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A Virgin Hatting

Suppose you're holding SK T 9 6, HA J 9 6, DQ 6 2, CK 3. Your LHO deals at amber, and opens 1C. RHO responds 1S, and it's over to you. This hand is unlikely to feature in Richard Pavlicek's bidding polls, and I'm sure you'd all pass without a second thought. But is that really the winning call?

I know what you're thinking. "So presumably Campboy took some absurd action in the sandwich seat at amber with that flat hand. With king-fourth in opponent's suit. And presumably he ended up going for 1100. Well, twang."

Well, I did take some absurd action with that hand. But you don't have all the information. LHO and RHO are not faceless bidding automata, after all. Good bridge must allow for the human factor, for psychology. And there's lots of psychology to be gotten out of such an ill-assorted pair of opponents as Chiin-Zhé and Toby. With Jonathan as CHO, the stage was set for some sort of absurdity, and I wanted to profit from it. Much has been written about how to go for a Hat, but what about the neglected art of encouraging opponents to Hat themselves? I could have sat back and passed my balanced 13-count like any sensible hobbit, and gotten a good score no doubt, but why not try for a great score? After all, those are the ones that count. Unless playing for high stakes of course... Viewers of a nervous diposition are advised to look away now...

Board 7
South deals
 S A Q J 7 3 
 H K T 5 4 2 
 D
 C 7 5 
 S 5 4 2 
 H Q 8 7 
 D K J 9 8        
 C J 9 2 
both vul  S K T 9 6 
 H A J 9 6         
 D Q 6 2 
 C K 3 
 S
 H
 D A T 5 4 3 
 C A Q T 8 6 4 

West
Jonathan


pass
dbl
dbl

North
Toby


1S
3NT
all pass

East
John


dbl
pass

South
Chiin-Zhé

1C
2D
pass
So I chose to double for reasons best explained by my menstrual cycle. Don't try this at home. For a double in that sort of position you should be at least 5 4 in the two remaining suits. In hearts and diamonds, remember. You should have a fairly good hand. And you should not have lots of wasted values in the opponents' suits. If South then passed, I could have been in trouble.

An imaginary South might pass, but a very real Chiin-Zhé had chosen to open that light but shapely South hand, and my double obviously rattled him, as he now bid 2D. Reversing is the canonical way to end up wearing the Hat, and sensible people use protection (17 points is pretty good protection) but Hat-virgin Chiinners evidently subscribed to the theory that it wouldn't happen if he'd never overbid before. 2D is even more unnecessary in this auction, because it was one of my "suits". Jonathan had no trouble doubling to show support, and when Toby—who had been dealt all the spare points that everyone else had been pretending to have—bid 3NT, Jonathan was happy to double that too, given my "good hand". I led a diamond, and Toby had terrible entry problems, and 4 hearts, 3 diamonds, the SK and the CJ to lose. Result: NS –1400 and Chiin-Zhé's very first hat.