Doubling





All doubles, except the double of one Spade by the Second Hand, which

is really an informatory bid, are made for the purpose of increasing

the score of the doubler.



The old idea of informatory doubles has been abandoned. Now when a

player doubles, he does not invite a No-trump by showing one or more

tricks in the adversary's suit, but he practically says, "Partner, I am

satisfied that we can defeat this declaration, and I desire to receive

a bonus of 100 instead of 50 for each trick that our adversaries fall

short of their contract. I do not wish you to overbid, unless your hand

be of such a peculiar character that you have reason to believe the

double will not be very profitable and feel sure that we can go game

with your declaration."



Although doubles are made under widely divergent conditions, they may

be subdivided into two classes:--



1. The double of a declaration which, if successful, will result in

game, regardless of the double, such as four Hearts, with a love score.



2. The double which, if unsuccessful, puts the Declarer out, although

if undoubled, he would not secure the game by fulfilling his contract,

such as two or three Hearts, with a love score.



In the first instance, the doubler has nothing to lose except the

difference in points which the Declarer may make as a result of the

double. When, for example, a bid of four Hearts is doubled and the

Declarer fulfils his contract, the double costs exactly 82 points. If

the Declarer fall one trick short, the double gains 50 points. When,

however, there is a redouble, the loss is increased 114 points, the

gain 100 points. The doubler is, therefore, betting the Declarer 82 to

50 that he will not make his contract, and giving the Declarer the

option of increasing the bet, so that the odds become 196 to 150. It is

evident, therefore, that even when the Declarer will go out in any

event, it is not a particularly advantageous proposition for the

doubler to give odds of 8 to 5 or 20 to 15, if the chances be even.

When the declaration is Royals or No-trumps, the odds against the

double are increased. If four No-trumps be doubled, the figures are 90

to 50 with the option given to the Declarer to increase them to 220 to

150.



The explanatory remark so often heard after an unsuccessful double, "It

could not cost anything, as they were out anyhow," is not an absolutely

accurate statement. It may be worth while to consider one ordinary

illustration of how many points may be lost by a foolish double of this

character. A bid of four Hearts is doubled and redoubled. The Declarer

takes eleven tricks, as he is able to ruff one or two high cards which

the doubler hoped would prove winners. This is an every-day case, but

the figures are rarely brought home. Without a double, the Declarer

would have scored 40 points; with the redouble, he scores 160 points

and 200 bonus, or 360, presented by an adversary, who hoped at most to

gain 50 and thought his effort "could not cost anything."



A doubtful double should not be made when the partner has another bid,

as, for example, when the adversary to the right has called four

Hearts, over three Royals declared by the partner. Under these

circumstances, the double, on the theory that the doubler expects to

secure a large bonus, may properly deter the partner from a successful

four Royals declaration. Even when the double is successful to the

extent of 100, that is not a sufficient compensation for losing the

opportunity to win the game.



The fact that a good player has declared an unusually large number of

tricks, as, for example, five Hearts, is not in itself a reason for

doubling. A player of experience, when he makes such a declaration,

fully realizes the difficulty of the undertaking. He does not take the

chance without giving it more consideration than he would a smaller

bid, and it is only fair to assume that he has a reasonable expectation

of success. Doubling, therefore, merely because the bid requires ten or

even eleven tricks, is folly, pure and simple. This comment, however,

does not apply when the bid is of the flag-flying character.[21] As to

whether or not it comes within that category the doubler will have to

determine. The Auction expert is always on the lookout for an

opportunity to gather a large bonus at the expense of a flag-flyer, and

as unduly sanguine players indulge in that practice more than others,

their declarations should be subjected to the most rigid scrutiny.



[21] See pages 139-142 inc.



The doubtful double, which, should it prove unsuccessful, will result

in the Declarer scoring a game he would not otherwise obtain, is, as a

rule, inexcusable. By this is not meant that a bid of two or three

Hearts or Royals, or of three or four Clubs or Diamonds, should never

be doubled. That would be absurd doctrine, but such a double should

never be made with the chances even, or nearly even. An experienced

bidder will not risk presenting the adversaries with the game and a

bonus unless reasonably sure of defeating the declaration.



