Monday, April 20, 2009

Double, double (Updated)

Some years ago, I wrote a series of haiku about Lightner doubles:

Double is Lightner
Asking for a heart?  A spade?
A diamond or club?

Double is Lightner
Asking for whatever suit
That partner wants led

Double is Lightner
But, when they rewind, I think:
Was it stripe-tailed ape?

Try a passive trump
The only lead to beat it?
They run thirteen tricks

While Mr. Lightner had a very nice concept, the pitfalls are many.  The following situation came up in a Swiss event yesterday:

At red v. white, you hold AKTxxxxx – xx Kxx in second seat.  The auction proceeds:
6H-P - P-P/X

At one table the partner of this hand passed, at the other he doubled (and all passed).  What would you lead in each case?  Assume you have a good partner but haven’t specifically discussed this kind of situation.  If you would bid differently, feel free to chime in as well.

Update:  In fact partner of the given hand held Qxxx Txx Axx xxx.  The double was based on a suspicion that the opponents were saving (probably not a good double even if it meant that, with only one trick.)   A diamond was led at the table with the double and the contract was unbeatable, with declarer having J AQJxxxxxx  x  Ax and dummy -- K  KQJTxxx QJxxx.  At my table I declared 6H undoubled -- I'm with Drew and Kenny who led a club here, but the opponents led a spade tapping dummy and I had to take the club hook and go down.

Should the double be Lightner?   I think so.  A better hand could have maybe bid 5H as a slam try rather than 5S, after which a double would clearly just mean it's our hand.  But it's not totally clear, so the hand on lead could have guessed that partner didn't have a diamond void and led something else, especially since it's not clear where you get a second trick other than SA if partner is ruffing a diamond.  It's best to have as many partnership agreements as possible, but if on uncertain ground it's ok to look at your hand and make a practical guess.  Best to know what partner means and not be in that position! 

BTW you can make 5S on an endplay, so anyone who saves at red/white beats a club leader this time (although I don't think I would.)


Kenny Z said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kenny Z said...

I posted an answer, then deleted it because I thought I'd been led astray by the title of the post. I don't think this is a lighner double. They might be the ones sacrificing here, and partner could be doubling because we're beating this 3 tricks on normal defense. I think this is how he would bid with, say, QXX A XXXX AQXXX. Or QXXX AX KXXX QJ10.

I'm leading a low club. I think partner has either a H or a diamond control (or both) and we have to establish clubs or cash them before declarer draws trump and establishes the diamonds.

Or, maybe it was a lightner X after all, and he's void in clubs. Either way, I'll take it :)

Jonathan Weinstein said...

Right, the nature of the double is meant to be part of the intent to mislead.

Becker said...

With the double I'd probably lead a diamond on this auction...the double still seems to me like it should be lead directing. Without it i'd probably lead a club.

That said, I don't like the auction. Even red on white this hand looks too control-rich for 4 spades. One spade may seem awfullly low, but it won't be passed out, and you can always bid them again over whatever number of hearts.....

Damo said...

My simplistic mind wonders why you didn't think 6S might have been on for your side :-) You have a control rich hand with a ton of spades.

Now if you get the lead wrong they may make 6, not to mention the possibility of them bidding 7!