Con­tract Bridge

The Weekly Vista - - Fun & Games - by Steve Becker

Fa­mous Hand

It is of­ten dif­fi­cult to reach the best con­tract when your op­po­nents cramp the bid­ding space with nui­sance bids. How­ever, such tac­tics oc­ca­sion­ally boomerang, which is what hap­pened on this deal from the 1966 World Pair Cham­pi­onship when a Span­ish pair crossed swords with a French pair.

The Span­ish South opened the bid­ding with one heart, and the French West over­called with one notrump! This type of over­call — in­di­cat­ing a long suit and a weak hand — is known in France as the comic notrump (le sans atout comique). North dou­bled to show a good hand, and East added spice to the go­ings-on by leap­ing to five clubs.

South bid five hearts, thus in­di­cat­ing much more than a min­i­mum open­ing bid, and North raised him to six. Per­haps East should have passed — the bid­ding surely would have died then and there — but he bid seven clubs as a sac­ri­fice against the small slam he felt sure the op­po­nents could make.

This tac­tic back­fired when it gave South a chance to make a forc­ing pass and in that way in­vite part­ner to go on to seven hearts with a suit­able hand. Had South held a weaker hand, he would have dou­bled to stop his part­ner from bid­ding a grand slam.

Un­der the cir­cum­stances, North had no real prob­lem. He re­al­ized that his three aces were ex­actly the kind of medicine South needed for a grand slam. So he bid seven hearts, which was eas­ily made for a score of 2,210 points, and the comic notrump did not prove to be so com­i­cal af­ter all.

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