3 MAY 1997, Page 57



Andrew Robson

I GAVE the following bidding problem to a number of experts and no one stood on the fence. Essentially the problem boils down to one of philosophy: you have bid a contract to make and the opponents have doubled indicating that they have a rude shock for you. You can remove the con- tract to a safer haven or stick it out, calling the opponent's bluff. Are you a runner or a sticker?

Dealer South East-West vulnerable The Bidding South West North

1NT (12-14) pass 3NT

4# pass pass East double pass

You borrow a point and open 1NT and your partner raises to game. East emerges with a double, indicating that he has a strong suit he desires partner lead. I was South and, conscious of having opened INT a point light, and expecting a ♦ lead against 3NT, fled to 44. West led •A and continued with a second • for East to trump. East led VK and when East discard- ed, the whole table erupted. Everybody realised that West would have been unable to lead a V against 3NT, a contract that would have breezed home as a result. Iron- ically 4# was a vastly inferior contract. East continued with VA and a third V for West to trump. Declarer could win the return, draw trumps felling 44(), but he had lost the first five tricks.

The trouble with running from 3NT is that, as I did, you look awfully foolish when 3NT proves easy. My only consolation was that two of the world's greatest players, Zia Mahmood and Geir Helgemo , were as chicken as I was when given the problem. I only had to ask 20 experts to get two sup- porters.