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Pass or Double?

Our featured deal was the clincher for myself and partner Alexander Allfrey (sitting East-West) in the European Open Pairs. Clincher in the sense that it decided our fate – either positively or negatively (I’ll tell you which later).

Board Teams
North Deals
N-S Vul
A K 9 8
J 10 7
A K J 10 9
Q 7 6 5 4 2
5 2
8 7 6 4 2
W   E
K 6 4 3
A K Q J 10 6 5 2
J 10
A Q 9 8
9 8 4 3
Q 5 3
West North East South
  1  5  Pass
Pass Dbl1 Pass 6 2
Pass Pass ?????  
  1. Take-out.
  2. Bold shot. The four small diamonds are interesting. Assuming East has eight for his 5♦ bid, either North is void, in which case 6♥ must have good chances. Or West is void – so has no diamond to lead; again 6♥ rates to have a decent play.

If West led a club v 6  , East would ruff and return a (top) diamond. West would ruff his partner’s winner in order to return a second club and East would ruff again. Declarer would (should) make the remainder by finessing East for the king of hearts, but that would be down two (and a near- Top for East-West).

If West led a spade v 6  , his other plausible option (he’s never leading a trump), declarer would win with dummy’s king. He would run the jack of hearts, then the ten, then lead a heart to the queen and cash the ace (felling East’s king).

Declarer would now know all East’s 13 cards – presumably all eight missing diamonds for his Five-level bid (and no diamond lead from West), four hearts plus the spade he played at trick one. He would run the jack of spades, cash five clubs and merely give up the last trick in spades – to West’s queen. 6  making and a complete Bottom for East-West. 

So which black suit did East lead?

Before I divulge, let’s considerwhether or not East should double 6  . This was the (good humoured – of course) chat after the board...

East: “I didn’t double because I was happy they were there and didn’t want them to bid 6  . I didn’t think they would make whatever you led, partner. In fact I hoped you’d lead a diamond and force a ruff, likely promoting my trump holding”. 

West (after apologising for not leading a diamond): “If you’d doubled, partner, I would have led dummy’s first bid suit [clubs]. When you didn’t double, I thought your black-suit void (if you had one) would be in spades. I thought you’d double with a club void”.

You can see both points of view.

As you perhaps guessed, East did not double 6  , West led a spade and declarer racked up the first 12 tricks. Slam made – and consolation events for our partnership for the rest of the week. Shucks.

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