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Not obliged to say anything

David Bird ( England )

David Bird is one of England 's most popular bridge authors. He has written over thirty hooks on the game, some twenty/ of them in collaboration with the late Terence Reese. Best known for his humorous bridge fiction, his stories of the cantankerous Abbot and the bridge-playing monks of St Titus appear regularly in magazines around the world. David is bridge correspondent of the Mail on Sunday and the London Evening Standard.

 

TOURNAMENT play is a macho business, with most players regarding it as an affront if they give the opponents a free run. Suppose a vulnerable opponent opens a weak Two Hearts in front of you and, non-vulnerable, you hold:

K J 10 8 6  

 J

 

 Q J 9 5

 

 9 6 3

 

You should leap in there with Two Spades, of course.

Or should you? When the deal arose, the player to your left was the famous 'Rabbi' created by Australian maestro, Ron Klinger. The occasion was the 24th Israeli Congress in Tel Aviv.

  North Dealer  4    

 

N S Game

 K 8 7 5 4 3

 

 

 

 

 10 7 6 2

 

 

 

 

 A 4

 

 

 

 

 

N

 

 

Q 9 7 3     K J 10 8 6

 10 9 6

 

W                          E

 J

 K 3

 

 

 Q J 9 5

 10 8 7 2

 

 

 9 6 3

 

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

 A 5 2

 

 

 

 

 A Q 2

 

 

 

 

 A 8 4

 

 

 

 

 K Q J 5

 

 

N

E

S

 

2

2

4

4

NO

NO

4NT

NO

5

NO

7

NO

NO

NO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rabbi, sitting South, had no reason initially to think that any contract beyond game would be possible. When West bid Four Spades, though, it became a near certainty that North held at most one spade. The Rabbi came to life again with Roman Key-Card Blackwood, hearing a response that showed two 'aces', here the ace of clubs and the king of the agreed trump suit. He was about to bid Six Hearts when a strange thought occurred to him. If clubs were trumps, surely he could score four clubs, six hearts, two aces and a spade ruff!

He bid the grand slam in clubs, received a trump lead, and the play went without a hitch.

Suppose now that you are competing in the final of the 1994 London Trophy. Again at favourable vulnerability, partner passes and your right-hand opponent opens a weak no-trump. You look down at:  

A 9 4  

 K Q 8 7

 

 5

 

 Q J 7 4 2

 

 

Playing Astro, it is clearcut for any red-blooded bridge player to compete with Two Clubs, showing hearts and a minor, isn't it?

The full deal :

  North Dealer K 6 5    

 

Neither Vulnerable

 J  4 3 2

 

 

 

 

 A Q J 10 2

 

 

 

 

 9

 

 

 

 

 

N

 

 

A 9 4     J 10 8 3

 K Q 8 7

 

W                          E

 10 5

 5

 

 

 9 8 6 3

 Q J 7 4 2

 

 

 K 8 6

 

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

 Q 7 2

 

 

 

 

 A 9 6

 

 

 

 

 K 7 4

 

 

 

 

 A 10 5 3

 

 

                         

South ended up in 3NT and a low club was led to East's king, declarer taking his ace immediately. West's intervention marked him with the rest of the outstanding high cards and declarer's next move was a low spade from hand. West could not afford to rise with the ace and dummy's king won the trick.

Now came five rounds of diamonds, declarer throwing a heart and a club. West released two hearts and a club but then had to find one more discard in this position:  

 

  North Dealer  6 5    

 

Neither Vulnerable

 J 4 3 2

 

 

 

 

 -

 

 

 

 

 -

 

 

 

 

 

N

 

 

 A 9      J 10

 K Q

 

W                          E

 10 5

 -

 

 

 -

 Q J 7

 

 

 8 6

 

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

 Q 7

 

 

 

 

 A 9

 

 

 

 

 -

 

 

 

 

 10 5

 

 

 

If he threw another club, declarer would throw him in with ace and another heart; he would then have to give South a second spade trick. So West decided to bare the ace of spades but it was not difficult for declarer to read his distribution. He ducked a spade to the bare ace, setting up his queen for a ninth trick.

Hats off to declarer, but would he have succeeded without the information yielded by West's overcall? I don't think so

UNDENIABLY, there are great advantages to be gained from overcalling. You may:

          reach a making contract

          find a worthwhile sacrifice

          rob the opponents of bidding space

          suggest a good opening lead

 

Look back at the two disastrous overcalls and measure them against these four possible advantages. Neither rates at all highly in any category. So, there was very little to weigh against the ever-present risk that the opponents would take advantage of the information gained. Next time you sit down for a game, read yourself the official bridge player's caution and my BOLS bridge tip:

When the opponents open the bidding you are not obliged to say anything.


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