Vulnerability at the bridge table
Madeleine L’Engle, best known for her young-adult fiction, wrote, “When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up, we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability . ... To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
At the bridge table, as we all know, being vulnerable is a two-edged sword. When we are bidding game or slam, the bonuses are generous; but if we run the risk of going down in a doubled contract, the penalties quickly get expensive.
Look at the South hand. With both sides vulnerable, North and East pass. What should South open?
Typically with a seven-card suit, we bid three. However, there are two good indicators for four spades: partner’s being a passed hand, which increases the chance that the opponents have a game somewhere, and the 7-4-1-1 distribution. (In Australia, the expert mantra is to open with a game-bid whenever you hold a 7-4-1-1. Surely hand strength ought to have some influence, though.)
At the table, four spades was passed out, but surely East should have doubled to show a strong hand — even though that would not have done well here. If West had run to five diamonds, probably North would have doubled and collected 800 if North-South took two spades, the heart ace, a heart ruff and the diamond ace.
Four spades cruised home for plus 620, declarer losing only three club tricks. But if doubled, the score would have been 790.
Pre-empt less aggressively with no singletons.