Wednesday, March 17, 2004 11:18 PM

Hand Evaluation - 1NT & Doubles




            When the opponents pre-empt at the 3 level over your INT , it is best to play negative doubles . Doubling them for penalty with their long suits is just not “cost effective” . It is better to find a major fit or get to your 3NT contract . For years , a double of a natural bid at the two level was penalty . The modern trend is to play them as negative with strict suit requirements. I disagree with that treatment. I prefer the double to show cards 7 HCP & upward with no clear cut action available. If they are vulnerable & we are not , the double is old fashioned penalty. In other words , a D.S.I.P. double most of the time. A trump stack double is shown by passing or bidding your 3NT game. The D.S.I.P. double in these auctions conveys the meaning of “I do not what to do” so over to you for your input.


            This understanding changes your Lebensohl treatments. A direct jump to 3NT now shows a stopper . Without a stopper ,  you just double their suit &  pull partners suit to 3NT if the HCP’s warrant it ,  . Partner now knows you do not have a stopper so bids accordingly.


            If the opponents bid is systemic but natural ( maybe showing a second suit ) , the double is still D.S.I.P. showing “cards” ,  If their bid is artificial , the double means they took my bid away . D.S.I.P. doubles include the hands that fit the requirement for negative doubles but are all inclusive in that there is no specific suit requirement for the double.


            The only exception to this treatment is the trump stack double without compensating HCP’s . You just pass & hope partner re-opens. With their suit & HCP’s , you might just choose to bid a vul 3NT rather then passing. The only downside to this system is the requirement for partner to re-open after bidding 1NT . He should double with shortness in their suit or otherwise pass. If responder has a trump stack double & the 1NT bidder passes ,  at least a plus is picked up !!


            I had a hand tonight ♠AJxx 109x Q10 ♣J10xx , partner opened a strong NT with RHO overcalling 2 . What do you do ? You can pass or bid 2 to compete. Playing  D.S.I.P. doubles , you can double . You hit partner with 17 HCP’s & AJxx of hearts ! Just 800 for your side against a partial making your way . A bad bidder just got caught speeding when you might have rescued them.


            Say you had ♠xx AJx KQxx ♣Qxxx , partner opens a NT with RHO bidding 2 . Without a D.S.I.P. double in your arsenal , you would leap to 3NT to show you do not have a stopper. Here you can get the best of both worlds . If partner has spades , they play it there doubled for a huge number . If partner does not have a spade stopper, you find your fit at a low level so maybe get to a magic 5 of a minor game or a 4 heart game. If partner has a spade stopper , you get to your 3NT game. Win , win and win .


            Partner should always bid 2NT with a stopper in these auctions after a D.S.I.P. double unless he wants to convert for penalty. Otherwise , he scrambles by bidding his lower ranking 4 card suit or a 5 card minor if dealt that. You may find your 4-4 major suit fit by scrambling but if partner has a major & game going values he may have chosen an initial Q bid as Stayman rather then doubling. In D.S.I.P. auctions,  we are probably just scrambling for a safe partial resting spot. Do not over use the D.S.I.P. double. if you have a safe alternative bid. Action after a D.S.I.P. double is pretty straight forward. Partner bids game if he feels its there but the rest of the time we are just trying to find a suitable resting spot. Converting for penalty is also a frequent option.


            The D.S.I.P. double is handy when your side overcalls 1NT but they interfere. Tom Gandolfo had a hand that shows this bid in action. ♠xx Kx ♦xxxxx ♣Axxx , they open 1 nv & vul partner overcalls 1NT . RHO bids 2 so now what ? You could be cold for 3NT or a partial or you could extract a +300 penalty. A  D.S.I.P. double to the rescue ! You double , partner has 17 or 18 HCP so he will probably opt for a vul game . 2NT is not invitational by the 1NT overcaller after a D.S.I.P. double as that is redundant ( the D.S.I.P. double is already invitational ) so the 2NT says pick a suit so lets play a partial. A new suit by the 1NT overcaller , also suggests a partial. I had a minimum with 5,  so I bid 3& we collect +140. If they compete to 3♠ ,  they are in –300 to –500 territory.


            If the opponents bid a new suit after a 1NT overcall , a double is still D.S.I.P. It just means I have cards so do not know what to do . It is surprising how frequent these auctions come up. Good players like bidding on nothing in these auctions so the D.S.I.P. double can give you lots of options. As usual in D.S.I.P. theory , the double replaces the old fashioned invitational 2NT bid. The 2NT bid is always Lebensohl/Reubensol  even if they are raising partner or switching suits. The D.S.I.P. double removes the ambiguity in these auctions.


            The sandwich position is where D.S.I.P. doubles can really assist the auction. Nick & Judy shows the confusion that can rise with “traditional” penalty double thinking. Nick held ♠AK9x KJxx Qx ♣10xx & opened a weak NT . Tom passed , Judy bid 2♣ which is non forcing Stayman in their system . I bid 3 so Nick can not make a penalty double as the 2♣ bidder may hold nothing. Around to Judy , she holds ♠x 10xx K10xx ♣AKJxx . She is maximum as possible for not making a forcing 2 call . She is in front of the spade bidder , so a trump stack double is unlikely. A D.S.I.P. double is probably the most flexible bid. Judy at the table bid 4♣ , went 1 down when 3X goes for 500.