Friday, October 29, 2010

Doubling Partscores Without a Trump Stack

Around the middle Georgia clubs, I am regarded as one of the 2 or 3 best players, and am also known to be very aggressive in bidding. And I can get away with it here because I play the cards substantially better than all but maybe 1 other person, who is usually my partner. But really, it's just that I sometimes add a couple of points to my hands with the expectation of the opponents slipping a trick or two. Anyway, here are two hands where I made a close matchpoint double. In addition to these two, we also defended 2DX earlier in the session, but that one wasn't close at all as it got us 1100 and we had no game.

rst one I won't bother showing the whole hand but I held Axxx, Kxx, Kxx, QTx. Both vulnerable, partner opened 1NT, RHO bid 2D diamonds and a major, which I doubled. LHO redoubled, which was passed out. I lead a low trump and dummy comes down with a 5-3-2-3 2 count. We proceed to take 2 diamonds, a club, heart, and spade for -760 when 3NT our way has 10 easy tricks. I'll write that one down as being bad luck that the 2D bidder had 6 solid diamonds to the Q and 5 semi-solid hearts missing only the K. And how dare my LHO not take a preference to the major. 2H would go down because declarer gets tapped out of trumps (if we lead a black suit instead of trumps) but still be a bad score because there's no way it's going down 3 to make up for our +630.

A few rounds later, we come across this deal.
Dealer: South
Vul: Both

Pass1 11

Yes, I could have made a support double, and perhaps I would have doubled 3 with my partner's hand, and the double of 3 is clearly questionable. Anyway, after we cashed the first 4 tricks - AK, A, A, and then a , declarer took the line that I think is the way most people who listened to the bidding would take - a first round finesse of the 10, which led to down one here and +200 for us. By the way, I'm glad partner didn't lead another diamond, which I think is the right play at trick 5 (give me as little as 9xxx of spades and a trump promotion by leading a 3rd diamond would be the only way to surely set it), for declarer then would surely pick up the spade suit for no losers.

After the hand, east (one of the better players in the club), asks why she took the first round finesse in spades - well, I doubled so I'm more likely to have the Q. East then uses the argument that he would have played for the drop because he's playing against me and that I would double even with a bunuch of little trumps. It is true - I don't always have a trump stack when I double a partscore against vulnerable opponents in matchpoints - I do know what a matchpoint double is and how to shoot for the +200 that is sure to be a good matchpoint score while protecting our potential +110 or +140 on a hand where going -140 will be a bad score anyway. That wasn't exactly the case here. I had nothing to protect against. I just had a nuisance of 4 trumps and an indication that the hand is splitting badly for them (partner definitely has diamonds behind the diamond bidder), and it's likely a misfit (I've raised on one less trump than expected and it seems like she's running from 3D). Eventually, east said he would play the ace first because he wouldn't want to look silly losing to a stiff Q, and finessing the first round only helps if I have exactly 3 to the Q. With Qxxx, I get my trump trick no matter what. As it turns out, there were 2 other +200's on the hand and no other plusses for us but a few 110's and 90's for EW. So the double gained 1 matchpoint and whether they made 140 or 730 would make no matchpoint difference.

So, is it more likely that the doubler on this auction has doubled on exactly Qxx or has doubled on some hand without the Q? I dunno. It's close, but apparently the fact that I was the doubler makes it less likely that I hold the Q. I wouldn't blame west; she thought about the bidding enough to figure out that I was more likely to have the Q - something many novices and casual players wouldn't think about. Perhaps a better question is why west didn't open 2.

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