Our study about the perfect hand for take-out double is going on. Is tre great champions’ turn to express their view: Giorgio Duboin, Fulvio Fantoni, and Agustin Madala. Michael Lawrence in The complete book on takeout double (1994, Magnus Book, p.5) says that the “perfect hand” for the takeout double is a 4441, and that with such shape eleven HCP are enough for enter any opening at level one.
South has opened 1♥; as West, Lawrence doubles with: ♠A1094 ♥6 ♦K982 ♣K1094: ten HCP by heads and with “body”.
Having: ♠6 ♥A1094 ♦K982 ♣K1094, and being vulnerable, would you double an opening of 1♠?
Giorgio Duboin. Personally, I adopt a more old fashioned style. With ten points, being love, and with a three suiter I double, of course. Being vulnerable, it does not even come in my mind! Until a certain strength, say, my style is to double anyway with the shape and points. Often I’m been censured for passing with some hands, sometimes with a balanced one by 13 points I don’t double because I haven’t the shape. It is evident that having the singleton right in opener’s suit can lower slightly the level for doubling. Clearly, if the opponent would have opened at 2’s level, enter by double just for the singleton would become a madness.
When I have submitted this hand to him, your friend Bocchi has replied: “It’s not matter of points: the good players don’t count points but look at shape. Also with few points, in this hand are three heads and the three suiter hand: where’s the problem?”
It must be a matter of balance. It always need try to do the less dangerous action. The less dangerous thing sometimes may be to call and the more dangerous to pass. The Bridge is a probability play, and like in all probability play it need dare depending from the award. It always need take in account how much it could be better. That is to ask ourselves: if I go wrong, what do I miss? And if I go well, what do I gain? Expressed in mathematical terms it is very easy, and it seems very trivial: but it is clear that only the experience teaches you to do the right thing. Sometimes you shouldn’t count the points but take in account only the shape. But more than in the hands of takeout double, it is more logic to think it in the hands were it must be dare a two level overcall: for example, if I have an one suiter hand I don’t interfere, if I have the 6-4 two suiter I do, because if I don’t bid now maybe I couldn’t do it later. It is true that I could be set and pay 800 if I bid 2♣, but it’s also true that I could gain 300 by 5♣. It is always a probability matter between the risk and the advantage. Coming back to informatory double, the points anyway must be considered. It is clear that in a suit competition the points count little, but when I double and the partner has enough to bid 2NT or 3NT, there the points count, isn’t it? A 3NT with 21 points and two balanced hands does not work.
Fulvio Fantoni: According to me it depends on different factors, whether we are vulnerable or not vulnerable, whether our partner has passed or not passed. And it depends on whether we are playing a pairs tournament or a team tournament, what strateg is being adopted. There are very many factors. With a 3 suited hand and 11 points, normally there is no doubt and the opening should be doubled. However if our partner has passed and we are vulnerable, the double is not necessarily obligatory. If we invert hearts and spades in Lawrence’s distribution. Certainly the situation changes because if you double 1 spade you force your companion to bid at a 2 level. The risk increases: therefore all the factors which I mentioned before influence the decision to double or not. Personally in this situation, vulnerable against not vulnerable and with a passed companion, I may even decide not to double, even if logically the distribution of the hand and the possession of 10 and 9 give the hand a stronger value than just the honor points.
Agustin Madala: I double the former and I pass the latter. On the first hand, I must say that I don’t care very much the vulnerability. If the cards deserves to enter the auction, I do. When vulnerable, there is the same risk in to call and do not: I say, you can pay 800 or to find the unbiddable game that is worth 600. But my choice bases on other. I see the first hand as one that can compete until 3♠ over 3♥, and if I want get this I must do it at once. In the second one, instead, the spades are higher ranked, then if the opponents get 3♠ I’m out, but if they stop at level two I can still double. In both hands there’s a lot of work for the game, so I prefer to speak only in the first one. Surely we always should make the same thing, that i sto double in both situations, but…but I’m not made so! (laughing, editor’s note).