(Courtesy of Bob Crosby)
Tactical bidding by the opponents bring in the element of judgment with penalty doubles . O.K. I am going to get up on my soap box here because I feel very strongly about this . In rubber bridge quite a few ( all ? ) of your partners lack judgment in penalty double situations. For them a platitude like " you never pull my penalty doubles" will earn you money in the long run i.e. you do not have to trust them to use judgment that they do not have . For a good partnership to have this understanding that "you never pull penalty doubles" is down right insulting . Sometimes partner wants penalty doubles to be pulled . These type of doubles are called Do Something Intelligent Partner and require partner to be at the tableas well as using good judgment . Rote rules or platitudes just do not cut it when you are playing with your regular partner at expert levels.
An example hand was a hand that I had with my ex partner on pulling penalty doubles . Mr. Jones had KQ void AKxxx 10987xx and opened 1D and LHO bid 2D and I doubled showing one or both the majors and a good hand . RHO bid 4H and with the forcing pass element on and "being at the table" that I could not have hearts I doubled so that partner could do something. I do not have diamonds or hearts ( unless opponents are suicidal ) so I must have spades and clubs so it is an easy pull to 5C with Peters hand . 5C makes and 4H doubled makes the other direction . This is not a tough hand . Gordon Campbell summed it up best with a touch of humour when I gave him the hand for his opinion ..
"Accordingly, he must Dble with many hands (with even more extras than the initial Dble showed) which are not necessarily penalty-oriented but are of the "we-have-lotSof-stuff-but-I-don't-have-a-clear-action" type of double.
My coined terminology is the DSIP Double. (Do Something Intelligent Partner)
And yes, Partner should not play like Rueful Rabbit - and muse on the existence of there being 16 Hearts in the deal, while he gurgles on his ginger bikky.
He does have to be at the table.
He should listen to the Opponents, as well as Partner.
I get very worried when they are too confident. "
Another hand that involves the frustration when partner is not at the tableand leaves in penalty doubles when they should be pulled .
The opponents are vul and you are not and you have Q109xxx Jxxx void xxx . Partner is a passed hand and RHO opens 1D and you make a non vul tactical bid of 2S . The opponents make a negative double , partner passes and LHO bid 3D and LHO bids 3NT and partner doubles . O.K. partner is a passed hand and is not doubling just because he has 12 pts or so . Partner is doubling on spades and a diamond stopper and around 10 pts. Looking at your hand this means that the opponents have close to 30 pts for their 3NT doubled. Your bid shows 5-10 HCP and you are no where near your bid , Do you leave the double in ? Do something intelligent partner means just that . Pull to 4S at the speed of lightning . Partner had Axx Q10xx K1098 xx for the double and 4S doubled goes for 300 or 500 depending on the defense. Adherence to the platitude that you never pull partners double gets you minus 1150 and you lose the knockout match by 2 IMPS !
O.K. I held a hand last night with Tom against the Bartons that I think the D.S.I.P. rule applies .
I held Ax xx AK KJ1098xx with everybody vul . I opened 1C and Tom bid a spade and RHO bid 2C alerted to be a two suiter in hearts and diamonds and shortness in clubs . I felt like leaping to 4C but I did not want to go past 3NT so I bid 3C . LHO bid 3D and around to me again . O.K. one last desperate attempt at 3NT so I bid 3H which LHO doubled and Tom bid 4C . RHO bid 4D . I wanted to bid 5C very badly but why take such a single handed action ? I have 4D booked in my own hand and I am short in his spade suit so why not put partner in the picture with a D.S.I.P. double .
If partner holds Jxxxx x xxx Axxx 4D makes and 5C makes
If partner holds KQxx Jxx xx xxxx 4D goes for 500 and 5C goes for 500
If partner holds Jxxx Jxx xx Axxx 4D makes and 5C goes 1 down
Partner must use her judgment depending on the club holding on these type of auctions. Platitudes like not pulling partners penalty doubles do not apply here . Partner wants you to pull with the appropriate hand !!
Tom and I had a misunderstanding last night that needs clarification for partnerships . I feel that the redouble sets up forcing pass situations even when partner is 3rd seat and Tom did not.
Tom held Q1098 KJ9xx Axx x and opened 1H and Peter Jones doubled . I redoubled with my 11 HCP and Terplawy bid 1S . Tom showed his dog by passing and I re-opened with 1NT . Allan showed poor judgment by bidding 2S . Since I bid 1NT, I must have at least 2S with a stopper and no more than 2H . Tom knows they are on a 4-3 fit and probably has 3 spade tricks . With the KJ of hearts and the A of diamonds he has 2S booked in his own hand regardless of the maybe 12 HCP I could have. Tom thought this was not a forcing pass auction and decided not to disturb things and passed. I took his pass as forcing so I bid 3C and went down 2 vul when 2S goes for 800 or 500 . Huge 18 IMP swing as we lost 8 instead of winning 10 . I did not re-open with a double as I thought we were on a forcing pass scenario and Tom would have doubled with spades .
At the Klimo/Kiz tablethe auction went slightly different . Klimo opened 1H and Kiz bid 1NT which got passed around to a balancer who doubled . Kiz redoubled to show her 11 and when RHO bid 2S Klimo doubled and they went for a number . Anyway , back to the same old theme . With the opponents in the auction , a partnership have to have finely tuned partnership understandings . So called "mistakes" always seem to occur when the opponents are bidding ...
In IMPS , I am a great believer in D.S.I.P. doubles as opposed to “never pull my penalty doubles” type of doubles . Why , well the IMP scale and our style of overcalling on very good hands dictate this philosophy . Take this hand not vul vrs vul and RHO opens a heart . You have x AK10 K1098 AK109x and decide to bid 2C . LHO bids 2H , partner passes and RHO surprises you by bidding 4H . Should you double ? In rubber bridge it is clear cut . +800 gets you $40.00 at a nickel . In Match Points it is clear cut you must double and get your +800 . Even if the field is not in 4H there might be people doubled in 3H , so to go for the best score you should double . In IMPS put the green card on the table. Why ? Assuming your intelligent partners are in a part score for +110 and you have these people in 4H down 3 for +300 you are winning 10 IMPS anyway . If you double and collect +800 you win +13 IMPS ! In effect , in IMPS you are excluding D.S.I.P. double strategy for a 3 IMP gain !!
In IMPS , if you double a game after overcalling you want partner to do something intelligent which includes pulling your doubles. Take the same scenario but take away the HCP’s in the opponents suit . x xx AKJx AKJ10xx . Again you double 4H after overcalling 2C . In other forms of bridge you probably back in 4NT to say pick a minor. This is very single handed . Partner can have heart values , spade values , shortness in clubs and would love to play it in 4HX . Why not pass the decision to partner with a double ? This is not a penalty double or you would have just quietly passed and taken your plus. This is saying I want to bid 5C but because we are an established partnership , you can make the decision.
O.K. back to the theme of our overcalls being so variable in strength . We will overcall at the one level with very good hands . This has the advantage of getting your distribution in first and your strength later on . The down side of this is that good opponents can “smell” game your way and p-empt you with advance sacrifices and tactical jump to games . The solution is to play D.S.I.P. doubles and double if you want to bid again and pass if you do have a plus. Everyone of us overcalls a heart with a spade on this hand AKQxxx x AQxx xx . They are vul and we are not . Is this not an excellent opportunity to sacrifice in 4S and on a good day it might even make ? In rubber bridge and Match points , why not gamble it out and single handily bid 4S ? In IMPS do not even think about it . You have a partner over there so double . With the agreement that this does not show a trump stack , partner can bid 4S if it is right and passes if it is not . Partner gratefully passes with x QJ109 xxxx xxxx and you get +800 instead of –500 . Quite a reward for allowing partner to be part of the decision !
Rubber Bridge and Match Points tends to re-enforce single handed decisions . In IMPS , Bridge is truly a partnership game . Penalty doubles in IMPS have a different meaning . Partner must pull them when the situation dictates and that is when you have been in the auction or both partners have been competing . These are the old style co-operate doubles . Just eliminate trump stack doubles from your way of thinking and you will get it right.
A pass is a bid that speaks volumes . If a partner , in a competitive situation , bids rather then passes , she is doing so on distribution and re-evaluating her hand based on new circumstances ( shortness in their suit etc ) . A pass by her shows nothing extra or defensive values with a pference to defend with her minimum .
In D.S.I.P. theory , we throw out trump stack doubles as we do not compete with excessive values in their suit . We wait until they hang themselves and double or if partner re-opens with a double we convert. So take this very common auction I had in the Red Deer tournament and see how the D.S.I.P. principles apply.
I held AJ109x AQx xx K10x and with the control oriented hand I decided to open a spade instead of a light 1NT . LHO overcalls 2D and Vish bid 2S and RHO doubles showing a 3D raise with values. I thought I needed more to redouble so I passed. LHO bid 3D and around to me again . Partners pass says he pfers to defend for one of two reasons . One he is minimum or two his hand is defensive orientated but not a maximum. If he were maximum with defense he would have doubled himself.
Anyway around to me . If I had a minimum with defense I would pass quietly and hopefully try to beat 3D as partners pass suggests that action. If my hand was more distributional , I would take the push to 3S . With this hand I decided to make a D.S.I.P. double . This allows partner to pull with a minimum and leave it in with some defense. Vish passes and we collect +300 . Three spades goes down one !
