Many newer players have been learning about "balancing" and fourth-seat bidding, so this hand presents a topical and timely lesson. North opened his hand with a bid of two spades after the modern style, showing a decent six card suit and two of the top three honors. East with his spade holding had nothing to bid (a double by east would say to his partner, "Bid something else") and south had no values to bid. West, in the fourth seat, had a classic takeout double showing support in all the unbid suits and the equivalent of at least an opening hand.
After west doubled, north had no bid and was unaware of the calamity in his future, because although the takeout double requests partner to bid, choosing one of the three remaining suits, east passed to convert west's intended takeout to a penalty double. East's spade holding, sitting behind north, was suited to defense. South could only get deeper into the hole if he were to bid, so the final contract was two spades doubled. When I watched the hand being played, the result was down five for an 1,100 score to east-west, a shared top. Most east-west pairs defended two spades doubled for at least 500, but one unfortunate pair apparently did not grasp the defensive potential of the hand and bid two no trump-making four for plus-180 and a cold bottom score!
Last weekend we played the final qualifying session for the Grand National Teams event (finals will be held at the Atlanta North American Bridge Championships in July).