To Bid or not to Bid: Answers
Roberto Scaramuzzi, and
IMPs, none vul, you hold:
Jx J108x AK109 AQx
LHO|| CHO|| RHO|| You|
1NT|| Pass||2|| Pass|
1NT was 15-17; 2 was a transfer.
Do you agree with your first action?
I'll defend. This would be much tougher at matchpoints,
especially at this vulnerability.
Of course. Dbl. This gains when (my estimates)
a. you bid and make something (20%)
b. 2 was making and you go down 1 or 2 tricks undoubled (30%)
c. 2 was making and you go down 1 trick doubled (10%)
d. They bid 3 and don't make (20%)
e. Partner passes the double and they go down (4%)
Of course it is IMPs so the magnitude of the result makes a big difference and
the magnitudes are in favor of the pass. Still... gaining small amounts 84% of
the time is more than enough to offset the larger minus numbers occurring 16%
of the time. [Ed later downgraded the chance of win to 75%. --Jeff]
Yes, I agree with the first action, and yes, I pass again.
No. I would have doubled if that was takeout of spades
(as it would be in most of my partnerships).
If my first double would have been hearts, then I double now. This could
work out poorly, since I have major tenaces in the minor suits sitting under
the NT bidder, but any high heart honor partner has will work overtime.
Takeout of spades is pretty obvious and this should be unanimous,
except maybe Kent.
I don't have a problem with the first action. Now I would double for
takeout. It's not clear they have a fit, but is partner has 4 spades he
may be able to transform and we may even beat it...
At the table a lot would depend on (the opponents') table action. If
righty hitched over 2, for example, I would pass smoothly. If lefty
hitched over 2, it's an indication that they have a fit, so I would be
even more likely to balance (and it would be safer, since they would
almost always go to 3; if they bit 4 and make it, that's just too
I will apply the Hartman convention to this problem.
If I had a convenient convention like the double of 2 is
an advance takeout of spades, I'd use it, otherwise I agree
with the first pass, and will pass again.
- JEFF AT THE TABLE
Double 5-3, but the doublers are much more
confident than the passers.
- WINNING ACTION
pass. The whole hand was
2 went down on a diamond lead, even though the auction was
identical to ours (until my hand passed). In fact, it went
down two; I have no idea how this was managed. Partner played
3 well and held it to down 1. Lose 4. Not a big deal, but
there was a difference of opinion at the table.
- JEFF UPON REFLECTION
Mike and Web suggest that an initial double of 2 is takeout
of spades. I play that against weak (12-14ish) NTs, that
it is; against minis (10-12) that it's just general values;
but against strong NTs, that double shows hearts. Mike
vehemently claims that double as takeout is a better treatment.
Is it? It wins when there's a business double of spades over
the bidder, when getting in early is safer than getting in
late, and when we find a thin game because the doubler can
double twice to show a good hand. It loses when a heart
lead is needed, when the business double backfires (either
through their bidding or making), when it helps them decide
how to play the hand when we didn't belong in the auction,
when we see a blue card from our left, and when partner can't
reject a heart lead by negative inference. I'd judge that
the big factor is that we don't know we belong in this auction
and telling them we are short in spades when they are about to
bid 3NT or 4 is just not a great idea. I think those losses
will be frequent and all the other cases will be rare, so I
think that standard is superior to this tinker. I might be
wrong, having not seen it in action.
If a double here is takeout, the panel thinks it's pretty
obvious. Ed tried to argue that it's so good as to be a
total non-problem. I'm not convinced; I think it's closer
than that. But I think it's still pretty clear to double,
regardless of the result.
Curt brings up the question of matchpoints. Doubling is
utterly obvious at MPs; the downside is minimized and the
upside is increased. No problem.
Feb. 4, 1998