Hand of the Week #30

At the Tuesday 18 November game, players sitting East had an interesting decision to make on Board 4. Both vulnerable, your partner deals and passes, and RHO opens 1NT (15-17). What action do you take holding these cards?

S K 9 2
H A Q 8
D 3
C A Q J T 9 4

At the table, most players overcalled 2C and wound up declaring 3C, making five or (on bad defence) six. While you do have a nice six-card club suit and plenty of strength at the two-level, you have a better option: double. Unlike a double of one of a suit, a double of a 1NT opening is for penalty. It shows a hand roughly strong enough to have opened 1NT yourself -- a little less if you have a very good opening lead. Partner will run to his longest suit with a bust hand, so weak that he fears 1NT will make; but with any nondescript 5-count or better, your partner leaves the double in.

Dealer West
Both vul
S Q J 7
H 9 7 4 2
C K 5
S A T 3
H K T 5 3
D J 8 6 5 2
C 7
[table marker] S K 9 2
H A Q 8
D 3
C A Q J T 9 4
S 8 6 5 4
H J 6
D 9 7 4
C 8 6 3 2

On this deal, West has so many face cards he won't dream of taking out the double, North-South have nowhere to run, and in 1NTX on the CQ lead, the best North can do is take four tricks and give up for -800. If he tries anything clever rather than cashing his diamonds he'll be down 1100 or 1400.

At the table, I was sitting South, and was very grateful that my generous opponents let us off the hook for just -150 and a top.

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This page last updated 24.11.08
©2008 Gordon Bower