Every experienced player knows the danger of a penalty double with a trump stack. The double often guides declarer to the winning line of play – a line that probably would not be taken without the double.
This deal, from the U.S. Bridge Championship in Memphis last June, is a case in point. The opponents were two of the world’s top pairs – Jeff Meckstroth-Eric Rodwell versus Zia Mahmood-Michael Rosenberg.
It looks like three trumps tricks and a diamond for Rosenberg, but it didn’t work out that way.
Rosenberg started with the ♦K, and Zia overtook to play the ♣J through the South hand. Rodwell won the club in his hand, cashed the ♠A and ruffed a diamond. A spade ruff was followed by the ♣Q. Rodwell then ruffed another diamond with the ♥8 and cashed the ♣A, discarding his last diamond.
At that point, Rodwell was down to five trumps. Rosenberg held four trumps and the ♦Q. Rodwell played the ♠K from dummy and ruffed with the ♥7. Rosenberg could do no more than overruff with the ♥9 and play his last exit card – the ♦Q.
Rodwell ruffed in dummy with the ♥10 and underruffed in his hand with the ♥5. It was easy from there. Rodwell ruffed a spade with the ♥6, and Rosenberg could overruff but was left on lead at trick 12 with the ♥K 4 while Rodwell was sitting with the ♥A Q.
At the other table, South also reached 4♥, but there was no double and declarer cashed the ♥A early, giving him no chance for the contract.
The full deal: