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A Lightner double in the match Bathurst – Nickell

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 American Trials 2011, quarter final: a Lightner double in the match Bathurst – Nickell.Theodore A. Lightner (1893-1983), was a great champion and theorist of the Culbertson group; not all know that his system, the “One over One”, was the first in which always the response at level one was forcing. In the auction we are presenting below, Joe Grue employs another Lightner’s idea: the “Slam double convention”, stated in 1930. By it, the player who is not at lead…

“…Tells his partner that he can defeat the contract if a different lead is made from that which would otherwise normally be expected…”

 That is what Lightner wrote in 1935’s Encyclopedia of Bridge. Many interpret this double as an invite to lead the unbidden suit, or to lead the side opponent’s suit – even bid by Declarer – or to think in which suit a ruff is more probable. Here Joe hoped diamond, the side suit. Justin Lall, instead, led spade (diagram).

Specifically – Theodore Lightner continued – this would mean that if either partner had bid a suit, this suit should not be opened [no hearth here, then]. If neither partner had bid [but this is not our case] the double would indicate that a lead of one of the suits bid by opponents was desired.

In our case – when partners have bid – the doubler only become responsible that heart lead doesn’t set the slam, but he doesn’t suggest which suit has to be led, nor he grants that the contract could be set. That is not longer matter of Lightner but of ordinary slam lead technique, and, with West’s cards, spade doesn’t look wrong; for example, give East the more probable K94 (instead of AQ4), and ♠K108 (instead of J108): wouldn’t he have doubled as well?




Paolo Enrico Garrisi

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