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Double Trouble

It seems that in this super modern age of bridge the penalty double is obsolete. But surely most of us still play the double of a weak 1NT opening as basically a PENALTY double?
What do you need to double a 1NT opening? I go along with the theory that if you have a better hand than the 1NT opener, you should double. That means at least FIFTEEN high card points if your hand is balanced, or seven reasonably certain tricks, e.g. a solid suit and an outside entry. But let’s just stick to the “15+” one for now.

Board#13 22/02/2018

Board 13 saw East with one of the better 1NT openings and South with one of the worse doubles, but nevertheless a double of the 1NT opening. Who do you think won out in the end? When 1NT was doubled and passed out, East made it. Not that 1NT should ever be passed out, doubled or not, because West has a heart suit to take it out to. If you play transfers, do you still transfers after a DOUBLE? This can create confusion in new partnerships, I have seen it often enough. I suggest that if you are doubled in 1NT, transfers are OFF. That allows partner to take it out to ANY five card suit including clubs. I know there are all sorts of ‘escape’ mechanisms but really they are hardly worth worrying about or trying to develop and remember.

Let’s have a look at Board 13 which proved to be unlucky for some, lucky for others. I suspect that only a few Souths doubled the weak 1NT opening. In any case, some Wests and some Easts played in 2♥ but I suggest that if South doubles 1NT and West bids 2♥, then North should have the bottle to bid to 3♦. A six count and five card suit opposite 15+ should be good enough to bid to play at the three level. One North did play in diamonds but that was in 2♦, I can’t imagine how that could happen because North should be able to stand the double of 1NT.

Now let’s take a look at what should happen if 1NT is doubled and passed out. The only case when that happend resulted in 1NT doubled making when South led the very pedestrian low club. South should lead the ace of spades. No doubt those who have read my book “Tips and Quips” will be aware of the quote that “God didn’t deal you both the ace and king of one suit for you to lead another suit”.

South should start with the ace of spades, and when partner discourages (whatever signalling system is used) think again and come up with the right answer.

North has stood the double, therefore has implied at least six high card points. My recommedation is that with a five card suit and fewer than six points, remove to your suit when partner doubles 1NT. Therefore after North discourages the spade lead, South should switch to the KING OF DIAMONDS in the hope that North has either the ace or queen, a reasonable expectation. Take another look at the full deal and see what would have happened then.

Board#13 22/02/2018

As you can see, the best defence defeats 1NT by TWO tricks, justifying the double. West can remove to 2♥, which can not be defeated even with perfect defence. You can have fun working out why. The sensible way to go for North though, is to bid to 3♦ which will make comfortably for +110 for NS, which would score about 80% on the board.

Any correspondence is welcome, to villyn@xtra.co.nz

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