Contract bridge: knowledge of lead-directional double defeats excellent slam
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
The first online hand of 2023 proved a most inauspicious start to a new year of bridge. We bid the small slam, were immediately defeated, and faced a terrible result. Is your partnership sufficiently savvy to know the meaning of the final double here?
Following South’s initial jump-shift, North’s third bid of hearts was a cue-bid, showing some slam interest. East’s double is a “Lightner” double, asking for an unusual lead, often a suit emphasised earlier in the auction, and almost always based on a void. So, West led 7♥, East ruffed and cashed A♦, and the contract is destroyed.
At other tables, some did not reach 6C, languishing in 5C but making twelve tricks.
What might happen if East failed to double 6C and West leads K♦?
At a couple of tables, East dropped 4♦, and West hurriedly led a second diamond. How would you and your partner play such a signal? Surely, East’s 4♦ cannot be an attitude signal: it makes no sense to play it that way. K♦ has held the trick; partner knows East holds A♦. Instead, perhaps, East’s lowest diamond should indicate interest in the lower-ranking suit: hearts. If West trusts South not to have bid the slam holding two losing diamonds, perhaps he now finds the heart switch?
If we didn’t deserve our bottom result, our opponents earned their excellent one.