Penalty dou­bles are al­most ex­tinct

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - GOINGS ON - By PHILLIP ALDER

An­drew Ma­son, the founder and for­mer CEO of Groupon, said, “All the trends show that email us­age among the younger co­horts of in­ter­net users is de­clin­ing. Whether it will take five or 30 years for email to go ex­tinct, I’m not sure.”

I find it hard to be­lieve that email will be­come ex­tinct. But in bridge, de­spite the ev­i­dence of this deal, it feels as if the penalty dou­ble has be­come ex­tinct, ex­cept when the op­po­nents are clearly sacri­fic­ing.

What is North’s dou­ble in this auc­tion? How can the de­fend­ers de­feat three hearts dou­bled af­ter West leads the club king?

When each of the first three play­ers bids a dif­fer­ent suit, dou­ble by the fourth hand is called Snap­dragon. It shows length in the fourth suit (at least five cards) and tol­er­ance (com- monly honor-dou­ble­ton) for part­ner’s suit. If in­stead fourth hand bids his suit, it de­nies help for part­ner.

Note that East-West did well not to go to the four-level, where they would have lost four tricks: three spades and one heart or, more likely, two spades, a spade ruff by South and one heart.

West’s penalty dou­ble was ag­gres­sive, but he knew his side had the bal­ance of power.

Af­ter West led the club king (East sig­naled with the eight) and played an­other round, the spot­light was on East. If he had con­tin­ued with a high club, South would have ruffed high (West would have thrown a spade), drawn two rounds of trumps, and played three rounds of spades, dis­card­ing a di­a­mond, to get home.

In­stead, East ac­cu­rately cashed his di­a­mond king and di­a­mond queen be­fore lead­ing the third club, which pro­moted a trump trick for West.

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