Friday, November 18, 2005 5:03 PM

Hand Evaluation  - Shape before Strength II




            Playing D.S.I.P. theory determines your bidding style with respect to T/O doubles vrs overcalls. The old style is to determine if a hand is “too strong to overcall” . This is the strength before shape philosophy. By playing D.S.I.P. theory  , it is easier to buy into the “shape before strength” philosophy. A recent hand in a sectional brings this home. Maurice & Susan vocal critics of D.S.I.P. theory , play strength before shape with respect to their decisions whether to overcall or double. Maurice held ♠AKQxxx x  AJx ♣Kxx , RHO opens 1♣ so what do you bid ?  You have the boss suit so you can not lose by doubling as you pull anything partner bids to spades. The only danger of this approach is partner playing you for even a better hand as you did not choose an overcall. Susan held ♠J xxx KQxxxx ♣xxx so with zero duplication of value in hearts & the club Ace where it should be in the openers hand , they got to an excellent 5.


This won IMPS for our side as the other side choose to overcall but do not play D.S.I.P. theory. If you are going to overcall with hands of this strength ,  you must have a D.S.I.P. double later in the auction to describe the strength of your overcall. Witness what happened at our table with Barry Pritchard & Harold Brend. Tom opened 1♣ , Barry overcalled 1 ( as I would ) . I made a negative double , pass  & Tom bids 2. Here is where Barry fell from grace. The ugly penalty double confusion reared its head. Would Harold interpret the double to show hearts ? Barry felt given our bidding , Harold held absolutely nothing so just bid 2. They played it there for +200 as they made five.


OK a D.S.I.P. double to the rescue. You double 2 to show your heart shortness with a very good overcall. The bid says I have a rock overcall so do something intelligent partner. If that means converting 2 doubled for penalty this is fine. Partner now evaluates her hand on the basis of heart duplication of value. She leaps to 4& passes 4 if that is bid along the way to 5as a choice of contracts. I do not think you can play strong overcalls ( shape before strength) without a subsequent double just to show your power. The two concepts go hand in hand. Why not jump to 3♠ to show a good overcall later on in the auction ? This is not a good bid as it may rescue the opponents. A jump bid should deny defense & show a suit or distribution . What if partner has ♠x KQJ10 xxxx ♣xxxx  and you just missed out on +800 in 2X  against +140 in spades or worse going down one. The double is the most flexible bid in Bridge.