Hand of the Week, Vol. 4 No. 2

This deal from the Giant Springs Sectional in Great Falls (Board 1 of the Saturday morning session, 22 February 2014) illustrates how lead-directing doubles can be a two-edged sword. You hold a fine hand and your partner opens 1H:

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

Your thoughts should immediately turn to slam. How you explore for it depends on your system; for many people, this hand is too strong for a splinter raise, and must start with an ostensibly-balanced Jacoby 2NT. Opener rebids 3NT: extra values, and no singleton or void.

At my table, the person holding these cards opted for a 4C control-showing bid, and his LHO doubled, requesting a club lead against the expected eventual heart contract. Opener showed the DA by bidding 4D, responder trotted out Blackwood, and opener's 5H revealed one key card was missing.

Dealer North
None vul
S 8 6 5
H 7 6 4
D J 8 7
C K T 3 2
S Q J T 4 3
H K Q T 2
D 3
C A Q 9
[table marker] S K 7
H A J 8 5 3
D A K T 9
C J 8
S A 9 2
H 9
D Q 6 5 4 2
C 7 6 5 4

Had there been no lead-directing double, you would of course play 6H. The double warns you that partner doesn't have the CK and the club finesse will fail. If you respect the doubler but are unimaginative, you might sign off in 5H, making only five. But there is a better way to stay out of 6H: bid 6NT and play it from your own side, putting doubler on opening lead! North cannot profitably attack clubs, and if he reaches his partner with the SA, you have 4 spades, 5 hearts, 2 diamonds, and a club, and don't need the CQ.

In my opinion, the lead-directing double holding only KTxx was ill-judged. While it's true you would like a club led against 6H, if you wait for K-Q or better, you will be able to attack the suit yourself if the opponents run to 6NT.

In Great Falls, there were several several 980s, 480s, and 450s on the recap sheet, and one lone -50... that should have been a +990.

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This page last updated 04.03.14
©2014 Gordon Bower