Matchpoints. Both vulnerable.
♠Q 6 5 ♥A K 3 ♦J 3 ♣A K J 6 4
What’s your call?
South has a very nice hand, but no clear direction. The panel majority chose to double, even though this is penalty.
“Double,” said Don Stack. “Because I could pass, this must show extra values and no clear direction.”
No, it’s a penalty double. Many of the experts were used to playing support doubles at a higher level. In BBS, they only apply through 2♥.
“Double,” agreed Larry Cohen. “This shows values or at least that’s what I will tell partner it should be in the postmortem. Some players, myself included, play support doubles on the three level, promising extra — that would work well here.”
“I think almost all experts play these doubles as support with extra values,” said Allan Falk.” If North takes it as penalty, I do have four quick tricks and some additional values.”
“I have too good a hand to pass,” said Betty Ann Kennedy, “and 3♠ seems too unilateral.”
“I’ll make the all-purpose, I-have-extras-but-don’t-know-what-to-bid double,” said Karen Walker. “Even if this isn’t on our convention card, partner will usually be able to figure out that I don’t have a big diamond stack.”
“This one is easy,” said Mel Colchamiro. “Double should show extra values, not trump tricks. Besides, what else is there to bid?”
“Double in tempo,” said Barry Rigal. “This shows extras, unsuitable for any other action. I have my bid, will partner have his?”
“In my partnerships, double would be support with extras,” said Kerri Sanborn. “I think in most situations, it just says I have extra values and no clear bid.”
“We think double should be takeout,” said Peggy and John Sutherlin. “We can handle any bid that partner makes.”
The system defines double as penalty, even though the majority want to play it as a general takeout.
What other actions are there?
“3♠,” said Steve Robinson. “It would be nice to be playing support doubles this high, but double here is penalty. The extra strength will make up for the lack of the fourth spade.”
“A support double would be useful,” said Mike Lawrence. “I will bid 3♠ and would consider bidding 4♠ if the ♦J was the ♠J.”
“We might be tempted to double to show our values,” said Linda and Robb Gordon, “but we just read deal No. 9 of Larry Cohen’s new book, in which a player doubled and was minus 470 when 4♠ was cold. We choose 3♠.”
Two other experts chose 3♥. What does it mean?
“The panel will double,” said August Boehm, “but that’s not for me. I’m old school, and double is penalty. If partner raises the improvised reverse, we have safety in spades. Also, 3♥ opens the door for 3NT.”
“3♥ is forcing and likely to get us to the right spot,” said Kitty and Steve Cooper.
Bridge Baron passed, but didn’t give any reasons.
Scorer Allan Falk summed up double in his comments:
“Readers who use the announced bidding system — Bridge Bulletin Standard — cannot get a perfect score. Here, double is penalty, what one would do with extra values and four decent diamonds. The panelists who live by the conditions of contest don’t fare well either. 3♠ is close to being right on values — it’s just missing the ♠2, which might not matter.”