East West vulnerable

Play Bridge: Pre-empter doubles up

"This is the fifth column in which the pre-empter takes a more active roll in the auction than what a pre-empter normally does."

This is the fifth column in which the pre-empter takes a more active roll in the auction than what a pre-empter normally does. This time, he sees defensive value and makes a penalty double.

The bidding: East passes. He refuses to pre-empt ahead of partner with a four-card major or a void and he has both. Two-suited hands often make game with fewer than expected points with a good fit.

South also passes. The hand is too weak and the suit is too poor to open Three Clubs in second seat where there is a 50 percent chance of pre-empting partner and not the opponents.

West opens Two Diamonds and North overcalls Two Hearts which East doubles. This is a penalty double. West already stated that his hand was diamonds so the double cannot be asking partner to choose an unbid suit (negative takeout.)

A redouble by the person being doubled is SOS and asks partner to bid his best suit. South complies and bids Clubs. West, in light of East’s penalty double can double Three Clubs.

The opening lead: The Club Queen is led to cut down the ruffing value of dummy. Partner has shown good strength and one does not want that strength ruffed.

The play: Declarer wins the Club Ace and cashes the Diamond Ace. He plays a Heart and East wins the 8. East exits a diamond which declarer ruffs. Declarer ruffs a Heart then ruffs his last Diamond. Declarer will lose two Spades, one Heart, no Diamonds and two Clubs for down two and -100. This is not better than the 130 East and West can get for Diamonds making four. Three Clubs was a good bid. East and West could have set Two Hearts by two for +300.

Alternate contract: If West plays a Diamond contract, he will lose one Spade, no Hearts, one Diamond and one Club for +130. He cannot ruff enough clubs but will do a Club ruffing finesse. He plays the Club Queen and when North ducks smoothly, he pitches a major card. South wins the King. When West gets back in, presumably after a trump return, he will play the Club jack, North will duck and West pitches another major card. The Jack holds. He then ruffs the Club Ace.

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