2024 Retro Edition – March Week 4

What’s your call?

2 2♠ 2NT
3♣ 3 3 3♠ 3NT
4♣ 4 4 4♠ 4NT
5♣ 5 5 5♠ 5NT
6♣ 6 6 6♠ 6NT
7♣ 7 7 7♠ 7NT
Click to reveal awards

August Boehm, Larry Cohen, Mel Colchamiro, Allan Falk, Geoff Hampson, Betty Ann Kennedy, Daniel Korbel, Mike Lawrence, Roger Lee, Jeff Meckstroth, Jill Meyers, Barry Rigal, Steve Robinson, Kerri Sanborn, Don Stack, The Sutherlins, Steve Weinstein
Troublesome double

Rigal says, “This double should be defensive, not a heart fit. Your hand is relatively low on defense, your hearts are nothing to write home about and the defenders’ spades and diamonds are well placed. Maybe partner is 3=4=4=2 with something like:

♠x x x A J x x K 10 x x ♣Q x,

and we have 300 coming our way against nothing. Pass.”

Robinson, too, sees partner’s double as penalty. “He’s sitting behind the diamond bidder.”

Meckstroth agrees: “I assume this is a penalty double. If so, I have no reason to pull it.”

And Sanborn: “Pass. I don’t think I am consulted anymore. Partner’s double behind the bidder is penalty.”

The Sutherlins re-reiterate the positional aspects. “Because we have defined our hand well and his hand is over the diamond overcaller, partner’s double is penalty. He may have as little as 10 points with three defensive diamond tricks. If he has more, we have a chance at plus 800.”

Stack reaches for the green card. “They are going down, so we can sit in our chair and enjoy the defense.”

Colchamiro’s settled in his recliner, expecting the magical plus 200 (or more). “Even if partner’s double is a modern, ‘I have extra tricks’ double and not one based on trump tricks behind the length bidder, my cards are well placed. If partner has a 10-count with:

♠x x x A J x x K x x ♣Q x x,

it could be bloody.”

Lawrence passes. “I have defense and an unexpected doubleton diamond.”

Cohen objects to the problem because he considers it to be more of a methods question than a bidding poll challenge, and he’s probably right. “I do not recommend that a low-level double such as this be played as penalty, but I pass, guessing that my partner intends it as such. My general rule is, ‘No penalty doubles on the two level unless specifically defined as such.’”

Pass by Kennedy. “I’ve nothing else to offer.”

Then there are those who don’t believe partner’s double is penalty. Korbel, Weinstein, Falk, and Lee keep the auction alive with 3♣.

Korbel says, “At first, I thought this is an obvious penalty double. But then I wondered what partner would do with a hand such as:

♠K J x A K x x x x x ♣10 x x.

Because I play double in this type of auction as ‘do something intelligent,’ I will pull to 3♣. If partner has A Q 10 9, I will apologize, but at least we will have ironed it out.”

Weinstein agrees. “To me, this double is, ‘I want to do something, but I’m not sure what to do.’ Partner looks to be 3–4–3–3 (he doesn’t have four spades or he would have made a negative double over 1 ). It is tempting to pass, but I think that, with the fifth club and just average hearts, 3♣ is the right bid in the long run.”

Falk is most emphatic that partner’s double is not for penalty. “These days, it’s an, ‘I have values to compete but no clear action’ double. I have mediocre defense, so even though 2 doubled is not game, I don’t think it is right to defend at this level.”

Hampson doesn’t stray beyond the safety of 2. “I have a minimum hand and no diamond stopper to bid notrump. Hearts pays better than clubs and is a level lower.”

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