Unit 149 (WUMBA) - District 13
Interesting Hands: One Minor-Pass-4 Major preempt auction

SJ3 HQ10862 D972 C865 does not seem portentous for dealer, NV vs V at IMPs on BridgeBase.  The opponents probably have game or slam unless partner has a claw and everybody gives up at about the three level, possibly doubled, making, down a few, or down a lot, but nothing worse than the usual 1100 or 930 that my partners and opponents find so frequently.  I passed, fondly recalling the days of K-S controlled psychs, with no inkling that in spite of continuing to pass and having little of significance to contribute to the subsequent play, I was about to get the biggest score and see the single costliest misbid in 48 years of bridge:

Even with significant misdefense (not by me, of course), this was down five for 2800, my largest score ever.

Partner's first double is possibly the most extreme example I ever saw of deliberately stepping in *@#@#@* and emerging redolent of roses.  Be assured that the doubler had no thought of such sophisticated concepts as frightening the opponents out of a cold contract into a doomed one, or inducing a fatal finesse to my Jack of spades.  Based on previous and subsequent observation, this player was not capable of deliberately risking an additional 230 points to possibly gain 1530. She actually thought the cold slam would fail, being apparently unaware of the existence of singletons and solid suits.

West's 6NT instituted the transformation of a score of +1660 into -1400, then -2800. This 4460-point swing is the most spectacular instance of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory [that I have] observed in tens of thousands of bridge hands.

Why East redoubled, I have no idea. It added 1400 to the 3060 (1660+1400) his partner had lost, but bidding 7S, unlikely as it may look, might have reduced the swing from 4460 to 1860.

Surely some of you have seen (or suffered) worse, but I am a young thing of 61 who usually plays with cautious people who double or redouble only when they think it will work. Not that it always does, but usually the tariff is a fraction of the losses currently under discussion.

Copyright (c) 2003 by Henry C. Thibault. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Subject: Musings on a Swing of 4460
Event: Imps on BridgeBase; August 2003
Board: ?
Dealer: South
Vul: non-vul vs vul
S A 4
H 7 3
D Q J 8 6 5
C K Q 9 7
unknown partner as North,
unknown East from other side of world
S 5
H A K J 5
D A K 4
C A J 4 3 2
  S K Q 10 9 8 7 6 2
H 9 4
D 10 3
C 10
unknown West from other side of world S J 3
H Q 10 8 6 2
D 9 7 2
C 8 6 5
South submitter is innocent bystander
with nothing to do but pass in tempo
the auction

1 C P 4 S P
4 N P 5 C P
6 S X P P
6 N X XX All Pass

Comments from editor: Obviously this is hindsight, but I believe that this could have been avoided, and this deal should help partnerships firm up agreements.

1. Response of 4S. Perhaps not unreasonable, but is it necessary to preempt in Spades? More merit to this bid if the suit were hearts. However, the 4S bid, assuming that you have discussed what it promises, is OK. An 8-card (almost) solid suit with an expectation of 7 or 8 tricks seems reasonable. AKQxxxxx is too good. I think that KQ1098xxx is OK (but better to have the Jack instead of 10), but it might be better to have a guaranteed no more than a one-loser suit, missing EXACTLY one of the top 2 (3?) honors. Can East have as much as a King in a side suit? You decide.

2. 4N. Silly in my opinion. No matter what it is, how does it help? Was West going to bid SEVEN if East showed an Ace? or 2 Keys? I think a much better bid is 5S, asking for suit quality. East accepts (perhaps) with 6S

3. Double. Well, it worked and perhaps is what Zia would do. And perhaps minus 1660 is not that much worse than minus 1430. In fact, the more I think about it, I think that whether you would make this call might depend upon who your opponents are.

4. The pass after the Double. It would be nice to have an agreement. I think Expert Standard is that XX is DO NOT RUN. So East perhaps is partially cupable here, as a XX, if made at all and saying DO NOT RUN, could (should?) be made here.

5. 6N. OUCH. A very BAD bid, unless partner's PASS PROMISES solid spades (and an entry?) and gives you an option of passing or correcting to 6N

6. Rest of auction. Silly. Just jumping from the frying pan into the fire. If North just wanted to scare out of 6S, have succeeded. If East wanted to get out of spades into NT, have succeeded. Maybe everyone has had a few, and do not mind turning a zero into an even bigger zero (been there, done that!)