In the Summer National Tournament of the American Bridge Contract League, reported here last week, the semifinal match, in which the victorious Fishbein team eliminated the strong combination led by Alvin Roth, might be said to have turned on a penalty double of a grand slam bid by Roth and his partner, Tobias Stone. That double was made with a single purpose—to call for the only opening lead that would defeat the contract.
By contrast, doubling a voluntary slam bid merely because you hope your high cards will beat the slam is like saying to the opponents: "I don't believe you could make your bid even if I let you look into my hand."
Take, for example, the following hand. Because East's double revealed his holding, the reader is offered a somewhat unorthodox proposition. Assuming you had the run of the farm and could peer unhindered at all the adverse cards, would you play for a grand slam in hearts?
North decided to open the auction with a forcing bid of two clubs, though his hand contained more losers than we normally identify with a two demand bid. However, possession of all the first-round controls provides a hand with much more backbone—likewise the player who holds it. South was preparing for big things but was content to temporize with a response of two hearts. North's leap to three no trump will not be endorsed by the purists, particularly since North had already announced a superpowerhouse with his very first bid.
Convinced that precise scientific investigation would not reveal the exact trick-taking potentialities of the hand, South decided to jump straightway to six hearts.
North, under the influence of autohypnosis, and quite unmindful that he had already opened with two clubs and jumped to three no trump, went gaily on to seven.
East, knowing that the club suit could not be established and expecting to win a trick with the king of diamonds, decided to double. This gesture proved of material assistance to declarer, for it marked beyond doubt the location of the missing king in diamonds.
West opened the 9 of clubs, which was taken by the king in dummy, South discarding a diamond. Declarer played three rounds of trumps, throwing a diamond from dummy. A spade to North's king was followed by ace and another club, verifying the fact that the suit would not break. South ruffed and played two more trumps, discarding a diamond and a spade from dummy.
At this point the holdings were: