David Bird

Ron Klinger tells me of this striking deal from the South West Pacific Teams. North-South were playing negative (take-out) doubles of overcalls, so South either had to pass — hoping that his partner would re-open with a take-out double that could be passed — or begin with a negative double. West led the two of spades against 6NT and declarer won East’s queen with the ace. If clubs were 3-3, or 4-2 with ten falling, declarer would have twelve tricks. When he cashed the ace of clubs the king fell singleton. This would normally be good news. Not here because West’s remaining 10-8-7-6 gave him a double stopper. Declarer finessed the queen of diamonds but East won with the king. All now depended on East’s return. 

A heart or a diamond would, as it happens, beat the contract. East could not believe that declarer had seven spades, however, and therefore read his partner’s lead as being from three to an honour. East returned a spade and declarer was able to finesse the nine. When the heart suit provided four ticks the slam was made. ‘Plus 990,’ announced South at the comparison. ‘Three IMPs away,’ his team mate replied. ‘I was in IS doubled, losing 1100!’

What would you say on the West cards?

Answer: An overcall of INT promises a strong hand, somewhere in the 16-18 range. This expresses the hand better than a take-out double. Some players would prefer to pass for the moment but nowadays it is commonplace for the opponents to open on 10 or 11 and respond on 5. There is no reason at all why you should not have game your way. AWARDS: INT-10, Dble - 7, Pass - 6.

— Knight Features