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Audacious Overcall Steals Our Suit

  by Richard Pavlicek

After an exhausting two weeks of play in the recent World Bridge Championship, I can finally relax — except for visions of bridge hands dancing in my head. It was a struggle to keep up with the jungle of bidding systems (some good, some bad) used by our guests. Sometimes they bid one club to show hearts; or opened one notrump with 8 to 10 points; or even passed to show a strong hand. One far-out system employed a one-heart opening to show 0 to 7 points with any distribution. Fearless, these foreigners! Some auctions were incredible to witness, as today’s deal when it occurred in the Open Pairs.

1 S South
None Vul
S 7
H 9 8 7 6 5
D K J 6 5 2
C J 10


1 C
1 S
S A K J 8 2
H A 4
D 10 8 7 3
C K 5
TableS 9 6 5 4
H K J 3
C A Q 9 4 3

Lead: S K
S Q 10 3
H Q 10 2
D Q 9 4
C 8 7 6 2

Sitting East, I was hardly amused (nor was my partner) with the disastrous result we achieved; but in retrospect I can join in the chuckle. South, whose name I cannot (or do not want to?) remember, appeared to be a fine, upstanding gentleman from Indonesia, certainly not a man who would overcall one spade with the South hand. Nevertheless, this bizarre action caught us off guard.

It may seem that my partner, Bill Root, should have done something with the West hand; but his trap pass was routine when using negative doubles. In theory, partner would be short in spades and reopen with a double for takeout, which West then would pass for penalty.

Unfortunately, theory didn’t work this time. East also had length in spades so it was implausible that West had made a trap pass. With no attractive action, I also passed — and there we were, defending against one spade when we were laydown for six spades (seven if you finesse spades). Sure, we beat them seven tricks; but our score of plus 350 was an absolute zero. Most East-West pairs bid the routine slam to score 980; and those who bid only game scored 480. Yuk!

We shrugged it off and recovered to make a respectable showing, but I’m sure they’re still laughing in Indonesia.

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek