ACES ON BRIDGE
“I’m the prophet of the Utterly Absurd, I’m the Patently Impossible and Vain.”
— Rudyard Kipling .....................
In this deal from a knockout teams match, East exploited the vulnerability with an aggressive three-diamond preempt in third seat, and South had little choice but to bid three no-trump. West kicked off with the diamond king and, seeing a discouraging signal from East, wisely switched. He did not want to resolve a heart guess for declarer, and a spade might float around to the nine, so he tried a club, which was covered by the jack and ace. Declarer naturally advanced the spade king from hand next, West winning and continuing with the spade 10 to pin the nine.
Declarer won in dummy and set up his seventh trick by running the club 10 to West’s queen. How should West defend now?
Many a player would clear spades, but that would be fatal, tightening the screw against East for a squeeze in the red suits in the endgame, even though declarer still had a trick to lose. Declarer would cash his clubs, reducing to queen-jack-low in diamonds and ace-doubleton in hearts. East would have to unguard one of the red suits, giving declarer the remainder of that suit.
Instead, West did well to passively return a club, leaving declarer’s communications in tatters. South tried his best by cashing the fourth club and leading the diamond queen, after which the spotlight turned to East. Winning the second round of diamonds would have rectified the count for a red-suit squeeze, so East wisely ducked. Now declarer had no chance, no matter which way he turned.
ANSWER: It is not worth making a negative double with so little, especially with shortness in partner’s suit and defensive length in right-hand opponent’s suit. I would pass and would not enter the auction thereafter unless partner made me do so. After a one-heart overcall with the same hand, I would bid one spade, of course. Just because it is a free bid does not mean you need extras at the one-level.
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