Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, July 21st, 2019

Up to what level are doubles by opener at his second turn considered takeout as opposed to penalty? Say I open one diamond and hear one heart on my left and a negative double from my partner. If I hear a call of two clubs or a raise to two hearts on my right, what should a double by me mean now?

Wellington Boot, Spokane, Wash.

All low-level doubles of raised suits at your second turn should be takeout. I’d expect a double of two hearts to be a good hand with both minors or a balanced 18-19 without a stopper. A double of an unagreed suit like two clubs should be defensive or penalty. Typically, you would have four clubs, but three clubs with extras is possible.

I thought I had an impossible lead problem when I heard one diamond to my right, one spade to my left, then two no-trump to my right, raised to three. What would you recommend I lead, holding ♠ 10-9-5-3-2,  Q-3,  K-9-6-4, ♣ J-9?

No Way Out, Kingston, Ontario

I think a spade is as unlikely to cost a trick as anything else, but if I led that suit, I would surely lead my fourth highest. There is a decent chance that your right-hand opponent or your partner might have a singleton honor, or that declarer may guess wrongly what to play from dummy.

When partner opens two clubs and the opponents intervene, what is the best and simplest meaning for a pass and double? Should that meaning change depending on the level of intervention?

Dog Fight, Grand Junction, Colo.

You should be prepared to shade a positive response if you have a good suit. And a bid at no-trump should also be natural and positive. Pass and double can be used either as a double negative and semi-positive, or vice versa. There appears to be no real advantage one way or the other.

I’m broadly familiar with the rules on penalty cards if your opponents correct a revoke, drop a card or lead out of turn. But I’m not clear about whether I should selectively enforce the penalty based on the strength of the player I am playing against. What is your view?

Legal Seagull, El Paso, Texas

At the local club, I’m inclined to let players pick up their penalty cards unless my partner would be upset by my leniency. (Some professional-client relationships require keeping the client happy!) I tend to call the director for leads out of turn, though, since this is too hard to unwind. In serious competition, I’d expect my opponents to enforce the rules and would normally do the same against any ablebodied opponent.

How much in the way of extra shape or high cards does it show if you double an opening bid and then raise your partner’s response? Should that be construed as a courtesy action, or does it promise interest in game? And how is the issue affected in a competitive auction?

Rebel Yell, Woodland Hills, Calif.

If opener has not re-entered the auction, a raise shows extra high cards — a hand with four trumps, maybe an ace more than opening values. If opener competes again, doubler’s raise merely indicates suitable shape, not guaranteeing any real extras. You’d cue-bid with significant extras, or raise and bid again. Typically, with a good hand but only three-card support, doubler can double again at his second turn.

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