July 25, 2024

Double then Bid

Real Deal #57 (In Audrey Grant Magazine)

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 07/24/2023
Level: General Interest

This was dealt by Fred Lerner from Markham, Ontario. 

Dlr: South
♠ KQJ8
♥ 9862
♦ AJ6
♣ 72
♠ 7643
♥ AK43
♦ 98
♣ A108
  ♠ 92
♥ Q107
♦ KQ107532
♣ 4
  ♠ A105
♥ J5
♦ 4
♣ KQJ9653


  WEST     NORTH     EAST     SOUTH  
 Pass 1♠   3♠ Pass
 Pass Dbl  Pass 4♠ 
All Pass?      


The Auction:

South is too strong for a preemptive 3♠, so starts with 1♠. West, with AK-A, might enter the auction. An overcall is typically 5 cards and a takeout double (a minimum one like this, anyway), should be able to support all 3 other suits. Accordingly, West is shown as passing. Even though North’s spades are better, the response is in the 4-card heart suit—up the line. East, especially at this favorable vulnerability should stick in a 3♠ preempt. South would like to repeat the clubs, but a free bid at the 4 level would show a much stronger hand. After South passes, West has a good hand, but facing a preempt, isn’t really interested in game. North has 11 HCP facing an opening bid, so doesn’t want to sell out to an undoubled partscore. The double shown in the auction is not “pure penalty.” It simply shows extra values and a desire to compete for the contract. East passes and now South can repeat the clubs. West might try 4♠ (or possibly even a penalty double), but let’s see what happens if everyone passes as shown.

Opening Lead:

Should West lead the ♠A or partner’s suit? This is not a clear-cut choice. Dummy did bid hearts, so that is a slight deterrent. Also, it isn’t likely to profitably be able to give partner a ruff. Why not? With 3-card heart support, South would likely have bid 3♠ over North’s double. Since declarer has at most 2 hearts, there is no possible heart ruff. 

The Play:

It turns out that the lead isn’t too important. As soon as declarer gets on lead, trumps should be played. West takes the ace, and at this point must make sure the defense has taken the 2 heart tricks that are available. If not, declarer will throw a heart on a spade for a valuable overtrick. With clubs trump, +130 is a very normal result for North-South.

The Other tables:

At some tables, East-West will buy it in diamonds. If so, they also might take 10 tricks. Declarer can easily reach dummy for a diamond to the king. When that holds, another cross to dummy for a second trump will produce 10 easy tricks (losing only 2 spades and the ♠A). Even if the defense doesn’t cash the 2 spades in time, they should still get them (as long as North clings to all 4 hearts). The LAW of Total Tricks says that total trumps (9+9=18 here) is approximately equal to total tricks (10+10=20) here. Why the discrepancy? One of the adjustments to LOTT is that when one side has a long suit (like South’s clubs or East’s diamonds), there are usually more tricks than trumps.

Lesson Points

1) With KQJ-seventh and a side ace, open on the 1 level.

2) For an 11-HCP takeout double, try to have at least 3 cards in each of the 3 other suits.

3) With 4-4 in the majors, respond 1♠, not 1♠, even if the spades are much better.

4) Opener’s freebid on the 4-level shows a very strong hand.

5) The LOTT predicts that total trumps = total tricks, but expect even more tricks when there are long trump suits.

6) Not a lesson point, but it is amusing to me that both West and North are 4-4 in the majors with 3-2 in the minors, while both East and South are 3-2 in the majors and 7-1 in the minors. A bit of symmetry dealt out by Mr. Lerner.