Sunday, February 22, 2004 8:31 AM

Hand Evaluation - Permission to Bid




            If you have bought into D.S.I.P. double theory , you know there is no such thing as an ‘enforcer” type trump stack doubles in competitive auctions. A failure to double does not mean that there is no duplication of value so gives you the green light to bid. In fact , the pass has just the opposite meaning .


            After partner has passed in a competitive auction , you wish to bid again with a decent defensive hand ask his permission by doubling. If partner’s hand is suitable offensively,  he will take the push otherwise the partnership will go for a plus in the doubled contract.


            Good players , using the law of total tricks , push their fit & suits to the limit . Quite often you will be sitting with 10-11 HCP’s but wondering what to do in a competitive auction. Trump stack penalty doubles were invented for punishing bad bidders. But what if you are playing  good teams where bad bidders do not exist ? Even good players get bad trump breaks but that is rare so the frequency of doubles that show “cards’ are far more frequent. Now it comes down to which double is more useful to you , trump stack or competitive.


            You have to get rid of the old mind set that penalty doubles show trump stacks . Also get rid of the notion that a pass encourages taking another bid in a competitive auction because “partner did not double for penalty” . This was the thinking around the time Bridge was invented but does not apply against good competition in today’s game.


            Some example auctions       1 - 1 - Dbl – 2    

 3 - 3 - ?                 xx  Axxx Kxx ♣QJxx


You want to bid 4 but if partner has an unsuitable hand.  you would rather defend. You double , partner has  KQ10 Qxxx AJ10xx ♣x  says no thanks I would rather defend. 3 x goes for 300 as does 4 x    . Change partners hand to ♠xxx KQJx AQ10xx ♣x , he says O.K. lets try 4 by pulling the double so that makes . 3 x is one down.


            The advantage of this method over the “trump stack” warning method is that in old competitive auctions single handed decisions have to be made. If responder thinks their side can make 4♥,  he must make the decision for the partnership but it could be very wrong. The “permission to bid” double brings partners opinion into the decision making process. The biggest advantage of this concept though is taking the ambiguity out of the penalty double. Knowing that the double always shows “cards” rather than a trump stack,  gives you a competitive advantage.


            Change responders hand to ♠KQ10 Kxxx xx ♣Q10xx with the same auction , 3 is passed around to partner. If he has an unsuitable hand for defense or bidding 4 , you will be defending 3 undoubled. Not the optimum result but better then taking a minus in 4. The system fixed you. If partner wants to bid 4 , he doubles so that gets converted for the nice juicy plus. If responder passed & opener has a trump stack double of 3♠,  he must pass & take a plus. Doubling will most likely get partner to pull to 4 not want you want. D.S.I.P. doubles are sound in theory , as the opponents will be playing contracts doubled only if the doubler has a good hand and the other partner converts with a trump stack.


That’s one of the problems with trump stack doubles,  as the weak opener must reluctantly pass so with the hint on how to play the hand , the contract quite often makes or only a small penalty is extracted. Traditional penalty doubles are done “backwards” in my opinion. You double with the trump stack so the other hand regardless of the nature of the hand has to leave it in. Quite often a recipe for disaster as they wrap up the double if not pulled. The D.S.I.P. conversion makes sure there are defensive values in the other hand as well as the bad trump break in the converters hand. Taking out insurance for defeating the contract so to speak.


            D.S.I.P. doubles are not for weak match point  field or weak rubber Bridge games. Trump stack penalty doubles were invented for these games. These doubles assume good competition with the IMP scoring scale. All world class players play some variation of the D.S.I.P. double in todays game. Quoting a recent Bridge World , Eric Rodwell said “we all play these doubles now”.