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Penalty Card
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In a round-robin match in the Bermuda Bowl, you have to find the best way to compete over a transfer response structure.

N-S vul, West deals. As South, you hold:

South
AKJ1065
K65
Q8
105
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
?

1: No major

Double would be a takeout double for the majors. Other calls would be natural.

Your call?

South
AKJ1065
K65
Q8
105
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
?

A 2 overcall looks pretty clear. On a really bad day you could go for a number, but that is unlikely. The overcall could get your side to a good partial or game, get partner off to the right lead, or disrupt the enemy bidding by gobbling up bidding space. The upsides are far greater than the downsides.

You bid 2. The bidding continues:

W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
?

DBL: Takeout/cards

Your call?

South
AKJ1065
K65
Q8
105
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
?

Passing looks obvious. But could it be right to redouble? That would show extra strength which you really don't have, but that isn't likely to make a lot of difference.

The main consideration is the possibility of winding up in 2 doubled or redoubled. If the opponents know what they are doing and choose to defend, that probably won't be good for you. However, if they have an accident and defend when you are cold or pull when you would be going for a number, that would be great.

If you pass, they don't figure to have a major accident. If West passes, he knows he is passing for penalties and that is that -- East is out of the picture. However, if you redouble there might be some confusion. West might have a penalty pass, but East might not be sure and he might take it out just to play safe. Conversely West might pass not intending it for penalties, and East might then wrongly pass it out thinking West's pass is for penalties. An experienced partnership should be solid on their agreements here, but some pairs go astray.

At matchpoints, redoubling is an excellent tactical move. The vulnerability is the key. If you are going down, there will be little difference in matchpoints between -200 and -400 for down 1, since both are greater than an enemy part-score and less than an enemy game. Similarly, if you go down 2 there will be little difference in matchpoints between -500 and -1000, since both are greater than an enemy game. Other pairs probably aren't going to be in this situation, since they may have the opportunity to overcall at the 1-level or their opponents might not have the same agreements about East's double. Thus, the redouble simply to create confusion looks like it has more to gain than to lose.

At IMPs it is another story. While you will be losing IMPs when you go down, there is a big difference between -200 and -400 or -500 and -1000. Unless you believe there is a good chance that the opponents don't have solid agreements about the pass over the redouble, it probably isn't a good idea.

You pass. So does everybody else.

W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

West leads the Q. Standard honor leads, UDCA.

North
8
874
K10764
7643
South
AKJ1065
K65
Q8
105
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

East overtakes with the K, and returns the 3. How do you play?

North
8
874
K10764
764
South
AKJ1065
K65
Q8
10
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

Even though the spade finesse is almost certain to lose, you might as well take it. If you went up ace of spades, you would be continuing to draw trumps anyway, which would give the defense more information about the hand.

If it looked like there is danger of a trump promotion, an interesting ploy would be to win the A and lead the 10, trying to talk West into ducking with Q9xx. However, it doesn't look like there is any trump promotion coming. If the clubs were 5-2, East would be continuing clubs rather than shifting to a trump.

You play the J. West wins the Q, and shifts to the J. What do you do?

North
874
K10764
764
South
AK1065
K65
Q8
10
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

At this point you have a good count on the hand. East doesn't have a major, so West has 4 hearts. West figures to have 4 spades for his pass of the takeout double. West probably would have led a singleton diamond if he had it. The bidding and plays in the minor suits indicate that West has 3 clubs and 2 diamonds.

You can guarantee a dummy entry by covering the jack with the K, and then unblocking the Q if East wins the A. This might be necessary if you want to lead up to the K. However, the A really can't be onside. Trick 1 indicates that East has AK of clubs, and the diamond shift puts the A into East's hand. West must have the A to have anything resembling an opening bid. You want to win in your hand and draw trumps to make sure West doesn't score his 9 via a promotion on the third round of diamonds.

You play small from dummy. East plays the 2, and you win your Q. You lead the A, pitching a heart from dummy. West plays the 4, and East startles you by discarding the 5. You certainly didn't expect West to have 5 spades. However, East comes to his senses and realizes that he can follow suit, which he does with the 7. What do you do now?

North
87
K1076
764
South
K1065
K65
8
10
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

You call for the director! This is standard operating procedure when an irregularity occurs. Even if you think you know the rules, you should still call for the director. The rules might be slightly different from what you think. Even if you know the rules for sure, you should still call for the director. It is the director's job to explain the rules to everybody and make sure that proper procedure is followed. That's what we pay them the big bucks for.

You call for the director. The director comes, and announces that East's 5 is a penalty card which must be played at his first legal opportunity. If West obtains the lead while the penalty card is still on the table, you have the option of requiring or forbidding a diamond lead. If you exercise this option, East picks up the 5 and it is no longer a penalty card.

What do you play now?

