BRIDGE

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - PUZZLES - with DOU­GLAS NEW­LANDS

While the neg­a­tive dou­ble is an es­sen­tial part of mod­ern bid­ding, one must not use it in­ap­pro­pri­ately. The pur­pose of the bid is to find a fit in a ma­jor suit that can­not be bid di­rectly due to in­suf­fi­cient length or val­ues. There are two rea­sons why one should con­sider not us­ing it and th­ese are il­lus­trated in to­day’s hand. Af­ter East opens 1H and South over­calls 2C, West has a de­ci­sion to make. The ob­vi­ous choices are to dou­ble to get the spades into the auc­tion and to raise hearts. It is true that there are a few sit­u­a­tions where a 4- 4 fit is su­pe­rior to a 5- 4 or 5- 3 fit be­cause a dis­card will be avail­able on the long card and a ruff can be taken in ei­ther hand. There is no par­tic­u­lar rea­son to ex­pect that to be the case here since the only po­ten­tial dis­card is in clubs and they are go­ing to be the open­ing lead. Another con­sid­er­a­tion is that the club over­call may be raised. Since most pairs can make LoTT ( Law of To­tal Tricks) raises, with shape and not many high cards, this is a dis­tinct dan­ger. Ex­press­ing the known fit in a po­ten­tially com­pet­i­tive auc­tion is al­ways a good idea. When West dou­bled, East raised the spades to game to ex­press the ex­tra play­ing val­ues ( 17 points). If you favour the Los­ing Trick Count ( LTC) val­u­a­tion method, East has only 5 losers rather than the 7 promised by the open­ing bid. De­clarer went one down on a club lead when they failed to find the win­ning line in the heart suit and lost a trick in each suit. As it hap­pens, if West had raised hearts, by bid­ding 3C as a cue raise show­ing sup­port and in­vi­ta­tional or bet­ter val­ues, East would bid 4H. On a club lead, East wins and leads a di­a­mond to­wards the ta­ble. If South ducks then there is no di­a­mond loser. If South rises with the ace then the spade losers can be dis­carded on the good di­a­monds. Avoid­ing one of the side suit losers means it is no longer nec­es­sary to take a good view on how to play the heart suit. The les­son from this is not to use a neg­a­tive dou­ble to find a ma­jor suit fit when there al­ready is a known fit in the other ma­jor when there is a dan­ger of a de­fen­sive bar­rage in their suit.

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