Thursday, May 7, 2015

All doubles can be passed - with the right hand

One of the best times for making the opponents pay for their indiscretions is when we know that we have at best a seven-card fit. For example after a support double where you don't have a fit for partner's first-bid suit. I've tried this gambit (passing a support double) myself (see for example Passing a support double) but until this evening, it has never worked. The scene was a (pickup) team match on BBO and this was the layout:

The result was only a 2-imp gain, because our opponents got to a making 24-hcp 3NT contract. Actually, we had a chance on the opening lead for 8 imps but of course it's hard to underlead an ace!  In any case, I do believe that this was the perfect time to pass the support double based on the following considerations:
  1. The vulnerability was favorable;
  2. At decision time, it was not yet clear that we would have a game;
  3. My suit was weak;
  4. My holding in their suit was good, or at least decent;
  5. I didn't have much of a fit for partner's suit.
The remainder of this article was actually written two-and-a-half years ago. However, I never apparently published the article, perhaps because I was waiting for my own story. So here it is.

On BBO, my robot partner apparently knows the rules too and when he tried it recently (Sept 2012), it was a huge success.

At every other table but one, the N/S contract was 3NT making an overtrick for 630. At my table, the East robot made an incredibly injudicious bid of 2C over partner's 1S response. My robot knew when he was on to a good thing. This was matchpoints so even down 3 would have got the same result. But we produced a double-dummy defense (and East erred in going up with the  king at trick 2) to produce a very nice 100% score of 1400 (13 imps at teams).

As a corollary to this, I also feel that, after a support double has been taken out, all doubles should be for penalties and all new suit bids should be "to play."


  1. After reading this through again, I realized that the main point may not have come across very clearly. Leaving aside the second example as an anomaly, then if the most perfect situation for passing a support double resulted in only a 2 IMP gain, it's probably not a hugely successful strategy in general. In other words, if you're thinking of passing a support double--don't!

  2. This was IMPs, but what about MPs? I think it has a lot more going for it in that case.

    1. Hi Dave. You are right that it's a better tactic at MPs -- indeed the second example was at MPs. Maybe I should add that to the other 5 conditions for likely success. Since the first hand arose in a team game (as opposed to IMP pairs), it's hard to judge how 500 would score at MPs but I'd estimate that it would be worth 12 out of 13 mps.