Sep 182002

Both Vul
Dealer: East
Lead: HK

S 9 8 4 2
H J 8 7
D 5 4 3
C 9 8 7
S Q 7 6 3
H K Q 6 4 2
D 10 8
C Q 10
[W - E] justinl
S 10 5
H 10 9
D A 9 7 6
C A J 6 5 4
H A 5 3
D K Q J 2
C K 3 2




3 D


I’d always heard that naval service built character, and I used to believe it. And then Seaman Lall gets in on a weekend pass and presents me with this.

Sitting South, Gee opens a standard 2NT, in second seat, passed around to the Seaman, who doubles. This is of course a Bones Principle double, promising no particular defensive values. As Dr. Robert has pointed out, Bones doubles must be alerted. Although the Seaman dutifully alerts the specs, he fails to alert the table. If he does so, North may leave in 2NT, which is down 2 at most, instead of SOS redoubling. With his dead flat hand he might consider leaving it in anyway, not that -500 will be a wonderful result.

Gee pulls to 3D, as instructed, which of course is doubled again, and the HK is led. There is no hope of getting to dummy with East’s four trump and doubleton heart, even after the lead. As long as the defense doesn’t break clubs it must come to three clubs, two trump, a heart and a spade. It doesn’t, and it does. 800.

In the post mortem the Seaman is uncharacteristically coy:

mmbridge: was that double supposed to ask for a club lead?
justinl: no
mmbridge: you should alert that the double is forced [mm has a point. The double is forced, in a sense. —Ed.]
justinl: we have never played together before
justinl: and no I don’t always double
mmbridge: so you always double on that auction 2nt/p/p?
justinl: only under certain conditions
mmbridge: what made this hand a double :)
justinl: even if i did, he would not know that
justinl: i charge for my bridge lessons
justinl: $50 an hour and i’ll tell you
mmbridge: sorry, I don’t pay for them
justinl: then stop asking :)

Seaman, Seaman, Seaman. I could tell him for a lot less than that.

(Update: The post mortem has been expanded slightly to accord with mmbridge’s comments, below.)

  7 Responses to “The Double That Dare Not Speak Its Name”


    Is Gee’s not taking umbrage at Justin’s “only under certain conditions” more a function of Gee’s expert ostrich impression or Justin’s smooth, silver-tonguedness? Or is this a matter for Dr. Robert?


    The text of the conversation seems a little incomplete or rearranged. As I recall, my first question was something like “was that double supposed to ask for a club lead,” since I could see no reason for doubling with that hand unless one doubled with all hands or unless it asked for some specific lead. I think the conversation shown makes more sense if you know how it started.


    I am constantly amazed at Gerard’s bidding. 3 diamonds after being doubled in 2n, in my mind, may be one of the worst bids in bridge history. It makes no sense at all.


    That’s interesting. From now on I suggest a double that is influenced by the quality of the prospective declarer is conventional and called a Bones Double regardless of who the declarer is. A double when partner could not have a penalty, takeout, or lead-directing double will always clearly be a Bones double. I will leave it to others to determine whether it should be alerted.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>