I hope this deal does not trigger off a spate of lunatic pre-empts for, although East's efforts on this hand paid off handsomely, it is the sort of ploy that leaves partner unsettled, and unable to make sensible decisions.

To set the scene, East's team were trailing badly at half-time in a match and, after a series of uneventful hands, East felt the need to initiate some off-beat action. He opened 3# (!) and, after two passes, North faced a curious problem. As a double would have been for take-out, and a pass would certainly have collected a possibly inadequate part score, he tried the effect of 3NT. Not unreasonable at the vulnerability but, after East had led 2J, he could come to only eight tricks to lose 100 points.

At the other table, after two passes, West opened 12. Playing weak jump overcalls, North doubled (although 1# would have been an alternative), East raised pre-emptively to 32 and South bid 42. His partner's response of 4# was not good news, so he pushed on with 4!.

Now North became excited and a Roman Key Card Blackwood enquiry showed South to hold !K and 4A. Hoping that, after the opening bid, a diamond finesse (if needed) would be right, North plunged to 7!. After a club lead, declarer won and, rather than stake all on an immediate diamond finesse, had the inspiration to cash #A and ruff a diamond high. When West showed out, trumps could be drawn and a marked ruffing finesse taken against East's #K.

Was this swing of 20 match points enough to turn the tables? No, later West tried repeating his partner's tactic but this one cost 1,400 points.

North-South game; dealer East

North

4J

!A Q 9 7

#A Q 10 9 3 2

2A 5

West East

4K Q 10 9 8 45 4

!8 4 !5 2

#J #K 8 7 6 5

2K Q 8 6 3 2J 10 9 2

South

4A 7 6 3 2

!K J 10 6 3

#4

27 4

Comments