amazing 14, South bid one heart. This allowed West an easy negative double. Even though North had enough to nudge to two hearts, at all of these tables East-west bought the contract, sometimes in four spades (going anywhere from one to three down) and at other times in five clubs (most making by guessing spades correctly).
At the last table, South sensibly overcalled four hearts. How bad could that be? If partner had nothing, perhaps the opponents were making a slam. What should West have done then?
West was in an awkward position. He had too much to pass, but no clear-cut action. He expressed that dilemma by making a negative double. At this high a level, that double is flexible. Partner’s basic policy is to pass with a balanced hand, but to bid with shape. Here, therefore, East passed.
The East-west decisions are hard to criticize, but did not work well. West led the diamond king and shifted to a spade. South won with dummy’s ace and played the club nine. East took the trick with his ace and shifted to a trump, but declarer won in his hand, crossruffed in the minors and lost only one trick in each side suit for plus 590 and a top.