Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Your Call

In the December 2011 Bridge Bulletin, the It's Your Call article (the analysis and scores rather than the problems for next month) features double in every problem, if not as one of the possible calls then during the auction so far.  In the first problem, we have a relatively normal low-level, two-suit double as one of the options, getting a score of 50.  In the second, it's our second turn to bid and we're at the five level already.  Double was worth only 20 this time.  The third problem is almost the complement of the first: partner makes a two-suit, low-level double.

In the fourth, partner has made a negative double at his first opportunity and now is doubling again.  The auction:

Nobody asks the obvious question "is partner's double for penalties?" but from the discussion, it's clear that it is a two-way double. We can take it out if we think that is right, otherwise we should leave it in (i.e. hopefully, we do something intelligent).  Passing the double, with ♠84 K86 AQ953 ♣KJT, was the most popular option this time, scoring 100.

This, and the quotation I will present from the fifth problem, boosts my confidence that my "system" of doubles, which I have tried to codify elsewhere in this blog, is in fact close to "expert standard".

The fifth problem is similar to the second in that we are quickly at the five-level.  The difference this time around is that we've never even had a chance to make a bid yet.  LHO has opened 2, partner has doubled and RHO has bid 5.  We are vulnerable at IMPs with this hand: ♠AT53 QJT9854 ♣T2.  There is only one vote for double this time (from Allan Falk) and the call is awarded only 20 points.  But while I'm not sure I agree with his judgment on this particular hand, I do laud his comments:
Not a penalty double. I just don't want to bid 6 (if I can make it, partner will probably raise me to 7) and I don't want to sound like I might be broke. If partner, with an unbalanced hand, pulls, we should be able to land on our feet in some makeable contract – either spades (I'll raise 5♠ to 6) or diamonds (I'll correct 5NT or 6♣ to 6). While I don't pretend to understand the mind of the real expert, I do try to learn from the experts. And what I find frequently is that when an expert double isn't obviously for penalties, then it a DSIP (do something intelligent, partner) type of double. Or, as experts would tend to say, "cards."

My "rules" are an attempt to reduce the expert mind to a formula, inasmuch as such a thing is possible.  I've concluded that it's probably impossible to create a rule to cover 100% of all situations but I think the rules get us 95% of the way.  In the other 5%, a little bridge logic, or perhaps just "table feel" should be enough to guide us to the right call.

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