Wednesday, September 29, 2004 11:05 PM

Hand Evaluation  - Match Point Doubles




            The more I think about the trump stack penalty double in competitive auctions & the misery that goes along with it , I feel this bid should only apply in matchpoints & rubber Bridge. The bid is just not needed in IMPs with the IMP scale as a way of scoring. The IMP scale is a Robin Hood & takes from the rich & gives to the poor with respect to huge sets. In IMPS,  you should be more conservative with respect to doubling them into game. D.S.I.P. theory goes along with that objective as both partners have input into the decision. .


            D.S.I.P. theory & match points are not a good mix . There are many bad bidders in matchpoints. In fact , bad bidding is a tactic with many match point players !  D.S.I.P. theory assumes competent opponents as competitive decisions are based in part on what the opponents did or did not do. If the opponents are very bad bidders they might be in a partial when they should be in game . A  D.S.I.P. doubles may push them into a game they were supposed to arrive at in the first place. Worse , the D.S.I.P. double might get converted , so they make it with their preponderance of  unexpected HCP’s or unadvertised distribution.


            Conversely ,  if the opponents bid on bad suits & randomly overbid , penalty doubles rather than D.S.I.P. doubles are the tool of choice. Penalty doubles were invented in the early days of Bridge to punish bad bidders. There is no shortage of bad bidders in Match Points. Some parts of D.S.I.P. theory are transferable to match points but not much. You do not have the IMP scale to protect you when you are playing D.S.I.P. doubles in Match Points. Other players in the field are making penalty doubles in certain auctions so if you do not do the same ,  a low score for you is very possible.


            “Match Point” doubles are necessary in this game. If you feel the opponents are stealing your partial you may make a “match point” double” to protect your +140 . –100 when they go down two undoubled is a bad score.  Again D.S.I.P. doubles are not a tool for these auctions. 2Nd doubles after making a takeout double are D.S.I.P. doubles. In Match Points ,  I think they should just be penalty so you have values in their suits.  In D.S.I.P. theory , doubles are showing values rather then a trump stack. In match points the reverse should be true as bad players may have wandered into a hornets nest.


            Frequent penalty doubles in Match Points are a good tactical strategy. Declarers are weak so will misplay most hands. With the psychological pressure of a double they sometimes even find a way to go down. In a tough IMP match , frequent penalty doubles are a losing proposition. The tough opponents will play the hands better so end up making contracts that should have gone down & make them because you tipped them off . Yes , sometimes even good players make bad bids in IMPS  but the frequency does not justify throwing out D.S.I.P. theory. In D.S.I.P. theory ,  you have the advantage of converting the double for penalty if either partner makes a D.S.I.P. double.  Any structure that allows both partners to make a competitive decision has to be better then the single handed penalty doubles. Matchpoints is a very single handed game.


            You have ♠KQJ10 Axxx xx ♣xxx    , the auction goes



P-P-?     In match points you double as 2 is not going to make. In IMPs , playing D.S.I.P. theory you just pass. Partner did not bid the good bad 2NT , he did not make a D.S.I.P. double himself or make a free bid. He probably has a minimum balanced hand so a partial is the limit of the hand your way. You take your plus by not offering them an opportunity for a better contract or having partner rescue them  & move onto the next hand.


            You hold  ♠KQJ109  x  xxxx ♣xxx , the auction goes 1-4-?     In D.S.I.P. theory you pass . so if partner is too weak to re-open with a double , you just take your plus ,. In match points , you might get a zero if many other pairs bid 4 & get doubled.  Another example , in D.S.I.P. theory you overcall  the heart opener with a spade with ♠AKJxxx x xx ♣AKxx , they bid 4& around to you .  You do not want  to play single handed enforcer doubles in D.S.I.P. theory , so you double saying you still want to compete & a desire to bid 4. Partner with ♠x  QJ10x xxxxx ♣xxx   happily passes. The match point field is in 4 doubled going for a number. D.S.I.P. wins in these types of auctions , as the D.S.I.P. double brought partner into the picture.


            Another hand with a similar theme  showing why you should not play  D.S.I.P. doubles in match points. You hold ♠x AK10 xxx ♣AKQxxx , you overcall 2♣ to a heart opener. LHO bids 2 ,partner passes so RHO bids 4 so now what ?  In match points you double saying they can not make game but with D.S.I.P. theory you must pass & take your plus. You do not want to encourage partner to make a pseudo sacrifice by doubling. In fact by not doubling , partner might take that as a cue to sacrifice in 5♣ in the match point game. With D.S.I.P. theory,  when partner wants to sacrifice he does so by doubling , we convert at this end.  Playing against top level opponents , these kind of decisions do not come up much when you have game beat in your own hand. The D.S.I.P. mentality works much better as the opponents are not bad bidders. In fact , they are very good & accurate bidders.


            Tom Gandolfo has modified D.S.I.P. theory for matchpoints. He says just  play D.S.I.P. theory when your side is competing with a fit. This is probably a very good matchpoint idea. D.S.I.P. theory was designed to apply in every auction where you are just competing when Forcing Pass theory does not kick in. Limiting D.S.I.P. theory to just when your side has a fit & is just competing simplifies things for match points.


            D.S.I.P. theory was invented for IMPS against good opponents. Sometimes we have had too many good results with penalty doubles so we forgot our roots. These doubles occurred in Match Point games , an entirely different game from IMPS. IMPS are predicated on getting to games with good high level decisions. D.S.I.P. theory assists in both those objectives. D.S.I.P. theory is a new way of thinking the game of Bridge.