Monday, April 21, 2003 3:25 AM

Trump Stack Mentality




          Penalty doubles based on trump stacks in competitive auctions should be reserved for rubber Bridge and possibly match points . In IMPS they should not exist !  Why , because in IMPS if you have a trump stack in their suit you should not have overcalled in the first place or you should not raise partner and encourage her to bid game or compete. In most cases , If you have their suit stay out of the auction until the balancing and doubling starts. D.S.I.P. theory is based on the non existence of trump stack doubles in competitive auctions or as the initial action.


You hold Axxxx AK109x xx x  and RHO opens a heart . Why overcall a spade ? You could just be rescuing them from impending disaster . You are encouraging partner to “sacrifice” to 4 with her heart shortage if they get to an obscene 4 game . Alternatively you have J10x KQJ10 Qxxx xx and the opponents have opened a heart and partner overcalls a spade and RHO bids 2 . Do you compete in spades ? No , because you are setting partner up for a pseudo sacrifice or a wrong competitive decision . If RHO had passed,  bid 1NT to show the duplication rather than raise spades.


          From this discipline comes a new understanding with doubles in competitive auctions when the opponents reach game . If you have supported partner , an initial double can not show a trump stack . Conversely if you have not supported partner a double is always  a  short in partners suit type of penalty double. Removal of the “trump stack mentality” is the basis for D.S.I.P. double theory. Not competing with a trump stack in their suit although not compulsory is a good safety valve.


          In rubber Bridge , when the opponents are getting a bad trump break in either a partial or game quite often they get rescued by a braying partner who will not stop bidding her suit .  Established partnerships who have the discipline that they will not be bidding or competing with trump stacks in the opponents suit , have a big advantage . A double can mean a sound overcall and a willingness to compete only . It is not penalty so the opponents are not rescued.


AKJxxx x KQxx Kx           1    and you overcall 1 , LHO bids 2 partner passes and RHO bids 4.


          I have seen players single handily bid 4 here and hit partner with X QJ109 xxx QJ10xx . –500 your way instead of +800 your way . A double by you should be D.S.I.P. because you would not be bidding with a trump stack in their suit. Partner will bid 4 or leave it in at her discretion. Say she had a hand too weak to bid 2 over 2 . Qxx xxx J109xx xx  is a hand that she will pull the double as cheap insurance and gets rewarded with +790 !!


          Tom and I had auction a while back that shows this point well . The vul opponents opened 1 vul in 4th chair . Tom decided to compete not vul with AKxx xx QJxx xxx so he bid a spade . The opponents bid 2 and I held a nice playing hand Jxx xx Axxx KQ10x . So I bid 3 and the opponents bid 4 and around to me . Time to bid a nice non vul sacrifice against their 620 . No , this is terribly single  handed . Let partner decide instead , by you doubling . Partner knows you do not have hearts on this auction or you would not have competed. This is a D.S.I.P. double . Tom passes 4doubled and it goes for +500 . 4doubled goes for -300 our way on a silly Moysean . Doubles in competitive auctions should never be trump stack doubles . The pass card is reserved for those types of hands. Do not rescue bad bidding opponents by bidding . Preserve your options by doubling.


          Since we overcall on very good hands and expert opponents leap to game on weak distributional hands quite often , a double of a game must be clarified . Having it never being a trump stack double is an excellent understanding . If you do have some trump values and you feel you can beat their game, just put the green card on the table . Bridge is a partnership game and partner will go wrong in these auctions if doubles alternate between good hands or trump stacks.


A recent auction by my teammates show the ridiculous confusion brought about by trump stack doubles. The vul opponents open a weak NT , you pass with J9xx void Q10xx Axxxx   and LHO bids 4 vul which partner promptly doubles . With the “trump stack mentality” to confuse things and looking at your void in hearts, 4X  is going for a huge number vul right ?  Wrong LHO has  AKQxxxxx of hearts and –790 is the result !  What makes matters worse is 4 might make your way ! With this auction , if partner originally passes 4 you should have freedom to double in the balancing spot for a cheap not vul sacrifice. The trump stack mentality  being removed from your partnership makes it simple.