12 January 2011

The momentum of a double

A while ago I bought and read an excellent book called "Psychological Strategy in Contract Bridge: The Techniques of Deception and Harassment in Bidding and Play". Unfortunately I lent it to my mother who took it on a bridge trip and left it on a plane. Actually I suspect that when my father with whom she was to play saw the bidding contained therein threw it out the window.

One of the concepts it introduced me to however was that doubles have momentum. Once you convince a player that doubling is the correct action they are more likely to double later when it might not be as correct. This sounds all very interesting but nothing explains an idea like an example, I'm South:

Vul: NS
Dealer: North
7 5 3 2
Q 9 8 6 4 3
8 4
Q 6 3
Q J 9
A K 2
A J T 9
K T 8 6 4
J 5
K Q 7 6 3
A K J 9 8 7 4 2
T 7
5 2

Now this isn't the vulnerability or the position to pick up this sort of hand and when East opens 2 showing a weak hand with hearts and a minor the room's going to bid 4, get doubled and it'll probably cost them 200 or 500. It might make but then again they might bid 5 over the top and make that.

What I'd really like to do is either convince them to double 3 when the room's doubled in 4 or convince them to double 4 when the room bids 5. Lets start off by bidding something silly that'll get me doubled.
Partner East Me West
Pass 2 2NT X1
XX2 Pass 33 X4
3 Pass Pass5 X6
Pass Pass 37 X8
Pass Pass Pass9
Some explaining:
1: First double!
2: This is a transfer to 3 as an escape from doubled no trumps.
3: There's no way I'm revealing the psyche at this stage plus 3 may get out undoubled.
4: Reeling them in.
5: Diamonds might not be so bad and I'll bet West can't pass.
6: Hook, line and....
7: Trying to look like a desperate attempt to avoid the Axe.
8: Sinker!
9: Happy sigh after a job well done.

It's so lovely when partner with the best of intentions complements and enhances your little scheme. The defence were always getting 5 tricks but every other table was in 4x down two or 5 making 5.


  1. In my world these doubles are called rhythm doubles ( getting the oppo into a doubling rhythm )
    The best example I know is when partner opens 1NT whacked and you hold a blizzard with 7 spades to the 10. So of course you retreat to 2C. Double. Then you proceed with 2D... doubled. ( Partner of course remaining disciplined and quiet.) Now comes 2H doubled, and now you pray for the same treatment when you bid 2S. Bingo it is doubled and the contract is made ! YOurs HBJ

  2. There's a limit to this. Obviously, anyone who has played bridge for more than a few weeks has seen the ol' 1NT-X-2C-X etc. lark when you rest in 2S. All four players are aware that you have a single-suited Spade hand at this point and the opponents will bid accordingly. Funny the first time, sure; but in the end ineffective.

    I think this hand has some clear differences. The mirage has been created by the 3C, pass of 3D etc. that the hand is one that has a normal(ish) bid of 2NT with a singleton Diamond and a 5-card Spade suit or something. Much more believable than the scripted 1NT escape as mentioned above ...