Wednesday, August 04, 2004 5:03 PM

Hand Evaluation – Was that a Penalty Double ?


The following is an excerpt of a Karen Walker article on her web site.  This is the way I would like to perceive D.S.I.P. doubles in competition . All doubles are D.S.I.P. except for default situations where trump stack doubles are allowed . After her article  below , I will list our default trump stack double situations..

Karen Walker

“ Part 1 -- Standard penalty situations.

Have you ever heard (or participated in) a discussion like this after a "creative" double had backfired?

EAST: Minus 670! Partner, how could you pass my double?
WEST: I thought it was for penalty.
EAST: No, no, no. It was penalty-oriented and cooperative.
WEST: You mean it was mainly for takeout?
EAST: Not exactly. It showed transferable values.
WEST: So can I pass it, or can't I?

Just a few decades or so ago, Bridge players seldom had this type of misunderstanding. Back then, there were only a few well-defined situations where a double was takeout, so almost all other doubles were "for business". The penalty double was called a “shut out” bid & you were expected to pass. Do not pull my penalty doubles

In recent years, competitive bidding has become much more lively,  players have developed new meanings for many old-fashioned penalty doubles. Some modern doubles -- including negative, responsive, support and maximal -- are conventional so apply only in clearly defined situations. Others -- including those called cooperative -- aren't as easy to define because they are often used in more complicated auctions.

These modern doubles make competitive bidding more flexible and accurate, but they also create more opportunities for misunderstandings, even for established partnerships. There are so many uses for the double now that it's virtually impossible to discuss every situation that might come up at the table. Instead, many players develop general "default" agreements that can apply to a wide range of auctions.

The modern practice seems to be "when in doubt, it's takeout". If you follow this general approach, it's easier to define your penalty doubles than to discuss all the auctions where a double is something else. You can start with this list, which summarizes some "universal" default agreements. These are basic situations where (barring a convention or partnership agreement to the contrary) most players assume that the doubler's intention is penalty: “

Penalty ( trump stack ) doubles only apply in certain situations . They are as follows :


1.      Forcing pass situations – we own the hand which includes redoubles , 2♣ , 2/1 ,  running from penalty conversions etc

2.      Pre-emption involved - We have opened a weak two or other pre-empt which includes toys like unusual 2NT or Michaels etc. Can mean we just leapt to game.

3.      If we have trapped or they have psyched ,  & the double is “obvious” that it is a trump stack ( misfit auction , no unbid suits , late in the auction , bidding a suit for which partner has made a T/O double )

Some captaincy situations where the double must be penalty.

4.      Over-under Rule - They have balanced after our NT or other auction and we are “over” the suit ( Bridge is played in a clockwise order )


D.S.I.P.   doubles apply in all other situations except where conventional doubles apply ( negative doubles , support , maximal & responsive dbls ) . These conventional doubles are perceived as “disciplined “ D.S.I.P. doubles anyway . Do not forget that we do not “own the hand”  or its too tough to determine in  D.S.I.P. situations .  D.S.I.P.  doubles are designed to assist us in competitive auctions where they own the hand or nobody knows . When we own the hand  , Forcing Pass Theory applies.