# Con­tract Bridge

## There has to be a bet­ter way

The Weekly Vista - - Fun & Games - by Steve Becker

It does not pay to dou­ble the op­po­nents for penal­ties un­less you are rea­son­ably sure of de­feat­ing the con­tract. That is why you hear it said so of­ten that you nor­mally should not dou­ble un­less you ex­pect at least a two-trick set.

Let’s say you dou­ble non­vul­ner­a­ble op­po­nents at four spades, ex­pect­ing a one-trick set. If you are right, you gain 50 points, scor­ing 100 in­stead of 50. But if you are wrong and they make four spades, the op­po­nents pick up an ex­tra 170 points. You are thus lay­ing odds of bet­ter than 3-1 that they will go down.

The math­e­mat­ics are even more pro­hib­i­tive if you dou­ble a partscore of two hearts or higher — if you are wrong, the op­po­nents score a game worth hun­dreds of points.

In du­pli­cate bridge, where other fac­tors en­ter the cal­cu­la­tions, a close dou­ble is made more read­ily. To­day’s hand oc­curred in a du­pli­cate, and West dou­bled his vul­ner­a­ble op­po­nents in two spades, hop­ing for a one-trick (200-point) set.

West led a di­a­mond, and East won dummy’s king with the ace. East cor­rectly re­turned a trump, and West took the jack. West then led an­other di­a­mond, taken by East with the ten.

East could now do noth­ing to de­feat the con­tract. If he led a di­a­mond, his side would wind up with three spades and two di­a­monds. And if he led a spade in­stead, the same re­sult would ac­crue. De­clarer would even­tu­ally be able to dis­card his third di­a­mond on dummy’s ace of hearts. So South made two spades dou­bled for a score of 670 points.

How­ever, the con­tract should have been de­feated. Af­ter tak­ing the jack of spades at trick two, West should have cashed the ace and then re­turned the deuce of di­a­monds.

East would win the J-10 of di­a­monds, bring­ing his side to five tricks, and then lead the queen. Re­gard­less of what de­clarer did, West would score his queen of spades to se­cure the crit­i­cal 200 num­ber.