North-South vulnerable. North deals.


xK 6 5

uJ 8 4

vA J 5

w9 8 6 3


xA 9 8 7 4 xQ J 10 3 2

uK Q 9 7 6 5 u10 3

v7 vK Q 9 4 2

w5 w7



uA 2

v10 8 6 3

wA K Q J 10 4 2

The bidding:


Pass Pass 5w 5u

6w Dbl Rdbl Pass


Opening leads: Ace of x

When the opponents bid a slam voluntarily, the chances of their going down more than one trick are slight. Therefore, a penalty double makes little sense. More than 80 years ago, Theodore Lightner proposed that a double of a slam contract should ask for an unusual lead, usually dummy’s first-bid suit, and never for the lead of partner’s suit should he have bid one. What about when a slam has been bid competitively?

The first round of the auction was uneventful, as was North’s six clubs. Both the double and redouble were flights of fancy and this column never would have seen the light of day had West started with the king of hearts, our choice for the opening salvo. Declarer would have lost at least one trick in each red suit.

Unfortunately, West thought the double called for some other lead, and selected the ace of spades! Declarer ruffed high, cashed the ace of hearts, crossed to the table with a trump to the eight and discarded a heart on dummy’s king of spades. Dummy’s remaining spade was ruffed high, the board was re-entered with the nine of clubs and a heart was ruffed, removing East’s last safe exit card. Reading the hand perfectly, declarer now led the three of diamonds to the jack. East won with the queen but was endplayed.

A spade would permit declarer to ruff in hand and discard a diamond from dummy. Thereafter, a diamond to the ace followed by a heart ruff would allow dummy to score the last two tricks with trumps. If, instead, East returned a diamond, declarer’s ten (or eight) would win and again South could claim the rest of the tricks. Making six clubs redoubled.

Which brings us back to the question posed in the opening paragraph. We think that a double by East in this situation should simply warn partner against bidding six hearts; we expect to beat six clubs! A pass would allow partner to take further action and, should partner elect to bid again, our actual holding would be a boon to West.

2013 Tribune Media Services

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