E-W vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} K 8 5

{heart} A J 2

{diam} 10 9 3

{club} A Q J 3

WEST

{spade} 2

{heart} K 8 5

{diam} K 8 7

{club} 10 9 8 7 5 2

EAST (D)

{spade} J 9 7 4

{heart} Q 9 7 6 4

{diam} Q 4 2

{club} 4

SOUTH

{spade} A Q 10 6 3

{heart} 10 3

{diam} A J 6 5

{club} K 6

The bidding:East SouthWestNorthPass1 {spade} Pass2 {club}Pass2 {diam} Pass2{spade} Pass3 {spade} Pass4{spade}All Pass Opening lead: {club} 10

Many players use a bidding system in which a new-suit response at the level of two is forcing to game. In theory, this saves room to look for the best contract. In practice, the "two-over-one" style can run aground.

The final of this year's Vanderbilt Team Competition pitted two sponsors and their professionals: George Jacobs vs. Richard Schwartz. In today's deal, North-South for Schwartz, playing the two-over-one style, halted at game. North's bid of two spades was forcing. South's three spades left room for slam investigation, but when North merely bid game, South gave up. Six spades would have been a decent contract and was in fact unbeatable.

No doubt two-over-one advocates would say the players, not the system, were at fault, but I often see similar errors. Here, both players had sound, well-fitting values but never showed them. Nobody made a decisive call.

The "unsuccessful" auction gained points. In the replay, Jacobs's North-South got to six spades, but East had doubled an artificial bid of four hearts by North. So West led a low heart against the slam.

South could have played dummy's deuce and later won a finesse with the jack, but he feared East had the K-Q. So South took the ace and tried to pitch his heart loser on the clubs. East ruffed the second club, and South went down two.

Jacobs, Norberto Bocchi, Giorgio Duboin, Ralph Katz, Lorenzo Lauria and Alfredo Versace lost on this deal but won the Vanderbilt title.

(c)2004, Tribune Media Services