Penalty doubles are almost extinct
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.