Opponents hands Qx xxx AKQ10x 10xx opposite Kxx KJ10x J10x Jxx
Change my hand to AJ109x Axx KQ10 xx and I would also pass and this auction. Say Vish wanted to compete to 3S but he also has defense . He makes a D.S.I.P. double and you know what to do when it comes around to you. If Vish passed, I would just pass as I have too many points in diamonds to make a D.S.I.P. double . Isn’t it better to have a partner who gives you an option to bid 3 spades instead of single handedly bidding it himself ? D.S.I.P. doubles are a very effective weapon against bad two level overcalls by the opponents because you get them from both sides of the table. Bergen raises with inferences that partner most likely has only 3 trump is great for judging a hand for defensive purposes and D.S.I.P. doubles. With 4 trump and a minimum 2 spade bid , I usually bid 3 to get the auction up there.
Forcing Pass vrs D.S.I.P.
In the early days of Bridge , penalty doubles were invented to punish bad bidders. The penalty double was ambiguous as it was done on a trump stack or HCP valueS it did not matter. The message was “opponent you bid badly” and you are to be punished. In today’s game , in match points and rubber bridge , weak Bridge players and bad bidders still exist . The traditional penalty double should probably be employed in those games.
Should these penalty doubles still exist in IMPS ? No , for a variety of reasons .1st reason is the IMP scale does not reward you enough for the “home run” penalty doubles . Say your partners are in 2? making for +110 . Your opponents bids badly and play badly in 4? and go down three vul . You win 410 which is 10 IMPS . O.K. instead you double them and beat them –800 . A disaster for them in any game but IMPS . In IMPS it just cost them –910 which is 13 IMPS instead of the 10 IMPS they were going to lose anyway . A paltry 3 IMPS !
The 2nd reason for not playing “trump stack” doubles in IMPS is that they are ambiguous for pulling doubles. Partner does not know if they based on HCP’s which might help his decision to bid more or a trump stack which is bad duplication of value for bidding purposes. It’s a crap shoot on when to pull penalty doubles. Advocates of trump stack doubles usually threatened partner with a “never pull my penalty doubles edict”. This is of course is stupid in IMPS as penalty doubles should be pulled in many situations but it is just a gamble either way. Doubling 4? for –300 when you can make +1370 is a huge loss for your side.
The 3rd reason for not playing “trump stack” doubles in IMPS is the caliber of the opponents. In good IMP matches , they do not bid badly with bad suits . They take advantage of the “law of total tricks’ and make things difficult for you with minimum risk for their side. Using an unambiguous double just to “show cards” simplifies many auctions for you as they use their fit for p-emptive value. The opportunity for juicy trump stack doubles are very rare. So why waste the bid when you can use D.S.I.P. doubles instead ? Partner can still convert with a trump stack.
These D.S.I.P. double understandings only apply to non forcing pass competitive auctions where we do not know who owns the auction. Normal forcing pass theory has pcedence over these understandings. In fact one of the benefits of D.S.I.P. doubles are correct decisions in sacrificing situations. With forcing passes , the opponents must play their contract doubled or you play it. In D.S.I.P. theory , they could own the hand and of course play it undoubled or you may sacrifice.
O.K. throw out trump stack doubles in IMPS and watch the difference. Doubles and pass reverse their traditional meanings in non forcing pass auctions . In fact many of the top world class players put on their card that the meaning of a pass and a double is reversed in competition. Tom Gandolfo put this theory into action with this hand.
x Qxxx J10x AK10xx Tom passed and I opened 1? in third seat and LHO overcalled 1? . Tom bid 2? and my
RHO bid 2? bringing 3? from me and 4? by my LHO. Tom likes his hand for offensive purposes . He has a stiff in their suit and a possible two suited fit with me . He wants to bid 5? so in our D.S.I.P. style he doubles ( forcing passes are not on with Tom being a passed hand ) . I have AQx of spades and I say no thanks and we get +500 ! If I had no values in spades I would have bid 5? as per Toms request. Without these understandings Tom would have to make a single handed decision and bid 5? directly over 4? which gets doubled for –300 . Unlucky as I had AQx of spades and 4? doubled goes for +500.
What if Tom had AQx of spades instead of me ? Tom would have passed saying that he would like me to double with the appropriate hand . With a good opener and I want to bid 5? , I would double and Tom converts from the other side. The only time we lose and it is not much of a loss is that I have a real dog and refuse to double. But is it much of a loss ? We can not make anything since my hand is bad so we take our plus 100 gift and on to the next hand .
