This fine example of defensive bidding and defensive play is from the 1968 Blue Ribbon.

Dealer East Neither Vul


5 4 3 2
9 8 6 4 3 2
Q J 3
10 9 6 5
A K Q 10 6
J 7
8 7
J 8
8 7
A K Q
A K 9 6 5 2
A K Q 7 4 3 2
J 9
10 5
10 4

The Bidding:

West North East South
Pass Pass 1 2
Dbl Pass Pass Pass

The Bidding: Because North-South were vulnerable, while his side was not, Eddie Kantar, who was playing West, decided to double for a penalty rather than try for what might be a doubtful game contract. South’s single jump overcall of two spades was pre-emptive, but South would ordinarily expect to run seven tricks with his near-solid holding in spades. Unfortunately his partner was void in spades as well as in tricks. A set of only one would have yielded a top result in comparison with the game or slam which could be scored by the opponents. South was also unlucky in that East and West were not employing the negative double convention.

Eddie Kantar
Eddie Kantar

The Play: Kantar backed up his judgement in the bidding by picking declarer clean with the able assistance of his partner, Bob Hamman. He led the king of hearts as his opening shot and then shifted to the eight of clubs, despite Hamman’s come – on signal of the eight of hearts. East topped dummy’s jack of clubs with the king and then carefully led the queen of diamonds before shifting back to hearts. West’s queen of hearts won the trick and the club return was taken by East’s ace. East then took care to cash the ace of diamonds so as to remove declarer’s late side card before playing another club.

Declarer ruffed the club return with a small trump and West overruffed. West then led a small heart and East ruffed with the jack of trumps. This uppercut play by Hamman, who was playing East, forced the declarer to expend an honor, to overruff, and West’s ten of trumps was promoted to the status of a winner.

Bob Hamman
Bob Hamman

Kantar and Hammans’ fine defense defeated the contract three tricks for an 800 point score. It so happened that the third undertrick was vital because East and West could have won all thirteen tricks at a heart game for a plus score of 510 while a set of two tricks would have yielded only 500 points. Ordinarily, the defeat of vulnerable opponents by a two-trick margin would be a better score than any game contract by the non-vulnerable side.