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Today's deal is from match-point event where the west player chose the wrong time to make a take-out double. Let us see how the defenders punished him when he became the declarer.

Contract: 1S by west. North leads the CA and shifts to the H4.

Bidding comment: Though south had a balanced minimum, he decided to open the bidding because of his three honour tricks in hand. North's redouble showed 10+ points and generally short in partner's suit. West ran to 1S and north lowered the axe on him.

How the defence went: North led the CA and shifted to the H4. South won with the king and switched to a trump. Declarer played the seven, north winning with the nine. North continued with the HQ. South overtook it with the ace, and played a second spade. Declarer played the queen from his hand and North won with the ace and returned the spade jack to declarer's king, south discarding a club. A diamond was played towards dummy's nine. North put up the ten, drew declarer's last trump, south discarding a diamond. North played his last heart now. South won with the ten and the defence cashed out the rest of the tricks. Result: Down six and doubled for a score of +1400 to NS. Declarer made only one trick! The full hands were:

Discussion: There were many interesting points:

This exceptional NS seized the opportunity that came their way. Though they could have settled for their vulnerable game, they were confident they would extract a higher penalty. And they did!

Even if the defence had slipped up a little, they would have earned at least +800 for a top.

At the other tables, NS pairs reached 4H, scoring 680.

You may say that west was a little unlucky to find a complete Yarborough in his partner's hand.

Even granting so, west had no business to enter the bidding with that terrible hand of his. He didn't have a single ace. It violated the fundamental principles of take-out double: Ideally, a take-out double should show a hand with at least the value of an opening bid. Also, minimum doubles, i.e. 12-13 points should not have the queen or the jack in the opened suit, for it will be ruffed out or fall under the A-K.

With the heart jack wasted, it is not an opening hand by any stretch of imagination. The only good thing about the hand is it has four cards in the other major.

What if east had held north's hand? Won't we be missing a spade game? You may ask. The answer to the question is very simple: When you pass, so will north. East will balance with a double and you will jump to 2S. Partner will raise you to game.

The point here is that when the hand belongs to the opponents, you will not be incurring a heavy penalty by unnecessarily stepping in with doubtful values and getting caught between two strong hands. And when the hand belongs to your side, you will be able to reach your game without difficulty.


Keywords: bridge

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