Teams Tactics by Derek Patterson
Penalty Doubles of Game Contracts Part I
CLEARLY, BEFORE even considering a Accordingly, West has to work out reward ratio greatly favours a double by
penalty double, there has to be a reason- which suit to lead. In this and similar East, whereas, at pairs, this is not so clear.
able chance of defeating the opponents’ situations, having discounted the suits Consequently, in many situations when
contract. Extreme caution should be where North-South are known to have considering whether to double a game
exercised when doubling part-scores, strong holdings, the obvious selection will contract, at teams you should be prepared
because of the danger of doubling the be West’s weakest suit, although further to take slight risks whereas, playing pairs,
opponents into game. You should adopt a inferences may exist. On this basis, with a more cautious approach is sensible.
more aggressive approach to doubling game reference to the full deal below, West Returning to the featured hand, there
contracts. seems to have two equally reasonable are some other issues that should be
Furthermore, if playing pairs, an un- leads, the t8 and ®7: noted. One is that some players would
successful double might turn an average play a double of 2t as being lead-
into a bottom but, at teams, turning -620 directing. In this case, East would be
into -790 will cost just 5 IMPs. So, in many E/W Game. Dealer South. extremely hopeful of West finding a club
such circumstances, the risks involved are ´ KQ lead by passing over 2t, thereby denying a
smaller in teams than in pairs. To illustrate ™ KJ864 strong diamond holding and then
the point, consider this deal. Imagine that t Q94 doubling 3NT. In this scenario, a double of
you are East with the following hand, ® Q96 3NT would be clear at both teams and
taken from a recent tournament: ´ 10 9 7 5 4 ´ 82 pairs. For those who play a double of 2t
™ Q 10 7 2 N ™ 93 as showing a strong hand, the above
´ 82 You are vulnerable, the t 83 S t A 10 6 5 inference would not be available and
™ 93 opponents are not, and ® 75 ® A K J 10 4 doubling 3NT would be clear at teams but
t A 10 6 5 the auction begins thus: ´ AJ63 not so obvious at pairs.
® A K J 10 4 ™ A5 A second point is that East could have
t KJ72 pinpointed the club lead by overcalling 3®
® 832 on the first round. The problem with this
West North East South action is that it is not sound, and risks
1NT1 being doubled for a sizeable penalty. The
Pass 2t2 Pass 2™ On a club lead 3NT is doomed but on any prevailing vulnerability and the lack of a
Pass 3NT3 ? other lead declarer can prevail, making sixth club suggests that pass is correct.
1 12-14 two diamond tricks, four spades and three Furthermore, it should be noted that
2 Transfer to hearts. hearts. So, the double does carry some risk sometimes, this sort of double is used to
3 Giving opener a choice of games. – the main problem being that partner announce a strong holding in dummy’s
might not discern that clubs is the suit to long suit (hearts). On this occasion, how-
What now? A lot depends on whether you lead. A further, albeit lesser, problem is ever, East can be confident that if 3NT is
are playing pairs or teams. that occasionally, despite West finding a passed by South, then West will have
At most tables East passed again, as did club lead, declarer might still succeed (on enough hearts to know that this cannot be
South and when West led a spade, declarer a different layout), with the clubs being the reason for the double.
made the contract. Some Easts doubled, stopped and declarer being able to cash at In addition, South might remove to 4™.
however! It doesn’t make sense for this least eight major-suit tricks before surren- In this case, the double will help West to
‘out of the blue’ double to show a lot of dering the lead. find the best lead against that contract as
points – East had the opportunity to bid What effect would the format (pairs or well.
earlier, chose not to and, furthermore, the teams) have on East’s decision to double? With regard to the doubling of game
opponents have advertised the values for The main issue here is that playing contracts, there are situations (which I
game already. pairs, 3NT doubled going down will be a intend to explore in the next article) calling
A more intelligent interpretation is that top but making will be a bottom. At teams, for more caution at teams than pairs. Ex-
East is making a lead-directing double. if it makes, then 4 IMPs will have been cepting these, however, and without advo-
The idea is that if West can be persuaded sacrificed, whereas if it goes down, the cating a style of reckless penalty doubles,
to lead the right suit, in this case clubs, double will have gained 12 IMPs in com- the following advice seems reasonable: At
then 3NT should fail. The message is: parison with not doubling and partner teams, be that bit readier to double game
‘Please lead my suit, not yours!’ leading a spade. Playing teams, the risk- contracts than you might be at pairs. r
www.ebu.co.uk June 2012 English Bridge 19