Low Level Penalty Doubles - Yes or No?

How do you play your takeout and penalty doubles, and when? That is a very good question and should be resolved by any partnership.

Board 3 from Thursday 01/02/2018
Dealer S EW Vul


I have certain views about when to try to penalise a very low level opening or overcall. I was South and opened 1S. West overcalled 2H and this was passed round to me. I believe that with any hand with shortage in the overcalled suit, a double is automatic in such a sequence. That is because partner is likely to be sitting over West just waiting for a double from you.

Personally, I would not sit for the double as North unless I had three certain tricks in trumps.Too much can go wrong. with only one certain trump trick. I would, with the North hand, have simply raised to 2S if playing five card spade openings. West had a very good overcall and would almost certainly have bid 3H. But as it was, North passed my double and after king of spades, nine to my queen, I erred by leading my trump. Normally, partner will have very good trumps and a trump lead through declarer followed by later ruffs will avoid any end plays on partner.

I should simply have led a third (low) spade which partner could ruff higher than dummy's six, an elementary enough defence. What in fact happened then was disastrous, because declarer played hearts from the top and let North win the queen. I had signalled a diamond on the second trump, but North led the ACE instead of a low one to my queen. Declarer then ruffed the second diamond, drew the last trump, and claimed the doubled contract. There is much to be learned from this deal and discussion is necessary How did things transpire at your club?

I intend to write about low level doubles and defence in my series “Thirteen Tricks' which will begin in a few weeks time. The “ Thirteen Tricks” series will be kicking off with the first issue due mid February. An enrollment form, plus more information, is available, just drop me an email . I will GUARANTEE that if you read, or have read the book “Tips and Quips” and enroll in “Thirteen Tricks” your results will improve considerably over the next year, especially if you have a regular partner to try the tricks with. Are you up for the challenge?

For information, email villyn@xtra.co.nz