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N-S Game; dealer West


4A K 10 9 7 4

!K 10

#J 5

2A K J

West East

4J 3 2 4Q 8 6 5

!9 8 6 5 3 !A J

#6 4 2 #A K 9 8

29 7 210 5 2



!Q 7 4 2

#Q 10 7 3

2Q 8 6 4 3

What would be your reaction if, as North on this deal, you heard your partner remove your penalty double of an opponent's contract of Two Spades? Mixed, I dare say.

The hand came up in the 1996 Lederer Memorial Trophy which saw the London team winning comfortably. Their opponents here were the Premier League winners who represented Britain in the recent Olympiad. The Hackett twins, Jason and Justin, had an unopposed auction to end in Four Spades - a contract which was easily defeated.

The real action came at the other table. Brian Callaghan, as North, opened with a strong club and Paul Hackett overcalled with Two Clubs, conventionally showing length in spades and diamonds. With scattered values, David Burn, as South, doubled and after two passes, East retreated to Two Diamonds. Burn doubled again and Ian Monachan, as West, tried Two Spades. North felt that he was on fairly firm ground in doubling this, but South had other ideas and cue-bid Three Spades.

With what he later described as "a fair guard" in spades, North reluctantly bid Three No-trumps, which ended the bidding. Oddly enough, it was all for the best. Consider: nine tricks in no-trumps proved extremely easy and the Londoners scored 600 points. But what about the possible defence to Two Spades? The defenders cannot conveniently play trumps: if they do, declarer makes two tricks in the suit to go with his three red suit winners while, if they do not touch trumps, East can come to a club ruff in dummy. In other words, a penalty of 500 points would be the maximum so, whatever North may have thought at the time, perhaps South's judgement was not quite as bad as it may have seemed after all!