Friday, February 17, 2012

The "Dead Auction" rule

A very instructive hand arose at a club game this week which both illustrates and clarifies the "dead auction" rule (one of the triggers in the system of doubles which I have been describing in these blogs).

Let's start with my hand: ♠QT65 8642 KQ9 ♣AQ.  We are vulnerable against not, and there are three passes to me.  In this partnership, we play a 15-17 notrump so this is obviously a 1 opening.  I don't love my hand but it would be Quixotic in the extreme to pass this out!  LHO now decides to come in with 1♠ and partner is there with 2.  RHO passes as do I.  LHO isn't done: he now gives us 3♣.  Partner lets me know he has diamonds with a 3 call, RHO passes, and I take a preference to 3.  This, by the way, establishes a double fit, of sorts, for our side.  LHO still isn't done!  Despite not being able to open the bidding and despite not having heard a peep from his partner, he is determined not to be outbid on this hand.  Partner passes, as does RHO (for the fourth time), and I decide that enough is enough and double.  Partner thinks about this for a bit and pulls it to 4.  RHO now comes out of the woodwork and doubles, ending the auction.  -200 is good for 2.5 matchpoints out of 11 so we have not achieved a huge success here.  4♣ would have gone down 1 for +100 and 7 out of 11.  At teams, we would have lost 7 imps assuming the other table was also in 4♣X down 1.

What went wrong?  It's time to show the entire hand:





What went wrong is basically that partner (W) wasn't quite au fait with the "dead auction rule".  That's largely my fault because it isn't well presented in the DSIP Rule Summary.  Here it states that one of the triggers to penalty doubles is the following:

3. If we pass over a suit bid on our right in a competitive auction and subsequently double that same suit, thus exposing the pass as a trap;
What it should say is this:

3. If we pass over a suit bid on our right in a competitive auction, we are content to defend the stated contract -- if partner doubles or if we double any subsequent bid by the opponents [such doubles will be for penalties];
That would have made it a lot clearer (although it is more complex now).

I will also note that there is another missing trigger rule from the DSIP summary which would have been relevant here.

2.6. bids a new suit (showing length) or raises partner's other suit, having already found a fit [subsequent doubles will be for penalty];
As it turned out, I told a little white lie in the story above. Despite holding Kxxx and AJxx in our suits and hearing her partner bid three times on his own, RHO did not double the final 4 contract.  So we escaped the proper penalty for our transgression, earning an average (6).

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure why partner needs a rule. He defined his hand, you doubled.