Desperate Measures

At the ACBL Summer Championships, Richard Oshlag, East, hated his prospects against South's game. What was worse, Oshlag felt few North-South pairs would bid four spades. If South made it, East-West would get a terrible score.

Oshlag assumed West had a black ace. If West had A-x-x in clubs, Oshlag could prevail by overtaking the queen of diamonds and leading the king and a low club to get a ruff. But if West had the ace of clubs, South might go down anyway (misguessing the queen of trumps). The big danger was that South held the ace of clubs.


Oshlag overtook the queen of diamonds and led the SEVEN of clubs. Since that card looked like a sure singleton, South took the ace and led a trump. West rose with the ace and led a club, expecting Oshlag to ruff; but instead he produced the king and led a heart.

South would have succeeded by leading a trump to the king next but had no crystal ball. He finessed normally with the jack, and Oshlag's queen won. Down one.


You hold: S 5 4 3 2 H K 8 2 D J 4 3 C A 10 2. Your partner opens one diamond, and the next player doubles. What do you say?

ANSWER: If the player at your right had passed, you'd have bid one spade, showing your major suit, such as it is. Since the double suggests length and strength in spades, and since the auction may be competitive, it's wiser to give partner an overall picture of your hand so he can judge whether to compete. Bid 1NT.

E-W vulnerable


S K J 10 9

H A Q 7

D 7

C Q J 9 5 3


S A 8 6

H J 10 9 6 3

D Q 5

C 8 6 4


S Q 7

H 5 4

D A K 10 9 8 6 2

C K 7

SOUTH Dealer

S 5 4 3 2

H K 8 2

D J 4 3

C A 10 2




4 S




All Pass


1 C



3 D


Opening lead -- D Q

Copyright 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate