Saturday, April 16, 2005 3:42 AM

Hand Evaluation -  Common Sense




          When an auction dictates that a double can not be a “trump stack double” , it is not . This is the “depending on context” aspect of Bridge bidding.  Do not assume even if you are looking at a void in their suit that they have gone biserk so somehow partners double is of the trump stack variety. Here is an auction that occurs quite frequently. 1-X-4-?   . What is a double & what is 4NT ?  If I have spades on this auction , I put the green card on the table & hope for the re-opening double. Therefore , my double has to show cards  asking partner to do something intelligent. A direct bid at the 5 level shows very good values & a slam try . If you feel like bidding for the sake of bidding , you bid 4NT Lebensohl. This bid  forces partner to bid 5♣  so you pass or introduce your long moth eaten values & suit. When RHO is pre-empting ,  it is important to differentiate slam intention hands , from just holding HCP’s  or finally just showing distribution because 4 might make.


            Here is a hand where common sense can distinguish a D.S.I.P. double from a penalty double. I held ♠A xx AJxxx ♣Qxxxx , with everybody vul  I responded 1NT to partners spade opening bid. LHO bid 2 so around to me again. Playing with my regular partner , I must re-open with a double as he could have a 2 penalty double so this is easy. I was playing with a rubber Bridge player but I doubled anyway. We subsequently got to 5♣ which made. I asked her if she interpreted my double as penalty. She replied , common sense says you can not have hearts as you are in front of the heart bidder !  D.S.I.P. theory is a formal way of bottling common sense & doubles into some sort of a structure.


            Doubles are too useful a tool to reserve exclusively for trump stacks. Having the double as ambiguous so as to always be interpreted on “depending on context” is tough on a partnership. Throw trump stack doubles out of the picture & the auction is immediately simplified. Everyone plays negative doubles up to some level. They are used to making penalty doubles by converting partners re-opening doubles anyway. Why dot have the same understanding in all competitive situations ?  After overcalls , takeout doubles , balancing & NT auctions , the whole gambit of competitive situations. Knowing that partner does not have wasted values in their suit after a competitive double rather than guessing is a huge tactical advantage. Like negative double theory though , beware of the pass so bend over backwards to re-open with a double.


            There is a place for trump stack penalty doubles in competitive auctions. In weak club games where the participants have just graduated from the club series of Bridge lessons J.