At the end of 1970 four US teams engage in the final qualifying matches for the 1971 World Championship teams (contesting the Bermuda Bowl).
Take the seat behind Steve Altman, who is West. Immediately on the first deal he faces a tough high level bidding decision:
|♥||A K 5|| |
|♦||A K 8 3 2|| |
|♣||K J 3 2|| |
|??|| || || |
1 Strong, conventional
2 No choice: any bid would show a weak hand; a double would show a good club suit
3 Take out
4 Some strength, spade fit
In desperation Altman turns to you. What would you bid?
Unlike the scenario above, Altman thought he knew what to do: unhesitatingly he doubled. Two ace-kings plus ♣KJ32 behind the club bidder: 'This is going to be fun!'
Well, it was not - not for Altman, that is:
|E/NS||♠||J 10 8 4 3|| |
| ||♥||10 9 2|
|♦||Q J 10 6|
|♥||A K 5||♥||Q J 7 6 4 3|
|♦||A K 8 3 2||♦||9 7 5 4|
|♣||K J 3 2||♣||9 8|
| ||♠||A K Q 9 6 5|| |
|♣||A Q 10 6 5 4|
Declarer easily made twelve tricks by ruffing three clubs in dummy, +1660 to NS.
The double seems logical but the warning signs were there. North's redouble showed a spade fit, after which South, despite having few points (West can see that!), bids 6♣ over East's 5♥. It is not a long shot to assume he has 6-6 in the black suits then. After all, he could have 'quietly' bid 5♠. West can tell therefore, that the ♦AK and the ♥AK have little or no value in defence.
West's club holding does seem valuable in defence but even that should not be taken for granted: since West has four clubs and South probably six, dummy may very well be short in clubs. And if dummy has enough trumps as well (rather likely in view of East's telling jump to 5♥: obviously he is short in spades), he can ruff all of West's potential club tricks.
Thinking along these lines (and not with hindsight therefore), West whould have done better to bid 7♥, going down four (-700 in those days, nowadays it would be -800): an excellent insurance against a vulnerable 6♠ that may very well be a make.
At the other table:
1 Very aggressive according to 1970 standards
2 Take-out (old fashioned; nowadays South would show a two suited hand by way of a conventional bid)
3 Somewhat timid; probably afraid North will pass a second double
4 West is in for a nasty surprise; yet his double is more logical than West's double of 6♠ at the first table...
5 North is a happy man
After North's very fine example of good 'dummy putting' South of course quickly made 4♠ doubled with two overtricks: +1190. Both North and South may have been somewhat disappointed when their team turned out to lose 10 IMPs...
The moral: forget about the point count in case of an extreme distribution.