October 2019 English Bridge
'Well done, Frances,' I said. 'So it doesn't matter
what signalling system you are playing, the king is
the right card.'
The class settled down and I moved on to the
next topic. 'Which bid do you think has the most
meanings?' I asked.
'Two clubs,' suggested Gordon. 'Acol, Benji,
Checkback, Drury, Extended Stayman ...'
'What about double?' I interrupted, worried that
he might have 26 answers.
'That's not a bid,' said Gordon, 'It's a call.'
I resisted the temptation to give him a clip round
the ear. I understand such things aren't done in
schools any more.
'Ms Hothouse tells me you've done doubles, so
let's make this like one of those TV talent shows.
You can come up one at a time to answer the
problems, and she and I will be the judges.'
I wrote a nice easy hand up on the board as
Heather came and stood in front of the class. 'The
hand on your right opens one heart. What do you
bid and what is it called?'
'I double,' said Heather. 'And it's called a takeaway
'That should be take-out, Heather,' corrected Ms H.
'My mum says take-out is American, Miss,'
replied Heather. 'She says we should say take-away
There was more trouble later with negative
doubles; apparently Heather's mum thought they
were bad English. 'Oh, you can't not play negative
doubles,' I quipped, but I don't think anyone
Everyone enjoyed themselves as we worked our
way through a selection of doubles. The answers
included a couple that were new to me. I hadn't
heard of compulsive doubles or lightning doubles
before, although, come to think of it, I have seen
both of them in action at the table.
'That talent show with the doubles went down
well,' said Ms Hothouse, as she showed me out after
the class. 'It is a shame more people don't play
bridge, it would make a great TV programme.'
'Yes,' I agreed. 'We could call it The Double Agent.'
'That sounds too much like a spy series,' she
replied. 'What about The X Factor?' r
On the other hand, you will also collect 380s and
670s. After all, it is hard to defend against a weak
1NT-(Dble)-2´. If you have eight points, you
know nothing about partner's shape and can't tell
if you have enough points to make game.
Consider this example. What would you bid
holding ´A82 ™9653 tAQ7 ®764 on the
Hand A. Dealer North
´ 10 9
™ J 8 7
t J 3 2
® A K Q J 5
´ A 8 2 ´ K Q 3
™ 9 6 5 3 ™ A K Q
t A Q 7 t K 10 8 5
® 7 6 4 ® 10 9 8
´ J 7 6 5 4
™ 10 4 2
t 9 6 4
® 3 2
Hand B. Dealer North
´ K Q
™ A 8 7
t K 6 5 3 2
® 9 8 5
´ A 8 2 ´ 4 3
™ 9 6 5 3 ™ K Q J 10 2
t A Q 7 t J 10 8
® 7 6 4 ® A K Q
´ J 10 9 7 6 5
t 9 4
® J 10 3 2
W N E S
1NT Dble 2´
Making a penalty double seems a reasonable choice,
and indeed, if the full hand was Hand A, you would
be right. 2´ is going for 1100 and you cannot even
However, if the full hand was as in Hand B, 2´ is
making, while 4™ is making for your side. So
doubling would get you a terrible score.
Which goes back to our earlier points - the weak
no trump is easy to play and makes life difficult for
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