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When to make a penalty double

Have you ever doubled the opponents in a contract that you were sure you could beat - only to see them flee to a safer haven? 

West Deals
N-S Vul
♠ A
J 9 8
K 10
♣ A 10 8 7 6 4 2
♠ 10 8 6 5
A K Q 10 4 3
A 6 5
♣ —
N
W   E
S
♠ 9 7 3 2
6 5 2
3 2
♣ Q J 9 3
  ♠ K Q J 4
7
Q J 9 8 7 4
♣ K 5
West North East South
1 2 ♣ Pass 2
3 4 ♣ Pass 5 ♣
Pass Pass Dbl Pass
Pass 5 Pass Pass
Dbl Pass Pass Pass

 

 West had crowded the auction sufficiently to jostle North-South into the inferior 5♣ contract. That would have failed by two tricks due to the unfortunate trump break. Was East content to write +200 (two down vulnerable) on his scorepad? No - he wanted every penny! East’s double sent a warning signal to North, with his bare ♣ suit. He wisely ran to his partner’s ♦s and West doubled with a shrug of the shoulders.

West led ♥A and continued with ♥K. Declarer trumped and led ♦7 to ♦5, ♦K and ♦2, and returned dummy’s ♦10 to ♦3, ♦8 and ♦A. West switched to ♠5 to dummy’s ♠A, but declarer trumped ♥J (avoiding returning to hand with ♣K which West would have trumped); he drew West’s last trump, ran his ♠KQJ and ♣AK. The doubled game was made.

East must have been kicking himself - he had been too greedy! The moral is clear….

ANDREW’S TIP: When the opponents are in the one contract you are confident of defeating, do not double or they may remove themselves to a contract you are not confident of defeating.

 

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