Bridge: Not seeing the whole picture

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HAVE you ever arrived at a table in the middle of a hand and wondered how on earth the bidding had gone to reach such a ludicrous contract? This is what I saw - dummy had apparently gone to put his head under a cold-water tap - and a polite inquiry elicited that the contract was Two No-trumps doubled.

Love all; dealer South


9 8 7 4 3

Q 5

8 7 6 5 3




A K 9 8 6

K 4

8 6 5 3


J 6 2

4 2

A Q J 10

A K Q 9


Q 10 5

J 10 7 3

9 2

J 10 7 4

The defence started with the ace, king and another heart. Thankfully South took his two heart tricks to escape for six off and a penalty of 1,400 points. East was severely critical of his partner's defence. One top heart was fine, but if West had followed with the ace and king of spades (a Vienna Coup) and then switched to the king and another diamond, East could have run his diamonds and subjected declarer to a repeating squeeze.

If he throws two hearts, West has four more winners in the suit. If instead he discards from either black suit, East cashes his newly established winner and squeezes South again. This would have led to declarer taking no tricks at all and a penalty of 2,000 points.

What was the explanation? You may have guessed - the three players were waiting for a fourth and passing the time by playing one of the most amusing variants of three-handed bridge. The cards are dealt in the normal way, there is no bidding whatsoever, and the dealer is always declarer in a contract of Two No-trumps doubled.

It is great fun and tests your card play in unusual contracts, but I strongly recommend playing for about a quarter of your usual stakes. What do you score for a vulnerable Two No-trumps doubled plus three? You soon get used to these odd scores.