As a onetime Philadelphia lawyer, I lend a sympathetic ear when attorneys complain about the effect of delays caused by crowded court calendars. Too often, by the time a case is called for trial, key witnesses have disappeared or forgotten.
Yet brain surgeons have recently confirmed what psychiatrists have always held: nothing is really forgotten. Everything your five senses experience is recorded on an endless tape, available if you touch the right button.
In bridge the trick lies in finding the button to touch and also in making use of the information thus recalled. In today's case, for an example, East lost the verdict through failure to re-examine the testimony offered by the opposing side.
The bidding was laced with the competitive spice so often added when one side owns a part score. North might have denied himself the fleeting pleasure of doubling the one-spade bid. Somebody was sure to run out, whereas a raise to two clubs—enough for game—might silence the heart suit which North could be sure the opponents must command.
Later in the auction, North had no more stomach for the double of hearts than his partner had showed for the earlier double of spades. As it happens, the four-heart bid could be punished to the tune of 500 points. If North heeded the bidding and opened the ace of spades, South could ruff the next spade and put his partner back on lead with a club while he still had a trump to ruff the third spade trick. But these two ruffs would be somewhat offset by the saving of a diamond trick; declarer would be able to throw East's small diamonds on his good spades.
However, North and South found no fault with their profits at five clubs. East won the diamond opening and returned the suit. To his disappointment, West produced the deuce of diamonds instead of the hoped-for trump. Declarer knocked out West's ace of clubs and was able to trump two losing hearts in dummy and discard the third low heart on North's ace of spades. The defenders collected only their two minor-suit aces and North and South collected 750 for game and rubber.
West's opening lead was the only one that offered a chance to set the contract. If East had ducked the first diamond, West would win the first round of trumps with his ace and then lead the diamond deuce. East's ace would win and a third diamond, ruffed by West, would now put declarer down. "But your 3 spot was such a low one," East alibied. "How could I tell it was not a singleton?"
East had forgotten, or ignored, the testimony of his opponent's bidding. If West held only one diamond, South must have five to the king-jack. With such a holding, South would have opened the bidding with one diamond, not one club. So West is marked with two diamonds, and East must realize that he can keep the entry he needs to give his partner a ruff only by holding the diamond ace to win the second lead of the suit.
Unless you think the opponents are making a psychic bid in order to steal your suit, don't double a bid you know cannot be left in. Note that if North had bid two clubs instead of doubling one spade, East might have been pushed into raising the spades. Quite likely the opponents never would have mentioned their heart suit and North might have had a whack at a three-spade or even a four-spade contract.