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Retro Edition

Matchpoints. E-W vulnerable.
♠K Q 6 5 4   Q 9   A 7  ♣K J 9 5

West North East South
Pass 1♠
Pass 2♠ Pass Pass
3 Pass Pass ?

What’s your call?

3 3♠ 3NT
4♣ 4 4 4♠ 4NT
5♣ 5 5 5♠ 5NT
6♣ 6 6 6♠ 6NT
7♣ 7 7 7♠ 7NT
Redbl Pass
Click to reveal awards
Bid Award
Dbl 100
3♠ 50
Pass 30
Panelists
August Boehm, Larry Cohen, Mel Colchamiro, The Coopers, Allan Falk, The Gordons, The Joyces, Betty Ann Kennedy, Mike Lawrence, Jeff Meckstroth, Jill Meyers, Barry Rigal, Steve Robinson, Kerri Sanborn, Don Stack, The Sutherlins, Karen Walker, Bridge Buff
The “under double”

The panel produces only a plurality for what Falk calls the “under double.” Because South has already passed on a game try, a double suggests a maximum pass of 2♠ and invites South to weigh in with a penalty pass (juicy at these colors if it works out), 3♠ or even 3 if North happens to have a six-card suit.

Several panelists acknowledge that they have a maximum, some defense and a partner when they reopen with a double.

“I’m going for the matchpoints,” says Kennedy. “The double shows extra values and besides that, partner still has a call.”

“Matchpoints. They are vulnerable. Enough said,” says Sanborn. “This is not 100% penalty in front of the bidder. I still have a partner over there.”

Boehm cites “classic matchpoint aggression” as his justification for the double. “Because the modern double is amorphous — ‘cards’ rather than penalty — I hope partner guesses well.”

Lawrence. Staccato. “Double. Good hand. Do something. Not strictly business at all.”

Falk calls 3♠ conceivable, but points out that it could be trading a big plus for a small minus or a big plus for a medium plus. “Even if North bids 3♠ over my double, I want my opponents to know they can’t push us around in balancing situations and if they come in vulnerable, they are taking their lives into their hands.”

Meckstroth weighs the risk reward. “At pairs I need to either double or bid 3♠. I hate to double and risk a cold zero.”

Rigal, too, is unwilling to bet it all on defending 3 doubled. “Double, while quite attractive, is quite a swing position!”

Cohen calls the situation annoying. Bidding 3♠ even though he doesn’t really want to, he whines, “They never let you play on the two level any more when you have an eight-card fit.” He then creates a somewhat imaginative (if illegal) way of finding out whether 3♠ or double is correct call. “If I knew partner had three (or surely, four) diamonds, I would defend. Can I ask him?”

In the scoring, Falk thought pass “too passive.” Nonetheless, two panelists (and Bridge Buff) chose that call.

“The problem with double is that they may make this and partner will not know to pull,” say the Coopers. “We don’t have enough diamonds to double nor enough spades to bid.”

“Mediocre spades and slow sidesuit tricks argue for defending,” says Walker. The argument isn’t convincing enough to double, however.

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