Monday, February 23, 2004 12:56 AM

D.S.I.P. Free Bids




          Eons ago when I first started playing bridge there was this concept of “free bids” . This meant that if you had a chance to pass or bid , bidding showed a better hand. This resulted in a lot of distributional minimums being passed and partner had to make a series of guesses. Over the years this free bid concept led to partnerships getting jammed out of the auction and bad competitive decisions were made. Today Bridge is a bidders game and “free bids” were one of the casualties that went by the wayside.


          O.K. what replaced “free bids” in expert circles ? You guessed it , the D.S.I.P. double and Lebensohl. You open 1♣ on xx Axx Ax AKxxxx  and LHO overcalls 1 and partner doubles. RHO bids 2 and you are not quite strong enough to Q bid so you bid 3♣ . The opponents bid 3 and around to you again . Of course you make a D.S.I.P. double and this does not show a trump stack but a maximum for your previous action. O.K. same auction but change you hand to a 10 count that you opened xx Axx xx KQJ109x . The bidding goes exactly the same way but this time you use the Good-Bad 2NT and bid 2NT . This forces partner to bid 3♣ which you pass.


          2/1 in competition works the same way . Partner opens 1 and the opponents overcall 1 . You have xx AKJxx Axx Kxx and bid 2 . The opponents bid 2 and around to you . You double to show your strength and forcing nature of your hand . This double does not show one hundred honours in the spade suit. If your first 2 bid was xx AKQxxx xxx xx and the auction goes the same way you can bid a non forcing 3 bid and partner knows you do not have defensive values.


          Penalty double advocates say that since you limit your hand with a bid than subsequent doubles should be trump stack penalty doubles. Nonsense , these are the same players who ignore free bids and freely bid a “limited bid” on 11 HCP one time and 15 HCP the next time. You hold xxx AJxx KQJxx x and open 1 and LHO overcalls a spade and partner doubles with RHO bidding 2. Of course you bid the good-bad  2NT to compete , spurning the free bid concept. They bid 3 and all pass. Change your hand to xx AKxx AKxx xxx and you will make the same “free bid” of 3  which shows a good hand. This time you double 3 so does this show a trump stack in spades ?  Belated D.S.I.P. doubles to the rescue. The 3 bid showed a good hand but not 4 defensive tricks.


          Free bids are just the opposite from the old days. Bidding freely usually means you do not have enough to make a D.S.I.P. double. Remember though , if partner makes a 2/1 and they interfere , forcing pass applies and not D.S.I.P. theory.  I hold QJ10987x x KJ A109 and decide to open 1 and partner bids 2♣ . The opponents interfere with 4so what are you forcing pass options ? With a weak distributional hand that you were planning to pull the penalty double you bid in front of partner as a “pass & pull” is a slam try. AKQJxxx x KJ A109  is a pass and pull. A pass just means you will respect partners decision to double . A double is just penalty and a pass is just getting out of the way for partner to double or otherwise describe her hand.


          An adjustment in thinking is required for your penalty doubles. There are no trump stack enforcer doubles in competition unless forcing pass theory applies. These hands are handled by converting partners double or just letting them playing the contract undoubled.