In the old days , a double in competition said I have duplication of value so do not bid partner. In D.S.I.P. theory its just the reverse. Since doubling out of turn is not allowed in Bridge , reversing the two bids covers all situations ( positions ). If you want to bid then tell partner that by doubling. He will comply most of the time except when he has duplication of value. These understandings pvent pseudo sacrifices which is the 4rd reason to play D.S.I.P. in IMPS . if you have all the cards then forcing pass theory applies. Sacrificing by you of course does not factor into the equation in forcing pass theory.
This D.S.I.P. theory applies in all auctions where forcing passes do not apply . This includes slam auctions . You hold void J109xx xxxx xxxx and RHO opens 1? and LHO makes a conventional bid at the 4 level showing spades and partner bids 5?. RHO bids 6? and you want to sacrifice . You do not get rich doubling freely bid slams for penalty so why not use D.S.I.P. theory ? You double saying you want to bid 7? . With the actually hand , partner held KQJ of spades and somehow found the pass instead of sacrificing !! Quite an example of pventing pseudo sacrifices. Many people single handedly “sacrificed” to 7? holding that hand when it was played in a local sectional.
Playing D.S.I.P. penalty doubles does not mean “trump stack” doubles are extinct. If we have opened a NT or they have bid a NT and the doubling starts that is the “killing fields “ of Bridge. Doubles are trump stack and there is no thought required – just pass the double. If we own the auction and do not have a fit established , a double is of the trump stack variety. If one partner has chosen to stay out of a competitive auction and then doubles a final contract it is of the trump stack variety.
When the opponents overcall or p-empt , negative doubles rule up to the 4? level anyway. Higher doubles are D.S.I.P. instead of a trump stack . Why ? Ambiguity is bad in any language and the Bridge language is no exception. Doubling a 4? bid with 13 HCP and a stiff spade is a far cry from doubling 4 with KQJ10 of spades. Yet we make the same bid with both hands after partner opens. This is just playing into the p-empters strategy of destroying your auction. One of the ambiguous doubles has to be thrown out. Since partner may yet save the day with a re-opening double we have chosen to eliminate the trump stack double. Our partners will not bid 4S with such a filthy spade suit anyway so no great loss. The IMP scale saves you on those hands . if partner was too weak to double then you beat 4? for 3 down vul plus 300 and no game your way . At the other tableyour partners make a club partial for 110 . So you win 10 IMPS anyway and a double for +800 is only worth a couple of more IMPS !!!
What does the double mean at high levels ? It is asking partners permission to bid with the appropriate hand and otherwise pass. You have AKxxxx x Axxx Kx and you open 1? and LHO bid 4? and around to you again. They are vul and you are not . Lets bid 4? as it might be a cheap sacrifice or might even make. No way as that is single handed . Ask partners permission to bid 4S by doubling . If the sacrifice is right she will bid it ! Another example , x xx AKxx AK109xxx They open 1? and you overcall 2? and LHO bids 4? around to you again. They are vul and you are not so lets bid 5? or 4NT to sacrifice ? Too single handed again. Tell partner you want to bid 5? by doubling. If you had x KQJ10 xx AK10xxx you would quietly put the green card on the tableand take your small plus. You can not have it both ways.
Even with voids in the opponents suit, do not be enticed into a “cheap sacrifice”. In Pentiction I had xxx xxxx AKxx Kx and in 4th chair LHO opened 1? everybody vul . Tom overcalled 1? & RHO bid 2? and I bid 2? . LHO jumped to 4? and around to me again . The opponents have mapped out a void in hearts in partners hand so a 4? bid looks awfully good. Why make such a singlehanded bid ? Double as your partner might have AKxx of spades and wants no part of a vul sacrifice. Tom actually held an offensive 5-5 with a void in hearts and 4? goes one down with 620 cold their way.
D.S.I.P. doubles and the sandwich position are a perfect match . Partner opens a major and you respond 1NT . The opponent makes a bad overcall and you want to double out of turn but rats partner rescues him by bidding !! D.S.I.P. doubles to the rescue . Partner doubles with a good hand even one with 4 hearts and passes with thier suit . if you can not re-open with a double they play it there for a small plus your way. Doubles can get converted often if they lack discretion with their overcalls.
D.S.I.P. doubles are also “depending on context” penalty doubles. If the opponents advertise to the tablethat they have a suit wrapped up , the double becomes a D.S.I.P. double . Say you double an unusual 2NT and they leap to 5 of a minor anyway . Such total disregard for your first double changes your second double into a D.S.I.P. double showing points and the other minor. It does not mean do not trust them partner as they have lost their minds.
Penalty doubles have been around since the beginning of Bridge . They say do not bid partner as we have their suit . With D.S.I.P. doubles we convey just the opposite meaning. The double means I want to bid but I am asking your permission to do so . Works way better…