Monday, September 19, 2005 9:53 PM

Hand Evaluation -  Single Handed Bidding




           The examples of single handed bad bidding in Bridge are endless. These are the bids that exclude partner from the decision making process. Overbidding , underbidding , failing to invite , bad opening bids , overcalls , pre-empts are a few examples. Another example of bad single-handed bidding is the trump stack penalty double in competitive auctions. This bid is quite often very single handed as the doubler has no idea if partners opening bid , overcall or balance is minimum or maximum or if it is a defensive/offensive hand. The doubler is giving information to the opponents to allow them to run to another suit/NT or how to play the hand. The trump stack doubler is playing with fire as the contract making gets rewarded quite nicely in the IMP scale. Quite often the doubler puts a lot of stress on partner to run possibly getting into trouble herself as duplication of value in their suit is useless offensively. The penalty double is quite often pre-mature as if the doubler just passes,  partner would have doubled anyway to show a good defensive hand . The contract gets converted for penalty so all ends well for your side.


            This “style” of converting for penalty by partner re-opening with a double was made popular by negative doubles. What this treatment does is allow the partnership to make a decision within the penalty double structure. Partner will not re-open with a double holding a hand not suitable for leaving in the double. This removes the gambling/single handedness from a penalty double as partner has had her say also.


            Bridge is based on probabilities. You are not positive that you are setting a hand when you make a penalty double. However , the odds shift into your favour when partner has her say in the decision making process . She doubles to show defense so you convert with the trump stack. There is no such thing as pulling penalty doubles as trump stack doubles do not exist. D.S.I.P. doubles can be thought of as a transfer bid. You transfer the decision to partner who armed with more information makes a joint decision for the partnership.


            We define competitive auctions as those auctions where neither side owns the hand. Forcing pass theory applies in non competitive auctions. By preventing trump stack doubles in competitive auctions , a nice side effect emerges. You can redefine the double to something more useful. As Bridge is played in a clockwise direction , would it not be nice to have the double mean that I have an offensive hand but with defense so I am requesting permission to compete again ? You are taking out insurance with your decision to compete. Duplication of value in their suit is a killer in competitive auctions. Like splinter auctions , partner will nix the request with a trump stack in their suit so the partnership gets amply rewarded by converting the double. This action prevents partner from rescuing the opponents from impending disaster by bidding in front of your penalty double. If partner wants to compete again,  she re-opens with a double so again the contract can be converted. In a bad situation , there is no escape for them. A good name for these doubles are “check back” doubles as you are checking back with partner to make a joint decision. We have named them D.S.I.P. doubles as partner has input to the “intelligent” penalty double decision. Good riddance to single handed penalty doubles in competition.