North
87
K1076
764
South
K1065
K65
8
10
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

East clearly has the A. In order to capitalize on the penalty card, you must play a diamond now. If you play one more round of trumps, East will discard the penalty card.

You lead the 8. West plays the 3. What do you play from dummy?

North
87
K1076
764
South
K1065
K65
8
10
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

You are sure to win this trick, since East must play his 5 penalty card. If the ace of hearts could be onside, you would want to overtake in order to play a heart. However, you know the ace of hearts is offside. It is better to win the 8 in your hand so you can now draw trumps and not risk a trump promotion.

You mistakenly overtake the 8 with dummy's 10. East follows with his penalty card. Now what do you do?

North
87
K76
764
South
K1065
K65
10
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

There is now danger of a trump promotion. You can't conveniently get back to your hand. If the opponents can cash 4 winners ending in the East hand, East can then put something through you which West can overruff and you will lose a trick to the 9.

Leading a heart off dummy has to be wrong. It won't be difficult for the defense to cash 3 heart winners, lead a club to East, and a diamond through will defeat you 2 tricks. You must get that club out of your hand to cut their communication.

One interesting possibility is to lead a diamond to East's 9, discarding your other club. West will discard a club, of course. If East continues with the A, you can now pitch a heart. This will force West to discard his last club, as otherwise if the defense plays hearts you can arrange for West to win the second round of hearts and you are safe. The defense can prevail if East puts a high heart through, since if you duck then East can pound high clubs through you. But East might make the mistake of leading a club through first. It seems as though this is good enough for the defense. But you have an interesting counter. You can ruff high, cash the 10, and throw West in with his 9 to force him to lead away from his ace of hearts.

The other possibility is to exit with a club. This leads to roughly the same ending, where the defense can triumph if East has two of the middle hearts. East wins the club, leads a high heart through, and you are in trouble. East could also lead the A, forcing you to pitch a heart, as West pitches his last club. Once again, if East now tries a club through you can ruff high and escape, but if he leads a high heart you are dead -- if you duck, now East can put a club through.

Theoretically it doesn't seem to make any difference. But it looks like there is more chance for the defensive error if you lead a diamond and pitch your club.

You choose to exit with a club. East wins the A, West playing the 9. Now East shifts to the Q. Do you cover?

North
87
K76
76
South
K1065
K65
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P

It looks like it will be too easy for the defense if you duck. Say East puts down his A. You can't do much but pitch a heart, since West has a club exit if you ruff high. West discards his last club. Now East shoves the high 8 through you, and the defense scores everything. Your only hope is to cover and hope that either West started with AJ10x of hearts or the defense screws up.

You cover. West wins the A, and leads a club. This lets you out for down 1. The full hand is:

West
Q942
A1032
J3
QJ9
North
8
874
K10764
7643
East
73
QJ9
A952
AK82
South
AKJ1065
K65
Q8
105
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
K
5
2
0
1
3
J
Q
8
0
0
2
J
4
2
Q
3
1
2
A
2
4
7
3
2
2
8
3
10
5
1
3
2
4
A
10
9
2
3
3
Q
K
A
7
0
3
4
J
8

Should West have gotten the position right at the end?

West
Q942
A1032
J3
QJ9
North
8
874
K10764
7643
East
73
QJ9
A952
AK82
South
AKJ1065
K65
Q8
105
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
K
5
2
0
1
3
J
Q
8
0
0
2
J
4
2
Q
3
1
2
A
2
4
7
3
2
2
8
3
10
5
1
3
2
4
A
10
9
2
3
3
Q
K
A
7
0
3
4
J
8

Yes, he had an easy defense. He knew from the 1 response that his partner didn't have 4 hearts, so the distribution must be what it is. True, if declarer started with KJ9 of hearts West would be handing declarer a doubled contract by returning a heart, while his club return guaranteed down 1. But it wouldn't make any sense at all for East to shift to the queen of hearts from Qxx. The heart continuation has to be safe.

Do you think it was sporting of South to take advantage of the penalty card?

West
Q942
A1032
J3
QJ9
North
8
874
K10764
7643
East
73
QJ9
A952
AK82
South
AKJ1065
K65
Q8
105
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
K
5
2
0
1
3
J
Q
8
0
0
2
J
4
2
Q
3
1
2
A
2
4
7
3
2
2
8
3
10
5
1
3
2
4
A
10
9
2
3
3
Q
K
A
7
0
3
4
J
8

There are different views on this. My view is that a revoke is an error, just like any other error. When your opponent makes the wrong play which gives you a chance to take an extra trick, naturally you will grab the opportunity. A revoke is that wrong play.

When an irregularity occurs, you should always call the director. This applies to players of all levels. The players should never try to make their own rulings. The directors know the rules better, and can look them up in the rulebook if they don't know them. When you fail to call the director in such situations, bad things can happen.

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