Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 1st, 2020


PeteOctober 15th, 2020 at 9:25 am

Hi Bobby,
Could you please answer a question. You hold S-x H-A,J,8,x D-A,8,x C-A,Q,9,8,x. You are Vul, they are not. Three spades is opened in front of you. You double. Next hand passes and partner bids 3N. Now preemptor bids 4S.
1) What would a double by you mean?
2) What is the correct bid?
3) Assuming the contract is 4S doubled what should you lead?

Iain ClimieOctober 15th, 2020 at 1:23 pm

HI Pete,

I think that East, unless weak, is sandbagging here and you might be in for a nasty shock! You could bid 4N (To play) here I suppose but Bobby’s thoughts will be sounder. I’m guessing you doubled and led a trump to stop ruffs but the CKJ turned up on your left or 4Sx was cheap while 6C or something was on – is that true?



bobbywolffOctober 15th, 2020 at 3:26 pm

Hi Pete & Iain,

While prepared to give a direct answer to Pete’s questions, I want to digress, attempting to cover method(s), applying in general across the wide partnership bidding structure, hoping to impart correct techniques rather than to hugely and optimistically, try and thread a small needle in order to guess wildly just what one opponent or perhaps sometimes both are attempting.

First, when an auction like this occurs (highly unusual) by opponents, usually disrespecting his or her partner by, without discipline taking charge by bidding again after first preempting and not letting it role around to partner, after, at least theoretically, first describing his hand with his opening bid, which automatically should allow his partner to make future decisions, since he knows only his hand and then leaves future decisions to partner since he is then expected to then forevermore on this hand represent his partnership (without any bidding interference from him, unless asked).

With those ground rules, all his opponents can do is expect the opener to have a three spade preempt and let it go at that, deciding that the opener, when now venturing another effort (4 spade continuation) violating what any average to good partnership would never do (normal discipline) but this time trying to play both sides of the table.

The above does not mean now, nor will ever, automatically punish an opponent which does such, but all I can offer is that this kind of serious deviation from bridge discipline only marks that partner with almost certainty an eventual significant loser to both himself and to the game itself for these intrepid violations.

IOW, if that ever does happen, all an opposing partnership can do is expect the culprit to be acting for both sides of his partnership, with all percentages then favoring the opponents with the final obtained result.

Yes, then with South, the original take out doubler, being a more or less minimum hand for his TO double, I think it correct to then double, informing his partner that he does not have extra offensive values,, so his now penalty double is at least close to correct (my judgment) and the bid to make.

I would then lead the ace of clubs, since partner is the most likely one to have the king and although yes it could be wrong, but if so, that is what bridge is all about, to which you, the first responder, are merely trying to find a lucky lead, but, to me, it is the best percentage choice, with a trump lead to likely hurt partner with the stopper or stoppers he possesses and with dummy short of entries to finesse through partner.

However, perhaps Iain knows who East is and what he is doing, but it sounds to me that he, East, is only a hand hog and an explosive player who likes to make all of his partnership’s bidding decisions. All I can do, as South, is to maintain my partnership’s discipline and, if partner passes my double, then choose what I think is the right opening lead (in most cases) and await what is to happen.

All the above is subject to the result it obtains, but IMO and in the long run, your partnership will benefit, while your opponent’s one will not survive much longer, but that is only supposition and subject to exceptions, but accepting bridge the way it is, and the way to go, not to try and be a fortune teller and always out guess what the opponents are trying to do.

Good luck and happy landing. Please keep in mind that, if you happened to have a bad, or worse, disastrous result on this hand, please disregard such, because if you do not, your partnership will be the one to suffer, making all things bridge, allowing an unnecessary hit.

PeteOctober 15th, 2020 at 6:23 pm

Hi Iain and Bobby,
Thanks for the answers. What happened is that I did double, and partner thought that I was asking her to bid. 5D was not a screaming success. 4S doubled would her been down about three. South is pretty much end played on opening lead. The club is probably as good as anything depending upon the follow up. East had a fairly standard preempt and obviously no good reason to bid 4S. For context this was a fairly weak club game.

bobbywolffOctober 15th, 2020 at 9:24 pm

Hi Pete,

What actually happened at your table becomes an important learning experience during many players growing period.

Yes, among the higher echelon, bridge bidding is changing and mostly for the better (becoming more logical, therefore standing up to scrutiny)

However, perhaps it would be more successful to teach foreign languages to older students, who would then have more thought to give to why and how.

When you doubled 4 spades, why in the world, would that mean anything but penalties? If not, how then would it be possible to defend 4 spades doubled?

IOW, less experienced players are generally confused when they do not spend enough time on why bids (particularly competitive doubles) should be treated.

Sadly, there is no easy cure, except for the student to take time in learning many different aspects surrounding common bids (certainly including pass and double) which tend to have different meanings, depending on the whole auction especially including long auctions.

Double should normally be for penalties, when it is not directly related to special auctions, which demand a firm understanding between partners. Then, yes! it requires both attention and time given with examples so that a looming partnership will both take a bid’s meaning the same way.

Otherwise, believe it or not, that partnership would be better off in tournament bridge to take the double card out of its box, never to be used (a most frightening move, but one which would show a profit, rather than frequent misunderstandings).

To keep on writing now would serve no particular gain, so I’ll obey myself and stop!!!!!