Monday, July 25, 2011

Bridge Blog 431: Should I or shouldn't I?

          When it comes to distributional hands, I’m always tempted to take things to the limit in the bidding. I ran into this one on Monday at the Airport Bridge Club while first-time partner Sandy Rifkin and I were en route to a last place East-West finish (albeit at 43%). Sandy, furthermore, is a pretty basic player and I’m not at all used to what she does. On one occasion Monday, she opened 2 No Trump with a 4-4-4-1 distribution. “I was showing points,” she said. Down four.
          At any rate, this is Board 9. North is dealer. We, as East-West, are vulnerable. I’m sitting East with this little wonder:

          Spades: None; Hearts: Q-J-9-5; Diamonds: K-9-7-6; Clubs: K-J-9-5-3.

          North opened a Spade. I doubled. South went to 4 Spades. Sandy passed. Or maybe she doubled, I don’t recall. North passed and I bid 5 Clubs. South bids 5 Spades and that’s where it ended. I led the Queen of Hearts and South put down this dummy.

          Spades: A-J-9-8-6-5-2; Hearts: 7; Diamonds: 5-4; Clubs: 10-8-2.

          Sandy took the Ace of Hearts and returned a Club, with North’s Ace taking my King. One round of trump revealed that our side had no Spades whatsoever. And North-South (Mike Silverman and Alicia Kolipinski) took all the rest. Out of 8 possible match points, we got 1, even though our opponents didn’t bid their slam. How come? Here’s Sandy’s West hand:

          Spades: None; Hearts: A-10-6-4-3; Diamonds: A-Q-J-10-8-3-2; Clubs: 6.

          And here’s Mike, sitting North:

          Spades: K-Q-10-7-4-3; Hearts: K-8-2; Diamonds: None; Clubs: A-Q-7-4.

          Best East-West score was 6 Hearts doubled vulnerable, making the contract for plus 1,660. Two pairs did that. Next best was 6 Diamonds doubled vulnerable, making the contract for plus 1,540. Somebody else did 6 Diamonds undoubled for plus 920. All of those were played by West. Only East-West worse than us was the one who left the opponents at 5 Spades doubled, making the contract exactly for minus 650. But I can’t do it without an answer from Sandy, who was shut out by South’s 4 Spade bid. Should I have doubled 5 Spades?

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