Another absurd notion is doubling because of the partner's general

strength. The partner has an equal opportunity to double, and is much

better posted in relation to his own cards. If the strength be his, he

should decide whether or not to take the chance. When, however, one

partner has some strength in the suit the adversaries have declared,

and the other, high side cards, the double is more apt to confuse the

Declarer if made by the player without the Trump strength.



The above refers to doubtful doubles only; when the indications are

that the Declarer can be decisively defeated, the double is most

important. It is worth 100 if the Declarer go down two; 150, if he lose

three, etc. These additional points should not be allowed to escape.



Even the most venturesome doublers realize that, except in the unusual

case, it is unwise to double a bid of one, whether it be in a suit or

No-trump. Some players hesitate about doubling a bid of two, preferring

to take the chance of forcing the bidder higher. No general rule

covering the situation can be laid down, as it depends greatly upon the

character of the doubler's hand whether the adversary is apt to advance

his bid.



A double of a No-trump is much safer than of a suit declaration. The

doubler of the No-trump knows approximately what to expect from his

long suit, what suits he has stopped, and if one be unguarded, can

estimate how many tricks it may be possible for the declarer to run.

The doubler of a suit declaration cannot figure with any such accuracy.

He rarely has more than two winning Trumps, and therefore, as a rule,

must depend upon side Aces and Kings for the balance of his tricks. It

is always possible that the Declarer or his partner may be absolutely

void of the suit or suits in which the doubler expects to win his

tricks, so that sometimes a hand with which the most conservative

player would double, goes to pieces before a cross-ruff. When one hand

is evenly divided, the chances are that the others are of the same

character, but it is not a certainty that they are. When one hand has a

very long suit, and is either blank in some other suit, or has but a

singleton of it, the other hands are apt to contain very long and very

short suits. Therefore, if the doubler be without, or have but a

singleton of, a suit, he should be more conservative, in doubling a

suit declaration upon the expectation of making high side cards, than

when he has an evenly divided hand.



Probably the most advantageous situation for a double is when the

partner has declared No-trump, and the adversary to the right, two of a

suit, of which the doubler, in addition to other strength, holds four

cards, at least two of which are sure to take tricks. This comes nearer

being an informatory double than any other in vogue in the game of

to-day. The partner, however, should not take it out unless his

No-trump consist of some such holding as a solid suit and an Ace.



A hand of this character may not prove formidable against a suit

declaration, and it justifies the original Declarer, as he knows that

the adverse suit is well stopped, in bidding two No-trumps. It is one

of the few cases where it is not advisable to allow the double of a

partner to stand.



It is generally conceded that the double, although a most powerful

factor in the game, and the element which is productive of large

rubbers, is used excessively, especially by inexperienced and rash

players. If a record could be produced of all the points won and lost

by doubling, there is little doubt that the "lost" column would lead by

a ratio of at least two to one.



The double in the hands of a discreet player of sound judgment is,

indeed, a powerful weapon greatly feared by the adversaries; when used

by the unskilled, it becomes a boomerang of the most dangerous type.



A player cannot afford to have the reputation of never doubling, as

that permits his adversaries to take undue liberties in bidding, but it

is better to be ultra-conservative than a foolish doubler who

continually presents his opponents with games of enormous proportions.

A player should not double unless able to count with reasonable

exactness in his own hand and announced by his partner a sufficient

number of tricks to defeat the Declarer. It is not the place to take a

chance or to rely upon a partner, who has not shown strength, for an

average holding. It must also be remembered as an argument against a

doubtful double that the Declarer is more apt to make his declaration

when doubled, as he is then given more or less accurate information

regarding the position of the adverse strength, and can finesse

accordingly. A double frequently costs one trick--sometimes even more.





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