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Passing…and Doubling.

What is the highest number of high card points you have ever held when you passed your partner’s opening three-level pre-empt?

Secondly, would you double the following 4 heart contract after the following bidding:

West          North         East            South

Pass            1Spade-small              2Club-small              2Heart-small

Pass            3Heart-small              Pass            4Heart-small


With both sides vulnerable, as West you hold:

Spade-small 432

Heart-small AT8

Diamond-small QT8654


A Heavy Pass

I am not sure that my passing partner’s first in hand 3Club-small pre-empt on the following would make that Guinness Book of (Bridge) Records but it seemed a very conservative action at the time…and might be construed when the board result was decided, to be incorrect.

Board 2
East Deals
N-S Vul
J 7 5
10 9 8 7 2
A J 9 5 4
8 4 3 2
A K 9 7 5
W   E
K 6
J 8 2
6 5
K Q 8 7 3 2
A Q 10 9
Q 10 6 4 3
J 4 3


Pretty good red suits but where were all those spades going…and the odds of partner having three hearts seemed anti-percentage? So, everyone passed out 3Club-small with South, Owen Camp, leading a heart. On the sight of dummy, he offered declarer 9 tricks, an offer which should have been accepted as the contract went two down!

Rising with the Heart-smallA did not help declarer but the club break scuttled the contract. Had I called 3Heart-small, I would certainly have been raised to the 4 level…which our “machine expert” has at down 1. That presumably would be after a spade lead. Yet, it seems North may well lead a diamond…and then? Declarer will play three rounds of diamonds and then a spade…and South a trump…and it becomes rather interesting. It is unlikely to be a worse score for E/W than failing by two tricks in 3Club-small.

Double Trouble.... but for whom?

What though of the second problem? You have three nice trumps and a singleton in your partner’s overcall suit, a vulnerable two level overcall at that. Surely “unders” were more likely than “overs”? Red card time. Right?

Board 4
West Deals
Both Vul
A J 8 7 6
K 5 4
K 7 3 2
4 3 2
A 10 8
Q 10 8 6 5 4
W   E
K Q 9 5
A 9
Q 10 9 6 5 4
Q 9 7 6 3 2
K J 7 2
A 8
West North East South
Pass 1  2  2 
Pass 3  Pass 4 
Dbl All pass    


 There seemed bad and good news in the first two tricks. The bad was that partner’s clubs were not quite what you expected..or hoped for. Your Club-smallJ went to declarer’s ace. That was the bad news. The good was the round of trumps played by Owen at trick 2 which set you up with two trump tricks.(small to the king.) Trick number 3 for the defence came soon as declarer led dummy’s singleton (to East’s ace).

Back came Club-smallQ. I could ruff and cash Heart-smallA but the second diamond loser in declarer’s hand would disappear on the Club-smallK. It looks like discarding a spade would work for the defence. The Club-smallK wins the trick to be followed by Spade-smallA and a spade ruff and a diamond ruff. Another spade ruff  follows which you over-ruff and cash Heart-smallA, thus denying a second diamond ruff in dummy.

Wonderful…. but there is a rule which says when you win a trick, you must play first to the next trick. With no black cards left in your hand, and no trumps left either, you must exit into Diamond-smallKJ. Contract made.

You were right. There were no over-tricks but no under ones either. Since we all know that if you do not double a making contract, you are not doubling enough, partner should be happy. The making contract for this week, this month, hopefully this year, was merely a game contract not a part-score. Minor damage.

3Club-small down 2 instead of 4Heart-small possibly making? Maybe I will bid with my AKQ   AK next time. There seemed more upside from doing so.

Richard Solomon





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