A new kind of double makes a hit

May 16, 1965

In contract bridge the double generally means one of two things. One, the takeout double, asks partner to bid his longest suit. The second, the penalty double, asks partner to keep his mouth shut because the doubler thinks he can pick up a bunch of points by setting the opponents.

Now along has come a third kind of double, which, for want of a better name, might be called the unpenalty double. On its way to winning the Vanderbilt Cup, the Jacoby team used this double (below) profitably early in their semifinal match against the team captained by B. Jay Becker.

In the other room South had opened the bidding with one heart. West had no warning from this bid that the opponents had a slam, so he kept silent, and North-South reached six hearts, making an overtrick for a score of 1,460.

Ivan Erdos' opening bid of two clubs was artificial and forcing and warned Ira Rubin, sitting West, that it might be necessary to find a good sacrifice. He therefore bid two diamonds. Kelsey Petterson had enough to bid three clubs, but perhaps he thought it might save bidding space if he passed and gave partner a chance to bid his own suit at a low level. Oswald Jacoby had other ideas. He wanted to steal as much space from the opponents as possible, and he took full advantage of the vulnerability by leaping all the way to six diamonds.

Undeterred, South boldly bid six hearts—a daring move that should have given his partner pause for long thought. On the opponents' bidding, South should be void in diamonds. Obviously he must also be gambling with his six-heart bid. But North had a perfect fit, including the king of hearts, the ace of clubs and a doubleton in spades. He should have bid the grand slam.

He was still to get one more chance. East-West were playing the unpenalty double. If West had held no defensive tricks, it would have been up to him to show this by doubling. His pass indicated some defense. But when the bidding came around to East, he had no defense and said so by doubling.

When the bidding came back to West, he did not think he could take two tricks in defense, so he decided to sacrifice. But he didn't bid seven diamonds directly; instead, he made a nonsense bid, six no trump, just to mix up his opponents. North doubled, and East bid seven diamonds as expected.

Suppose West had held two defensive tricks; he could pass East's double for penalties. Suppose East had one defensive trick to add to the one that West had indicated by his pass. He couldn't double—remember, this would have been an unpenalty double—so he would simply pass and gratefully accept 100 points.

Why didn't South pass seven diamonds? He did not dare encourage North to go to a grand slam with just one of the vital missing cards—the king of hearts or the ace of clubs—and he could not dream that North held both.

After North's trump lead, West drew three rounds of diamonds, ending in dummy, and led a spade toward his queen-jack. He lost two spade, one heart and two club tricks for a penalty of 900 and a gain of 560 points over the small slam bid and made in the other room.

ILLUSTRATION

North-South vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

[6 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[9 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

WEST

[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[8 of Hearts]
[Queen of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]

EAST

[9 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[4 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

EAST
(Jacoby)

PASS
6 [Diamond]
DOUBLE
7 [Diamond]
PASS

SOUTH
(Erdos)

2 [Club]
6 [Heart]
PASS
DOUBLE

WEST
(Rubin)

2 [Diamond]
PASS
6 N.T.
PASS

NORTHH
(Petterson)

PASS
PASS
DOUBLE
PASS

Opening lead: 4 of diamonds

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)