ACES ON BRIDGE
Dear Mr. Wolff: Up to what level are doubles by opener at his second turn considered takeout as opposed to penalty? Say I open one diamond and hear one heart on my left and a negative double from my partner. If I hear a call of two clubs or a raise to two hearts on my right, what should a double by me mean now? — Wellington Boot,
Spokane, Wash. ANSWER: All low-level doubles of raised suits at your second turn should be takeout. I’d expect a double of two hearts to be a good hand with both minors or a balanced 18-19 without a stopper. A double of an unagreed suit like two clubs should be defensive or penalty. Typically, you would have four clubs, but three clubs with extras is possible.
Dear Mr. Wolff: When partner opens two clubs and the opponents intervene, what is the best and simplest meaning for a pass and double? Should that meaning change depending on the level of intervention?
— Dog Fight, Grand Junction, Colo. ANSWER: You should be prepared to shade a positive response if you have a good suit. And a bid at no-trump should also be natural and positive. Pass and double can be used either as a double negative and semi-positive, or vice versa. There appears to be no real advantage one way or the other.
Dear Mr. Wolff: I’m broadly familiar with the rules on penalty cards if your opponents correct a revoke, drop a card or lead out of turn. But I’m not clear about whether I should selectively enforce the penalty based on the strength of the player I am playing against. What is your view?
— Legal Seagull,
El Paso, Texas ANSWER: At the local club, I’m inclined to let players pick up their penalty cards unless my partner would be upset by my leniency. (Some professional-client relationships require keeping the client happy!) I tend to call the director for leads out of turn, though, since this is too hard to unwind. In serious competition, I’d expect my opponents to enforce the rules and would normally do the same against any ablebodied opponent.