Source: Bridgewinners Oct 6 2013

Tony Nunn & Sartaj Hans

The Lightner double is used at the slam level to alert partner for the need of an unusual lead.

The intended message is either  “Lead dummy’s first bid suit” or  “I am ruffing at trick one. Try to find my void”. A controversial hand at the Bermuda Bowl involving a hesitation for a Lightner (non) double has led to some discussion…

This reminded me of my own Lightner pass experience. This is my story…

The Lightner double is used at the slam level to alert partner for the need of an unusual lead.

The intended message is either  “Lead dummy’s first bid suit” or  “I am ruffing at trick one. Try to find my void”

A controversial hand at the Bermuda Bowl involving a hesitation for a Lightner (non) double has led to some discussion.

This reminded me of my own Lightner pass experience. This is my story…

In the early 2000s, I was reading a lot of world championship books and noticed arecurring theme: the declaring side bids to a grand slam, the opponents double with a void in a side suit, the declaring side is listening in as well and navigates to a successful 7NT.

I proposed to my partner Tony Nunn that we play lightner passes. That is, against grand slams, we always try to give partner a ruff at trick one. We both felt that the traditional wisdom of “Lead safely versus grand-slams” had limited utility and we could gain more value out of this agreement.

Did the situation ever come up?

It was 2005. We were playing our first Bermuda Bowl in the beautiful town of Estoril in Portugal. In a key match versus NEW ZEALAND, the moment finally arrived:

Do you or don’t you?

Of course you don’t. The moment you’ve been waiting for years has finally arrived. 

I triumphantly passed and awaited the lead as the tray went back to the other side of the screen. The bulletin next day reported that Jeff Meckstroth had doubled 7 and then watched the opponents navigate to 7NT. It is likely the same scenario played out at a few other tables.

Meanwhile, back at my table, the opening lead was made…..

Tony led a trump!

This was the full hand:

Lead: Spade Suit5

It is the only time in the history of our partnership that I genuinely wanted to  strangle  him.

A SECOND LIFE

Many more years passed and we were resigned to this Lightner pass never coming up again.

It was 2009 and we were representing Australia at the Pacific Asia Bridge Championships in Macau, China. This glitzy city is full of casinos and the gambling mood saw our opponents bid another grand slam. The hand was something like this….

West led a low heart and the singleton queen won at trick one.

Weird. Why has an opponent led away from a king in a grand slam?

Declarer gave us a quizzical look and then it dawned upon him!  West had made a risky lead because he did not want to lead a trump away from the queen.

Triumphantly, he finessed for the Diamond SuitQ through the opening leader…

Our luck was in though as Tony, East, scored his doubletonDiamond SuitQ. Phew!

Now I wonder, will it ever come up again?