Do not stand on strict cer­e­mony

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL SPORTS - By Phillip Alder

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.

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