When Double Was King
Having only one day available to play in the Santa Clara Regional this year,
partner John and I were compelled to forgo the
All-Western Championship in favor of a two-session Open Pairs.
Needless to say, the average caliber of player in our section was not quite
as good as in the other event. Despite that fact, we managed only a
disappointing 50% in the first session. After dinner, though, things got
better, as we were treated to a
75% score. This miraculous comeback
was sufficient to win the event by a small margin.
Most of the credit for today's victory goes to doubled contracts. Here are a few examples:
West's 2NT was takeout, showing extra shape. It was not difficult to defeat this contract by two tricks, for +300. As east, perhaps I should have doubled the bid myself; in any case, I was delighted to pass when partner did the doubling for me.
Let us first congratulate my partner for reopening with a double. When playing negative doubles, you cannot penalize the opponents by bidding in front of partner, who in this case is trying his best not to drool in anticipation.
The opening spade lead went to the ten, jack, and ace. Declarer cashed his other high spade and ruffed a spade as west discarded a club, then played a diamond from dummy. East hopped up with the king to unblock his trump honor, as partner could hardly expect him to hold that card. Declarer took the ace of trumps, but that was his last trick!
West won the next diamond and cashed the nine and queen of hearts. When
east did not discard a diamond, west assumed that he didn't have one, so the ace
of diamonds was cashed. Now, a club lead went to the king, and east played
on spades. South was caught in a trump coup at the
end — a most
humiliating development for any declarer. Good bidding and great defense by
partner! Down four, +1100.
In retrospect, I did not need to risk an attempt to cash the diamond ace. Partner had so many winners available that I could have afforded to discard it later, if necessary.
After a weak-notrump opening bid, north's
2NT asked about
minors. South systemically showed his 3-card or longer minor,
and north went bananas. The play was as ugly as the bidding; for west
even got to ruff a club with his singleton trump! Down four, +800.
So many players inexplicably sit on their thumbs at their first opportunity
to bid. They seem to feel that somehow a hand such as south's is
better-described at the 3-level than at the 2-level.
Partner led hearts, then continued the suit when I encouraged. Later we
scored the two top diamonds and a club ruff, for down two. Albeit difficult
to work out, I also could have gotten another club ruff for down three; yet
+300 proved to be enough. Our side could have scored up a lucky game;
but no pair in our section did that.
Note that our tops on these four boards resulted simply from overbidding by the opponents. John and I needed only to place our red cards upon the table at the appropriate times.
Ted's Law #4: When the opponents want to play bad contracts, let them!