Would you pull?
Posted by Rakesh Kumar on Monday, 13 June 2016 at 09:59
Do you know when it's a good idea to take out partner's penalty double? I wish I did. Fortunately I haven't been put to the test during the VCC, but others have been, and have had to agonise over whether or not to pull partner's double. The outcomes haven't always been as desired ...
The first example of a tricky hand in this category arose in Match 2 yesterday -- one of the numerous highly distributional hands (viz. 8-card suits and 7-5 shapes) that have been turning up in this VCC. Here's the board:
West of course opened 4♠ and North had a problem. Most folks I know play double of a 4♥ opening for takeout, but double of 4♠ as being for penalty, with 4NT showing a 2-suiter. That means there's no effective way of showing a strong 4441 hand. At our table, North doubled. South pondered but eventually passed. However, 4♠X was cold for +790 to East-West, and made an overtrick when North unwisely led ♥A. By contrast, although Deep Finesse reckons 5♣ by South should go down, in reality it was usually made as well, scoring +600 for North-South.
So South was right to ponder. Would you (did you?) pull partner's double?
Another such situation arose in Match 8 today, on this hand:
North-South played a weak notrump and South opened an almost-lighter-than-air 1NT. Sitting West, I doubled for penalty and North escaped to 2♣. When this came back to me, I doubled again, once more for penalty. As East, would you take out this double?
My partner did, and was right to do so, because while Deep Finesse reckons 2♣X will go down one, in practice 8 tricks were made as often as not. A takeout to 2♥ by East would of course be passed by anyone sensible sitting in the West seat, but no such good fortune befell my partner -- along with a dozen others, I found my way to a failing 3NT contract. The moral being, of course, that even if you do manage to pick the right time to pull partner's double, that doesn't necessarily mean there will be a happy ending to the story!