Games: Bridge

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AS DEALER, would you open with a pre-emptive bid on the West hand on this deal? You may well obstruct your opponents if your partner is weak, but you are much better in defence. All very difficult, and there was a wide variety of results when the deal came up in a recent pairs event. At one table, West chose to pass and East pre-empted with Three Spades. South doubled for take- out, West raised to Four Spades, and South doubled again. If the defenders had forced dummy with a club and ducked the first round of trumps, they would have done better. At another table, West opened One Diamond, and South ended in Five Hearts after brisk competition. The contract could have been defeated but not once West had started with his two top diamonds and South collected 650 points.

At the table I watched, West opened Three Diamonds and East raised obstructively to Four Diamonds. South joined in with Four Hearts and all passed. With his void in clubs, West made the imaginative lead of the two of diamonds. I visualised the play - two, nine, queen of diamonds, club ruff, cash diamond - holding declarer to 10 tricks. Very neat, but I was wrong. At trick 1, declarer played the jack of diamonds from dummy on the lead of the two! Pointless? No, for after East had won with his queen and given his partner the club ruff, West played his partner for the 10 of diamonds as well as the queen, so he made a second underlead of his honours ... South was left with 11 tricks and a shared top.